• 2019

  • Facebook is Rebranding Their Apps, Add Its Name to Instagram

  • From The Information:

    In a big shift, Facebook plans to signal its control of Instagram and WhatsApp by adding its name to both apps, according to three people familiar with the matter. The social network will rebrand the apps to “Instagram from Facebook” and “WhatsApp from Facebook,” the people said.

    Employees for the apps were recently notified about the changes, which come as antitrust regulators are examining Facebook’s acquisitions of both apps. The app rebranding is a major departure for Facebook, which until recently had allowed the apps to operate and be branded independently. 

    Well, I guess it’s official. Instagram has jumped the shark. The writing has been on the wall for quite some time, so I can’t say I’m surprised. But this, is the icing on the cake for me. Back when Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger left Facebook, I had grave concerns for the future of Instagram. But it’s now crystal clear — Facebook doesn’t (nor has it ever) give a shit about what their users want. Nor does Facebook care about how a healthy network of users should look like. It’s been obvious for a long time that Instagram is detrimental to your mental health, and they’ve done nothing but exacerbate the problem.

    So, I guess I’m leaving Instagram soon. Good thing Tim Smith is building Bokeh soon. Can’t wait to migrate.

  • What of the Tumblelogs?

  • Wasn’t Tumblr remarkable?

    I don’t travel to Tumblr’s realm anymore. But, I know plenty who still do. Even with their bullshit adult-content ban — it’s still a great resource for artists, designers and those who crave visual stimulation. Hell, it’s a neat place to get your toes wet in blogging. The adult-content ban was probably predetermined to happen anyways. Now that it operates at the behest of the Verizon/Yahoo!/AOL mega-corp. It’s a bummer — a wet blanket on creativity, social-sharing and generally just not a good idea to mimic the tightly manicured faux-reality of censored nipples and porcelain skin of Instagram.

    Frankly, I’m worried for Tumblr. I’m also deeply concerned for the web.

    But let’s back up for a bit. What even is Tumblr? Tumblr, the word — comes from tumblelogs. One could call it a sub-culture of blogging, but really that’s affording it too much. It’s really just an approach to blogging that was born out of the quick-and-dirty modus operandi many of us have. I mean, look at Instagram (or even Snapchat) stories. That quick-and-dirty framework is what catalyzes content to virility. It’s what draws people to the next big thing. Be it MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or even Ello (remember that one?). Anyways, Tumbling as it came to be known, is now colloquially synonymous with blogging. Thanks to Tumblr, blogging was truly born.

    From a 2005 post from kottke.org:

    A tumblelog is a quick and dirty stream of consciousness, a bit like a remaindered linksstyle linklog but with more than just links. They remind me of an older style of blogging, back when people did sites by hand, before Movable Type made post titles all but mandatory, blog entries turned into short magazine articles, and posts belonged to a conversation distributed throughout the entire blogosphere. Robot Wisdom and Bifurcated Rivets are two older style weblogs that feel very much like these tumblelogs with minimal commentary, little cross-blog chatter, the barest whiff of a finished published work, almost pure editing…really just a way to quickly publish the “stuff” that you run across every day on the web.

    I like this description because it gets right to the point (RIP to the 404s). Now that I think about it, my blog is basically a tumblelog of links, videos and highly-opinionated posts on technology. But the other half of my life is chronicled elsewhere on Twitter and Instagram. Frankly, I’m comfortable with that for now. But I would love for all of my content to live here on this blog. The quickly diminishing youth market of Tumblr knows that too.

    I can guarantee Zuckerberg understands that too. He literally wants to merge as many of Facebook’s services into one. I think that’s a really bad idea. I don’t think it’s inherently dumb or evil to use Facebook to connect with your friends or family. But I do think it’s dumb to have Facebook be at the center of your life.

    Your blog, website or tumblelog should be at the center of your digital footprint. Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr are just the appendages. Your blog or website is the body. So protect your body.

    Step one: buy a domain name. Step two: start a blog with WordPress. It’s never been cheaper to self-host a website or blog. This is not to be confused with WordPress.com. Which, is also a blogging service (not unlike Tumblr) that has its own merits. However, self-hosting with WordPress(dot org) the past several years has opened my eyes, it’s been pretty inexpensive, and very reliable. For what it’s worth, I have hosted my blog at DigitalOcean since day one. Here’s a free $100 credit if you’re interested. DigitalOcean has a one-click install option for WordPress, read more about that here.

