Saturday, July 2, 2011

Liking What You See?

I've mentioned that I don't use Facebook because I like my privacy. "Privacy" and "Facebook" are very nearly mutually exclusive concepts. I'm more comfortable with Google, and use several of its services (including, obviously, Blogger). Now Google has announced a new service called Google+, which seems poised to be a competitor—or at least alternative—to Facebook, and with much better privacy controls.

Google+ is currently in the testing stage and available only by invitation, but even when it becomes available to the general public, I'm still going to consider carefully whether I want to use it or not. Privacy issues aside, Google's reputation isn't what it used to be. Features that were rolled out with much fanfare, like Google Health and Google Wave, died lonely, pitiful deaths. The launch of Google Buzz was fraught with missteps, and Google's chairman, Eric Schmidt, admitted that he was too "busy" to pay much attention to social networking as services like Facebook and LinkedIn were experiencing explosive growth.

Mistrust of Facebook/Google/et al. isn't the biggest impediment to my participation in social networking, though. My problem is that I just don't get it. I overthink it, and that removes much of the potential for fun. Take something as simple as a "Like" button, for example. In the context of the Internet, what exactly does the word "like" mean? When I'm reading news and blog posts via Google Reader, I'm fine with clicking "Like" on an item that brings a smile to my face, or that was particularly well-written, or tells me something I really need to know. But on what level can I "like" a story such as the following?

"Body in public pool undetected for days: Authorities say the body of a woman who died in a Massachusetts public pool went undetected for days as swimmers continued to use the pool before the victim was found floating."

8 people "liked" this. Ewww...

For the morbidly curious, there's more info below the jump. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Here are highlights from the CNN article:
  • The deceased woman "had gone to the pool on Sunday with a 9-year-old neighbor and his family. She collided with the boy while the pair careened down a pool slide...After the collision, the boy surfaced but the woman did not."
  • "The pool -- which is 12 feet deep at its deepest --- was described as 'cloudy' by a health inspector."
  • "A decomposing body can take a couple of days before it becomes buoyant."
The Associated Press reports that the pool's permit expired months ago, and that the body was found Tuesday night by a group of youngsters who jumped over the pool's fence to have a clandestine swim.

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