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.

Five Down, No One Here, and Where is the Drama?

My Unfriend Finder has detected two more unfriends since last I wrong. So far the score stands at one person who got made at me, Kylie. This happens from time to time, but surprizingly little, since the nature of Facebook is not to fan the flames of fights. (Do you want to lose friends! Keep your mouth shut.) Two of my newest unfriends were deativiated accounts. One I expected because it was a duplicate. The second hurt a bit because the person whose account was de-activated was a RAOKster, and we are down to a hundred and sixty-five members from about a hundred and seventy which was down from our high of nearly two hundred last spring.

That leaves two unfriends. One was a person with whom I had not had contact for months. She culled me. I don't like to be culled. I don't cull people. It costs nothing to keep inactive friends, and I seldom worry about them. I see no reason to get rid of them. The second person culled me and it did hurt. She and I had communicated recently. She was a member of RAOK. I wonder if she still is. I could go check. That would actually be constructive.

What I have been tempted to do that is NOT constructive is confront her. The problem is I don't want her to know that I have Unfriend Finder. I also don't want the drama. Given its actual operation, I don't think Unfriend Finder in competent adult hands increases drama. Quite simply, unfriendings are rare. Forty percent of mine come from deactivated accounts. I realize my sample size is small, but it's been several weeks which indicates how rarely unfriendings happen. Sixty percent of my unfriendings are explainable. I had a fight with one person who was on her high drama queen horse. I won't miss her. She's free to take her ball and bat and go home from my friend list because I don't need friends like her anyway.

Only the two culls bother me. I am not used to the fact that like site fighters, Facebook friends are disposible to some people. Well, I hate getting thrown away, but there is really not much I can do.

I'm more worried about the declining numbers at RAOK. Facebook's last few design changes are hostile to groups, and we are at their mercy. They've also been hostile to outside RSS feeds. That means they are hostile to students. They want people liking advertisers' pages and playing third party software games. To get people going in that direction, all they have to do is make the other activities hard and unpleasant. They have all ready required two clicks to block games. I've gotten good at this, but how many other people are this savvy.

In other news I tried Google+ after my landlord in Second Life invited me. It was extra special to see the invitation written in Portuguese. I couldn't resist. I found several members of the mailing list, Future Culture, of which I am a member there. That was exciting and wonderful, and then....

One member was making all the noise. He was talking about hanging out in a bar and worrying about FEMA finding him. I knew the member lives in New England so I wished him well and asked him how he was surviving the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.

He replied a few days later that this was not the real FEMA and that he was playing some kind of role playing game involving a takeover of the US by a government out of control. Talk about forced role play.

Put quite succinctly, what is the point of Google+ if there is nothing to do there because all your friends think there is nothing to do there and the person playing games does so in the open as if it's an inside joke that leaves you with a left out feeling? I'll go back to Second Life any day of the week. My zwickies are beautiful. My turtles are cute and well behaved. The dancing is fun, and I love designing clothes.

Eileen H. Kramer -- August 31, 2011

I Will Miss You, John

He's gone. His web site is gone. He hasn't written email in months. I could see if he is bouncing, but I cleaned up the mailing list a ZOID last summer. Our turnout has been down. I didn't think about that. Fighters and voters can get lazy. It is easy to lose motivation. Without vote exchange compliance drops.

Well, I needed one of John's sites for a work-related projects. I clicked on it and....I hate when you learn about things this way. Now we are down two sites for Saturday's competition. I don't want to shrink the field, so I will put in some old perpetual entrants. They have working sites that are in reasonably good shape. One is even up to date. ZOID is still ZOID since one of the perpetual entrants whom I sidelined for nonparticipation is a political opposite of a more active competitor's site. Hey, I should see if the more active competitor is still there. It is with a name change. I am grateful for that.

I sound a lot more chipper about this than I really feel. It is Haldis who is blue. Last year at this time, we worked on drawing for what we both felt would be her last-ever team design. We wanted her team to go out looking modern. Well here it is. The Webleagues takes a break im the summer. That makes me nervous. If you really want to feel bad, read the guestbook at the Site Fights. No, they all ready have a link. I hope the Webleagues is not next.

With some trepidation, Haldis checked her mail the other day. She expected a lot of arcane and sometimes inane demands from the brass at Webleagues, but no one has the energy to play those kinds of games this summer. Instead, Haldis found a pile of spammy invitations to services she wanted no part of in her inbox. She blocked the services and thanked the person sending her the invitation for making her aware of these meances. Haldis should probably check her roster to make sure all the sites still exist. It really is a good idea. We have some art work to massage, but even with that, it won't take too long to get the team ready for autumn. At this point, it is going to feel like going through the motions. Later we'll be one of the first teams cleaned up and ready to go. Then the wait will begin as the others scramble.

That is at least what Haldis and I both hope will happen. What we dread is what we saw above. What we also dread is what is happening at ZOID. I am going to have to figure out a way to recruit and decide if it is worth the energy. Forget whether it is possible. If it's not possible, at least I will say I tried or I chose not to try. That is all.

