Like diversity? Facebook will let you have it, but not keep it

Yesterday I wrote about an annoyance I have with Facebook’s web user interface. In a nutshell, I personally prefer to regularly view in my news feed the latest items from ALL the people, groups, and pages I’ve friended or liked in Facebook — not just the select few which Facebook has noticed I already interact with most frequently.

Why? I prefer diversity. I’m a fairly casual Facebook user, but I do use it as a way to connect with people, organizations, and communities for whom Facebook is really the best way to keep up with them. This includes many community groups, people whose social/professional circles really don’t overlap with mine otherwise, and even people/orgs with whom I disagree.

This is because, as I’ve written before (and so has Ethan Zuckerman), I think too much homophily is a problem — not just online, but in life.

But so far, Facebook seems to want to give me no choice but homophily — at least, they won’t respect my preference on an ongoing basis.

Here’s what I mean, based on what Vadim Lavrusik of Facebook told me this morning….

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Facebook: How to change your default news feed setting to “most recent”

UPDATE JUNE 30: Unfortunately, this fix doesn’t seem to be persisten. Today, my Facebook news feed default reverted to “Top News” — without me changing that setting. I asked Vadim Lavrusik of Facebook about it, and the bottom line is: it is not currently possible to opt to persistently see “Most Recent.” They’ll change you back to “Top News” when you’re not looking, like it or not. Seriously. Read more

I use Facebook strictly as a casual way to communicate with people I know. I’m not a heavy Facebook user because their interface sucks, and it keeps on sucking. But there’s one thing about Facebook that was really bugging me, and I finally just figured out how to fix it.

The Problem: The default setting for your Facebook news feed (list of recent updates) is “Top News” — which is somewhat misleadingly named, since it’s really only updates from the friends and pages that Facebook’s algorithm, in its infinite and inscrutable wisdom, believes you interact with the most.

In order to see in your news feed updates from ALL the people and pages you’ve chosen to connect with on Facebook, you need to select the “most recent” option. Totally unintuitive, but that’s par for the course with the Facebook interface.

BUT: In order to routinely see updates from all your Facebook friends and pages, you must change that default setting. Facebook doesn’t make this easy — again, par for the course for Facebook.

I figured out how to do it. Below is my quick video tutorial.

WATCH VIDEO TUTORIAL: Facebook News Feed settings

…You’d think that with all the money they’re making, Facebook could afford to hire some good UI designers and do some usability testing! I think I might mail them a copy of¬†Don’t Make Me Think (old by internet standards, but the principles are timeless).

ONAcamp Denver, June 23: Resources for my mobile journalism session

I’m back in Colorado for a few days, and in a few minutes I’m heading over to ONAcamp Denver — a daylong event with training and workshops in digital journalism. My session runs 9-10am MT. Here’s the info, if you’re going:

Adirondacks (Tivoli 440/540): Mobile Reporting
As more and more users turn to mobile devices for news and information, journalists should be including the platform in their news gathering and delivery. But how? This session will take a big-picture look at trends in the mobile industry, the differences between mobile and the web, the significance of having a mobile presence and the best tools to use in the mobile space.

Here are some things I’ll be mentioning…
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Know your mobile media channels

Mobile media reaches far, far beyond mere just smartphone/tablet apps. There are lots of ways to communicate with, and engage, your audience via the mobile devices they have in hand right now — even if they don’t have smartphones (which is the case for about 70% of the current US mobile market).

If you’re in the news business, or in any way involved with media, it’s important to devise a mobile strategy that’s inclusive. That means: Unless you’re really only interested in serving the small minority of the population that can afford (and has lots of time to play around with) souped-up, pricey smartphones and tablets, then it’s crucial to offer at least some mobile content and services that works well with simpler devices and slower data connections.

The low end will always be the largest part of the mobile media market. If your plan is to focus on smartphones and wait until most people get the kinds of devices and plans you think they should have in order to serve them, the next Craigslist is going to come along and eat your lunch. Again.

