Essential Free Software For The Mac

A new Mac buyer recently asked me for the best starter set of software for a new Mac. I am very Apple — which means I have an iPhone, a Mac, an Apple TV and an iPad, so I like things that let me work across all my devices seamlessly. For all office work I highly recommend Apple’s Pages, Numbers and Keynote apps — they are very very good, are free, and work everywhere (except the Apple TV). You won’t find a note-taking app in my list because I’m using Apple’s inbuilt Notes. I also use Mail, Calendar and Address Book — all default apps. And I can’t even begin to talk about how good iMovie is for video editing (I have been editing video since 2005, and while my professional video editing days are behind me, I love how easy iMovie makes life for me).

Anyway, here’s my list (and I would recommend installing in this order):

Essential Software:

Onyx
System Cleaner
Run it once and then set it up to auto-execute on a weekly/monthly basis. It will clear your system of un-needed files.
http://www.titanium.free.fr/onyx.html

Dropbox (iOS + OSX)
Cloud Storage
I used only free storage for around a year, now I pay for a Terabyte of storage. I cannot imagine life without Dropbox.
https://www.dropbox.com/install

Cyberduck
FTP Client
And not just FTP, supports S3, Azure etc.
https://cyberduck.io/

Transmission
Torrent Client
My favorite way to download files — uTorrent is a very good alternative, but for some reason I’ve always preferred Transmission.
http://www.transmissionbt.com/download/

The Unarchiver
File Compression
Zip, Rar and almost every other file compression format is supported
https://itunes.apple.com/app/the-unarchiver/id425424353?mt=12&ls=1

VLC
Media Player
Plays every media file out there. I use it instead of Quicktime.
http://www.videolan.org/vlc/index.html

Handbrake
Video Format Transcoder
This is what I use to convert video files into formats supported by iTunes so I copy stuff over to my phone/ipad.
https://handbrake.fr/downloads.php

Brackets
Text Editor
If you code, you’re going to love this. If you like text-editors, you are going to love this.
http://brackets.io/

Gimp
Photoshop Replacement
As powerful as Photoshop and ridiculous overkill for most people.
https://www.gimp.org/macintosh/

Pixelmator (Especially, if Gimp feels like too much)
Image Editing
Powerful image editing — most of you will be happy with this.
http://www.pixelmator.com/mac/

Inkscape
Illustrator Replacement
Ridiculously good. Seriously.
https://inkscape.org/en/download/mac-os/

Pocket (iOS + OSX)
Article Reader / Saver
My favorite way to save articles I live/love — I have a pocket button in my browser, the app on all my devices and I love it. And I love the clean interface it gives me to read articles.
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pocket/id568494494?mt=12

Reeder (iOS + OSX)
RSS Reader
Old school 🙂 Still use an RSS Reeder and send almost everything I like to Pocket to read later.
http://reederapp.com/

Monolingual
Removes unwanted language files (saved 3+ GB of space when I ran it recently)
https://ingmarstein.github.io/Monolingual/

Song Of The Open Road

The Open Road

Walt Whitman

1.
Afoot and light-hearted, I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me, leading wherever I choose.

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune—I myself am good fortune;
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
Strong and content, I travel the open road.

The earth—that is sufficient;
I do not want the constellations any nearer;
I know they are very well where they are;
I know they suffice for those who belong to them.

(Still here I carry my old delicious burdens;
I carry them, men and women—I carry them with me wherever I go;
I swear it is impossible for me to get rid of them;
I am fill’d with them, and I will fill them in return.)

2.
You road I enter upon and look around! I believe you are not all that is here;
I believe that much unseen is also here.

Here the profound lesson of reception, neither preference or denial;
The black with his woolly head, the felon, the diseas’d, the illiterate person, are not
denied;

The birth, the hasting after the physician, the beggar’s tramp, the drunkard’s stagger,
the
laughing party of mechanics,
The escaped youth, the rich person’s carriage, the fop, the eloping couple,
The early market-man, the hearse, the moving of furniture into the town, the return back
from
the
town,
They pass—I also pass—anything passes—none can be interdicted;
None but are accepted—none but are dear to me.

