Categories
Business Technology

Just how bad is Facebook at programming?

Cute picture of my son today.  Huge smile as he looked through a Holy Crepe.  He had eaten out some of it and looked to the camera; cute as ever.  Gotta have this as my profile picture.  Facebook profile, upload picture, wait….wait….wait some more.  Finally it uploads.    Sometimes it doesn’t of course.  Go to Twitter.   Same objective.  But hey, it magically shows me a preview of the picture instantly.   And wow, I can even crop it to the part most relevant to a profile picture.   Must be rocket science.  The boffs at Facebook haven’t figured it out.   Some ultra secret patented method Twitter is using…  The picture even uploads faster at Twitter!  Must be they have more money for better servers…

Or Facebook is simply terrible at designing their infrastructure.  And no, it’s not about the scale of the exercise.   Facebook has always been a terrible platform.  Sure, we don’t get as many major hiccups anymore, but does anyone there even bother to test the user experience?   Tech journalists and social media pundits have a field day with every major overhaul.   Facebook cause pages are created demanding we change back.   Plug ins appear to make it “look like the good old Facebook”.   They never work.

Because Mark Zuckerberg is still carrying the mentality he had when he started.   He is more concerned with the people gaming his system than the experience of the rest of the users.

Here is a simple example.   Accepting friend requests.   You may never even consider this if you get 1 or 2 per day.  But anyone building up fake profiles and trying to amass a lot of Facebook ‘friends’ might have two or three hundred friend request to accept.  No, there is no “accept all” button.  Because Mark, knows some people will abuse it.   If you really are a popular person, just starting on Facebook and you have 250 friend requests, you have to click them one by one.   And of course the buttons aren’t at the same place.  No, that would be to easy to get an automated script monkey on to.   As you accept one friend request, it morphs into something else so you have to physically scroll to the next right position of  “Accept”.

There are dozens of examples like this.  Most people with just one genuine personal account, will not even notice them.  What they will notice and what we all experience daily is just a really really bad user interface.   They build little hoops for cheats but penalise everybody else while they are at it.    The fact that it has never been done in this scale and that it has to serve billions of very different customers is no excuse;  many of the niggles I have with Facebook are due to the fact that Zuckerberg is obsessed with people that are as sneaky thinking as him.  And he can’t think of clever algorithmic ways to get over it.   In a sense, Edgerank is this magic ingredient.   And all the recent changes are a move in the right direction.

Now let’s hope Edgerank gets good enough so that Zuckerberg relaxes the stupid interface hoops some more.  You can now accept hundreds of friend requests from the left button directly which is faster.  When I see an “accept all” button I will know Facebook has finally got a real and stable business model.

Categories
Communication

20 Social Media Statistics (which are completely imprecise and stupid)

Email going around with the following disinformation:  (In italics my responses.)

“These figures reveal the huge black hole that our time disappears into when we visit Facebook, Twitter or YouTube or other social media sites.

  1. One in every nine people on Earth is on Facebook ( This number is calculated by dividing the planets 6.94 billion people by Facebook’s 750 million users)   No they are not!   About 1 in 5 Facebook “people” is in fact a company or something else other than a real homo sapiens.
  2. People spend 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook.    No they don’t!  Much like television, there is no way to measure when they are spending time on Facebook or watching television while the laptop has Facebook open in some browser window.
  3. Each Facebook user spends on average 15 hours and 33 minutes a month on the site.   No way of knowing!
  4. More than 250 million people access Facebook through their mobile devices.   And what a horrible user experience that is!   What exactly are they doing other than checking up in case ‘something happened’?
  5. More than 2.5 million websites have integrated with Facebook.   More than 2 million of those are completely automated through various other platforms which are also ‘integrated’ with loads of other services – it doesn’t mean anything.
  6. 30 billion pieces of content is shared on Facebook each month.  And by category that would be…extremely interesting information as opposed to this!  How much is video, how many original posts, how much news, etc.
  7. 300,000 users helped translate Facebook into 70 languages. Yeah right.   It is the beginning of a new type of democracy I presume too…
  8. People on Facebook install 20 million “Apps” every day.  And then never use them again most of the time!
  9. 190 million average  Tweets per day occur on Twitter (May 2011)  Of which most are highly concentrated by region, profession and other demographics which make them a pretty unrepresentative bunch in most countries.
  10. Twitter is handling 1.6 billion queries per day.  And their servers overload on average how many times a day?
  11. Twitter is adding nearly 500,000 users a day.   Rubbish.  Many. Twitter users never actually interact with their Twitter account again.
  12. Google+ has more than 25 million users.  Google+ has as many users as Google wants.   They can just turn all Gmail users into G+ users without asking them, or force you to have G+ to access Google Maps or…many other typically Google “here’s something for “free” approach’…
I skipped the other 8 about YouTube which were fairly accurate (so boring!).   Is it just me or are we experiencing a wave of social media…media mania?
Categories
Technology

