Monthly Archives: June 2011

Does anyone else’s Google look like this?

Here’s an interesting results page I got today. I think they’re rolling out some new theming.

UPDATE: Thanks to Chris – it was apparently due to signing up to be notified when Google Plus launches, since apparently I’m still not activated there yet…


Contests that require Facebook/Twitter or How Facebook excludes the poor from its API

OK, this is getting old. Today I received an email from Amazon about a “contest” to win a digital camera. I read it, and it sounded interesting, so I clicked the link in the email and arrived at .. Facebook.

The contest rules are simple – “Like” the contest on Facebook for a chance to win. That way, they can bombard your Facebook account with advertising until the end of time, and learn lots of personal details about you. As someone who doesn’t have Facebook or Twitter (I use identi.ca – isn’t that good enough?), I’m actually a bit annoyed that these choices completely limit my entrance into contests (or anything for that matter). This also applies to websites that only allow logins with Facebook Connect. I haven’t encountered one of these yet, luckily, but I have encountered quite a few that allow Facebook Connect and not OpenID, which is an older and better system.

The real issue isn’t contests or logins, though. This tit-for-tat companies are doing for “friending” them or “tweeting” about them makes business sense, and legitimately makes them more money. Yet, participating in all of this basically makes you a living commercial, posting a Bounty ad between your deep emo thoughts on twitter. Is that how you want the internet to be? More emo blogginess after these messages from my sponsor? It’s already happened to basically every video online – content has ceased to be free. A small portion of us wish for an internet like it was a few years ago, when YouTube didn’t have Mormon ads in videos (and if it did, you could block them because they were text).

I think there should be some sort of benefit for people who won’t sell out to internet advertising campaigns. Right now, the only benefit is pride. It’s hard to prove that you never sign into Facebook, but it’s easy to prove you never tweet advertisements. The only way I can think of to counter this trend is to have a large number of sites post some javascript/flash that scans for a logged-in facebook user, and take some action if it finds one. This action could be replacing all content with advertising, just logging the event for future use, redirect them to facebook, etc. Even if a small percentage of sites did this, surfing the internet without logging out of Facebook first would be quite annoying.

I just looked into using the Facebook Javascript API to do this, and it looks like you (surprise!) need a Facebook account to use it, since you need to register your “app” and request an API key. Time to abuse my wife’s account! Oh wait!

OK, this is seriously stupid. To use an API, I have to give Facebook my credit card or mobile phone number? How exclusionary! We wouldn’t want any financially responsible poor people to be able to use our API, now would we? What a terrible thing to do. It’s not even worth it. I give up. Delete your Facebook account now.