Unsocial Media: The Uselessness Of Facebook And Google+

October 17th, 2012 | researchmaterial

Google+ is apparently a success, according to many tech reporters.  Anecdotal evidence suggests that most people are using G+ to post inside Circles.  Some 11,000 people have added me to G+ circles – but, apparently, none of the ones they post to.  Of the 150+ people I had in circles, precisely three of them posted content I could see.  When I posted content, only a thin fraction of those 11000 people could see it, because at some point I got tuned out by the system.  G+ is therefore useless to me, and I just nuked my circles.

Facebook Pages allow some 16% of the people who clicked Like on a Page to see the posts from that Page.  Regardless of whether or not those people specifically requested those posts in their News Feed.  If a Page owner wants to access the eyeballs of more of the people who clicked Like on a Page because they wanted to see that Page’s posts, that Page owner has to pay to Promote those posts.  I would currently have to pay USD $10 to ensure that all the people who Liked the official Warren Ellis Page on Facebook actually saw one single post.   Facebook Pages are therefore useless to me. 

(Of the 150+ people I had as Friends on my personal page, maybe five people were aware I was actually there, so I’ve nuked my friends list there, too.)

None of this is important, you understand.  But I’ve not been paying a huge amount of attention to social media this year.  Until it became time to start thinking about raising awareness of GUN MACHINE.  So I’ve had to dig into this a bit – I’ve been talking about this in the newsletter, too. 

Facebook, in search of monetisation, has killed engagement – unless your brand is so big that you are in fact desperate to pay for connection.  Because small brands like me can move around, but big brands have to be seen in the big places.  The Facebook Page is now completely broken unless you open your wallet.

And who the fuck even knows how Google+ works now.  It is, in its way, the most “service-y” of the social network sites – now the dust has settled, it really seems to be a souped-up version of Google Groups, with built-in discovery and significant tech enhancements like Hangouts.  A service, not a network.

None of this is important, but it is interesting to me. 

Facebook will have to rely on big companies for one of its revenue streams, driving the small-fry like me out of the Pages system and possibly off Facebook entirely.  People like me will probably keep a FB account alive, though, and maybe even use it to log into things, thereby sending data back that they can sell in another revenue stream.  FB won’t care that I’m not running a Page. In theory, by usurping the “single sign-on” role that things like OAuth were supposed to fill, Facebook gets data to sell without even having to run a social network.

Google doubtless gathers enough data about me in other ways that my non-use of G+ won’t matter a whit.  They felt that they had to have a social network, but they are not a social network company, and don’t need to run a social network in order to do their business.

Perhaps you could add “the death of the social network” to “the death of blogging” in the media-headline scare list.  Replace it with pervasive digital loyalty, maybe.

Whatever it is, it’s no bloody use for hearing from people, or talking to a crowd.


Japanese Execution Chamber

October 4th, 2012 | researchmaterial

Not sure why I find this interesting.  Perhaps the little zen-garden trap door marks? Perhaps, simply, that this is a rare sight.  From this story, about the hanging of a woman who killed six people while performing exorcisms.  The story has interesting notes in itself:

In court it was revealed that the victims were those who had started to doubt Eto’s “spiritual ability,” as well as followers who refused to loan her money.

The prosecutor said Eto “tried to make herself a deified ruler and killed people who threatened her authority in her bid to stop her lover Nemoto from being taken by a female follower.”

Eto’s defense attorney had argued that she was not guilty due to mental incompetence as a result of having been ‘possessed.’


There Will Be Some Who Will Not Fear Even That Void

October 3rd, 2012 | researchmaterial

…is basically the best title ever.

It is taken from a letter Johannes Kepler wrote to Galileo Galilei in 1610, musing on the future of space travel. "Provide ship or sails adapted to the heavenly breezes," Kepler hypothesised, "and there will be some who will not fear even that void."

I love that so much. 

This is a Kickstarter project, to complete the editing and sound design of a film:

…a surreal, semi-fictional, sci-fi ecological documentary.

I imagine the artists as a team of specialists sent on a mission in the future to rebuild the Arctic environment after it has been almost completely destroyed by global warming. With no master plan, maps or blueprints, each artist recreates the Arctic of his or her own (flawed) memories, fears and desires. Through the film’s narration I will also address darker contemporary concerns: global warming, the Arctic resource race, the political tension of a militarised Arctic and the disappearance of the last great wilderness.


Resilient Disobedience

September 25th, 2012 | researchmaterial

A phrase I found in John Robb the other day.

This is something I didn’t know about:

…there’s a group of gardeners in San Francisco that are spreading organic graffiti across the city.  How?  By grafting branches from fruit trees onto ornamental trees that have been planted along sidewalks and in parks.  They are using a very simple tongue in groove splice that’s held together with annotated electrical tape.  Good luck to them.


SF MAGAZINES: For Old Times’ Sake, 2012

August 2nd, 2012 | brainjuice, researchmaterial

From Gardner Dozois’ summation of the 2011 field in his 29th edition of The Year’s Best SF, available from bookstores and Amazon in the US and soon in the UK.

ASIMOV’S SCIENCE FICTION is doing very strongly in digital editions.  Overall circulation is 22593, up by about 1500 units or 7.3%.  7500 of that overall number is down to digital subscriptions, and an average of 290 digital units sold per month on top of that.

That’s a terrific thing for them.  A 7% increase in circulation is something of a turnaround.  And suggests that the increase is down to new (or returning) readers, rather than a migration to digital from the existing base.

Their print subscriptions are at 12469.  Their average newsstand sale is at 2334.

ANALOG is at an overall of 26440, which is a rise of 0.2% on the previous year. 4100 digital subscriptions, and an average of 150 digital units per month in addition.

This tends to suggest that in a couple of years’ time, ASIMOV’S numbers will be on parity with ANALOG’s.

FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION’s overalls dropped from 15172 to 14162.  They don’t release digital figures.

INTERZONE’s numbers are clearly not available to Mr Dozois, as he has forever stated that INTERZONE circulates 3000 copies per issue.  This is obviously nonsense.  Either INTERZONE have found three thousand people who cannot die, or he just doesn’t know the numbers.  Although the former explanation would further illuminate the mystery of how INTERZONE keeps on keeping on without any visible means of support.  I have always had a fondness for INTERZONE, but I am (pleasantly) baffled by their economics.  A recent post on their forum indicates that they’re looking at a format change that will put a spine on the magazine, shrink the page size a little bit – and add many more pages and more content.  Which sounds a bit like a magic trick.

It still seems to me like a space ripe for disruption.  Take a look at these reach numbers for online sf magazine CLARKESWORLD.  (Get well soon, Neil, by the way.)

You can compare these to 2009’s figures, if you’re interested.

My public email address is warrenellis@gmail.com, and I'm @warrenellis .