Of all the ways to express your opinion on some subject, I believe the “Like”, “+1” and similar buttons are some of the worst. Why? Well, nowadays “liking” something on the internet means little to nothing. People are asked to “like” things, “likes” are sold and bought as a product and not actually as a consequence on someone’s feelings on what one has seen/read/experienced, and now the quality of things seems to have become measured in the number of “likes”.
I usually say the “Like” button was the best invention for those that are so lazy that don’t want to write anything, or those so lazy that don’t want to create an opinion on a certain subject. It is also a great thing for those who don’t care about explaining why they “like”. The same argument is also true for “disliking”, on the places where that’s permitted. Those who have something to say will comment or reply, but “liking” is something so vague that adds little value.
It’s important to let people express their opinion on other Internet content in a meaningful way. Allowing users to comment and reply in an Internet that’s more and more made by its daily users is a good thing (that is, if you really promote freedom of speech). It perhaps even motivates people to think about things and form their own view on the subject, instead of just “liking” a view that’s being forced into their minds.
Imagine someone on the Internet says “WordPress is a really cool blogging tool”. You have the following options: you can either “Like” this statement, comment on it, or don’t give a s*** about it and move on. If you agree with the point of view stated, but have nothing to say on it, you’ll probably click the “Like” button. If you don’t agree, you’ll move on, or eventually post a short comment stating that you don’t agree. And if you are of those that actually wants to express an opinion and cares to write trying to use the language properly, you’ll comment. Now imagine you can’t comment… probably you’ll just move on.
If you comment and your comment is insightful, it will add value to an existing discussion or perhaps even start a new one. But those who “like”… what will happen? When you see “34 people like this”, do you have any idea of what those 34 people think? Did they “like” because they found it funny? Because that content was interesting? Because it was so wrong that it made one laugh? And who knows how many people didn’t like that content, specially when compared to something else? I think this need for comparison and ranking caused “likes” to be used as if they were a measurement unit, as I’ll explain later.
I even fear one day people living in a democracy will vote for their representatives by “liking” them. Knowing how many didn’t “like” any of the options is going to be hard. And you won’t know it was because none of the options suited them, or because they were ill in the elections day, or because they preferred going to the beach instead of voting, errm, “liking”. Knowing how many people “liked” twice can get hard too, but that’s easily fixed.
One more thing that illustrates the stupidity of the “Like” (or similar) button: it doesn’t exist in natural human communication. Well, it does exist, but it’s way more elaborated than a “Like”. Imagine you’re hanging out with your friends, in the pre-“Like”-button era, and one of them tells a joke. Nobody’s going to say “I like” without saying anything more. Since it was a joke, if one has found it funny, laughs will follow. And if it was really funny, one will laugh a lot (I also have my opinion on the LOL thing, but that’s for another post). And if the joke wasn’t funny at all, or the way it was told wasn’t good enough, one will at least smile, or say “Man, you’re not good at telling jokes”.
And another example: if you go to a restaurant and you enjoy the meal you ordered, it’s unlikely that you just say “Like”. Even if you only want to say you liked what you ate, there are many, many ways to say “Like”. Now if I want to be ultra-nerd, I can even say the “Like” button impoverishes people’s vocabulary. 🙂 So to conclude this point: at most, people have brought “I like this” into real-life communication after it became popular in the web – it didn’t exist in such a monotone and endlessly overused way before that.
I’m not saying the “Like” button isn’t useful – for the times when you actually like and there’s nothing else to say. The problem is, people became lazy and now they prefer to click a button than to write their opinion – sometimes because they don’t have any opinion, other times because it’s just easier to “Like”. Again, if I jump to extreme cases, the web might become something where some party says “1+2=5” and all there is to say is that “56,322,943 people like this”.
Now about the “Like” button as a measure of quality of things. If for a given “product X” there are 60000 likes on some social network and for another “product Y” there are only 2000 likes, people will often think “product X” is better than “product Y”. But those who will care about doing some research will find that “product Y” doesn’t contain “substance N”, which is really bad for health, while “product X” does contain it. “Product X” has more likes because it appeared first on that social network as part of an advertising campaign that costed millions. Conclusion: the number of people that “Like” something is worth nothing, even though at first it might look like so. Even because “likes” can often be bought: imagine that millionaire advertising campaign included buying 10000 “likes” to bootstrap it, and “liking” things becomes even more meaningless.
