Poking (as a) Professional Game

I have previously published a well-received post about poking on Facebook so I have to confess that I was less than thrilled with this new post suggestion.   To briefly recap that earlier post– I don’t think that poking serves any purpose and I don’t generally recommend it for most serious networkers.  That said,  if you find poking amusing by all means go ahead and do it.  I think it’s a waste of time,  but then too so are most any game you play online and there are a number of casual games I do enjoy playing,  mostly on Facebook.    And I try to only send game requests to friends who are actively playing the same game.   I also trust that most of my friends are techno butch enough to no how to block apps they find annoying.  (Just once someone blocked me instead and you know, that was okay too.)

I think that as a silly little game is the most appropriate way to treat poking.    I definitely don’t think it’s a good idea to poke business contacts unless you have reason to believe the poke would be welcome. (I am carefully refraining from making again the innuendo about what poking is actually a euphemism for.)   Which brings me to:

If you’re online long enough sooner or later you will offend someone.   I think it is absolutely unavoidable.     If you offend someone you don’t want to alienate,  the best thing to do is a prompt, sincere apology.    This very much needs to be combined with taking the time to actually understand how you offended the person and changing your future behavior so as not to further offend them.  (Apologies are easy.   Understanding is the challenge.)    Poking may be innocent fun for some,  and an anathema for others.   But if you pay attention and don’t bother folks who are not interested,  it can like many other little online games provide a few moments of joy to brighten your day.   But honestly,  I very rarely poke anymore.   My thanks to Saket Verma for suggesting today’s words.

Jabber Church Music

It’s always funny,   the memories a few words will bring up.    For 5 or 6 years when I was in junior and senior high school,  I sang in the church choir.   Sometimes the anthems we used to sing come back to me unbidden and I remember the joy, the love and the power in singing music with other people.   I particularly remember one song “Oh Thou To Whose All Searching Sight”.    I really liked that song and snuck a copy of the music home from the choir room and mastered the piece on the piano.  The thumping bass and soaring lyrics and the wonderful four part harmony made it a truly memorable bit of church music that I can hear so clearly in my mind as I type this,  even though my ears have not heard it in many years.

Try as I might,   I can’t seem to think of any kind of positive spin to give to the word jabber,  which is I suppose a verb denoting an incessant and not very intelligent speech.   Though I could as easily argue that it is part of the noun jibber jabber which would refer to just the same sort of speech.    Honestly,  there is a lot of jibber jabber on Facebook and yes, also on blogs.   Though I do believe you are more likely to come across carefully created content on a blog vis a vis  on Facebook.   Then too,  Facebook is for sharing and the sad fact is most of us are not in fact master curators.    And the fact is that most of us do like seeing cute cat pics.   So maybe, sometimes,  jibber jabber is actually okay.

I deeply regret that I did not make a note of just who suggested today’s three words to me,  back when they were first suggested.   Try though I have,  I did not locate the comment where these three words were introduced into the rotation.   So my sincerest apologies for not writing a paragraph here about my friend who gave us these three great words.   And if YOU are that friend,   please leave me a comment.   I will absolutely positively devote another whole post to you and your interests  🙂

Facebook Fatigue

Biploar disorder is really weird.   I am relearning today how my bi-polar life,  even when I Have and take most all of my medicines  (which is the case at present) my life is always a series of ups and downs. And having had a really great day,  that stretched for fully 30 hours,  and having slept about 12 hours I need to be sure to report that I feel like I’ve been run over by a bus.

It wasn’t Facebook fatigue I felt this morning– yesterday I was on FB some,  though I used it mostly as a tool,   among many tools in my arsenal to actually get dressed, go out, go somewhere and Do Something.    I had two separate visits,   many hours apart that would have amounted to four billable hours,  if I were the sort to charge a friend  🙂  And while I am still manic today,   I am also physically tired.   I have done a lot of work on my new project,  and I fear that going forward my new project is going to take more and more of my attention,  since I will be trying to establish a new niche audience for a fictitious character in an “adult” niche.

I’ve written before about my sincerest belief that Google is tragically mistaken in their belief that forcing people to give a “wallet name”  on their social site provides some level of authenticity or credibility.   The fact that a brand new fictitious character that I am still in the process of creating was easily able to get a G+ profile.   And my wallet name has tons of different e-mails and accounts with Googles and my primary experience with all of Google’s different sites and services is one of intense frustration because I am forever being prompted to change to a different Google account.   Meh.

