Posts Tagged ‘social networking’

social-media-icon-setI was in the Toronto airport recently and had some time to reflect on how much power, whether good or bad, society has been given by social media. Be it Instagram, FaceBook, Yelp or Twitter, anything you do, anyone you meet, and anywhere you want to go, people have messaged about it and those messages and posts can make or break an event/place/person.

President Obama has been in the news a lot lately discussing truth in news and how FB and Google need to ensure facts are being reported … If we can’t discriminate between serious arguments and propaganda, then we have serious problems.

To a lesser extent the same is true about the average Joe/Josephine and their use of social media.  How do we filter out the facts from the fiction?  The first thing many people do upon experiencing something new (I am guilty of this myself) is post about it.  More often than not, it is the negatives that get posted.  When you have a problem, you want to complain and think someone, anyone, is listening.  Social media to the rescue.  A platform with no real checks and balances, and more often than not the first place we go to find out what others think of something we are thinking of doing, or to “research” a place we are thinking of going to. (I am guilty of this too, especially when it comes to hotels and restaurants)

So often I have heard the same comments about a place, only to find out, it was because one person experienced it and then everyone else just regurgitated what they read, retweeted, reposted, etc without actually experiencing it themselves.

Take for instance a prime example that just happened this morning in my office.  Restaurant ABC gets a bad review on yelp and is taken as gospel because it had more than one bad rating, and as such the person I was talking to said they would not be trying it out.  Who knows, it could have been a bad day, it could have been an isolated problem, it may have been just not quite what was expected, or the person giving the bad review was just being petty.  Disgruntled worker maybe?  You can learn from others mistakes or experiences, but that doesn’t mean that they will have the same experience as you.  With restaurants especially, the particular cook can make or break a meal, your palate is different from someone else’s, maybe you like salt more than sweet for instance, etc., there are a myriad of possible reasons.  And hey, who knows maybe it does legitimately suck.

Everything you post should be understood and interpreted as “in my limited opinion and experience at this particular time and location” but rarely it is.  A few negative comments can quickly become a tidal wave simply due to our inherent nature of listening and trusting others opinions – It was on yelp/Facebook/Google/Twitter/ etc, so it must be true.  We can’t prevent the rants and negativity but we can learn to take it with a grain of salt and realize it for what it is, free advice.  And as with any advice, you usually get what you paid for.

One final note, getting back to the airport again.  Chef Roger Mooking has a new (or at least new to me) restaurant in Pearson.  Having eaten at another chef’s restaurant there, Massimo Capra’s Boccone, and thoroughly enjoying it we thought we’d try “Twist“.  Lets just say I hope chef Mooking pops in again soon to make sure they are preparing his menu properly since his “not so philly cheesesteak” to use some of his own words when judging on Chopped, is a one note, dry offering, in need of some sauce.  But that is just my opinion, well that and my traveling companion.  So two free opinions.  Take it with a grain of salt, … which wouldn’t have helped this sandwich.

barkerp

 

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I’ve become a content consumer, not a creator.  But I’m okay with that.

eat contentI’ve been blogging for a long time, but of late the need or urge to blog has waned, and I find myself reading more than I’m writing.  In fact I missed posting anything the entire month of August this year.  Maybe it’s because I am creating or at least designing all day long for a living that the pastime of writing a blog has begun to feel a little too much like work. When you write reports and emails all day the last thing you want to see on your off-time is a blank page staring back at you.

So the creative side of me has been on sabbatical, unless you count Instagram, but that is not creating so much as it is capturing. Sure it takes some creativity, but it is really just find beauty or interest in your surroundings.  At least for most people like me, it serves as a creative outlet or a way to chronicle your adventures in photos, but as usual, i digress.  My mom always said it was the Welsh in me, eventually i get back to the topic in hand, but it takes a while, days even. As a matter of fact, when I was young…. sorry, case in point there.  Anyway…

Thankfully I have met many people who can create enough for me to consume.  And I’m not talking about cat videos here, I mean real content.  interesting, informative, well written content. WordPress blogs alone account for over 1.2 million posts a day.  Sure, some of them may be just a retelling of their lunch order, but still, you have to figure a good portion of them are actually worth reading.  And that is just WordPress, not to mention all the other blogging platforms and self hosted blogs… the numbers are staggering really, we create so much content constantly you have to wonder if there is anything you can contribute to it that is worthwhile, or hasn’t been said before.  Thankfully, the answer to that question is yes there is, and a good chunk of that is created right here in little old London.  Check out my twitter feed if you don’t believe me and see the people I follow.  Many of them are home-grown bloggers and writers that keep me up to my ears in info and entertainment.

Also, thankfully, it is readily accessible, and getting easier to keep track of and save for later, or just clearer to read.  Sites with all the ads and moving videos and whatnot really distract me from what I am reading, which is why I was so happy to the see Evernote’s “Clearly” extension for Chrome.  The ability to take a visually busy site and hone in on the pertinent info is a godsend.  At least to me.  Whether you use Evernote, Circus Ponies Notebook, bookmarking, or adding to your reading list, even Dropbox and Box make it easy to hang into the important stuff, or just read them later at your leisure.

The world needs consumers. Much of our economy is based on that fact.  So take solace in the fact that you and I are doing our part, even when not actively creating.

Speaking of cat videos, if i ever post one, please take the great big book on engineering that sits beside my desk and beat me senseless with it.

write on,

barkerp

chickens-learnHaving chickens is one of the reasons I liked the idea of moving out to “the country“.  The quotes are there because I can see the city limits from my drive, and up until recently we were the first house outside of town.  That is not true, we are still the first house, just not the first municipal address anymore, since the farmer that owns the land around us decided he is going to build a house.  But I digress.  Getting back to the point, chickens.  They are a little microcosm of the world in my own yard, and I see many similarities between them and the way we humans act.

