Tech and Internet

So this morning we filed a civil lawsuit in federal court against advertisers we believe have deliberately broken our rules.

~Official Google Blog: Taking rogue pharmacies to court.

It’s hard to imagine that Google doesn’t realize what douchebags this makes them sound like. I’m all for getting these kinds of pharma companies (as mentioned in the article) out of the search results. I’m all for the proper authorities working to take those companies down. What I’m not in favor of is setting a precedent that says not playing by Google’s rules is somehow illegal. Google policies are not law.

There’s a sign at my local McDonalds that says, in effect, “no shirt, no shoes, no service”. They can throw me out of the restaurant if I come in without a shirt on. What they can’t do, is take me to court for breaking their rule.

Social media is supposed to be about communication, but do people listen to you when you use the medium?

Followers, friends, connections, buddies, whatever-they’re-called-on-LinkedIn (sorry, I just can’t bother with it)… whatever they’re called on whatever services you use, they’re not what you think they are. Chances are, they’re not listeners – and you need them to be.

Let’s use Twitter terminology from here. There’s a huge difference between a follower and a listener. A follower is a statistic. A follower is merely a part of a tally found on your Twitter page. A listener is engaged. A listener takes the time to read what you put out there. A listener may not always answer your call to action, but at least he hears your call to action – a follower doesn’t.

There are lots of ways to ensure that you have a great follower-to-listener ratio. Be personable. Be passionate. Be likable – or at least notable. Be witty, funny or thought-provoking. Be interesting.

How do you ensure that nobody listens to you? Here’s two examples. Both of these people started following me, and I always check out the streams of those who follow me before following them back (or not).

Don't be these people. Nobody will listen.

On the left, someone who never interacts, and updates his status with the most inane, boring statements someone could make. On the right, someone who only ever retweets other people while occasionally posting tech headlines that are readily available from places like TechCrunch or Mashable.

Don’t be these people. More importantly, let’s send a message that this is the wrong way to use the medium by not following them back – even if you’re planning on ignoring them. Accounts with 20,000 followers that look like the above examples only encourage others.

So there’s that. Are you working to turn followers into listeners?

When the iPad was first released—has it really only been 3.5 months?—I railed against it for being nothing more than an oversized iPod Touch. I didn’t see the value of it, I didn’t see where it could fit between a smartphone and a laptop (especially if the smartphone was an iPhone and the laptop was a Macbook Pro).

The screen was too small. There was no camera. The screen wasn’t the right aspect ratio, wasn’t true HD. No multitasking. Awkward to type on. Goofy name. You know the list. You’ve been hearing it since the device was announced back in January.

But then a funny thing happened. Apple sold a few million of ’em. People in the really real world, not the bizarre faux-world that tech journalists tend to inhabit, started to give their opinions about the iPad. By and large, people love this thing. The lack of multitasking that all the tech bloggers said would kill the iPad? Didn’t matter. Remember how all the ‘experts’ said this thing was going to be a disaster?

I was down on it for less common reasons. I didn’t care that it couldn’t multitask because I was used to that on my iPhone. I didn’t care that there wasn’t a camera because I can count on one hand how many times I’ve used the camera on my Macbook Pro. The main reason I wasn’t sold on it was that I simply couldn’t imagine where and how I would use it if I already owned both an iPhone and the aforementioned Macbook Pro.

When the reports started coming in from real world users, I started to change my mind. I started to realize that a 9.7″ device could work really well in my life; I could velcro it to the wall in my kitchen for referencing recipes, I could use it to read any book ever written to my kids at night, I could use it in the car for maps like I do with my iPhone, only larger. I could do all these things with my Macbook, but mine is the 17″ model – velcro is out of the question, it’s awkward to read on while laying in bed next to the kids, and there’s no 3g access built-in, so maps in the car aren’t possible. These are only a very few of the many uses I came up with.

I started to really warm up to the idea of getting an iPad. Then I got the iPhone 4.

Now I’m back to swearing off the iPad… temporarily. You may have heard about the iPhone 4’s “Retina Display” – the device has 326ppi (that’s pixels per inch) and it looks amazing. It’s got cameras. It’s got multitasking. It’s got a lot of things that people have been bitching about for a long time. What do you think the odds are that this stuff isn’t going to be in the next iteration of iPad?

The display alone is worth the wait, to me. These things ain’t cheap, after all. I’ll wait until the announcements come for the next version of iPad – probably either before Christmas this year or early next year – and I’ll make a decision then. If there’s no retina display, no major hardware upgrades, maybe I’ll just go ahead and get one then. But if those hardware improvements are coming, I’ll feel pretty damn great about not spending my $700 on a first generation iPad. It’s not like I need one… right?