Tag Archive for 'Social'

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Where do you prefer your conversations: Twitter or FriendFeed?

StrawPoll - Twitter or FriendFeed?

Where do you prefer to have online conversations: Twitter (1) or FriendFeed (2) ?
Simply reply @brainopera via twitter. Responses are automatically visualized here.

What’s going on between Twitter and FriendFeed?
Twitter has been experiencing a lot of downtime lately, which lead to heavy users seeking alternative conversational spaces. FriendFeed lets you comment within your friends’ lifestreams, much like online discussion boards back in the ’90s. Both services are extremely different, but the certain high profile users are now touting FriendFeed as a Twitter killer. I think it’s all bollocks. Twitter abstracts (in 140 characters) our lives into digestible chunks, while FriendFeed is way too complicated (and noisy) for regular netizens to humanly withstand. If anything, FriendFeed works best as a discovery lifestream.

I think its the most inappropriate paradigm, but here’s the ongoing debate between which is better:

So, go cast your vote as shown above. StrawPollnow tracks responses to my twitter account and displays results in real-time here.

Ariel Waldman vs. Twitter: A story so dirty, I’m taking a shower…

Ariel Waldman » Twitter refuses to uphold Terms of Service

UPDATE: Now verified, as seen on Twitter’s blog.

I’ve been following Ariel Waldman’s twitter as I would with others I respect in the social media circle. Since Thursday however, her online plea against twitter has made me cast doubts about her.

Her situation involves “harassing user accounts” that would typically be banned by other web services upon request (e.g. Flickr), just not so in the case of Twitter. With that, she’s thrown everything but the kitchen sink, from discrepancies with Terms of Service to Communication Decency Act, towards Twitter.

Despite the support she’s received from other popular bloggers, I haven’t been able to trust her case fully just yet. Even if she declares that she’s not writing it in her position as Community Manager of Pownce (competitor), there is still conflict of interest. Furthermore, her arguments for "banning" twitter user accounts might be overblown.

I respect that Twitter’s community managers chose to exercise more caution than others before terminating accounts, that’s way more work than simply shutting things down upon request.

For instance, what if a mob of abusive users decide to report your twitter account for termination, even though you did nothing wrong?

Since no one can see the actual offensive tweets in question (she didn’t fully disclose), it’s really up in the air. The bottomline is simply who you’d trust more.

For the record, Evan Williams (Twitter founder) already stated that they have deleted twitter accounts before, but her case was not an account-deletable offense.

Additionally, the following excerpt came from a comment on Zeldman’s blog. Do practice caution as we need to verify that the commenter was indeed Evan Williams:

Evan Williams said on May 23rd, 2008 at 6:26 pm:
I have a list of 13 tweets that Ariel sent us as examples of the abuse from the account she wanted banned. According to our records, this is everything she sent us, except for those from the “confessions” account, which Ariel says was not the main problem. (I couldn’t look those up, because the posts themselves were deleted before we could look at them.)

I would *love* to post the whole file of these examples. I think it would clear a lot of things up. Unfortunately, since this content is the source of all this strife, and it’s now off the Internet, that seems…well, not quite right.

What I will tell you is this:

Out of these posts, exactly one mentions Ariel by name. It calls her “experienced.” The others do not personally identify Ariel.

One of them uses the word “cunt” (with a quote, presumably from Ariel). None contain either “crack” or “whore.” None contain threats, physical or otherwise. Most are insults about physical or personality attributes without referring to anyone specifically. If you were following both Ariel and the account of this woman when these posts were made, it may have been clear who she was referring to. Out of that context, you would probably have no clue. But even if they would have mentioned Ariel by name, most of them are not actionable, because we don’t have a rule against insulting people or hurting their feelings.

Caveat: Many of the examples she sent us were from Flickr. I didn’t look at all of these, because…well, we don’t run Flickr.

Our stance is this: We stand by our TOS. We have deleted accounts for abuse of various kinds. We had to make a judgement call here, as one does in all such cases. This didn’t meet the bar for being banned, in our opinion.

