A webtwitch is defined as: Our new-found need to immediately look something up online the moment it comes up in the context of our daily lives. (Source: Wired Geekipedia)
Because there is so much going on and I’m super busy these days this will be just a quick rundown of the top three things on my list of interesting happenings.
- First is the really neat mashup between Google and Twitter for Super Tuesday, go check it out.
- Second is the Microsoft, Yahoo!, Google exchange going on.
- Third are the Internet outages affecting India and the toll it’s taking on business there.
Here are two articles I’ve read recently that I found to be very interesting. First is Wired’s Students On How Social Networking Is Transforming Politics, second is a post that was made to Tera Nova on the governance of cyber worlds.
If you’ve seen anything else interesting as of late please pass it my way!
So, how do you bring together groups of like minded individuals in to create a mini social network within a larger one? Easy, you get someone like Jeremiah Owyang to make a post on twitter linking back to his blog on how conversations have moved to twitter then asking for a microblog roll via comments. This results in an explosion of twitter friendings going back and forth across the microblog-o-sphere giving everyone the ability to tap into and expand the social networking community that has developed within the twitter social network.
To see how one person could trigger such a movement and that so many different individuals with interests that range from academics to PR to social media can find each other because they all have 1 particular friend in common is astounding. Since about 10 this morning I have gained 24 followers and promptly followed them all back. I will continue to track the resulting friendings from this one action as well as anything new I learn from these new fritters and see how far out this reverberates. If there are others interested in doing the same or sharing some of the results of this new wave of friendings, please comment! I love doing collaborative work, especially online.
p.s. you can find me on twitter here!
I have been participating in Nablopomo all month through this blog and I have to say, while it was a huge motivator, I am grateful this month has now come to a close. It was an interesting experience to keep up with a non-personal blog on a daily basis and quite a change of pace as I’ve kept up with my personal blog for almost 7 years now. I got nothing for doing this, other than the personal satisfaction that I was able to keep up with something for 30 straight days through starting a new job, the hardest month yet of grad school, and having had started the month behind because of my honeymoon in the middle of October.
I learned a few things along the way:
- My blackberry won’t post to word press and this makes me sad.
- I’m never satisfied with just posting about a single news story, I have found that my curiosity tends to get the best of me and thus I end up researching it for at least half an hour to an hour before I even begin my post, which caused my time I had to devote to this to be up to 2 hours a night.
- My friends who have kept up with my Livejournal for years did not keep up with this one at all. Tells me I should continue to keep this topic separate from my regular LJ postings!
- I posted a lot less to LJ this month as a result of this and everything else going on.
- I posted a lot less to Twitter as well.
- I was excited to learn that at least two people read this blog as that is exactly how many comments I got on it.
- Unlike LJ, it did not bother me one bit that I didn’t have a lot of comments or that perhaps no one read it as I was doing this for me. Sadly this brought to me the realization that in my personal blog (LJ), while it is focused on me, I am much more focused on the sociability of my posts and perhaps sensor myself more than I should for something that is supposed to be for me not the people reading it.
- Doing a Google search on Cyber Anthro does not yet bring up this blog (oh wow it does now! rank 5!), but it does bring up my LJ community as rank 3. I will continue to repost some of the stuff from this blog to that blog with posts linking back as that one seems to be gaining something of an audience (even if as a community no one posts in it).
- The cyber world, just like the real world, is full of social problems that can be analyzed through an anthropological lens.
- I like this subject enough that I am willing to fill up my free time even on nights where I’m up late doing homework and weekends where I have social matters to attend to to make posts here. This makes me happy and brings a bit of satisfaction to my life, especially concerning the choice I made to continue with my education to get my Masters.
To end this month and this post I give you a look back to Wired for November 1995.
By Jay Mallin
Soon, grad students will be turning to a new field of study called “cyberanthropology.” Rather than dig through the rusting metal of a municipal dump, anthropologists of the future will be able to confine their work to their computers. Financial records, marketing data, political mailing lists, even Quicken backup disks – all of it will provide fodder for scholarly articles in 3109, as researchers try to understand what life was like in the 20th century.
