Google +1 Button: Not Buzz

Google has apparently not learned its lesson when it comes to getting involved in social ventures, and is rolling out a new feature called the +1 button, which is essentially equivalent to Facebook’s “Like” button.  If you’ve got a Google profile, you can see what your friends with Google Profiles have +1ed and, unlike Facebook, you don’t send out notifications every time you +1 something.  In other words, you only see +1s when you get the site in a search result anyway, so it’s like a personal recommendation tailored to your search.

See +1s

 The other thing that is slightly different than the “like” button is that Google is integrating the results into their overall search engine algorithm.  Though they haven’t explained exactly how that will work, one assumes that sites with more +1s will end up higher in the search results than those that haven’t been +1ed.  We’ll see how long it takes for businesses to try to take advantage of that.

Social media has been a struggle for Google, especially since their debacle last year with Buzz.  Although they immediately addressed the privacy concerns and general uproar, Buzz failed to take off and it earned them a visit from the US Federal Trade Commission for being misleading in their tactics and not upfront about their services.

This +1 button seems to be a nice marriage of what Google already does well, searching, with the more social aspects of the web.  Hopefully they can avoid the criticisms they had with Buzz, since this will be strictly opt-in, and it seems like it could further personalize web search results, which is great.

Here's the video introduction from Google: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAyUNI3_V2c

Nerdy things that make me laugh: QI

Stephen
I refute that with every fibre of my being. The actual answer is a field –

Jeremy
No, you can’t refute. That’s bad grammar, that, Stephen. To refute, you have to provide evidence.

Stephen
Yes…

Jeremy
You mean “rebut”.

Stephen
No, I mean “repudiate”.

Jeremy
Fair enough.

Stephen
Yeah. But a good point. Very good point.

Jeremy
If you weren’t… if you weren’t showing off, you could have said “reject”.

Stephen
Yes, indeed. You’re absolutely right. Though it’s not bad grammar, is it? It’s just bad semantics.

Jeremy
Yeah, whatever.

Stephen
Yeah. Yeah. But, er… yeah. No, I stand… I stand hideously corrected and shamed.

Women and The Internet

It has long been a truism in the advertising world that men may make the money, but women control the purse strings, just watch any episode of Mad Men. All you have to do to see the truth of this is to look at those popular Old Spice Body Wash commercials, here’s a product aimed solely at men with commercials aimed primarily at women.  Even with this conventional wisdom, you might be surprised to know just how skewed the internet is to women users.

The majority of users on all social networking sites, especially Facebook and Twitter,are women, and women spend 30% more time using them than men.  55% of mobile social networkers are women.

Looking at Groupon stats, over 3/4ths of their users are women.  And that stat is similar across most online shopping and coupon services, from obvious sites like Etsy to more surprising ones like Chegg, a textbook rental service.  Social and casual gaming (think Farmville and Angry Birds) is also dominated by female users.  The numbers are staggering.  Not only are women the majority users, they are by far the most interactive and social.  Women maintain larger and more in-depth relationship circles on the web.

What does this mean for you and why am I throwing so many stats your way?  Well, for a start, it means that when you’re advertising online, you should be aware that women are going to be the most important and influential demographic to aim for.  Are you testing your products on women?  Are you taking into account what women respond to, what they’re looking for, and what turns them off?  Do you have women on your team?  So many tech companies are dominated by men, if you’re looking around you at a sea of male faces, you need to reach out to women, especially in your social marketing strategy.

More information, stats, and inspiration available here from the incredible Aileen Lee .

Sheryl Sandberg looking Badass

Gratuitous picture of Facebook's COO looking Badass

Two Random Images Just for You

These have nothing to do with anything, except I found them when trying to find a picture of a skeptical baby.  And that makes them even awesomer than they already were.  Which is pretty awesome.

From great ideas I had and never executed…

I bring you the Waiting for Godot video game.

