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The Decline of Facebook

Saskatoon Afternoon’s 5:15 p.m. Roundtable

Broadcasting from 650 CKOM with David Kirton and Ian Goodwillie on the Saskatoon Afternoon show.  We talk Nigel Wright and a teen arrested for a ill-worded Facebook post.

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Fed up with non-profits, Facebook Cofounder Chris Hughes And Google Are Giving Cash Directly To The Poor

Having seen mismanagement and corruption in some non-profits, I agree with their approach

Paul Niehaus, an assistant professor of economics at UC San Diego and a board member of GiveDirect, came up with the idea of transferring money to poor people’s cell phones back in 2008. He was working with the Indian government to limit corruption and saw how the government there transferred money to people’s phones. “I realized I could do that myself,” Niehaus told me. He told the gathering in San Francisco that most of the money that’s donated to help poor people goes to international development organizations, not poor people directly. GiveDirectly’s giving has had “big impacts on nutrition, education, land and livestock” and “hasn’t been shown to increase how much people drink,” Niehaus emphasized. “A typical poor person is poor not because he is irresponsible, but because he was born in Africa.”

GiveDirectly finds poor households – typically people who live in mud huts with thatched roofs – and uses a system called M-Pesa, run by Vodafone , to transfer money to their cell phones. Transaction fees eat up a mere 3 cents per donated dollar. Niehaus says plenty of recipients use the money to upgrade their homes by adding a metal roof.

Which is why I like to give money through Kiva.

Slate’s Matthew Yglesias says much the same thing in Slate

Poverty is, fundamentally, a lack of money. So doesn’t it make sense that simply delivering cash to poor people can be an effective strategy for alleviating it?

Transferring money to poor Americans has been a much bigger success than most of us realize. When it comes to the global poor—the hundreds of millions of slum-dwellers and subsistence farmers who still populate the world—one might be more skeptical. Perhaps the problems facing these unfortunates are simply too profound and too complex to be addressed by anything other than complicated development schemes. Well, perhaps.

But there’s striking new evidence that helping the truly poor really is as simple as handing them money. Money with no strings attached not only directly raises the living standards of those who receive it, but it also increases hours worked and labor productivity, seemingly laying the groundwork for growth to come.

The web we’ve lost

Anil Dash has a great essay on the web that we have a decade ago versus the one we have today.

When you see interesting data mash-ups today, they are often still using Flickr photos because Instagram’s meager metadata sucks, and the app is only reluctantly on the web at all. We get excuses about why we can’t search for old tweets or our own relevant Facebook content, though we got more comprehensive results from a Technorati search that was cobbled together on the feeble software platforms of its era. We get bullshit turf battles like Tumblr not being able to find your Twitter friends or Facebook not letting Instagram photos show up on Twitter because of giant companies pursuing their agendas instead of collaborating in a way that would serve users. And we get a generation of entrepreneurs encouraged to make more narrow-minded, web-hostile products like these because it continues to make a small number of wealthy people even more wealthy, instead of letting lots of people build innovative new opportunities for themselves on top of the web itself.

While the mobile web has been great, I miss the open web which seems to get a little smaller each day.

Time to Unplug?

Cost Of Daily Interruptions Infographic

The interruptions that come in from Twitter, Facebook, and text messages at work pretty much makes having a meeting or even a conversation impossible some days.  I think we lose half of our working days some day to social media which is really appalling.  With texting making it easy for anyone to get you at anytime, it is almost as if work plays second fiddle to personal correspondence in many places.  It’s no wonder why some organizations pay for voice but don’t give out data plans on their company phones; employees don’t know how to police them.

Mayfair – Hudson Bay Park – Kelsey Woodlawn Facebook Group

There is an active Facebook group for Hudson Bay Park, Mayfair, and the Kelsey Woodlawn community association.  If you are a resident of one of these three neighbourhoods, you may want to join.

There are a variety of good discussions online.  As the group intro says.

Hello and welcome. This community page represents the neighbourhoods of Hudson Bay Park, Mayfair and Kelsey/Woodlawn in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Our group is for everyone who lives in our neighbourhoods, as well as those who might want to join for information on a variety of community topics. Discussions might be about upcoming events in our neighbourhoods, concerns in the community, or other community-related topics.