3.
You air that serves me with breath to speak!
You objects that call from diffusion my meanings, and give them shape!
You light that wraps me and all things in delicate equable showers!
You paths worn in the irregular hollows by the roadsides!
I think you are latent with unseen existences—you are so dear to me.

You flagg’d walks of the cities! you strong curbs at the edges!
You ferries! you planks and posts of wharves! you timber-lined sides! you distant ships!
You rows of houses! you window-pierc’d facades! you roofs!
You porches and entrances! you copings and iron guards!
You windows whose transparent shells might expose so much!
You doors and ascending steps! you arches!
You gray stones of interminable pavements! you trodden crossings!
From all that has been near you, I believe you have imparted to yourselves, and  now would
impart the
same secretly to me;
From the living and the dead I think you have peopled your impassive surfaces,  and the
spirits
thereof would be evident and amicable with me.

4.
The earth expanding right hand and left hand,
The picture alive, every part in its best light,
The music falling in where it is wanted, and stopping where it is not wanted,
The cheerful voice of the public road—the gay fresh sentiment of the road.

O highway I travel! O public road! do you say to me, Do not leave me?
Do you say, Venture not? If you leave me, you are lost?
Do you say, I am already prepared—I am well-beaten and undenied—adhere to  me?

O public road! I say back, I am not afraid to leave you—yet I love you;
You express me better than I can express myself;
You shall be more to me than my poem.

I think heroic deeds were all conceiv’d in the open air, and all great poems also;
I think I could stop here myself, and do miracles;
(My judgments, thoughts, I henceforth try by the open air, the road;)
I think whatever I shall meet on the road I shall like, and whoever beholds me  shall like
me;
I think whoever I see must be happy.

5.
From this hour, freedom!
From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines,
Going where I list, my own master, total and absolute,
Listening to others, and considering well what they say,
Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating,
Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold  me.

I inhale great draughts of space;
The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine.

I am larger, better than I thought;
I did not know I held so much goodness.

All seems beautiful to me;
I can repeat over to men and women, You have done such good to me, I would do  the same to
you.

I will recruit for myself and you as I go;
I will scatter myself among men and women as I go;
I will toss the new gladness and roughness among them;
Whoever denies me, it shall not trouble me;
Whoever accepts me, he or she shall be blessed, and shall bless me.

6.
Now if a thousand perfect men were to appear, it would not amaze me;
Now if a thousand beautiful forms of women appear’d, it would not astonish me.

Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons,
It is to grow in the open air, and to eat and sleep with the earth.

Here a great personal deed has room;
A great deed seizes upon the hearts of the whole race of men,
Its effusion of strength and will overwhelms law, and mocks all authority and all argument
against
it.

Here is the test of wisdom;
Wisdom is not finally tested in schools;
Wisdom cannot be pass’d from one having it, to another not having it;
Wisdom is of the Soul, is not susceptible of proof, is its own proof,
Applies to all stages and objects and qualities, and is content,
Is the certainty of the reality and immortality of things, and the excellence of things;
Something there is in the float of the sight of things that provokes it out of the Soul.

Now I reexamine philosophies and religions,
They may prove well in lecture-rooms, yet not prove at all under the spacious clouds, and
along
the
landscape and flowing currents.

Here is realization;
Here is a man tallied—he realizes here what he has in him;
The past, the future, majesty, love—if they are vacant of you, you are vacant of them.

Only the kernel of every object nourishes;
Where is he who tears off the husks for you and me?
Where is he that undoes stratagems and envelopes for you and me?

Here is adhesiveness—it is not previously fashion’d—it is apropos;
Do you know what it is, as you pass, to be loved by strangers?
Do you know the talk of those turning eye-balls?

