I recently read an article that took a look at the inner workings of facebook data. A new service began trying to incorporate science in the data they were able to retrieve from individual’s facebook profiles and to establish commonalities that could suggest certain patterns of communication in society. The first thing the article talked about was this study trying to exactly establish just how large a social media like facebook is. What exactly did that mean to its users? They found that the median of all facebook users is 342. In simple terms, each user on facebook had on average, connections with 342 “online users” within the facebook network. I found that data to be interesting. One, if you ask yourself if you have 342 “real” (or non-virtual) friends and the answer is yes, I’d say you are way too busy. The idea of having 342 friends to socialize and hang out with seems like a nightmare. But what we have to remember is this new idea of social media represents a shift in the ways we are interacting and “hanging out” with the people in our lives.
For me, maybe 6 or 7 solid relationships (outside of a social network) seems to be a good number. My sister on the other hand has over 45 friends (that I can count) that she coordinates times/events to hang out with each group of them throughout the week/months. But not 345, nowhere close actually.
Recently I blogged about the idea of the Dunbar Number, being representative of the maximum amount of network connections that any one user can actually be actively and interactively engage in a reasonable period of time. While facebook allows users to connect with 5,000 different other users (and then there is a cut off) I don’t necessarily see the need (or desire) to do so other than a business trying to get the word out. But this is becoming an ancillary service of Facebook. It hopes to rival professional networking sites like Linkedin and Twitter for the business market, but it struggles to gain its footing in this sector.
What was interesting about the study as well as that the more people they “counted” towards this study the more they realized that the majority of facebook users did not have many friends at all.
Predictably teenagers had the highest numbers of friends on facebook, then following in close second was college-aged young adults. This age group represents the undeniable epicenter of social media in general. They have basically been introduced to social media at just the right age to where self expression is the name of the game. The more they can self promote, feel “part of the group” identify with like-minded people, and refute opposition, the more they are successfully aiding in their “teenager” duties. I did this as a teenager, but we did not have facebook when I was high school. We actually hung out, but they sentiment and my actions could arguably be the same. I wanted to impress, self promote and I always felt like I was missing out on things if I didn’t do what they others were doing. I think this same idea fuels the teenage users of facebook. This study also took a look of the details of the conversation each age group was having throughout the course of their “social media lives” and I would have to say that not-surprisingly, those conversations also mirrored those from a time before facebook and social media. The conversations as users got older using social media went from video games and drinking parties, to politics and history. This same social construct was evident long before facebook. Maybe, in a way, although we are greatly affected by social media, that the results on certain behaviors are not as potent. Yes, I feel we “do less”. I mean let’s be honest. Sitting in front of a computer and updating your facebook pictures and commenting on others means one thing: you are sitting in front of your computer and not actually outside engaging with others. But, now with smart phones and very portable and easy to use tablets, we are able to mobile with our social media, and I feel this advance in technology will aid in the reformulation of social agendas outside of our bedrooms.
In today’s world of mass communication we find ourselves interacting with social media networking sites all the time. The big guns: Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and Myspace. Yes, Myspace is gaining steam yet again with Justin Timberlake buying up a large portion of the ownership and recrafting the site to accommodate the musicians and artists of the world.
Social networking has become a driving force of our economy and our personal lives. In its simplest of terms a social networking site is an online website that allows people to connect into a group-based online community. Connections, are everything. Connecting with others on the same networking site is a way to expand your network. Personally, I have over 500+ connections on my linkedin account. These connections expand my network to just over 18,000,000 people. What exactly does this mean? It all really goes back to the idea of the algorythym. The larger my network expands, the more people on a particular social network will be exposed to my content.
Connections are like tree branches, spitting out in every direction trying to grab more and more connections in the cyberspace online community. The more connections a social networking site has, the more prominence the site itself has on the internet. What does this mean? It means that when you search for social media, those sites that host the most connections (and the largest networks) are those sites that pop up first in searches. An easier way to realize this prominence is to ask all of your friends if they are on facebook, or twitter, and with networks of over 500 million, the answer is most likely yes.
