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    Entries in socal networking (38)

    Tuesday
    Jul012014

    Three quick takes on the Facebook mood manipulation study

    By now you have certainly heard or read about Facebook's 2012 study in which researchers altered the messages and posts presented in about 700,000 users' newsfeeds in order to determine if seeing relatively more negatively or positively connotative posts would in fact make the user him or herself tend to post more negative or positive posts than they might otherwise.

    Turns out, that yes, seeing more positive or happy kinds of posts led users to post (to a small degree), more positive and happy updates themselves, while the inverse, with more negative posts in the feeds led to more negative updates than would have been expected.

    Here is a quote from the research paper that was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

    “When positive expressions were reduced, people produced fewer positive posts and more negative posts; when negative expressions were reduced, the opposite pattern occurred. These results indicate that emotions expressed by others on Facebook influence our own emotions, constituting experimental evidence for massive-scale contagion via social networks.”

    This study became news not so much for the findings themselves, (which seem kind of obvious), but for the expected and now kind of tired internet rage that accompanies every questionable move Facebook makes around privacy or related matters. How dare they manipulate the emotions and possibly the mental well-being of so many of its users in the name of a (kind of dopey) experiment? That kind of thing.

    So since I  A: Don't really use or care that much about Facebook to be emotionally invested in this, and B:  Need something other than the NBA or HR Tech to blog about occasionally, here are my (FREE) three quick takes on what this entire 'Facebook is using us for lab mice' kerfluffle should mean to you:

    1. You have been a lab mouse for years, you just like to forget this (or don't care). The instant Facebook began to tailor or select on your behalf the updates and posts it decided to display for you, (as opposed to a simple reverse chronological feed of all the updates from your friends and the pages you follow), you became a part of their little devious laboratory. In fact, you likely have no idea why Facebook shows you what it does, you just kind of accept it and move on. You miss probably hundreds of updates every week because Facebook has decided not to show them to you. You are already a mouse in their maze. 

    2. The business of Facebook is selling ads. The 'emotion' study, the hiding or promoting of items in your feed, the insane amount of times Facebook asks you for more information about you and your life are all for one (ultimate) purpose only - to better target you with 'relevant' ads. The more that FB can do to understand you, the longer it can keep you engaged and using the site, the more it can learn about you. And the more it knows about you the more about you it can package and sell to GM and Clorox and Microsoft. You get angry at FB for this little experiment because you have not yet made the leap to seeing them for what they are - a giant, publicly traded corporation that has to make its numbers every quarter. 

    3. You (probably) care too much about Facebook for this to matter to you. If this emotion study and the dozen other times FB has played fast and loose with privacy in the last few years really bothered you that much, you would simply opt out. But I bet 99% of the people that are reading this post have an active FB account. I do too. It doesn't mean that I agree with what they like to do with our data, but it also means that for whatever reason we keep giving them the benefit of the doubt, while silently acceding to their experiments and whims. We have allowed FB to become so important to our family lives or our businesses that we simply keep taking (and giving) whatever new change/experiment they care to dish out. I read 10 articles today expressing various levels of outrage over these 2012 experiments. I have not yet heard of anyone I know deleting their FB account.

    If you don't like the rules, then you have to start your own game, in your own sandbox. Until then... 

    Ok, I'm out. Be sure to 'like' this on Facebook. Maybe Marky Z. will make sure other happy people see that you did.

    Monday
    Dec022013

    You don't have to social network to make it

    Cleaning out some old 'saved for later' items in my RSS reader over the weekend and I re-visited this gem from Bob Lefsetz, 36 Things We've Learned which ran a few weeks back on the Big Picture site. 

    In the piece, which is simply a series of observations about the modern music industry (but certainly could be relevant to any number of fields of endeavor, particularly ones that have undergone significant change and disruption from technology, social networks, or other external influences), Lefsetz shares this 'learning' regarding social networking, which is below:

    22. You don’t have to social network to make it.

    You’ve just got to do great work, constantly.

    An interesting observation at least, if not a true 'learning.' But one that at least made me think for a little while. In our little corner of the world, the Human Resources/Talent Management space, it seems like lots of people, many of whom I know and respect quite a bit, the 'early social tech adopters' have spent lots of time and energy and pixels exhorting the 'rest' of the profession to get on board with social technology and social networking in a professional context.

    Still in late 2013 I see folks giving presentations and talks aimed at mainstream HR professionals and designed on 'selling' the benefits and importance of social networking for these HR/Talent pros. These kinds of sessions usually take the position of trying to convince the slow adopters or disbelievers that they have to get on board, or risk getting passed by or marginalized.

