Facebook Is Dead!

Facebook.jpeg

So folks, here is my absolutely contrarian prediction. 

Facebook Is Dead!

Who in their right mind would say something like that?


Facebook has 2 billions users! 


Well I am one of those users.


But even though I use it. 


I recognize that it is essentially useless and a waste of time. 


Yes, there are cute videos and messages and photos on there. 


But basically if you’re honest, it’s mostly a lot of garbage and time sink!


Twitter has a newsfeed purpose. 


Instagram has a photo sharing purpose. 


LinkedIn has a professional networking purpose. 


But Facebook is a glorious made-up fad!


I believe that people are getting tired of the:


– Meaningless, mind-numbing posts of what they had for breakfast today (and every other fart, literally). 


– Phony self-branding veneer as if everything is always perfect in their lives (look I’m on another vacation skydiving!)


– Virtual relationships rather than genuine friendships and real connections (I’m fiends with over 3,000 people!)


– The millions of empty slogans, political statements, and impersonal wishes to everyone for every occasion (have a really happy birthday!)


Frankly, I think that people are reaching the point of realization where they want more from the time they spend online.


– More depth of feelings


– More substance of thought


– More reality than superficiality. 


Yes, we all need some downtime too to mellow and just laugh a little, but I am fairly certain that the time people are putting into Facebook is not really meeting their true social networking needs. 


In the end, we will find out that Facebook is the epitome of the greatest fool theory–where everyone dumps their shit from the day, hoping that there is some greater fool who will superficially lopping it all up. 😉


(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

Last Man Standing Wins

Medieval Fighting

So it has always amazed me how until modern times, armies would line up and face-off on the battlefield to basically bash each others skulls in. 


Whether in medieval times or in the civil war…it goes something like this. 

– Red coats line up on this side. 

– Blue coats line up on that side. 

– Everyone pull out their weapons.

– Scream your bloody heads off.

– And run towards each other swinging. 

– The last man standing from either side is the winning army!

How brilliant is that? 


Basically, mass suicide for both sides (like trying to take the hill running straight into machine gun fire). 


These days, there is a notion at least of using stealth, smart bombs, and sending in drones or robots, so as not to risk real people’s lives unnecessarily. 


But I guess that takes the fun out of it–can’t slice and dice and smash the enemy with your bare hands.


Last weekend, I watched people who like to fight the old fashioned way, dress up in medieval gear, take their sides on the field in the park, and go at it. 


They had swords, and clubs, and javelins, and bow and arrows, and more.  


They even had roles, and one guy I talked to was actually the king for one side of the fight–and apparently you have to earn that role in battle and in council vote. 


On the battlefield then the people get together and go at it hitting each other with some pretty scary weapons that fortunately are (mostly) padded, but still they seemed to get some pretty good zets!


Honestly, it sort of looked like a lot of fun and good exercise, but probably (more than) a little dangerous too. 


I saw one combatant coming off the field, taking off his outfit as it was pretty hot out, and he literally had layers of shielding on, so aside from seeing them take hits again and again, I could see that they felt they needed the protection. 


What was also interesting watching this–and I understand sometimes they get about 150 people on the field at a time to go at it–is that people seem to really want to go back in time to the way things were…more natural, more real, and even more deadly–up close and personal!


We are so much in a virtual world or like Elon Musk (CEO of SpaceX and Tesla) said living in a simulation, that there is just a wild yearning and craving to get back to nature, basics, and what’s tangible and real. 


Even if it means bashing heads on a hot Summer’s day…and reenacting the times of lore…put your smartphones down and pull out your swords and clubs–it’s a new day and age. 😉 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Talk To The Hand

Hand
So you know the saying “Talk to the hand, because the face ain’t home…”?



Well IPSoft has an artificial intelligence agent called Amelia that handles service requests. 



Instead of talking to a human customer service rep, you get to talk to a computer. 



The question is whether Amelia is like talking to a hand or is someone really home when using IA to adroitly address your service issues?



Now apparently, according to the Wall Street Journal, this computer is pretty smart and can ingest every single manual and prior service request and learn how to answer a myriad of questions from people. 



