Parody Twitter Accounts of the Yukon

Twitter has a rich tradition of spoof accounts that are used to parody public figures, organizations, and fictional characters.

And Yukon is no stranger to the trend, naturally boasting a colourful collection of online lampooners.

Before I get to that, though – just in case you’ve been living in a cave for the last seven years – here’s a brief introduction to Twitter.

Simply put, Twitter is one of the internet’s most popular social media platforms, currently boasting about a half-billion accounts.

Average folk like you and I (@robulack), alongside luminaries the likes of US President Obama (@BarackObama) and Yukon Premier Pasloski (@YukonPremier), regularly leverage its 140-character limit to publicly crack wise and inform alike.

Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) is currently Twitter’s most popular resource with over 42 million followers – more people than live in Canada.

But that makes you wonder: how do we know it’s really Justin Bieber on Twitter?

Well, it just so happens that Twitter verifies the accounts of its most famous users. You can tell that Bieber’s really Bieber by the blue checkmark badge on his profile page.

Ironically, it’s the platform’s strong tradition of spoofers that led Twitter to start verifying accounts.

Unlike on Facebook and Google Plus, Twitter doesn’t require that you prove who you are. As long as it’s available, you can register any name and assume whatever identity you like, anonymity intact.

This golden opportunity to have fun is not lost on Yukoners. Continue reading

Privacy Risk: Social Sites Leave Media Blowing in the Wind

I use pretty much every social media site out there, including Google Plus, Facebook, Flickr, WordPress, Tumblr, and Twitter.

A lot of what I post to these sites is private, however, or at least very limited in terms of access (usually limited to close family and friends). A lot of this private content includes photos and videos.

Based on the security settings of these various sites, I’d always understood that content privacy was consummate. If, for example, I post a photo, I expect that photo to be completely contained within that privacy model.

But that’s not so. It turns out that photos posted to every social media site are published to the web in a completely exposed state. Only if you attempt to access the file through the web site is it protected. If you try to access the media file directly, it’s open to anyone.

Continue reading

You Are What You Post (You Hope)

I moved into a new house earlier this year, and only recently began to feel at home there.

So last week I hauled some boxes out of the garage and began to unpack them.

Most were books that I have read and collected since I was very young.

As I lifted them onto the shelves, one after another, I began to feel like I recognized myself.

It was an unusual feeling, these books one by each revealing a different aspect of my own identity.

I began to wonder how’d I’d recognized my self before that moment. It seemed not at all.

I quickly realized that, like a lot of people, I’ve spent years cultivating an identity online, mainly in social media environments like Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr.

And I realized that the identity I had manufactured didn’t necessarily reflect who I really was. Continue reading

Google Buzz: the social media shitmix

Back when I was a high school student in North Vancouver I’d sneak into my parent’s liquor cabinet some Friday afternoons after school.

I’d pour a small (theoretically imperceptible) amount from each and every bottle there into an empty yogurt container (an example of the three R’s recycling at it’s finest).

But I wasn’t the only one who did this; most of my friends did, too.

We’d meet later in the woods on the mountainside or just on a suburban street corner somewhere to share and sample one another’s concoctions. They were all, invariably, awful.

We had one name for every recipe: shitmix.

It occurs to me that with Buzz, Google has succeeded in creating the equivalent of digital shitmix. They snuck into the liquor cabinet of their competitors and produced a nasty blend that neither smells nor tastes quite right.

A splash of Twitter, a healthy pour of Friendfeed, some Facebook, FourSquare, Brightkite, Yelp. That can’t be good for you all mixed together indiscriminately.

Like shitmix, everyone wants to sip Buzz. But unless you’re desparate for a cheap drunk with a wicked hangover, the drinking ends there.

How much is free worth to you?

Free.

It’s a word  that we take for granted these days.

It’s how we do things online.

Google, Facebook, Twitter and their ilk work hard to foster this mentality.

But it’s not altruism that guides them.

They know that what we give them is of a much greater value than the web baubles and beads they toss our way in return.

Otherwise, how would Google have turned its mediocre suite of “free” online tools and services into $4.9 billion of revenue in the last three months?

Or Twitter have sold its data stream to Microsoft and Google for $25 million?

Well, like my grandpa used to say, “There no such thing as a free lunch.”

And nothing proves that more than the modern internet.

So let’s take a peek at what “free” supposedly means online. Continue reading

Momento: The App I Wish I Could Marry

Momento Icon

Hi. My name is Andrew and I’m an appaholic.

