Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Twitter does it again. This time Twitter outshines the powerhouse social networking site Facebook based on its yearly growth. The CNN story reports that between February '08 and '09, Twitter's users jumped from 475,000 all the way to 7 Million according to Nielsen NetView. That's just one year with a 1,374% increase in users. I can't even imagine what the statitistics will be next February.
Nevertheless, the interesting part of all this is the comparison to Facebook who reached 65.7 millios users, with a growth of 228%. So if my general arithmatic isn't as bad I remember it being, that would put the amount of Facebook users just below 30 million. Considering that in just one year Twitter went from under half a million to 7 million, it seems like Twitter could certainly contend with the amount of users of Facebook in a just a couple of years.
By comparison, Facebook grew 228 percent, to 65.7 million users, during the same period.
saw a 1,374 percent jump in unique visitors between February 2008 and February this year, up to 7 million from only 475,000, according to
I found an article on CNN:
According to the iTunes store, the Skype application has already been reviewed 1,376 times and has an average rating of 3.5 stars. Already many of the user reviews written on launch day are negative, with users calling the app 'buggy' and complaining about crashes.
One user, identified as Klaudosky writes in the iTunes store customer review section that the Skype app should be considered a beta release. Reviewer Golalmo also says that the app crashes upon launch, asking "Did anyone at Skype actually try to use this app?"
In addition to crashing at the launch of the app, other users are finding that phone calls placed with Skype aren't lasting long. PatrickPatrick wrote in a review of the application that the duration of calls lasted up to 60 seconds.
"Crashed repeatedly, usually within 30 to 60 seconds of starting. Powered down the phone to see if it made a difference. It didn't. I'll give it a second try next update."
Jasmer tried doing a soft reset after experiencing problems with the Skype App.
"I have done a restore and a soft reset on my iPhone. This still crashes. Over and over and over again. C'mon we waited forever to get this? Please fix it"
Of course, not all users are having a bad experience with the app. MonkSEALPup and Casualfacebooker, among others, don't appear to be having any issues using the application.
ApolloXI urged users to calm down, noting the recent release of the application.
"Give it time. You have to remember that this application came out only but a few hours ago! This is going to happen with any application this big and popular. If [Skype] doesn't send out a patch within a day or two that works, then complain all you want."
According to the iTunes Store, the Skype app is in version 1.0.1.
The program which has a simple interface on a computer has morphed itself to appear much similar to the interfaces of many Iphone Applications. It's Iphone features include the ability to filter contacts by sorting them alphabeitcally or by who is currently online and available to chat.
Skype is predominantly used for keeping in touch with friends or family that currently reside in a different country or far away region. The reason ofcourse being because Skype uses your own internet connection to place a call. The person calling or recieving does not have to pay the hefty chrages incurred for calls placed across the globe.
Personally, I use the program to keep in touch with friends studying abroad, the ability to keep in closer touch with those induviduals through my mobile phone will only further the diminishing digital divide between my peers abroad and myself. I have not yet been able to download the application just yet, for some minor glitch concerning my Itunes account, but this application will undoubtedly be the very next thing I download for my phone.
The interviewer, Tania Menai, a Brazilian native residing in Nova York, asked me questions in English, then asked them again in Portuguese, and I answered in English. Later, the English-language questions were edited out, so that it appears as if Tania is asking the questions in Portuguese, I'm understanding them perfectly, and then responding appropriately, albeit in English. You gotta love when they make you appear to be smarter than you really are! Ah, the magic of editing.
She was especially interested in media ecology, which I was very happy to talk about, and she had a particular interest in Neil Postman's work, which was just great. And we talked quite a bit about new media as well.
The interview was broadcast on November 7, 2008, but it was only recently that Tania got me a recording, and I was able to upload it to YouTube, broken into three parts--the segment in its entirely is about half an hour.
And that's about it. I'll just embed the three videos and leave you to watch it for yourself.
And with that, I will just say, Até logo!
The above point is very valid and the way he writes is poignantly lyrical, canvassing his opinion in beautiful language. But it made me wonder about my communications major because in many ways, I’m being trained to be the big company he warns about. I learn everyday how to decode the signals and trends going on around me. This skill can be used to ride the waves of the market, influence public opinion and to stop positive change if it was economically beneficial. Aren’t these the alarm bells Rushkoff talks about when he says, “Coercion and influence are simply the pushing of a fixed point of view. In this sense, the coercer is promoting death.”?
