Tag Archives: Facebook

The More You Use Facebook, the Worse You Feel

Me? I like Facebook. My feed gives me pictures and updates of friends and family, and politics carefully filtered for only information I agree with. But then there’s this, published recently in the Harvard Business Review. A New, More Rigorous Study Confirms: The More You Use Facebook, the Worse You Feel. Who can argue with data?

Does Facebook Affect the Rest of Our Lives?

That Facebook affects the rest of our lives, negatively, is not a new idea. But not everybody agrees with it.  Here’s how that article presents it

“Prior research has shown that the use of social media may detract from face-to-face relationships, reduce investment in meaningful activities, increase sedentary behavior by encouraging more screen time, lead to internet addiction, and erode self-esteem through unfavorable social comparison. Self-comparison can be a strong influence on human behavior, and because people tend to display the most positive aspects of their lives on social media, it is possible for an individual to believe that their own life compares negatively to what they see presented by others. But some skeptics have wondered if perhaps people with lower well-being are more likely to use social media, rather than social media causing lower well-being. Moreover, other studies have found that social media use has a positive impact on well-being through increased social support and reinforcement of  real world relationships.”

The emphasis there is mine. I often question research by looking at the skewed data it starts with, which is the idea in italics. I also like to think social media in general enriches my life. It helps me keep up with friends, and, in my case at least, has generated some new friends. Who have become, over time, actual real friends.

The Research Confirms the Worst

The research, however, is not so rosy. It concludes:

“Overall, our results showed that, while real-world social networks were positively associated with overall well-being, the use of Facebook was negatively associated with overall well-being. These results were particularly strong for mental health; most measures of Facebook use in one year predicted a decrease in mental health in a later year. We found consistently that both liking others’ content and clicking links significantly predicted a subsequent reduction in self-reported physical health, mental health, and life satisfaction.”

There too, emphasis is mine, and, in relating to what’s there in boldface, ouch! Now I’m worried that there’s something wrong with me. I’m do like others’ content, and I do click links, but – damn – my self-reported health and life satisfaction aren’t going down. That is, until now, reading this research. Suddenly I’m concerned.

Social media guru Paul Berry, CEO of RebelMouse, can see the future. (No, not really) | Fox News Latino

My video this week is an interview: Social media guru Paul Berry, CEO of RebelMouse, can see the future. (No, not really) | Fox News Latino:

Some excepts from the accompanying story:

“Change is happening faster and faster than it ever has before,” Paul Berry, the CEO and founder of tech company RebelMouse, told Fox News Latino recently, “and now we can actually watch the behavior of users changing.”

Berry, 40, has helped usher in some of that change himself at companies like the Huffington Post, where he was the chief technology officer, and now RebelMouse, which helps companies and individuals expand their reach on social media.

“It’s happening very quickly,” Berry, who was born in Mexico City to an American father and Mexican mom, said. For example, “We’re learning to read videos, rather than listen to them.”

That’s my son Paul, founder and CEO of Rebelmouse, talking about how quickly Facebook algorithms change, advantages of a global viewpoint in tech, and the importance, right now, of Facebook Live Video. If you’re curious about Paul as Latino, the story points out how and why. I’m the “American father” (and still married to the “Mexican mom” 40+ years later).

Asked about how his background helps in tech,

“Part of the reason, he said, is that “We have 65 developers in 32 countries, not outsourced farm task zombies. Lots of companies fail because of burnout in their engineers. For us, it’s as if we’re pulling an all-nighter every night because our developers are excellent at passing the baton to each other.”

In fact, the company has its principal office in SoHo in Manhattan, but, “we try never to say ‘headquarters,’” Berry said. “Our CTO is in Slovenia, and our best engineer is in the Ukraine.”

 

Do Big Tech Companies Become Too Big Not to Fail?

culture-eats-strategyI caught this one yesterday on Medium: Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast. It’s by Dare Obasanjo on Hacker Daily (great title, by the way). It’s a well-thought-out discussion of how Google and Facebook culture achieved a substantial shift of strategy in a way that others (Blockbuster facing Netflix, and Blackberry facing iPhone) couldn’t. Here’s the summary.

“when your strategy changes then your entire organizational culture will have to change as well. Your organizational culture is defined by what positive behaviors you encourage and what negative behaviors you tolerate. Blackberry couldn’t compete with Apple when teams were still motivated & rewarded for keeping corporate CIOs happy and there was no way Blockbuster could compete with Netflix when they fundamentally saw themselves as a classic retail video rental store and ignored the power of online experiences.”

