Category: social networking

Twitter and Facebook

Last week I mentioned how I am no longer active on Goodreads. I figured I should compliment that post with a post reminding folks that I am active on Twitter and Facebook, and more so on the former than the latter.

For those interested, you can follow me on Twitter at @jamietr.

On Facebook, I have an author page, Jamie Todd Rubin, Science Fiction Writer.

This post isn’t meant as a fishing net to grab followers. I just figured that since I mentioned some social media outlets where I am no longer active, I should mention those on which I am currently active, for those who might be interested.

Two Social Media Updates of Note (Goodreads and Twitter)

Just a couple of updates I wanted to mention with regard to me and social media, specifically Goodreads and Twitter.


I think Goodreads is a swell social environment, but I have found that it is just one too many for me to keep up with. I have stopped putting the books I’ve read in Goodreads; I don’t post reviews there; and I very rarely visit Goodreads these day. That said, almost every day I get a request to add someone as a friend in Goodreads. I am fine doing this, but please understand that I just don’t have the time to keep up with Goodreads. Other than the fact that my blog gets replicated there, I no longer actively participate in that particular social media. I will still accept friends, but if you are looking for updates on my book like, I urge you to check these authoritative sources, which are kept up-to-date:


I have gone through a recent purging of folks that I follow, getting rid of those accounts that don’t really tweet. I’m sorry if I dropped you. It isn’t personal, it’s just that I never saw anything coming from the account and I figured it was dormant. I am now down to following about 350 people, which I feel is close to the maximum that I can manage and still keep up. I am in awe of those people who follow 1,500, 15,000, even 150,000 people. I have no idea how they manage to keep up with so many. I can barely keep up with the 350 I follow.

I am spending my weekend doing day job work, getting ready for two software rollouts that are intertwined, both of which I have been working on for a long time now. It is eating up my weekend, but I am looking forward to getting these two projects into the wild and off my plate. As it stands, I have a backlog of projects and I need to move on.

IFTTT Will Be Removing Twitter Triggers, But Here Is A Workaround

ETA (8/28/13): Twitter triggers are back in IFTTT! They were added back in August 2013 using the new Twitter API.

If you use IFTTT to capture your Tweets and send them to another service, you probably received a notice from them yesterday about how they will be removing Twitter triggers on September 27:

In recent weeks, Twitter announced policy changes* that will affect how applications and users like yourself can interact with Twitter’s data. As a result of these changes, on September 27th we will be removing all Twitter Triggers, disabling your ability to push tweets to places like email, Evernote and Facebook. All Personal and Shared Recipes using a Twitter Trigger will also be removed. Recipes using Twitter Actions and your ability to post new tweets via IFTTT will continue to work just fine.

I use IFTTT to send all of my tweets to Evernote so I have a record of them. Since this is based on a Twitter trigger, it will no longer work after September 27. Last night, I experimented with an alternative that appears to be working fine this morning: using an RSS feed and sending that to Evernote. Here is how I set it up in IFTTT:

Step 1: Choose Trigger Channel

I selected the Feed channel.

Step 2: Choose a Trigger

I selected New Feed Item

Step 3: Complete Trigger Fields

In the Feed URL field, I entered the URL for the twitter feed for my twitter account. In my case that feed is: that you will want to alter this URL and replace my twitter handle with your own.

Step 4: Choose Action Channel

I selected Evernote for my Action Channel.

Step 5: Choose an Action

I selected the Create A Note action.

Step 6: Complete Action Fields

Here is how I completed the action fields for Evernote:

  • Title: EntryTitle
  • Body: EntryContentvia FeedTitle EntryURL
  • Notebook: <enter the notebook you want these notes go to to>
  • Tags: <enter the tags you want to use for these notes>

The Results

Here is what a note in Evernote looked like using the Twitter trigger method (the one that is going away):


And here is what the note looks like with the new trigger, via RSS instead of Twitter:


I imagine with some tweaking of the Action fields, you could get them to look almost identical.

