Category: Social Media

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What’s Behind the Nextdoor?

In classic episodes of game show “Let’s Make a Deal“, Monty Hall lets participants choose from among three doors, with the expectation that something prize-worthy waits behind one. But what if there are disappointing gag-gifts behind all of them? The answer kind of explains my abandoning social network Nextdoor for the second—and surely—last time.

I quit Nextdoor in mid-October last year after joining in August 2017. Primary reason: Interaction turned negative my relatively positive attitudes about the neighborhood. But, about five months ago, I reactivated my account after kitties Laramie and Lupe were abandoned; I worked with other concerned residents and a real estate agent seeking to get the animals safely removed before the property was sold. Nextdoor facilitated communication. Rescue House put the bonded pair into a foster home, and as I write they’re still waiting to be adopted.

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A Purely Personal Purge

Today ends tight-integration between Google Drive and Photos, which when working on Chromebooks I earnestly depended for the fluidity of my imaging workflow. As expressed about three weeks ago, the change contributed to my decision to abandon all things Google. I have lost trust in the company’s commitment to treating users as customers; they are instead beta testers for products and commodities to be profited from. That’s the price paid for free.

I have waffled about Alphabet for more than a decade—delighting in beneficial innovation and ignoring even my own analysis about Google’s profiting from—no, exploiting—content created by others. As I have written before: “Google is a leech that feeds off the intellectual property of legitimate content producers. The search giant profits from your good work, reducing its value in the process. Stated differently, ‘You create it, we sell it, and you must give it away for free’. How convenient that Google assigns such value, free, to someone else’s good work, while producing little content of its own”.

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The Great Social Network Divorce

For years, I toyed with deleting my Facebook, opened on Oct. 1, 2006—or thereabouts. About an hour ago, I deactivated instead. Finally! It is first, important step. I only kept the thing live this long out of sentimentality—seeing as I signed on long before most people heard of the social network—and to maintain presence for family and friends.

But time to let go is long overdue. Facebook is a plague that encourages narcissistic addiction, as people chase Likes, comments, and the such. They’re like mice in a maze clicking the food dispenser. The social network’s construction is toxically habitual.

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Goodbye, Google+

Two months ago I posted to Google+: “On April 1, 2019, Google will ceremoniously announce that after conducting focus groups and consulting with loyal users, the company has reversed its decision to close down Google+. On April 2, 2019, Google will pull the plug as planned and tell us that we’re April Fools”.

There was no prank—and I was being facetious rather than prescient—but those of us who stayed to the end nevertheless were fools. The grand social media experiment is over. RIP, Google+: June 28, 2011 – April 2, 2019.

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I Quit Nextdoor Today

More than a year after first hearing locals rave about Nextdoor, I joined the social network, on Aug. 29, 2017. Late this afternoon, I deactivated my account. In principle, the concept is well-conceived: Build community among people living close to one another rather than interact across the far reaches of the InterWebs on the likes of Facebook. In practice, my experience is something else: Busy-bodies spend too much time complaining about their neighbors. I liked University Heights more when knowing less about the people living here—or the amount of hit-and-run accidents, package thefts, and other so-called crimes or problems amplified by hundreds of virtual megaphones. My sense of safety and well-being has greatly diminished from using Nextdoor. So no more!

No single incident precipitated my exit. Little things accumulated—like last week’s Cookies with the Cops meeting, where one police officer explained that if a so-called incident isn’t documented, “it didn’t happen”. He referred to the Get It Done app as the go-to place for non-emergency interaction with San Diego’s finest. He likened anything else to phone chains of old, where gossiping along a line of calls turned one thing into a hundred.

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Twitter is Right About the ‘Public Conversation’

I respect—and support—Twitter’s decision allowing Alex Jones to continue using the service. No other social network is as much about free expression, whether or not you agree with the viewpoints expressed there. I see YouTube in similar vain and, as such, wag my finger in condemning “shame on you” for following Apple’s lead and pulling Jones’ channel(s). (Vain is purposefully misused to make a point that I hope you get.)

For the record: I have never listened to or watched even a snippet of InfoWars. Meaning: I don’t stand up for Jones’ viewpoints but for his expressing them across social networks. 

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Caught in a Villainous Lair

Part of the reason, yesterday, I walked down Adams Ave. to Pet Me Please (for cat food) was to swing by Villainous Lair, which is a cool comics shop that also hosts gamers. Last week, I read a San Diego Reader news story by Mike Madriaga about the store closing on January 31.

Employees confirmed closure and the date, although much stock remained to be sold—50-percent-off list price this week. Role-playing game activities, along rows of tables and chairs in the back room, will continue as usual until the last day. Tonight, as part of a kind of send-off party, there also will be live Rocky Horror Picture Show in the store. I shot the Featured Image, of the shop, when leaving, using Leica Q. Vitals, aperture manually set for street shooting: f/8, ISO 100, 1/125 sec; 28mm; 1:59 p.m. PST.  

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You Can Call Me a Flickr Fool

Blame inertia, or stupidity. On Dec. 29, 2016, I boasted: “I am abandoning Yahoo and its photo-sharing site, for many of the reasons stated seven months ago. My Flickr Pro account expires in September, and I will cancel a few weeks earlier to prevent auto-renewal. In the meantime, I consider my Flickr officially closed, and I will no longer use it”. Ah, yeah, that didn’t happen.

