Mourning in the digital age, or why I hate Facebook

Grief is taking on new shapes, forms and rituals in today’s world. There’s Cemetery 2.o,

[The] device maintains a live satellite Internet connection. Visitors to the physical memorial can view related memorials on the device display, while visitors paying their respects at any of the online memorials will recognize that their browsing is associated directly with the actual burial site.

For the generation growing up now using the Web for this is no odder than my parent’s generation posting death notices in the newspapers.

Social networking Web sites, like Facebook, MySpace and Friendster … have become an outlet for young adults to express their grief when friends die. They write messages to their dead friends, and even tell them stories of recent events.

Less noted is the little difficulties of coming across digital detritus from family and friends who have died. My Aunt Cathleen died last month and yesterday I deleted her phone number from my cell phone. That phone number — which is the only one she’d ever had during my lifetime — is no longer in use and I would see it and her name every time I went looking for a phone number. I like to remember my aunt, but seeing it that many times a day was just too much right now. I wanted an option other than delete, though. It took a long minute before I was willing to hit the button that was laden with so much finality.

Which brings me to why I hate Facebook. Actually I don’t hate it as a service or anything like that. It’s just that in January my beloved cousin Deirdre wrote “Hi Con” on my “wall” at Facebook. Deirdre, Cathleen’s daughter, died in June. There’s no way I’m removing that posting. So I cringe whenever someone suggests doing something via Facebook. In time, that will change but for now I hate Facebook.

add to del.icio.usDigg itStumble It!Add to Blinkslistadd to furladd to ma.gnoliaadd to simpyseed the vineTailRank

From super models to hunters: 10 more odd niche social networking sites

Last week it was everything from Bugs Bunny to death. This week’s discovery in the world of niche social networking sites features:

  1. HunterShare — the only thing better then getting together over a real dead animal is getting together over a virtual one.
  2. travlbuddyTravBuddy — TravBuddy is one of a number of different networking sites for travelers, but to me it stands out because of its slogan. Now I’ll admit to having a few gray hairs (in full honesty at this point I only have a few non-gray hairs) so maybe this is a cultural reference that others don’t get. That said, “fellow travelers” used to be a euphemism for communists. So maybe they should have more red in their logo?
  3. Zebras — for Zebras. I don’t know how they will fill out their profiles or what they will have to chat about but the headline says: Social Networking Software Tracks Zebras and Consumers. BTW, zebras are one of the nastiest breeds of animal there is. Even nastier than consumers.
  4. MePeace — For Israelis, Arabs and Palestinians who don’t want to kill each other. Here’s hoping there are more than one of each.
  5. ASmallWorld, ModelsHotel & DarwinDating — For, respectively, super models, super models and people who think they’re as attractive as super models but not as accomplished.
  6. PropertyQube & StreetAdvisor — Where property owners can get together and brag about how much their homes used to be worth.
  7. Eons, Rezoom, Multiply, Maya’s Mom and Boomertown — So many sites chasing so many baby boomers.
  8. DiggFoot — a social network of social network sites. It’s getting awfully meta in here people.
  9. Sermo — Doctors.
  10. Refresh Phoenix — Probably the weirdest social networking site yet: It’s for tech geeks to get together IN PERSON. I am so not ready for this.

add to del.icio.usDigg itStumble It!Add to Blinkslistadd to furladd to ma.gnoliaadd to simpyseed the vineTailRank

Facebook CONTINUES to destroy the economy!

This time it’s in the UK & the BBC are doing the PR work for the company with a vested interest who has produced the study:

Workers who spend time on sites such as Facebook could be costing firms over £130m a day, a study has calculated. According to employment law firm Peninsula, 233 million hours are lost every month as a result of employees “wasting time” on social networking.

The only person quoted in the story? Someone from the law firm. Here’s the key quote that’s being picked up by other outlets too lazy to actually do any reporting on the story:

“Why should employers allow their workers to waste two hours a day on Facebook when they are being paid to do a job?” said Mike Huss of Peninsula. “The figures that we have calculated are minimums and it’s a problem that I foresee will escalate.”

If we could link this to Iraq, Global Warming & Brittany it would be the perfect media storm.
USAToday sources the story by saying “the BBC reports.” That’s a stretch of the word reporting. Google comes up with 22 outlets that have either picked up or re-written the story.

I’m still waiting for a reporter to

  1. Check the methodology of these studies
  2. Interview ANYONE ELSE about it
  3. See if anyone knows how much time was being “wasted” prior to the advent of MySpace/Facebook, et al

Is that really too much to ask? Apparently, yes.