But, like any community, whether online or your hometown PTA meeting, there are issues that arise. One of the issues that social networking sites run into is called the Dunbar Number. The Dunbar Number represents something interesting. If the idea behind social networking is to build real, beneficial and interactive relationships with other users, then the Dunbar Number represents a figure in which we max out our capacity to engage in building a relationship with another user in our network. This number marks the point in which we can’t possibly build a significant, ongoing relationship with another user because our network and our ability to communicate with everyone is near impossible.
But, at the same time, with social media hogs like Tila Tequila, the idea of building significant relationships takes a back to seat to the benefit of expanding our networks. See, Tila was the first person on myspace to reach a million “friends”. And was she communicating with each of them? Of course not. There is not enough time in the day. But, the idea of making her known holds prominence over the idea of building a substantial, interactive relationship with her audience. We see a shift in the idea of the relationship. It becomes one sided to most. Tila posts what she is up to, her music, her thoughts etc., and her community can view it. But, for the most part if you write Tila a message, she won’t be responding anytime soon.
Then we see “The Law of the Few”. This is the idea that 20% of the online community is responsible for 80% of the content the social network sees. Social media hogs (see Tila). These three types of people are: Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen. Tila would be a connector. Just connect with anyone who’s anyone. Mavens differ in that they act as specialists, or experts on a certain type of information. Personally, mavens, I feel earn their connections through educating the public. Salesmen are people that you see always posting a post, (all the time) about how you can benefit from their services.
So why did you join facebook? To keep up with your former preschool schoolmates and express interest in their new lives with their husbands and kids 20 years later? Not me. I mean that’s great, but I don’t really care. If you know me, call or text me. I don’t have facebook, I don’t have myspace and I don’t have twitter. But there are those that fall into the category of “FOMA” – fear of missing out. Just think of all the announcements and updates you will miss out on if you aren’t keeping up with your social media. You might not know that your friend posted on twitter “Yum, I had a muffin” or you would have no idea that a guy you went to high school with just got a new job at JP Morgan. Sounds silly, but social media has that affect on people. We feel we are missing out on what the world is saying and, often, that feeling causes us to join a social network to feel connected to the world. Society takes a new form and humans interently need to be a part of it.
Some organizations are studying the effects of social media on teenagers. The ICMPA is one of them. (International Center for Media and the Public Agenda). They recently completed a study that involved taking all social media away from a group of teenagers for 24 hours, then asking them to blog, after the 24 hours, about how they felt. The studies are a little disturbing as they found that the teenagers felt entirely disconnected from people that were close by. I think this says something significant about social media and its impact on society. Society is relying on social media to autheticate its idea of a true relationship. By constantly updating your twitter account you feel connected to your followers, and vice versa. You may never see them, most likely, you are substituing hanging out with the person face to face with letting them know what you are up to at every moment. If we know where our friends are and what they are doing, we feel that we are, in some signficant way, hanging out with them. This interaction is an interesting facet of social media.
Now let’s talk about Facebook. I personally do not have an account. A couple years ago when they adjusted their user policy, I jumped ship. But they are betting on something. That the attraction of knowing that everyone you have ever heard of is on the site, that will be enough that you won’t read it. What’s disturbing is they own a lot more of you than you think. Facebook can use your picture to advertise a product as long as it appears in a state that does not border your own (or is not your own). Basically, when you see those ads on your facebook profile page, those often, are other facebook users’ pictures. Now, while I don’t necessarily have a modeling career, you might, you just will never know about it. I would want to get paid for my picture being used to sell something in another state, but because of Interstate Commerce Laws, it is quite possible. Afterall, you clicked ‘I agree”.
