Category Archives: Technology

Sex In The Cloud: An Interview with Sex Blogger & Professor, Stef Woods

With websites like exRATED (http://exrated.com) popping up, allowing people to review their exes and aiming to be the ultimate Yelp for those looking for insights on potential romantic partners, and Facebook algorithms that can determine your sexual orientation without you indicating what it is, and increasingly more of our personal and private information being posted online, leading to sometimes embarrassing, if not life-altering consequences, a historically behind-closed-doors activity is now evolving to a more “out there” experience and forever changing how we view and approach sex.

I caught up with my friend Stef Woods, attorney, sex and relationships blogger, and professor of ‘Activism and Social Media‘ at American University to discuss the topic.

When I asked her what trends she’s noticing online with regard to sex and sexuality, here’s what she had to say:

 Interesting question. The huge growth in social media has led to a new sexual revolution of sorts. People now obtain much of their sex education from the Internet. The majority of sexual health and entertainment purchases are done online. And, the more that women and men write about sexuality, sexual health and sex toys online, the more that sex is normalized. Women can learn about sex during menopause or how to achieve their first vaginal orgasm. A gay teen can see a video, encouraging him to stay strong because it does get better. A couple can shop for their first toy together. Planned Parenthood has even implemented pilot programs that allow people to text and IM staff for answers regarding STIs, pregnancy, contraception and AIDS.

However, the combination of social media and sex can also lead to public scandal and private crisis. Would Weiner have lost his position without Twitter? Would the world have known the extent of Tiger Woods‘ indiscretions without social media? Would Phoebe Prince and Tyler Clementi still be alive if they hadn’t been subjected to cyber-bullying? Has social media increased the opportunities for people to engage in emotional and sexual affairs?

I personally believe that “sex in the cloud” is forcing us to deal and address sex in a more open and transparent manner, and that this can only be a good thing. I don’t believe AIDS would have declined as sharply as it did in the United States without the education and awareness the internet and email provides.

On the flip side, change can be uncomfortable for a lot of people, especially around a topic as sensitive as sex. I can’t even tweet about tampons without eliciting vehement commentary from a handful of men.

Which is why people like Stef, who is trailblazing a path to a more accepting, compassionate and informed sexual society, are so necessary — and impressive. It’s tough enough to talk about and sometimes even have sex in the comfort of your own home.  But doing it for all the world to hear and see, and having it captured in the cloud indefinitely — it’s a whole new ballgame.

*Stef Woods is a professor at American University, attorney, sexuality educator, writer, and women’s health advocate. She writes about relationships, sexual health, breast cancer, and dating on her blog, City Girl’s Blog. Next semester she will be teaching ‘Sexuality and Social Media.’

Be Prepared for Facebook Timeline (UPDATED)

This is a guest post by Kirby Plessas (@kirbstr), President and CEO of Plessas Experts Network, a consultancy that informs, trains, and researches for clients on internet technology, information extraction, security and worldwide internet usage. 

Just as users are getting settled into the new Facebook feed style that was released a few weeks ago, Facebook is prepping again for another major change.  I don’t purport to know all of the effects of the next set of changes, but at least three items have caught my attention.

First, is the shiny and pretty new timeline feature. I have to admit, it is going to make profile pages much more attractive. I have not switched to timeline early although I know that some friends have because I wanted to wait until the official switch so I can experience the changes with the masses and notice what is effecting them. This is also the reason why I don’t use any add-ons to adjust my Facebook view (although I know there are some great functional ones out there, such as Better Facebook or the Chrome extension that suppresses the new and annoying ticker). I like my Facebook raw and gritty, if you will.

But the beauty and the danger in the new Timeline feature is that it partially solves one of the major gaps in Facebook – search. Now, I am unsure that you will be able to search through time on a profile via keyword (as would ultimately be my preference), but you could rewind and fast-forward through someone’s account through their timeline and see what they had to say a year ago or more. While this might not seem to be a privacy issue (users put this information out there – they didn’t care then), it is because until now, profile visitors could only go back in time to a minor degree to see what was posted. People change their minds and opinions they may have had two years ago may no longer be valid or what seemed funny back then might not seem funny now.

