How authentic can you get on the internet, part 2

Months ago, I had a long post about the subject of authenticity on the internet. This topic has once again become relevant.

– an OFW allegedly posted an insensitive post on Facebook in the midst of the Ondoy tragedy. Out of anger, “she” was mugged virtually. It was just alright, I guess, if Jacqueline Bermejo is not a real person. But she is. And the issue tainted her dignity. Here’s her official statement.

– this one is on the other side of the spectrum. Mickey Arroyo, son of the president, was allegedly “caught on cam” to have been buying alcohol in the middle of the typhoon. Very insensitive they said. But he denied that that that picture was taken during that time. So, the “poor guy”, being feasted on Facebook, wants to censor the use of these social networks altogether as if we’re China or Afganistan. I’d like to see him head the censorship group and see how he accomplishes that.

– because of the tragedy, a lot has reportedly using fake “donation centers” and asking for Paypal donations. Will you believe these right away out of your genuine compassion?

The internet can either make you or break you. Be wise. Be useful.

jacque-bermejo-1.jpg

DON’T believe everything you see on the internet. Rule no. 1.

How a local domain registrar screwed us up

I’m writing this in the hope that the local internet industry will try to pursue excellence, small as we are. There’s always a start. Pissing off clients is not.

Years ago, I moved and registered my domains — and my clients’ — to a local domain registrar. They claimed to be cheaper than the cheap domains. But looking back, I actually used their service in support of the local internet companies and not really because of the price. If there’s anyone who offers the same service locally, why would I go out? That’s my principle then — and still is.

Unfortunately, though, this local internet company started missing the essentials. They stopped receiving online payments, forcing clients go to the bank to pay for the domains. Their control panel keeps on failing. Their “mother registrar” — mydomains.com — keeps on emailing me. At one time, I renewed the domain at mydomains.com after I received the email, not from this local company, thinking that “it’ll reflect to my account anyway”. It didn’t.

I had no choice but to slowly move my domains out.

This week, I had enough.

2008 – I started moving my domains out

Oct. 2008 – I changed servers. So I had to change the NS record through the domain control panel. Their control panel was failing when I tried to have one of my busiest local client’s domain changed. So what I did was to call their customer support after my emails are left unanswered. And after about 2 days of trying to reach them via phone, at last, somebody answered! And she agreed to change the NS record manually. It worked.

Jan 5, 2009 – I planned to move the domain (one of the last 2) out. So, to prepare that, I updated my email address via their control panel. Take note, just the email address.  I successfully did that.

Jan 7 – It was Saturday and my client is bugging me. She was freaking out because their website is forwarding to the old server. I checked, and it really was. I noticed that the NS record has reverted back to the old record! Huh!? I didn’t do that? Who would have done that? Or was it an API failure? Meaning, their control panel isn’t speaking correctly with their “mother registrar”? Anyway, I tried to solve the problem by simply changing the NS record back from their control panel. Two hours have passed, 4, 8, a day, and then Monday, nothing was happening!

Jan 9 – I called the customer service and asked why, I have changed the NS record from their control panel but the WHOIS isn’t changing after 2 days. She said, sometimes, they do it manually. Manually? She means that their  control panel actually doesn’t work 100% of the time. So, no time to argue, I have a pissed off client shouting at me, I simply asked her to change the NS manually — again.

Next day – still nothing is happening. My client is loosing her business. I was freaking out. I tried calling the customer support. She was out for the day. I asked, who can I talk to other than her? The answer: none. And the owner is out too. They didn’t offer to call him. Why would they, I’m just one small client with issue on one domain? No big deal. At least to them.

And the next day — I finally reached the one-woman-band customer support. But she was clueless why.

Let me stop here and drive my point. I’m part of the local internet industry. My dream is for us to go head to head with international leaders like India. There are factors that we have no control off — like government support. But there are things that we can control. And by pursuing excellence, we can make a difference. So, local internet industry, let’s learn from this domain registrar’s mistakes:

– poor customer support

– very poor API integration to their provider, affecting their clients in a big way

– lack of reliable and systematic ecommerce facility.

Would you like me to name that local domain registrar? Nah…

How authentic can you get on the internet?

In this short post, I’m going to lead you to answer an unfamiliar question: How authentic can you get on the internet?

As an internet practitioner, I’ve seen how it matured from a business communication tool to a personal, social networking monster. When it started in the Philippines sometime 1997 to about 2003/2004, we knew the internet as email, webpages for companies and doing online commerce (otherwise known as “ecommerce”). With the advent of Friendster, the rules have changed.

The internet has become personal. So personal that these days, as I observed, most people ranging from students to corporate employees cannot end the day without checking their favorite social networking site — blogging, adding friends, posting their pictures and sending messages.

You have, Friendster, of course. Then Multiply.com. Facebook. MySpace. LinkedIn. Then the microblogging tools like Twitter and Plurk. All these have become our own personal space on the internet.

How personal did the internet become these past few years? You’ll see people meeting online and getting married. You’ll see people fighting over ideologies, religion and politics. You’ll see old friends, high school, college classmates and roommates reuniting. One can immediately conclude that everything we now see on the internet can be real, personal and authentic.

Authentic? How authentic? How real?

Here’s my observation. While the internet has become personal, it is still less real.  Authenticity isn’t the popular term on the internet. People can post false information about themselves in the guise of reality. People can choose to destroy people through a powerful tool called blogging — who knows how true can it get? People can cover their insecurities and pretend to be somebody else. Over and over, I saw people arguing about something without really understanding each other — only because they judged based on what is written and not necessarily on how it is actually written. I see friendships broken, relationships tainted because of a blog post or a profile information or a status update — only to find out that it could have not happened if they didn’t interpret it as it is.

And it can even become uglier — that is, if we take social networking tools so seriously and judge people’s character and motives based on their online activities.

– if a person knows enough of the subject that he writes about, does that mean he practices it?
– if you post a picture about yourself, does that mean you “only love yourself” and not anybody else?
– if someone frequently visits your profile, does that mean s/he likes you?
– if you post happy thoughts, does that mean you’re happy?
– if you post sad thoughts, does that mean you’re pathetic?
– if your picture rocks, does that mean you’re really beautiful/handsome in person?
– if you post seductive pictures, does that mean you want to have sex with your online visitor?

… the question never ends. It could be longer and deeper than you think.

Here’s my point: use the internet as a tool for communication. Find new friends. Locate old friends. Share your life. Break new deals. Earn, if you can. Share your problems to a group of online friends. Give counsel. Share Jesus. Give announcements. But don’t go beyond that. Don’t assume. Don’t judge. Because the internet isn’t a replacement to face to face, real world communication. If you do, you’ll be mislead and arrive to a wrong conclusion.