Plus, we all know, if you are posting a profile pic, it probably isn’t the first one you took. You probably took four or five and decided on the one that you feel represents your idea of how you would like to be portrayed, the best. Think about this for a minute. Obviously, narcissistic, (which I don’t even mind that part, we all do it), but think of the implications. If the entire world is taking into consideration this when they update their profiles, then we have to account for a type of social media inflation. What’s exactly inflated? Reality, or an accurate construct of society. That’s the problem with instituting too much trust into social media. Marshall McLuhan, a great communication theorist from Canada said it best. “The medium is the message”. Now, while MuLuhan passed away before the internet age, his concept of how media effects us, holds true today. If we are going to participate in social media, then we HAVE, and I mean HAVE to understand that it is effecting us in some way. Everything we choose to share with the world effects us. It effects others opinions of us and successfully shapes our daily lives. Whether or not it’s for the better, is the tricky part. But, if we know that we must take responsibility for our social network uses, we can understand the importance of realizing that we are all part of an ongoing, society-shaping, phenomena.
If we can learn this, we can utilize social media to benefit us more than if we don’t consider its implications. If we can truly understand that we are engaging in a communicative society that is taking us all in certain directions, we can understand how to prevent negative aspects of the practice from emerging. It is of vital importance that we don’t just learn HOW to use social media, but that we also learn WHEN and WHY we should be using it. Without considering its implications on our lives, we are leading ourselves towards areas that negatively impact us. And, unfortunately, what we do online stays online. Binary code makes it so that everything can be found again. Even google keeps your information for approximately 186 days tied directly to you. After 6 months have passed the information becomes anonymous. It’s dumped into a world we cannot topically see, but it still exists in cyberspace. It is always is there. It’s not like shredding a sensitive document at your office, then burning the remaining pieces. Social media and the content we choose to create with it, stays in existence. We must be aware of what this means to society, to our youth and to ourselves.
This blog entry is in response to How Memes Are Orchestrated By The Man. A meme, an evolutionary term used to describe imitation of and similarities within organisms, can also be applied the effects of digital communications on audience behavior. When something goes viral on the internet such as Antoine Dodson’s featured news story, what we see is behavior shifted in a certain direction. The original video featured a interview of Antoine about his sister that has been attacked by an intruder. His use of words and his passion in claiming “hide ya kids, hide ya wives, they rapin’ everybody up in here”, struck the interest of millions of people and the video quickly had over 140,000,000 hits on youtube.
Local music producers developed a musical track to go behind Antoine’s newstory and created a number one hit on Itunes selling over a million downloads of this song. Dodson, being the creator of the words, owned the lyrical copyright and earned signifcant royalties from such online prominence. In this instance we see society shift it’s behavior. Other “funny” or “odd” news stories were targeted for this same time of explotation and often, when an interview was recorded that could come across as similar to Dodson’s the same procedure was taken. Put the video on youtube, pass it along, then create a remix of the lyrics in the newscast. Then sell the song. This was particularly successful for the ever popular Sweet Brown.
Memes article is talking about this phenomena and explains the progression of popularity, as well as the decline of the very popular Harlem Shake videos. The internet creates a network of shareable material, and links provide a fast and easy way to get the material to millions of people within a short period of time. The creators of such content get their 15 minutes in the spotlight and see great fame for usually a short period of time. The meme is the transmitting of this information to the entire global village of the world on the internet network. It’s pattern affects many along the way and helped to show a predictable in user behavior the more people are exposed to it. It’s popularity is dependant on the world’s attention.
This chance at fame results in a change in behavior of society. You don’t necessarily have to do something of value to gain notoriety, you simply have to be out there enough to gain attention. It has reshaped our culture from a talent based artistic venue – to a whacky, weird and funny attention grabbing society.
I wanted to a take a look at the practice, that is largely practiced by online giants such as AOL, and Yahoo. Content farms are a way for larger corporations to increase traffic to their sites. An otherwise “bland” practice, this content farming is aimed to generate more and more content of searcheable topics. Basically, large online conglomerates use this practice to farm-raise content to be entered into the online community in the hopes that certains topic keywords, ideas and content reach an audience that is searching for it. In the world of content farming, quantity plays the most important, yet detrimental role, over quality.
I recently read a blog post by someone who was employed by AOL to participate in content farming for them. His article and about his employment with AOL, showed the darker side of content farming. Something that stuck out in my mind the most was about his disgust with the content farming practice in the AOL company, was that he admitted that he was not encouraged to have ethics. He was told to write many articles a day, sometimes one every twenty minutes about tv shows that he had never seen. Innaccuracies were present and his “bosses” (the management at AOL) did not care about it. They wanted bulk cashews, in a 60 million gallon container to grab the attention of anyone in the world that might want cashews.
