Micro-blogging, Social Networking, and a Small Rant

Myspace is old hat and Facebook is quickly losing favour among the true techno-geeks (who had reserved opinions about Facebook to begin with). “What’s left?” is the question I’ve been asking myself.

Well, Twitter for one thing. Though some may consider Twitter old news as it was launched in 2006, I only recently decided to use it. That decision was based simply on the fact that I didn’t mind the idea of quickly posting a short message, or status update as it is sometimes called. Of course, Twitter has its own lingo. Posts are called “tweets” and posting something is “tweeting”. At first I was worried about the potential to get spam on Twitter, but it’s not easy to be spammed on Twitter because of how it’s designed. For those not familiar with Twitter, you create an account and set up a profile consisting of your “tweets”. Other “tweeters” can follow you, but you don’t have to follow them back. If you don’t follow them back, you don’t see their tweets (or spam, as the case may be). When you log in to Twitter, you see tweets from those people you are following. From there, you can reply to tweets or “retweet” (repost). It’s actually a nice, simple system of keeping people up-to-date on what you are up to and keeping up-to-date with others. Retweeting is nice because it reposts the original tweet and credits the person who wrote the tweet. Because a tweet has to be 140 characters or under, links are often shortened with a link shortening service such bit.ly.

I’ve been using Twitter for a while now, enough that I now have 145 tweets. It helps too that I can tweet from my Android phone using Twitter’s android app. When you’re on the go, posting 140 characters or less is easier to do in a short amount of time than trying to post a full blog.

Twitter is considered a micro-blogging site as well as a social network site. Having decided that I liked micro-blogging, I thought I should investigate other micro-blogging sites. The Wikipedia article linked above says, “Among the most notable services are Twitter, Tumblr, Plurk, Emote.in, Squeelr, Beeing, Jaiku and identi.ca.” Of those listed, I’ve checked out Tumblr and Plurk so far.

I heard about Tumblr through a friend who was using it to post to Twitter and thought I should check it out. It’s actually quite nice for a micro-blog. Your have your own profile page with just your blog posts. It looks almost as good as WordPress :) and you can select different themes. People can follow your Tumblr blog and those that do will see your blog posts on their “dashboard” when they sign into Tumblir. You can “like” posts by others and you can “reblog” other people’s posts (similar to retweeting). There are different types of posts in Tumblr. You can create text, photo, quote, link, chat, audio, and video posts. For those who want some of the functionality of a full blog, you can add a title to your text post and even send a post to Tumblr via email to a private email address linked to your Tumblr account. Tumblr won’t replace something like WordPress for those who want to write full-length article-type blogs with images and/or audio and/or video with commentary, but it has few more options than the straight text and link simplicity of Twitter. You can even set up the option to dial in from your phone and leave an audio post!

I’m sure there are a few other interesting things about Tumblr that I have not mentioned. I’ve only had it for one day so far. I think Tumblr is a nice option if I want to just quickly share a photo or video, and I may write some short posts on there instead of here. We’ll see. The thing is that I’m liking the option of being able to decide what to use. Next, I checked out Plurk.

Plurk is reportedly popular in Southeast Asia right now. It has a unique interface with a left and right scrolling timeline of “plurks”. “Plurk” is also meant to be used as a verb, similar to “tweeting”, but instead you are “plurking”. Plurk dispenses with a separate profile page and displays profile information below the timeline. When you are looking at your profile you see only your plurks. When you sign into your Plurk account, you will see the plurks of those you are following on the timeline. One thing I like about Plurk is the distinguish between “fans” and “friends”. Those who are following you are listed as “fans” and you are a “fan” of anyone you follow. I haven’t tried this yet, but I assume you need to add and accept friends. I like this distinction between “friends” and “fans” because it gives you the option of letting people follow you even if you don’t want to be “friends” with the person. Another interesting concept is the “karma” stat, though I’m unclear as to how important the karma stat is. So far I found out higher karma unlocks other emoticons (smileys) and allows you to modify your “profile”. Posts on Plurk can be public or private or for specific friends or a clique (you can create “cliques” or groups of friends), and they are short status updates. Plurks are preceded by a verb from a drop-down menu. You can select from: is, says, thinks, feels, wonders, was, has, asks, hopes, will, needs, wishes, wants, hates, gives, likes, loves, and shares. Shares has a further menu with the following options: photo, webcam photo, youtube+music, and link. You can also select the colon for a freestyle message.

