Category Archives: social networking

Opting Out

Before Trump, Twitter was already bad. It was already a forum for harassment, bullying, propogation of stupid ideas. Trump made it worse. He makes everything worse.

Wil Wheaton is right.

But I still have some personal agency left. Tonight I’m deleting both of my Twitter accounts, and never looking at it again. Not give the morons, scumbags, and evil fucks any more of my attention. Not letting it make me worse. My job is to get better. Always better. Always aim higher.

Facebook and Work

Here is a very good post on a friend’s blog, about Facebook and “friending” people at work. I think I am one of the people mentioned with a “no friends from work” policy.  At any rate, my friend brings up some very good points in this post, and it’s worth a read.


Try as I might, I just can’t get into social bookmarking/tagging. I have tried using, and digg, but I can not dig the deliciousness of either. I try to add appropriate tags to my blog posts, but that is it.

I’m not sure why. I like them. I think they are cool. But I just don’t use them.


Blogging, WordPress themes, and Good People

Now that I’m running this site on my own server (having moved from, I have a few things to say:

1) WordPress is bad ass. What a great blogging system to get for FREE. Killer. I love it. Why do I love it? Well, I’ve mentioned the spam control — that is huge. I also really like the availability of lots of themes, and the total ease with which those themes can be used. Did I mention that all this stuff is free?

2) In my blog roll, you’ll see This is the blog of my one-time coworker, Manton Reece. Manton is an independent Mac software developer. Besides being a cool guy and married to a very cool former classmate of mine, Manton knows lots of cool people, and he’ll often point to them in his blog posts. For example, this Red Sweater Blog. This is the blog of another independent Mac software developer. Why do I point to this site? Well, I really like the simple but effective layout of this blog. Like Manton’s blog, the layout is simple, attractive, and totally lacking in bullshit. It works.

Having searched for simple, effective WordPress themes, I can tell you that most are neither. A lot of developers want to show how crazy they can get, resulting in some seriously jacked themes. Red Sweater Man didn’t make this mistake. His blog looks good. It is readable. Me likee.

Manton’s blog has, again and again, pointed me to interesting and useful information. So Manton, if you’re reading this, thanks!

3) So I’m in the middle of moving all my other websites to Let me say this: moving large sites is a huge pain in the neck. Particularly moving — arrghhh — phpBB message forums. Moving large galleries of photos isn’t fun either. I have a pathetic DSL line here at home, and the upload speed is just snail-like. Can’t wait to get into a new house and get a nice, fast connection.

4) I’m seriously thinking about moving all the old videos from Bob’s Trick Tips over to this site, setting them up on an archive page, and shutting BTT down. After 8 years this is hard for me to do, but a) it simply isn’t making enough money to keep me interested, and b) I’m just not that interested in it anymore. I still want to do some trick tips videos, but I want to make them more advanced, as befits our current age of broadband internet access. Well, we’ll see. If I can move BTT with a mininum of headache, I keep it going. If it turns into a problem, it will evolve into part of this site.

Enthusiasm returning for MacBook

After a rocky start with my MacBook experience, my enthusiasm is returning.

My previous computer was a 1999 G4, the first one they released, running some version of the 9.X.X operating system. Of course, for at least a couple of years it has been impossible to upgrade any software on it. So its nice to have the new OS.

The MacBook is very fast, and it isn’t even the “Pro” version. I got the 2 GHz, 13″ white machine. Everything runs fast. Connecting to our Canon digital camera, the iPhoto application quickly recognized the camera and downloaded 100 images very, very fast. Faster than our Dell Inspiron laptop, and tons faster than the old G4.

On thing I really love, however, is that it boots up and shuts down really quickly.

There’s a lot of really nice, free software available on the Apple site. One of the first things I needed was a good FTP program, for transferring large files to my various sites. I downloaded and tried Transmit. Like all the other software I’ve checked out, it has a clean and elegant user interface and works like a charm. I’m also going to check out Interarchy 8.5.

For the whole tagging/social-bookmarking thing, there’s an app called Socialist that I’m going to try. There are lots of RSS readers/aggregators available.

A few words about the customer experience: Assuming you get a machine without any little problems, Apple has created a very smoooooooth customer experience with the MacBook. When you boot the machine up for the first time, it gives you a really cool looking and sounding “welcome” message, and then guides you easily through some initial setup functions, where you enter your name and other information, create an account on the computer, etc. At this point the system introduces you to the built-in camera at the top of the screen, allowing you to take your picture for your account profile.

