Recent quotes:

Free content at Facebook

A neutral observer might wonder if Facebook’s attitude to content creators is sustainable. Facebook needs content, obviously, because that’s what the site consists of: content that other people have created. It’s just that it isn’t too keen on anyone apart from Facebook making any money from that content. Over time, that attitude is profoundly destructive to the creative and media industries. Access to an audience – that unprecedented two billion people – is a wonderful thing, but Facebook isn’t in any hurry to help you make money from it. If the content providers all eventually go broke, well, that might not be too much of a problem. There are, for now, lots of willing providers: anyone on Facebook is in a sense working for Facebook, adding value to the company. In 2014, the New York Times did the arithmetic and found that humanity was spending 39,757 collective years on the site, every single day. Jonathan Taplin points out that this is ‘almost fifteen million years of free labour per year’. That was back when it had a mere 1.23 billion users

You're not alone in feeling alone: Believing you have fewer friends than your peers can contribute to unhappiness -- ScienceDaily

The researchers found a greater proportion of students (48 per cent) believed other students had made more close friends than they did. Thirty-one per cent believed the opposite. A second survey tracking 389 students across their first year found students who believed their peers had more friends at the beginning of the year reported lower levels of wellbeing. However, several months later, the same students who thought their peers had moderately more friends than they did at the beginning of the year reported making more friends compared to students who thought their peers had many more friends. "We think students are motivated to make more friends if they think their peers only have one or two more friends than they do," said Whillans. "But if they feel like the gap is too big, it's almost as if they give up and feel it isn't even worth trying."

Foul-mouthed mothers are causing problems for Mumsnet

FEW corners of the internet are more likely to celebrate the news of another royal baby than Mumsnet. Users of the parenting website, founded in 2000, welcomed last week’s announcement with a flurry of excited messages and grinning emoji. But not everyone was happy. One user, named “QuimJongUn”, bemoaned the fact that the same “fuckwits” who “spout their Daily Mail bullshittery” about benefit-claiming mothers are the same “wankwads” who will fawn over the baby when it is born. Other Mumsnetters agreed, in the strongest of terms.

Mommy Blogging jumped the shark

I hosted dozens of giveaways sponsored by brands wanting me to promote their products. I gained hundreds and then thousands of email subscribers, and social media followers, by requiring a follow in exchange for a giveaway entry. I used social media management services to connect with similar bloggers on twitter and instagram, and then unfollow those who didn’t return the follow. I paid a virtual assistant to post my links in round ups all over the internet, for back links and extra traffic. I joined blog directory sites, where asking readers for clicks sends you to the top of the list, and some PR intern googling “mom blogs” then finds you when they want someone to review their product. I sent out my media kit with embellished stats and highlights about my ‘targeted audience of mothers who make purchasing decisions for their household’ and negotiated my rates for free products and paid reviews. I made thousands of dollars during months I was focusing and working hard to dig through box after box of shitty as-seen-on-tv like products and share “my 100% honest opinion” about them, that weren’t at all influenced by the page after page of “key messages” the brand requested that I include in my review. You won’t find most of those posts on this blog today. They aren’t gone forever, and I do plan to revive some of them. But for the most part, they are dead and I want them to stay buried forever. Because, like 90% of the fake nonsense I used to share on the internet as a mommy blogger writing about my fake life and oh-so-happy marriage, they are pure bullshit.

A friend of a friend is ... a dense network | EurekAlert! Science News

In their recent paper published in Physical Review Letters, the researchers constructed a general network evolution in which every new node links to one target node already in the network, as well as to each of the neighbors of the target (that is, friends of friends), with copying probability p. The likelihood of each of these "copying" steps turns out to be the crucial factor in how the network evolves. If copying is unlikely, the network evolves into a sparse, skeleton-like framework. But when the copying probability is greater than 1/2, the network becomes dense, with the number of links growing faster than the network itself. This "densifying" behavior has been observed in real world data, such as research paper citation lists, internet router maps, and other networks.

What is the future of news? Bleak, probably. - Vox

I really think that what we're seeing now with this influx of fake news is the end result of the systemic defunding of media entities for the past 10 years, if not more. We could see this happening in slow motion. We all knew that as trusted media entities began producing less investigative stories, less hard news stories, an information vacuum would emerge into which bullshit and propaganda would drop. This was inevitable.

What I’m Talking About When I Talk About Social Media - Study Hacks - Cal Newport

I like the Internet and I like its potential to connect, energize, and inform people (while also recognizing, of course, its scary potential to misinform and divide on a mass scale). But I’m wary of the small number of services that have conquered our culture by claiming to be synonymous with these goals while in reality plotting to squeeze every last cent of value out of our scarce attention.

