Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Facebook Movie??

Okay so this is the first I'm hearing of the Facebook movie. What the f*ck??? At first I thought it was a joke but apparently it's all too real and I'm just waaaayyyy behind.

In fact, it's already been acquired by Sony Pictures Entertainment with Scott Rubin as producer. According to his Facebook page, West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin has confirmed his involvement in the project:

I've just agreed to write a movie for Sony and producer Scott Rudin about how Facebook was invented. I figured a good first step in my preparation would be finding out what Facebook is, so I've started this page. (Actually it was started by my researcher, Ian Reichbach, because my grandmother has more Internet savvy than I do and she's been dead for 33 years.)

Apparently Facebook has no involvement and is being very tight-lipped about the matter even going as far as warning employees not to talk to Sorkin. This may be because Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg (pictured above right), will more than likely not be portrayed in the best light.

According to Gawker, the movie is to be based on Ben Mezrich's soon to be released memoir about how Facebook was founded. In the book's proposal Mezrich claims that Zuckerberg created the social network site to get laid. But isn't that common knowledge?

Here are more plot details from CNET:

With a working title of Face Off, the plot concerns Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's soured relationship with early Facebook executive Eduardo Saverin, who appears to have been in close contact with Mezrich for the book, while they were both undergraduates at Harvard. The proposal described Zuckerberg and Saverin getting caught up in Silicon Valley excess, partying like celebrities all over the world, until a showdown between them turned ugly.

As much as I hate Facebook, I will have to see this train wreck. How are they going to make a dramatic movie about two anti-social nerds at Harvard? For some reason I keep thinking of the episode of Family Matters where Urkel drinks "Cool Juice" and turns into Stefan Urquelle. Except money would be the "Cool Juice" in this metaphor.

As far as cast goes, the blogosphere is postulating that Jason Cera (pictured above left) would be a natural fit. I'm gonna go with Jon Heder aka Napoleon Dynamite. He wouldn't even need to change character! And it's not like there would even need to be a love interest....just a bottle of lotion and some tissues.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The New Facebook Blows!

A few weeks ago I heard my boyfriend shout from the office: "What the fuck is this??!" And so begins Facebook's third and final blunder before users pack up their photos and move on.

In an effort to compete with Twitter, Facebook redesigned its homepage by putting a greater emphasis on status updates. And as I'm sure everyone's heard by now, users have been very vocal about how much they HATE it (see below).

Placating their annoyed audience, Facebook is allowing users to vote on the new layout- only AFTER launching it on March 11. As of today, the voting is overwhelmingly conclusive- 94% of the over 1.7M voters dislike the new layout.
I think it's great that Facebook is joining the conversation albeit a little late. But according to a post last week on Valleywag, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg sent an email to his staff reacting to the layout criticism. Supposedly the email said something to the effect that 'the most disruptive companies don't listen to their customers.'

Didn't Marky Mark learn his lesson last month? Reacting to a groundswell of negativity over Facebook's terms of service, Zuckerberg stuck his tail between his legs and reverted back to the original terms of service and even initiated a Facebook Bill of Rights. And now he's saying that listening to his customers complaints about the redesign would be a stupid move? Is this guy schizo? Three strikes and you're out buddy....

Friday, March 27, 2009

Facebook Photo Stalker

I've said it before and I'll say it again- a picture tells a thousand words. And nothing can be more true than on Facebook. Being able to get a glimpse into an old friend or frenemy's life without any actual interaction provides a thrill like no other. Maybe it's the voyeur in me but this is actually the ill-fated reason I joined Facebook in the first place.

Learning that Michelle- the girl from high school who had cheetos stuck in her braces everyday after lunch- was married with twins was surreal. Seeing that Julie married someone other than her high school sweetheart and that Melissa was her maid of honor (I can't believe they're still friends!) was astonishing. A photo of John with his new husband helped explain a lot. But in order to see anything more than a profile pic, you actually have to "friend" these people- something my ego would never allow me to do.

My sister has no problem with this concept and is constantly friending people she hated in high school just so she can gain access to their inner sanctum and scrutinize their most precious memories displayed for all their "friends" to see. My boyfriend is on the opposite end of the spectrum where he doesn't care enough to look at other people's photos.

Well neither of these two options satisfied my morbid curiosity. That is until now. Facebook recently launched Photo Stalker, a new application that allows you to see the photos of users who have left their photo album security on the default setting of "everyone." Most people unknowingly leave their photos open to "everyone" assuming that everyone means all their friends when in fact in means the entire Facebook population. The Photo Stalker software is the only way to pull up photos that are posted to "everyone."

Apparently there are a lot of prideful Voyeurs out there. So far Photo Stalker has attracted about 2,000 users since it was introduced in February.

