Posts tagged ‘Internet’


Tumbling, Pinning

In my general effort to Keep Up With Interesting Social Technologies, I’ve been looking at tumblr a bit, and since pinterest was also on my to-examine list, I was pleased when following a link from a tumblr posting led me to a pinterest posting.

And my first thought was “hey, this is just tumblr again”.

On slightly closer examination, that’s not quite right. Both of them are places that make it easy to gather and share images and text and stuff, with somewhat similar user interfaces, but there are two big differences:

A) tumblr is dominated by angsty 15-year-olds, whereas pinterest is dominated by their Aunts, and

B) while pinterest does not allow nudity, tumblr basically requires it.

Which isn’t to overgeneralize and say that every tumblr account is an angsty 15-year-old posting airbrushed bondage models alternating with poems about being true to themselves, while every pinterest account is a grown-up suburban Aunt posting cupcake recipes and Sylvia Plath; but it is at least much truer than the reverse would be, which says something.

There’s alot to say about the subtle differences in user interface emphasis and affordances that make pinterest and tumblr slightly different from each other, and even more different from say wordpress’s or blogspot’s or typepad’s weblogifying software.

But instead I thought I would delve into the nudity. :)

Kind of an interesting situation in the pinterest realm. The pin etiquette says:

We do not allow nudity, hateful content, or content that encourages people to hurt themselves. If you find content that violates our Terms of Service or Acceptable Use Policy you can submit the content for review by pushing the ”Report Content“ link.

which certainly suggested to me that either the terms of service or acceptable use policy would say that they don’t allow nudity.

But neither one says that! Or anything else that I can read as saying that, unless it’s implicit in the extremely broad:

contains any information or content we deem to be hateful, violent, harmful, abusive, racially or ethnically offensive, defamatory, infringing, invasive of personal privacy or publicity rights, harassing, humiliating to other people (publicly or otherwise), libelous, threatening, profane, or otherwise objectionable;

(Maybe they “deem” nudity to be “profane” or “otherwise objectionable”? Who knows!) or possibly in:

seeks to harm or exploit children by exposing them to inappropriate content

in case posting a nude to pinterest would be ipso facto seeking to harm the various child readers by exposing them to inappropriate nipples.

(pinterest is very clear that if you’re under 13 you aren’t allowed to use the service (ref COPA), but it’s not clear how relevant that is.)

So nudeness is forbidden explicitly (haha see what I did there?) in the Etiquette guide, but hinted at only vaguely in the more official documents that it refers to (to which it refers).

(There’s also the whole subject of fully clothed sex, which is a link you may not want to click on.)

On tumblr, on the other hand, there is a whole mechanism around posting nudeness and sex and general debauchery:

Tumblr is home to millions of readers and bloggers from a variety of locations, cultures, and backgrounds with different points of view concerning adult-oriented content. If you regularly post sexual or adult-oriented content, respect the choices of people in our community who would rather not see such content by flagging your blog (which you can do from the Settings page of each blog) as Not Suitable for Work (“NSFW”). This action does not prevent you and your readers from using any of Tumblr’s social features, but rather allows Tumblr users who don’t want to see NSFW content to avoid seeing it.

The unstated assumption there being that you and your readers love teh sexytimes, but some hypothetical Tumblr users (perhaps those who have wandered over from pinterest by accident) might be more delicate.

And just below that, the Tumblr Community Standards very amusingly use The Eff Word (“fucking”) when discussing why they don’t let you store feelthy videos on their servers:

You can embed anything as long as it follows the other guidelines on this page. But please don’t use Tumblr’s Upload Video feature to host any sexually explicit videos. We’re not in the business of profiting from adult-oriented videos and hosting this stuff is fucking expensive. You can use services like xHamster to host those instead.

which is also very helpful and friendly of them.

