Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

Google Reader’s About to Change

October 24, 2011 @ 10:19 am | Filed under:

…and I will miss your Shared Items sidebar widgets.

As you’ve probably heard by now, Google is shifting Reader toward a format more integrated with Google+:

As a result of these changes, we also think it’s important to clean things up a bit. Many of Reader’s social features will soon be available via Google+, so in a week’s time we’ll be retiring things like friending, following and shared link blogs inside of Reader.

(Sorry if this was confusing earlier—I forgot to blockquote the above.)

Well, dadgummit. I really like Google+, and I’m all for change if it makes things more convenient, but I have loved Reader’s sharing function. I especially love the “people you follow” part. Scott (among others I follow) routinely shares highly interesting items from his massive daily blogreading. Convenience is key: currently it requires no more effort on his part than clicking that Share button. I hope the new method is as easy—on both the sharing and reading ends.

Here’s a link to a Google+ sidebar widget. I’ll probably replace my “Made Me Click” sidebar widget with it.

Facebook Notes: More Big Changes Ahead

September 22, 2011 @ 8:05 pm | Filed under:

Well, as you may have heard today, yesterday’s major Facebook changes are nothing compared to what’s coming down the pike in a few weeks. I’m too wiped to recap it now, but I watched the whole hour+ f8 video with Mark Zuckerberg’s big announcement, and WOW. I live-blogged my notes on it as I listened in a series of public Facebook posts. If you don’t have FB but your kids do, you’ll want to know about the new developments. Lots of privacy issues to be aware of!

The Zuckerberg video, explaining the new evolution of the Facebook profile: the Timeline.

My notes:

• He says FB sees your profile page as “what you’d show someone in the first conversation you have with them.” Well, that’s a key difference in understanding right there, isn’t it? I’ve never seen my FB profile that way—profile in this context means your wall, your info page, your photos. My understanding of a Facebook wall, and I think I’m not alone in this, is where you share things for people you know, people you’ve allowed access into a more personal side of your life. When I meet a stranger, I don’t immediately launch into a personal narrative or pull out my wedding album…

• Zuckerberg on the original FB profile (one photo, basic info, school, work, relationship): “People loved this product…It was the first place that most people had on the internet where you felt safe expressing your real self.”

• Timeline is an interesting concept—it does address the problem of old status updates disappearing into the ether—but he keeps emphasizing how for previous years/months, Timeline pulls only “the most important events” of your life. So…it’s another case of FB determining what “important” means—just as they’ve been determining which friends appear more often in our news feeds.

The rest of my notes are in this long (public) thread on Facebook. It’s way too long to copy here. 🙂

Facebook ate my posting-time.

September 21, 2011 @ 7:32 pm | Filed under:

I’ll skip the rant about the obnoxious new FB profile overhaul and cut straight to the privacy info, since that’s important:

1) Be aware that your Facebook posting default is no longer really a default. If your default setting lo these many months has been “Friends” (meaning only FB friends will see your status updates) but you occasionally post an update to a different audience, like Public or Friends of Friends, well, now whatever you’ve changed it to for that one post is the new default.

See this official Facebook post for more on that. Key sentence: “When you change the audience, it remains selected for future posts until you change it again.”

2) OK, the new ticker thing is driving people nuts, and there are browser extensions to get rid of it if you wish. Here’s one for Chrome.

But even if you get rid of it—or maybe you love the thing and want to keep it!—there’s something important to know about what people see in that ticker. The privacy setting for each ticker item (post AND comments) is determined by the original poster. Which makes sense.

But say you leave a comment on your friend Jack’s latest update. If Jack chose the “Friends of Friends” settings for that update, and I’m your friend, I will see your comment in my ticker. I can hover over your comment and see Jack’s original post, and all the other comments people made on that post, whether they’re my friends or not.

Fine, it’s Jack’s post, he gets to decide who sees it. But you should know that if you comment on that post, all Jack’s friends (and he has a LOT) and all their friends can see your comment.

Thing is, this is actually nothing new. That was always the case with people who share with “friends of friends.” But before, in order to see your comment, I’d have to have noticed on your wall that you’d commented on this guy Jack’s post, and to see it I’d have to click through to Jack’s page. Which I wasn’t doing, because if I wanted to read Jack’s Facebook page I’d just plain friend him.

