Social Networks

Entries related to social networks, group psychology, anthropology, and really any of the social sciences.

#ff #pcwm @redheadeddivak @tgalanis @mmpartee @ChristinePilch @cparizo @AlSantaniello @ron_miller @JulianneKrutka @jcnork @paulb

Tomorrow morning is the fourth Podcamp Western Mass. I made it to the first two, missed the third, and will be heading up to the fourth tomorrow. So, I thought it would be good to highlight some of the people I've met through Podcamp and/or will be going tomorrow.

I'll start from the back of the list. I'll be driving up from Connecticut tomorrow with @jcnork. He lives in the next town over and we run into each other a lot. We're currently working on plans for Podcamp Connecticut, which should take place May 12th. Coming from the same town as @jcnork is @paulbogush. I've run into Paul online and at various events, and I'm glad he'll be heading up to Podcamp Western Mass.

The other eight people are shakers and movers in the Podcamp Western Mass circle. @mmpartee really carries the Podcamp spirit and has been a great help with planning Podcamps in Connecticut as well.

I don't know who will be tweeting what tomorrow, but you can probably catch most of the action on the #pcwm hash tag.

Flickr and Beyond

Today, Mashable reports that Flickr is getting a makeover to make it look more like Pinterest. This caught my attention, because recently there has been an upsurge of interest in photo sharing sites over on Empire Avenue.

It started off with a discussion about how to maximize people's Instagram scores on Empire Avenue. However, Instagram is currently only available for iPhone users, and this left out a bunch of people, so some of the discussion shifted over to Flickr.

With that, I've picked up about a dozen new contacts in the past couple days. (If you're interested, please connect with me at http://www.flickr.com/photos/aldon.) I've received and place more comments in the past couple of days than I have probably over the years on Flickr.

I'm also spending a lot more time looking at other people's photos. There are some really good ones, and I'm trying to figure out how best to tie together what I am seeing and talking about there with my other social media presences without becoming duplicative.

I often comment about being much more of a textual person than an image oriented person. It will be interesting to how this shifts.

So, are you doing new and exciting things with images? How do you decide whether to share the images on Instagram, Flickr, Facebook, or other sites?

Podcamps and Presentations

This coming Saturday, Podcamp returns to Western Mass. I went to a couple Western Mass Podcamps, as well as podcamps in other locations and helped organize the first Podcamp in Connecticut.

Before I go much further, I should explain what a Podcamp is. It is an 'unconference' where people gather to discuss topics related to social media. I put it this way to contrast it from a typical conference where a keynote speaker or a group of panelists talk at the audience.

With my focus on the discussion aspect of an unconference, you may wonder my thoughts about where presentations fit in, especially if you've read some of my other thoughts about presentations. As a general rule, I don't think they fit in well at all. I really dislike presentations, and particularly Powerpoint presentations.

I guess that is some of the reason, I really haven't done a lot with Slideshare or Scribd. But recently, I saw a Clearslide presentation, and I thought it was pretty interesting. I've set up a test account, but I'm not yet sold on it. I also recently set up a Prezi account. I did this during a conference, and since I rarely do presentations, I didn't come back to revisit it, until today.

I went through the tutorial, and I really liked it. I will have to play more with Prezi.

With this, let me return to a moment to Podcamp. While I try to avoid sessions with presentations at Podcamp, and if I accidentally find myself in one, I try to reshape it into a discussion, or I use the 'rule of two feet' and head off for a different discussion, a discussion of presentation tools, from SlideShare to Clearslide and Prezi, might be a bit of fun.

A related topic that might be really interesting is video animation. On the simple level, there are tools like XtraNormal, GoAnimate, and Animoto. From the little bit that I've played with each of them, I like XtraNormal the best. Then, there are the whiteboard animations, like RSA animate videos. I've read tutorials about how to do this, but it seems cumbersome and I wonder if there are tools or shortcuts to make it easier. Then, of course, there is machinima, or making animated videos using computer games. I've always like Second Life based Machinima, and have made a few very simple examples. For the serious animator, there is Blender which I've also played with, but not come close to developing any proficiency. Video animation might be another fun topic to explore at a Podcamp.

