Why should I “get over it”? My better option is to work toward a medium of communication which is not owned and dominated by commercial interests attempting to manipulate my perceptions and mental states. I can use the telephone without being interrupted every few seconds by a commercial message, so why can’t I use the internet that way?
FB is not a telephone. It is content delivery. Your telephone doesn’t call you with great content from people you have never met. FB is also not the Internet, I see it more like the superhighway, with some mapping to the side streets, anda reasonable-but-limited level of user-control on what you see.
Is it attempting to manipulate your mental state? Im not sure about that. The onus is on you, the user, to make use of its functionality to go and hunt other things, if you want to. The onus is always on you, not the machine. If we see FB as fairly dumb smart data, it’s not doing too badly at some things, less so in other things. Again, this is perhaps about expectations.
You want to change this? Not only money is the answer – TIME is the answer. If you care, or had the time, you would facilitate your community and my guess is, more people would see your content organically, because it would be ‘seen’ as useful and engaging by the algorithm. Just like Google, in fact.
Nobody has spent more time working with other people on the internet than I have. I’ve been at it for more than two decades (hence the grey hair) and even today spend hours a day doing it. Now it might be the case that what I have to offer is inherently boring – it is pretty niche, after all – and I’m prepared to live with that. But seeing the scam artists with their fake weight loss pills and seamy meetup sites purchase their way to the head of the line reminds me that no amount of facilitation and curation is going to counter the effect of sleazy people with big bank accounts.
Boring is not a word I would use. You are foremost in your field – a very interesting field (otherwise I wouldn’t be in it ;)) But, you don’t pay for posts, you don’t buy ads and you don’t have teams of marketing interns pumping out ‘content strategy’. Thank all the gods for that! Yes I totally agree with the comments about spam artists, they plague the web, but actually, I think it was worse ten years ago than it is now. I think zombie web will always be with us. And I still think the onus is on the user – in this case like minded academics – to search out your pearls of wisdom.
Why do you think that FB will syndicate your content *forcably* into other people’s feeds unless they really want it – i.e. have engaged actively with it fairly recently? (I note the last post by other people was in February this year and that none of your page posts get any activity at all… yes it’s a vicious circle but you have the control to change that)
I don’t think Facebook will syndicate my stuff forcibly into other people’s feeds. It only does that for people who pay them money – as Facebook itself reminds me repeatedly whenever I post content into the site. In fact, in order to get me to pay for placement, Facebook’s algorithm makes my stuff harder to find.
Yes, this is true. I hate the constant pestering to boost posts etc on community based pages. But again, a third party commercial entity is obliged to make money (in a capitalist model of knowledge economy, that is…). This of course is the problem, the pressure to make the shareholders their money.
Now you might say (as is suggested by your comment) that I should make my pages and sites multi-user in order to generate more traffic. Sure, if I had what might be called ‘guest posts’ then more people might come. But my objective is not to bring in other people’s content for Facebook, it’s to share my own content. I know I don’t have a lot of comments, but when the ‘reach’ of a post is 11 people, it’s not going to generate a lot of comments (thank you for your one comment on that post, by the way).
No that is absolutely not my point (about guest post teams etc). Using click rates to generate visibility is a fact of life and yet, we who are outside the commercial reasons for the web must do as we see fit to publicise our content. It IS a big challenge. I find LinkedIn groups can be much better at getting serious content in front of the right audience. Facebook is for me the best way to keep in the mind of the audience you have, if they find you useful. In this it is far better than Twitter, which appears to have lost the plot under the sheer weight of unmanaged content. Twitter shows us what Facebook might be like WITHOUT it’s very complex content algorithm.
Semantic web controls web behaviour. I suspect you know this. The more clicks (activity) the higher the visibility in the ‘rank’. Logic, really.
That’s a nice fairy tale. It describes what may be version 0.1 of the Page rank. But the actual behaviour of the site is far different. In a nutshell (again) people can buy greater rank, which increases clicks, and Facebook depresses all sorts of content, which decreases clicks.
I didn’t really mean only FB Edgerank (or whatever it calls itself these days). It’s the combination of metadata, RDF and click behaviour algorithm that I find fascinating. This is dumb data attempting to be made smart. It’s not smart at all yet, but perhaps in time it will be. It’s all we have to go on, for the time being.
I think the potentially the greatest challenge of big data sets and machine learning is the politicisation, commercialisation and control (ownership) of big data.
The challenge we have as the body of users is to teach the algorithm what we want, as individuals, as groups, as global communities. Smart data is not necessarily evil, unless we sit back and do nothing. Much like democracy then.
The snideness gets to me a bit.
If you examined democracy, you would find an algorithm that has been so badly gamed that people now find it impossible to elect governments that represent their interests. I won’t go into this in depth because it’s really obvious, and I’m surprised you used democracy as an example to make your point.
And similarly, it is not possible to ‘train’ the Facebook algorithm to respect my interests. Like so many politicians, it can be bought for a surprisingly small amount of money (adding up to surprisingly large amounts of money).
I agree that data are not necessarily evil, but it is hopelessly naive to think that we’re looking only at data and evenly applied algorithms.
See my earlier comment about big data ownership. I never said algorithms were applied evenly, in fact they certainly are not. As with democracy – that was a rather badly worded cynical statement there. Democracy is the biggest fail going in the current climate.
The challenge of big datasets is who owns them. We are increasingly in a space where ‘society’ – urban and civic planning, for example – is outsourcing civic and societal machine learning to third party private companies and thereby placing ownership and control into private hands. This is potentially very dangerous. I read a great paper on this recently.
