Social Media + Photography

My two-week trial period of Glass ends tomorrow. I don’t think I will continue with it. I couldn’t tell you why, exactly. I just don’t love it. Glass seems nice to look at and safe to use, but I am not clicking with it. There is no search for subjects or a way to tag a photo. Most people display the EXIF code of their images. That data will be useful to some people, but it never interested me. I don’t care what kind of camera somebody uses or which lens and settings. So, I started thinking about WHAT would make a social media app great, especially one that’s enables media sharing – mainly photography but also text, video, gif, and audio.

There are only two ways to make such a site work: one can mine data and sell ads (the ad agencies are the customers) OR the user has to pay for a subscription (the users are the customer). Could there be a third option? Could the case be made that like the postal service there should be a national social media service? Funding could come from “simple ads” – meaning ads that don’t rely on mining personal information – like old fashioned TV ads that were the same for everyone. That might bring in enough money to fund the service since there would not be shareholders and CEOs who would expect billions in annual revenue.

Once the funding is figured out (one of the above three options or can you think of a fourth?) what do we want the service to look like? Feel free to say like Twitter, but… or like Instagram, but…

How should one allow people to freely express themselves WITHOUT at the same time enabling entities to create bots to influence minds? Should there be a way to make anonymous posts? How?

PS: I am not going back to Zuck’s Instagram. No way. I can share text and images on this website right here, especially after some renovations. :-)

False Ottmars

On Friday I heard about two impersonator accounts on Instagram, who sent direct messages to several followers of my own account, claiming to be stuck in Canada with declining credit cards. The follower let the impostor know that they actually knew me and then warned me via email. I reported the accounts and both of them were deleted for impersonation by Saturday morning. Since then another account surfaced, which I also reported.

I was curious and checked Twitter and also found an impersonator account that had the handle liebertottmar. It was Spanish only and they stopped tweeting in 2012. I reported them anyway.

Later I was sent screenshots of a conversation between Ottmar LIBERT (misspelled last name) and a fan, where the impersonator offered a meet and greet and suggested that the fan should write to his management at ottmarliebert@gmail.com… doubtlessly hoping to charge for the meet and greet in advance. Of course ottmarliebert@gmail.com is a fake account, too.

I do not search for impostors and file reports every day, so I will not know about most of the scams that are going on.

Here is what you need to know:
 

  1. Check the spelling… my name is Ottmar Liebert. Impostors will often misspell my name in order to obtain an account
  2. I do NOT have a Facebook account. None. I am guessing that there are several impostor accounts on FB.
  3. I have ONE Twitter account and the handle is @ottmarliebert
  4. I have ONE Instagram account and the handle is also @ottmarliebert
  5. I do NOT have a second “Private” Instagram account
  6. I have a Twitch account and there the handle is also @ottmarliebert
  7. If you have any doubt about the authenticity of an account, or suspect an impostor, please leave a comment on this blog or send me an email

Precedent

I recently learned that many of the first books that were printed following the invention of the Gutenberg press were books about witchcraft. Perhaps there is hope for the internet after all.

Instagram

In June of 2016, while I was in St. Helena for two private solo performances, I had lunch with an old friend. He kept telling me I should be more active on social media and offered to take me to the offices of Google or Facebook. I told him I wanted nothing to do with either company. At least open an account on Instagram then, he suggested, it’s perfect for your images. I promised to think about it, aware that Facebook owned Instagram.

Later that year I opened an Instagram account and started posting lots of images and a few videos. The number of followers grew and included many people from countries in the Middle East. I enjoyed the interaction with people following me. I also soon began to notice how much time Instagram was taking up. I set myself a time limit of 30 minutes a day, but noticed that I ignored the limit several times a week.

After I announced that I might stop posting on Instagram I read this comment:

Keep in mind that some of your overseas fans may not get access to western sites due to the country’s regulations/restrictions, one would be Iran. The government of Iran sadly doesn’t make it easy for music lovers to follow their inspirational artist online. They haven’t touched social-media yet. So people do have access to follow their favorites. And as far as I see these people literally kiss your musical ground! They love you mad!

That was interesting and also very flattering and prompted me to think about my feelings regarding Instagram.

It was undeniable that the ease with which I could post photos to Instagram from my phone was amazing. By comparison I have to use a browser to post to this Diary because if I use the WordPress app my website gets attacked by about a hundred bots per minute… And it was nice that people all over the world were able to follow my Instagram account.

After mulling this over for several weeks I realized that several points soured me on Instagram. The first was that I realized the reason some (many?) governments allow their people to access Facebook and Instagram, but not individual websites, is that Facebook and Instagram may very well share information about their users with those governments. It’s a great way to keep track of people. It also feels like a carrot… you can’t access most of the internet, but we let you have Facebook and Instagram. So it’s not as if governments simply hadn’t gotten around to closing access to social media yet, as the commentor suggested, social media was purposefully kept available.

The second point was that I do not want to create content or user data for ginormous corporations for free. I believe in the old Internet of the mid Nineties. You want to have something to share – create it. You want to share something… create a website. Like a perfect storm the internet came along at the same time that music and art education was dropped from the curriculum of many schools. Perhaps posting about other people’s work and sharing their files filled the void that the lack of art education created.

The third point was this article by The Verge: Hate speech is finding a home on Instagram. All kinds of people communicate on social media. Even though they may not know anyone like themselves in their immediate physical community, they can find others in the state, the country, even the world. This is a great resource for people who have an illness, or feel isolated or different, …but it also means that pedophiles, conspiracy theorists, and racists can easily find each other. Suddenly everything becomes amplified. While one can ignore a lone racist in one’s midst, a huge group, albeit only connected via the internet, is a problem of a very different magnitude.

The fourth point was that I disliked that the Instagram timeline became “curated” and an algorithm figured out which posts I would see first.

I decided that I would delete most of the 1,100 photos and videos I had posted on Instagram, keeping less than seventy. I did not delete my Instagram account, but deleted the Instagram app from my phone. Out of sight, out of mind…

Digital Music

Digital music suffering from entrepreneur drain | Beyond Binary – CNET News
Pakman agreed that such influencers are a key factor. “Bloggers are the music critics (of today),” Pakman said.

Yeah, yeah, bloggers replace journalism, bloggers replace music critics, Flickr-members replace photographers, Facebook and Twitter networking replaces meeting friends for a pint…

There are critics who blog, but in general I would not consider bloggers the music critics of today. Bloggers have more in common with the guy in the local pub who tells everyone willing to listen about his musical preferences.