On the other, I believe Rushkoff is illuminating the reality of the situation. For those of us who gain the skills to influence, it is our responsibility to become aware of the potential to stop positive change and use these tools for the betterment of all. Rushkoff states, “Because the chief agents of change are interaction and communication, these will be the activities that the enemies of evolution will want to keep in check”. In others words, in order for us to fight for evolution we must utilize the Internet’s ability to interact and communicate.
However, the staple of today’s online world where interaction and communication are utilized is social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and blogs (to mention but a few). Is he implying that we create more sites like these that further interaction and communication? Because if he is, I think it could help fight the Internet from turning into a “shopping mall” but where is the incentive?
On the monetary side there is still a lack of economic incentive for people to create these sites. For example, while blog sites do offer some creative ways to earn income from user popularity, the reality is that only a very small number are able to achieve this. Even for those who do get some money from their blogs, most of the time the earnings pale in comparison to the amount of man hours one puts into a blog. So the question I’m asking is why put thousands of man hours into something that will most likely have a minimal return in monetary value, if any at all?
The immediate response to my own question is that people receive personal value from getting feed back from their blog posts. People feel like they are listened to and enjoy the social environment. However, the only way to fight back agianst the “coercers” is to start sites like facebook where interaction is opened up to huge volumes of users. But from what I hear, facerbook is earning some money from it’s advertisements but this is not yielding a profit margin that major investors are looking for (I could be wrong on this point).
What I am trying to say is that we need big companies to find ways to spur spending on the net and if this means a loss in communication/interaction then so be it. Especially in these hard economic times we need create new ways to spur economic growth. Therefore, companies finding out our habits and utilizing this knowledge is not always a bad thing. So maybe me joining a big company and finding ways to use the communication skills I learned at Fordham to "trick" the public into giving up their cash is alright. In the end, who says there can’t be a balance between big company influence and the communication/interaction that the Internet was built on.
An interesting fact I read said that the Internet continues to have an annual growth rate of 124%... wow. If the Internet continues to experience such growth there really is no limit as to where it could end. In fact the textbook also said that "Cyberspace has no known natural limits." I find this to be an extremely interesting idea that kind of connects to what we read about this week about who could possibly control such a giant amount of information. With the history of other innovations of our past eventually being controlled by the government or monopolies, it is very possible for such a thing to happen to the Internet. I don't think that this should be allowed though. Would it even be possible to control something with no range or end in sight? Copyright is one attempt to protect and control different parts of the Internet. The Internet allows anyone in the world with a connection to have a equal voice, meaning that everything we publish becomes a commodity. While I do believe that protection from unfair duplication is a good idea, I think that not everything on the Internet needs to be censored. The government definitely should not regulate the Internet, it was built with few barriers and it should stay that way.
Another interesting concept in last weeks reading was the idea of the Digital Divide. While this weeks reading talked about the possibility of us having to pay for services on the Internet, I thought that this was generally a bad idea. If there is already a digital divide between those with and those without Internet (probably because many cannot afford it), how can we start talking about making people pay for the simple things online? Even if everybody had the Internet, it still wouldn't mean that everyone would use it, it's simply not attractive to everyone... another reason why the Internet would be hard to regulate.
One thing I thought that was actually funny about the reading, and a little criticism I have came from chapter 21 which referenced Melrose Place as a show that young people watch in groups! Melrose Place was a show that was popular during the 90s! I think it's a little strange that we're learning about new social networking and media while reading a book that seems to already be so outdated. Did you know there are talks of a NEW Melrose Place (kind of like the new 90210)? This definitely makes it a little hard to relate to the text book, and I am curious to see what the authors of the chapters would say about their topics nowadays.
Listening to: Eve 6- Think Twice
Thursday, March 26, 2009
LivingSocial.com is a social discovery and cataloging network that allows people to review and share their favorite movies, books, games, music, restaurants and beer. As the most comprehensive interest-based online community, LivingSocial is now helping more than 7.5 million users catalogue their interests, seamlessly integrating with Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, hi5, and Orkut.
Maybe I'm wrong but it appears to me that when I signed up for www.livingsocial.com that it's geared towards iPhone users since it automatically asked me to transfer information from an iPhone(which I don't have).Other than that it's basically like a poll for people to take on their favorite movie, beer, etc. and others can view it. Afterall, word-of-mouth is the most effective advertising isn't it?!