To access photos of people not on your "friend" list, all you need to do is enter their name, Facebook ID # or url into the application and bam- you're in! Now I can see pics of my 4th grade ex-best friend's husband or my college ex-boyfriend's wife. The entertainment is endless! And each picture will cause me to feel increasingly nauseous as I compare my life and achievements to that of people I haven't seen or spoken to in years. But isn't the the sadomasocistic point of Facebook?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Social Networking Snobs

Last week I spoke about Genkvetch, a niche social networking site catering to an older demo, those who don't quite fit in with the young whippersnappers on Facebook. Well the niche networking trend appears to be growing. Meet Affluence.org:

"Affluence.org is an exclusive online social network for the affluent and influential aimed at forming a socially conscious, elite, and exclusive community that helps wealthy, influential, and affluent people make life better for both themselves and others."

Although membership is free, the criteria to join in quite strict. All members must have a net worth of $3Million or an annual income of $300K and this must be validated through public records. Members are screened regularly to make sure they still meet the site's requirements.

But don't fear- even if you hob nob with the upper crust by taking a Greyhound out to the Hamptons every weekend you can still become a member by getting at least five of your wealthy friends to vouch for you.

Affluence launched in September and currently has more than 20,000 members. According to According to the St. Petersburg Times, some of the site's members include celebrities, investors, publishers and socialites from around the world, including Rolling Stone co-founder Jann Wenner.

With the tagline "Make Life Better," the site puts a very nice social responsibility spin on its "mission:"

"Affluence.org conveys a strong sense of philanthropy and social responsibility demonstrated by featuring a detailed charity section where members can direct donations, RSVP to fund raising events, watch videos relating to the cause, or indicate that they support the charity. Affluence.org also donated 15% of their monthly media, both print and online, to selected charities."

Okay, so this isn't just an elitist networking tool, a blue-blood online destination? This is a legitimate place to gather with other upper class members of society and help people less fortunate. Well, great. You shut this cynic up...that is until I reached the bottom of the "About Us" page which speaks to marketers directly:

"Access to this elite target market is unparalleled and our marketing partners know they reach a defined target audience with shared social interests and affluent lifestyles. The accuracy of our information is unlike that of other media publishers who estimate audience demographics through less reliable outside surveys and audits."

And so we see this is nothing more than a marketers wet dream during this financial crisis- direct access to a growing audience of wealthy individuals looking to spend and give. Bravo Scott Mitchell (founder of Affluence), you're a marketing genius!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Facebook Attracts Octogenarians and Dies

Today's article in the NY Times is more proof that Facebook is dying a slow, painful death as more and more baby boomers (aka old people- sorry mom and dad) are joining. According to the article, the fastest-growing user group is women 55 and over, up more than 175 percent since last fall. Men 55 and over are right behind, having increased almost 138 percent during the same time period. Oy Gevalt!

How much longer will kids want to hang out in the same virtual space as their parents? Yuck! The article, obviously written by a boomer, attempted to tackle this sticky issue:

"Of course some young Facebookers are annoyed by the older generation’s encroachment on their territory. My colleague joined a while ago, put in friend requests to her teenage daughters and was promptly rejected. Facebook is not for people her age, they informed her."

One of my friend's mothers recently friended her on Facebook. My friend was horrified but wasn't rude enough to "ignore" the request so now her mother has access to her sordid online life and she is now being forced to censor herself.

But some boomers are choosing to create their own online community like the three South Floridians who were tired of the youth-dominated social networking sites and decided to create Genkvetch. In this case a picture is worth a thousand words:
Looks about as fun as play time at Shady Pines. The tag line on the homepage reads:

"Out of place at Facebook, MySpace, and Friendster? Then this is your space!"

And while I don't agree with social networking in principle, at least these old foggies had the foresight to realize they don't belong on Facebook.

I Heart Jason Segal

I'm a big fan of the Judd Apatow genre. I must have seen 40-Year Old Virgin at least two dozen times and have even watched the deleted scenes (which are hilarious and should not be missed). It took me awhile but I finally saw his latest project Forgetting Sarah Marshall which suffered from a really poor marketing campaign- weird, irrelevant subway and bus ads that didn't relate in anyway to the witty romantic comedy. Needless to say it didn't do terribly well at the box office. But it was actually surprisingly good- no 40-Year Old Virgin but good none the less. I immediately fell in love with its star and writer Jason Segal- that cute guy from the lame CBS show How I Met Your Mother.

I fell even more in love with Mr. Segal seeing him diss Facebook on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (20 minutes into the video if you care to see for yourself):

"I'm not on the Facebook. I don't do the Facebook thing and I'll tell you why...I don't not keep in touch with you cause I can't find you. I didn't like you in high school and I'm not gonna like you now."

