Nov 032015

Twitter, in their infinite wisdom, have decided to change Favourites, which had a star icon, to Likes, which have a heart icon.  By Akarshan Kumar, Product Manager, announced the change on the Twitter blog; Hearts on Twitter. The blog explained Twitter’s reasoning for the change :

We hope you like what you see on Twitter and Vine today: hearts!

We are changing our star icon for favorites to a heart and we’ll be calling them likes. We want to make Twitter easier and more rewarding to use, and we know that at times the star could be confusing, especially to newcomers. You might like a lot of things, but not everything can be your favorite.

The heart, in contrast, is a universal symbol that resonates across languages, cultures, and time zones. The heart is more expressive, enabling you to convey a range of emotions and easily connect with people. And in our tests, we found that people loved it.

The reaction on Twitter, hasn’t exactly been sharing that love. I’m more than a tad bemused as to how anybody could find a star confusing, a star is a pretty universal symbol too whilst being less irksome and patronising than a heart.

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Jun 012015

Facebook users are today set to protest outside the company’s Headquarters according to an article by Amanda Holpuch over at The Guardian. The article states that a coalition of drag queens, transgender people, Native Americans, domestic violence survivors and others who do not use the names on their birth certificates are protesting under the banner #MyNameIs.

The crux of the issue seems to be that #MyNameIs feel that the fake name reporting option on Facebook is being abused and they would like to see it removed. They also want to see an end to demands from Facebook for people to provide Government approved Id when there are questions about identity.

Facebook have made some changes to their policy since the initial protests from Drag Queens, users can now use what are considered authentic names, rather than the name on their birth certificate but the protesters feel the policy change doesn’t go far enough and Facebook are moving too slowly regarding making the site more friendly to those who don’t want to use their real names.

Facebook on the other hand are quoted in the article as saying :

Having people use their authentic names makes them more accountable, and also helps us root out accounts created for malicious purposes, like harassment, fraud, impersonation and hate speech

This however is a double edged sword and Facebook’s real name policies can and do lead to people being bullied.

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May 062015

Linden Lab have blogged regarding an issue with Facebook and SL Share : An Update on SLShare Service Issues. The post explains that Facebook have recently announced that they are depreciating an old Open Graph API. The implication with this change is that all apps running version 1.0, need to update to version 2.0.

Linden Lab are on the ball with this and have updated their SL Share app to version 2.0, but things aren’t complete on Facebook’s end, which may mean there are problems for a couple of week. The blog post states :

This means that when using SLShare (updating status, photo uploads, and check-ins from the Viewer) you may experience some temporary problems. Please be assured that we are aware of this and any issues you encounter should be resolved once the migration period is complete.

Thank you for your patience!

So the message is clear, there may be a bit of quirkiness for a couple of weeks when using SL Share with Facebook. Now I’ll be honest, I’ve never used SLShare, but for those who are wondering what it is, SLShare is a way of sharing your Second Life experiences on social media, such as Facebook, Flickr and Twitter and it looks rather straight forward.

The first thing to do is to ensure the toolbar buttons for SLShare are available, to do this go to me or avatar (depending upon with viewer you’re using) and then toolbar buttons :


Then the toolbar buttons show up and you can drag and drop these onto your toolbars in the viewer. Hopefully, if you squint you can see there are buttons for Facebook, Flickr and Twitter.


Note that my buttons for Facebook, Flickr and Twitter are dull, that’s because they are already on my toolbar.

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Mar 172015

James Poulos of The Daily Beast has published an article : How Block Bot Could Save the Internet. The article pains me, deeply, on many levels. First of all it pains me to see a journalist advocating such a system :

Meet The Block Bot, an invention of the social-justice left that allows people to automatically screen out disliked content and disliked people from Twitter. The Block Bot comes complete with a helpful hierarchy of disapproval, ranging from mere irritation to bigotry in the first degree. Some people who have been added to The Block Bot’s rolls have been offended, of course. But in addition to muting offense, The Block Bot dissipates rancor.