Other than www.livingsocial.com,I've been looking for new music. As usual, I use Pandora which I love because I leave it on when I do not have time to look for music and just do things around the house. But after last class on March 24, I wanted to check out www.last.fm and I love it!!!! It's a wonderful site where you get a lot of feedback from users just like you who share similar music tastes as you. I've come across many international users which I think is an interesting way to communicate with people throughout the world, not to mention being exposed to music I would not typically hear to Z100 or KTU.
I must add that this class has exposed me to sites I would not have looked for myself. Thanks to everyone for the interesting postings!
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
To get started you'll need a Twitter Account.
Then, go to the settings tab and set your twitter username and password (we DO encrypt and store this information **). Once set, you can post tweets directly through Tweeter.
Soon after setting your username, you'll notice a new follower called "fb_tweeter". That's us, so don't block it!!
This is a fully functional beta release, so please don't hesitate to offer suggestions or bug reports.
Lists all tweets from your facebook friends who are also Tweeters. This listing is cached, so it'll still work when Twitter is down - but won't be updated until twitter is working again
Lists all tweets from all Tweeters. This listing is also cached like the Friends Timeline.
Facebook Profile Links
When Tweeter shows a Tweeter's tweet, it shows their Facebook picture and links to their profile. The same goes for @person's links. If the person is a Tweeter, it will link to their profile. Otherwise, it will link to their Twitter profile.
If you give your twitter username AND password (which are encrypted and saved in our database **), you can post new tweets directly through Tweeter.
Updates your status whenever you Tweet (from anywhere)
Tweeters can have their status automatically prepended with text of their choosing.
Allows you to use regular expressions to filter out tweets you don't want added to your status. Can also use plain words to filter as well.
For any Tweeter's tweet, clicking the "since" date will show the tweet page with a reply form ready for immediate response. (94)
Can now view the history of Tweeters' tweets. (95)
If we're having trouble connecting to twitter, we'll show when we made our last successful connection (122)
Facebook Status Change Sends Tweet
(not currently working due to recent changes on Facebook - we hope to have this resolved soon) ***
When a Tweeter manually updates their Facebook Status, Tweeter can send out a new tweet to Twitter (108)
** Note about password storage
Don't worry if you don't like giving out your password. We don't like having to ask. For starters, our settings form submits over a secure connection to our servers and we encrypt the password before storing it in our database. Ideally Twitter will eventually add oAuth or some equivalent so we won't have to do so.
*** Note about latest issues
Facebook Status => Twitter. I personally miss this one as it's one of the reasons I wrote this application in the first place. The new changes to Facebook have included closing access to users' status. I, for one, definitely appreciate everything FB does to protect our privacy, but in this instance they seem to be over-limiting. Obviously there are some of us who WANT our status to be accessed so it can be made public. FB doesn't seem to allow permission to READ a person's status, though oddly enough they offer access to WRITE a person's status.
I've tried to contact the FB people about this through forums and emails and haven't heard much of a way to resolve this. I've left the issue open as I figured it might be resolved during their change-over, which has been active for about 3 months now.
At any rate, I honestly hope both these issues are resolved shortly. I wish it were my own fault, as then my apology would be better given by solving the problem.
This website allows you to update all of your social networks in one shot. Even though they are in their Beta session, they support at least 30 networking sites.
People could live almost anywhere they wanted, without foregoing opportunities for useful and fulfilling employment, by "telecommuting" to their offices through the electronic highway: The best schools, teachers, and courses would be available to all students, without regard to geography, distances, resources or disability.However, with all plans there were many questions --> what it would be like? how will people navigate through and socially interact with others? We can start to see some the answers today.
Moreover, the reading mentioned the digital divide and the risks related to the internet. The digital divide section addressed the issues and concerns with making internet available for all, while also mentioning the various channels of communication the internet opened up. The risk chapter talked about children and how to regulate something like the internet. The rating system, RSACi desgined by Donald F. Roberts a communication professor at Standford, was intended to rate video games, but in 1999 more than 100,000 websites were using this standard. As explained in Chapter 11, the web is a medium in its infancy. Just like there were concerns when other forms of media were introduced to the public, people were concerned when the internet started gaining popularity. Nevertheless, parents conrol and set limits on what their children do, and many of them use filtering software to regulate what websites their children can and cannot access.