The difference now is that the ticker puts your comment (and by extension, the whole spicy discussion on Jack’s page!) right in front of all your FB friends in an eyecatching manner.

So if you’re commenting, be aware that other people might be looking.

3) How to know who is seeing your comments on other people’s posts:

In your ticker, hover over the comment and you’ll see the whole post & all its comments. Look for the blue “Like Comment Share” line and hover over the gray gear icon or people’s heads icon. A popup will show you who can see this post and all its comments, including yours. Now you know. Knowing is good, I always think.

There’s lots more privacy tweaking to be done, but these are the big new things to watch out for.

UPDATE: Apparently today’s Facebook changes were nothing compared to what’s coming down the pike:

But these changes are just the beginning. The changes Facebook will roll out on Thursday are designed to enhance the emotional connection its users have to each other through Facebook. These changes will make Facebook a place where nearly everything in your life is enhanced by your social graph. These changes will make it so you know your friends better than you ever thought you could.

Um, creepy much?

Explorers, Homesteaders, & the Ways We Like

July 14, 2011 @ 8:05 am | Filed under:

Here’s a first—a post I wrote on Google+ first and am crossposting here instead of the other way around. Just some musings about my love of meta-discussion and about introverts vs. extroverts. (The fact that I can write a 600-word post there is one of the many reasons I am loving it.)


A Twitter conversation yesterday got me thinking about why I’ve had such an urge to write about Google+ both [there] and elsewhere—both how-to kinds of posts and meta-discussion about the nature and uses of [that] platform vs. others. Two reasons struck me:

1) Some people, and I’m one of them, enjoy puzzles. When I dive into a new app, platform, or network, I get a charge out of poking around, trying to figure out the tricks, puzzling out the easiest way to do things. I enjoy reading other people’s puzzle solutions; I like the challenge of putting my own hacks into words. The puzzle itself is part of what attracts the early-adopter in me.

But I have plenty of friends who don’t enjoy the puzzle stage. My husband—a brilliant guy; this isn’t about brains—will be the first to tell you he gets irritated when faced with a new platform to figure out. Change energizes me; it annoys him. And if he clicks onto a new site and discovers it’s going to take a little time to find his way around, meh, who has time for that? He’s a busy guy.

He’s not alone; I have many friends who are turned off by the baffled-newbie stage that I myself find so exhilarating. (Of course you know this means THEY are the folks who stick things out, who finish what they start. Some of us are explorers and some of us are homesteaders. Both kinds of people help build a civilization.)

Well, here I am in love with this new terrain, and I want my friends to settle in here and help build a culture. If I can help make it more appealing to them by helping other explorers make clear paths, I stand to benefit by the arrival of excellent neighbors.

2) Thinking about this, it hit me that for me, liking something is a social act. I enjoy everything more when I can talk about it with others. I don’t think all people are wired that way—actually, I think this may be a chief distinction between introverts and extroverts. For some people (again I hold +Scott Peterson up as an example), liking something is a private, inner experience, not at all dependent on the involvement of others. In fact, if too many other people start enthusing over the thing too, that can actually diminish the introvert’s enjoyment. For the extrovert, it’s the more, the merrier.

(Let me make it clear that I LOVE and admire introverts. I married one, didn’t I! And my passel of vert offspring is pretty evenly divided between intro and extro. I have shared Jonathan Rauch’s Atlantic Monthly article, “Caring for Your Introvert,” far and wide.)

For years I have looked at the introvert/extrovert distinction as having mostly to do with what drains you & recharges your batteries (as described in Raising Your Spirited Child). Some people get recharged by social contact with others; some people get recharged by time alone. In the past I have described myself as an extrovert with a strong introvert streak because I do need a fair amount of time alone to read and think and write.

But what struck me yesterday, pondering the G+ meta-urge, was that even in my alone time, what I do is social. I read—but even as I’m reading I’m thinking about talking about the book, blogging about it, putting my experience of the book into words to share with others. I write—for readers, for sharing stories, for dialogue, for an exchange of ideas. I happily spend my free time communicating with other people on social networks. And for me, a huge part of the fun of a new discovery is TALKING about the new discovery.

All of which is why I’ve never met a Meta I didn’t like. 🙂

Google+ Notes

July 5, 2011 @ 4:08 pm | Filed under:

I’m going to post twice today: once about Google+, and then another one about ANYTHING BUT Google+ so as not to drive away my non-Plus-interested friends and readers here.