How social networks are improving the whole software industry

Few people realize how important the Google Plus “Real names”policy really is.   Maybe it’s just me having spent so much energy taking advantage of Facebook’s completely chaotic structure over the past years.  Sure, it ran contrary to most Facebook official policies but any business person would be an idiot not too.  What?   You can see all the ‘friends’ of your competitors’ fan page. That is often their customer list.  Damn sure I will take them even it has to be done one by one manually from a user profile.   Facebook has plugged the holes over time but Google Plus in comparison feels like a straight jacket from it’s beginning.   No free lunches here.

So point No1:  1. How strict and honest a social network is.

And then today everyone is talking about the “new” Facebook, changing their profiles to “look slick”.   Looks like a waste of prime screen real estate to me.   Hello?  Most people are still on 768 pixel vertical resolution you know…that big picture takes almost all of it up!   And these new fangled timeline adjustments of course will fly over the head of most users who have started whining about the “great old interface” as usual…  Point 2. Simplicity

It sort of reminds me of the WordPress vs Tumblr debate.   Users get used to something simple and figure out how to work around it.   Hash tags and loads of third party developers built the ecosystem that works for million of users.   Then  Twitter added photos, then comes video and…before you know it we have another Facebook like experience on our hands.   And then we will need complex settings and choices explained to get it to do what we want it to.  How our privacy is controlled.   Who sees what.   Point No3 is Control.

As anyone who has worked in the software industry knows, there is no perfect interface.   Every user wants something different and it will depend on their experience, background and …well…their mood really!   Your energy levels at different points in the day even.   What Facebook and Google are getting better at is getting the interface to morph constantly using intelligence, a little user input and a whole lot of bravado.   It takes balls to change a user interface, especially when you are a market leader with everything to lose.   But Facebook is right to do it now while it is still a virtual monopoly.

As users switch from software to online applications and from computers to smartphones, a lot of the old “big boys” in software better pay attention…  HP, if you really want to get into software, don’t go chasing the SAP business model…

 

Categories
Communication Technology

Why Google wants to stop me blogging

If you are posting original content on Facebook or Twitter, you’re stupid.  No polite way to put it.   You’re an idiot.   Every day I see great thoughts, photos and other inspiring original content posted on Facebook and it makes me cringe.   It is like cooking an interesting organic and original meal and then giving it away to McDonald’s to sell for you.   It is also inexcusable because there are so many easy ways around it.

When blogging started it was just that.   Blogging.   Horrible aesthetics for web logs= very rough diary like things.   But now you have Tumblr and all sorts of prettier choices.   You can put your stuff in your website and then get it to automatically update Facebook, Twitter or almost anything else you want.   But you control the environment in which your content lives and breathes.   You organise it as you want it presented, not as Facebook deems best in its latest incarnation.

Yeah, even those witty one liners you are posting on Twitter.   Post them in your world and then think where you are distributing them.

There is however a larger picture on this issue.   And that is that even Google is keen to stop you blogging.   The demise of the blogger.com platform is intentional.   Because if you are controlling a “castle” of a blog with all your information and all it’s unique traffic, they can’t make money out of it as easily.   You might even start to want to sell banners yourself!  Facebook and Google+ or Twitter are in effect using you as slave journalists and content producers.   They make the interface and the media chanel, you provide the content.   Sure, loads of it is rubbish, but even rubbish provides really useful data about how you, and your friends, think.   What they like, what they shop, where they go.

Blogger isn’t one of Google’s failures.   It was useful when it started and now it is purposely being winded down.   They don’t completely cancel the service as it provides useful information.   And WordPress would simply be too powerful if left unchecked.    But now they want most of you to start working for them for free on Google+…

 

Categories
Business Communication

Personal Communications Advisor: better than golf

Yes, yet another acronym.   I am now officially a PE.C.A.   I coined the term because it is going to become a popular profession.   Not for me personally.   I only got involved and am developing the know how in order to assist corporate clients.   The problem is that the personal branding of their top brass is important.   Really important.   And they have no clue how to properly use their social media.