My other favorite not-as-yet-questioned-by-press study about time wasting, computers & work:

Among white-collar workers surveyed, nearly a quarter (24 percent) said they play casual videogames “at work.” 35 percent of CEOs, CFOs and other senior executives also said they play at work, according to a PopCap Games survey targeting white-collar workers, reports MarketingCharts.

Well, if the CEO is doing it then it’s got to be OK.

Also, if workers are “wasting” so much time on these sites, how come we keep getting these increases in productivity?

See also:

add to del.icio.usDigg itStumble It!Add to Blinkslistadd to furladd to ma.gnoliaadd to simpyseed the vineTailRank

From Bugs Bunny to Death: Social networking sites go really, really, really niche

I believe that general social networking sites (SNS) like LinkedIn, FaceBook and MySpace have run into a bit of a wall. While they are great a connecting people in general, they don’t do as good a job of connecting people in specific — that is people with a shared interest who don’t actually want to connect with those who don’t share that interest.

Now I’m not exactly unique in having this insight. As a matter of fact A LOT of people think there’s money to be made here. Herewith a list of some of the odder social networks I have come across:

Updates as I find them.

add to del.icio.usDigg itStumble It!Add to Blinkslistadd to furladd to ma.gnoliaadd to simpyseed the vineTailRank

First God gets an airline, now He/She/They/It get a social networking site

Social networking seems to have found religion or visa versa.

A site called CircleBuilder.com wants to be a MySpace and FaceBook “where people of all faiths can come together to nurture their personal relationships and put their faith into practice.”

The idea of an on-line social networking service for religion seems odd to me. Churches, mosques, synagogues are one of, if not THE orginal social network. That person-to-person community and connection is such an essential part of what these places are that having an on-line simulacrum seems … I don’t know exactly … but at least jarring.

It is a deeply non-denominational site – which in a way I also find jarring.

CircleBuilder is an online networking and management platform enabling faith-based organizations to increase their membership, improve fundraising, organize events and more efficiently serve their community. Through our simple to use web-based interface we create numerous “touch points”—personalized emails, shared calendars, blogs, text messages, online donations and storefronts, streaming media and newsletters—by which members can communicate with their organizations and with each other.

CBlogoNothing wrong with any of this, it’s just that I’m a uncomfortable with the euphemisms they use: people of faith & faith-based organization. While it is inclusive it is also so inclusive as to be meaningless: Cubs fans are a people of faith and support a faith-based organization, after all. Isn’t our current administration’s foreign policy faith-based, in the worst possible meaning of the phrase. (And isn’t the CircleBuilder logo just a wee bit Christian looking? Maybe what makes me uncomfortable about these euphemisms is that so far I have only heard them from Christians so they’re like code words to use in situations where that pesky separation of church-and-state issue might come up.)

I come from Rhode Island, a state founded by Roger Williams because he thought people should have the freedom to worship or not worship in whatever way they please without government interference. I have always been very proud of the fact that my little home state was started for this reason. (And it doesn’t hurt that Williams actually purchased the land for his first settlement from the Native Americans who were living in the area!) So I am a big believer in the ecumenical.

That said, I think a person belongs to a church or a synagogue or a mosque or wood grove or temple to Apollo or whatever and not to just some generic “faith.” Heck, my religious beliefs are so idiosyncratic that once you get past prayer and the belief in a deity I’m generally at variance with some tenet or another of pretty much every organized system of worship. But just the same, I’d rather be called someone who believes in God than a “person of faith.”

Wonder what the folks over at my favorite church marketing blog think about all this?

UPDATE: Just found a VentureBeat article from earlier this week on the general theme of churches and social networking … click here … the author doesn’t mention CircleBuilder, but I don’t have a lot of those things he has … what are they called? … oh yeah, facts.

Old school marketing makes MySpace launch music tour & clothes line

NewsCorp is apparently determined to wring every last short-term dollar it can out of MySpace. That’s why we now have MySpace clothes and music. This seems a classic example of bad brand extensions. It’s like the old school marketing types said, “well the kids are really into music and clothes!” But is there one type of music and clothes that appeal to “the kids”?

myspaceThe community features an all new look, and a host of new programming such as MySpace Presents: The Fit, MySpace Muse presented by Who Wear What Daily, InStyle News and a collection of amateur and professional fashion videos from runway shows and MySpaceTV. You’ll also be able to see featured designers, profiles, and videos.

