Archive for the ‘Networking’ Category
Privacy is a big concern, particularly on Facebook. And for absolutely good reason, too. After all, I’m sure we all have those ex-friends we not only never want to see again, but would like to never see us again, too. Keeping who you want close, close and who you want far away as far away as possible is only natural.
That includes companies. These days there is a barter system going on with our private information. We like a brand’s page and allow them to see our demographics in exchange for potentially fun posts and, even better, free stuff. Sounds like a deal, as long as I’m the one who gets to okay it. This same barter is seen on Amazon, where the site learns what you like and makes, sometimes very astute, recommendations. But only when you’re signed in.
But, what about those cases when you’re not signed in. When you didn’t sign up for something and they’ve scraped your data from your Facebook profile? You didn’t sign up for it. I didn’t sign up for it. How can we avoid this danger?
But, is there really a privacy threat?
I mean, no doubt Facebook has privacy issues. Otherwise people wouldn’t be complaining left and right. I do not doubt this, and will not argue against it.
But I will point out that it’s incredibly difficult to get at your public data on Facebook by using the legal Open Graph API. I know because I tried to access my own public data and that of my friends through that API while not signed in. Here’s what I found:
Then just type in https://graph.facebook.com/ followed by that number into your browsers URL bar and – tadaa! You can see what is available publicly about you.
I don’t know about you, but I really don’t care if people know I’m female, speak American English, and thus assume I’m an American female. As far as my name goes, I use a pseudonym online, so have fun!
Notice that even if my privacy settings were to make everything public, they still wouldn’t show up with this public Open Graph API search. That’s because Facebook doesn’t use the word public here the same way that we do. The information displayed above is “public information.” But in order to get at the information I’ve shared with the world on my Facebook Profile, any application developer needs an “access token.”
To get an access token, Facebook’s developer website explains that an app must go through three stages: user authentication, app authorization, app authentication. User authentication is just verifying that the user is who he says he is, same for app authentication. App authorization, however, is that bit where we’re asked to allow the app access to various bits of our data.
“Public” does not mean “public”
Let’s back up a second. “Public” in the eyes of Facebook app developers is basic demographic information. “Public” in the eyes of you, me, and most consumers is the stuff we set as available for strangers to see on our profiles. Companies and other systematic organizations cannot even see what we allow complete and total strangers to see. At least through this API.
I’m actually a bit reassured by that.
Of course, I’m sure there are work-arounds, particularly for the less than legal. However, at least when it comes to companies trying to spy into my life using the Open Graph API, I can rest assured that it’s a bit more complicated than just searching my name with this tool and that if they want to legally pry into my life, I have to give them permission.
*Note: I am not a Privacy Expert. I just tweedled around with the Open Graph API and this is what I found. As I said, I’m sure that there are other ways to spy on us. I just don’t think this is one of them. So you should always set your privacy settings as high as possible!
In the past few months, I had the good fortune to attend the first Google Firestarters event, where I heard and participated in a fascinating discussion of what agile business practices can do for both agencies and clients, and the IPA Club 44 Event at Microsoft, where I got to hear industry insiders talk about the advertising opportunities found in games. Why did I attend these events? Lord knows, I was generally exhausted, had deadlines to meet for school and work, and really only wanted to snuggle down with a good book. But they were worth it. After each of these events I felt re-energized, ready to tackle larger, harder problems, and better equipped to do so. I got myself to get over my laziness by just thinking of how I’d feel afterwards. It’s like going to the gym. After work, it’s the last thing I want to do, but I tell myself how great I’ll feel afterwards and go.
So, to help you motivate yourself to go to that next event, I am finally doing some short event summaries. This one is for the Google Firestarters event. Expect the IPA Club 44 Event in the near future.
Google Firestarters – Agile and Innovative
This event was all about being agile and making things happen. Mark Earls was the first keynote speaker. He pointed out that people are herd animals. Best example: After the When Harry Met Sally’s famous restaurant orgasm scene, the little older woman says “I’ll have what she’s having.” Yeah, we flock together. And not only with our conscious choices. Mark also brought up an obesity example. Did you know obesity is contagious? Apparently, you are 60% more likely to be really large if a close friend is. Too bad it doesn’t work in reverse! However, Mark’s biggest point was that if an action isn’t visible, the herd mentality and contagiousness of state won’t come into play. Humans need to see it to copy it.
Stuart Eccles was the second speaker. He focused on start ups and how they, not the big companies, are changing our world and how we work in it. Unfortunately, there is no direct comparison between start ups and larger companies. But that doesn’t mean larger companies can’t learn from how start ups do it. Start ups focus on doing the minimum to achieve a goal, the customer, and being agile through iterations. The basic agile cycle larger companies can use is: Make → Learn → Test → Repeat. The trick is to do this process quickly, testing at every possible opportunity, and to start the entire cycle off at Make, not Learn, as unintuitive as that sounds. However, Stuart warned us not to confuse iteration with incrementalism. With iteration, you know what the beginning looks like, probably have a vague idea of where you want it to go, but you have no idea what the end will actually look like. You simply haven’t gotten there yet. With incrementalism, you know what the end will look like, you’re just doing it piecemeal. Hist final warning was that iteration won’t tell you what the best idea is, but it will help you to hone the idea you have.