Blended into the process is a pitch for Apple’s online services — called “.mac” .mac provides email accounts, disk backup service, remote storage space, blog/website hosting, and some other stuff. It’s actually really cool, but it does cost about $100 year, so I did not sign up. My point here is that the whole experience of starting with these computers is so warm and cozy that you almost just want to sign up.

Anyway, I’ve really just started to explore the software the system comes with. iPhoto is really cool for managing your digital images. GarageBand looks like it will be fun, but there will be a learning curve.

So as long as the MacBook keeps working correctly, I think I’m going to like it. and the death of a website

A little lunchtime blogging. 

In 1999, when I created, bandwidth was expensive, few people had broadband, fewer people had camcorders, there were not really any free video hosting services on the web, computers didn’t come with video editing software, and blogs (as they are known today) didn’t exist.

Until this year, my site got about the same traffic every day and every week, regardless of my infrequent updates. This year my traffic took a huge hit. Why?

I have some theories. First, almost every computer you purchase now – especially Macs – comes with good video editing software. Almost every family seems to have a digital camcorder. So it is easier than it has ever been for any skateboarder to create a pretty cool video. I’ve seen videos by kids with virtually no training that look nearly as good as a professional job.

But once you have a cool video, how do you share it? In 1999, you needed your own website. There was no to slap your stuff into. And if your video content was popular you needed massive bandwidth, which at the time was expensive. BTT was pulling about 9 gigs a day of bandwidth at one point, which is a lot for a one-man show. Youtube has solved the problem for the average web-user.

But YouTube has gone beyond simply supplying bandwidth and storage space — it has created a social-network/search mechanism. Not only can you put your videos there, but if they are good you have an instant audience. Pretty neat. My own experiment with social networking involved putting a phpBB bulletin board on BTT, but after over a year I removed it. The quality of the conversation detracted from the overal quality of the site.

Back then it was even a little harder to create a website. You had to get an account with and hosting service, get your domain name, create the site, and upload it. You might even have to know — GASP — HTML.

Now free services like this ( allow anyone with two functioning brain cells to create a site, have a domain, upload images, link directly to Youtube videos and other content — pretty much without knowing any HTML or CSS at all. Perhaps best of all, WordPress takes care of controlling comment-spam for you, keeps the software updated, adds new features, etc.  Amazing. If your are a photographer, you can upload photos to a Flickr account with the same kind of built-in social network. With the nearly global change to digital cameras, you don’t even need a scanner.

So when I look at the traffic decrease at BTT in the last year, I can’t help but think that all these factors have come into play. And that’s really OK. I built BTT to teach some basics of skateboarding and it continues to do that very well. Everyone has a limited amount of time, and as the marketing people might say, there is just more competition for the same number of eyeballs now.

For me, if I want my traffic back, it means I’ll have to provide more than a kid with a camcorder and a YouTube account. I’m not sure what that is. Longer, better quality videos? Probably. I kept my videos short back then because bandwidth was expensive and connection speed was slow. Neither of those conditions applies anymore., a site run by Adam Colton, contains great videos — high quality, long, well-thought-out, and entertaining. A site developed under the current conditions, unlike BTT.

I guess this is all a long way of saying I have been sitting on my lazy ass while my site slowly fades to obscurity. The question, I think, is whether it is worth my time to really re-invent BTT or leave it there, serving its original purpose, and move on to a more modern web-project.

Blogging on the decline?

I haven’t been making a lot of posts lately, mainly because I just haven’t had that much to say. I’m trying to avoid the “what I had for lunch” type of posts.

Anyway, a coworker sent me a link to this article from Information Week, which discusses a report from the Gartner Group predicting that blogging will peak in the first half of 2007. I’m not surprised. Hell, I kept another blog for 2 years, and posted regularly, but a few months ago I decided to try to focus my efforts on specific subject areas. With concerns about online privacy growing, I think people will be less inclined to put up a lot of personal experiences, at least not without more anonymity.  There are so many other choices for online socializing too — flickr, tons of subject-specific message forums, groups, myspace — the list goes on. Then there is the fact that young people are increasingly using text messaging and other mobile technology to keep in touch rather than email and the web.

