Monthly Archives: September 2012

What to tell a ‘friend’ when they’re not one

Small sculpture on four clay figures embracing each other in a circle, in friendshipIt’s something of an understatement to say the word friend is overloaded with intended and unintended meaning. With the term carelessly appropriated by Facebook and others, I feel the strong word is being diluted.

Yet, when it comes to telling someone she or he is no longer a friend buttons are invariably pushed. What it means to make friends may be irrevocably morphing, but taboos surround even talk of unmaking them.

If I was actually thinking about unfriending someone I’d want to know how to do this in, ahem, a considerate way.

Illinois romance writer Arlyn Presser might be someone to consult on this. She systematically purged de-cluttered her Facebook account, but only after contacting and asking to visit all 325 of her ‘friends’. (See “Facebook and Twitter: the art of unfriending or unfollowing people” from The Guardian.)

In this instance, it’s an awkward friendship of another sort that I’m thinking about.

I’ve recently come across two community organisations that seem to have accidentally set themselves up on Facebook using a Profile, rather than using a Page or Group.

As a friend, any of their friends can readily see what I share (unless I customise my privacy settings). I know the organisations’ won’t intentionally misuse any updates, strongly worded opinions or trivia, but I don’t know about all the friends the oragnisation is linked to.

Other reasons why an organisation with a Profile may like to switch to a Page or Group include:

  • being able to access tools to ensure your Facebook presence is well run, including setting up multiple admins and access to statistics
  • if you don’t do something, your Profile maybe deleted. It’s against the rules for an organisation to use Profiles.

Facebook take some of the pain out of switching. You can use an automated process to shift over your bio, and transfer friends to Likers (see Facebook’s Profile to business Page migration page). Everything you’ve typed in and uploaded can be downloaded, then manually uploaded (if you so wish). Instructions on how to covert are outlined in a short blog post by Beth Kanter.

But which way to go: a Page or Group. Each has pros and cons, which are ably set out by misty on the Social Source Commmons blog.

A dilemma remains: how do I tell my ‘friends’ they should sort out their presence on Facebook? Perhaps I’ll heed Oscar Wilde’s dictum: “True friends stab you in the front.”

Photo credit: drhenkenstein

Being a content producer ain’t always easy

Picture of a crumpled, batter book left outside, by penelopejonzeDon’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. Opportunities abound for everyone to create and share creative and serious work online. Here we all come, as the saying goes.

Yet, it’s not always easy.

I’ll give you a real life example from last night.

In a bit of an experiment (cos I’m that sort of guy), I decided to add audio to a presentation of mine available on SlideShare. In May I gave a lecture to Visual Communication Design masters students at Massey University on the august topic of the “Future of the book”.

My starting point was as a common, garden reader talking about where reading fits in my life, blurring boundaries between being a producer and consumers, and what really is a book.

When I sat down at my computer last night, my slides were already uploaded to slideshare. All I had to do was transfer the recording from my dictaphone to create something they call a slidecast. Simple, huh?

After two and a half hours of expletives and wild swipes at my (inanimate) screen I eventually got there. This is what the real web is like, not the airbrushed version you’ll see in ads for apps.

Here’s a brief outline of what I went through:

  1. Dictaphone storage drive is not appearing in the finder after I plug it in via USB port – it normally pops up straight away.
  2. Hmmmm, maybe I need special software for Mac OS version 10.7.
  3. Find and install Olympus’ Digital Speech Standard (DSS) software.
  4. Oh, a serial number is needed for the software to work.
  5. Search for the box, find serial and enter it.
  6. The drive is still not appearing.
  7. Strange error message pops up when I remove the USB cable.
  8. Time to dive into the help forums.
  9. Try various restarts and key combinations.
  10. Still no joy.
  11. Try swapping cables. Brilliant!! I can now see and transfer the .wma files.
  12. Upload the file to iTunes as AIF, then convert to MP3.
  13. At least an hour has elapsed.
  14. Time to import the file into SlideShare. It takes five minutes of fluffing around.
  15. As it’s the first time I’m using their browser based audio editor, it takes a while to make the manual adjustments so that the audio plays with the right slides.
  16. Argh… the editor keeps freezing!!! I find a work around which involves quitting Firefox, reopening the browser and waiting for the full audio file to reload.
  17. Very slow to buffer after refresh and editing is fiddly.
  18. Finally, DONE – it’s 11.06pm.

Okay, so I skipped a few steps, but I’m sure you get the idea.

In detailing all this, I’m not saying that what slideshare offer isn’t user friendly. But I am saying the process of uploading was agonising and not terribly creative in itself. It took some willpower to persevere to the end.

Using any new online publishing tool tends to involve a similar amount of wrestling formats, fiddly interfaces and delays. I could easily write a couple of other blog posts about this in relation to video codecs (argh!!!).

While the opportunity to share and be creative definitely exists, it’s not without hurdles. I wonder how others surmount these types of barriers, or if it’s all too much?

PS My “Future of the book” slidecast is now online with audio. A list of publication, links, etc I referred to are also available.

Photo credit: penelopejonze