kai_mactane: (Default)

(This was originally posted on Google+ itself. I’m also keeping it here, for easy reference.)

A friend of mine notes that one of the problems of the current Google+ “real names policy” is that “Google is attempting to deal with (I’m assuming) manufacturing a community of 1-to-1 RL presence-to-online presence” — in particular, he says that while he does have questions about how Google is attempting to do this, he also has a lot of respect for the fact that they are trying to.

I’m not so sure that I do. Partly because I’m not convinced that there’s any value in creating a community of 1-to-1 real-life presence to online presence.

That’s partly because I’m not convinced that there’s any such thing as a 1-to-1 correspondence between real-life presence and real-life presence. I mean, seriously, are you the same person at work as you are when you’re down at the bar with friends? As when you’re having dinner in a nice restaurant with your lover? As when you’re in bed with him or her?

The idea of a 1-to-1 correspondence between real life presence and online presence is based on the idea that there’s a 1-to-1 correspondence between identities (personalities) and physical bodies. That idea is wrong. We all shift identities based on who we’re interacting with and what situation we’re in. That’s part of why we even shift our names based on that:

  • My fiancée calls me “Darling”, “Sweetheart”, “Dear”, “Love”, or “Honey”, according to her whim at the time. (We like variety, and we like to avoid getting too canalized to one particular term of endearment.)
  • My co-workers usually call me Kagan.
  • My friends usually call me Kai.
  • My siblings usually call me Kai, but my brother sometimes calls me “brother” or “bro” — and, truth be told, I like this occasional familiarity.
  • Sales people and waitrons and so on call me “Sir”. And this is not an outlying data point, because I answer to it, and I expect them to call me by this name. We all consider it right and proper.
  • Telemarketers and professional service people (bankers and whatnot) would do well to call me “Mister MacTane”. They often presume that they can call me “Kagan” — but this is a mistake on their part, because they are presuming a level of familiarity which (unlike my brother) they have not earned and do not deserve.

All of these different names, and different reactions to them, are signs that indicate that I enact different identities in different contexts. We all do.

And a social network that tries to straitjacket me into a single identity is doomed to omit huge chunks of who I really am. In so doing, it fails to serve my needs. It makes it harder for me to engage with the network at all… which makes it much more likely that I’ll leave.

I understand that Facebook is very deliberately built to enforce a single-identity model, because (as I’ve posted here before) Mark Zuckerberg actually believes that “[h]aving two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.” But Google doesn’t have to subscribe to Zuckerberg’s delusion.

Sadly, I see little hope that they’ll deviate from the “one physical body, one online identity” model that Google+ currently tries to operate under (and can never successfully enforce without causing even more problems).

Originally published at Coyote Tracks. You can comment here or there.

kai_mactane: (Default)

Apparently tomorrow will be the “National Day of Unplugging”, when people who are ready to “take the unplug challenge” will obey the call to “put down your cell phone, sign out of email, stop your Facebook and Twitter updates”. But this isn’t just some kind of stunt or willpower exercise; there’s a point to it. Unplugging is supposed to help people “reclaim time, slow down their lives and reconnect with friends, family, the community and themselves.”

Uh, what?

Let me get this straight: Not posting any updates on Facebook, and not checking my friends and family’s Facebook updates, is supposed to help me connect with them? Turning off my cell phone, and refusing to send or check my email is supposed to bring me more into connection with other people?

What in the world do this event’s organizers think the rest of us are doing with Facebook, with email, and with cell phones?

The organizers are a group called the Sabbath Manifesto, and they espouse ten principles. The first two are “avoid technology” and “connect with loved ones”, respectively.

How the hell am I supposed to connect with my loved ones without using technology? Fewer than 10% of my friends, and absolutely none of my family, live within walking distance of me. (And I’m a fast and powerful distance-walker.) If I drive down the Peninsula, or take CalTrain to go see a friend, that’s using technology. If I quit using technology, I’d have to give up at least 90% of my social circle.

