Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Technology Lesson: Bitstrips

Bitstrips is a Facebook application. It lets users create customized cartoon characters and publish single-cell cartoons. It also allows you to "Put your friends in hilarious comics where anything can happen."

Unfortuantely, the art and illustration is infuriatingly ugly. Valleywag called Bitstrips "universally hated." As an Old Person, you get a pass on bad Facebook apps. You earned your Oldness and can do whatever you want!

For instructions on how to block Bitstrips (with gifs!), see this lesson from Buzzfeed. Beware: I often see users upload their Bitstrip as an image, which circumvents the app. (Therefore, if I had blocked the app, I'd see it anyway.)

So now you know what all those weird, funny pictures are!

Additional Resources:
How To Block Bitstrips From Your Facebook Timeline, Buzzfeed
Bistrips, Universally Hated Facebook Spam Company, Bags $3 Million, Valleywag

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Technology Lesson: Pinterest's Related Pins

Last fall, Pinterest introduced "related pins," pins picked by Pinterest related to your pins and boards. The idea is that related pins will help users find new content. At this time, users can not opt out of this feature.

Related pins are based on what you have pinned and which websites you've visited recently. (This last feature utilizes cookies, but you can turn it off.) My experience is that the pins are relevant to my interests.

Here is Pinterest's example of relevant pins: "If you’ve been collecting recipes for your big holiday feast, we might show you a related Pin for fool-proof pie crust, or the perfect double-stuffed sweet potato."

However, I do not repin related pins. I also find that there are significantly more related pins than those from the people I am following, making it exacerbating and difficult to find the content I do want. I use Pinterest to save content for later, but that is not what Pinterest wants; Pinterest wants me to use the site more often, making it more profitable to investors. So on Pinterest's side, related pins is helpful for the business and users. Unfortunately, I'm old fashioned. If I wanted strangers on my feed, I'd add them on my own.

Here is how to identify a related pin:

You'll see that under the pin it says "RELATED PIN." This is important to look for if you have a pin from a user you don't recognize and begin to panic.

If you click the "i" you can rate the pin. For example, maybe you have a pin from Buzzfeed called "230 ways to lose weight, you dumb fat ass." (Not real!) And you are a body positive person. So you'd press the "i" for info, and rate the pin. (Pinterest: "A thumbs down will remove the recommendation from the feed and the site will learn more about what you do and don't like.")

It looks like this:

You also get info as to why the pin has been provided. I find this to be very helpful. And, truth be told, this pin is relevant to the content on my feed.

I'm sorry I have no advice on culling related pins. Related pins has been around for a few months, so it's unlikely that Pinterest will end the practice or let its users opt out. (But it would be nice if we could!)

Additional Sources:
Related Pins, Pinterest
Freshening up your home feed with related Pins, Pinterest
Pinterest Introduces Related Pins, Mashable

Monday, February 3, 2014

Technology Lesson: Subtweeting

Subtweeting when a person is a passive aggressive and throws shade on Twitter; when a user alludes to another person but does not mention him or her, the user is subtweeting. For example, if I tweeted, "I hate when people complain about their cushy jobs," after my friend on Twitter complains about her sweet job, that could be subtweeting.

Subtweeting is rude. Luckily for us, it may be dead. Buzzfeed has declared it so.

I'm going to share the Urban Dictionary definition anyway:
Indirectly tweeting something about someone without mentioning their name. Even though their name is not mentioned, it is clear who the person tweeting is referring to.
Ugh. Wasn't there enough middle school behavior on the Internet? The important elements of subtweeting are: 1) it must be mean 2) it must not mention the person or people by name and 3) the unnamed person or people must be able and likely to see it. Complaining about unnamed celebrities or politicians, people who can not see the Twitter feed or are strangers and unlikely to, or naming or mentioning a user, do not make the 140-missive a subtweet.

Making the subtweet more complicated: many feel that the tweet must be both funny and not passive aggressive to others. That is, while you and the unnamed recipient understand that he, she, or them, are the source of the tweet, unrelated readers do not know the person or that someone has inspired humorous ire.

Personally, I have a hard time seeing humor in any subtweet. I am loathe to credit Buzzfeed, but I think this is a good rule for Internet behavior (if you're not going to be nice in the first place): "The new rule: If you want anyone to pay attention to your beef, name names." We're all adults here, let's all agree to have the spine to actually call people out when we call them out.

Throw shade

Additional Resources: 
Subtweeting, Urban Dictionary
How subtweets are ruining Twitter, Slate
The Subtweet Is Dead, Buzzfeed
The Internet Talks To The Internet About The Internet, Makes Fun Of You, The Awl
The Art of Subtweeting, Social Chic