What’s all the fuss about Facebook’s IPO?

I totally agree with Frank Bruni’s account of the Facebook’s IPO. It seems to me that if the current price of FB is pretty close to the offering price, then the bankers were doing their job.

I mean, as I see it, their job is to open the stock at a price that’s as close as possible to it’s true price, that is, what the market will think its worth. And common sense says the only way to find that out (‘what the market will bear’) is to put it on the market and see what the market will bear. If their research is excellent they will be able to somehow figure out what the market will bear, ahead of time, and offer it there.

I think that’s just what happened! Good on them. From Frank Bruni’s Article:

“Instead, virtually everyone who bought Facebook on that first day was making a one-day, get-rich-quick calculation. It didn’t work out. Too bad.” (from Facebook’s Brilliant Disaster – NYT)

Social Networks: Good or Bad?

I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading about social networks in preparation for the 2012 edition of my Brandeis University Course, “Web and Social Applications“. This morning I was preparing lecture notes for “Current Issues In Social Networks”. Here are some good current links I have been able to find:

I have just come from a family reunion where there were people pulling out iPhones at ‘inappropriate times’ and other people debating what has happened to the art of conversation now that we are all Facebooking all the time. (Guilty as charged!) 
So between the two I have spent some time thinking about this phenomenon and whether social networks and mobile phones together are a new kind of addictive behavior which is doing real damage to social interactions (that is, human to human, face to face.)
Or on the other hand, are they just an evolution of interaction and communication and anyone who doesn’t see it as an equally valid way of interacting must be a fuddy duddy.  Good question! And I don’t really know the answer, not even what I myself think about it.
But this article by Zaynep Tufekci contains what for me is a profound insight or claim:
 “Finally, I’ve previously argued that some people may be “cyberasocial,” that is, they are unable or unwilling to invoke a sense of social presence through mediated communication, somewhat similar to the way we invoke language — a fundamentally oral form — through reading, which is a hack in our brain. I suspect such people may well be at a major disadvantage similar to the way people who could not or would not talk on the telephone would be in late 20th century.” (from Social Media’s Small Positive Role in Human Relationships)

In other words, I can imagine that when writing was ‘invented’ and more importantly I suppose, when writing was becoming accessible to everyone, that there were those who were bemoaning the loss of story telling and oral history.

I can imagine that when the telephone started becoming popular (as indicated in the quote above) there were those bemoaning that we no longer had to visit together by the fireplace but could just make a phone call.

I myself can remember people who refused to have an answering machine because they wanted to talk, or refused to leave a message because it was too impersonal.

But none of those foretold the end of civilization. They were evolutions which enriched and eventually became a commonplace aspect of the way we interact.

I think that’s a great insight: that being in community or sharing relationships through social media – to our Facebook friends or mailing lists or twitter or even sharing photos in Instagram may seem to be taking time away from our spending ‘quality time’ together.

But perhaps it’s just the next evolution of sharing and relationships – not to displace what came before but adding a new dimension and a new valuable dimension to inter-personal relationships.

Warning Facebook users: Socialcam is dangerous

On Facebook you may see something like “George Harrison is watching a video on Socialcam” followed by a video.

Beware because if you watch that video by clicking on it, ALL your friends will now see that you watched it too.

On two occasions in the last few weeks, some pretty embarassing videos were watched by otherwise highly respectable people. Funny.

Why doing design for Facebook is a thankless job

A friend of mine hates, HATES, the new Facebook timeline. She wants to turn it off, but can’t. I happen to think the timeline is really cool, well designed, useful. On occasion it even gives me goosebumps. But. She. Hates. It. Wants to turn it off. Can’t.

I was thinking, Facebook has something like 700,000,000 users, right? I don’t know the right number or how many are online every day. But there are many.

So imagine you are responsible for the design of this important new Facebook feature called the TimeLine. You need to invent the look and feel of the new Facebook Timeline. You design your little heart out. You have user tests, A/B/C/D/E tests. Hundreds of people and thousands of dollars later you release your baby.

95% of the users love it. Success right?

35 million people still hate the design.


Keeping emails and security under control

Do you receive tons of notification emails form your various subscriptions or social sites like Twitter and Facebook and the others? Have you thought about the impact on your productivity all these teasers are?

Well, you might have forgotten (or are you too busy to figure out) how to manage or shutdown the notifications. Check out this handy toy that I just came across: Notification Control.

And in a related story, here’s a similar site if you want to review your security and permissions settings on all these sites. Another chore often put off to our own detriment! My Permissions.

Yeah there’s really very little to these two sites but I think you might find them very useful!

Tens of Thousands of Servers. Wait.

Just one phrase that jumped out of the new missive from Zuck about privacy:

“As a matter of fact, privacy is so deeply embedded in all of the development we do that every day tens of thousands of servers worth of computational resources are consumed checking to make sure that on any webpage we serve, that you have access to see each of the sometimes hundreds or even thousands of individual pieces of information that come together to form a Facebook page.” (from Our Commitment to the Facebook Community)

When I tell (non computer) people that it takes hundreds or thousands of servers in hundreds of data centers to run something like Google or Facebook they are surprised.

Even I am surprised at “tens of thousands of servers worth of computational resources.”

Wait, why the nuanced phrasing? What is a server’s worth of computational resource? Is that a server or something else? Wait, what’s a server anyway? Oh well. Parsing.

Facebook – Group your Place on a List and Put it on A page … or something

I am a big fan of Facebook. They are doing so many things well. They have become so pervasive that if anyone is doing anything that involves a group of people online the first and biggest question should be, why should we not put this on Facebook? Because it works on so many levels.

Screen Shot 2011 11 08 at 1 14 43 PM

But all is not rosy. I wanted to create a presence on Facebook for a place called Windward Harbor. Should I be creating a Place, Page, a Group or a List? I don’t have the time or inclination to try to figure that out. Here’s one example where having more than one way to do the same thing is just not that useful.

If you know better, please illuminate me!


Photo sharing thoughts

I just returned from my mother’s birthday party with about 300 photos – I would say 70% of them are no good, so I selected about 40 of the best ones and then had to decide how to share them with everyone who cared.

A little bit of research produced the following options which I am sharing with YOU to save you and me some time in the future.

Note that I am on a Mac and thus I use iPhoto to store the pictures, and have an Apple MobileMe account.

  • Option 1: Create a MobileMe Gallery directly from iPhoto and upload the pictures. This works well but the gallery has many clever features which may confuse some of the inexperienced computer users who want to see the pictures.
  • Option 2: Send to FaceBook directly from iPhoto. This also works well. Because most (but not all) of the people who would like to see the photos are my friends on Facebook they will immediately see the photos and I don’t have to send them emails. Also there are many friends on facebook who I would normally not bother with an email announcement but who will appreciate seeing the photos. On the other hand, once the album ‘scrolls’ off their feed in facebook they will probably have a hard time finding it.
  • Option 3: I am experimenting with a very simple and free site called Yogile which offers a brain dead simple viewer experience. Drawback is that I cannot send the photos directly from iPhoto, but on the other hand it gives an easy URL which I can email to everyone who might be interested.
  • Option 4: I considered Flickr, which I love. But I often find that people who don’t know it or are very inexperienced with computers oddly get quite confused because again it has many many features.

Any other that I should consider?