Another site for those of you who are feeling a bit adventurous is maangchi. Because I grew up eating Korean food (my mother is Korean) I have always tried to cook it for myself but failed miserably. At first, I thought it was because I was just a bad cook but realized I just needed clear cut instructions on how to do it. Enter Maangchi's website. Basically, Maanchi's site is a blog slash video diary a Korean mom put up explaining in detail how to make great Korean food. Her instructions are very clear cut and she even explains how and where to buy weird Korean ingredients you will never find in any American shopping center. Here is a recipe of my favorite Korean dish I made the other day (click on image for video recipe):
Thursday, March 12, 2009
So, anyway, Paull recently came back to the Bronx to give another talk to this semester's Interactive Media class. Which was great, I might add. And this time, he taped the talk because he was asked to do a video lecture for students at his alma mater, Charles Sturt University in Australia. As he writes on his blog, Young PR, in a post entitled An Introduction to Social Media for Undergrads:
Last week I visited Lance Strate’s class at Fordham University on the same mission, so I took the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. While Bathurst and The Bronx have nada in common aside from alliteration, the principles of social media unite PR students around the world.
You can read the entire blog post, it's not very long, by clicking on An Introduction to Social Media for Undergrads and you'll find that it includes the video of the lecture, which Paull posted on Vimeo (an alternative to YouTube that allows for longer videos), but being as always public service-minded, I'll embed that video right here for your convenience:
Paull Young on Social Media from Paull Young on Vimeo.
So, take a little time and enjoy the talk, and the outrageous Aussie accent while you're at it! And while we're on the subject, Time-Warner Cable's local news channel, New York 1 (channel one on local systems in NY and NJ), ran a story on social media that also featured an interview with Paull Young, and his colleague and boss Rob Key (who I met along with Paull last year), from the PR firm called Converseon, Inc., or in Twitter-speak, @converseon. Unfortunately, they won't allow me to embed the video report (how old school, how old media Time-Warner is, and to think that they once were buoyed up by Atari videogames, and later became known as AOL-Time-Warner!!!!). So, I'll just have to give you the link and trust in your good graces to go over to their site and watch the news report: Cleaning Up Your Cyber Image For Employers. There is some text on that site, so I can give you a quote to let you know what it's about:
Learning how to cleanup your online presence is an imporant step in staying ahead of the game when it comes to potential employers. NY1's Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following report.
Sure it's called MySpace, but nothing about it, or any other social networking site, is really yours. The photos, status updates and videos you post on the World Wide Web are there for the whole wide world to see, and while the whole wide world may not be looking, potential employers are.
"More and more employers are beginning to use Google and are becoming more adept at using social media to help find information about both current employees and potential employees and perspective business partners," said Converseon CEO Rob Key.
Key's company, Converseon, is a social media agency that helps companies manage their online reputation. Key says the first step to cleaning up your cyber-image is to do a Google search.
"Look at Google images, go to YouTube and search for your name there as well, you will be amazed at how many places you may end up that you don't know," said Key.
We then get to the point about how a new medium defines, and redefines who we are, our identity and our selves:
Key says when it comes to the web, job seekers need to see themselves as products being promoted. The more content you create for yourself, the more control you have over the impression you give an employer.
"You can find my blog where I've been writing for several years, you can find my linked in profile which is really my very professional CV online, you can find my Twitter page, you can find my YouTube videos," said Converseon Social Media Strategist Paull Young.
Young says while it's okay to have fun with these sites, his Twitter page announces that he is very handsome and intelligent. He adds it's important to know your audience.
On Twitter today, a number of folks have commented on the description of Paull as "very handsome and intelligent." Leave it at that. Anyway, he goes on to note the breaking down of barriers that is characteristic of all electronic media:
"Your mum could read it, your employer or future employer could read it and your significant other could read it. If all those things are fine, then you shouldn't have any problems," said Young.
But when it comes to the question of what is the role of public relations in the new social media environment, here's the answer:
While accentuating the positive is easy, eliminating the negative can be tricky. Key says you can contact the owner of a site and ask politely that the unflattering material be removed and he says you should take advantage of built in security features that allow you to untag yourself from photos posted by others. This enables you to control your image, rather than letting other people define who you are, a definition that can come back to haunt you.
"When it's digitized, it's there forever so something you do at 18 at a college party may likely be here in 10 or 15 years. It's kind of like that tattoo you got one night and years later you are going to regret that you have it, but it's going to remain there," said Key.
And there you have it. But don't take my word for it, go and get it straight from the horses' mouth. And tell them I sent you!
Not that I don't want you to friend me on Facebook...
...wait a minute, wait a minute... I am the management of Blog Time Passing, so this is, in fact, the official position of this blog. But I do recognize that my opinion may not be your opinion, nor am I trying to persuade you to come around to my way of thinking. And I also acknowledge that Facebook appears to be the most popular social networking site right now.
