Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Social Media

The first social media that I came across (nearly a decade ago now, in 2007) was Facebook. As with many things on the internet it was a case of "everyone else is doing it, so I should too". At first it was limited to people I'd know at school and family members; over the years my network expanded to include people I'd studied with, people I'd worked with and all sorts of other friends I'd gathered along the way. It is still my number one way to keep in touch with friends and (at time of writing) Facebook seem to have weathered the news feed algorithm storm to balance the posts I most want to see.

I think Twitter was my next foray into social media, it seems more recent but it was actually only a year after I started using Facebook. I think perhaps it is because it took me a few years to get the hang of Twitter. For a while it was my go to social network, but a lot of my Twitter friends have drifted away to other online hang-outs (Facebook mostly) and I don't find Twitter much fun without that personal touch. 

I was reading an article today on Twitter as a news app. This I found most amusing, whenever I find any news on Twitter I always go to check at least two other sources to authenticate it and check its veracity (!)

For me Instagram was never so much about social. I've never really manged to get into the whole community aspect and I use it mostly as a tool to easily share photos to Facebook and Twitter at the same time. Posts these days average around 50 likes (which pleases me). I absolutely refuse to measure the worth of anything I do on the internet by home many people 'like' it.

Instagram has recently followed Twitter and Facebook into the curse of the non-sequential timeline which uses complex algorithms to serve up posts instead of being ordered by time of posting.

Now it insists on serving me friends and family (whose handles I know and who I can go looking for their recent input) over other curated feeds I follow. The many London feeds I follow have dropped right off my timeline. This is odd, everything I've read about Instagram's algorithms mean the opposite should be true; heigh-ho it's given me about an hour of internet time back every day!

No thoughts on social media would be complete without LinkedIn. I'm not a fan. I use it because it is part of my job; that is it. It is quite useful to keep track of people that you once worked with. I find no purpose to it at all other than serving me a variety of stories without having to check through all my Feedly feeds.

I've not read anything about how LinkedIn serves up content with algorithms but it seems to defy all logic.

In a truly circular fashion, and despite repeated reports of its demise, Facebook is once again my venue of choice with social media.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

What we've been watching (April)

We watch quite a lot of movies; at the moment LOVEFiLM send us two discs every week... although I'm always considering the best way to get our movies.

So this is what we watched in April - come back to see what May has brought us.

Labor Day
This is one of those movies which manages to tell the story with a very small cast. Kate Winslett is a depressed single mother living with her young son; one day in the grocery store they meet an escaped convict (Josh Brolin) and they spend the day with him; forging a relationship. The film is as much about the development of the characters as it is about the story of the day unfolding.

Dragon Blade
Jackie Chan and John Cusack are on the famous Silk Road two thousand years ago. A Roman Centurion and a member of the Silk Road Protection squad; initially on opposite sides they become somewhat unlikely allies when they are both framed for treason. Some impressive scenery, a good story and (of course) some impressive fight scenes,

Another film examining the story of Peter Pan; this is a sort of origin story. Peter is an orphan taken from the orphanage to the magical world of Neverland. It is one of those films which feels that it could have been a little bit more, it certainly isn't one of the best attempts at Peter Pan.

Hotel Transylvania 2 
Back in the world of Hotel Transylvania for another story, Dracula's daughter is all grown up and married with a child of her own - the question is, will he become a vampire? This feels like a sequel for sequels sake, but it is a diverting enough way to spend a short amount of time.

The Martian
This film had a high bar set for it, so much publicity preceded it. The film centres around an astronaut who is stranded on Mars when his crew return to earth, and the plot centres around his experiences trying to survive and his struggle to return home. I'm not fond of films where there are large sections of the plot centring on one character alone on screen. Ben Afleck did a good job, but I found that the film went on too long, and I lost interest in the outcome before we got to the end of the film. 

The Dressmaker
Kate Winslet as Myrtle returns to her home town to take care of her unwell mother. There she has to face the townspeople and a dark secret from her past. All the cast put in stellar performances in this film; a good story too.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 
Having watched all of the previous three films it was more of a chore than anything else to watch the final instalment. Not so much of a film to tell a story but a vehicle to wrap up all the loose ends. Probably only one that got good marks from die hard fans.

Robert de Niro becomes bored of his life in retirement so he takes a job as an intern. He manages to become an indispensable part of the company and forms an unlikely friendship with his boss, Anne Hathaway. A quite light-hearted film with occasional moments of comedy.

The Lady in the Van
Watched about twenty minutes of this film. which came highly acclaimed from many sources, but the story telling style just didn't grab me (despite the cast, which is good on paper).