Monthly Archives: April 2010

But do you “like” like me? – Like: The Multitasking Facebook Verb

A lowercase f with a rectangle underneath.
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Prior to this past Tuesday, you would interact with a Facebook Page by becoming a fan.  You would read in your news feed of a friend’s support of a business, product, etc.  as “so-and-so has become a fan of such-and-such.”  I almost titled this post “Only connect” ala Howard’s End because Facebook is getting rid of the Fan language for  Pages in favor of a vernacular around the words “like” and “connect.”  Instead of clicking on “Become a fan” you will now hit the “Like” button and thus become “connected” to the Page.   In addition, Facebook is trotting out their “Like” button in other locations on the web such as Pandora and Yelp.  When you click the “Like” button in these other places, the connection is reflected back on your FB profile.  Facebook will continue to offer a third type of liking, eg. when a friend posts something and you hit the “Like” button.

I’ve heard a lot of people complaining (of course) that while there is a like button there is no dislike button, as if there aren’t enough outlets for negativity on the planet.  I personally am pleased FB doesn’t include a dislike button.  As we know, “everybody doesn’t like something,” but do we need to hear about it?   Somehow complaining in raw digital form with no voice or tone reads so much more negatively than is probably intended.  In general, I think it best that “If you don’t have anything nice to say on Facebook, don’t say anything at all.”

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Facebook Fan Page Comments and the Marketplace of Ideas

Facebook, Inc.
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When working with clients on Facebook Pages for their businesses, I’ve noticed some hesitation at the idea of committing to a social media presence.  It wasn’t the fear of not being able to keep up with posting or responding to fans.  No, it turns out it was a fear of negative comments.  And while I’m a big believer in the First Amendment and the ways it prevents our government from limiting the speech activities of our citizens, when it comes to someone’s livelihood and plain old client comfort and preferences, these concerns need to be taken seriously.  After all, isn’t it true enough that a lie gets half way around the world before the truth gets its boots on?  People are very quick to make judgments in our warp-speed, information-packed world.  Many people decide whether or not to see a movie after a quick look at the number of stars it receives, and a few critical words posted by a random diner on one of the many restaurant review websites can steer business away.  Is the solution to unclick the fan posting option on your Page settings?

Ultimately the decision to allow or not allow Fan posts on a Page is in the client’s hands and really depends upon their comfort.  My preferred strategy for Facebook would be to do a great launch with a nice-looking store front Fan Page, invite lots of friendly customers to become fans, allow fans to post and then monitor the page closely for problems.  Ideally you receive lots of positive posts and the “marketplace of ideas” prevents any negative comments from being damaging.  It is not a perfect system but we don’t live in a perfect world.   While I would prefer that people follow the advice of my mother, “If you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all,” often times it is the cranky people that have the most to say and the most energy for saying it.  Fortunately, Facebook has provided all sorts of handy tools to delete posts and even to ban fans completely.  Still, there are some businesses that are poor candidates for open fan posting because of confidentiality or liability issues.  But by completely blocking fan posts, a business may miss out on one of the best sales-boosting tools: personal recommendations.

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Hot, hot, hot.

Seemingly random human creations are interesting to consider; from Scrabble Rules (Proper nouns? Really? ) to scout uniforms to tattoos,  humans do lots of interesting things with the cultural and physical resources at hand.

On the subject of random human creations, consider Bikram yoga.  Bikram yoga, or slime yoga as I am tempted to call it when my daughter returns from a session with a bag full of sweat-saturated clothing and towels, is a system of yoga created by Bikram Choudhury from elements of traditional yoga.  One of the key characteristics of this style of yoga is that Mr. Bikram dictates that it should be done in a room kept at 105 degrees.  How did Mr. Bikram come up with this 105 degrees requirement?  Why not 104?

To be honest, I really enjoy yoga but there is nothing I want to do at 105 degrees.  One summer during law school, I worked in Bishop, California (referred to as an “Outdoor Mecca” by National Geographic Magazine) doing legal services.  I lived in a tiny garage apartment with no air conditioning.  It regularly got to be 103 and there was not much you wanted to do in that heat.  Sleep, maybe, but even that was challenging.  And that was dry heat.  Yoga at 105 degrees is definitely out of the question.

But Hot Yoga seems to be pretty popular and a thriving economy of its own.  So if this 105 degree thing works for yoga, why not other human activities?  Obviously it doesn’t apply to things like hockey or lugeing, but what about Hot Bridge, or Hot Mah Jong or Hot Bowling?  If people like doing yoga at 105 degrees, and it’s supposedly very beneficial to human health, why not do other activities at that temperature?  There could be some downsides, of course; bridge could start looking more like strip poker and the bowling alley, while it would sell a lot more beer, could lose any increased profit to paying for the destruction caused when bowlers afflicted with intense and pervasive sweating lose control of bowling balls in inopportune times and places.

And then there is the way Hot Yoga may conflict with certain green principles (and old-fashioned New England frugality).  You don’t want to do yoga in a cold room, but 105 degrees?  That’s a pretty steep fuel bill (and perhaps a not-too dainty-carbon footprint).

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Punctuated Equilibrium Wrought by Social Media

The theory of Punctuated Equilibrium, as postulated by Paleontologist and Evolutionary Biologist Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002), was developed to explain periods in the fossil record of rapid change.  The theory postulated that the pace of the evolution of life on the planet, as extrapolated from examining the fossil record, generally proceeded at a slow and steady rate for long periods – equilibrium—and that these periods of stasis were sometimes punctuated by periods of rapid change in which species evolved at a much faster rate.

This theory also applies to human culture.  There are occasions in human history where there is a development of a tool or a resource, or a crisis arrives, and what follows is a period of rapid change.  I think we are in such a period now- lots of new paths and branches in human culture and no one can predict which will be successful in the long run.  The development of the internet and the exponential growth in access to the internet across human society, combined with expanding opportunities for users to generate and interact with content,  are causing rapid change in our world.  I sometimes think about how my grandmother, who died in 1980, would react if she came back to earth today.  She would be floored by such things as wireless communications.   Of course, if my kids went back to 1980 they might also be floored by a few things- dial phones and vinyl records.

While there are still sections of society where Social Media has not been adopted (eg. amongst the Urban Amish), it is evident, that Social Media is here to stay.   It will continue to rapidly evolve and no one can declare with certainty what it will look like in five years.  But humans have always switched out for the most highly evolved tools, and are likely to continue to do so.

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