Now, the neat thing is that I managed to figure out how to have this blog posted on Twitter, Tumblr, and Plurk. I also have Twitter and Plurk sending messages to Tumblr. Twitter has Tumblr and Plurk sending posts to it. Aside from this blog, I have not been able to send posts from other sites to Plurk. This will probably work fine for me right now as I still prefer full-length blogging (when I have the time). Nothing can replace free-form blogging. This blog entry, in fact, will be a nice test blog to see how well these sites work together. Notice that I have Tumblr and Twitter sending posts to each other. Hopefully this won’t cause too much confusion as my intent is to have a tweet that originated in Twitter be posted to Tumblr and a post that originated in Tumblr be posted in Twitter. Hopefully too, Tumblr will simply post the blog entry directly from here and not the posts that get sent to Twitter or Plurk since Twitter and Plurk are feeding into Tumblr. I’ll just have to see what happens and make any adjustments if needed.

What I also should do is work with RSS and figure out if I can have all these sites’ RSS feeds post to a webpage on my website. Though, I wonder if that’s really necessary. I have these sites linked on my main page now. In case you hadn’t noticed, I changed the main page to something simpler so that people can access some of the more interesting web pages on the site and easily get in contact with me. I also can’t send posts to Myspace, which is annoying, but okay I guess since I just don’t like using Myspace much… lol, but I rather like my profile page on there. Oh, I’ve also provided a link to my libre.fm profile for those curious as to what sort of music I like. I’m sure there’s a certain consistency about the music I like, even if it varies from gothic rock to alternative to trance to classical; and, I’ve provided a link to my lulu.com storefront, which I hope to expand with more books (someday!)

These links are also provided in the side menu on this blog page. Since I’m writing about them here, I will do people the favour of listing the links to my profiles on various social networking and micro-blogging sites thereby providing my readers here an idea of my aggregate online personality:

fey Morgaina on libre.fm
Fey Morgaina on Myspace
Follow me (feyMorgaina) on Tumblr
Follow me (@feyMorgaina) on Twitter
Follow me (feyMorgaina) on Plurk.com

So, feel free to follow me on any of those sites, though I can’t promise anything regarding Myspace. I’m not sure if I’m getting rid of it or using it or what.

You may be wondering about my Facebook profile. There really is no point in posting a link to that for two reasons: 1) it was meant to be a private profile; and 2) I am planning on deactivating my Facebook.

There are many reasons why I made this decision about Facebook. (Warning: serious ranting time) For one thing, it’s become clear that the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, does not hold the same principles as I do regarding “freedom of information and protection of privacy”. (In Ontario, there is actually an act by that name. I researched this while I was in college for my law clerk program and wrote a paper on it and the issues of freedom of information and privacy arguing that the individual still retains some right to personal privacy. I got an A on the paper. There’s a fine balance to be struck that some people just don’t get.) While I have no problems maintaining a public profile on some sites, I have found that his general lack of integrity in upholding his promises to his users regarding the privacy of Facebook is appalling. Had I signed up with Facebook knowing his intentions were to push it towards being public all along, I would have had the chance to think over what information I wanted to share on there. That was not the case. No, Facebook promised to keep your profile private unless you wanted it more public. Then, it recently made decisions to make public information I never wanted to be public. In the past year, each time Facebook has made changes to its site that have affected what I wanted to be public, I have had to remove information. I simply think that had Zuckerberg been more upfront about making Facebook more public, there would be less outrage from many of its users, many of whom signed up simply because it was supposed to be highly private. Better yet, he should have just made it public to begin with. Frankly though, he probably guessed that he would not have had as many users had it been public to begin with. I simply feel that he offered the assurances of privacy simply to attract users so that he could then turn it around and make everything public, all the while trying to claim that he could legally do so. This leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Facebook makes a lot of revenue from the advertisers and while Facebook started with minimal advertising, I foresee more advertising in the future on Facebook as I’m sure Zuckerberg is aiming for the billionaire status. I really don’t see why I should help someone whose principles I don’t agree with and whose integrity I question become a billionaire. I was willing to put up with Facebook for a while longer (I actually had reservations about it when I first signed onto it four or five years ago; I was one of the first people on it before it was open to public signups) despite the growing amount of advertising on it and the increasing push towards making our profiles public; however, it’s just the icing on the cake if by using Facebook I help Zuckerberg become a billionaire. And shall I mention those now infamous IMs of Zuckerberg’s to a “friend” back when he was in Harvard? Oh yeah, now that’s the extra double layer of icing on the cake. Zuckerberg, you dumb f*ck, no one appreciates being called a “dumb f*ck”. There, I feel better now. Ah, karma really is a b*tch.

~~~C
Your local webmistress and blogger

Leave a Reply