I heard you like the internet so I put the internet in the internet… internet

Yo dawg, just a quick rant/thought about the Facebook Auto-share feature for apps that will be appearing in the coming weeks as apps adopt it.

Basically the idea is, for certain apps when you opt in they automatically share every video/article/etc that you look at on a certain site.  Not only could that be potentially embarassing, as pointed out by Mashable but I argue that it hinders the overall user experience.

  • On one side you have users even MORE paranoid about opting into apps, which lowers their acceptance of possible good apps.
  • But then you just have utter crap filling up the increasingly cluttered and unfocused facebook stream.  I cannot think of ANYONE, unless they are a psychic kick-ass web developer (who reads before he clicks awesome articles), that I would want to see every article they happen upon. Yes, some could be good. But the odds of that?  Retweet or resharing has a purpose, the user actively chooses to share an interesting article.

This really is a step in the wrong direction, rather than helping users focus into educated suggestions on the internet (collaborative filtering). (Edit: See comments for a link shared by Cliff, its a discussion whether collaborative filtering is even wanted. Good read!) We are basically inserting others’ meanderings around the internet in the internet… just creating noise.  No little doggy ear, top story feature, will protect us from the drivel, as its all a crapshoot.  An intellectual farmville…  

 

The only way I see this potentially augmented so that it is useful, is if there is a review layer.  So as the user leaves the page, the app asks them to leave a review or rating, and choose to share.  Which the prompts could get annoying… but at least cut down on the crap inserted in their friends’/followers’ newsfeed, or at least warn others if its crap.  And perhaps give meaningful feedback to the site author.

At first I was surprised that Facebook is fostering this.  As someone who has launched a Facebook app game, I know they are very guarded about automatic posting on walls (though mostly when regarding your friend’s wall).  Honestly, I see it as them mining more user interactions, part of their now ultra-hyped up “SHARE ALL THINGS” (and save for analysis later) motto.

Needless to say I do not see myself adding any app to my timeline with this feature.

– S

 

 

The Unimaginable Awesomeness of Facebook’s Timeline

And I say that in a HP Lovecraft sense of the word.  Awesome can be good news.  Awesome can also be the powerful destruction of a landslide.  Or in the case of Facebook, its the awesome and semi horrifying realization of what I have been doing all along.  I have been chronicling my life.  One status update and new friend addition at a time, since 2004.

The internet has been watching.  Deep down I knew it… but until Timeline it wasn’t quite as tangible the sheer amount of data I have been supplying to the Sheila Chronicles.  In other words, I have looked into the abyss and it has blown my mind.

Google+ vs. Facebook vs. MySomething or Another: Pre-Timeline

 

Since the release of Google+, there have been murmurs of Facebook going the way of Myspace or My _________ or whatever you call that dinosaur built entirely of blinking gifs.

Honestly, despite being one that has been sucked into the ease and inventiveness of Google+, I had no real fears for Facebook.  At least not for a while.  Myself, I have found I mostly post articles I want to share (like on Twitter) on Google+ but add any real personal data to Facebook.

My Reasons Two:

  1. People (gentiles) are on Facebook.  Google+ gained momementum quickly but only my most avid technophile friends have stuck to Google+.  Let’s be fair Facebook has the CONTENT to keep people for the time being. One big complaint I have heard over and over is, “Google+ is boring”. And it really must be for anyone who does not have rabid googlephiles adding to their stream.  In addition, with the Google+ API only just released, I have no easy way to post to all my Social Media bases, sticking just to Facebook/Twitter where I can get bang for my metaphorical buck.  Takes time to tend your Social Media ant farm!
  2. Like candy to a search engine baby – I consider myself a rational person but I can’t help but feeling I am handing over very personal data to a search engine. And while I trust Google with my personal/business mail, documents, calendar… I just can’t shake the feeling that I should not give them all the milk.  On the other hand when I post blog links and other professional data publicly on Google+, I feel like I am “optimizing my SEOs”.  Its a mix of paranoia and reality.  Facebook is just as bad if not worse but somehow it just didn’t feel as blatant… until now.

Into the Abyss

 

Today I activated Facebook’s Timeline via the developer preview.  I wasn’t a hundred percent certain what to expect since first reading about it in Mashable’s doomsday/coming-to-god like article “Prepare Yourself for the new Facebook“.  And since the beta release the overall consensus has been one of admiration that you don’t see usually attributed to a website.

