Tag Archives: facebook

What happens if the social web as we know it isn’t actually all that social?

Stephen Marche, The Atlantic:

The idea that a Web site could deliver a more friendly, interconnected world is bogus. The depth of one’s social network outside Facebook is what determines the depth of one’s social network within Facebook, not the other way around. Using social media doesn’t create new social networks; it just transfers established networks from one platform to another. For the most part, Facebook doesn’t destroy friendships—but it doesn’t create them, either.

On the face of it, it seems crazy: social networking that isn’t social. But like it or not, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and your social network of choice are pretty much everywhere. But what does that mean for you? I mean, aren’t you the one that decides what to post, where? Aren’t you the one that decides how many friends you have, or how privy other people are to your innermost secrets, or at least the ones you choose to share with your fellow socialites? While at least some of that may be true, it doesn’t mean that social networking is all that social. Let me explain.

Almost half of the Australian population uses Facebook. And I can tell you from first-hand experience that Facebook is great! Fantastic, even. When Facebook first launched, I remember the stories of how it meant people could keep in touch with people they thought they had all but lost contact with. There was quite a bit of press about people getting in touch with their teachers from high school, or with long-lost relatives, cousins, friends who had moved to other countries. For most people, that was a great thing: it meant that people didn’t have to track down relatives by calling sixteen different individuals just for an email address, or having to go and do the legwork to get in touch with someone from high school. Anyone could just add their friend on Facebook, and that was that. Easy, right?

Thanks to this thing called the Internet, Facebook suddenly made the world a smaller place. Now it doesn’t matter what country your friends are in, or whether a few streets away, or a few thousand kilometers, because as long as they’re online, you can talk to them in real-time. It doesn’t matter how separated by geographical distance you are, because the internet is everywhere. It doesn’t matter if you can’t see your friends in person on a weekly or monthly basis, because the internet is always there.

To reiterate my original question: what happens if social media isn’t all it’s chalked up to be? What happens, instead of connecting people (hi Nokia!), the social web just serves as a reminder for how lonely we all are?

Granted, that’s a rather pessimistic way of looking at things. Perhaps, then, the above statement could be rephrased as such: as well as connecting people, what happens if the social web also serves as a reminder for how lonely we all are? I have friends that only post the most enthusiastic stuff. They’re seemingly always happy. They’re seemingly always content, and never upset, sad, or anything else.

One one hand, that’s great, you know? If they’re happy, I’m happy that they’re happy. But on the other, you have to wonder: if someone is posting about how much they love their significant other, or how great their life is, and I’m here reading their happiest-ever-status, doesn’t that mean my own life is a miserable mess by comparison?

Once again, Stephen Marche:

When I scroll through page after page of my friends’ descriptions of how accidentally eloquent their kids are, and how their husbands are endearingly bumbling, and how they’re all about to eat a home-cooked meal prepared with fresh local organic produce bought at the farmers’ market and then go for a jog and maybe check in at the office because they’re so busy getting ready to hop on a plane for a week of luxury dogsledding in Lapland, I do grow slightly more miserable. A lot of other people doing the same thing feel a little bit worse, too.

It’s this passive consumption that means the social web might not be all it’s chalked up to be, and it’s this passive consumption that means when you read about how great someone else’s life is, your own life will seem less so by comparison.

Real life isn’t like this. You don’t know what the person on the street is feeling. You don’t know what they’re thinking, or how their day is going. If you ask them, you’ll probably find out, but who wants to go around asking total strangers how they’re going, how they’re feeling?

Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes I ask myself if any of this social networking stuff is “worth it”. I wonder if keeping up-to-date with Facebook, or Twitter, is “worth it”. What do I gain? The question, once again, could perhaps be better rephrased as: do all these social networks make me feel more connected with people I care about, or less so?

I’d like to think that social media has made our lives better. In ways, it has: it means we can talk to our friends in a different time zone. Social media, the social web, whatever you want to call it, has meant that we can connect with Mac enthusiasts from all over the world. It means that we can connect with famous photographers, people we look up to, and yes, even our long-lost relatives or friends that we just lost touch with.

But there’s always the other side of social media, the side that everyone seems to ignore just because the advantages seem to outweigh the negatives. The side that says you shouldn’t use the social web to supplement your social activities, but instead use it to complement them. The side that says this “passive consumption” is bad for you.

If you’re wondering by now, you should probably read the entire article by Stephen Marche, but I’ll quote him again anyway because it serves as a nice summary. (The article, if you’re wondering, is about whether Facebook makes us lonely, but most of the topics I’ve covered here are one and the same.)