7.
Here is the efflux of the Soul;
The efflux of the Soul comes from within, through embower’d gates, ever provoking
questions:
These yearnings, why are they? These thoughts in the darkness, why are they?
Why are there men and women that while they are nigh me, the sun-light expands my blood?
Why, when they leave me, do my pennants of joy sink flat and lank?
Why are there trees I never walk under, but large and melodious thoughts descend upon me?
(I think they hang there winter and summer on those trees, and always drop fruit as I
pass;)
What is it I interchange so suddenly with strangers?
What with some driver, as I ride on the seat by his side?
What with some fisherman, drawing his seine by the shore, as I walk by, and pause?
What gives me to be free to a woman’s or man’s good-will? What gives them to be free to
mine?

8.
The efflux of the Soul is happiness—here is happiness;
I think it pervades the open air, waiting at all times;
Now it flows unto us—we are rightly charged.

Here rises the fluid and attaching character;
The fluid and attaching character is the freshness and sweetness of man and woman;
(The herbs of the morning sprout no fresher and sweeter every day out of the roots of
themselves,
than it sprouts fresh and sweet continually out of itself.
)

Toward the fluid and attaching character exudes the sweat of the love of young and old;
From it falls distill’d the charm that mocks beauty and attainments;
Toward it heaves the shuddering longing ache of contact.

9.
Allons! whoever you are, come travel with me!
Traveling with me, you find what never tires.

The earth never tires;
The earth is rude, silent, incomprehensible at first—Nature is rude and incomprehensible
at
first;

Be not discouraged—keep on—there are divine things, well envelop’d;
I swear to you there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell.

Allons! we must not stop here!
However sweet these laid-up stores—however convenient this dwelling, we cannot remain
here;
However shelter’d this port, and however calm these waters, we must not anchor here;
However welcome the hospitality that surrounds us, we are permitted to receive it but a
little
while.

10.
Allons! the inducements shall be greater;
We will sail pathless and wild seas;
We will go where winds blow, waves dash, and the Yankee clipper speeds by under full sail.

Allons! with power, liberty, the earth, the elements!
Health, defiance, gayety, self-esteem, curiosity;
Allons! from all formules!
From your formules, O bat-eyed and materialistic priests!

The stale cadaver blocks up the passage—the burial waits no longer.

Allons! yet take warning!
He traveling with me needs the best blood, thews, endurance;
None may come to the trial, till he or she bring courage and health.

Come not here if you have already spent the best of yourself;
Only those may come, who come in sweet and determin’d bodies;
No diseas’d person—no rum-drinker or venereal taint is permitted here.

I and mine do not convince by arguments, similes, rhymes;
We convince by our presence.

11.
Listen! I will be honest with you;
I do not offer the old smooth prizes, but offer rough new prizes;
These are the days that must happen to you:

You shall not heap up what is call’d riches,
You shall scatter with lavish hand all that you earn or achieve,
You but arrive at the city to which you were destin’d—you hardly settle yourself to
satisfaction, before you are call’d by an irresistible call to depart,
You shall be treated to the ironical smiles and mockings of those who remain behind you;
What beckonings of love you receive, you shall only answer with passionate kisses of
parting,
You shall not allow the hold of those who spread their reach’d hands toward you.

12.
Allons! after the GREAT COMPANIONS! and to belong to them!
They too are on the road! they are the swift and majestic men; they are the greatest
women.

