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Shane Farr
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Yay! We have a G+ now!
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https://www.lytro.com/camera
Anyone heard about this camera?
LYTRO, Inc.
LYTRO, Inc.
lytro.com
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Is our government smarter than a 5th grader?
The US Budget rewritten as a household budget

Some stats about the US government:

U.S. Tax revenue: $2,170,000,000,000
Fed budget: $3,820,000,000,000
New debt: $ 1,650,000,000,000
National debt: $14,271,000,000,000
Recent budget cuts: $ 38,500,000,000

Now, remove 8 zeroes and pretend it’s a household budget:

Annual family income: $21,700
Money the family spent: $38,200
New debt on the credit card: $16,500
Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710
Total budget cuts: $385

Hmmm, that wouldn't work too well, would it?
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Black Menu bar!
I was surprised how many people reacted to the post where I shared the "J" and "K" keyboard shortcuts to scroll the stream. So here's another one: when scrolling down on a page in Google+, click the black menu bar at the top of the screen to instantly return to the top of your page. I find this so useful that I keep doing it on other websites and get bummed every time it doesn't work there! This should become a bit of universal UI :-)

If you're an all-keyboard guy, clicking "Home" and "End" will take you to the top of the page as welll (at least in Chrome -- thanks for the tip below Ed!)

Enjoy some of these Google "Tricks" in the video (some still work!)
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Did you know that doodling is a way to maintain your focus while listening to something? That it might actually aid in your ability to recall info, learn, and solve creative problems? While it's typically denigrated as a pointless activity, +Sunni Brown author, CEO of an information design firm, and one of the most creative thinkers in business (according to Fast Company), says that doodling should be defined as: "To make spontaneous marks to help yourself think."

Studies have shown that people who doodle while listening retain more information than those who don't. Doodling can also be helpful for creative problem solving and "deep" information processing. According to Brown, there are four ways that learns can intake information to make decisions:

visual
audtiory
reading & writing
kinesthetic

And doodling engages all of them. Watch her Ted Talk here to check it out. http://bit.ly/rqunRz

This got me to thinking about Google Doodles (those little drawings/changes to the Google logo you see from time to time). Did you know that the first "Google Doodle" was inspired by Burning Man? Apparently Sergey and Larry put a little man behind the 2nd "o" in the Google logo when they went to Burning Man in 1998 to show that the founders were "out of the office."

As I started to research this a bit, I found that Google has a website where they've archived every Google Doodle ever made:
http://bit.ly/nKBaFo Pretty fun stuff. :-) You can even go back and see the first Burning Man Doodle... which reminds me, I need to process some more of my Burning Man Photos and write about my experience there... I'll try to do it this week.
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I think this chick learned this move from Cammy from Street Fighter.
If you look at the stats for every major social network (besides LinkedIN) there are actually more women users than men. Maybe women aren't signing up for Google+ because they thought it was a site for plus size women? Maybe the nerd quotient was too strong? But we all know that girls secretly love nerds. Are these jokes misogynistic? Here's an interesting take on the issue of women on G+: http://bit.ly/rtveIT

A lot of humor tends to "put someone down" (and I'm not a fan of that). M. M. Faulkner argues that these jokes would make women think they're not welcome on Google+. In particular she talks about Farmville jokes: people are joking that women will only come if there are casual games to play here on G+ and this paints women in a "silly" light. I don't consider gaming silly. "Play" is one of the most important parts of life. And more power to anyone who knows that playful spirit is important.

I appreciate her article. It made me think. But whatever the case, I don't think this male/female ratio will stay the same very long, and I doubt the statistics are even accurate. Google+ does not belong to men. As the .GIF illustrates, try to take something from a lady that's not yours, and you will pay the price!
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Lawrence of Arabia is my favorite movie of all time. Just had to share this one. Is this how you feel trying to keep up with G+? ha!
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A familiar face. :D
Here's a post I just wrote for Techcrunch. Pick your location to read & comment :)

Google is an algorithm driven-company. "PageRank" (named after +Larry Page himself) was the "founding algorithm" of Google -- the one that gave it superior search results, and eventually led to Google "winning" the search wars of the early 2000s. The algorithm continues to evolve -- in fact, it's Google's most important work -- and by some accounts, it includes more than 500 million variables and 2 billion terms to perform its magic. Can a company so enamored with the power of algorithms and machine learning, let the user take control? This might be a more precise way of raising the question people keep asking. Is "social" in Google's DNA?

I love using G+, enough so that I'm worried that Google is going to make a misstep and ruin the service. Specifically I worry that Google will assume an algorithm alone is what's needed to reduce the "signal to noise" ratio in the G+ feed. Several Google engineers have posted publicly that they're working on this algorithm. I've been making my opinions known in comments for a few weeks now -- hoping to catch the ear of Google engineers, but now that it's harder to gain their attention as 1 voice within 10 million, I thought I'd do better to post something more substantial.