You can disagree with our judgment call. And that’s fine. But you’re choosing to do that without seeing the content, and someone has very carefully painted a picture that has misled many people. (One might ask why Ariel didn’t post the full tweets in order to strengthen her case.)

Even if you do disagree with our judgment call, this is not an argument about whether or not we’re enforcing our TOS; this is an argument about how we define “harassment” or “abuse.”


Few additional sources:
CNet: Popular blogger ignites uproar over Twitter harassment (May 23, 2008)

SlashDot: Blogger Incites Outcry Over Twitter Harassment

theorycast.39 :: Are you Yourself on Seesmic?

This 20min video showcases a slice of multi-way conversations around the topic of identity online, specifically within the new video space of Seesmic.com. I’ve used Viddler for this post since I could tag and link our appearances from within the player to actual Seesmic videos. Just rollover the dots along the video timeline.

Dean Terry started by asking “are you yourself on Seesmic”. In essence, he wanted to know how we identify ourselves in Seesmic, a new video conversational space. How different is it in performance as we do in other media spaces such as multi-user virtual worlds (MUVEs) like Second Life?

Since the 70+ video responses would be sheer torture to go through (see the entire video thread), I’ve handpicked ones related to me as a convenience sample. Much like an online discussion forum when you’re participating in a long thread, you’ll typically only be able to follow a few users, forming cliques within larger thematic circles.

Technically, you can observe the chronological flow of video conversations within Seesmic. Culturally, you can see the elements of interaction within the community, from name-dropping to mimicking, see if you can discover more.

Seesmic: If you’re not convinced, here’s a story…

Seesmic 101
Seesmic compilation image by John Larkin

Last night’s Seesmic conversation was a blast! With forty video replies, here’s an excerpt of John Larkin’s detailed account of what happened…

Well, Kevin’s post stirred me into action and I sought out the old email invitation, copied the key and signed up. I sought out Kevin’s Seesmic profile and responded. I made a lame first post and then another tongue in check post in response to Kevin. I thought on that and wondered how would my employer and students react. I immediately posted another video about public versus private identity. That garnered an immediate reply from Mark Taylor. I have embedded the thread here if you wish to view it. Basically, be professional and apply some commonsense.

The exchanges are quite exhilarating and, in my humble opinion, leave Twitter for dead. Perhaps I am a visual learner. I began a thread on Seesmic versus Twitter versus Blogging. Quite a few picked up on that, including Christy Dena, Dean Terry, Andrew Brackin, Kevin Lim, Freida Wolden and Kamel Daoudi. The demographics and the geographical location of the respondents was diverse. The respondents included a young student from England, researchers from the USA and a retiree. A number of the conversations can be viewed on this page.

The discussion covered such topics as mockumentaries, ARGs, Second Life, avatars, World of Warcraft, historical recreations and collaborations. Useful, very useful.

After I told some of my friends about my experience with Seesmic last night, most of them shrugged off posting videos of yourself as being “less forgiving”. This was understandable… which was why even though I too had a Seesmic account early on, but it was only last night that I decided to take the plunge after some of my more adventurous peers started using it. I don’t think anyone would doubt the initial sensation that videos of yourself are a lot less forgiving; you are putting more of yourself at stake. But now stop, collaborate and listen to yourself…

Haven’t we said the same thing before we took to blogging or even twitter?

New medium, New resistance
Once again, every “new” medium challenges us in sensibility. We’ve asked what’s the point of blogs or twitter in some time of our lives, yet we use it as part of our daily routine now. We been through these cycles enough times to know that sensation of the verge, where once you take the leap, you’d wonder why you didn’t try it earlier. Perhaps it’s the formation of a new norm, and the natural resistance which comes with it.

It’s full-on transparency…
What’s happening now, is the idea of transparency being magnified ten-fold over previous media. A few of us have used Youtube in this fashion (e.g. Youtube celebrities), communicating directly with other users as well. Seesmic just makes the conversation more apparent, with video performances structured as currency of the conversations. While we could act or script our video conversations in certain ways, there is more of our presence in it, which could lead to fear of future reprisal. Despite the difference in media form (text > photo > video), it is still the same risks we once took to blogging as our real selves, which is being reiterated on Seesmic.