1. Henpecked. Yep. I understand that now. Watching the chickens fight with any new chickens that are brought into the flock, you can definitely see where that expression comes from.

2. Social acceptance. Yep. That too. Whether new or old, there is a definite hierarchy in the flock, and some of the chickens that you’d expect to just fit in don’t, where others do.

3. Blending in? Yep. Seen it. Sometimes just looking like another chicken is good enough to let you join the little sub-cliques in the flock, well, brood actually, since its mostly the hens that do the fighting and are constantly adjusting the pecking-order.

4. Standing up for yourself.  This is one that seems to take a while for the new ones to figure out.  If you don’t stand up for yourself, you are going to be continually picked on especially when it comes to feeding time.

5. Take time to relax.  Taking dirt baths and laying in the sun may seem like a strange thing for us to emulate, but the concept is good – enjoy the weather while you can.  I’ll stick with using water to clean myself though.

One thing they are not good at.  Don’t shit where you eat.  This is something the chickens can’t seem to grasp but Its good advice for those of us who don’t walk around just crapping constantly.  This is a lesson everyone needs to learn, the old, “don’t burn bridges” thing.  Sometimes its tough to bite your tongue and not let people know what you think, but you never know when that same person is going to have a different position in your life and you will have to work along with them for the greater good.  Sometimes it would be nice to be like the chickens in that respect and just peck the other person in the head and then move on.  They seem to have the ability to deal with conflict easily without getting into a long drawn out disagreement.

For such a simple creature, they seem to have this “living” thing figured out.  Even taking the time to enjoy the sunset… they have that down.

cackle on,

barkerp

disconnectedFor the past couple of weeks I’ve been off the social-grid, kinda.  Limited use on purpose, not really present on Twitter or Facebook aside from the occasional photo or two, and then limited access due to some technical difficulties. Guess my Time Capsule is getting old and forgetful and decided it needed a rest too.

I, like most, can’t be totally disconnected, our lives are too reliant on our phones to keep in touch, or the internet for our entertainment, or our maps app to know where the heck we are sometimes – I found more small towns by accident than I could shake a stick at.  Which I think was one of the festivals that was going on when I passed through one of the them.  But I wanted to try to limit my time spent indoors on the web this vacation and instead do things that involved being out in the world instead of viewing it on a screen.  I was successful, sorta, because as I said, even the act of taking my daughter to school each day involved texting back and forth. That and my obsession with playing the Simpsons Tapped Out game on my iPad, but that only took a few minutes a day.

As I mentioned, we ended up having technical difficulties which thwarted my attempts at being less connected as much as it should have helped them since it basically forced me to be disconnected.  Being forced to be, and wanting to be are completely different things though.

The failure of our old faithful Apple Time Capsule (TC), which for those of you not sure what that is,  is basically a router with a hard drive built-in, which has worked flawlessly for years, that is up until I decided I wanted a break from being connected at which time it decided the same thing – Much to the chagrin of my family.  So, despite my wants I was forced to spend some time trying to get it to work again. Without boring you with all the details, it turned out a new airport express and a resetting of the TC back to factory defaults, and a few power cycles and it seems all is right with the world again.  Better part of a day spent troubleshooting and talking to my Nerd friend (thanks Mark) and things seem to be working as well as ever.  So much for taking a rest.

Anyway, the point I’m getting at is two-fold.  One, the world doesn’t care about your intentions, you can plan all you want and something is going to come along to change those plans.  And two, being connected isn’t a bad thing, just make sure it isn’t the ONLY thing.  Put down that tech, go outside, and look around at the world without doing it via a display.  Life is meant to be experienced, not just viewed.

barkerp

lockMarch is Fraud prevention month, and the recent problem with web services being hacked has made me a little more cautious about my online habits.  One that stands out is the hacking of Evernote.  While they were quick to make adjustments to their programs to force users to pick a new password, the fact of the matter is, many people use the same usernames and passwords on numerous services or devices and having them “out there” for the hackers is a scary thing when it comes to personal information.

I’m sure most people do it, they have 3 or 4 common passwords and cycle thru them. As a matter of fact, I’m sure of it.  I’ve seen people in my office do it when trying to remember a specific site’s password.  If one of those is out there in the wild and you are using the same username in a bunch of places, odds are any hacker worth their salt will be able to find the commonalities and abuse them.  If you don’t want to use a different username on everything you sign up for, then at least use a different password for everywhere/everything you use that common username on. If you are worried about forgetting your passwords, or at least forgetting which one is used where, there are plenty of apps out there to help you with that.  My app of choice for the past few years is 1Password and I know I’d be lost without it, thankfully it is installed on my iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air so it is always with me.

Don’t be too quick to reset info or provide more info.  If you get a request, be it email or a pop up on a website to verify your information, don’t just take it at face value.  Wherever possible, call your bank or whoever is requesting the info.  It is still difficult to hack a telephone call.  Many sites have two-step verification in an attempt to eliminate the hacking of passwords, since you have to match a phrase or image as well as input your password.  That’s not to say they are unhackable, just more difficult.  The old adage “an ounce of prevention…” still holds true when it comes to your personal info.  Think before you share too much.  The more info you put out there, the easier it is for you to be spoofed or hacked.  Especially when most people’s passwords are either a child’s name or a pet’s name.

Facebook, Twitter and all the social networking sites make it so easy for us to share our lives (and info) with the world, just be careful you are not sharing too much and opening yourself up to personal identity disaster.  Check those security settings and use them.  If you don’t understand them, find out what they mean.  It only takes a few minutes to be safe and can potentially save you tons of time, money and headaches later on.

barkerp