Let’s take a look at what this ultimately breaks down to. Now, we can definitely argue that AOL has been struggling to find its foothold in the online industry ever since giants such as Google, Yahoo and even hotmail have emerged. We can see their stock falling rapidly, and their undeniable ability to create a “product” or experience of less and less value. Content farming, and the ideas behind this fast-paced, no-spot-checked material has played an important role in the fall of the AOL empire.
Why is this? Well, like other sites that practice this form of content farming, they lack anything of real substance. Their business model is aimed to increase traffic to their sites for the sole purpose of selling ad space. The more clicks, the more valuable their space on their page is to an advertiser. Sounds like any other publication really. But here’s the problem. We are starting to see an undeniable shift in the loss of journalism through this content farming practice.
We aren’t reading “news” anymore on sites like AOL. We are reading what they decide is news and how they decide is by creating more and more content of no real relevancy. We are seeing a shift from traditional journalism to a gossip-centered, watered down version of the truth. If sites like AOL are not concerned with accuracy, then where does that leave their audience? It creates a breeding ground of content that is not aimed to inform their public of anything of value, but simply aimed at directly the audiences eyes to their page. AOL doesn’t care what you want out of the experience. And for those that still frequent these types of sites, you aren’t getting much out of it either.
It is fallacy and it is making the general public confused about what is considered worth their time to read. It is gathering so much content that they surely will satisfy the algorythym of the search engines. It is math. It is simply creating enough content so as to always pop up when something is searched. It is not out for your best interest, it is there for temptation. We need to be more conscience of this practice and know that it is exists. But we must keep this type of content in its place. We must not let it aim to “inform” us from anything, rather it must be understood the content is simply there to be there for us should we want to search for it. We can’t trust it. I think we need to redefine this practice and there are some sites that seemingly have the idea behind being “available” right.
Conjecture is a site that has aspects of content farming but they bring to the surface a more benefical aspect of this practice. If the idea is to expose the general public to ideas that they would not otherwise be exposed to, this can work to the reader’s benefit. It almost works like a Pandora algorythym. You search something, you like it, you see other content pop up that is relatable to what you like, yet you are also exposed to similar concepts that you didn’t know about previously. This can be beneficial. This is the value in the internet. For the first time in human history, we have a common meeting ground for more information that we have ever had before. But making sure we consider that not all information is true, accurate or objective is the key. We can benefit from the internet most when we realize this.
In this article, we see again the idea of compromising journalism for content. The internet is failing to distinguish between blogging, or user content creation, with true journalism. Journalism, although not subject to restrictions on who can become a journalist, still owes its audience a certain level of objectivity and ethics. If we are not being informed of what content has been run through a journalistic process, we can’t possibly distinguish that what we are reading is objective, accurate, non-opinion based or true. This is a problem.
I think of this as a newspaper just throwing a bunch of articles from all different sources, whether fact or fiction onto the front page of their paper. The reader has no idea what is real, or what is just someone’s opinion. This happens with the assistance of content farms generating so much content, that is rarely checked for accuracy, and the result is a mish mosh of generalized estimations of the truth.
While true journalism faces strict deadlines, bloggers and content farming increases deadlines without caring about the accuracy. The faster you go, the more mistakes you make.
We need to figure out the proper way to determine that what we are reading is coming from a reputable source, or not. I am not saying that reading bloggers posts, or opinion-based material is wrong, but it is not journalism. It has no characteristics of journalism and it most likely is not adopting journalisms’ core ideology: To inform and educate the public through an accurate, objective process.
The first article I chose to critique was Brent’s Building A Better Blog for 2007: Respond to Comments. He took a look at the value of responding to comments on your blog and considered the negative and positive effects of doing so. I wanted to expand on some of his ideas towards commenting back, or replying with an email to other bloggers that comment on your blog. Since we are seeing the value in blogging, and primarily see it as a source of user content generation that would otherwise be inaccessible we have to value the format of blogging in general. I think Brent was talking about this concept.