But, as many apps as I download onto my iPhone (150 so far), I never thought you could actually fall in love with one.

And I don’t mean that cheap, metaphorical love that people have for their favourite foods like spaghetti or brussel sprouts.

I’m talking about that real love that keeps you up at night, dreaming with your eyes open. The kind that some men have for muscle cars. That women have for manicures (or so it seems).

But now I know it’s true. You can love an app. With all your heart.

I know, because I am in love. With Momento [app store link].

I’ve only known Momento a few days, but already I can’t stop thinking about it.

I love the way it gathers up all the crap I leave laying around on the internet.

It goes out and gets my updates from Facebook. It collects my tweets. It gathers my Flickr pics. And it amasses the tracks I’ve loved on last.fm.

Then it lovingly organizes them into a beautiful package that I can browse through and reflect upon.

But what’s really great is that Momento provides me with the opportunity to add new information to this very public assembly of social media brain farts with private reflections and new thoughts that I choose not to share. I can take new pictures and write new notes that stay just with me.

Yes, it’s a journal app. But the way it draws in all of the dope I dump out online, it manages to add a dimensionality to my personal history that I’ve never imagined before. It’s a fascinating way to compare what I think and what I say; what I share and what I save; my inner self and my outer self.

But it’s not just about what it does. Momento fits into that growing category of iPhone apps that are absolutely gorgeous to behold and use. This is an app of user interface splendour, and its authors have crafted it with meticulous care and attention to detail.

I love the faux-paper feel to the app that makes it so akin to a traditional journal. Check out in this screen shot how something like a piece of scotch tape attaches a flickr photo to a journal page.

The way the authors have designed the app to separate entries with subtle dotted lines and mark them with the icons of the social media sources is perfect. Amassed, as in this screenshot, you can see how by collecting snippets of activity from a variety of social media platform can provide a full picture of my behaviour over a period of time.

I also love how you can insert a photo into a private entry if you don’t want to share it online or publicly. Check out the way the authors have given the picture a retro Polaroid style and taped it to the page.

To enhance the collection of information, you can tag entries with the names of people, locations, or any sort of general word or phrase you like. And you can rate your entries with stars. So later, when you want to read all the entries you wrote about a particular person, or at a certain location, it’s a cinch to browse to that tag.

Of course, you can also search all your posts by keyword.

The only single drawback I can think of with Momento, and it’s minor, is that it’s iPhone-only. There’s an export feature to get your data off the iPhone, and of course iTunes backs up your data, so there’s almost no risk of losing your Momento data. (And you can add a passcode to to the app to protect your private entries from prying eyes.) But I’d like the option to view my previous entries and add new ones on my Mac.

And while I consider the current set of social media compatibility adequate (Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and last.fm), I’m hoping they add more in coming versions. Personally, I’d like to see support for MobileMe, WordPress and OpenFeint. And maybe YouTube; or maybe not. It’d be nice if it also hooked in events from my iPhone calendar for another dimension of my personal history.

But that’s splitting hairs.

Momento is the perfect tool to mitigate the risk of losing your life to social media. It takes that data back, and then lets you enhance it with new, private thoughts and images. Now that I have it on my iPhone, I can’t imagine ever again being without it. It’s the only app I consider absolutely essential on my iPhone and, yes, I love it.

But unlike those other guys and their muscle cars, I don’t even have to shine it up with Turtle Wax. I can naturally see my reflection in Momento.

I Love Her… She Just Doesn’t Know It. Yet.

Twitter.

Twitter twitter twitter.

It knows where she is. It tells me where she is.

I track her. She has a schedule. Sometimes I’m there to watch her.

Up at 6am. She tweets a dream.

At the gym by 6:30. It has big windows. And good parking across the street.

She tweets her burned calories.

Shower. At 7. She doesn’t tweet from the shower.

She tweets the clothes she wears sometimes. Shirts, skirts, pants.

That’s usually at about 7:20.

She usually eats light. Toast, unbuttered. Sometimes a smoothie. Or oatmeal with sliced mango.

She tweets boastfully about her diet.

It’s about 7:50 when she gets on the bus. She tweets about the weather as the bus pulls away from the stop.

I put pins on a Google Map as the bus carves out her twitter-passage through the city.

She’s off the bus at 8:23.

The wind catches her hair, ruffles her scarf.

I watch her. Continue reading