LONELINESS IS CERTAINLY not something that Facebook or Twitter or any of the lesser forms of social media is doing to us. We are doing it to ourselves. Casting technology as some vague, impersonal spirit of history forcing our actions is a weak excuse. We make decisions about how we use our machines, not the other way around. Every time I shop at my local grocery store, I am faced with a choice. I can buy my groceries from a human being or from a machine. I always, without exception, choose the machine. It’s faster and more efficient, I tell myself, but the truth is that I prefer not having to wait with the other customers who are lined up alongside the conveyor belt: the hipster mom who disapproves of my high-carbon-footprint pineapple; the lady who tenses to the point of tears while she waits to see if the gods of the credit-card machine will accept or decline; the old man whose clumsy feebleness requires a patience that I don’t possess. Much better to bypass the whole circus and just ring up the groceries myself.

There’s some stuff in there that’s for another time, but for now, you’ll excuse me to post about how good — no, great! Fantastic, even! — my life is on all the social networks.

Bored

It’s something that has been mentioned a couple of times before by many people, but it’s still an important point, and in 2012, just as relevant as it has been before.

It’s boredom.

Or rather, the lack thereof.

When was the last time you were truly bored?

In this day and age, in the smartphone era, we’re always connected. People actually prefer to have their emails pushed instantaneously to their phone, rather than waiting a few minutes for that email to come in. We have this “streaming” technology on Twitter that means we’re not just taking a sip from the stream, but taking a water cannon in the face.

Technology means we have Kindles for reading, Nintendos for gaming, and iPhones for pretty much anything else. It’s crazy to think we live in a world where fast, free Wi-Fi is almost ubiquitous, and mobile networks more so again.

Don’t get me wrong, I love technology. It connects people in ways we never imagined, and means any number of friends and other humans are always just a short few taps away. And hey, it even does an admirable job of keeping people like yours truly awake in lectures.

Think about it: when was the last time you went without staring at some array of pixels for some amount of time? If you’re not looking at your computer, you’re looking at your phone. Or playing with your iPad. Using a digital camera. And so on, and so forth.

The question then becomes: where and when do we draw that line in the sand and say: “hey, I just need a moment to myself.” A little alone time, time away from Twitter, time away from Facebook, time to just sit, think, and contemplate the meaning of life, the universe, and everything?

Not even thinking about anything in particular. Just the chance to have a little down time every now and again. The chance to get offline.

I don’t drive, so as a result I do my fair share of public transport. I used to enjoy doing a little bit of writing on the bus, and I still do, but increasingly I’m finding that I just put my in-ears in, start playing some great music, and tune out. Tune out is the best way to describe it, because you don’t have to think about anything.

It’s very nice.

Because as much as I enjoy technology in every aspect you can imagine, I think it’s supremely important to get away from it all for a while. You can’t be always switched on, all the time; it gets tiring pretty quickly, and I dare say you’ll suffer from burn out sooner rather than later.

So stop reading your RSS feeds for a weekend. Stop feeling like you have to check Facebook religiously. Stop succumbing to the pleasures of the Internet and just disconnect.

Enjoy the serenity, while you still can.

Hundreds of channels, but not a thing to watch.

There are so many different social networking accounts that just one person can have, but with all that space to communicate, is anything really being said?

If you’re really tricky, you can consolidate your Facebook and twitter into a twitter feed that only publishes excepts of posts from your Facebook person or Facebook page account. But then twitter is nothing more than an RSS feed, which you probably have anyway. If you set up your tumblr just right, you can also pump your posts to twitter, facebook, probably bebo and myspace too if they allowed you to do anything apart from post animated gifs and bad music samples.

Entrepreneurs keep coming up with different ways for people to communicate and express themselves, but in the jumble of it all, is anyone listening?

via glasnt – Hundreds of channels, but not a thing to watch. – Hundreds of channels, but not a thing to watch..

It’s (not) funny, because it’s true.

I think social insecurity applies to most of us at some level. However, we geeks have the advantage that it’s pretty much expected. We can talk about it and joke about it with geeks and non-geeks alike. We interpret things literally, boy geeks suck at talking to girls, girl geeks suck at talking to boys — you know how it goes.

[…]

Suddenly, consciously or not, Facebook is a game to me: to perform my best in the social world I want to optimise quality of posts against frequency of posts. How do I tell if a post is good quality? I see how many comments I get and how many Likes I get.

via The friends game – The Imaginary Part.

