Tag Archive for Facebook

Colin

I’ve always been interested in low-budget film making.  When I wear my writer’s hat, many of the ideas I scrawl on paper are ones that could probably be done admirably for a couple dozen thousand dollars or more… but with the help of Facebook and other volunteer avenues, one man has made a zombie film, Colin, for the low low low budget of just $70.  Yes, that’s seventy dollars.

Apparently it is wowing people at Cannes, so I really want to see it at some point… in the meantime, take a look at these clips:

The movie looks rough, and “shakey camera”™ doesn’t have many fans, but I’ll be keeping my eye on it.

Advertising in Web 2.0

Web 2.0 is all about user generated content and collaboration.  From YouTube to Facebook, from blogs to Twitter, the big thing is social sites that let people do their own thing, with each other.  And yet, all of them fail in exactly the same place: making money.

You would think that a site which has millions of people looking at it, all day long, would manage a way to get advertising dollars.  And yet, according to this Time article, they suck at it.  Let the armchair quarterbacking begin!

I think the failure is that while the content of these social sites is embracing the Web 2.0 phenomenon, their advertising models are still stuck firmly in Web 1.0. Want to know why advertisers aren’t paying to be on Facebook?  According to the Time article, and I agree, its because there is no target.  Its just a big bunch of “users” and not smaller slices of that group which fit their demographic.  Why buy an ad on Facebook just to have 99% of the people who see it have no interest at all?  The content of these Web 2.0 sites is all about sharing and community and being part of something, but the ads are still being shoved at you with little or no input or control on your part beyond installing an ad blocker on your browser.

That’s why advertising needs to embrace Web 2.0.  And no, I don’t mean user created ads.  I mean allow the users to specify their demographic.  What if, on Facebook, there was a page you could go to that listed Advertising Categories, and you could drill down into them, and select just the ones you would see ads from?  Of course, selecting zero categories would be the same as selecting all of them.  But what if the only thing I cared about were video games? and PC games at that?  I could go in, drill down in the “Games” category, drill into “Video Games” (as opposed to “Board Games”), and then deselect “Mac”, “PS3”, “Xbox360”, etc, leaving only “PC” selected.  Save my options and from that point on I would only see ads in the “Games->Video Games->PC” category while on Facebook.  (And I’d see new categories if they were subcategories of things I already had selected, and maybe get an email once a week/month letting me know about new categories.)  I know I’d be happy.  Even more so if I could drill in to “PC” and select some other things, like deselecting “Gold Farming.”

While from the user aspect you’d be able to control what ads you see, from the site’s side they’d be able to more accurately sell demographics.  Right now, buying an ad on Facebook means you have access to 175,000,000 or so people, and I’m sure you get some control, but its likely to be as simple as their own advertising page illustrates: location and age groups.  That’s all well and good, but even TV gives you better definition than that.  The people who watch Heroes aren’t just an age group, they are fans of a genre.  Imagine if you could say to a potential advertiser, “We have 13 million users who see ads for PC Games, and given the rates of page views and category loads we can guarantee that they see, on average, 1 PC Game ad per five minutes, and if you buy at this level, we’ll guarantee that they’ll all see your ad, at least once, within a 24 hour period…”  So, not only are your users seeing ads they might actually care about, but your advertisers are getting hard numbers about how often their ads will be seen by people who actually care about their products.

I just played around in Facebook for a bit.  I went to my home page, I went to some applications, the usual stuff, only for once I actually paid attention to the ads… and I was reminded why I started ignoring them in the first place.  I got ads for Netflix (I’m already a subscriber, so not interested in ads for them), for a church, for workout secrets, a room for rent, goth clothing, free credit reports, tax services and an ad offering me a free MacBook if I just buy at least two offers from their page of offers.  In over half an hour I didn’t see one single ad that I cared about, so I’ll go back to ignoring them.  The other thing that was clear from looking at the ads: no big companies.  The biggest thing there was Netflix, but they advertise everywhere (I must close a popup from them at least four or five time a day).  And the only option I had was to vote an ad up or down.  I voted Netflix down with the reason that I am a subscriber and don’t need to see their ad, and yet it was still the most frequent ad I saw even hours later, proving that I have no real control at all over the ads.

Internet advertising has always been a bit of a cesspool of scams and bait-n-switch offers, but it doesn’t have to be that way if effort is put into the tools for allowing users to identify and categorize themselves.

Anyway… that’s my thoughts, but what do I know… I’m just the consumer…

If you run a company, and decide to steal this idea, let me know, I might be interested in helping you implement it.

I am a Twit

I suppose it was inevitable.  Eventually, Internet social tools become so strong that I end up joining in.  First there was MySpace, then Facebook and LinkedIn, and now Twitter.  In case you can’t follow that link, my name on Twitter is Jhaer, the same as my Xbox Gamertag.  There is a story behind that name which I don’t often share.