Here are the key mobile channels… Continue reading

Speaking of cognitive dissonance: How LeBron James Broke the Golden Rule of Sports

Following on my earlier post, Why facts will never be enough to make people believe, a friend showed my this amazingly witty and incisive video rant by Jay Smooth, founder of the New York hip-hop radio show, WBAI’s Underground Railroad.

It’s on a similar theme, with a twist: The collective, self-reinforcing cognitive dissonance and fervent but meaningless arguments that keeps sports fandom and the pro sports industry rolling — and why the people involved in pro sports probably shouldn’t draw attention to that fact. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, and all that.

I think you might be able to search-and-replace the sports references here with references to politics, religion, smartphone platforms, or news/media brands, and it would still work.

Brilliant.


via YouTube – How LeBron James Broke the Golden Rule of Sports.

Hat tip: George Kelly

Mobile phone security: What are the risks?

On CNN.com Tech today, I wrote a basic overview of the most common current security risks mobile users face, and some basic things you can do to protect yourself:

Mobile phone security: What are the risks?

First on the list was malware — and on that front, Android definitely presents the biggest risk, because it’s such an open platform.

So, anticipating the trolls: Even though I own an Android phone and love it, and have said so several times in my CNN posts, I’m sure I’ll get lots of comments from Android fanboys complaining that I must be on Apple’s payroll.

For the record, no, I get nothing from Apple. In fact, I’m really kinda tired of iPhone fetishization, especially by tech media. I’m not anti-iPhone or anti-Apple (you’d have to pry my macbook from my cold dead fingers)

I used to own an iPhone and liked it well enough, but I AT&T really sucks in the Bay Area, so last summer I traded up to a Droid Incredible, which I generally like better. It’s got its hitches and weirdnesses, but it’s also a pretty cool device.

But being an Android owner has made me far more aware of mobile security. Ultimately, I think that’s a good thing.

So Android fanboys: Chill out. Go get some Doritos. And a reality check.

Neither am I on the payroll of Norton or Lookout, two companies whose products I mentioned as examples of the kinds of tools smartphone users can employ for mobile security. Norton did invite me to their mobile security event in SF. Yeah, I’m a journalist. I go to conferences. I meet with companies to learn what they’re doing. Shocking, I know.

My CNN post also covers premium SMS fraud, phishing, and spyware — and the spyware thing is especially creepy…

Why facts will never be enough to make people believe; and why journalists should learn to roll with that

Right now I’m reading Seth Mnookin’s Panic Virus — a book about the bad science, bad science media coverage, and quirks of human psychology that fostered the anti-vaccine movement (by parents concerned that vaccines cause autism, despite the wealth of peer-reviewed science to the contrary).

I’m reading it because I’m fascinated and concerned why people (sometimes in large numbers) tend to cling to beliefs/positions fiercely long after they’ve been factually debunked/disproven, whether by science or by journalistic, legal, or other systematic investigation. (WMD, anyone?)

This kind of anti-fact, anti-science backlash tends to really confuse and frustrate journalists and scientists.

It sucks when you work really hard to do the fairest, most systematic investigation of a topic that deeply affects many people’s lives — but the very people who are suffering most from the topic of your research refuse to believe what you have to say, or accuse you of being part of some conspiracy to hoodwink them. And meanwhile, your less skilled or less ethical colleagues are producing their own research and reports designed to foster fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

That generates considerable friction, controversy, and conflict. And worse, it delays the discovery and implementation of real solutions.

Why does this happen — and what can journalists and scientists do about it?…

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Mobile in low-income communities: My March 2011 talk at USC Annenberg

Earlier this year I spoke at several events during Mobile News Week at USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. This is the video from that event — a Director’s Forum session for USC Annenberg faculty and students.

First, my colleague Jason Da Ponte gives an excellent overview of the current and evolving mobile landscape, and the role of journalism in an increasingly mobile media environment.

My part starts around 21 minutes in. Afterward, Jason & I answered questions.