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Cartoon headlined "Every conversation on a new social platform (if it was a party)". There are two people talking with each other: - "We're at the party!" - "It took forever to get invited, but here we are!" - "It's like other parties, but also unlike them!" - "Let's talk about their differences and similarities!" - "Some new people here aren't partying the right way!" - "They're ruining it! I like the way the party was when I first got here!" - "But enough about the party. Can I sell you something?" - "Welp, it's getting late..."

I’m at the party!

I’m at the party! published on

Oh, those awkward early weeks of a new social platform when so many of the conversations seem to be about the platform itself. This week, the new kid on the block is Threads, Meta’s answer to Twitter.

Scrolling through my feed on Threads, it seems three out of every four posts is either some variation on “So this is Threads,” advice for using Threads, reflections on the experience so far or predictions for Threads’ future.

Or a sardonic reflection on the fact that we all seem to be using Threads as a way to talk about Threads. Which is, let’s face it, kind of hilarious. (Hence the cartoon.)

Thing is, though? It’s also absolutely natural. If you and I were plunked down in unfamiliar surroundings, I’m guessing we’d be spending a lot of your early time there talking about those surroundings: observing, analyzing, speculating and even critiquing them.

One unavoidable topic when we’re talking about Threads: privacy. By now you’ve probably heard about just what a spectacular personal-data-land-grab Threads involves. It’s pretty much what the Facebook and Instagram apps already require you to fork over before you can start posting cat reels and such); a little more than Twitter; and a lot more than, say, BlueSky.

The privacy winner, though, is Mastodon. Here’s how they put it at Ars Technica:

Below is all the data collected by Mastodon that’s mentioned in the App Store.

*In the style of Taylor Swift.*

[Blank Space]

(And if you’re wondering whether you can find me on Mastodon, why yes, you very much can.)

As we’re adjusting to this latest meteor impact in our social media ecosystem, it’s worth considering that there may not be any one successor to Twitter. Maybe we should stop trying to figure out who will win that crown — because perhaps there shouldn’t be a crown in the first place.

Threads’ makers are promising they’ll be connecting it before long to the Fediverse, a group of intercommunicating servers and services connected through a common protocol (thanks again, Evan Prodromou!) So the successor to Twitter might be not be one service, but thousands. Let a million servers bloom.

That holds just the faintest shadow of a glimmer of a spark of hope for the revival of the open Internet heralded in the early years of Web 2.0 — blogs and wikis and services large and small all talking to each other, and users being able to communicate across platforms instead of within walled gardens.

That’s a party I’d love to go to. I’ll bring chips.

Two cars with bumper stickers: one says My child is an honor student at Central High School; the other says My kid's post got 30,000 reblogs on Tumblr

Proud parent

Proud parent published on

So your kid’s online, and suddenly they’re being exposed to all kinds of temptations — and you may not always be there to help them make the right choice. It’s time to have The Talk.

Sit them down and explain, “When someone likes like another person’s content very much, they sometimes Like or Favorite it. If it’s very special content, they may decide to reblog it.

“And when the time is right for you, that’s something you’ll probably want to explore for yourself.”

Make sure you talk about not pressuring others to like or reblog your content, and about how nobody should ever do that to them.

And then —tactfully— broach the subject of metrics. How getting a lot of likes, shares, retweets, notes and comments can feel really great… but that it’s easy to fall into the trap of chasing numbers instead of actual connections with other people. And how that can lead you to lose your sense of yourself and your own wonderful, invaluable voice.

“I don’t ever want you to feel your worth as a person depends on how many followers you have, or how many people are liking or sharing your content,” you could say. “Your voice is worthwhile in and of itself. Listen, maybe you’ll have five or ten or thousands of people who love what you have to say. Which is great. Just don’t ever confuse loving your content with loving you.

“That said” (and here a hug wouldn’t be out of place) “as long as I’m online, you’ll always be able to count on at least one like for everything you post.”

One woman holding another's hand, saying: And then it hit me: when I checked out who had liked, shared, retweeted or favourited my posts, it wasn’t Marcia’s name I was looking for. It was yours, Ava. It’s always been yours.

