Tag Archives for social networking
June 30, 2011
Google+ seems to pride itself on making it easy to decide what group of people you want to share things with. Circles are much easier to handle that Facebook lists, and they baked the choice of what Circles you want to share certain content with into every time you hit “share.”
In a Tumblr-esque move, they also have an option to re-share things that others have posted. Via someone else, I shared a message on my profile that said “Welcome to Google+, Mark Zuckerberg” (he, or an imposter, had quietly opened an account shortly before). I thought that was a little funny, and didn’t have much else to do, so I clicked “share” and it zapped over to be shared to my circles.
Now, I didn’t give this much thought until I checked out the original source of the post, where I could no longer see it! What happened is that he posted this thought with a small circle of people, one of whom “shared” it with her larger Circle which is where I saw it and shared it.
But after you are conditioned to think that your sharing is so under control (you have painstakingly sorted your “friends” into “besties,” “weirdos” and “potential employers”) that now you have completely forgotten or never even thought to consider that if you didn’t disable the re-share option, what you’ve spoken, perhaps in confidence, has the immediate potential to escape your carefully inscribed Circle and wander out onto the wider web.
Google’s help page actually acknowledges this oddity:
Unless you disable reshares, anything you share (either publicly or with your circles) can be reshared beyond the original people you shared the content with.
No real moral here, I guess. Just keep that in mind.
April 27, 2011
In response to the Wall Street Journal reporting on the results of some preliminary clinical research done by Patients Like Me refuting the effectiveness of lithium to treat ALS, e-Patient Dave tweeted:
— Dave deBronkart (@ePatientDave) April 26, 2011
@seattlemamadoc replied quickly:
@epatientdave I think of patientslikeme as a network. A social network. Don’t you?
— WendySueSwanson MD (@SeattleMamaDoc) April 26, 2011
I replied as well, with my initial thoughts:
@epatientdave interesting thought. Would you say it isn’t? I feel Pts like Me has many similar functions and affordances as other soc media
— Daniel Hooker (@danhooker) April 26, 2011
But by then it was too late. The premise had struck me: what if patient communities like Patients Like Me are somehow inherently different from other social media?
Social media is defined on Wikipedia as: “media for social interaction… the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue… a blending of technology and social interaction for the co-creation of value.”
Though I haven’t left behind the idea that the basic functions (profile, public/private messaging etc.) and affordances (seeking/finding people, networking, friendship, community) are similar between the two, what are some areas of difference between Patients Like Me and Facebook?
- User Intent. Does the reason why someone joins a network matter?** Is it acceptable to examine a network through qualities about which we may have no direct knowledge? In this context, is it different to be a patient than a tennis enthusiast or a knitter? Don’t we call those networks social media? Does the nature of the community’s users change its definition?
- Data usage (i.e. a network’s reason for being). My second thought about the separation of Facebook from Patients Like Me is the usage of the demographic information collected. As evidenced by the clinical trial, Patients Like Me is somewhat of a clinical experiment. They are using the voluntarily provided patient information to be able to create a data set used to support (or challenge) other medical evidence. Do the scientific goals of Patients Like Me have an impact on its definition? But in that light, Facebook’s sale of demographic data to their marketing partners may seem an even more sinister experiment. At least Patients Like Me is generally open about it.
I am still working through the areas of difference between the two networks and their significance. And though these distinctions may seem pedantic at this point, I have a sense that seeking deeper definitions of these platforms may increase in value as the critical discourse around social media advances. As more people become aware of these tools for use in a health care context, we will require ever more robust ways of describing what, exactly, they do and why, exactly, they are having such a profound impact on so many people’s lives.
**Not to go all English-major on you here, but in a similar way that reader-response critics responded to formalism by allowing room for the “user” experience in the interpretation of a work, so formally examining a social (net)work solely as a functional piece of software may be seen as insufficient in describing its true value or experience.
May 09, 2010
Boy. Facebook is taking a lot of heat for its newest batch of “improvements” as it seeks to solidify its supremacy over the social Web, and provide users with “instant personalization” of websites that they frequent. In short, Facebook wants to give your data to websites like Yelp.com or CNN and in turn provide you stories based on what it “knows” about you. In other words:
Instant personalization means that if you show up to the Internet radio site Pandora for the first time, it will now be able to look directly at your Facebook profile and use public information — name, profile picture, gender and connections, plus anything else you’ve made public — to give you a personalized experience.
It is funny how things can turn so quickly. Just recently, Facebook was an unstoppable force, amassing users and generating some flak, but not enough to slow its enormous growth and image in the public mind. Though we have yet to see if the recent dust-up will be enough to slow Facebook’s growth, it certainly seems to be darkening the image of Facebook, at least in the mind of the Web community.