Popularity, of course, implies nothing about quality. Back when videocassette recorders were introduced to the consumer market, there were two competing formats, VHS and Betamax. When I started working as a salesman in a video store in the early days of this new medium, back when I was a graduate student (wonder if anyone remembers Video Shack?), VHS was outselling Beta by two to one, and Beta disappeared within a couple of years. VHS won out, even though Beta was actually the superior format, quality-wise. The same thing has gone on in the home computer industry as, for example, the Commodore Amiga was superior to the early Macintosh computers (both used the Graphic User Interface and a mouse), while Windows is a vastly inferior operating system to the Macintosh OS, but is far and away the best selling, no matter the inroads that Mac has made over the past year or so.
So popularity is not an argument in support of Facebook. But I will also acknowledge that Facebook is the most popular form of computer-mediated communication among my students. They tell me that they check Facebook before looking at their email (if they look at their email at all). They also admit that almost all of their interaction there is with people they already know. Many of them feel creeped out when they get friend requests from strangers.
To be honest, I can't imagine what life will be like for the younger generations who will now remain in touch with everyone they meet forever, through Facebook or whatever media take its place in the future. Previously, transitions such as the move from high school to college, or into a work environment, or geographical relocations, all presented opportunites to more or less start over, and reinvent oneself. Now, we leave a long trail or long tail behind us, one that we can never fully shake. It's total recall! This may be comforting in some ways, but leaves you in the position of growing up in a small town where everyone knows all about you from the day you were born, and in the position then of living in that same small town all your life. This relates to Marshall McLuhan's observation, almost half a century ago, that on account of electronic interdependence we live in a global village.
For those of us not native to this digital environment, for us digital immigrants so to speak, the situation is a bit different. We wind up connecting to people that we have not heard from for many years, not having maintained contact when that would have required actual effort on our parts, along the lines of telephones calls and letter writing. So there is this new drive to reconnect, which has its charms and gratifications, and certainly can rekindle old friendships and relationships, especially if the loss of contact was due to situations and circumstances beyond our control, or at least that we had limited control over. And once contact was lost, it would take extraordinary effort to reconnect, especially if the other person has moved. But renewed contact also can be awkward, and ultimately result in reminding us that there were reasons why we drifted apart in the first place (this is not about anyone in particular, in case any of my old reconnected friends are reading this).
Anyway, what I was getting at is that my students find Facebook to be very much in their comfort zone, as of all the social networks out there, Facebook is about familiar and safe connections, while the other networks are more about, well, networking, meeting new people, expanding your contacts, etc. This is risky, yes, that's the trade-off, as psychologist Abraham Maslow noted long ago, safety vs. growth. We learn the most from people we don't already know. For that matter, network research shows that we gain the most from people we don't know well, for example in job hunting--that's known as the strength of loose ties. And for me, my other social networks, MySpace and Twitter, have provided great oppportunities for meeting new people, for growth and learning and networking, as opposed to Facebook.
Of course, I could pursue a more aggressive strategy of networking on Facebook, but another problem I have with the site is its Terms of Service. Simply put, they claim to own everything you put on Facebook, every word you type, every picture you upload, etc. Now, I question whether this would ever hold up in court, but who wants to have to go to court in the first place? And I question whether they could actually enforce such terms, especially given that this is diametrically opposed to the bias of the medium, which is all about sharing--let the spice and the information flow! But it does have a chilling effect, to use an old legal/policy phrase, and it's offensive on principle.
There was a recent uproar, as you may know, when Facebook changed its Terms of Service to say that they also own everything you put there even if you delete it, or delete your profile, and they also said they own everything you link to. There was so much anger generated by this that a few days later they backed off and reverted to their old Terms of Service, which still says they own everything you put up there, just not forever.
Now, they do say that the ToS doesn't mean what it says, that it means something else, but any good general semanticist will tell you that what counts is what the words say, not any inferences that anyone draws about them. When you assume... well, I try to avoid making an ass out of anyone, especially myself. And furthermore, as any good New Yorker would say, I don't like their attitude.
By the way, speaking of Facebook's Terms of Service, here's a marvelous editorial cartoon by Jeff Koterba of the Omaha World Herald:
Neil Postman would've loved that! He always used to point out how all these gadgets and media, from televison on, were great time wasters.