Alternate realities

In the old days, a liberal and a conservative (a “dove” and a “hawk,” say) got their data from one of three nightly news programs, a local paper, and a handful of national magazines, and were thus starting with the same basic facts (even if those facts were questionable, limited, or erroneous). Now each of us constructs a custom informational universe, wittingly (we choose to go to the sources that uphold our existing beliefs and thus flatter us) or unwittingly (our app algorithms do the driving for us). The data we get this way, pre-imprinted with spin and mythos, are intensely one-dimensional. (As a proud knight of LeftLand, I was interested to find that, in RightLand, Vince Foster has still been murdered, Dick Morris is a reliable source, kids are brainwashed “way to the left” by going to college, and Obama may yet be Muslim. I expect that my interviewees found some of my core beliefs equally jaw-dropping.)

How many friends can you have?

The Dunbar number is actually a series of them. The best known, a hundred and fifty, is the number of people we call casual friends—the people, say, you’d invite to a large party. (In reality, it’s a range: a hundred at the low end and two hundred for the more social of us.) From there, through qualitative interviews coupled with analysis of experimental and survey data, Dunbar discovered that the number grows and decreases according to a precise formula, roughly a “rule of three.” The next step down, fifty, is the number of people we call close friends—perhaps the people you’d invite to a group dinner. You see them often, but not so much that you consider them to be true intimates. Then there’s the circle of fifteen: the friends that you can turn to for sympathy when you need it, the ones you can confide in about most things. The most intimate Dunbar number, five, is your close support group. These are your best friends (and often family members). On the flipside, groups can extend to five hundred, the acquaintance level, and to fifteen hundred, the absolute limit—the people for whom you can put a name to a face.

Confessions of a social media exec on influencer marketing: 'We threw too much money at them' - Digiday

Social team is a bunch of millennials, so we’ll often find someone we like and we’ll throw it into a database with keywords. But usually it’s a CEO or CMO or whoever saying, “Oh, my kid likes this guy.” At this major car brand I worked for, we paid $300,000 for a few photographs because the CEO’s kid liked someone.

There Are Now 2,000 YouTube Channels With At Least One Million Subscribers - Tubefilter

As YouTube analytics site VidStatsx shows, there are now more than 2,000 channels with seven-digit subscriber counts. T[…]on February 23, 2010 — YouTube’s 5th birthday — there were only five channels with at least one million subscribers. Two years later, that number was up to 68; two years after that, 594; and now, two years and five weeks later, there are 2,000 “YouTube millionaires.” In the past year alone, more than 850 new channels have claimed that title.

Some anti-words

The breadth and range of the terms can be astonishing; a lexicography of Boobslang reaches more than 200 pages, with 3,000 entries covering many areas of life. To be “under the thumb” is to be in love, a “double yoker” is an idiot, a “cue ball” is a skinhead and a “goodnight kiss” is a knockout punch. Outside of prison, each type of crime will have its own specialised vocabulary. A 1980s survey of American confidence tricksters, for instance, found a variety of colourful names for their intended victims – they are an “apple”, an “egg”, a “fink”, or, most innocuously sounding, “Mr Bates”.

Specificity and generality in relation to friends and enemies

Describing a person's behavior concretely, using action verbs -- for example, "Sam hit her friend" -- typically signals that the behavior is a one-time occurrence and not necessarily characteristic of that person. Describing someone's behavior using adjectives and nouns, on the other hand -- for example, "Sam is violent" -- comes across as more abstract and suggests that the behavior may reflect a personal trait. Prior research has also demonstrated that we tend to use these linguistic subtleties in a favorable way when we're talking about people who belong to the same group as us: We're likely to use abstract language in discussing their desirable behaviors and concrete language in describing their undesirable behaviors. If we're talking about someone from another group, however, the pattern reverses -- we tend to use concrete language to describe positive behaviors, and abstract language to describe negative ones.

Chitchat, small talk could serve an evolutionary need to bond with others -- ScienceDaily

They found that ringtailed lemurs (Lemur catta) living in groups primarily call and respond to the individuals with which they have close relationships. While grooming is a common social-bonding experience for lemurs and other primates, the researchers found that lemurs reserved vocal exchanges for the animals that they groomed most frequently. Lemurs vocalize to essentially "groom-at-a-distance" and keep in touch when the group members they're closest with get separated such as when foraging for food, said first author Ipek Kulahci, who received her Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from Princeton.

Text Me? Ping Me? Communications Overload in the Digital Age - The New York Times

Continue following our fashion and lifestyle coverage on Facebook (Styles and Modern Love), Twitter (Styles, Fashion, and Vows), and Instagram. A version of this article appears in print on December 13, 2015,

Platforms demand difference

The first thing you notice when you spam your content across platforms is that it’s rare, in 2015, for one thing to do extraordinarily well in more than one or two venues without significant modification. The next thing you learn is that the best way to succeed on a given platform is to write/film/record/aggregate with that platform explicitly in mind. The next thing you learn is that doing so makes that content extremely weird when taken out of context, which makes it incompatible with other venues. A Vine video might work on Facebook, if you’re lucky, but a Facebook video probably won’t work on Vine. Quizzes that explode on Facebook seem strange on Twitter. A tweet might seem powerful and informative in the Twitter timeline, but look small and pathetic embedded in a website; a tweeted joke might do decently on Twitter but function better as a screen-cap on Tumblr, if at all. The article or video or object that functions well across all contexts is either transcendently newsworthy or shocking—and therefore rare—or extensively adapted.