Luckily, Facebook has already provided us with a privacy tool that will keep the history within your timeline private, however, it is pretty much napalm to everything in your account. If you take a look at your privacy settings, there is an option to “limit the audience for your past posts.” This allows you to retroactively reset the privacy setting for everything you have in your account up until now to your default setting. I’ve used it a few times to set everything to “friends only,” which wiped out the few public posts I had created, and it works like a charm. To block your timeline from being exploited, you could use that tool to set all past posts to “only me” and thus make them privately searchable but blocked even to friends. I’m going to do this… soon. But the side effect is that everything posted up through now will be effectively wiped out from any of my friends’ point of view. Anything I want them to see, I will have to find myself and manually redo the privacy settings so they can view it. I don’t guarantee this would be the case with photos as well (which is probably the main thing I would want my friends to see on my timeline), but I am guessing it is.

MAJOR EDIT: Turns out this is not a solution after all. While Facebook limits posts you made viewable to the public or friends of friends to a default “friends” setting, it won’t affect every post and you cannot set it to “Only Me.” As a result, you will have to go through and get rid of posts manually. Because Facebook doesn’t give you an easy way to do this until you activate Timeline, I am changing my stance on activating it early and suggest anyone who wants to know what it will do to their account before it is viewable by everyone, activate Timeline now.

Second, timeline will also prompt users into entering even more data about themselves, such as previous employment. This might be a counter against popular professional networking site, LinkedIn. If people move their resumes and CVs over to Facebook, they may no longer have a need for yet another social network. Keep your eyes open, you may see professional recommendations as a new feature eventually. In addition, it prompts users to select which of their Facebook friends worked or studied at the same places, effectively tagging this onto multiple people’s profiles and timelines all at once. I have required all tags to be approved by me before adding them to may account and I suggest you do the same so that your resume is not automatically filled out for you by well-meaning friends.

Last note on Timeline – I just came across this article that shows that Timeline might give away your real birthday (at least year) even if you marked it private. Heads up.

Second, is the new instant sharing innovation, a definite privacy issue. Like Timeline, this isn’t a big deal if you are paying attention, but there are so many people out there apparently not paying attention to even the most basic Facebook privacy changes. Coming soon, any Facebook App that you add could include the new automatic sharing option where instead of “liking” a web article, just that fact that you clicked on the link to read that article or watched a video would be broadcast across Facebook to your default privacy settings. Some might not care, but others may not want professional friends to know how much they read the gossip pages, others may not want their political preferences highlighted across Facebook, etc. There are quite a few people already concerned about this.

I have a solution (work around) for you that I will be employing myself. First, go through your applications and delete the ones you don’t recognize. I would only keep the ones actively in use. This could solve the problem entirely, but some apps you may not want drop. If you are actively using one that might expose your reading habits (which could be any), then move on to the next step.

Since I am going to keep using my favorite apps and some of those might employ this instant sharing, I am banishing Facebook to its own dedicated browser. I’ll probably use Opera. The key is to use a browser that is different enough from your commonly used browser so that they will not share cookies/logins. If you use Chrome, don’t use Flock (or Rockmelt?) as they are based on the same code and could share cookies. Same with different versions of Firefox. Choose a browser that you like but don’t often use and keep it strictly for Facebook use. I do need to highlight that you will need to log out of Facebook on your active browser and delete all cookies for this to work, a major side effect of which would be that you cannot then use Facebook as the login to other sites using that same browser. This could be a major detractor for some, as the Facebook login across multiple sites is a great convenience and in many cases more secure.

Third and last, there is also the controversy over Facebook tracking users even when logged out. I’m not surprised, but the uproar about it reminds me of the uproar over the iPhone GPS tracking issue, so I wonder if that will stop Facebook from extensive tracking for a while. To me, this is almost a non-issue since I now expect to be tracked by pretty much every website I visit whether I log in or not. I’m also being tracked by my browsers and search engines. Everyone wants to know where I’ve been, what I had for lunch and whether I prefer Pepsi or Coke. This is the way the internet pays for itself. The only thing that really bugs me about it is that it is very secretive. Many people I know are talking about tracking and its pros and cons but there are also many people who are uneducated about who tracks you, why they track you, and how to avoid being tracked when desired. To learn more about internet tracking, please check out the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Here are some relevant articles.

Mark Zuckerberg at the F8 conference announcing Facebook Timeline.

Photos: Roebot (timeline), Dtweney (Zuckerberg, F8)

Examples of what you can say to Siri on iOS 5 and iPhone 4S

When Apple announced the new iPhone the hubbub was over the hardware and the name (iPhone 4S and not iPhone 5).

