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February 18, 2007

Myspace is an occult!!!!....not really, I just won't join!!!

As the internet has evolved obviously so has the socializing because of our now endless opportunities and the no distance barrier function that the net presents. We can so easily stay in contact with all of our friends, family or whoever!
I could probably estimate that I have been in the social networking scene for about 4 years now. My first online experience with social networking or being involved in an online community was when I first became involved in the world of cars. The net presented such a fantastic opportunity to get connected to very knowledgable people in the business and also get connected to those who shared the same likes as you. Mainly for myself is when I joined my number one community which is my Nissan car community. (www.sr20forum.com) This site helps bring together from around the world those who love the infamous sr20 engine and lets us discuss the endless possibilities that we can come up with to help modify our engines and the cars that those engines came with. I believe that what Baym's writing still has much application to todays social communities. Well at least for myself and my online nissan group I can pick out many things that Baym describes and I see everyday. For instance "the emergence of a particular individuals within the communities brings with it the potential for tension with those who are less known (page 10)." There are specific individuals who are just know and respected as experts on my forum, and someone new comes along with information or a radical idea, or even dares question some of these experts. They probably are going to have an uphill battle to fight if they want to be liked. That sounds rediculous to say in my opinio, but if a person gets a bad rep in our community, most likely anything they post with regards to questions or pictures will be ignored or will be recieving uber amounts of flaming. The person will usually leave and basically need to try and start over now. I don't think all of Baym's words are applicable though when looking at communities such as Facebook or myspace. I think that Boyd's article does a fantastic job of discussion though with regards to friends within the online world.
I vowed I would never join myspace or facebook or anything resembling them. I guess I really did not have a particularly solid reason for this logic, but it just seemed "fake" to me. I try to use that word somewhat loosely. What am i really going to do with 500 myspace friends, they are not my friends. I sent them an online text, they thought I was cute and BOOM you have a new friend. Just a little to superficial for me, I might never really even get to know that person!!! But then I joined facebook, I think out of strait peer pressure from my offline friends who were all online. I played with it for awhile, sent out a bunch of friend requests, and yeah now I have my online community! But it actually became a fun distraction to even stay connected with my real offline friends and I have actually met in person some of the people with whom I hooked up with online...imagine that, and became friends who actually talk and chill together. I have a buddy who met his girfriend on myspace, and soon to be wife!! But it is truely amazing as Boyd makes clear when she lists the most common reason for friendship from current users of online friend communitites. Also the fact of there actually being social online costs to rejecting people. People are honestly getting frusterated as if this was offline and the people were right there because you have had a pending friend request to someone for 5 days...and you know they are online because the site tells you they are! But I do agree with the statement "There are so many reasons why people link to strangers that there seems to be little incentive to be selective about Friendship. If someone seems interesting or you want to get to know them better, what’s the loss in Friending them? As far as most participants are concerned, Friendship doesn’t mean anything really, so why not?" This is true why not. I believe with these online communities the offline and online will become more relieant and have greater impact on each other and our social lives.

It is so great being friends with movie stars!

So, is the whole eFriending with famous stars, bands, and those people you met at a party really legit? Personally, I would have to say no, but it is nice to be able to check out what those people are doing rather than going to killsometime.com. Danah Boyd writes that "a friend is a relationship that involves some degree of mutual love or admiration." (Boyd, chapter 2.) Well then, maybe a 'myspace add' does follow the definition... to a certain point. I think it is nice that a band member will 'add' a fan of theirs, same for a movie star. It is funny to see the differing realtionships presented just by looking at a wall. One person will write to the band member "Thanks for the add." While the earlier post will be asking if the person will meet for lunch on Saturday.

I really liked common list of reasons people will add someone as his/her friend. Thanks to the innovation of the facebook, for those people I am "friends" with from freshman year Bio class, when I look at his/her profile, usually there will be a little story behind it. My cousins are listed as "in my family" while that random person I have not spoken to for a while, will be hopefully listed as something like "met in math class 2004." Fun stuff. I have a funny example of what happened this last weekend at a basketball game. My friend and I were watching the game at Hamlin, and he started a conversation with a nice lady next to us. After the game they decided to exchange information...he asked for her number, but instead she told him her name, and to "facebook" her. Are they what I would consider "true friends?" No, but who knows, maybe they will be.

This new e-friendship list is not what I would consider true friendship. It is very useful for getting and staying in contact with people, but the "friend" title really is just a preferred word. Though I must say, it is nice to check out your "friends" when you have some time to kill.

Kids these days...

