Twittzkrieg

To quote myself from yesterday, “140 characters is not always enough to convey a point properly, especially not across languages and cultures.”. Hence, I am finally publishing this post, which has been sitting in my drafts folder for quite some time, even though I realise the subject matter has the potential to ignite exactly the behaviour that is describes (I really, really do not want that).

People have a right to express an opinion, people have a right to disagree and it’s okay to debate them, even passionately. What is not okay to me and what I want no part of, is a pile in on someone with a different opinion. Agree to disagree and move on, don’t perform a mental DDoS on an individual in an attempt to overwhelm them into submission. To me this is just another form of bullying. I hate bullies.

This point is especially relevant with respect to the way in which people use social media. I am a pretty prolific tweeter (twitterer?). I now unapologetically distance myself from the hashtags and accounts that I see as condoning, promoting or engaging in what Asam Ahmad refers to as “Call-Out Culture“. It makes me uncomfortable to see good people who have been misunderstood, or may have taken a misstep, being besieged by an army of people who seem more preoccupied with being part of the mob rather than educating the person, or letting them apologise. I hate bullies.

Writing posts like this is hard, because there is so much more I could say. I realise this is a somewhat meandering post that lacks a definitive conclusion, but I would just be opening myself up to the sort of response that I am referencing if I was to offer one. So let that be the conclusion: I think it is wrong that people are afraid in this way.

After thought – I think this problem is exacerbated by at least a couple of factors online:

  1. The assumption that everyone is a fanboy, that we all exist on the extremes of opinion. You have an iPhone? You must hate Samsung and Google and Android and kittens and you must now personally accept responsibility for every decision that Apple have ever made.
  2. Prescribing people opinions and traits based on their gender, race, etc and then writing off their experiences and opinions as worthless as a result. You’re white, male and identify as a gamer? You must hate everyone and everything!

ADN

This post has been a while in the making. I had some initial thoughts about ADN and then I kind of wondered if I was rushing to judgement, so having given it some time and gone back to it, I think I’m in a better position to express my opinion.

For those of you who don’t know, ADN, or App.net (app-dot-net) is a social networking service. It is essentially very similar to twitter, but with two exceptions. Firstly, the character limit is 256, not exactly ground breaking, but it is nice to be able to express an entire thought in one post. Secondly, and more notably, it is a paid for service. The idea behind this seems to be that the users of the service are the customers and not the product being sold. So instead of finding ways to harvest data to sell, or shaping rules to push “paid for” posts in to users time lines, the creators and maintainers of the service would be focussed on making a service that people really want to use. This all resonated with me greatly. I do worry about how my data is being used, but I am also not naive enough to think that services like twitter aren’t ultimately looking for a revenue stream. I selfishly also hoped that if accounts cost money, it would help to dissuade spammers, griefers and ignorant sheeple. I say selfishly, because I subsequently wondered if the fee would provide sufficient barrier to entry to have prevented the spread of information during events like the arab spring. Would people be put off by the potential money trail that could be followed back to them. This is in contrast to Twitter, where anyone can sign up and tweet largely with complete anonymity (note the qualifier used).

Having signed up for an account before the service was launched, I waited with anticipation to see if the funding target would be reached. Along the way I read a blog post that suggested that it would be rich, white nerds creating the service that *they* wanted to use. This struck me as bizarre for a few reasons. Why would people spend time developing a service that *they* didn’t want to use? Why would they spend time developing a service that *nobody* wanted to use, when their ultimate aim was to get people to pay to use it. I couldn’t see the issue, but I would.

The funding target was reached and hence ADN came in to being. I jumped in with both feet. There was initially no tapbots app for ADN and the contrast between Tweetbot and the ADN apps I was using was massive. I knew that with time the apps available for ADN would mature and grow. I hoped that ADN might take better care of the developers than twitter seemed to be and that this could mean that lots of development effort would be redirected by devs in to ADN app offerings.

