Are We Right To Fear “Too Big”

In the last few weeks the names Facebook and Google have come up a lot in conversations around the world. To many it’s for different reasons; to me, it’s for the same exact reason. Yes, it’s time for a minor rant.


by Henri Bergius via Flickr

People have been talking about Facebook for two things; going public and having their stock price not meet expectations, and of course for the privacy issue. For Google, it’s been their Penguin and Panda updates and a changing of SEO rules that have been standard for many years, rules they actually gave to us to follow.

However, what it boils down to in the end is our distrust for entities that have gotten too big, so big that they affect our lives even if we’re not a part of them. For instance, it’s my belief that every person in the U.S. is on either Google or Facebook, whether they know it or not. Either they have voluntarily “outed” themselves to establish a presence online or someone else has outed them. My grandmother never looked at a computer in her life, yet before I mentioned her when she got sick I could look up her name and find at least cursory information on her.

Why do we fear “too big” and should we? I tend to believe we should. After all, “too big” is what’s responsible for us being in the financial mess we’ve been in for the last 6 years, and trust me it’s been 6 years. The mega-banks were responsible for the housing crisis, and those same banks, along with many mega-international banks, were responsible for so many countries having their countries credit ratings drop and have some of those countries go into default.

In some countries Microsoft and Google are considered a monopoly. In this country, AT&T was broken up decades ago because they pretty much monopolized telecommunications, and they’re slowly working their way back into that same position. And have you wondered why so few cable companies control more than 95% of our cable access? Is there anyone in the country that actually has more than one cable choice in their area?

When companies get too big, they tell us it’s in our benefit because they can offer us services to make our lives easier. What we find in reality is that we pay more money for things and that they decide how to control our lives. Without Google being such a big deal, do you really think our traffic would have fallen do drastically over the past year? After all, there are other search engines; does a Google change in algorithms change how they work? And has anyone else noticed that at the same time the initial changes went through that Google reduced the amount they pay on your Adsense account per click?

There has never been a single company that’s grown big that’s benefited anyone. The auto industry needs to have multiple car makers so prices stay relatively low. We need multiple gas stations to help keep gas prices low. We need multiple mobile phone operators to help keep those prices low and offer choices when it comes to the services we want to avail ourselves of. We need multiple airlines so that they’ll compete for our business, even if the government is doing what it can to make air travel unpalatable.

Think about this; why don’t we trust our government, the people we elect to represent us? Because they’re too big, to the point where the majority of people that get elected have no idea what most of us go through because they haven’t been “us” in years, if ever. That goes for all branches of government, even some local town governments, which in my mind we don’t really need because it just means there are more levels of government to deal with and everyone passing the buck when we have specific issues we need addressed.

Unfortunately, I’d have to agree that we do have to worry about “too big”. I’d also have to say that there’s not much we can do about it either. Big government stinks, but look at what the Tea Party has done to it as a small group of politicians. Big cable stinks but look at all the services they can offer as opposed to the other companies that can offer some comparable channels, but nothing like what the big boys can. There aren’t a lot of options when it comes to operating systems for either computers or cellphones, and usually only the one option in a community for landlines.

Ah, but we do have some online options don’t we? There are other search engines, and if we stop catering to Google as much they’ll come around and start treating us fairly. You don’t have to use Facebook, as there are new networking opportunities coming up every day. You don’t have to use Twitter and based on figures an overwhelming number of people who sign up aren’t using it. If there’s the one place all of us really have options, it’s online. Sure, the big boys offer things we can’t get anywhere else as far as completeness goes, but there are multiple companies that offer at least pieces of things we want.

In other words, there are always choices online, and when we start thinking that one company has too much leeway over us we can choose someone else and help them grow. or create something yourself and become the player you were always meant to be.