I was looking for some evidence of the Myspace-related fights/crimes/ threats I'd heard of, and I came across some things I knew nothing about: several sites like these were the most surprising to me... I knew Myspace was wildly popular, and that some schools had blocked it, but the desperate tone of these messages from kids wanting to sneak onto Myspace from school is kind of alarming. Every time the students find a new proxy server or anonymizer, the schools block those as well, and the kids have to search for new way to get their Myspace fix.

February 15, 2007

Social Networking is now mobile

I thought that this site really applied to online communities and social networking sites. It explains how executives and analysts in Barcelona are trying to convert everything that's available on the net to be available on your mobile device, including YouTube among other sites. They are trying to make this content free to use on you mobile devises and easier to use.


http://www.cnn.com/2007/BUSINESS/02/14/barcelona.boulden2/index.html

February 14, 2007

Are you friends with Tom?

Let me start off by saying that I have in the past and/or currently participate in the following online communities: Myspace, LiveJournal, Friendster, Facebook, Tagworld, and deviantART. Wow that seems like a lot! Currently I really only participate on Myspace, I have 70 friends (that’s actually not very many in the Myspace world). Besides the bands, I do personally know the vast majority of my Myspace friends in real life. I pride myself on that; I don’t like to add people just to have a lot of friends. I’m definitely not a collector, and actually think the whole idea of collecting friends on an online community is pretty lame. I was skeptical of Myspace at first and really didn’t what to join; now I’m a Myspace addict. Do you think in the future there will be support groups for online junkies? Anyways, I must admit that Myspace has actually been a great way of finding friends from my past that I have lost touch with. I loved the quote in Boyd by Tonya “Who are we kidding? ...Myspace is psychological warfare.? This made me chuckle. It made me think of when my brother’s friend Mike put me (instead of my brother) in his top 8 because my brother didn’t put Mike into his top 8 after he added him. I actually know people that have had the debate on who should go first in your top 8, should it be your boyfriend/girlfriend, best friend, or sibling? It’s kind of off the subject, but let me just say that I didn’t realize that the acronyms ROTFL or ROFL (rolling on the floor laughing) were used fifteen years ago (Baym, 113). I really don’t recall using online acronyms such as that until the last five or so years, I guess I must just be slow!

Friendship update

The first community I took part in was on mIRC and consisted in chatting every night with the same people. Originally, the chat-room had been created in relation with a band, but after a few months, people connected on it without talking about the band at all. We were a few regular users, we finally started to know each other and the chat-room was just a meeting point...
Some people from this first small community created a webzine about music and put a message board on it. We have been very surprised how quick the site became popular (now it receives 5000 visits a day) and the message board grew up very fast. Today it has 2900 registered users, with around 200 of them posting every day. I am registered on it since the day it opened and I am sometimes ashamed to say that almost all my friends are on it.
That does not mean that I first met them online, but a lot of my friends are more or less related to the music field and they all end on this place. Today, I think I know them better and I see them in real life more often than friends that were in highschool with me...

I think that internet websites as Myspace or Facebook, and a few message boards, are not the best place to make new friends, but they are very good to keep in touch with them.
As a good example, since I study in the USA, two friends from France visited me, and both of them are from the message board. They were not at school with me, we never lived in the same town... but we met randomly in a music festival and then stayed in contact thanks to websites like I said before. Being here, I can't use telephone to call France and I have been to lazy to send e-mails just to give some news, so the only people who have news get it through Myspace or message boards...

Then, I completely agree with Boyd when he says "people display social connections to reveal information about who they are". On myspace, I generally have an idea (maybe wrong, but it still works like that) of who the person is just checking his or her friends... The first thing that I did when I created my account was to request friendship to all my favourite bands and persons in general.
The article made me smile with the whole paragraph about the TOP 8. I never thought of that before but it is true that it must have created some dramas for many teenagers!

MyFriendSpaceJounalster

I found these articles interesting even while they brought back chilling memories of grade school drama. I think there is material for about 1000 'Seinteld' episodes for adult users of MySpace--you find the childhood bully, person you embarassed, who embarassed you--or fill in the blank, and revenge, apologies, or comedy ensue.

I think what is interesting about social networking is also what is scary, and what many of us have been talking about all along--and to some extent is also true in real life--you have to put yourself out there to get anything back--but are you willing to share yourself with the rest of the world? It is one thing to talk about soap operas or a special interest daily or weekly with a select group of people, and perhaps sharing more over time. It is quite another to craft a profile that may be a half-portrait, may be self-delusion, may be self-promotion, with photos, to simply access the site.