Jason, would you like to join SNR?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Facebook Wants Me Back!

How funny is this? I got the above email from FB a few days ago. In order to reactivate my account all I need to do is simply click the button and POOF- all my info and photos and friends will be back as if I never left.

This email interested me for two reasons. 1) It means there are many people like me out there who for whatever reason decided they had had enough of Facebook. As much as I disliked it, I agonized over the decision of ending my account for fear that if I changed my mind down the road, I'd have to do the work of setting up another profile all over again. It's extremely time consuming to determine how you want to appear to exs, frenemies and the like. This email let me know that all of my witty profile responses were just waiting to be read and all I needed to do was come back and drink the kool-aid.

This leads me to my second point. You may remember the Facebook Terms of Service scandal from a few weeks ago. The new TOS stated that basically anything you uploaded to the site belonged to Facebook even after you closed your account. The online community banded together and said I DON'T THINK SO and Facebook was forced to change their TOS. Okay, so even though Facebook doesn't own my clever words, they are still entitled to hold onto them in case I should ever decidedto come back. Something about that still doesn't seem quite right to me...

Roadside Facebook Memorials

There's nothing sadder than a roadside memorial. It reminds you not only of someone's tragic death but also of your own mortality. It could have been you on the way to the local grocery store when all of a sudden a drunk driver slams into you head on. But the other thing that has always disturbed me about roadside memorials is how they age. The friends and family of the deceased have gone to all the trouble of adding plastic flowers, cards and other memorabilia but nature has a way of aging these mementos. Who is responsible for eventually removing the disintegrated memories?

There was a kid my sister when to high school with who recently passed away suddenly and tragically. She told me how his Facebook wall became somewhat of a roadside memorial. I'm sure at first this kind of memorial provided some comfort to the young man's family. But what about five years from now? Won't it simply serve as a tarnished reminder of the son/friend/brother they once knew? Who is responsible for eventually updating or taking down his page?

Enter Legacy Locker, a new online service that allows people to securely store usernames, passwords and other access information for all their digital assets — from Facebook and MySpace accounts to Gmail and PayPal — and pass that information along to beneficiaries in the event of their death. “It’s the online equivalent of a safety deposit box,” said Jeremy Toeman, co-founder of Legacy Locker. Upon the death of a Legacy Locker member, family members simply call or email Legacy Locker and supply the death certificate, along with other verification criteria. Once that’s done, Legacy Locker sends the information onto the designated beneficiaries of the deceased.

While this in theory sounds like a good idea, who of Facebook's young demographic is thinking and planning for their inevitable demise? A bit ill conceived, don't you think? Plus, isn't this similar to a computer's cookies? Couldn't the family member of the deceased simply logon to the account provided that their computer's cookies have been enabled? But perhaps this service will appeal to Facebook's older, more mature demo although somehow I doubt it.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hulu + Social Networking= Disaster

I discovered Hulu this past fall and have since fallen in love with it's simple yet effective interface. Being able to watch my favorite shows (see clip below from "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia- best show ever) in their entirety or just funny clips for those short attention span moments, is a luxury I've come to treasure.

What also impressed me about Hulu is it's business model. This is the first site of it's kind that's found an effective way to monetize content without annoying the audience. The most you have to suffer through is two fifteen second ads per half hour show. And the beauty of it is, it gives you time to quickly check your email. As someone who is used to waiting through four to five 10 minute commerial blocks on shows like American Idol (yes I still watch it), two 15-sec spots is cake.

So as you can tell, I'm a huge Hulu fan. That was up until today when the Wall Street Journal announced that "the Internet-video site is adding social-networking functions in hopes of building user loyalty and mining data to attract more advertisers." The site, Hulu Friends, launched today in conjunction with Hulu's one year anniversary and includes many similar features to Facebook.

Hulu was on its way to becoming a real threat to traditional television but the The Wall Street Journal made a very interesting hypothesis that social networking component might actually take away their competitive advantage:

"By underscoring that the site is about providing entertainment on the computer, and not replacing television, the new social-networking features also could help ease concerns about Hulu's potential to undermine the business interests of TV networks and cable operators."

Oh Hulu, why couldn't you just leave good enough alone?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Cellphone Blogging

This is an experiment in Twitter-style blogging as discussed in previous post:

Hi snr. On bus home. Promised a post via text so here it is. Short & sweet. Attempting 2 develop social network site for project @ work. Ironic no? Reading groundswell and they suggest joining existing network whenever possible. Audience is teens so facebook app may b way 2 go although boss wants something he has propriety over. Interesting dilemma. Problem is we need 2 seed content on either. Not enough staff. Not viable option? All this in less than 500 characters. Not bad anna.