Read the rest of this entry »

Originally published at Coyote Tracks. You can comment here or there.

kai_mactane: (Default)
First, a note about pingbacks: Pingbacks simply let you know when another LJ user posts an entry (on LJ) that links to one of yours. It does this by adding a screened comment to your entry, which also means you get your usual comment notification. If you take no action, nobody else sees a thing. (You could unscreen the comment, if you want.)

I have no problem with this.

Then there's that Facebook crosspost feature. That's a little more dodgy. Just to make clear what it does and doesn't do (based on Livejournal's FAQ entry called "How do I update my Facebook or Twitter when I post to LiveJournal?"):
  • If you set it to crosspost your own entries by default (or automatically), it will do just that — but only for public entries. As I understand it, it will not send your friends-locked posts to other services.
  • If you set it to crosspost your comments by default (or automatically), it will crosspost every comment you write... even if that comment is on someone else's journal. Even if that comment is on someone else's friends-locked post.

Note that I'm taking Livejournal's word on this, perforce, because I deleted my Facebook account a few months ago. (Yes, because of privacy concerns. Funny, that.)

A public comment on the announcement about this sums up the problem pretty well: “Say, for example, you complain about your manager at work under f-lock. Someone can then reply with, "Man, your manager sounds like a bitch", and crosspost that to their Facebook. The possibility for badness is epic.” (I see no problem in linking to or quoting a public post. The main substance of the objections to this is that it tends to publicize information that was intended to be friends-locked.)

Some people have pointed out that a person who can see one of your protected entries can always copy-paste the whole thing. True enough, and that's not even really a technological problem; it's a social problem. If you tell a friend a secret verbally, they can always violate your confidence and spread the "secret" far and wide. No technology can guard against people deliberately breaking trust with you.

However, this setting would automatically and habitually publish one's comments to Facebook, without the person having to take any deliberate action. This makes it very easy to forget about. And totally aside from the way people can leak information by posting things that make it obvious what they're responding to, there are also the people who sometimes quote part of the post they're responding to.

In general, this is a good thing. Heck, I do it myself whenever I feel it's warranted. But until now, we've all done so with the knowledge and understanding that what we copied and quoted was staying on the same page, with the same read permissions.

That's no longer true. Now, if Joe or Jane responds to someone's friends-locked post, their comment can be automatically crossposted to Facebook without my even thinking about it, based on a checkbox they ticked at some point in the past.

Or, more apropos to my life: If I write a locked post, and my friend Stan writes a response that quotes some of my text (because it's the sensible thing to do in that context), Stan can accidentally export my words out to a service that I've deliberately severed all ties with. Even if he'd never consciously, deliberately do so.

That's what bugs so many people about this. That what bugs me about it, too.

My policy has always been that if I post something publicly, with no friends-lock, that means it's intended to be public. Link to it freely, no permission needed. I see no reason to change that policy, and you'll note that I've made this post public.

But to my friends who comment on my journal: Please, don't crosspost my locked stuff to other services. And don't crosspost text that makes it obvious what I must have written, either. I locked it for a reason.
kai_mactane: (Default)

Okay, so I’m a little late to the party in posting this. All the professional bloggers have already written about it, while I’ve been busy with my day job. Nonetheless, something that’s been on my mind since the beginning of the week, when it would have been timely:

I think Facebook has now hit its “cap”. People who don’t yet have Facebook accounts now seem to be saying, “I ain’t gettin’ one now!” Others who do have accounts are finally abandoning them. And I’m one of those abandoners.

I have a little bit of interest in the Disapora* Project, but I don’t think it will really take off. On the other hand, in a recent New York Times article about the project, both its staffers and backers have some things to say about just how quickly they managed to raise funding — and all of those things point to a very clear demand for an alternative to Facebook.

Facebook Co-Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has lately been saying that privacy is no longer a social norm, but lots of people don’t accept this. In fact, many of us think that Zuckerberg is saying such things in the hope of making them come true, rather than as observations of something that’s already come to pass.

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Originally published at Coyote Tracks. You can comment here or there.

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