There is more of a delay between the time you make the tweet and the time it shows up as a note, but despite that delay, so far every tweet I’ve made since adding this new method appears to be coming through to Evernote.

I’m turning off the new method until September 27, when I will enable it permanently, but I wanted to share this solutions with others who were worried that they might not be able to use Twitter as a trigger in IFTTT going forward.

Going Paperless posts now pinned on Pinterest


I mentioned this on Twitter yesterday, but for those folks who don’t follow Twitter, and who have found my series of Going Paperless posts interesting or useful, I have created a Going Paperless board on Pinterest where each of the posts have been pinned. If you are a pinner or prefer Pinterest as your primary means of finding stuff, I’ve got you covered.

Goodreads and concession stand networking

I’ve been a member of Goodreads since March 2008, over four years. I found out about the social networking site from a friend who knew of my predilection for books. Indeed, he told me about the site in the parking lot of the Magic Kingdom at Disney World. I joined shortly thereafter.

I use the site as a kind of secondary site for keeping track of the books I’ve read. My authoritative list is here, but Goodreads allows me to easily share what I am reading with friends, both on and off the site. For instance, if I start “reading” a book on Goodreads, it will also be reflected on Facebook and Twitter. I will occasionally post reviews of books that I enjoyed on Goodreads, and I’ll rate books that I’ve read there as well.

When I started selling stories, it was suggested that I get a Goodreads author page, which I did, but which I rarely update.

At the present moment, I have “read” 383 books on Goodreads and have a total of 540 that I’ve either read/rated or marked as “to-read.” I also have just under 100 friends on the social network.

I think Goodreads is a great social-networking site for people who like to read and like to share what they read with their friends. That is what makes it a useful and fun tool. But I’ve noticed a trend lately and I’m not sure that I like it. I’ll get friend requests from someone that I don’t know and when I look at their profiles, more often than not, they have 0 books “read” and 1,598 friends. Now, given what I imagine to be the purpose of the site, I’d expect to the see the opposite: someone who has read 1,598 books and has 0 friends (well, maybe 1 or 2). After all, if you’ve read that many books, you probably have little time for anything else. On the other hand, if you have read 0 book, maybe you really do have time for 1,598 friends. But then, why are you on Goodreads? Wouldn’t Facebook or Twitter or Google+ be a more appropriate social network? Joining Goodreads and having 0 books (or 2 or 3 books, all of which are books that you have authored) just seems odd to me.

My guess is that more independent authors are seeing Goodreads not as a social networking site for people who, you know, actually like to read good books, but instead as a place to market their latest novel. That’s not why I joined Goodreads. I’ve continued to accept friend requests from folks who have read 0 books (or any books in their list are strictly their own) but going forward, I think I am going to stop. I’m perfectly happy to read reviews of the books you’ve read and see what tastes we have in common and perhaps even take a chance on some of the books you’ve recommended. But you can’t do that with 0 books. I’m not interested in being marketed to. I understand that I may be in the minority in this, but it seems to me that the purpose of Goodreads is being twisted from a social network of bibliophiles into a megaphone for authors to ply their wares.

It’s too bad, really. Goodreads is a lot of fun when you don’t have the concession stand shouts of “Get your Why-Aye Vampire Romance Mystery novel here!”

Charles Stross on

Charles Stross has a post this morning, “Evil social networks” taking aim at that you should read.

Some time ago, I signed up for Klout. I forget exactly how I came across it. I know that someone mentioned it and I took a look at it. The idea behind it is that it is supposed to show the level of your influence (klout) on the Internet based on numerous metrics. Unlike Facebook or Twitter, which I understand well both in terms of how to use them and how their privacy works, I was always a little dubious about Klout. After all, with a name like Klout, it is clearly there to feed the egos of people like me.