Top CEO easily accessible via Facebook?   Not a good idea.   His or her personal information available?   Most high flying execs have no idea just where and how the stuff they post online might be accessible.   So, most of them avoid it all together.   Also not a good idea for many.   (Depends what business you are in and what your overall company communications plan is.)

So, they need to be online, trendy and creating buzz but aren’t sure what exactly the latest Google, Facebook or LinkedIn policy change means.  In comes the PE.C.A.!   Setting targets, measuring results, checking what the reactions are.   Somebody has to be online to check that a storm isn’t brewing.   The CEO isn’t going to be signing in every five minutes…

For many up and coming entrepreneurs or other business people social media is a valuable way of getting up in life in terms of connections.   I was once advised to take up golf in order to meet “the right people”.   Unfortunately it is true that many a major business deal has taken place between swings.   (And – in my experience – this nonchalance often leads to catastrophic results.)  But by projecting the right message, the CEO can get the equivelant of golfing contacts online.

Take your best swing!

Categories
Business Society Technology

How to really beat Facebook or Twitter either as a competitor or as a legislator

The whole privacy debate around Facebook is a joke. I mean literally, Zuckenberg must be laughing privately about it. While it avoids the real issue, he rests assured that legislators have no idea what Facebook is really about: lulling you into a false sense of security so that you will unwittingly give away private information in the wrong context. If that sounds too devious to you then you probably don’t use Facebook a lot. Or you use it and don’t think. Which is exactly what it wants you to be like.

Www.Personaldna.com was a great idea and it offers an intelligent, possibly automated solution to this privacy problem. I used it at work to build teams’ awareness of the different characters, strengths and weaknesses and team dynamics. It is a shame it hasn’t developed at all but this is probably because the people that made it have been hired by Google. Which is the only company that understands what this article is about. Personal DNA built a psychographic profile of you based on multiple questions. It is accurate and, better still, you can invite someone to take the test and see what he or she think you are like. This is also very accurate and offers valuable insights. And it is a million times more useful than trying to clump your friends into categories like Facebook pretends to suggest we should do.

When you post a status update, you can select that “Everyone” sees it. Or “Friends” or some category of friends. Only the first two make any sense. If you select “everyone” or you have forgotten status update in “everyone mode” Google and various tools we social engineers use be able to easily see what you are up to in real time privately. If you select “friends only” Facebook has fooled you. Because what sort of homogenous bunch of friends is the correct forum for this message you are about to deliver? That picture of you in a swimsuit on the beach. You want your uncle to see it? Might your ex boyfriend take it the wrong way? And what about that ex co worker who now works at a company you are hoping to get a job but is a bit conservative? Think before you post it.

“No, don’t think.” Facebook’s interface is like the little cartoon devil that sits on your shoulder to make you forget all these complicating factors. Privacy is either on or off. “Don’t think” it echoes like a ghostly voice. “We want the world to be more open” says Mark as if privacy is like piracy. “Information wants to be free” and other mindless, out of context slogans are catchy.

Privacy, the ability to choose which contact see which information is in fact the basis of all human interaction, probably the reason our brains are as big as they are in our social state of being homo sapiens. And this is how I, a bunch of psychologists, sociologists, programmers and enough funding, can beat Facebook within two years.

All it takes is a few Facebook apps that we will sneak past them. One will monitor everything you post and make a double check for you by throwing random people in front of you as a pop up window. “Before you post that status are you sure Mary Johnson is someone you want to see this?” followed by a few possible reasons. Based on this information it will build the intelligence of PersonalDna over time. PersonalDna actually exists on Facebook as an app but it is way to much like hard work to spend half an hour filling it in.

We would have to invent smarter interface tweaks to keep you interested while getting useful psychographic information off you. I won’t give them all away here. But every time you do something on Facebook, every “like”, every comment, every YouTube video you post, we will be intentionally collecting data about you. Facebook can’t stop me doing this because if worse comes to worse, I can do this as a virtual friend. You will befriend my personal psychologist and I will send you my advice.

The whole thing will hinge on the presentation of the information to you and I will borrow know how from the astrology industry. We will tell you how likely you are to score with that boy or girl you are poking, before you actually poke. We will tell you who in your network to try and impress to get a job. Other applications will tell you which groups to join or leave to improve how your profile looks to specific friends. We will make it all fun, free and cheerful. And accurate.

