You share a private message that includes a link to a page which contains Facebook's social sharing plugin. The social share count for that page gets increased. Though you're not publicly tied to that increase, this is a problem.
The argument against my thesis is that Gmail monitors messages too. It serves you ads based (at least partially) on what you've been talking about in your email. But here's the difference - that's internal. It's private. Nobody on the outside is seeing a visible increase based upon whether or not you click those ads.
Facebook's social sharing count (its “reach” ability, if you will) is its currency. If, by watching what you're talking about in your messages, that share count goes up, Facebook gets to tout that as a viral, social share. The problem is that it's one that you NEVER intended to have publicly recognized. It was a private message, plain and simple.
You are the product being sold. Most people are (at some level) aware of this. But there's nothing about this action of monitoring your messages to increase social shares that keeps it from feeling like anything less than an absolute violation of privacy.
I always chuckle when my friends ask me to write them a reference or a recommendation, and then are somehow shocked by how positively I talk about them.
I surround myself with the best people in the world. There's simply no time for anything else. Why should they be surprised that I write about them like they're one of the greatest people to walk the Earth?
I think that they are.
If you look at the people that you call friends, and can't write something staggeringly-positive about them, then you should re-evaluate who you call friends.
My friend Jana has an app. The sole purpose of the app is to find nearby things that you will think are fun, and tell you about them.
Some of us, apparently, have a very risqué definition of fun. These are Apple's warnings to those downloading the app:
Frequent/Intense Alcohol, Tobacco, or Drug Use or References
Infrequent/Mild Sexual Content or Nudity
Frequent/Intense Mature/Suggestive Themes
Frequent/Intense Profanity or Crude Humor
I understand Apple's conundrum here. On one hand, it has always played the big brother role against anything even remotely “adult-oriented”. As Steve pointed out, it does this to protect users. If Apple said, today, that it was going to stop enforcing these restrictions, it might end up in a more difficult position than where it presently resides.
But as Marco Arment points out, the system is flawed.
But the current solution is inconsistent, arbitrary, unfair, and ineffective
I think that the most important word here is unfair. It's not fair to Jana (and many other developers like her) to have people think “I can't let my kid download this, they're going to get directed to a drug party!” It's not fair to offer no restrictions on the built-in Safari browser, while placing a 17+ rating on Chrome. It's time to pay special attention to the cases here and to revamp the ratings system entirely. What worked for a couple thousand apps is ineffective today, and at worst it's damaging to the livelihood of the app creators.
Apple's onus is to be the protector of content that hits its ecosystem, while still being fair to the ones who are putting it there.
This is huge. No need to call the carrier, go to the store or anything else to get your SIM slot unlocked if you want to travel overseas. You bought a Verizon iPhone? The unlock is already done, and it will stay that way.
Verizon's inability to do simultaneous voice and data (an unfortunate side-effect of CDMA coverage for voice) might put a kink into the plans of some. But having a carrier unlock from day 1 is going to be a huge boon for international business travelers.
First thought: I might be completely wrong. If so, that's OK. It's just how I see things.
That said, I'm enthralled by being able to look at a roadmap for Apple products. Obviously it's nothing official, but rather it's contextual. For ages, when Apple primarily focused on desktop computers, it was almost impossible to tell what it was going to do next. Now the path is a bit more clear.
I think that the iPhone 4 was the first product to offer this glimpse into the company's future. It's akin to when Cadillac switched over to the Sigma platform for its cars in 2003. Every car since the release of the original CTS has had similar styling.
With the iPhone 4, Apple now has a base from which it is working for the design of its mobile devices. The 3 was introductory, even if revolutionary. The 3G and 3GS were stop-gap measures that brought in needed features. The 4 feels like a mold from which the future will be carved, and Apple thus far is proving that to be true.
The 5 is so similar to the 4 in so many ways that it simply feels like a generational step, and I think that's exactly what Apple was trying to do. It wasn't time to re-write the playbook yet. There is still some distance left to be covered before that's necessary.
My wish list for the next iPhone? I don't really have one yet, but I'd absolutely love to see haptic feedback for more immersive media and gaming. Though in all honesty what I want more than anything is battery life that's simply incredible. Give me back the 18% thickness that the 5 lost, but fill that space with battery technology that's stunning.
As for its design? Again, there's not a need to stray. Apple successfully pulled off a 16:9 display, and the black anodized is beautiful. Expect the design to stay largely the same for next year's model.
But what about the iPad? I'm not sure that we'll ever see Apple stray from the 4:3 ratio for tablets. At least not 10-inch versions. I've held 16:9 tablets and they simply don't feel right. An 8-inch tablet could do 16:9 and be considerably more comfortable to hold.