    But I wonder, or at least I ask you to wonder for a moment, if that advice is actually true, or at least mostly true. What if Lefsetz is right, and doing great work is really what is needed and that trumps the need or desire to simply 'network' more, (social or otherwise).

    The last CHRO I worked for (at a publicly traded company with 5,000 employees), achieved that lofty position in 2011 or so without having so much as a LinkedIn account, much less a professional blog, active Twitter feed sharing the latest from Harvard Business Review or a leading or even participating in one of the daily Tweet chats on HR and Talent topics. 

    But she did great work. Had great mentors. Built a great and loyal team. Earned the respect and trust of the rest of the C-suite.

    Spent the time doing great work and not worried at all about social networking.

    Or to take a slightly different take on the issue, just ask yourself this question today - is that hot article or blog post being shared all over social media today really any good? Does it really have any non-obvious important insights? 

    Or is it just being tweeted a lot?

    Happy Monday. Look out above your head in case an Amazon drone is buzzing.

    Tuesday
    Nov262013

    Soon, Google will be able to Tweet for you

    What's the worst thing for the average person trying to deal with the incredible growth of social networking?

    I'd probably say it is the ridiculous amount of time and energy that adults spend wishing each other 'Happy Birthday!' on Facebook.

    But for many other heavy users (and business and professional accounts) of social networking one of the main problems is simply keeping up with the flow of information, finding ways to sift and organize the constant streams of updates, and finding the time and energy to respond, engage, and interact in both a timely and relevant manner.

    It is exhausting. A professional connection of yours is always posting about a new job on LinkedIn, someone you are hoping to curry favor with is updating their Facebook status with their latest vacation pics or athletics triumphs of their kids,  or some colleagues are mentioning your latest blog post or presentation on Twitter.

    You should take the time to say 'Congratulations!' or to 'Like' the fact that little Joey scored 4 goals against a bunch of 6 year-olds, and to say 'Thanks!' to everyone that says something nice about your work on Twitter. You should do those things. 

    But like I said it is exhausting. And time consuming. And kind of boring.

    Enter your friends at Google who are seeking to patent a system/solution for the 'Automated generation of suggestions for personalized reactions in a social network.' 

    From the text of the patent filing:

    The popularity and use of social networks and other types of electronic communication has grown dramatically in recent years. With the increased use and popularity of social networks, the value of these networks has increased exponentially. However, this also means that the number of messages and information each user must process has increased exponentially. It is often difficult for users to keep up with and reply to all the messages they are receiving. Therefore, it is important for user to keep to most critical message based on their interests and more importantly, based on how other users reacted to that message.

    Many users use online social networking for both professional and personal uses. Each of these different types of use has its own unstated protocol for behavior. It is extremely important for the users to act in an adequate manner depending upon which social network on which they are operating. For example, it may be very important to say "congratulations" to a friend when that friend announces that she/he has gotten a new job. This is a particular problem as many users subscribe to many social different social networks. With an ever increasing online connectivity and growing list of online contacts and given the amount of information users put online, it is possible for a person to miss such an update.

    Ok, we get all that.  Too much data, too many contacts, missing updates and opportunities to engage. So what does Google propose to solve these challenges?

    The present disclosure overcomes the deficiencies and limitations of the prior at least in part by providing a system and method for generating suggestions for personalized reactions or messages. The system according to the present disclosure includes a suggestion generation module. In one embodiment, the suggestion generation module includes a plurality of collector modules, a credentials module, a suggestion analyzer module, a user interface module and a decision tree. The plurality of collector modules are coupled to respective systems to collect information accessible by the user and important to the user from other systems such as e-mail systems, SMS/MMS systems, micro blogging systems, social networks or other systems. The credentials module cooperates with the plurality of collector modules to allow access to those other systems. The information from these collector modules is provided to the suggestion analyzer module. The suggestion analyzer module cooperates with the user interface module and the decision tree to generate suggested reactions or messages for the user to send. The suggested reactions or messages are presented by the user interface module to the user. The user interface module also displays the original message, other information about the original message such as others' responses, and action buttons for sending, discarding or ignoring the suggested message

    Awesome. In case you missed the process flow buried in the dense verbiage here it is simply put:

    Since Google knows so much about you (using data from 'e-mail systems, SMS/MMS systems, social networks, and other systems') it thinks that it could generate for you the kinds of personalized reactions you would be likely to post on social media and then post them on your behalf. It still would allow you or a corporate brand marketer to be in the approval process, a dialog or UI would be presented to the user and would ask for an approval before each tweet was sent.