If it is too accurate it will be scary. That is the whole point of Facebook’s deception in it’s current design. So we will make it accurate enough and fun enough at the initial level of contact. If you want to go to the next level you will have to read a lot and think a lot, so you probably won’t go there unless you are serious.

Of course this platform I will build is much, much better than either Facebook or Google at serving advertising content. Because I will not just know what your are interested in. I will know how you like content served. And which of your friends are likely to buy the product or service too. With much much greater degrees of accuracy.

The accuracy of a self respecting homo sapiens in 2010 and true human development.

Categories
Business Communication Technology

Brand building and social media

I took the time to get to know a superb team of brand builders today, www.yalosquality.com has a sample of their work through sadly not a lot of the more recent stuff.  They know what they are good at and they really focus on those details of a brand that matter, especially in packaging.  It got me thinking about all the social media so called brand building.

In essence you need to know three things to start with: who do you want to get into your net?(work) What gets onto your customers radars?  (Rather pointless these days to talk about media ‘consumption’.)  And where does the rest of your team fit into this effort?  (Your employees or anyone else you feel is on your side.)

It seems self evident to say you need a target but with social media this is not an easy task.  It isn’t a box sitting on a shelf, limited in many respects in its effects.  It bridges PR, community, investors and any other partnership in ways so complex it is infuriating to try and explain many times.   In normal brand building, people like the fantastically able people at Yalos make sure that everything is perfect.  The best possible take on all aspects of the brand.  In social media we are battling to achieve a degree of transparency which is almost in opposition with classic testimonials or case studies.  We are looking for a convincing ‘person’ of a brand.

And this ‘person’ cannot be driven by a single entity.  It has to be the live sum total of customers’ living with the brand.  But as clear as they are conversing with a friend.   Except they aren’t sitting down to share a coffee and a long chat.  They are saying ‘hi’ as they pass each other in the supermarket, ‘how are you’ as they pick up their kids from school and ‘we should get together some time’ as they sit next to each other for five minutes at basketball practice.   That’s life today, even with ‘normal’ regular real people friends!

Let me be clear about one thing: for most companies I wouldn’t dream of putting up anything on a social network that can be demolished.  I recently witnessed the online bashing of www.getitnow.gr , what seemed a much promising eshop type venture in Greece with serious levels of investment.  Their facebook page had all the right ingredients but once the complaints started, it seems impossible to put a lid on the hell it let loose!  You can’t delete a comment you don’t like, everyone will know instantly.    Server problems?  Delays?  Confusion?  Even if they were perfect from the start they would have been in for it.  When behemoths like P&G are struggling to make sense of it all you know we have a challenge.

And I have the solution.  Stay tuned!

Categories
Technology

An insane privacy bug in Facebook for Blackberry

So I am at  party and someone is really interested in an event I heard about on Facebook.  In fact she is so keen she wants to go asap.  She insists and we are in the middle of nowhere so she logs out of her Facebook account on  her Blackberry and hands it to me.  I log in, find the event, send her the info and log out myself.   Seems straightforward.   We continue the other discussion and she shows everyone how cool it is that her brand new Blackberry shows up pictures of her friends when one of her friends calls.  “It did it all by itself!”

Two days later I log in to my Facebook account and I am greeted by a message.  Facebook noticed that I have been using Facebook for Blackberry.  Would I like to import my contacts?  What contacts?  Her contacts!   All I did was click “yes” and all her Facebook contacts came to me!

I realise that for any American reading this I am already way off the mark.  This shouldn’t be a blog post, this should be a law suit already!  (OK, it is all documented with screen grabs etc just in case I change my mind…)  With the amount of negative publicity they are getting these days about privacy problems, this could make me a fair amount of money.   It is almost a media frenzy right now without adding one of the most popular mobile platforms for accessing Facebook to the mix.

The beauty of this one from a litigation point of view is that nobody can escape the blame.  I looked over the technical aspects of setting up Blackberry Enterprise Server and the options for social networking integration and sure, we could blame Vodafone (the service provider) for anything mistakenly set up in her account.  But then it was the Facebook application on my computer that offered me her contacts!  And she had done everything “properly” by logging out before handing it to me.

But no, I won’t add to the calls for everyone to delete their accounts from Facebook.  Yet.  In fact I just started a second Facebook account for myself in English.   I will just be more careful not to post any information more personal than I do on this public website.  And for sure I won’t be handing my Blackberry to anyone at parties…