Perhaps what we need, what Facebook needs, what the world needs, is a Sympathize button. And, according to an engineer at the company, it’s something that the company has explored in the past.
Speaking yesterday at the company’s annual Compassion Research Day, Facebook engineer Dan Muriello said that another engineer for the company had whipped up the button at a previous compassion-themed hackathon. The announcement was first reported by Bianca Bosker at the Huffington Post.
It makes sense the company might consider a new button because Facebook users ask “Like” to do a lot. And, sometimes, that can be a problem. Since “like” is the only way to recognize you saw something on Facebook without writing or sharing something, sometimes we want to click it—to like something—even though we don’t strictly like something. At times when…
- your best friend laments something silly her parents did, or
- a friend complains about his puppy’s house-training skills, or lack thereof,
- or a cousin posts an update on how her own recovery from illness is progressing.
…we want to say, “Hey, I saw this!,” but we don’t want to say, “Hey, I am fond of this!”
It was around 5pm last Thursday when Olivia, a San Diego high school student, noticed that something interesting was going on with her Twitter account.
A swarm of 30 women with sexy profile pictures had just followed her on the social networking service. “guys wtf 30 PORNSTARS JUST FOLLOWED ME WHATS HAPPENING,” she tweeted to her 600 or so followers.
Her friends started joking with her. One said: “I think they want you to join their profession.” And it was a little funny. Weird, but funny. (“actually laughing so hard right now [emoji],” one friend tweeted at her.)
One minute she’s doing homework and congratulating a friend on making varsity. The next, she’s the center of the this swarm of porny weirdness. It was like the setup for a new Spielberg sci-fi movie.
Olivia posted screenshots from her account. She wrote in perhaps ironic all caps, “AM I PAYING FOR THIS” and “IS ANYONE ELSE AS CONCERNED AS I AM.”
But… maybe being followed by pornstars would be the next trend at school? “why arent hundreds of porn stars following me,” a friend tweeted.
Olivia started to notice some patterns, though. Each new follower was following precisely six people and almost everyone else the accounts were following were “verified” by Twitter. Many of the verified were legitimately famous people.
Seriously: what was going on?
I’m not really an “early-adopter.” In fact, I’m the exact opposite. I’m a Luddite and a shepherd.
Our shepherding work in the English Lake District is all about continuity and being part of a living cultural tradition that stretches back into the depths of time. Our work is often little changed from the way things were done when the Vikings first settled these valleys. Even our dialect is peppered with Norse words.
I like old things, old ways of doing things, old stories, old places, and old people. I’m deeply conservative with a small ‘c’. Ask any half decent economist and they’ll tell you that most new ideas are a waste of time, most new ideas fail. Our way of life results in fairly conservative people suspicious of pointless chatter and new technologies for the sake of newness.
I am, in short, about as unlikely to get excited by something like Twitter as anyone alive.
Read more. [Image: @herdyshepherd1]
The world’s largest social network, Facebook, has finally listed Kosovo as its own country—more than five years after the breakaway territory proclaimed independence from Serbia and after more than 100 countries around the world have extended formal recognition.
The French news agency AFP, on November 20, reported that Kosovars who wanted to create or promote a Facebook account would now have the option of choosing “Kosovo” as their location. Until now most users simply had the option of “Serbia.”
The move affected some 200,000 Facebook users in Kosovo, who overnight were shifted from Serbia (or in some cases Albania) to Kosovo.
Read more. [Image: Wikimedia Commons]
The Internet has ruined high-school writing. Write the line on the board five hundred times like Bart Simpson. Remember and internalize it. Intone it in an Andy Rooney-esque grumble.
I’ve heard the line repeated by dozens of educators and laypeople. I’ve even said it myself.
Thankfully it is untrue.