    Think about it. Instead of just a calendar pop-up or a Facebook notification telling you that 'So and so's birthday is today', the new Google social media robot would have your appropriately crafted reply all ready to go. Instead of scouring LinkedIn all day for the career ebbs and flows of people that you are interested in, just have the social media robot keep watch for you and let you know only when something that truly requires your attention surfaces. Note: This will hardly ever happen.

    I dig it. I hope it gets made. That is what social networking really needs too.

    More robots.

     

    Note: The blog is on vacation the rest of the week. To all the folks in the USA, Happy Thanksgiving! 

    Tuesday
    Nov122013

    You're not just the product, you're the (unpaid) employee too

    With the rise and subsequent IPOs or gigantic acquisitions of the largest social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, an often-repeated observation about the users, (and source of content/value) for these platforms has been, 'You're not the customer, you're the product.'

    The idea in the sentiment is simple - the end users of these social networks create all the content via status updates, photos, or in the case of LinkedIn, a catalog of all your professional credentials, and the owners of the networks then package, parse, and sell this information to (variously), advertisers, 'power users', or other services. And as long as the individual value equation for consumers/users remains in balance, i.e. you feel like you are extracting more value out of say using Facebook than your perceived cost of allowing Facebook to sell ad space that shows up in your feed every time you open the app, then you happily will continue to use the service, supply more content/inventory, and keep the machine running.

    Remember, you are not the customer, you are the product.

    But if you are the product, or more accurately, you are an active contributor to building the product, then would it be too far a stretch to say that you are also the employee?

    Take a quick look at this piece on Business Insider about a recent case being raised by some power users of the review site Yelp, that derives all of it's value from the end user comments, ratings, and reviews of restaurants and bars.

    A group of reviewers recently filed a class action lawsuit against Yelp, claiming that the company should treat them like employees and pay them for their reviews.

    The suit argues that since Yelp's business model and success is dependent on its over 42 million user-submitted reviews, the company technically employs those users and should fork over some cash (wages, reimbursement of expenditures, and damages). The plaintiffs believe that willfully volunteering to share their thoughts about a business makes them employees because Yelp can only make money if it has their reviews.

    Yelp, which went public in 2012, told Circa that the case is a "textbook example of a frivolous lawsuit" and said that the law does not support the idea that voluntarily using a free service equates to an employment relationship.

    Sounds kind of crazy, right?

    I mean, Yelp or LinkedIn or Facebook does not force you to create content for them or to have a profile on their networks.

    There really is no hint of an employment agreement or relationship that is established between any of these services and their users. So it does seem on the surface anyway, that the Yelp user's lawsuit doesn't have much merit.

    But if we seem to pretty easily accept the entire notion of 'You are not the customer, you are the product', then why doesn't it make logical sense to take it to the next step, in that you as one of the millions of builders of at least an element of that product should not be compensated somehow?

    Every time I get an email from LinkedIn pitching me to upgrade to one of their premium, paid accounts of some kind, I have the same reaction (I say this out loud too, although no one seems to listen) :

    "Pay for a LinkedIn account? They should be paying me."

    And they should be paying you too.

    Tuesday
    Aug132013

    VIDEO: Innovating loneliness

    A couple of years back now the HR Happy Hour Show welcomed Sherry Turkle from MIT, and author of Alone Together: Why We eExpect More From Technology and Less From Each Other, an examination of how the rise of social networks, more powerful and connected personal technology, and how these advances are changing our real world interactions.

    It was then and probably still is one of my Top 5 all time favorite conversations that we've ever done in 168 shows to date. If you are at all interested in the topics of social networking, the dangers of being always connected to our devices, and even, (one of my favorite topics) the continuing emergence of increasingly sophisticated artificial and robot technologies into everyday life, then I encourage you to check out the replay of the show here.

    What made me think about that show was reading about and watching the video embedded below, (Email and RSS subscribers will have to click through), called The Innovation of Loneliness by Shimi Cohen.

    In the video, Cohen hits on some familiar concepts - Dunbar's Number, the inability to truly be 'alone' in our always-connected world, the endless amount of personal branding and promotion going on, and the curious rise in the incidence of loneliness despite the technological advances that connect us.

    Favorite line from the video - 'We're collecting friends like stamps'.

    I don't have a bigger point or lesson to try to share here, except that even three years on from that old Happy Hour Show with Professor Turkle I am not sure all that much has changed - and if anything the issues raised in Alone Together have not gone away at all - and in fact have become even more prevalent.

    The book, the podcast from 2011, even the short video by Cohen are all worth a re-visit I think, as well as another examination in how we relate to each other and the world around us when we are constantly connected, shaping a stylized image of ourselves, and parceling out time to actually talk to other human beings in tiny bits - afraid about what we might be missing elsewhere in the world if we have to focus our attention on just one other person.