Then there was this little buzz about Siri that kept popping up. Most of us ignored the announcement because of all the (negative) hoopla around voice-recognition.

Yet, many are predicting that this software, indeed an App, is the most revolutionary technology in the new phone. They may have a point. After all, it’s not the invention that creates the change, it’s the application of it and the ensuing massive adoption that does (think Henry Ford).

With that in mind, Apple might be on to something. They are bringing to the table a top-of-the-line smartphone, all of their native Apps, the best logic engine on the internet (Wolfram Alpha), and a massive user base.

A powerful combination that may cause the shift that creates the avalanche.

For more on this check out Paul Miller’s insightful, Why Siri just might work.

For me, I will definitely be using Siri as a Personal Assistant. There are at least five actions from the below list that I perform all the time:

  • Set an alarm
  • Take a note
  • Send text
  • Get driving directions
  • Google anything

 

How about you, do you use any of these Apps?

 

  • Address Book
  • Calendar
  • Clock
  • E-mail
  • Maps
  • Messages
  • iPod
  • Notes
  • Phone
  • Reminders
  • Stocks
  • Weather
  • Internet

Do you perform any of these actions?
Address Book:

  • Querying Contacts - What’s Amy’s address?
  • Finding Contacts - Show Amy Senger
  • Relationships - My mom is Fran Tarkenton

Calendars

  • Adding events – create a meeting at 9
  • Changing events – move meeting from 9am to 12pm
  • Asking about events - what is my schedule for the rest of the day?

Alarms

  • Setting an alarm – wake me up tomorrow at 7am
  • Check the clock – what is today’s date?
  • Using a timer – set the timer for 20 minutes

Reminders

  • General reminder – remind me to take my umbrella
  • Reminder to call – remind me to call mom
  • Reminder to call, location – remind me to call mom when I get home
  • Reminder to call, geo-fence – remind me to call mom when I leave here
  • Reminder with time – remind me to call mom tomorrow morning

E-mail

  • Sending messages – e-mail Shawn: Surfing on Saturday?
  • Checking messages – show last e-mail from Shawn
  • Responding to messages – reply to Shawn, time change on Saturday works

Friends

  • Check on Friends – where is Jesse?
  • Temporary geo-fencing for events – GPS location of all friends during an event

Maps

  • Directions – how do I get home?
  • Local business – show nearest Starbucks

Messages

  • Sending texts – tell Amy I’m coming home
  • Reading texts – read new message
  • Replying to texts – reply: yes I will pick up some milk

iPod

  • Play music – play: Beatles – Let it Be

Notes

  • Create notes – there once was a boy named Stevie
  • Find notes – locate note about boy named Stevie

Phone

  • Phone calls – call girlfriend

Stocks

  • Check stock price – what is Apple’s stock price?
  • Check index price – how is the NASDAQ doing?
  • Check details on stock – what is Apple’s P/E ratio?

Weather

  • Forecast – what is the weather?
  • Forecast date – what will the weather be tomorrow?
  • Forecast time – what is the weather tonight?
  • Forecast location – what is the weather in Berlin?
  • Forecast details – is it windy today?

Internet search

  • Information search – find definition of hubbub
  • Wolfram Alpha – square root of 52?
  • Near unlimited google queries…

For an even more complete list TUAW has, What can you say to Siri?

 

Changing the Ratio (Wikipedia’s Battle for Diversity – Part III)

Wikipedia: Change the Ratio (design by JESS3 + 1X57)

Commence beating the figurative dead horse. As I’ve written previously, (here, here and here) Wikipedia is suffering from a lack of female contributors (less than 1 in 10 editors are women, per the 2011 Wikimedia survey). This has the unfortunate consequence of compromising the overall quality and objectivity of its content, as illustrated in my post, How I Redefined “Man” for The World.

While there are several reasons offered for why women aren’t editing (Sue Gardner, Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation, recently gave an interview to CBC highlighting these and summarized them in her post Nine Reasons Why Women Don’t Edit Wikipedia), half of them I just laugh at. Women are too busy? I’ve spent enough hours at Starbucks to observe the gratuitous amount of time some women devote to Facebook. Or, women are conflict-averse and don’t like Wikipedia’s sometimes-fighty culture? As Denis Leary so eloquently stated in The Thomas Crown Affair: “Life is full of sh$tty conflicts, okay?” It’s not an excuse.