Just stay humble; otherwise, we’ll have to think about leaving you as well. 🙂
 

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Internet Protection Act

Most of you aren’t used to my writing shorter posts, but I think this one should qualify as that, even if the video adds another 4 1/2 minutes to your pleasure. lol

In New York, there’s something new that’s been introduced in Albany that’s going after anonymous trolls online. It was introduced by two downstate state senators and it’s purpose is to “remove any comments posted on his or her website by an anonymous poster unless such anonymous poster agrees to attach his or her name to the post.”

Serious stuff. What’s my take on it? See below:

Now, what’s your opinion on this?
 

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Social Media And Your Familial Obligations

Although I’ve asked, it’s rare that I actually have someone write me to ask me to give my opinion on something. So this is a special treat, and it comes from our friend Brian Hawkins who asked me to address the topic of whether people should be taking more consideration of their family members when it comes to social media.

It’s an interesting question in this day and age when most of us are at least talking about our worries about privacy, when in essence there’s very little privacy left. Of course, anything we do pretty much means we give away information freely, whether the entity that ends up with it was who we gave it to. But what about our family members?

In almost 1,300 posts (I’ll reach that this week), I’ve mentioned my wife’s name 4 times, and two of those times it was in highlighting her website Li’l Specs. I also only have 6 pictures that include her. I have some other pictures on the blog, few few though, of other family members that I’ve never identified, other than my dad, so in a way I’ve protected their privacy since I know none of them reads my blogs (do family members ever read our stuff?).

On Facebook I only have two pictures of my wife, and I have none on Google+. I do have pictures of my parents, though not many, but since my dad and grandmother are no longer with us I don’t think they’re so worried about their privacy. And I’ve put up some pictures of cousins and other family members, but haven’t come out and identified them as relatives until they did so themselves.

In essence, I’ve been relatively perspicacious in protecting the privacy of my family; what they do for themselves is another matter, but I’m not responsible for that.

I think it’s important to not only protect the privacy of one’s family, unless they okay it, but it’s also important to protect the dignity of one’s family through social media, whether they’re a part of it or not. Have you noticed that whenever someone gets outed on Facebook for doing something stupid or putting up something stupid that it embarrasses the family as much as the person? I was brought up to always protect the Mitchell name and to not embarrass the family, and I’ve worked hard to do just that very thing and still be an individual.

Whereas I don’t expect everyone to think as I do and do as I do, I always try to tell people that their bad behavior doesn’t only affect them. People who bully and are eventually outed impact the entire family. People who commit crimes puts the family at risk, often making them move for no reason other than the hate they now have to share for something their family members did willingly.

Of course there’s always the issue of very close family members and whether they should be connected with each other in social media circles. As much as I’d love my family members to read my blogs, I know quite a few people who write personal blogs that would be appalled if their family members knew they even had a blog. That’s a tough one to get beyond, though not for me.

I know of parents who want to connect with their kids social media accounts so they can see what it is they’re doing. I also know of parents who don’t want to connect with their adult children who do because they’re made to feel guilty if they don’t.

Personally, I’ve never had to deal with this, but it begs the question as to how I’d feel if my mother was connected to my account on Facebook. I can truthfully say this; I’d probably have to delete a bunch of stuff that other people post that shows up on my page because, as I’ve said a few times here, I’ve never seen a movie rated higher than PG with my mother, and never a movie I hadn’t seen beforehand. I’m often stunned at the language family members use with each other, and some of the things one will put up, either child or parent, knowing that the other is connected and will see it.

As I said earlier, I think it’s important to protect one’s family on social media because you never know what someone else might do with that information, no matter what it is. But it’s also a decision one has to make based on how their family handles such matters. Social media really is a great responsibility, as much as it’s a place to have fun and make a lot of connections. Just think about it, and be careful.
 