It’s about performancing…
Over time, Seesmic becomes quite natural, as if talking to friends in chunked pieces arranged through thematic threads (like a forum). Over Seesmic, I was just talking with a bunch of academic friends about the idea of “performancing” and pressure to do right (e.g. has to look perfect), but the amateurism in there invites one to have an easy entrance (i.e. lower benchmark). No need to be too clever, short video blurbs work too.

It’s meme formation at lightspeed…
Thing is, while serious conversation are happening, fictional humor takes place as well. My profile video included what I like, and some caught on to the toy cat I was holding, while others caught on with hats and sunglasses. It’s like people imitating one another in a meme-like fashion, except that the meme formation is fast. We see this on blogs and Youtube, but it’s very drawn out and sometimes forgotten too quickly to catch on. Seesmic responses are lightning fast… one video post leads to another within just minutes, thanks to how easy it is to reply given the current state of video technology. Flash video getting quite ubiquitous for viewing and producing on the fly.

It’s a new aesthetic; a brash context…
This is what makes Seesmic interesting, like how we eat our food, yet arrange it in a certain way to please our eyes, even though it’s our stomach which will eventually consume it. In this case the brain consumes the conversation, but the eyes and ears are enjoying the dressing. It is a new way of pleasing the other senses. Marshall McLuhan’s infamous “The Medium is the Massage” is very pun-ny, and hold true to this notion that the message AND the medium it is used to convey the message, shapes the resultant communication to a receiver.

Ultimately, just as blogging and twitter isn’t for everyone, I do believe that so will Seesmic. Certain sets of people will have different comfort levels to self-disclosure and use appropriate channels they prefer for their personal gratification. With that said, it is still important to have an open mind to try these things for yourself. It is really one thing to watch from the sidelines, and another to jump right in and try it for yourself. As a preview, here’s my Seesmic video profile which kicked off our conversations…

What the above video doesn’t show, is the forty or so weird, intellectual and mostly funny video responses I’ve gotten back. You’ll want to see the other actors here. Highlighting just some of the points discussed…

  1. magical power mako (Japan) welcomed me with a freaky video of her cat sculpture
  2. hache (Columbia) said hello with a familiar green monster
  3. I respond by warning my toys not to venture into Seesmic alone
  4. Christy Dena (Australia) responds to my transparency and presence thoughts, with Snoopy
  5. John Larkin (Australia) turns the conversation into Seesmic vs. Twitter vs. Blogging, while wearing different hats
  6. Dean Terry (Texas) contributes his thoughts about performance pressure and fiction on Seesmic
  7. A young Englishman, Andrew Brackin (England), joins in by sharing his well-articulated thoughts on how Twitter, Blogs and Seesmic differ

I’m pretty much sold, since it makes more sense for me to use Seesmic as a videoblogger. I only wish for more integration with our blogs, so I’ve started using the Seesmic WordPress plugin in the comments should anyone be interested to leave a video response right here. That said, just as blogs and twitter still isn’t for everyone, the same would go for Seesmic. I’m reminding friends to keep an open mind and to see if it fits you.

Want to know more?

Aside: Don’t be an invite show-off. It’s one thing to have invites to new web services, and another to really experience it for yourself through actual participation. Don’t just horde; do play and talk about it.

Here’s my damn Seemic profile video… now join or else!

My Seesmic Profile Video
…what are you waiting for?

I’ve been lurking, but I decided to cave in and start contributing after watching Howard Rheingold‘s awesome Seesmic norms video project (via Christy Dena).

Watch my damn Seesmic video profile here, then join Seesmic if you haven’t and lets be friends.

What’s Seesmic?
Think of it as twitter, but we use video instead of text.

Surveillance Culture: Punking and Power Reversals

Here’s punking and power reversal at its finest…

Reader Heather Glogowski tipped me off last week about how a UK band, Get Out Clause, used public video surveillance to make a music video and requested the footage under the Freedom of Information Act (also on BoingBoing).

Proposal using Apple's time-lapse cam (May 20th 2006)

This situation reminded me of how an ingenious man stood once before a time-lapse camera outside the then newly-opened Apple Store Fifth Avenue at the right times just to get his wedding proposal seen.

