Link: How to Fix Facebook

Over at Washington Monthly, Roger McNamee discusses How to Fix Facebook – Before It Fixes Us. It’s a good read, and while I may not agree with all of his suggestions, there’s some very astute observations in there:

This is important, because the internet has lost something very valuable. The early internet was designed to be decentralized. It treated all content and all content owners equally. That equality had value in society, as it kept the playing field level and encouraged new entrants. But decentralization had a cost: no one had an incentive to make internet tools easy to use. Frustrated by those tools, users embraced easy-to-use alternatives from Facebook and Google. This allowed the platforms to centralize the internet, inserting themselves between users and content, effectively imposing a tax on both sides. This is a great business model for Facebook and Google—and convenient in the short term for customers—but we are drowning in evidence that there are costs that society may not be able to afford.

I’m going to try and not keep harping on this — there’s plenty of other things to think about and talk about. I’ve been an advocate for the “indieweb” for a long time, and the current realizations over how algorithmic content curation (with no one driving, no less) through single sources might not have been such a great idea certainly help vindicate the desire for a “smaller,” more independent web. That said, I’m painfully aware of some of the gaps in the indieweb space: many tools have an incredibly high bar for getting started, and several parts of the stack frankly just aren’t getting a lot of attention (the state of web galleries is the source of a semi-annual lament). If we’re going to make a serious stab at “making the internet smaller again,” there’s still a lot for us to do.

Link: Advice about Writing

25 habits that will make you a writer by Shaunta Grimes — ignore the terribly clickbait-y title, the advice is actually pretty good. A lot of it may come off as pretty obvious (write every day), but I think it’s still worth a read, and includes some links to some other good books and resources. (Also, pretty relevant regardless of whether your chosen medium is writing or painting or sculpting, or any number of other creative outlets.)

Link: Why Learning to Code is So Damn Hard

Why Learning to Code is So Damn Hard over at Viking Code School. Nice article discussing the different phases of learning to code, and how to deal with each.

I usually wipe out somewhere in phase 2 or rarely phase 3, which is why I like to say I can read/figure out a fair number of languages, but not write them. Next time I take a stab at learning to program, I’ll try to bear this info in mind.

Link: LinkedIn For People Who Hate LinkedIn

Jon Jones has a really excellent write-up of how to set up a solid LinkedIn profile, and why you should. While the opening context is game industry related, 100% of the information he covers is relevant regardless of what career path you’re following. Well worth the read — also, check out the rest of his blog and tweets, there’s a ton of really solid information about resumes, portfolios, and getting into creative industries.

Online Psychotherapy May Be More Effective

Psychotherapy Via Internet as Good as If Not Better Than Face-To-Face Consultations: I think this is fascinating, and look forward to seeing more research into this going forward. (I’d like to see the experiment replicated as well as a more thorough tear down of the paper, but I appreciate the research nonetheless.)

“In the medium term, online psychotherapy even yields better results. Our study is evidence that psychotherapeutic services on the internet are an effective supplement to therapeutic care.”

I’m both pleased and unsurprised by the findings, when you take into consideration some prior research that’s been done (thinking about some of the comments in the IRC Francais paper published back in 2002: I think it allowed us to get to know each other better. […] You learn about [the others] as people. We would talk about relationships and all kinds of things that you wouldn’t talk about in class.). It helps validate my feeling that online interaction and community serve very real, very valid roles, in ways that can be just as effective (or more) as in-person interaction. That’s not to say there aren’t issues that also need to be taken into account, but there IS value there.

Toxic Communities: Behavior vs People

Toxic Behavior in League of Legends: A nice summary of some of the research coming out of Riot Games about toxic behavior in gaming communities, over at Nelson’s Weblog. You should really go read it (and watch the talk it’s based on), but the quick takeaway is: most toxic behavior comes from people who are usually upstanding community members but end up having a “bad day.” As Andy Baio points out, the solution for toxicity in your community isn’t (always) banning, but rather having moderators and community managers available to intervene and check in on users when toxic behavior first starts manifesting. (This mirrors my own observations doing community management work — the people acting out are rarely bad people, and the more you can treat them like humans having a bad day, the more you can smooth out toxic behavior before it becomes overwhelming.)