The Facebook Cut Direct

It seems that Facebook has brought back the social pressure of having to acknowledge people that you barely know or haven’t spoken to in years and didn’t hang out with all that much back then. What do you do if someone that you were acquainted with 10 or more years ago tries to connect to you and you know that if you rejected them it would cause a flurry of email and IM gossip of how bitchy you are? There doesn’t seem to be any guidelines out there. An old friend and I were chatting about it this evening, how it’s all a little weird, and forces you to say you’re “friends” with people because you don’t want to be mean. But I really just want a little privacy. 

The Victorians had a name for the act of ignoring people you know. (I basically majored in Victorian literature, so that’s why I know it.) It’s the cut direct, and I’m not sure why we ever got rid of the phrase.

THE “CUT DIRECT” – For one person to look directly at another and not acknowledge the other’s bow is such a breach of civility that only an unforgivable misdemeanor can warrant the rebuke. Nor without the gravest cause may a lady “cut” a gentleman. But there are no circumstances under which a gentleman may “cut” any woman who, even by courtesy, can be called a lady. On the other hand, one must not confuse absent-mindedness, or a forgetful memory with an intentional “cut.” Anyone who is preoccupied is apt to pass others without being aware of them, and without the least want of friendly regard. Others who have bad memories forget even those by whom they were much attracted. This does not excuse the bad memory, but it explains the seeming rudeness. A “cut” is very different. It is a direct stare of blank refusal, and is not only insulting to its victim but embarrassing to every witness. Happily it is practically unknown in polite society.

4. Salutations of Courtesy. Post, Emily. 1922. Etiquette

So basically today’s equivalent of the cut direct, or cut, is not accepting a friend request, LinkedIn invite or even an IM request. Facebook does have the ability for you to add them to your “friends” list and limit what they can see. It’s not super well known since I’ve talked to a number of people this past month who didn’t even know it existed – and really wished they had before.

But for the other services out there….it’s not like I can add you to my IM list and select when only you or the group you belong to can see when I am online. Ultimately everyone becomes a victim or perpetrator of the cut direct. I don’t think the Emily Post people have any guidelines on how to deal with this. And there needs to be some little handbook on this. Anyone know of one?

Business, Tech

Google Gmail Bug Routes Emails to Wrong Address

Looks like Google has a dirty little secret. Gmail emails have been routed incorrectly to the wrong recipients. I’ve been receiving emails for a woman whose email address is similar to mine, minus a period between the first and second half of the username. So I thought people were accidentally adding the period – turns out that’s not the case.

I got another email for her today from a website and thought that there’s no way she’s giving people the wrong email address across the board. Checked the headers, and yes indeed the emails are going to the wrong account.

I went into Gmail Help and filled out their contact form. So far all I’ll gotten is an automated response. So I checked out the Gmail discussion boards, and, wouldn’t you know, there are over a thousand entries about people getting wrong emails. This bug looks to have been a known issue for quite some time, so why hasn’t Google done anything about it? Or even better why haven’t they at least notified users with similar email addresses that there is a possibility that their emails are being routed incorrectly?

I couldn’t imagine what would happen if someone out there had personal information in an email that would then make it possible for someone to steal the other person’s identity if they accidentally received the email. I’m not talking about social security numbers, but more like the answers to standard security questions or little things that can help you inpersonate someone. This bug allows for some wicked social engineering to occur.

Sharing information is in Google’s DNA, so when they go into a space where they need to keep information private can they do it? Can they make sure that if there is a breach in security they are equipped to take the necessary steps to rectify the situation? So far I haven’t seen it. And now they have a product where they hold on to my credit card number, Google Checkout. Hmmm…after this mix up, I don’t trust them with it.

Update – 29 February 2008

I logged into my Gmail account today and saw a little tiny link next to the address in “To” field with the username without the dot. The new Gmail help center faq now says that the email is routed correctly and that there is no other account using my username without the dot. So I wonder what happened with the other person’s account. Did they try to create the account and never realized it wasn’t actually created? And why didn’t Google ever send me an email with this information after I had requested account support? Hmmm…not very good with customer service when it’s not related to advertising it seems.  Or maybe it’s just that Gmail is undersupported.


