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by nmw

What’s App

2015-11-30 in Uncategorized

I typed „Uber“ into „Google“ and the #1 result on the first page of SERPs (SERP = „search engine results page“ 😉 ) — www.uber.com – was TL;DR (too long – don’t read). I couldn’t do very much on the page using the flip-phone (probably about 10 years old) I was using. I tried pressing the „sign up“ link.

I got a page which asked me to enter payment details. Nope – sorry, not doing that.

If Uber were actually about ride-sharing, then it would let me enter my location and hail a taxi right away. Payment could be solved if/when the taxi arrived. But it isn’t an app for hailing taxis – it’s an app for collecting data.

I also have a smartphone, but now that I know that Uber isn’t really very useful to me, I won’t visit their site, download their app or anything like that. I could have simply used Google to type in taxi (plus my location) in order to get a phone number and call a taxi using my phone… in less time!

I could also have tried to „cut to the chase“ by simply entering taxi.com into my rather feeble [0.1] browser… but it seems like some idiot is using that site as a brand name. 😐

Now you may say that I am not Uber’s target „consumer“ (and quite obviously also not taxi.com). OK, I get that. My point is: There are probably potentially billions of users I feel Uber ought to be targeting with a targeted website for very „low“ technology… – probably the vast majority of (potential) users worldwide are using a so-called „feature phone“ with little or no smarts besides a browser with very little memory.

I do have a smart phone – but I rarely use it. I prefer to type on a keyboard. Although my kids laugh at me, when I recently suggested to one of my daughters that she should send me SMS questions that I can simply answer with „yes“ or „no“ (Y/N), she said that would require her to write more. I noted that since she’s such an expert with her smart phone, she could type such questions easily. She chuckled, but I have yet to receive my first question. 😉

If I were to use my smart phone as my kids do, loading it up with dozens if not hundreds of apps, then I guess I would join the millennial consumer community (see „Millennial Media Landscape“ and also „Making + Breaking Connections + Relationships“)… and many companies could collect and share data about me with other companies and/or spy companies (the so-called „big data“ industry is all about industrial espinoage – just in case you didn’t know that already).

Most of these apps give their users the impression that things change on the web at breakneck speed – but that is simply yet another hoax created by people trying to profit from the gullibility of novice users. My hunch is that far more than 99% of the web doesn’t change at all from one day to the next. It is important to realize that the web is no longer something new… and that what novice users consider to be significant may very well actually be rather insignificant.

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by nmw

Are We Doing This or Not?

2015-10-11 in Uncategorized

Some people go online to meet other people — but not me. I go online to exchange ideas. Of course I will also “meet” other people when exchanging ideas, but the ideas are the primary focus, not the meeting.

Of course it’s important to agree on goals when you are trying to collaborate. If one person’s goal is X and the other person’s goal is Y, then collaboration is probably not going to happen — at least not collaboration that leads to a successful outcome.

So before you decide to do anything online, first get clear on why you want to do that. It may still be difficult to achieve the goals you want to become reality, but at least you will be (hopefully) headed in the direction that might actually ultimately get you there.

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by nmw

How to Tell Whether Someone on the Internet is a Real Person / Human / Not a Dog

2015-08-01 in Uncategorized

There’s a saying that goes something like “on the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog”. Well, IMHO there is a way to know when someone is not a dog. This is something I wrote about a while ago in a little piece I called “Authenticity Guidelines“. I was reminded of it today in part because David Weinberger wrote a post about something I consider related — he called it “Restoring the Network of Bloggers“.

Many people (apparently including David Weinberger) continue to consider a site to represent a person. Personally, I feel it represents something more like a title. In my opinion, a page title is subordinate to a site title much in the same way that a chapter title is subordinate to a book title… and the author of any online web site (be it a blog or whatever other kind of website) is the site’s registrant (and/or owner and/or admin).

The easiest way to tell if they are a real person (or whether they are a corporate entity or whatever) is to look at the “whois” entry for that site (this is the online equivalent to the property owner being registered in a town or city’s land records). If the entry is not bogus, then the person behind the site is most probably not a dog.

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by nmw

Whether or not anyone chooses to be their brother’s keeper, only a fool would ignore maintaining a healthy relationship with their environment

2015-02-07 in Uncategorized

This not a Bible lesson — I am neither qualified nor interested in that kind of vibe. That said, recently David Weinberger published a nice blog post that speaks volumes in terms of experience — he says: if we can choose between practicing sympathy or practicing empathy, he prefers “sympathy over empathy“.

David provides several examples, and it is quite clear that he is talking about interpersonal relationships (offline). In an online setting, it is important to keep things in perspective. There is a healthy balance between engagement and independence. As Viktor Frankl apparently said: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

I believe ignorance is rarely — if ever — a virtue, but in order to keep one’s wits and relationship to “reality” (or let’s just say: one’s environment) intact, it may be useful to simply agree to disagree. Do not get bogged down by someone else’s opinion — their opinion may work fine for their environment, you need to focus on what works for yours. You do not need to solve every problem in the universe, and neither do they. To generalize: People seem to be far too eager to make sweeping generalizations.

Another one of my “online friends”, Sue Braiden, reminded me of this when she shared a link (actually, it was a link to a link 😉 ) this week — a talk Monica Lewinsky gave to a group of “under 30 (years old)” people at some kind of event that was organized by Forbes. In her talk, Monica described in great detail how she had been traumatized and devastated by her experiences of ridicule by random people, the mainstream media and so on.

I would suggest that when people engage in online discourse, if they have difficulty maintaining their own intellectual independence, then they should consider online relationships and personal relationships to be mutually exclusive spheres of engagement. I am not saying that this is actually the case, but rather that it might be helpful to think about it this way.

By the way: Sue also shared links to 2 videos from “TED” conference speaker Brené Brown — one about “vulnerability”, the other about “shame” (the “shame” talk is sort of a “follow-up” to the “vulnerability” talk)… I also like these 2 presentations, though I feel the second raises many questions that are left unresolved.

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