July 28, 2015
Twitter messages or tweets can be spoofed. No kidding. I read “Embedded Tweets Can Be Easily Faked.” Many exciting actions can be applied to the lowly tweet. The write up reveals this Ah Ha insight:
you may modify the actual text of the tweet. The favorite & retweet counts can be altered as well.
Marketers, rev your engines. Think of the possibilities for disseminating misinformation, reformed information, and good old disinformation.
Stephen E Arnold, July 28, 2015
July 21, 2015
Why do people like using Facebook? It is a question that researchers have asked since Facebook premiered in 2004. It was assumed to be a passing fad like prior social networks, including Myspace and Live Journal, but over a decade later Facebook is still going strong without a sign of stopping. MakeUseOf.com decided to answer the question using an informative infographic and many research studies, check out “Why Do People Like, Share, And Comment On Facebook?”
Apparently Facebook taps the pleasure center of the brain, because when users actively share or “like” content they feel like they are directly engaging with a community. The infographic also explains that posting status updates relieves loneliness and increases a user’s virtual empathy. While “likes” are a quick form of communication, comments still seem to be the favorite way to interact on the social network:
“Moira Burke, who is studying 1,200 Facebook users in an ongoing experiment, has found that personal messages are more satisfying to receivers than the one-click communication of likes.”
Direct, more personal types of communication are still preferred by users. Facebook also is appealing, because users feel like they are getting something in return as well. They get discounts or coupons for their favorite brands, participate in contests, receive updates, and get individualized advertisements.
There are several other studies highlighting in the infographic, but the bottom line is that people are gaining a high level of personal interactivity that they can share with their friends and family. Facebook is an integral part of the Internet, because it connects users organically and appeals to a deep, psychological need to interact with other humans.
Whitney Grace, July 21, 2015
July 20, 2015
Facebook is making its Messenger app free, even to those who don’t have a Facebook account, we learn in “Does this Spell the End for WhatsApp?” at the U.K.’s Daily Star. What does that have to do with mobile messaging tool WhatsApp? Reporter Dave Snelling writes:
“This means even people without a Facebook account will be able to start using the service and that could put it in direct competition with WhatsApp. And guess who owns WhatApp…yes Facebook! The social network paid an insane $19 billion for WhatsApp late last year and it’s gone on to see a huge rise in success. WhatsApp now has over 800 million users and the figure is growing daily. Facebook Messenger brings users the same features as WhatsApp including sending photos, videos, group chats, voice and video calling and stickers.”
We notice that “search ability” is not among the features. Pity that; users must continue to employ an outside method to find a certain drop of info in their sea of messages. We’d value a search box over “stickers” any day, but perhaps that’s just us.
So far, the non-Facebook-member Messenger is only available in Canada and the U.S., but is expected to cross the Atlantic soon. Snelling wonders whether users will switch from WhatsApp to Messenger. I wonder whether Facebook plans to merge the apps, and their users; why would they hang on to both? As the article concludes, we’ll have to wait and see.
Cynthia Murrell, July 20, 2015
July 16, 2015
Peer reviewed journals are supposed to have an extra degree of authority, because a team of experts read and critiqued an academic work. Science 2.0 points out in the article, “Peer Review Is Subjective And The Quality Is Highly Variable” that peer-reviewed journals might not be worth their weight in opinions.
Peer reviews are supposed to be objective criticisms of work, but personal beliefs and political views are working their way into the process and have been for some time. It should not come as a surprise, when academia has been plagued by this problem for decades. It also has also been discussed, but peer review problems are brushed under the rug. In true academic fashion, someone is conducting a test to determine how reliable peer review comments are:
“A new paper on peer review discusses the weaknesses we all see – it is easy to hijack peer review when it is a volunteer effort that can drive out anyone who does not meet the political or cultural litmus test. Wikipedia is dominated by angry white men and climate science is dominated by different angry white men, but in both cases they were caught conspiring to block out anyone who dissented from their beliefs. Then there is the fluctuating nature of guidelines. Some peer review is lax if you are a member, like at the National Academy of Sciences, while the most prominent open access journal is really editorial review, where they check off four boxes and it may never go to peer review or require any data, especially if it matches the aesthetic self-identification of the editor or they don’t want to be yelled at on Twitter.”
The peer review problem is getting worse in the digital landscape. There are suggested solutions, such as banning all fees associated with academic journals and databases, homogenizing review criteria across fields, but the problems would be far from corrected. Reviewers are paid to review works, which likely involves kickbacks of some kind. Also trying to get different academic journals, much less different fields to standardize an issue will take a huge amount of effort and work, if they can come to any sort of agreement.
