Tag Archives: social media

Why you need your own space on the Web

The other day I encountered a tweet by a well-known Norwegian C++ programmer, Patricia Aas on Net Neutrality and we exchanged a few mentions regarding that very topic. She was trying to make a case for the use of web browsers over apps, citing serial abuse by app owners.

These days, social media platforms seem to have come to a head. The era of innocent social media fun and banter seems to be over. The violation of this innocence probably began with the Arab Spring, when Twitter rose to prominence as a powerful tool for political activism. During the rise of ISIL, and then ISIS, merchants of death began to make audacious appearances on the same site. Then came the US 2016 elections and the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica affair, which resulted in much hue and cry about election interference.

Social media is toast. All the same, we still flock to the watering holes, most of us oblivious of the crocodiles that lay in wait (or perhaps many are just too thirsty to even care).

Nowadays social media giants wield a lot of power, power that they derive from other people’s data. I am not saying that they are doing any thing wrong. I am convinced that the onus lies on the users not to do themselves a disservice when they totally trust and depend on these companies. It seems we are in a time where people simply refuse to accept responsibility for they own lives.

And this is why many have lost out. How many, like me, lost all their data after MySpace was sold? What about all the time invested in Google Plus? How many remember how Facebook vowed not to mash up WhatsApp data with that of the parent company, only to break that promise a few years later? Some people get banned or suspended for their harmless political views, simply because some “fact checker” at a company disagrees with them — does something have to be consensual before being accepted as a fact and how bland is social interaction without dissent?

Am I advocating the avoidance of social media sites? Absolutely not. That they have done us all a good service is not in doubt. After all, this post is written on WordPress.com, a social blogging site. What I am saying is that we, the consumers, need to start playing smart with our use of these services. There are 2 simple things I have started to do that could help:

  1. Have a strategy for regularly backing up ALL your data from social media sites.
  2. Develop your own space. Start off by buying a domain. Host your own website — and it doesn’t have to be anything fancy — and work to mirror your social media content

What do you think?

Photo by Nikita Kachanovsky on Unsplash

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My experience doing R trainings at work

Recently, the office decided to set up a small team to manage its social media presence. Because I had somewhat encouraged the development, I was asked to work with them, at least as a facilitator.

Somewhere down the line, I suggested to some on the team that they should consider carrying out analysis of the social media data, at least beyond the metrics that were already available on most of those sites.

I quickly put together a very rudimentary, but useful, Shiny app, (not without some inspiration from this guy) just to demonstrate a bit of what was possible, and they were eager for me to train them in the use of R. I will share more about the app sometime later.

Application that plots social media data

Screenshot of the Shiny app developed for the team

My aim was (and still is) to get them to a point where they could carry out basic analyses on their own and grow from there. I tried to keep the material as basic and non-intimidating as possible – some of the students admitted to a morbid fear of statistics and I didn’t want to scare them off with anything too tough.

I consider myself a beginner still, so this experience really broadened my own understanding of the language. And I had a lot of fun doing it.

Well, I put together some slides on the training sessions and felt I should share them and hopefully get some feedback. Here they are:

  1. Introduction to R Programming
  2. R Data Structures – starting them off on vectors
  3. R Data Structures (Pt. II) – diving into the basics of data frames
  4. R Data Structures (Pt. III) – examining ways of working with matrices
  5. R Data Structures (Pt. IV) – lists (and lists)

The good thing is that some friends and colleagues (outside the office) have told me that, in the coming year, they would like me to train them as well in the use of R.

It’s only an opportunity for me to, yet, learn the more.

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2016’s Final Abomination: The Desolation of Jollof Rice — Mind of Malaka

I’m getting pretty tired of writing about how awful 2016 has been and continues to be. My fatigue has compelled me to ignore several events that have transpired in pop culture and favor silence instead of comment. It’s not everything that requires a verbal (or written) reaction, abi? But dear brothers and sisters, there is […]

via 2016’s Final Abomination: The Desolation of Jollof Rice — Mind of Malaka

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Let’s talk (please!)