But what we can almost bet on is that we'll get a version that does away with the silver back, or at least offers a black anodized option. We'll almost definitely see a Lightning connector as well. I fully expect another jump in storage, up to 128 GB, as Mac OS and iOS become even more closely aligned. People are doing more on their tablets, and that requires space. Flash is cheap. 128 GB is obvious.
I own a white 4S (and don't really plan to upgrade to the 5) and a white “new” iPad. They make quite the striking pair. Now, imagine if Apple took the design of the 5 and applied it to the iPad.
Consider me sold.
But what's interesting is that Apple has left itself a wild card with the iPod. I honestly can't imagine that any of us pictured this:
When I stumbled into this blogging thing about 2.5 years ago I was stunned to find that I could just email startups and they'd bare their souls to me. I lived by the personal rule that I'd never take what they shared and use it against them, so that same openness continued for quite some time.
But lately things have changed. It's been a long, gradual shift, though I can definitely see it more clearly in the past year. Startups are hiding (or being hidden) behind a great firewall, intended to protect them until they're ready but instead sheltering them like an awkward child.
This isn't just a Valley thing, where people are unreasonably afraid of their ideas being stolen. This extends across the country, and in some cases across the world. It's more common in startups that are part of accelerators, but with so many who aren't inside of one taking cues from those who are, the problem is snowballing.
I have some more, deeper thoughts and investigative work that are both going into a refined piece that I'm planning to post to TNW at some point in the near future. But for now I wanted to get some thoughts into black and white and Svbtle seemed like just the right place to do that.
So think of this post as a sort of scratchpad for what I'm working on for TNW. Hopefully it won't all go by the wayside, but here are the points with which I'm working:
The PR wall can be damaging to companies who need a dose of reality.
Firewalling a company is akin to placing an embargo on information without due reason. It's annoying at best. At worst it's going to screw up their chances of coverage.
Accelerators are falling into 3 classes when it comes to working with the media: Open, Coached and Closed.
Should we stop focusing on the Airbnb and Dropbox-style successes as being the goal?
Hiding a company from the public can lead to a prima donna mentality.
What proof of positive outcomes do we have from firewalling companies?
To what point do relationships built between an accelerator and a journalist/blogger matter?
Is this trend cyclic? Can we see examples of it in the past, to this same level?
If so, what broke the cycle? Also, why did it start again?
I promise you, this isn't a whining diatribe of not being able to get stories. Take a look at TNW, TechCrunch, GigaOm or elsewhere. We're having no problem finding stories. The question at hand is whether we could be getting more and better stories, and helping companies in the process.
Maybe I'm an idealist (yes, I am) but I like to think that bloggers and journalists are largely good folks who just want to tell great stories. For the most part, they're not going to screw companies over. Many of us even dedicate time to helping startups perfect their messages.
Anyway, more to come at a later date. For now I don't want this to turn into an MG Siegler post. If you're a startup, and want to offer your voice, please email me.
I was working in clubs at that time. After a late night, it was uncomfortably early when my phone rang. My wife of two months told me to turn on the TV. She said something big had happened in New York.
11 years have passed but it still stings. Though it doesn't sting for the reasons that most would think. The Army veteran part of me wanted to go back to active duty and help where I could. The husband with the newly-pregnant wife knew that his duties were at home.
The sting comes because my kids will never know the America that I have. The TSA, terror levels and ridiculous legislation in the name of “security” have forever changed the world in which we live. Our country, our lovely melting pot, has become xenophobic and intolerant; perfectly content to sit at home and watch another episode of Honey Boo Boo.
Some would say that when fear overtakes a society, the terrorists have won. I'd agree, to an extent, but I also think that it's deeper than simple fear.
If it's true that we reap what we sow then we as a nation deserve what we've gotten in the years that have followed this tragedy. Instead of banding together, becoming stronger and finding a way to live with the world in peace, we've focused on racial profiling, scare tactics for our own people and relinquishing ourselves to a future where the government tracks your every move.
We've become soft.
My kids will never know the excitement of a plane ride without the frustration and anxiety of a TSA checkpoint. They've been born into a society that looks at brown people as bad, scary or somehow negatively different. They live in a world where someone saying that they're a Muslim is equated with extremist acts of terrorism. Even as we break down walls separating gender and sexuality, we put more in place because of the color of someone's skin. We're reverting in important areas, stifling our progress in others.
So yes, the sting is still there. But these days it's more self-inflicted. It's that nagging sensation that comes when you know you're surrounded by preventable hatred. It's the understanding that people haven't changed, yet our perception of them has. It's the knowledge that we've somehow allowed the carefree to be replaced by the cautious. We've let our world be changed, and we have no one to blame but ourselves.