Anyway, getting back to why I'm not a Facebook fanboy, the thing about Facebook is that it is very clean and orderly, closed and safe, the profiles are very quiet, homogenous, with relatively little room for personalization. MySpace, by way of comparison, is much more open and chaotic, and more in tune with the do-it-yourself ethic of the online world. Profiles are customized, so are blogs, it's all very noisy and creative, full of spam and scams and phishers and the like, and full of creative activity--it's a great place for artists, musicians, poets, etc. Twitter, while minimalistic in certain ways, allows for more personalization that Facebook, and is full of hustle and bustle--it's a great place for intellectuals. Neither one makes any claim to own your words, pictures, or soul.
Facebook is very middleclass, and that's the secret to its popularity. To make an analogy, Facebook is like Fabian whereas MySpace and Twitter are more like Elvis. Or in more recent terms, Facebook is like Vanilla Ice, MySpace and Twitter are like, uh, well, you know, real rappers (if I say Public Enemy or Puff Daddy I know I'm dating myself, I just don't know rap very well, but I know full well the sanitizing process that gives us Ice Ice Baby). Ok, how about this, Facebook is like American Idol, as opposed to real rock stars. Facebook is just so very bourgois! It's whitebread, Twitter is rye, MySpace is pumpernickel. Facebook is the suburbs, MySpace is the wild frontier, Twitter is the big city. I could go on, but I'll stop here and add a bit more in another post. Oh, and do feel free to send me a friend request on Facebook, I don't mind. Or on MySpace. Or follow me on Twitter. And of Blog Time Passing of course!
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
or maybe I should use archaic language to make it sound better?
Take your pick, either one works for me. And I suppose I could leave it at that, keep it all oracular and aphoristic and, well, mcluhanesque, but then again maybe it's worth saying a little bit more about what this means.
Let's start with the second part. The admonition to know yourself was said to have been written outside of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, back in ancient Greece. No one's quite sure who first said, perhaps old Socrates himself, or one of the pre-Socratic philosophers and Ionian physicists such as Thales or Heraclitus, or maybe it was that old mathematician Pythagoras. Although the Oracle at Delphi is mentioned in Homer's epic poetry, and no doubt originates in the oral culture of ancient Greece, the addition of these words, and perhaps the Temple itself, is a product of a literate mindset. Indeed, it is not possible to know oneself without a mirror of some sorts. A mirror image allows us to reflect upon and become self-consicous of our looks. A mirror image of one's mind allows the same to happen regarding our thoughts, and this is exactly what writing provides. The written word lets us spill our thoughts out on a physical writing surface, freeze them to view and review, and it is only in this way that you can begin to know your own mind. Without writing, there is little capacity for introspection.
Writing then gives rise to the notion that we might have an individual self, a self that is distinct and separate from any other, not bound up inextricably in one's family and tribe, but a single self like a single cell. You might say that writing gives us a self to know, but having done so, we do not automatically set about knowing that self. To do so requires extra effort, additional consciousness raising.
Most media work in this way, extending and externalizing part of ourselves, as McLuhan makes clear in Understanding Media. Each medium, then, lets us learn a little bit more about ourselves, lets us see a different angle of ourselves. But even more basically, each medium lets us create a different self altogether, and every new medium leads to the creation of a new kind of self.
At this point I should probably invoke the perspective known as symbolic interaction, pioneered by George Herbert Mead, popularized by Erving Goffman. From this point of view, we do not have one true self, but rather many different selves, each one true in its own way. You are a different self, in large part because you play a different role, in different situations, for example, when interacting with parents, or when interacting with friends, or when interacting with lovers, or when interacting with coworkers, or when interacting with teachers, or when interacting with children, etc.
Each and every role we play is a self we create for ourselves, and we are the sum of the roles we play, the sum of the selves we construct. As H. D. Duncan has put it, we have a parliament of selves.
Each situation also involves a different relationship, and to bring in now the relational theory of Paul Watzlawick, our selves are defined in our relationships. They never exist in isolation. I can only play the role of teacher if there are students who will accept me in that role, and play their complementary parts in the relationship. They play an integral part in defining me as my teacher-self.
So, now, each medium is also a situation, as Josh Meyrowitz has argued in No Sense of Place, and each medium is also a relationship, as Kenneth Gergen shows in The Saturated Self. So, for each medium that you interact through, you construct a different and new role and self (albeit one that may be similar to others in your repetoire). When you are working with social media, this is very obvious at the moment you create a profile for yourself, but the process doesn't end after the profile is finished. In fact, it has only just begun. You create your self though your subsequent communication behaviors, as your relate to and interact with others. This connects, then, to my previously posted point that You Are What You Tweet.
