I don’t have a Facebook account. Considering that half a billion people do, that makes me pretty strange indeed, especially among my group of decidedly tech-savvy friends and acquaintances. Once upon a time, my reasoning for closing my account seemed pretty solid. I was worried about the privacy implications of a site that is constantly changing its terms of service and actively working to make it hard for people to hide their information from its real customers, the advertisers who pay for access to users’ information.
Since then however, I’ve become a huge proponent of Twitter, kept up my own website here, written extensively over at The Linux Experiment, and started a podcast with a few friends called SlightlySauced. I may indeed be guilty of oversharing, and my original reasons for leaving Facebook now sound silly, considering how much content I create for the Internet without the help of the online social network.
WATERLOO, ON–Area resident Jonathan Fritz does not have a Facebook account, a fact he repeatedly points out to friends, family, and coworkers–as well as to his mail carrier, neighborhood convenience-store clerks, and the woman who cleans the hallways in his apartment building.
“I, personally, would rather spend my time doing something useful than playing Farmville,” Fritz told a random woman Monday at Wilfrid Laurier University, noticing the distinctive blue layout of the site on her laptop. “I don’t even have [an account].”
According to Tyler Burton, a roommate of Fritz at Richmond Square, a Waterloo apartment complex, Fritz steers the conversation toward Facebook whenever possible, just so he can mention not having an active profile.
“A few days ago, Kayla [Orr] was saying her new contacts were bothering her,” Burton said. “The second she said that, I knew Jonathan would pounce. He was like, ‘I didn’t know you had contacts, Kayla. Are your eyes bad? That a shame. I’m really lucky to have almost perfect vision. I’m guessing it’s because I don’t stare at Facebook. In fact, I don’t even have an account.”
According to Burton, “Stalkbook” is Fritz’s favorite derogatory term for the social networking site.
“He uses that one a lot,” he said. “But he’s got other ones, too, like ‘Zuckerberg the weasel’ and ‘waste of time.’”
Burton said Fritz always makes sure to read the copies of The Cord lying around their apartment, “just so he can point out all the Facebook groups he’s never heard of.”
“Last week, in one of the papers, there was an invitation to a group supporting improvements to the pool,” Burton said, “and Jonathan announced, ‘I have absolutely no idea what this issue is all about. Crumbling structure? Am I supposed to have heard of it? I’m sorry, but I haven’t.’”
Dave Lahn, who lives in an apartment several floors below Fritz’s and occasionally chats with the 23-year-old by the mailboxes, is well aware of his neighbor’s disdain for Facebook.
“About a week ago, we were talking, and I made some kind of profile picture reference,” Lahn said. “He asked me what I was talking about, and when I told him it was from Facebook, he just went off, saying how the last time he looked at the site there was some group supporting fair copyright, and even then, he could only read for about two minutes before having to go to Michael Geist because it insulted his intelligence so terribly.”
Added Lahn: “Once, I made the mistake of saying I saw something on the news feed, and he started in with, ‘Saw the news feed? I don’t know about you, but I read Digg.”
Fritz has lived without Facebook since 2008, when it kicked his dog or something.
“When I learned about the Canadian privacy commissioner’s investigation, the profile got deleted,” Fritz said. “But instead of just going back and reactivating it–which I certainly could have done, that wasn’t the issue–I decided to stand up to Zuckerberg, that weasel.”
“I’m not an elitist,” Fritz said. “It’s just that I’d much rather tweet or write on my blog or record a podcast than sit there passively staring at some eternally boring party pictures.”
“If I need a fix of lame interactions with so-called ‘friends’, I’ll go and do it in real life,” Fritz said. “I certainly wouldn’t waste my time perusing the so-called Mini-Feed or, God forbid, any of the mind sewage the Zynga idiots pump out.”
Continued Fritz: “People don’t realize just how much time their Facebook-using habit–or, shall I say, addiction–eats up. Four hours of Facebook a day, over the course of a month, adds up to 120 hours. That’s five entire days! Why not spend that time living your own life, instead of watching fictional people live theirs? I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am not to have a Facebook account.”
The biggest question that a project like OpenBook raises is that of where to lay the blame. It quite clearly represents an egregious violation of personal privacy; But is that the fault of Facebook, of its users, or of advertisers who fund the site in exchange for the data? Or is Zuckerberg right when he claims that social mores are changing with respect to the expectation of privacy? Based on the screen shots below, I certainly hope not:
Me too! My favourite is banana cream! Oh, wait...
