Category Archives: Facebook

netneutistockfeature1-e1293050143472While trying to feverishly watch season 2 of House of Cards, I’ve noticed a few spinning rainbows via my AppleTV. What’s up? I tend to blame my Internet connection, but in reality it seems like there’s some nefarious “auto slowdown” occurring. It seems like Netflix is having a conflict with Verizon and other broadband providers over how much content should be carried without additional fees. Netflix complains that they’ve encountered a 14% slowdown in average speeds. The Wall Street Journal is reporting on the conflict between the two titans, but they’re telling us that Google, Microsoft, and Facebook, have already begun paying broadband providers for smoother access to their networks, which leaves Netflix kind of flapping in the wind complaining about tiered access.

The war around the idea of “net neutrality” is heating up as consumers move away from traditional TV and focus more on “binge watching” and a la carte watching via Netflix, Hulu, Google Play, iTunes and other streaming and/or subscription services. Just last month, a court ruled in favor of Verizon’s suit to block the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules, which has spurred chaos among the providers and content creators as more people consume more high-definition video. To add fire to the furnace, Netflix is more than likely very interested in the upcoming federal review of Comcast’s acquisition of Time Warner Cable, and may push for new requirements on traffic-swapping deals. As we move forward into the unknown waters of “tiered Internet access” it’s going to be more and more about who pays what: the content creators and/or their customers.

Unhappy with your Lookback video? Too many photos of your ex? Of other people’s exes? Now you can edit your video … sort of.

A_Look_Back-5

It’s a start at least. Facebook lets you choose from a pre-selected group of photos and status updates for each section of the video. I still didn’t get the photos I really wanted in there, but I got rid of the ones I didn’t want. That’s good enough.

To edit your movie:

  •    Go to Facebook.com/Lookback.
  •    Click Edit in the top right.
  •    Scroll down and select from the pre-selected items. I didn’t realize that you can pick from more than one page of items at first, but it’s still pretty restrained.
  •    When you’re done, you can view your video.
  •    Click Update. Your video will update, and you can update your status with it.

The catch? It updates the original post you made with your video and does not make a new one.

For a laugh, you can also view what a Facebook movie would look like if it told the real truth.

Screen Shot 2014-02-03 at 9.44.25 AMFor years, I’ve moved between Android and iOS, usually changing operating systems when a new phone grabs my attention. It’s a constant “push and pull” problem: the combination of a phone’s unique features, the operating system, and my desire to have a “perfect mobile experience”. Rarely is that experience as perfect as I want it to be. As an iPhone loyalist, I judge everything against the experience I have with iOS, Apple’s hardware, and the overall platform’s ecosystem. As iPhone has seemingly “shrunk” in form factor, staying at an untenable 4″ screen size in light of other manufacturers’ growing screens, I’ve gravitated toward the larger-screen phones, most recently, the Nexus 5. The Nexus 5, for once, is the perfect phone for me. It’s size and form factor seem the perfect size for my palm, my pants, and my weary eyes. KitKat is the best version of Android to date and, simply put, I’ve never been so satisfied with a smartphone. I’ve kinda cast away the thoughts of going back to iPhone. Yes, there are the nagging rumors of the coming iPhone 6 with a larger screen, but KitKat has a hold on me unlike any that iOS has ever had.

However, Apple’s advantage is their App Store. And, with Facebook’s iPhone-only new app, Paper, being released today, I’ve begun to wonder: can one app make me go back? I hate the feeling of being left out: when an app is only available on “another” platform, I get frustrated. Facebook turns 10 years old today, and there’s new research that shows its users have evolved their expectations of what the Facebook experience means for them. In light of this, Facebook’s Paper app is an attempt to evolve how Facebook interacts with its users and how it expects to provide new types of interaction between you and your Facebook friends. Paper reformats the typical Facebook experience with a more visually stunning approach (similar to what Google Plus did with their app), and turns your Facebook feed into a “Flipboard-like” magazine experience. Development of the app was led by a team that Facebook acquired from Apple in 2011, and represents Facebook’s obvious prioritization of rich visual design. The obvious plus to Paper is it gives you a platform-specific experience optimized for what that platform can best provide. In this sense, it may mean more fragmentation in apps if Facebook determines to release platform-optimized Facebook experiences across the board. However, it also means that Facebook evolves from being a fast-food experience (dumbed down UIs to provide a similar experience across all devices), to a more holistic and optimal experience based on whatever platform you’re on. The Paper app could signal a new frontier in designing and developing app experiences that mold more to its user’s context, and is a step-forward to a more humanistic experience. This means our platform decisions may no longer be made based on just price, carrier subsidies, form factors, and operating systems. We may begin making decisions based on all these plus the type of app experience we prefer based on how we use our phones.