As a brand, MySpace’s core value is about creating your own identity. A better fit, if you will pardon the pun, in clothes would have been a line of DIY kits and such. Instead we get very typical marketing think that’s just about putting the brand on anything that might vaguely seem appropriate. The thinking is all about what customers will buy right now and not what they will respond to over the long run.

I have no doubt that Mr. Murdoch & co. will make some fast money but this — along with the gross amount of commercial placement on the site — will kill it. They don’t seem to have much interest in anything besides selling ads to companies that want to connect with the people who use their site. That means they are losing touch with the people who are actually using the site and made it into what it is — or was.

WebProNews reports on an IDC study supporting my point:

“Social networks cannot guarantee a brand-safe environment. Advertisers don’t want to see their ads displayed alongside illicit content, for example,” says Karsten Weide, program director of IDC’s Digital Marketplace: Media and Entertainment. “The dilemma for social networks is if they start to control what content users can post, they will lose popularity, which is what attracted advertisers in the first place.”

And there’s this from the essential Jeremiah Owyang:

Myspace’s younger demographic rates are decreasing says this Business Week’s July 07 report: “but U.S. visitors under 18 to MySpace dropped 30 percent over the past year, while Facebook’s rose about 2 1/2 times”

This is definitely MySpace’s jump the shark moment.

(Wow, that was waaay too well informed. I promise a return to the usual lack of info ASAP.)

MySpace considers even more ads on its pages

I’m not sure if my problem with MySpace is generational or what. I just find it has waaaaay too many ads for me. But I am so totally not it’s key demographic that what I think really doesn’t matter. Still the news that they’re looking at ads on profile pages is very odd.

MySpace may allow users to place ads on their pages, lifting the ban on user ads that’s been in place for most of the site’s history. The move would aim to increase MySpace’s revenue, so no doubt MySpace would demand a cut of any ads you put on your pages.

That said — as the article points out — given that the ads are for things the person themselves is marketing (via ebay or elsewhere) then it actually might sit well with their members.

BTW, here’s my profile. I promise soon to post all the bazillion or so different sites I now have a profile on. It’s a hazard of my new job.

Drug co. wants substance abusers to get hooked on its MySpace page

pillsReckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals DOESN’T WANT YOU TO ABUSE oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine and methadone. That’s why they have started the MySpace page Addiction411. It has nothing REPEAT nothing to do with Reckitt making Suboxone and Subutex, which are supposed to fight painkiller addiction.

TechCrunch nails it: “If MySpace wants to be serious about addressing the issues facing its users, they should put up a non-sponsored resource. The function of Addiction411 is to sell more drugs, not necessarily to help users.

Why you should always pay attention to the client’s specs

A Virginia Commonwealth University student who is almost certainly going on to a career in marketing hit the jackpot in fulfilling a class assignment to make the prof’s 6-year-old pug famous. While other students followed the mundane approach of posting fliers of the dog around campus, one so-far-unnamed VCU student put up a MySpace post where he threatened to kill the dog. Bingo.

Animal activists and others around the globe called the [VCU] Adcenter and local police to report the threat. After investigating, Richmond police issued an alert saying, “this threat is the result of a VCU student’s assignment that went awry. We want to stress that at no time was any animal in danger.”

Hey it worked for the National Lampoon. One problem: The assignment made it clear that students could not harm or kill the dog or threaten to do so.

I still say he/she (my money is on he) should put it on the resume.

(FWIW: This is the 2nd post at CD in the “Kill This Dog” category. Go figure.)

For honor, country and Madden 2007

A friend in the military Sgt. Big Brother Collateral Damage  passed along this note which showed up in his .mil email account:

The National Guard Recruiting Assistance Program (G-RAP) wants to hear about your National Guard experiences! If you create an account with MySpace or use a pre-existing MySpace account and insert a blog entry about your proudest or most unusual moment while in the Guard, you could win an XBOX 360! Any exciting or unexpected moments are encouraged to be shared! True personal accounts such as the most rewarding accomplishments to the most unpredicted challenges are the ideal stories. Express your feelings and make it an interesting piece to read. We will read each story and pick the 20 best blogs; the Top 20 will each receive an XBOX 360.

His comment: I love sales incentives.

By “exciting or unexpected moments” do they mean driving around Iraq in under-armored Humvees?

I do believe the Penguins of Irony are about to enlist…