Summer Rerun – Tweeting Away at the National Conventions in U.S.  (Originally posted on July 13, 2016)

You too can be commenting on the activities at the national conventions thie election year. Now people around the world can “experience democracy in action.” What a concept! And Twitter is making this all possible. Social media can now become political media. I guess we already have some of that on PBS when they broadcast the proceedings from the House and Senate floors. But let’s be honest, most of the time all we see are politicians milling around on their chambers’ floors while some random tweets are scrolling on the bottom half of the TV screen. I guess the conventions will be a lot livelier, but who knows?

Watching Donald Trump has been a lot more entertaining when compared to Republican candidates of prior campaigns, but I think the TV networks recognized his entertainment value to the detriment of his political rivals. “The Donald” probably knew this too, and now that he has succeeded in securing the nomination may decide not to run at all! What a country! What are we doing? We would rather be entertained than challenged to make a choice about what direction the country should go. And the most successful candidate may be the one who best panders to all our fears and prejudices. My biggest worry is that political intolerance will grow in this country, and tuhat our thirst for demagogary will increase at the expense of substantive debate (remember those Republican debates!)

In the meantime, let’s keep tweeting while “Rome burns.” Twitter may help us better follow the machinations at the upcoming political conventions, but realistically, they are currently treading water in an ocean of social media. Their stock price has fallen by over half in the last 12 months, and user growth has stagnated at roughly 310 million regular monthly visitors. Everybody wants to be on Facebook. Maybe Mark Zuckerberg can help us with the election process four years from now?

Ray Myers

Summer Rerun from Last Summer:  Tweeting Away at the National Conventions in the U.S. (Originally posted on July 13, 2016)

You too can be commenting on the activities at the national conventions thie election year. Now people around the world can “experience democracy in action.” What a concept! And Twitter is making this all possible. Social media can now become political media. I guess we already have some of that on PBS when they broadcast the proceedings from the House and Senate floors. But let’s be honest, most of the time all we see are politicians milling around on their chambers’ floors while some random tweets are scrolling on the bottom half of the TV screen. I guess the conventions will be a lot livelier, but who knows?

Watching Donald Trump has been a lot more entertaining when compared to Republican candidates of prior campjmaigns, but I think the TV networks recognized his entertainment value to the detriment of his political rivals. “The Donald” probably knew this too, and now that he has succeeded in securing the nomination may decide not to run at all! What a country! What are we doing? We would rather be entertained than challenged to make a choice about what direction the country should go. And the most successful candidate may be the one who best panders to all our fears and prejudices. My biggest worry is that political intolerance will grow in this country, and that our thirst for demagogary will increase at the expense of substantive debate (remember those Republican debates!)

In the meantime, let’s keep tweeting while “Rome burns.” Twitter may help us better follow the machinations at the upcoming political conventions, but realistically, they are currently tread ing water in ocean of social media. Their stock price has fallen by over half in the last 12 months, and user growth has stagnated at roughly 310 million regular monthly visitors. Everybody wants to be on Facebook. Maybe Mark Zuckerberg can help us with the election process four years from now?


Ray Myers

Faked Out by Fake News

Oh, those automated algorithms!  One day they are riding high as our anointed saviors from being duped by fake news and exposed to gory live streaming, and the next day we are not quite so sure (see my post on May 3).  So what is Mark Zuckerberg and others to do?  I guess they will have to hire more humans or, as they are called in the business, “screeners.”  So how many for how long?  And why are we so gullible, and so intrigued by gory spectacles we can watch on demand.  Sounds like the old days of the Roman Empire when they threw the Christians to the lions.  Only now you can watch it at any time and any place thanks to technology.  Not to mention reading the fake news to fill in your spare time.  Can Mark Zuckerberg or anybody really solve this problem

Despite Zuckerberg’s pledge to do a better job in screening content, many Facebook users did not seem to believe that much would change.  Hundreds of commenters on his post related personal experiences of reporting inappropriate content to Facebook that the company declined to remove.  So who are these reviewers and what standards do they apply?  Most of them are low-paid contractors overseas who spend an average of just a few seconds on each post.  A National Public Radio investigation last year found that they inconsistently apply Facebook’s standards, echoing previous  research by other outlets.  Hmmmm, I wonder if some of these same people work in those famous “call centers” that American companies have established abroad?

