Is Facebook stirring up trouble?

July 8th, 2008

A friend of mine recently decided to tidy up her Facebook profile information. She got to the relationships section and thought to herself, “you know what? this is nobody’s business. I don’t want to broadcast this to everyone.” She saw a message there that said “Leave status option blank to hide from profile.” Perfect, that’s exactly what she was looking to do. Blank it is. Done.

Relationship status selection screenshot

However, the next day, she started getting a flood of phone calls from family members and close friends. “Woah, I just saw it on Facebook. You never told me you were seeing someone! Who is he???”. The source of this confusion? An item in her Facebook news feed that was broadcast to all her friends. It looked like this:

Facebook Heart Jane Doe is no longer listed as “Single”

This is extremely misleading and it can cause quite a bit of trouble. My first thought was that this is clearly a bug. A classic oversight in a complex set of interactions.

But is it?

Another friend that I discussed this with said, “dude, you’re being naive. Facebook does that stuff on purpose. They’re trying to stir up trouble. To get people talking. ”

That blew my mind a little bit. Am I naive? Are the product people are Facebook really so diabolical? My hunch is that they’re just young, busy and fallible. But, I could be wrong. It definitely got me thinking.

Maybe I need to be a bit more diabolical myself…

What I write about

June 18th, 2008

A post on Knowing and Doing inspired me to check out Wordle. Wordle generates a good looking jumble of words for any text you paste in. The more often a word is used, the larger it appears. I did a ‘select all’ on my blog’s front page and threw it in there and this is what resulted. Pretty neat.

Wordle from my blog

I like how “People” is so big.

Check out this one of a McCain speech, and this one of Obama’s race speech.

I outsourced myself to Argentina (late announcement)

April 1st, 2008

It’s been 4 months since I last decided to write here at Udi’s Spot. Hard to believe.

The main reason I’ve dropped off the blogging planet is that a few months ago I moved down to Buenos Aires. You could say that I outsourced myself.

Billboard next to my apt.

A curious thing happens when you remove yourself from The Scene. You slowly stop getting urges to turn every glimmer of original thought into a full fledged online essay. You just ponder it, mention it to a friend, and move on.

That said, I do feel a bit delinquent in my duties because there have been so many interesting things going on in my life and so many fascinating things that I’ve noticed from this new perch of mine.

So, I write today to let you know that I’m still alive and that you can expect some more from me soon.

You can check out some of my Argentina pictures here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/udi/sets/72157603942126492/
(You need to be my friend on Flickr to see all the good stuff, sorry)

Lastly, please check out the hot new look that FeedEachOther is sporting today. The announcement is over at the FEO Blog. Personally, I think it’s a massive improvement when it comes to usability. Try it out, spread the word.

Of course you shouldn’t be evil

December 27th, 2007

Call me crazy, but perhaps Google’s not-so-unofficial corporate motto, “don’t be evil“, isn’t such a great thing to aspire to. I sincerely believe in their good intentions, but maybe this was the wrong way to state them.

I’m reminded of this classic Chris Rock bit:

You know the worst thing about n***as? N***as always want some credit for some shit they supposed to do. A n***a will brag about some shit a normal man just does. A n***a will say some shit like, “I take care of my kids.”

You’re supposed to, you dumb mothaf***a. What are you talkin’ about? What are you braggin’ about? What kind of ignorant shit is that?

“I ain’t never been to jail.”

What do you want, a cookie? You’re not supposed to go to jail, you low-expectation-having motherf***er!

“Don’t be evil”. Well, of course you shouldn’t be evil. It’s obvious!

If this motto is seen as revolutionary or wonderful, then what does that say about our collective opinion of Corporate America?

Are things really so bad that not being evil is some sort of an accomplishment? Really? Why did we all fall for this? Shouldn’t we aim higher?

Deliberate Inefficiencies

December 15th, 2007

Danah Boyd has written an awesome post about how inefficiency and unreliability can actually be beneficial in certain social situations. Think about all of the interesting interactions that happen while people are waiting for drinks at a crowded bar.

She also asked if anyone could think of any examples of deliberate inefficiencies built into social websites. After racking my brain for a few minutes I realized that we had actually done this on Yahoo! Answers.

When you ask a question, you have to wait a few hours before selecting a best answer. This forced waiting period pisses a lot of people off, but it’s a key piece of what makes the site work well. By forcing the asker to wait, enough time is allowed for more, and potentially better, answers to roll in. In the long run, this forced inefficiency benefits the community.

I’m really curious to see what other examples her readers come up with.