So, in order to know which self you are at any given time, you have to know which medium or media you are communicating within. And to fully know that self, you have to know that medium well, to understand its nature, its biases, its impact and its effects--its media ecology, so to speak.
So, if you know your medium, you can also know yourself, or at least know one part of yourself, and that may be more than many people know... and if nothing else, certainly, it's a start!
So you can click on that hot and hyperlinked URL above, or on this pretty picture below, which they also provide. And like a great many things online, they play the rankings game, so you can actually vote for, or against my blog if you go over there. I know I don't have to tell you what the right thing to do is, of course.
Communication as a discipline, and Communication Departments as a feature of institutions of higher education are for the most part a product of the postwar era, post-World War II that is, so we're talking late 1940s and beyond--for example, Fordham's communication department was created in 1946, combining radio, journalism, and theater. And information theory and cybernetics, two related concepts coming out of MIT and forming a theoretical framework based on science, mathematics, and engineering, were embraced early on as the basis of a legitimate science of communication. Not quite a paradigm, by the sixties more psychological perspectives were taking hold, especially those rooted in Rogerian/cliented-centered/humanistic therapies.
But information theory and cybernetics remained part of the basic curriculum in communication back when I was an undergraduate major in the 1970s, and for some time after that. However, it seems that their presence was on the decline, and the textbooks that I used did not give them adequate coverage, not at all. Of course, I was able to make up for that in lectures and class discussion, but I have to wonder how much of this tradition has been lost over the years?
I say lost, and it truly is a loss, because this theory group has something important to contribute to our understanding of communication, and to our understanding in general. This material was also part of the basic curriculum for the old media ecology program, even though it was not directly connected to the work of Mumford, Innis, McLuhan, Havelock, Langer, Ong, Ellul, or any of the others--one notable exception being James Beniger's brilliant work, The Control Revolution; also worth mentioning is Jeremy Campbell's Grammatical Man.
Additionally, these ideas informed the work of folks like Gregory Bateson, Paul Watzlawick, Erving Goffman, Edward T. Hall, Ray Birdwhistell, whose work cut across anthropology and psychology--there were collectively known as the Palo Alto group long before Palo Alto became known as Silicon Valley. Relatedly, information theory and cybernetics provides a foundation for systems theory, and the more recent concepts of chaos, complexity, and autopoiesis. Order and chaos are mediated by information. This all goes back to Claude Shannon's information theory, popularized by Warren Weaver, and to Norbert Wiener's cybernetics.
And of course, back when Shannon, Weaver, and Wiener were all coming up with this stuff, there was no such thing as computers. At least, not as we know it. The word computer referred to a person who performs calculations. The first calculating machines were just being developed at the end of the Second World War, and telephone systems were the height of complexity, and had much to do with the origins of information theory. And yet, this was the beginning of digital technology, binary code, and the like. This clearly can be seen in this film.
So, while there is entertainment value in the 1950s era documentary style, really, it's okay to laugh if you feel the urge, there is also something important to be learned about the new media, the digital media, yes, the participatory media, from this film. So, take a look:
I should add that between the time that John brought this video to my attention, and the time I got around to writing this entry, the video was removed from vimeo. Disappointing, to be sure, but I was not prepared to abandon the effort, so I did a google search for "Eames' A Communications Primer" and found it still available on http://www.archive.org/details/communications_primer (and there seems to be an option to download the film on a menu on the lefthand side). Hopefully, this video will still be there by the time you're reading this. If not, well, that's life on the electronic frontier.
But as I contemplate the innocent fantasies that movies like Tron conjure up, I come to realize reality is less lyricle and more like this :
My point from the above illustrations is that cyberspace can create a cyber-reality, a pseudo-reality in the sense that it tries to imitate our physical world. The problem is that this pseudo-reality can affect time and space, blurring the lines between our physical world and the world of wires. As professor Strate points out, “Immersed in the microworld, time seems to slow down relative to the outside world”. He then goes on to highlight a statement from Rifkin in his 1987 book, Time Wars:
“The really good video game players are able to block out both clock time and their own subjective time and descend completely into the time world of the game…they become victims of a new form of temporal schizophrenia, caught between two distinctly different temporal orientations”.