Okay, so this is longer than a Tweet but it was the maximum text length my cell phone would allow. Still an interesting experiment in brevity. Managed to a) express myself in a very limited space and b) occupy my time while commuting. Apparently most cellphone novelists composed their books while on the subway in Tokyo. Just goes to show what can happen when you put idle time to good use.

Martha Twitters About Dead Doggie

Here's a case in which the brevity of Twitter may not be the best option...

Seems a little cold, no? And to make matters worse, here's the Tweet Martha posted an hour prior:

I wonder what she's making- Chow Fun? Chow Mein? Tee hee.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Otto on Dogbook!

Oh, it's times like this that I wish I had a Facebook account! I just learned that there is a Dogbook application that lets you connect with other dog owners and their pups! Problem is you have to have a Facebook account in order to access the application :(

As you can see from the above, I have the world's cutest Boston Terrier named Otto. And since I can't put Otto on Dogbook due to my own biases towards it's mother organization, Facebook, I've hijacked my boyfriend's account and have created the following page for Otto!!!!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Twitter Literature

I've heard that in Tokyo, people are getting novels published that they have composed on their cell phones. These "cellphone novels" topped the best-seller list in Japan last year. Pretty incredible. Most are written by young women and involve love stories written in short sentences with little plot.

I once kept a journal using the notes function of my cell phone. I loved the challenge of fitting my thoughts into such a small space. There's something about brevity that really forces you to prioritize your feelings and focus on the things that are troubling you most. And it was for this reason that I actually enjoyed Facebook's update function.

I'm told that Twitter is exactly that- the update function without the rest of the junk that comes along with Facebook. I like the concept but I refuse to get sucked into yet another social networking fade. However, journalists are now using Twitter to report on breaking news stories.
Tweets are restricted to 140 characters and are therefore forcing reportes to be brief. Connie Coyne of The Salt Lake Tribune gave a great example of this using the Lord's Prayer:

R dad in sky: U r cool here & on high. Ur will is all. Feed & nurture us. 4 give us & we forgive. Let us evade temptation & evil. Amen.

This has inspired me to compose my next blog post via cell phone...stay tuned.

Listen to the Pope!

Pope Benedict the 16th recently warned his congregation via YouTube (yes, the Vatican has its own YouTube channel- see below if you don't believe me!) against what he called "obsessive" use of electronic communication. The Pope even went as far as to suggest they attempt to go without texting or social networking sites like MySpace or Facebook.

And in keeping with the Pope's advice, many Catholics are giving up social networking for Lent. A modern take on the traditional Christian practice of giving up something to represent the 40 days that Jesus fasted in the desert. There's a reason why some refer to Facebook as "crackbook" due to its addictive nature.

In my brief time on Facebook, that obsessive need to constantly check my page and my friends' pages was too much for me to handle. I already have 4 e-mail accounts- 2 for work, 1 for school and 1 personal- plus this blog not to mention the blogs that I'm a loyal reader of. That alone is enough to keep me occupied without having to continually update a Facebook/MySpace page or Twitter tweets. I can understand teens and stay-at-home moms who use this technology, but how does the rest of the social networking community have time?? Lent offers a nice reprieve from the burden imposed by such technologies. Go Pope!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Mad Men Meets Web 2.0

Too good not to share with my fellow SNRs...

Monday, March 2, 2009

Cybernerd Sues Facebook

College student Denise Finkel recently filed a $3 million lawsuit against Facebook and four of her former high school classmates who she has accused of cyberbullying. According to Finkel's lawyer, the classmates created a password-protected Facebook group "calculated to hold the plaintiff up to public hatred, ridicule and disgrace." Allegedly, the defendents claimed that Finkel had AIDS, was an intravenous drug user, and practiced beastiality.

Facebook's response: "We see no merit to this suit and we will fight it vigorously.

Now granted I'm sure the poor girl has been subjected to a lot of torment but $3 mil seems like an awful lot of money. As one who is no stranger to bullying, I feel for her. When I was in junior high, back in the days before cyberanything, this bitch Caryn Weiss used to torment me. Her and her clique would laugh and make fun of me because I was a little developmently challenged and had not yet mastered the concept of hairspray, fashion or deodorant (plus this was during my mullet phase). But I survived and slowly caught up to my classmates (and grew out the mullet). My point is that I dealt with this torment face-to-face on a daily basis- not online in cyberworld. I'm not saying that it doesn't have the same impact but is it really worth starting a lawsuit over? I'm a firm believer in karma and I'm sure the pain that Caryn inflicted on me as well as the pain Finkel's tormenters inflicted on her, will be paid back tenfold. All I can say is that Caryn better start teaching her little girl how to use deodorant sooner rather than later.

Sorry for the rant but this felt good! But seriously Denise, you are always welcome to our group here at Social Network Reject!