The majority of the early adopters were all tech folk. A great many of them had ditched their twitter accounts and switched to ADN full time. Many of them seemed to already know each other (maybe from twitter) and it was insanely hard to get people talking outside of their tribal groups. I remembered how hard I found it to break in to twitter when I first joined. I was also now armed with my Aspergers diagnosis, I knew that I found socialising harder than most people. I’ve dipped in and out of ADN a few times since then, including a period recently where I spent a few days using ADN as my only social media outlet. It is still the same and so I don’t think ADN is going to be a long term home for me. At least, not unless all of my twitter friends switch over and I can’t see why they would? I think that the biggest impact ADN can have on my social media life is to keep twitter honest. That alone is worth the money I paid.

TWIT for life

I feel like I owe Jason Bradbury a massive thank you. I have just had the most amazing weekend and it really is all thanks to him.

I joined twitter in September 2008. I knew some other people who had joined and thought I should grab myself a decent username in case I decided to start using the service, but I really didn’t take it any further than that. Around this same time I started reading Jase’s blog on his newly relaunched website (coinciding with the release of his first novel) and at some point after that he started tweeting and added a link to his twitter feed from his website. I discovered the link to Jase’s twitter feed one Friday lunch time and remembering the account I had created for myself decided to log in and take a closer look. I was amazed to see that Jason was exchanging messages with normal people and confused by the strange #ff that accompanied so many of the messages that were flying back and forth. I quickly discovered that #ff was short for follow friday and that this meant that people were recommending other people to follow. I was quite taken a back by this, after all, my previous experiences with social media were fairly limited and the tools I had used had a nasty habit of sustaining relationships that I would happily have left behind, but here was a tool with the power to connect me to new and exciting people. I followed three people on that day, Jason Bradbury, Becky Kingston and Wayne Thompson, at the time the thing that stuck in my mind was that Jase followed me back, if I had only known what was to come!

Over the next few weeks I began to check twitter more and more regularly, following more and more people, although tending to read far more than I posted, I couldn’t believe that anybody who didn’t know me would be interested in reading my thoughts. I began to follow one of my favourite wrestlers, Chris Jericho, and was enjoying reading the tweets that Chris was retweeting, they were like Chuckisms, but Jericho themed. I tried to think of something funny to tweet in the hope that Chris might retweet it and then I nailed it “@IAmJericho Chris Jericho future endeavoured Vince McMahon”. If you don’t know much about wrestling then you will just have to trust me that I nailed it. Chris did retweet my message and I was ecstatic… and then a strange thing happened, other people started retweeting it… and following me. For several days after my original tweet I received RTs and new followers. This gave me a new confidence to start conversing with people rather than just consuming the tweets of others. One of the people that I began talking to was Wayne, he seemed to be kind of like me, we talked about PlayStation games and the Gadget Show (some things never change bro ;) and Wayne added me on PSN.

Tweeting along to the Gadget Show has become something of a ritual for me and I thoroughly recommend it, I’ve met so many cool people in this way including a badger from outer space!

 

 

One day I was playing MW2 when Wayne invited me to join his party. I did and we had a few good games, I wasn’t as good as he was (some things never change bro ;), but I had fun. A few weeks later I was online again and Wayne invited me to join his party again, I did and was slightly surprised by the two other people also in the party, veedubhev and supermarioex. Wayne introduced us and explained to the others that I didn’t have a mic. We had some great games and exchanged some banter (I tended to be on the receiving end due to the lack of a mic) and this became such a regular occurrence that they invited me to join their TWIT clan and pushed me both to get a mic and to follow the rest of the clan. The rest is history, if it wasn’t for the fact that we all live so far apart, we would be inseparable, but modern technology means that we are all only a tweet/text/email away and can normally be found shoulder to shoulder, slaughtering the competition on CoD Black Ops.