(Heh. Nonplussed.) 😉

But Plus. A few more thoughts. First: if you’re trying to get in and haven’t yet, there are a few things you can do to help. At least—it sure seems like these things help, because everyone I know who has tried them has gotten to that magic Join button. But take my words with grains of salt; the efficacy of these suggestions is speculation.

1) Create or update your Google profile. If you have a Gmail account, you already have a profile: Click your name in the top right of your Gmail screen and you’ll see a link. Even if you don’t use Gmail, you might have created a Google account at some point—for Reader, perhaps? So check, and tweak it.

2) Ask me or another Plus user to add you to a circle. We can send you an invite by simply sending a G+ message via email, but those emails may take 24 hours or more to arrive. Don’t wait for the invitation: go directly to step 3.

3) Visit the Google+ website: If you see a “we’ve exceeded capacity” message, try again an hour or two later. But if you’ve done step one, you will probably get in within 24 hours. Again, this is anecdotal info only: I’m seeing it happen frequently, so I’m passing the suggestion along, for what it’s worth.

Okay, so you’re in: now what?

You’ll quickly find that Plus’s “Circles” concept is a lot like Facebook friends and Twitter followers. Actually, it combines aspects of each, and once you wrap your head around the distinction between people you share with and people you read, you’ll find Circles are an intuitive and convenient way of organizing your various overlapping circles of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances.

For me, the shape Circles are taking is a distinction between “friends”—reciprocal relationships, people I follow who follow me back, most of whom I already have some kind of real-life or online relationship with—and people I “follow,” Twitter-style: people who don’t necessarily know me and have no real reason to follow me back, but in whose posts I am interested.

I love that Google+ is allowing me to make full use of those nuances. On Facebook, the friends lists are a pain to use, so I wind up posting everything to ALL my friends, and there’s a very complicated dynamic there with all my worlds converging. My relatives don’t necessarily want to be bombarded with my kidlitosphere links, nor do my professional contacts necessarily want to hear every adorable thing Rilla utters. (But my family does, believe you me.)

On Google+, you can easily target the audience of any post, making it Public (like a tweet with no character limit—visible to anyone who follows you as well as on your profile page) or aiming it at a specific circle, or even a single friend. You can even cc people who aren’t on Plus at all; they’ll get the post by email. (A feature I gather most folks are using lightly at the moment.)

Here’s a link to a post I wrote on Google+ this morning, about how I’m using Circles so far.

Other things I really like:

1. Data liberation. You can download all your content. That’s huge!

2. The smart and lively comment-thread discussions, which are unhindered by character limits.

3. But if a thread gets too noisy for you and you don’t want new-reply notifications anymore, you can click a mute button. Think of all those times on Facebook when you joyfully congratulate your friend on her new baby—and then for the next week you’re getting a notification every time someone else says congrats.

4. I can bookmark links and send notes to my Evernote account! (Create an empty circle and add your Evernote email address. Voila. You can access the notes anytime by clicking on the circle within g+, or go to Evernote.)

Hangouts (group chats) sound fun but I haven’t tried one yet ARE SUPER FUN. Most seem to be video chats, so I’d have to brush my hair. (I DIDN’T.)

Okay. Pitch over. We now return to your regularly scheduled Bonny Glen posting. 🙂

5 Things I Really Like about Google+
Buckle Up, Unette

Buckle Up, Unette

July 3, 2011 @ 7:35 pm | Filed under: ,

monarch caterpillars 2011

As I mentioned yesterday, we’ve spotted our first monarch cats of the year. From the size of this guy, you’d think we’d have cottoned to him a little sooner, eh?

And our blueberry bushes managed to produce four perfect, perfectly delicious berries. We lost most of the buds weeks ago, unfortunately—transplant shock, I’m guessing. They came home from the nursery LOADED with blossoms but most of them fell off prematurely. Ah well. Those four berries were jewels. Rose, Beanie, and I each had one—no one else here likes them, can you believe it??—and the girls insisted that I take the extra, because the bushes were my Mother’s Day present.

