Posts Tagged ‘facebook’

Daniel Tunkelang pointed out a new social search service today dubbed Aardvark.  Social search works by delegating your queries to your social network to elicit a response from them.  Aardvark adds in some algorithmic juice to only ask those in your extended social network who might be able to answer your question.

At first blush, this seems better than just dropping your question on Twitter.  Questions posted to Twitter have the benefit of reaching a large audience quickly, but the disadvantage of being blasted to a bunch of people who probably don’t know or don’t care.  You’re also likely only to reach people in your immediate social graph (depth = 1) and only those who happen to be checking Twitter at the time of your question.  You need a pretty big group of followers on Twitter for that to be a consistently effective method.

Of course, the question remains whether Aardvark can deliver the goods.  It sounds good that you can throw your question out to your social network up to some arbitrary depth.  You’re not spamming everyone with the question either, just the people who have given some signal that they might be able to answer it.  But Aardvark wanted me to invite a bunch of Facebook friends, something I very rarely do.  How effective will it be given that I passed on that option?  As far as I can tell, I’m only connected to Daniel since he’s the one who gave me the invite.

If you’re curious about Aardvark, I have ten invitations available.  Leave me a comment, email me, or send me a tweet and it’s yours.

Pernicious Spam

Posted: 4 December 2008 in Uncategorized
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The spammers have been working hard to infiltrate Facebook.  I just got this (below) today, and it tripped my mental spam alarm.  These sorts of messages were commonplace on Friendster.  I would get messages from girls with near-pornographic profile pictures wanting to chat or asking me inane questions like which was the better hair color.  This is more insidious.

Insidious Facebook spam.

Insidious Facebook spam.

And for the record, I went to USC 2 ½ years ago.

Likings Rankness

Posted: 4 May 2008 in Uncategorized
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Mayhaps you have used the Facebook app Likeness. It’s a fluff app, but has wide appeal since it does two things most people like: easy quizzes and comparisons with our friends. The graphic design that went into the app is a bit low-scale, but it gets the job done. If you haven’t used it, the concept is simple. You are presented with a quiz topic, like “What’s your addiction?” You are then presented with ten items that you must rank in the order specified by the question page (usually most to least favorite, or whatever). Once you have ranked the ten items, you are shown a screen that easily allows you to goof up and spam all your friends. But after that, it produces some sort of similarity score between you and all your friends who have taken it. I’ve never had a similarity below 46% and never one above 98%.

But it got me thinking, how exactly are they measuring this similarity? (more…)

The Roman occupation of Judea (Israel) during the first century AD was disrupted in 70 AD when the Jewish people revolted. Rome, being a kick-ass military power, put down this rebellion. However, they couldn’t let the Jews get away with this attempt at self-rule, which might encourage other provinces to do the same. The new, crushing occupation and settlement of Judea led to the beginning of another diaspora of the Jewish people (the Jews had been scattered before, read your Old Testament).

I’ve talked about my idea of the new information diaspora a couple times before. We fill up all these different social networking sites and online services with personal information about our hobbies, preferences, friends, etc. This information is separated by incompatibility between platforms. OpenSocial is a move towards removing these boundaries, but so far it hasn’t caught fire.

In Facebook’s terms of service, you are not allowed to scrape Facebook for content. They don’t want you to gather information about your social graph, since that would potentially undermine their service. Ergo, you can import information into Facebook, but can’t export it out. Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook (though whether it was really his idea or software is disputed), seems to be shaping up to be quite a tyrant in this realm. It’s almost daily that some news about his bungling comes over the blagoblag.

The latest fiasco surrounds Robert Scoble, one of the better tech writers out there (in my opinion). He was using Plaxo Pulse, a service that attempts to solve a small part of the information diaspora problem by consolidating your friends’ activities on different sites. Facebook, however, put down this rebellion by disabling Scoble’s account. Robert’s crime? Trying to get the names, email addresses, and birthdays of the 1800 friends he has on both Facebook and Plaxo.

The Empire never ended.

Tweets for Twits

Posted: 18 December 2007 in Uncategorized
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Well, after many frustrating months of waiting for Twitter to finally fix their gmail contacts import feature, I have finally done it!  Surprise, only two contacts were signed up — and that’s two more than I expected.  However, one of those is a professor who probably only checked them out because they’re using his technology and the other was a friend who had only one update:


Social pressure from me caused him to add another update.  That’s what I tell myself anyway.

What is Twitter, you ask?  It’s basically Facebook status updates made global.  Indeed, you can even add a Facebook app that allows Twitter to update your status.  Of course, it means you get “is twittering: ” inserted at the beginning of any tweet (a single Twitter status update) as your status update.

While Twitter at first seems like status updates on steroids, it’s actually evolving into something else far more useful.  I’ve talked before about the information diaspora and the difficulty of keeping up with all your personal information as it flies around the web.  Twitter at first adds to that mess, but it does offer interesting ways of tracking small bits of information.

Erin McKean, the Dictionary Evangelist, uses it to keep track of new words she comes across.  Twitter lets you text updates from your cell phone or IM client so it’s easy to update on the go.  Robert Scoble uses it as a sort of mini-blog of things he comes across or finds out about that wouldn’t really make a full-fledged blog post.  So Twitter has uses for logging your web surfing, hobby, life activities, etc., which is a useful information diaspora reducing measure in my book.  The only question remains whether this would be of any use to you.