People talking

I tried something out recently. There was a time I was part of one of these high yield investment programs (HYIP), which many will tell you is actually a fancy word for SCAM.

Anyway, somebody I trusted (and he is indeed trustworthy, to a fault) invited me to participate in a particular program and after a while I got bored with it. Of course, I wouldn’t be fooled to actually drop any dollars into the site, particularly as due diligence revealed that, at that particular time, people were not able to withdraw their funds when they needed them. Of course, I never recruited anybody, but tried to find whether this program could be any use to me as an individual. This was some 5-6 years ago.

Why am I talking about this? Well, recently, as I was looking at the stats on The Opportunist. I discovered that a few years ago, this blog was enjoying a lot of views with the referrals coming from this HYIP site. Wow, I thought to myself, I had better get back on this program now!

I rejoined the program a couple of years ago, and after ignoring them for a couple of weeks, they gave me $10 worth of credit for what they call the “Traffic Exchange” which got me 200 views on any site of my choice. The Opportunist in me couldn’t resist the opportunity, (haha!) and truly, I began to enjoy a significant increase in traffic.

A few days ago, I received a visitor to a recent blog posts that I had shared via an Empire.Kred “mission” (see this blog for an explanation). Interestingly, I get a few visitors  this way – people who actually engage my posts via Likes, Reblogs and Comments. It is always heartwarming to interact with some of them and to connect in a richer and deeper way.

I think this is what “social” is all about.

I have decided that I won’t ever be going back to the Traffic Exchange. I don’t just need rooftop stats like views or visits. I want engagement. I prefer genuine contact. I long for discourse.

As we do our thing online, let’s remember that we are people and people are social beings that long to stay in touch with one another.

“And the LORD God said, it is not good that the man should be alone…” (Holy Bible: Genesis chapter 2, verse 18)

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Get to use Facebook data via R

I’ve been building a Shiny app for work in the office. I was made to head a team that does some sort of web monitoring and we’ve decided to use R for some of the analyses. Before I attempt to detail some of the work done in the past couple of months or so, I will briefly share my attempt to access Facebook data just yesterday. The package to use is called Rfacebook, co-developed and maintained by Pablo Barbera.

First, open R. If you don’t have the package installed, run the code

install.packages("Rfacebook")

and then load it using library(Rfacebook)

To use the package, you need to first get a Facebook API access token – a temporary one that works for just 2 hours or one that you can use repeatedly for different sessions. To get the former, visit https://developers.facebook.com/tools/explorer/; for a permanent token, register an app with https://developers.facebook.com/ using your Facebook account, if you have one. The instructions in the documentation are actually crisp enough to guide you through the process; to access it, run help(fboauth).

I also found this blog, where the process is given in detail. Knowing Facebook’s penchant for changing things, don’t be surprised if there are slight modifications to the guidance you find here or elsewhere!

There are 3 things you want out of this – 1. App Version 2. App ID and 3. App Secret.

Now that you have your main details ready, you may want to store your token in your working directory so that you can call it up whenever you want to collect data through the API. The Rfacebook documentation proposed something like this

app_id <- 123XXXXXXX12345
app_secret <- ABDEFXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX9876545
token <- fboauth(app_id, app_secret)
save(token, "my_token")
# Call up token later using load("my_token")

 

This last line with save() didn’t work for me and I can’t tell why. I even tried saving it as .RData file to no avail. This is what I did

saveRDS(token, "my_token.rds")

To use it, I would then use something like

token <- readRDS("my_token.rds)

 

Having done all, I could use different functions in the package. My only disappointment was that the main function that I had looked forward to using, searchFacebook(), has been deprecated for the current API version (at the time of writing this blog, v2.8) and Facebook had already retired the version (v1.0) for which this was possible.

So, I find the package only marginally useful for now, but will experiment a little and share if I find something interesting.

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