The fact that boyd noted that in the early stages of MySpace and Friendster different populations existed in their own bubbles, more or less ignorant of one another, is hard for me to wrap my mind around, but interesting to think about (and could be another few 1000 'Seinfeld' episodes). I also thought her comment that social networking spaces were "not friends-only space[es], but ehya re a public space with some assumptions about the scope of that public." How Friends are addressed publicly or privately matters on the site just as much as it would in a physically social setting.

I also find it interesting that for every social networking site, there seems to be an angle, scheme, or way of strategizing to get the system to work for the user in ways that may not be the intention of the designer or the assumption of other Friends--like the Fakesters who were destroyed in the Fakester genocide. This also mirrors RL. There are always people who can pull back and read a situation and make it work to their best advantage, sometimes within the law, sometimes outside it, while others are mired in minutae. This is a gift in certain contexts.

I'm not sure if I agree with boyd that 'teenagers have not way of being simultaneaously cool to their friends and cool to their parents." (p. 13) You can see I am someone who gets caught up in minutia. That depends on the expectations of the parent and the expectations of the friends, I guess.

I'm also perplexed by the idea of being defined by your Friend networks rather than your interests. Again, you would be using a personae, or at best only a part of yourself to attract this network.

So.... are you on Facebook?

It was just within the past few years that my interest about on line communities caught my eye and had me hooked within a week. It was the day before my 19th birthday and my brother called me to tell me about this new “Facebook? thing that was apparently popular within the army. I of course registered for the program and have been going to the page at least once a day from that day on; its now two and a half years later. I do not know college without online communities.
Online communities such as Friendster and MySpace have been a huge success just within the past few years. As defined by dictionary.com a community is, “a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists.? If you look at the structure of a community, online communities fit this description. However, I feel as though people need to have an emotional connection to each other to make it a real community. In every aspect, on paper, online communities fit the description and I will say that these different websites such as MySpace and Facebook are online communities but in my eyes I feel that I do not take these communities as serious as some may do. Virtual and realistic communities do act in the same way of communicating within each other but on a different level.
Looking at a simplistic level of communities, such as blogs, one could place this class itself into that community. Everyone in this class is replacing the chance to meet face to face and discuss these same issues, but instead we choose to over the internet. This blog is more secure than most blogs because it is through the University, however there are many blogs such as Soap Operas which Baym studies about 10 years ago. On a side note, I noticed that it was interesting in itself that one of her statements, “They videotape soaps and save then for evenings and weekends, if they watch them at all. (byod, 105)? In this day and age, the option would have been to TiVo the program or the option of watching online later which probably coincided with the daily blog for that particular show.
When signing up for these communities, I think that many people as stated in the article by Boyd and last weeks topics about gender people can “make up? their own characteristics and background depicting someone who they are really not. However for those who do become involved through these communities with their real identity can get hooked very easily. Personally, I don’t think that I could go a day without hearing the word “Facebook?; in relation to who updated their profile, to looking up people who we just meet to find out more about them, or to look at the newly posted pictures. I am guilty of hanging out with my friends and doing homework, but we would all look up and realize that we are all “Facebooking?.
Boyd talked a great deal about “friendng? people and reasons why they do. I find that it is a common reoccurrence that people will friend each other because they have seen then in a class or they have common friends. Many times as well, people friend each other if they haven’t talked in years, probably with no intention of ever talking to them but being able to say that they are “friends?. According to Bob, “When I see somebody with a large number of supposed friends, I suspect that they’re using the term ‘friend’ to mean ‘acquaintance,’ or that their motives in getting Friendster-recorded friends are not really about the relationships for the their own sake? (boyd).
Many people as well have to be aware of what they put on their profile and who they are friends with. As Boyd states, as people navigate profiles they build an image of who people are through their Friends.(boyd) Because many people are not in the same place in their career as me (looking for internships) I have chosen to make my profile private, which is an option for most communities, because I have known people who have not been hired because of their Facebook profile.
Online communities can provide a great deal of communication and bonding within the specific site itself, however the communities that I am aware of and part of are known to be a more social community that builds of the reality of our day to day lives.

