Echapper aux notifications Facebook des conversations groupées [fr]

[en] How to mute a facebook chat with lots of people in it. Sometimes those notifications get a bit out of hand, don't they?

Si vous utilisez Facebook autant que moi, vous vous retrouvez probablement de temps en temps dans des chats “à plusieurs”. Voire “à beaucoup”. Et comme vous avez activé les notifications en cas de message privé, à chaque fois que quelqu’un dit un mot dans le gros chat commun, votre téléphone s’affole ou votre ordinateur bipe.

La solution radicale: quitter la conversation. Quasi tout le monde sait faire ça. Mais des fois on ne veut pas quitter la conversation. On veut rester dedans, mais on ne veut pas être prévenu en super-priorité quand quelqu’un dit “:-)”.

Sachez, mesdames et messieurs, qu’on peut couper le son à la conversation. En anglais, c’est “mute conversation” — quelqu’un me dit ce que c’est en français? C’est dans le menu “roue dentée” juste au-dessus de “quitter la conversation”. Oui, je vous fais un dessin:


Voilà, en espérant que ce sera utile à certains!

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What We Write And Where We Write [en]

[fr] L'environnement dans lequel on écrit quelque chose change ce qu'on y écrit. Le blog n'est plus aujourd'hui l'endroit où on va "vite publier quelque chose" -- Facebook a pris cette place.

Lately, Loïc has been writing “long stuff” (“post-length stuff”) on Facebook. I enjoy reading him. Here’s his latest post, on meditation. Maybe because I’ve linked it I’ll be able to find it again in the future, but otherwise, chances are this post, along with all the other status updates we’re publishing on Facebook today, will be lost forever in the corpse of the real-time stream.

Oh yes, Facebook is giving us search, but there are two reasons I’m not holding my breath:

  • we have search in groups already, and as you’ve probably also noticed, it sucks
  • Facebook status updates are a mess of re-shared stuff, “in the instant” messages, photos, funny things, serious things, more cat photos… will search allow us to say “find me all Loïc’s status updates which are longer than 500 words”?

Anyway. Ben dropped the “blog” word, I piled on, and an interesting discussion ensued. My suggestion was that Loïc copy-paste what he was publishing in Facebook into his blog (once he’s retrieved the password ;-)). This made me think of what Euan has been doing recently: he publishes both on his blog and in Facebook. I don’t know where he writes first, but the content is in both places.

Long ago I remember reading about some people who wrote their blog posts in their email client, because it helped them get into the right brainspace. I suspect something like this is going on with Loïc, who hasn’t blogged in a long time. Facebook is where the audience is (not in a marketing sense, in a “not talking to an empty room” sense). Facebook is where we’re expected to write a few lines, not full-blown essays. No pressure.

I’ve been feeling that kind of “pressure” for years on my blog. Look at what I write now. And look at what I was writing a year or so after I started blogging. My blog, initially, was this space where I could just spit out something and be done with it. Over the years, things changed. Now, a blog post has to be meaningful. It has to be worthy of the big bold title that introduces it (no mystery there, when I started blogging blog posts didn’t have huge bold titles). It has to be illustrated. It has to be well-written. It has to be thoughtful. This can be paralysing. The rise of “professional bloggers” doesn’t help.

What I’ve been doing with #back2blog and to some extent The Blogging Tribe is try to resuscitate this mindset. Just blog something. But the landscape of tools has changed.

Now, the space where you go to “just share something” is Facebook. “Everybody” you know is already there. They don’t have to fill in their names to comment. They get notified when there is a reaction to what they say — and so do you. You think of something, you start writing, and oh, you’ve written 6 paragraphs. This happens on Facebook now, not on your blog. And I’m guilty too.

More than once, I’ve found myself writing stuff on Facebook that could be a post on this blog. So I’m going to follow my advice to Loïc next time that happens, and post it here too. And move this blog off this email-less server so people can get comment notifications.

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Here Comes Everybody: Journalism and Ease of Publication [en]

I’m reading “Here Comes Everybody“. I’m taking notes.

In the chapter “Everyone is a media outlet”, Clay explains very well what is the matter with the journalism industry. (He has since then co-authored a report on the future of the news industry, which I need to read.)

In a world where everyone is a publisher, journalism is becoming an activity rather than a profession — activity which can be carried out both by those employed by the news industry and the “amateurs” (oh heck). A profession serves to solve a hard problem, that requires specialisation. Reproduction, distribution, and categorisation are now orders of magnitude easier and cheaper than before: professionals are no longer required for these activities.

