Wednesday, 31 August 2016

The Holy Church of Facebook

I feel like I have been dreaming for a good few hundred years and just woke up to learn that Mark Zuckerberg and his respectable wife just visited Vatican and talked to the Pope about eradicating poverty through providing access to the internet via drones.

They had the appearance of a royal family travelling the world and preaching about fighting world hunger, and while the Pope was true to his gentle and humane image, Facebook CEO wore a black tie and looked starstruck. The imagery was not too bad in itself, but the idea still dazzles me. I can see some connection between the internet and battling poverty, but none whatsoever with the Catholic Church. Not to the extent to which a huge religious icon should endorse another huge icon, this time coming from Silicon Valley, with the aim to support world domination of the latter.Of course, I am using big words, but be advised that they are not too far from the humongous ambitions of the two protagonists.

Furthermore, the Internet in general, and social media, in particular, have little to do with sanctity or religiousness and Mr Zuckerberg is neither a royalty nor a philanthropist, but the CEO of a multi billion worth company.

Then, what is in it for the Vatican? It might be access to Facebook's precious big data, or an image stunt to further elate the popularity of the Pope. Maybe they planned a huge project together or a deal to curate Facebook content so as to protect the already shattered image of the Catholic Church. There is plenty they could have planned together, nevertheless, the Church's interest in putting on this "show" is not obvious at all. The Pope would have been equally praised had he declared " People should cherish real connection and communion with the Church instead of social media superfluous and time consuming connectivity" or "... use communication technologies to alleviate poverty, encourage a culture of encounter, and make a message of hope arrive, especially to those most in need." which he actually declared through his spokesman Greg Burke. So why did the Vatican accept to convey to Facebook owner such a huge endorsement?

I would love to hear your opinion on this. Let us know in the comments bellow or on our Facebook page @newsocialmediageek.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Three Gems from the Web - Every Tuesday (12)

Hi there,

This week's three gems are here. Let us know if you already enjoy them.

1. Spotify: is an app aimed at the music passionate that love browsing through songs and discovering new and exciting tunes. Although there are several good options out there, Spotify is for sure one of the best. It gives you access to an entire world of music, more than you can possibly grasp. The premium version is based on a subscription fee (around 7 euro/month), but you can try it for free for the first 7 days. The best way to go around it is to download in this trial period your favorite music that will remain available for you to listen offline.

Another cool thing to do is, once you have a Spotify account and you are well past discovering and downloading your favorites, head on to Forgotify, a branch out of the initial app, that puts on display unheard, indie, fringe, hipstery music, that will keep you away from mainstream but will also get you engaged and inspired. 

2. Google translate - the app. I might have proposed it before, but even if I did, I cannot stress enough how brilliant this free Google tool is, and how much is changing our worldview. I've been long aware of its features except for the speech input option, which, for some reason, I've been missing.

I am sure I have mentioned before that I am struggling to learn Greek. Well, I hear a lot of words or phrases that I am not sure what they mean and up until now had no chance of finding out because I didn't know how to spell them either. Well now, I just speak them into my phone and, voila! A whole new level. The best part is that your phone can act as your personal translator, you just have to ask people to talk into your phone. If you are traveling abroad you must have this app into your phone. 

3. Pwned - it's a website that collects the email addresses and usernames exposed by various high-profile hacks and that will let you know if your personal data has been compromised. You simply have to enter an email address or username you commonly use and the site will cross-check it against recent data breaches, telling you which companies leaked your data and which types of data have been leaked. 

Let us know if you like our suggestions and please feel free to add your own in the comments bellow or on our Facebook page @newsocialmediageek.

Have a great Tuesday and a "big" week ahead!

Friday, 26 August 2016

8 Things That I Can Do on Social Media That I Wish I Could Do in Real Life

Not everything that exists on social media is necessarily worse than real life. There are a whole lot of things that we can do online that we cannot do in real life, and that is probably why we became all addicted in such a short time. Here are my eight picks. Please regard them in a humorous note and feel free to add your own in the comments bellow or on our Facebook Page @newsocialmediageek.

