Posts Tagged 'Facebook'

Social Networks?

     Do we need fancy websites, new applications, and cool new gizmos to have social networks? One might think so in this day and age.  High school and college kids have one up on older folks here, the younger folks are painfully aware of their social networks.

     The tools we have today may seem like the end all of social networking, but networking has been a skill since there were more than two humans.  You and I are involved not just in networks enabled by Twitter or Facebook, but more likely, those tools support networks older than either one.

     In fact, the very tools many of us have integrated thoroughly into our lives, have become even less enablers to our networks, but perhaps barriers and resistors to the growth of those networks.  In the past, one simply became part of our networks by working at the same place, living in the same neighborhood, attending the same school, or shopping at the same local market.  Today, many of us don’t consider those very same folks to be part of our social network, even folks we spend 40 hours a week next to.

     Before I continue, I’m guilty of this same thing.  Not intentionally, but by default.  If people at work don’t make themselves more accessible than loaning me a pen, they’re pretty much out.  If my neighbor doesn’t borrow sugar or loan me their lawnmower, we’d hardly know their names.

     Now let’s assume the same neighbor signed up on Twitter, and somehow found out my Twitter ID, would that situation change?  Well it depends.  Is he a technofile? A photographer? Does he ooh and ah over the latest social media tool?  Ultimately, does he enable my life and success in some way.  If not? He’s likely just going to be someone that knows me and never engages with me, or vice versa. Wait, that’s much like our current arrangement.

    Magnify this situation to include the thousands of random people out there that might actually have some similar interests to you or I, but we’ve never met, never chatted, and never heard of them.  To make this more complicated, they are shy, or protective, or socially inept, so they don’t use even a name. Lots won’t have even a blog or some form of reference about themselves.  These are the people that want in our networks.

    These people, neighbors, strangers, spammers, odd followers and more want into our networks.  They follow us on Twitter, Utterz, Facebook and our blogs.  Some will track down our emails, and even rarer I hope, our phone numbers.  The contacts start showing up all over the place, first with comments, then emails, linking us or stealing our content, or even reaching us on the phone.  Some may just knock on our door here and there and follow quietly beside us.  But they all want in.

    My question though, even if we didn’t invite them or encourage them, and we don’t add them back, are they really outside our social network?  I’d contend that they are in our network, want them or no.  Oh, you and I may not engaged them, but they’re still there.  We can ignore them even, but we still notice them.  Our network notices them as well.  Heck, the blogosphere will notice them too.

    What should we do then? I say, other than the spammers and the really odd ones, why not cultivate them to become real contributing members of your inner circle?  They are already part of your life, why not make them a better part of your life.  Speak to them about the type of folks you like to socialize with, the type of people you want to do business with, and the ones you want to create art with.  Don’t give out your home address or anything but help them understand where your heart lives.  Let them know how they can be part of your success in work, play, and creation.  One can never have too much support.

     And the rest, the ones you can’t stomach, block the ones you can, and give little or no press to the rest.  Don’t blow your energy over them.

    Hopefully I’ve given you something to think about, and helped you realize that even folks on the edge of your life are in your networks, sometimes even unintentionally. Why not cultivate them to help move your life along?

     Who are you neglecting on the edges?

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Facebook, You’re Banished

Aaron Brazell aka Technosailor has dropped Facebook. You can read about it here, Facebook, You’re Banished.

For instance, earlier today I went in and declined 17 application requests and ignored 32 “Which Bible Character are you?” kinds of questions. It’s pointless noise that is distracting.

Aaron made not just a blanket statement about it, but provides a short video as well.  His comment above summarizes the main frustration well.  It’s all about usefulness.

Facebook applications are significantly more focused on games, quizzes and other time wasters than productivity oriented.  Chris Brogan shared only a handful when asked.  I find only a few add real value to my life and my objectives.

Facebook CartoonFacebook may soon be in a battle to keep it’s high end users, like Aaron, Scoble, and Brogan.  Those users don’t just desire sites to provide productivity enhancing environments, but require it.  Even sites such as LinkedIn and Dopplr might be in trouble if the time spent there isn’t directly resulting in new knowledge, bringing in business, or otherwise making lives easier.