It had to be you, +1derful you

It had to be you, +1derful you published on No Comments on It had to be you, +1derful you

Cover of my upcoming book, I'm OK, You-re... wait, you're only a 27 on Klout so I'm afraid it's over.“Love doesn’t mean you retweet everything your significant other says. It means having the honesty to retweet only when you mean it. That’s the difference between love and Like.” From my forthcoming advice book on relationships and social media, I’m OK; You’re— Wait, You’re Only a 22 on Klout So I’m Afraid It’s Over.

Love was in the air this week. And in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision on marriage equality, I was struck by the celebratory mood online. (Well, outside of Bryan Fischer’s railing on Twitter, but even his hate had a kind of festive, rainbow lining to it. He brought his A game… where “A” stands for “absolutely unhinged.”)

And not just my circle of friends and other individuals. Facebook, for instance, had its rainbow-hued profile generator (see image, right). And Twitter created custom emoji that appeared if you hashtagged a tweet “#lovewins” or “#pride”.

On their own, those were nice corporate gestures. But what brought them to life was the number of people who took that and ran with it. Those profile pics and icons served as beacons, as my streams lit up with shared joy.

We often shine the spotlight on the foul behaviour that the social web makes possible: public shaming, bullying, harassment, misinformation. But it also makes visible these moments of shared jubilation. And here’s to everyone who works to ensure more of those moments.

Ello isn’t Facebook. ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED.

Ello isn’t Facebook. ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED. published on 24 Comments on Ello isn’t Facebook. ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED.

A new social network has launc— WAIT! Don’t run away!

For quite a while, Alex and I were constantly hearing from people who wanted us to help them build “the Facebook of x“, where x was some industrial vertical, demographic or affinity group. Nearly all of those folks hadn’t taken into account the fact that, with a large and growing share of the population, Facebook was already the Facebook of x.

But now there’s Ello, which has no ambitions to be the Facebook of anything. They don’t want to be Facebook at all:

Your social network is owned by advertisers.

Every post you share, every friend you make, and every link you follow is tracked, recorded, and converted into data. Advertisers buy your data so they can show you more ads. You are the product that’s bought and sold.

We believe there is a better way. We believe in audacity. We believe in beauty, simplicity, and transparency. We believe that the people who make things and the people who use them should be in partnership.

We believe a social network can be a tool for empowerment. Not a tool to deceive, coerce, and manipulate — but a place to connect, create, and celebrate life.

You are not a product.

From everything else you’ve read here, you can guess that second-last paragraph is the kind of language that sets my heart a-flutter. All they’d have needed to get me selling my worldly possessions and hitch-hiking down to light candles outside the Berger & Föhr offices in Boulder were a few references to the open web and maybe a Tux.

Right now, Ello’s a very interesting platform, and I like what I’ve seen of their publishing mechanism; it’s a lot like the Storify editor crossed with Medium’s. There aren’t a lot of folks there I know yet (although hey, the day’s still young), but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, either. It’s nice to have a little space to stretch your legs before the crowd shows up.

If you’d like to have a look as well, let me know in the comments and I’ll send you an invitation. All out of invitations — but I’ll let you know if Ello coughs up some more.

Updated: Check out Alexandra Samuel’s take on all of this. Fly or flop, Ello’s sudden rise has a sobering message for brands, business and marketers: change the way you use social media, or risk losing your audience.

11. My God, it’s full of nodes!

11. My God, it’s full of nodes! published on No Comments on 11. My God, it’s full of nodes!

Over the next several days, I’m posting cartoons I drew for Measuring the Networked Nonprofit: Using Data to Change the World, by Beth Kanter and Katie Delahaye Paine. I blogged about the book a while ago on Social Signal, explaining why I love it and why I think you should go buy a copy right now.


Chapter 11 is called “Understanding, Visualizing and Improving Networks,” is your introduction to the world of network analysis. That’s a dry-sounding term for a truly juicy topic: mapping and understanding your organization’s network of support and attention.

Why juicy? Because mapping your network takes an abstract concept and makes it visual – and once it’s visual, you can draw sudden, unexpected, profound insights.

For example, thanks to that map of Middle Earth on the opening pages of my copy of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, I knew long before any of the other characters that one really doesn’t simply walk into Mordor. (Also, that a horse-drawn wagon had jacknifed on the Old Forest Road and that drivers should take alternate routes to Mirkwood.)

