On the transformation of everyday culture in an era of liquid modernity

Archive for the ‘social networking sites’ Category

Information aesthetics: revealing the mindset of both the programmers and the users

In GUIs, media ecology, social networking sites on October 30, 2008 at 4:49 pm

This posting is about information aesthetics and usability, and how it comes to mirror not only the corporate approach to communication behind the interfaces, but also seems to suggest an intended user type, having a lifestyle or sets of user preferences attached to it. I use two examples: Yahoo and Facebook.

Brief introduction
Usability negates the idea of aesthetics being secondary to functionality: With computer interfaces, aesthetics is central to the functionality itself. There is no separation. Usability is applied aesthetics. One could ask if this make us more aestheticised, more sensitive to interfaces, and less sensitive to what is mediated; the medium being the message, to paraphrase Marshall McLuhan.

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Facebook fatigue

In Internet traffic, social networking sites on March 4, 2008 at 12:32 pm

Looking at the frequency of coverage that Facebook has been getting recently (courtesy of Google Trends), it is increasingly obvious that the hype around the site seems to follow Everett Rogers’ typical S-curve of technology adoption, where the accumulated penetration of an innovation flattens out as the uptake becomes saturated.
After a flurry of news stories alongside a surge in new user accounts, the interest around the site now seems to have reached a plateau. Read the rest of this entry »

MySpace censors its own users

In censorship, social networking sites on March 3, 2008 at 10:26 am

Rupert Murdoch-owned social networking site MySpace censors the internal messaging service of its own users. When sending messages through the network’s own mail service, certain words are automatically deleted.

This is but one example of how the arbitrary impositions of corporate actors in fact comes with grave political potentials, only held back by lines ultimately drawn by governmental laws and regulations — lines that are often arbitrary or contested in themselves. This “code of conduct” is increasingly common today, among corporate actors like ISPs, search engines and network providers. Inspired by the term just-in-time, used in logistics, I call this particular mode of operation just-about-legal. My argument is that this business method in fact lies at the heart of many of today’s most profitable corporate giants. Read the rest of this entry »

Facebook, ‘til death do us apart

In everyday life, media ecology, social networking sites on February 5, 2008 at 3:12 pm

Facebook makes visible the futility of life, but also the marvel that appears in-between the banalities.

Not only do social networks like MySpace and especially Facebook make the primary channels for keeping informed about when people close to you break up, or have other important changes in their lives (losing their jobs, being pregnant etc). Sometimes you’re apprehending things not through what is actually said, but through what is left out. The “relationship status” indicator is all of a sudden taken down. The ever-present “wall” is temporarily suspended. Or nothing happens; the page remains immutable, inert, suspended in that void which life crises often generate.
In effect, here the social network does not mean anything; it doesn’t taint or colour reality, neither positively nor negatively; it just is, like life itself. Does it feel cheap to break up via text message? Does it feel equally cheap to let one’s mates know only through automatized Facebook feeds? Social facts remain; their charge is not in how they are mediated – whether they are gripping or banal lies in their own nature, not with the messenger. Read the rest of this entry »

Faking it with MySpace

In everyday life, social networking sites on October 30, 2007 at 12:58 pm

Social networking, the place where fakery is applauded — or at least sanctioned. Not only is the myth of bands discovered entirely through MySpace perpetuated, the people behind the social networking sites trn out to be as manipulative them too. But hey, aren’t we all expected to use some “white lies” to get what we want?

The old, official story is usually that “so and so bands were discovered through MySpace and yeah it totally rocks because it’s all in the hands of the users”.
However, it soon comes to show that this is a somewhat simplified picture. Arctic Monkeys didn’t have a MySpace page until shortly before their debut single release; Lily Allen was already signed by an EMI subsidiary before she joined MySpace; and Sandi Thom had a lucrative publishing deal in place by the time she began webcasting. Read the rest of this entry »

On Facebook as “the bureaucratization of friendship”

In everyday life, social networking sites on October 3, 2007 at 10:52 am

This is very interesting in my opinion – and it begs the question if social networking doesn’t thrive on a marketization of social relations which in turn relies on 1) the ranking, valorization and management of different “friendships” and 2) the tendency to “brand” one’s own identity, to document it for posterity and to maximize its value in the face of one’s own (semi)public network of friends. Read the rest of this entry »