Look at iStockPhoto and professional photography: the price of professional photography not so much due to the incredible quality of the professional’s work, in many cases, but comes from the difficulty of finding the right photo. iStockPhoto helps solve that problem, so the photo now costs 1$ instead of 500$, can very well have been shot by an amateur, and be no lesser in quality than a more expensive, specially-commissioned professional one.

As it has become easier to publish, public speech and action have become more valuable and less scarce, just like the ability to read and write became more commonplace with the invention of movable type, and scribes lost their raison-d’être.

Journalism is a profession that seems to exist because of accidental scarcity of published material due to the expense of publishing in the physical world. Scarcity (and therefore cost) is not an indication of importance: water is more important to life than diamonds, but that doesn’t make it expensive (The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith).

When everybody had learned to read and write, and scribes weren’t needed anymore, we didn’t call everybody a scribe, we just stopped using the word; reading and writing is ubiquitous and so not rare enough to pay for, even if it’s a really important skill. Scribes as a profession died out.

As for music and movie industry: the service they performed was distributing music and movies, but now anybody can move music and video easily and cheaply. The problem they were solving does not exist anymore, and so they are trying to maintain it by turning on their customers and trying to make moving movies and music harder artificially.

Because it’s so easy to publish, making something public is less the momentous decision that it used to be. The general criticism of the low quality of online content has to do with the fact we are judging “communications” content (conversation, often) by “broadcast” content standards of interest and quality. We look at Facebook statuses and think “was that really worth broadcasting?” — not realising that it was never intended for broadcast in the first place. It was not meant for us. If you eavesdrop on a dining hall conversation at the table next to you, doubtless you’ll find it uninteresting, but you won’t think “why are they speaking so loud I can hear what they’re saying?”

There used to be a distinction between communications and broadcast media, which has now broken down. Broadcast is one-to-many, a one-way megaphone which attempts to reach as many people as possible of a target audience. Communications, on the other hand, are two-way conversations for specific recipients, one-to-one. Now we also have many-to-many, communications tools which enable group conversation. There is a continuum between broadcast and communications rather than a sharp break neatly following the lines of the technology used (TV/radio vs. phone/fax). Communications and broadcast are mixed in the same medium, and we make the mistake of judging communications by the standards of broadcast.

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Do Not Use Your Brand Name to Sign Comments [en]

Never use your brand name to sign comments. You are a person, not a brand.

How do you want to be perceived?

As a person?

Or as “advertising-disguised-as-conversation”?

There’s nothing wrong with representing a brand. You can even sign “Judy Smith (MyGreatBrand)” if it’s important to you — but be aware that it will make you sound like a commentor-for-hire or a “community manager” (note the quotes and the lowercase, not to be confused with the Community Manager, reserved for people who “get it” and usually occupy a senior position).

Signing with your brand name is also the surest way of being identified as spam — whether you really are spam or not.

You don’t want to make things difficult for the blogger who is deciding whether to approve or trash your comment: identify yourself clearly as a human being. Whether you use a name or a stable, recognizable nickname is not a big issue (at least for me). But using your brand as your nickname is so… cheesy.

And also impolite. You know who I am. Your comment is an open door to a conversation. Why would I not be allowed to know who you are? Even the robots who answer the phone in the worst of customer service call centres tell you their name.

Don’t be a ghost, hiding under the big white sheet of your brand.

Please do not sign comments with your brand name. Be a human being. Give me a name.

I’m toying the idea of replacing brand names with something witty (“Insert Brand Name Here”, or preferably something better I’ll think of under the shower tomorrow morning) and making them link to this article when people try signing comments with them. What do you think?

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Catching up With Backtype [en]

[fr] BackType: pour voir les commentaires que je fais dans la blogosphère, l'impact "social" de mon blog, les derniers tweets qui le référencent, et un plugin WordPress (TweetCount) qui va remplacer TechMeme pour moi, simplement parce qu'il liste effectivement les tweets référençant l'article en question, ce que TechMeme ne fait pas.

Image representing BackType as depicted in Cru...
Image via CrunchBase

A few weeks ago I read that BackType was going to discontinue the BackType Connect plugin that I had used some time back here on CTTS, which prompted me to (a bit hastily, I’ll admit) make a comment about how you’re really better off not relying on a third party for hosting your comments (which is not what BackType does, my bad).

The BackType Connect plugin took offsite reactions to your blog posts (tweets, for example) and published them as comments. I have to say I was never really really happy with the plugin: installing it made me realize that most mentions of my posts on Twitter were retweets (or spambots) and that I didn’t want to mix that kind of “reaction” with my comments. At one point the plugin really stopped working (or gave me some kind of grief) and I dropped it.

