a few things on a Sunday

Thing 1: Effin’ Facebook

Facebook is such a piece of shit any more. When I check my news feed I get tons of updates from one person (who posts a lot but in a way that’s not annoying) and pretty much nothing else.

The new algorithm seems to base what you see in your news feed upon the people with whom you interact the most. And yes, I interact with her a lot because she posts a lot. Simple statistical analysis will show you that this is the most likely thing to happen, and it doesn’t at all mean that I don’t want to see the posts of people with whom I interact less frequently.

For example, I almost never get Ashley’s updates in my news feed. I don’t interact with her on Facebook because I friggin’ live with her. The fact the we’re engaged is something that we publish on Facebook, so I would think that Facebook would recognize that connection and assume that I would want to see what she posts. This is not the case. Almost every time I go to her profile I find updates I never saw in my news feed.

What Facebook’s algorithm effectively does is to take the human out of interactions. It preferences connections and interacts made only on Facebook and it qualifies the information it gives you based upon only those interactions. But it’s precisely the people who don’t post much that I want most to know about. I love my frequent-posting friend to death, but it’s nothing new to me when she posts yet again about how Doctor Who is awesome. But my friend in upstate New York who posts something maybe once every month? I really want to know when she posts something because I miss her quite often and I really do want to know what she posts. Facebook, though, doesn’t care that I miss her. That’s all too human.

In defending Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg said, “A squirrel dying in your front yard may be more relevant to your interests right now than people dying in Africa.” A horrible as that sounds, he’s absolutely right. The problem is that Facebook isn’t my front yard, yet it’s behaving as though it is.

Thing 2: F ‘n’ G

The internet lit up Friday afternoon with reports that Facebook is buying Gowalla. Sigh. To paraphrase Shakespeare: My only love bought by my only hate.

Well okay. Gowalla isn’t the only thing I love, but it’s the only location-based service I really use. I’ve talked about my love of it already…but I’ll admit that when the latest update included a feature called ‘stories’ I was a bit turned off. I suppose the idea is that, using Gowalla, you can put a story together about places you’ve been and people who were with you. But I’ve never really used it. I’m not interested in documenting my ‘stories’ online.

Mashable is right in pointing out that this is a perfect marriage with Facebook’s upcoming Timeline feature. But I suspect that when Facebook forces us all to switch to the timeline will be about the same day – or at least within the same week – that I quit. As for Gowalla, well I’m glad I at least got a screenshot of the sweet Disney World stamps I achieved when we went back in August, just in case Gowalla begins to suck as much as Facebook. As I suspect it will.

Thing 3: WTF?

I understand that the small size of our devices these days makes any type of long-term typing project incredibly odious. I also understand that more and more devices are going to a touchscreen keyboard instead of including a physical keyboard and some people don’t like that. And so it’s only natural that a whole market of keyboards-as-accessories has cropped up. Some will inevitably be better than others, though a lot of that will come down to personal preference.

But still. What the fuck is this?

Look at how small it is! How could that be in any way useful?! It’s essentially a cell-phone QWERTY keyboard married to what I assume is the world’s most unusable trackpad. Why? WHY?! And, as Ashley noted, it’s about the ugliest thing EVER! Good lord.

Yet. I’m sure people have – and will – buy it. Sigh.

Thing 4: What’s Goin’ On

I watched this this morning and it really, truly made me cry. For several reasons. I’ll let it speak for itself.

I wish people would just let people be okay.


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