Facebook privacy settings aren’t that difficult, I promise


Maybe it’s because I’m a Millenial and I was raised on tech and over-sharing. Maybe it’s because my life is relatively dull—no illegal substances, no scandals, minimal drama. But I really can’t wrap my head around why people freak out over Facebook sharing settings.

There has to be some sort of expectation at this point that Facebook is going to sell pretty much whatever information it has about you. And really–does it even matter that Best Buy knows that you like action movies? They’re not going to raid your home with a display case of movies they’ll force you to buy. They’re just going to show you more relevant ads.

More often than not, it seems like people are just getting squicked out about their “rights” (please imagine dramatic finger quotes) to privacy instead of the actual micro-shares that are taking place. Let’s be clear: You definitely have a right to privacy. But if you put something on a social network, you’re giving up a piece of that right.

If you find yourself still questioning Facebook privacy, it’s a good thing you’re here. I have a definitive guide to understanding privacy options on Facebook:

*Don’t post it if you don’t want it seen. It doesn’t matter what your privacy settings are. If you don’t want it seen,  leave it entirely off of Facebook. This advice is repeated more often than “Don’t shoot your eye out” around Christmas (and is starting to sound just as corny), but people still don’t seem to understand. Don’t want your boss to see you bitching about that customer? Tell your friends in private. It’ll make a better story than a post anyway.

*Understand the nature of the beast. Facebook is a business, and its currency is data. When you give them something (birthday, email address, information on what products you like), they’re going to use it somehow. They’re not making their money by ad sales as much as they’re making money by knowing you. If this makes you uncomfortable, that’s okay. Stop feeding the machine.

*Craft a public image. Since we’re assuming that everything is going to be seen by everyone, go ahead and think of yourself as your own PR expert. Unpleasant things like your political opinion, that fight you had with your husband and your child’s poop don’t belong on Facebook. If you really want to create a space where you can talk about that, consider a more private application.

Hopefully that’s helpful if you’re privacy paranoid. Thoughts? Opinions?


How to not sound like an idiot when writing about tech

Photo by Whitney Gibbs

Moderately-known fact: The Bean in Chicago is also known as “Cloud Gate.” Get it? Clouds?

Among tech writers and editors, there’s a secret code. A handshake that lets us know who’s in-the-know, and who shouldn’t be on our field. If you know it, you’re immediately entitled to at least a modicum of respect. If you don’t, you’re going to be dismissed as a pretender and a fraud. Here’s the low-down on the code and how you can get by with writing tech–even when you may not know what you’re doing.

“The Cloud”

That’s right. The cloud. If you feel the need to capitalize it, put it in quotes or italicize it, I will make fun of you. And–I’m a nice person. Imagine what happens when your resident troll sees it. The cloud isn’t new! Everyone and their great-grandmother has heard of it! You can stop pretending like it’s some new-fangled term that isn’t acceptable enough for regular punctuation. It is. You can treat it like a regular piece of technology. If anyone questions you on its legitimacy, I promise I’ll have your back as you try to explain that it’s really real.

The cloud as the Internet

The Internet is not the cloud. Take a moment, let that sink in. Many of the websites that you visit daily (especially corporate ones) are hosted on local servers. That means the definition of “cloud” isn’t that you can access it from anywhere. The cloud specifically refers to how data is stored on non-local servers and how those servers are set up. It’s typically safe to refer to something as being “on the cloud” if it’s stored off-site, but there is a chance that it’s simply stored on a private off-site server.

Smart Phones

No. Just…no. It’s “smartphone,” and the quotes are only there to set it off. That’s it! It’s that easy! And for heaven’s sake, please, please don’t talk about how smartphones are new unless you’re referring to a specific model. Smartphones have been around since 2000, and the iPhone itself came out in 2007. That was five years ago. Let’s just all accept that they’re a part of our lives, mmkay?

IaaS, PaaS, SaaS

These are a bit different. Unlike the others, they’re most often used in the most technically correct manner possible. They’re also used excessively to pad cloud articles when the writer has nothing else to say. Padders–we see through you. We know what you’re doing, and you’re driving potential readers away. Only go into the details of the differences when it makes sense to do so in the article. This dips a bit into simply good writing ethics–don’t waste your readers’ time.

Proper grammar

To a degree, people expect IT pros to not be that great at grammar. They do expect them to have the good sense to spell check and possibly even ask someone to read it before you post it. Just run a spell check program and be sure you’ve been properly caffeinated before you start writing and you’ll be fine!

The moral

When you write about technology, you need to sound like you know what you’re talking about, but not so much that you sound like you’re just bragging for the hell of it. Take some time to learn about your subject, even if it’s not what you typically cover. A little digging can protect your reputation as a writer or as an editor.

Blog Indiana 2012–a.k.a. #BIN2012

Official logo for BlN2012

Slingshot SEO graciously paid for the entire editing (and networking) team to go to Blog Indiana 2012. The speakers were great, I really feel like I learned a lot from people like Allison Carter, Erik Deckers and Michael Reynolds. You could say they’re largely the reason I started this blog, actually.

One of the most notable aspects of Blog Indiana took place on the Internet, though. Just look up the official hashtag #BIN2012, and you can get a peek into the discussion that was happening behind the scenes between some of the most brilliant Hoosier social media marketers. There is, of course, some discussion of hipsters and muffins, too. Because really, why not?

Twitter feeds for the hashtag were shown during breaks, lunches and intermissions. Some presenters even used a more specific hashtag to create a new discussion on their own subject. Kelly Knutson, specifically, used it as a way to let people ask questions. People tweeted their questions; she answered them. There was no interrupting the flow to wait for someone to shyly raise their hand, it was all right there.

It was my first experience semi-live blogging an event, and it was really quite fun! Being a part of a larger conversation (a lively, moving one instead of a passive one), was really great. It’s the future of Powerpoints–engaging the audience and creating conversations. It says a lot about us as an audience that we’re no longer content to sit and listen to someone telling us things. We need to be interacting with others, thinking beyond and participating. It’s different than “the usual,” but I think it’s indicative of growth. We’re no longer expected to sit still and listen to teacher talk, we’re taking an active role in our educations.

So, a big thank you to Slingshot SEO for sending us, and to Blog Indiana for being so amazing!