The Zen of Defriending

Seen on facebook:

Welp. There goes another Facebook friend, who decided facts about the southern border were inconvenient and did not fit her worldview, and decided that as a messenger I must be unfriended.

I’d like to remind people that “unfriending” simply means “retreat into my echo chamber”. If I was disrespectful, vitriolic, or hateful, then sure: unfriending would have a completely different meaning. But that isn’t the case. I don’t call people names. I try to respect others’ views. I don’t yell. I try to stay on-topic.

Unfriending is a retreat from thoughtful discussion. It isolates you from opinions that differ from your own. Stick to your views, respect your friends’ views, and talk to them. We need more talking

People should be free to friend or unfriend whoever they like. Freedom of Speech doesn’t mean I have to read your shit (or you, mine), and it certainly doesn’t apply to the failure pile in a sadness bowl substitute for real social interaction that is Facebook.

I never unfriended anyone on Facebook (or Twitter) until November 2016, but I never had a problem with anyone unfriending me, before or after.

Nor can I relate to those who do. Personally, it’s been quite a relief when I got defriended — my haters are pruning my social network for me! This way they can spout their shit freely without me. If, by some miracle, they have an original thought about a good programming design pattern, someone will eventually point me to it through a different avenue. I use Facebook for the baby pix and death notices and Twitter for the memes.

I suggest you feel the same/similar about being defriended, because being a butthurt snowflake when someone you don’t agree with unfriends you says more about you, then it does them.

If in our social networks we can unfriend others who are useless shits to us, if we can be happy when we are unfriended when we are useless shits to them, not only we, but everyone will profit from it. This is the most basic kind of social work.

You’re welcome. Just call me the Thich Nhat Hanh of your social network.

Awesome blogging

Earlier this week, Neil Pasricha contacted Automattic about the success of his WordPress blog, 1000 Awesome Things. This is a blog, hosted for free on and it’s very inspiring…

(Read more about it on his blog. Apparently, there is a shout out in the book somewhere around page 400 or so.)

While reading Marie’s post about iPad cases, I came across ∆Temple Bags and noticed the entire site is built on WordPress ( It reminds me of this post four years ago.

People are doing some awesome stuff with blog software. Perhaps you will be inspired (and encouraged) too.. 🙂

Mapping the Long Tail (of drinking)

It’s hard to believe it’s been over two years, since we’ve last had a Spontaneous Drinking Night—an event with only two rules: a weeknight and less than twenty four hours notice.


Spontaneous Drinking Founders (minus one)
House of Shields, South of Market, San Francisco, California

Nikon D3, Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G, SB-800
1/30sec @ f/2.2 iso3200, 50mm

Cindy Phung, Andrew Mager, and Robert Balousek. Only one founder is missing from this photo.

But Greg was visiting and House of Shields may be closing soon so we had to schedule a reunion.
Continue reading

Social media is a pencil

IMing during the announcement today:

10:22:49 AM
A—: Google Buzz

Me: ?



A—: I am not impressed

Me: Over half the shit Google makes doesn’t go anywhere
Me: I’ll wait until it catches on.
Me: Give me a summary of buzz, or blog it and give me the link 😉

A—: I wish I had a moment to blog it. It’s pretty sweet actually
A—: Here is a summary

Me: Oh it’s just a FriendFeed/Facebook knock off.
Me: That won’t fly. While I’m sure their filter will be way better than the others,
Google has gone down in a ball of flames for anything social network.

Twitter / Ed Finkler: Things that google has don ...

Ed Finkler critiques the Google Buzz buzz: “Things that google has done well: Search, ads. Things that Google has not done well: Social media. Don’t shit your pants, folks.”

Talking about something completely unrelated after lunch with P—:

“…that’s why there’s a term ‘social media douchebag’ in the first place.”

“I feel uncomfortable about talking about ‘social media,’” P— confesses.

“Why would you? It’s social media. Talking about it would be like waxing eloquent about your pencil.”

P— laughs, “That’s funny.”

“It’s just a thing you use, it’s not an end in itself.”

“You know there’s going to be a lot of social media people at South-by right?”

“That’s different, there will be a lot of people there in general. With that dilution the douchery is within acceptable limits.”

True. True.


(Full disclosure: I work on Automattic, which makes software and services in the same space as SixApart.)

Image representing Six Apart as depicted in Cr...
Image via CrunchBase

Today, TypePad announced the launch of TypePad micro, which I found out about from John Gruber’s somewhat snarky tweet.

This marks the first time (to my knowledge) that SixApart is embarking on a free hosted blogging service, so it was definitely worth a look, especially given some of the things we’ve worked on, have recently got working, and will work on at here at Automattic. Besides, free is the price I like 🙂

Registering for a new account (especially with the Facebook Connect integration) was so easy, I thought, “Wait! Where is my Staples button?


It only took seconds to create this blog using the default look and feel.