You may recall a couple months ago, an online video game based on The Great Gatsby went viral.  It is a strange game, and I watched someone play through the entire thing.  Because I'm more a game connoisseur than a gamer myself.  It was pretty funny, particularly as I developed an incredibly deep hatred of that book thanks to the fact that I was forced to read it in school.

I immediately suggested that we create a video game based on Waiting for Godot.  I blame this on 1) Theatre 101 humor and 2) the movie Waiting for Guffman.  I couldn't decide if it would be funnier to have absolutely nothing to do in the game or to make it super action packed, but since I know absolutely nothing about programming and the idea of not making a video game seemed just as appropriate to the Godot oeuvre, I just let it go.

But someone else didn't!  Someone else knew it was genius!  Thank you internet for answering all of my stupid needs.

Children and the Supernatural

I read this really fascinating article about children and the ages at which they are prone to believing in the supernatural.  So often we think of faith as childlike, and no matter what religion or superstitions you hold to, those of other people always seems silly and naive.  Something a 4 year old might believe in, but not an adult.

Now, I know one study doesn't prove anything, but there are some interesting conclusions.  The younger a child is, the less likely they are to believe that a supernatural being is trying to communicate with them.  And, without being primed with information, children aren't very likely to believe something supernatural is causing events.  Very young children are the most skeptical of all!

The researchers gave the children a game to play and during it knocked pictures off the wall and made the lights flicker — the control group wasn't told anything about it and the experimental group were told there was a friendly ghost in the room ahead of time.  The control group didn't make anything of the supposed signs, but the way the children reacted was sharply different between age groups.

The eldest children (7-9) got the idea that the spirit was doing those things to signal them and responded accordingly.  The middle group (5-6) thought that it was the spirit, but didn't or couldn't make anything of the intention behind the behavior, she was "like a mischievous poltergeist with attention deficit disorder: she did things because she wanted to, and that’s that."

But the youngest children (3-4) simply thought that the picture wasn't stuck to the wall very well or the light was broken.

So, it seems that believing in magical beings who can communicate with you through the real world is an acquired cognitive skill or requires some development that doesn't happen until you're a bit older.  

Skeptical Baby is Skeptical

skeptical baby is skeptical

In LGBT News

I'm so late on all of this, but I'm going to talk about it anyway.

1. The stay will not be lifted on performing gay marriages in California.  It's been so long since the argument before the ninth, that one might easily have forgotten that we were a hairsbreadth away from allowing gay marriages in California again, which would have been just as well, as there will be no marriages until the case is decided.  And probably no marriages until it's gone through the full judicial process, which may be years from now.  Justice is by no means swift in this country.

This is not a surprise, though.  I would have been shocked if the courts had decided to let marriages go ahead.  Despite the fact that there is no harm caused by allowing gay marriage, to admit so would be to tip their hand and to call into question their judicial ruling, so the Ninth can't really get away with supporting a lift of the stay.

2. In super awesome OMG yes news!  As you may know, mutli-national gay couples who are married and have their marriages recognized elsewhere, cannot have their marriages recognized in the US thanks to DOMA.  This means that people can be married but deported, very much unlike the way heterosexual married couples are treated.  Deportations have been halted thanks to the questions about the legality of DOMA.

Confirmation that this policy is now in place nationally is cause for celebration. In many ways this is vindication of a two-decade long struggle by thousands of binational couples, advocates and attorneys. But the fight is not over yet. Many couples, after consulting with experienced immigration attorneys, may decide that this is the proper time to file a green card case. However, DOMA is still the final obstacle for attaining a green card; unless it is repealed or struck down, filing any case with immigration is not without risk. – Lavi Soloway

Newt Gingrich is a Big, Fat Idiot (duh)

Alright, admittedly, I made the mistake of clicking on a CNN headline about Newt Gingrich and "atheists".  Atheists is in quotes there because CNN seems to only share that word when it's in quotes.  I know better than going to CNN, and I know better than reading stories about Newt Gingrich, and I really should know better than to read any story about "atheists", but I couldn't help myself.

Ol' Newt is worried that the country is going to become a "secular atheists country"  overrun by "radical Islamists."