If the idea behind the internet is to generate ideas, then we, as bloggers, would be doing ourselves an injustice by not considering how our content comes across. Now, of course, it is easy to see a positive comment complimenting your work as a source of reassurance that what you are posting is in direct correlation with how others feel; however, we must also consider negative comments. We are creating a community online, a community of ideas, of thoughts of opinions and unique to the internet, is the ability to create social networks through associated content. We have the amazing ability to create a sense of community. Now, if you compare this idea to a physical community in your home town, or at your local PTA meeting, then it works the same way. We try out ideas, good or bad, and consider their consequences accordingly. Dissent, or disagreement is a core foundation of community, because it allows the freedom for the community to adapt its ideas. It is a constant reminder that although we don’t always agree, we can still shape and nurture our concepts to create a more consistent and well-rounded community. Blogging allows us to track this. It allows us to be able to keep records of the type of concepts, content, or ideologies that do well, those that do not, and those that strike people the wrong way. But without considering those negative effects of our content we could not possibly begin to believe that our material is as good as it could be.
Ideas flow, they generate and develop and commenting allows us to see it, and interact with the development of them.
Brent also goes on to suggest that we may not know who we are commenting to, and we need to consider that when we are commenting back. The internet, obviously a revolutionary networking tool, is best utilized when we understand the importance of value of respectable anonymity. People can say what they want to say without identifying themselves for the most part. This can be bad and good. We see the negative effect of this concept with the blogging “trolling industry”. I also recently wrote an article on Violentacrez and his Reddit content. You can find it HERE.
We need to understand the importance of identifying a troll who simply wants to create havoc and reducing the value of the content of our personal or professional blogs; however, we can’t afford to skip over or block user content that simply disagrees with us. There is great value in that content.
I almost think of it like a comment, or suggestion box at a TGI Fridays. Every month the management will review the suggestions of every patron that has something to say about the restaurant, whether good or bad. Without the good comment, the management would not know they were doing things well, and without the bad comments they wouldn’t know what they were doing wrong. So, we find ourselves aiming for a balance of the two. Human nature is get better, to improve. Improvement is dependent equally on knowing what you’ve done right and realizing what you’ve done wrong. This is the value in responding to comments.
Let’s take a look at the concept of growing your audience. Brent writes about the value in going to the blogger’s sites who have commented and leaving your comment on their site, as well as emailing them. While I think emailing truly personalizes the attempt, I do not feel that it is always necessary. Often, you might come across desperate with an email and a comment on their blog. While I do agree with Brent that it is important for your blog’s traffic to not simply post the comment back on your blog, I don’t necessarily feel that we can say that there is standard of emailing commenters back every time.
We want to increase blog traffic, but we also need confidence in knowing that the reason our blogs are being visited is because of the content. When we find ourselves over “reaching” out, we find ourselves degrading our ideas that we have posted. Afterall, they are our ideas, and although other’s comments can help shape our ideas, our idea originated the conversation in the first place, whether good or bad. We must know this.
The second article on this topic I will critique is by Seth Simmons, with his blog posting entitled: 31 Proven Ways to Get More Comments On Your Blog. This is an all out “steroid-fueled” step by step process in getting more comments on your blog. I like his concept of not being afraid to have an opinion on your blog, or on someone else’s for that matter. As I mentioned before, it is of vital importance that we understand our own value in our content. If you have something to say, even if it is not the status quo’s belief, then you must not be afraid to say it. That’s the beauty of blogging. We don’t all agree and we can’t possibly begin to believe that we should. The internet verifies the world’s diversity so by holding on to our beliefs in the blogging world, simply to avoid confrontation, we do the internet and the world an injustice.
He also talks about congratulating someone or sending positive feedback towards someone else’s blog. This makes all the sense in the world, if we can take a step back and think of it through our own perspective when we receive a positive, reassuring comment, or “like” or “thumbs up” on our blog posts. I personally, become instantly intrigued with the person who commented. I most definitely go to their site and learn what they are all about. If by understanding the types of bloggers my content reaches and affects, then I can define my audience much more clearly. Plus, if the contents of our blogs are similar we can help each other define our concepts and ideas through communication with each other.