Canada Could Make iPods Illegal to Use While Driving – Is it already in Cali?

There is a call in Canada to make iPods and cellphones against the law for some drivers.

It could be argued that it’s already illegal to operate one while driving in California. Section 27602 of the California Vehicle Code says that a person can’t drive while operating a video screen that produces entertainment. The Video iPod would certainly be prohibited, but what about your regular old iPod. It could be argued that this section of the code applies to all iPods.

read more | digg story


Valleywag Hearts Kevin Burton

For a few weeks there I was beginning to think that Nick Douglas developed a crush on Kevin. Nick is the writer of the latest online tabloid blog (tablog), Valleywag. There was a picture of Kevin on there every other day. I like Kevin, but that’s just a bit too much Kevin!

Valleywag is like In Touch magazine for geeks. It’s not as bad as the National Enquirer, but it’s not as believable as People – it pushes the line of credible “journalism.” I doubt Nick Douglas is calling anyone to confirm a rumour or get the real story. But so far it doesn’t seem like anyone’s reputation has been tarnished, too much that is.

But my question is – how will this site change the social scene of the Valley. Are we going to see the paranoia of Hollywood migrate north? Granted the uber geeks will still be the reclusive geniuses. But will the whiz kids be so paranoid they won’t even talk to each other about what they ate for dinner out of fear that their latest project will be broadcasted to the masses before it’s ready? They’re already annoying coy if you ask them you’re typical conversation opener, “So whatchya been up to lately?

What happens to the collaborative environment when two entrepreneurs can’t even have a nice little conversation about the latest AJAX app without it being broadcasted to the world as truth they’re going to buy it? Hopefully it won’t get to that point, but maybe it already has.


ZabaSearch – Stalking Just Got Easier

This morning my radio alarm woke me up to a discussion on KFOG about ZabaSearch and how people are a bit weirded out by it. I don’t blame them. Zabasearch is a people finding search engine. Not bad, but it lists unlisted addresses. So if Cnet had problems when they published the town a certain Google CEO lives in, why don’t you try searching for the CEO of your favorite company and see what you find. The CEO of the company I work at now is listed.

Or search for your favorite living President. I found Bill Clinton in NY (no phone number) and George W Bush’s last address at the Texas Governor’s Mansion. There’s probably other ones in there for Bush, but I didn’t see Crawford listed.

Just because something is “public” information doesn’t mean you should make it that much easier to find.

Update – 5:00 pm – Forgot to mention that starting 1 September 2005, you can post to a blog associated with a particular name/person. Can anyone say libel and blog-spam?



Saturday night I hung out at BarCamp, took full advantage of the free beer (courtesy of Technorati), and had some interesting conversations.

One was with Eris Stassi who was saying that in the “Women in Tech” session they came up with an idea for an open source social software for the real world (scroll to the bottom). The gist of it is that you’d have a profile on your mobile device and if there’s someone in the area that matches your interests, you’ll know they’re in the area. And presumably it will be easier for you to start a conversation. Great for conferences, network events, and singles bars.

It reminds me of a device I heard about a couple years ago that would buzz if you pass someone who also had the device. I can’t remember all the details, nor if you had to set up a profile. I think you do. But in my vain attempt to find it again, I stumbled across Jambo. You can load it onto a wi-fi device, but it seems you have to be part of an organization or existing social network before you can use it. And they do not require you to fill out a profile for the Jambo system.

That’s okay, but just because I’m randomly connected to someone, for example fellow alum, doesn’t mean that I want an “introduction” to be based on that tenuous relationship alone. The year I graduated from Rutgers there were 35,000 students there. I didn’t know all of them, and, if the Jambo system shows how you’re connected to someone, you wind up with useless recommendations because the person who’s connecting you doesn’t necessarily have a real relationship with you. It’s a similar problem that Russ Beattie says caused him to opt-out of Linked In.

If you make a profile mandatory, build upon existing online social networks and have it open source so that it could evolve to work with any device (theoretically), it could change the way we interact online and off.

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