Please stop


This is one of my pet hates.

It’s sad that marketers have figured out how to get their brand into my timeline, even when I have chosen not to follow them. And even sadder that it works.

Infographic creators have a 5 second attention span

Social Times yesterday posted an infographic (sponsored by AssistedLivingToday – slogan: ‘Information you can trust’). They introduce it by highlighting the most interesting statistic, which will be the focus of this blog post.

According to a fascinating infographic entitled “How Social Media is Ruining Our Minds,” over the course of the last ten years the average attention span has dropped from 12 minutes to a staggeringly short 5 seconds. As a person deeply ensconced in this connected age my experience shows this to be true. These days, we give a YouTube video just a few seconds to determine if it’s worth it. So what else does social media and technology affect within our minds?

This is the relevant section of the infographic:

Five second attention span

Shocking yes? Perhaps a little too shocking to be true?


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The infinite possibilities each day holds should stagger the mind. The sheer number of experiences I could have is uncountable, breathtaking, and I'm sitting here refreshing my inbox. We live trapped in loops, reliving a few days over and over, and we envision only a handful of paths laid out before us. We see the same things every day, we respond the same way, we think the same thoughts, each day a slight variation on the last, every moment smoothly following the gentle curves of societal norms. We act like if we just get through today, tomorrow our dreams will come back to us.

Profundity from an old xkcd.

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The Social Graph is Neither

A brilliantly written deconstruction of the ‘social graph’, which Maciej Ceglowski argues is neither a graph, nor social. Essential reading for social media types.

We have a name for the kind of person who collects a detailed, permanent dossier on everyone they interact with, with the intent of using it to manipulate others for personal advantage – we call that person a sociopath. And both Google and Facebook have gone deep into stalker territory with their attempts to track our every action. Even if you have faith in their good intentions, you feel misgivings about stepping into the elaborate shrine they’ve built to document your entire online life.

Open data advocates tell us the answer is to reclaim this obsessive dossier for ourselves, so we can decide where to store it. But this misses the point of how stifling it is to have such a permanent record in the first place. Who does that kind of thing and calls it social?

The Social Graph is Neither – Turn your Facebook fan page into a proper website

Every small business that uses Facebook as their main presence online should take a look at

An example of s site created by This service builds you an attractive and useful web page for your business that pulls your news items, photo albums, status updates, videos and customer information directly from your existing Facebook fan page. At present they only have one template design (in four colours), but I imagine they’ll be quick to expand this and add some customisation features, like the ability to upload company logos and re-arrange the content.

This is a great idea for small businesses who won’t have to worry about managing another website, but will give them a presence on the open web for non-Facebook users like myself. If the day ever comes when they want leave Facebook behind, they’ll already have an established, ranking domain to build up from.

Why Klout thinks you are ‘special’

Klout style matrix One of the most fascinating metrics Klout produces is your ‘style’. What could be an interesting insight into the character of a user is instead written in much the same way as a horoscope. I imagine most web users would get a nice ego stroke reading whichever short description happens to apply to them.

I’ve reproduced the list for convenience. Skip to the bottom for my other thoughts on Klout. (Spolier: I think it’s really bad news.)

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No, you do not have ‘a Tumblr’

The 2012 Obama campaign is now on Tumblr, and I have a big problem with them:


It’s nice to meet you.

There are lots of reasons we’re excited to be launching the Obama 2012 campaign’s new Tumblr today. But mostly it’s because we’re looking at this as an opportunity to create something that’s not just ours, but yours, too.

We’d like this Tumblr to be a huge collaborative storytelling effort—a place for people across the country to share what’s going on in our respective corners of it and how we’re getting involved in this campaign to keep making it better.

My problem is not political, it’s a grammar niggle.

The Obama campaign does not have ‘a Tumblr’. Tumblr is the company and the blogging platform they run. Tumblr is the sum total of all the Tumblr blogs. They have a tumblelog, or a Tumblr blog, or just a blog.

Likewise one doesn’t have ‘a Twitter’. You use Twitter, you are on Twitter, you have a Twitter page or a Twitter feed or a Twitter profile, but Twitter is the company and the service.

See also: The correct use of ‘blog’ and ‘blog post’, wherein I correct Mr. Stephen Fry.

Facebook privacy fuckup reveals who has your number in their phonebook

Reason 5,395 not to use Facebook:

[…] At first I was baffled – I guessed maybe Facebook had copied something across from my previous account via a cookie or similar. But it turns out that FB used my mobile number (which they took as a security check) to match up with people who have me in their mobile phone book and have synced the Facebook app.

I fully understand why they’re doing this – it connects new users into existing networks, it’s an evolution of the ‘import your Hotmail contacts’ facility. I just didn’t like the approach at all. They demanded my mobile number under the pretence of a security check, but then used to it find people who have me in their mobile phone contacts.

This has badly violated the privacy of a friend who has, I now know, been operating a second Facebook account to hide the fact that he is gay – something which he has good and important reasons to hide. It also showed me that an ex-girlfriend of long ago still has my number saved – which is understandable because I am great.

Facebook privacy fuckup reveals who has your number in their phonebook –

Facebook, Facebook, Facebook

I just followed a link to a Guardian story about the Occupy protests going on around the world. Heading over to, I zoomed in to find a protest happening in Bristol – which is being organised on Facebook.

It’s disgusting how prevalent Facebook has become. Even among the geeky crowd at Dorkbot last night, many people were using Facebook pages in lieu of having their own website. Dorkbot itself, despite having their own site, uses Facebook to organise events and host videos. At least that’s what I hear – I am effectively denied access to this material.

Perhaps I should just come to terms with the fact that one company is going to own so much of the web, but I wish everybody else would instead.

Canton Social Media Surgery, Wednesday 5th October

This coming Wednesday
I’ll be at my third social media surgery in Chapter Arts, helping to orient those new to social media.

If you have questions about the hows (and whys) of social media, these surgeries are an excellent opportunity. I’ve been pleasantly surprised how well attended these events have been, and it has been satisfying to help – even in a small way – some non-profits trying to make better use of social media and the web in general. So long as I have the time to donate, I’ll be happy to continue to come along and help others.
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Static brands don’t belong on Twitter. Discuss.

I just asked a question on Twitter:

Static brands like Coffee #1 and Clark’s Pies are very dull on Twitter. Besides running promos and RTing complements, what else can they do?

Now, I don’t mean to call out Coffee #1 or Clark’s Pies in particular. (I happen to love coffee and pies, though not necessarily together!) Both of these brands are small, local companies who are interacting with followers. They look and sound professional, and are probably doing everything a ‘social media expert’ would recommend. But the experience of following them can be, to choose a charitable word, repetitive.

Should brands like these be on Twitter? What better ways could static brands take advantage of a fast-moving medium?

The Museum of Obsolete Objects

The Museum of Obsolete Objects is a snazzy YouTube channel:

Sadly, as our daily lives become more and more digital some things fall by the way side as they are replaced by newer, «better» devices.
Let us not forget those fallen appliances, tools and gadgets and relive those bygone times by taking a visit to The Museum of Obsolete Objects. Step inside to step back in time!

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