I liked your FB page. Because I’m interested in your great mind, I selected ’see first’ from the follow options (directly beneath the like button). This way, I won’t miss the action
I’m glad to hear that. Because if you want to continue following the action, you’ll have to venture outside Facebook and into the wider internet. I’m planning my departure as we speak.
Please don’t give up on FB. If we, the serious end users, give up on it, it will be left to generate stale zombie web data, (perhaps like the massive problems we now see on Twitter?) so I believe it is vital to keep persevering with FB. Much like democracy!! Mind you, of course the wider web is full of fabulous things. I’m out and about in it every day.
I am now off to write copious academic-nonspeak about your fab work in my thesis. Have a great social media day, guru of the e-learning glocality.
I’m sorry you have to write academic-nonspeak but I’m glad you like my work. I think it applies directly to the current Facebook discussion.
I apologise re academic non-speak comment. I think some of my British humour didn’t really come across. I love academia, I am born to it in my later years. I might even say persons such as you do inspire me. But I don’t want to sound fawning.
You know that I prefer open and distributed networks to closed and centralized ones. It disappoints me that social media has evolved into the latter. I want our social networks to become better and smarter but the best evidence right now is that they’re becoming worse andstupider.
I blame this not in the individuals involved (though it’s true that they are responsible for some reprehensible behaviour) but rather the structure of dysfunctional networks like Faceook and Twitter. I’m pointing to symptoms in the other paper, but let me point to some causes.
The very metrics cited above (clicks, rank, views) are mass metrics. Your interactivity with others is based on these. They are metrics that benefit from the first-mover effect (which is why some Facebook users and pages have large audiences despite not advertising) and are easily manipulated (which is why advertising works).
Facebook also limits scale on individuals (there’s a 5,000 follower limit) but is scale free for larger accounts (especially those that pay). This results in the oft-cited long tail effect (which we also see on Twitter) and the corresponding ‘big spike’ populated mostly by commercial (and frequently slimy) interests.
The way to fix this is to change the metrics for connection with the intention of buildingcommunities rather than markets. But this means moving away from mass indicators and instead looking at relevance indicators, and most importantly, preventing commercial interests from gaming the system by buying access.
Facebook also privileges the content over individuals and relationships. There is no real organic community-building or clustering available in Facebook, only the pages and groups people form deliberately (which are either immediately overrun by spammers or must be private and hence invisible to genuinely interested people). Contrast that with Snapchat, which doesn’t even keep the content, or WeChat, which is simply a communications system.
Facebook also makes it very hard to work with community outside Facebook. Anyone working with the graph will understand this. Facebook likes users to bring other users and content in, but is very reluctant to let any of that out. Indeed, Facebook is so closed that some users actually think Facebook is the internet. I can build, and have built, a chat application that includes Twitter comments, but I can’t build one that includes Facebook comments.
As I said in my previous post, Facebook’s strategy is to insert itself between you and whomever you’re talking to, and to ensure there’s no alternative route. That’s why it’s so hard to leave Facebook – you’re literally cut off. There’s nothing in the response that refutes that, or offers a solution to that.
I’ve described an architecture (and maybe we’re seeing it built?). Here’s how Facebook stacks up:
- – autonomy – no, Facebook will not let you use what platform or software you can use, and is aggressively (eg., Facebook Messenger) working to limit that choice.
- – diversity – Facebook is based on principles of mass, which means that it encourages everyone to view the same resources, to the point of privileging some content providers over all others
- – openness – the Facebook graph is not open; there are numerous types of content that cannot be exported from the graph. Facebook is the classic walled garden.
- – interactivity – Facebook privileges content over relationships, and focuses on what is shared rather than on the network of interactions between people, and has no mechanism of comprehending the wisdom of the community rather than the popularity of the meme.
In general I agree with these points. (However Im aware this conversation could go on forever in terms of details like what the OG is good at and whether FB aggressively markets it’s own products…)
Open systems are gathering support, especially within the corporate (and some government systems) worlds, which is slightly surprising. I’m watching what may develop here re shared datasets etc. But, Im not sure though that higher education is very supportive of open education models, for example. They pay lip service, while tightening control of IPR from their researchers or lecturer content creators.
See my earlier comments about dumb and smart data, and about ownership and control. This is potentially a massive problem not just in social media networks but for ‘more serious’ data sets like power usage, demographic movement and flow, even voting. If we apply specific commercially biased control to delivery of knowledge content – which you’re saying is what FB is doing – it is obviously problematic. I do believe this same model has been used in mainstream media and even in some formal education for years, but has not been (quite) so visible. The weird aspect about social media is that the bias is more visible.
I’m not sure how we can build truly engaging open systems without commercial sponsorship, it’s the age old argument of private or public funding, but the stakes are much higher I think, on this scale.
I’m familiar with many alternative social networks that have come and gone on the web. Why didn’t they work? Why did FB work on a scale unimaginable prior to it’s existence? Chatting and being in a community is obviously not enough at scale. Look at Slack – very successful as nodes of micro communities, but not the same thing as Nation State FB. I think the point about “That’s why it’s so hard to leave Facebook – you’re literally cut off” is very pertinent here. This is as much about time, attention span and content deliver time (immediate) for the end user as it is about locking us in. Hence the more recent addition of AMP. While it does create another fence from the ‘real’ internet, it also encourages users to click on outside links that won’t take an age to load. Paradox.
BTW, I saw the post about Solid in my FB feed – so at least it worked that day to share with me what you had thought interesting.
I want to thank you for taking the time to give me a real response. I am sorry if I was a bit pithy, perhaps it was in the hope that you would respond. Sorry. But it worked, didn’t it? And you sounded pretty teed off in your original post.