Friday, February 19, 2010

another useful thing

Gravatar is a free service that lets you create an avatar linked to one (or more) of your e-mail addresses, so that it shows up when you comment on blogs, even ones hosted by sites that you don't have an account with.

This Youtube video shows what it is.

This one shows how to set it up.

Another explanation, with some good screen shots and a bit more about managing multiple picture choices.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

increasing increments of sharing

There's a movement toward modes of communication opening up to a wider circle. Google has added a controversial feature called "Buzz" to its Gmail. E-mail has generally been considered to be for private communication between two people. Or if sent to several people, the sender deliberately chooses them. Buzz automatically broadcasts certain aspects of one's profile, including a changing status statement, to a group of contacts. There's been some controversy about how those contacts are chosen. Here's the latest.

(Feb. 16, 2010 WJLA)

Buzz is trying to imitate Facebook in its degree of openness, and Facebook has recently changed to allow it to imitate (and encourage) the openness of Twitter, which broadcasts not only to a select group of "friends," but to the public at large.

(Dec 9, 2009 TechCrunch)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

on "friending"

Supposedly mediating relationships through a computer makes it easier for the socially challenged. Not necessarily so. For one thing, there is more pressure now to post pictures of yourself as you really look. For some of us, that's sure to subtract social points.

But the biggest problem is that it's a new type of social interaction, with new rules. Or rather, with the rules in formation, constantly changing. (Rules are always present; people always have expectations.)

For instance, "friending" is not the same thing as "befriending." But there's no rule as to where to draw the line to avoid being cold and unpopular, or, at the other extreme, foolish and unsafe.

For now, my compromise is to limit my Facebook "friends" to family and real friends (which includes not only close friends, but also coworkers and some people I know through long correspondence).

the things are back -- facebook

The library where I work has added more lessons to its former 23 Things course, a series of lessons about Web 2.0 tools and issues. I can't resist a chance to play online during work hours, so I'll be continuing with the new lessons of what has become 28 Things.

For the first of the new Things, I've explored Facebook, skipping over Twitter for now. (More about why when I actually do the Twitter lesson.) This really isn't fair, since I've been on Facebook for about two years now. In fact, I was certain I'd done everything in the lesson long ago. But there was that bit about becoming a fan of the library system. Sure -- one of the first things I did. Ooops. I was merely a fan of the branch where I work. How provincial.

By the time I signed up for Facebook (and Myspace) I'd had web pages, and even a couple of blogs before -- but all were under pen names. This Web 2.0 business of using one's real name and picture (with a preference for candid pictures yet!), and showing at least a semblance of one's real-world thoughts and activities, well, that was something else entirely. After all, hasn't the modern era tended toward more and more anonymity? The 20th century began with a great migration to big cities, where no one knew your family or your past, or watched your daily activities, and continued until ...

But this is the postmodern era. It sometimes seems as if we're headed back to the social expectations of the village, where everybody knows your name, and your friends' names, and where you go, and what you had for lunch. Cyberspace is becoming public.

The way to preserve a good reputation in a village (for you will have some sort of reputation, no matter what you do or don't do) is not to be too standoffish. The thing to do is to be seen in public, to mix with people, and in that way to have some control over your public image. In the cyber village this is done, in part, by creating and maintaining social pages.

There does seem to be a growing trend to try to re-close the curtains a bit. This may be in part because of the harsh judgements some have encountered when they fully bared their "true" selves. It may be, in part, simply because older people, with the caution of experience and the values of an earlier time, are invading the party.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Thursday, February 4, 2010

e-books in the news (part 2)

Apple vs. Amazon: The Great Ebook War Has Already Begun
(Jan. 30, 2010

Combine this with incompatibility. It's no big deal to buy some physical books from one bookstore and others from another. But to have to buy two or more multi-hundred-dollar machines just to be able to choose books from all the major publishers is unacceptable.

Amazon shares slip; Macmillan titles still missing
(Feb. 1, 2010 KTUL)

e-books in the news

Here's another reason to be less than enthusiatic about e-books.
(Feb. 1, 2010 The Independent)

Maybe the multiple inconveniences that these companies are imposing on readers will cause the whole e-book concept to fail before it gets a good chance to begin. Or maybe the industry will succeed in changing the way people think of a "book" from something that one reads anywhere over and over throughout one's lifetime, to something that's tied to one special device and becomes unavailable after it's read once or a few times.