That and working at McDonalds for the rest of your life
That's the kind of thing that you might want to keep to yourself.
Quick! Everybody phone this guy and congratulate him on his purchase!
Anybody have the ability to remotely wipe devices?
Personally, I'm scared for her kid.
Click on the image to see an animated version of the graphic that shows the state of Facebook privacy in each year since 2005
It’s funny that even though this issue has been covered multiple times by many a news outlet, the best that Facebook addicts can muster is to start a protest group on the site itself whenever the policies are changed. Perhaps Zuckerberg is right, and I actually am the weird one for not having an account with the site.
Recently, while studying the notes of Charles Darwin for an essay that I am working on, I came across this excellent argument that he waged with himself over the merits of marriage. To read the notes of so great a scientist making a list of the pros and cons of something so personal as marriage is a revealing insight into his most private thoughts. I particularly enjoy the conclusion: “Never mind my boy— Cheer up… There is many a happy slave.”
The argument against marriage:
Freedom to go where one liked— choice of Society & little of it. — Conversation of clever men at clubs— Not forced to visit relatives, & to bend in every trifle.— to have the expense & anxiety of children—perhaps quarelling— Loss of time. — cannot read in the Evenings— fatness & idleness— Anxiety & responsibility— less money for books &c— if many children forced to gain one’s bread.— (But then it is very bad for ones health to work too much) Perhaps my wife wont like London; then the sentence is banishment & degradation into indolent, idle fool—
Children—(if it Please God) — Constant companion, (& friend in old age) who will feel interested in one,—object to be beloved & played with.— —better than a dog anyhow.—Home, & someone to take care of house— Charms of music & female chit-chat.— These things good for one’s health.—but terrible loss of time. — My God, it is intolerable to think of spending ones whole life, like a neuter bee, working, working, & nothing after all.— No, no won’t do.— Imagine living all one’s day solitarily in smoky dirty London House.— Only picture to yourself a nice soft wife on a sofa with good fire, & books & music perhaps— Compare this vision with the dingy reality of Grt. Marlbro’ St.
But if so, then when?
The Governor says soon for otherwise bad if one has children— one’s character is more flexible—one’s feelings more lively & if one does not marry soon, one misses so much good pure happiness.—
But then if I married tomorrow: there would be an infinity of trouble & expense in getting & furnishing a house,—fighting about no Society—morning calls—awkwardness—loss of time every day. (without one’s wife was an angel, & made one keep industrious). Then how should I manage all my business if I were obliged to go every day walking with my wife.— Eheu!! I never should know French,—or see the Continent—or go to America, or go up in a Balloon, or take solitary trip in Wales—poor slave.—you will be worse than a negro— And then horrid poverty, (without one’s wife was better than an angel & had money)— Never mind my boy— Cheer up— One cannot live this solitary life, with groggy old age, friendless & cold, & childless staring one in ones face, already beginning to wrinkle.— Never mind, trust to chance—keep a sharp look out— There is many a happy slave.
As a student at Wilfrid Laurier University, I spend hundreds of dollars per year on my text books. It should be no surprise to anyone familiar with the student lifestyle that as a group, we students tend to be short of money. The cash that we do have is generally obtained from some combination of scholarship programs, OSAP loans, and minimum-wage part-time jobs.
For some years now, I’ve been saving myself about five hundred dollars per year by purchasing my text books used from sellers on Amazon.ca. This year however, my attempts to save myself some rent money were foiled by the WLU Bookstore, a retail entity that sells text books and school supplies on campus.
For as long as I have been a student at Laurier, the bookstore has been responsible for releasing a list of required text books to students through its website and in-store kiosks about four weeks before the start of each new term. In previous years, this has listing included text title, author, and ISBN number, a kind of global tracking number for all books in circulation.
This combination of information has always given me the tools necessary to shop my book purchases around, while still ensuring that I got the correct editions of my text books, many of which change from year to year. This year however, the bookstore has changed its policy, and displays only the text title and price on student’s book lists, which is not enough information to be sure of an expensive online purchase.
Upon seeing that the ISBN number was lacking from the web front-end, I made a call to the bookstore to see if they would provide me with the necessary numbers over the phone. I spoke to the student manager of the bookstore, who told me in no uncertain terms that the new bookstore policy was to not display the ISBN numbers of texts online, because ‘students just take the numbers and buy their books elsewhere.’
