All items about social networking


Memories in the Facebook Age

Richard Rushfield has spent the last few years writing the memoirs of his college years in the mid-1980s. As it happens, just as he needed to find more material to expand on the fragments he remembered, Facebook exploded, and suddenly his past was alive again, all those people he remembered could be consulted and could contribute to the memoir. But soon, the book and the discussions of it on Facebook re-ignited old feuds and the past he was trying to memorialize was alive and kicking again.

Facebook encourages us to hold on to our past, and in a way, it lives on there for ever. As Richard writes:

No memoirist can write without making every effort to doublecheck one’s own past. But when the past becomes a moving target, how is one to nail it down?

Read the full article at The Daily Beast.


A new survey shows that teens in the Ontario average seven hours a day of “screen time”.

The study grouped together time spent watching TV and Internet use as “sedentary behaviour” and suggests a link to a decline in physical and mental health among the students.

What’s interesting here is the implicit suggestion that a person’s entire use of a computer could be considered as a bad thing. Grouping all computer time together with watching TV as “screen time” is, I think, somewhat irresponsible and fails to recognize the diverse roles computers play in our lives.

It’s true that computers can be used for consuming content (YouTube videos or internet TV channels for example) as well as for solitary activities like playing games. These things should perhaps be moderated as you might TV use.

But computers can be used for so many other things now – researching homework assignments, communicating with friends, collaborating with other students, planning trips or shopping. So to group all these activities together as if they are all self-indulgent activities that could be completely avoided is unrealistic at best.

The reality is that computers are now so integrated into our daily lives, and even more so with the younger generation, that to consider taking “screens” out of the equation wholly is simply not possible.

A more interesting piece of research would separate solitary entertainment activities from productive or communication activities, and also look at the differences between students doing such activities offline or online.

It’s also worth considering what the researchers might have found if they’d looked at adults. Most of the office-bound population has seven hours of sedentary time a day – it’s called doing their work at their desk! In this context, the researchers findings are nothing special.

Read more of the study at CBC News.

In other news, researchers find that people use computers a lot…


Got a problem with the way someone thinks? Then you’ll love social networks like Facebook, because they give you easy ways to harass your ideological opposites.

Search makes it easy to find someone you disagree with. Once you’ve found your ideological target, get your friends to report them, and let the automated antispam systems do their work. ReadWriteWeb has an example of groups reporting someone in order to wrongfully shut down their online accounts already.

How did we get here?

Read more »


For six years, I’ve shared my life with Facebook, dutifully posting my status and responding to constant pleas to read or comment. We were happy at first, Facebook helped me rekindle old friendships and spark new ones. But now, with the passage of time, I can see her for what she really is, a heartless bitch with no respect for me, my privacy or my feelings.

Read more »


Who owns your voice online?

Gagged on Flickr by Sebastiano Pitruzzello

When I call you, I don’t care who your service provider is. When I send a letter, I don’t care who delivers it to the door. But with online communication, it’s not so simple. If I want to “friend” you, I can only do so if we both use Facebook. If I want to share a thought publicly, you’re unlikely to see it unless you’re on Twitter, too. Twitter, Facebook, MSN and Skype are new forms of communication that did not exist before the Internet – but unlike their old world equivalents, they’re controlled by corporations and the messages you send with them are restricted in audience and reach.

Much of the media attention on Twitter and Facebook is on the products and the companies behind them, but we would do well to stop thinking in those terms, like we did with email, and start thinking more about the means of communication that they provide.

It’s only when we take a step back and think about the digital communications revolution in these terms, that the picture becomes evident. It’s not a pretty one. Almost every form of digital communication is dominated by one company, and locked in to members of that service (See table below). We are in a poor state for a free, open exchange of ideas.

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In this episode of CBC’s Spark Plus, Nora Young interviews Danah Boyd and William Deresiewicz about the ways in which social networks like Facebook are influencing how we think about friendship and changing what we mean by the term “friend”.

Listen to the MP3 (34:04)


Hashtag searches (note that this may be a technical constraint of how Twitter parses emoticon characters)
Hashtags are the standard way of adding meaning and context to online content, providing explicit context and making it easier for computers to understand what’s being said. And emoticons are a de facto standard for expressing sentiment that work across cultures and languages. Why haven’t we combined the two?

Read more »


"Denial of Service Attack" by kryptyk on Flickr (CC)Today, social networking was attacked. The two biggest networks, Twitter and Facebook, have been subjected to denial of service attacks, causing difficulty for millions of people around the world. Other sites including FriendFeed, LiveJournal, Posterous and have also experienced outages or slow response times. Social networking services have failed before, but never all at once.

While the precise causes have yet to be established, it’s clear is that today’s events have had a measurable effect on people across the globe, and the loss of multiple social networks at the same time has highlighted some serious issues and limitations

Disconnect, reconnect

One of the first things that happened is that people flooded to other mediums such as e-mail or instant messaging to discuss what was happening. Read more »

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