How Twitter works (and why you need to know about it)

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Following yesterday’s post, I had quite an interesting conversation with someone from the didn’t-retweet band. What transpired over the course of the discussion was that, by the band’s own admission, they didn’t really understand how Twitter worked. More to the point, I got the feeling that the label didn’t really understand the medium, either. Social media have come so far in eclipsing websites and emails that is very worrying if anyone along the chain isn’t engaging with it properly, so I’m listing my response here (redacting names) in the hope that it would be helpful to anyone else who doesn’t really “get”  how it works. Continue reading

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Princess Stomper answers your dilemmas (more seriously this time)

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With only five days left until Reinspired closes its little internet doors, I figured it was time to impart some wisdom (whether you like it or not).

1. I feel like everyone’s ignoring me

Are you talking about Facebook here? Because the very tool that promised to connect you is actively keeping you apart from your friends! You’ve heard it many times by now – if you’re not paying for the product, you are the product, and Facebook is cashing us in. After getting practically everyone in the world to sign up, it’s now actively hiding our posts from each other – and I’m not just talking about the 30% or so of your friends that you’ve stuck on ignore.  Continue reading

tl;dr – what you REALLY agreed to when you signed up

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Blah-blah-blah-blah I accept. I mean, who really reads those Terms of Service anyway? I know, I try to, but they’re so very long and if you decide they’re being unreasonable, what choice do you have? OK, so you can choose not to use the service, but that usually feels like shooting yourself in the foot when those disclaimers are rarely used for evil and usually just to indemnify themselves against frivolous lawsuits.

But it would be nice to know which particular demon we were offering up our firstborn children to, so Terms of Service; Didn’t Read has very helpfully put together a rough guide to all those nasty, unreasonable clauses we agree to every day without bothering to read properly.  Continue reading

5 things you might be doing wrong on social media

1. “Awareness-raising”

I think the worst example I’ve seen of this was the “tell us what colour bra you’re wearing” status update, which was basically a salacious attempt at internet flirting thinly disguised as some sort of breast cancer awareness campaign. How does that make us more aware of breast cancer? Who on this planet is not aware of breast cancer? Before passing on one of these bulls*** “awareness-raising” messages, ask yourself exactly what kind of awareness you’ll be raising. What, exactly, do we need to be thinking more about, and how is your update going to help us?

Doing it right: “Blood in your poo or looser poo? Just tell your doctor.” (NHS Bowel cancer campaign)  Continue reading

Free movies?


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I’m umming-and-ahhing about an offer from Lovefilm. They’re offering six months for £9.99 via the xbox, which is £2 per month – less than the price of a single rental from Blockbuster. It’s a sweet deal, but I already have Netflix and I’m making good use of that. Netflix is all inclusive but doesn’t have any brand new titles. Lovefilm has a flat subscription rate but if you want to watch the newer films, you have to rent them on a pay-per-view basis.

I was chatting about this with a friend, and they made the comment that the deal was unfair: they’d been illegally downloading films so didn’t see why they should pay for what they had hitherto got for free. This irritated me, because it’s pretty much exactly the same as me saying that I used to shoplift sweets from Woolworths and now I buy sweets, so if I have to pay more for Lindt chocolate than I do for Snickers, that’s unfair because I used to get either for free.

Where do your shows and movies come from? Yes, via your TV set, or via your PC or xbox. Yes, via the internet, but how did they get there? Someone had to make them. Someone had to invest millions upon millions to make them happen. The only way they get to fund the next episode, let alone the next series, is via licensing rights, and that means finding a channel to broadcast them.

Some TV channels recoup the hundreds of millions they spend on buying content through subscription (Sky, and in a roundabout way, the BBC) and some through direct advertising, but the latter’s purchasing power has been diminished because they don’t have as many viewers as they did. Part of that is through legitimate on-demand services like Netflix, Lovefilm and Hulu, and part of that is the eye-watering impact of illegal downloads.

When people download films and shows for free they are devaluing the content: it’s not worth as much to the networks because they can’t ask for as much to sell the broadcast rights, and it’s not worth as much to the broadcasters because fewer people are watching, which makes the channels worth less to advertisers. Less advertising means less original programming, which means less content.  Continue reading