Category: social networking

Browser bookmarks

Is it me, or are browser bookmarks going the way of the dodo?

A few days ago it occurred to me that I never use bookmarks anymore. There’s just no need for them. I use Google Chrome on my two laptop computers and both systems are configured to launch with 5 tabs open: Gmail, Google Calendar, Twitter, Facebook, and my WordPress site. I can click a link in Gmail to get to Google Reader and read my news feed. If there is some interesting item in the news feed that I want to remember, I simple star it and can browse the list of stars when I feel the need. If I come across a blog I like, there’s no need to bookmark it because I can simply add it to my RSS feed. And if I come across something that I want to read later on, I can send it to Instapaper. (And Instapaper allows me to automatically send those items to Evernote, as well.)

With all of this cloud-based “bookmarking”, combined with mobile apps for most things that I do, I just don’t see the point of browser-based bookmarks anymore?

Do you still use browser bookmarks? Do they still help?

Google+ and Google Takeout

I saw two new Google tools today. One of them won’t be available for a little while, and one of them is available right now.

Google+ is Google’s attempt to take on Facebook. It is a social networking venue that appears to address one of the chief concerns that people have with Facebook: that all “friends” are created equal. In Facebook, when you post something, unless you take some specific actions, it is generally visible to all of your friends. Using what it calls “circles,” you can define arbitrary lists of “people” and add them to various circles. When you post and share things, you share them among your circles. So you can safely share some things with one circle that you may not share with others.

It also introduces some pretty cool social networking features using this concept. But one of the coolest is the ability to take pictures from your mobile device and have them automatically uploaded to a private folder in the clouds as they are taken. This takes away the pain of having to upload them yourself, and the photos are then accessible for you to share with your circle as you like.

It doesn’t appear that Google+ is¬†publicly¬†available¬†yet. Right now it is by invitation-only. However, after reading the blog post and watching the accompanying videos, I was pretty impressed by the concept. Duh! Circles! In retrospect it makes a whole lot of sense.

The other tool that Google has introduced is available now. It’s called Google Takeout and it provides a mechanism for downloading an archive file of all of the data that you store on Google: pictures, profile information, streams like Buzz, etc. You choose what you want to download and it will generate a file that you can then download to your computer. This provides a fast an easy way to grab content you’ve stored in the cloud and bring it locally onto your computer.

We know that Google Wave didn’t work out to well, and Google Buzz has only marginal acceptance, but I am impressed with what I have seen of Google+ and I am particularly impressed by the notion of circles. Watch the demo videos if you get a chance and you’ll get a better idea of how the framework will operate. I think this could be a good break for Google in social networking.

The Twitter twipping point

I noted today on my Twitter feed that I have reached what I call (in Elmer Fudd-like tones) a Twitter twipping-point; that is: the point at which your number of followers exceeds the number of people you follow. As of a little while ago, I followed 198 people and had 199 followers. I’m not really certain what the significance of this tipping point is, but it felt significant enough to call out.

I will say that Twitter has overtaken Facebook in my social networking toolbox. It used to be that I checked Facebook first and foremost and kept checking throughout the day. Now, I find that I check Twitter first and am following it throughout the day. I am only checking Facebook once or twice a day–and even then, I see a lot of duplicate stuff because of all of the relays people have (myself included) from one to the other.

I like Twitter because it follows that Shakespearean adage: brevity is the soul of wit.


In an effort to expand my social network, I am now relaying my blog posts to my¬†Tumblr site. I’m not exactly sold on Tumblr as an interface for blogging, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to have a presence there. For now, all the posts from this blog are automatically relayed there, just as they are relayed to Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, LinkedIn, etc. I’ll probably peek in there periodically, but know that my Tumblr site is not the originating source of the posts.

Going iPad, Part 4 of 5: Social Networking

In part 3 I discussed how the iPad has made it easier to take notes, using a science fiction convention as an example. Today, I’ll discuss how it works to help me keep up with my social networking.

You would think that, as a science fiction writer, I could simply find a nice quiet corner and do nothing else but write. I could turn off the Internet and focus only the stories that I have to tell. And on rare occasions, I wish that I could do that. But the truth is there are three parts to being a science fiction writer that I love:

  1. Writing science fiction stories. There may be people out there that hate writing, hate what they write, but still manage to sell stories but I’m not one of them. I love writing science fiction stories and seeing readers enjoy them.
  2. Making friends with other people who love science fiction. It is one of the fringe benefits of being a science fiction writer that you are welcomed into the community with open arms. I’m sometimes amazed at people who I call my friends these days, people like Barry Malzberg and Allen Steele, whose stuff I have been reading for ages. And people like Michael A. Burstein and Juliette Wade, whose stuff I’ve read more recently.
  3. Writer though I may be, I always consider myself a fan first.