So what would I do if I was running the “Change the Ratio” Wikipedia campaign? For one, I’d be focusing on the initial phases of the technology adoption curveawareness and understanding, in the form of education.

Awareness

Simply put, there needs to be more recognition and media coverage of the issue, illustrating the societal impact of not having women (as well as other demographics) editing Wikipedia. Taking a cue from Simon Sinek, I’d be making it clear to women why it matters. And then I’d enlist some influential voices to help the reach the target audience: women.

  • Who better to get the word out than the mother of influence on all things women, education and actionOprah. The issue is right up her alley. She does Twitter, she does Facebook, so why not Wikipedia? Can you imagine Jimmy Wales or Sue Gardner sitting down with Oprah (and Gayle) for a tutorial on Wikipedia and releasing a 2-minute video of it?
  • In the event Oprah isn’t available, an “I Edit Wikipedia” compilation video of some of the most influential women in tech would make a statement. Ladies like Sarah Lacy, Danah Boyd, Jolie O’Dell, Laura Fitton, Tara Hunt, Sheryl Sandberg, and Marissa Mayer. I wonder who of these industry leaders edits, versus who doesn’t?

Then there’s the use of social media to spread the word.

  • The awesome folks at JESS3 worked with me on the Wikipedia: Change the Ratio logo (you can see all the versions here), and next week we’ll be spreading the word via a Facebook initiative for users to change their profile pics (and Twitter avatars and whatever else) to it on Ada Lovelace Day (Friday, Oct 7) which celebrates the achievements of women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Again, the point is awareness.

  • And to celebrate Wikipedia women rockstars, we created a set of barnstars for contributors with 100, 1,000 and 10,000 edits (you can see all the versions here). Below are my top 3:


  • Finally, it wouldn’t hurt if Wikipedia made edits easily shareable by adding some version of a “Share This” button in the Edit mode, integrated with the most prominent social media services for female (and male) influencers to share the pages they contribute to.

Education

It’s essential. Wikimarkup can be a little intimidating for those not familiar with “code” and having edits reverted can be off-putting, but neither of these factors are something that can’t be addressed with a small dose of education.

  • In 2010, the Wikipedia Foundation launched a pilot project to explore the potential of formally using Wikipedia as a teaching tool in higher education but I think education at a grassroots level is more important.
  • Half-day workshops like the one we hosted at JESS3 are something local Wikipedia chapters can embrace, with a proven format and curriculum available. And there doesn’t even need to be formatted sessions. In the same vein of SuperHappyDevHouse, folks can just get together and help each other out, using it as an opportunity to have fun, learn, build, and meet new people.
  • There are tons of YouTube videos and internet guides on how to edit and get started with Wikipedia. I even created my personal Seven Essential Steps to getting started with Wikipedia.
Wikipedia is about collectively learning and building and sharing information on the things you’re interested in and are passionate about. It’s time more women make their voices heard.

 

NOTE: For those interested learning more about the gendergap issue, you can subscribe to the gendergap mailing list. The discussion threads provide incredible insight into what’s going on, everything from harassment on women’s user pages to inappropriate sexualization of images for topical pages.

Changing the Ratio (Wikipedia's Battle for Diversity – Part III)

Wikipedia: Change the Ratio (design by JESS3 + 1X57)

Commence beating the figurative dead horse. As I’ve written previously, (here, here and here) Wikipedia is suffering from a lack of female contributors (less than 1 in 10 editors are women, per the 2011 Wikimedia survey). This has the unfortunate consequence of compromising the overall quality and objectivity of its content, as illustrated in my post, How I Redefined “Man” for The World.

While there are several reasons offered for why women aren’t editing (Sue Gardner, Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation, recently gave an interview to CBC highlighting these and summarized them in her post Nine Reasons Why Women Don’t Edit Wikipedia), half of them I just laugh at. Women are too busy? I’ve spent enough hours at Starbucks to observe the gratuitous amount of time some women devote to Facebook. Or, women are conflict-averse and don’t like Wikipedia’s sometimes-fighty culture? As Denis Leary so eloquently stated in The Thomas Crown Affair: “Life is full of sh$tty conflicts, okay?” It’s not an excuse.

So what would I do if I was running the “Change the Ratio” Wikipedia campaign? For one, I’d be focusing on the initial phases of the technology adoption curveawareness and understanding, in the form of education.