In preparation for my Flickr finale, back in July, I blocked the service from using my PayPal to auto-renew. Twenty-four days ago, I unsurprisingly received email that payment processing failed. Second-thoughts overwhelmed. While Yahoo is a mess, Verizon has since taken ownership—and my family now uses Red’s cellular service. There’s synergy there. Besides, my low-cost renewal remained in place: $44.95 for another two years. The standard service fee is $5.95 per month, or $49.95 yearly. Smitten with angst, I paid up. 

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Mom’s Memorial Got Me to Thinking…

In June 2009 missive “Iran and the Internet Democracy“, I explained how then-recent contextual cloud services used with cell phones had begun, in just three years, to dramatically empower anyone and everyone to self-broadcast/report in ways that not long earlier was the monopoly of media professionals. I have repeatedly revisited this concept since, particularly as more tools became available, mobile broadband expanded reach while becoming less costly, and consumer behavior adapted to the opportunities presented. Most recently, in April 2017: “Praise Be Citizen Journalists“.

Today, the memorial service for my mom, who died August 5th, took place in Burlington, Vt. The church broadcast the farewell live online, via Ustream, which was founded in 2007. But had the family chosen to instead hold a more intimate gathering, anyone with a smartphone could have shared the send-off via a number of services, such as Facebook Live, Periscope, YouTube, or, yes, Ustream, among others. FB opened to the public in September 2006; Live, to everyone, in April 2016. Periscope: March 2015. YouTube is the grandpa service, officially opening in November 2005 but live streaming for the masses debuted only about four months ago.

The power is in your pocket to broadcast to anyone, anywhere, at anytime. Just ask all those crazy Instagrammers and SnapChatters. They know.

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Praise Be Citizen Journalists

On this Easter, like others, I think about resurrection—but this day, strangely, how it should apply to the news media. Three years ago, I wrote largely-overlooked ebook Responsible Reporting: Field Guide for Bloggers, Journalists, and Other Online News Gatherers. The concept germinated from my June 2009 essay “Iran and the Internet Democracy“, following protests in the country that citizens documented on social media/self-publishing platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, which at the time were little more than three years old (with respect to availability to the public). I predicted that these nascent services would disrupt editorial monopolies on news and other information, which has occurred in varying degrees during the nearly eight years since.

By March 2010, a troubling trend lead me to write what would become the other genesis for the book: “The Difference Between Blogging and Journalism“. Too many news gatherers single-source blog and socially-shared posts, without independently confirming their accuracy. As I have told my reporters over the years, when working as an editor: Write only what you know to be true. If you haven’t communicated directly with the source, then you don’t know what’s true. But I am more disturbed by social media activity that mainstream media presents as news, such as stories that turn trending topics, or simply single tweets, into clickable headlines. Often they’re unconfirmed filler for driving pageviews. 

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Where News Reporting Bias Replaces Fact-Gathering

The inauguration of Donald Trump as 45th President of the United States continues the fine tradition [sarcasm] that became commonplace news reporting following his election victory: Advocacy over accuracy. In my book Responsible Reporting: Field Guide for Bloggers, Journalists, and Other Online News Gatherers—and on this website—I explain there is a legitimate role for advocacy journalism (full book chapter). But over the past couple of months—with adverse and antagonistic Trump reporting exploding across the new, news, and social media landscape—misinformation and mischaracterization became normal and accepted. The trend is dangerous, as bias replaces fact-gathering. The precedents are dangerous for all news reporting, not just about Trump.

Yesterday’s blog posts, social media shares, and even some mainstream news media reports about the Whitehouse.gov website are examples—and they also are metaphors for the twisting of facts to (presumably) reflect the writers’ personal biases. What should be legitimate reporting of events are instead editorial comments—no, character assassinations—by news gatherers with clear anti-Trump agendas. Every news blogger or reporter who opposes Trump (and/or his administration’s real or presumed policies) should add a disclaimer stating this bias. 

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You’ve Been Misled About Fake News

I am ashamed and embarrassed to be a journalist. This past week’s coordinated attacks on so-called fake news sites—largely orchestrated by the mainstream media and supported by Internet gatekeepers like Google and social media consorts such as Facebook or Twitter—is nothing less than an assault on free speech by organizations that should protect it.

They blame so-called fake news sites for influencing the 2016 Presidential election in favor of real-estate mogul Donald Trump and seek to extinguish them. But the Fourth Estate really responds to a perceived threat that looks to upend the mainstream media status quo. More appalling is the rampant advocacy journalism wrapped in cloak of objectivity from news orgs like the New York Times and the Washington Post. Meaning: Anti-Trump editorial policy and reporting slants are as biased as the labeled fakers. Worst of all: Many, if not most, media outlets fail to acknowledge, if even see, how they failed the American public during the campaign. Their accusations should point inwardly, not outwardly to other information disseminators.

So there is no misunderstanding: I am not a rabid Trump supporter, but a journalist who separates personal sentiments from my ethical responsibilities. More of my peers should do likewise.