Social Networking on your Desktop

I received an email today announcing the research of Seesmic Desktop for Windows & Mac. Seesmic is a tool that allows you to track updates to a bunch of your social networks all at once. In my case I have set Seesmic up to follow Facebook, Twitter, Ping.fm, Google Buzz, LinkedIn and Foursquare.

I have been playing with it on the web and on my desktop a bunch today and really think I like where it’s headed. It’s not 100% what I need, but it’s certainly better than visiting a bunch of sites a bunch of times in one day. I open up Seesmic (on the web or my desktop) and then I can see all the twitter updates from those I follow, all those sent to my attention and all those tagged #koha. I then get to see (next to those three) Facebook updates and Google Buzz updates. It’s an amazing way to keep up with all the important things being posted on a series of social networks without having to remember to visit each page.

When it comes to the web app it seems to integrate better into Twitter by adding the reply and retweet buttons right on the posts by those I follow. On the desktop I have to right click on the tweet you want to retweet or reply to and choose your option from there. Doing it that way makes it so that the system doesn’t track the conversation (if replying) or the number of retweets if retweeting (like it does when you use the retweet button on Twitter).

When posting to the various services you can do so all at once or one at a time using either the web or the desktop tool. I also like the Twitter search that is built into both tools that allows you to save searches an rerun them (just like on the Twitter website). That said it looks like (as I said earlier) the web app handles twitter integration better than the desktop – in addition to the replying and the retweeting, the web app allows you to see your saved searches, lists and contacts from twitter, but I haven’t found a way to see those things on the desktop app.

Overall opinion – this is an awesome tool! I think for now I might focus on using the web app while the desktop app grows up a bit. My husband, who is testing it on Windows (I’m on Mac) says he too likes it, but does not like that he can’t collapse it to his system tray – so for now he too will not be using the desktop app because it lacks that one convenience he looks for.

No more Facebook Profile Boxes

I’m not really heart broken over this change – but I also don’t understand the why behind it. Facebook has decided to remove all third party applications from our profiles. According to Facebook:

Profile Boxes are the third-party applications that are featured in boxes on your profile. You can now add a “bookmark” to the left side of the Facebook home page for these applications.

What will happen to my Boxes in the future?

As part of our ongoing efforts to improve the user experience and promote consistency across the site, soon Facebook will no longer support profile boxes from applications. In order to access your favorite applications more easily, you can bookmark them.

To learn more you can visit the help page on this topic. Like I said, this really doesn’t matter much to me, but I know many other people with a lot of these such boxes that will now be going away.

Facebook Privacy: Location Checkin

So, it looks like Facebook has done it again – they have released a new feature and opted us all in by default. The new feature is called Places and acts like Foursquare – except that Foursquare lets me pick who I share with and what I share. If you, like me, want to disable this by default Lifehacker has a great guide for you.

Basically this backs up what I keep saying in my Facebook classes. Make sure you check your privacy settings often – it’s hard to keep up with all the new things Facebook is doing, but it’s easy to keep your privacy settings up to date just by checking them once a month or so.

Facebook Profile Changes

There is yet another change to Facebook – your profile items such as job history, education, and interests is now linked to (or can now be linked) to pages on Facebook. I logged into Facebook this morning and saw this:

So I clicked the ‘Choose pages individually’ link so I could have complete control over what was about to happen. I unchecked things I didn’t want to be linked to and reviewed what they thought were the pages that made sense. I then went in to edit my profile since some interests were out of date and others were missing (how often do you update your profile on Facebook? Me? Not that often). The editing was a bit easier than in the past:

You just drag the blue bubbles around and the first one showing will be the image that shows to the right. You’ll also notice that the profile edit screen has changed – yet again- meaning I have to go update my Facebook 101 guide (yet again). Anyway, when you are done and have saved your changes your info tab on your profile will look a bit different. A bit cleaner, I do have to say.

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Facebook Connect Revamped

Mashable says that Facebook is going to kill Connect, but I kind of see it as a revamp because of the message on Facebook’s homepage.

What it looks like is that Facebook is only going to let you connect with sites it deems worthy. Today when I logged into Yelp I saw this at the bottom of the screen:

and this after I clicked the link:

It looks like the sites that Facebook is partnered with will automatically connect to Facebook. I don’t know what’s better – asking me if I want to connect with Facebook or having it assume I want to connect automatically….

Major Flaws in Facebook Pages

Last week I was teaching librarians about how they can use Facebook to promote their libraries. During our class, we found some major flaws in the system, flaws that make it so that many librarians have valid concerns about starting a page for their library on Facebook.