OpenSocial claims to be a boon to social networking sites. Ultimately though, if the quality and usefulness of the applications doesn’t increase, then OpenSocial may only bring a geometric growth of the noise over value.  Are we doomed have all social networking sites become useless?

The question is really not will there be more game and quiz applications, that’s a given. The real question is will sites find more real tool applications to use.  Behind that even, what might drive their development.

The big problem is that application developers are driven mostly be ad revenue right now. This is even true of sites such as LinkedIn, which I use.  Sadly, game players are apparently into clicking on ads.

My suggestion is to create services where the value is high enough that even everyday folks like me will join up as a paying member.  Those sites then need to make their objects available to me where I want and need them, not just on their website. If I want a Dopplr widget on my browser, that’s common enough it should already be there.  Or how about Widgets on my desktop? Where’s my Grand Central notifier?  The concept of sites that users must visit might be fine for folks that have lots of time to spare visiting them, but busy people needs apps that will come to them. Mobile application versions is just one aspect. They need not to forget desktop and laptop users like me, that don’t want to open 10 tabs to see all my stuff.

Yes, I’ve ranted off course a bit, but it comes down to usefulness versus noise.  The noise isn’t just a steady trickle on Facebook, it’s a flood.  The pace is just picking up.  Aaron isn’t the first to weigh anchor and move on but he’s a strong sign of the movement away from such sites.

What’s your line? 10 invites? 100? 1000? What’s your camel back breaking app you’ll freak out over and drop Facebook for?

Facebook Aplications – Favorites?

Are you a Facebook application freak? Have dozens installed?  Or are you the more serious type that feels all applications are a distraction; that you don’t have time for Scrabulous or ChessPro.  Perhaps you’re somewhere in the middle, using Six Degrees, and FriendFeed applications.

Whatever your situation with Facebook, you are sure to have your most enjoyed, most hated, or most useful application.  I’d like to talk about those with you here on the blog.

Anyone can report a new application, but I’d love to get you involved talking about them.  In that spirit, what’s your favorite, most hated, most fun, most useful application, why and would you like me to write about it?

Come on; I know you have one.

(Comments welcome here; DMs on Twitter as well, @tojosan; also email – tojosan on

FriendsForSale – Facebook Addiction Again

FriendsOnSaleFirst there was Scrabulous, more recently Packrat, and now? FriendsForSale. You read the right, Friends For Sale. Go figure that would be popular. What it amounts to is you can ‘purchase’ your friends for game dollars.

Each of your friends that’s never been purchased starts out at the same price. As a person’s persona is purchased, the value goes up. The increments are fairly small at first, but quickly escalate.

Purchasing a person is not a straight buy either. There is a markup factor as well as profit for the current owner. Also, the person being purchased receives a little bit of game cash. This results in those being purchased frequently acquiring a good bit more cash than those that receive few or no purchases. Purchases can be made of unowned personas as well as those owned by others.

Basic play aside there are a couple of camps of folks involved in this game. Those that see it as demeaning, and those that just see it as fun. The demeaning side can be seen in how a person is bought and sold, as some would say, like a piece of garbage sale junk. Even others in that camp just see the game as another way to feed on the cliques and elitism they see happening in social networks and social media across the board.

On the flip side, those just in it for the fun do have a few interesting takes on it. Some treat it like a trading card game, with each trade being more like stealing away someones best rookie card. Some take the fun into more risque things, playing up on the innuendo of ‘owning’ someone. And of course there’s the crowd that just finds it another cute game to play with friends.

The truth, in my opinion, is that neither side is all the way wrong. Elitism is hard at play in this game in a way, but more of elitist worship. It’s the groupie effect. Persons like Robert Scoble and Jeff Pulver bring the most cash for purchase. Yet ostensibly, neither plays the game themselves. But because of hero worship, the one who owns becomes envied. Now is this all bad? Not really, it’s definitely a parallel to collecting trading cards.

