Posts Tagged ‘facebook’

29th August
2012
written by Jeff

I know, it’s been a while, but the truth is I didn’t want to write a long rant on Facebook and this seems the best place for it, even if it is so long abandoned it feels like a ghost town. Woooooooooo…

This image was posted on Facebook today by a photography group called Light Stalking. It was reposted by a friend and I added a couple of comments. It dovetails nicely into an argument I’ve had with people for the last five to ten years about the suspicion and even outright disdain many show for experts. I’ve noticed it a lot in music and photography, but it is clearly visible in science, for example, as well. The recent gaffe by Todd Akin would be a good example.

For the purposes of this particular post, I’m going to focus on photography and the idea that it isn’t the gear that makes a photographer good, but the skill of the photographer and I agree in the most simplistic sense that the logic is accurate. There is no more annoying comment to a photographer than, “That’s a beautiful photo. You must have a nice camera.” Um, yeah, dipshit, that’s what it was. It had nothing to do with my abilities, just a really expensive camera.

It reminded me of a gig years ago. After I got done playing, another musician approached me impressed with the sound of my bass. She and another person had been debating what made it sound so good. They speculated I tuned it differently or that the bass and/or amp were very expensive, none of which was true and, when I told them this, they just shrugged and said, “Yeah, we couldn’t figure it out.” I guess it’s not possible that it was THE MOTHERFUCKER PLAYING THE BASS.

Anyhoo…

My only concern with the logic in the graphic is the implication that anyone with an iPhone can be Ansel Adams. It is true that great photos can be taken with very inexpensive and technologically inferior equipment. People have been doing it for decades. There were wondrous images embossed on tin types from the 1800s that were taken with something akin to a magnifying glass attached to a cardboard box.

However, as I pointed out in the post on Facebook, NASA astronauts traveled to the moon using technology not even powerful enough to power a decent calculator today, but it doesn’t mean they would pass on using modern technology now simply because they COULD do without.

The essence of being great at anything is the ability to combine real talent with creativity, intelligence, work ethic and the right tools for the job. The best athletes to ever play sports had serious talent, competitive drive like few others, incredible awareness on the court or field and constantly evolving creativity. But, they were also blessed with real, God-given machinery in the form of musculature and reflexes that the vast majority of us simply don’t have. Their equipment was vastly superior and they spent their lives learning how to master the use of it.

In photography, the best of the best not only take great shots, they know how to replicate them and how to react quickly to changing environments. And, yes, they could probably take a substantially better photo with an iPhone than a novice could with a $3000 camera, but pros don’t show up at photo shoots with point-and-shoot cameras because they want to be able to have every tool at their disposal. You COULD build a house with a hammer and hand saw, but why wouldn’t you use power tools if they were available to you?

I guess this sort of thing tweaks me because I know how much time and effort and money is put into being great at something and it is often overlooked because technology has expanded so dramatically in the last decade. Virtually anyone can make music or shoot photos or create logos or manage a sports team using modern technology, but it doesn’t mean they can do those things well.

And even if someone produces a stunning work of art with a mobile phone, that doesn’t make him/her a great artist. A great artist could do it again and again and again. To reference sports again, it isn’t a single great performance that defines and athlete. It is the ability to duplicate and even improve on that performance over and over and over again. Photographers are no different.

This is not to discourage anyone from following their creative instincts. In fact, just the opposite. If you like to take pictures, GREAT! Welcome to the club. But bear in mind that while gear isn’t the be-all-end-all of photography, it is an essential aspect of growing both as a skilled technician and an artist. Very few true artists are able to do what they do without the benefit of good gear. Maybe you are one of those exceptions, but it is more likely your best bet is to get some good equipment and learn how to use it.

It won’t necessarily make you great, but it will make it tougher to suck.

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1st April
2010
written by Jeff

It might come as a surprise to some of you, but I actually went to high school. I know that you all think I was sprung forth from some educational demi-god free from the fetters of our antiquated education system, but, no, much like the rest of you beautiful peons, I too suckled at the teat of the American education system. Now, mine was at a private school because my parents think all kids in public school are dirty, lice-infested heathens (I agree with them, but I’d never say it out loud…wait…).