As it happens I have also been suffering from some actual Facebook fatigue.    I did an Empire Avenue mission the other day,  and found my self on some Facebook screen or another.     All of the posts were by my “Facebook friend”  Seaux N. Seaux.     With only the most cursory glance at the content,  I had clicked Like on the first item.   But when I looked up I saw that I was on a Facebook Page for SomeDamnThing.    And I really did try,  but quite failed to call to mind anything at all about my Facebook friend Seaux N. Seaux.      We own an equal number of shares of each other on Empire Avenue.   And we are connected on Facebook and Twitter.     And I haven’t even a clue who the hell this guy is.

It seems to me I have in some way mastered the art of building a bunch of Facebook friends.   I have an even larger number of friends under another name on another social network that I won’t mention.    I don’t know any of those people either.   Though I did like the pictures they posted of themselves or the way they played a silly little game with me.    I wouldn’t call any of these online friends at 4 in the morning if I had a problem.   They probably wouldn’t recognize me to say hello if we both happened at some time to be in the same public space.     I find myself wondering if I should do some housekeeping in my social networks and try to focus more carefully on a smaller number of more memorable contacts?

What about YOU?

Are You feeling Facebook fatigue.   Do you periodically trim your social lists of contacts whose name and icon no longer ring much of a bell?

Jailhouse Rock (Facebook Version)

Feh.   I am in Facebook Jail again.    It really irks me that Facebook constantly prompts you to send friend requests to other users then penalizes you for giving in once too often to their truly incessant recommendations.     Apparently they ‘noticed’ that I have been sending friend requests to people I don’t actually know.    I can’t help but wonder who might have complained about me,  although I know it is a question best left unasked.   Even more annoying than not being able to send friend requests is that I can not comment in Facebook group chat windows– those sometimes wonderful and sometimes annoying bottom of the screen pop up windows where I sometimes enjoy chatting with groups of friends.

A discussion on a friends page the other day reminded me that I never did hear back anything from diaspora,   a user controlled social network that was going to free us from the tyranny of Facebook and Google,  which both very effectively leverage a high cost of quitting a free service business model to keep literally millions of users locked in to their products.     Ubiquity is an almost insurmountable disadvantage for any direct competitors,   and anyone who has ever tried to create from scratch a social network  will be aware of what a huge challenge it always has been.   One friend remarked to me that he only believes it could be done at this point within a carefully chosen very narrow niche.    So while I am sad that we will not all soon be moving on to a better and more user centric environment,   I am hardly very surprised that diaspora apparently never got off the ground.   Though I frankly disagree with my friend who stated that diaspora lost their chance because G+  beat them to creating a much better network.   (I personally am still waiting for Plus to go the way of Buzz and Wave.    I am a contrarian  😉

I don’t ever actually try to be mysterious or confusing in these posts,   although I know that sometimes,  some of my readers just don’t quite get what I am trying to say.   Sometimes I believe this is through the limitations of language,   particularly when the language I am speaking is a second language for someone who is more comfortably fluent in another mother tongue.   Other times I suspect it is a question of different communication styles, or occasionally a question of someone who does not follow the contextual links in paragraph one,  and thus really  doesn’t get the references in paragraph three.      I am however genuinely humbled by all of the comments,  rebloggings and other sharing my posts have received.   And I am genuinely grateful to each and every one of you who read my posts.

Button Dancing With The (Blog) Stars

Sometimes I really do wish that I were the one who came up with the expressions that go viral.    I first heard the expression “button dancing”  on my friend Holly’s  blog.   She quotes Hajra Khatoon  with coining the phrase “button dance”  for the act of clicking all the like and share buttons on a blog post–the high speed intersection of blogging and social networking.   It is an apt expression,  and more and more of us are doing it every day it seems.    Sometimes I do it because a friend sent me a request or offered a few eaves in an Empire Avenue mission.  Other times just because I found myself  impressed with someone’s comments or content.