Trading cards have value based on how famous the player on the card is, and how hard the card is to get a copy of, and finally, what sentimental value there is. Friends For Sale’s economy behaves the same way essentially, with social media rockstars being generally the most valued cards as it were. However, like in trading card collection, there are a wealth of those collecting their personal friends over the rockstars.

Unlike in collecting trading cards though, there’s one big difference. Any player can buy your cards right out from under you in FriendsForSale. All they need is enough game dollars. This can make the game frustrating to participate in, especially when you play with your friends.

My thoughts on it? If you have time to play more games, this one is a low involvement game, with no clear winners or losers, and the game bucks are free every 4 hours. There are definitely worse games and applications on Facebook.

If you don’t have time for more Facebook games, why the heck did you read this far?

Go, buy your friends, and steal my cards. I dare you!

Christian Men of Twitter – Facebook Group

Christian men can be found on Twitter, but at times it doesn’t seem that way.  A couple of us that are thought the idea of a group for just such men might be interesting.  Such a group now exists.

The idea is to provide a connection point for Christian men on Twitter to share links, stories, testimonies and more.  Especially helpful is the opportunity to connect with other Christian men online.  Adding more contacts like that not only expands your circle but also provides some accountability for behavior where spouses and your offline friends aren’t around to help.

Please consider checking out the group.   The call on whether someone is a Christian or not will be basically one of self identification.  Obvious spammers or those spreading hate will be asked to leave.

Your pictures, videos and more will be welcome as well.  See you there.

ChessPro – Scrabulous Builders Bring Us Chess

ChessPro is the newest Facebook application from the guys that brought us Scrabulous.

Here’s a quick screenshot before I head into some details.


The pieces are immediately recognizable on the default board. Classic choices here for black and white pieces.  Above the game is show the game number, and the opening name.  This feature alone makes this version of online chess a notch above.

Over to the right is the menu, allowing viewing of all open games, statistics, and more.  From words to pictograms though as you move down.  The next menu row is of symbols. Those of you who play Scrabulous will be some what at home with those.

The buttons from left to right are:

Settings, Capture Pieces, Move History, Refresh Board, Move List, Delete/Resign, Help

Below the buttons is the player names, and rankings.  The rankings are based solely on games played with ChessPro.

Next down is the shown the last move.  The notation choice here is standard alpha numeric. This will allow for easier use across languages and skill levels.

Underneath the message box area are three colored dots.  One is refresh, one flips the board, and the last shows captured pieces.

One additional feature here, not present in Scrabulous, is the private notes area.  This area is only visible to you as a player.  The probable intended use is for annotating your games.  Notes are free form.

Several people already show up as users. Some friends and I have started a few games

My initial thought is that this will likely become my home for chess on Facebook.  The game play seems bug free, and the game appears to be built on the same framework as Scrabulous.  I expected it will scale well with much use.

I already have feature requests too:

– allow me to export completed games – at least the moves

– allow handicapping

– allow game snapshots to be posted to the news feed – or at least share the game in the stream

Looks good though. And you can find me playing there.

PackRat Tips – Steal your way to the top

So you’ve been playing PackRat a little while and realized you can’t seem to get those higher point cards, and your friends keep dumping the low spots on you.  Well don’t fret.  You don’t have to wait until you can buy a high point card to steal the ones you want.  You can steal your way to the top.

Let me show you the progression I made in just minutes.

I purchased this.


And stole this:


Which I then swapped up for this:


Within a couple of minutes, I stole this with the pooch:


And to take it up just a notch, I stole this:


And last, but hardly least…


The whole of all of those thefts was under 10 mins.  It took longer to find something up the next point range.  This seems obvious, but it’s the quickest way to get those higher number cards that don’t show up in the markets.

Doing the steal upgrade path works because of the small gaps in value.  Yes, you can get lucky with larger gaps in value, but the smaller differences make swaps less risky.  This is important when you have lots of swaps to make. You don’t want to lock out a ‘friend’ with lots of good cards for swapping.

