What if we designed a social network to be small, self-supporting, and independent from the outset? How would it look, work, and feel? I bet it would come out looking nothing like the ones we’ve got now, the ones still trying to turn water into gold.
But this idea that we are trading the offline for the online, though it dominates how we think of the digital and the physical, is myopic. It fails to capture the plain fact that our lived reality is the result of the constant interpenetration of the online and offline. That is, we live in an augmented reality that exists at the intersection of materiality and information, physicality and digitality, bodies and technology, atoms and bits, the off and the online. It is wrong to say “IRL” to mean offline: Facebook is real life.
Really great article about our connected lives. Via Daniel.
Sweep the Sleaze. Our sites don’t need 37 pieces of flair.
There’s lots of stuff going on right now that I’m not part of. That’s the way it goes. Me and Facebook are over. It’s going to stay that way. And if I’m on a ship that’s sinking, well I’ve had a good run, and I can afford to go down with the ship, along with people who share my values. It’s a cause, I’ve discovered, that’s worth giving something up for.
Dave Winer – Scoble: I’ll go down with the ship.
Sean Blanda, founder of Technically Philly, packed the room for his afternoon presentation about WordPress and Facebook. He covered tips and tricks for supercharging the social interactions with your blog.
He started off laying the ground rules: The talk wasn’t going to be about the Like button. He wasn’t to going to discuss whether Facebook is evil or not. Finally, he wasn’t going to set up a Facebook page for your business.
Technically Philly, a tech publication covering the tech scene in Philadelphia, started in 2009 and cared little about Facebook. They got a few hundred likes on their Facebook page but really didn’t care. By now they’re at 1000 page likes and get 7-10 a day; now they care about Facebook a whole bunch. They’re nearly doubling their daily reach by having 1000 people following the site on Facebook.
Sean’s talk focused on the 5 things you can do: engage with Facebook comments, measure the work you do with Insights, connect your site to your Facebook page, streamline sharing for readers, and make your Facebook page content count. To get set up you need to do some very minimal template editing of your WordPress theme. This adds in the necessary meta keys for Facebook to recognize your site as an app.
The open graph data that Sean covered adds meta information to the header. It lets you define an email address, phone number, locality, content type, and many more real world values for your digital content. All this helps contextualize the information people see in their newsfeed. Once you have it set up Facebook offers built-in debugging tools for making sure you’ve set up the meta information properly.
Technically Philly only runs Facebook comments on their site. Since they implemented this they’ve seen comment participation triple. By moving to Facebook comments they get all sorts of demographic information as to who comments on the site. It’s great for advertising and for learning who’s interacting with your site.
The downside to this is that the comments are not stored in your WordPress database. However, there is a plugin called Facebook Comments to WordPress that moves your comments to your WordPress database every day.
When sharing content on Facebook a preference is given to content shared manually on the site. Content shared through an automated service ranks lower in their algorithm. With many aspects of sharing content on Facebook there’s an echo effect. As people like your page or your article their friends see it and it spreads through the network.
All this data about your app and what works with sharing content are piped through Facebook Insights. Insights give you lots of graphical breakdowns of how you’re doing on Facebook.
I was going to comment with WordPress theme and code tips on a blog post today. Instead, the only option was Facebook comments with no fallback. It makes no sense to me that you’d control publication of your content while simultaneously making interaction with it contingent upon a single, corporate platform.
I read an Edudemic article this morning about the future of school social networks:
Now, a movement is afoot to create student-friendly social networking sites, which would be limited to education and bound to particular districts or schools. These sites would give students the chance to communicate with peers in person and via the computer, in a setting not unlike an online school. Yet the most desirable aspect of school-friendly social networks may be that they would allow students to work together in a productive manner, while providing adults with the peace of mind sites like Facebook simply cannot offer.
This is all well-intentioned but it likely won’t be successful in any meaningful way.
It reminds me of educational video games. Things that education executives draw up to try to marry technology with their version of learning. They don’t work. You can’t create a video game that kids will want to play by removing its soul.
Similarly, creating a school social network by allowing for social connections which parents, teachers, and administrators approve of misses the point. You’re leaving out the soul of a network. It’s this soul that makes Facebook and Twitter so appealing in the first place.
Growing up outside of a very small, rural town meant being extremely isolated in many ways. Had you told a junior high or high school version of myself that I could use something like Twitter, Facebook, or, hell, even my blog to connect through shared interests with people irrespective of place, age, or social status I would have been floored.
That’s the soul of these platforms. That’s what makes them revolutionary for schooling. If you think creating sanitized, school-friendly networks watched over by parents and administrators is going to create any meaningful learning opportunities then you’re totally missing the point.
Educate kids on proper usage. Teach them online safety. Show them the power of serendipitous connections to people a world away. But don’t, for their own sake, limit their potential because of fear.