So there are two very interestingly-different communities, built on two very similar pieces of technology. (tumblr has “tags”, of which you can attach multiple to each posting, and people can search by them; whereas pinterest has “topics” to which I think each posting must be posted to maybe just one of, and you can search on them, and easily view any poster’s postings organized by them. Again subtly and perhaps significantly different. tumblr has “reblogging” of other people’s postings, which is probably the most common thing done on the site; pinterest has “re-pinning” which is also common but perhaps not quite as fundamental.)

And to go out on a high note, here is a not-NSFW picture from tumblr:

and one from pinterest:

Can’t explain that!


The internet really is changing the world!

So it’s very hard to estimate, objectively, how much the world is actually changing. Except in the oddest of times, after all, the perceiver is changing at least as much as the world. Stairs get steeper, burdens heavier, music louder, children younger and their jargon less comprehensible (ikr?), the people who run the world more obviously incompetent, because of the shift of viewpoint, regardless of any other sort of change.

You can’t go down to the same river twice, that is to say, even if the river is the same.

Having said all that, though, the world sure has changed! :)

I went to The Mall today, to get my both pairs of glasses repaired (the world’s gotten blurrier, too, as it happens). My reading glasses have been held together with a little twist of wire for months, and yesterday I figured out that my driving glasses have been bothering my nose because although the lefthand nose-piece was still there, it was subtly torn enough that the metal bit was sticking through whenever I actually put them on.

There being no convenient way to get them repaired at home (or maybe just by force of habit, really; come to think of it I didn’t even look online for home glasses-repair kits), I went to The Mall. The Sterling Optical was having, or was involved in, some peculiar event involving a local radio station, balloons, a popcorn machine, and other arcana, but someone asked if they could help me, and when I said I needed some repairs they summoned The Guy Who Does The Repairs from the back room, and he came out and took my glasses and said it would be just a couple of minutes.

So I stood there reading news and books on my ‘Pad until he (or actually someone else, which was slightly confusing) returned with my glasses all fixed up, and then I was all done.

I strolled around The Mall a little, got a coffee, wandered through the Video Game Store, didn’t go into the book store (or even, come to think of it, notice if there is still a book store there), went upstairs and got some lunch from Asian Chao, thought I noticed a “Rounders” to open soon where the Burger King used to be, but then decided that it was actually a “Rounders” that had opened and closed again where the Burger King used to be, since the last time I was there.

There were Akoo screens on some of the columns in the Food Court, and cardboard ads for the Akoo app (which in some sense lets you control what Currently Popular Videos appear on the Akoo screens) sitting on the tables. I looked briefly at the Akoo app on my ‘Pad, but it looked kind of dumb so I didn’t get it. After I ate I bought some (really rather awful) chocolate from the all-candy-same-price candy stand, and wandered through F.Y.E. and didn’t buy anything there either.

The Mall is really a pretty impoverished environment in which to buy things. The F.Y.E. has some little devices that you can run the barcode of a CD under and possibly listen to the tracks and read about the artists on a little display; last time I was there a few of them mostly worked. This time I didn’t even bother trying; I was going to be home pretty soon anyway after all. The book store that I didn’t even go into has some random selection of books that someone (I would guess the Home Office of the bookstore chain) has decided to stock, but there’s no metadata, no reader reviews, no easy way to find other books by the same author or “readers who looked at this also looked at” lists.

Part of me says that it’s nice to be able to browse through the physical objects and decide what to buy one-to-one with the thing like that. But how much sense does that actually make? It means that I’m deciding whether to buy based on how compelling the cover design and the blurbs are, and the things I’m deciding between are limited to whatever someone (else) has decided to stock. How are those advantages?

So one thing that The Mall has is Sterling Optical where they will fix your glasses (and for free!). It also has a somewhat wider variety of coffees and ice-creams than home does, and Asian Chao and Desert Moon and fast-food chains like that. But that doesn’t seem like enough to support a whole Mall really, does it?

