Social Media


Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I must seem like I’m filled with disdain for Twitter, Facebook, or any of these other jewels of social graphing, or whatever it’s called this week. However, I really don’t have anything against the tools, as much as I can’t stand the hyperbole.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using, and enjoying, Twitter, Facebook, GMail, or any other new darlings. But there’s a lemming like quality to the discussions surrounding these tools that brings out the Critic, the Cynic, and the Curmudgeon in me, almost as a counter balance to weigh down the mountains of fluff.

One would think that being a tech, I would be all over these new ‘forms’ of technology. However, as a tech, I recognize that there really isn’t anything particularly innovative about the technologies behind Twitter, Facebook, and the like. They’re more good examples of dealing with performance issues, and excellent marketing, more than something truly new in the field of technology. They enable social networking? We’ve had social networking through the internet for a half century forty years.

In the meantime, when something new, really new, does come along within the technology field, it’s lost in all of the fooflah about Facebook, Twitter, and so on. I worry, sometimes, that we’re at the end of innovation; that we’re caught up in a cycle of Silicon Valley marketspeak that will never allow anything exciting through.

Social Media

Google and the Vegemite Story

Jeneane Sessum was interviewed for ComputerWorld for the problems with missing GMail email. I find it fascinating when Google is asked about any problem with its services, it always states it can’t respond fully because of ‘privacy’ concerns.

I don’t use GMail or Yahoo mail or any centralized email service for my email, primarily because, as happened with Facebook, you never know when your interactions with your friends suddenly become marketing fodder. It’s one thing to subject yourself to stealth ads, quite another to do so to your mates.

Centralized data aside, I think the issues with Jeneane’s email, and especially Google’s non-response, demonstrates an increasing problem with Google: it’s spread too thin. If Google doesn’t have its hands in television, it has its hands now in cellphones, closed social networks–increasingly throwing out tendrils into virtually every known, and possibly unknown, form of internet-based interaction. All, of course, with the undercurrent that some day the ‘somethings’ Google puts out will eventually become ‘somethings-with-ads’.

Yahoo’s desperate explorations into the hip (last year, internet operating systems, this year social graph) in order to maintain it’s implicit coolness have been overshadowed by the Peanut Butter Manifesto, a company communication by a senior Yahoo executive worried that the company was spreading itself too thin.

If, however, Yahoo’s rather timid explorations are seen as spreading the company thin, like peanut butter, than Google’s own explorations must be seen as the Vegemite of the internets, as it seeks to scrape smears of itself on everything we touch.

Technology Web

Apple meet orange

Speaking of email, how absolutely idiotic to pronounce the death of email because today’s teens aren’t using their email accounts.

Today’s teens are also wearing their pants around their ankles–does this mean, then, that civilization will eventually lose its waist? I’m sorry, dear people, but frankly I’d rather not see most of your underwear clad butts.

We seem to be desperate to be the first to ‘spot trends’ that we take an audience that is known to have certain behavioral characteristics, and extrapolate what this means into the future. This is silly, as history shows us that teen behavior does not a forecast for the future make.

For instance, from my own youth, extrapolating our behavior into the future, one would assume the phone would be dead by now, because we spent all of our time in each other’s ‘pads’: smoking weed, dropping acid, and painting flowers on our bell bottoms, as we contemplated revolution and free love with equal passion. The phone was The Man.

From what I can see of drivers wherever I go, not only is the telephone not dead, it’s used more now than at any time in the past.

Focusing on what teens want has already ruined television. You can’t watch a show now without some blurb showing up obscuring half the screen with instructions about how the person watching can make the experience more ‘interactive’. Why add these to shows? Because marketing has deemed that today’s youth insist on such a barrage of noise in order to grasp and hold their attention.

Now, we’re ready to hold requiem on email, and other longer, thoughtful communications, because kids have the attention span of gnats. Welcome to the brave new world. Oh, excuse me: BRV NW WRLD. LOL.


An anonymous response in another weblog to the “email is for old people” pronouncement:

To be fair, what is a more efficient method for communicating “I AM WATCHING TELEVISION” or “I JUST TOOK A POOP AND IT STANK UP THE BATHROOM” than through something like twitter? It’s too frivolous for an email.

But likewise, am I going to communicate an action plan or discuss something with a customer via AIM or twitter or myspace? Fuck no. IM is for instant communication. Twitter is for pointless, self-involved drivel. Myspace is for idiots who want to consoladate their entire internet experience into a single website (and a single point of failure) just like the good old BBS days, before they were born —- and email is for people who need to convey important information, delicate information, detailed information or otherwise engage in an actual conversation.

I use IM constantly in my line of work. I’m a developer and our entire company of 45,000 people globally requires that everyone use our own developed commercial messenger (uses XMPP, much like jabber and is for all intents and purposes — jabber). Most of my colleagues are not even within driving distance. And even if they were, a lot of us telecommute full time. So IM is absolutely a necessity.

But for every IM message, there are a few dozen email messages. Whether it’s discussions on an internal list or another. Whether it’s communicating with customers or field engineers or team discussions and management discussions to touch base or regarding staffing or action plans.

So yes, young people may just use twitter, IM and myspace today . . . but if they plan to ever have discussions that go beyond what color their crap was and what they’re doing at that very instant (OH MY GOD, WE’RE ALL EAGERLY AWAITING YOUR NEXT TWITTER!) and beyond self-involved attention-whoring on myspace or trying to get off with some loser on instant messaging, they’ll eventually find themselves forced to gravitate toward email. And if they don’t – they’ll be shark food for the rest of us in the workforce.