What Strate is alluding to and Rifkin states is that cyberspace has a different time then our physical world and this difference can have profound affects on our human behavior. I can completely relate to this because one of my friends has had an issue balancing cybertime with everyday time (by this I mean time based on a 24 hour period and the calender). My friend used to play world of war craft online. It was not unusual for me to be over at his apartment at 6 in the evening and come back the next day and see him still on the computer. I would protest that he was spending too much time on a stupid game but he felt like no time had passed at all. The cybertime created by cyberspace warped his sense of time in the physical world. The same thing happens to people who love facebook. They can spend hours browsing facebook and feel like minutes have gone by. This can have negative consequences.
My friend who lived on cybertime, spending it interacting with people via the world of war craft lost valuable human relationships. He became distant from many of his friends and almost lost his girlfriend of over 5 years. And what did he get for all this time spent online? An online game character that is well known around the globe and pseudo friendships with people he has never even met face to face (I call these friendships pseudo because none of them embody the characteristics of a true friendship which entails sacrifice, patience, loyalty etc.).
For the people who spend too much cybertime interacting with people on facebook, there is a real possibility that they will prefer this form of interaction over face to face communication. This in my opinion can be corrosive to the human experience of friendship because they lose out on the intimacy that physical interaction embodies. There is also a tendency for online communication to be short and to the point. This kind of communication is great for simple interaction but deep friendships are built on more. They need time, patience, comprehension and more then just a few words.
Disclaimer: When I talk about the negative affects of cyberspace and cybertime I have been referring to extreme cases. These are people who might already have some social “defect” prior to there engagement with the online world. All cyberspace does is help nourish this “defect”. There are plenty of people who manage there cybertime appropriately and build long lasting friendships via the web. What I am saying is more of a warning to keep things in equilibrium. Professor Strate says it best:
“We need not lose touch with the one-dimensional, but instead can use it (cybertime) as an anchor to a more stable and coherent sense of time. What is needed is a balance…”
Denver Business Journal - by Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal
Nielsen said "member communities" are now at 67 percent participation while e-mail is at 65 percent.
The study found that of Internet users throughout the world, two-thirds visited a social networking site last year. Of those, Facebook is the leader, with visits every month by three of every 10 Internet users, the Nielsen study reports.
In fact, Facebook had a 168 percent increase in users, the study said, while LinkedIn had a 137 percent increase.
The biggest growth spurt for Facebook has been in the category of users from 35 to 49 years of age.
Along with the notion of time, there is also the concept of space in computers. Hypertext is multidimensional and thus allows the reader to navitage through space. The hypertexual network of links represents different moments in time. Computers allow the stimulation and experimentation with the concept of multidimensional time. Computers examine everything through a binary code of zero's and one's and does not have a dimension. As Norbert Wiener explains, the ultimate goal is to reduce the degrees of freedom of zero. In a microworld people can easily move from one dimension to another, making it metadimensional.
Computers also allow us to store information, and change the notion of history. We can keep records of everything from credit card payments to parking tickets, and pull up these records years later - computers change the concept of storing information and its retrieval. This also raises a concern amongst people about leaving an electronic trail. Additionally, computers models can help predict the future, and in some cases this can be a bad thing. The example mentioned in the reading was if a computer projected a stock market crash, investors may easily become nervous enough to make it happen. This is one of the drawbacks of computer prediction, because it may result in self fulfilling prophecies.
Communication via the internet even occurs in the past. For example, the emails we receive are sent in the past but there is a notion of communicating in the present. In cybertime the lines distinguishing time as part of the past, present or future, tend to blur. Some suggest the computer space is a dream or mythical space wherein which our second self dwells. The computer can alter our sense of community by creating a form of liquid tribalism, allowing people to join and leave online communities are frequently as they would like.
The other reading explained cyberspace to be a collective concept, and defined as the diverse experiences of space associated with computing and related technologies. Cyberspace has several orders of space including Cybermedia Space (aesthetic, informational, interactive), Physical, Conceptual, Perceptual, Paraspace, and Spacetime. These are the different orders of space, most of which people overlook. I think this reading was particularly interesting because it emphasized the different types of space computer mediated communication involves -- often times we do not even think about space in this way.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
I've been trying to update my twitter more often and in doing so I've learned about TwitPic and Qik. TwitPic allows you to upload a photo and share it on Twitter. Qik is a website specifically created for mobile video. Twitter is a very popular application for iPhones, Blackberrys and other smart phones that are able to access the Internet. It is easy to upload a video onto Qik and share it on Twitter, in the same fashion that you would share a picture through TwitPic.