Friday, September 24, 2010

Technology Will Not Forgive or Forget

I read an article in The New York Times Magazine (July 25, 2010) titled The End of Forgetting by Jeffery Rosen. The author astutely presented how personal comments/pictures sent to web based sites like Facebook, MySpace, Google, YouTube, blogs or Twitter can in theory live forever in cyberspace. This reality has ominous implications for boastful, too truthful, unmindful, malicious or scandalous posters as human resource professionals, banks, college admission counselors, and God forbid…Pastors are all going on line to see who and what they are really dealing with.

There was a time that this sort of intense scrutiny only followed celebrities; but now, thanks to technology, the cycle of fame has extended way beyond 15 minutes as predicted by Andy Warhol—now your deeds can live either victoriously or shamelessly forever. Old fashion office gossip once took place around the water cooler among nosey co-workers and even then the most itching ear could not spread salacious news but so far or fast. The water cooler has been replaced by the computer screen and scurrilous stories can just as easily make their way around a community, job, church, or around the world.

This Orwellian reality (Read 1984 by George Orwell) also has consequences for members of the faith community. There was a time when brothers and sisters confessed to the Lord their innermost issues and dark secrets (sins). Now confessions are posted online for all to see. It begs the question who is the real you; the person who shares the good, bad and ugly online, or the person who only shares their good qualities in church?

What is it about technological notoriety that will allow a person to share their foibles, miscues, spicy private photos—or at the other end of the spectrum, their boring mundane life routines with the universe? Is it really important to let people know you are sleepy? Or that your shower water was not as hot as yesterday. To be fair there is a positive role social networks play, bringing people together, sharing information and ideas. What it should not do is become a substitute for human interaction and emotional exchange especially with family and friends that live in close proximity.

Call me old school but I am amazed that couples will go out to dinner and spend most of their time between bites (bytes) communicating with someone else—perhaps that person on the other end of the text should have been invited to dinner. With that said, I reluctantly joined Facebook after hearing that some of my mentees started a page titled, People Mentored By Reverend Alfonso Wyatt. I read the comments (I am up to 56 friends) of people I was blessed to help, encourage or minister to over the last decade to the present.

I could clearly see and feel the cyber attraction that keeps track of the number of friends that visit you (what ever happened to pen pals?) and the concomitant desire to ‘hit’ someone back long into the night or most of the day. It is however disconcerting when someone who is your friend asks you to be their friend online. I exited the site happy that there was nothing posted that I would be embarrassed for my mother to see.

I recall the time a friend and co-laborer in the gospel received an unsolicited suggestive picture and message posted to his Facebook page about what she hoped the future could hold for him. I made a low tech move and called a mutual friend that had his number to warn him what was happening on his Facebook page (which he seldom checked). He was horrified, embarrassed and angered to read what was posted for the world to see and judge.

There is now software called Reputation Defender designed to police the Internet for a price to make sure that any disparaging remarks are not being transmitted without a customer’s knowledge. Reputation Defender knows how to bury unflattering statements in the depths of Google’s basement. There was a time that God was the ultimate reputation defender. He would take sinners and forgive and forget all that was past. In fact, we are told that our sins are tossed in the sea of forgetfulness there to rise no more. Facebook, MySpace or your favorite blog or an indiscriminate text, email or tweet can’t forgive nor forget. So the techno/existential question boils down to this: Which book do you really want to be in forever—Facebook or The Lamb’s Book—Tweet that question please and I pray it goes viral!

The Reverend Alfonso Wyatt is an associate minister and Elder on the staff of The Greater Allen Cathedral of New York under the leadership of Wyatt is a national role model and leader on issues that impact youth, health, and family and community development. He is an advisor and consultant to government, universities, public schools, community based organizations, faith based institutions, foundations and civic groups. Wyatt is Vice President of the Fund for the City of New York, a highly regarded operating foundation and public charity started by the Ford Foundation in 1968. The mission of the Fund for the City of New York is to improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers through its strategic work with government and non-profits. He is the Chair of The 21st Century Foundation, an organization that advances philanthropy in the African American community and Chair of Black Leadership Commission on AIDS New York City affiliate. Reverend Alfonso and Evangelist Ouida Wyatt have been married for 36 years and are co-authors of Soul Be Free Poems Prose and Prayers on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The New Twitter Experience

September 14, 2010 was a big day for techies and Twitter enthusiasts all over the world. A surprise announcement by Twitter co-founder, Evan Williams at the company’s San Francisco headquarters revealed the launch of a new Twitter. For the sites’ 160 million users this means a more user-friendly experience in 140 characters or less. Twitter currently uses a single-pane interface of streaming tweets; which doesn’t allow its users to do much more than the basic updates, re-tweets, replies and follows. The new design will feature an interactive second-pane that will give users additional information about the author of a tweet and @ replies which will make it easier to see the flow of conversation between users. What makes this second pane (or column) more interactive is its ability to view pictures or videos without having to click open a new browser. This functionality will allow users to navigate within the site and give them a more convenient browsing experience. The redesign is to make the site more modern and faster to navigate. The features that are currently hidden, like the search feature, will be more visible. The Search Engine Land website offers a very detailed overview and illustration of the new Twitter.

