I think that I’m finally figuring out this social web stuff for myself

I’m a Generation X geek. This means that all this web 2.0 and social networking stuff doesn’t scare me (I was on BBSes before the internet y’all), but it also means that I’m not into giving away all my creative output for free or sharing personal details with strangers. It also means that I’m experienced enough to know that stuff I put out online can come back to haunt me (there are net news posts from 1988 that I can still find in searches that make me cringe). So, I give a thought to what I put out into the inter-ether.

With all that in mind, it is a bit tough to figure out what is appropriate to post on all the various social networks that I am continually dragged into and websites that I have (like this one).  After some serious thought, I think I’m figuring out a taxonomy that works for me: I post nearly no personal details in public forums. That may not make sense given that you are reading my opinions right now on my blog. However, my opinions are free to the world, the details of my personal life are my own business.  You want to write a blog about the intimate details of your personal life, that is great. I just like to choose who I talk about that stuff. Reading this blog, you can figure out a lot of what I care about and you can see who I am as a person, but you don’t really know me (unless you know me). That means that if I share those details of my life with you, it is a statement about our relationship.

Sites like Facebook are a bit different. There, I have an explicit trust circle that can only see details once we are connected. I really like this. I only add people as friends on Facebook if I really know them off-line. This means I can share more, although I still have to be careful because of the mixture of business and personal contacts in that environment.

The way I use twitter actually surprises me a bit. I put way more personal stuff into twitter than I do in other social networks. This is weird given how public my tweets are. However, with Twitter, the messages are so short that they are pretty meaningless without the context of a personal relationship. So a tweet may be meaningless to someone that doesn’t know me, but provides fascinating details to a friend.

These are just some of my thoughts that have been evolving around this. I’d be interested in hearing what other people’s takes on this are. Especially from my generation or older.

enough with the silos and security-holes already

Hey social networking sites, can we just cede the video sharing to youtube, the audio sharing to myspace, the photo sharing to flickr and the rest to whatever. At least, can you all stop forbidding embedding of each others’ content? It is such a pain in the ass to have to upload each video or mp3 to 18 different websites. Most everyone I know is already on all of them anyway. My network varies in size from site to site, but it’s pretty much the same people. Can you guys think of something new for a change instead of trying to be the next facebook or myspace and failing catastrophically? (especially since you can’t think of a new twist on the idea)

On a related topic, consolidating the stuff from all these different sites is a good idea, so friendfeed and plaxo and facebook apps, well done. Now if you can do it without having me give you my login details to all those other sites. Sure random web 2.0 startup, I’ll give you all my login details (won’t that work well when we have OpenID), and I’ll trust that you’ll never do anything bad with them no matter who buys you. I can’t believe that people give this kind of info out…

Network Solutions is evil

I’ve been a network solutions customer for many many years now. Partially, because when I first registered my domains, they were the only registrar. Later, I would occasionally register a new domain with them if it was important. I never trusted GoDaddy or some of the other discount registrars, NetSol seemed to be more professional and trust-worthy.

No longer… they just jumped to the front of the evil queue.

Network Solutions Using Questionable Tactic to Sell More Domain Names

As of Tuesday, if a user does a search on the site for a domain name, Network Solution immediately registers the domain in their own name. If the user then goes to a discount registrar to register the domain, it shows as unavailable. The user must then either not buy the domain, or go back to Network Solutions and pay their $35/year fee.

Dear Radiohead and the rest of the music industry

I applaud you, Radiohead, for doing such a forward-thinking experiment with your distribution for InRainbows. However, you’ve unfortunately made sure that any data you receive from this experiment will be useless. Why? Well, because your website and ordering process are HORRIBLE. I had so many problems getting your website to work that I almost gave up. I’m now concerned that I paid for it at all. I’m scared for the safety of my personal data. Really, it is 2007, get a web designer who knows what they are doing.

Secondly, you also seem to have gone out of your way to make sure that the downloaded tracks themselves are sub-standard. I’d heard that the mp3s you are distributing were at 128 kBps, which would have been ridiculous. I see now that they are at 160 kBps which is just lame. How about 192 kBps or higher? I would have gladly paid $10 for this record at a higher bitrate. Given the bitrate you are distributing it at, I decided only to pay $5. Also, where is the cover art? How about tossing a jpg into the zip file with the album cover? Maybe a text file with some liner notes. Just because you aren’t shipping shiny plastic discs around, it doesn’t mean that all previous ideas with the album were bad.

Hey, here’s an idea. Give the album away for free at 128 kBps, charge a nominal fee ($5-$10) for a 200 kBps or higher bitrate.

How about an optional survey section at the end so that I could have told you this instead of posting it on my blog?

So Trent, and other artists considering following in Radiohead’s footsteps (although they weren’t the first to do this honestly), try downloading the tracks yourself and see how much easier it would be to do something much better for your listeners.

I may just do this with the next Intonarumori album…

Interesting article on Ruby vs PHP

I’ve been doing PHP for a little while, but I’m always hearing about how much better Ruby on Rails is. Luckily, Derek from CDBaby decided to rewrite his site with Rails and actually decided that PHP was better for some stuff.