Now, I know Newt isn't stupid, he's just a craven ass.  And I'm allowed to say that because we went to the same undergraduate institution.  Newt must know that being an atheist and being an "Islamist" are mutually exclusive positions.  Unless he fears the domination of this country by those fundamentalist atheist Christianists.

HEADDESK

On the other hand, it's refreshing to see how far we've come as a nation to think that being a Catholic is American and not indicative of a political devotion to papistry that will lead this nation into the fiery pits of hell.  Because, as we all once knew, Catholics aren't proper Christians, and Merka is a Kristyen Nayshun.

I'm sorry, it's just the dumb appeal to the lowest common denominator.  It burns.  It burns because I know that it works.  I know that someone is reading that stupid CNN article and thinking, "God, you know, that Newt Gingrich has a point.  This country is under threat of Muslim Atheists.  And hell, the only thing worse than a Muslim, is an Atheist, and the only thing worse than an Atheist, is a Muslim one."

Excuse me while I go weep.

My Con Schedule 2011

 

The Orator - Magnus Zeller

I'm going to have a busy summer!

Secular Coalition for America's Summit in Washington DC from May 19-21.  I haven't been to DC since I was 13,  so this is exciting, and I've been invited as Future Leader and will get to talk strategy, which is also cool.  Still need to figure out travel plans, it's a bit far to drive, probably.

The Amaz!ng Meeting 9 in Las Vegas from July 14-17.  I've submitted a paper proposal that I was told was "pertinent and interesting", so fingers crossed there.  I still need a room.  And hopefully a roommate.  And a plane ticket.

Dragon*Con in Atlanta from September 2-5.  Travel and lodging are pretty easy, since I know people in Atlanta and it's not too much of a drive.  I need to get a ticket, but I'll be speaking!  So that's exciting!

If only traveling and registration wasn't so expensive… I'm going to be out probably $1500 between these three.  And that's assuming I can resist the myriad temptations to buy awesome crap at Dragon*Con.  Which I failed at the last time I spoke there, about my short film, and ended up dropping a couple hundred on a really awesome corset…  But then, when I went to Comic Con I didn't spend any money except to go to the San Diego Zoo (which was awesome).

Hey, I'm teaching myself to sew, maybe I should make a costume.  People are more likely to take you seriously in costume, right?

Busy!

Have you ever had one of those weeks where there was just too much going on?  That’s the sort of week I’ve been having.  It’s been good, great even, I’ve just had a lot on my plate.  I love the freelance writing I’m doing but, between working full-time and tutoring and trying to attend local freethought events, my weeks are already too full.  Then I got a special assignment from Social Axcess to cover NCAA Social Media for March Madness — so that required a lot of research, because I don’t know much about American sports, and I know even less about college sports.  This is because I resented being forced to go to prep rallies when I was in high school — I have a block when it comes to school sports.

Then I was learning a courier route at work, meaning I spent all day in a car driving, so I was working overtime and not in front of a computer. And I had a 1500 word piece due.  And I got laryngitis.  And it’s spring, so my allergies are in full bloom.  And someone wanted to consult with me about an editing project, which I just can’t take on right now, but it’s interesting.

Exciting news!  I’m going to the SCA Conference in Washington, DC right before my birthday.  Which reminds me that I need to put together some information on Social Media Strategy for them in the next day or two.  I hope I get the chance to see a little of DC, I went when I was in 8th grade and that was before I’d seen The West Wing and thought that there was something worth seeing in Washington.

And the world is apparently falling apart, but I haven’t really had time to absorb that.  CNN has just had one too many “Where is God in Japan” headlines for me to stomach trying to follow the daily news cycle.  And the Nicholl opened, and TAM registration opened.

So it’s Sunday and I still feel on edge, like I should be working, and there’s still plenty on my plate, but I’m taking a day off.  Of course, my brain is still going a million miles a minute — I don’t really drink, but maybe I just need a drink.

Nothing to do with the rest of this post