Awareness

Simply put, there needs to be more recognition and media coverage of the issue, illustrating the societal impact of not having women (as well as other demographics) editing Wikipedia. Taking a cue from Simon Sinek, I’d be making it clear to women why it matters. And then I’d enlist some influential voices to help the reach the target audience: women.

  • Who better to get the word out than the mother of influence on all things women, education and actionOprah. The issue is right up her alley. She does Twitter, she does Facebook, so why not Wikipedia? Can you imagine Jimmy Wales or Sue Gardner sitting down with Oprah (and Gayle) for a tutorial on Wikipedia and releasing a 2-minute video of it?
  • In the event Oprah isn’t available, an “I Edit Wikipedia” compilation video of some of the most influential women in tech would make a statement. Ladies like Sarah Lacy, Danah Boyd, Jolie O’Dell, Laura Fitton, Tara Hunt, Sheryl Sandberg, and Marissa Mayer. I wonder who of these industry leaders edits, versus who doesn’t?

Then there’s the use of social media to spread the word.

  • The awesome folks at JESS3 worked with me on the Wikipedia: Change the Ratio logo (you can see all the versions here), and next week we’ll be spreading the word via a Facebook initiative for users to change their profile pics (and Twitter avatars and whatever else) to it on Ada Lovelace Day (Friday, Oct 7) which celebrates the achievements of women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Again, the point is awareness.

  • And to celebrate Wikipedia women rockstars, we created a set of barnstars for contributors with 100, 1,000 and 10,000 edits (you can see all the versions here). Below are my top 3:


  • Finally, it wouldn’t hurt if Wikipedia made edits easily shareable by adding some version of a “Share This” button in the Edit mode, integrated with the most prominent social media services for female (and male) influencers to share the pages they contribute to.

Education

It’s essential. Wikimarkup can be a little intimidating for those not familiar with “code” and having edits reverted can be off-putting, but neither of these factors are something that can’t be addressed with a small dose of education.

  • In 2010, the Wikipedia Foundation launched a pilot project to explore the potential of formally using Wikipedia as a teaching tool in higher education but I think education at a grassroots level is more important.
  • Half-day workshops like the one we hosted at JESS3 are something local Wikipedia chapters can embrace, with a proven format and curriculum available. And there doesn’t even need to be formatted sessions. In the same vein of SuperHappyDevHouse, folks can just get together and help each other out, using it as an opportunity to have fun, learn, build, and meet new people.
  • There are tons of YouTube videos and internet guides on how to edit and get started with Wikipedia. I even created my personal Seven Essential Steps to getting started with Wikipedia.
Wikipedia is about collectively learning and building and sharing information on the things you’re interested in and are passionate about. It’s time more women make their voices heard.

 

NOTE: For those interested learning more about the gendergap issue, you can subscribe to the gendergap mailing list. The discussion threads provide incredible insight into what’s going on, everything from harassment on women’s user pages to inappropriate sexualization of images for topical pages.

Apple gestures…quietly revolutionary

Do you use Apple gestures, have you even heard of them?

I was first introduced to them in January of 2008, when I became hipster #1 and bought the first MacBook Air. Now, three years and eight months later I am still barely using them.

Of the available fourteen there are only three I regularly use but those three are absolutely time-saving-revolutionary.

  • Scroll with two fingers – just move two fingers up/down, instead of turning a mouse wheel or dragging the sidebar.
  • Forward/Back with two fingers – browse the web by “swiping” left or right with two fingers, no more back button.
  • Double-tap with two fingers - instead of the right mouse click (called a “secondary click”), tap two fingers to engage a secondary click.

When Apple says they are “fluid, natural, and intuitive,” I wholeheartedly agree. I don’t think about using them anymore and it hurts to use a computer without them. Which is when you know it’s a true innovation, “when you can’t live without it.”

Of the other fourteen, I have three more just barely in my memory. Six out of fourteen?

It does take a while to break the old habits, especially for former Windows users. No more mouse and an almost entirely new language with my fingers. Yeah, it’s tough but I can’t complain about clicking less buttons and gaining agility.

