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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas - Here's a Gift

That Santa can be so forgetful sometimes. If you got a brand new Kindle and are suffering from a dearth of books to fill it, you can grab a free one right here. It'll be free until the 29th, so tell all your friends.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Pope is on Twitter and what that means for your weekend

Last week the Pope joined the unwashed masses on Twitter (@pontifex for English speakers). So what does that mean for you?

Right now, not much. After a flurry of posts in the first day, the Pope went radio-silent for a week before jumping on again to drop a couple more thought-bombs on the Twitter-verse. He's tweeted a total of 9 times (as of this writing) and, though he has 1.2 million followers, he only follows 7 people (perfect).

A week ago there was a wide swath of news coverage about the Pope being on Twitter and then things petered out (ha). The same thing can happen easily to you. As the estimable Admiral is so fond of saying, "It's a trap."

Social media isn't a panacea that allows anyone to connect with anyone else. Getting on Twitter or Facebook won't make you better at interacting with young people; it won't increase your ability to relate. Just tweeting (9 times over the course of 7 days), gives a false sense of accomplishment. It's too soon to tell for sure, but it's looking the Benedict XVI is doing what so many on Twitter do: joining and then ignoring the medium.

What social media really offers is a tool that can build relationships and facilitate connections. But the tool must be used to do the work. Relationship doesn't exist without work. Connection doesn't happen without effort. The Pope won't make a difference online if he's not willing to put in the time and energy to post regularly and interact with people. Neither will you.

The Pope's dearth of tweeting isn't surprising, neither is yours. What would really be surprising is if he started connecting with people in a real way and putting in the work to engage individuals in meaningful dialog.

Would it be surprising if you did the same?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Be Careful what you 'Like'

You scroll past it like I do. We mostly ignore the suggestions of Facebook for pages that we might like that have been liked by others. It's a part of the growing advertising push of Facebook as the, now publicly traded, company seeks to increase revenue and please shareholders.

But what if your friends didn't actually like the page? What if a page shows up as liked by you and you didn't like it. What if that page supports ideas diametrically opposed to what you believe? What then?

Well, Bernard Meisler over at ReadWrite has research that very thing and found that it's happening. Not only are people having likes added to their profiles without permission, but those who are deceased are still liking pages from beyond the grave. Something is amiss here.

According to Meisler, Facebook denies that they're doing it and they want it to stop. It's terrible for their business model if fake-likes are being generated because they can't give consistent ad statistics to potential advertisers which undermines the value of any advertisement.

But people are still phantom-liking pages that they've never clicked on, never seen, and sometimes can't even read. So, what's happening.

There's no evidence for this yet, but my best guess is that a rogue app is generating the fake-likes. Apps can be given permission to post on the behalf of a person and that posting could be through liking pages. It's possible that some apps are willingly and maliciously using people to generate fake-likes. It's also possible that an app you trusted was hacked and the ne're-do-wells are slithering in that way.

However it's working, fake-likes are proliferating on Facebook and it can make you look bad. You can protect your image online by regularly checking your actual likes.

  • Go to your Facebook profile (i.e. click your name in the upper right corner of the Facebook website). 
  • Click "Likes" from the navigation bar just under your cover photo. 
  • Look through the list of likes to check that you've added them all. 
    • Hover over the name of a page until the information window pops up. 
    • Hover over the "Liked" button until the dialog menu pops up
    • Click "Unlike" to remove the page from your profile. 
You might also want to deactivate any apps that you've added recently or that you no longer use. 
  • Click the arrow next to your name at the top right of your Facebook page. 
  • Choose "Account Settings."
  • Click "Apps" from the list on the left. 
  • Click the "X" to the right of any app you don't use or don't recognize. 
  • Confirm that you want to delete the app from your page. 
Have you seen any suspicious likes? 

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

What's up with Stuff?

There are several different ways to view all the stuff around us, and the way that we view all that stuff has an incredible impact on how we interact with the world and with each other. If, for example, you are a materialist and you think that there is nothing spiritual, then you are likely to put a higher value on life than one who is a spiritualist who denies the value of the physical.


The idea that there are two incompatible realms: matter and spirit. Traditionally, dualism holds that Spirit is good and Matter is bad. This is the case in Neo-Platonism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and many denominations of Christianity that are influenced by Neo-Platonic thought. 


The idea that all things are God and God is all things. Note, this is distinct from the idea that God is in all things. Rather pantheism sees that all things are God/Spirit. There are elements of pantheism in Hinduism, Wicca, and Pagan religions. 


The idea that there is no spiritual, invisible realm. All that exists is what we can see. This is typically the idea held by secular humanists and atheists. 


The idea that both spirit and matter are real and equally valuable. They can both be corrupted or both be good. The world and people are not divided entities, but made up of both the physical and the spiritual. They are not the same, but they are both present and both necessary. Though Christians have often tended toward dualism, Jesus taught holism. 

What do you think about the nature of the world? How does that affect the way you treat people?