A decade of media evolution in two paragraphs

Websites, Vox included, have been able to accumulate enormous audiences with incredible speed by harvesting referrals from social networks. These rapidly convened audiences felt contiguous because they ended up, eventually, on publishers’ websites; they felt […]real because advertising teams could sell web ads against them. Websites plausibly marketed these people as members of their audiences, rather than temporarily diverted members of a platform’s audience. […]The illusion of audience ownership is becoming harder to sustain, and the audiences are getting bigger and bigger. 2013 was the year every major site with a social strategy broke traffic records by a mile;[…]2015, when a single weird or clever native Facebook video can easily out-traffic a week of a site’s web content, is the year it’s becoming clear to everyone who these audiences really belong to, and what it means to borrow them. 2016 is the year we find out what the price of access will be.

Publish to perish

Online media companies that make their money by selling ads against their audiences are now entering into arrangements with much larger companies that also make money from selling ads against audiences, and which are increasingly behaving like publishers themselves, hiring editorial staffs and editing—sorry, curating—content into publication-like packages without outside help. These larger firms will insist on calling these relationships “partnerships,” but they will be nothing of the sort. They will be relationships in which one party supplies the entire context for the other, gradually assimilating its most profitable parts and perhaps leaving the parts that are either too labor-intensive or carry too much liability, not out of malice but rather obvious and rational self interest.

Why Google+ will fail: social networks grow like trees, not on them

Though Google+ is an elegant piece of engineering, it’s not a social network. Jason and Jeff love Google’s technical innovations. Sure, normal technology thrives because of technical brilliance, design beauty and marketing megatonnage. But social networks are affected only marginally by those factors. Instead, in social networks, the users are the product. Users’ habits and passions and commitments to each other are the life-force that makes a social network grow. Just as you can’t build a tree from a bunch of boards, you never could have constructed Facebook or Twitter or eBay or LinkedIn or Wikipedia top-down with a bunch of prefab components. Launching with one hundred million users or a $100 million marketing budget would have more likely killed those sites, not grown them.

How Complex Networks Explode with Growth

Public relations professionals often ask how D’Souza’s work might help their products go viral. She typically responds by pointing out that her models actually suppress viral behavior, at least in the short term. “Do you want to eke out all the gains as quickly as you can, or do you want to suppress [growth] so when it does happen, more people learn about it right away?” she said. The same holds true for political campaigns, according to Ziff. Following this model, they would spend much of their time early in the campaign on grassroots local efforts, building up localized clusters of connections and suppressing the emergence of long-range connections until the campaign was ready to go national with a big media splash.

8 Types of Social Media and How Each Can Benefit Your Business

Herding viral political cats

Still, for campaigns used to message control, it can be a double-edged sword, says Cyrus Krohn, who directed digital efforts for the Republican National Committee in 2008 and is now with Cheezburger.com, an online hub of Internet culture. “You used to be able to just interact with your five or 10 talking heads who went and did the TV shows, and now you’ve got an infinite number of social-media content creators who are carrying your water in one way, shape or form,” he says. “And how do you herd the cats? How do you coalesce all of these people to help? They’re already very independent and they don’t want to be told what to do. But if the right level of respect and interaction can be constructed, then you’ve built up a cadre of digital advocates who aren’t official members of the campaign.”

NowThis scraps its website, goes all-in on social

Senior V.P. of strategy and partnerships Athan Stephanopoulos said that the decision to essentially scrap the company's website was a reaction to consumer demand, and an acknowledgement of the way people use technology in 2015. Other media companies will follow suit, he said, "unless we live in a world where people are not awake.""We're not trying to lead the industry," he said. "We are leading the industry and kind of redefining what a media company today looks like."

Death of the Social Media Strategist: Overselling & Underperforming

Social is cool, new, hip, and YES: powerful. But social alone is worth nothing. Without a landing page, a transactional opportunity and successful completion, social is worth much less than 8%. Social for "activity" and "share of voice" is worth applause and kudos, from your friends, but not the guys in the upper offices who are cutting the checks to Facebook and Google for social ads. You'd better get your ROI model firmly in place and justified so you can SHOW them why your program, position, project exists.

Sam Biddle on Justine Sacoo and the death of irony

Twitter is a fast machine that almost begs for misunderstanding and misconstrual—deliberate misreading is its lubricant. The same flatness of affect that can make it such a weird and funny place also makes it a tricky and dangerous one. Jokes are complicated, context is hard. Rage is easy.

This.com beats Twitter's clutter and FB's goopy randomness

The hook is that users can only share one link a day. So assuming you follow smart, curious, well-read folks, your This feed will be more streamlined than the chaos of Twitter and more finely-curated than Facebook, which for me has basically become a sad social version of America’s Funniest Home Videos. This is the brainchild of Andrew Golis, who served as an entrepreneur-in-residence at Atlantic Media and later became General Manager of the soon-to-be-defunct (Atlantic) Wire. Golis tells me that while Atlantic Media funded This, he thinks of the parent company as merely an “incubator” for the project.