This weekend was the first weekend that we were all in the same place at the same time. It was awesome. I spent the weekend with SMX, Wayne and his lovely fiance, we went to Gadget Show Live 2011 at the NEC on Friday (where we met up with a bunch of our other twitter friends) and traveled down to meet up with Hev and her beautiful daughter on the Saturday. So you see, it is all thanks to Jason and The Gadget Show that I met my three best friends and that is why I owe him a massive thank you. Thank you Jase, see you at the NEC in 2012!

Shameless plug: Jason Bradbury’s third novel is available now from all good book retailers. ;)

Twitter I love you

There aren’t many downsides to using Twitter, but one of the more obvious ones is the number of bots spewing out spam. Thankfully, no machine is able to pass the Turing test, which means that whether the spam takes the form of @replies or DMs, it is easy to spot that the account is not genuine and notify Twitter of this. Once a few people have flagged an account as posting spam, or if a large number of people suddenly block an account, or even if an account suddenly follows and then unfollows a large number of people, Twitter will suspend/delete the account. If only there were a similar system for emails.

House Syndrome (Quick to the point, to the point no faking).

The theme of this short but sweet post is fakery, inspired by a week filled with it (and full of it).

Maybe I’m in the minority, but I think the Apple press conference on Antenna Gate was perfect. It was such an Apple thing to do. Steve Jobs rolled up on the stage and called out all of the media for their part in spinning the story into an international headline. The videos of the other smart phones being death gripped were cool, I don’t care how many companies release rebuttal statements – if the videos were in any way unfair or inaccurate they would be suing, and they aren’t.  To silence the remaining dissenters (fanboys), Steveo offered free cases or free returns; an immediate smack down to the haters drawing parallels between Vista and iPhone 4.

My point is that I just don’t have time for the perennial Salesman type: from the guy packaged in the clothes he thinks you think he should be wearing, to the sensationlist news reporter or politician looking to spin a situation in a favourable light. I guess that’s why I like Twitter, because I have been able to build up a stable of people who are real, who are opinionated in a good way and who are able to hold sometimes polar opposite opinions and yet co-exist with each other. I am unapologetically honest because life is easier that way. I speak my mind and sometimes it gets me into trouble, but hey, that’s me – take it or leave it.

When Gregory House met Vanilla Ice.

[Note: Dear future me. Please don’t forget any of the things that inspired this post.]

Talk to the palm (and other things)

This isn’t a particularly well thought out post, more a general meandering through my thoughts, an aggregated thought feed if you will…

I absolutely cannot see what Palm hoped to achieve by reporting Apple to the USB-IF. Why not just integrate with iTunes in the same way as every other mobile phone/MP3 player/random application manufacturer, it almost seems like it’s more about the publicity and less about, well… there isn’t anything else to it is there.

Still no Snow Leopard friendly Growl. Grr.

What happened to webchunks? I was in the middle of preparing a software release, just calculating the checksums for the Win32 and Linux versions (ready to be documented in the release note) and then I discovered that the owner of webchunks had failed to put enough coins in the meter and so I had to transfer the checksums via a combination of text file and USB pen drive! Luckily the owner is a friend of mine and once I reported the service outage, he was on it in a flash (well once he returned from Chessington ;-) ).

I’m getting more and more addicted to twitter. I think it is so cool to be able to access the uncensored thoughts of so many people, an online Ben & Jerry’s in a world so full of vanilla. Having opinions isn’t a crime. At the moment, I am particularly enjoying following Jason Bradbury (him off the Gadget Show); Chris Jericho (current WWE superstar); Ken AndersonAnderson (former WWE employee, still a superstar, creator of the CTM TLA) and Becky Kingston, who I only know of through one of Jason’s #followfriday tweets.

See I could have tweeted all of this in much less time than it took to write this post, but then I couldn’t have used the bitchin’ title that made me CTM. Anyway, I’m off to watch the footie…

Post tune: Velvet Revolver, Slither, Contraband