Facebook: Keeper of the Rules

Jon Swift was kicked out of Facebook. Why? Because Facebook determined he didn't use his real name, which is in violation of their TOS. I'm so torn in my opinion on this. Maybe its because of my curse in seeing all sides of a matter, but more importantly I think its because there are 2 very strong sides in the matter.

On one hand, I can understand the security arguments. It would unnerve me to find out someone I interacted with online wasn't really who they said they were. And I understand that this is why sites have TOS. If you want to play, you have to follow the rules. I also see how not using your real name can directly fight the notion of transparency in social media and networking. I mean, if you aren't transparent with something as basic as your name, how can you be trusted with your intentions in interactions?


Does using your own name really ensure honesty, transparency, and intent? I mean, just because you post your real name to your Facebook account means that everything you say is ok, and it can be assumed that your intention for participation is honest? I think that is naive. I post under my screen name "deziner" all the time. Does that make me less qualified to participate in the conversation?

I think requiring people to open themselves up in a way that is uncomfortable to many by requiring their name is is stifling the conversation. Just because someone doen't use their real name, because they may be worried about supplying personal information, does not make their contributions any less credible, or useful, or inspiring, or any other positive adjective we attach to the open dialog. In fact, in this new world, I think the merits of the contributions are what should be monitored and evaluated, not the name behind it. If I am offensive to the community, if I am caught deliberately lying and manipulating for the sake of my own benefit, or I am using my contributions to cause harm to others, then action is sanctioned. But if I am just me, and just happen to be known online as "deziner" and not "Cindi" I shouldn't be removed from the conversation.Personal opinion

I know. If "Jon Swift" didn't like the rules, he should have gone somewhere else. But I say, if Facebook or others like them don't want to truly forward the conversation and connections, they should have evaluated their rules in place in the first place.


Messages to the Brand also apply to the Person.

I was recently engaged in a conversation with a colleague regarding their trepidation to jump into the conversation and "put themselves out there" in regards to the social netmosphere, (a term I use in my own thinking, not necessarily part of the English language) and it prompted me to draw some parallels to the messages we are delivering to our clients. If you think about it, the same requirements apply to you as a "Person" participant as apply to the "Brand" participant.

  1. You have to decide to participate. If you are dragged in, its the wrong attitude, and you won't benefit.
  2. You have to be willing to let go of control. Your words/thoughts become part of the whole, to be shaped and used as others see fit. You have to be comfortable with that.
  3. You have to be willing to hear the bad along with the good. Not everyone will agree with you, or even acknowledge you all the time.
  4. You have to talk with not at others. Nobody likes a sandbox bully. It's "we" now, not "me."
Since we know the its the minority that contribute, perhaps if we acknowledge these "objections" to participating in the conversation on a personal level, the same way we educate brands, that minority would become the majority. Can you imagine the power that would bring?


Twitter - just a conversation

I just read Dr. Mani's post, relating Twitter to coffee room conversations. Read it here.

There's been much debate around Twitter and platforms like it. Many just don't "get it." They don't see the purpose, or what it can do for them, or why they should play. But like so many other social web outlets, Twitter is just another tool that is bringing already established social interactions to a new medium. Twitter is merely a conversation. One that you participate in or merely listen to. And like offline conversations, the subject matters vary from from personal, to business, to directional. The fact that people Tweet about the lunch the are eating, does not in and of itself make Twitter invaluable, it makes it more real. Because people talk about the lunch they are eating offline as well. They also talk about blog posts that might be of interest to you, theories that make you think and when and where you might meet for a drink.

I think the questions becomes one of personal preference rather than validity of a platform. There are people who like to converse and connect with others, and there are those that don't. Plain and simple, no right or wrong. My suggestion is, if you are on Twitter, choose who you follow carefully. Choose those who you find value in their words, and want to hear about. Hmmm... sounds like some other words of advice I've heard... "choose your friends wisely." It's amazing how it how it all circles back, isn't it?


The ultimate in peer influence

There has got to be a better argument out there for social networking than "everybody's doing it." I mean, really? I understand the underlying message... that whether you are out there or not, others are, and you can't change that. But it seems to me there should be some more concrete evidence to make the argument. Although, if you think about it, the peer pressure angle might make the most sense. I mean, we are talking about peer influence, and what illustrates the point better then peer pressure itself?


