Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Good Bye Google Plus

This post contains language that some readers may find disturbing. Uptight parental units not advised. Children not advised. (Or just skip the first paragraph).

Well that's it. My social networking experiment over. I made sure I let Google know I thought they were being dicks. I put in a suggestion and added some feedback.

As far as protests go, this one was fairly easy. It's all over and done with. No on going commitment. Not at all like my DB protest. I still find myself tempted by a DB pub - mainly because I can have a smoke in comfort at the local DB pub.

I really just don't have the time. I was enjoying it. Interaction with loads of relatively random people. Discussions (some of which I really didn't want to have just because I knew I wouldn't understand their position) galore! And I have to say it's ultimately fun picking on random people.

Anyway, I wonder just how much of a protest this really was. I always imagined there was a sacrifice to be had from any good protest... and truth be told, I didn't feel it to be a great sacrifice. Okay, sure, I met loads of interesting people. But then, I went up to an Indian restaurant the other day and met some pretty interesting people. So interesting people are all over the place really.

What really ultimately upsets me though... I came up with a great thought just before I removed myself from g+. Given that it was my birthday but I'd had a hellish day and a late meeting, playing with Oliver, a baby, was very calming. Sometimes I think babies have all the answers. If only we'd realised it at the time and stopped crying about it.

I'm sure I wrote that a hell of a lot better last night. If you've followed me here from g+ - I really am kind of missing it. Still, meat space... time to do things in meat space.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Getting to the Bottom of Google+'s Real Name Policy

In this last week or so I've been questioning the real intent behind the real names policy of Google+.

They've stated it's to remove trolls. But then, when a profile has been reported for trolling, and said profile is still there several days later.... You do have to wonder.

And then, look at who has had to verify themselves. Every person I've heard of who has had to verify themselves has had in the multitudes of thousands followers. It's never the ones who just have a few hundred.

Trolls aren't really likely to have that many followers...

Andy Carvin, who is the senior strategist for National Public Radio (America), stated that Google CEO Eric Schmidt claimed that Google+ was built primarily as an "identity service". How very big brother'ish of them!

Okay so it's an identity service. That doesn't explain why reported profiles aren't blocked at all, and why people with thousands of followers have to verify themselves.

Remember, Google oddly made that tagline of "Don't do evil" disappear though we all still remember it...

What's really interesting is that I don't have to speculate. The conclusions are bad enough. Google aren't acting in our best interests - don't kid yourselves. It's not about trolls. It's not about our cyber-safety. It's an identity service. For who? Are we talking about single sign on? Then why not sell it as such rather than a social networking pretence?

This is all a touch upsetting. A protest where I'm happy to leave is kind of less of a protest. Ah well.

It'd be interesting what would happen if you tried to do this in real life. Have people run around collecting details and letting you get into places so long as you've connected up with that service... If a person with a clipboard stood there taking your details and tell you about how easy this would make life, would you do it? Why are we so happy to do it online?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My (Nevyn's) Flirtation with Social Networking

Anyone who's followed my posts for a while knows that:

  1. My spelling is sometimes atrocious (Thanks Félix for pointing that out - you missed the fact that my grammar turns to crap when I get excited).
  2. I don't consider social networking sites to be all that social.
Anyway, I joined up to google+ with a mind to test my own assumptions. Could a social networking site be social? I still maintain sitting behind your computer is not social.

However, I think I did a damn good job of it. I'm sitting here tonight watching a conversation about languages, their roots, ways of grouping them followed up with offers of help to teach each other. Brilliant!

And I've met some amazingly cool people. The flirtatious reminding me that I'm great. The thought provoking. The people I can have a laugh with (often in politically incorrect ways). The damaged, proving that I'm not alone in my anxieties.

I declared myself a minor online New Zealand celebrity and ended up on a couple of lists - one which listed me as one of the most social people on Google+, another which was just way too easy to mess with (I've since been blocked from having my profile ranked on that one).

In fact, I've gotten home and jumped on the net to see what's been going on. I joined a couple of hangouts - video chatting with a group of people essentially. I switched off during a couple of meetings to check my "streams".

But then there's been this whole thing about Google requiring real names.

Are we even on the same Internet? They've been claiming that anonymity causes people to misbehave. Just as the non-religious are, by their very nature, immoral...

When I was 18 I found myself reading a bunch of books by Katherine Kerr. I'd read Palace first, loved her style - particularly character development - and went looking for more. I found the name Nevyn, meaning "No One". The character had this great irony to him. Despite being named no one, he put himself in places of importance, as a servant of sorts. Given my depression, I found myself really liking the name, and so took it as my own. The irony of it all grew on me, until, I think, I'm a lot like that character in a lot of ways.

I'm about to turn 32 and everyone (except perhaps family) knows me as Nevyn. And I credit a lot of my personal development to the fact that I could take another name, make it my own and be the person I wanted to be rather than the one I felt I had to be.

Under the Google rules I can use the name "Nevyn" as it's what I'm known as - in meat space as well as on the Internet.

But... It became my name. It wasn't my name. It wasn't the name I was given. It was a name I took and made my own.

Which makes me question - can I really be on Google+ without being a hypocrite?

Essentially I'd be condoning Google's policy when I can see where the benefits lie. The abused wanting to find a way to interact with the world without fear. The searchers trying to find something of themselves. The social commentators trying to keep something of themselves isolated from their day to day lives (for example, how closely are {single male primary school} teachers scrutinized?). I'm sure this list can go on and on.

By Google's stance though, it isn't hard to conclude that the Internet too is a bad place. It's full of trolls and cyberbullies, scams and "offers" for Viagra and things to make parts of me bigger. Our kids are in danger of tripping up over porn. And did you know that there are stalkers on the net as well*? It's a nasty place. It's full of all of this bad stuff and let's just ignore the fact that there are loads of benefits.

So I've seen friends being kicked off Google+ - actually meeting their conditions - but not able to prove it to Google's satisfaction. And I've seen some be able to prove it. Some who've been forced to change the name they've been using (the omission of an "awesome" in one). Violet Blue, who's always been fairly controversial got kicked. At least one left, in formal protest of this policy. In fact, he's what had me thinking hard about the policy and why I can't condone it in any way whatsoever.

So, in formal protest, I'm leaving Google+ (On the 30th of August to give myself time to let my protest be heard on G+ - Also, my birthday...). It might not be forever. If Google ever change this policy I might go back (Look - I'm not even saying they have to apologise for it or admit they *insert expletive here*ed it up). I've seriously enjoyed the experience. It's been a blast. My sarcasm has known no bounds. My empathy and logic and lecturing tone have all been satisfied and I've met some seriously cool names on the screen. Bye bye cruel Google+ world. I hope one day you see the error of your ways and ... in the words of Baillie .... stop being dicks.

* Google probably being the worst....

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Another Contributor

I couldn't help myself.

After seeing a well thought out rant on Google+, and having followed him for the last few weeks, I've invited Félix to contribute to this blog.

There's a couple of reasons for this:

  • It'd be great to foster new and interesting relationships outside of Google+.
  • I loved his rant - an interesting comparison between the anti-cheating measures taken in secondary and tertiary education.
  • This blog could probably do with a bit more content.
And guidelines? I've never really thought about it before. The only guideline I could think of was a disclaimer at the beginning of any posts that aren't children friendly...

So welcome Félix...

Monday, August 8, 2011

Baillie's Awesomeness

I'm currently on the phone to Baillie and she just showed me what she's been doing.....

I thought it kind of deserved it's own post given that it seems in the spirit in which this blog was started...