Check me out and follow my updates on Twitter.  If you haven’t signed up, consider it.  If you do, let me know so I can follow you.

I’m going to officially coin the term information diaspora to mean the dispersion of individual personal preference information throughout the web. Whenever you sign up for an account, you leave a part of your personal information somewhere. Whenever you enter an address to order a book, more information. When you look through digg comments and you thumbs-up or thumbs-down a comment, more information. Whenever you favorite a video on youtube, leave a wall post on facebook, rate a movie on netflix, more information. All of this information is accessible to you as long as you can recall where you have left it. If you forget about a website you signed up for, that information is now missing. It’s not dead or gone, just missing.

Your brain is no longer the homeland of all these orphaned data. Social networking is great, but with the current Web 2.0 bubble expanding the way it is, the inherent incompatibility in the global network is becoming more and more a problem. (more…)

Perfect Major?

Posted: 18 November 2007 in Uncategorized
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The intertubes are full of quizzes. Magazines like Cosmo have thrived on them for years. “Are you a good lover?” Websites like Tickle pretty much consist of nothing else (and I haven’t bothered beyond the odd quiz someone sends me). Tons of Facebook apps like Flixster (movies) and Harry Potter rely on them heavily. One of my google alerts is for linguistics and I saw some random 14-year-old dude‘s blog post about his perfect major according to this quiz. My results are below the jump.

So of course everyone with sense knows these quizzes are pretty much random. However, they also collect a vast amount of data. What they don’t collect (usually) is actual information about the people who take their quizzes. Imagine if at the end of a quiz there was a question or two about the actual truth of the thing the quiz is predicting. What kind of lover are you? Well just ask! If the result is similar to the quiz results, you can gauge how well your quiz is classifying people. It may not produce scientifically valid results but it does produce results that are better than nothing. (more…)

Probably would not be noticeably bad. Colbert certainly is attracting a massive amount of attention after declaring his desire to run as a candidate in South Carolina. Whereas Barrack Obama’s facebook group was haled as a success after gathering 384k+ members, Colbert’s group skyrocketed to over a million in just one week. So does he actually have a shot at the presidency if he decided to kick it up a notch and run in all 50? That certainly seems to be the case with younger voters at this point, but would it hold out at the actual election? On Wonkosphere, he’s got a buzz percentage of about 4%, roughly one-third of the buzz for the candidates the media is telling you to vote for (Hillary and Giuliani).

Better yet, he should run in 48 states, singling out 2 as “handicap” states to give the other candidates a fighting chance. I’m sure he could find a pair funnier than Alaska and Rhode Island, but that’s a start.

Also, for a good read about why the democratic leadership isn’t worth two farts in the wind, you should check out today’s article on Dissident Voice.

Laptops for Tanzania part 2

Posted: 23 October 2007 in Uncategorized
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My friend Israel is trying to raise money for laptops for school kids in Tanzania. If you’re on Facebook and have about 30 seconds, why not vote for him? Razoo is a speed granting organization that gives money to small charitable projects. You can view his oh-so-pitiful video below. I’ve suggested he update it by putting on heavy eye makeup and getting under a sheet and lamenting the fact that only a few thousand Tanzanian kids graduate high school every year. They really could use your help, though and this requires you to spend no money!


Visual Bookshelf

Posted: 5 October 2007 in Uncategorized
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Ever since Facebook added apps, there has been a gradual bloat on profiles.  Some people are app minimalists, adding just a couple things that don’t clutter up their profile.  From my quite informal perusal of Facebook, these people seem to be fairly inactive users.  They log every once in a while, but don’t seem to be using it on a daily basis.  Then you have your Facebook app junkies.  I’m thinking of one friend in particular.  Yeah, that’s right.  I just outted you.  My friend, you are a Facebook app junkie.  But I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with it.  Some of my best friends are like that.  It’s just not how I roll.

But I have noticed that as time progresses, there is a gradual app bloat in my profile.  I’ve tried to keep it down as much as possible, but then Pandora comes out with their app, which is cool.  Dogbook is an essential.  The makers of Dogbook are coming out with Babybook, which I won’t be using since Dogbook and Babybook are synonymous for me.  Another of my favorite apps was the Books app.  I liked being able to display some of the things I’ve read and rate them and compare them to friends, there were just two problems.

  1. The books app is hard as hell to use.
  2. No one is using.  Not my friends anyway.

So now I’ve tried out Visual Bookshelf and it seems we have a winner.  The benefit of it is that it automatically presents you with Amazon results for your nationale (assuming you’re in one of the five non-US countries they support).  So instead of having to enter ISBNs or names and then going through a lengthy addition process, you just click “read it” or “want to read it” or “reading it now” and the book is in your profile.  Very handy and it recommends a book to you after you add one, which lets you add an entire series pretty quickly and easily, which is good for me since I read several fantasy series.

The only thing it seems to be missing is a “skip book” option.  If you don’t want to read it, but you want the next recommendation, you’re out of luck.  I’m hoping they’ll fix that soon, though.