The best thing about this is that the value of the card to you is meaningless.  It doesn’t have to fit a set, and doesn’t have to be one anyone would steal back.  Additionally, because you keep stealing up, and lots of folks steal using a higher or equal point card for safety, the risk factor of heading backwords is minimal.

So if you’re stuck, just buy the cheapest card you find and the market and get stealing!

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PackRat Wiki – Look up your sets here

So you’ve been playing the wonderfully addicting game PackRat over on Facebook. You’ve noticed thought that your friends are both leveling up faster and getting all kinds of cards you’ve never seen before. Wondering what’s up, you could just ask your friends, and hope for the best, or you could head here.

The PackRat wiki is really just one page but it’s dense with information. Each set of cards is listed, with pictures. An added bonus? Formula’s for cards that can be made are listed as well. Ha, you didn’t know that did you? That make button actually does something.

Go, check out the wiki, and really start playing with strategy!

My initial review can be found here.

***UPDATED*** Wiki link corrected to

Coloring in an online life

A forgotten joy

I’m sitting here and reminiscing about coloring books and crayons.  I used to love those as a kid; didn’t you?  The clean, colorless world of those pages, just waiting to be brought to life by us and our imaginations.

Yet those pages weren’t blank, nor were they unscripted. In contrast, each page told a story, or part of a story. The stories could be short and happy, longer and dramatic, and likewise the scenes simple or complex with many turns, and twists, and corners.  They all lacked one thing though, life.

Those stories weren’t truly told until we’d put crown to paper and told our version of the story.  Our sky could be purple, and our grass orange, while the cat was pink, and the water black, all just for us. We took those simple tools, the crayons, and breathed our life into those pages.  Each one uniquely our own. Each a mix of our experience and vision.

I’m coming to visualize the Internet and social media the same way, like a huge coloring book.  The pages are blogs, YouTube, Utterz, Facebook, and more.  What do we color them in with? Our own hands, voices, spirit, and experience. Our own vision.

YouTube is the story of sharing videos, and it’s only one coloring books worth though. It’s waiting out there for you and I to take our own pack of colors to it, and make reality  of our experiences and dreams.  We don’t have to have blue skies, and brown dogs when we flesh out a video, ours can be a world of the mildly different with funky colors, all the way to the supernatural, with ghosts and things that go bump in the night.

Facebook and Utterz are special coloring books if you will. In these, you can use all types of crayons, from video to voice, text and more.  There are many avenues of expression there.

So many choices, and so little time? Which book will you pick, and what color will your skies be?

Special thanks to Daniel Johnson Jr for dragging me into ooVoo to chat about blogging, podcamps and more.

PackRat – Facebook App Obsession

Obsession has a new name, PackRat. Someone on my contact list introduced me to PackRat and now I’m addicted.

PackRat is a Facebook application that’s part card collection game, and part thievery. The rules are simple.

1. Form a set and put them away in your vault.

2. Buy cards to complete sets.

3. Steal cards from your friends to complete sets.

There are very few wrinkles beyond that.

You gain levels by putting sets in your vault and by stealing cards from your contacts. Each card belongs to a master set, and there are numerous sets. Sets are made up of common and uncommon cards, some of which must be combined to form other cards in the collection.

To keep you from losing friends, PackRat provides some built in rat friends for you to steal from. That, combined with being able to purchase cards, allows friends to play without becoming fierce competitors.

All of the cards are family safe as far as I’ve seen, and not a few are great for a laugh. The Primary Colors 2008 set contains various modern day political figures, with some surprisingly good likenesses.

The game is simple enough to learn that teens and adults can play along side.

Overall, this game is sure to be a hit for those that love card collection games of the not so virtual variety. Adding the family safe factor makes it one I recommend giving a try.

See you in the game. (clicking the image will take you to the Facebook application page)

** UPDATE: click here to read about the wiki site.


I’m competing to attend a blogging conference for free. SOBCon08 is held May 2, 3, 4 and they are giving away attendance cost and the hotel cost to the blogger that sends the most folks to check out the conference website. All of you have to do to help out is click any link here in this section of the post. Thanks.

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