After reading Charles post, I decided to opt out of Klout’s service. I did so not so much of my concern over my own privacy (if someone wants to mine my browsing habits, I don’t have a particular problem with that, so long as I am aware of it) but because of the viral nature of the service.

You do have to jump through a couple of hurdles to opt out. Here are two screen shots from my opt out process:

Klout Opt Out 1.png
Reason for opting out

And the second screen shot:

Klout Opt Out 2.png
Warning about how long it might take

In addition, I went into Twitter and disallowed Klout from using Twitter information to help speed up the process.

So I no longer have Klout, but I have also rid myself of the malaise that I felt all along after signing up with the service.

A few thoughts on the “new” Facebook

I figured I’d give the latest changes to Facebook a day of use before I commented on them. When I saw the changes early yesterday, they didn’t seem so bad. My biggest problem was trying to understand how they worked. I’m a fairly tech-savvy guy and I don’t think it took me too long. I even posted a comment somewhere saying that I didn’t think the changes were all that bad. (There were lots of people complaining yesterday.) However, as the day wore on, the changes started to irritate me, then annoy me, and finally, I grew to dislike them. There are a number of reasons for this, several of which are based on my own experience as a software developer:

  • My screen is way too cluttered. Compare the new look of Facebook with the new look of Google apps like Gmail, Docs, Google+, etc. The latter looks much less cluttered, the screen more clear and readable. This is important because you can only take in so much information at once. Everything else becomes distraction.
  • The definitions are too ambiguous. What is a “top story?” If you select the pull-down menu next to a post you’ll get several options. One option is to show all posts by the user. Another option is to show “most” posts (see image below). What does it mean to show “most” posts? What makes a post “important?” How do you know which posts will be shown and which posts won’t be shown? It is way too ambiguous for me.Facebook Menu.PNG
  • The “Ticker” is too distracting. I do like that I can make updates or see photos directly from the Ticker, but I still find it too distracting.
  • There doesn’t seem to be any kind of rollout communication strategy. Google has gotten particularly good at making its users aware of upcoming changes and how those changes will be rolled out. They often make blog posts describing their new features and changes and explaining why they have made the change. With Facebook, the change just appears unannounced without anything more than a few popups to explain what’s going on. Furthermore, with Google, you usually have the opportunity to preview changes before they go into effect, and sometimes, you can keep the old look and feel even after the changes take place. Not so, Facebook.

The truth is, for me, that I don’t use Facebook nearly as much as I used to. Sure, my blog posts get relayed there. My tweets get relayed there, but I only check Facebook a few times a day. Most of my social networking time is spent in Twitter. These recent changes from Facebook, along with the changes they introduced for friends lists makes it seem like they got caught with their pants down when Google+ came out and are now working desperately to catch up.

Goodreads, LibraryThing and my official reading list

I’ve gotten an unusual number of friend requests on Goodreads recently and so I thought I’d take a moment to clarify a few things about my various book and reading lists in the social networks arena.

Yes, I am on Goodreads, and the list of books that I have read can be found there. I am also a Goodreads author. However, I am generally behind in updating Goodreads and so there are some gaps. Still, most of what I have read can be found there and so it might be useful, especially if you are using some of its “similar to” functionality. I’ll try to be better about keeping it up-to-date. If you are on Goodreads, feel free to friend me there.

Yes, I am also on LibraryThing, but my library is more than a year out-of-date at this point, and I don’t foresee any time in the immediate future where I will be able to remedy that. Keep that in mind if you are browsing my books there.

