Kara Swisher Rewrites Mark Zuckerberg’s Op-Ed

Kara Swisher, writing for the New York Times regarding Mark Zuckerberg’s recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal:

But the post was essentially the greatest hits that we have heard Mr. Zuckerberg sing for a while now. He focused on the enormous advertising system that powers Facebook, while ignoring almost entirely the news from the last disastrous year, including Russian abuse of the platform, sloppy management of data, recent revelations that the company throws some pretty sharp elbows when it needs to, and more. You kind of get why Mr. Zuckerberg would want to forget it all.

Should I be annoyed by this? One person who favors Mr. Zuckerberg told me no, pointing out that the media is irked when he says nothing and even more bothered when he says something, so he cannot win whatever he does.

O.K., so instead of just criticizing, I thought I would help him with his piece, given I do this for a living and he does not, by rewriting his work. Here goes:

Kara’s piece is funny, but more importantly, it shows how much Mark Zuckerberg has to go before he can be seen as someone who truly understands what kind of havoc they’ve created.

Facebook continues to be tone deaf when it comes to answering people’s real concerns about their platform. I would more have more respect if the just came out and said: “We sell access to you, you’ll never see a dime of it, and that won’t change anytime soon.”

Unroll.me cofounder’s rant reminds us to be wary of free services

From Ashley Carman, writing for The Verge:

It’s important to understand, however, that the way startups like Slice (which owns Unroll.me) and the giants of Google and Facebook treat your data is extremely different. Google and Facebook analyze information about you gathered through your email, social networking habits, demographics, and location, and use that data to entice third-party companies to advertise with them. In other words, the information they have on you allows them to sell access to your eyeballs for targeted ads in your news feed or sponsored search results.

Startups like Slice, on the other hand, collect information about you and other users and sells it to outside firms. Once it’s handed off, the client can do what it wants with the data. In both cases, however, data is sold in the aggregate, meaning you personally aren’t identified. Although admittedly, compiling a report specifically for Uber feels a little icky in light of recent negative press.

This is good explanation of the the differences between Facebook, Google and other free services. However, the lesson from Unroll.me is that you get what you pay for. If it's free then most likely your data is the product that will be sold.

This is why I'm hesitant to go all in on Facebook as publishing platform. While they do have the audience, I'm not sure I want hand everything over to someone who ultimately is interested in selling my data.

Facebook’s algorithm isn’t surfacing one-third of our posts. And it’s getting worse

Kurt Gessler, Deputy Editor for Digital News at The Chicago Tribune writes:

At the Tribune, we have a fairly stable and predictable audience. We had around a half million fans at the end of March and have seen slow but steady growth in the last year. Most Facebook posts fell into the 25,000 to 50,000 reach range — with a few big successes and few spectacular failures each day, usually based on the quality of the content or the quality and creativity of the share.

But starting earlier this year, we started to see far more misses. And not reaches in the low 20,000's but 4,000 reach or 6,000 reach. Digital Editor Randi Shaffer was one of the first to notice.

Interesting post with a lot of data to back up his claim. We haven't seen the same issues with our content, however we've also greatly reduced the number of posts to Facebook that contain outside links.

The Future of Facebook Instant Articles

Casey Newton, writing for The Verge:

...two years after it launched, a platform that aspired to build a more stable path forward for journalism appears to be declining in relevance. At the same time that Instant Articles were being designed, Facebook was beginning work on the projects that would ultimately undermine it. Starting in 2015, the company's algorithms began favoring video over other content types, diminishing the reach of Instant Articles in the feed. The following year, Facebook's News Feed deprioritized article links in favor of posts from friends and family. The arrival this month of ephemeral stories on top of the News Feed further de-emphasized the links on which many publishers have come to depend.

I think Instant Articles is good product. However, I've never been comfortable handing over content to Facebook in this manner.

Also, as the article points out, Instant Articles does not seem to fit their long term vision which is heavily based on videos. If Facebook is trying to lure large scale companies to invest in their platform, why not try to go after TV networks and create Facebook TV? This would allow them to go head to with YouTube, Netflix, and all the other players in the video industry.

NeuBible

I'm in the middle of a redesign of our church's devotional app. (I'm not going to link to it because the design is hideous.) So I've spending time researching typography and layouts for mobile reading experiences. Recently, I came across NeuBible and it has been the most enjoyable of all the Bible reading experiences I've found on mobile devices. Here's some of the reasons I believe it's a superior experience to the other offerings currently offered:

  • Typography - You only have four choices of fonts in NueBible. They've chosen Breve, Graphik, Sentinel, and Texta. I don't know if they could have made a better choice in font selection. While my current selection is Texta, I'm delighted that they've included Sentinel, which is one of my favorite typefaces to arrive in the last 10 years.

  • User Interface - One knock on this app could be it's lack of features (reading plans, share sheet, etc.). However, it's one of things that I love about this app. By removing those features, it allows the reader to focus on the text.

The only thing I would add to this app would be the ability to turn off the numbering of verses so that the text flowed in the same manner as the ESV Reader's Bible.

Now in fairness to other apps, there is a fee to download versions such as the NIV, ESV and NASB. So that is a bit of drawback if you're looking for something that is completely free. Though it does offer the HCSB for free in side the the app.