fingerprintBy now, most of us realize that the US government is tracking our online activity (it’s just to what extent, we’re still a bit unsure), but it’s probably safe to say the bureaucrats know more about us than we’d like them to know. What’s more disturbing, however, is the extent that advertising and marketing companies go to determine who you are, what you do, what you buy, and who you buy from. And it’s no longer just your online activity: data mining allows companies to combine your offline activity with your online activity to create a more accurate profile of everything you do. This aggregation should cause more concern than anything the NSA is doing, and as of now, it’s completely unregulated.

Ever heard of Acxiom? Probably not. Well, Acxiom has heard of you. In fact, they probably know more about you than many of your own family members. Acxiom currently runs 23,000 servers that process more than 50 trillion data transactions per year. Acxiom has dropped over 1.1 billion cookies onto hundreds of millions of Americans’ computers, they have constructed over 200 million mobile profiles and average about 1,500 pieces of data per consumer. Scott Howe, the Acxiom CEO has stated, “Our digital reach will soon approach nearly every Internet user in the US.”

The recent hacking of Target’s commerce system has been widely reported, but what you may not know is what Target knows about you. Target assigns each customer a unique “Guest ID” which is linked to their credit card number, email address and/or name. Every purchase or interaction the customer has with Target is linked to their unique Guest ID. You tend to buy a lot of yogurt, live in San Francisco, and shop with your American Express? Target takes this data and links them to your profile, and then uses it to market more products to you. This seems harmless at first glance, and some would argue that targeted advertising is valuable, however, this data can be aggregated, diced and sliced to predict your future behavior. Target will know if you’re pregnant based on what you purchase. They’ll use that data to predict when you will be interested in buying diapers. Of course, they won’t stop there. They’ll know the gender of your baby when he/she is born, and be able to market to them as well. Lock them in at birth! This is valuable data for other companies too. PetCo will know if you’re buying dog food for your “older pet” and sell the data to insurance companies that will then encourage you to buy health insurance. Sound creepy? Creepier than the NSA logging your phone calls?

Sure, the NSA’s tracking activities should be a major concern, but you might also want to think about what advertising, marketing and data mining companies are doing “behind the scenes” with all those breadcrumbs you’re leaving behind.

I deactivated my Facebook account the other night. I had a few realizations:

1. I was getting all my news via Facebook.

2. I was losing a ridiculous amount of time reading my stream on Facebook.

3. My head was always down in my phone when I was out … checking Facebook.

4. I seemed to want to share mundane things. I mean, does anyone really care where I ate or want to see a photo of what I had for dinner?

5. Facebook had an interesting effect on my emotions. I noticed two things: posting on Facebook and generating comments made me feel good, like I’d achieved something. (You like me! You really like me!) I also noticed that more often than not, my Facebook stream could make me feel pretty bad about myself, just because my achievements couldn’t compare with those in my stream.

All that together and I realized that it was time for a break. It’s a snap, really, to deactivate your account. It takes less than 5 minutes. It’s worth mentioning that deactivating is like suspending an account. It’s temporary and I can easily reactivate at any time, with no loss of data. Deleting, on the other hand, is a whole different story. (Just ask Stan in South Park.)

I want to see if I’m more attentive to the real world around me. I want to know if I’ll get my time back, and what I’ll do with it. Will I just tweet more?  And with the ridiculous stream of people and “friends” on Facebook, will anyone notice if there’s one less voice in the cacophony? (I did accidentally send my closest girlfriends into a panic when they couldn’t find me online.)

Cartoon by Rap (from Deviant Art)

Cartoon by Rap (from Deviant Art)

Where will I get my news now, if not from Facebook? Will not being on Facebook affect me emotionally? Will it be a problem with all of the “sign in through Facebook” web sites? So there are a lot of little questions to this Great Experiment. I’d like to think I’ll find other things to do with my time. As for emotionally, it’s actually been freeing to not “need” to check in on Facebook all the time. No withdrawal yet!

Pages 2