A perfect sea urchin

The Cyberculture Corner

Welcome to where I air my wrong headed views on cyberculture and the internet. I always have a lot to say and no one tells me to shut up. To return to the regular blog page, just click here.

Angry, Defeated, and Stuck!

VENGANCE SETBACKS are often not my fault. This one had to do with a clash of values between Candi and me, and also with the fact that Wikia has changed its entry-level interface. I remember being unable to reset my look and feel to the yellow frame I liked. I thought that was odd. I was not thrilled with the right side bar that showed others' work, but most of it was game cheats. I could live with that. Candi couldn't. She found porn. I turned in a TOS violation. She found some kind of ugly speech. She said we could not have the wiki near such unkindness. Her alternative is the blog where users can premail things cleared through her to be posted. I don't seem pleased with this solution.

Quite simply, Facebook is not enough. Facebook screwed RAOK and countless other organizations forced to "upgrade" their groups. Our drop in membership was not due to the wiki. It just wasn't. Candi and I did not argue in public. Making a scene is bad politics. I don't think rowdy boys in the right side bar are unkind, just indifferent and a bit ugly. Facebook has every bit as much ugliness. It even has a sidebar that showcases members' photos. We've had a few weird ones over the years, but I don't tell Candi that. There are hate groups on Facebook. They just use the right euphemisms. That makes them even more dangerous than arse holes out in the open where everyone can see their antics. The polite ones know how to manipulate and please power. They are likely to be more than just nuiscences.

Heck we even have a member, who is my friend, who lives in the northern part of the Sudan. Yeah....kind of like a nice German gentleman in the 1930's. I don't know this member's politics. Arabic is his lingua franca. Thank God for Google Translate. Anyway, I obliterated the wiki, took a few angry days off, and came back.

I am as convinced as ever that RAOK needs to be somewhere in addition to Facebook or instead of Facebook. Facebook is no good. Their "upgrade" took out nearly twenty percent of our group, and yes I blame the upgrade. Here is why. With the upgrade everything said in the group arrived as email. In addition, everything else my friends say arrives as email. Suddenly, it was all Facebook all the time in my inbox. The way some of our midlevel members dealt with this was to get rid of the group rather than change settings. I only discovered how to change settings after we had lost nearly thirty members. Maybe the wiki was at fault because it was a distraction, but that's stretching things. Facebook had no business implementing an "upgrade" that alienated users. No nonmonopoly free software platform behaves like this. When software is bad, sane people chuck it. With Facebook, users adapt.

This is due to forgetting. It's due to a number of myths about the behemoth. Maybe for some people the myths are true. There are people for whom Facebook is a "safe" gaming site (Don't get me started on Xanga!), and for others it is real time chat, but for me, it is about walls, groups, and messages, and it is the last in a long line of software products I have used. Compared to web boards, wikis, social networks etc... out there, Facebook's software and the way it changes is the runt of the litter. But people forget this and stay with Facebook due to any number of myths:

The first one is that everybody is on Facebook. Everybody may have an account somewhere, but how many of those accounts are active? How many of my friends on Facebook am I really close to? Maybe half a dozen. Fine half a dozen people I care about are on Facebook. Half a dozen people are not everybody.

Myth number two: Facebook helps me keep up with old friends. They weren't really my friends in high school. My high school had a reunion. Several members of my class friended me, and guess what, we have nothing to talk about.

Myth number three: Facebook is social. Yeah sure...Most of the users I hang around with on Facebook spend their time playing games. They are being social with software. It gets even better. When they do communicate with me it is often through third party games. I politely inform them that I do not wish to play. I find myself hiding both individual items and game generated posts from my feed, and blocking game and application after game and application. Yeah...that's not social.

I'm on Facebook these days for RAOK. I don't like the new group format enough to contribute to LOTH. There are half a dozen people on Facebook about whom I care. If I could get them to go elsewhere, I'd take them with me. The rest of the world can stay with inferior software.

By the way, there is a myth number four about Facebook. It's clean and safe. It's not. I got phished twice a couple of weeks ago through some kind of malware. Perhaps I glimpsed the beginning of the end for the behemoth. If Facebook really can't guarantee safety, people may just pick up and leave or examine some of these other myths. I'm not waiting around until then. I dumped my inactive groups. I also fiddled with my email to send facebookmail email to trash sight unseen. When I want Facebook, I'll log in to it. I've adjusted to bad software, but I'm spending more time with Second Life and that is a good thing, and more time blogging now that my head is clear enough to write.

Eileen H. Kramer -- May 24, 2011

Settling like Crumbs in a Bag

RAOK sits stable (I hope???) at a hundred and seventy-five members. Most of those who left, with one exception, were not very active. Our wall is a bit more active.

The wiki still needs work including access to tutorials and the governance page. It's up. It just needs work and links. It can use more illustrations, but I took a break to make a dress for Iyoba for Second Life. I felt I owed it to her, which really means I owed it to myself.

I have one good compliment on the wiki. I'm not sure if it is full or empty praise, and I tell myself not to trouble myself with the idea. It nags at me just the same. I'm still a bit angry about what Facebook did to our group, destroying its discussion area. To me Facebook, took back capabilities. It just did it and knows we won't go anywhere, because everyone we know is there.