On a related note, there is something ironic and difficult about surveillance technology though. UK CCTVs don’t cut crime rates as much as we’d like them to. Ars Technica meta-reports on how “Only three percent of crimes have been solved using CCTV footage, and offenders aren’t afraid of being caught on video” (The Guardian, 6th May 2008)

Aside: First Person R/C Plane, Almost as Good as Actually Flying (via Alex Halavais)

It’s been a while my friend… exploring Myrl

It's been a while my friend...

It’s been close to a year since I last logged into Second Life (SL nick: Kevin Suisei). Ever since I terminated my paid account, I saw little reason to continue, seeing that I’ve got too few relationships with anyone in that metaverse.

I had wanted to own land and build my own home there, but just after I signed up, they canceled provisioning of free land to new users. Without a home, I was left to wander the islands like a ghost. Without a base, there was even less attachment I had for SL.

If you look around the interface screenshot above, I do have leftover Lindens which I was intending to convert back into U.S. currency, but with the real-world economy so bad now (L$16,954 = US$59.50), I’ll hold off that idea.

The reason why I came back was to explore this new social network for metaverses called Myrl. I saw ARG researcher Christy Dena joining it (ambient awareness through social networks), and followed suit since I’ve always been interested in cross-metaverse interactions.

From Myrl’s About page:

Welcome to Myrl: Cross-metaverse Social Network Myrl is a social network for the Metaverse, a cross-worlds platform aiming at bringing virtual worlds on the web and connecting users from multiple virtual worlds. Myrl helps users to share their virtual life, publish their avatar/organization profile and automatically update it in real-time. Myrl is all about collaboration and user controlled information: avatars can share, shape, show, vote and rank what’s important to them.

Myrl, which stands for “My Real Life and My Role Life”, currently lets you connect to users from worlds like Second Life and There.com (more to follow). A game-like motivator for using Myrl comes in the form of your avatar’s karma, where the higher the karma, the stronger your influence will be in the community. Your karma is fed by:

  • Life scrobbler: how much time you’ve spent inworld
  • Interaction points: how many items you’ve submitted onto Myrl
  • Networking points: number of avatar you have invited to join the community
  • Myrlit points: how many times your avatar has been myrled

Right now I’m already experiencing social networking fatigue, so until social networks start talking to one another, I’m not really going to start from scratch with another one. Meanwhile, I’ll just tabs on sites like Myrl, just to see if we can discover more in-depth interactions between metaverses.

microcelebrity spotting: Keith Burtis the Woodturner

UPDATE: Keith recently opened an Etsy store where you can purchase his wood work!

Last evening Shady and I went down to the 2nd Buffalo Tweetup, partly because we were meeting a new twitter / developer friend there, Joseph Hsu.

Organized at the Pearl Street Grill & Brewery, I got to meet Keith Burtis at the Tweetup again, who lets me know how far he’s gone with his woodturning art. Apparently he’s become quite a microcelebrity, with his blog, twitter and live shows of his woodturning sessions. He would often give out his work to viewers, which was in line with his mantra of being without attachment in life. I told him how he’s adopted a Buddhist thinking, where one finds contentment from within, not external source (at least that’s what I know).

If you’re wondering what woodturning is, according to Wikipedia (aka our alpha version of the hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy)…

Woodturning is a form of woodworking that is used to create wooden objects on a lathe. Woodturning differs from most other forms of woodworking in that the wood is moving while a (relatively) stationary tool is used to cut and shape it. Many intricate shapes and designs can be made by turning wood.

As a fan of The 7th Son, Keith recently made a special gift to his favorite Sci-fi writer / podcaster, J.C. Hutchins. The 7th Son is an amazing podcast novel which has gained quite a following, and is a thriller centered around the concept of clones. J.C. surprised Keith by making an unboxing video of his package, which immediately made me see the power of passionate producers when they happen to be fans of each other’s work. It made me realize how this brings fans over as well, much like how comic book crossovers used to work in the early days (see DC vs. Marvel).

