Well, crud. Just got an email from WordPress with notification that Facebook has notified them that “starting August 1, 2018, third-party tools can no longer share posts automatically to Facebook Profiles.”

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I’ve been working (not always successfully, but it’s been the goal) on reducing how much content I post directly to Facebook’s walled garden. Instead, I’ve been using various services to automatically pipe text and link posts from Twitter and my blog and photo posts from Instagram (which, as it’s owned by Facebook, I’ve been scaling back on) and my blog to Facebook. That way, I own my content, but all of my Facebook contacts can still see it.

With this change, though, it looks like that’s not going to be an option as of Wednesday. My options will likely be:

  1. Post things to Facebook. Pro: Facebook contacts can see everything. Con: Posts don’t exist outside of Facebook.

  2. Manually cross-post anything I post outside of Facebook to Facebook, either by copy-and-pasting everything, or manually posting links to the outside source. Pro: Posts exist in both places. Con: Takes longer to post anything, royal pain in the butt.

  3. Post things to the non-Facebook sources as I have been, and they just don’t show up here. Pro: Easiest and means I have control over my content. Con: Facebook contacts won’t see it unless they actually follow me on Twitter and/or check my blog (either manually or through an RSS reader of some sort) (and unfortunately, for many or most people, learning how to follow people outside of Facebook just isn’t a priority; if it’s not on Facebook in some way, it doesn’t exist).

Right now, I’m thinking there’s a non-zero chance that my Facebook contacts may start seeing less from me on here because of this change. I’m sure I’ll still be reading through, liking, and commenting (for the near future, at least), because the reality is that, for good and for ill, this is where most of my connections to many of my friends near and far exist. Posts from me may be increasingly rare, though.

Some reminder links:

My blog is my primary online home.

The easiest way to follow my blog (and many other blogs and news sources) is through an RSS reader; for ease-of-use and low cost (it’s free to start and offers mobile apps), I recommend Feedly.

I’m on Twitter.

I’m also on micro.blog (a “microblogging” site that conceptually is somewhere between Twitter and traditional blogging, with the focus on short-form posts, but also with the ability to include long-form posts and optionally mirror them to WordPress blogs, which is how I have mine set up).

And with this, I’m once again putting out a call: Do you exist online outside of the Facebook walled garden? Give me your non-Facebook links (blog, Twitter, Tumblr, whatever) so I can keep up with you there!

For some time now, I’ve (mostly privately, sometimes “out loud” (which could mean either actually talking to people, or in online text ramblings)) been lamenting how rarely I’ve actually been posting to my blog. For the past years, various forms of social networking sites and applications — primarily Facebook and Twitter — have done a good job of monopolizing my online interactions.

It’s not all bad, really, as they’re great ways to keep in touch with friends, and I’m not making any sort of “quitting social media” declaration. But concentrating on those spaces has meant that this space, where I’ve been posting in one form or another for over two decades (seriously: my oldest “blog post” is dated December 29, 1995 and was posted back when I was still hand-coding; I have earlier posts entered into the blog, but they’re ports of old Usenet posts), hasn’t been getting much attention at all. And, as importantly, if not a bit more so, it means that virtually all of the writing and content creation I’ve done over these past years has been going to sites other than my own.

So going forward from here, I’m going to make a more concerted effort to make this blog the central, canonical repository of my online ramblings. I’ll still comment and get into discussions on Facebook and Twitter, but this is where all (well…most all…) content should appear first and will canonically reside, even as it’s mirrored elsewhere so that I’m not simply disappearing from those other spaces.

Here’s how I have things set up at the moment:

In brief (Twitter)

I’ve set up a micro.blog account, which is tied to both this blog and my Twitter accounts (I heard about micro.blog from a few places, including articles by Brent Simmons, Jean McDonald, and Charlie Sorrel). So now, when I have something quick and simple to say, it posts to my blog first as a post with no title, then picked up (via RSS) by micro.blog and piped to Twitter and Facebook.