On the day of the class we found that Facebook had removed the link to create a page for your business from the homepage (now I see that it is there again). This implied to me that you could no longer have a Facebook page without first having a personal account (but I now see that maybe it was just a glitch – or a glimpse of something yet to come). One of my students said that she had created a page using that link and was later asked to link it to a personal account. I can’t confirm this because I don’t want to go against any of the Facebook terms and conditions by creating a fake page to test this out, but she showed me the page and the fact that it was indeed now linked to a personal account.

Here are my concerns about requiring that pages be linked to personal accounts.

First, Facebook has made it clear that you can have either a business account or a personal account and having two accounts for any purpose is a violation of the terms. This means that you can’t keep work and personal separate, something that I recommend to many of those attending my Facebook classes.

Next, Facebook thinks that only one person should be administering business accounts. This is a hugely unreasonable request/assumption. Not every business is large enough to have one person devoted to monitoring and updating social networks, in many small businesses (such as a library) it is necessary to have multiple people log into the business account to update the page.

Follow that with the fact that users cannot transfer ownership of pages for any reason and you now find yourself in quite a predicament 5 years down the road when the one person you hired to administer your business page decides to leave the company and deletes the page you worked so hard to maintain all those years.

I think that we need to see some major changes made to the way business pages/accounts are handled on Facebook. I think that business accounts should be separate from personal accounts no matter what. I also think that transferring ownership of a page should be possible, if for no other reason than the fact that people retire eventually and you can’t expect them to maintain the page once they do that. In a more realistic world, people change jobs they should not have to hold on to the page for their previous employer – nor should they have to share administrative rights with people who still work for the company in question.

I am not suggesting that I be allowed to have two accounts with my name on them – one that I use for business and one that I use for personal communications – I’m suggesting that I should be able to maintain two accounts – one with my name on it for whatever I want and one with my company (or library) name on it for business purposes only! Have you ever tried to reply to a comment on a page that you’re the admin for? Your reply automatically appears as if it’s from the page itself – but what if I want to put my own personal comment on there? I can’t – and on top of that the people visiting the page don’t know who the admin is – so there is no way to know that the comments the page has made are actually from me.

While I still think Facebook pages are a great idea and will continue to educate fellow librarians about them, I think there are some serious flaws in the design that need to be addressed soon – layoffs are common and people who are laid off are not always happy to just hold on to the page for their employer … which means watching the page disappear and then having to start all over again …. seems like a no-brainer to me.

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Google Rolls Out Google Buzz

So, last year it was Google Wave and this year we have Google Buzz!

I just logged into my email to see an invite to set up Google Buzz – I of course said “go right ahead” before doing any research on what it was :)

Google Buzz is like FriendFeed in your email. It’s a way to bring your status updates into Email and read them right there in your Gmail account. This is a pretty awesome idea in my book. What I’d like to see is a way to send my status updates from Buzz to the other sites – like I can with Ping.fm, but I guess I can’t be picky on release day :)

So how do you find this Buzz thing? After you set it up it will appear under your Inbox on the Gmail menu. Then once you click that you’ll see your updates and those from your friends.

Like my ‘Buzz’ says I’m much more likely to use Buzz over Wave because it’s integrated right into a tool I use 1 million times a day already. I’m also going to install Buzz on my Android and see how that works. Yet another tool to learn to use and benefit from.

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New Facebook Privacy Settings

A few weeks ago an open letter from Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, told us that big changes were coming to the way Facebook handled privacy. Today I logged into Facebook to find messages like this one:

New Facebook Privacy

When you log into Facebook for the first time today Facebook will take you to your Privacy settings – but not to your full settings, so please remember to go to Settings > Privacy Settings and click on every option available to make sure that your privacy is set the way you want now.

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Professional Side of Social Networking

My husband and I just had a discussion about how many social networking sites may have started out as fun sites, but they have become used for more and more professional purposes over time. One example is Twitter. We were all sold Twitter as a way to say what we’re doing in 140 characters or less – and it is still that – but now it’s a way for businesses to reach out to their customers. Today I wrote to Twitter that my Internet was down. Not long after my ISP sent a message asking what they could do to help. There was nothing he could do – since it was just a large outage in my area (which I found out by calling in and asking), but still, he was able to connect with me in a way that businesses and vendors haven’t been able to in the past.

My husband said that while he still is no fan of the interface for Facebook, he now sees it as a great tool to keep up with people and products he’s a fan of – the idea of Facebook pages and becoming a fan was something he found on his own and now brings him to Facebook much more than ever before.

twittersearches

I think we need to take these lessons and get our libraries and library services out there – we need to generate searches for our library and location names so that we can quickly answer questions from our patrons and potential customers. Show the people that we’re around and can answer their questions. One way to do this is to take advantage of the search menu on the right hand side of Twitter (once you’re logged in). Type your search and save it – search for abbreviated versions of your library name, your library name, your town name, and any reference subjects you’re proficient in and see what happens when you answer people’s questions.