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Is it really impossible to delete an Evernote account?

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I’m doing a bit of online spring cleaning this week. Old accounts with services I no longer use are being closed for good. It’s not necessarily a critique of these services as such, but I think that if I am no longer using a service it’s better I close the account.

Only with Evernote you cannot close your account, at least not properly, and that worries me.

The screenshot above is for the closest Evernote has to an account deletion page – but it actually describes a permanent account deactivation, rather than a deletion, and it is also a deactivation without the prospect of reactivation. Yeah, so I can prevent myself from ever having access to the account again, but Evernote still has access to all my data, indefinitely? That strikes me as a major failure.

Googling around further leads me to this Evernote support page in German (I can’t get an English version as Evernote sees I have a German IP address and thinks I therefore definitely need German language support, and doesn’t allow me to change language either from a menu or changing the URL – a further usability failure) that tells me that I need to delete each note I have saved separately, change my e-mail address listed at Evernote to one I may never then need for an account in future, and then to deactivate my account. However here too I have no idea what data, as a user, Evernote still has stored about me. And does a note deletion really mean it is deleted? Or only from my list of documents?

Now of course there must be caveats to this – if I had shared notes with others, or others had shared them with me, there must be a way to deal with this when an account is deleted. But that must be eminently solvable. As it is currently, from the user point of view, this entire process leaves a lot to be desired!

If you want one of the placeholder Twitter accounts I’ve registered, here are a few things to bear in mind

I was an early adopter of Twitter, and have been using it for political purposes ever since. Throughout that time I have conducted all sorts of experiments with Twitter, and registered dozens of Twitter usernames for numerous purposes over the years.

One of these experiments was to make unofficial accounts for all Danish government ministries on Twitter, back in April 2013. These accounts were all automated, tweeted news from the Ministries, and clearly stated in the biographies that the accounts were unofficial.

Something has recently started to change in Denmark though, as 4 Ministries have contacted me in the last few weeks to ‘officialise’ their accounts. The first of these – Kulturministeriet @KUM_dk renamed to @Kulturmin – has now gone live.

The process to officialise the account was however far from ideal.

I received a stern e-mail from their Comms guy, telling me the account was a “problem” (why only now is this a problem, I answered, as the account has been tweeting for 12 months?) but agreed to hand it over to them. At no point in my e-mails exchanged with them was the word ‘thanks’ used once from their side, and the newly-renamed and officialised account has not tweeted anything about the process to say it is now official. I’ve delivered them a starter-following of 110 people, for free, and helped out. As I have made clear here I will of course not demand any payment if people want access to any of these accounts I happen to have registered.

Further, if they had been friendly towards me, I could have happily sent some of my 10000 followers towards them too. But no, by being unfriendly they can have this blog entry berating them instead.

How Neelie Kroes’s rant about Düsseldorf Airport wifi shows she really understands political social media

Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 13.39.09I can just imagine the scene. Neelie Kroes is sat at Düsseldorf Airport waiting for her flight, tries to get online, and turns to Ryan Heath or Jack Schickler or some other member of staff travelling with her, and with that mix of steel and mischievousness in her eye she says something along the lines of “How dare they charge €6 for an hour of wifi? I’m not having that!”

Her experience is the sort of thing regular travellers encounter all the time. It’s surely also something that the other Commissioners capable of using a smart phone also have encountered. But unlike the rest of them, Kroes connects her everyday experience with the politics of the matter and actually seeks to do something. It’s the same sort of motivation that has driven dozens of blog entries and tweets of mine over the years.

She first tweeted this:

This has been retweeted 834 times at the time of writing, and covered by The Local and Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger.

She then follows it up with an effort to crowdsource good and bad experience:

No doubt the next step will be to write a blog entry with a kind of league table of the best and the worst. Of course this is non-legislative, but it is a political issue, and Kroes’s understanding of political social media connects all of the pieces together effectively. More Commissioners should follow her example.

[UPDATE 1820]
I’ve been pointed towards a WSJ Germany blog about the same subject, and there is also now a blog entry on Neelie’s blog that summarises the responses, very kindly also linking to this blog entry of mine.

Data visualisation: beyond the barchart

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 15.26.19At reCampaign 14 today in Berlin I was lucky enough to moderate the discussion and presentation from UK company Carbon Visuals about their data visualisations of matters relating to carbon dioxide emissions, and other environmental issues. Anthony Turner and Adam Nieman were here in Berlin.

These guys take on one of the most complicated political questions: how to make environmental problems real for people. What does a tonne of CO2 look like, by size? What would all of New York’s emissions look like, visualised? What about air pollution – how much air is polluted to the maximum allowed level by old, polluting boilers? What is the total environmental impact of all the cars in the world?

Here are a couple of videos that Carbon Visuals has produced:

New York city emissions as 1-tonne spheres

The environmental impact of cars in the world

I’m struck here by how far all of this goes beyond graphs and infographics – this, as Anthony and Adam said – gets close to body experience. What would this all be like if it were here, next to me, now.

Anyway, I am not sure this blog entry does justice to the extraordinary work these guys do – a combination of creativity, and scientific evidence. You can follow Adam on Twitter, Carbon Visuals on Twitter, and find their website here.

The power of a title to make a picture go viral: “Politicians discussing global warming” by Isaac Cordal

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For the last 5 days the picture shown above has been shared far and wide on Twitter (link to the tweet), and to a certain extent on Facebook too. The title “Politicians discussing global warming” and the stunning picture match perfectly. I too was one of the people who retweeted the tweet a few days ago.

Then I thought “Ooh, it’s in Berlin, let’s find it!” But Googling it just found websites talking about the tweet. It prompted me to wonder whether the picture was indeed real, and some debate among friends of mine – including some Berlin residents – on Facebook ensued.