When I was a lad and I used to buy newspapers I’d regularly buy The Daily Mirror and Daily Mail. The Mirror is a left wing newspaper, The Mail is a right wing newspaper. Some days if I felt in the mood for a really good read, I’d buy The Guardian and The Times. The Guardian generally leans left, The Times generally leans right. Politically I’m on the left, however sometimes the right will say something I agree with. The idea that I should shut out any and all other ideology is completely against my beliefs and I simply don’t see it as healthy.

My big objection to blockbots are, for want of a better word, McCartyhist style guilt by association and allowing others to think for me. I say for want of a better word because McCarthyism was a far more serious issue than this and I don’t like appearing to belittle it by comparing it to some silly nonsense on the internet. However guilt by association is not something I can buy into on any level.

How silly people can get with their dogma was exemplified in horrendous style recently by Ben Kuchera of Polygon. Ben objected to EA head of communications Chris Mancil linking to a post of Ben’s on Chris’ personal blog. Ben’s objection was due to Chris’ post being critical of blockbots, even though in his post he agreed with Ben :

I had heard about these Twitter Auto-Blockers before, and thought the use of these tools to be extremely sad.

  • One – because there are no proper harassment protection tools on Twitter, which Polygon’s Ben Kuchera has ingeniously identified the solutions for in this great piece. Which makes these tactics thinkable.

  • Two – because these auto-blocker tactics leave no hope for change or progress. It’s the cement walls of the West Bank and Gaza, forever dividing the two groups which probably have more in common than not.

Ben Kuchera took to Twitter, tagging Chris Mancil’s employer, to demand the links were removed. Let’s just rewind here, a journalist took to Twitter to demand someone removed links to his work because he didn’t like someone agreeing with him in a post. I lost a lot of respect for Ben Kuchera over this.

There were parts of Chris’ post that were objectionable, a glaring example being comparing these blockbots to the issues in the West Bank, which is quite frankly a ridiculous comparison, but for Ben Kuchera to object to the degree he did was also absurd. The end result is that Chris Mancil’s blog is now set to private. As a journalist Ben Kuchera should be embarrassed about this.

However, let’s not kid ourselves here, the reason people turn to these blockbots is more often than not because they are fed up with being dogpiled and abused for having the temerity to have an opinion.

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Feb 062015

I was driving home from work the other week listening to BBC Radio 4 when I heard an excerpt from a forthcoming television documentary. The excerpt featured the agent of a woman who is infamous in the UK for being controversial, and that seems to be her main talent. The excerpt had a point that was rather sad, the agent admitted that his client deliberately targets Twitter trolls by spelling words incorrectly on purpose or making outrageous comments. He admitted that without the Twitter trolls, his client would not be so successful.

At this point it is worth noting that picking someone up on their spelling isn’t exactly trolling, but the concept that people deliberately court controversy and know that this will work on Twitter to generate revenue, is rather depressing.

Twitter continues to make headlines for the wrong reasons but those of us who have been in Second Life for a number of years know that those headlines can be very misleading. Hamlet Au over at New World Notes has an article about Twitter : Twitter CEO Basically Admits Pseudonym Policy a Disaster. That headline itself is a tad misleading as I can’t see anything from Twitter CEO Dick Costlolo that suggests that. However Hamlet’s article links to another article on The Verge : Twitter CEO: ‘We suck at dealing with abuse’. In that article Dick Costolo is quoted as saying :

“We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we’ve sucked at it for years. It’s no secret and the rest of the world talks about it every day. We lose core user after core user by not addressing simple trolling issues that they face every day.”

I use Twitter, I’ve seen the trolls in action, I’ve seen the heinous abuse but if Twitter was as bad as some folk make out, I would not be on Twitter. The problem with Twitter is not pseudonyms. Over time, even with a pseudonym, you build up a reputation of sorts, you own your words. The problem with Twitter isn’t accounts who don’t say much but use a pseudonym either. Whereas people can demonstrate horror stories from Twitter to try and claim pseudonyms are a problem, the same thing can be done on Facebook with people using their real names. Names aren’t the issue here, people are and more to the point, the way we interact online.

