Thursday, January 07, 2021

Facebook's larger type for shorter comments highlights sound byte versus more nuanced thought.

Some thoughts of mine on the responsibility of social media platforms; like Facebook.

I notice that short postings on Facebook appear in larger type. After more words are added, the type size shrinks. If I were the boss, so to speak, at Facebook. I would remove that feature. I would make the type size the same for short comments; like one liners, as for longer comments.

This would reduce the focus on sound bytes.

Personally, I tend to post medium sized comments on Facebook. I like fairly nuanced thought more than quick slogans. At the same time, I'm not much of a book reader. A 300 page book isn't that accessible to the reader. Even I don't seem to have the time, or maybe the attention span for books. Books are valuable, but I'll admit I have not read many.

I do follow a lot of NPR type hour or half hour interviews. I read articles in publications ranging from our local Bellingham Herald to Scientific American. I find the Scientific American articles that come up online to be fairly accessible.

Back when I was a kid, my dad got Scientific American and the house had (maybe still has) a huge collection of Scientific American back issues at the foot of the stairs to my bedroom. Back then, it was so full of grey type that I hardly paid any attention to it and just passed it by on the way to my bedroom.

I hear that President Trump has now been banned from posting on Facebook. Maybe that's a good idea. I don't have a strong opinion about that, though I never was a Trump fan. I've often thought that famous people don't really need social media. They have access to the regular "big time" media any time they want. Social media seems more important as an outlet for us little people.

I remember this segment of a talk show, I heard, back in the 1990's I think it was talk show host Jim Hightower. When the World Wide Web was new, someone called up and suggested Hightower get a web page. Hightower answered, "A web what?" The caller tried to explain.

"Anyone can do it." "People can see it worldwide."

Hightower interrupted and started ranting, "why the hell would I need a website." "My voice is heard on a hundred radio stations from cost to coast and even around the world." "I have millions of listeners." "Many of my stations have 50,000 watt transmitters."

He went on and on, like a thundering Wizard of Oz and eventually moved on to the next caller.

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