On one hand, maybe you’ll get better technical knowledge and more consistent responses by talking to a computerized service representative.



But on the other hand, if the interactive voice response systems with the dead end menus of call options, endless maze of “If you want to reach X, press Y now” along with all the disconnects after being on for 10 minutes already are any indication of what this, I am leery to say the least. 



The Telegraph does says that Amelia can service customers in 20 languages and after 2 months, can resolve 64% of “the most common queries” independently, so this is hopeful and maybe even inspiring of what is to come. 



These days, based on how much time we spend online in the virtual world, I think most people would actually prefer to talk to a knowledgeable computer than a smart alec human who doesn’t want to be handling annoying customer calls all day, anyway. 



The key to whether Amelia and her computerized brothers and sisters of the future will be successful is not only how quickly they can find the correct answer to a problem, but also how well they can understand and address new issues that haven’t necessarily come up the same way before, and how they handle the emotions of the customer on the line who wishes they didn’t have the problem needing this call to begin with. 😉



(Source Photo: here with attribution to Vernon Chen)

Virtual Government–Yes or Nonsense

Virtual Government--Yes or Nonsense

The Atlantic (2 June 2013) asks why do we even need a government these days–why not just have a virtual one–where you just “buy” the government you want, the size, the capabilities, and you tailor it for your needs?

The author sees government as menu-driven, like a videogame, by a “rotating dial,” where you choose whatever government suites you best.

In this world of virtual government, people are seen turning to private sector alternatives to get capabilities, customer service, and prices that are better than the government’s–in some cases, this may actually work, like with private insurance.

However, this article goes beyond this notion to where government is not tied to the physical boundaries of the real world, but rather to virtual jurisdictions, citizenship, and even values held or abrogated.

While I agree that raising the bar on government is a good thing–expect more for less–and partnering with the private sector can make government more efficient, the idea of wholesale shopping government around is quite ludicrous:

– Will we hire mercenaries instead of having an armed forces?

– Will we rely solely on CEOs to conduct our diplomacy?

– Will justice be doled out by vigilantes?

– Will private inspectors alone regulate food, drug, and the financial system?

While compared to an iPad wheel for making service selections, Government is not the same as a library of songs or movies that one scrolls through to pick and choose what one likes and dislikes.

Like the old joke about the difference between family and friends…you can choose your friends, but you can’t just choose your family!

While government can provide services virtually, it cannot be a government entirely sliced up by choice–where you opt-in for what you like and opt-out for what you don’t–if that were the case, we would all selfishly take and never contribute to the greater good.

For example, “Hey, I like social entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare, but I don’t particularly care for contributing to space exploration or research and development for certain diseases that I may not be genetically predisposed to.”

There is a civic commons where we must share–the prime example is a fire department. If I choose not to contribute, then the fire department still has to come to put out the fire or else it can spread to others.

In the end, we are not just a collective of individuals, but a nation bound together by core values and beliefs, and shared interests and investments in the future–and where by sharing the risks and burdens, we fall or rise together.

Like anything that you are seriously apart of–family, religion, organizations, and work–we take the good and work on the bad, rather than just immaturely throwing it all or in innumerable parts away.

Yes, government should only do functions that are inherently governmental, and we should avail ourselves of all the talent and expertise in the private sector for the rest, but no, we should not wholly think that we can replace government with loose and shifting ties on the Internet and purely profit-driven private sector players.

If Hezbollah and Al-Qaeda serving as modern virtual governments are the best examples of what can be accomplished, then we should all be running (not walking) to good ‘ol Democracy of the U.S. of A.

Virtual government as a way to provision services as well as competition and augmentation by the private sector is great, but becoming a stateless state will not solve the large and complex problems we must face, not alone, but together.

Even though bureaucratic waste and abuse is bad, the system of debate, negotiation, checks and balances, basic human rights, and voting is good, and we should not just throw out the precious baby with the dirty bathwater. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Going To An eLibrary

Going To An eLibrary

I’ve always loved libraries–the stacks of books and periodicals–all that information (almost like being a kid in a candy store)–and the quiet space to enjoy it.