Fixing the review system will not be done quickly and anytime money is involved, the process is slowed even further. In short, academic journals are far from being objective, which is why it pays to do your own research and take everything with a grain of salt.
July 15, 2015
Writer and web psychologist Liraz Margalit at the Next Web has some important advice for websites in “The Psychology Behind Web Browsing.” Apparently, paying attention to human behavioral tendencies can help webmasters avoid certain pitfalls that could damage their brands. Imagine that!
The article cites a problem an unspecified news site encountered when it tried to build interest in its videos by making them play automatically when a user navigated to their homepage. I suspect I know who they’re talking about, and I recall thinking at the time, “how rude!” I thought it was just because I didn’t want to be chastised by people near me for suddenly blaring a news video. According to Margalit, though, my problem goes much deeper: It’s an issue of control rooted in pre-history. She writes:
“The first humans had to be constantly on alert for changes in their environment, because unexpected sounds or sights meant only one thing: danger. When we click on a website hoping to read an article and instead are confronted with a loud, bright video, the automatic response is not so different from that our prehistoric ancestors, walking in the forest and stumbling upon a bear or a saber-toothed hyena.”
This need for safety has morphed into a need for control; we do not like to be startled or lost. When browsing the Web, we want to encounter what we expect to encounter (perhaps not in terms of content, but certainly in terms of format.) The name for this is the “expectation factor,” and an abrupt assault on the senses is not the only pitfall to be avoided. Getting lost in an endless scroll can also be disturbing; that’s why those floating menus, that follow you as you move down the page, were invented. Margalit notes:
“Visitors like to think they are in charge of their actions. When a video plays without visitors initiating any interaction, they feel the opposite. If a visitor feels that a website is trying to ‘sell’ them something, or push them into viewing certain content without permission, they will resist by trying to take back the interaction and intentionally avoid that content.”
And that, of course, is the opposite of what websites want, so giving users the control they expect is a smart business move. Besides, it’s only polite to ask before engaging a visitor’s Adobe Flash or, especially, speakers.
Cynthia Murrell, July 15, 2015
June 3, 2015
Shocker. At age 70, I don’t pay much attention to social media. I did notice Google Plus and one of the goslings may have created an entry for me. I did notice Google Plus when the lovable outfit incentivized employees to use the service. Okay, really popular. Like Orkut and other social experiments, Google Plus seemed to be an add on to a service focused on algorithmic functions.
I read “Google Ditches the Google+ Link on Its Many Web Properties, Hides It in the App Menu.” I don’t think of the nine dots as hidden, but Google Plus is not displayed like the search box or the feeling lucky link.
Does Facebook makes its service one extra click away?
Stephen E Arnold, June 3, 2015
June 1, 2015
The Soviet Union was known for its propaganda, and Russia under Vladimir Putin seems to have brought the art into the digital age. The Guardian gives us the inside scoop in, “Salutin’ Putin: Inside a Russian Troll House.” Journalists spoke to two writers who were formerly among the hundreds working at the nondescript headquarters of Russia’s “troll army” in St Petersburg. There, writers are tasked with lauding Putin and lambasting the evils of the West in posts and comment sections on a wide variety of websites. Though the organization cannot be directly tied to the Kremlin, it’s reported the entity does not pay any taxes and does not register its employees. It does, however, seem to have grown heartily in the two years since Russia went (back) into the Ukraine.
It is said that working conditions at the “troll house” involve 12-hour shifts, a dreary environment, strict rules, and low pay, though that sounds no different from conditions in many jobs around the world. Workers describe writing a certain number of “ordinary posts” about things like music, travel, or dating advice; writers are responsible for coming up with those topics themselves. Interspersed with such bland content, however, they write pieces asserting political perspectives assigned to them each morning. Editors check carefully to make sure the stories are on point.
I’d recommend reading through the whole article, but this is the section that struck me most:
“‘I would go home at the end of the day and see all the same news items on the television news. It was obvious that the decisions were coming from somewhere,’ said Marat. Many people have accused Russian television of ramping up propaganda over the past 18 months in its coverage of Ukraine, so much so that the EU even put Dmitry Kiselev, an opinionated television host and director of a major news agency, on its sanctions list.
“After two months of working in the troll agency, Marat began to feel he was losing his sanity, and decided he had to leave. From the snatched conversations over coffee, he noted that the office was split roughly 50/50 between people who genuinely believed in what they were doing, and those who thought it was stupid but wanted the money. Occasionally, he would notice people changing on the job.