Have some plants to give away? Need daycare? Great new shop recently opened up nearby? Concerned about something going on? Want to volunteer for your Community Association and help make our neighbourhoods a better place for everyone?

We like to keep discussions as civil as possible, while still allowing for differences of opinion to be discussed. We’re not always going to like what others have to say, but if we can remain respectful while expressing ourselves, we can all have our say and likely learn a thing or two from one another.

Take care of yourselves, your neighbours, and your neighbourhood.

What happens when the cloud disappears?

Excellent post by Dave Winer on Gizmodo

Back then all this was much smaller. There were far fewer bloggers. Maybe thousands. Today there are millions. None of them are thinking about what happens when Tumblr or Blogger or WordPress or Facebook disappear. But come on — we almost know for certain that one of them will. Given enough time they will all disappear. Doesn’t it make sense to think, in advance about what will happen then? Technically there are good practices that exist right now, that could ameliorate the problems. Don’t we have a responsibility to implement them?

Which gets me to the beginning. Yesterday I wrote a piece where I said that the web is socialist. I strongly believe if you try to turn a community of bloggers into a property, someday you’ll wake up to the realization that you bought a bag of air. There’s nothing inside the walls that’s worth anything, from a dollar standpoint. What happens then dear blogger? Do you think anyone is going to subsidize the hosting? You will be on your own that day. And you very likely won’t have any recourse, any more than my users had in 2003. I promise you I was well-intentioned, but that didn’t save the sites. Good intentions are no answer. Saying they’re not your users won’t help either. In 2003 they weren’t mine because I was no longer employed by the company. No salary. No upside. Nothing. I quit for a very good reason. So why me? It was basically an accident that the hits were coming to my server. That didn’t matter to the users. Were they right? Hard to say. But it didn’t matter.

Advertising on Facebook

Interesting piece on Facebook in the Globe and Mail

So-called “click-through rates” – the proportion of times a user clicks on an ad to get their browser to go to another site – are notoriously low on Facebook: roughly 0.035 per cent in the U.S., according to research provided by the digital marketing agency Resolution Media. (By some estimates, Google’s click-through rate on ads is about 10 times greater.)

“Finding ROI [return-on-investment] on Facebook is a bit tricky,” agreed Mr. Bandurski.

Until now, Facebook has served up advertising only to people who “Like” a particular brand, or to friends of those users. But this week it began experimenting with ads that pop up in users’ Facebook feeds – even if they haven’t agreed to accept messages from that advertiser.

The practice is likely to upset not just the network’s users, but some of the companies that have invested heavily in getting people to “Like” them so they can send out their marketing messages.

It makes sense.  When I am on Google I am looking for something.  When you are using Facebook, you are looking for friends which is why I have always wondered why brands advertised there.

The Opening of The Lighthouse Complex Needs Wing

You can get more details here.

Facebook

While in Edmonton we got lost.  I found out that no one in the car can read a GPS and I was driving with them navigating.  Not only that but NO ONE at Hope Mission would give Katie or DeeAnn an address.  Great discipline but a big time pain in the neck as we were trying to figure out where to go.  While we were driving, DeeAnn was trying to persuade me to spam my friends with the Lighthouse Facebook page so they will “like” it.  Somehow she started to explain Facebook to me and never really clicked in that not only was I probably in really early, I was in so early, I left before it got cool.  Twitter is much more my style.  As I have said, what the strangers I know on Twitter are doing are more interesting to me than what my friends are doing on Facebook.

So for about 30 minutes, she was evangelizing Facebook to me while I just ignored her but she did make some good points about if we are trying to make social change, we should use the mediums we have at our disposal and Facebook is one of the things we have at our disposal.

As much as I hate Facebook, I need to be using it more effectively than logging in once a year (generally in January).  From now on I plan to log in a couple of times a week if for no other reason than to reply to some of the messages and post some things to The Lighthouse’s page.  According to experts, an organization needs to spend about six hours a week to social media for it to be effective.  I don’t have six hours a week but DeeAnn seems to (she is The Lighthouse’s director of communications and it is part of her job).  That being said, I realized that more and more people are going to our Facebook page expecting to find that I show up more than once a year.  