But in the digital age, where people are reading books and magazines on e-readers, news on smartphones, downloading videos with Netflix and watching shorts on YouTube–what is the new place for libraries?

Libraries will always provide a peaceful place for reading, thinking, and writing whether with hardcopy or digital media, but libraries need to meet peoples information needs, incorporate the latest technologies, and fit with the times.

The Wall Street Journal (7 February 2013) describes a new library in Texas that “holds no books”–it is all-digital–you “check out books by downloading them” to your own device or a borrowed one.

While many people still like holding a physical books or paper to read–I know I do, especially when it involves anything more than browsing online–Generation Y is comfortable for the most part getting it all digitally–and then you can electronically highlight, annotate, and share as well.

Some libraries are offering a mixture of paper and digital–actually “more than three-quarters of U.S. public libraries feature some digital books, and 39% offer e-readers for patrons to borrow.”

One of the things holding back the all digital conversion are publishers who don’t want to lose print sales, and so they won’t offer all new titles electronically or they charge more for it than for paper copies.

I envision that once we have 100% broadband penetration–where everyone in the country has Internet access–then we all can purchase or borrow the books, periodicals, music, and videos online from anywhere–in other words; libraries will become vastly virtual, instead of predominantly physical structures.

With more information online than at any library in the world, information growing exponentially, and with online resources available 24×7 (versus set hours for a brick and mortar library), it would be hard for any physical library to keep pace in the digital age.

Aside from physical libraries for traditional use, we need easy to use elibraries, where all information resources are available all the time, where students or those that can’t pay can get it for free or at an appropriate discount–and where help is just a click away.

Of course, many of us also don’t mind a hybrid solution, like being able to go online and borrow or purchase a physical edition–maybe they can just drop ship it overnight or same day is even better. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Ellen Forsyth)

G-d Doesn’t Have a Blackberry

G-d_connection

I saw this lovely and clever poem on Facebook posted by Yona Lunger, I assume a relative of the 11 year old girl who wrote this.

“Hashem” is the Jewish name for G-d.

And he is truly the center of our real and virtual worlds.

None of it would exist without him.

G-d keeps us all moving forward technologically–he is the greatest innovator of them all.

Thank you G-d!

(Source Poem–Chana Pessy Lunger)

Passover 21st Century

This video (2011) by Aish.com is terrific! The story of Passover–“Google Exodus”– with all the technology of instant messaging, email, social networking, mapping, and more.I love how they make the traditional and sacred, new and promising again by “letting people go” and being able to see and interact with it in modern terms.

While some may find it challenging not to lose the essence of the old, when keeping it fresh, I think the past becomes more meaningful when we can truly integrate it into our daily lives.

I personally am still not comfortable with the idea of online Passover Seders or DIY Haggadah’s–and I don’t think I ever really will be–probably more because of guilt at not following strictly and the concern that people may change things so much as to either misinterpret or actually distort the truth of G-d.

However, I do think that we can strengthen regular people’s connection to their past and their faith only by truly bringing it in our present and looking to the future, as well.

The world of religion-can often be filled with controversy between those that maintain iron-clad religious practices from thousands of years ago and those that seek evolving routes to religion and G-d today.

When we can use technology to help people bridge the religious divide, we are helping people connect with their G-d and choose good over evil in their daily lives.

Neither modernism nor technology is inherently “bad,” and we do not have to run away from it–or escape through the Red Sea from it.

Rather, faith in the Almighty, in His hand that guides all, and in the doing good in all that we do, are fundamental to religion and can be shared online and off, as G-d is truly everywhere and in each of us.

Sometimes, I wonder when Orthodox people probe and judge with incessant questions of “What Shul do you go to?” “What Yeshiva do your kids attend?” “Do you keep Kosher?”  and more, I imagine G-d looking down on his “people of the book,” not with satisfaction that they follow his commandments, but with disdain for how people can hurt others and not even realize that is notreligious.

While I agree that unguided, people and practices can go astray, I also believe that automatic suspicion and rejection of new things is impractical and actually harmful.

Modernism and technology can be a blessing, if coupled with faith and integrity.

Congratulations to Aish.com for the good work they are doing in helping people integrate the old and new in a balanced way.