I wonder if Gellis carries a mobile phone? I can’t think of a better transpoder to legally (if not actually) track people with.
CIA CTO: you can be 100% identified by your gait. Which can be measured by 3-axis accelerometer, like in your phone or Fitbit. #dataconf— jonathanstray (@jonathanstray) March 20, 2013
Features from a handful of alternate Twitters:
- the ability to edit a tweet. There are several patterns in community software for handling the “I responded and then you changed what you said” pattern. One of then is versioning. The other is a short window of edits. It’s a question of balancing how much you prefer the conversational integrity vs the benefits of a little hypocrisy to a person’s self expression.
- privacy. I was an early thorn in Twitter’s side about supporting the privacy settings. But honestly it was just always too much work to respond manually to follow requests or to maintain two separate accounts. Per status privacy and per status geo-privacy would go a long way towards changing the nature of what people share on Twitter away from re-publishing Mashable headlines.
Both of the features I’ve picked out are hard. Allowing people to go back and edit data (and metadata) means not only providing a graceful UI, but also breaking the model of storing data once and being able to treat it as read-only. Per-post and per-feature privacy is also, obviously, pretty tricky, both in UI terms, and in the model of interactions that start happening. (If Eve is a friend and Brenda is family, when Anna posts a photo that’s friends and family but with location locked to family only, there’s lots of combinations to check.)
Of course, just because they’re hard, it doesn’t mean they’re not possible. Flickr has supported editing metadata (and even, for pro users, replacing the image data) along with a sophisticated (albeit arguably overcomplex) privacy model, while Facebook allows editing of comments (for a short time), and various Google services manage a mix of both.
It’s Twitter that, for whatever reasons (engineering expedience? a desire for simplicity?) not only ended up with both the inability to edit anything after the fact and an almost-not-there privacy model, but did so in such a way that a crop of services following along copied them. I’d single out Instagram, which made almost exactly the same design decisions. (You can’t change an Instagram photo’s caption or location once it’s post, or have different privacy settings per image, or (again) for location. Hell, they don’t even return whether a user is private in the API responses. At least Twitter, which otherwise has the same limitations, gets that one right.)
Obviously, there are some good reasons to implement systems the Twitter way rather than the Flickr one. I just wish - and I think that Kellan feels the same - that occasionally people would consider whether the richness that’s been lost might be worth spending some effort on.
Dave Morin: Path: We are sorry.
Well, that’s not a bad response.
@madmw asks in a comment on Daniel Jalkut’s sensible (if verging on obvious) guide to Twitter style:
What about people protecting their tweets? Protect from who? Don’t they use twitter search?
My Twitter account is private, and so are those of many people I follow, so I thought I’d make some suggestions as to why I’m private, and answer the other two questions.
When I set up my account in November 2006, it was far from clear how Twitter was going to be used, but I thought of it more as IM than blogging. For the first year and a half of using the service, that privacy gave me the freedom to do some of the things Jalkut rightly suggests public users don’t do: make posts that were filled with swears, heated, political, or otherwise offensive. It also allowed me to vent about work. (Past tense there: I moved to a job where I had less need to, and also where pretty much every co-worker and I were mutual followers. That’s probably going to be the case for any job I actually want from now onwards, too.)
So, who am I protecting myself from? My future professional self, really. Early in the current UK election campaign, a candidate with some rather ill-judged postings was removed by his party. I don’t think I’ve said anything quite as stupid as that, but I quite like having more freedom to do so than those whose timelines are public, and I really don’t want to have to go back and purge the “old me”.
Does privacy carry a downside? Of course. As you note, searches don’t find private posts, so even if I wanted to contribute to a conference’s notes via a hashtag, I can’t. (The bonus side of this is I hate the aesthetics of hashtags, so it’s not a great loss.) Many third-party tools, even now OAuth is deployed, don’t work on private accounts. For me, the most noticeable problem is that the methods described for making sure people know you’re talking about them - acknowledgements, mentions and replies - don’t work if the person they’re directed at isn’t following you. Still, I’d use the first two anyway - people who follow me deserve to know where thing come from.
(Are there any etiquette recommendations for interacting with private users? The main one is to be mindful when quoting them. Twitter doesn’t allow private posts to be retweeted, although of course you can do so organically (to use Jalkut’s term); think about whether, if you’d written the post, you’d want it public, and if not, ask permission first. Otherwise, there’s nothing really I can think of.)
I doubt there’s much in the last year or so I’d be ashamed to have made public. Nonetheless, if only for that first, grumpy, year of posts, I keep my timeline private, and I’m glad I have the option, even if a vanishingly tiny percentage of users share my opinion.
It’s now a couple of weeks since Flickr launched their People in Photos feature, which allows users to add people to photos. Of course, you’ve always been able to add unstructured metadata to do this, but now it’s both easier (there’s a trademark slick UI) and structured (the person’s photos are linked to their account and visible in their profile).
Unlike Facebook (which, perhaps unsurprisingly, the feature has drawn comparison with), you’re able to opt out of the feature entirely, meaning that previously tagged photos of you are no longer so marked, and that you can’t be added to new photos. The point of this post is that, of the people who I know have done this, all of them are women.
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. A woman’s appearance, and the depictions of it, still carries far more importance in society than the way a man looks. If you doubt that, just take a look at Tanya Gold’s opinion piece on Liz Truss:
Why do we tolerate and even encourage the physical objectification of female politicians? Does anyone know or care about Truss’s politics or what she has to offer? Has it oozed out into the popular consciousness yet? Will it ever? We know that she owns a gold satin jacket, and that she once slept with Mark Field MP. Gold. Jacket. Nice.
There is no one enemy in this; it is a national sickness. This, from a (female) columnist in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph: “She [Liz Truss] is OK-looking, if a bit dodgy in terms of dress sense.” Well, thank you for that. Award yourself an over-reaching-insight-of-the-week gong; then explain to your daughters why politics is dangerous for women. “Naughty Tory Candidate,” said the Sunday Times, as if possessed by the spirit of Readers’ Wives.
(Just don’t read the comments.)
I don’t really have a conclusion here (it’s always the hardest thing for me to write), except perhaps to congratulate Flickr for the opt-out option while wishing people didn’t feel the pressure to use it.