It’s part of the reason why I like Apple products. Their agressive forward pace, while offensive to some, keeps me on my toes and ever-improving. I can only imagine the day when I am able to handle all fourteen:

[one_half]

  • Single click
  • Dictionary look-up
  • Directional scroll
  • Smart zoom
  • Rotate
  • Scroll between screens
  • Open Expose
[/one_half]
[one_half]
  • Secondary click
  • Window drag
  • Zoom in/out
  • Scroll forward/back
  • Open Mission Control
  • Open Launchpad
  • Show desktop

[/one_half]

Watch out too because these gestures are growing exponentially. On my last computer there were only 6-7 and now fourteen. It won’t be long before there are 72 gestures encompassing every feature on a computer.

We may even begin to skip the keyboard…have you seen the Swype text-input on Android?

Do young Americans want to work?

As in, get a job?

Despite all the haranguing on our economy and jobs market, why aren’t we talking more about the massive labor imbalance in our country?

A recent Rutgers University survey of 571 Americans who graduated from college between 2006 and 2010 found that only 53% held full-time jobs. And yet, it’s not hard to understand why. In 2009, of the 1,601,000 bachelor’s degrees conferred, the greatest numbers fell into the fields of business (348,000); social sciences and history (169,000) and health sciences (120,000).

I had to look up health science and found this description:

The health sciences are concerned with the development of knowledge and programs related to health and well being. Health science is also concerned with the study of leisure and cultural phenomena.

And just so we’re all on the same page, social sciences include: anthropology, archaeology, communication, criminology, political science, sociology and psychology.

I’m going to refrain from commenting on the social and health science and history majors and instead take a moment to focus on business majors. You would think having a prevalence of business majors would be a positive for our economy, but we first need people who can actually make something before we need the people to market, sell and manage it.

We are missing the makers (engineers and scientists), the people who have the skills and knowledge to create something.

The fact is, there are jobs in this country. According to the most recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over three million job opportunities are unfilled in the United States right now, the highest level in three years. And yet, in that same period we have produced the highest unemployment rate we’ve seen in over two decades.

I was at my alma mater (James Madison University) a few months ago and caught up with a former professor in the college of Integrated Science and Technology (ISAT) ; she told me that enrollment numbers in ISAT were the lowest they’ve ever been, even though these students are the most desirable and in demand by employers. Given the current economy and jobs market, I was a little shocked.

I’ll be honest here and say that when I was 17, college and majors didn’t consume my thoughts nearly as much as boys and field hockey. I went to JMU because it had the best field hockey program in the country. And my parents essentially chose my major for me. I was pretty ambivalent about what I wanted to do. There was lots that interested me (minus Accounting). At one point it was Law, another time English, I even considered Business. But my parents reasoned that I was good at math and science and the world needed more women in STEM, so I said sure, why not.

When I graduated, I had 15 job offers. Looking back, I’m certain my collegiate experience would have been a lot easier if I majored in something that didn’t require me to spend so much time in computer and science labs, but in this tech-centric day and age, I’m glad I left knowing how to program and build a website, amongst other things.

How many young Americans today think about employability? If you look at the degrees that are most likely to land a person a job, there seems to be a disconnect with the majors students are pursuing the most. Case in point,  in 2009, degrees in “parks, recreation, and leisure studies” saw a 43 percent increase. Yep, the things with budgets first to get cut in a recession are what students are flocking to.

I’m not saying people should neglect their true callings in life. In fact, I think the world benefits the most from the people who vigorously pursue their passions, including social psychology majors (who have the highest unemployability rate). But for those who aren’t so sure what path to pursue, wouldn’t it make sense to take a look around, at the state of the country, and consider majoring in something employable?

Incidentally, it seems the United States isn’t alone in its labor gap. A recent report from the British Chambers of Commerce reveals small businesses are frustrated at the quality of applicants, who they say can barely concentrate or add up. The report warns: ‘Too many people [are] coming out with fairly useless degrees in non-serious subjects.’

1X57 Version 3.0: Focusing on the X Factor

1X57 has a new look, both in the logo and the design of the website.

We’re focusing on content, and our own unique perspectives and passions, which manifests as the X factor (the je ne sais quoi) of 1X57. The X is edgier and more prominent, and our home page now promotes a range of content.

You can see what 1X57 looked like in versions 1.0 and 2.0 here.

 

NOTE: A big thanks to Joshua Bauder for his skillful execution on our new logo. We wanted something a little edgier, focusing on the X, and he delivered. 

A Blogging Champion At Work: From 295 To Over 46,000 Monthly Views

Over the past several months, I’ve had the unique opportunity to watch my partner-in-crime focus on building 1X57 as a blog.

