Category Archives: memes

Facebook Fatigue, it’s Spreading

Attention Virus
Do you feel like the applications are killing Facebook? For all the gold rush and hoopla surrounding the Facebook platformitization, is it living up to expectations?

I don’t think it is. The world could use a great social operating system. But the best applications on facebook are still the original ones: pictures, events, the basic poke.

The facebook platform is still young. Only 4 months old. Lets hope that the good kids at FB find a way to reign in the social viral crapware.

And that’s what most of it is. Almost all of successful apps on facebook are distractions or “entertainment”. Or advertisements. The original facebook apps were about socially enabling the user. The new apps are about enabling their own propagation.

I’ve come up with a new term for it:

Facebook applications = Attention Viruses

They spread just like real viruses, through social contact. Their lifecycles are short and evolution is constant thanks to the rutheless pressures of competition on the open platform. App DNA is all about self propagation – and stealing away our attention fraction by fraction.

The same will go for OpenSocial apps as well once they get here.

We’ve seen this before. In the race to monetize a web property, the original value is corroded away. Remember when facebook was a revolutionary clean, sparce and refreshing change from the gaudyness of myspace and friendster?

The internet’s universal advertising model is partly at fault here. Sometimes I just wish that as users we would grow up, stop expecting everything to be free and pay a couple bucks for the tools we use and media we enjoy.

(We’d probably earn it back 10 times over in foregone distraction and unprocrastination) and the web would be a cleaner and more productive place.

Michele quit* facebook last week. Drastic medicine for sure. But her and good company are saying, I’d like to use facebook, I just don’t have the time for it anymore. Or time for it the way it’s become.

original photo: Marcelo Alves

*temporarily, she’ll be back at some point

And the crowd says Yaaar. How Hollywood is losing the War on New Media

On Monday, it started with a few scattered pranksters shouting Arrr at the opening screen of the film premiers at this year’s Toronto International Film festival. By week end the meme had caught on. I just caught the best part of it mid-yarrr, but I love this piece of film I shot, of the screen you can’t record or capture, here is the entire capacity of Ryerson theatre (500 or so?) almost as a unified chorus shouting YAAAAR and other pirate noises, followed by rolling in the aisles. We kill us.

Two or just one year ago, the industry’s anti piracy sermoning was met with a mix of either incomprehension or guilty staring at the feet. Not the case anymore. Public sentiment has clearly turned against Big Media. Maybe the common ticket buying public, the 99.99999% that didn’t bring Cam’s to the theatre are sick of being pointed at like criminals. Maybe their just tiered of the silly analogy that sharing media is somehow a crime on par with pillage, rape and theft at the point of a cutlass.

The war on piracy has turned into a rout.

Dear Hollywood: we’re ready for our new media now.

When are you going to step up and distribute your fare at any price, in any format or distribution scheme half as sensible and practical as bittorrent?

Please consider as creative commons licensed. Feel free to copy and distribute this footage as much as you like.

oh and the film? Nothing is Private. Quite good. It will be out soon. I’d recommend you go buy a ticket…

Owen Wilson & Media Sensitivity

Not business or tech related, but I am amazed at the MSM/tabloid coverage of Owen Wilson’s suicide attempt. The metro today paper yesterday in the celebrity BUZZ (buzz in huge letters) section, the headline read along the lines of Owen Wilson SUICIDE attempt confirmed. With the word SUICIDE called out in giant pink letters complete with drop shadow. Like a children’s birthday party invitation.

While Metro is not oft esteemed for journalistic integrity, this is the first time I have actually seen the tabloid sink to the depth of grossly insulting individuals [comma, anyone with sentient intelligence and any functioning sense of empathy etc.] purely through the expedient of typeface selection. Meanwhile…

Frontpage headline of the Sun today “TEARS OF THE CLOWN”

Man, if the guy wasn’t suicidal before…

Speaking of dead media, except in exceptional circumstance mainstream media, as rule, doesn’t report on suicides. This due to the both unusual and unsettling fact that suicide is socially contagious.

I don’t know that there is legitimate evidence that teenage pregnancy is contagious.

The Robotification of Usability Design

1998-2000 Human to web interaction, Web Usability, Human factors. The great bubble of Web-enabling networked databases and applications – like Online Banking,, lets sell pet food online etc. (eBay never heard of usability)

2001-2005 Website to robot interaction design, the golden age of Search Engine Optimization

2004-2006 Human to Human and social web interaction, funny how no one thought of this sooner. Web 2.0 and all that.

2007- Robot to Robot web interaction, Microformats, CAPCHA’s and RSS the carrots, sticks and duct tape of mashups. APIs and widget sandboxes of Facebook, Salesforce and google/yahoo/OSX desktops where our applets do our browsing for us and play -maybe- nice with each other. RSS made interacting with websites redundant, now robots will read our RSS for us too, sometimes with the aide of the ‘community’ acting as the proxy of intelligence.

In this scheme we’re somewhere between users and used. Human-mediated robot interaction etc. Which part of Artificial Artificial Inteligence (google it) becomes an oxymoron? It’s not necessarily a bad thing. Welcome to Web3.0.

The Science of Hits and why you can’t pick them

New research shows us the old adage “I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like” – is just not true. We don’t know much about art -or- what we like. A recent study shows that intrinsic quality of a work (in this case a song) is at best a 50% predictor of it’s future popularity.

Can’t remember if I pointed to this article before but it is enormously important.

…predicting hits is not only difficult but actually impossible, no matter how much you know about individual tastes.

The reason is that when people tend to like what other people like, differences in popularity are subject to what is called “cumulative advantage,” or the “rich get richer” effect. This means that if one object happens to be slightly more popular than another at just the right point, it will tend to become more popular still. As a result, even tiny, random fluctuations can blow up, generating potentially enormous long-run differences among even indistinguishable competitors

This article seems to keep coming up in everything I’m looking at these days. It also influenced my think around flavour as in the line between how much of the flavour of our modern world is deliberately arbitrary vs how much the result of the uncontrollable chaos of snowball effects, tipping points or butterfly wings in the amazon? Alternately if we are building social media platforms – or content – how we can harness, or at least make the best of, these effects.

I strongly believe these affects are fundamental to all mediums affecting everything from fashion, to technology adoption to political ideas.

That memes (or mediums) can be popular just for being popular. Who would ever have guessed.