Well, it’s only been 12 years since that post and here I am, a grad school student who is self focused on cyber anthropology. While he put more of an archeological bent on it (a sub field, but not what all anthropology is about), it still amuses me. I hadn’t even graduated high school yet when this statement was made. I didn’t even have my own computer until 1997 and I bought my powerbook duo with its 256 grays screen, track ball, and dock just because it also had a 14.4 modem which would let me connect to this world I had only just discovered not even a full year before.
It was the social aspects that attracted me back then, and they continue to do so now as I sit here posting from a PC laptop at work where I am employed as an information architect whose sole purpose is to organize digital information to make it easy for people to use and access it online. Just think, even this job didn’t even exist until a few years ago!
I hope to be able to participate in Nablopomo again next year, if only to mark the changes that will have occurred in the interim. Don’t worry, I’ll continue to post here throughout the year (if there are actually people out there who DO read this), I just doubt it will be on as such a constant basis as it has been for this month!
Seems ABC has picked up the story focusing on the lady behind the hoax in the case. The Smoking Gun has the police report Lori Drew filed. There has also been a blog or two that has popped up since the case first broke national headlines. The first titled, “Megan Meier had it coming” assumes to tell the tale of someone who personally knew Megan as she tries to “set the record straight“. It now has 881 comments and counting. Slate has a pretty good rendition of what has gone down so far. And, to borrow a bit from them (since they posted exactly what I was going to post) – “Last week Dardenne Prairie aldermen passed a resolution making cyberstalking a misdemeanor within the city limits.”
Lastly for those who are as intrigued as I am with cyber-law, within the Resolution PDF they mention a US Department of Justice report on Cyber Stalking from 1999 which makes for an interesting read. I shall have to make it my hobby during the holiday break to look up more federal reports and articles on cyber issues. If I wasn’t already enamored with my major I might think about becoming a cyber law expert and possibly even going to law school because I truly enjoying learning about it all. If only I didn’t have to work! Then perhaps I’d have enough time in my life to educate myself and seek higher education in all the things that interest me!
Short post today on this holiday. I know there are some people out there who look to online friendships and relationships to get them through this time of year. If you’re a WoW player, perhaps you can finally do something about this! Why not try Datecraft a dating website for those who wish to find others as interested in the game as they are. It’s in beta right now so it will be interesting to see how it evolves from here.
On the subject I broached last night on parent supervision of adolescents online, here comes a story where even parent supervision failed in the end. First the St. Charles Journal broke the story, then CNN and ABC News reported on the story of 13 year old girl who after being taunted and defamed online, committed suicide. It turns out that the person who everyone thought had taunted her, a 16 year old boy on MySpace, was really the mother of a girl that Megan Meier had once been friends with. This woman had created a fake account in order to befriend Megan just so that in the end she could be hurtful to her.
Megan’s parents knowing their daughter’s history of depression, ADD, and weight problems, kept a watchful eye on Megan while she was online. Only they knew the password to her account and her profile was set to private so that all friend requests had to first be approved before anyone could see it. Her parents allowed her to accept the ‘boy’s’ friend request and kept an eye on their conversation. At first he was friendly to her. Had he not been, her parents would have terminated the friendship immediately. However, it is likely that because this persona was at first a friendly one that Megan gradually trusted it and was even excited by the fact she gained the attention of a ‘hot’ boy online. This is also why it would have hurt so badly to have him turn on her in such a hateful and malicious way and why, for a girl that had already had problems, it drove her to suicide in the end.
It was a matter of chance that Megan’s mother had been pressed for time leaving with Megan’s younger sister for the orthodontist as Megan began reading the horrible things this boy was saying about her. During a phone call Megan made to her mom crying, her mom urged her to log off immediately. Her mother returned to find Megan having said some mean things back to those that were being cruel to her as she ran away from the computer and up to her room. It was there, in her closet, that Megan hung herself.
What may be the worst part of it all, after their daughter’s death, Megan’s parents let the girl with whom Megan had once been friends with know that Megan had really valued their friendship. This family offered their condolences, invited Megan’s parents to their daughter’s birthday, and even had the Meiers store a Christmas present for them. It was only after another neighborhood girl came forward as to having known about the fake account that the Meiers found out who was really the person behind the boy that was so hurtful to their daughter. Now they had not only lost their daughter, but had also been ‘played’ by the family who had instigated their loss in the first place. The county prosecutor is now looking at ways to try to press charges in the case, while others infuriated with news outlets for protecting the name of the family involved decided to search it out and publicly publish it for all to see.
