“The Perfect Match” by Ken Liu

A nifty short story about social media like Facebook, and where it’s all headed. Definitely worth the read:

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“I thought I told you I didn’t want that thing installed,” she said as he stepped out of his apartment. Her voice was garbled through some kind of electronic filter. In response to his questioning look, she gestured to the camera over Sai’s door.

Talking to Jenny was like talking to one of his grandmother’s friends who refused to use Centillion email or get a ShareAll account because they were afraid of having “the computer” know “all their business”-except that as far as he could tell, Jenny was his age. She had grown up a digital native, but somehow had missed the ethos of sharing.

“Jenny, I’m not going to argue with you. I have a right to install anything I want over my door. And I want Tilly to keep an eye on my door when I’m away. Apartment 308 was just burglarized last week.”

“But your camera will record visitors to my place, too, because we share this hallway.”

“So?”

“I don’t want Tilly to have any of my social graph.”

Sai rolled his eyes. “What do you have to hide?”

“That’s not the point-”

“Yeah, yeah, civil liberties, freedom, privacy, blah blah blah . . . ”

Sai was sick of arguing with people like Jenny. He had made the same point countless times: Centillion is not some big scary government. It’s a private company, whose motto happens to be “Make things better!” Just because you want to live in the dark ages doesn’t mean the rest of us shouldn’t enjoy the benefits of ubiquitous computing.

He dodged around her bulky frame to get to the stairs.

“Tilly doesn’t just tell you what you want,” Jenny shouted. “She tells you what to think. Do you even know what you really want any more?”

Sai paused for a moment.

“Do you?” she pressed.

via Lightspeed Presents . . . Presents… “The Perfect Match” by Ken Liu.

FB fans aren’t seeing your posts and how to fix it | The Always Upward Blog

Well, FB has gone public, and the other shoe has dropped. The end of the free ride on Facebook has begun!

The number shown doesn’t represent the number of your fans online at the moment; it’s the abysmally small number Facebook bothered to publish in newsfeeds.

Yeah. You read that correctly. Most of your fans don’t receive your posts.

At all. In any way, shape, or form. Facebook is only sharing them with fans who repeatedly return to your page, post on your page, comment on your page, or otherwise engage on your page.In other words, the minority.

The following day, another tidbit appeared, just to the right of the scary percentage—a “Promote” button. Tap that, and you’re asked to pay for the rest of your fans to see the post.

Uh huh. Read that one correctly too.

Pay to post.

Not to advertise—to reach the fans you already have. The ones who thought clicking “like” added you to their newsfeeds.

via FB fans aren’t seeing your posts and how to fix it | The Always Upward Blog.

Digital Nation

PBS in the US aired a fascinating documentary called Digital Nation this week which everyone should watch, but especially teachers since a lot of it deals with the issues of how social media and the net are affecting the classroom and student behaviors.

I myself have long felt there needs to be a paradigm shift in the way we teach kids today, as the old system is becoming less and less effective. That said, as this excellent documentary shows the over-stimulation provided by constantly being in touch with the world is actually harming students and their performance in some ways as well, so we need to be careful about how we go about this.

For example, today’s kids tend to be chronic multitaskers, something that isn’t helping them or their ability to focus or get their work done. They think they can handle it, but as this documentary proves, they clearly can’t. So give it a watch:

The Future of Facebook

I was listening today to a great episode of This Week in Tech wherein the main topic of discussion was Facebook and how it’s tricked it’s users with it’s new privacy rules. You should read a more detailed version here on Jason Calacanis’s blog, but the short version runs that when they updated the privacy settings what they didn’t tell you is that a lot of your crucial privacy settings were by default set to “everybody” if you had never played with them before. I guess they figure people who have played with them before would notice and make a stink, so instead they’re just praying upon the people who normally don’t think to play with their settings in the first place. Their hope is that most people will just click through the settings without looking at them, and thus leave themselves wide open to search engines and others who might value their information.

To continue to grow they need traffic and people being driven to facebook, and to have that happen a certain percentage of Facebook content needs to be searchable to available. People can google through Twitter posts, and it drives more and more traffic to the ever-growing threat of Twitter, so Facebook wants to do the same thing. To do that they need people to agree to turn off their privacy settings, and the best way to do that was to simply flash a contract that nobody reads in front of them and let them click them away. Presto! Problem solved!

Why would they do this? The answer, my friend, is the simplest one of them all- money. Later this year Facebook will have it’s first IPO (Initial Public Offering), or in layman’s terms they’ll be entering the stock market. At that point Facebook will be required to make a profit, and not just make a profit, but a continually growing profit or else they risk their investors abandoning them. But here’s the problem- while Facebook has finally hit profitability, the question is how long can they do it? And can they make that profitability grow?  It took five years to reach the benchmark of profitability, and they’re going to also need to use their assets to continue to make a profit.

The problem is their main asset is our information!

So what do you think they’re going to sell to make a profit? Two guesses, and the first one doesn’t count.

It shouldn’t be a surprise really, after all, they’re already letting anyone who creates a quiz or game literally walk away with not only all of your information, but those of your friends as well. Go take a quiz by the ACLU yourself, and see how vulnerable you really are, it will shock and surprise you.

So what is Facebook’s future? They will push their users when it comes to privacy breaches until their users close their accounts and walk away, and then Facebook will die a slow, lingering death. Another similar site or service will take it’s place, until they too also break faith with their users in trade for cash, and the cycle will continue on and on into the future. The only question is when Facebook will do this. I give them 2 years, tops.