It’s been a long offseason and, as a die-hard Cubs fan, it’s taking longer than normal to get psyched up for this season. I was more optimistic than normal last year and vested much energy into the Cubs playoff run only to see my Cubs swept out immediately. No consolation that the Dodgers knocked them out — I like the Dodgers but that doesn’t matter when they’re playing the Cubs.
Today is the first spring training game for many teams. Coincidentally the Dodgers are playing the Cubs. This year MLB is touting their new MLB network as the place to see all games — even the blacked out Saturday Fox games. BUT, the MLB Network is only available to DirecTV and Time Warner Cable subscribers, leaving Dish Network and AT&T U-Verse subscribers in the dark. Worse yet, MLB.TV — the online stream, will continue to black out these games in addition to the World Baseball Classic. What’s a fan to do?
How will you follow your favorite team this year? Who will the Cubs beat in the 2009 World Series? Will MLB continue their restricting online media outlets and photographers from media access and privileges?
Tonight, President Obama delivered his first speech before the joint Congress — dubbed that State of the Nation, it sounded positively like a State of the Union address — with at least 50 breaks for applause (presidents generally don’t give an SOTU address their first year in office). Only five weeks after taking office, the U.S. economy has continued to spiral into the ground and Obama — whose cabinet is still not complete — addressed both houses of Congress with a somber (while somehow uplifting) 52-minute speech
MSNBC once again allowed embedding of their live coverage of President Obama. You can even clip and embed selected segments of the full speech, Hulu-style. The highest quality live video stream seemed to be the one fed through the official White House site, http://www.whitehouse.gov/live/.
Facebook reprised its collaboration with CNN’s live coverage via http://facebook.com/cnn and on Twitter, the hashtag to search for commentary is #nSOTU.
Last month Twitter quietly launched a new feature that generated a list of suggested users to follow. Most likely as a result of this list, the followers to many Twitter accounts increased exponential over the course of the last month. @LiveEarth, my employer’s twitter account (which is maintained primarily by me), saw a rise in followers from the mid 2,000s to over 90,000 between January 16 and February 22, when, suddenly, the meteoric rise in followers came to a screeching halt.
I originally had trouble pinpointing the genesis of @LiveEarth’s sudden climb when it began in January — I was hoping for spikes in followers surrounding the events we were involved with, but it was bizarre that our followers were increasing by 500 a day after months of being more or less stagnant. I wasn’t too preoccupied with why, I was just happy that we’d finally gained traction — quick glances at the latest followers didn’t reveal anything all that fishy. At first.
Pretty soon we were picking up 1,000 followers a day, then 1,500, and by the end of last week @LiveEarth was averaging about 4-5,000 new followers every day. In early February, I became convinced that either the suggested users feature was helping to boost Live Earth’s follower count or something fishy was going on. I inquired on FriendFeed to see if others were experiencing the same steady rise in followers and received no concrete responses one way or the other.
The suggested user list came to a controversial head over the past week after Jason Calacanis questioned the sudden rise in followers to @wilw @ijustine and @techcrunch. Brooks Bayne wrote a post suspecting that the suspicious surge of followers may have been automated. “Someone is automating/scripting the creation of fake Twitter profiles and then following a select group of people.
In a comment on Brooks’s post, Twitter cofounder Ev Williams said this was likely the result of the suggested users list. But this list wasn’t generated by some algorithm that generated recommendations based on one’s profile and established follows. It was a static list incorporated as the “last page of the signup process,” according to Ev.
LiveCrunch listed about 50 accounts believed to be on the original “suggested list.” LiveCrunch suggested the list was comprised of influencers as defined by Twitter staff. But why can’t Twitter recommend or suggest users to follow? Should #followfriday be banned too? Are the numbers really that important?
Last weekend Robert Scoblewent off on the concept of recommending “influentials” suggesting it was possible that users could pay-to-play — give Twitter money and gain recommended status. At first I thought Scoble was joking. It seemed ridiculous that Twitter would accept money from a select group of users and nobody would leak (or even suggest it) for more than a month. But people got increasingly pissed (Scoble made this comment on Friendfeed which has a similar-yet-different recommended friends function). Even the LA Times wondered why none of its 80 Twitter feeds were featured.
On Sunday I noticed that @LiveEarth’s follower count had hardly budged and concluded that the suggested users listed had been refreshed to feature a batch of recommended accounts.
This is what I had always expected would happen. I also expect the follower account to diminish drastically as soon as Twitter expunges many accounts in a maintenance sweep of fraudulent and/or spammy accounts.
Does Twitter’s “suggested users” feature diminish the value of inflated follower counts? Should a better system be put into place to help n00bs get started? Should we really be taking this so seriously in the first place?
Speaking for @netZoo, I’m happy with Twitter just the way it is.
On February 4 Facebook revised their Terms of Service, removing a clause stating that user content would no longer be under license to Facebook.
Well, now the terms indicate that anything you ever upload or share to your facebook profile — regardless of whether your account is active — is Facebook’s property to do whatever they want with.
UPDATE: Facebook did an about face and reverted to its previous ToS per a blog post on feb 17.
Did anyone receive notification to review the new Terms of Service before someone finally stumbled upon it — an outrageous 11 days after the fact? What if major publishers decide to boycott by removing “share on facebook” links? That’s not happening, not with the increasing traffic these blogs/sites receive via Facebook referrals.
This is the Internet, folks, and this is nothing new and hardly a surprise from Facebook — it was only a matter of time that they reworded the terms of content ownership (check out my previous posts on Facebook privacy here, here, and here).
If you’re someone who openly shares details and content on the Internet (as I do), you’re only fooling yourself if you believe said content cannot be “stolen” or used against you. Think you’re pre-February 4th content is protected (if you have since deleted your Facebook profile? Not likely. Facebook is the model for a walled garden online network. Now we’ll see how far they go with their power to abuse, sell, sublicense and manipulate user data and content.
The key passages of the ToS are below (new ToS / old ToS)
Twestival is on — it’s an event taking place in 200 cities worldwide to raise money for charity: water. If the goal of $1 million dollars is reached — as many as 200 communities, or 80,000 people will get access to clean drinking water. One in six people in the world do not have access to clean drinking water. And the message is getting out there.
Please visit the Live Earth video site — we are the global video partner for Twestival — and learn more + watch live streams from over 100 cities on this 12th of February, 2009.