Since my graduation, I’ve remained friends with a small handful of classmates, mostly people I’d known for many years prior to graduation. Like the rest of the normal world, I keep up with them via Facebook. However, many moons ago (that’s Native American for like 50 years I think), I signed up for the wretched Classmates.com. In fairness, I was really just looking to see how many people had gotten fatter than me (hint: all of them), what former hot chicks were on the rebound after their divorce and what percentage of them lived in a trailer with their “grand babies.”

At first, there weren’t really any people on there. A couple had added themselves, but this was only months after the internet overtook the abacus for computing power. Over time, I grew to ignore Classmates.com like pretty much everyone else. When Facebook came along, I pretty much forgot it existed. Then, I got this email saying that a bunch of people had posted to my guestbook.

First off, who calls it a “guestbook” anymore? What is this, 1997? Second, I was shocked I was even still ON that site.

Out of morbid curiosity, I clicked the provided link and I got this:

Classmates.com Fail

Let me try and point out the many sad problems with this screen capture.

Note not one but TWO ads for dating sites. Seriously? I guess some of you perverts get so jacked up from seeing a former girl you made out with and got a cursory under-the-shirt-but-over-the-bra boob grab after fifth period in the janitor’s closet that you need to go cruise the dating sites for some action. It’s sad, really, but no surprising for a weirdo like you. You’re so creepy. Ok, that’s it, you’re banned!

Besides the two dating ads, there are two ads for how to sign up for Classmates.com’s paid service. Much like Craigslist destroyed newspaper classified advertising, Classmates.com hanging onto paid subscriptions years after Facebook sent them to the internet graveyard with Geocities and that light saber wielding YouTube kid, is both sad and desperate. If you actually pay for this service, perhaps I can interest you in music from this hot new band Wang Chung or maybe we can get together sometime and watch Magnum PI.

The saddest part is the blurring of the names and the giant question mark over the photos. Wanna see? Subscribe! Um, no thank you. If my former classmates can’t find me at JeffBalke.com or facebook.com/jeffbalke or twitter.com/jeffbalke or myspace.com/jeffbalke or by doing a Google search for my name, then I’m pretty sure they were either hit on the head by a baseball bat rendering them to a vegetative state and unable to even read or they are still on dial-up and think internet searches are controlled by a secret world government that worships Satan and pushes a radical homosexual agenda on toddlers. Either way there is no hope for them and un-blurring their names would simply serve to deepen my sadness for their situation.

Thanks, Classmates.com, for reminding me that old, broken paradigms can still exist with lots of wasted venture capital and unsuspecting people who still don’t know their Google from their Outlook. I have to run now. The Rockford Files is on.

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3rd September
2009
written by Jeff

Pee on FacebookLately, I’ve read (yeah, I read!) a number of stories about how people hate Twitter or hate Facebook and how, clearly, this means they suck and people are abandoning them in droves. There was a story (you can look up the link if you want, but I’m lazy) written by a teenager about how no one his age uses Twitter.

If this were posted on someone’s blog, I would casually dismiss it as the rantings of some person who poo poo’s such things – and by poo poo’s I mean actually defecates on his computer.

But, these are respected media outlets we’re talking about. The latest is from the New York Times Magazine and it is hilarious not because of what it says but because of how it contradicts itself and still pontificates as if the very statistics it quoted mean nothing.

The exodus is not evident from the site’s overall numbers. According to comScore, Facebook attracted 87.7 million unique visitors in the United States in July. But while people are still joining Facebook and compulsively visiting the site, a small but noticeable group are fleeing — some of them ostentatiously.

I’m sorry, but WHAT THE FUCK? Oh, sure, millions upon millions of people visit the site every day and millions more join every month. Yeah, I GUESS you could say that all those millions who post stuff on there constantly exemplify Facebook’s success, but I KNOW PEOPLE!!!

Seriously, NYT, are you kidding? I’m not in love with any form of social media (though Twitter and I lust for one another routinely and, oh, is she good…ahem), but the “I know people that hate it, so it must suck and be failing” is the dumbest argument on the planet. It’s the difference between statistical evidence and anecdotal and even a nimrod (that’s right, NIMROD!) can generally figure out the difference.

I have discussed sports online for many years because I’m a nerd for it and I often run across people who know very little about a given sport, so they talk about things they don’t understand but do it as if they do. “The problem is that they don’t run the pick and roll enough. I watched the game and I only saw it run once!!!” Look, Naismith, if you actually KNEW the game of basketball, you’d realize they probably ran a dozen or more different versions of the pick and roll in the FIRST HALF.