Starting in July, Steve began blogging full-time for 1X57, producing content on a daily basis, focusing on what he loves and finds interesting, which includes topics such as surfing, comics, big data, and more.

It’s been a fascinating process to witness, especially since it’s been more than just SEO or creating catchy titles. His focus has been on improving the quality of his writing, learning to be a journalist, mastering web publishing and connecting with audiences who care about the things he cares about. Not to mention growing his social media prowess.

And it’s working.

Back in November 2010, we had 295 unique monthly views. By August 2011, the site has grown to receive almost 47,000 monthly views, over 150x growth…

…which is significant for us, since the growth we experienced in our first two years (starting with our initial post in November 2008, through November 2010) increased from only the 10′s to the 100′s for monthly views.

If you’re interested in hearing more about @robotchampion‘s journey from zero to blog dominance, please vote for his SXSW 2012 talk, “Blogging isn’t dead, it just went professional.”

I promise you, he won’t disappoint.

NOTE: Voting ends tomorrow, Friday, September 2, 11:59 CDT.

How I Redefined “Man” For The World (Wikipedia’s Battle for Diversity – Part II)

Change the Ratio: Wikipedia (design by JESS3 + 1X57)

In my previous post, Cargo Cult Editing, I used the Wikipedia page for Kate Middleton’s wedding dress and the skirmish that took place over it, as an example of how viewpoint and perspective can impact the content of Wikipedia.

Now I’ll share my own personal Wikipedia battle…that I like to build up as an epic clash, when in reality it was tantamount to a 2-second spitball fight.

For more than two years, if you visited the Man page in Wikipedia, you would have found the following section outlining (7) characteristics of masculinity:

  1. Physical — virile, athletic, strong, brave. Unconcerned about appearance and aging;
  2. Functional — provider for family, defender of family from physical threat;
  3. Sexual — sexually aggressive, experienced. Single status acceptable;
  4. Emotional — unemotional, stoic, never crying;
  5. Intellectual — logical, intellectual, rational, objective, practical;
  6. Interpersonal — leader, dominating; disciplinarian; independent, free, individualistic; demanding;
  7. Other Personal Characteristics — success-oriented, ambitious, aggressive, proud, egotistical, moral, trustworthy; decisive, competitive, uninhibited, adventurous.

When I came across the page in May of 2010, I was a little surprised to read characteristics such as “unconcerned about appearance and aging” and “provider for family.”

In fact, almost all the qualities surprised me since they seemed so utterly out of date, and frankly, just not true. But then I looked at the source: 1974. 1974!

A lot had changed in the past 35 years, with tons of published evidence to refute almost every single one of the listed characteristics. And although we can have a great social discourse over what it means to be “masculine” – the debate belongs on the Masculinity page.

So I removed the section. And entered my first “edit war” in Wikipedia with a user by the name of Martin Hogbin who reverted my change within minutes.

Like any good Sun Tzu student, I was prepared for battle. Of course I could have gone a more diplomatic route by taking the disagreement to the discussion page, but in this case, the entry was just plain wrong. And I was willing to fight.

I had my arguments and sources ready and my backup Wikipedia editors (@robotchampion and @kirbstr) primed to to jump in on the discussion should I need them.

I reverted Martin’s reversion, waiting for a response. And then, just as fast as it had begun, it was over. My edit prevailed.

The point of this story is to show what happens, when a page as popular as the Man page (which receives ~30,000 views per month), has very little diversity in its editor base. What would a 16-year old girl think upon reading the above characteristics, or 16-year old boy? Do they equally apply to homosexual men, and men of various ethnicities, nationalities, ages, religions and vocations?

The answer is no. Is the Dalai Lama not “masculine” or any less of a “man” because he is not sexually aggressive or experienced?

Wikipedia needs more diversity, for the simple reasons of perspective and objectivity. When 1X57 did the Women Who Wiki workshop, I showed the attendees, mostly women with one male, the historical Man page with the above characteristics listed and asked them if they agreed with them. The answer was unilaterally no.

So did the thousands of viewers who visited the Man page not see what I saw? Or did they simply not know how to do anything about it?

Wikipedia is the #1 open knowledge resource and the 7th most popular website, in the world. It needs contributors of all genders, ages, and races to be the great public resource that it is.

In my next and final post, I’ll discuss how more people can get involved to improve diversity and become part of the great community that is Wikipedia.

TO BE CONTINUED…