That’s a good read. Dare collected details and presents them very well. There are some stories of interest there.

And it challenges an assumption that I’ve made for decades now, which is that large businesses are doomed to fail eventually because they become like big ships, unable to turn quickly, unable to react. I’ve seen IBM fall from the “Big Blue” industry giant of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s to another also-ran today (no offense, IBM). I’ve seen Microsoft fall from the king of the world in the middle-to-late 1990s to struggling to keep up today.

It seems so hard for big tech companies to sustain growth rates when sales run into the billions. Although this post argues against it, I would have thought that Google, Apple, and Facebook will eventually slow down because they are so big. But maybe not.

I’ve never been an employee of a big (thousands of employees, maybe tens of thousands) company but I’ve deal with them as consulting clients. What I thought I saw was that as they grew, middle managers and office politics took over, regardless of what top management wanted. Decision making slowed to a crawl, and the friction through the chains of management became impossible. The culture changed in ways top management couldn’t prevent. Go to an exciting startup and people are working at all hours. Go to a big company and they left at five. Or so it seemed to me.

Can Google, Apple, or Facebook buck that history? Are big tech companies doomed to decline. Live by tech, die by tech? Do they become too big not to fail?

Can Research Make You Dumber?

(Reposted with permission from my social media business plans blog)

Can research make you dumber? It can if you believe it.

I just read Can Facebook Make You Fat and Poor? on Mashable. It’s a post by David Mielach, of BusinessNewsDaily.

In particular, the researchers found that social media users were more likely to binge eat and have a higher body-mass index. Frequent Facebook users also were more likely to have certain financial problems, including a lower credit score and higher levels of debt.

But wait. It says the research was based on the responses of 541 Facebook users in the United States. So what does that really mean? What does this research really mean? And to be fair, I haven’t gone into the actual research. I’m just commenting on the coverage. Maybe they did everything right and avoided the problems I see. And maybe not.

First, who’s in the sample? Is it Facebook users, really, or Facebook users who answer surveys? Those are different sets of people. Is it balanced for age, demographic, technology, geography?

Maybe people who answer surveys have less self control, which is part of the reason they answer surveys. And maybe people who answer surveys have less money, caused perhaps by the behavior that finds time to answer surveys. Maybe they are just younger, on average, and that causes the money difference.

Research depends on the sample. So that’s a good reason to be skeptical.

So maybe what it really shows isn’t about Facebook users but rather about people who answer surveys. Maybe they — survey answerers have less self control so they couldn’t resist taking the survey really know is that people who answer surveys on Facebook have less self control — that’s why they took their time to answer the survey. And maybe people who answer surveys have less money — because they waste their time answering surveys.

And there is that whole issue of causation and correlation: Could we just as easily say living in a large house makes you rich, or attending college makes you young? That’s as logical as saying Facebook users have less self control and less money. Right?

Here’s a direct quote from the research:

These results are concerning given the increased time people spend using social networks, as well as the worldwide proliferation of access to social networks anywhere, anytime via smartphones and other gadgets. Given that self-control is important for maintaining social order and personal well-being, this subtle effect could have widespread impact.

So now it’s widespread impact. The emphasis above is mine. Wow: Is this looking for a news lead, or rather reaching out, stretching to the ultimate, to look for a news lead? Or what?

I’m not saying that information is bad. Misinformation is.

I’m not saying that research is bad. Believing it is. Question the research, question the assumptions, look through it, and then take what’s valuable in it. Never just believe it.

Did They Copy Your Idea? Deal With It.

This troubles me. App Developer Says Facebook Stole Idea for “Find Friends Nearby”.

I don’t know the app, haven’t used it, and I’m not a lawyer, but I hate it when people complain about some big company stealing their ideas. Ideas get copied all the time. Have you seen the web? Have you seen books, movies, or TV?

Good ideas get copied. I don’t mean software piracy or plagiarism, which I hate, isn’t legal, but is also inevitable. I do mean reverse engineering and just plain copying good idea. Like movie and fiction formulas that work.  Selling points, tag lines, icons, apps, functionality, features, packaging, design … copycats get around them easily without strictly violating the law.  It’s a fact of life.

Think of the history of high tech in the last generation or so. DOS copied and improved CP/M which copied something else. The original Mac copied and improved Xerox and Windows copied Mac. Lotus 1-2-3 copied and improved Visicalc and Microsoft Excel copied and improved Lotus 1-2-3.