Keith will be on traveling over summer, giving talks and sharing tips with artists on how they can use social media to further their work, and gain fans as well as customers for their business. He’s set to give at talk at the upcoming Podcamp Boston. I remarked at the Tweetup group on how Clay Shirky’s “Here Comes Everybody” fits into what’s happening today, as we’re really starting to realize how social technology only gets interesting when the non-techies start using it.

The unexpected relationships between traditional non-tech related work and social media is something most people fail to see the connect, yet is a milieu holds the an incredible untapped potential. In line with my recent social media strategist interviews, there is a general disbelief that it would work, when social media is actually quite agnostic to content genres, particularly non-tech related ones. As Jeremiah Owyang once answered me on how lifecasting could possibly make money, he said that as long “as it’s interesting, it’ll work”.

Are we live?
Original 4Chan image found on Liz’s wall…

Aside: As you can tell by now, I’m now able to videocast live anytime any place. I’ve got a Nokia E51 for review, and Daniel Brusilovsky provided me a Qik.com account for mobile video streaming.

Ethnographic: A Teenage Girl’s Facebook Friend List

Facebook friends list template

“The following event is real but the names have been changed to protect the innocent”

While some of us struggle to manage our online relationships, no one does it better than teenage girls who spend a lot of their online time on social networking sites. They’ve learned to micro-manage their lives with the level of detail certified accountants do with internal audits.

Always interested in how the experts do it, I got a chance to sit through a demo of how 18 year old Sarah sorts her Facebook friends. From using the limited profile feature to reduce exposure to specific colleagues, bosses or creeps (real-life creeps on the rise?), to using the Friend List feature in an extensive way to delineate clusters of relationships (as shown above).

Sarah does represent a heavy Facebook user, blogging via Facebook notes, picky with her Facebook apps, but a deep user of the platform nonetheless. She explores and utilizes every aspect of the social networking service until she has it is sufficiently under her control.

When asked of what she thought about Facebook Chat, she disliked it saying how it just makes it “too creepy”. She currently prefers bantering with friends via Wall-to-Wall, perhaps something to do with anticipation, surprise and reduced attention it requires compared to a live conversation. Sharing her sentiment, we compared the number of Facebook friends reported online through her Online Friends page with the number reported in the Facebook Chat feature, and discovered that a majority of her friends have indeed turned off their chat status entirely.

For the rest of us, maintaining our online relationships can be a lot of work, especially if you use Facebook sparingly just to maintain presence. If you want some basics on maintaining privacy on Facebook (or to help your child’s manage his / her online presence), this video tutorial gives a good demo of how to go about it. Just excuse the heavy British Aussie accent. ;)

theorycast.38 :: Reality TV + Web 2.0 = DIY celebrities

Here’s an interview I did with communication researchers, Dr. Michael Stefanone and Derek Lackaff, at the University at Buffalo (SUNY) about their discovery of a strong link between reality TV viewership, social networking site usage, and celebrity identity formation.

Via Michael: As an article forthcoming in ACM’s Hypertext (June, 2008), the study found a link between reality television (RTV) consumption and behavior on SNSs like Facebook. Stefanone, Lackaff and Rosen found that RTV consumption predicted the size of user’s online social networks, the number of photos shared, and the level of ‘promiscuous friending’ (the frequency users friend others they haven’t actually met).

I have a particular interest in this study because it’s quite straightforward and timely. The study brings together concepts of Benkler’s peer production in Web 2.0 environments, promiscuous friending (which leads to Boyd’s Law), game metaphor of social networks, modeling of celebrity identity (microcelebrityship), media displacement theory, and historical shifts in online identity formation (from anarchic textual self-representation to present day actual self-representation).

We’re All Stars Now: Reality Television, Web 2.0, and Mediated Identities” (downloadable PDF) will be presented in June at the Association for Computing Machinery’s Hypertext 2008 conference. Congrats to Michael and Derek, whom both I know personally.

If you want a better understanding of this research, Alan Boyle, winner of the AAAS Science Journalism Award, has written an excellent feature for it on MSNBC.com’s Cosmic Log entitled: Are you an Online ‘Idol’?. There’s also a humorous piece by io9 bloggers entitled “Your Future Will Be Filled with Promiscuous Friends“.