Year: 2007

FaceBook mssging among friends and ID impression management issues

It all started few days ago when I read at IT Serbian forum a story on case of the fake digital identity and image(s) of super blond young female who represented herself as cute little blondie, that blogs, twitts, has Facebook profile, dropping university for the sake of modelling etc, etc. In the meantime, she/he was advertising all huge biz enterprises in Serbia on the blog and when IT people and geeks revealed the identity as fake one, she/he confessed about this behaviour as ‘transition period’ as she/he is moving to work for one/new Serbian social networking site (advertising again). Hideous saga went through forums and other online media, but what is left behind is hundreds of male population in Serbia dreaming of her character and the image he (her inventor) created.

With little effort everyone can be anyone on Web. Nothing new is happening, as in offline world. Even real people, adults, have impression management issues in social networking sites evaluated in social contexts. Here, we have example of sweet little blond: in Serbia social context it is the model of neo turbo-folk culture where fake (layout: hair, eye color, pumped lips, implants everywhere, fake complexion, fake smile, gestures) and glittered are highly-rated as trendy and ‘in’ which teens blindly follow. Having that in mind, it’s not difficult to create such digital ID, being presented also at Facebook (“oh, you have only eleven photos, where is the twelfth, i thought you were posing for the Calender?” – as one of the adult Serbian male commented). This issue also deserves and needs to go deeper into psychological analysis of human behaviour and social dynamics in this particular context where female/human is not respected or because of the false prejudices and bad jokes on females with blond hair.

So, yesterday we had Facebook inner circle messge discussion (among few friends who are familiar with the case) , interactive thread on fake identities, misuse of female image in marketing purposes, impression management issues and friending: fake or real? One of the IT managers commented that sometimes, in this case, it is better to have real virtual friends than fake friends in the real life, where the others agreed with him stating that they know many of online people from the city, communicating through other mediums (mobiles, IM’s) and that is even better if/when virtual friend becomes a friend in real life (lot of examples on this variation). One of my friend and colleague who was (and still) for long time at Myspace (MS addict) and moved to Facebook confessed that at first was sceptical and didn’t think at all to join this SNS, but after awhile he finds FB more serious social network with more options for networking with people.

As we can perceive, social processes provide individuals with contextual frame through which they can properly socialize with other participants. All computer-mediated communication sites have the feature that allows participants to articulate and publicly display their relations to others in the system which makes chain of the friendship. We all agreed on that, most of us though, that social network sites are not digital spaces disconnected from other social venues. As the outcome from the last night discussion: today’s meeting in the real world with regional editor in chief of PC Press magazine, just few hours after our virtual talk with other participants on this issue.

It is interesting to mention here, in one of her talks earlier, danah boyd observed that participants must negotiate when being on social network sites thought four key rolls: persistence, searchability, replicability, and invisible audiences.These elements help participants to structure context but they also make it more difficult to manage collapsed contexts. This is exactly what have happened in this case and the previously described cases (posts) in virtual communication in the local venue. Also, regarding the latest NewYork Times article, researchers from Harvard and the University of California, Los Angeles, came to conclusion that while “people perceive someone who has a high number of friends as popular, attractive and self-confident, people who accumulate “too many” friends (about 800 or more) are seen as insecure.”

re-evaluate your real/fake online/offline friends.

Science Blogging Anthology!

Conference time is approaching. Today Bora updated everything you need to know on Science Blogging conference (program,
wiki..). There’s going to be another Science Blogging Anthology and should be published and ready for the event. Nominations for the most interesting and best posts are still open until December 20th, so you have just few days to nominate via submission form one of your own posts or one from your favourite science blogger.

upcoming conferences: SN portability and more…

You may find these three conferences interesting, as it’s getting closer:

Will be back with more information as I am stucked between practice – meetings, consulting, searching for PhD scholarship for my research [ any institution, organization interested, please write me on this email :] and urge and respect to the others not to go behind deadlines.