He also uses the term “disappear” to suggest the value in not posting all the time. One of my favorite bloggers and communication experts, Chris Brogan often suggests this idea behind not “flooding” your audience with posts. This idea looks into attention spans and relevancy within our audiences. While we should be confident in what we post is substantial and valuable, we should not kid ourselves into thinking the world, or our audiences wants to hear our opinion on everything. It is easy to be arrogant in the blogging world. For one, it is anonymous and often we aren’t necessarily held accountable for our content, and two, we might think that a large readership looks at us for our opinion on everything. What we should be doing is understanding WHY our audiences read our blogs. It is in the WHY that shows us our niche, our most valuable content.
I do like Seth’s idea of allowing guest bloggers to post material on your site. This is a great idea. This idea allows you to validate your blog through other’s thoughts and expertise, while at the same time, showing your audience that you value other’s thoughts on your topics. This is also a great way to increase the value in your blog.
The internet also provides us with a new way of reaching other platforms, sites and medias through one click on our blog. By adding a “retweet” button on your blog you can link twitter’s network to your blog. Then, twitter is linked to linkedin and soon you find a link to your blog on a linkedin page with a user with a 20,000,000 network. The internet blends lines of geography and can exponentially get your ideas across a very large, worldwide network.
He goes on to say what I feel is pretty obvious, by suggesting we write about what we are interested in. That obviously goes without saying. Creativity is heightened when we are interested to create.
So, as I am new the blogging world, LEAVE ME A COMMENT! I will respond, and I will get to know you and your ideas on your blog. We will go from there!
We had the recent opportunity to have a guest speaker come into class who is making a living blogging. It was interesting to see how this profession works from the inside and it was beneficial to get to run some ideas past him on the ways in which blogging works. I did find it interesting about how one can make money in this profession. For one, he works for a celebrity blogging site called Pop on the Pop. It is a website that is dedicated to bringing celebrity gossip to the reader.
I did find it interesting certain practices that he mentioned on how they find the gossip. Because their “foot soldiers” (people on the street that are capturing the stories), were a small number, and this particular site could not compete with larger forces such as TMZ, he sometimes found himself taking news and articles from other sites to be “first on the scene”. As I am studying the effects of blogging on the journalistic world in my other classes I found this to be particularly interesting. Blogging is completely informal, and, as a result, bloggers often use each other’s material as long as they cite it at the end of their passage on the blog. You can click the link at the bottom and it will take you to the original posting.
He did also mentiont one of the major downsides of this practice. The legal aspect of using material, or expanding on material that may be untrue and defaming to a celebrity. In his conract, he did mention that he was immune to legal action against him. I found this to be peculiar and wondered who was responsble, if internet laws have caught up to such practices or if these defamation law suits are successful against reposted material.
He did also mention writing in what you feel might be what people are searching after a particular event becomes public. Putting the right tags on your blog to direct the traffic to your site. He particularly mentioned Whitney Houston and the type of material that was being posted after her death. By estimating what people will search for, you an hope to bring your blog to the forefront of searchable content.
Another way to aid in the prominence of your blog is ad sites, such as google and yahoo. By associating yourself wth certain ad sites, they make your material more searchable and more prominent on the internet.
Blogging, with millions of blogs out there, is becoming a profession of the “now”, the quickest, and the best “spin” on something that has happpened. This is a way for bloggers to develop a reader base. It is primarily opinion based, and, the more people that agree with your perspective, (or disagree), the more traffic you will lead to your site. People can comment on your blogs to express discontentment or agreement and often these comments help to add popularity to the article you have posted as well.
I am going to look into blogging as a freelancer and I currently taking a look at working a few jobs here and there to develop content for users on Elance. Elance looks to be a great starting point for people that want to get into blogging. It allows you to search for users that are hiring for content creators. They pay you for each job a set fee, then as you do more and more content writing, your rating, and eventually your pay, increases.
All in all, I want to look into the idea of making a little extra money doing this and I found the lecture to be helpful in regards to starting up.