Cambridge Analytica and Facebook Inspired Me to Take Back My Data

I’ve been blogging on this site for almost 20 years now, and over that time I’ve tried just about every platform, every option there is, and have ended up back where I started. Over the last few years I’ve let my blog sit on the wordpress.com “free” site, while I took a break for the most part, while I tried out and contributed to other sites like Medium and all those other free content based sites.

Blogging has changed so much over the last 20 years, but it is still alive and well, and makes up a good bit of the knowledge base of the internet. I like to think I had a small part in that back in the early 90’s when I posted my first pages on a site called Concentric.net, my url address at the time was http://www.concentric.net/~sfillmer but is long long gone (previously Nextlink Communications, Concentric Network Corporation and Allegiance Telecom, Inc. is now a telecommunications company owned by XO Holdings, Inc, which is now owned by Verizon).

I wrote a post about 6 years ago now called WORDPRESS SELF HOSTED VS WORDPRESS.COM HOSTED BLOG PROS CONS :: REVIEW which detailed out the difference between the .org and the free .com and while it’s been nice not having to worry about malware and other attacks, I’ve come full circle and determined that with anything “free” there is a cost. Don’t let the “free” sites fool you into thinking their platform is free. Everything always has a cost, there is always an exchange for the free. It could be privacy, rights to market your own content, creatives rights, somewhere there is a cost to you and a way the “free” platform makes their money (otherwise they wouldn’t exist unless they were some government funded platform or something and then you have a whole different kind of cost, just look at China’s biggest social media platform).

This is so obvious when it comes to platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Medium, and perhaps to a lessor extent WordPress.com, where anything you create on those platforms belongs to them. The exchange is you get to use a cool platform for free, and anything you contribute becomes part of their bottom line.

This is how the internet has worked for a long time now, and I know moving my site back to where I control my own data and content won’t change that, but at least I will have control of my own created content. So, it was messy, but I moved the DNS servers over, I deleted my mapping on wordpress.com, changed from an IP4 to an IP6 (my ISP has issues with this), and did the whole export/import thing. It’s still going to be a mess for a while, but I can now ftp into my own files, change them, alter them in any way I wish, market them, and screw them up.

After the news came out about Cambridge Analytica scandal this week it really made up my mind to take back over all my content and start having ftp access to my data once again. So thanks Facebook, thanks Cambridge Analytica, and while I can’t quit Facebook outright because of my job as Director of Communications, I can at least not give you every last bit of my data content.

Does this ultimately change anything for people to profit off others content, nope, but at least I have control of my own created content. I’m not sure what this means for this site. As blogging has changed over the last 20 years so have my interests and things I’d write about today aren’t the same as they were. In some ways my interests have grown, or outgrown some areas, and I love to test out that 10,000 hour rule and its validity with different things. Instead of focusing time and attention on the social media sites, I’m going to use that time to be here instead. I moved over here to create and be creative, to inspire and be inspired. Wherever that leads.

5 Descriptions of What Makes a Great Tweet on Twitter

What Makes a Great Tweet

This Actually is My 20,000th Tweet

This post is actually going to mark my 20,000th tweet on Twitter since I joined back on November 1st, 2007. Over that period of 5 years I have tweeted approximately 10 times a day, from 3 different countries, on 3 different continents, posted approximately 1,000 original images, and 1,000 original blog posts, while following around 1,000 unique very specific individuals. In honor of this pointless historical marker I have published my next list, 50 Reasons Why I Still Love Twitter, and give you 5 examples of what makes up my favorite tweets below. By the way, the Twitter favorites (star) is the greatest ever feature of twitter, and you can even create your own rss feed for your favorites list.

Twitter as an Essential Tool

Twitter has become an essential tool of our culture, and that’s where Twitter gets it’s power, it’s a tool, and a useful one. My very first post about Twitter on my blog back in 2008 asked just that question, Is Twitter Really a Useful Tool for Your Business? While that post is now far outdated, at the time, I really didn’t know the answer to that question. Back then people would tell me I don’t want to know what you are having for lunch, but now Twitter can facilitate changes to governments like we saw in Egypt and elsewhere, it’s gone beyond expectations. Many still choose to ignore it’s significance, but the power of Twitter has an almost undeniable usefulness the world has never seen.

What Makes a Great Tweet

So what makes a great tweet? Harvard Business Review did this study on just that very subject, and provided their results in this superb graphic shown above on what makes a great tweet and what makes the worst tweet. Overall, their conclusions seem to be spot on, but it can also be summed up in saying the overall best tweet is one that leads to something else. It provides some useful piece of information, or some unique insight such as this post I came across yesterday, What Would Peter Tweet?, and then leads the reader to take some action. So here are five descriptions that makes an overall great tweet.