As for Google Circles (cue tumbleweed), it is so quiet that I am not sure if it is worth my time and effort.  If I had to choose between the two, I think I would choose Facebook.  I am not sure I would use it if it wasn’t for the good work DeeAnn has done with it at The Lighthouse but she has so I need to be a part of that as well.  I care a lot about social change and that means taking the message to where the people are.  As for Google Circles, it doesn’t even seem to have a functioning API which is shocking considering it is coming from Google.  Twitter can’t post to it, Feedburner can’t post to it (and it is owned by Google).  Maybe that is intentional but I doubt it.  There just isn’t very much content that you can put on there without going to the site.  If things change, maybe I’ll head back but for now, it doesn’t capture my attention.

Why all of your employees should be VIPs

From Holler.com

Walking home from the fourth annual f8 conference earlier this week I kept wondering why I hadn’t gone over to the massive Sean Parker/Spotify after party. Over the past few years, Facebook’s f8 after party was an opportunity to schmooze with people of all levels within the company. This year however, the “A-List” and “B-List” along with the press were shuttled over to listen to Snoop Dogg, Jane’s Addiction, and others.

While I actually could have headed over thanks to my f8 press pass, I decided just to head home. There was something about this exclusivity that was genuinely frustrating me. Walking around the f8 after party, I had the opportunity to chat with Facebook employees, but none of the “important” ones appeared to be there. What’s just now starting to sink in is how tasteless the over the top party actually was. While Sean Parker spent tons of money earned from his Facebook shares on a Spotify party with top tier talent, the majority of Facebook employees got to listen to a second-rate artist screeching through the speakers in the main concourse center.

The ironic part is that the hard work of the individuals in the official f8 party are what helped make Facebook the company it is today. I can guarantee you that any of the people at the official event weren’t feeling too positive about the experience. People who literally created some of the content that Mark Zuckerberg showcased on stage weren’t invited. They also sounded pretty ticked off.

This sort of exclusive mentality is exactly the opposite of what has built Silicon Valley. I remember going to one of the early unofficial Facebook developer conferences and Mitch Kapor, the founder of Lotus, came to chat with developers who were building some of the first apps. Talk about being a humble billionaire. Having access to these people is exactly why I found Silicon Valley to be so incredible. Yet over the past couple years things have changed. At Techcrunch Disrupt Erick Schonfeld asked me naively, “You would actually meet with other strangers?”, referring to the Holler application. Correct me if I’m wrong but wasn’t that the purpose of the very conference he was hosting?

As an employee who has felt both included and excluded from major organizational events, you have no idea how much more valued being included made me feel and how being excluded made me feel devalued.

A quick proposal to make Saskatoon a better place to live

This afternoon Wendy, Mark, and Oliver are at the 2011 Caswell Arts Festival.  It’s a great event and a lot of fun.  One problem, we almost missed out on it because we never heard of it until the last minute.  I am not blaming the organizers or anyone else.  They have always done a good job getting the word out but for some reason we were not in the places where the word was.

It brought back memories of some of the political campaigns from the spring where everyone was using Facebook to publicize their events and campaign.  It’s great if you are are on Facebook and happen to be “friends” with the candidate, not so great if you are not logged in and don’t use the book with a face (like myself).  So how do you publicize your events to the entire city?

To help get the word around, I am going to suggest that more of us use Yahoo!’s Upcoming service to publicize events in Saskatoon for the following reasons:

  • Saskatoon on Upcoming.orgIt’s free to signup (most of us have a Yahoo! username already)
  • You don’t need to be signed in to view events and get information.
  • It’s free to post events and add venues.  Every couple of weeks I find some time to look around and post some things of interest to the site.  Even if I don’t plan on or can attend, it lets others know about the event.  Both Google and Yahoo! Search Bing spider the site which means that you are making it easier for anyone to find the event.
  • It links up with Flickr so any photos that you posted to an event can be linked back to it.
  • It’s neutral and user generated.  You don’t have to worry about someone not liking your event and taking it down.
  • There is a place to add a link for the event and for tickets which means that the event organizer gets some Google love and people can go to the appropriate site for tickets.
  • A lot of people are using it already and you don’t have to be the organizer of the event to post it there.  I tracked down a lot of events that Wendy and I are thinking of attending, found some graphics and created the listing from their website.  If the event organizer wants to change it later, they can do that as well.
  • It shows what events you are attending as well as the events your friends are going to.
  • It offers the ability to create a group of friends, colleagues, or special interests that you can organize around.
  • It will feed other sites that publicize information like radio stations, television stations, the paper, community newspapers, school newsletters… you get the idea.
  • It’s open instead of closed like Facebook. 