Over that which hinder’d them—over that which retarded—passing impediments large or small,

Committers of crimes, committers of many beautiful virtues,
Enjoyers of calms of seas, and storms of seas,
Sailors of many a ship, walkers of many a mile of land,
Habitués of many distant countries, habitués of far-distant dwellings,
Trusters of men and women, observers of cities, solitary toilers,
Pausers and contemplators of tufts, blossoms, shells of the shore,
Dancers at wedding-dances, kissers of brides, tender helpers of children, bearers of
children,

Soldiers of revolts, standers by gaping graves, lowerers down of coffins,
Journeyers over consecutive seasons, over the years—the curious years, each emerging from
that
which preceded it,
Journeyers as with companions, namely, their own diverse phases,
Forth-steppers from the latent unrealized baby-days,
Journeyers gayly with their own youth—Journeyers with their bearded and well-grain’d
manhood,
Journeyers with their womanhood, ample, unsurpass’d, content,
Journeyers with their own sublime old age of manhood or womanhood,
Old age, calm, expanded, broad with the haughty breadth of the universe,
Old age, flowing free with the delicious near-by freedom of death.

13.
Allons! to that which is endless, as it was beginningless,
To undergo much, tramps of days, rests of nights,
To merge all in the travel they tend to, and the days and nights they tend to,
Again to merge them in the start of superior journeys;
To see nothing anywhere but what you may reach it and pass it,
To conceive no time, however distant, but what you may reach it and pass it,
To look up or down no road but it stretches and waits for you—however long, but it
stretches
and
waits for you;
To see no being, not God’s or any, but you also go thither,
To see no possession but you may possess it—enjoying all without labor or
purchase—abstracting
the feast, yet not abstracting one particle of it;
To take the best of the farmer’s farm and the rich man’s elegant villa, and the chaste
blessings
of the well-married couple, and the fruits of orchards and flowers of gardens,
To take to your use out of the compact cities as you pass through,
To carry buildings and streets with you afterward wherever you go,
To gather the minds of men out of their brains as you encounter them—to gather the love
out of
their hearts,
To take your lovers on the road with you, for all that you leave them behind you,
To know the universe itself as a road—as many roads—as roads for traveling souls.

14.
The Soul travels;
The body does not travel as much as the soul;
The body has just as great a work as the soul, and parts away at last for the journeys of
the
soul.

All parts away for the progress of souls;
All religion, all solid things, arts, governments,—all that was or is apparent upon this
globe
or
any globe, falls into niches and corners before the procession of Souls along the grand
roads
of
the
universe.

Of the progress of the souls of men and women along the grand roads of the universe, all
other
progress is the needed emblem and sustenance.

Forever alive, forever forward,
Stately, solemn, sad, withdrawn, baffled, mad, turbulent, feeble, dissatisfied,
Desperate, proud, fond, sick, accepted by men, rejected by men,
They go! they go! I know that they go, but I know not where they go;
But I know that they go toward the best—toward something great.

15.
Allons! whoever you are! come forth!
You must not stay sleeping and dallying there in the house, though you built it, or though
it
has
been built for you.

Allons! out of the dark confinement!
It is useless to protest—I know all, and expose it.

Behold, through you as bad as the rest,
Through the laughter, dancing, dining, supping, of people,
Inside of dresses and ornaments, inside of those wash’d and trimm’d faces,
Behold a secret silent loathing and despair.

No husband, no wife, no friend, trusted to hear the confession;
Another self, a duplicate of every one, skulking and hiding it goes,
Formless and wordless through the streets of the cities, polite and bland in the parlors,
In the cars of rail-roads, in steamboats, in the public assembly,
Home to the houses of men and women, at the table, in the bed-room, everywhere,
Smartly attired, countenance smiling, form upright, death under the breast-bones, hell
under
the
skull-bones,
Under the broadcloth and gloves, under the ribbons and artificial flowers,
Keeping fair with the customs, speaking not a syllable of itself,
Speaking of anything else, but never of itself.

16.
Allons! through struggles and wars!
The goal that was named cannot be countermanded.

Have the past struggles succeeded?
What has succeeded? yourself? your nation? nature?
Now understand me well—It is provided in the essence of things, that from any fruition of
success,
no matter what, shall come forth something to make a greater struggle necessary.

