Saturday, January 20, 2018

The Taxonomy of Facebook

I went to library school because I really like helping people find things and connecting people with books is somthing I’ve always enjoyed. I thought I would be traditional academic librarian though during library school I fell in love with taxonomies. (An organized structure that broke down information into separate atomized categories really spoke to me a cellular level.) I have since drifted away from doing regular taxonomy work though I still love the practice and was thus intrigued when my wife and I were listening to a recent Reply All episode where an unusual taxonomy came up.

The hosts tried to debunk the often compelling myth that Facebook is secretly spying on you and they mention how Facebook categorizes users into different groups depending on the data we provide Facebook as well as our activity.

How you find the specific results is a follows: Login to Facebook -> Access Settings -> Ads -> Your Information -> Review and Manage Your Categories.

Looking thru my data it is fairly comprehensive in terms of content depth and breadth. There is information on how I access Facebook (device/browser) as well as interest oriented categories that appear to be faceted (Parents - All, Parents - Toddlers). Once you have the categories you can then select them and the types of ads that are aligned with that category. (You can also confirm or not whether this category is not something you’re in fact interested in too. If you don’t confirm you’re interested in a topic the system will remove it from your profile.) The taxonomy appears to be controlled and undergoing changes (one of the terms changed in the past two weeks since I first listened to this podcast and as of this writing).

I found the taxonomy really interesting though it definitely reenforces that Facebook is a Ad platform that happens to host your content. I would recommend everyone access Facebook to check out the categories they’ve been assigned and make sure you’re comfortable with the arrangement. I personally have gotten value from Facebook Ads. I have products that are useful and the big-brotherness is outweighed by the service it provides. I definitely post on Facebook as though it was public as even if you limit the privacy settings to limit the access Facebook still knows and it could affect your ad profile now or in the future.

Monday, January 1, 2018

2017 Comes to An End

I have been trying to figure out a year end post for a few weeks now and it has not been easy. There was some potential in a post hardrive failure since my MacBook died (see my earlier post)last month that didn’t really have the gravitas I was looking for in a last post of the year. In terms of hard numbers, I wrote sixteen posts this year on mostly Apple related topics and with one on professional development and another on e-books. I had hoped to write more in 2017 though it has come out about the same as in prior years. I would also like to move away from writing about Apple as much and more about embedded librarianship, which is something I am more bullish about and where I can add something to the space. There is plenty of commentary (both good and bad) about Apple already on the internet writ large and I don’t have volumes to add to that discourse. I will probably still write about my laptop odyssey though and also will still write about Apple announcements as I follow the space.

While I want to reiterate my goal to write more in 2018 I am less sure about the blogs place in that content distribution. One of my favorite writers, John Scalziwhose work I rather enjoy had a great post earlier this year about how visitors had dropped significantly to his personal blog since 2012 and his conclusions were that blogs are fading from the distribution channels in favor of social media. As someone who is a firm believer of owning your own domain name and having control over your content this makes me though is not surprising. My generation grew up setting up their first website via Geocities/Lycos and the latest generation has always had closed platforms like a Facebook or Twitter. To be fair, I am on both these platforms and enjoy them though you don’t really have a lot of control over your content once it is pushed into the environment. For instance, Twitter has been rumored to be in trouble for awhile and if it were to go away as a platform the content you put into it would be gone in its current format. I push all my content onto those platforms though the website has always been “home base” for my writing. If this were not a blog I don’t know how this site for function. I personally like it as blog though clearly the trends are moving more toward closed platforms.

This blog has always been an avid experiment so to that end, I am going to spend 2018 experimenting with other types of writing beyond the blog. I am going to be writing a monthly newsletter about genre comic books/graphic novels, tv shows/movies and other types of entertainment. I will probably try to push out a post with each issue to tie it back into the blog so if you miss one you can find it here.

I have another project or two that I hope to work on in coming year and as those come to fruition or move further along I will talk more about them.