We'll see who ends up at Podcamp Western Mass, as well as a Podcamp in Connecticut, hopefully later in the year. I look forward to hearing about other topics I haven't even thought about.

No Comment!

Last week, Dave Lucas wrote a blog post entitled Blog Comments: 7 Scenarios. It explored different reasons people leave comments and whether or not you can really tell anything about a blog by its comments. Dave dropped me an email asking for my thoughts on his blog post, and I was going to add it in a comment when I had time.

However, I've been pretty busy over the past week, and really haven't been interacting much online. I think Dave's description of common motivations for adding comments are pretty accurate, even if they are a tad cynical. While I don't participate in comments on my blog as much as I would like, I appreciate comments as a chance to hear different people's viewpoints and discuss them; pretty close to the 'comments as forum' that Dave describes.

Yet his final thought, "Comments do not make or break any blog or website" is pretty much on the mark.

I thought about this again today as the I read a post in the New Haven Independent, Time Out!, about how they are taking a sabbatical from publishing comments. It seems as if some of the trolls that have been posting obnoxious comments on other news sites have found their way to the New Haven Independent.

While there wasn't a place to comment about it on the New Haven Independent, the link to the post on the Independent's Facebook page drew quite a few comments, including close to a dozen from one person, illustrating why comments needed to be closed. He claimed that is rationale was to show that the comments would occur elsewhere, no matter what, which is true.

However, Facebook does give individuals the ability to block offensive users, so I blocked the person.

Yes, comments will take place other places. But it may be best to let them occur elsewhere on sites that have better tools for blocking spam and obnoxious users, and on sites where full time community managers can keep things on track, allowing reporters, or bloggers to do what they do best.

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Why #SOPA Might not be so bad: The Law of Unintended Consequences.

Yesterday, many websites, including this one, went black to protest the Stop Online Privacy Act, or SOPA. Today, I want to look at it from a different perspective, Why #SOPA Might not be so bad: The Law of Unintended Consequences.

One idea that had had been part of SOPA was DNS blocking. The idea being that if some site was violating copyright law, law enforcement officials could get the names block from DNS. Presumably, this would have been done through the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the registrars it accredits.

ICANN is a $60 million business headquartered in California. There have been lots of issues about how it is governed and whether it should be turned over to U.N. control.

One of the things about the Internet is that it was built to adapt to, and route around things that damage it. The DNS provision of SOPA would have encourage more people to find ways of bypassing ICANN. One alternative to ICANN is the OpenNIC project. It is actually pretty easy to change your computer to use OpenNIC.

To the extent the SOPA or related bills would block ports or IP addresses, projects like TOR could help people get around these blocks. TOR has been used when repressive regimes try to block Internet access. If the U.S. joined the community of repressive regimes trying to block Internet access, it would encourage greater innovation in the TOR project and related projects. Such efforts might also encourage people to start adopting IPv6 as another way of getting around blocking.

Then, there are the financial aspects. Blocking people from doing financial transactions with U.S. financial institutions won't stop people from doing financial transactions, it would only cause them to find new ways of doing them. For my friends that want a return to the gold standard, it might encourage people to move towards more forms on online, virtual gold.

The problem with so many of these systems ends up being how trust worthy they are. Can we trust OpenNIC or online gold traders? If the U.S. Government implements draconian measures to protect a small set of large corporations, more people may find they can trust others more than they can trust the U.S., and that might even lead towards the development of better trust models.

Ultimately, Congress' responsibility is "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries". SOPA and related anti-privacy acts may end up doing that through the law of unintended consequences, not by making sure that authors and inventors get paid, but by encouraging inventors to find ways of bypassing draconian laws.

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