Online communications are largely faceless. We don’t see the person we’re talking to, we lose the tips that guide us in a face to face conversation. We lose sight of emotion, intent and humour and we focus on the words. On a platform such as Twitter where you’re restricted to 140 characters, this doesn’t make for a healthy meeting of minds when it comes to debate.

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Dec 152014

I’ve mentioned this before but here we go again. Second Life could do with more ways for people to share information about events, places and sims by allowing people to easily embed that information into blog posts.

Flickr allows you to embed or copy the code of a picture easily so that you can included it in a blog post :

Cracked Mirror

YouTube makes it easy for you to share or embed videos :

These quick and easy ways of sharing content from social media sites help to not only promote your own content, they help to promote the brand of the platform you publish on. Second Life is a little lacking in this area when it comes to sharing content from Second Life on blogs. Let’s look at some more social media examples.

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Feb 222014

One of the things about being a blogger is finding something to write. A lot of the time a blogger finds the material to base their post on elsewhere, … actually this happens a lot. This post will unashamedly use material from someone else. The reasons for this are because the material is cutting, funny and relevant. I’m heading off to Twitter for this.

There’s a lot of advice going around on what Ebbe Linden needs to do to make Second Life awesome. Both SLUniverse and the official Second Life forums have threads full of advice. However one brave soul has been collecting this advice from Twitter users, adding their own, putting their tongue firmly in their cheek and creating a Twitter account of @EbbeNeedsTo.

Now some of these are funny, some of them may not tickle your fancy, you may found the whole thing a bit silly. The first thing to say is that you should ensure that you have your sense of humour turned on if you read that Twitter feed because some of the posts may be about one of your important issues or pet favourites.

For example:

I mean come on, Versu is a brilliant project … that Linden Lab decided to ditch because they don’t think it’s so brilliant and they have a lot more information about it than me! Pah, but hey I can take it, healthy disagreement is good. I mean it could be worse, the account could be poking fun at SLUniverse, which is a site I think has a lot of good information on … oh wait …

Noooooo! However this poking fun at suggestions and ideas is actually quite brilliant in so much as it brings issues to light and also brings to light the fact that we don’t all agree. Healthy disagreement is good. There are many more issues raised, far too many for me to post about here, but I will cover some more.

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Feb 062014

Ebbe Altberg has arrived with a bang in some circles, before he has even officially started work as the new CEO. His start date, I’m unreliably informed, is Monday February 10th 2014. I’m writing this for reference for future blog posts.

Inara Holmes has once again donned her deerstalker, puffed on her pipe and investigated the man to come up with a rather deep short profile on Mr Altberg. This time Inara has been able to demonstrate her science of deduction without having to call upon the assistance of Gray Of The Lab from San Francisco.

Ebbe was born in Sweden, the country that invented Blocksworld and the country next to the country that invented Lego. Unforunately Ebbe has so far been unable to convince Swedish super group Abba that they should perform inside Second Life for tips only. However give it time, Linden Lab has opened the door to a Viking invasion and those guys like to party.

Mr Altberg has previously worked for Microsoft (hooray), Yahoo! (boo) Ingenio (?) and BranchOut (??) who were linked to Facebook (Boooooooooo!). For full details, please read Inara’s informed post, carry on reading here for an uninformed post.

So far Mr Altberg seems to have been enjoying himself as the new found leader of the virtual revolution and other products and has been particularly active on Twitter, where you can find him under @ebbealtberg.

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Feb 052014

Second Lie at Twitter Party

The arrival of Ebbe Altberg has already led to the end of one Second Life character on Twitter, with @SecondLie announcing his retirement in an afternoon/evening of excitement, hope, despair, bewilderment and surprise at the arrival of Ebbe Altberg as new CEO of Linden Lab.

The unexpected turn of events threatened to overshadow the optimism about the arrival of the new CEO, with fans of @SecondLie expressing shock at his retirement. Lie (real name SecondLie) refused to answer any further questions, but did point reporters, observers, bloggers and Lindens in the direction of a new kid on the twitter block, @RebbeAltberg.

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