Look here (links)

When I find interesting links, I’m posting them to my pinboard account — this is something I’ve been doing (off and on) for some time now, I’m just trying to be better about doing it consistently. If I want a saved link to post to Twitter or Facebook quickly, I give it either the .twitter or .fb tag respectively, which are picked up by IFTTT and piped to the correct site. Otherwise, the (apparently abandoned, but still quite functional) Postalicious WordPress plugin occasionally catches any recent links I’ve saved and creates a digest-style post for my blog.

Rambling on (blog posts)

If I have something more in-depth to say — like, oh, a few paragraphs on how I’m trying to start blogging regularly again, and brief explanations of the tools and services I’m using to start doing that — then those posts get written (in Markdown format, using Ulysses on either my Mac, iPhone, or iPad) and posted here. Not long after they show up here, micro.blog picks them up, creates a post that links back here, and then that goes to Twitter and Facebook.

It’s technically possible to just connect WordPress to Twitter and Facebook without using micro.blog as a middle step, but micro.blog is smarter about how it cross-posts than WordPress is alone. Without this step, every post would show up as a truncated excerpt and a link back to the blog; this way, that’s only the end result if a post is long enough to make that necessary, and shorter posts just appear to be “native” to whichever platform they’re seen on.

Will this system keep me going the way I hope it does? Only time will tell. But between Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica privacy mess and Twitter looking more and more like it’s going to be killing third-party clients soon, I’m hoping I have enough motivation to actually keep this going, rather than falling back into the ease and convenience of staying inside Facebook or Twitter’s ecosystems.

Sometime between December 27th and January 8th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • Why So Many Men Hate the Last Jedi But Can’t Agree on Why: SPOILERS: "I don’t think every human who disliked The Last Jedi is an evil, evil misogynist. I do think that we have so deeply internalized sexist narrative tropes that we see them as 'correct' and 'good filmmaking' while seeing their absence as 'flaws.'"
  • My Hero, Luke Skywalker: SPOILERS: “It is a beautiful fantasy and, I thought, a particularly resonant message for the anxious and depressed about what you can be capable of, the kind of peace you may be able to find if you dig down deep enough and push yourself emotionally.”
  • Stop reading what Facebook tells you to read: "Literally, all you need to do: Type in web addresses. Use autofill! Or even: Google the website you want to go to, and go to it. Then bookmark it. Then go back every now and again."
  • List: Alternatives to Platonic Love: "Newtonian Love – There’s a strong attraction between your bodies."
  • This is not going to go the way you think: The Last Jedi and the necessary disappointment of epilogues: SPOILERS: “Happy endings are always undone because ‘endings’ don’t really exist. Time doesn’t stop when you want it to. Your ‘destiny’ can and will be slowly eroded away by the many small, cumulative abrasions of life that inevitably follow after you achieve it. This is real, and it’s disillusioning, and it can fill you with righteous anger at the unjustness of it all.”

Once again, it’s about time for my annual mini-vacation at Norwescon. This is my second year as part of the ConCom (_Con_vention _Com_mittee — those of us who are crazy enough to volunteer to assist with planning and running the con), and I’ve really been enjoying it.

While for the first year, I had one official position as photographer and one unofficial position as “the guy who knows about Twitter,” this year I’ve had two official positions. I’m no longer simply “Photographer,” but “Lead Photographer,” complete with a staff of two minions assistant photographers (so I don’t have to make another attempt at shooting an entire four-day convention on my own); I’m also the “Information Network Manager”…which is kind of a fancy way of saying “the guy who knows about Twitter” again, but also encompasses handling Facebook updates and occasional website posts.

While the photographer position will be a lot of fun at the con, it’s so focused on the four days of the con itself that most of the lead-up time has been wearing my “Information Network Manager” hat. I’ve really been having fun being the primary Social Media guy for the convention for the past year, and I’m hoping that I get to keep this position for the next year (or two, or three, or…etc.).