  1. One that calls you to an action of some kind
    This can be anything from going to buy a pair of shoes from Toms because they do good things to doing the mundane
  2. A tweet that sends you to something bigger than the tweet itself
    Many times this can be as simple as providing a link to a book that the majority of your readers may not be familiar with, often this is a link to a news article or a blog post that will send the reader off to another site other than twitter
  3. A message that gives the reader some unique insight into your own personal life
    Too many tweets are party line tweets, whatever that party line is for you. It could be theology, it could be politics, or just pick something, but this is meaningless without being able to get to know the writer. All business and no play makes for a boring repetitive tweets.
  4. One that asks a question of the reader
    It doesn’t have to be a hard question, it just needs to invoke a response from the reader. This can be totally overdone, but this creates interaction, and that creates community, and Twitter is a community of followers and followees.
  5. One that shares a general piece of knowledge or information
    This is the biggie for me. There is so much noise on the internet and in the world today. Provide me with some useful knowledge about my faith, about the world we live in, about how other people live, about different unfamiliar communities. Twitter’s greatest power comes from its free flow sharing of information and knowledge, and this is the great advantage to society as a whole.

The worst tweets, totally not worth reading, are those that are complaining about something else or someone else. I personally can’t stand reading tweets from my followers who only say what’s wrong with this person or that (even if that actually is the case), and I will often quickly unfollow that user. Give us some insight into your life, in a positive way, and send us on our way better than when we came.

Some Recent Examples of Great Tweets

Those are just a few examples of great tweets from my most recent favorites list, and there you have it. My 20,000th tweet 740 words instead of 140 characters. Coincidentally, much of what makes a great tweet also makes a great blog post as well, but that’s for another day.

10 Reasons To Learn Social Media if You Are a Christian

Scott Fillmer on Facebook

I decided to start a series of sorts on social media and how we the people of the church body use, don’t use, or outright diss the majority of the world at this point. I’m hereafter coining this series of sorts as the SMFT (Social Media, Facebook, and Twitter) discussion. Part of the necessity of this discussion comes after reading some of Viral: How Social Networking Is Poised to Ignite Revival by Leonard Sweet (or @lensweet), which I would highly recommend to anyone, but should almost be required reading for anyone born prior to 1985. I have written on this many times before, but I do so now mainly because there are still some in the church today who continue ignore this medium, which has now become the most powerful tool in the world to connect with other people.

Much of the premise behind Viral is to bring the older generations of believers (that is those born prior to about 1985) into the fold of understanding in the world we live in today. It is far easier to say “I’m not part of the world, the culture, the depravity of our society,” and ignore everything our world has become, even though we do still live in the world. We are supposed to be the salt and light to the world, not to be just the salt and light to the baby boomers. Many of us do ignore the power of social media in our calling as Christians to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20).

How in the world can we make disciples if we don’t know and understand the different forms of social media like Facebook and Twitter? So you say I’m on Facebook, got that covered… well, I would say Facebook is the most closed, the least evangelically available social media tool there is. You can close yourself off in Facebook by locking every aspect of your Facebook account and never be heard from again, what type of witness is that? Did you know that most younger generations are moving away from Facebook at this point (partly because we are now on there). It’s extremely important to get beyond Facebook and into other areas like Instagr.am, Pinterest, Foursquare, FlickrSpotify, YouVersion, Kindle Books (yes it’s social), blogging, texting, and various avenues on Twitter.

[On a side note… if you are only on Facebook, you are not a part of the social media revolution, this is basically pseudo social networking at best. I say this because Facebook is close to reaching saturation levels. Facebook has become like the telephone or cable TV of the 80’s. Once everyone is on there who wants to be on there it’s growth is all but flatlined. I don’t mean if you aren’t on there yet, you shouldn’t get on there, and fast, but If you are only willing to get into one single social site, I would not recommend it be Facebook, I would first make it a smart phone, where you can learn how to access everything the world now takes for granted.]

So, if you are a believer, and think this social media thing is going to go away, I’m sorry, it’s only going to get more and more ingrained into the very fabric of the world we live in. In another 5-10 years it will encompass the world’s population, except for those who ignore it’s existence. For us the church to ignore social media is akin to the church ignoring electrical power and the car when they were invented, choosing instead to stick with candles and horses.

10 Reasons To Learn Social Media if You Are a Christian

  1. Jesus would have used this media (this is a later post, but I will show from Scripture why this is the case)
  2. We are called to disciple the world, and the world is connected via social media
  3. If you don’t learn the basics, instead of you teaching your kids, your kids will be teaching you at some point
  4. By the time you are ready it will be too late (it’s already quite late as it is)
  5. Your target audience are all sitting right there waiting for your witness
  6. How many people in your neighborhood have your talked to (witnessed to) lately?
  7. Door to door is dead. Buried… and greatly frowned upon in our society. Social networking is the norm.
  8. The disciples used every tool to their advantage (they wrote books and distributed them)
  9. The Bible is the greatest social media tool every created, it’s meant to be socially shared
  10. Because there are lost people who do not know Jesus and you may be their only connection

So there you have it. That’s just a start. I didn’t put a lot of references, or other specifics as to where my ideas came from, I will put those in future SMFT posts, and those 10 reasons are just off the top of my head, I’m sure there are a ton more. I beg the church body to not let itself become irrelevant in such an overwhelming way as to not be able to reach our world today. We make disciples by investing in people’s lives, and more than any other time in the history of the world, we have access to more people, to discuss the good news of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ with more people, than any generation who ever lived before us.

