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Michelle's corner

Michelle Knight. Writer, photographer, programmer, truck driver and general, all round nut case. Life is a journey and that's what this blog will probably end up being. Let's see where we go, eh? ;-)

Currently reading

Zero Point
Neal Asher
Your Beauty Mark. All You Need to Get the Hair, Makeup, Glow, and Glam.
Dita von Teese
Progress: 208/256 pages

Social media and Me

Rod Raglin is discussing The Social Media Vortex here - http://rodraglin.booklikes.com/post/1267930/the-social-media-vortex-commenting-on-comments - and that prompted me to write about my experiences with social media, how I use it, and how it uses me.

I first hooked up on the interwebs in the mid 90's. Remember those? I used a screechy 56k modem to connect to Compuserve, and shortly after switched to AOL where I had five lots of 2Mb of web site space, on which I could effectively leave permanent messages. ICQ was the IRC of the day, but the phone bill kept back the activity.

However, in the late 90's things were changing. We were starting to get always-on broadband and freephone dial-up numbers. I also worked in a multi-national and had access to research that the company had comissioned on behaviour patterns. Also, prior to that, I was also a member of a small group that gave me access to other research; and I was also in various other social groups in order to find out about myself and to make the choices that I had to make for myself.

Long story short, the 80's and 90's was spent learning a lot about me, other people, society and the internet.

Aaaaand then the internet exploded. Suddenly the whole world was on-line in the most immediate ways imaginable. Presently, it is a free for all, but the laws of various countries are starting to catch up with things. The wild west of the internet is coming face to face with the sheriffs, and some people are facing their high noon. We have countries that are blocking web sites and services (Russia threatened to block Facebook ... that's how nuts this is getting ... that one is still rumbling) but when a dentist in Perth got their web site blocked by a child-porn filter, that was the wake-up call for everyone that the governments can't be trusted, especially in a multi-cultural world where freedom of speech is not a guaranteed right. Trust me ... this one will continue to play out over the next few years. The UK Police (Kent force) actually tried to get a private internet conversation classed as an obscene publication. Fortunately, they failed, but they're going to keep on trying. They're even still trying to ban Lady Chaterleighs Lover, for crying out loud.

But anyway, to come back to the meat and potatoes of social media.

It has a Achilles heel ... uunrealistic expectation.

A number of things, technically, not only put a spanner in the works, but throws in the whole damn tool box. For a start, people don't seem to know that Facebook are running an algorythm that filters posts that show. (pop-up) http://fusion.net/story/110543/most-facebook-users-still-dont-know-that-their-news-feeds-are-filtered-by-an-algorithm/

We are connected to so many people, who are posting so many updates, that we don't stand much of a chance of keeping up with everything that everyone is posting. One particular conversation that people are having is, "Jack - Yeh, I went to see the dentist last week. Didn't you see my post about it?" "Jill - No." ... Jack gets in a huff because he thinks Jill doesn't give a damn, and Jill feels guilty because she thinks she missed something which her friend thought was so important in his life, that he blogged about it.

However, Facebook (and others) run algorythms that filter feeds, so not everyone is seeing what you post anyway; and it isn't their fault. In a world where people tweet what they had for breakfast that morning, you can see why social meaida services started to use filters! "Yeh, you had jam on toast for breakfast AGAIN. Do I really need to know that?" The problem is that Jill doesn't have the option to filter out Jack's breakfast posts ... it's usually an all or nothing deal, 'cause tech isn't that clever yet.

Oh, and in case you do a search on the subject and find a useful post that tells you where to find the settings to change ... you'll probably find that the service has changed since then, and at best the option is in a completely different menu position, or at worst they've taken it out and removed user choice. (like Facebook did with the auto-start advertisements setting, which has been vanishing from the control pannel for users in different countries as FB want to force people to see adverts.)

On Twitter, when people follow me (and I'm notified ... more often than not, I don't get the e-mails these days) then I'll pop over and have a look at their channel. Now some people are posting some really cool stuff, and I'm chuffed that they have wanted to follow boring old me ... but they're putting out posts, like four an hour ... and I know that if I follow them, then they'll saturate my feed so the other people I read from, will become like needles in a haystack ... so therein lies another dilema...

Is it right to follow them and put them on silent, so I don't see their posts? Should I drop them a tweet to say, "Cool stuff, but wow, you're an information machine gun!" - yeh, like trying to get a diplomatic message across with a 140 char limit is going to end well!

Talking about statistics ... I don't believe them.