You've Got a Friend In Me

I'd like to call into examination the term MySpace Whore. The mere existence of such a word signifies the presence of a sharp divide and ever-widening gray area in the appropriate use of social networking sites. Some, like myself, try hard to limit their use to relationships that do indeed exist in reality. I'm friends with my brothers on facebook for example, but I'm also friends with Devendra Banhart (see: anti-folk hero) but I count our relationship as something tangible even though I'll probably never meet him since I'm a fan. Others see myspace as a way to meet new people or simply dive headlong into the growing world of socio-technology. SNSs have even proved a roadway to fame for some who maxed their friends list out and gained attention for their uninhibited electronic acceptance of every web-persona that came their way and ability to harness this massive population into something useful for their career, be it nefarious or not. ( Example: Tila Tequila (Time Article))
Most people, however, are just another of us "normals" looking to keep up with the times and maybe find a n easier way to keep in touch with people out of our geographic range or regular social circle. No matter what the case, there are definite socio-cultural norms that have developed over time that apply specifically to online communities. The Baym article this week, while indeed dated, had some nice encapsulations that apply everywhere, not only to soap-opera-junky newsgroups. Before I get into the meat though, wanted to single out one line for its ability to date the article as well as bring up memories of caps-lock-chat-room-arguments of yore. I am referring to the second paragraph in the Participation section on page 105. It begins, "R.a.t.s participants are well educated, as in most of the internet," and I spit up a little tea. Not to stray to far from my goal though, I'll move on.
The points I found most interesting in the Baym article were regarding online social-status building, which is definate present in any social environment, and perhaps even magnified in online environments. At the bottom of page 111 she writes of the act of responding to a post as a sign of approval, or simply validation. "Receiving responses is considered flattering and fairly exciting," and later on "The worst feeling I ever had was when I thought I was bringing up something interesting and got *no* replies." (I found her use of asterisks here amusing as well, straight from the message-board she is). This passage reminded me of posting pictures on myspace and waiting to see if anyone would comment. Granted, I can't hope for the astronomical number of replies a scantily-clad young woman would receive, given the environment and motivations behind picture surfing, but even one can brighten my experience. I'm a real boy!
Baym also speaks of status-building traits like a deep understanding or knowledge of the subject matter and the ability to use humor in posts. Of course in an environment like the one she's focusing on, if you aren't aware of Stacy's evil-twin, you should probably remain a lurker. But if you can get a laugh you're one step ahead of the lurkers. It seems to me something about the energy put into a post that is satirical or clever is enough to merit praise. People like to think others put as much energy into something (possibly something trivial in some eyes) as they do, and this is highly appreciated.
This translates directly to things like facebook or myspace. Myspace profiles are no longer boxed in and homogeneous, but can be tailored to fit individual tastes. I once had a friend who plastered the background of his myspace with a repeating picture of Hulk Hogan simply to spite those with gaudy pages. This effort, like humor or emoticons in a newsgroup, is appreciated and seen as a status symbol. Much like the size of a friends list, or the members of your Top 8 as mentioned in the Boyd writing. I especially liked the line about Myspace Top 8 as Psychological warfare because truly it is no different from the pecking order and saved-seats of the lunch table for many younger users.
Finally, I like the term Identity Performance used in Boyd's article numerous times. This is such a fitting label for much of our online social-lives whether we know our friends or not. The information we share, pictures we post, and friends we...friend--that's a verb now right?--come together to form a composite image of our status and cultural identity; even if we simply are someone's friend to "save face" as examined by Ms. Boyd. I'm definitely one of those people--at least one a site like facebook (see: anti-anonymity)--that will accept someone as a friend rather than reject them simply because I'm Minnesota nice; but you can count on it that my top 8 is reserved for those near and dear to my heart. Am I kidding? I don't even know.

Who wants to be my Facebook Friend?

I have been involved with a few online communities in my brushes with the internet. My first experience was with an online game. This was similar, although less advanced, to the community of World of Warcraft or Everquest for those of you familiar with them. It was fun for me to belong to a social group that was outside of my everyday reality. However, as time progressed the internet evolved and so did my online habits. I created a web page and visited others through the Angelfire community and then finally joined Facebook.

Facebook is by far the most active I have been in an online community. From my personal perspective Facebook made the right move by targeting individuals in the right market. Boyd touched on how members of online communities at first did not know how to respond to adding friends or what to share. Facebook targeted a culture that wants to become socially open and meet people, college kids.

There was a high level of comfort surrounding facebook because at first, it was only college students that could even be on the network or view your profile. This encouraged individuals to be open and honest about themselves. In a school this large it is also necessary to remember the name of the kid in class next to you. Facebook helps a lot with that.

I was interested in Boyd's issue with the classification of friends and the "Top 8". This part of the article really touched base with me because it addresses the issue of friendship. I look at a lot of online profiles including my own and see many people with over 300 or even 1,000 friends. Are they really all your friends? When do you classify that person as acceptable to join your list of friends. For most people who use facebook I assume most of the people on their friends list aren't even involved in their life anymore. Furthermore, some people you might not even know. I laughed at the "Top 8" issue because you can see the social pressure and implications that idea has before it is even implemented. It does bring to light though the hierarchy of friendship. I know that if I had to list all of my friends I wouldn't even come close to everyone on my Facebook "friends" list.

Facebook: What is the definition of a friend?