It seems to me that button dancing is just one part of what I am coming to recognize as an entire global economy in social recognition.     I’ve written before that reciprocity is really what makes most things  go around online.    In Walking Down The Avenue, I mention the “speed dating”  that used to be frequently practiced in the #SocialEmpire Facebook group.  Not nearly as naughty as it sounds,  speed dating merely involves creating a thread or an event.  Each user who signs in to the event visits the Facebook profile or page of every other participant and Likes everything on the page and leaves a comment or two.   Sometimes you find interesting information or discover cool things on your friends’ pages.   And sometimes real conversations  (and sometimes great and or hilarious conversations) take place on Facebook pages.   I often find myself shooting the breeze with Randi, Jake and Sharon among many other friends I talk to on Facebook.

Empire Avenue missions fit neatly into the social recognition economy.  They allow bloggers and social networkers to give their friends an incentive to do the button dance or to perform any number of other   actions that make the recognition economy go around.   I’ve used missions to revive the #definethis  daily word game on Twitter.    I’m having a great deal of fun with my friends who enjoy obscure and unusual words.   And I’ve found that the more I succeed in my goal of having fun with my friends online,  the more my Empire Avenue scores, dividends and share price go up.    What about you?  Do you do the button dance?  Have you ever like bombed a friend’s Facebook page?

Poking Straight Guys On Facebook

It would not be unfair to say that I’ve spent a fair number of the weekends of my life “poking guys”.    Yet I must say that this Facebook era brings a very different meaning to that phrase.  My buddy Nitin was my first serious poking partner on Facebook.   No matter what time of the day or night I logged in,  there was a notification that Nitin has poked you.   And I always poked back.  And he’d poke me again and lather, rinse repeat.       Unlike those earlier weekends of poking more…..tactile friends,  these poke fests with Nitin never seemed to come to any sort of climax or uhhh conclusion.

Over time,  I found myself also frequently poking my dear friend Jake.   At first I always clicked and poked back just as soon as the little notice thingy came up.   But as I found myself poking more and more people,  none of whom I ever have or likely ever will meet face to face,  and who would at the very least have been frankly uninterested in the sort of poking I used to do so much of when I was a younger man, I’ve actually started returning all pokes only once or twice a day.   And sometimes,  it still seems such an odd way to pass the time.    I have asked most everyone who has ever poked me,  what the point or purpose is,  though honestly in all of those pokes I only got one answer that made much sense.

A friend who would probably prefer not to be named and linked told me that the Poke button was meant as a way of getting someone’s attention.    Like if they were ignoring a hot thread in a forum they were usually all over or if they hadn’t responded to something you posted to their wall a few days ago,  the Poke button could be used to say in effect “hey man,  pay attention and answer me already”.    My friend thinks most Facebook users these days are ignorant of online history.   And he certainly seems correct that most of the people who go around poking each other for hours on end don’t really think about what it means at all.

What about you?   Have you  Poked anyone on Facebook?   Do you think  it means anything?

Playing With My Blocks: Something Facebook Actually Does Well

If you read this site regularly,  you are almost certainly already well aware of my distaste for and many criticisms of Facebook.    So perhaps you will be surprised that today I am actually writing to praise one feature which I find Facebook has integrated well.

Even at the beginning, way back when on CompuServe, it was possible to “block” users you didn’t want to interact with.   This is to say that you could configure your account and/or software to hide or not display messages from users you simply did not want to interact with.    It was not an easy or intuitive process back then,  and honestly there was only one user ID in my block list back on CompuServe.  And to this day,  I find that when I use the block function on any site to suppress only one or two users.

Facebook,  I am surprised and pleased to say handles blocking other users quite well.   The two users I’ve blocked simply never appear on my screen,  even when we post in the same thread.  (I can tell they’ve posted there by other people’s replies to them.)  I remember how difficult it was back in the CompuServe days to get people to understand that blocking others’ messages from appearing in their streams was the appropriate way to deal with users whose content they didn’t want to see.   But I’m pleased to say that in my current online life, it really works well.

If We All Hate FB, Why The Heck Are We There?

I spend a lot of time online.   I meet and chat with rather a lot of different people.   But I don’t recall Ever chatting with anyone who had much nice to say about Facebook.   It’s detractors of course are legion.     One woman I know pointedly refuses to get a Facebook account,  saying that the site is data-mining scam that no rational person should ever trust with their personal information.

