About the Author:

With a career that has spanned advertising, production, technical services, and project management, Michael is able to articulate the wide range skills and professions that make the Internet work. This eclectic understanding and his desire to shine the light on those hiding behind techno babble has brought success to a wide range of projects.

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Past Postings:

Using Dissent To Enhance Your Social Influence Online

Industry Profile - Author

Industry Profiles Full Time Employees - Professional Writer

Some Thoughts On Freelancing

Building Your Online Brand

Marissa Mayer and the Change in Yahoo's Remote Workforce

LinkedIn for Professional Writers

Fake Republican Twitter Accounts

"Did you mean?" -- Google's chiding nanny of search results

Branded Technology

Sharingspree.com -- Stealing more than GroupOn's Idea

The Internet Isn't Entertaining Enough

It's not your bank... It's Apple's and Amazon's

Violated by Madison Avenue

Google+ Scares Me

"We need to..." Internet Marketing Myths

Facebook's deal with the Devil

My cool new phone is a little too cool.

You are never alone

Promotion vs. Distribution... You'd think they'd know that one...

Publishing Industry Watch

Content for Social Media

Social Media Slot Machine

Anonymous vs Me

News from the Twitter Follow Campaign Trail

The art of Indiscriminate Twitter Following

The Cloudy Meaning of The Cloud

The Demand For The Loss of Creativity

Alien Technology and Government Conspiracies

Time for a New Reality

The Death of Email

Protecting Free Speech... Anonymously (and geekily)

Amazon Shouldn't Have Shut Down WikiLeaks

The Superpowers of the Hive Mind

Time for New Ideas

Comcast, Netflix and the Mystery of the Modem

The Great Technical Disconnect

New for the Sake of New

A Retail Store Built Like the Web

Disposable Personas

When did Google Start Policing the Internet?

Getting back to HTML basics, thanks to Apple

Inspecting my Navel Base

A shoebox vs. an online backup

Is Your "Resume" Website Recruiter-friendly?

iBooks -- Creative Epicenter or Gatekeeper?

The Failure of Success

The Economy is Going to Get Worse, but that's okay

Time lost on Twitter

Client Vendor Relationships

Twitter's back alleys and dark places

Social Media is NOT Advertising

Microsoft Courier

Form (designers) versus Function (geeks)

PDXBOOM -- The power of social media and the portland pipe bomb

China and Apple -- Different organizations, same management

The volume of screens


Google Adds Biking Directions to Maps


That magical little tablet

How your website can be in two places at once

Masterpieces created by sheer volume

Suing over lack of originality

A Primer on Internet Fame -- dancing babies, hamsters, numa numa, and more...

Checking my messages

Rules are made to be broken -- in a reasoned, systematic way

So many accounts, so few passwords

Who really uses Twitter? 60% of Twitter's traffic isn't on Twitter

The Web is a Jerry Rigged Kludge

Twitter: Asleep at the Mouse Wheel

Where regulation is good: Google Voice and Vonage

How Facebook is (unintentionally) forcing programmers to piss off users

The Twit Cleaner

Perfect Secretary's pitch for @Adbroad (and the Youtube API)

The Emotions of Text

The Shorty Awards Scandal -- Manual Spam is still Spam

Google Analytics, the cloud and missing numbers #fail

Helen Klein Ross & Michael Bissell Interview at Adweek's Social Media Strategies Conference

The Internet is the New 60's

Cougars from New Zealand (and I don't mean big cats)

Adding facts together, or why you can't charge your cell phone from wifi

Social Media and the Destruction of the World

Rabid Fans vs Passive Viewers -- The Coco vs Leno saga

How to tell someone to retweet (without using up your 140 characters)

You can't buy social media

A book unopened is but a block of paper

Building the LOST: The Final Season Sweepstakes

Holiday SPAM (or the lack thereof)

Archiving Twitter

Too Many Toolbars

Random Censorship with Google Adwords

Accessibility and Shopping Online

Twisted path to customer service

Flash: Shiny objects blinding your audience

Twollow and other gold rush scripts

GPS in a Laptop computer

Thinking outside the box... There was a box?

Twitter was designed for Text Messaging

It's not the corporations, damnit

Entrepreneur or Dreamer?