I’m looking at this caterpillar and thinking that another huge metamorphosis is about to occur…after two days on Google+, I have to say I think it’s a game-changer. A year from now, we’re all going to be internetting very differently, mark my words. Not just my words: the murmurings are everywhere. All my musings these past months over the best way to share links and save clippings and log read-alouds and keep in touch with loved ones and and and—well, suddenly there’s this one place where you can do all of those things, and email and chat and etc etc etc—and whether such an entity appeals to you or not, it’s going to change the landscape for all of us in one way or another.

I say this not without trepidation and cautiousness; it’s unsettling to contemplate handing one entity that much power. But a streamlined web life has tremendous appeal. I’ll proceed watchfully but enthusiastically. (And I’m not ditching Facebook…yet. Not ever, as long as my family is there.)

Five Things I Really Like about Google+

July 1, 2011 @ 12:20 pm | Filed under:

Google+ is, as I’m sure you’ve heard by now, YET ANOTHER SOCIAL NETWORK. It’s Facebook, Google-style: a way to see status updates, links, photos, and videos shared by people you know. I’m laughing as I write this, because I know a lot of people who avoid Facebook like the plague, and many others who only put up with its many annoyances for the sake of direct daily contact with family and close friends.

What on earth, you may be thinking, do we need with another social network?

Well, it seems Google is going to try to convince us their version is better than the others. Is it? Too soon to say, but it has potential. Of course, there’s a bit of a vicious circle at work in the startup phase of any social network: the network is only satisfactory if enough users come on board. Right now, in this early rollout phase, not many folks are there, so it’s a pretty quiet place. But all morning new faces have been popping up on my notifications page. The early adopters are coming.

Here are five things I like about it so far:

1) Clean, simple, uncluttered layout.

No ads! The home page has three columns: on the left, a list of your Circles (more on those in a second); on the right, something similar to Facebook’s Friends sidebar, but Google+ shows profile icons only, not names; and in the center, the equivalent of Facebook’s News Feed—the status updates & links shared by people in your Circles. There are no surprises there; what I like is the simplicity.

2) Fast, easy access to custom-tailored update feeds.

On Facebook, if I want to see what my college friends are up to, I have to click a minimum of three times to get to the screen I want. On Google+, it’s one click from the home page. One easy click—the list of Circles is right there in the left sidebar, as I mentioned above. A “Circle” is the same thing as a Friends list on Facebook—but Google+ seems to recognize that keeping in touch with groups of friends is one of the main reasons people use social networks in the first place. That is, Google+ puts a priority on grouping. You sort your Google+ “friends” into Circles, and you can choose easily between a single Circle (like if you want to see Family updates only) or your entire “Stream”—updates from everyone in all your circles, equivalent to Facebook’s News Feed. The hassle of getting to my individual Facebook friends’ lists is my second-biggest Facebook complaint (their privacy issues are the biggest), so this easy Circles function has huge appeal for me.

3) Easy to decide who sees what.

Sometimes you want to post an update for the whole world to see. Other times, it’s just meant for your family. Or your work friends. Or the small group of people you know who may appreciate a link about a rare flavor of Mentos. Google+ makes custom-targeting of your own updates very quick and easy.

4) No pesky game updates!

For now, at least.

5) Better profile page.

When you click to someone’s Google+ profile, you’ll see tabs at the top:

Posts are like Facebook status updates.

About is your info page, your Google+ Profile. As far as I can tell, this is the same thing as the Google Profile you may already have, if you have a gmail account. . (Even if you don’t have gmail, you may have set up a Google profile in order to log into certain sites.)

If you do have a Google Profile, you may want to give it some attention this week—Google seems to be stepping up Profile visibility, not just via Google+ but also the new “+1” feature you’ll see on Google search pages and other sites from now on. When you plus-one a site, that’s like Facebook-liking it. Your +1 endorsement will show up on Google searches.

Like this:

This is from a browser that was logged into Scott’s gmail account. You can see that both he (the kittyfrog) and I have +1’d the site in question.

Whether you’re sharing your +1’s or not, people you know might be looking up your Google Profile as they set up their own Google+ accounts, so that’s why I’m saying it’s a good idea to take a look at your profile and see what’s being shown to the world. One particularly nice feature is that you can view your profile the way others see it, to make sure you’re revealing only the information you wish to.

Bottom line: whether you climb on the Google+ bandwagon or not, people are probably going to be viewing your Google Profile!

As for Google+, will I be sticking with it? Well, in all seriousness, that depends entirely on whether a critical mass of my friends and family climb on board. If you all stay on Facebook, so will I—because I’m there to see you, after all.