1. Unfollow people: - It is never easy to let go of the negative people in our lives, especially if they live in our proximity. We can all imagine how handy it would be to have an "unfollow" button at work... right?

2. Make myself look 10 years younger: - I wish I had a magic brush that would wipe a good few years off my face that I could use in the mornings, just as you can use FaceTune when posting on social media.
3. Delete something I say: - This is probably the most obvious feature that we would all like to have in real life, retract something we say, than edit our words to perfection. What a powerful tool would that be?
4. Talk to people while on the toilet: - according to a survey published on  92% of social media users checked Facebook while in the bathroom, 49% texted and 30% answered the phone. While I have no true desire to talk to real people while in the bathroom, I enjoy being able to use my time to the max.
5. Sneaking in to see how my boss's husband looks like: - I swear I have nothing to confess, but even if I did such a thing, nobody would know :) ... God bless social media for this opportunity!
6. Get 200 birthday wishes in a day and still be able to blow the candles at the end: - I remember many years back, when I used to be popular (:-)) and social media used to be fringe, I got a lot of "Happy Birthday" calls on my birthday (not even close to 200, though). This activity used to be very draining and occupied a lot of my day, to the extent that when it was finally party time I was exhausted (although very happy). This is not the case anymore. I get most of my good wishes on social media and then, I have plenty of time to stick to the important stuff (i.e. feeling sorry for myself :) ).
7. Brag about superficial things to a few hundred people at the same time without looking (too) bad: - there is no other instance in real life where bragging is so acceptable and so easy. And let's be honest, deep down, we all like to brag. Well, maybe if somebody invented a Bragging World Summit...
8. Let know all your exes, at the same time, that you got engaged: - Imagine how awkward it would be to call/text your exes and let them know that you are off the market and they should quit calling you late at night when they get drunk. Good job Facebook, you've made our lives much easier.

Let us know if you enjoyed this post.

Happy weekend everybody!

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Three Gems from the Web - Every Tuesday (11)

Hello there,

Mondays are the "spring" of every week, they are those first mouthfuls of an incredible gelato cone, they are the first minutes of your workout or the first tunes of a song you love.

That is why every Monday I start pumped with loads of inspiration for the blog, with several topics I want to put out and write about. But this Monday is special, is the Monday after a two week holiday in a paradise. Thus the motivation, inspiration and drive are at alarming rates. So, stay tuned, if you want a slice of that :)

This week's picks are quite random but very inspiring and addictive.

1. Prisma - this is a photo editor app, but a special one. It uses colors and geometric patterns to turn your pictures into artwork. This tool is so great to create a distinctive image of yourself or a scenery, it has several interesting filters and built in buttons to share with your friends on Facebook and Instagram. A downside is that it is getting very popular and I often got, in the last few weeks, a message from the developer that the app is not working due to too much traffic.

2. IChoose - is an app that I use whenever I want to let the universe decide for me. It's a simple app that will toss a coin or roll a dice for you when you don't have them handy. You can even play rock-paper-scissors.

3. Dashlane - is a password manager app that also works as a digital wallet in the sense that you can save your receipts and credit card info in a secure, encrypted and free app. It will basically make your life much easier. You will only have to remember one login for all your accounts and it will auto login for you without any hurdles. I am not an expert in password manager apps, by no means, but it is endorsed by the New York Times and Forbes, so it must be at least above average.

I hope you like my choices for the week and that you are well and rested after a wonderful holiday.

Have a happy Tuesday!

PS: In case you are wondering why I was rambling about Mondays, well, I write this post on Mondays almost every week, that is why.

PS2: Yes, it is us in the Prisma pictures, on a boat on our recent holiday.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Instagram Is Introducing User Generated Censorship

Today's post is about Instagram's coming move to introduce new features available for the public, giving them the ability to censor comments, or to disable them all together. Users will be given the possibility to define words, phrases or emoticons that they don't want to appear in their profile comments. Also, Instagram will introduce the option to disable comments for specific posts. Here is a shot of what the feature might look like from a test made on a brand profile.