The blog, though there is some confusion as to the URL, has an aesthetically pleasing layout. It certainly seems to share a lot of influences from Twitter, WordPress P2, Pownce, etc. but the biggest influence has to be Tumblr.

Continue reading about Thoughts about TypePad micro after the jump


(Disclaimer: I work for Automattic which contributes to the development of WordPress, WordPressMU, BuddyPress, and bbPress.)

At this month’s Bay Area WordPress Meetup, there were four interesting talks. One of which wised me up to the Zemanta WordPress plugin, which I’m using now, any content creator (or Another Search Startup) should check it out—it’s quite clever.

But the presentation I want to focus on in this article, was Annie Vranizan’s Vivanista demo.

The Vivanista homepage

Vivanista is a social network for women focusing on philanthropy. Even if you don’t have a passing interest in such things, the website deserves a look, it’s quite an attractive website and built in record time—a couple of months.

Being a vertical, this is mostly the territory of white-label social networks, and more recently, Facebook. In fact, if you look at their team, it reads more like a group blog than a company.

That’s because it is.

What makes Vivanista so interesting is that it is built on WordPress MU blog publishing platform in combination with Andy Peatling’s BuddyPress plugin.

Continue reading about More about how Vivanista was created after the jump

Social gaming

Image representing Zynga as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

There was an interesting article in the New York Times about FarmVille. The only major error I have to comment on is that, given my experience at Tagged, saying Zynga is profitable is a massive understatement.

I think it’s instructive how companies like Slide and RockYou could have been so slow to capitalize on game designs that date back to 1980’s bulletin board systems. Perhaps they’ll study that in b-school. With 20-20 hindsight, this model does complete sense—interaction and bandwidth limitations are pretty much the same relative to the existing technology in each time period are strikingly similar in both BBSs and social networks. And just to further emphasize that it was not first mover that defined success, but rather failure to capitalize, I’ll remind the audience that neither FarmVille nor Mafia Wars were original ideas on Facebook—both were swiped from competitor products.

I will give Zynga (and the others) this. They have a far more mature understanding of social virality than the days of Plaxo, Tagged, or even RockYou/Slide. Earlier social gaming (like the first such app, Zombies) used traditional models based on optimizing signups and invites, but the Zynga model is optimizing views and clicks and they’re doing a good job. Remember, FarmVille only launched in June and now is all over the Times.


This is Mafia Wars, Zynga’s copy of Mob Wars. Note the use of various promotions to cater to instincts of people to bring their eyeballs here daily — gambling with daily chance, limited time offers and jobs, cross selling their other applications like Farmville, etc.On this screenshot showing a fold and a half of content, you only see one “social” touch point (at the bottom). That’s because the social aspect is only used like e-mail for messaging—and even then, only for notifications because real interaction like in Diplomacy or Chess would need much more brainpower than simply clicking.


Clicks are optimized here; social interaction is minimal here.

Trust me, they make a lot of money off of this.

Before any of us start rationalizing, part of learning is admitting when someone does it better than you. Hats off to Zynga.

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GDGT launch

gdgt is a gadget-based social network that hosted a launch party today since I had an invite, I thought I’d stop by. Alas, the line was long!

Outside the GDGT launch

Outside the GDGT launch
DNA Lounge, South of Market, San Francisco, California

Nikon D3, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D
1/60sec @ f/5 iso200, 50mm

View On Black

The line was so long, I didn’t go in. It was between a Costco hotdog and this, the hotdog won. (I’m sure it was a great event, and the line moved fast.) In any case, I should have known better—I guess the reason I rarely see my friends in the gadget industry is…these things are popular!

One of these days, maybe I’ll avail myself to the multiple opportunities to cut in line. No matter, I’ve seen the inside of DNA lounge before.

(My user profile on gdgt.)

Continue reading about the postprocessing of this image after the jump

Third time is not the charm

I got an e-mail today:


Good afternoon, I wanted to touch base with you about an opportunity in ____, CA. I thought you might be a nice fit for the role. Let me know if you or someone you know might be interested.

Position Summary: _____ Site Architect

_____ is looking for an exceptional and highly motivated infrastructure architect with a strong track record of designing and developing multi-tiered web applications that are high quality, scalable, and reliable. We prefer generalists who have driven feature development at every layer of the stack.

I actually applied for a job there twice: once in 2003 just before I joined Plaxo, and once in 2006, just before I joined Tagged. Both times I was desperate for a job, both times I applied for positions beneath my qualifications, both times I was rejected in an unprofessional manner, both times represented watershed moments in _____’s future direction.

I should mention that _____ is no company to laugh at: in 2003, it was one of the hottest companies on the internet. Even in 2006, it was still many times larger than Tagged. How about now? Traffic Details—Alexa

Comparing ____ (in blue) to the site I’m the architect of (in red).

No, I don’t think I’ll apply for this job.

Continue reading about An IM conversation and some advice after the jump