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Social Media

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Introduction to Social Media and CellarTracker

Five years ago no one knew what a social network was. Now there are quite literally hundreds of millions of people sharing their daily experiences with friends, colleagues and the world at large via sites like Facebook and Twitter.

As with so many things, my goal is to provide you with integration, choice and control. Over the past couple of years (starting in January, 2009) CellarTracker has had integration with Twitter and more recently (November, 2010) with Facebook as well. If you use Facebook and like to share the occasional wine or tasting note with friends or family, well now you have the opportunity to let CellarTracker place a nicely formatted and linked label image on your Facebook news feed to let your friends know what you are buying, drinking or tasting. Likewise for Twitter, whether you maintain public or private lists of followers, if you so choose you can broadcast similar information (within the constraints of a 140 character textual limit). All postings to Facebook and Twitter can be easily suppressed with simple checkboxes during the aforementioned actions on CellarTracker.

The topic of Social Media is a controversial one and certainly does not appeal to all users of CellarTracker. If you find the whole concept silly, narcissistic, or annoying, no problem, stop reading. These integration features are optional. If you are just a bit worried what your friends might think of your wine habit, well either get some new friends (that's supposed to be a joke) or just use the features to only send out occasional notices on favorite or special bottles.

Activation: Granting a Valet Key

Two years ago the application architectures of these social media platforms were less secure, in some case requiring you to trust your username and password to sites like CellarTracker. More recently however there has been some degree of standardization around mechanisms that are more secure and give users much more control over what applications and websites can access or post to your Facebook and Twitter accounts.

The key concept here is one of a valet key with a remote controlled self-destruct. CellarTracker has pre-registered applications on each platform. When you go to turn on these applications you are asked by Facebook or Twitter whether to grant this application permission to post on your behalf. If you say yes, then Facebook and Twitter fashion completely custom 'valet keys' that are only designed to allow access to your account via CellarTracker. The beauty of this system though is that the keys are centrally managed. Within Facebook and Twitter you can see a list of all apps and websites that have been granted permission. YOU have the power to revoke permission at any point and invalidate the valet key. In Twitter you can change your password and the key is unaffected. (Facebook chooses to invalidate all keys on password change.)

The specific user-interface entry points are discussed in more detail below.

Facebook Specifics

Permission Levels

In the Facebook application model applications ask for specific levels of permission. The CellarTracker applications (I have a separate application for signup from the beta) requires three specific permissions:
  1. Basic Profile Data: Actually ALL Facebook applications are required to have access to your profile. In the case of this application the only data actually read from your profile is the link to your actual Facebook profile.
  2. Posting Permissions: This is by design, but since the whole point of the CellarTracker application is to post data to your profile, well it of course needs posting permissions.
  3. Offline Access: This last one is perhaps the most controversial. The posting to Facebook does not happen from the user's actual machine where they are logged into Facebook but rather from the CellarTracker servers. Adding to the integration challenges, posting happens typically while you are in the middle of adding or removing bottles or adding a tasting note. In this context, posting to Facebook is a "nice to have" feature, but requiring access to your Facebook profile (whether or not you are logged in) is necessary for simplicity and robustness.

If any of these permissions are controversial for you, then my advice is not to use the integration.

Throttling

One important limitation of Facebook is that it does limit/throttle the total number of posts a user can make from CellarTracker to their profile in a 24-hour period. The good news is that as more users exercise the integration the more that Facebook raises this limit. If the application ever stops working, just wait 24 hours and then try again.

Facebook Visuals

Pictured below is the Facebook signup dialog.


Within Facebook if you ever want to revoke posting permissions for CellarTracker you can navigate to the Facebook privacy options and then the Application Settings as shown below.






Twitter Specifics

Twitter Visuals

Pictured below is the Twitter signup dialog.


Within Twitter if you ever want to revoke posting permissions for CellarTracker you can navigate to the Twitter Settings and then Connections to revoke access as shown below.





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Edited December 5, 2011 (diff)

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