According to Washington Post and The Verge, these new features are currently tested and are due to roll out to all users in the coming weeks. This initiative is part of a generalized concern on all social media platforms towards fighting harassment. But will this move succeed in stopping harassment or will it rather hinder communication?

I am about to make a rather philosophical argument, but bare with me for a moment. Let's assume that all social media platforms will follow Instagram's example and give the users the power to censor their walls, picture comments and so on? What would this lead to?

Let's see! First of all, it would lead to fewer conversations, overall. People would make use of the new technical features to block communication when the feedback they'd receive wouldn't suit their expectations. Whereas in any communication handbook you would find that feedback in itself, positive or not, is good because it gives you a chance to adjust yourself to your peers and to alter your behavior for the better, when circumstances ask for it. If given a chance to dismiss the negative feedback in a legit way, supported by technology, some users would be ripped of the benefits of negative feedback translated into self improvement.

Secondly, it is not only the given censoring user who is consuming the content on their profile, actually, it is mainly the others who consume their content. That means that all the learning benefits that other people's embarrassment, bullying and even harassment experiences will disappear, and social media will start resembling less and less the real world. Indeed, people would witness less harassment, I will give them that, but they would also be confronted with less challenging situations that would have helped them grow, they would witness less bravery, less compelling argumentation, and less resolutions, overall.

Finally, one might argue that the changes are not that drastic, because you can already remove comments from your profiles. That is indeed a good point, but let's have a closer look.

  • Up until now, instances of people removing inconvenient comments were seen as inappropriate.  Now, suddenly, Instagram tells us it isn't the case anymore.
  • Censoring the feedback you receive, in an automatic way, will not allow comments to go up at all, which is not the case now, when you have to diligently remove the "bad" comments as they come, involving an actual human being acting in a relatively rational way. 
  • Contrary to the stated purpose of the feature, censoring will not be generally used against harassment, but against open debate, embarrassment, competitors, all of which aren't in fact felonies, but mere acts of life.
All in all, we are still to see what is coming and how it will end up being used. My concern is that these little incremental changes take the social media world in a strange direction, one that will not resemble real life anymore. And, given that, will all those kids that live their lives submerged in these platforms, remain fit for the real harsh world? 

I would love to hear your opinion on this. I promise that I will update this post with any strong points you will be raising.

Have a nice day!

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Three Gems from the Web - Every Tuesday (10)

Free Books App

I know most of you are on holidays right now, successfully using all the apps that I suggested in my previous post.

Today I would like to focus on reading, an activity that each and any of us should be doing more and more often, especially while relaxing on a sunbed or breathing the fresh air in a beautiful mountain resort.

Therefore, I have searched the web trying to be resourceful and found these 3 amazing appsthat I hope you will find useful:

1. Free Books - Ultimate Classics Library: available on both iOS and Android, this app provides 23,469 free classic books, written and/or audio books (and you have to know how much I love audio books). You can search and browse through the library smoothly, the app works really well with very few adds, and, most importantly, the reader is incorporated. Best part: it's free!

2. Oodles Books - the description on iTunes states: 50000 free books and audio books. The same principle as for the app above but with more adds (pop-up adds and in between book listings adds) but there are also more books. There's also an integrated reader, but not as appealing.

3. Blinkist - have you heard about this app? It is AWESOME! Especially if you are into non-fiction books. It is basically an app that gives you access to summaries of the best non-fiction books ever (well, not all of them, their library has around 1500 titles) in both written and audio. I've read or heard once that the best way to learn something is to follow-on an audio book (read while you are listening to the audio). It works for me. And they are good summaries indeed. Give it a try if you are planning a professional or personal revolution this fall. It will get you inspired, to say the least.

Happy summer you all. 

Hope you take advantage of the free time and read a little. It's a good time investment.