Facebook: Cleanse or Delete?

Let’s see. We’ve all had our Facebook profiles for at least 18 months. We’ve requested to add/accepted all our friends, family, classmates, housemates, co-workers, ex-co-workers, ex-school friends, their siblings and girlfriends/boyfriends, lecturers, students, members of sports teams, people we’ve met once, people we have never met but think we might meet at some point and randoms from the pub – all to our friends list. The average number of people that we are connected to is around 164. We are “connected” to everyone in our immediate social network. Great. Fantastic.

Now what?

Well, we’ve worked out that we can separate the data that we are projecting to our friends via the news feed. We can show our class mates that we enjoy the drink and party hard or we can make out we are “dead clever” by projecting every little thing we find on the web through rss, delicious, twitter and friendfeed applications. Each element adding to the perception of how we would like to be seen.

But then again – bump into some of the “weaker” ties in the street/work/university – where is the guarantee that you are even going to acknowledge each other, let alone speak to each other. Being “connected” does not automatically make you vulnerable from the burden of social awkwardness (or whatever is going on in each others head) We prevent these people from seeing elements of our profiles (if only to make ourselves feel better) – only to avoid going through the difficult process of simply removing them from your network.

So after 18+months of Facebook- with even the most phobic of technophobes admitting to having an account, is it time to start writing the rules about social cleansing. Personally, I’m feeling a bit clogged up with negativity in some of online channels I participate in. I would much prefer if I had a network of people who could help each other – socially, professionally, emotionally – much like Twitter.

Do we even NEED Facebook to remain connected?

I mean, cummon. Those who what to find me, KNOW were to find me. Likewise, I can pretty much find who I want using googling methods. Facebook makes it a tad easier, granted – as most of my close friends are scattered across the world – and it’s nice to get a consistent dialogue between the lot of them. However, what Facebook does essentially is to make it bloody difficult to “Quit following” those who may not to be required anymore – perhaps people who you never ended up speaking to after the first initial contact – maybe friends of friends who you might not get on with or indeed those who are just “not your type”. Furthermore, it amplifies certain things that you perhaps don’t want to see or know.

I don’t know. I think I’m moving on from the notion of “keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.”

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Undergraduate Essays Due Next Week..

The one I got: Got sent a copy of an essay in a strange file format, accompanied with, “This essay is due next week. Can you read it, make corrections and have it back to me next week?”

When I explained in class today that I wouldn’t be able to do that – but I would be able to help people out with any questions, read over tricky paragraphs or advise on essay structure (In fact, I even offered to meet them outside class time to look at their essays over coffee – mmm, coffee!) – said student packed their stuff up, huffed and walked out.

<head desk>

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The Queen visits University of Leicester

I thought I would use the Queen’s visit to Leicester as an excuse to finally have a shot at using Qik on my N95. T’was good. I got to show the Internet what the rest of the crowd saw from where I was standing – absolutely eff-aw! (Well, if you scroll to the last 10 seconds, you’ll get a glimsp of the Queen’s big taxi pulling into the University…)

And then I got to capture a bunch of student going mental and running around the campus as they, in turn, trying to their own pictures on their own camera phones. (Just image if they were all streaming at the same time?) – Even then, as Alan pointed out – Twitter, as always, was that bit more on the ball than BBC Leicester, which still (at time of writing) seems to have nothing of that much importance related to the event on their website – The University of Leicester is little more than an afterthought. Example #32,751 why I prefer “new” media to all that expensive traditional stuff.

Afterthought: I like Qik. T’is good fun. Mega battery drain, but I think I’ve found a use for my N95 when I upgrade. I wonder where else I can use it?

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Amplified 2008

Photo Courtesy of Benjamin Ellis

Image Courtesy of Benjamin Ellis


Last Thursday, I dragged my pre-man-flu self down to London to visit Nesta’s headquarters for Amplified 08 – a non-conference to bring together creatives, practitioners, academics – or indeed anyone that was interesting in social media – who had taken part in previous events (such as Creative Coffee Club, which I attend occasionally at DMU – full list of networks who took part here) My first time in London on my own (how pathetic – I hope to change that and get involved more with the stuff that is going on…)

When I first arrived, I was unsure why I was there – and the people that I did know were asking similar questions. We weren’t sure what to expect. The event opened with Toby Moore’s motivational introduction (which cleared up everything up for me –  Sounds really silly, it was also great being able to experience my first event where, not only were we asked to write our twitter IDs on our name tags, but we could watch the live twitter stream on TVs as it happened. Everyone had their laptops, iPTs/iP, N95s out. I’ve watched streams from a distance before but never had to a chance to attend an event with so many people tweeting, live blogging and video streaming at the same time. Great to see it working in practice. I’m hoping that once I start getting moving with the Ph.D. I will start seeing this more.)

Photo Courtesy of Phil Campbell
Image Courtesy of Phil Campbell

We then split up into groups. There was a variety of different sessions that you could attend. The first one I attended (mainly because I was still confused – and it was in the main room) was The Future of Books session which was lead by Annie Mole, (incidentally, who’s blog about the London Underground is superb) Billy Abbott and Chris Meade – and was covered by Nicole from Geek Girl Dinners (which I would like to get involved with once they get up and running again. Spoke to Richard Galbraith about his writing blog and his ideas about books with memory sticks which would introduce art and music to the process. Interesting stuff.

The other two sessions I attended were more related to the work that I will be doing on my Ph.d. – “The Social Graph and our many electronic identities. What would be ideal?” and Joanne Jacob’s session “Social networks as a force for generating positive change for public interest initiatives” – To begin with I decided that was only going to sit in and observe what others thought on the subject (mainly because I was feeling a bit under the weather and was suffering from brain fog) but ended up getting into quite a good discussion relating to identity management, transparency/personalisation and enjoyed learning a bit about social graph theory (which is what they must call it in the industry..) 

Image Courtesy of Kat (Plasticsnow)
Image Courtesy of Kat (Plasticsnow)

Annoyingly, there just wasn’t enough time to speak to the people I wanted to speak to – and I think that was felt across the board. It felt like a taster for things to come – and it was amazing that such a meeting could occur within 4 weeks of the initial idea. Unfortunately, after one glass of wine – my body was crying out to be horizontal and I decided it would be best if I found my way back to Leicester in order to make myself feel better.

The big thing for me is getting to meet and connect to those who are not only discussing social media with passion – but are also out there and trying to implement these ideas. By the end of the event, I could understand why I was there and could see with uttermost clarity why I was there – and why I needed to be part of something like Amp08. In relation to the Ph.D. (which begins on the 12th of Jan!) speaking within such networks of networks, made up on the percentage of the population who are using communication tools in this way, is where I should start. 

Roll on February 2009!

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