As a high-school English teacher, I read well over a thousand student essays a year. I can report that complete sentences are an increasingly endangered species. I wearily review the point of paragraphs every semester. This year I tried and failed to spark a senior class protest against “blobs”—my pejorative term for essays lacking paragraphs. When I see a winky face in the body of a personal essay—and believe me, it has happened enough to warrant a routine response—I use a red pen to draw next to it a larger face with narrow, angry eyes and gaping jaws poised to chomp the offending emoticon to pieces Pac-Man-style. My students analyze good writing and discuss the effect of word choice and elegant syntax on an audience’s reading experience. The uphill battle is worth fighting, but I’m always aware that something more foreboding than chronic senioritis lines up in opposition.
However, while Facebook and Twitter have eroded writing conventions among my students, they have not killed the most important ingredients in personal writing: self-reflection and emotional honesty. For younger high school boys particularly, social networking has actually improved writing – not the product or the process, but the sensitivity and inward focus required to even begin to produce a draft that will eventually be worth editing.
Read more. [Image: Mary Altaffer/AP Photo]
Snapchat is a photo-sharing service with one key distinguishing feature: the photos you send disappear. Seconds after opening “snaps,” users can no longer access them and the images are deleted from the company’s servers. Snapchat is an ephemera generating and sharing machine.
There are ways around the disappearance: a user can screenshot the image, but when the receiver does, the sender is informed. (More surreptitiously, users can photograph the phone with another camera.)
Snapchat has shown remarkable growth. From its debut in September of 2011 to today, the service has amassed 100 million users. In June of this year, its users sent 200 million photos per day. By September, two years after launch, friends were sending each other 350 million photos per day.
With that kind of growth, it’s no surprise that the company has many suitors, despite generating $0 in revenue (“pre-revenue” is a useful euphemism here). They’ve taken $70 million in venture capital. And recently, Facebook reportedly offered $3 billion for the company.
Snapchat said no.
“This is crazy,” said Atlantic senior editor Derek Thompson. “People are letting strangers stay in their bedroom, giving them rides, accepting money for it—and they don’t know each other.”
“I understand there are still skeptics,” admitted Nathan Blecharczyk, the co-founder of Airbnb, at the Washington Ideas Forum on Thursday. Thompson’s description pretty much sums up Air BnB’s business model: taking a share of money that regular people make by renting out their houses and apartments to strangers. Although 9 million people now use the service, many would-be financial backers had the same initial reaction: It would be insane for people to trust perfect strangers this much.
“No investor would give us money, saying, surely this is not a big idea—it’s actually quite a strange idea,” Blecharczyk said. “Five years ago, everyone thought this was crazy, and now 150,000 people are doing this every single night.”
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
ALMATY—When Kazakhs meet for the first time, two key questions are all it takes to figure each other out: What part of the country are they from? And what horde and tribe are they?
The answers immediately establish a person’s roots, history, and allegiances—a holdover of ancient tribal divisions that remain relevant in modern-day Kazakhstan.
Now, a new social-networking site is hoping to tap into Kazakhs’ tribal identity by grouping users according to their hordes and tribes.
The site, Rulas.kz—based on the Kazakh word for “tribemate”—looks much like any other networking site, with photographs of stylish, mainly young, members decorating a brightly colored homepage.
But in addition to standard registration information like name, e-mail address, and password, Rulas asks applicants to categorize themselves according to “zhuz,” or horde, and any one of the dozens of “ru,” or tribes, belonging to each horde.
Read more. [Image: Rulas.kz/screenshot]
I have an old friend who is remarkably unguarded and open about himself. He’ll tell you just about anything, even things that would make lesser humans wither with embarrassment.
We follow each other on Instagram. He has three kids under the age of four, so naturally, his feed consists mostly of their cute little faces.
Recently, he posted a cute photo of his young ones splashing naked in a kiddie pool. It made me squirm. Not for the image itself—which was as innocent as could be—but because he had an unlocked account. There was a photograph of his naked kids that anybody could access on the Internet. He had, hypothetically, opened up his kids to a globe full of pedophiles.
Or had he?
Read more. [Image: Alexis Madrigal]