My first Cover

Initial Reactions

  • OOo let me see here… Cover photo!
  • ASCII penis art and a chainmail status posted by my friends in 2004? Good lord I can go through each month and see what was posted on my wall…
  • This is semi terrifying, wonder what my security settings are?
  • Oh wait, this information is not correct let me add my actual highschool.. birth.. etc… information

The Genius of Facebook

 

Facebook has done which few can… and honestly it is a bold step.  A revealing of cards which few can boast.

You can’t leave me… because I AM you.

 The emotional tie, their coupe de grâce, is revealing what we have been building all along. Our internet legacies or our own graves, depends on how dramatic you want to be.

And at first you react with surprise and try to cover up your nakedness but then you say “Hey!  They assumed my anniversary was my marriage anniversary and not when we started dating!  I better correct that.

And “Oooooo there’s a big button that says add a photo next to my birthdate.  Better add a baby picture!  I already uploaded those a year ago to some album…”

FEED ME SEYMOUR!

SOYLENT FACEBOOK IS PEOPLE!

 

For the first time, and I am not a paranoid person (just ask my husband, it irks him), I have to ask myself what Facebook’s TRUE intention is.  And as an internet professional, I wonder: What is the harm?  Is this what our users want? A way to mine and then reflect on their personal data?

In the end, is Facebook providing us the ultimate service?  A legacy, in which our grandchildren, barring we keep our security settings open, can come to understand?  A reflection base in which to look back on our accomplishments and week moments? Or just TMI?

But is this hubris?

 

It’s pretty ballsy of Facebook to give us a glimpse of what they have been collecting, though its been available for download for years now.  They really have laid down their cards in a connect the dots kind of way.

When released into the wild I can see this going as follows:

  • There is a max exodus of the already paranoid Facebook base (mostly to Google+ or to a bomb shelter).
  • In the end, the majority are winned over by sheer self consumption.  It is pretty flattering and interesting to go through your life story of the past however many years… 
  • The Facebook ball gets bigger. And after a short lag Facebook continues on detailing the human existence in the modern age.  Only now with more granular clarity, as the Facebook antfarm, now more than ever, has swallowed the sugar water and understands the bigger part of the “mission”.

Repercussions for Sheila Suarez de Flores

 

How do I hide the ASCII penis art from my grandma?  I need to probably figure out these circles.. lists… security thingy majig.

 

“The most merciful thing in the world… is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents.”
― H.P. Lovecraft

 

– S

Magic Ruby is a Gem

So I wanted to make a quick post about an event I went to in February: Magic Ruby. It was a free event near Disney.

I love me some Python but man the Ruby community can be great.  I have only dabbled in Ruby but I couldn’t resist a free conference where Dave Thomas and Chad Fowler were speaking.

Turned out to be awesome and totally applicable to my work.  A lot of the talks were about good practices in general, so could be applied outside of Ruby.  I especially give kudos to Dave Thomas who very openly talked about what the Ruby/Agile community could improve on.  Namely keeping a more open mind while not chasing the golden idol of new technology without weighing the cost to production.

Thunder Struck

So I did my first impromptu lightning talk (hosted by Gregg at Envy Labs!). It was on accessibility and simple things you can do to improve your site’s Section 508 compliance and make it all around more usable. I had five minutes to talk and they requested a video as well. Check it out below…

Addendum:

  1. Using multiple H1s is allowed in HTML5 but keep in mind this is still not supported by most screen readers. The big point here is to keep the hierarchy clear and not to jump levels or use random headings for accent.
  2. I had a 5 minute time limit so I didn’t get to clarify the resource “Just disable styles on your site!”. What I meant here is a good troubleshooting tool is to look at your site and remove all styles via your browser setting. If the content makes sense and nothing vital is lost, you should be on the right path! This is not a foolproof technique though.
  3. I had my references on the stats slide but viddler cuts of the bottom… VIDDLLEERRRR! Trust me I researched them?

Pretty sweet background muzak huh? Recorded with Jing in the hotel side lobby…

It was a good experience. And I had some people come up and talk to me afterward voicing their frustration as well as to the lack of knowledge about accessibility. I also got a high five!

I think I’m going to prepare a longer one for Barcamp Orlando

Yay for Awesome Free Events! – S