A Milestone in Blogging with My 1000th Blog Post :: Poll

Scott Fillmer Self Portrait

Artificial as this milestone may be, this is actually my 1,000th blog post on this blog! I set a goal a few years ago on My List that I wanted to post 1,000 blog posts, and after about 10 years of blogging, I have hit that with this post. When I think about 1,000 blog posts, it really doesn’t seem like that many, but if you do one blog post a day, never missing a day, it would take 3 years to create that many articles. Since I rarely ever posted every single day, it took me about 10 years to produce 1,000 blog posts, most of which came within the last 4-5 years. I’m pleased to have stuck with it this long, and I’m still learning more and more about blogging, writing, and the topics posted here every day.

Since I’m a numbers kind of thinker it is amazing to see what kind of history you can build when you consistently post over an extended period of time. [On a side note: in actuality this works with just about anything in life that you consistently, and continuously work at over an extended period of time. Anything from the compounding of interest in saving money to a consistent walk with Christ, growing in faith little by little, builds up piece by piece to collectively make something far larger than the size of its pieces. The problem with that, and the great challenge to us today in our immediate satisfaction culture, is that it takes time to build something of value, and we don’t want to take the time, or invest the time, to accomplish this. It can’t be done overnight or immediately, it is only achieved through building up over an extended period of time.]

So over time, within the 1,000 blog posts, there was over 1 million spam messages blocked, almost 500,000 words written, over 397,200 individual click-throughs using 3,197 tags, and 2,731 comments made. The busiest day over the past 10 years was October 11th, 2011 when I posted The Challenge of Being Salt and Light in the Darkness from one of the toughest days in Uganda, and the most viewed post ever over the 1,000 posts was (and still is) a review on a damaged kindle screenI wrote years ago. The most commented and heated conversations on this blog came from, what I thought at the time was a rather mild posting of the lyrics to U2’s Hawkmoon, Jesus, I need Your Love, Hawkmoon, which launched into a debate about God, atheism, and homosexuality, which really had nothing to do with the original post in the first place.

With all that said, I would love to know which category is your favorite between the 4 plus 1 of Faith, Photography, Journal, Tech, and then Sidenotes. Just from the traffic I pretty much understand which category the most viewed, but I am always trying to learn more about my beloved blog readers, so I would love for you to chose your favorite category from the poll below.

Even though I have been blogging for 10 years, I am still continually trying to learn how to create the best unique, genuine, and fresh spot on the web I can from my own personal experiences. Thanks to my readers, and everyone who has encouraged me along the way, I put on this shirt today just for you!

Repeating the Same Message Dilutes It’s Value

This is the industry standard for information today. Repeat, repeat, repeat, the message so many times that at some point it will finally sink into the person’s mind, unless of course you are one of those who hears the message the first time, then turns off every next repetition. There is actually a negative term for this, which some people call numbness of frequency.

I really get tired at times of people and organizations that continually repeat the same message over and over again on commercials, marketing, their blogs, twitter, facebook and the like. I really like to get to know some of these people I read or follow on a more personal level, but when all they can do is continue to repeat their party line, whatever that is to them, in some ways it dilutes the message they are trying to send out.

Obviously the message is important but finding ways to provide some variety, or allow others to get a more personal view of themselves goes a long way to providing trust and value. Just a little variety once in a while would be great. I try to keep this in mind myself whenever I write anything so my message is more about what is going on with me personally, i really don’t think my readers, whoever they are, want to read about Auburn football every single time they see a post from me, and I would love to read some variety from those people who have none, just sayin.

Cold Day of Code and Godin's Tribes :: Friday Feet

Scott Reading Tribes

Scott Reading Tribes

Today was supposed to be a day off but it was so cold outside today that I ended up just looking at code all day long (which was better than going outside).  So I took my friday feet photo today of what I had planned on doing today, sitting back and reading a book.  That didn’t happen but I was able to get moving on a few blogs and website development projects (the shoes in the pic are just for effect since each week I am wearing the same shoes).

I am in the middle of reading two books right now, Tribes and Unleashing The Idea Virus, both written by Seth Godin (his blog).  Some how I ended up reading both of these books at the same time.  Unleashing The Idea Virus was written first and Tribes is making more sense after reading some of Idea Virus.  I will be posting a review of one or both once I get through reading them, but so far they are both excellent.

I am about to finish my first two full months at the church and now I am really starting to get into the grit of my position.  Once the new website is launched over the next week or two it will really be a start to what I hope is going to be a strong Internet presence in the months and years to come for the church.  I am really excited about how it is starting to come together, and today I spent a good bit of time getting to know the code a little better.

After looking at coding for about 12 hours Deb and I went out to eat at a (very) local restraunt called Good ‘Ol Boys.  Tomorrow the Auburn Basketball team takes on Vandy in the next SEC matchup for the Tigers.  Doesn’t look like it is going to be any warmer, some are actually calling for snow on Monday night, yikes.