As for the kind of events.  Everyone of Saskatoon’s festivals should be listed.  Hilltops, Huskies, Saskatoon Blades, and Saskatoon Yellow Jackets games.  Public events at the University of Saskatchewan and SIAST.  Political AGMs, rallies and nomination meetings, events at the Mendel and the WDM, and even City of Saskatoon information and public meetings, church special events (just don’t post your regular service times), press conferences, and neighbourhood barbecues.   You name it.  If you want the city to know about it, post it online.

The end result would be a big online public square where we could come and discover what is happening in Saskatoon but also what our friends are doing.  It would add a lot to city life in Saskatoon and be a great experiment in crowd sourcing everything that is great in our city.

I am not even that stuck on Upcoming, there is also Eventful but I am not fond of the ads everywhere and I prefer the Yahoo!/Upcoming interface.  So if you are interested and agree, sign up, post an event (or let people know you are attending an event), and let your friends know.   Then link to the Upcoming page for the event when you are talking about it.  If you want to, add me as a friend.

Facebook, Google look to buy Twitter for $10 billion

They are having low level talks… meanwhile this site can be had for the bargain price of $8 billion.

Facebook ads don’t work

Joseph Perla writes that Facebook ads don’t work because it’s the wrong platform for advertising

People go to Facebook to interact with their friends. It is fundamentally different from the ad platform that is Google. People go to Google to find something they need, possibly ready to buy, which a good percentage of the time can in fact be solved by someone’s ad. Facebook ads, on the other hand, annoy users. They yield no real value, and thus no profits.

But, then, how is Facebook so profitable? Are they lying? No. They are growing. More and more people sign up to Facebook, and more and more businesses hear about how many people are on Facebook. It seems like a huge opportunity. TV shows and award-winning movies are made about Facebook.

Because of Facebook’s presumed success, many small, medium, and large businesses individually and in turn experiment with Facebook ads. They spend hundreds or thousands or more on Facebook ads. At the end of the first run, they see bad ROIs. They tweak the ads and spend more money and try again. Nothing. So they stop, understanding that Facebook ads are worthless. Almost everyone I’ve talked to who has actually bought Facebook ads knows this. But, not everyone has bought Facebook ads yet. There are still more and more new businesses finding out about Facebook ads. As they grow, even more businesses give their money to experiment in destined failure.

Related: Paul Graham saying the same thing about Yahoo! back in 1998.

Blackberry Curve Build Out

Blackberry Curve 8530 from Koodo MobileOn the 27th I went to Best Buy to take a look at DSLR’s on sale.  I didn’t see any DSLRs but while I was there, I saw that Koodo had dropped their price on Blackberry Curves to $150 and no contract.  I had thought about getting a LG Rumor 2 this year but after looking into it, we decided to get the Curve.  I had been quite happy with Virgin but I have had technical problems with my account for two years and it was getting worse.  While Virgin’s tech support and customer service staff have been really helpful, they still could not fix the problem so I finally decided to make the move.

Blackberry by RIMI took the phone home and started to set it up.  Here is how I put it together.

The first thing I did was get my Curve set up to our wifi connection in the house.  That wasn’t working that well.  Then I realized my router was about a billion years old (it was a 801b router) and it needed an upgrade.  Since my new router was on my desk, it was pretty easy to upgrade.  The Curve, my iPod Touch, and our notebook suddenly worked a lot faster.  I upgraded my old router’s firmware and will give it Computers for Kids and if they don’t want it, it can go to SARCAN.

Here is are the apps that made their way onto it over the last couple of days.

Utilities

Social Networks

  • foursquare app for the BlackberryFoursquare | It doesn’t yet use wifi but it allows you to check in and out all over the place.  It’s one of those apps that doesn’t make sense until you use it and then you love it.
  • Twitter | Umm, it’s one of the main reasons why I upgraded to a Blackberry.
  • Facebook (one the off chance for some reason I need to actually log in sometime… maybe in 2012)
  • Flickr | It’s an uploader that uploads my camera phone shots to Flickr.  It rather annoyingly resizes them but I’ll deal with that later.

News and Sports

Am I missing anything?  Let me know in the comments.