I actually liked BackType a lot when they started out, and I owe them big time for saving hundreds of my blog comments when I dropped my database early 2009. Even though I wasn’t using their plugin, I was unhappy about the announcement — and even more unhappy when I discovered that my user page had disappeared (yes, the one displaying all the comments I’d made on other blogs and this one, which replaced what I’d used coComment for).

BackType, however, did something I liked a lot, and wished TweetMeme had done: allow me to see all the latest tweets linking to Climb to the Stars. This prompted me to take a closer look at what BackType was actually still doing, and report my findings of interest back to you, dear readers.

  1. Good surprise: BackType actually does still allow me to track comments I make all over the blogosphere — but it uses my URL rather than my user account to identify me.
  2. Already mentioned: tweets linking to my blog. Including old ones.
  3. The social impact of any URL: tweets, comments and friendfeed mentions over time, complete with mugshots of “top influencers“.
  4. TweetCount plugin, which is probably going to replace the TweetMeme plugin I was using until now,  because BackType actually lists tweets linking back to a post (compare with the TweetMeme page for the same post). I’ve always found TweetMeme a bit too close to Digg and TechMeme (you know I’m no fan of the race for popularity or breaking news). TweetCount counts a few less tweets than TechMeme, and I suspect its results are cleaner.
  5. If you like displaying tweets mentioning your posts on your blog, you should also check out the BackTweets plugin.

Does BackType do anything else that seems precious to you?

Conversation fragmentation is still an issue in today’s blogosphere, but tools like BackType (and even the Facebook Like button!) are helping is stitch the different pieces together.

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Comment Ownership, Reloaded [en]

Nearly four years ago, I wrote a post about comment ownership and coComment (it was initially published on their blog, and I moved it over here at some point). I don’t use coComment anymore, but a few of the points I made then are still valid.

Comment ownership is a complex problem. The commenter writes the comment, but the blog owner hosts it. So of course, the blog owner has the right to decide what he agrees to host or not. But the person who wrote the comment might also want to claim some right to his writing once it’s published.

And also the following:

There are times when one could say the “blog owner rights” and “comment writer’s rights” come into conflict. How do you manage such situations?

Here’s an example. Somebody e-mails me, out of the blue, to ask me to remove a comment of his on a post published ages ago (ironically, it’s the post published just before the one I’m quoting above!)

I went to look at the comment in question, and frankly, it’s completely innocuous. So I googled that person’s name and realised that my post appears somewhere in the middle of the first page of results. This gives me a guess as to why the person is contacting me to remove the comment.

And really, it seems pretty petty to me. And removing that comment bugs me, because I responded to it, and the person responded back, so what the person is in fact asking me to do is to remove (or dismember) a conversation in the comments of my blog, which has been sitting there for nearly four years. All that because they’re not happy that CTTS makes their comment appear somewhere on the first page of results for a Google search on their name.

Which brings me back to comment ownership. Saying the comment belongs to the commentator is simplistic. C’mon, if everybody who left a comment on CTTS these last 10 years started e-mailing me to remove them because they “taint” their ego-googling, I simply wouldn’t have time to deal with all the requests.

But saying the comment belongs to the blog owner is simplistic too.

I think we’re in a situation which mirrors (in complexity) that of photography ownership between model and photographer. With the added perk that in the case of blog comments, as soon as it is published, the comment becomes part of a conversation that the community is taking part in. Allowing people to remove published comments on a whim breaks that. (Just like bloggers don’t usually delete posts unless there is a very strong reason to do so — when published, it becomes part of something bigger than itself, that we do not own.)

So, for this situation, I guess the obvious response is to change the full name to initials or a nickname, and leave the comment.

But I see this with discussion lists, too. The other day, a pretty annoyed woman was complaining that somebody had called her out of the blue about coworking, when she was not at all interested in sharing an office space. Well, she had written a message or two on a local coworking discussion list, with all her contact details in signature.

What do you expect? And what happened to taking a deep breath and deciding “OK, I’ll do things differently in the future” when you realise you behaved a little cluelessly in the past?

I think all this concern about e-reputation is going to start becoming a real pain in the neck. Get over it, people. Open a blog and make sure you own your online identity, and you can stop worrying about the comments you made four years ago.

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Les commentaires, c'est une conversation [fr]

[en] I write a weekly column for Les Quotidiennes, which I republish here on CTTS for safekeeping.