I am ashamed to say my use of online communities is really limited to facebook. Although, I once created a MySpace account JUST to look at some profiles of people I met in California one summer. (Isn’t that sad?) I also use discussion boards on some online health websites, but that is the extent of my activity. After reading both articles and then watching the video, I actually think I relate most to the video. It sometimes upsets me that young people are so connected online. It makes me think we are losing our face-to-face interaction and social skills. “The valuing of individuality, just like the prizing of humor and insight, therefore relates to the need of soap opera fans to share and compare personalized interpretations of the show? (Baym 116). This quote best sums-up what I have found to be true as well about any online community. Everyone wants a way to express themselves and be responded too. It is in the voicing of opinion about a topic, being responded to, and then getting to add more that drives online communities, blogging, and posting. It is almost human nature to want to be heard and it is made easier when the topic is of interest and people who share your interest are listening and reacting to you. Thus, I do believe that Baym’s observations observed more than a year ago still exist and are evolving as we speak into more complex communications and meeting people’s needs.
As well, Boyd really makes an extension to some of Baym’s arguments. Specifically, I think the sentence “People define their community egocentrically? (Boyd: Egocentric Networks Replace Groups). Like I stated above, individuals want to be heard and recognized, and feel like they are part of a similar grouping. But, Baym says now we choose friends first and then find similar topics to communicate on. It is revolutionary the way we continually redefine the context of many concepts and forms of communication. From my experience with facebook, I have learned that my “friends? are more like people I sort of know. It was a struggle for me to accept people I just met once as “friends? at first. My true friends in real life are much more than facebook friends (obviously). And, like the argument in the comedy central bit, it takes work, commitment and responsibility to be a true friend. There is not much commitment or reliability with a friend you have in an online community. I had a hard time relating to the drama that ensures with “top friends? on myspace. I think it is quite juvenile to actually choose a certain group of people as your top friends.
Overall, I think the two articles, and the video do an accurate job of depicting the evolutionary and revolutionary nature of online communities. There will be a constant redefining of original contexts as time goes on, and the virtual world will look less and less like the real world.

Facebook & Myspace. . the online communities of the new millenium

“More recent conceptions of the folk group require that groups only share a common factor and unique traditions, or that traditions are grounded in distinct shared rules for the conduct and interpretation of speech.? (Kiesler, p103)

I believe this quote describes the Kiesler writing style and description of online communities. “Newsgroups? as Kiesler describes in this article seem to be rather foreign and seems that the article is seeking justification for online communities. It quotes members of the R.A.T.S. to be “well educated.? It also describes the common term blogging as “posting.? (Kiesler, p105) This contrast in terminology I believe represents the impact that the web culture has implemented in today’s society. Today we say online communities with pride and a sense of belonging. Today people are more open about their desire to belong to communities and obtain their own sort of web language when belonging to specific communities.

Two online communities that I participate in are facebook and myspace. My personal participation within these communities are distinguished by Kieslers defining of lurking and posting. Facebook I am an active participate. I leave notes, considered blogs, for my friends accompanied by photos that emphasize meaning to my notes. Myspace I would be considered to only lurk as I do not actively have an account but use it to not post but just to check people out and participate at a minimal level. I believe your affiliation within an online community can play bias to an individual. For example, my friends belonging to Myspace and posting hundreds of so-called model photos of themselves are trying to portray a specific demeanor.

The most useful and important online community that I participate in at this stage of my life is Linked In. It is an online community for business professionals and used strictly for networking and business discussion. I feel comfortable belonging to this community because I want to be affiliated with other individuals seeking professional networking.

In conclusion I feel that there is a significant difference in the acceptance and comfort that people feel within and belonging to online communities today versus fifteen years ago. I appreciated Kieslers definitions but feel that more up-to-date terminology speaks greater to the true communities that exist today.


Signal vs. Noise in Online Communities

I do not make much use of online communities in a social sense. I have a facebook account, and I frequent a few forums, but on the whole I feel that I use such services less than the average college student, certainly. Of the forums that I visit, 3 are technical forums, and one is related to a MUD that I play. On all of these forums I generally either do not post, or post only very rarely.According to "Interpreting Soap Operas", I fall into the majority of posters, who post less than 5 times per month. The essay goes on to note that generally a small group of posters (in newsgroups) makes the majority of posts. I have found this to be true on all forums that I read. I have also noticed that two of the technical forums that I read have declined noticeably in terms of quality since I began reading them. It seems to me that, for a technical forum or newsgroup to be successful, the few big contributors (mentioned by Baym) must not only be both interested and dedicated, and also must be very technically skilled. In my experience, the greater the ratio of new (to both the forum and the field being discussed) members to experienced members must not exceed some threshold before the more experienced members will cease reading and posting. In each of the aforementioned forums it seems that this threshold is being approached or exceeded.