Take this recent piece on “10 reasons why you should delete your Facebook account” that frames Facebook as the big, bad wolf, but also as somewhat of an imposter, pretending to be bigger and more imposing than they actually are:
Facebook is clearly determined to add every feature of every competing social network in an attempt to take over the Web (this is a never-ending quest that goes back to AOL and those damn CDs that were practically falling out of the sky). While Twitter isn’t the most usable thing in the world, at least they’ve tried to stay focused and aren’t trying to be everything to everyone.
I often hear people talking about Facebook as though they were some sort of monopoly or public trust. Well, they aren’t. They owe us nothing. They can do whatever they want, within the bounds of the laws. (And keep in mind, even those criteria are pretty murky when it comes to social networking.) But that doesn’t mean we have to actually put up with them. Furthermore, their long-term success is by no means guaranteed… the fact remains that Sergei Brin or Bill Gates or Warren Buffett could personally acquire a majority stake in Facebook without even straining their bank account.
Or this one entitled “Facebook is dying – Social is not“:
On top of the complexity and inconsistencies, we have a growing problem of privacy issues. Facebook has a long track record of ignoring people’s privacy. As I wrote in “The First Rule of Privacy”; You are the only one, who can decide what you want to share. Facebook cannot decide that, nor can anyone else.
But, Facebook seems oblivious to this simple principle, and have started sharing personal information with 3rd party “partners” – continuing a long line of really bad decisions when it comes to privacy.
I’m not sure yet what to make of all the huffing and puffing over this latest “privacy scare.” They are certainly sharing more and more of our profile data by default at a rapidly increasing rate. But lest we forget Facebook Beacon, it’s not like this sort of privacy rabble-rousing hasn’t happened before. But back then, there was the (justifiable) sense that Facebook may respect their users, and Facebook did ultimately end up rescinding Beacon’s power (opting instead for what became Facebook Connect). Perhaps what’s different this time is Facebook doesn’t seem to care.
One of my final projects in library school is almost complete. The term paper I have written for a course entitled “New Media for Children and Young Adults” is just about finished and we have to give an informal presentation on our papers Thursday morning.
My paper is on the topic of that popular Facebook meme where kids were tagging their friends as various cartoon characters or celebrities (“The ugly one,” “The pretty one,” etc.). If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, I included several examples.
Anyway, I thought I would share my slides in case anyone out there is interested in semiotics, social networking and youth. Or maybe you’re just bored. Either way, enjoy.
September 29, 2009
I would like to take a break from our regularly scheduled programming to indulge in theoretical discourse and mention the course reading for LIBR 559M: Online social networking as participatory surveillance, by Andreas Albrechtslund.
Albrechtslund’s article is broad and encompasses many important aspects of online participation with social media, and he spends a good amount of time conceptualizing and contextualizing social networking practice within a scholarly discourse and also a framework of surveillance. His final section is the one that I would like to discuss briefly, as it brought me back to my carefree days as a humanities undergraduate student, drinking coffee and eating ramen noodles before going to discuss Foucault and the Panopticon while looking at slides of Pictures art. But I digress.
Albrechtslund starts by briefly discussing the hierarchical structure that we normally take “surveillance” to mean, that is, someone, without power, is being watched by someone else with power. This places the watcher, theoretically and often literally, “above” the watched. He says:
The moral panics, conspiracy theories, and the difficulties in understanding why people actually would want to engage in online social networking all reflect this dystopian view on surveillance. It is the basis for the discourses of protection and education as well as for the idea that users… simply do not know enough about the lurking dangers of surveillance. In other words, it is difficult to understand the phenomenon of online social networking and related Web 2.0 services and applications when we apply this notion of surveillance.
Indeed, there has been much panic recently about the persistence and gravity of your online presence. The things you do and say on facebook will be around forever, inevitably there to keep you from your dream job and probably also give you (or your mother) night sweats. I tend to think, it might not be all that bad if you’re smart about it, but you certainly do have to be aware that you are being watched. Or, in Panoptic terms, you could be being watched, so you better not do anything untoward. Albrechtslund continues, however, to expand the notion of surveillance for the 21st century:
The visual metaphor implies a spatial hierarchy where the watcher is positioned over the watched. Yet, this does not mean surveillance is necessarily a hierarchical power relation in which the watcher controls the watched. Similar to the broadening of the concept to include all senses, data collection and technological mediation, surveillance can be seen as a “flat” relationship or even in favor of the person under surveillance, either negatively as actively resisting the gaze (Ball and Wilson, 2000; McGrath, 2004) or positively as exhibitionistic empowerment (Koskela, 2004).