Chroniques du monde connecté: cet article a été initialement publié dans Les Quotidiennes (voir l’original).

Les “commentaires”. Avec, souvent, sous-entendu, un adjectif qui les accompagne: “anonymes”. Je le vois dans les yeux de nombre de mes clients lorsque je prononce le mot: “les commentaires”, c’est un peu sale. C’est inquiétant. Dangereux, même. Ça va avec “blog”, d’ailleurs. Un blog, ça a des commentaires, et c’est là que se passent les problèmes et franchement, on préfère ne pas en avoir. (Ni les problèmes, ni les commentaires, et souvent, ni le blog.)

Si on fait un site web, après tout, ce n’est pas pour que n’importe qui puisse venir y raconter n’importe quoi. Parce que oui, on sent bien que c’est ce qui se passe, dans les fameux commentaires. C’est pas très différent d’un forum, au fond, non?

Tant de désinformation m’attriste, j’avoue.

On retrouve là encore une fois cette peur des “inconnus d’internet”, cet oubli que les gens qu’on côtoie en ligne sont avant tout des êtres humains comme nous et non des monstres sans visage, et qu’un commentaire “problématique” n’est pas un engin nucléaire sur le point d’exploser mais une parole à laquelle on peut répondre. Oui, c’est en public. Oui, ça reste dans la grande mémoire numérique d’internet. Et oui aussi, on ne sait pas toujours à qui on a affaire.

Mais on peut répondre. Entrer en relation. Faire preuve dans sa réponse de plus de maturité que le malotru qui utilise nos commentaires comme un mur de WC publics. Mettre des limites, accepter l’acceptable et ne pas publier l’inacceptable.

Quand on dit que les commentaires sont un espace de dialogue ou de conversation, cela ne signifie pas que c’est un chat, une zone de non-droit, un lieu où la foule prend le pouvoir. En tant qu’auteur du blog, on y a sa place, et c’est nous qui allons donner le ton, par nos articles d’abord, mais aussi par nos réactions aux commentaires, et encourager ainsi des discussions constructives plutôt que du blabla vide.

Et de toute façon, le souci majeur de la plupart des blogs, c’est plus l’absence de commentaires que les débordements de ceux-ci.

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Souvenirs d’écolière [fr]

[en] Reminiscing about the various tricks I used as a teenager to communicate with my friends during class: secret codes, morse code, more traditional notes of course, and a sheet of paper on the table on which each wrote in turn. Long conversations which remind me of the way I communicate online today.

Je glisse doucement dans le sommeil, et mon esprit vagabonde dans le carton contenant mes vieilles photos. J’y ai passé mon dimanche après-midi, plongée dans ces instants de vie passés.

Alors que j’atteins la fin de la boîte, vers les enveloppes contenant les photos de mes années de scoutisme, l’une d’elles attire mon oeil. C’est une grande enveloppe A4, étonnamment rétrécie pour tenir dans cette petite boîte, métaphore onirique de mes souvenirs. Elle contient une magnifique collection des mes correspondances d’écolière, petits billets ou longues conversations écrites avec mes camarades de classe de l’époque.

Je me souviens. Le début des années nonante, le gymnase, et mon amie inséparable d’alors avec qui je communiquais sur une feuille posée entre nous sur le bureau. J’écrivais, elle répondait, puis moi à mon tour. On chattait. Avec des plumes et du papier.

Je me demande quelle influence cette expérience de jeunesse a pu avoir sur mon adoption très rapide et enthousiaste, une dizaine d’années plus tard, du chat sur internet, mode de communication quasi-identique, mais par claviers interposés.

Et je me souviens encore: j’ai toujours été une grande “bavardeuse”. Par écrit, bien sûr. Au collège, on rivalait d’ingéniosité pour continuer nos conversations pendant les cours, au nez et à la barbe des enseignants. Petits papiers roulés dans des stylos que l’on se passait, taquets-correspondance volant à travers les airs à force d’élastique, et le traditionnel lancer discret du petit mot sur la destinataire…

Mais nous étions allées plus loin: avec un petit groupe d’amies, nous avions mis au point un code secret alphabétique, des symboles bien compatibles avec le quadrillage de nos feuilles d’écolières, et dont nous nous servions pour assurer la confidentialité de nos correspondances en cas d’interception par les autorités professorales… ou d’autres camarades. Assez vite et sans effort, nous avions appris notre code par coeur et l’écrivions couramment.