(A quick note: While the next few paragraphs concentrate primarily on Twitter, the same basic ideology works for Facebook as well, and I have our Twitter and Facebook accounts connected so that posts to one appear on the other.)

I’ve found myself quite interested over the past couple years with the growing utilization of social media by companies and organizations as a way to create more personalized interactions with their customers and fans. I’ve had some good personal experiences with this kind of thing, when I’ve tossed out random comments on Twitter that have then been noticed and responded to by the companies in question, and I’ve really come to value the perceived personal touch that results. When companies take the time to actually interact with their followers, instead of seeing Twitter solely as another one-way broadcast medium, it makes a huge difference in how the company is perceived by the customer. It only takes a few moments, and suddenly the “little guy” doesn’t feel so little anymore — rather, there’s a real person somewhere behind the corporate logo that’s actually making a connection.

I’ve done my best over the past year or so to ensure that Norwescon’s social media presence is an interactive one. I watch Twitter and the web at large closely for any mention of Norwescon, using saved Twitter and Google keyword searches, and whenever appropriate, I try to answer any questions or concerns that I find. If I can’t provide an answer myself, I pass the question or comment on to the appropriate department. I’ll reply to people on Twitter, even if they’re just mentioning Norwescon in passing (as long as it’s appropriate to do so, of course) — not only does this let them know that they can contact the con directly, but it also helps to let more people know that Norwescon has a Twitter account. Over the past month, I’ve been watching for artists, authors, and pros announcing their schedules on Twitter and retweeting those announcements.

Basically, I’ve been running the Norwescon Twitter account like I prefer other official Twitter accounts to be run — and hopefully, I’ve been doing a decent job of it. Anecdotal evidence seems to say that I am, but it’s always hard to be sure when looking out from the inside.

I’ve also been enjoying prepping the photography side of things. Having a couple minions is going to be incredibly helpful this year (and thank you very much to Philip and Graves for volunteering to be part of the photography department!). Having three roving cameras will allow for better coverage of the convention while also allowing each of us to get some much-needed downtime and off-duty time where we can just do our own thing for a while. I think I’ve pretty much prepped most of what needs to be prepped, with only a few outlying pieces that need some last-minute followup before next weekend.

One personal triumph was creating public photography guidelines. This is one area that has often been a mild frustration for me, as an aspiring amateur photographer — when going to an event, what’s allowed? Are there any restrictions on my camera equipment, or various particular events? I didn’t want that to be an issue, and while perhaps I could have gotten this posted earlier, at least I got it up, and it will serve as a good template for years to come as well.

So that’s been a lot of my non-school-related work over the past few months. I’ve been enjoying it, so far the feedback I’ve been getting has been very complimentary, and I’m really looking forward to running around with my “nerd friends” (as Prairie likes to call them) next weekend. I should be arriving at the hotel by noon-ish on Thursday, am rooming with a couple friends again, and will be there until early afternoon on Sunday, when I’ll be leaving early enough to make sure I’m back home to Prairie in time for Easter dinner. Should be a good weekend, and hopefully I’ll see a few of you there!

Leave it to the kids to figure out how to make Facebook as safe, secure, and drama-free as possible.

From danah boyd | apophenia » Risk Reduction Strategies on Facebook:

Mikalah uses Facebook but when she goes to log out, she deactivates her Facebook account. She knows that this doesn’t delete the account – that’s the point. She knows that when she logs back in, she’ll be able to reactivate the account and have all of her friend connections back. But when she’s not logged in, no one can post messages on her wall or send her messages privately or browse her content. But when she’s logged in, they can do all of that. And she can delete anything that she doesn’t like. Michael Ducker calls this practice “super-logoff” when he noticed a group of gay male adults doing the exact same thing.