Adweek Social Media Twitter for Brands Presentation

Socializing is more than Social Media

Generational Marketing is a Myth (or Who's your Daddy?)

Social Media is Just the Way We Use the Internet

Twitter Followers Don't Matter (ask the porn sites)

The Internet is Gooder than Books

Sometimes you don't want your campaign to go viral

Best Twitter Branding Campaign

Like flies to crap, Spammy Twitter Followers don't really go away

iPhone SMS Security Hole

How Flipmytweet works

Cell Phones as Microscopes

Digg is not the Hijacker -- You Are

Steve Ballmer -- the walking dead?

Twitter as an open mic poetry reading

Automatic Social [un]Awareness

New York, New York

First splash for United Against Malaria

New Media/Old Media and the CLIO Awards

Interview at SXSW: Mad Men Twitter And Tracking

We've got an App for that -- it's called the Web

Understanding Google To Get Your Resume Noticed

Made it to SXSW in Austin

The trouble with Wordpress and other templates

Wayward Words with Baggage

Speaking at SXSW March 17th

The fleeting Memory of the Internet

It's okay to say 'I don't know'

Good Morning America, now Go Fight Traffic

More surreality in Portland

Nike Takes Over Conquent

Facebook owns this title

Excuses, excuses

A little on Social Media

Feeding on Content

Attack of the Bots

Irish Music in Oregon City

Landing on an Aircraft Carrier

Got Curry? And some bizarre art?

Web 1.0

Random Music and Random Life in Portland

To the dump, to the dump, to the dump dump dump

Flight Simulator

Cold night, hot fire, happy cat

Net Neutrality

Walking to work in the snow

A window into Moreland of the Past

Getting clever with data feeds

Big and Little Beirut

The Other Credit Crisis

The Broadband Inauguration

T-Mobile owns Magenta and Other Patent Stories

The Risk-takers, Doers and Makers of Things

The noise of 20,000+ Twitter Followers

Reflections on my DC Trip

Born Again American

30,000 feet, 500 MPH Suburban Strip Mall

Cellphones, toilets and the Inauguration

The wall of pissing

National Treasure/National Archives

My trip to DC so far

Everyone is insane

Getting ready for DC

The End of Days (of song): Microsoft Songsmith Example

The Very Model of a Modern Major General

Browser Bigotry

The Death of your Soul: Microsoft Songsmith

Creative Development or Developing Creatively?

Race to Witch Mountain

The Myth of Wikipedia (or the Wiki-1400)

Online/Offline Sales -- is it really that bad?

Is PayPal Tacky?

Old School Web Design Still Works

Domain Squatting

Christmas Fire

Green Chri$tma$

QA 101

Portland Snow

Get some return on that web traffic

I think they have a backup...

I'd love to have that problem

The [un]importance of statistics

Don't be a tool of viral marketing

CAT Scan!

Follow up to the shoulder injury

Emails, discussions, blogs, wiki and web content

Ironic Injury

On the Santa Monica Pier

You Designed for Print First

You let someone else register your domain name

You figured .biz, .info, .us would work fine

What's after the Integrated Circuit?

Intelligent life is out there (but it's bugger all down here on earth)

Subject Matter Experts Talking Other Subject Matter

The Totalitarian Regime of Apple

Oversimplifying how people work


Creative Services for the New World

Reverse Anthropomorphism

The End of Time

Oil prices and birdsong

Watching Starship Troopers AGAIN!

Better Living Through Twitter

Lessons Learned From Apple

It's the Brand, Baby

Business Architecture vs. Web Construction

On Truth

You can't build life

Accidentally Drunk in Portland

Al Gore the Winner

Intelligent life is out there (but its bugger all down here on earth)

Aussie Rules Football

Trip to Nostalgia Land

I am such an idiot

Long day of travel

Miami -- as far from Portland as you can go in the US

Inverse Peter Principle

Random Knowledge

I'm fascinated with modern plumbing

Leaving Seattle (or why you should keep your ticket close)

On the Rails

The Hive

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Twitter's back alleys and dark places
2010-04-15 09:36:18

Twitter keeps evolving. No, that's not really true, Twitter, itself, is pretty much what it was two years ago. But the way we USE Twitter has changed tremendously over the last year or so.

