DogHouseDiaries on social media’s simmering privacy policies

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Social Media is an important way to interact with friends and colleagues, and in many cases, with colleagues, customers and suppliers. It can be a powerful tool, but it can also be an incredible productivity sinkhole.

It is also a fact that many of the major social media services have progressively and slowly evolved (eroded) their terms of service to decrease privacy.

Today’s DogHouseDiaries comic beautifully expresses this.

Personally I minimise my time on social networks, sticking mainly to Twitter and LinkedIn. I use Google+ and Facebook selectively, and then only in dedicated (read: sandboxed) apps, or in a browser that I only use for these sites. I don’t access Google or Facebook from my main browser.

App.Net goes free. Hopefully not into free-fall.

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The Twitter-alternative social network known as App.Net (ADN) has gone free, in a way, as of today.

Launched initially as a paid service, ADN has had a special feel about it as the signal-to-noise ratio is excellent, with spamming non-existent, and actual conversations between what seem to largely be real people. The value proposition was that being a paid service, we users were the customers, not the product.

In the press release today, ADN founder Dalton Caldwell (@dalton) was almost apologetic in his justification for introducing free accounts. More importantly, however, he overviewed the ways in which the free accounts will be limited. Apart from having to be invited by a (paid) member of ADN, there will be other restrictions…

Free tier accounts are similar to paid tier accounts, but with a few limitations. These limitations are as follows:

  • Free tier accounts can follow a maximum of 40 users
  • Free tier accounts have 500 MB of available file storage
  • Free tier accounts can upload a file with a maximum size of 10 MB

Over the last few months, ADN has dropped it’s subscription price, and then added storage space for use with apps. It looks like they’re trying to get app developers to use ADN as a backend with a social network attached, rather than a Twitter alternative social network with a back end attached.

Marco Arment (@marco) sums up a key issue with ADN’s confused value proposition:

Worse yet, if I build an app that requires App.net, it still effectively requires a paid App.net account for my customers to use it, because the chances that they’ll already have been given a free-account invitation from another member are nearly zero.

A major problem with Twitter is that as a freemium service, we users are the product which Twitter sells to its advertisers. The signal-to-noise ratio is out of control, with a lot of spamming, and predominately broadcast based messages from various celebrities.

ADN offered us an alternative world, but it looks clear to me that this world has failed to get sufficient momentum. High profile users like Stephen Fry have dropped their accounts, and powerhouse users like John Gruber, John Siracusa and others have reduced their participation.

I suspect that ADN is confused about what their product actually is.

  • Is ADN a social media network? If so, where are the users?
  • Is ADN a storage platform? If so, what is the compelling proposition against Dropbox, Amazon S3 or CloudApp? And why would we pay for it in addition to the cost of the app?

I want ADN to survive and thrive. But as a founding user, I am not at clear anymore as to its value proposition. I hope that by going free, ADN isn’t starting down a path to a free-fall.

I am @desparoz on ADN. Come and say g’day.

AFR: Tweets, Facebook posts track fire hotspots

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IMG_1135The Australian Financial Review has a good article describing the role played by social media in getting the word out about fire warnings during the potentially catastrophic confluence of weather we had on Tuesday.
As discussed in my post on the the NSW Bushfires and the Fires Near Me app, agencies like the NSW Rural Fire Service and the NSW Police, backed up by media like the ABC have used Twitter very effectively to get the word out. The RFS’ Fires Near Me NSW app served this purpose well, as did their website and the bulk SMS sent out to people in the areas declared to have a catastrophic fire risk.

So far, this situation has been dealt with very effectively by the agencies concerned, and I hope people will continue to use the tools and heed the warnings passed on.

Social Media 2013 Video

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I’ve been a fan of Eric Qualman’s (T: @equalman) writings and videos on social media for several years now, and am happy to see his Social Media 2013 Video.

I love some of the quotes/stats from the video, including:

  • 1 in 5 couples meet online; 3 in 5 gay couples meet online
  • Every minute 72 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube

If you like Eric’s stuff, consider buying his book Socialnomics.

As an aside, I find it interesting that Eric is not yet on App.Net. It shows perhaps that ADN is still largely a geek thing, but it will be interesting to watch its trajectory…

Social Media Revolution 3

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Its strange that in 2011 there are still businesses operating with the belief that Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+ and more) are fads, and that social media doesn’t have a direct business role to play.

Over the past few years, I’ve enjoyed Erik Qualman’s Social Media Revolution slideshow that he has put together with stats from (and presumably to promote) his book SocialNomics. He has recently released version 3 of this presentation and its well worth watching, and taking note of.

I guess that the businesses that don’t get social media are destined to be part of (or follow) the 40% of Fortune 500 companies that won’t be here in 5 years.

Social Media – Its a First Person Thing

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Our new Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has started tweeting (@JuliaGillard), following on from our ex-PM Kevin Rudd (@KevinRuddMP). Where Kevin07 seems to speak for himself, dropping anecdotes and one liners, Ms Gillard’s tweets are clearly from a staffer. Consider these examples (the last three as of this writing):

The first is clearly written on her behalf by someone – either that or she’s speaking about herself in the third person.

The other two are in quotes, indicating she is quoting someone. Considering that she doesn’t cite who she is quoting, I can only guess that she is quoting herself. Again, either someone is tweeting for her, or she is tweeting in the third person.

Social media, especially Twitter, is first person communication. It is one-to-many and simultaneous many-to-one communications, and it is marked by personal, direct and to-the-point messages.

I think her tweeting style is wrong, and it is going to show the tech community that she is not in touch.

I would make 2 suggestions for our PM.

  1. Write your own tweets and do it in a personal manner; or
  2. If you can’t do that, make sure your staffers make it look like you are personally tweeting

If you can’t do one or the other of these, I’d suggest renaming your account to something like “TheOfficeOfJuliaGillard”.

Update 14 July 2010

Since the original post, PM Gillard has made 1 more tweet:

Today I announced the Education Tax Rebate will be extended to cover uniforms. We need to make education more affordable. JG

I don’t know whether someone gave her feedback along the lines of my comments above, or whether these directly got to her, but I do like that the most recent tweet is first person, and quite probably seems to be from her personally.