But the example doesn’t need to be about evil companies and products that are bad for health being advertised in a giant scale. You certainly know those people that ask for likes on their content. And those annoying “If you are happy, like this”-style messages. This happens in social networks in each other’s friends circles.
Oh, and another thing: “Like” buttons are used for tracking people whenever they go on the web. You can leave the “website X” that hosts a “Like” button, that as long as there is a “Like” button of that “website X” in any other page, the owners of that website can know you’re at that page. And I’m not dreaming, as you know, Facebook and other social networks do this.
This stupid “Like”/”+1” button is one of the many reasons why I deactivated my Facebook account some days ago. But this isn’t only about Facebook, it’s about everything sponsoring a “Like” button. (At least Twitter doesn’t have such a “feature”, hooray! 🙂 )
Putting short: yes, you can keep the “Like” button, but make sure people can comment – and I’d encourage them to comment and show their views on things whenever possible: I think it adds a lot more value to the Internet.
EDIT: looks like Facebook “Likes” aren’t speech protected by the US First Amendment.
Looks like my servers and websites have all decided to take some holidays and go offline, fortunately not at the same time. Some weeks ago, it was 4.l.to/l.f.nu that decided that some days sleeping would be good, after its domain went down (causing the change to a new one and the whole service rebranding). And more recently, the VPS where I was (yes, was) hosting this blog, which by its turn was hosted in a friend’s dedicated server, went down the trash too: the guys at the provider my friend uses decided to play around with the hard drive of the dedicated server, and we ended up without any of data that was in it.
Unlike what’s usual, this time I had backups (yepeee!). But as always, they were outdated (from January!) and consisted of a WordPress export file. So, I didn’t have any backup of the server configuration or the other scripts and data I had in the server. Conclusion: I had to set up everything from scratch – but wait, first, I need to explain: my friend offered to install WordPress for me, (as I’m very busy with real life, I’ll explain later), but he used CentOS, and since I really don’t like CentOS and there were some tiny “wrong” details in the WordPress config (just a matter of personal choice: I do not like to use “admin” as the admin username, even for security reasons), I reloaded the VPS with Ubuntu.
*Ubuntu: I would have used Debian, if it weren’t for the fact the software in its repos is, although stable, far from being the latest version. And my idea of “stable-recent” ratio for software is not quite the same as Debian’s idea.
As I was saying, I had to setup everything from scratch on a new VPS, on another dedicated server that’s not from the same provider (but the dedi is from the same friend). That means some hours around the shell installing and configuring nginx, PHP and MySQL, as well as configuring WordPress-specific rewrite rules and other server settings – and I’m not finished yet, the current settings are not how I’d like them to be.
I said above I was very busy with real life: yes I am, I’m busy with lots of school work, and I’m also a bit tired of the online world for now (the part of the internet I use/follow has no news lately, things are pretty boring currently). But today I had a school trip for the whole day that got me really tired, and when I got home, I felt like I wouldn’t be able to study anything for the school tests I’m taking in the next weeks. I had a server to configure and a blog to restore, and thought I could use the free time… and here I am, blogging when it’s almost midnight on my clock.
Despite the hours spent, I’d say my work has been done without major problems. I’m getting either too used to installing nginx+php+mysql, or it’s because it is/was Friday 13th.
Yeah, is/was. It’s four past midnight.
EDIT: this server is now much faster, its host was suffering from some misconfiguration – again, my friends are awesome and fixed it 🙂
Some time ago, I posted here in the blog that the cheap Android tablet I had bought four days before, broke. Turns out the problem indeed was the corruption of the internal microSD card, which acts as the main memory of the thing.
The tablet in question is a “Flytouch 3″, P041 model with silver back. The processor is an Infotmic one, as usual with these cheap tablets (fortunately, Chinese makers are now moving to better dual-core Cortex processors). The original internal microSD had 16GB, no brand and said it was a class 4 card. Finally, after disassembling the tablet and taking the card into a reader on the PC (to try and format the card, since the tablet wouldn’t want to write to it and would fail every system update attempt), the microSD finally broke and now it’s not recognized on any reader – a low-quality card, now dead.
