Archive for the ‘Internets’ Category

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September 27, 2007

There is a Facebook application called “Compare” where you get to compare your contacts (all right, your friends) within a number of different categories – you get the names of two random people in your friends list, and choose which one of them is the more famous, more talented, cuter, a better singer, a harder worker, or whatever. This can get rather amusing, such as when I was asked to choose which one of two bald friends has the better hair, or whether person A (male) or person B (female) would be a better father (though I think the latter was actually a bug.) In any case, it makes me wonder if my friends know me at all. At the moment, I’m ranked as the most organised person in my network – eleven people think I’m more organised than some other friend of theirs. Well, maybe they just have very disorganised friends, what do I know.

Looking at the bottom of the table, I find that nobody thinks I’m more outgoing or more talkative than anybody else. (Well, nor do I!) And almost nobody thinks my smile or my taste in music are better than their random friend’s. Hmph! I’ll just stick to the top of the table, where people would rather have dinner with me. Not to mention that 11 out of 18 people would rather get stuck in handcuffs with me than with their other friend – which probably means they think I know how to pick locks.

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September 14, 2007

A Swedish daily newspaper (which I will not link to for reasons I might go into in another post) had an article a couple of days ago about a research report showing that people who spend a lot of time on the Internet don’t have more friends. Now, newspapers often misunderstand things and write about them from weird angles – I’ve been misquoted in that very paper myself – but I thought the way they reported the research was rather absurd. The researchers had looked at online communities such as Facebook and Myspace. Now, one of the features of those sites, as with LiveJournal which I think I wrote about some years ago, is that “contacts” are called “friends”. So from the article it looked as if the researchers believed that the users considered all their Facebook contacts friends. It doesn’t really take a research project to figure out that every person a user has “friended” at Facebook is not actually a “friend” — users add former colleagues, ex-boy/girlfriends, people they have met once at a conference but the application’s nomenclature only allows the designation “friend”. The same with LiveJournal, but even more so there: if you want to keep track of a person’s blog, you add them to your “friends”, even if it is somebody you cordially dislike, whose words you want to read to distort them in your own blog posts.

So it looks as if the researchers got blinded by the terminology. And the terminology is a problem, I agree with that, but I don’t believe that Facebook users have a problem realising that all the people they add as “friends” are not really their friends. The research included surveys which showed that 90% of people’s “friends” were people they had met in real life – well, of course. Sites like that are built around the ability to link to people you already know; there are other sites that are much more conducive to meeting new people. If that was discussed in the report, the article in the paper didn’t bother mentioning it.

And of course the paper couldn’t resist opening the article with the line “Real friends are not the same as Internet friends”. Which is a ridiculous thing to say, of course (and doesn’t really have anything to do with the article).

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September 10, 2007

Lemming-like, I have joined Facebook and find it entertaining. Somebody asked recently in another blog: “But what do you do with Facebook?” and it’s a good question, I guess. I see two different functions with it: one is pure amusement value, find old friends (yesterday I added a link to somebody I haven’t seen for 20 years, and there was much rejoicing), play Scrabble, send virtual mugs of tea and growing seeds, post your status to let people know what you are doing at that moment, join groups with like-minded people, and generally play around with shiny toys. So it’s fun, and that’s the main reason. The other thing is that I feel vaguely guilty about not knowing much about current Internet trends – after all I am supposed to be some kind of expert. Myspace is pretty much a whitespace on my personal Internet map, for instance – I know very little about it. I do hang out at LiveJournal, and I read a (very small) assortment of blogs, but not the ones that I read in the papers that “everybody is talking about”. So Facebook is also a window into the current trends of the Internets.

But mostly it’s just a shiny toy. The groups function, and also the networks, are not particularly interesting I think; it’s the individual interaction that makes it something I come back to. (That, and Scrabble.)