To FB or not to FB? Are we friends or ex-friends?

First I want to reply to the post of my Twitter friend and colleague George Frink with whom I DM’ed via Twitter lately on SNS and other issues, and here I have the need to explain, actually clarify his latest post as response to my previous Online friending. The point is that I never said that virtual world relationships are “nonexistent”, real people are behind their avatars, names, user-names etc., as well as social networking on Web at certain aspects are re-establishing our analogue connections and establishing or fostering new connections with people we meet or will meet (both online or offline).

What I was stressing out is that certain group of people, SNS users – e.g. in Serbia, Belgrade, groups from teenagers to adult are networked online all the time, living in pretty obvious proximity in the city, and yet they rather communicate via chat communication channels, social networks, exchanging messages, poking each other, etc. and never (or rarely) appear in analogue world socializing with their virtual friends from the hood. I was reported also by the parents who were complaining, giving up from their kids who spent hours and hours online with their friends, probably not understanding the process, how they are all networked either playing games or chatting, while they could meet in real hood surrounding or some caffee or community center.

This is also a problem for older population of SNS users in Serbia: they rather send messages via Facebook (email is now passe, as well as the usage of text messaging) or MySpace – you can see them hanging online and participating in all given applications. ” If you don’t have Facebook profile- you are not ‘hype’ “.

Also, in this case, it is hard to draw the line between their real and virtual identities as ‘being somebody’s friend at Facebook’ is not ‘hype’ but also group limited issue – “you can be formaly my FB friend but I have smaller group of friends in the (FB) city with whome I poke, virtual fight club, hug, send to each other drinks, chocolates, etc.”. And there are collectors of ‘friends’. Nothing is virtually different considering users behaviour as it is in real life, just instead of face-to-face communication, when is very possible and given/gifted by geo-spots, they choose secure virtual playground. Why?

The other opposite FB scenario is happening these days (I hope it’s not due to my previous post) with adult group of professional computer users (web designers, programmers, bloggers, information professionals, etc.), who are quitting their Facebook accounts. One of the example is my colleague and friend, highly respected designer, who yesterday shut down for good his FB account because after months and months of networking with others, having virtual drinks, etc. he realized it’s getting tiresome, and he doesn’t find any interest in staying at this social network where everyone (in his network) was ‘posing’, trying to be ‘hype’. ‘His fellow commenter’s shared and approved his opinion as it’s better for them to socialize via Flickr or, or some other vivid discussion group. This also goes to my statement on real, analogue identity versus ‘hype’, ‘fake’, neo -“Neo’ matrix created identity for common user of SNS in this part of the world. Analysis on this issue will and goes deeper to sociological, psychological and geographical level of research for this kind of phenomena and behaviour. Real friendships will strengthen no matter what, fake one that would lessen either in real or virtual life would happen the same, in the same environments.

So far, someone’s largest social network is it’s own web site or blog. Couldn’t it be any better, useful and safer place for people to find you and contact you, if needed?



Online friending: information overload and simulation of life

Facebook friending or something like this*: friend requests, group invitations, cause invitations, world’s most abstract invitations, My Lil Lohan invitation, circle of trust, risk, true or false invitations, gifts invitations, birthday calender, friends for sale (the person is no longer friend), southpark character invitations, sketch me, characterize me requests, harry potter, wishabi, twisted Xmas requests, zodiac animal, counter, smile, bless you, hugs, hug me, kiss me, requests to some quizzes: how classy are you?, are you a great kiss, are you romantic?, are you hot or not? cute or sexy?, are you normal? etc, etc. also can be seen some of it here.

Online social networks became more than interacting playground, messaging and friending, also more than writing. The growth of SNS expanded into new ‘neo’ age of online multimedia forms of behaviourism – talking, clicking, poking, exchanging comments, homemade videos, fun walls , super walls, chain emails**, racing, pillow fighting, (human) petting, participating in subnetwork within network.
I came to the moment in my hectic life, to face one lovely day bunch of requests, invites, causes, groups notifications, chain funwall messages coming right from my Facebook friends. Michael Wesch, who teaches cultural anthropology at Kansas State University, (in previously posts mentioned) makes implications on how: “people [are] projecting their identities by demonstrating their relationships to each other. You define yourself in terms of who your friends are.”