    Blogs (as I have frequently been writing about lately), or tumblelogs — pick your poison. They’re here to stay, even if the social network appendages in your life disappear.

  • 2018

  • On Facebook Portal

  • Oh, the humanity.

    Who is the hell would buy this… from Facebook? The company who has had a combined total of nearly 120 million users compromised in data breaches spanning 2 years — is selling a telecommunication smart-home product for the home.

    Wow. Just wow.

  • Reddit Surpasses Facebook in Popularity

  • An interesting development on the web happened today. Reddit just passed Facebook as #3 most popular website in the US. This was no small feat for the Reddit engineering team who have also juggled a site re-design. As the Facebook deals with an Exodus, I suspect that new user sign-ups have slowed for the Silicon Valley giant as well. 

    As TNW reported:

    On average, Reddit users spend 15 minutes and 10 seconds on it every day, a figure substantially higher than its competitors. Google users spend 7 minutes 16 seconds, You’veTube 8 minutes 31 seconds, Facebook 10 minutes 50 seconds and Amazon 7 minutes 37 seconds on the sites each day.

    This isn’t great news for Facebook on the face of things. The social media company’s audience is aging and shifting to other platforms and, with the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the company’s lost a lot of sheen.

    It really just comes down to two factors: time and traffic.

    Facebook has millions of backlinks over their rival Reddit, but people enjoy the fresh and open content. Snoo’s tribes will continue to grow as Facebook’s users age, linger and mob.

    I have long been a fan and user of Reddit. I may not enjoy everything I come across on Reddit, but alas is the beauty of their unique paradigms that help keep my feed fresh:

    • Useful Bots (most of the time, clearly labeled as such)
    • Subreddit Flairs (great for improving comment threads and context)
    • Up-voting and down-voting 
    • Karma (helps identify trolls and patron saints of Reddit easily)
    • A never-ending battle to squash bullshit on Reddit

    I love Reddit. It’s been through some tough times, and still is wrangling with problematic subreddits, but that’s the cost of a great product and an even better community. It takes real work to cultivate and grow a healthy internet community. I really think Facebook held that title up until 2011 with their first set of re-design efforts. But somewhere along the way Facebook lost their soul and lost their focus.

    Here’s to Snoo. You earned it. 🏆 Now get out there and upvote!

  • Weather Channel Walks Away from Facebook Videos

  • From Sahil Patel for Digiday:

    “[Facebook video] hasn’t been beneficial,” said Neil Katz, global head of content and engagement at The Weather Channel, during a speech at the Digiday Video Summit in Scottsdale, Arizona. “It has been good for Facebook, but it hasn’t been good for us.”


    “We went along for the ride every single step of the way,” Katz said. “But we noticed, over the course of two years, that we were being paid in all types of currencies — followers, shares, views — that did not feel like money.”

    The Weather Channel was part of Facebook’s funding program for live and on-demand news feed videos and also produced three shows for Facebook Watch last fall. The Weather Channel’s deal to produce live and on-demand news feed videos for Facebook, for which Katz said it received a seven-figure fee, shined a light on how difficult it is to make money on Facebook. Paid to produce a predetermined number of minutes per month, The Weather Channel found it was only making $28 per minute of video produced. For comparison, Katz pointed out how the CBS reality show “Survivor” cost $45,000 per minute to make in 2009.

    Not surprised. Facebook is a one-sided business. It’s closed-off, full of trolls, your mom and dad, an echo-chamber of bad ideas, and where content goes to die. While IBM clearly isn’t as brash as Elon Musk it leaves me wondering, “how much longer until Facebook has a user-exodus crisis on its hands?”

  • The user interface of Lobe AI


  • Lobe, is a visual composer of sorts — for building, training, and exporting custom deep learning models. The interface is very Quartz Composer-esque. Check it out:

    If you’re in a hurry, watch from 6:12 for a walkthrough on how to create a project from scratch.

    Lobe is a start-up from Mike Matas, Markus Beissinger and Adam Menges. Matas, an ex-Apple and ex-Facebook Silicon Valley designer veteran — previously released published this demo called The Brain (see below), which was entirely built in Quartz Composer. A fucking awesome demo.