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March 1, 2007

Does anybody else see a bit of a contradictory argumentation in this article? Sweden’s anti-spam laws are proclaimed to be useless, in the first paragraph. There have been no successful prosecution of a spammer in the three years thew law has been in effect. But in the second-to-last paragraph, the Consumer Agency’s spokesman says that “Swedish companies contacted by the agency after sending unsolicited email usually agree to stop sending”. So clearly there is an effect. It’s likely, surely, that one reason companies stop doing it when they are thwapped by the CA is that the practice is in fact illegal. It is also likely that the CA wouldn’t have the resources and powers to thwap spamming companies, if there wasn’t a law that needed to be enforced.

So it seems to me that the law has, in fact, worked. Of course it doesn’t work against foreign spam, but we knew that before the law was ever drafted.

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February 14, 2007

I received two fake e-cards this morning. It was obvious from the subject line that they were fake — real ones tend to mention the person who sent them, which these didn’t, and besides, getting two identical notifications made the spam warning klaxon go off immediately.

Here is what the messages looked like:

Från: services@americangreetings.com
Ämne: Valentine’s Day eCard !
Datum: onsdag 14 feb 2007 07.17.48 GMT+01:00

To view your eCard, choose from the options below.
Click on the following link.
[1]http://www.americangreetings.com/view.pd?i=414303935&m=2157&rr=z&source=a
g999
Or copy and paste the above link into your web browser’s “address” window.
If you have any comments or questions, please visit
[2]http://www.americangreetings.com/customer/emailus.pd?source=ag999
Thanks for using AmericanGreetings

References

1. http://02317.americansgreetings.net/uk/viewcard.html
2. http://02317.americansgreetings.net/uk/viewcard.html

Note the “References” URLs – they lead to americansgreetings.net. (In the second one, they led to americansgreetings.biz.) Those are the real URLs that the ecard link and the “Contact” link led to. I haven’t tried to visit those sites, needless to say.

I thought it would be a good idea to let americangreetings.com know that their address was being spoofed, so I emailed their customer service. However, it turns out that unless you are a paying customer with them, you can’t email them. There is good business practice for you.

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January 27, 2007

The Open Directory Project, where I am a meta editor, was down and out (for the editors if not for the public) from the end of October to the end of December last year. We couldn’t log in and edit at all, which led to a terrible abstinence; in fact, I went so far as to start editing intermittently in Wikipedia. I even discovered that I kind of liked it (although I was very happy when the ODP returned) and so I’ve continued to edit a bit there as well. This morning I wrote a short article about the fiddler Gås-Anders. It was nominated for the “Did you know…” section of Wikipedia’s front page, where interesting facts from articles written over the last five days or so are displayed — I am sure it won’t actually be listed in that section but all the same I feel quite pleased.

Writing that article and looking up facts for it also caused me to pick up my violin and play folk music for a good 45 minutes or so. I don’t know how many years it has been since I last touched the fiddle; the bow was in a poor state (and I don’t have a rosin), my fingers were unused to it and my fingernails are too long, and it did squeak rather a lot. But it was fun, and it sounded much much better than I had thought it would. Johan got home from his shopping trip while I was playing; when I went out into the kitchen and saw him he commented that I probably hadn’t heard him return because I had music on — that is, he’d thought it was a record playing! 🙂 Of course I haven’t played the violin since we married and possibly not even for as long as we’ve lived together, so hearing music playing he would naturally assume that it was a recording. But still, and anyway.

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January 24, 2007

Why do I like the Kingdom of Loathing so much? It’s silly in just the right way to be sure, and the kind of adventure game where you get to improve your abilities and add new skills is always fun (or so I think). But it is also constantly evolving, and I think that’s what makes me keep playing it — I would have discovered quite a lot of what there is to discover by now, not everything but a lot – and just plodding on doing the same things over and over to gain new skills does get repetitive after a while. But they develop it, inserting new puzzles every so often. That’s what makes me keep playing it. (That, and the creative silliness.)