CategoryObservations

Facebook Boyfriend

I was an active and avid Facebook user for a very long time. I got an account with a .edu address before it was open to the rest of the public. I would check but I deactivated my account last September. And today I requested it be deleted. In 14 days it will be gone (assuming we believe Facebook ever truly deletes anything).

Merlin and John had an interesting exchange about Facebook at the end of episode 75 of Reconcilable Differences about the Facebook Boyfriend.

Audio Clip

Merlin: After Friendster and MySpace, Facebook came along and it’s so pretty and freshly scrubbed and it was like the boyfriend with the good job who brought flowers.

John: And dressed nice and combed his hair.

Merlin: Believed in event dining and having friends over and asking how your day went. And you had a pretty good boyfriend in Facebook and then at some point it became less

John: He started doing meth.

Merlin: Hang on. Hang on. Now we’re in a relationship. He still picks up his socks. But maybe he doesn’t always put the seat down. And then you get two years into it and you’re suddenly realizing things are stable? It feels stable. It feels like things are mostly ok. I have a lot of friends that are getting divorced and that’s really sad. But this is OK right? This is good… right?

Merlin: And now you’re 10 years into it and you’re still going, This is good, right? Because it’s familiar. But yeah. Maybe he’s doing meth and you haven’t figured it out yet.

Merlin: But would you walk into Facebook today as a new experience? Would you walk into that ecosystem today knowing the risks, benefits, ups, downs and what you’re actually going to put on the line?

Merlin: It really is going to be an ex-boyfriend in 6 months. He’s mean to other people but he’s nice to me.

This mirrors my experience with the service. It was a breath of fresh air from Myspace. Myspace was the wild west of media. It was Geocities with the same glitz and glam gifs. I used to leave comments with a 1000px wide transparent gif embedded in it for the spam sites. It would completely break the site of the spammers.

Facebook was uniform. It was fresh and clean and legible. It was the good boyfriend. It was a place to hang out and meet other people in college. There were no companies on it. No parents. No other people outside of schools. I still think the defining moment is when it opened up to companies and advertising.

Though that may be the least of it given where Facebook has gone since. Between the data leaks, privacy destroying bugs and general negligence the trade offs are too great.

I turned off my account last year because I wasn’t enjoying it anymore. It was so desperate to show me content, it would pull things from people I never knew and don’t care about.

The sister of your old co-worker’s boss had a baby.

Cool.

A friend posted in a group you aren’t interested in.

Neat.

Long ago Facebook stopped being about people and started being about sharing (mis)information.

I want to see how my friends and family are doing. Where did you go? What did you eat? What’s going in in your life?

Posting the same news stories repeatedly with a comment isn’t the same.

The few people I kept up with on the site were fun. But the rest of the site is a mess and I didn’t enjoy being there. I was in a couple of groups. So I used the Facebook Groups app.

Until they killed it.

It was time to make a decision. Was Facebook worth it? And that answer was no.

I deactivated my account on September 27, 2017. I wanted to make sure nothing broke when I did. I used the “login with Facebook” for a few things and wanted to make sure they didn’t fail.

They didn’t.

I also wanted to see if I could stop using the site. Did I miss anyone? Did anyone miss me?

Maybe? But just this last weekend one of sister-in-laws asked if I had seen something on Facebook she posted.

Nope.

I decided it was time to delete my account entirely after the latest in a long line of data breaches.

Facebook is gone from my life.

Caps Game 4 Watch Party

The Capitals won the Stanley Cup. Annie and I have watched the playoffs obsessively and gasping, screaming and jumping up and down in agony and exultation through the entire post-season. We were rewarded with a victory and it didn’t even take 7 games or any overtime periods (in the last round).

My wife and I went to a watch party at Capital One Arena. We decided to go on Monday for Game 4 since the weather was nice and there wasn’t a chance they would clinch the series in that game. We wanted to enjoy the evening outside in DC with our 10,000+ closest friends, but I didn’t want to deal with the sea of humanity and possible insanity of a series win. So we watched the series winner from our couch at home.

But on Monday June 4, 2018 we took the Metro downtown (more successfully than T.J. Oshie). We wandered close enough to Fall Out Boy to hear them but we didn’t need to be right in front. We saw a group of people with chairs and blankets setup in front of one of the large screens on the side of the Arena and staked out our little plot of land for the night.

Claiming a spot.

We were ready for the game. We saw a lot of photographers and videographers running around and I’m sure we ended up in the background of some shots (or B-roll) from the game.