In terms of "social" online communities, I certainly found Boyd's discussion of the social awkwardness of rejecting a friend request (in my case, on Facebook) is frequently more trouble than it is worth. A few months ago I was going through the process of removing anyone from my (already meager) friend list that I didn't know or particularly care for, and accidentally removed an acquaintance that was a friend of a friend. He proceeded to message me, wondering why I had done so, and it was easier for me (socially) to simply add him back than to explain to him that we weren't "close enough" friends to bother having him on my list. I think that this situation is similar to one where, for example, when a person that you do not consider a “close enough? friend calls on the telephone, you choose not to answer, but when you run into him or her in person, you do not ignore his or her greeting, either. In both the online and real cases, one entails significantly more possible social fallout than the other.

Finally, a brief side-note: I think that some of the elements that Baym observed in "r.a.t.s" were an effect of a small and dedicated community, and likely would be markedly different today. Specifically, in 1993 it is likely that the people participating in the community were relatively early adopters of the internet and newsgroups, and that the community itself as relatively small. In such a community, just as in a community in "real" life, it is far easier to ensure that certain norms are followed. As an example, it might not be possible to limit the number of "flames" in a larger community simply through self-policing and scolding offending members.

OH WON'T YOU BE MY FRIENDSTER?

According to Boyd, “Participants in social network sites want to be public where public means interacting with all people who might have similar tastes or be entertaining or provide useful information.? I think this is a great summary of how online communities differ from physical communities. People participating in an online community are participating due to personal interest in the topic at hand. Where as in a public community, sometimes you don’t have a choice about the interactions you encounter or the situations you will become involved in. However, both community types both encourage encountering with people and engaging in some type of conversation with others, whether it be personal or a topic of interest.

To gain social capital in the online community you have to almost create a desirable image for yourself. For example according to Baym, “The use of humor as a criterion in evaluating performance on r.a.t.s. is directly related to important functional concerns in the group. It helps keep fans entertained during times when a soap opera may fail to do so, and it help to create an accepting and caring group atmosphere.? Overall I think it’s all about how you present yourself and the image you create for yourself via the Internet and these various programs.

I think digital communities have become very popular within the past couple of years. I know that I wasn’t too involved in any type of online communities, prior to hearing about MYSPACE and FACEBOOK. The article written by Boyd about Friends and Friendster was very interesting to read, because I could relate to some of the information within the article. For example, I know that on MYSPACE I have friends that are friends with over 500 people, and over ¾ of the friends they have listed as friends, they have never met or talked in real life before. Overall I believe digital communities are affecting physical communities. Boyd mentions a case about fights in schools because someone wasn’t on someone’s TOP8 on MYSPACE.

Can we just be online friends?

I find it funny that in the 80s, people used web technology to discuss their favorite soap operas. I also am surprised that there were so many computer geeks that watched soap operas. You learn something new everyday. A lot of what Baym wrote about regarding virtual communities in the nineteen eighties sounds very familiar. It seems to back up a belief of mine that people really do not change much over the span of time. Technology surely makes changes in everyone's lives but the way they interact with one another stays the same. I sometimes think that we people in the "modern" age think that we are somehow smarter because we have more advanced technology. Current events tell me that this is not the case ha ha.

It's interesting that current day people seem to communicate in online discussions in a similar fashion that people who used the R.a.t.s discussion groups used. I sometimes visit an online discussion forum called "JeepForum.com." I usually visit the site when I have a question about my Cherokee and help others out if I know how to solve their problem. There is a discussion thread called "Open Topic." In this thread people talk about all sorts of topics. I once had a long argument about the merits of ethanol as a fuel. We got good comments from other members commending us on our debate. That was nice.

There were other times that didn't seem as enjoyable. Some of the folks in this forum are a sort of tight knit group. Some times when a hot discussion was in play, I would chime in if I felt that I had a valid opinion. I'd check back to see if anyone responded to my post, and nobody acknowledged what I had to say. This kind of bothered me. Why didn't they respond to me?

When Baym recounted the story of the poster who apparently was blown off by the "ingroups" of the forum, I instantly thought of my experiences with the Jeep Forum members (Baym 117). Basically, the poster had valid information to supply to the conversation, but the "ingroup" chose to listen to the more popular posters instead (Baym 117). This kind of reminds me of the whole high school mentality where people hang on every word of the popular person. The less popular person might be trying to warn people that the buildings is on fire, but nobody moves until the popular person decides it's important ha ha.

