The IRL Fetish:

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.

Amen.

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.

WordCamp Philly: Facebook & WordPress

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.

Missing the point with school social networks

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.