Social Networking: beyond the web

Forgive me, I'm a little behind, but I just read this post (thank you Twitter!) about how deep rooted the social networking urge is. If you haven't seen it... check it out.

I've been mulling the underlying drivers of the success, or should we say invasion, of social networking and an interesting thought crossed my mind while talking about neighborhoods the other day. I don't know about you, but since I have been little, the concept of the "neighborhood" has changed drastically. Remember the directive from Mom to "be home for dinner?" And that was the extent of checking in you had to do? We'd be gone for HOURS playing with the neighborhood kids, hanging out at other's houses, exploring the world. From what I gather in talking to parents nowadays, that doesn't happen very often anymore. It can't happen. It's a different world and parents are too smart (or scared) to let their kids roam the streets until the street lights come on. Am I generalizing? Probably. And there may still be a slew of kids playing in the street right now, but I would bet not as many as before.

But that "playing" had more to do with building our "social network" than anything else. And the neighborhood mindset extended to more than just the kids who lived there. Families gathered during summer evenings and talked about what was going on, and who was moving in or out. There was more of a feeling of a "group" and being a part of it. That's changed. I've seen the transformation. People stay to themselves more now. It's safer, less risky.

But that doesn't change the innate need to be social. We can't fight it. And now that we are less apt to reach out in person, we turn to other opportunities, like online, to fulfill that need. Perhaps that is why social networking has taken off. Maybe that's why people flock to online reviews and interest groups. Why people love Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn. It provides the connections that people are craving, in a less risky arena. But that may not be what keeps them there. Climbing the social ladder is so much easier in this new world. Here they have control over who they interact with, what they contribute and who listens. Powerful. So maybe this shift goes beyond the wanting to be heard. Maybe it's really filling a void we weren't aware we had. And if that's true... online social networking is far bigger, in every sense of the word, than any of us could have imagined.


Need to know the "Why?"

It's pretty much common knowledge now for those of us who keep up with stuff of this nature that peers hold more weight than brand messaging when it comes to influence. The obvious reason for that is the big word "trust" and that traditional marketing is seen as "any thing to make the sale." There's an ulterior motive. Makes sense, I'm on board.

But I'm not content with that. In my job, in what I do, that's not enough. I need to know the "why." Why? Because the "why" is the real phenomenon. The "why" is the kernel of insight that will allow successful solutions and experiences to be crafted. Working off of "people don't trust marketing messages" doesn't give me a lot to go off of. How do you combat that? It is the reason companies are abandoning their marketing tactics. But how do we know that is right either? I think if we take a step back and pretend we are 4 years old again, we might get at something. Remember being 4? Or have you been around a 4 year old lately? They play the "why" game. All. the. time. Anything that can be said can be asked "why." Why? Because the question applies to everything. Why? Because everything is the universe can be questioned. Why?...

See what I mean?

So. I think if we took a moment and started asking those "whys," that is when we will get at the information we need to understand. I'm starting to think it's just basic human nature. And the masses will follow whoever they are made to feel a part of. So if brands can do that better than peers, is there a chance to be a big player in the game of influence again?

hmmm.... but why?


Are we swinging too far ?

I was in a meeting with a client yesterday and they asked my my opinion on whether companies/brands should be able to add/change information to the entry about their business on Wikipedia. Or is that is infringing on the dialog? My answer: as long as the business doesn't hinder others input, why shouldn't they? If we are talking that the new way of the world is an open 2 way communication between companies and consumers, those companies have as much of a right to be in that conversation. I think we have to make sure that we don't swing to far to the other side of this mind shift, and disallow the owners of the brand to tell their side of the story. It's participatory, not exclusionary. Everyone needs to play by the same rules, and everyone should be heard. Isn't that what this is all about?


Changing the world

I've been doing some reading on the legitimacy and trust in user generated content(UGC). Interesting dynamics going on... UGC is often given more weight in the mind of people, but there is also a trepidation on many's part to take UGC at face value because of the inherent bias attached to it. There's also lots of talk about the influence UGC has over, well, basically everything now.