On the Jeep Forum, there was a guy that started posting and everybody seemed to be perplexed as to what his deal was. His user name was "Sizzlechest" and he used a picture of a strange looking person as his avatar. People who were curious about him would ask him questions and his replies were pretty interesting and eccentric. He finally showed everyone what he really looked like and people became really drawn to him.

Sizzlechest's popularity seemed to happen because he lived up to the groups "performative potential" (Baym 111). His actions and online presence met the criteria for a "skilled performance" (Baym 112). He showed "humor, insight, distinctive personality, and politeness" (Baym 112). What a character!

Online discussion forums like Jeep Forum and Photographycorner.com are my favorite type of application. I'm sort of an introvert and I hate going to new places trying to drum up conversation when no one has anything in common. These sites are nice because they were built for the purpose of discussing fairly specific topics. They are an online club of sorts. I feel at home when I am chatting with a fellow photographer.

I haven't had much of an urge to sign up on Myspace. I don't feel the need to impress anyone on there. I've looked at my brother's Myspace um....space and it seems kind of interesting. He set it up so music of his choice kicks on when you enter his space. I think it might be a good way to find a significant other, but he just seems to have posts from his friends that live hear in Minnesota. One amusing thing is that he created a space for his two cats.

The web address for this is www.myspace.com/marshallandrandall if anyone dares to look. When I read in Boyd's paper that Friendster kicked all of the "Fakesters" out and they all flocked to Myspace, I thought of the site that my brother set up for his fur balls (Boyd). This actually seems like a fun way to be creative. I'm really close to making a space for my cats so the can flame his cats. Wouldn't that be mature!


Now I'm part of a meta-online community.

I have only used social networking sites to spy on people-- to find names, to find out more about people I have just met. I also follow (but rarely contribute to) a discussion board about bicycling in the Twin Cities.

I find that much of what Baym discusses in relation to the R.a.t.s. site ten years ago still holds true-- for example, that “a small group of people does most of the performing.? (Interpreting Soap Opera, Creating Communities, p.105) I find this on the discussion board I frequent, and it seems like (as in real life) the people who talk the most tend to take control. Baym also refers to the "lurking" phenomenon (p. 108)-- It is still common to lurk on discussion boards or social networking sites, either by creating a nearly empty profile, or setting privacy controls so that no one can see it. Baym's remark that “R.a.t.s. participants are well-educated as in most of the Internet…most read newsgroups at work or at school? (p.105) really dates this piece of writing. Ten years ago, it was much less common to have a connection to the Internet at home. College students and people with computer-related jobs (presumably the most educated people) would have had much more control over online content, and I think the conversation has opened up a lot since then.

In “Friends, Friendsters, and Top 8?, Boyd tells us that “the number of people in one’s network was perceived as directly related to the number of friends one had.? I do think this is still the perception, at least among younger users. I agree with the idea that Top 8 is often wielded as a weapon; I’ve overheard kids talking worriedly about it, and I know of one local high school that has sent home a memo to parents asking them to monitor their children’s computer use, as a number of online disputes have led to fights during the school day. The other point I thought was particularly interesting was that “the users of social networking sites are faced with a conundrum, particularly those who must simultaneously interact with their peers and those who hold power over them.? The kids at my library would be mortified to know I’ve seen their Myspace profiles, full of booty pictures, amateur cussing and fake gangster posturing. Similarly, I couldn’t create an honest profile for myself without alienating some of the students I work with.

Out With the Old

While I have not used any of the three "friending machines" we talk about this week. I am part of many technological communities. I think I am well networked into a lot of places, and my network resembles my friends and people of similar interests. For example, Facebook is by far my favorite network. I was much happier with it when it was "only for college kids", while that wasn't of course the case because anyone can get a .edu address from the U of M or anywhere else, but it seemed like college kids just having a good time. I use it mostly for pictures. I like to see what people do for fun. While there are some crazy and some boring ones, the unique parties and ideas are fun to look at and then think about how your friends would act in that situation. MySpace seems like that part of town that is pretty cool, but your parents would never want to know you went there. For me, there is just too much on a page to care about. Facebook seems more like a more readable format. Of course formats also limit freedom and creativity, but if I want to know what my friends are doing, Facebook lets me know, and doesn't keep me confused.
I also have my blog, which started out as a daily conversation for my family and friends with me. I would post, and they would comment or email me to react and talk about their day or things I would like to know about. Then, it expanded. I was searching google at the beginning of my bloggings, by just entering my name, and nothing would come up. I was happy about this because the more intimate it was, the better I feel about sharing information. But one day, a press secretary in my office was searching for information and stumbled upon it (because I talk about the Member of Congress I work for and issues that she was looking for were talked about in my blog). My boss called me into his office, I hadn't done anything illegal, unethical or even put in information he wouldn't like, but he just reminded me that it is now public information, and to realize what I say may be taken as the attitude of our office. So luckily he just said to ask if I thought anything I would be posting is contriversial, but instead of asking, I just stay away from controversy (and have less dramatic writing). A week after that incident, two people had found it while searching the web or being contacted through one of my friends, and came to our office to give me their business card. I apologize, but needed to be long winded to explain the progression of what started out as a daily intimate conversation turned into a job advertisement to some extent.
My final network I will discuss is my office email. While email can be bad at any office, I assure you that the US Congress is horrible as far as the volume you receive each day. It's one thing for people to be able to email you from their work stations but after 9/11 everyone was issued a Blackberry. Now you can get emails from workstations, while people are going to and coming from meetings, and even in meetings. While the messages are not "all business", they are a lot of time, most of which spent making sure you DO NOT have to reply to them.