My call is the call of battle—I nourish active rebellion;
He going with me must go well arm’d;
He going with me goes often with spare diet, poverty, angry enemies, desertions.

17.
Allons! the road is before us!
It is safe—I have tried it—my own feet have tried it well.

Allons! be not detain’d!
Let the paper remain on the desk unwritten, and the book on the shelf unopen’d!
Let the tools remain in the workshop! let the money remain unearn’d!
Let the school stand! mind not the cry of the teacher!
Let the preacher preach in his pulpit! let the lawyer plead in the court, and the judge
expound
the
law.

Mon enfant! I give you my hand!
I give you my love, more precious than money,
I give you myself, before preaching or law;
Will you give me yourself? will you come travel with me?
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?

Remembering Diptosh

He didn’t hire me. I ended up with him because I got hired but nobody seemed to know where I fit. It wasn’t the organization’s fault — I wasn’t the fluffy, soft-features sort, I didn’t have the beat experience of a hard-nosed reporter, and I was too experienced (old at 25?) to be on the city desk.

From the day I joined journalism in July 2001 I had been a particular kind of editor’s dream. I was a good enough writer/storyteller that I could be parachuted in to pretty much any situation and be relied upon to come back with an interesting take — not just the facts, but also flavor. And I wrote with a certain flair.

In my first few weeks on the job, I covered an an event at a school, a speech by Lalu Prasad Yadav, and interviewed a former Indian ambassador for a light hearted column in the local edition of the Hindustan Times.

By the time I met Diptosh in 2005 at CNN-IBN, I had been lucky enough to find bosses who knew how to put me to good use on a daily basis. They helped me hone my writing skills. They had taught me how to spot THE story. How to persevere. I had been to Kashmir and Nepal. I was a regular member on big story, election and budget coverage teams, and often played the role of the person who stitches it all together. And I would churn out a front-page anchor story (usually about tech) frequently enough to be of value. I was the bright young sub-editor/writer. I was popular and full of myself — an affliction that doesn’t seem to go away 🙂

Diptosh, the wonderful human being that he was, taught me something very different. He taught me how to fail gracefully.

I am a small town kid with a chip on my shoulder and a need to prove myself. I know I’m intelligent and usually have an over-inflated sense of self. The first time my wife met me, she dismissed me almost immediately as an extraordinarily arrogant person.

Diptosh taught me how to let my guard down. How it was okay to ask for, and receive help. How it was good to surround myself with super-bright people, but also what it took to work with people whose intelligence isn’t immediately apparent. He taught me how not to be a feudal boss. He taught me how to spar with a smile. He taught me the value of the right question and the correct insight, not just in search of a story, but in the lives we live and the relationships we build. He taught me to see the best in others.

He taught me how to be a better human being, if only by seeing me as one.

I’m willing to bet that everyone whose life he touched has anecdotes they want to share, and moments they want to hold close. I have mine. He will be remembered.

Measuring social media, or, how social is your media

Social media is not advertising.

Digital marketing is easy to measure. Marketers have figured out how to measure advertising across mediums — TV, print etc. In some ways we’ve gone even further: we’ve also figured out how measure the content that makes people view/read/listen to the mediums in the first place.

We’ve tried to do the same with the Internet. So we had hits and eyeballs, and then later page-views and click-through rates and  so on. The basic assumption that we carried over from traditional media is that the content sits in one place and the audience goes to that place.

But, on the internet, all media is social. It travels. It doesn’t stay put in one place. So we can’t measure it using page-views.

Now, here’s the thing about social media: It’s content, or media, that we co-create. All the platforms, Facebook, Youtube, etc. are channels that the content travels across.

So, the way to measure our social media efforts/campaigns is to measure how social our media is, or how our media is travelling. Here’s how I see the life-cycle of content on the web.