This guy and his inflatable Stanley Cup was interviewed right next to us.
Stanley Cup guy

The girl in the foreground had the amazing puck hat and she kept it on the entire game. That’s dedication!
Crowd interview and puck hat.

Selfie.
Rocking the Red!

The game went pretty well too with the Capitals beating the Vegas Golden Knights 6-2. (This was a replay, hence the subdued excitement.)

We made a dash for the Metro home with about 5 minutes left in the game and it took all of that to walk about two blocks through the sea of red.

The next game went even better (and looked to be about double the number of people downtown watching it). The cup was won. The city was (and still is) alive with Capitals gear and people excitedly talking about it.

We are meeting some friends downtown tomorrow for the parade. I’m excited to bask in the afterglow of the win. It’s been an exciting year and a thrilling playoff. I want to surround myself with a hundred thousand fans screaming and cheering the team. You only live once and it took 44 years to win the first one, so we may not get this chance again. So we’re going to take it.

The Three Percent

Why Facebook Is a Waste of Time—and Money—for Arts Nonprofits

I’d argue Facebook is a waste of time and money for any group or organization where your goal is to grow your following. But let’s hear it from an arts non-profit.

The Center for Artistic Activism discusses their experience with their Facebook group.

We currently have 4,093 “fans” of our page on Facebook.

These 4,093 fans were gained over years of activity and posting. They do not pay for followers, choosing to use their dollars on furthering their goals of artistic activism, rather than enriching one of the largest corporations in the world.

Screenshot of C4AA’s Facebook analytics. Courtesy of Steve Lambert.

This shows how many people (anyone, not exclusively fans of our page) have seen our posts over the past three months. With a few exceptions, you can see most posts don’t reach more than a tenth of the number who have opted to follow our page. In recent weeks, we’ve reached an average of around 3 percent.

3% of their audience is seeing their posts.

People think the Facebook algorithm is complicated, and it does weigh many factors, but reaching audiences through their algorithm is driven by one thing above all others: payment. Facebook’s business model for organizations is to sell your audience back to you.

If you pay Facebook, more of your audience will see your posts. If you don’t pay Facebook, you’re better off screaming into the night. Or posting flyers on a telephone pole.

Do we think that Facebook is turning the internet from an autonomous, social democratic space into an expanding, poorly managed shopping mall featuring a food court of candied garbage and Jumbotrons blasting extreme propaganda that’s built on top of the grave of the free and open web? Yes, yes, yes, and yes.

I love this description of Facebook. It also reminds me of the food court in Tysons Corner mall. For those outside the area, think of the last time you were in an airport. Now turn the televisions up louder, make the seats less comfortable and add a dozen screaming/crying children and you’re off to a good start.

Left Touchpad Keyboard

What I want.

Where I want it.

Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death

The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death are a series of dollhouses built to mimic real crime scenes. They were created as a teaching tool. A collection of tiny crime scenes created by Frances Glessner Lee, the “Godmother of Crime Science Investigation”.

In 1936 she gave a large sum of money to Harvard University to establish the first program of legal medicine.  The program trained doctors to become medical examiners. In 1945, Lee started and presided over week-long training seminars to teach police how to gather clues from a crime scene.

Given that it was logistically and legally impossible to visit real crime scenes during the training seminars, Lee decided she would build miniature death scenes for the police to study. Each one would be based on a real death.

A doll lays dead on the floor of a bathroom.

I learned about these studies from an episode of 99% Invisible from 2015. I noted at the time the Nutshell Studies were moved to the Baltimore Medical Examiner after Lee’s death but they were not on display since they are still active teaching tools.

In a chance reading of the Washington Posts “13 Things to do in DC this weekend” post, I learned they were on display at the Renwick Gallery. They have been on display since October but I only learned about it this weekend. Bill as “This rare public display explores the unexpected intersection between craft and forensic science” I couldn’t possibly resist.

My wife and I visited the gallery today and it’s a good thing we got there early. We arrived about an hour after opening for today and there was already a line out the door. The exhibit was elbow-to-elbow people and many were trying to solve the mysteries at the expense of everyone else behind them.

The crowd of people trying to see the dollhouses.

The staff did a good job of keeping people moving and trying to get people through but it was a losing battle with so many people trying to see such small objects, they did their best. Even with all the people, I had a blast seeing these works in person.

The level of detail was exquisite. The tiny bodies were burned, hung, shot and dead from all manner of unexplained circumstances. Each study had the original statement taken from the event they depicted. There was enough story to set their scene we were looking at, but there were no solutions. Since they are still used as teaching tools, that makes sense.

View from above of a multiple rooms of a house with dead doll bodies.

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