As a writer, I hate it when people just copy my work and pretend they wrote it. But it does happen constantly.

As a software developer and publisher, I hate it when people copy my product’s tag lines and positioning but it happens all the time.

Ethical? You be the judge. Legal? I’m not an attorney, I can’t say. But I will say this: It happens all the time.

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Sheryl Sandberg Named To Facebook Board Of Directors (Finally!)

Consider this a quick update, something that was obvious from the beginning: my post Sheryl Sandberg Named To Facebook Board Of Directors (Finally!)

Yes, I agree. Finally. And I’m glad to say I was on that bandwagon with Facebook Needs At Least One Woman on Its Board, which I posted here and on the Huffington post last April. 

In case you weren’t aware of that bandwagon, Facebook went public with seven men — all very well qualified, all deserving, all men with a lot to offer, to be sure — on its board. But not one woman? In 2012?

I’m glad to see they’ve taken this step in the right direction. How can any highly visible company fail to find at least one woman in a seven-member board of directors? After all, the purpose of a board of directors, Wikipedia says, is to govern the organization, establish broad policies, review the CEO, and answer to stakeholders for the organization’s performance. That purpose isn’t better served with at least one woman in the seven-member board? I don’t believe that. Do you?

Congrats to Facebook, and it was about time. 

(Image courtesy of Women 2.0)

Facebook Needs at Least One Woman on Its Board

(Note: I posted this earlier today on the Huffington Post. I’m reposting it here because this is my main blog, and I believe what I wrote, so I want it here too.)

Why would a startup as important as Facebook, run by somebody as young as Mark Zuckerberg, whose users are more than 50 percent women, go into all-important public stock offering with a board of directors composed of seven men?

For no good reason.

Not that these seven don’t make a great group. It includes Peter Thiel, Donald Graham, James Breyer, Mark Zuckerberg, Marc Andreessen, Reed Hastings, and Erskine Bowles. So that’s the founder, several world-class successful entrepreneurs, the CEO of the Washington Post, a venture capitalist, and a former university president who was also co-chair of President Obama’s Commision on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. That’s an excellent group of men.

Still, qualified as they may all be, seven men and no women? After all, the purpose of a board of directors, Wikipedia says is to govern the organization, establish broad policies, review the CEO, and answer to stakeholders for the organization’s performance. That purpose isn’t better served with at least one woman in the seven-member board? I don’t believe that. Do you?

There is research indicating that including women on a board of directors is better business. For background on that, read Why Your Next Board Member Should be a Woman on TechCrunch, or The ‘Terrible Truth’ About Women on Corporate Boards on Forbes.com, just to cite two of many. And, if you like irony, listen to Cheryl Sandberg, Chief Financial Officer of Facebook, in this Ted talk from 16 months ago, worried about under representation of women in the upper ranks of business. She cites a statistic I’ve seen elsewhere, that over the last six years, women have held a static 15-16 percent of c-level corporate jobs and spots on boards of directors.

Frankly, nobody can say there aren’t qualified women available. Search the web. That’s just dumb.

So why?

I was contacted by the group behind the Face It Campaign, at www.faceitcampaign.com. I went to their website, saw the video on YouTube (embedded here), and signed up. They’re not asking for money, just support for what should be obvious.

If change is going to happen, it takes place one step at a time. This seems like a good time to take this step.

(Note: if for any reason the embedded video doesn’t show up here, it’s on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=8DMdSPeBuvU)

Age vs. Experience Not Always Obvious

It must be awfully hard to be a Gen Y person and have to deal with all the discussion about Gen Y and Gen Y stereotypes. At least with my generation, the baby boomers, we were all just one big vague hippy-long-hair-freedom stereotype and we didn’t mind it. But with Gen Y, all this stuff about entitlement and selfishness, jeez, what a drag.

SocialMediaOverload.jpg

One random though here about age vs. experience, that I think works into the Gen Y stereotype and what’s often wrong with it: social media. Specifically, Facebook.

Here’s what I suggest: go back in time to Fall of 2005. Imagine the typical 18-year-old college freshman of that year. She was by definition one of the first fluent users of Facebook. It seemed like second nature to her.

Flash forward to 2012. Seven years later. She’s 25 now, classic Gen Y, and might seem impatient with managers who don’t understand Facebook and Twitter. She’s been working with Facebook from the very beginning, and adapted Twitter in 2007. She’s taken social media as instinct, commonplace, something obvious.

