On The Turning Away Of The Face(book)

Hi Ashish,
We’re trying out a new feature to reduce the amount of email you receive from Facebook. Starting today, we are turning off most individual email notifications and instead, we’ll send you a summary only if there are popular stories you may have missed.
You can turn individual emails back on and restore all your original settings at any time.
The Facebook Team

But with Facebook, is anything ever as easy as it seems?

Think about the implications of this for a moment. If you’re a normal facebooker, you will check in fairly regularly, and what prompts the check-in (usually) is something that gives you a feeling that something’s happened. An alert mail. Somebody commented on your post. Somebody tagged you in a photo, mentioned you in a note. Friended you. etc.

This is usually in your mail. Which can come on your mobile, your POP account…

Also look at that little sidebar that came up a few days back – there are all your alerts! It’s a very… twitter-esque interface, also in the sense of it’s impermanency… an update that gets pushed down is gone.

Psychologically? You feel cut off. You feel you don’t know what’s going on in your social world when you’re off FB, and are flooded with information, real-time, when you’re on it. Interactivity and presence is encouraged. Absenteeism is literally punished with silence – FB’s shunning you.

Result? FB is always-on, increased timespends, interactions, pageviews…

Good call, Zuck!


To or not to… work from home

The whole concept of ‘working from home’ is fraught with pitfalls, not the least of which is a highly negative connotation it’s come to acquire, at least in the Indian concept, standing as shorthand for ‘on leave without using up leaves’. However, there are positive aspects as well, and then some surprises.

Working from home becomes possible in some specific scenarios – your work doesn’t involve frequent interaction with colleagues in the same office and is independent. Writing, creative work, design, coding, accounts, or anything involve own, small business, etc – this basically needs your brain and a task at hand that doesn’t depend on anyone else. An alternative is if your interactions are limited to phone / mail only. Check.

No distractions in the home – which means no kids / aged parents / frequent visitors / nearby construction. If you can also set aside a part of the house – say, a spare room / study, or your bedroom if nobody else is using it, that works too – but both you and everyone else needs to be disciplined enough not to break that sanctity. Check.

Discipline. It’s very tempting to catch an episode you’re following, finish off a ‘few’ pages in a book you’re reading, finish a chapter in a game you’re playing, or even just surf. It’s a black hole, a bottomless pit, that. It never ends – a few minutes becomes an hour, half a day, and then you’re basically screwed.

Laziness. The biggest advantage working from home gives you is the ability to save on travel time – in my case, close to 3 hours a day – but that can also lull you into a false sense of security, where you imagine you have a lot more time to complete a task than is actually there. Trust me, you don’t want to be sitting at home and working once the family is back and the day turns into night; even if you live alone, it’s psychologically very exhausting. Just make a deadline, a schedule, and stick to it.

Independence. This is a pitfall. When your power goes out, your internet goes down, or your computer crashes, you’re on your own. Make sure you have your backups and redundant solutions available – buy a external HD, save every few minutes, get a USB internet stick, the works. Nobody listens if you don’t deliver due to things beyond your control.

If you can greenlight all of the above, go ahead; you’ll save your office some decent rental and maintenance space, and you an extra few hours a day of leisure.

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