We are chosen and we choose. My friends are mainly former students, colleagues from analogue life, present colleagues, professors, friends from both analogue and digital life, and future colleagues and affiliates. Age ranges from 22 to 60 years old. Some of them I didn’t meet face to face yet, some of them sent me email because they are reading my written word, some are friends from other SNS, or micro-blogging sites. Many of them are people from real life, before FB, many of them are idle, and, as extreme, many of them with (I guess) free time are overwhelming (those who are not into exploring digital culture, social web, or similar) with many applications I cannot/won’t handle. ***

“With social networks, there’s a fascination with intimacy because it simulates face-to-face communication,” Dr. Wesch says.

Many of friends from analogue world are very serious, personal and intimate on FB applications including virtual matrix of subnetworks of network. On this subnetwork I will write separately. By creating hybrid masks they are making fundamental distance. They are safe to connect with others through weak ties simulating the physical space and communication flow through distance. Why? Because it’s safe.

One of FB friends (and friends in analogue life) reported me on the other communication channel how he feels safe(r), even communicating, chatting with friends around the block in the same city area, rather than meeting them face to face. Why? Because he can think before writing a feedback through IM or other virtual communication forms, avoiding potential conflict, embarrassment or avoiding to reveal the true ‘behind-the-screen’ character identity, playing Neo or any antipode self made hybrid character with opposite attributes. By this hybrid simulation, this adult is lost in own virtual matrix, teleporting items, people, hybrid-related communications or relations to the offline world.

Some of us are creating this way our social relationships online, I am asking: will this paradoxal effect start to create the way we relate to each other in the offline world as well? We spend more time ‘networking’ and ‘talking’, ‘getting together’, and the fact is we spend less time – getting together, networking and talking, while expanding definition of a * freind* to imply people we rarely meet (from offline world) or we may never meet (from online world). Therefore, I have fundamental question: will our analogue friendships in the real world strenghten or they’ll lessen as we loose ourselves in hybrid structures of online * friending* ?
*Apologize to my FB friends on “notworking” in all these games, tests, invitations. I’m cleaning FB space due to application and information overload. Everything reasonable, creative and inspiring is welcomed!

**Dare to send me any of “forward to your three or seven friends …or…etc” chain funwall messages!

*** Dear friends, if you didn’t check the Beacon box to turn off Beacon, you can do it here. For those who didn’t read FB apologies on privacy concerns, also here.

Analogue vs Digital is not equal! Offline Weinberger’s discussion

My old professor of world literature had theory on analogue and digital world , even nine years ago when the Internet started to grow and expand. As an active computer consumer, I asked him weather he would prefer to read novel as eBook or in paper form if he had to choose, he would say: “I don’t go with computer in my bed”, denoting that Gutenberg galaxy would never loose its value as well as analogue comparing to digital is not the same, as many people put the equal sign between these two antipodes.

As David Weinberger said “..real world pizza tastes better than virtual food” in the trailer for tomorrow’s session (for those around the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, at Harvard Law School). Weinberger will tomorrow, December 5 at 6:30pm lead an offline discussion on “Is the Web Changing the Nature of Leadership?” as part of his Web of Ideas series in the Berkman Center’s conference room. It will be discussion on how Web “affects our ideas about ourselves and our world”.

Sounds familiar from previous posts on analogue and digital, or better to say versus digital? Matrix world and self-made virtual identities in real life does not exist. And if they do, identities are ego-oriented to their narratives from the virtual life. Once they step out from the same matrix -they are not the image they created, in offline world. You’ll read more about social aspects of web, online interaction and behaviour within social networks in upcoming posts.