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    Re: Who's on Facebook?
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2011 Mar 17, 01:01 -0700

    Alan,

    You said that my description of FB made it sound like a "con game". Sorry for making it sound that way. :) It's not at all. First of all, they're not selling you anything. It's free apart from some harmless advertising. Second, most people actually like its "machine intelligence". Imagine how hard it would be to dig up all the people you've known in your life on your own. Their algorithms do the work and allow us busy people to use our time more productively --like by spending time sharing pictures of our cats on FB, for example. ;)

    Richard,
    You asked:
    "How do you prevent this address book harvesting? "

    Just say no. I'm mentioned that they're system could even be called "devious" but it's not "diabolical". They always ask very politely, and I see that John H. has provided the standard technical solution (he's now in our FB cel nav group, by the way). I'll tell you a little story... I signed on to FB with a brand new, never used email address from a domain that I own and have never allowed anyone else access to. I did this, in part, because I did not yet want "our machine overlords" to hook me up with long lost girlfriends, people I barely knew in grade school, and a few relatives that I would prefer not to be related to. It worked as planned. Since my email address had no connections, I could connect up in other ways (we are now up to nine people in our NavList-based "celestial navigation" group). I was all set since I understood how the system worked going in, right? Well here's where the "devious" part comes in... After a while, the machines told me that my account was perhaps a bit insecure and I should provide an alternate contact email. Sure, that sounds reasonable. Everybody likes account security. So I picked from one of my two dozen active email addresses, many of which I keep "just in case". I decided to use a really old aol email address as my "account security email". Within ten minutes, their algorithms were trying to hook me up with all the people I knew online from 1991 to about 2000 (the system had searched *their* email address books and found my old address). It was indeed a bit nostalgic seeing the name of my business lawyer from 1993 whom I hadn't thought about since maybe 1996, but that was too much for me. I jumped in and removed that email as quick as I could. Fortunately, their system then deleted the links, so again, not diabolical but a little shocking in its obsession to connect me up. By the way, this might also sound like a good way of connecting with business customers, but I should warn you about a little trick they have to prevent that: email addresses that "sound like" business addresses cannot be used. So for example, "info[at]somebusiness.com" is not permitted. If you want to leverage FB for business, you should first send emails to all your customers telling them to use a new email address, e.g., "bill[at]somebusiness.com". Then their emails will be loaded in as potential acquaintances.

    Ok, enough about the devious Fbeast! Again, the only reason I brought this up is because it's a nice way to connect with other celestial navigation people. So far this is just NavList members. No surprise there. And we're having some fun, I should add. It's much more "normal" to swap photos of ourselves with our pets (sextants!) via FB than by NavList posts. Down the road, it may provide a nice opening for other folks to connect up with our community. And that's the only way to keep this science-art alive. We bring in new people, or we fade away.

    -FER


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