So I’ve been reading — or really just skimming — a lot of books about blogging from the last 2 or 3 years.  Seriously, I haven’t found any that were particularly interesting. The best one I’ve found is Blog!: How the Newest Media Revolution is Changing Politics, Business, and Culture. This book has interviews with a bunch of different, “sucessful” bloggers, who do lots of different kinds of blogs. Political, social, technology, personal, whatever. Nice thing about this book is you can pick the ones you are interested in, read one in 10 minutes or so, then do something else. Much like reading a blog.

Internet Librarian 2006 Notes: flickr

On day 2 of the conference, I attended a session on flickr, the photo sharing website that was acquired a while back by Yahoo!

I’ve never payed much attention to flickr. For my own personal websites I have gallery programs running on my server. Because these have proven adequate, flickr really never got my attention. But as the session started, it was made clear to me that flickr is much more than just photo sharing. It is a full blown social networking site, using images as the main content and the “draw” to get people in.

So here are a few cool things about flickr.

  1. Very easy to set up an account. In fact, if you have a Yahoo! Mail or My Yahoo! account, you already have an account on flickr. You just need to log in to finish your profile.
  2. Because of the flickr API (see more about APIs below), there are many 3rd party sites that use flickr for additional functionality. More on this in a bit — it is really cool.
  3. Users can associate tags with their photos, and the whole system is searchable by tags. Search flickr by the tag “IL2006” and you’ll see that this was a very photographed conference.
  4. flickr includes comments and comment tracking. In many pieces of social software, including this one, there is often very useful information in the comments, which are often running conversations.
  5. flickr supports “sets” of photos within an account. Very cool, and potentially useful for library images.
  6. Each image has its own URL and webpage, so you can link directly to the images.
  7. Includes RSS feeds for photo streams, so you can use RSS tools to aggregate images.
  8. Many blogging systems, including this one (Word Press) include widgets with which you can add your most recent flickr images to your page. I set this up by uploading a few photos. Really cool.

Besides people of every age and walk of life, many libraries are using flickr in various ways. Just sitting there, I began to think of potential uses for our public library, such as event photo albums, various kinds of digital photography contests and shows for our patrons, bibliographic instruction sessions on the use of flickr, etc.

OK, a bit of semi-technical info. I mentioned that flickr works well with other sites and software, enabling many 3rd party sites to use flickr’s functionality. This is due to flickr’s API, or Application Programming Interface. An API is part of an application’s code that allows it to talk to other applications. For example, it can allow flickr to exchange information, on a machine-to-machine level, with other websites. This allows the development of hybrid products, sometimes called “mashups”.

This story from the official IL2006 blog includes links to several very cool mashups using the flickr and Google APIs. By tagging your photos in flickr with specific geospatial coordinates, you can then use Google Maps to do some cool things.

My point here is that because the flickr API is available, many creative people are using flickr in ways that Yahoo! may not have anticipated. Each new application of flickr makes it more useful, drawing in additional users and increasing the database of images and the social network. And the virus spreads…

So now a little editorial. Web services like flickr are where our patrons are going on the web. A library system can spend the time and money to build its own photo gallery, but that gallery will be an isolated island on the ‘net. It is much smarter to use flickr and similar services to meet our patrons where they are. This not only allows us to interact with our patrons more effectively, but also gives us much greater flexibility, since we’re no longer married to expensive systems we’ve invested in.

Spam hits Blue Dot

The bookmark management site I discovered a few days ago — — has already been hit with spam. Ughhh… someone set up an account and “dotted” links to items from their adult toy shop. This is probably the biggest problem I see with social networking sites. If very strict control isn’t maintained over membership, the spammers will take over and quality will suffer. But of course, strict control over membership slows down the development of the social network, so what’s the answer?

Blue Dot

I just discovered what appears to be a new “tagging” tool for the web, Blue Dot. Its sort of like or , but this one is trying to incorporate a social networking aspect in which you share your links and tags with a group of friends. Interesting. I set up an account.

We’ll see if this takes off. I haven’t have a lot of success getting myself interested in the whole tagging thing, but personalization of this tool might make it more compelling.

One interesting feature on Blue Dot is automated dotting on your personal blog. It was easy to set up my account so that anytime I post an entry here, on my Word Press blog, my Blue Dot account automatically “dots” that post, by monitoring my RSS feed. They feature this kind of support for quite a few blogging systems.

P.S. Man — less than 30 minutes after I made this post, it was captured by the blog search tool on Google. Scarey. The moral of the story — if you don’t want something to exist forever on the internet via Google, don’t put it up in the first place.