But the world around her thinks she’s demanding too much too soon.

Does that make sense?

What Would You Do About This Facebook Post?

Hats off to Inc Magazine for this great treatment of a problem a lot of business owners face. In this case it’s a man named Mark, who discovers:screen shot

Recently an employee put a photo of the cover of the book Your Company Sucks on their own Facebook wall, titling the entry “Succinct.”

To his great credit, author Jeff Haden offers no easy solutions.

First he points out that Mark doesn’t know whether the employee even thought that the post might be taken as a complaint against his company. Maybe that person liked the book, and the title.

Then he quotes HR expert Suzanne Lucas saying …

ignore it completely. The chances of anyone caring one bit about this are extremely small. The chances of this blowing up in an employer’s face by taking action are much greater.

And I like his recommendation too, Jeff the author:

I would ask the employee to delete the post. No matter what the intent, others could take it the wrong way. A good employees who meant no harm will immediately say, “Oh, wow, I didn’t think of that. I’ll take it down.” If the employee really is unhappy with the company, that gives us the chance to discuss what’s wrong and hopefully make a bad situation better.

That doesn’t sound bad either. Actually, I like Jeff’s suggestion better; but that’s just me. Who knows?

I think it’s an interesting problem. Social media is publishing, and publishing is freedom, and employment doesn’t — or isn’t supposed to — limit freedom. And even before social media, did I as an employers get to monitor what people wrote in, say, letters to the editor published in the local newspaper? No. On the other hand, did I have to continue paying somebody who publicly and openly insults me or my company? Probably not, but that gets into some interesting legal issues, and I’m not a lawyer.

What do you think?

Q&A: How Do I Sell My Idea to A Big Company?

This is another email question I received via my ask-me-a-question form on my timberry.com site. I’ve edited it slightly:

I recently read your article protect your ideas and I have an idea that I want to protect and want to pitch to a company. I don’t know if I can turn my idea into a business without the business I created it for. I have an idea for a new revenue model for Facebook that uses their current model but gets more advertising and more potential … But my model would only work on Facebook; I don’t think I could start up a social networking site and get the same results. So my questions is do I try to patent the idea then go to them or what? How do I approach a successful company and tell them “hey you could be making way more money and revolutionize social networking!

And my answer:

  1. Find out about patents and whether or not your idea has a good chance of being patentable. I seriously doubt that your idea is patentable, but I don’t know what it is. Patents are for inventions, not ideas. There have been some business model patents issued, but to build a business around it you’d have to be able to not just have a patent but defend it. And you should worry that the patent system is no longer working, caught in a deluge of technology.
  2. If there’s a reasonable chance of a good strong patent that would be defensible against Facebook, explore that option. Plan to spend tens of thousands of dollars, so be honest with yourself. Start by spending a thousand or so dollars with a patent attorney really good, and really honest, who can tell you what the odds are, and be prepared to end the project there.
  3. If — my guess — the patent option isn’t realistic, then forget it. You’re wasting your time. Give it up. The following points are just so you understand why.
  4. Jump into the shoes of Facebook for a few seconds. They live and breathe their business model. How likely is it that they’re going to invite you to tell them what they haven’t thought of? How likely is it that you’ve got something related to some direction they’re already studying? And how much to they want to deal with some stranger saying what they’re doing is an idea they copied.
  5. To help you think of it this way, I’ll share that during the years I built Palo Alto Software I learned not to even respond to people who wanted to sell me an idea for my business. I learned it the hard way: every single time I listened, it was something we’d thought about, often something we tried, but didn’t work. In a couple of rare occasions it was something we were already working on, which led to “oh dear, now this guy’s going to think we did it because he suggested.”
  6. And then, to make matters worse, there’s the problem of ownership: even if you did think up that great idea, originally, you don’t own it. You can’t legally own an idea. Patents protect inventions, not ideas (see points 1 and 2 above); copyright protects creative works; and trademark protects commercial communications. You can’t sell something you don’t own. Tell it to Facebook and they can run with it for free. They pay you only if they want to, out of the well-known goodness of their huge corporate heart.
  7. Just to explain an apparent contradiction between points 4 and 6: legally the big company can take anybody’s idea and run with it, because nobody owns an idea; but big companies don’t want to deal with the accusation or even the bad karma of actually doing that. Who wants the negative press? It’s way better to just not ever respond to you.

So there you have it. Not what you wanted to hear, I’m sure, but if I save you a lot of wasted effort, then I’ve done you a favor.