Well that couldn’t be right. Wanting more information, I got in touch with a Ms. DaCosta, the head of bookstore operations at Wilfrid Laurier. When asked for the ISBN numbers, she gave me a slew of excuses, including a far fetched tale about their new computer system no longer tracking the number. Seeing as the ISBN number of a book is a unique identifier and also functions as a component of its UPC number, I seriously doubted her story. At the end of an in depth conversation, Ms. DaCosta suggested that I either come down to the bookstore and look up the ISBN numbers myself, or that I purchase the books online, get the numbers from the receipt, and then return the purchased books on the first day of classes.
Now let me take a moment to clarify something. As a consumer, I do not for one moment deny the retail bookstore its right to withhold information about its products from customers. However, since the bookstore is the only official source for the book list, and every student needs access to that list, I would like to see enough useful information on that list for students to be able to purchase their books wherever they see fit. If that means that the Bookstore does not get enough business from the students, they should respond by becoming more competitive in the marketplace, not by withholding necessary information from those students. I already pay thousands of dollars per year in tuition for the privilege of attending university. I should be free to purchase my books wherever it makes economic sense for me to do so.
Not satisfied with the excuses that I got from Ms. DaCosta, I contacted the purchaser for the bookstore, a Mr. Wayne Steffler and asked for some answers regarding the new policy. As his subordinate had, he gave me a slew of excuses for the new policy, and suggested that I wait until the first day of classes, when I would receive course outlines from all of my professors, which he assured me would contain ISBN numbers. On the first day of classes, it was no surprise to me that not one of my course outlines contained the information that I had requested.
In the end, I gave in and purchased all of my books at the WLU bookstore, simply because I ran out of time to fight for answers and needed to start reading for my classes. And so I have started the last term of my five excellent years at Wilfrid Laurier with a bullying from the school that has given me so much.
It turns out that the lowly student manager that I first spoke to on the phone might have been right. The bookstore seems to have changed their policy simply to force students to purchase books from them. As a retail outlet, they are entitled to protect their consumer base as much as possible, but as a university sponsored entity, and as the only official source for the book list, I think that they have gone too far. Nowhere in my agreement with the University is it stated that I must purchase my books through them at market or higher prices, especially when I could purchase them used for half the price and save myself the equivalent of a month’s worth of rent money. Unfortunately, without an ISBN number, I have no way to ensure that the text books that I purchase online will be the ones that I am required to have, and by the time that they show up at my door, it will be too late to do anything about the problem.
This is one of those “Sorry I haven’t been posting much lately” posts. It’s also one of those shameless self promotion posts. To get right down to it, I’ve been absent from this domain for the last little while because I’m currently devoting most of my online time to maintaining and writing for the Linux Experiment. Check us out, and listen to our first podcast.
People don’t seem to like fish. They’re slithery and slimy, and they have eyes on either side of their pointy little heads—which is weird, to say the least. Plus, the small ones nibble at your feet when you’re swimming, and the big ones—well, the big ones will bite your face off if Jaws is anything to go by.
And so they have decided to rename fish to ‘Sea Kittens,’ in an attempt to convince the kind of people who are only in favour of protection for the cute and cuddly animals to give fish some respect. These are the same reasons that preteen girls cite when deciding to become vegetarians, (a phase that usually lasts for a week at most) and not the reasons for which a concious responsible organization should be promoting the salvation of our fishy friends.
To be fair, the campaign is being run by Peta2, the arm of the organization dedicated to indoctrinating teenagers who are only really interested in saving the cuddly animals anyway. May I take a moment to ask just how many of their target audience have ever even seen Jaws?
The primary contributor to and maintainer of the site
My girlfriend, who sometimes posts her writings
An essay that I wrote about Charles Darwin’s contributions to Science and Society for a history class at WLU
An essay that I wrote for an Ethics class I took at Laurier that examines DRM, the USA DMCA, and the failures of both as security against piracy
iTunes Playlist Exporter
Exports all of the songs in any iTunes playlist file to any location on your computer. Originally written to load a blackberry or other mp3 player with music.
MAX 3D Engine
A not quite finished 3D engine written in C++ and OpenGL for my CP411 computer graphics course.
A paper that I wrote about Ted Rogers’ personal and business pursuits for a history class at WLU
The Battle of the Atlantic
An essay exploring the lessons learned by both sides during the Battle of the Atlantic in WWII. The essay explores the military and industrial capabilities of the combatants, the technology behind the Enigma and Allied code breaking efforts at Bletchley P
Tile-Based Map Editor
Written in VB for my top-down XNA rpg, allows easy creation of 2D tile-based maps, and exports to both a PNG pallete and an XML map description. Use it or modify it as you see fit.