Eileen H. Kramer with help from Halids K. Guerrin -- August 19, 2011

Three Gone and More

I haven't installed Unfriend Finder on my home computer, though I could do it. It's a Firefox add-in and it tells you who has unfriended you on Facebook. I have very mixed feelings about the software. First, it's not always a good idea to know you got unfriended. It can really bother some people. I have to remind myself that those who unfriend me are powerless to start a mass campaign against me and can lock me out of nothing but themselves. That is one of the main differences between Facebook and Net 1.0.

Still, seeing the names of those who unfriended me in black and white does something. I want to know why. The first time around, I could guess. Crystal and I had not communicated in months, maybe a year. She was culling her list. People do this. People announce this. Basically it tells any one who was culled that they don't really matter. A related startegy is to run the Facebook version of an activity check. Ask any of your friends to respond or threaten to unfriend them. Does this sound like a way to stir up unnecessary drama. We all have friends who are barely acquaintances. We have friends that we knew in high school, weren't really friends with then, and have nothing in common with now. This is the butt of a million Facebook jokes. I don't like being the butt of someone else' joke, but again, Crystal could only unfriend me and can't sever my ties to any one else on my list.

The second unfriend was someone with whom I communicated. I don't know why she did what she did. She was active in games. She knew I blocked games. The same is even more true for the third unfriend. I am also opinionated. I think both of these women may have read my notes and decided I was not for them. I have actually had two people unfriend me after fights. It was pretty obvious that that was the reason. Fine, I think I was right the first time, and the other person had a hair up her butt and was looking for accolades she didn't dserve. Sorry, I didn't know the person well enough to know if her story was even true.

The two people who unfriended me due to fights did so before I got the Unfriend Finder and installed it. I guess the Unfriend Finder hasn't taught me much that I don't all ready know. That is why I'm leary of recommending this software. Facebook is a nasty place. It's nasty if you know. It's nasty if you're ignorant. In the end, knowing doesn't make much difference, and you probably know all ready.

So far I have used up less than half of my cell phone's high speed bandwidth allotment. That means some of it will go to waste. I hate that. What is worse, last month I used it up in a matter of days. Now I feel as guilty for husbanding the bandwidth as for wasting it. In fact, I was better off wasting it. There were still ways to chase the music, a fun casual game. This way, I just pay for what I don't use. That's no fun! I am listening to the radio alot.

Tonight several of my favorite stations disappeared. They are out of Brazil and Germany. Someone is not paying the rent on their stream. I thought that a hurricane might have knocked out the Brazilian stations but I just checked the Weather Underground and learned that hurricane season in Brazil is in the winter. I also learned that we are up to our seventh named tropical storm of the season. So far no hurricanes or tropical storms have made landfall in the South. We need the rain. Atlanta is dry, and Southern Georgia has its usual drought. Texas is baking. Hurricanes when they go inland are wonderful things.

Some radio stations are just fly by night. Let them fly. There are always others. My ears itch from the buds. My phone is on the charing dongle in the kitchen. The MARTA trains are dead spots, but I can listen as much as I can in the next few days. Why let all that music go to waste!

Eilee H. Kramer -- August 15, 2011

It's Time to Get Outta Here!

Facebook! I hate Facebook! I don't see a replacement in sight because everybody's there, but Facebook is raising red flags left and right. It is bad software. It is bad enough software that it is time to dump it. That is what sane and rational people do. Damn the power of networking that holds me fast to a piece of dangerous and annoying and privacy violating junk.

Forget what I might say publicly in my profile. I've been a public person on the net for nearly twenty years, and quite simply I regret nothing of it. Second, I'm not angry at my fellow users. I'm fine reading about the minutiae of their lives though not about their games which masquerade as real life. That's forced role playing. I have hidden more posts and blocked more applications than you want to know. That I'm dealing with forced role play should be a sign that Facebook is a dirty space. That I constantly have to fend it off through hide and block functions is a second sign.

To make my Facebook life easier, I am careful what pages I like. When you like a page, you share that information with marketers. I don't mind sharing my life with people I only half know, but not with people whose sole reason for caring about me is making a dollar trying to sell me I don't know what.

To make my Facebook life more pleasant, I use the FireFox add-in Add block plus. This plug in blocks the tasteless advertising that crops up in the right bar. Facebook ads are sleezey. I'd rather have strangers have access to my page than advertisers.

And to get information that Facebook doesn't reveal, I use the Unfriend Finder Firefox add-on. When you have to use all sorts of "productivity aids" to make software bearable, it is software you should not be using.

I am on Facebook the bear minimum of time I need to be there. I skip some days. I know my groups that I care about are there, which is why I haven't left. I feel incredibly awful when a friend apologizes for having become "caught up" in an application that I have blocked. Usually they learn about this because I write them and ask them what they wanted to tell them and also that I don't want the application. They are embarassed that they have been duped into foisting this on me. I have taught people how to block applications, but I should not have to teach this.

MySpace, Eons, and Piczoo all offer much better software, but people stay with Facebook because it is a household name and it is where there friends are. That is why I have not completely bailed. I'm glad I'm blogging now instead of using Facebook.

Eileen H. Kramer -- August 1, 2011