Many people complain that it is literally _impossible_ to contact them for customer service.   They seem to take feedback only through online reporting mechanisms which often fail to foresee customer’s situations,  and since they only allow selecting alternatives,  rather than entering  questions or concerns,  quite fail to anywhere near adequately address situations.   Indeed when one presses the Help Center option on the Account menu, one is presented with a huge array of issues one might need help with.   And information, advice and links are available for any problem Facebook thinks one might be having can be readily found for each of these issues.   But nowhere in all of that is there ever any option to call or e-mail for assistance.

Which leads me to ask,  why the heck do so many of us use their service So much,  even though we all should know by now just how difficult it will be to fix things if,  for example, we accidentally delete or get locked out of our accounts.    One user I spoke with– who is creating FB   page applications for clients,  said simply that his clients are asking for FB apps, so he is coding FB apps.   Apparently,  Facebook is what people want today.   Buy Why?

Wednesday in the Empire

OR  Egg On My Face

Wednesday was a great day,  although a couple of times I ended up with egg all over my face.   I spent hours hanging out in the #SocialEmpire group on Facebook.   So many bright and interesting people to get to know.   @ryanjz is the leader of the pack.  He reminds me of a manager I worked for at Sprynet– a brilliant mile a minute kind of guy who every now and then disagrees with me and challenges me a bit.  Ryan calls me on stuff sometimes and that’s  good thing.   Every writer needs an editor who can see right through their bullshit.
In the afternoon I got to meet and spend some time chatting with Honor MacDonald (e)HMD.  A bit later I got to meet and chat with @starry_girl  and got to spend some time getting to know Fee Cooper (e)BOOTCOOT,    And belive me,  Fee is a hoot.    And what was so nice is that all of the participants are good at conversation and are also good sports.   At one point Paul Bowyer threw out some pretty provocative comments and there was a real and lively debate between actual liberals and actual conservatives.    I have previously written about my fear that people who disagree with each almost never associate with each other any more.   They get their hard core news from Red State or Daily Kos,  they watch Keith and Rachel or go for Glenn and the Fox crew.   They sometimes shoot flames at each other over the heads or other participants who sometimes try in vain to actually discuss the issues,  only to get ignored and drowned out in vitriol and rhetoric.   It was an amazing discussion and while there was sharp disagreement, there was never any hostility or rancor.  And as so often seems to be the case when human beings talk calmly with each other,   there were actually a few areas of agreement between the two sides.   Honestly it was  the highlight of my day. 
My otherwise great day was marred only by two incidences in which I was compelled to post with egg all over My face.    A bunch of us were just hanging out, shooting the breeze and I made an observation– that while creating content on blogs is the primary value of the Empire Avenue game  (the activity which rewards the Most points), it sure doesn’t seem to drive a lot of traffic to blogs.   Being the arrogant SOB I can be when I get real relaxed and start phoning it in,  I naturally expected an amen chorus.   But I distinctly noticed a slight chilling in the room when 2 two people rather stiffly told me that they had indeed visited this site.   I didn’t exactly get reprimanded,  but it was kind of like the entire room was glaring at me– (“are you really whining about your traffic as we try to discuss much more important things”).     Ooops.   I had to sit down and stfu for awhile.
I also really enjoyed meeting and chatting privately with Holly Jahangiri— who it turns out is a wonderfully gifted poet, with a wicked sense of humor.    You must go read her poem  How Can a Writer Not READ?  Holly is a fantastic writer and a wonderful down-to-earth lady  (Holly is definitely a lady) who is one of the nicest and most charming me people I’ve ever met.    After you’ve read her poem,  do buy a few shares in (e)HGJ.   You’ll shoot yourself for missing out on the opportunity to invest in Holly at 60 when she is on the bestseller lists  and celebrating her membership in the 300 club.
And finally,  my second egg all over My face moment–  I got as little bit confused about all of these really great women I met today and tweeted about Holly’s poems  with @starry_girl credited as the author.  Mea Culpa.   My straight men friends might look askance at my excuse that I just met so many lovely ladies today. But it’s honestly the truth.   And the admonishment about not whining about traffic is well taken.    I long ago learned that the most  sure-fire way to draw in a whole bunch of people and get most of them to comment, is to write a post that talks first person about a whole bunch of people and then link to every last one of ’em.  Which brings me to.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my little memoir today.   And I hope that you are enjoying your time on The Ave as much as I have been enjoying mine.   Happy Thursday everybody!