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).

Integrate your brochure site into your blog (updated advice)

Recently I offered some advice for how small businesses and independent professionals who aren’t very tech-savvy could expand their existing simple brochure sites into sites that will actively help build their business.

…Because the way the internet works today, a static brochure site is like a car up on blocks: You can sit in it, you can show it to people — but it ain’t going far.

After discussing some issues in the comments to that post with my friend maiki interi (a talented and thoughtful Web developer), I’ve decided to correct an important piece of advice.

Originally I advised: “You can create a blog using a free service like WordPress.com and integrate that into any site.” Maiki correctly observed:

“Seems to me to be [that may be] massaging the truth, on a technical level. Of course it depends on what you mean by integration.”

I was thinking over what it would really take to integrate a blog into a static site. It can be done, but yeah, it’s a lot of hoops to jump through. Plus, there are many ways this integration could be done badly. Also, it’s not reasonable to expect a non-technical business person to know what to request from a web developer on this front.

So here’s what I’m going to recommend instead: Integrate your brochure site into a blog, not the other way around.

This does NOT means starting over from scratch. You can still use most or all of what your web designer originally built for you. However, you’ll be strapping it to an engine that will play nice with the internet and actually get your business moving.

This also does not mean your site has to look like a conventional blog. It can still mainly look like a brochure, if that’s what you want.

So here’s what the nontechnical people can do to reconfigure their brochure sites…

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Hashtags: Your Social Media Radar Screen and Magnet

Twitter Trending Hashtags
Image by mobatalk via Flickr

Later today I’m giving a talk at an entrepreneur’s group about how you can get more benefit out of social media by using hashtags. I’ve found that these can be exceptionally valuable tools to connect with topics and people. They also can help you make yourself (or a topic, organization, or event that matters to you) much easier to find and connect with.

I’ll be fleshing out these ideas in a later blog post. But for now, here are my main points I intend to make — Plus some resources I will to demonstrate…

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Hashtags on Twitter: How do you follow them?

TweetDeck
Column-based Twitter applications like Tweetdeck can make following hashtags easy. (Image by Tojosan)

As I’ve mentioned before, hashtags are a powerful tool that allows Twitter users to track what many people (especially people whom you aren’t already following) are reporting or thinking about a particular topic or event.

Here’s the catch: Hashtags aren’t an officially supported Twitter service. They’re merely a convention that Twitter users have adopted on their own, within the 140-character text-only constraints of tweeting. So you can’t really “follow” hashtags through the main Twitter site.

Many third-party Twitter tools and services “play nice” with hashtags — but you must first know what these tools are and how to use them in order to get maximum value from hashtags.

This can lead to a bit of basic confusion, especially among people who are new to Twitter. Specifically, how exactly do you follow a hashtag?…
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Gigapan: Pictures you can really get into

Gigapan fragment, DC Union Station

Gigapan fragment, DC Union Station

Gigapan isn’t brand new, but it’s a fascinating visual tool that allows people to deeply explore panoramic photographs — and to collaboratively tell stories through pictures.

It’s part of Carnegie Mellon University’s Global Connection Project

What’s so cool about Gigapan?

  • Conveys a strong sense of place — almost a 3D feel
  • People can create their own experience with snapshots
  • Provide text or link context
  • Allows examination and discussion of details
  • Plays nice with Google Earth

I like Gigapan because it offers an experience sort of like this:

More about Gigapan…

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What’s the Difference Between a Blog and a Web Site?

A journalist friend recently asked me:

“What’s the real difference between a blog and web site? Can I have a link to my favorite sites, favorite videos, host a forum, etc. on my blog, or am I better off just building a Web site…and maybe having a blog on that. Likely I will probably only do one or the other.”

My take on this is that the difference between blogs and web sites is steadily vanishing. These channels are definitely converging.

In fact, they started out converged. After all, a blog is nothing more than a kind of web site supported by a content management system that provides a useful collection of features: Comments, a permalink for each post, categories, tags, a home page where the latest content automatically appears on top and earlier stuff scrolls down, etc. (If you thought a blog was something else, see: What’s a Blog? Bag the Stereotypes)

So what’s someone who’s just starting out online with a blog or site to do?…
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How to Fix Adblock Plus clash with Lijit search

Firefox users: To disable Adblock Plus on Lijit.com (or any site), you’ll need to add this handy red icon to your toolbar.

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I was trying out the search widget Lijit on this site — not just for site search, but as a “me collector” (to aggregate all my content posted in various places online). It appears to be working fine — except in the Firefox web browser, where I’ve hit a snag.

Turns out that Lijit search and the popular Firefox add-on Adblock Plus (which I use) don’t play nicely with each other at this point. Consequently, if you view Contentious using Firefox (at least the Mac version) and try to conduct a Lijit search, it’ll probably just hang there and deliver no results. However, the Lijit search for my site works just fine for me in the Safari browser.

Lijit community analyst Tara Anderson recently contacted me to ask how Lijit was working for me, and I described this problem. She replied, “Do you have AdBlock as a plug-in on your Firefox browser? If so, then that will block any results from being returned. There is a workaround — you have to add Lijit into the whitelist of your AdBlock and then it should recognize Lijit as a safe site, allowing the results to be displayed.”

OK, so how do you do that? Tara was kind enough to give me the answer…
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