On YouTube, I've got 1,615 subscribers. The average video view is less than a hundred. In terms of conversation, though, less than ten comments including my responses (when I see them; because I often don't and YouTube hasn't been sending me the e-mails either) leaving some people wondering why I have been unsocial and haven't replied to them.

Is it right to massage a persons ego by adding to their statistics even though you're not going to watch their content ... or at best some of it, because there still isn't a way to latch on to the stuff that interests you ... for example, I put out videos on my life, computers, photography and other stuff, but there's no way for someone to tell the service, "I just want to see this persons photography videos." They'll get presented with the whole damn feed whether they like it or not!

I don't believe the statistics anyway. I've just become too battle hardened; I know there are ways to watch videos that YouTube can't count.

I do have to take some people in hand at times, and point out to them just how unreliable the information world is these days. For some reason, they think that I.T. is perfect. It isn't. Not by a long way ... and for a variety of reasons, most of them down to the human failures of the people that run the services.

Also, things change. Services come and go. GoodReads is a prime example; it was a good community, and then Amazon bought it and it has been running in to the ground ever since; because they want people to be leaving book reviews on their own web site.

There was a social media service Orkut. A nice system; English wasn't the primary language, it was a multicultural system and it was eventually bought by Google. You'd have thought that with their financial reserves, they'd have kept it running ... but no, they closed it down in the hope of running people to their Google+ service (which has failed dismally to attract users)

Twitter is now in more trouble. Their ex-CEO came back recently, only they've found out that he is wielding a sharpened axe to cut some of the 4,000 strong work force. Twitter still hasn't made a profit and shows no sign of doing so ... so ask yourself ... how long will companies pour money in to a service that doesn't make money?

Social media is a forever changing landscape. That's why I got most of my bloggs off other services and on to my own domain structures. Yes, I'm active on a handfull of forums, I write infrequently for two or three blogs, I have four or five web sites and on top of that I have a job with a long commute and I take time out to write books. I survive on social media by poking my head in the door when opportunities present ... and if the system doesn't tell me about notifications, then I miss stuff.

So to the flip side ... how do I use social media to promote myself. Well, I promote myself, not my books.

I know that if I was to spam my social feeds with my books, then people would turn off my social feeds and no-one would read me. Standing there with a copy of my book in hand, saying "Buy my book" is a sure fire way to be ignored; or at worse, "followed" but silenced ... so I'm speaking to a room full of phantom accounts that aren't really reading what I'm saying. Could it get worse than that? Yes ... I could be talking to a room full of robots who are talking on social media, on behalf of their owners - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-25033172 - how crazy is that!

So how do I promote myself? Well, by putting out things that people want to read. Things that people find are useful ... if you've read this far down the page, then that's proved my point ... you've found that what I write, is useful enough that you've invested time in reading it. If what I write isn't useful to someone, then they wouldn't have got this far down the page.

But what am I promoting? I'm promoting that I'm a good citizen. Someone who you can trust not to spam you with useless sales junk and tell the truth ... because one of the really hated things anywhere, is a shill. I wrote an article in November 2014 about trust being the new currency on the internet - http://msknight.com/technilife/?p=329 - and time and again, this has been proven...

Recently Jaclyn Glenn was outed as plagurising other people. She lost 18% of her Patreon income in the space of a few days. I can't find it now, but there was a poor young girl who was posting YouTube tips on how to survive and make life happy with little money; she gained a considerable following, but then the advertisers moved in to cash in on her audience and as she was lifted out of poverty, her audience died. ... and as another statement on social media, that incident wasn't that long ago, but I can't find it now. Things are so fleeting on the internet.

So, I do my internet civic duty as best I can, given the above restrictions. If people find me a worthwhile person, they maybe they'll read my stuff, and if they like me enough, then maybe they'll tell other people. If I'm really lucky, people will find out about me before I die :-)

Attempts to force this don't work; or usually if they do, there's usually a come back later down the line. Lies, cheating, all that crap will come back and bite you up the arse, because especially if you're successful, there'll be someone on the planet who gets their satisfaction from seeing you fall. That's humanity for yah!

The best that we social media freeloaders can do, is catch the wave and hold on tight, while maintaining a healthy dose of skepticism towards the companies that run these services, be ready to grant each other the benefit of the doubt and maintain a sense of humour in all that we do. After all, there has been word that YouTube, Twitter and Facebook might actually merge ... the new company is rumoured to be, "YouTwitFace." :-)