But with evolution comes unexpected consequences, and the view I'm getting lately is turning ugly. Let's see if I can sum up how Twitter is set up to fall into the sewer:

Status vs Chat
Twitter was originally called a "mircroblogging site." The idea was just to tell people what you're doing, and more precisely, to share with a specific circle of your friends. It's being used as a random chat room -- and chat almost always turns dirty.

While I don't see anything really wrong with chat, I wouldn't expect Proctor and Gamble or Comcast to put their customer service people into chat rooms where people are exchanging details about what they want to do to each other's genitalia.

Ultimately the value of chat isn't very high -- it's a useful social function, but unless you assemble an Algonquin Round Table of smart, witty, articulate people, Twitter is doomed to be "LOL! RT @DumassDude Fart noyz is kool!"

See but not seen
It is possible to keep other people from seeing your posts by setting your profile to private, but that doesn't stop people from contacting you; all they have to do is "mention" you as in "Hey, @your_name, check out this filthy link: http://linktoreallysickstuff.com". (See Twitter Followers Don't Matter (ask the porn sites))

The only way you can choose not to see something is to block an individual. Of course, everyone else can see what that person is saying about you, and if they "retweet" you'll still see it. Not only that, but all they have to do is set up another account and hit you again until you block THAT account.

This is the equivalent of responding to being verbally assaulted by putting your hands on your ears, closing your eyes and repeating, "Nah nah nah. I'm not listening." But it's your only recourse.

Adult Content
Every social media and blog site I've seen has some form of adult content notification. Yahoo has been doing this with their groups for over a decade. Facebook has age restrictions. Blogspot puts up a roadblock that says "Do you really want to see this content?" Google has "safe search." Even Craigslist, the nickel ads for hookers and swingers, has a warning on their dating and "Casual Encounters" sections.

But Twitter not only has no filters for adult content, it doesn't provide ANY filters of any kind. The fact that my company message might appear in the same stream of text as someone talking, in graphic detail, about what they're doing on their webcam, right now could prove embarrassing in the board meeting.

I'm not advocating censorship, but I am advocating tagging certain accounts for certain behavior so that if I'm not interested in dirty talk, I can turn it off. I actually like the Google solution best -- let me set my level of safety depending on my mood or what I'm doing. I may want really filtered results when at work, and I may want to go wild at home, but I should be able to choose.

Cyber Bullying
Probably one of the darker things I've been seeing on Twitter lately has been the cyber bullying. This is happening a lot with the liberal/conservative, um, "debate" is probably too nice a word.

Someone, let's say "Bob" will decide they don't like someone else, "Mary." Because Twitter is a big open forum, Bob can start saying that Mary is not only a horrible person, but can also say thing like "OMG! I can't believe she said this RT @Mary I kill puppies for fun!" Mary may never have said such a thing, but there is absolutely no recourse, or any way to validate that Mary is, indeed, a puppy killer.

This can then lead to a slew of people blocking Mary, and if enough people block her, Twitter will suspend her account, with very little recourse left to Mary. I've been through this one with an experimental account where Twitter decided I was devious, and I can tell you, proving otherwise to Twitter is a frustrating, "guilty even if proven innocent" process. My guess is that as Twitter becomes more rambunctious, the available Twitter support staff to make judgements about he says/she says arguments is only going to get worse.

Open API
For the non-technical reader, the API is a way that I can write my own programs that talk to Twitter. I see a lot of accounts that are just a stream of advertisements, and the source is almost always "API" or some program like "Twitfeed."

It's one thing to promote yourself in the course of a conversation. It's another thing to be standing in a cocktail party, chatting with you neighbor, and have someone interrupt you by shouting, "I sell cars on 9th Street! Come on over!" It's disruptive, and it's very easy to do with the tools Twitter has created.

The programs are tireless, and they are learning the limits of Twitter's monitoring programs that might otherwise shut them down for abusing the API. This means more and more "content" on Twitter isn't content at all, and people quickly lose interest as Twitter loses relevancy. But the noise remains.

The theme here is the complete lack of control in the Twitterverse. These problems can be solved, and may get solved using tools like Tweetdeck or other clients built on the Twitter API, but that always leaves the question of how Twitter will make money if no one is using Twitter's interface.

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