Possibly more relevant is your ability to see who the hubs and influencers in your network are, and who’s on the periphery – where growth can take off. You can find gaps, identify weak and strong ties, and start measuring the value of your network. You can use something as sophisticated as an Excel plug-in, or as low-tech and analog as sticky notes.

Best of all, you can have a perfectly rational reason to create one of those Carrie-Mathison-style walls-of-clues-and-connections of your own. (Disclaimer: this is insufficient justification for doing this on behalf on your organization. But what you do on your own time is your own business.)

Bright + shiny = We need a strategy!

Bright + shiny = We need a strategy! published on 1 Comment on Bright + shiny = We need a strategy!

If you’ve been hauled into your boss’s office and handed a business magazine with some new social network splashed across the front page – “Flegmar: The hottest thing since GorbMeSilly!” – and told, “We need a Flegmar strategy right now!”

…then this cartoon’s for you.

And so is this blog post about life at Weneda Communications.

(frustrated laptop user) Well, that was a total waste. I just thought of an idea that's too long for Twitter, too short for Google+ and too smart for Facebook

The beast must be fed

The beast must be fed published on No Comments on The beast must be fed

Originally published on ReadWriteWeb

Yes, yes, the Internet is killing old media companies. But every once in a while, they take their revenge. They put us through agony over the threats of god-awful legislation like SOPA, currently before the U.S. Congress. They cackle as Canucks and other non-Americans grind their molars to dust every time we click on a video, only to see those dreaded words, “This video is not available in your jurisdiction.”

But their sweetest vengeance, the schadiest of schadenfreudes has to be the moment when it dawns on each of us that, having created a blog, Twitter feed or YouTube channel, we have to feed the damn thing with content.

If you start taking this stuff seriously, then the voraciousness of the content beast can be all-consuming. That struck home in Larry Carlat’s essay in last week’s New York Times magazine, about how his Twitter addiction cost him everything.

None of his symptoms resonated until this one: “When I wasn’t on Twitter, I would compose faux aphorisms that I might use later.”

Gulp. Oh, god. Yeah, I’ve done that. Worse, I’ve been the jackass who stops after saying something in a conversation, and then says out loud that I should remember to tweet that.

Apparently offline conversations and relationships aren’t just fodder for online content streams, just as cats and accident-prone children aren’t just props for mad-viral YouTube videos. They serve other purposes as well.

And as soon as I find out what those purposes are, I’ll tweet them.

* * *

The Washington Post’s Comic Riffs blog is a terrific source of news and commentary on comics and cartooning. And they’re looking for nominations for your favourite webcomic.

If you have one in mind (cough, cough, modesty forbids), just leave a comment on their blog post.

Google, plus or minus

Google, plus or minus published on No Comments on Google, plus or minus

Cartoon originally posted to ReadWriteWeb.

In the words of anyone in a suspense film or TV show who’s ever broken into a computer system, “All right, I’m in.”

In this case, “in” means I have a Google+ account. The windows for creating one keep flicking open and then slamming shut; you have to leap with cat-like reflexes and then do one of those cool shoulder-roll-into-a-crouch moves when you land. (Fine, I’ll stop with the action tropes.)

Some quick impressions:

  • Part of the genius of Google+ is the way it acts, not as a walled garden, but as connective tissue for services you may well be using already. (And one of its chief limitations, at least so far, is the way it doesn’t do all that much to connect whatever non-Google services you’re also using.)
  • It’s not immediately clear how the +1 button interacts with your activity stream. Why is there a +1 button on my own posts? Why isn’t there one on items in Sparks?
  • I love how focused it is on creating circles of friends and contacts. And it makes me think folks may want to revisit Alex’s post on using Twitter lists to keep you connected to the people who matter most before they dive into Circles.

Are you in yet? Any thoughts?


Legacies published on No Comments on Legacies

Okay, so my mother wasn’t in any position to leave me a social graph in her will. When she died in early 2004, Friendster was the domain of the young’uns, MySpace was barely out the door and Facebook was still a month from launching.

But for someone who never saw used the word “friend” as a verb in her life, Mom taught me an awful lot about social networking.

