Dennis D. McDonald ( consults from Alexandria Virginia. His services include writing & research, proposal development, and project management.

Dennis McDonald's Personal Facebook Saga

Dennis McDonald's Personal Facebook Saga

By Dennis D. McDonald


I’ve been reducing my use of Facebook recently having found it to be less useful — and less easy to use — than other social and professional networking tools. Instead of simply deleting my Facebook account, I’ve decided to carefully review Facebook to see what I want to retain. I’ll update this post as I work through development of my personal Facebook strategy.

July 22, 2008

  • I have been invited to become a “fan” on Facebook of Social Media Today, a moderated blog aggregation site I belong to. Since I have no idea what “fan” means in the Facebook context, this will be an opportunity to find out.

July 12, 2008

  • I checked into the Web Strategy Group on Facebook, which boasts 7,348 members. On June 6 I posted this message there but have not received any responses:
    • I’m interested in communicating with folks involved in using social media to promote driving-based state tourism:
      “Can Social Media Help Driving-based Tourism When Gas Prices Rise?”
      Best wishes,
      Dennis McDonald
  • Today, in response to a Facebook invitation from Gautam Ghosh, who is also a member of Linkedin Bloggers (a Yahoo! Group that I moderate) I added the Facebook application Blog Networks. I’m not sure what this will do for me but I’ll give it a whirl. First I have to have people acknowledge that I am, in fact, the author of Dennis McDonald’s Blog.
  • I checked into Facebook several times over the past couple of weeks, usually to check the pictures that Number One Daughter is sharing from her semester in Valparaiso, Chile.

June 6, 2008

  • Mentioned Facebook in my post Can Social Media Help Driving-based Tourism When Gas Prices Rise?
  • Rejoined and posted a message about the above post in Jeremiah Owyang’s Facebook Web Strategy group:
    • I’m interested in communicating with folks involved in using social media to promote driving-based state tourism: “Can Social Media Help Driving-based Tourism When Gas Prices Rise?” //tourism.html

May 12, 2008

  • I’ve added a Twitter update to my Facebook page. 

April 24, 2008

  • I just left all my Facebook groups. I wasn’t really participating in any of them. Wondering how and if I should start over. Perhaps focus only on personal and social intersts this time? I’m not sure yet.

April 23, 2008

  • I communicated with Jeff Pulver via Facebook when it appeared that I was mistaken about his next breakfast meeting in the DC area (I thought it was going to take place in Arlington).
  • I just “ignored” several requests from friends to join specific groups concerning networking topics. I know and trust the people but I have no real desire to increase my usage of Facebook right now. 

April 15, 2008

  • Has it really been this long?
  • I checked in and found a message from Jim Long. I responded. I think I’ve checked in a couple of other times over the past few months but that’s it. Am I a Facebook drop-out?
  • I admit though that I have used Facebook within the month. Number One Daughter posted some pictures of her recent Patagonia trip that she allowed me to see. (I am not allowed to be her “friend.”)

February 27, 2008

  • I left a comment regarding Facebook on ReadWriteWeb’s post Facebook Opens News Feed, But Not Enough. That post addresses Facebook’s decision to open up the Facebook news feed to 3rd party developers. Here’s my comment:
    • I think it will be better if non-Facebook services solve the “feed filtering and portability” issue. Ultimately people need to be able to select whatever view they want of the personal and content interests and relationships; the artificial boundaries introduced by services such as Facebook will become increasingly annoying and difficult to sustain. Problem is, it’s easier to solve the feed aggregation problem than it is to solve the feed display problem, partly because people differ so much in how they approach managing their interactions with large complex flows of information. It’s hard enough getting people to understand RSS feeds without adding the additional problem of feed filtering and display, as I found out recently with a very simple experiment combining a couple of feeds on my and colleague Lee White’s blog:
  • I left a related comment on Jermiah Owyang’s blog in response to his request for input regarding The Many Challenges of Widgets:
    • How about “usability”? I’m thinking of the increasing number of widgets that provide access to some mix of multiple feeds from multiple types of sources. It’s hard enough to keep track of multiple incoming data streams representing different people, sources, relationships, keywords, etc. When you try to cram too much though a widget you have a real usability problem because of the variety.

February 26, 2008

February 15, 2008

  • Heaven help me - I just joined the “Draft Lessig for Congress” group on Facebook…

February 13, 2008

February 12, 2008

  • Just found out that Bill Gates has stopped using Facebook. One report said he was using it for 30 mintes a day but was also getting 8,000 “friend” requests per day. I don’t feel so bad now!

February 11, 2008

  • Checking in to Facebook I see that Alexis did respond to the discussion post I left at Wired Science Blog:
    • Well, I checked out your post and I agree. We need to spend more time managing our Facebook presence. For me, I figured the real value of having a Facebook page is that our readers can see each other, but we haven’t provided enough opportunities for those interactions to occur. It’s something that we’re working on, but the job of just producing content (especially with our fearless leader, Kristen Philipkoski moving on) has taken up the vast majority of our time. We will be working as much as we can on providing new and better content for the Fbook page.
  • This is from my followup:
    • Seriously, a commentable mission statement might be useful that includes a description of what the intended relationship is between your existing blogs and the Facebook presence.
    • As I noted in my post, I initially thought that THIS was the Wired Science blog, so perhaps you need to consider that you are reaching not only existing readers but new readers as well.
    • Personally, I think it would be interesting to interact with other blog readers, but I would also like the interaction with the blog authors — but I can already do that in the original blog as well. But who said that having multiple channels to accomplish the same thing is necessarily bad?