Facebook probably uses Neopets playbook, except this time the audience is adults and they have higher social status. You can't rule them in a heavy handed way, but you can behave as a monopoly in terms of customer service. Let them go elsewhere. They're free to go elsewhere, but they can go alone if that's what they want. This sounds way too familiar, yet here I am trying to get a hundred and some brave souls to step outside.

I also have to rewrite pieces of the Guidelines, but don't have the time. I'm stretched thin. Also, I can do nothing for LOTH. I'm not an admin, and some of what I am doing for RAOK, only an admin can do. I know where my limits are. When they sell twenty-five hour days, I'll sign up, and wait for three days sleeping on the sidewalk just to get one or two. Then I'll come back for more when the price drops.

Meanwhile, I descend into Facebook and wonder what everyone else is thinking. I glad hand my fellow members. This is not an act. This is being gracious. If I had to lie to do it, it would become very wearing very fast. I try to leave crumbs on the wiki just as if it were a discussion board. I post links. I search for birthdays. I find this last, an utter chore. I mean, it just leaves the person having to say thank you to a whole bunch of people after he or she has been out celebrating and the previous day is a stale memory. One of the great things about Facebook, is that I DID NOT list my birthday and no longer have birthday greetings for which to feign gratitude. I just give them because people seem to like them and expect them. Fine, I can handle that.

I don't feel this way about Support Requests. They are part of what happens when people tell about something terrible that is happening to them. I can understand that part pretty well.

In other news, I looked at Android phones yesterday. It is time to give up my poor old legacy Nokia and move on to something better. I'm not sure I want to be connected to the net and a bunch of apps in a walled garden wherever I go, but I guess I can live and learn.

Eileen H. Kramer -- May 17, 2011

And Seven Members Vanished...

Two of them I can live without. I won't mention their names, but one blocked me and the other had blocked me and then unblocked and refriended me. Go figure on all of that. The other five are a mystery. I recognize the name of one of them. I don't know what has driven them off. The sudden burst of activity is a possibility. The administrivia that has followed the upgrade and the publicity about the the wiki could be more of it. Part of me feels like saying: "good riddance." Part of me says we were getting very large anyway and some attrition is natural. Part of me wishes Candi would weigh in.

I still have to add illustrations to five topics. I have Haldis' team to put to bed tonight and that maeans a lot of graphics these days. I also have this blog which is my real home in cyberspace, if you remember the old word. This means everything feels like it is taking longer than it should. I am anxious to begin using the Wiki as a discussion board and start posting the links to the discussions. That is going to be the real test of seeing that it flies. I'm scaird and a bit excited. I did not expect I would be doing this when I was out of town in Texas.

The upgrade happened in the blink of an eye on Tuesday. I can't believe that only forty-eight hours have passed. I think of the way I used to ruminate leading a rescue and standing on the ramparts defending my friends and colleagues. Now, it's really happening and I worry about having enough time. I also know I'm going to be fighting on two fronts soon. ZOID has been doing better than expected. I've been able to get a handful of fighters engaged. A handful is all we need. There is a next step. It is logical. It should not be difficult. I think I can get at least two people interested. I may be able to get three. If all of us can invite a few friends, we have almost more sites than I can handle. I think you get the idea. Friends know other friends. We rebuild by word of mouth.

I don't imagine six thousand people within a competition as I did in 1999, but at heart, that still might be my goal. No, I'm not excited. I know the work involved, but the job is on my shoulders.

Eileen H. Kramer -- May 12, 2011

This way to the Light and Air!

A long time ago, or at least it feels that way, when I used to be on MSN Groups, I used to fantasize about leading at least one group off of a platform that was obnoxiously degrading to death and to somewhere safer. I envisioned Brainstorms (SPIT!) for the common person on Caucus. I figured out what it would cost, and then realized I couldn't herd the cats out of Microsoft land, let alone pass the proverbial hat. My plans for defending the little person against the Brainstormish elite were so much hogwash.

A few days ago all that changed. What got me to try this time? The answer is a single word: RAOK where I have administrative responsibilities and a track record of three years without drama, and a stake. This is my hill, and now the elites who sit behind their nailed shut door at the top of the rickety wooden stairs (metaphorically of course) have struck a blow against my group! They "upgraded groups." If you don't want the upgrade your group gets archived and has to reattract all its members. All groups archived or not will lose their discussion areas. Does this sound like an update to you?

I have enough sense not to start a page to raise my tiny fist against Facebook. Facebook thinks they're a monopoly and acts accordingly. I can vote with my feet. RAOK all ready has a wiki to give it more space should it ever outgrow Facebook. Well, it's nice to have backup space. I spent a couple of hours making the Wiki habitable. Now all I have to do is put it to work. Hopefully, I can encourage a migration. I have no choice but to try.

RAOK needs a front and back end to survive without drama. We need a place to store recipes. RAOK has always run a bit short of space. Now we have to fight for space. Hopefully, I can lead by example and teach others to vote with their feet. The techies with Diaspora won't do it. The luddites who say all social networks are the work of the Devil won't do it. I have to do it. I don't feel heroic though part of me sarcastically hears trumpets playing. Onward and upward. Raise the banner and prepare the barricades. The way to the light is just up those slimey, subway stairs.

Eileen H. Kramer -- May 11, 2011