If you don’t have the new Twitter design yet, don’t worry. Williams announced the new design would be rolled out worldwide over the next few weeks. If you’re curious as to the look of the new design, TechCrunch shares screenshots of the design.

Check out the YouTube promo introducing the new Twitter.

The new design highlights a multi-pane view that allows you to click between tweets, profiles, hashtags, videos and other features. According to Evans, with more than 90 million tweets a day “You don’t need to tweet to use Twitter, it can be a great way to just get information.” The new design and functionality of Twitter will enhance the overall Twitter experience. In an interview with Gigaom, product manager, Josh Elman says the new Twitter will be similar to Google than Facebook. Users will continue to use Twitter for "quick visits" rather than lengthy sessions.

Advantages of the New Twitter
In an interview with the New York Times, Evan Williams said, “It’s going to increase the value that people are getting out of Twitter, so in less time you can get more information and value.” Evans admits that Twitter, as it exists now does not lend itself to easy navigation throughout the site. But Evans and Twitter’s engineers are optimistic that the new Twitter will change all of that, including increased income generating opportunities.

Twitter executives have made some efforts to create income for the popular social networking site. In April, 2010, Twitter announced it would begin running advertisements on the site to boost revenue. Through “promoted tweets,” users will see ads when they search for keywords that have been bought by advertisers. However; even with this revenue-generating effort, Twitter appears to be more practical than profitable. The new Twitter, according to Evans, will improve ads “because there’s going to be more real estate and more engagement,” as told to the New York Times. There is clearly more room for advertisements and promotions. And with 160 million users, this is appealing to advertisers.

User Friendly
Most Twitter users are familiar with the outages and the famous “Twitter is over capacity” message just as we’re trying to push out that important tweet. We don’t know whether the new twitter will eliminate the “whale factor,” and only time will tell. But with the updated features and functionality of the new Twitter, it should prove to be a more user-friendly Twitter experience.
Whether its keeping up to date on the latest social media platforms, re-tweeting or adding my own two cents about what users think their followers want to know, the truth of the matter is I already spend much of my time on twitter. The new twitter may compel not only me, but millions of users to linger on Twitter’s site just a bit longer. And with more than 90 million tweets a day, Williams says “you don’t need to tweet to use Twitter, it can be a great way to get information.” I’m very excited about the new Twitter and I anxiously await and look forward to the day I login and see my new twitter in full effect.

Happy Tweeting!!

Monday, September 13, 2010

You Tube Instant Is An Instant Success

Stanford University student, Feross Aboukhadijeh took a page from Google Instant and recently created YouTube Instant, allowing viewers to search the popular site in real time. This sophomore was able to build this in just three hours and says Ferros, has already received coverage by top media that includes Washington Post, New York Times and Mashable just to name a few.

YouTube Co-founder and CEO Chad Hurley was so impressed with this simple creation that he offered Aboukhadijeh a job through his Twitter feed.

Feross is scheduled to be part of the 2012 graduating class at Stanford, but will Feross follow in the footsteps of Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerburg and exchange textbooks for html coding?

We don't know what the future holds for YouTube Instant's creator, but we do know that Feross' name is known across media platforms and according to a recent tweet by Ferros, YouTube Instant had 270,000 viewers in 3 days.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Facebook About To Invade My Car

According to a report on and Bloomberg, General Motors’ announced its plans to integrate Onstar with Facebook allowing subscribers to have text messages and Facebook status updates read to them while driving. Drivers can also update their status and respond to text messages with voice command.

As a new subscriber to OnStar, I’m pleased with its current features and have often wondered when someone would create an application that will allow me to respond to text messages without having to wait for the next red light. Applications are constantly being developed to meet the needs of this tech-driven culture. I will be first in line to subscribe to the newest OnStar technology; however, I wonder what lies ahead for social networking. It is seemingly taking over our daily lives, infiltrating our relationships, friendships and careers. My car serves as the one place of solitude where I can shut-out the world, colleagues, friends and just enjoy some much-needed “me” time. I value my life and the lives of others so when the text alert goes off on my phone, I’m forced to ignore it because I don’t want that split second it can take to cause a car accident to happen. But, with the impending launch of voice command via OnStar, my sanctuary is about to be interrupted and I’m excited! I’m looking forward to expanding my social networking experience while driving.

We’ll anxiously await OnStar’s September 15th announcement of what they refer to as its “relaunch” to accommodate 21st century services. And as rumor has it, these services may very include the integration of Facebook and Text messaging voice command right from your car.