On the bright side, I am considering deleting my MySpace page because I barely go there anymore.  One should be mindful of one’s Internet Footprint and not leave inactive accounts all over the place.  Its kind of like “Going Green” but digitally…

Digsby

A long time ago, in an apartment far, far away… I was a gaming geek, and other gaming geeks with whom I chatted on IRC were talking about a new instant messaging tool called ICQ.  It was kinda like the instant messaging that AOL had, but you didn’t have to be an AOL user.  I wish I still had my old ICQ#, it was low, and that made me leet… sadly, I forgot the password, had the account set up with an email address I didn’t have access to, and after much pleading with the ICQ guys I gave up and got a new account.  But I barely use ICQ at all anymore.  Over the years, AOL made their IM client available to everyone, Yahoo put one out, and so did Microsoft.  There are more, like Google Talk, X-fire, and most social networking sites have some sort of integrated chat, but I haven’t signed up for most of them.  The real problem was having all that crap installed on your PC.  For years each network was completely separate.  And even now, only a couple of them have linked up to share.  That was why when a friend showed me Trillian, I was extremely excited.

Just think!  All my instant messaging clients wrapped up in one application where I could manage them all!

Trillian has served me well over the years, but a while back they simply stopped going forward.  The developers were pouring all their time into Astra (I’m in the beta), their next multi-IM client, but even it is going forward slowly.  It also doesn’t seem to be expanding on the features of the old program very much.  I’m in the beta, and I’ve been using it… its basically the same thing with a slightly different look and feel.  In fact, really, the only thing that Astra has is a web version that promised to have the same contact and configuration info as your desktop client does so you can get on your IMs from anywhere you can open a browser to their site.

A couple months ago, someone pointed me at Digsby.  I poured through the feature list and got very excited again.  They promised to integrate with MySpace and Facebook and others, they also promised to allow me to manage my email accounts (like hotmail and yahoo) without having to open the webpage if I didn’t want to.  And it delivered… with one tiny flaw.  See, they had this feature that allowed you to alias and merge multiple IM accounts for the same person under one entry, so now I wouldn’t see the same person four times, I’d see them once with four options for chatting.  The flaw was that after moving all my contacts around, when I closed and then re-opened Digsby, all my contacts were gone.

So, I trudged back to Trillian after one glorious day of Digsby.  But now, a few months later, I decided to check up on ol’ Digsby and it turns out they claim to have fixed many of the bugs, including the one I ran into.  I fired up Digsby and it auto-updated to the latest version, and blam! all my contacts!  In fact, all my contacts in the way I had grouped them prior to them vanishing!

It looks like I’m giving Digsby a second chance.  I’m still not uninstalling Trillian/Astra, just in case I need to recover my contacts again, but maybe this time ol’ Digsby will stick.  I hope it does, because I dig all the extra feature, none of which look like they are going to make Astra any time soon.

When Big is Too Big

Yesterday, I rambled about my dislike of applications on social networking web sites. Today, I’m going to ramble about the other aspect I dislike about Internet community and social networking sites. They are just. so. big.

Back in the day™, I played online games with, what I though was, a large group of people. There we literally dozens of us. Maybe hundreds. There were tons and tons of Quake players online, but, the community at large was segmented. Some people played Death Match, others played Capture The Flag, and then there were mods like Team Fortress. No part of it was really enormous, because even within segments, like Death Match for instance, there were further segments, built around servers and server groups, web sites, tournaments, geographical areas, etc. I can see this when I talk to people who knew of TF but didn’t play TF and I talk about us having year long tournament seasons with dozens of clans and alternates and all sorts of stuff. They just didn’t realize how big TF was… and I always thought DM was just scattered random chaos until they start waxing about the days of ranked tiers and what not. The same was true of EverQuest. While I was/am familiar with the players and guilds from my own server, outside a few standouts, the workings of other servers were non-existent. One day at work I found out a co-worker also played, but on another server. When I explained to him how “public” raiding worked, he was shocked, because his server had no public system, in fact it was a very tightly controlled tier system long before SOE ever considered making tiers. Today, I still hang out on a community board from my EQ server, and it consists of a few dozen or more regular posters with more infrequent posters and a bunch of lurkers who might post occasionally.

When I look at newer game communities, like the WoW official forums or places like Guild Cafe, I’m turned off. Being a dude with a regular job and other hobbies, I simply can’t keep up with a community of thousands, tens or even hundreds of thousands (or potentially millions in WoW’s case), posting with no restrictions. I log on one day, read some threads, post, and then leave. When I come back in a week, the conversation I was interested in is over, three days dead after getting four hundred posts and eventually being locked by a moderator, or simply faded away to page 47 (implying that 46 pages of posts have been made, not just since I’ve been there, but since the last time someone replied to the topic I was interested in). I lose pretty much all interest in the site. I can’t spend all day reading posts, and I certainly can’t spend all weekend catching up, so at best I’m tagging one thread in a hundred to participate in, and at a ratio like that I don’t feel like I’m a part of any community that may exist there.

In the end, its all a question of scope… how wide does a community cast its net? If you go too wide, you will end up alienating people who might be valuable members but do not have enough time to be fully involved and encouraging people who might be less valuable yet have ample time to participate everywhere. Go too narrow and your community will die on the vine, or at best be little more than a place where your tiny group of dedicated members can hang out, which in most cases isn’t going to be enough to run a business off of unless that business is small or the price is high.