It’s that “my neighborhood is going to hell, so the whole world must be too.” This sense of over-exaggeration that seems to have proliferated with the birth of the internet that is so damn irritating. Everyone thinks they know more than everyone else just because they can point a mouse to a website and read a couple paragraphs of information.

I’ve got to imagine doctors must be PISSED about diagnosis sites. How many people you think fill up waiting rooms thinking they are dying when they really just have paranoid delusions? My bet is a lot.

We’re living in the era of the amateur and, as a result, people are skeptical of experts. They see conspiracy in complication and overload themselves with information that they probably can’t understand because they don’t have the experience or knowledge to fully grasp the concepts, but they think that because they can read some idiots lunatic scribblings on the internet, they have cornered the market on knowledge and common sense.

Leif Harmsen, once a Facebook user, now crusades against it. Having dismissed his mother’s snap judgment of the site (“Facebook is the devil”), Harmsen now passionately agrees. He says, not entirely in jest, that he considers it a repressive regime akin to North Korea, and sells T-shirts with the words “Shut Your Facebook.”

Yeah, clearly LEIF is a source of reliable information when it comes to Facebook.

Nice job, NYT. Thanks for perpetuating the stupidity you once tried so valiantly to avoid. But, I guess if it’s on the web, it MUST be true, right?

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1st June
2009
written by Jeff

When uploading something on Facebook today, I was confronted with this verify image:

Religion Cuthbert

Look, I think Elisha is as hot as anyone, but I’m not sure I’d make a religion out of her. Ok, maybe 5, 10 minutes tops.

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5th January
2009
written by Jeff

A very Facebook ChristmasWhat do you do on Christmas Eve when it is cold and snowing outside and your family has made its last post-dinner tech support request to fix their VCR (sigh)? I wouldn’t know because it didn’t snow on Christmas and I consider VCR’s the tools of the devil and won’t touch them for fear my hands will turn to ash. It’s in the Bible, look it up.

But, if you live in some God-forsaken cold place like Detroit or Canada, your last nerdy refuge over the holidays was apparently Facebook.

On December 24, social networking site Facebook saw its most traffic ever within the United States, according to new data from Hitwise. That tops Facebook’s previous record, which was set in July.

Facebook set a similar record on Christmas Day in the United Kingdom, and MySpace had unusually high traffic too. In Hitwise’s blog post reporting the numbers, analyst Heather Hopkins offers three possible explanations — crummy weather, boredom, and the urge to send holiday greetings to your friends.

Twitter experienced the surge as well because, let’s face it, most of your friends are probably online anyway, and by friends, I mean porn sites, and by online, I mean imaginary.

I’m sure most of you guys were on Facebook Super Poking people (and not in the fun way) and sending people imaginary gifts to go under their virtual trees, which would be sweet if it weren’t so sad.

You may have BriteKited your location to Twitter as “North Pole” just to get a chuckle out of your friends who don’t care or hit on an 18-year-old MySpacer who is really 14 and told her you are 20 when you’re really 35, which, in reality, is probably normal behavior for you.

If you were old school, you probably IM’d some girl on Yahoo chat – by girl I mean, 37-year-old man who lives in his mom’s basement – to “hit you up if she is interested in a Ho Ho Ho filled Holiday” or flooded your IRC channel with “All Your Christmas, Are Belong to Me” messages.

Whatever your flava, the truth is that the internet allows nerds like us to escape the more depressing elements of the holidays like:

  • Petty family squabbles like when Aunt Mildred took her teeth out at the table and put them in the mashed potatoes to keep them warm.
  • Lonely nights like when you sat at home and watched A Christmas Story 10 times in a row while eating raw cookie dough and candy corn you had leftover from Halloween when not even kids would come to your door because you scare children.
  • Being away from loved one’s like your blow up doll that you left at home when you came to visit relatives because you thought they’d find it “weird” and put you back in the hospital with the happy pills.
  • Abject sadness like finding out your mom’s house doesn’t have wi-fi or even a broadband connection and you’re stuck “talking” to family and reading something people call “books” whatever the hell those are.

Thanks to Twitter, Facebook and MySpace (assuming you are a band, a hooker or a pedophile), it was a holly jolly Christmas for all the nerds across the land. God tweet us, every one!

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