Shamika doesn’t deactivate her Facebook profile but she does delete every wall message, status update, and Like shortly after it’s posted. She’ll post a status update and leave it there until she’s ready to post the next one or until she’s done with it. Then she’ll delete it from her profile. When she’s done reading a friend’s comment on her page, she’ll delete it. She’ll leave a Like up for a few days for her friends to see and then delete it. When I asked her why she was deleting this content, she looked at me incredulously and told me “too much drama.” Pushing further, she talked about how people were nosy and it was too easy to get into trouble for the things you wrote a while back that you couldn’t even remember posting let alone remember what it was all about. It was better to keep everything clean and in the moment. If it’s relevant now, it belongs on Facebook, but the old stuff is no longer relevant so it doesn’t belong on Facebook.

(via Waxy)

Interesting approaches, and I don’t think I would have thought of either. Well, I might have thought of the second, but I babble enough that it would be far too much trouble to bother with (and besides, the majority of what goes on Facebook also goes to Twitter and my blog, so there wouldn’t be much point).

From First Look at RockMelt, a Browser Built For Facebook Freaks | Webmonkey | Wired.com:

We’ve seen browsers custom-built for the social web before, most notably Flock, which launched as a MySpaced-up version of Firefox. Mozilla experimented with Ubiquity, an in-browser tool for posting to different social sites and interacting with web services. There are a number of add-ons that can embed social networking dashboards into the browser for you. These tools have grown in popularity as we’ve struggled to manage the ever-increasing flow of links, media and bits shared by our online friends.

So, the idea isn’t original. And RockMelt doesn’t sport a complete re-invention of the browser interface, either. But it is very streamlined, and there are some key elements that people who live and breathe the social web will find intriguing.

(via Wired)

Interesting. I’ve signed up to get a look at it, since I’m pretty constantly on both Facebook and Twitter. I’m not entirely sure how often I’ll use it (do I really need a specialized social media browser?), but I’m at least interested in the idea.

A nice analysis of how Facebook works best:

Yeah, [Facebook] sucks ass if you use it wrong. Don’t do that. Keep connected only to people who are active, intelligent participants on the site; jettison everybody else. Facebook friends are not real life friends. You can unfriend somebody and keep their number in your phone. That’s allowed. Then, pursue lofty ambitions….

Facebook should not be a timesink where you slowly drown in all the half-remembered named of your youth. It’s a community like any other. What makes it great is that you control every member of your own community. Don’t like a contributor? Kick them out! And you’re left with a customized circle of the most wonderful people ever. (This works unless you don’t know any wonderful people.)

Rory Marinich

I just got an invite to a Facebook group titled “DISLIKE BUTTON is here – ADD it now!”. After looking this group over, I have very strong suspicious about it, and my first impulse is to recommend that everyone ignore it.

First: Facebook still isn’t adding a ‘dislike’ button. This is a third-party software hack, and has nothing to do with Facebook. Admittedly, the group does admit this on their info tab — but placed so far down the page that most people will never see it. This is shady.

Second: The instructions on how to add the dislike button have very little to do with adding a dislike button, and everything to do with getting as many people as possible to look at the group. Out of five ‘installation’ steps, only one — the last one — has anything to do with installing the button. The other four are just about spamming the group out to everyone on your friends list. This is shady.

Third: The dislike button itself is a Firefox browser add-on, and will not work for anyone using Internet Explorer, Safari, or any other browser. This is not mentioned anywhere on the dislike button group page. This is shady. Also, because they stress that you have to invite all your friends to the group before adding the button, many people will not realize that the button will not work for them until after they’ve already spammed all their friends. This is doubly shady.

Now, I don’t know what the dislike button Firefox add-on actually does or does not do once it’s installed on someone’s computer. However, given that they’re being sneaky about the entire process, and seem more concerned with getting their software on as many computers as possible, this doesn’t look good to me.

If you get an invite to the dislike button group, I strongly suggest ignoring it. if you use Firefox and have already installed the Firefox addon, I strongly suggest removing it. I don’t know that it’s bad, but from what I can see, I strongly doubt that it’s good.