And then it has the persons. Quite many persons, each one interesting and lovely in a different way, with eyes and limbs and clothing of different colors and designs, and hair in various styles and lengths. Persons with voices and stories, and laughs and quiet whispers and sidelong looks.

I do like persons. :) And you don’t get to admire them when you buy books on Amazon or music on iTunes or furnace filters on Furnace Filters 4 You Now Dot Com.

But you do when, for instance, you go out to hear live music in Peekskill. (And to an interesting extent that we won’t consider further here right now you also do when you go out to hear live music while staying home.)

So the Internet gets us lots of great metadata from other persons while we shop, but keeps us from encountering the actual persons themselves, and their voices and hair and limbs.

Does this deprive us of the company of other persons, or does it just mean that we have more time to encounter other persons in non-consumer contexts? Both, of course. :) But which more, and which when, and which to whom? Them are the questions (some of them)…


Life after Google

(Reprinted from the secret Second Life weblog)

There’s certainly lots of turmoil within Google right now, between the clever and non-evil people who made it successful, and the “Google Plus At Any Cost, we will own the world!” people; and there’s no telling how it’ll come out.

But at the moment the g+ fanatics seem to be winning. (Even this Official Google Announcement was apparently posted only on Google+, so I can’t give a real link to it; but hopefully the URL there will continue working and pointing to the right thing.)

Over the next week, we’ll be adding support for alternate names – be they nicknames, maiden names, or names in another script – alongside your common name.

If we flag the name you intend to use, you can provide us with information to help confirm your established identity. This might include:
– References to an established identity offline in print media, news articles, etc
– Scanned official documentation, such as a driver’s license
– Proof of an established identity online with a meaningful following

We’ll review the information and typically get back to you within a few days.

(Gotta love that “typically”.)

And for anyone that’s nervous about sending their driver’s license to strangers, we are assured on mashable that

Google will destroy all documentation you send them once the account verification process is complete.

Everyone who feels they need more quasi-governmental agencies in their lives, demanding proof of identity and scans of your driver’s license, and assuring you that their random employees can be trusted with your information, raise your hand…

Didn’t think so.

There are at the same time reports that in order to sign up for any Google service these days, you have to also sign up for Google+ (including, presumably, telling Google your real name, and being prepared to offer official documentation for any nicknames you might want to use); and Google’s search results are starting to return Google Plus pages even when they are by no measure the best hits, which is incredibly stupid and the techs are already telling us how to get around it.

So there are clearly two things going on:

  • The Google Plus people at Google either don’t understand Internet culture, or think that they can change it (with themselves as the central storehouse and universally trusted driving engine of that change), and
  • Someone with power at Google thinks that (unlike Wave and Buzz, which were allowed to die when it turned out no one really wanted to use them) Google Plus is so important that all of Google’s other services can be taxed to supported it, by forcing anyone wanting to sign up for those other services to also sign up for Google Plus (and, if they don’t want to sign up for Google Plus, to go off to Yahoo or someone instead), and even corrupting search, which is Google’s base offering and frankly the only thing (well, maybe webmail) that we really want from them.

Of course Google may still save itself from these people; it’s far too early to give up.

But what if they don’t? Where will our bellweathers go to escape the stupidity, leading most of us along with them? Facebook for social stuff presumably, because that’s where everyone is anyway. But who will we use for search, and for webmail? And whatever else Google does that I’ve forgotten to mention?

Maybe the best thing would be for us to fragment again, and have there be more than one Big Obvious Search Provider, and more than one Big Obvious Webmail Provider, and even more than one Big Obvious Facebook-thing, and so on. If nothing else, Google’s failure would be a lesson on the dangers of bigness and obviousness, and the arrogance that tends to come with that.

On the other hand, Google’s implosion would open a very big opportunity for someone else to come in and take its place, by doing the good stuff without the dumb mistakes. Not sure who that would be; opinions welcome. What’s Yahoo doing these days? I tend to think of them as an old company that fell into the “web portal” rathole and never really returned, but maybe there’s potential there.