“‘Of course, if every day you are feeding on hate, it eats away at your soul. You start really believing in it. You have to be strong to stay clean when you spend your whole day submerged in dirt,’ he said.”
Sounds like some people I know who always have a certain U.S. news channel blasting away in the background. Writer Shaun Walker is unsure whether the site they found in St Petersburg is the only location for this activity, or whether there are other hubs throughout Russia. The effectiveness of such propaganda on Russian citizens, however, seems clear to Russian journalist Andrei Soshnikov (quoted in the article), especially with the older, less tech-savvy set. As disheartening as these revelations are, they should not be surprising.
Cynthia Murrell, June 1, 2015
May 28, 2015
Many old things become trend and new again, and even that holds true with software, at least in principle. The old functions of SharePoint are withstanding the test of time, and the trendy new buzzwords that Microsoft worked so hard to push these last few years (cloud, social, collaborative) are fading out. Of course, some of it has to do with perception, but it does seem that Microsoft is harkening back to what the tried and true longtime users want. Read more in the CMS Wire article, “SharePoint is Back, Yammer… Not So Much.”
The article sums up the last few years:
“But these last few years, Microsoft seemingly didn’t want to talk about SharePoint. It wanted to talk about Office 365, the cloud, collaboration, social, mobile devices and perpetual monthly licensing models. Yet no one appears to have told many of the big traditional SharePoint customers of these shifts. These people are still running SharePoint 2007, 2010 and 2013 happily in-house and have no plans to change that for many years.”
So it seems that with the returned focus to on-premises SharePoint, users are pleased in theory. However, it remains to be seen how satisfying SharePoint Server 2016 will be in reality. To stay tuned to the latest reviews and feedback, keep an eye on ArnoldIT.com and his dedicated SharePoint feed. Stephen E. Arnold is a longtime leader in search with an interest in SharePoint. His reporting will shed a light on the realities of user experience once SharePoint Server 2016 becomes available.
Emily Rae Aldridge, May 28, 2015
May 28, 2015
Facebook is offering an interesting carrot to certain publishers, like the New York Times and National Geographic, in the interest of streamlining the Facebook use-experience; CNet reports, “Facebook Aims to Host Full Stories, Will Let Publishers Keep Ad Revenue, Says Report.” Of course, the project has to have a hip yet obvious name: “Instant Articles” is reportedly the feature’s title. Writer Nate Ralph cites an article in the Wall Street Journal as he tells us:
“The move is aimed at improving the user experience on the world’s largest social network. Today, clicking on a news story on Facebook directs you to the news publication’s website, adding additional time as that site loads and — more importantly for Facebook — taking users away from the social network. With Instant Articles, all the content would load more or less immediately, keeping users engaged on Facebook’s site. The upside for publishers would be increased money from ads, the Journal said. With one of the versions of Instant Articles that’s being considered, publishers would keep all the revenue from associated ads that they sold. If Facebook sold the ads, however, the social network would keep 30 percent of the revenue.”
Apparently, some news publishers have been “wary” of becoming tightly integrated into Facebook, perhaps fearing a lack of control over their content and image. The write-up goes on to note that Facebook has been testing a feature that lets users prioritize updates from different sources. How many other ways to capture and hold our attention does the social media giant have up its sleeve?
Cynthia Murrell, May 28, 2015
May 27, 2015
This is interesting. OpenText advertises their free, downloadable book in a post titled, “Transform Your Business for a Digital-First World.” Our question is whether OpenText can transform their own business; it seems their financial results have been flat and generally drifting down of late. I suppose this is a do-as-we-say-not-as-we-do situation.
The book may be worth looking into, though, especially since it passes along words of wisdom from leaders within multiple organizations. The description states:
“Digital technology is changing the rules of business with the promise of increased opportunity and innovation. The very nature of business is more fluid, social, global, accelerated, risky, and competitive. By 2020, profitable organizations will use digital channels to discover new customers, enter new markets and tap new streams of revenue. Those that don’t make the shift could fall to the wayside. In Digital: Disrupt or Die, a multi-year blueprint for success in 2020, OpenText CEO Mark Barrenechea and Chairman of the Board Tom Jenkins explore the relationship between products, services and Enterprise Information Management (EIM).”
Launched in 1991, OpenText offers tools for enterprise information management, business process management, and customer experience management. Based in Waterloo, Ontario, the company maintains offices around the world.
Cynthia Murrell, May 27, 2015