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Black Web Friday 5/25/12; The Last One

Greetings, and welcome to the last edition of Black Web Friday. I don’t have much to say except that I hope some of the folks I’ve linked to get some traffic, gets a few new commenters, and that it helps some of them to be seen as influential enough in some fashion to finally start making some “best of” lists. I know it’s probably a pipe dream since even most of the people I’ve featured haven’t found out about it, but I like dreaming. If you want to see what started the whole thing, check out the first one.

Black Web Friday

By the way, during this series I didn’t mention it often, but a lot of these people have their own independent businesses as well, so my hope is that if their blogs have been visited that people have taken some time to see what else they do. There’s a lot of unknown talent out there, and if I’ve helped even one person get work, I feel proud of what I’ve done here. Oh, and I hope you don’t mind if I take a brief moment for myself and point you to an interview I did on a site called Credit Card Assist, my first talking about my financial blog. Hey, I’m also a black blogger, right? 🙂

Here we go, and I’ll have more links than usual since it’s my last time.

Demetria Lucas is known as Belle, hence the name of her blog A Belle In Brooklyn. She’s a life coach, but she’s also been named one of the top black bloggers by both The Root and Black Enterprise Magazine, both of whom I’ve been shooting for; sigh… She writes a lot about entertainment and relationships, including answering questions that people send her, something I’ve been thinking about starting. Standard WordPress comment system.

Tami Highbaugh-Abdullah writes the blog Aries GDIM, which stands for Graphic Design & Internet Marketing. Her blog talks mainly about social media, internet marketing and technology, which figures since she’s one of the first people to get a degree in internet marketing. It’s great stuff; one of her latest posts was about Facebook lists, something I never even knew existed. Too bad it’s a Disqus blog, which has prevented me from commenting on it, but at least it’s fun to read from time to time.

Sharon Hurley Hall‘s eponymous blog (by now y’all know what that word means lol) is about writing and blogging, as she’s a professional writer. She doesn’t write a lot but when she does write it’s pretty good stuff. And it’s a standard WordPress comment system.

Regina Baker‘s blog is also named after her, and she writes mainly about marketing, both online and offline because that’s what she does as a consultant. Since I’m the world’s worst marketer, I need to check in on it from time to time to learn more lessons. Standard WordPress commenting system.

Marshawn Evans is hot; she looks good too. lol She’s an attorney who’s become quite the celebrity by showing up on a lot of news stations, magazines, and other media appearances. She writes about media and marketing, and I have to admit I’ve never seen anything that’s needed her legal skills on her blog. There’s a lot of motivational posts as well, geared more towards women but I’ve found that men can get a lot from those teaching women how to empower themselves. She has two ways to comment on her blog, one is Facebook, the other one I’m not sure how to identify, which means it’s not WordPress.

I know someone has to be asking “Hey, where’s the dudes?” Okay, the last one of the day is for Joey Pinkney, and his blog is something a bit different than the norm. Basically what he does is interview people, mainly black authors and writers, as well as doing book reviews. His goal is to help black authors be better known; it’s great to close with his blog since that was a similar quest I’ve had with this series. And it’s a standard WordPress commenting system, although he does have the dreaded captcha on it; oh well, no one’s perfect. 🙂

There you have it, the final edition of Black Web Friday. What will come now? Who knows? For awhile nothing specific, except to try to write as much as I can about things that people find interesting; at least what I hope people find interesting. Please visit these folks, give them some love, and tell them Mitch sent you; then watch them scramble around trying to figure out who Mitch is. lol
 

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The 5 Lies Of Guest Posting Requests

I allow almost no guest posts on this site. In the 4 1/2 years I’ve had this blog, and almost 1,300 posts (I’ll pass that moment next week probably), I’ve had 14 guest posts on this site. Some of the people who’ve written guest posts I’ve asked to write them, and I love that they did and appreciate those folks. The rest asked me, and here’s where I’ve had some kind of issue for the most part.

Why you ask? Well, let me name them and tell you something brief about them:

Diego Norte – actually wrote 2 guest posts, but never came back to respond to any of them and has never come back to the blog again. Heck, he never even left a comment on any posts previously.