All of this boils down to the fact that to have a career as a science fiction writer, even if that career is more of an avocation, as it is in my case, social networking is vital. It’s not just about keeping in touch with your friends, but like any other type of work, it’s about making connections, learning new things, and trying to improve your skills. The things that I typically do that are connected with social networking, therefore, are:

Read more

Facebook game requests

For reasons I am not clear on, I have received a flood of game requests for the various games that are played in the Facebook world. To save potential game requesters a little bit of time in the future (and to quote President Obama): “Let me be clear…”

I don’t do Facebook games.

Please don’t take this personally. It’s not that I don’t like you. It’s not that the game isn’t clever or has some kind lack of socially redeeming value. It’s not even that the time I’d spent playing the game wouldn’t be of some value. I don’t play Facebook games for the same reason I no longer watch TV (for the most part): I’m too busy with other things: family, work, and writing.

But then again, I must admit, I don’t really have a desire to play these games. I know very little about farms, and I don’t need a game to tell me that I’d be a terrible farmer. I have a fairly decent vocabulary and don’t need a game to reinforce that. (Reading and writing do this for me already.) I love games like Ultima IV and Ultima V, but I don’t think these games are available on Facebook and even if they were, I couldn’t risk playing them because I am weak and would become too easily addicted. I don’t enjoy pyramid games where I have to go recruiting other people to help me with a task. I do this enough in my day job.

The bottom line is that family, writing and work are my priorities and these fill my day from beginning to end. In order to play games on Facebook I’d have to sacrifice one of these three things and the fact is that these are too important to me to sacrifice.

So I humbly request that you save your postage and leave me off your Facebook game requests. If you think there is something I’d really like or absolutely must see, send me a message about it. But even then, odds are I just don’t have the time.

Thanks for thinking of me. It is appreciated, but folks, my dance card is full.

Online presence for writers

Earlier this week, the Arlington Writers Group held a discussion on online presence for writers. The basic questions were things like, do writers need a website? Should writers maintain a blog? What type of social networking should a writer be doing? There has been plenty of this type of thing discussed on the Internet, but since I compiled a whole bunch of notes in preparation for that meeting, I figured I’d share my experience here for those interested. Keep in mind that this is based on my experience. It works well for me and I have seen some positive results. Everyone feels differently about the value of an online presence.

For me, there are 3 components to an online presence for writers:

  1. A website
  2. A blog
  3. Social networking (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.)

Taken together, these three things are what agents and publishers like to call “platforms” and are what I think of as your “brand”. Each of these three things are discussed in more detail below.

Read more

Facebook/Twitter integration FAIL: a quick fix?

Yesterday my integration between Twitter and Facebook broke once again. This morning, rather than go through the elaborate steps I worked out last time, the IT guy in me rebelled and decided to experiment. Here’s a simply fix that I tried (in intuition) and in this case, it worked for me:

  1. Go to Facebook
  2. Go to Apps
  3. Click on Twitter
  4. Under Apps Permissions UNCHECK Facebook Profile
  5. When the litte spinner stops spinning, RECHECK Facebook Profile

That’s it. Once I did that it jogged loose whatever was wrong with the integration and when I tweeted 20 seconds later, it showed up on Facebook instantly.

If you are running into integration trouble, I’d give this a try first.

Twitter-to-Facebook integration FAIL

Over the last few days, a lot of people have been experiencing a major FAIL relaying tweets from Twitter to Facebook. I experienced this annoying failure as well, and here are the steps I took to fix it two days ago:

From Facebook

  1. Go to Apps -> Twitter
  2. Disconnect the app (click the “Want to disconnect…?” link toward the top of the app screen)
  3. When prompted to confirm, click OK
  4. Logout of Facebook: Account -> Logout

From Twitter

  1. Settings -> Connections
  2. Under Twitter for Facebook, click Revoke Access
  3. Sign out of Twitter

From Facebook

  1. Sign in
  2. Go to Apps -> Twitter
  3. Sign into the app (Twitter username/password)
  4. Click Allow
  5. App permissions -> Check Facebook Profile (be sure to wait for the spinner next to the check box stop spinning)
    • If you get a popup here, follow the instructions. I didn’t get a popup box every time I did this

From Twitter

  1. Sign in
  2. At this points, Tweets should go to Facebook

Note: this worked for me when I followed these steps a few days ago. The integration seems to be messed up again this morning, but it looks like it has to do with issues on the Twitter side. I’ve been getting some timeouts even accessing the Twitter site, so issues today may be different from what was going on a few days ago.

I don’t do Facebook games

Since the number of requests that I receive to participate in various Facebook games seems to be going up, I thought I’d take a brief moment to make my position of Facebook games unequivocally clear:

I don’t do Facebook games.

This is nothing personal. But if you were to take a look at my schedule, you’d have a better idea why: I have a fulltime day job. I get home from work in the evenings, spend time with the family and then when they go to bed, I begin my night job, as a professional science fiction writer. Where there are small stretches of free time, I read. I no longer have time to watch TV or see a movie, let alone spend hours playing games in Facebook.

So, if you are inviting people to join your Mafia War, or your Social Empire, or your barn-raising in Farmville, do me a small favor and leave me off the list. It would be most appreciated.