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Jumping on the Facebook wagon

There’s been a lot of discussion about Facebook recently, most notably surrounding danah boyd’s exploratory essay discussing class and social network sites (SNS) Facebook and MySpace. At home, also, my spouse has become an avid ‘Facebooker’: she has been able to connect with numerous friends, as well as others who have not been in touch for a while. It’s been interesting to watch the dynamics of the whole thing – one thing that struck me is that, compared to blogs, Facebook provides one with an ‘instant network’. Blogs are also used as a way to keep in contact with friends, to accumulate a certain amount of social capital, but there’s a lot more work involved there – you have to understand a little html code to do your blogroll, search out other blogs and links, etc. With Facebook, it’s all there in an instant, and you don’t have to spend time writing posts either.

I’ve been avoiding joining, mainly because I can see it taking up more time, I don’t really see the point of being registered with yet another online service; also, I am one efficient procrastinator and don’t need any more excuses. But I have finally given in… I joined the Media Anthropology Network, and was told that other members are on Facebook, with details of their profiles and what they’re working on. This was the final straw: the Association of Internet Researchers’ email list (recommended, by the way) had also recently mentioned forming a Facebook network, and a friend recently joined and told me about other long-disappeared-off-the-map friends who are on it too.

This is what greets you when on the first page of Facebook. It’s interesting to look at the meaning of "the people around you", it could be read in a utopian, or dystopian way: a dystopian would ask: why do you need an online service to connect with people ‘around you’? This draws up images of people communicating via Facebook rather than talking face-to-face. The utopian would read ‘around you’ as meaning you now have the world as your clamshell, so to speak – i.e. wherever you are, as long as you have access to Facebook, everyone is ‘around’ you.

What is the more realistic likelihood? Well, my guess, much inspired by danah boyd and related discussions, is that the people ‘around’ you are probably the people ‘like’ you – i.e. similar social, economic, ethnic, etc, background.


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Richard on :

It's more a bit of fun, I find anyway. Although I did get an email the other day from a friend saying they couldn't understand my brother's page and which country was he in. I suggested they emailed him instead, FB isn't a substitue for actually talking to people!

synical on :

I joined Facebook back before it was open to the public (read: when it was only to people with valid US school email addresses) a couple of years ago and I didn't have time to get into it until I came home to Malaysia.

I am now (unfortunately) an avid Facebooker, mostly because Friendster and MySpace (IMO) is not in vogue.

julian on :

Richard: sorry, but I can't sound academic if I say it's just fun. In the ivory high-rise everything has to have 'meaning', preferably obscure ;-)

synical: so what happened in those days when you left the school/university? You couldn't access any more? Maybe that's why they ended up opening it more...

synical on :

I could still login with my school email address a year later, no problems.

I guess they finally decided to go public shrug

It still beats Friendster or MySpace, IMO.

julian on :

Interesting... maybe that means that they didn't actually check if your .edu email was valid :-O

Timo Carlier on :

Is that the researcher who found out that facebook users are jocks and clean-cut people, whereas myspace users are 'gangstas and dropouts?'

I tried facebook for 2 weeks, but gave up for the reasons you mention: I don't want to deal with another social networking site. I prefer myspace because of the music.javascript:use_emoticon_comment('8-)')

julian on :

Ya that's her, but she was somewhat taken out of context in the reporting of her ideas. From what I understand, she was more trying to say that people on Facebook are less likely to be 'alternative' ("subaltern") people - i.e. many of those that feel somewhat different to the mainstream ("hegemonic") youth cultures are more likely to be on MySpace. Also, MySpace are more likely to be 'working class', because of the history of Facebook being for university/college users only.

Her answer to the criticisms of her 'essay' is here:

Ya, MySpace is very popular for musicians, something she comments on too.

hx on :

Mogulus goes so far as to license itself to sell your content outright, and then claims perpetuity in a subsequent survivability clause.

(i) grant Mogulus a perpetual, worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, fully paid-up, sub-licensable through multiple tiers and freely transferable license to display, perform, use, reproduce, distribute, publish, create derivative works of, display, perform, sell, edit, and otherwise exploit your Produced Content in connection with the Mogulus Service and Mogulus.

Note - I found this sitting in my inbox while doing some cleaning up. It was posted on the 4th June 2008, but I never noticed it, and it sat waiting for moderation. Sorry to the writer!

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