As far as cyber anthropology goes, this incident could have far reaching effects as Megan’s parents are trying to get laws enacted to protect children from harassment online. It will be interesting to see where this goes and what the trickle down affects are. I’m interested to hear other opinions on this and will continue to follow this story as it unfolds in the press and in the law books.
I brought up in my post last Saturday the need for my in-laws to have their Internet connection fixed as they had just switched providers and couldn’t get it working again. My question at the time was, how many in their demographic feel as strongly as they do about the internet? When we think of things that draw people of that age group toward being online, it generally consists of things directly relating to the offline world such as work, and family. While I am sure there are those 60+ year olds out there who have their own MySpace page, I’m fairly certain it’s not as common as those between the ages of 13 and 45. However, this may soon change. A UK site aimed toward the over 50 crowd has created their own community that requires you be half a century or more to join.
Boasting 13,000 to date, the oldest of which being an 87 year old from Ireland, the site aims to provide older netizens with a community of their own. They even provide a space for members to blog now. What I found most interesting what the layout of the site. It is bright, clean, well spaced out with large fonts and headings, and a line of ad space sequestered to the right hand side (most of it centered around saving money or the community itself). It even uses the not as common as it should be ability to make the text even larger if you find it’s too small and it is denoted by the simple phrase, ‘Text too small?’. You can see this is in contrast to the small, tightly compacted MySpace layout littered with blinking ads and member pictures. The difference being a site that is easy to navigate and relevant to it’s users versus a site that tries to play to everyone who’s purpose tends to get lost in the process.
I am excited to see a site like this in place and am eager to find out if there are more (in the US maybe), and how they compare to this one in terms of design and member numbers.
As we communicate and associate with people and businesses more and more online we begin to leave a digital foot print for all to see. This is especially the case if you have been online a long time and have associated your name with your online actions through profiles, instant messengers, and/or social networking sites. It may also be the case that you find your name online in a public forum through no doing of your own. Searching on my own name I’ve come across emails I sent out while doing tech-support for a gaming video card company. My name was attached to my email because that was part of my job and then someone took my email and posted it on a message board for others to see, forever linking my name to Macintosh support for that company.
Where this can become an issue is when you apply for a job and your internet savvy boss decides to Google your name. This can be a problem for several reasons as not only will anything you’ve ever done online will come up, but if you have a common name, other people’s online deeds may show up as well. In that case, even if you have been a good netizen (and your offline slate is clean or has not been made available online) your reputation may be tarnished by others. While you may be able to explain those cases away, be careful that you do not land in the same situation this previous government employee did when his employers decided to research his work history online. While this is old news to many, I am surprised at the amount of people who have never considered this a possibility.
This practice is only going to become more common as our online and offline lives become more integrated and therefor should be something of which more people are aware. So be careful what you put out there, and keep tracks on what others have said about you as well. Your next job may depend on it.
You can block ads, you can block commercials, but will you block your friends? Facebook has come out with a new way to promote advertising on their site. Doing their best to leverage your community of friends for their gain, Facebook will now allow your friends to select products they like and then pass that information on to you in the form of what has been declared a ‘social ad’.
Now, I can kind of see the logic behind this. You and your friends likely have similar tastes, likes and dislikes. So, what’s good for your friends is in most cases probably good for you as well. And, who knows you better than your friends right? They are generally someone you trust when seeking product advice allowing you to make informed decisions about products and services based on their experience. However, The key point in this entire process though is that you seek this information out.
If I am buying a new car, I’ll ask my friends what they like and don’t like about their cars. However, I don’t want my friends pushing their car information on me if I didn’t ask for it. This is where I see a likely problem with this part of their new ad idea. I only want information I need, seek out, and can (immediately) use. I have to wonder, depending on how invasive this is, could this actually cause rifts within online friendship circles if this information comes through unwarranted and unsought after? What will this do to the Facebook community? It is likely people will start looking for work arounds and ways to avoid this annoyance as they have with previous advertising attempts. CNET makes a good point, if your community members are looking for work arounds, then it is likely what you’re doing is actually counter productive.