Here, the broadening of the definition of surveillance allows for the social networking user to push back against the “gaze” of the watcher, and even provide a sense of power to those who chose either to lock their profiles, exercising their opt-out rights against online surveillance, or perhaps even doing outwardly rude things online thereby attempting to send a message of rejecting the standards of decorum (think of it as a sort of digital face tattoo). What I took away as most important, however, was this:
The practice of online social networking can be seen as empowering, as it is a way to voluntarily engage with other people and construct identities, and it can thus be described as participatory… to participate in online social networking is also about the act of sharing yourself – or your constructed identity – with others. (emphasis mine)
I will leave it up to my informed audience to decide exactly how you will construct your own identity online–it is indeed a struggle to craft and maintain an appropriate level of honesty and authenticity without completely baring your soul to the world at large. But the sharing of personality and identity online can be positive in many ways, and can make you available to a network of peers, friends and colleagues that you may not have other reason to connect with. Constructing and sharing a digital identity can build confidence; and done responsibly, it can extend into the outside world.
April 24, 2009
I have always been a little curious about the rise of Ning. For me I guess I just don’t see the utility in a way that is fruitful beyond just having yet another tool. I know that there are social benefits to interaction in Ning that go beyond just normal wiki collaboration and that that is something can could be desirable in some instances. However, Ning for me walks the thin line between useful innovation and a mashup of content already in use in other ways by its potential users.
In a work environment, I think it could be handled in a way that could be most fruitful. I see work users as more willing to take on another service because it is “for work.” It also could be more useful to encourage a work atmosphere “away from the desk,” so to speak. A place to contribute to work online, or share ideas in a way that has a little more utility than, as I mentioned above, a wiki or collaborative document.
Casual potential users like myself may have a harder time adopting because they are already using facebook, delicious, instant messaging and Twitter (or whatever else suits your fancy). I suppose my parenthetical shouldn’t be. The point is that users will decide for themselves what services they find useful and fulfilling. If a Ning network is exactly what you are looking for because a facebook group just isn’t enough, then by all means, don’t let my grump get in the way of that experience.
April 24, 2009
Boyd’s writing was very enlightening to read, I thought. First of all, it was intersting to see the world of social networks broken down and explained in a rational and methodological way. Moreover, the social impacts of this new style of technological interaction, which are indeed present and undeniable in a colloquial sense, need to be explained in a way that is digestible by many people. It was great reading both her blog post on the social strata delinieated by Facebook and MySpace, and it was even more enlightening to read the response that she posted subsequently in which she addressed the critical (and otherwise) reponses that that blog post generated.
Understanding how social networks impact society is a fascinating topic for me, becuase it would be so easy to dismiss social media as a whole, or part by part, as a fad. In spite of the transitory nature of many individual services, it is clear that interaction mediated by social computing can no longer be viewed in that sense (even though it continues to be by some).
It is imperative now for research following Boyd’s methods to be continued, if only to explain or at the very least identify how people are interacting in the new social milieu online. Because it is becoming such an essential part of life for so many (myself included) it requires study if the mandates of sociologists and psychologists and computer scientists (and philosophers and semioticians, not to mention librarians) everywhere are going to be fulfilled.
I have sensed the social boundaries surrounding the division that Boyd highlights between MySpace and Facebook. Though I guess I don’t feel that I would have fit entirely into the category that she places around hegemonic teens (or would have when I was a teenager), the demarcation lines she draws are at most problematic, but at the least revealing or enlightening. Taking her post with the large grain of salt that she offers before the first paragraph, the importance and relevance of her writing can be understood.
For librarians in particular, understanding the modes and venues for teens’ and young adults’ online social lives is required to plan and create effective and safe programming that encourages social behavior, while creating boundaries that can ensure safety and positive outcomes from social networking. Not “getting” what is happening for teens online may lead to a withdrawl from the generally positive nature of social netowrking, and lead to harmful or risky behavior. I believe that it is within the mandate of librarians to ensure unfettered access to information, but it is resonable and should be expected that librarians can at a minimum make known and encourage the benefits of that information that can lead its fulfilling use. Without that, the library is just a building with free internet.
April 19, 2009
The key to any social network making themselves “sticky” is that they need to create a unique product. Alternatively, they need to isolate their user group so that you can only access certain people using this one specific product. A social network or Web 2.0 tool may do both of these things, and those are perhaps the most successful. Anyone can have a forum on a specific topic that wants users to come back to get the right content, but without either making it unique or trapping those users, anyone else could do it, too.