Mieux encore? Le morse. Nous l’avions appris, le gribouillions sur nos billets (à force d’entrainement on était franchement devenues assez fortiches), et surtout, le tapotions sur nos tables discrètement: un doigt pour un point, les 4 pour un trait, les doigts repliés pour une fin de lettre, la main à plat pour une fin de mot, et un petit mouvement horizontal pour une fin de phrase, si ma mémoire ne me trompe pas. C’était redoutable, je l’avoue.

Bien plus tard, à l’université, je trompais l’ennui durant ma dernière année de chimie en réfléchissant par écrit, sur de nombreuses feuilles qui finissaient ensuite dans mon classeur-journal. J’avais des carnets dans lesquels je recopiais les passages intéressants des livres que je lisais, et un en particulier, mi-journal, mi collection de textes, ancêtre un peu plus intime de mon blog d’aujourd’hui.

Je vois dans ces expériences para-scolaires les signes précurseurs de mon activité présente de communicatrice en ligne. Et je me rends compte, à l’heure où les écoles peinent à ouvrir leurs portes à Facebook et aux modes de communication d’aujourd’hui en général, que déjà à l’époque, toute bonne élève que j’étais, une part non-triviale de ce qui m’a faite celle que je suis aujourd’hui était des activités que l’école tentait de réprimer.

Qu’on me comprenne bien: j’ai été enseignante, et loin de moi l’idée de prôner l’anarchie dans la salle de classe. J’ai aimé l’école et mes études, j’y ai beaucoup appris de choses utiles, et je sais qu’un certain cadre est indispensable pour pouvoir enseigner. Cependant, quand les présupposés de l’école concernant ce qui est important à apprendre et la façon de l’apprendre sont trop éloignés du mode de fonctionnement et des élèves, et du monde professionnel, il faut se poser des questions. Et je sais qu’il y en a certains qui se les posent (Lyonel et Mario, pour commencer).

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Conversation in Comments vs. Conversation in Twitter [en]

[fr] Twitter n'est pas en train de tuer les conversations dans les commentaires des blogs. Le bavardage s'est déplacé dans Twitter, Friendfeed, Facebook -- mais quand certains disent que la conversation y est meilleure, ils ignorent le fait qu'il y a plusieurs sortes de conversation.

Hey, another “vs.” post! It must be because I get tired quickly of people comparing apples and oranges, and saying that we’re not going to eat apples anymore because we now have oranges.

A good year and a half ago there was some talk around the fact that the conversation had moved out of blogs and into Twitter and Friendfeed.

That’s not quite true: some of the conversation has moved from blog comments into the stream. The chatter, mainly.

Just like, when comments first started appearing on weblogs (remember those times, folks?) — well, some of the conversation that was happening from blog post to blog post moved into the comments.

But there was already conversation. Blogs without comments are still blogs.

So, what has happened? The more immediate, chat-like conversation has indeed moved out of blog comments and into Twitter, Facebook, and Friendfeed-like services. The short one-liners. But the real value-adding comments, those that make the conversation meaningful, those that actually discuss in depth what the blogger wrote, or contribute something beyond “great post” or “load of horseshit” — those are still there in our blog comments.

I see a parallel here with the distinction I make between live-tweeting and live-blogging. I’m not anti-Twitter or anti-anything: I love Twitter, and use it for more than my fair share of chatter. But the chatter of today most often has lost its appeal tomorrow, and will not take the place of deep conversation that one can catch up with even once it has gone cold.

This, by the way, is also the root of my dislike of threaded conversations on blogs.

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Playing with Google Wave [en]

[fr] Histoire de s'amuser un peu avec Google Wave, j'ai créé une wave autour de mon dernier article, histoire de voir ce que le contexte "Wave" peut changer à la discussion qui s'ensuit.

My Wave invite arrived this morning (thanks! I actually got two!) and I’ve been playing around with Wave since I got up. It’s fun. It’s a bit buggy. But I find it really exciting.

In the spirit of experimentation and trying things, I’ve decided to create a wave around my last post, Google Identity Dilemma.

A few notes about Wave:

  • big waves make my Firefox so slow that I downloaded Chrome for OSX to run Wave in it — seems much zippier
  • shift+enter “closes” your blip
  • there are public waves around to help get you started — ask me in Wave or ask your contacts about them (love your network!)
  • to make a wave public, for the moment, add [email protected] to your contacts (hit enter, ignore the error message) and then add it to your wave (this might stop working)
  • invites take a while to “arrive” — between the moment people invited me and I got the notice in my inbox, I think a good week went by.

So, if you are one of the lucky ones on Google Wave already, head over to my Google Identity Dilemma wave, add it to yours, invite your friends, and have a wave-fest!

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