Barbara Whitlock – She wrote a post supporting Helium, whom I later trashed, after seeing one of my posts talking about some early problems I was having trying to figure them out. She never responded to any comments on the post and obviously had never read anything else.

Christian Arno – Another one and done who reached out to me to write a post on language translation services. I thought it was a cool topic so I went for it. It only got 2 comments but he never responded to either of them and I’ve never seen him again.

Tom Walker – wrote a post on a topic I knew something about and he also reached out to me. But he’d never commented on anything previously, never responded to any of the comments on his post, and never came back.

Wes Towers – Wes used to comment often, disappeared, then showed up one day asking if he could write a guest post, which I went for because he’d been a contributor. He wrote is his piece and, to his credit, at least responded to the comments on the post. But he’s never come back.

Murray Newlands – Murray had done an interview with me years earlier and even though I was reached asking to write a guest post for this blog, the person who wrote me had no idea who I was, nor had known that I’d even been on his blog. Still, I allowed the post to come through as a sense of obligation, even if I wasn’t so sure of the topic. Murray also responded to one of the comments, which I appreciate, but overall he’s never come to the blog before or since.

Do you see a pattern here? Sure, I understand that everyone has their own goals in mind, and for some those goals are to help spread the word about what they do, or try to drive traffic to their websites. I also understand how, in many cases, guest posts can help a website or blog to grow, as is the case with my finance blog. Still, even with my finance blog, I have as a criteria that people must respond to comments left on their post, otherwise I will remove all their links and contact information.

Why do I do that? Because often people write guest posts on a topic that I don’t know all that much about, and thus I can’t respond to the comments with any real knowledge. As we all know, the best way to grow a community with a blog, which helps to keep regular visitors, is to respond to them when they write a good comment. If guest posters don’t respond, they don’t deserve any boost their guest post was supposed to give them. And that’s why I almost never accept guest posts on this site unless I ask people to write one.

IMAG0364

Having said all of that, I still get a lot of requests to write guest posts on all of my blogs. And I’ve noticed there are 5 main lies that these requests have that immediately let me know that there’s a major problem with their request. Here they are:

1. They’re a long time reader of the blog. That’s a lie because they can never tell you anything about the blog. Often they’ll include a link to a blog post that’s a new link, and not have a comment on that particular post. It’s because they didn’t read it; they’re just trying to flatter me.

2. That they’ve read my guest posting policy. I know that’s a lie because at least half the requests I get don’t have my name on them; this is for my finance blog. That’s actually a qualification for me to even read the email, so if I don’t see my name on it I immediately delete it.

3. That they’ll “write” a quality guest post. Truth of the matter is that most of the people who contact me aren’t writing the articles at all. I know that because most of the people reaching out to me are actually advertising people trying to get their clients links on my blog. Come on, I’m not an idiot; if your email address or company name is different than the link you’re showing me that you’re going to link to, I know you’re not the one writing the post.

4. That it will be a quality post. If you saw some of the email I get, even when they put my name in the email, you’d shudder. The language is horrible, and I know these aren’t all foreign writers. If the email is written poorly then I’m not even going to bother looking at any kind of guest post.

5. That they love my writing style. Remember how I mentioned earlier that some of these people will put a link into the email from a post on the blog? Often it’s a link from a guest post, which obviously means I didn’t write it.

By the way, let me quickly thank those people whom I’ve asked to guest post here; and yes, they’re getting their names bolded:

Sire

John Dilbeck

Connie Baum

Carolee Sperry

Scott Thomas

Rachel Lavern

Mitchell Allen

I’m certainly not trashing the concept of guest posts. I just want to see more honesty, better writing, and of course responding to comments. For this blog, if you’re going to ask me if you can write a guest post you’d better have a history of some kind with either the blog or with me. That’s how I roll; how do many of the rest of you see guest posts on your site?
 

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