After the speakers we broke off into a short unconference. I spent the entire time in Ramzi Yacob‘s group discussing how agencies can encourage clients to work in more iterative ways. We tossed around tons of ideas, and it is really an interesting question to puzzle. In fact, more interesting than our solutions are the various problems: if clients give agencies only 10% of the actual budget to experiment with, we may have convinced them to experiment, but can we actually show impressive results with a small budget? Also, innovation usually fails. How do we keep client trust when this is just the way it is and yet we’re supposed to be the experts? How can we get around short-term sales appearing more important than long-term innovation? How can a company motivate its employees throughout the change (or employees within the agency, for that matter)? The solutions suggested were often quite good and enlightening, such as approaching heritage brands with agile first because they generally recognize the need to stay up-to-date and relevant, or using case studies from different sectors to illustrate the possible gains. I personally like the idea of billing by results. But still, the problems agencies face tends to be more enlightening since the solutions wont be discovered in a discussion. They’ll be discovered through doing. Yet the problems we face can be discovered by sharing experience and then defining them together.
This event was truly fascinating and really worth attending. I hope to attend future Google Firestarters events, too, and report on them. You can find Neil Perkin, the organizer’s, summary of the event here. He goes into more detail about all the other unconference discussions and has some interesting points of his own about the event.
So In the Future…
Attend what events you can. I hope that this has inspired you to go to the next cool networking or presentation event you hear about. You can really walk away with some cool nuggets. If you know of an event that will happen, write about it in the comments. If you are, rather, looking for an event, write about that, too. We might be able to help each other out.
Lately Facebook came under fire for changing privacy settings and sharing user data with companies. There is even a new social network in the wings, Diaspora, ready to go head-to-head with Facebook over privacy and user-data control. This points to more than just Facebook messing up, however. This is a chronic issue with social networking. We’re putting our entire lives online. I like to tell my friends that their lovely privacy controls won’t keep out the FBI. They won’t even keep out a dedicated hacker. Witness the Twitter hacker in France getting in to President Obama’s Twitter profile (he got off light, by the way).
So how do you protect yourself? Obviously I’m not going to advise that you quit social media. But I am going to suggest that you watch what you put online very carefully. Let’s start with general tactics, and if I get a good response to this post I’ll go more in depth with each popular social network.
- Know what you are putting online and be consistent. For instance, don’t go around announcing your middle name if your middle name is a security question for your bank. Same thing for the name of your pets, a common security question.
- Use Strong Passwords. Most people don’t do this, so here’s an easy way to have a strong password that you won’t even have to remember. Go here (disclaimer, this is my father’s website).
- Don’t Click on Things You Don’t Know. Be very aware of what you click on and have a good anti-virus. Even messages from within Facebook can have a virus or cookie attached.
- Don’t be a Phish. Phishing scams are scams where someone attempts to get you to give them your passwords, generally by pretending to be a company you are working with. For example, if you receive an e-mail that seems to be your bank asking for your log in information, that’s a Phishing scam. But it’s not just financial institutions. Phishers pose as social media sites, too.
- Don’t Broadcast Your Location Constantly. Geolocation games are fun. I play Foursqure. But I watch who I make my friend in the app very carefully, and I don’t broadcast where I am constantly. I don’t check in to home or work, so my regular habits are a secret. This includes Tweeting or posting Facebook updates about where you are, not just using geolocation services. Consider this: burglaries happen frequently during the day, when the home owners are at work.
- Know Your Friends. How well do you know all your Facebook Friends? Use lists. Not only is this good for your personal branding, but it will help you maintain your privacy.
- Don’t Publish Your Address or Phone Number. I always wondered how the spammers got my phone number. Turns out I had it on my Facebook Profile. It could have easily been on my blog, too, if I hadn’t edited my resume. Be mindful of what you copy/paste.
- There Are No Take-Backs. Once it’s out there, it’s out there. There’s a digital log of everything posted anywhere on the internet. So think
about everything you postbefore pressing that Send button.
- You Are Talking to a Cat. Online, no one knows you’re a cat. We warn children that their chatting buddies may not be other kids but rather creeps out to get them. Just because you’re chatting with someone who seems like a professional contact doesn’t mean she is. She could be a he out to scam you (or worse). Or she could be a cat.
- Be Yourself. Odd as it sounds, this is a safety tip. Don’t do online what you wouldn’t do in person. Great for personal branding and helps keep your reputation out of the gutter. For example, if you generally wouldn’t flaunt your body, don’t put sexy pictures online. Those pictures are asking for attention you really don’t want, even if your friends think those pictures are fun and have them up to. Do you want a creepo after you?