Sounds to me that we may be “faked out” for a long time to come.

Ray Myers

P.S.  I will not be posting on Friday.  Busy weekend ahead.  Enjoy yours.  Back on Monday.



Going Global with Mark Zuckerberg 

He says we need a “social infrastructure” that goes global.  Now who’s not for that?  In his own words: “There’s a social infrastructure that needs to get built to deal with modern problems in order for humanity to get to the next level.  I just think it would be good of more people thought about things like this.”  He came to realize that more people were feeling left behind by globalization, and by societal and technological changes.  “We have to build a global community that works for everyone.”

Maybe this is the technological dawning of the astrological “Age of Aquarius.”  (See the play or the movie “Hair” if you are really not that old).  Now back to the Facebook generation.  Mr. Zuckerberg also is emphasizing Facebook’s role in keeping communities well-informed, which will necessitate tackling misinformation and highly polarized news (sign me up!).  He alluded to Facebook’s shifting role as a distributor of news, saying the social network is “not just technology or media.”  I think he sees a better future in creating more tightly knit online groups that would make traditional institutions, like government, religious groups, and other communities that share interests, even stronger.

Some say that Zuckerberg is attempting to buck the tide against increasing isolationismm and nationalism that is rising around the world.  Can Facebook save us?

Ray Myers

P.S.

I will be taking a late winter break until next Monday.  Thanks for following TechtoExpress.


Facebook Wants You!  Young Muslim Jihadist.

Some call this guerrila marketing in an attempt to persuade young potential jihadist NOT to join Islamic State.   Michael Lumpkin at the State Department realized that “You’re not going to convince die-hard jihadists.  We were not resonating with the audiences that we needed to resonate with.  We needed to engage with with people who haven’t yet joined ISIL.  It’s how you starve them out of recruits.”  By buying ads on Facebook – something never before attempted in this way – the officials found that they could tap into vast troves of data on the interests and browsing habits of legions of Facebook users, allowing them to pinpoint individuals who showed an affinity for jihadist groups and causes.”  Maybe Mr. Lumpkin can help Mark Zuckerberg in his efforts to ferret out fake news?

Mr. Lumpkin further argues that the efffort remains a critical one for a reason that has been long apparent to terrorism experts around the globe:  Extremist ideologies can’t be defeated with conventional weapons alone.  “We are not going to message our way out of this conflict, nor are we going to kill our way out.  We have to have a layers and balanced approach.”  Unfortunately Mr. Lumpkin has to leave his position on January 20 (he was not a career civil servant, various types of “political appointments throughout the federal bureaucracy).  He left with this message:  “For $15,000 you can buy an audience.  And you can make sure you’re hitting them with the best information based on their profiles.  That’s good business.”

And we were always afraid that “Big brother was watching.”  In this case, I am a little less concerned since he seems to be watching us and others who may do us harm.

Ray Myers

Tweeting Away at the National Conventions in U.S.

You too can be commenting on the activities at the national conventions thie election year.  Now people around the world can “experience democracy in action.”  What a concept!  And Twitter is making this all possible.  Social media can now become political media.  I guess we already have some of that on PBS when they broadcast the proceedings from the House and Senate floors.  But let’s be honest, most of the time all we see are politicians milling around on their chambers’ floors while some random tweets are scrolling on the bottom half of the TV screen.  I guess the conventions will be a lot livelier, but who knows?

Watching Donald Trump has been a lot more entertaining when compared to Republican candidates of prior campjmaigns, but I think the TV networks recognized his entertainment value to the detriment of his political rivals.  “The Donald” probably knew this too, and now that he has succeeded in securing the nomination may decide not to run at all!  What a country!  What are we doing?  We would rather be entertained than challenged to make a choice about what direction the country should go.   And the most successful candidate may be the one who best panders to all our fears and prejudices.  My biggest worry is that political intolerance will grow in this country, and that our thirst for demagogary will increase at the expense of substantive debate (remember those Republican debates!)

