Tag Archives: New Media

upgrade done

Workmen by Adrian Stewart

Workmen by Adrian Stewart

I just went from WordPress 2.0something-or-other to 2.7 yesterday. v2.7 has a very pretty, very usable dashboard. It claims it can auto-upgrade the core for me (which I’m scared of, but impressed by) and does the kind of browse-click-relax auto-install of plug-ins I’m familiar with from Gallery2.

If you haven’t upgraded, check it out. WordPress.org is running 2.7 from what I can see.

The primary goal of social networks is *not* communication

> “The primary goal of a social network is to connect people, to simplify their communication, and to help them stay in touch.”
[Alex Iskold on Read/Write Web](http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/facebook_what_if_more_is_less.php#more)

This view is widely held by people who have failed to understand [Granovetter’s idea of “weak ties”](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Granovetter#The_Strength_of_Weak_Ties) – contacts you can maintain with minimal maintenance. Social networks are not just your friends and your friends’ friends and so on. Social networks are a powerful notion (and “networking” such a powerful activity) because they include people who you can’t really call friends but with whom you have a positive, yet weak, relationship.

People in business don’t network to make friends. You don’t go to a conference, collect business cards and then try to “stay in touch” with everyone afterwards. That’s psychologically impossible except for very remarkable people. You can however maintain weak ties with vastly more people than you can maintain an intimate or even friendly relationship with.

> “At the center of Facebook today is the news feed – a dynamic listing of the collective activity of all your friends. The news feed shows updates from your friends, prompting you to explore their profiles and the site. When someone adds an application or befriends someone new or posts a video or a picture, the news feed directs you to their profile page to check it out.”

[Iskold’s argument](http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/facebook_what_if_more_is_less.php#more) seems to be that [Facebook](http://www.facebook.com) is a bad mix of ideas: more intimate and less professional than [LinkedIn](http://www.linkedin.com), less about communication than [MySpace](http://www.myspace.com), hence (possibly) doomed to fail. MySpace, he argues, puts communication right at the top of their priorities, whereas Facebook puts mere notifications of all the things your friends are doing at the top of profiles and The Wall, on which friends can write notes, right at the bottom.

If you assume that social networks are about communication, this is disastrous. In my experience though, Facebook hits a real sweet spot. I hated MySpace because it requires almost constant attention to the various messages people sent me, I couldn’t simply respond via email, I had to go read their comments on my profile, go to their profile, read the comment book and add my comment.

Too intense. Too personal. Too much time.

On Facebook, by contrast, I don’t do a lot of communicating and neither do most of my contacts. I have nearly 100 contacts, yet I feel closer to them because I note little things about them in their movie reviews, status updates and new befriendings. Contacts I do talk to a bit to reveal things they might not bother mentioning (getting their citizenship sorted out, having a small bout of seizures) that help me understand and empathize with them better. But contacts from decades ago are finding me and tracing the lines of their lives gives us both a way to become reacquainted from far away without the mandatory two days camping and drinking beer to catch up.

This gentle layer of developing intimacy makes me feel much less awkward about contacting people to ask for help in finding work, getting answers to questions and introducing people. My cold, dead office at LinkedIn on the other hand is characterized by a stony silence.

And all this takes me less than 10 minutes a day, or 20-30 once a week.

The primary goal of a social network is to connect people and help them maintain weak ties, not to simplify communication or help them stay in touch. We have email and IM. Staying in touch with everyone constantly is too much work.

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Big Hearts: Creative by Donation

My dear brother Shawn has started Big Hearts: Creative by Donation – which is intended to coordinate *pro bono* work by designers for charities and non-profits. Go take a look and think about whether you could offer your skills to some good organisation who might need it.

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Facade redesign

I’ve been putting [a simple façade page](http://www.timbomb.net/old-cherry-bomb-index.html) over the front of this site for a while to make a kind of index of projects. The times we live in have been wearing away my attachment to “timbomb” though… it gets more troubled reactions than it used to.

Then it occurred to me I could just wear away the associations a little. So I designed [a new façade](http://www.timbomb.net/) for the front. Drop me feedback if you’ve got any.

Yes, I know it’s got crappy accessibility. Don’t tell my students.

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Pop-ups on Integral World!?

Screenshot of Integral World showing pop-up I’m pretty sure that Frank Visser’s [Integral World](http://www.integralworld.net) site has pop-up ads. Every time I go there, I get a pop-up – when I go back or reload, I can’t replicate it, but it seems to keep happening. I’m sympathetic for the need for revenue to keep a big project like that going, or even to make it seem worthwhile, but… Pop-ups??

That plus the irritating frames layout are making it less and less pleasant to visit.

I’m just saying.

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Web Technology Silliness

_Caution: the following is a *little* childish._

My friend [Greg](http://www.gregt.org/) and I were comparing the websites of various religions and we figured we should take a look at the [Vatican](http://www.va) — who you’d assume would have a reasonable budget for web designers.

Now for context, I teach web technology, so I’m a bit of a snob about site design. The Vatican front page looks alright, but the “huge table full of images” approach is a bit ten years ago. The page has no DOCTYPE declaration so it won’t validate, the images don’t mostly have “alt” attributes so it’s not terribly accessible. All in all, it’s all a bit lame.

The funniest part was the page metadata:

content=”Gesù Cristo, Chiesa Cattolica, Vaticano, Papa Giovanni Paolo, Santo Padre, Cattolica Romana, Curia Romana, Jesus Christ, Catholic Church, Vatican, Pope John Paul, Holy Father, Roman Catholic, Roman Curia, Jésus-Christ, église catholique, vatican, saint-père, pape jean-paul, Curie Romaine, Catholique romaine, Der Heilige Vater, Die Römische Kurie, Johannes Paul, Der Heilige Stuhl, Vatikan”

Wait. No-one’s updated the metadata since JPII “crossed over”? Does [Benny](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Benedict_XVI) know?

In the end we decided to run the page through the [W3C Validator](http://validator.w3.org/) for a look at how badly the HTML didn’t validate. Then Greg had the idea that if you replaced “page” with “religion” in the validation report the results might be amusing. After that, things got a little out of control…

> No God found! Attempting validation with Jehovah 4.01 Transitional.
The God Declaration was not recognized or is missing. This probably means that the Formal Public Identifier contains a spelling error, or that the Declaration is not using correct syntax. Validation has been performed using a default “fallback” God Definition that closely resembles “Jehovah 4.01 Transitional”, but the religion will not be Valid until you have corrected this problem with the God Declaration.
You should place a God declaration as the very first thing in your Jehovah religion.

> You have used the doctrine named above in your religion, but the God you are using does not support that doctrine for this belief. This error is often caused by incorrect use of the “Strict” God with a religion that uses frames (e.g. you must use the “Transitional” God to get the “target” doctrine), or by using vendor proprietary extensions such as “marginheight” (this is usually fixed by using heresy to achieve the desired effect instead).
This error may also result if the belief itself is not supported in the God you are using, as an undefined belief will have no supported doctrines; in this case, see the belief-undefined error message for further information.

We’re thinking of suggesting the W3C might like to release a religion validator…

links for 2006-10-17