Do you have any great tips? How do you stay safe online?
I recently had the opportunity to interview a great local artist, Daniel Davis. He and his wife created Steam Crow Press, their publishing company, in 2005 after going to the San Diego Comic-Con. Since then, they have produced 4 books and a free web comic called Monster Commute. We spoke about knowing what your dream is and then living it. Below is what I learned:
Moral 1: Follow your dreams!
When I asked how Daniel knew he wanted to be an artist, he answered simply that he’s been drawing his whole life. That is a pretty common with artists, so what really got me what the rest of his answer: His family didn’t want him to be an artist. In his words, “When I was turning 18, I was getting a lot of pressure from my family in deciding what I wanted to do with my life and they kinda told me that art wasn’t one of those things… [so I decided that I would] pursue the crazy things I wanted to pursue.”
Moral 2: Adapt!
Of course, as a comic artist, I had to ask how Daniel got into comics. Turns out that was based on practicality. Comics are a good way to tell stories because pictures alone just aren’t enough. Though Daniel read comics as a kid, he’s gotten more into them as an adult.
Moral 3: Look for silver linings! (aka, When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!)
The idea for the Monster Commute comic came from an actual commute Daniel would make to work every day. Poor Daniel used to commute from North Peoria to the airport, which if you are unfamiliar with Phoenix geography is a 2-3 hour commute. One way. On the plus side of this long commute, we got the Monster Commute comics! Daniel thought, “What if the comic’s universe was about everyone commuting and living in their cars?” In some ways, it’s a monster version of Star Trek, or “Monster Trek.”
Moral 4: Don’t try to separate the various things you love. Mix ’em all together!
Daniel has a family, friends, a “day job” and his growing comics and art business. How on Earth does he balance his time? Daniel told me that you almost have to be unballanced a bit. He pointed out that if he spent a sensible 2 hours a week on his art, he would never get anywhere. So he justifies spending huge amounts of time working, and not necessarily with his son, by realizing that he’s doing his art for his son, which I personally found the most endearing thing I’d heard all day. The reasoning is that Daniel wants to actually create something while he’s alive so that way, after he’s gone, his son can go “Wow, look at all this stuff that you’ve made!”
Now, to put this in perspective, when I called Daniel for our interview, he was finishing up a regularly scheduled pool-time with his son. His son also gets involved in his work and plays with Dad’s modeling clay, makes 3D models of the drawings out of tinker toys…
Moral 5: Learn from the people around you
I also spoke with Daniel about pure business stuff, like where he learned about marketing. Turns out that Daniel’s “day job” to which I alluded earlier, is being a graphic designer for an in-house marketing team. Granted just working with marketers does not confer marketing mojo, but it does get a person into a good position to ask questions. That’s what Daniel does. He pays attention, listens, asks questions, and even gets informational interviews with folk, gathering knowledge he then applies to Steam Press. He also has Tiny Army, a local Phoenix illustrators group that he founded, where other local artists can get together and share what they know. They’ve been meeting for over 2 years, fostering a community of comic artists, designers, and illustrators. It’s Daniel’s way of becoming “one with the community.” Daniel’s all for learning the proven ways of doing business and developing his own creative ways. He shares his views on marketing at WebcomicMarketing.com.
Moral 6: Focus! Focus! Focus!
Daniel always knew he would have to do his own promotions. That’s why he goes around the convention circuit. (He’ll be at San Diego Comic Con Booth #4207 July 21-25!) He goes to various comicons or pop culture shows, gets a booth, sells his prints and books, and, if possible, speaks at panels during these shows. Self-publicity at its finest. This all requires a ridiculous amount of planning. To be a vendor at some of these shows, Daniel has to send out packages and applications to impress the juries that decide who gets vendor space and who doesn’t. Daniel is always planning 8 to 10 months ahead. This takes a lot of focus. But Daniel has that. He knows what he wants to do, what he wants to get out of it, what type of life he wants to build. He credits having his son for giving him the focus to succeed. In his own words, “It’s pretty vital to know what you want to do.”
Moral 7: If you want spoilers, ask the creator!
Finally, because I am a spoiler fan, I begged spoilers from Daniel. Turns out that in the long-term the story of Monster Commute will get a bit darker. Authority is going to claim a larger role, bringing everything to a head. It’s kind of bleak, but Daniel’s Daniel and will show off the friendship and loyalty the characters share. We will be getting a new character, though. Or old, depending on how you look at it. Klawberry is a character from one of Daniel’s first books, Klawberry: Good Girl, Bad World. We’re finally going to get a female character! Yay!
While Daniel works on the story, we, the loyal online readership, will enjoy some guest scripts. They’ve already started and are quite entertaining!