7 reasons I switched back to PHP after 2 years on Rails – OReilly Ruby

I spent two years trying to make Rails do something it wasn’t meant to do, then realized my old abandoned language PHP, in my case would do just fine if approached with my new Rails-gained wisdom.

f’ing A! CSS Positioning sux

Every time I try to use CSS for positioning, I hit the wall. Gradually, this wall has been getting further and further, but I still always hit it. First I couldn’t get things to lay out correctly at all. Now I can get them to lay out, but only on three of the four browsers at any one time. Then I read this and it makes me feel better:
jwz – CSS is BS

I have learned or in some cases reconfirmed a few other things about CSS, too:

  • Web designers, and especially blogging web designers, are self-important fuckheads. This might be tolerable if they were right, but by and large theyre also dumbasses.
  • Everybody who fancies themself a CSS expert uses pixel-based layout for everything. Their shining examples of elegance always include boxes that are exactly 400 pixels wide, and that specify font sizes in pixels not even points This is better than auto-flowing auto-sizing table layout… why?
  • Most of the time, these examples look like ass on my screen, presumably because Im not running Windows and dont have the same fonts that they do. Or maybe because theyre all using 50-inch monitors and sit with their noses on the glass, the only way those miniscule fonts could actually look readable to someone.
  • They never measure in “em” units, so that their boxes might have at least some relation to the size of the text inside them.
  • This may or may not be because “em” doesnt work consistently across various browsers.
  • Oh, “em”, a term from the world of physical typesetting, is supposed to be the width of a capital letter M, and used only for horizontal measure; the vertical measures are ascent, descent, leading, and sometimes “ex” height of a lower case “x”. CSS defines “em” as being the height of an M instead making it synonymous with “ascent”, which makes it generally about twice as big as youd expect if you know anything about this stuff. Nice. Thats like redefining “centimeter” because it seemed more convenient at the time. Except sillier, since “em” is an older unit of measure than centimeter is.

Is Second Life over yet?

How Madison Avenue Is Wasting Millions on a Deserted Second Life

Ever since BusinessWeek ran a breathless cover story titled “My Virtual Life” more than a year ago, reporters have been heralding Second Life as the here-and-now incarnation of the fictional Metaverse that Neal Stephenson conjured up 15 years ago in Snow Crash. Wired created a 12-page “Travel Guide” last fall. Unfortunately, the reality doesnt justify the excitement.

Second Life partisans claim meteoric growth, with the number of “residents,” or avatars created, surpassing 7 million in June. Theres no question that more and more people are trying Second Life, but that figure turns out to be wildly misleading. For starters, many people make more than one avatar. According to Linden Lab, the company behind Second Life, the number of avatars created by distinct individuals was closer to 4 million. Of those, only about 1 million had logged on in the previous 30 days the standard measure of Internet traffic, and barely a third of that total had bothered to drop by in the previous week. Most of those who did were from Europe or Asia, leaving a little more than 100,000 Americans per week to be targeted by US marketers.

Bank Failure in Second Life Leads to Calls for Regulation

Last week, Ginko Financial — an unregulated bank that promised investors astronomical returns (in excess of 40 percent) and was run by a faceless owner whose identity is still a mystery — announced it would no longer exist as a financial entity.

The declared insolvency meant the bank would be unable to repay approximately 200,000,000 Lindens (U.S. $750,000) to Second Life residents who had invested their money with the bank over the course of its three and a half years of existence.

Second Life: on the decline

Virtual marketers have second thoughts about Second Life – Los Angeles Times

At http://www.secondlife.com — where the cost is $6 a month for premium citizenship — shopping, at least for real-world products, isn’t a main activity. Four years after Second Life debuted, some marketers are second-guessing the money and time they’ve put into it.

“There’s not a compelling reason to stay,” said Brian McGuinness, vice president of Aloft, a brand of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. that is closing its Second Life shop and donating its virtual land to the nonprofit social-networking group TakingITGlobal.

For some advertisers, the problem is that Second Life is a fantasyland, and the representations of the people who play in it don’t have human needs. Food and drink aren’t necessary, teleporting is the easiest way to get around and clothing is optional. In fact, the human form itself is optional.

Their interests seem to tend toward the risque. Ian Schafer, chief executive of online marketing firm Deep Focus, which advises clients about entering virtual worlds, said he recently toured Second Life. He started at the Aloft hotel and found it empty. He moved on to casinos, brothels and strip clubs, and they were packed. Schafer said he found in his research that “one of the most frequently purchased items in Second Life is genitalia.”

Another problem for some is that Second Life doesn’t have enough active residents.

On its website, Second Life says the number of total residents is more than 8 million. But that counts people who signed in once and never returned, as well as multiple avatars for individual residents. Even at peak times, only about 30,000 to 40,000 users are logged on, said Brian Haven, an analyst with Forrester Research.

Others just want to access a larger community than Second Life offers. Between May and June, the population of active avatars declined 2.5%, and the volume of U.S. money exchanged within the world fell from a high of $7.3 million in March to $6.8 million in June.


dear nytimes magazine

you sure do have some great articles. However, when I put a bunch of ’em in tabs, Firefox is lighting up like a pinball machine with all the re-loading your pages do for distributing your adverts. That’d be annoying enough, but all those forced pings to you server to grab adverts I’ll never see is running down the battery in my laptop like the dickens. Wake up to the new web technologies, morons.