Currently, I think most, if not all, of the social networking sites are going too wide without enough tools for the users to both segregate themselves and to find the segregated communities in which they belong or wish to belong. In addition, they all seem to be reinventing the wheel in everything they do. The message board functions of most social networking sites are like stepping into the stone age when compared to the robust readily available software solutions on the market. You’d think Facebook or MySpace might consider investing in one of those.

Perhaps in a future post, I might wax poetic about what I would do if I were to invent a social networking site.

The Handcart We Are Rapidly Pushing to Hell…

… is filled with social site web apps.

Look! One of my friends has installed SuperFunAwesomeWall! To read the cool stuff they have written I need to install it! But wait! Another friend has installed AwesomeFunSuperWall, which is not the same application… and, uh, a third friend installed FunSuperAwesomeWall… and another FunAwesomeSuperWall… okay, what the hell… And I’ve been bitten by a vampire, and a werewolf, and a zombie, and a dog, and I’m in bat country.  I’ve been asked to join an entourage, a pimp squad, and a sports team, no less than three movie applications, and some trivia.  I’ve been Poked, SuperPoked, MegaPoked, SexyPoked, and CanadianPoked, could someone please stop with all the damn poking?  I’ve had myself compared to other people in every possible way, and I now know which superhero (Marvel and DC), L Word character, Simpson, Lost castaway, Friend, drunk, color, type of Irish Republican, chocolate, Spice Girl, assassin, and dead Russian author I am.  Among a great many other things, and while all those things might be true, one thing I can say with absolute certainty that I am is someone who has almost entirely stopped logging in to Facebook.

About the only time I go there anymore is when I get an email that someone new has requested to link up, or on the odd occasion that I remember I have an account and decide I want to check and see if any more people I forgot I used to know have appeared.  The sad thing about most of those apps, besides the fact that they are horribly repetitive, is that most of them are crap.  Seriously, and annoying to boot.

Perhaps its just me… maybe I just don’t get it… but there really doesn’t seem to be much “social” is all these social networking sites.  In fact, the social aspects of direct messaging and message boards seem to be the hardest parts of the sites to find or use as they are drowned out by ads and apps.  One day, I was logged into Facebook using my Heroespowers to try to gain another level when I asked myself, “Why?  Why the fuck am I doing this?”  So I tried to dig through the app to find the community, the social part that should exist beyond spamming all my friends with useless power messages and invitations to install the app and join the spam, and I couldn’t find any.  I searched all my Walls (I had 3 installed in addition to the default one) and the only messages I found were the equivalent of chain letters.  I removed a good 90% of the apps I had installed (I’m a sucker for trivia) and sent out a couple of messages to some friends.  After a few days I realized that using Facebook for anything social beyond finding people to begin with was pointless.  Once we found each other and exchanged contact info, dropping “back” to email or AIM was so much easier than using Facebook.  And more reliable too.

“Why have Facebook email me every time I get a new message when I can just have people email me directly?” I found myself wondering.  I suppose if I were famous, I could use sites like Facebook to have a “public” face that people could talk to while hiding my “true” email address.  But I’m not, and everyone I currently talk to I feel safe giving my real email address to.

Of course, I realize that my gripes with these sites are largely about the efforts they have chosen to make in regards to traffic and ad revenue.  These aren’t pay sites, after all.  But then again, I’d say that overall their efforts are failing.  When was the last time you clicked an ad on Facebook or MySpace or some other social network site?  Just this instant I logged in to Facebook and the ads presented to me as I navigated ignoring all the random spam messages were for AllPosters.com, some weight loss thing, a local college bar, a website to find out who’s searching for me on the Internet, and upromise.  The one thing all five of those have in common is that they are things I wouldn’t click on.  Only one had any interest to me (AllPosers.com) but I already know about the site, have it book marked, and use it every now and then.  However, had it been some game advertisements, TV shows, movies, or something of that nature, I might have clicked on it.  The one thing all of these social networking sites suck at is directing the proper ads to the proper people.  They need a control panel where I can choose to get video game ads but not weight loss ads, to get TV shows but not college loans.

And just so it doesn’t seem like I’m picking on Facebook, I have a MySpace account as well that I use a little more often (its not too horrible at browsing and finding new musical insterests).  Recently that launched their application platform, and its largely full of the same crap as Facebook, with, in my opinion, the only exception being the MetaChat application launched by the people of MetaPlace.  It is fairly nifty, except… its also fairly useless.  Sure, I can now put a chat room on my profile page, but how often do I hang out on my own profile page?  How often do people visit my profile page?  Do I even really want to chat with the random people who cross my profile?  Everyone I want to chat with, I tend to give them my email address, or my AIM account and we chat elsewhere.

Tomorrow… more on social networking and Internet communities…

GuildCafe

Though I loathe the idea of joining an infinite number of community building websites, I am on MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn. And now I’ve gone and joined GuildCafe.

In much the same way I participate in Wis.dm, I’m interested in GuildCafe for the possibility of gathering statistics that might mean something. And maybe it’ll make finding my next group of people to play online games with a tad easier. Who knows.