Which led me to my thought for the day... I was recently in a conversation where the topic of Wikipedia and its legitimacy was in question. Given the nature of the origin of the information, were people inadvertently taking inaccurate information that they read on the site as truth? Yes.

But. If enough people write the same "wrong" information. And enough people begin to believe it, what power that contains! I think this social phenomenon may have the power to alter reality for the masses, even if it doesn't mean too. If enough people see the word "red" and is told it is blue, doesn't eventually that word become the identifier for that color? Perhaps it is a stretch, but the influence this new world affords can be a bit scary. And oh so exciting!


Web 2.5


We are all intimately familiar with Web 2.0 and all its tenants. Maybe not ALL its tenants, because there still may be a few still lurking waiting to be uncovered. But I digress. This new focus in communication has been very exciting, and has brought a completely new layer of importance to the Web. But I for one am very much looking forward to Web 2.5. What is that you may ask? By no means is that an official term, but to me it represents the normalization that occurs, and the separating of philosophy or approach from execution that tends to happen with big "waves" of innovation on the Web.

Web 2.0 often equates to "community" in the minds of many. It's easy to do. The connection is very strong, but it is not true. Online "community" has become the new portal. Remember that? The days of every brand/company wanting to become THE portal for their industry or area of expertise? Problem with that was any given company was never the all encompassing owner of their industry, and with everyone calling users to their site to find every resource they could ever want on a topic, it diluted everyones' messages. Even worse, users often didn't get the information they really were looking for. Sometimes, they just wanted to find a phone number, not every resource link on the topic of medical supplies.

The same is happening now. I hear it every day. "We want our site to be THE community people can go to talk about foot odor. We want message boards and blogs to offer to our users!" Really? Will people really be looking to you Foot Powder brand to supply an avenue to talk to others? Maybe. Most likely not. Just because we are living Web 2.0 doesn't mean that every application that is related is a solution.

But, the portal demand diminished when people realized it wasn't the portal users wanted, it was more and related information, organized in a way to help them save time. The same will happen with Web 2.0. Web 2.0 will be divorced from its connection to community when the light bulb goes on that it may not be message boards people want, but rather a seat at the table in the discussion, and insight into peer pulse. Will communities go extinct? Absolutely not, but I believe Web 2.0 will begin to reach further into the realm of driving factor, rather than tactical implementations.

Think "Web 2.5" is copyrighted?


I am so down with the Virtual Tour de France

The anticipation of the Tour de France this year was hard for me to contain. Basically, I saw a Tour with free competition. No repeat winner would be in the tour no veteran favorites per se, just the complete unknowing of who will be the next Tour de France champion.

With the start of the Tour happening just several days ago I was hungry for information about teams, riders, equipment and breaking news on the tour. In my quest for all this information and knowledge, I ran across a couple sites, which provided information in a simple, visually appealing way.

Here a couple of my favorites:

1. RSS feeds from BBC Sport.com (http://news.bbc.co.uk )

Pre-tour doping news, riders changing teams, one of the best cycling news sources on the Web.

2. Tour de France 2007 site

This one comes with a caveat, specifically I really like the Team area of this site. When you click on details this PDF is displayed outlining the team with facts, images of the bikes they ride, a picture of the one of the riders and the jersey. Very cool!! The layout and design of these PDF are really appealing. They all follow the same pattern so you can compare information across multiple teams very easily.

(Team Astana PDF)

3. Wikipedia (http://wikipedia.org)

For general knowledge on the tour, forget about it, no site has more information.


You lost me at

Creating detailed diagrams of information architecture is a requirement for working on any web site project; this is becoming common knowledge….right? So, how do you engage your client in this highly detailed process? The splitting of hairs, the content that doesn’t exist, the translation of brand and fuzzy functionality which converts into lines, squares and ovals, the black box of UX-Design.

Every situation is client dependent and getting them to digest the information placed in front of them should be the goal, a reaction is confirmation that everything is on track.


Starting fresh

So, it's been about 8 months since the last post here on UX Beyond. Can you say slacker? Anyway, we're back... did you miss us? We're going to get this thing going... promise. Let's chat.