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Bad Data Handbook by Q. Ethan McCallum

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Chapter 18. Social Media: Erasable Ink?

Jud Valeski

The commercial use of publicly broadcast social experiences is exploding as businesses work to understand how to engage with our collectively digitized consciousness. This process is forcing every actor in the ecosystem to make decisions around how to behave when they engage with this data. From creation, to consumption, and all of the layers in-between, everyone’s expectations are being challenged. This chapter explores these expectations and how the various players are managing them.

The transition from commercially created content (such as news stories and product pages) being the only kind of data available to work with on the network, to personal end user generated content rapidly taking over, is adding completely new behavioral characteristics to the software we’re all writing. Many of these characteristics impose significant implementation challenges that “get in the way” of how we’re used to working with data. Traditionally, business requirements could be adjusted with negotiation and money, whereas with the common population so intimately involved in today’s data production, negotiation and money don’t have the same leverage they once did.

What follows is an inspection of our end user expectations and the technical ramifications around what happens to public content that is generated during those moments when we want to “take it back” or “undo” it. What we expect to be happening in those instances is often not. Our public ...

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