Moving beyond links

I’ve long argued that “links are dead” (going on a decade now). Some of that was hyperbolic to discuss the need for a better mechanism to derive value or information from one site to the next or from a marketing campaign.

It looks like Google might be moving beyond links as well and towards more of an “entity database” where the connections and relationships between search terms are prioritized. I can get behind that.

The idea that we can push our rankings forward through entity associations, and not just links, is incredibly powerful and versatile. Links have tried to serve this function and have done a great job, but there are a LOT of advantages for Google to move toward the entity model for weighting as well as a variety of other internal needs.

Source: Google patent on related entities and what it means for SEO – Search Engine Land

Stripe now offers subscription billing

Good move here, particularly for small businesses…

That’ll allow them to handle subscription recurring revenue, as well as invoicing, within the Stripe platform and get everything all in the same place. The goal was to replace a previously hand-built setup, whether using analog methods for invoicing or painstakingly putting together a set of subscription tools, and make that experience as seamless as charging for products on Stripe.

Source: Stripe launches a new billing tool to tap demand from online businesses | TechCrunch

Don’t fall for lots of likes and retweets

Also good advice for churches and nonprofits doing social media marketing on a shoestring budget:

Bots manipulate credibility by influencing social signals like the number of aggregated likes or shares a post or user receives. People see a large number of retweets on a post and read it as a genuine signal of authentic traction in the marketplace of ideas. Do not fall for this. Trends are basically over—they’re too easy to manipulate. This goes for any information online that feeds off of public signals, including things like search autocomplete or content recommendation lists. Journalists can no longer rely on information sources reflecting some form of online “popularity.”

Source: The bots beat: How not to get punked by automation – Columbia Journalism Review

Facebook’s Growing PR Crisis

Facebook’s announcement Wednesday and others last week reflect a major shift in the company’s relationship with third-party apps. In the past, developers could get access to people’s relationship status, calendar events, private Facebook posts and much more data that was highly valuable to advertisers, including political campaigns. Now they will be required to go through a much stricter process.

Source: Facebook says most people on its vast social network may have had their public profile scraped by third parties – The Washington Post

Democratized Engineering

Worth your time to read the whole piece, especially the Cathedral / Bazaar analogies…

In fact, you could say that bad engineering, just like good engineering, has helped turn technology into the most powerful force for change in the 21st century. Engineering has been incredibly democratized and it’s been good for engineers. Today’s engineers are in greater demand than ever.

And yet design—and designers—seem perpetually threatened by democratization. I’ve been a designer for two and a half decades and I’ve seen this again and again.

Source: In Defense of Design Thinking, Which Is Terrible + Subtraction.com

The dangers of thinking “They’ll get it because they’re young”

So very true despite the stereotypes (spoken as a former college / high school / middle school teacher turned tech consultant). Parents have a big burden to bear in helping their young and old children make wise decisions about how and why to use the web. Just assuming “they’ll get it because they’re young” is very dangerous.

What is surprising about this data is that while education is a factor in online security literacy, age is less so. Users aged 65 and older were seemingly just as knowledgeable as users in the age range of 18-29; while online literacy bias in general is weighted toward younger users, the Pew survey suggests that overall there is a shared standard of what we know and what we don’t know.

Source: Why did we give our data to Facebook in the first place? – Scientific American Blog Network

Paying for everything you do

What about the users?

Advertising isn’t why Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook or, presumably, what gets him out of bed in the morning. Engineers and designers whose identities are invested in changing the world don’t want that work tarnished by association. But the decision to pay for everything Facebook does by selling advertising means–whether he likes it or not–Mark Zuckerberg is just as much the CEO of an advertising company as a social network. The sooner Facebook reconciles this for itself and its users, the less vulnerable it will be to stories like last week’s.

Source: Admit It, You Don’t Really Understand Facebook

1.1.1.1

DNS is an important and overlooked backbone structure of how we interact and communicate with the web. If you think that Facebook and Google knowing so much about you is weird, you definitely don’t want to go down the rabbit hole of probing what your Internet Service Provider knows about you based on all the traffic that flows through them and their DNS services that you subscribe to.

I’ve been using Google’s 8.8.8.8 DNS for many years, but excited to see another new player that promises complete encryption and privacy. Granted, Cloudflare is becoming a point-of-failure worry given how much heavy lifting they do as a content delivery network for many sites (including this one), but more competition is a good thing in this case (especially if they aren’t advertising companies).

Unfortunately, by default, DNS is usually slow and insecure. Your ISP, and anyone else listening in on the Internet, can see every site you visit and every app you use — even if their content is encrypted. Creepily, some DNS providers sell data about your Internet activity or use it target you with ads.

We think that’s gross. If you do too, now there’s an alternative: 1.1.1.1

Source: 1.1.1.1 — the Internet’s Fastest, Privacy-First DNS Resolver

Google is killing goo.gl and we’ll see more web rot

Google released goo.gl link shortening service back in 2009. URL shorteners were popular at the time (and since) for all sorts of purposes. Sites and services have relied on goo.gl and bit.ly etc for years to mask complex links and encourage sharing or easier verbal communication. But like all things having to do with the web, you should plan for the future and realize that services come and go (another reason I’ve kept my own blog here since 2006).

I know lots of sites and designers that use goo.gl links in production… it’s going to be a headache to switch all those out.

Google announced that it is shutting down its URL shortening service, goo.gl. The company says that new and anonymous users won’t be able to create links through the goo.gl console as of April 13th, but existing users will be able to use it for another year, after which it will be discontinued completely.

Source: Google is shuttering its URL shortening service, goo.gl  – The Verge