In the meantime, let’s keep tweeting while “Rome burns.”  Twitter may help us better follow the machinations at the upcoming political conventions, but realistically, they are currently treading water in ocean of social media. Their stock price has fallen by over half in the last 12 months, and user growth has stagnated at roughly 310 million regular monthly visitors.  Everybody wants to be on Facebook.  Maybe Mark Zuckerberg can help us with the election process four years from now?

Ray Myers

China Syndrome – No Google, etc. for You!

Google is really just one of over a hundred websites blocked in mainland China.  How do I know this, besides reading about it in the New York Times?  As I mentioned in previous posts, I landed in Guangzhou, China, in flying to and from Hanoi over the past two months.  I politely told one of the hostesses in the airport travelers’ lounge that I was unable to connect to Google, and received a very terse reply, “No Google.”  Once over the border into Vietnam, I again became part of the Internet world, or at least to that part of the connected world where I spend a lot of my time.  

I only revisited this topic in reading the Times’ article this week about China’s Internet Czar, Lu Wei, “stepping down” from his post.  He had visited the U.S. this year and met with some of Silicon Valley’s giants such as Tim Cook, Jeff Bezos, and Mark Zuckerberg (I think he even wore a tie for the occasion).  The Times article describes this leadership change as “a surprise move, but unlikely to signal a change in restrictive digital policies.”  As for Mr. Wei, please don’t worry too much.  China experts predict that he will likely end up getting a promotion in another area of the bureaucracy.  It’s not uncommon for these important positions to be moved around frequently.  Not exactly like the “up or out” policies in many other workplaces around the world.

What will happen next in terms of China’s digital policies is really anyone’s guess.  Now if you had access to Google, you could probably just type in “social media in China.”  I just did and got “very local and fragmented.”  I guess that’s it, for now?

Ray Myers



Shopping Online With Your Chatbot

Need someone to go shopping with?  Well maybe that’s not done so much any more, and you probably don’t need someone after all if you have Chatbot.  And you really don’t need a salesperson to help you since you will be online, and Chatbot will be there programmed to answer all of your anticipated questions.  At this rate there may not be any brick and mortar stores (malls?) to stroll through in the near future.  What’s going to happen to all of those gigantic shopping malls and parking garages?  As more shopping goes online, maybe they will morph into “distribution centers” where your purchases are shipped to your home, saving you from the inconvenience of having to go to a store to shop.

This is the future that many social media entrepreneurs are banking on.  “Facebook said it was opening up Messenger, it’s own messaging app, so that any outside company – from Applebee’s to Zara – could create a bot capable of interacting with people through the chat program.”  And Facebook may be the logical and most profitable place to begin.  It already has 900 million regular monthly users of Messenger with more than 15 million businesses having an official brand page on Facebook.

So this is shopping in the virtual world.  But don’t forget that you still need a home with a real address to have everything shipped to.  Or maybe you can just get a really big post office box?  After you buy all that stuff online, you may have to invest in a bigger home that will truly become your castle!

Ray Myers


Facebook in India?

Over a billion people connected to each other in India (and beyond?) on Facebook.  All I can say is good luck, Mark Zuckerberg!  Or maybe not!  Let’s face it, is this really going to help the vast majority of Indians living in rural villages with minimal access to reliable human and social service infrastructures.  Maybe that is why this Facebook project is targeted to the larger numbers of mobile phone users in more urban settings.  Mobile phone ownership and usage in India remains a privilege for the more economically empowered.

I think the reality of Indian history and the persisting disparity of resources between the “haves and have nots” presents a daunting challenge to anyone trying to use social media for real social and political change in such an ancient culture and economy.  Perhaps I should be more optimistic as we approach a new year, and I stand ready to admit the error of my pessimism if things turn out the other way.   Please believe me that I will gladly welcome any impact that results in new opportunities for upward mobility for those who have historically been told there is no upward path.

Gandhi led a peaceful revolution against foreign domination and freed his countrymen in the last century.  I believe that the economic and social challenges ahead for India in this century and beyond can not be overcome by social media alone.  True political leadership must seek to empower all Indians, regardless of their economic or social status.

Ray Myers