  1. Come up with a content idea
  2. Translate that idea into multiple forms (video, infographic, blog-post etc.)
  3. Post it across multiple channels
  4. Track likes, comments, upvotes etc.
  5. See if it starts to get shared
  6. See if it starts to get transformed, if people start to riff on it in someway
  7. See if the idea we have shared starts to become part of people’s conversations — they may not refer back to us but may use the idea we have put out.

Most measurement efforts stop at stage 5 at the moment. But it’s stage 6 and 7 that are most important, and in many ways, really hard to measure.

What’s even harder is for brands to move from thinking about their own story in terms of a 30-second ad-spot to a longer epic where audiences get to participate in both the creation and the telling of the story.

Rant: When Social Media and Crowdsourcing gets hijacked by Groupthink

I read a guest post on Cult of Mac today that got me hopping mad. Written by Adel Zakout, it’s basically about how Apple’s new campus needed to be crowdsourced. Oh, and incidentally, Mr Zakout owns a crowdsourcing platform (and a mobile app) for buildings etc.

It’s a reaction to this video (I tweeted about it yesterday):

And here’s my comment reproduced in full below (with minor edits to fix grammatical slips and typographical slurs 🙂

This post reminds me of Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead. More specifically, it reminds me of the architects who opposed Howard Roark’s heretic designs since they didn’t include the sort of features that the others were including in their own buildings (think Grecian columns).

Let me quote Mr Zakout and address each of his points:

“To be able to take part in an open process of deciding what types of buildings, spaces and community projects are planned, that ultimately affect our everyday lives.”

How exactly does the Apple campus, or any company’s campus affect the everyday lives of the people who live in the area but don’t work there?

The biggest Effect? Traffic: A large campus housing a lot of people will result in more commuters. That was a question that was asked and addressed — the current offices there have 9,500 people working, and therefore, commuting to and fro.

However, Mr Zakout goes further. For some reason he believes “the community didn’t seem to be involved in the decision-making process behind the building.”

How exactly does he want the community to be involved — help Steve buy the land, or pay for the architects so they can be part of briefing and review meetings, or perhaps become architects themselves …

“although I would question how considerate it is to its local history and surroundings. Yes, the increase of green space and the fact that it is a low-rise building is thoughtful – but, architecturally, this building could be located in London, Beijing or Dubai. It doesn’t seem to have any specific contextual link.”

Correct me if I am wrong but that reads to me like the author is suggesting that every locality has an architectural style that needs to be preserved, and copied ad nauseum.

Also, buildings aren’t located anywhere architecturally, they are located in places physically. So, this building, whatever you may think of it is NOT located in London, Beijing or Dubai — this is, at best, a specious argument.

“What about the thoughts and concerns of the local residents – whether positive or negative?”

Ah, Mr Zakout, how nice of you to take up cudgels on behalf of the local residents. It’s so easy to get free publicity when you become a champion for the poor, the needy, the downtrodden. How about we wait for the meeting where the building permissions will be discussed, and any objections that the town may have will be aired.

“Developers and Architects need to also be able to engage with the local community when thinking about buildings in order to manage their process more transparently.”

In other words, Mr Zakout, developers, architects, steve jobs, and the town of Cupertino needs to sign up on your website. This last point is perhaps the most vulgar of the lot.

I have a day job heading one of India’s leading social media agencies. I have built tools enabling crowd-sourced ideation that are being used by fairly interesting people in interesting ways. But, I also have the good fortune of a childhood that included reading Orwell and Huxley.

What Mr Zakout suggests is not a crowdsourced alternative, he is pushing for groupthink. He seems to believe a collective intelligence can design a better building than an individual expert. Leave architecture to the architects Mr Zakout, and let the good folks of Cupertino fight their own battles.

Three lessons to be learnt from Vodafone’s Social Media Fail

Today, Vodafone India got a story on the front page of the Economic Times — India’s largest financial daily, for perhaps, the country’s biggest social media fail. And I’m sure some people reading the story are going to blame social media campaigns for the soup Vodafone is in.