Determined to get to the bottom of it, I downloaded the picture, and ran it through “Search by image” on Google’s image search. Hey presto, the original picture – from the artist Isaac Cordal’s photo stream on Flickr. But with one important difference – the original is entitled “electoral campaign”, and while it was in Berlin it was from 2011! You will not find it today on Gendarmenmarkt as far as I know.

The interesting conclusion here is that the picture, with the title “Politicians discussing global warming” as tweeted above, is immensely more powerful than entitled “electoral campaign”, and that is the reason for its reach now as far as I can tell. I wonder whether it was Nigel Britto who first applied that title? Anyway, it’s an interesting little case!

(thanks @benteka and @ManagerYin for contributing to my thinking that informed this blog entry)

I was @JC_Juncker. Lessons for Twitter, and for political social media too.

Just over a week ago, as the EU Twittersphere was starting to turn its attention to the EPP’s Dublin Congress, I wondered what presence – if any – Jean-Claude Juncker had on Twitter. None was the answer. So on 2nd March, at 2117 CET, I registered @JC_Juncker, a spoof Twitter account. This screenshot of the confirmation e-mail from Twitter confirms the time of the registration.

The profile of the account looked like this:


The screenshot is from Tweetbot on my iPhone, but you get the idea. The cover picture is an overflowing ashtray, alluding to Juncker’s well known smoking habit. The biography is clearly not serious. This is obviously not an official account – it is a spoof.

So then, just over 2 days after creating the account, and having followed 800 people, and having amassed 300 followers, the account was suspended by Twitter on Wednesday 5th March, sometime in the late afternoon, and remains suspended. I do not know when exactly the account was suspended, as I received no e-mail notification of the suspension. I filled in the form on Twitter’s website as fast as I could, requesting the suspension be overturned (screenshot of the e-mail confirming this request was submitted is here).

Since then I have heard nothing from Twitter. The account, I admit, does not fully comply with Twitter’s parody policy, but I have had no opportunity to add “parody” to the username to make it clear the account is not real as Twitter would demand. Further the account has now been suspended for more time than it was actually running, and this leads me to smell a rat – how did someone manage to get the account suspended so fast, while I am still awaiting a response from Twitter to my appeal? The Twitter parody page very clearly states “We process complaints in the order in which they are received” – in this case this has clearly not been respected.

Does the fact that Twitter had a stall at the EPP Congress in Dublin have something to do with it I wonder? Does having the right connections to Twitter allow you to bypass the official policy? If we are to trust Twitter as an impartial platform for political communications then it should not be possible to use connections to bypass the policy – I do hope this is just an oversight from Twitter in this case. I will update this post once I know more.

Back to basics – a new blog design


The previous incarnation of my blog – more of a magazine style – allowed me to present a more diverse range of content. But what is the point of that if the format imposed means you are restricted in how to categorise what you write? Finding a way to make the old Max Magazine theme work for the sorts of things I wanted to write never worked quite the way I wanted it.

So I’ve gone back to basics. This blog now, once again, looks more like a blog. It is based on the Focused theme by Site5. Here’s a summary of the main changes:

  1. A more blog-style homepage
  2. Fully responsive design – so the pages should look good on anything from a small phone screen up to a 30″ monitor
  3. More space for larger photos
  4. A clearer, lighter and simpler design
  5. Use of Google fonts for headlines
  6. 2-click social media sharing buttons for better data protection
  7. A clearer overview – in the main menu – of the main themes of the blog
  8. Dedicated sections for the articles I am writing elsewhere, and for live streams and videos of my presentations, including adding all old material into these sections

A slight mishap during the rebuilding process meant some subscribers were deluged with e-mails – this has now been solved!

Anyway, do let me know what you think of the new design!

Do let me know what you think!

[UPDATE] A few stats looking back. This is at least the 5th different design of my blog in the 8 and a half years I have been writing it. The first year it ran on pLog (that became LifeType) and since then on WordPress. There are 1778 published posts, meaning 1 post every 0.57 days in that time. 11086 comments have been approved at the time of writing.

Google me. What impression does it give?

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 22.30.18In the fast-paced online lives we lead, what Google digs up determines our first impressions of anything and, indeed, anyone.

Yet I am regularly struck by how odd or alien this idea seems to some people when you confront them with it directly – online you are what Google thinks you are.

I think it is completely legitimate to see an ethical problem with this, how we make snap judgments based on an algorithm, but – conversely – how else can we adequately deal with the amount of information that confronts us on an everyday basis without making such snap judgments?

This blog entry was motivated by Googling a potential MEP whose first page Google results (responsible for 91.5% of traffic, remember) documented her dancing career (including nudity in the pictures) and delivered not one political result. Just before Christmas I similarly discovered a European Parliament candidate whose online profile was uniquely about his badminton career, not his political career. When I recently asked some political science students at Maastricht University if they had ever Googled themselves, some of them looked at me as if I were from another planet. You’re going to be trying to get jobs after this course I hit back – why have you never thought about this?

Of course there is a legitimate wish for politicians to have some back story. But if I am Googling a potential politician I would also like some political results. Furthermore, in most cases this is not at all complicated to achieve – register your own name as a domain name and set up a simple blog, and get profiles on major social networks, and be interviewed by some large blogs or newspapers. Especially in countries with open list election systems this is vital – if a voter knows which party to vote for, but has to choose among a number of candidates, all of whom have low name recognition, then online presence could be the crucial deciding factor. If it is not hard to do, why not just get on and do it?

Yes, it might be ethically questionable how we make judgments online. But if we are doing that anyway, it is careless to not pay attention to your online reputation. If you’re a wannabe politician then someone else will be keeping an eye on this even if you are not.