But for now, one day in, I can say that Google+ is behaving like the Facebook I wish I had.

Reply here

June 9, 2011 @ 6:12 am | Filed under: ,

When you comment on a post (here or elsewhere), do you come back later to see if anyone has replied to you?

Do you subscribe to the comment feed? Here, you can sub to the comment thread of each individual post, or to all the comments in general.

Some blogs—I see it most often on Blogger—offer email notification of comments. I seldom subscribe to those, though: it can mean too much mail. I’m more likely to subscribe to the post’s comment feed, if that option exists.

More about why I appreciate Facebook…

June 5, 2011 @ 9:32 am | Filed under: , ,

…despite its being, you know, Facebook.

Scott thought a remark I made in the comments ought to be pulled onto the main page and elaborated on a bit, so here it is. In response to a nice thing Melanie had said, I replied:

I do like thinking aloud about the new media…I tend to be an early adopter, and I’ve tried out loads of things that I didn’t stick with for one reason or another. The way I know something works for me is if I’m still using it a year later. :) There are many platforms I’ve enjoyed briefly but didn’t find expedient over time (for example, I love the look & functionality of Listography but forget about it for long stretches of time, which tells me it wasn’t quite the right platform for my daily needs).

There are things about Facebook that drive me batty (the privacy issues) but there’s nothing quite like it for staying in touch, is there? I mean, I’ve been on the internet since 1995, active on bulletin boards and email groups from 1995-2008, blogging daily since Jan 2005, on Twitter since 2007—but not until Facebook was I in daily internet contact with my relatives, high school friends, college friends, grad school friends, old work friends, etc. PLUS the interaction with online friends (with whom I became friendly first via boards, lists, blogs, etc), kidlitosphere colleagues, and so forth. And I find I really count on FB to let me know quickly who is safe when, say, a freak tornado touches down in Massachusetts!!

And actually, I think my main point got a bit lost in that paragraph. It’s this: not until Facebook was I in daily internet contact with my relatives. My closest cousins, some of my aunts and uncles, one of my sisters and her husband, my other sister’s daughter, three of my four sisters-in-law, many of my nieces and nephews on Scott’s side. That’s a big deal.

My father is also quite active on FB, to my delight—I seem to Like just about everything he posts 😉 —and he shows my mom all the photos and kid-quips Jane and I post there. But my affection for Facebook isn’t because it lets me share glimpses of daily life with others—as I said, I’ve been doing that via a variety of platforms (including, for a long while, a private family blog) since 1995. What I love about FB is that it, for whatever reason, seems to be the first platform that has compelled a large number of my loved ones to share glimpses of their daily lives online. And I really, really love that. Scott and I have never lived close to our families, and the telephone is not the easiest way for this mom-of-small-children to keep up with loved ones. Appropriate phone-call hours overlap too completely with attending-to-younguns hours.

In my first twelve years on the internet, the people I talked to were almost entirely new acquaintances. Some of them have become very real and dear friends—Huck’s godmother, for example. I’ve met dozens of internet-first friends in person, several of them repeatedly. They’re real friends, and I’m glad to have them in my life. But it wasn’t until Facebook, these past couple of years, that I had the pleasure of seeing, on a daily basis, what my cousins are up to, and my high-school friends, my college friends, my grad school friends…all of them, friends I’ve not lived near since the pertinent graduations, and so many of us busy these past two decades raising our families, attending to our jobs. It would take me hours and hours of telephone time each week to find out what Facebook can tell me in ten minutes.

(Occurs to me I can sum up this entire post with that one sentence.)

Don’t get me wrong—I love those long, gossipy phone conversations. I’m simply unable to manage them very often during this season of my life. And this season has been sixteen years long!

Keeping a blog doesn’t appeal to everyone. Commenting on blogs doesn’t appeal to everyone. For whatever reason— convenience, layers of (hypothetical) privacy, the visual format— Facebook seems to appeal to a much wider swath of people. I love being able to see, with one click, my niece’s prom pictures, a birth announcement from my high-school friend, a link to an article written by a grad-school classmate, and the beautiful wedding photo of one of my very first internet acquaintances—now a real-life friendship spanning sixteen years. I love the reminder that today is my Uncle Eddie’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Uncle Eddie!