I really ought to make some bold prediction here, so that if Google does implode and my prediction turns out to be right, I can prove how clever and prescient I am. :) But for the moment I will just cross my fingers and hope that someone smart and powerful over there decides that shilling Google Plus isn’t worth corrupting all of the company’s other offerings, and that Google goes back to being the good guys. ’cause I am always an optimist!

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It’s odd being offline. Not that I’m entirely, or even primarily, offline. But I am significantly offline, and that’s significant.

(Hm, I don’t know how to control emphasis in this WordPress iPad app; pretend “significantly” is in italics, or HTML emphasis tags, in that previous paragraph, ‘kay?)

Sometime on ummm Sunday? Yeah, M confirms that it was Sunday, at about fourish PM, just when we were getting smug about the Enormous Hurricane having passed us with minimal damage to anything but a few hundred leaves forcibly removed from trees, the power suddenly went out.

And it’s still out! Many minutes, even days, later! And so is the Internet connection!

Meanwhile, in the basement, the half-inch of water that I figured would be our tenuous bond with people who had actual problems from the storm, got a bit over five inches deep before it started down again, and there’s still a good three inches down there. Which means, among other things, no hot water. And lots of very wet basement-stuffs.

And we still don’t have actual problems. :)

I mean, no trees fell on the house or cars, no one was injured in any way, no one is sick, and Panera has power and Internet, and work has power and Internet, and for that matter our cellphones have power (as long as they get to work or Panera now and then) and Internet (annoying and probably sneakily expensive and tiny-screened as they are, being nice primitive low-function cellphones), and there’s no water in the house anywhere but the basement, and so on and so on.

The iPad has a nice long battery life. (Especially given Panera, work, etc.)

And I’m getting pretty good at Sudoku.

I’m also reading some old-fashioned paper books, by flashlight and atmospheric candle-light, as well as some of the books cached on the device here, by the intrinsic glow of the screen. And getting to sleep (much) earlier.

But I do miss Second Life, and WoW, and all of that there virtual online stuff. (I did sneak into SL for a couple of minutes on my work laptop, during a boring conference call, to check on my virtual plants; the virtual sprinkler has been working fine and they are virtually healthy, and producing little virtual cuttings for virtual hybridization, although I could swear that I ought to have had another second-virtual-generation virtual hybrid by now and I didn’t notice one, grumble grumble.)

I’ve keeping up with virtual events to an extent by reading Dale’s Twitter feed; but it’s not really about the events. It’s more about putting one’s feet up at the end of a tiring day, and falling through the screen into a place where there is no PowerPoint, and no office politics, and you can fly, and fight the bad guys (ha, I can’t even remember that big Bad Guy group’s name; the Cult of Something, I think), and create a zeppelin with your mind and all.

And in the case of Second Life getting to talk to all those fascinating friends and not-yet-friends, and in the case of WoW getting to be pretty much completely antisocial, except for groups of random strangers and now and then a group of vaguely-known guildies to gang up on the unsuspecting and infinitely reborn evil monsters. (Some people get very social on WoW (see for instance the very funny and memorable “The Guild” web video series that I would link to if I weren’t offline), but I’m not one of them; SL is my virtual social, and Zeppelin-creating, place. WoW is for introversion!)

And (what’s with all of these “and”s?) I can’t do any of that stuff right now. But really it’s not too bad. Fasts of all kinds are good for the soul, in moderation, and this way I’m forced to enjoy the good old-fashioned offline things.


Good old-fashioned offline things including this iPad, that is. :)

(P.S. Weird Al’s “Genius in France” is a (begin emphasis)very(end emphasis) odd track. Is there some back-story there, or is he just being… weird? Maybe I will look it up next time I am in Panera…)

(P.P.S. “Twilight’s Hammer”, that’s it!)

(P.P.P.S. And the health club also has power and Internet, and now the water is just over one inch, but the water heater still won’t stay lit…)