One of the key issues that will determine the fate & nature of G+ is whether Google favors an algorithmic approach over a user-controlled approach to the stream. Facebook (almost counterintuitively) is the one that favors an algorithmic approach, and currently it’s one of the defining differences between Facebook and G+. As usual, +Mike Elgan nails this one. As Elgan wrote recently: "Facebook deals with information overload by using a secret algorithm to judge the quality of your relationships, then secretly blocking most of your updates to your friends" And: "Google+ deals with information overload by giving you, the user, real control. " At least that's what G+ does right now. Is it going to stay that way? And behind the scenes right now, are G+ engineers working more on their sorting algorithm or on features that would further enhance the users' control of the feed?

Because of the way my posts, articles and my very presence on Google+ have been interpreted, people seem surprised when they learn I love Facebook as much as G+. I'm rooting for Zuckerberg & Co. as much as I am for Google. I want to see more and distinct networks thrive. I don't think social networking is a zero sum game. I suspect that people believe that social networking is a "winner take all" endeavor, because they mistakenly assume people "left MySpace for Facebook." Facebook didn't kill Myspace; MySpace "committed suicide" through continual mismanagement. (For what it's worth, I include myself in that group of mismanagers :-) and I don't mean to blame any single individual -- the troubles were tremendous. I'll explain it somewhere else, someday.) Likewise, MySpace did not "kill Friendster" -- Friendster had its own set of problems. If they'd been corrected, I believe both MySpace and Facebook would have thrived as different types of social networks. (In fact, Friendster basically would have been "Facebook" -- a real name network, focused on real-world relationships for efficient communication.)

Anyway, I love using G+ and Facebook. On Facebook, nearly all of my "distant" friends and former co-workers are there. It's the best way to keep in touch with them. But recently I've noticed that I get less and less response from my Facebook friends. I post something that used to generate some interaction, and now I receive almost nothing. I suspect that this has to do with the way the Facebook feed works. And I've done a few tests that seem to confirm my belief. For my own Facebook "consumption," I choose the "Most Recent" Feed option. (For those unaware, it's the way to see everything being posted to Facebook as opposed to what Facebook thinks you want to see.) I've also created some lists and filter my feed to see what certain groups of people are posting. (Yes, Facebook has friends lists, and yes you can share to that list and choose to see only what that list posts. Sounds like "Circles" doesn't it?) The problem is that almost no one else on Facebook does this. And that's why Facebook created groups and uses the "Top Posts" algorithm (the technical name for it is EdgeRank: http://tcrn.ch/npaXax). Facebook has tried to find different ways to bring the information users want to them, because the "Circles" concept when implemented at Facebook in 2008 ("Lists") didn't work. Facebook has assumed that users can't handle the overload of information, and that EdgeRank is better than the "Most Recent" option. They've downplayed Lists, sorting and Newsfeed "preference" options more & more, so that most users don't even know they exist.

Is that the right move? I'm not so certain. And I'm wondering what kind of data Facebook has to suggest that it is. Mike Elgan covers the "dangers" of EdgeRank in his provocatively titled article "How Facebook Secretly Ends Your Relationships" (http://bit.ly/pIIIpl) And in it, he concludes that transparency and education is key to helping users understand what is happening in their newsfeeds. Facebook may have already made the decision on which way they want to go, but the G+ team would do well at this juncture to consider the specific suggestions Elgan makes. And even more important, Elgan raises a point he made years ago from another article: http://bit.ly/n4qRHa -- that the real utility of social networks is not to help us connect with the 10 people in our lives who we care and love about the most, but rather the value lies in being able to cast our net wide & far so we can maintain relationships with 100s of people in a way we never could before this technology. Social networks may be more valuable to us in that they allow us to maintain more "weak ties" than we ever could before. Our "strong ties," after all, are already "strong," and don't benefit as much from the technology boost. If you question the value "weak ties," how about job networking, dating (a shocking (to some) percentage of of new relationships start online), advice/recommendations, or opportunity of any kind? (If you doubt the basic human need here, please go read Mike's article, now. It may turn you from an anti-social networker to an open social networker.)

G+ is so new. Of course it's going to go through continual changes. Whether it continues to attract audiences, and whether it retains them, depends on a lot of things. (Many more, of course, than I'm covering here.) My favorite anaolgy I've heard so far is "Let’s not judge the cookie by the dough," from Deven Coldewey's post (http://techcrunch.com/2011/07/15/google-one-hell-of-a-trojan-horse/) where he echoes the sentiments of my first post about G+ (http://bit.ly/o9NC7N ). Will G+ give users more control by letting them sort the feed based on post date vs. comment date? Will G+ give users more control and let users sort by photos, videos, links? Or simply search the stream?

More importantly, will Google use their nearly unmatched strengths (understanding of human language and machine learning) to create features we've never seen before--imagine if G+ could determine the semantic nature of a post, categorize it, and let users follow a subset of topics from a user, instead of an entire feed: (e.g. follow Tom's posts about Google+ and Apple, but not his silly .GIFs).

So to return to where we started -- is "social" in Google's DNA? What does that even mean? I would argue that this means understanding that sometimes humans can do things better than computers. That sometimes when building social software, we need to use social science to understand user desire & behavior. And finally, that sometimes, it's better to think highly of people rather than to assume your product will be too difficult to comprehend. Please give us control Google. If you do, we'll have no reason to complain about your algorithm.
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