Take Facebook for example. They grew in popularity and stickiness by first creating a social network for college students. They succeeded in being the “place” to be for college kids, and, by limiting their membership created a feeling of uniqueness around their product. By college kids, for college kids. Even though that no longer holds, the unique character of the facebook brand, combined with their limited data portability (try pushing your facebook status updates to Twitter, instead of the other way around…), makes them a super sticky product. I can’t think of anywhere else that I can check up on the relationships of people I knew from fourth grade.
MySpace is another good example of this. The uniqueness of MySpace lies perhaps in its catering towards musical endeavors. Facebook is a personal brand, MySpace has found its niche in presenting musical content automatically, making it a commercial brand. What other product allows an automatic music player to bombard visitors against their will? Not saying it isn’t annoying, but it works. And it has stuck.
Twitter, too. Their uniqueness is in the format. “Microblogging” conforming to SMS standards so you can interact on the go. That data is portable, and you can find Twitterers elsewhere on the web: their homepages, blogs or social networks, but you can’t find that unique content presented in that way without interacting with their Twitter profile.
February 27, 2009
If you don’t know about Library Thing, and you are currently in library school, then you need to (as I did) get with the program and start it up. Or if you are just nerdy and like books a lot, well, you can come too. It’s way too fun for those of us who have slightly compulsive needs to organize (or “catalog“) things and, along the way, brag about how well read you are.
I’m not saying everyone feels that particular need. But be honest: you probably do.
Essentially Library Thing is a place to catalog your personal bookshelf by searching for books and adding them into your collection. (See also: Delicious Library) You can search via Amazon or the LOC, or a long list of other search engines. I found the best results for mine on the Amazon search, though I suppose if you were going for a more textbook or rare book collection, a library catalog would be more your speed.
Inevitably, the edition of the book may matter to some, so there is also the option to manually enter books into your library. You can even scan your own cover and attach it to the record. The best part about this feature is that the scanned covers are shared with the community, which enables anyone to select the cover of their choice. I like buying used books, and I find that the old covers for things are often better than the newer post-2000 reprints of books. It also helps to mimic your actual bookshelf at home, if you’re into that sort of thing.
As any good Web 2.0 tool does, Library Thing allows you to tag your books, which enters them into the collective consciousness. You can also recommend books to other Library Thing members. I entered “The Loved One” by Evelyn Waugh, and it turns out that MichaelPNaughton has recommended that I read a book called “Deathryde: Rebel without a Corpse.” Maybe next time, Mike, but thanks for the offer anyway.
Bottom line: Library Thing is a lot of fun for nerds. I expect that this summer much of my time will be spent adding and “browsing” books. I had a so-so reaction to GoodReads, because I tend not to dig on internet people’s recommendations of books, but the ability to make your own bookshelf online? Sign me up.
February 10, 2009
As I was stumbling through a big list of social media and web 2.0 sites today, I came across Good Reads. I had heard my friend here at school mention this once before (she had previously completed a degree in Children’s Literature, so you can imagine, she likes to read) but I’d never checked it out before.
Essentially Good Reads is like a social networking site, but with just a dash of Amazon.com thrown in. It runs on reviews: you tell Good Reads what you’ve been reading lately, provide a rating and a review, and then it broadcasts your information across the network. You can have friends, whose recent activities (reviews, books they claim they’re reading, books they have marked as “favorites) you will see when you log in. You can search for reviews of books that you want to read (to get a sense of if it’s worth it) or of books you love (so you can scoff at and insult those who have given it a bad review).
I find that with social software tools I feel a little spread out if I have to sign up for a new one. I like to integrate them as much as possible… or at least make it so I don’t have to a visit yet another web page when I start up my browser. I run Twitterific in the background all day and import my Delicious bookmarks into Firefox’s menubar. Good Reads, it turns out, you can import into your facebook account (if you have one), and you can access and edit your life there all through the facebook interface, which is nice. I tried it out, and found a couple friends already using it (turns out a friend from high school likes The Great Gatsby.)
I was an English lit major in college, so I tend not to rely on online reviews when selecting my next book. I also tend to go to used book stores instead of ordering them. In spite of the greyish yellow color scheme of the site, Good Reads will never smell delightfully musty like Bridgid’s Books. That being said, I am still intrigued because if I had an active community of friends on Good Reads, I wouldn’t argue with participating. I, like any other person who likes reading, like talking about the books I read and enjoy bullying people into liking what I like. Then again, being a librarian, perhaps I would rather be a part of Library Thing…