Conversations About The Internet #5: Anonymous Facebook Employee

Rumpus: You’ve previously mentioned a master password, which you no longer use.

Employee: I’m not sure when exactly it was deprecated, but we did have a master password at one point where you could type in any user’s user ID, and then the password. I’m not going to give you the exact password, but with upper and lower case, symbols, numbers, all of the above, it spelled out ‘Chuck Norris,’ more or less. It was pretty fantastic.

Rumpus: This was accessible by any Facebook employee?

Employee: Technically, yes. But it was pretty much limited to the original engineers, who were basically the only people who knew about it. It wasn’t as if random people in Human Resources were using this password to log into profiles. It was made and designed for engineering reasons. But it was there, and any employee could find it if they knew where to look.

I should also say that it was only available internally. If I were to log in from a high school or library, I couldn’t use it. You had to be in the Facebook office, using the Facebook ISP.

via Conversations About The Internet #5: Anonymous Facebook Employee – The Rumpus.net.

Why doesn’t Facebook look like this?

The home page features many new benefits: the publisher toolbar enables users to post content from any page within Facebook, saving time in navigating needlessly through profiles; the streams’ two-tiered filter (content type & content contributers) also creates a more coherent structure with the core elements retaining their position throughout most of the site; and the live feed displays a constant stream of all content posted in a users network, which expands upon mouse over.

via Facebook Facelift – Home & Profiles on Vimeo.

Oh – that’s right, because there will be 1000000 people complaining that they liked it how it was, and 100000 new groups saying to “change it back”.

FFS. Progress, people.

Benny Ling likes this.

So one of the people I follow on Twitter (yes, all 619 of them) pointed out something pretty cool. Being the guy that I am, I had to go check it out.

Pedestrians like this.

Yes. That is exactly what you think it is, if what you think it is is “a Facebook like sticky-taped to the pedestrian crossing button-that-makes-the-green-man-come-on”. (If there’s actually a proper name for that thing, let me know.)

How awesome is that, seriously? Hobartians are so cool. ^_^

It’s funny, because someone went to the trouble of not only printing that in the exact font that Facebook uses, but also the little thumb up icon as well.

In case you’re wondering where you yourself can view this marvel, it’s on the corner of Murray and Collins Streets, directly opposite the green FujiFilm building. Here’s a pic so you don’t get lost:

photo(2)

Note that the purple pin represents the spot where the center of all awesomness is located.

The post part of Blogtober 2009. A post a day isn’t too hard, especially when people like you like them 🙂

Addendum: late? This post isn’t late. 😉

Facebook. It’s not Web 2.0, it’s Stalking 2.0

Facebook. Your friends are using it. Your workmates are using it. Chances are you’re using it. Facebook is already well known one of the world’s most popular social networking platforms, but it’s also rapidly becoming one of the world’s most popular application platforms too.

The popularity of Facebook applications is unsurprising. They’re easy to write, as well as being easy to share and install. However most users remain unaware of what information can be accessed by their applications, and more surprisingly, by their friend’s applications.

Join researcher Paul Fenwick as he examines just how much information he can extract from friends using only the Facebook API.

via Facebook Privacy: Stalking 2.0.

After watching the (somewhat long [30 minutes], I’ll admit), I’m now extremely miffed that I didn’t turn up to this particular Tech Talk held by TUCS.

As a result of this video, I’ve now removed all extraneous apps from my Facebook profile (like, the ones that I’m not using, or haven’t used in a while), and have now locked-down my Facebook account (at least, to the API).

Scary stuff indeed.

This post part of Blogtober 2009. A post a day keeps the stalkers away! 😀

Facebook > MySpace? You’re a racist.

Abandon your MySpace account for Facebook? You might just be a racist.

[…]

Referring to MySpace as the “ghetto of the digital landscape,” Boyd indicated that MySpace users are more likely to be “brown or black” and espouse a different set of ideals in conflict with those espoused by the teens she surveyed over four years. She said that patterns in migration across social networking sites echoed those of a white exodus from cities in the past. Boyd also said that teens who use Facebook are more likely to condescend their MySpace-favoring peers.

via MySpace now a “digital ghetto” | TransCosmic – the ongoing journey;.

WTF.

I am, however, somewhat inclined to agree with some of the arguments – Facebook can generally be seen as the “rich man’s MySpace”, the social network for those who put some sort of value into their personal networks. Facebook is generally considered to be a “better, more refined” version of MySpace, too.