I ordered from Amazon another 16GB card, this time a class 10. I put it on the tablet, assembled it back, and the bootloader could flash a new update to it fine. Android is now blazing fast, either because the card is a class 10 or because the old one was very damaged.
So far, everything’s working except the hardware wifi switch I accidentally broke when the tablet was open. Again, I had some luck, as the switch was left on the ON position – and curiously, the wifi connection seems stable than before.
Let’s wish this thing keeps working as it has until now… it’s been almost 24 hours since I put the new microSD in.
I know it’s a bit too late already, but since what matters is the Christmas spirit and not the timings, here are my wishes for a great Christmas and a happy new year 2012. Let the happiness and healthiness be with you this Christmas and new year eve, as well as throughout 2012 and, well, your whole life. I hope all your good wishes come true! 😀
Now, my turn on Christmas wishes: let’s hope my new shiny, cheap Android tablet I bought (Flytouch 3, P041 model, not a Christmas gift!) gets fixed – its internal memory (a microSD card) is corrupt. Now I need to fix the microSD card in a Linux computer. Linux computer? Check. SD card reader? Check. microSD reader? Missing. Trying alternatives… microSD-to-SD adapter? Missing… Santa, all there is on my gifts list is a way to fix that tablet’s microSD, I want a microSD-to-SD adapter or a USB microSD reader (costs $1)!
I’ll let you know if/when I fix the device and get rid of that damn error the Flytouch returns when trying to burn the Linux kernel to said microSD!
gbl08ma / Gabriel Maia
I find myself to be getting more and more email addresses as I register on web services. For example, yesterday I registered on Zoho office, and it turns out to be kind of an email provider with docs integration (previously, I thought it was docs-only).
I’m posting this more for me to remember I have all those addresses than for people to know. Anyways, the first address in the list is the one you should use to contact me. You can send junk to the others, and don’t expect to find me checking those inboxes often 🙂
Obviously only the addresses that can be made public to anyone are on this list, duh.
The first column is the username, the second is the server, add a @ between the two.
I’ll try to update this list often, but no promises 🙂
So the last times have been strange again. A lot of events which somehow hit me harder, for the good or for the bad, have happened recently. Some are more personal than others, anyway. Here are the ones I can remember and talk about in public, ordered in chronological order:
- My cat is really sick 🙁
- dmmcintyre3 got me a .com domain – I wasn’t expecting that in any way, thanks a lot! 🙂
- Steve Jobs had his last kernel panic (must I explain?). Let him rest in peace.
- It’s hot like hell in Portugal, hotter than in the Summer, and it’s already 6th October
- Last night (during the Steve Jobs thing, perhaps) I got a bunch of twitter followers. Funnier: most of these users have their following and follower counts on the hundreds, but never posted a single tweet. One word: spam bots.
- And some more things I can’t remember! (I forgot about them while I was writing this, and now I can’t remember. Seriously!)
Welcome to the personal website of gbl08ma (the username), Gabriel in the real life. Website that was made with wordpress, not because this is gonna be a (traditional) blog, but because I wanted something nice looking and working, “cheap and quick”, that also worked as a Content Management System.
gbl08ma likes IT, more precisely software and web development. Being a Linux (and open source software in general) lover, but not a fanatic (at least, that’s what he says…), expect him to not be using MS Windows most of the time, much less any kind of software developed by Apple (because when it comes to Apple hardware, I do have an iPod… remastered with Rockbox).
Gabriel/gbl08ma doesn’t like, at all, writing about himself. He does, however, express about himself better in English than in his mother language, Portuguese (yes, because Gabriel is Portuguese, but that ashame him so much that must be written in a really small font size).
gbl08ma is, preferably, the username Gabriel uses all over the internet. Not a solution that he recommends when it comes to privacy protection and internet security, and he knows he must be very careful about what he posts on the internet with a unique username. That’s why, ideally, you won’t find a photo of him on the internet.
If I have a Facebook account? Yes, but only to be able to login to other sites with it. The account is almost empty… I prefer twitter. I have two accounts there, gbl08ma and gbl08ma_tester. The latter one was created just for the purpose of testing certain scripts; now it is used to “spam” who follows it with lots of RSS feeds delivered by dlvr.it.
And that’s all for now 😉