February 10, 2008

  • Received one Facebook “friend” request, which I accepted (someone I don’t know but he has listed as friends some people whom I trust).
  • Still no feedback on my discussion of Facebook’s Wired Science Blog post from February 8. Obviously no one is home there.

February 8, 2008

  • From my personal So Call Me Stupid Department: I’ve been checking the Wired Science Blog in Facebook regularly, have left a few posts there (including links to my own R&D related posts), but I’ve been puzzled by the lack of action there.
  • I was figuring this was just another one of those moribund Facebook groups that sprang up in 2007 when the whole world seemed to have discovered Facebook, started groups, then realized that Facebook is not really set up like more traditional — and easier to use — discussion forums. (This led to my writing Don’t Make “Ready, Fire, Aim!” Your Organization’s Facebook Strategy some months back.)
  • Turns out that the Wired Science Blog on Facebook isn’t really the Wired Science Blog, despite what the name says. Wired Science, I pleasantly discovered today, already has a bunch of neat blogs on a variety of scientific and technical topics located here — and you can leave real comments.
  • So what’s the purpose of this Facebook group? Actually, now that I look at it more closely, it looks a lot like a Facebook “group” but it’s not — it’s something called a “fan of” site even though it appears to have many of the same features and functions of a group. So part of my confusion may simply because I don’t understand the different roles that “groups” and “fan ofs” play. (I’m beginning to understand why Number one Daughter at one time forbid me to join Facebook…)
  • Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that a publisher like Wired shouldn’t have a Facebook presence, even though it’s clear that I haven’t understood what this particular group is attempting to perform. The problem is partly my lack of understanding, partly because I may not be the target market for Wired Science, and partly because Wired hasn’t really aggressively promoted and attempted to engage “fans” with this particular Facebook group.
  • As a firm believer in the adage “shoot where the ducks are” it makes perfect sense to me to use a variety of group engagement tools to communicate and interact with a variety of target market segments. But if that’s the goal, you need to put time and attention into managing and publicizing what you’re doing. That’s possibly where Wired, and other Facebook group managers, have fallen down.

February 4, 2008

  •  I check into Facebook and find a request to add an application from Jack Vinson, a person whom I trust and with whom I share some common professional interests. As with some other Facebook applications, though, the application in question requires me to add the application before I can check out what it does. Since it gives me the option of not sharing my personal information, I uncheck that box, but when I do so, the application cannot be added — and I can’t find out more about what it does.
  • Despite that the request comes from Jack, I decide to “block” the application, as a matter of principle. Usually when I try to download a file, widget, or application from a normal web site, I have the option of finding out more before I download. That doesn’t seem to be the case with some Facebook apps where you need to add the app and share your information before you can find out what they do.
  • Obviously, someone is not doing enough use cases around the signup process for Facebook apps, at least when it comes to curmudgeons like me!

February 1, 2008

  • I visit Facebook for the first time since January 27. When I get there I change my message and add a note to the Wired Science Blog about my recent blog post Cognitive Enhancement and Scientific Collaboration, Working Together. How many people,  I wonder, will get the references to Dune and Forbidden Planet?
  • I receive and read a newsletter from Friends of Cerebra, one of the groups I belong to (Mike Stopforth’s company).

January 27, 2008

  • I go online to Facebook late in the day and see an ad for a new book called “Facebook for Dummies.” Won’t this be obsolete even before it’s published?
  • Received a Facebook “friend” request from someone I don’t know. Checking out his profile I see he says he is from Singapore. I don’t know anyone in Singapore so I agree but I skip the “how do you know this person” step.
  • I also updated my “status update” to “thinking.”
  • I almost forgot: on January 24 I received a comment on the version of this post that gets pulled in via RSS as a “note” on my Facebook profile. I left a response to that Facebook comment and suggested the blogger join Linkedin Bloggers, a Yahoo! Group that I help moderate. (Isn’t linking wonderful?)

January 26, 2008

January 25, 2008

  • I did not use Facebook today. 

January 24, 2008

  • Maybe Jive Software’s  Sam Lawrence and Number One Daughter are both right. Sam has interesting comments about demographics and social networking, but my daughter thinks my use of Facebook is “inappropriate.”
  • I do, after all, still use email unless I really need to collaborate with a group.
  • Disclosure: I consulted to Jive Software last year; Jive makes collaboration tools.

January 23, 2008

  • I need to contact someone via email and can’t find his address. I use Facebook messaging instead and later that day receive a response. How often does this happen, I wonder?

January 22, 2008

  • I begin culling moribund groups from my Facebook profile. Some of the largest have become outlets for individual advertising messages and spam, some of the smaller ones are simply not active.
  • I’m glad I decided early on against starting a Facebook group of my own and instead decided to continue concentrating on this blog and other networking approaches.

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