Things like being of service, and giving instead of taking. Mom volunteered on everything from the local community association to the church. (It got to the point where someone witnessed a break-in at our home – the burglar walked in through the unlocked front door – and thought nothing of it except “Poor JoAnne; people aren’t even bothering to knock any more when they walk in with more work for her to do.”)

Or like offering something of value when you invite people over. Mom would cook and bake for days before a party, stuffing the fridge and freezer with a parade of treats that would then reappear, tray by delicious tray, over the course of the evening.

Or like finding a niche and filling it. When they moved to a small rural community, one where news coverage was next to non-existent, Mom and Dad started a local newspaper. It was a labour of love, not profit; a month where their revenue exceeded their printing and distribution costs was a pretty good month. But they kept it going for years.

And when I’m having my greatest impact online, it’s almost always when I’m doing one of those things I saw Mom do so often in the offline world.

And while she didn’t have analytics to track their progress, or an ROI measurement strategy so she could tell if what she was doing was worthwhile, she did have a clear reward for her efforts: a large, broad circle of friends. As Mom and Dad’s kids, we were often beneficiaries of the goodwill they earned, with warmth and friendliness automatically extended to us by virtue of our parents’ contributions. And toward the end of their lives, when they had to draw on that community more than they were able to give to it, those people were there for them.

What did your mother teach you about social networking?



My brand, my BFF

My brand, my BFF published on No Comments on My brand, my BFF

Originally posted on ReadWriteWeb. For the record, I’m happy to be their friend.

There’s nothing like air travel to drive home just how broadly social media has permeated the marketing psyche. I drew this on my way to NTC last week in DC. At every turn on the trip, I saw Twitter and Facebook icons: littered throughout the in-flight magazine, plastered on the now-ubiquitous illuminated billboards in the terminals, on the cash registers at newsstands and restaurants.

I visited a few of those Facebook Pages and Twitter feeds, and most of them actually do have an active presence: tweets, updates and content designed to engage me.

What they lacked, with one or two exceptions, is people – a name, a photo, a human face to attach to all that Content™ and Engagement®. I had no idea who I was dealing with.

Absent a personal identity to relate to, I have to assume that I’m talking to The Brand: a mix of carefully-crafted informality and meticulously-planned spontaneity. And maybe I’m an outlier, but I don’t want to be friends with a brand.



Relationship status

Relationship status published on 7 Comments on Relationship status

By now, you’ve probably had the same experience I have of learning about a close friend’s marriage breaking up because their status changed on Facebook. There’s something a little alienating about the fact that a server somewhere in Facebook’s infrastructure had the goods before I had even an inkling of trouble in paradise.

But then, the whole relationship thing in Facebook is fraught. I have to imagine there have been screaming, tear-filled fights because one partner clicked “In a relationship” while the other clicked “Hey, let’s not rush things.” Or, maybe worse for some people, “Sweetheart, what are you putting down for ‘relationship status’?” “I’m glad you asked, because I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that.”

No matter which checkbox you’ve been ticking – no, that’s not a smutty double-entendre – have a happy Valentine’s Day.

Seen Alex‘s and my 2010 Valentine to you from Social Signal? Here ya go!

Friends with benefits

Friends with benefits published on 2 Comments on Friends with benefits

The debate rages on over whether social networks (and Twitter, and YouTube, and, and, and) have any legitimacy in the workplace, fueled in no small part by people who sell tools to block them.

But employers who turn their noses up at Facebook et al. may well discover that their coveted Millennials (a.k.a. Generation Y, a.k.a. those damn kids who won’t get off your lawn) are happy to return the favour when recruiting time rolls around. Blocking access to Facebook looks a lot like those IT departments that wouldn’t install web browsers on your computer a decade ago… or external email access a few years earlier.

And like those tools before them, the social web today is increasingly being used by companies and organizations for productive, collaborative work. So it’s not just a question of denying your HR department a hiring pool of cool kids. Blocking social media from your company can mean cutting yourself off from an important potential source of productivity, innovation and increased efficiency.

Of course, that’s an argument I like to make to people who haven’t just received a dozen Farmville notifications.

Originally published on ReadWriteWeb

That’s delegation

That’s delegation published on No Comments on That’s delegation

We call it GulagNet

We call it GulagNet published on No Comments on We call it GulagNet


Cyberdog published on No Comments on Cyberdog

This, of course, is an homage to this.