Here is the official list of books I’ve read since 1996. This list is always up-to-date within a day or two of completing a book. There are some things you should know about this list:

  • Only books which I actually finish end up on this list. There are many book in which I don’t finish and if I don’t finish them, they don’t get a number and don’t go on the list.
  • If I read a book more than once it will appear on the list more than once and get a second (or third, or fourth) number. This is because the list is a historical reference for me, not just a listing of the unique books that I have read.
  • Short stories, and magazine reading does not go on the list, EXCEPT:
  • Recently, I have been adding issues of Astounding Science Fiction that I have been reading for my Vacation in the Golden Age to the list. This is because I read the entire issue cover-to-cover and because each issue is about as long as a typical novel. Besides, its my list and my rules.
  • Bold items on the list are particular favorites of mine.
  • Blue items on the list are books that I read in e-book format, most often either on my Kindle, or the Kindle app for the iPad.
In any case, if you are looking for the official list of what I have read, this is the list you should be looking at.

My first Google+ writers hangout

You’ll hear writers say that writing is a lonely business. I’ve said it. But Google+ may be changing that. Last night, I attended my first “writers hangout” hosted by Jason Sanford. It started at 9pm and went on for close to two-and-a-half hours, following some basic rules that Mary Robinette Kowal suggested earlier in the week. In a nutshell:

  1. We meet at the designated time and pop into the Hangout.
  2. We chat for 15 minutes.
  3. We write for 45 minutes.
  4. Repeat steps 2-3.

It was a great experience. With the video and voice capabilities of a hangout, we could see each other while we were chatting, and also while we were writing. During the writing, the sounds become like pleasant white noise. It is motivating. Everyone else is writing and you want to write, too. Best of all, you get to hangout with such cool people. There were as many as 10 people in the hangout last night: Jason Sanford, Mary Robinette Kowal, Juliette Wade, John DeNardo, Paolo Bacigalupi, Janet Harriet, Patrick Thurnstrom, Adam Callaway, Brian Dalton, Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Shaun Duke, and Scott Roberts.

Also, one of Mary’s puppets made an occasional appearance.

I joined the session at 9, stepped out at 9:30 to take part in an SF Signal Podcast (about which I’ll have more to say later), and came back when it was done. All told, I managed to write some 1,600 words and did so in a sympathetic environment with folks from all over the place. It was great, and I will absolutely be doing this again.

Many thanks to Jason Sanford for hosting the Hangout.

My initial thoughts on Google+

I like it.

I got my invitation to Google+ last week and I have been slowly digging into it, using it more and more over the last several days, growing my circles and other interactions. Here are some thoughts that I’ve had about Google+ since I’ve been using it.

Circles are not only for privacy, they’re for courtesy as well

It seems to me that this is the right way to let people share content. Undoubtedly, there will be countless posts on how best to organize your circles for maximum effectiveness. I’m still playing around with mine. My idea is to keep as few circles as I need to be able to share content the way I’d like to. There are two considerations here:

  1. Privacy: limiting who you share certain content with, as opposed to exposing it to all your “friends”.
  2. Courtesy: there are people who probably don’t care much about my science fiction life, or who have told me they don’t need to hear about the Little Man. I can organize my circles and share content so as to include people who are interested in the particular content and exclude people who are not. Should someone become interested, they can always be moved into the “Science Fiction News” circle, or the “Little Man Updates” circle. In this sense, circles can be thought of as information channels.
And have you tried deleting a circle yet? If not, go ahead and create an empty circle then delete it and see what happens. It’s very cool!

I’m on Google+

Thanks to my friend and coworker, Monica, I am now on Google+. I’ve had almost no time to really look at it or play around with it (although did manage to add a few folks to circles), but once I have I’ll post here about my preliminary experiences so far. Anyone else out there on Google+ yet?

Looks like I’ll soon need to put together version 4 of my social network.

My Social Network (v.3.0)

In light of the recent outage on my website, I got to thinking about how my social network helped to make sure people could still get to various posts and other information, even though they couldn’t get to my website directly. My online presence was more or less maintained, even though my website was not. At the beginning of the year, I posted about my social network, and how it was organized. But it has changed somewhat in the last 6 months, and I’ve managed to come up with a better diagram to describe how it all works together:

Click to enlarge

Here is how things work in this revised model and why it helped me maintain my presence during yesterday’s outage:

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