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Michael van der Galien

Michael van der Galien is the founder and editor-in-chief of Media Tapper and <a href="http://theatlanticright.com", and managing editor of Dutch news and opinion website De Dagelijkse Standaard. He can be contacted at mpfvandergalien@gmail.com
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Dear Americans: Whatever You Do, Don’t Ban College Football

Saturday, May 26th, 2012 - by Michael van der Galien

Banning college football is un-American.

Being European, I can’t help but wonder over recent debates in the United States about the NFL and college football. Increasingly more analysts believe that these sports should be banned, or at least ‘reformed’. The latter of course meaning that they’ll lose what makes them unique and appealing to sports fans everywhere.

Now, make no mistake about it: I’m just as convinced as the average Joe that football is a very dangerous sport indeed. But why did this fact take analysts by surprise? Why do they make such a big issue out of concussions and other football-related problems? Is it a matter of them wanting to wash their hands in all innocence?

I still remember the first time I watched the NFL: I was shocked – shocked. These weren’t athletes, they were gladiators. Anyone not blind could see that they were out to hurt each other and that the crowd loved them for it.

Once I got into the NFL, I started watching college football too. It was just as great, if not better, simply because it’s less commercial. These youngsters were trying to prove themselves; they wanted to be the best they could possibly be, while hoping for a professional career in the NFL. They were willing to run through brick walls to reach their goals.

Of course, they too were taken off the field regularly. One had a concussion, another a broken leg. Some of the injured players were probably scarred for life. That much was clear. 

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Why Google+ Is Starting to Suck

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012 - by Michael van der Galien

Although Google+ continues to grow (it now has 100 million users, according to Larry Page) I’m afraid that while the stats may be on the rise the quality of the platform itself is going downhill.

When I signed up for Google+ in July of last year, it was like a breath of fresh air. It was inhabited by ‘early adopters’: people who are the first to sign up for new websites and to participate on them. Luckily for Google, these early adopters are also the world’s ‘influencers’ and they were positive and hopeful about this new social media baby.

That was then, this is now: like others I’m starting to lose faith in Google’s ability to turn G+ into a network where people come to discuss serious issues. Increasingly, it’s becoming a carbon copy of Facebook. People are reduced to sharing cat gifs and other fancy images (often with so-called ‘inspiring’ oneliners accompanying them).

The reason? I’m afraid that G+ lost most of its appeal when it opened to the public at large. The masses don’t care about quality conversations; they want fluff. To keep up with the trend, even influencers (with, again like me, many thousands of followers) change their posting behavior. We’re now at a point where I wonder why I’m logging in; sure there still are some good and interesting posts published on G+, but I can find their authors also at other social networking sites that are more focused on professionals.

Read: LinkedIn.

It became even worse when Google+ got a complete redesign that actually emphasizes images and photos. That’s great for the visually oriented, I guess, but for those of us who want to learn something from other people, it isn’t useless but frustrating. We suddenly see “trending topics,”"what’s hot” and posts that consist of a gigantic image, with no or little thoughts offered with it.

How that is supposed to inspire interesting conversations is beyond me.

Can Page et al. turn it around? Can G+ once again become the place on the Net for me to talk about technology and social media, and of course politics?

Perhaps. But I’m losing faith.

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The 8 Ways Big Brother Facebook’s New Changes Alienate Its Users

Monday, September 26th, 2011 - by Michael van der Galien

By Michael van der Galien

Facebook is supposed to be one of the most innovative social networking websites on the Net. It is, at the very least, the biggest — by far.

But for how long will Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard project remain number one? It’s a fair question to ask now that the changes Facebook announced Thursday at its f8 conference are being criticized by virtually everybody — except for Zuckerberg himself, that is.

When Google+, the new social network of Google, was launched, many were critical. The criticism disappeared at the very moment people starting using it, however: all its new users fell in love with it immediately. This wasn’t just a “social network,” it was truly a new home on the Internet, especially for those who had grown tired of Facebook’s clutter and arrogance.

Facebook knew it had to strike back. First came video chat, which is a partnership with Skype. Then, this week, other innovations were rolled out: the biggest changes were a new news stream and the possibility to subscribe to users’ public posts. Then, Thursday, other changes were introduced that, Zuckerberg announced, would truly revolutionize your Internet experience.

But are these changes in the best interest of Facebook’s 800 million users? No. Not even almost.

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