    No wonder Lobe looks like a Quartz composition. Keep in mind, this was published about one year ago:

    This is really really exciting stuff. Building and training deep learning models are simple in concept, but complex in reality. Lobe, may just be the first visual tool to bridge that divide.

    To quote John Gruber:

    Lobe is to CoreML what Illustrator was to PostScript — a profoundly powerful tool that exposes the underlying technology to non-experts through an intuitive visual interface.

    Gruber’s analogy is probably the best, and he’s right. When Desktop Publishing Software exploded in popularity the late 80’s and late 90’s, everything changed. Productivity skyrocketed, and progress in tooling, production and creative software just took of and to be honest, it never really cooled down. We’re still in living in that same epoch, but having different conversations about the same problems.

    Lobe truly exposes a whole new world of problem-solving to non-experts and that will lead to some really exciting tools. Hats off to everyone at Lobe. Remarkable work.

  • An illustrated image o fa healthy network. Multiple nodes connected together. Unity and strength.

    Death by a Thousand Likes

  • I’m hitting the rant-wheel again. Facebook’s potential data breach (nearly 5 million accounts affected) illustrates just how frail and weak the web has become.

    It’s of our own doing too. We all jumped aboard the Facebook train and did so willingly. Well now, we’re paying the price. Almost two-thirds of all internet traffic are siphoned through the what has been dubbed, The Trinet. To be brief, Facebook and Google now control over 70% of the worlds internet traffic. That my friend, is not good. Good perhaps, for cat GIFs or dog memes. But, not so much for the health of the web.

    The web, exists as a series of connected nodes. I link to something, you link to something… we all link to something! That’s the idea behind hypertext. Documents connected by hyperlinks. It’s a beautiful idea, and it’s what makes Wikipedia, blogs, and even “liking” things — so much fun.

    An illustrated image o fa healthy network. Multiple nodes connected together. Unity and strength.
    A healthy network. Connected, strong hyperlinks.

    The problem, is when large networks (like Facebook) contain hyperlinks behind closed doors. For example, if I don’t have a Facebook account, I can’t see a lot of the content, events, or posts behind the blue gates of Facebook. Mainly, that’s because some people prefer private accounts, so a lot of that content is hidden for good reason. No judgement there. I get it. But, what private users might not realize, is that their interests and activity (regardless of your privacy settings) are publicly sold to the highest bidder. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    Advertising is the crucible that has forged hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of online businesses and creators. Social media, newspapers, and bloggers all depend on that sweet sweet nectar: ad revenue. I’ve even taken a piece of that pie. Some ad networks spread web page bloat. Sending dreadfully large ad assets to otherwise small webpages, causing painfully long load times. Which, sucks. Or worse, cookie tracking. Not all ad networks are shitty though. Point is, it’s not all bad out there. But, ad networks need to get their shit together too. That will probably be something I rant about another day.

    An illustrated example of a dying network. Unconnected, weak and dying.
    A weak network, such as Facebook. Closed off, weak hyperlinks.

    Alas, to make matters worse, last year several really terrible senators sponsored a bill that would allow ISPs to sell your browsing history to advertisers. Without consent from subscribers, mind you. Um, no thank you. It probably wouldn’t be a big deal with consent, but that’s not the point. It’s the shear amount of power and the continuing lack of responsibility from ISPs, and Silicon Valley has been the problem and will continue to be the problem…

    Unless, we the people — setup government oversight. Which sadly, doesn’t seem like something this Whitehouse administration is keen on doing. This week, Paul Ford —  legendary hypertext crusader and author called for the US to create a Digital Protection Agency. I 100% agree. It’s in our best interest to keep our data safe and protected. We have consumer protections, environmental protections, safety boards, air traffic controllers, bank regulators, and financial comptrollers. Where’s the Sheriff of the Wild Wild Web?

    I do have hope. The web is a resilient, transient, amorphous thing. It’s changed a lot in the past 30+ years. Hell, it’s changed me, for the better. If you too want to see a healthy web again, live extramurally. Dump Facebook. Buy your domain. Own a piece of the web, and fight the good fight. Don’t forget to vote others into office that feel the same way.