The fact of the matter is simple: Vodafone told a customer to shut up. The question they need to ask themselves is this: would they tell a customer to shut up if he were standing in front of them, complaining face to face. Chances are, no matter how tempted they might be, they would control themselves, listen, and try and mollify the customer.

You see that’s what happens in a conversation.

When brands and companies continue to treat social media as a method of communication — a one way street, where they can “engage customers” (read “get customers to click the like button”), this is what could well happen to them.

Three lessons for brands:

1. Publishing has been democratized. Everybody online is a publisher with the power to reach millions of people. Everybody. Having more money doesn’t automatically mean you can out-publish an individual.

2. Don’t tell people you don’t like to shut up by sending them legal notices. If a customer is complaining, you need to listen and either choose to respond if he’s genuine, or ignore the guy if he’s making a mountain out of a non-existent molehill.

3. You can’t afford to not be on social media. And you can’t let advertisers tell you what to do. Advertisers sell. They communicate. They don’t know the first thing about a conversation — because that’s not how they’ve been trained. In fact, most social media agencies operate like ad agencies — they talk marketing speak “reach”, “impact” etc. Wake up and smell the coffee: it’s a conversation. And you, the brand, is a participant in a conversation. Behave like you would if you were at a meeting: don’t shout, don’t ignore what others are saying, listen, and respond.

How hard is that?

Very. Most marketeers and advertisers are trained from day one to think about communication aimed at selling and brand building. Their tools are mass-media vehicles that lots of people consume, or “interact with”. I’ve always wondered what that means — interaction. Press a button and hear a sound. So what! The answer, normally, is couched in a sentence that includes the phrase: “brand recall”.

Here’s my take on it — it works.

But, it doesn’t work everywhere. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution.

If everybody’s a publisher, what you need to become is a reporter. You need to think editorial NOT advertorial.

Welcome to my world.

A New Social Network That Likes To Spy

Yesterday, a friend told me about AllMediaPeople, A Social Network Just For Media Professionals (their emphasis, not mine).  So, I moseyed over to take a look at it — as a believer in social media and the digital age of conversations, I love the idea of people setting up social networks, even if they don’t seem to have a business model.

The retired journalist in me still has a couple of kicks left, though, so whenever I see a website without a business model I go looking for links to their privacy policy and their terms of service. If they’re up, you find juicy tit bits about how they’re going to use the information you’re putting up on the site.

Think about it for a second: I don’t know how happy I’d be if the world could see topless photos of me — wait, they can, I’ve made it my profile picture … damn. But, you get the idea. We all have stuff we want to share with people who know us. So, I’m sure we’d all be unhappy if a pervy database administrator was sitting going through our photos, phone numbers or addresses.

Coming back to our friendly social network for media professionals: they didn’t have a TOS or a Privacy Policy that I could find: click here for an image.

That’s when the troll in me emerged: I set up two fake profiles using the names of famous journalists and posted a comment from each. I set up the accounts using throwaway email accounts (the sort that stay alive for a few minutes).

Here’s how a social network that professes to be aimed at a vertical should behave when they find fake accounts: go ahead and delete them. Better still, use a verification system that works. For example, when Facebook — the largest social network I know, correct me if I’m wrong — started up, they were only open to users with a .edu email address.

But here’s how AllMediaPeople addressed the issue. They checked the IP address used to create the account. Ran a reverse-ip. Figured out it belonged to my office. All good till here, maybe. Here’s the shocker: They called and asked if we had started to represent the two journalists in question.

When I was told about it, I burst out laughing imagining what their faces would look like if this social network had called them up instead.

As someone who has almost always signed my name to the stuff I have to say, here’s what I think of AllMediaPeople: it’s a con job. An attempt to gather and sell the data of journalists, PR professionals and Corporate Communications Managers  to real estate brokers who’re going to spam us. And I’m going to stick to this position till they upload a TOS and Privacy Policy that proves me wrong.