I think Baym's arguments and examples hold up today. I see Facebook as an application for making a tangent, or a TAN (Baym, 109) as they called them in years before. Here comments like "are you going to ..." or "did you do homework for ....'s class" can turn into 40-post conversations, that will double as instant messaging if you are both online. Another thing about the Facebook-type applications is that they can be used as instant messaging, with an added kick of opinion (as talked about in the texts somewhere that I can no longer find). When you post on someone else's Facebook wall, some people are able to see your post when they login. If it is two of your best friends talking, you may add to the conversation by posting on both of their walls.
On blogs (and even more so, message boards), I see a lot of what I just named "Soap Opera Syndrome". People get so obsessed with something that it goes on forever. You have, like the Soap Opera addicts, the daily posters, the people who randomly butt in and out of the conversations, and the people who disagree with everything the daily posters say. Besides my blog (where I am obsessed with my day, my family, and my political science grade), I have been on niketalk.com. It is really a site for all stakeholders in Nike. There is of course a shoe page ("Post pics of your shoes"), many sport pages, and topics you wouldn't expect that Nike people agree on.
My work email relates a lot closer to the Friendster/Myspace/Facebook research than I originally thought. Yes, there are many emails from user to user, but there are many from user to list. In responding to a list, you send the response back to the whole list, directed at the person with the original message. This is the business-style Facebook as you are promoting yourself to others (but in this case showing that you answered the question) while at the same time completing the task. Your signature at the bottom of each email can also tell people about your personality, especially when adding an inspirational or humorous quote. The one thing this community doesn't have is friends. In Facebook I have friends, in blogging, I can link to other and related blogs (although I don't), but in this email, you just have contacts. I can reach anyone and everyone on Capitol Hill. Your friends/most often emailed do get saved to a list of people recently emailed, but that's as far as it goes. There are no public displays of affection in email via saying which people you like and which you do not.
While I think the ideas and concepts Baym discusses move on, the old technology gets left behind. I can reminisce about the post on how to not make people mad (Baym, 117-8), and remember the first time I left the caps lock on in a chat room. At the time I had no clue it was another form of yelling, and was instantly booted by some robot in the room. boyd is on the right track, we are not that removed from who we are on the net, but at the same time, some people are constrained. I think the social norms of real life give way on the net, and this allows/forces people who want to branch out and explore, everything from soap operas to pornography and chat rooms to kitty litter, to do so in a manner where they will not be looked down upon by others. So my conclusion is that while, as boyd explains, the internet helps people "define themselves and the context in which they are operating", through friending and everything else, they are also changing and exploring. In other words, I think people can truly change, not just continually get closer to finding who they always were. Without the internet, many people would not be who they are no matter how long and hard they searched, because it is just a different medium of creativity.

Congrats, you're ePopular!

Online communities can mean a variety of things, and the sites listed for us to take a look at are only one type, although they are some of the most popular. I’ve been a member of many different forums through the years, mostly consisting of people that I’ve met online through games. Because of this I tend to relate the word “forum? to something relating to gaming, even though there are countless topics that different forums discuss. I also use Xanga for the little amounts of blogging that I do outside of this class.
“A prevalent assumption by many observers is that the articulation of Friendship is equivalent to friendship (Kornblum, 2006). In other words, if people say that they are Friends on these sites, they must be friends in other contexts as well. This paper challenges that assumption.? (Boyd).
This brief overview of Boyd’s paper agrees with my thoughts about online communities completely. The best example I can give is an artist’s Myspace page. Some artists have thousands of friends on Myspace, yet most of the time the artist will never have any contact, on or offline, with a majority of these friends. If people can be friends online without any type of contact, then an online friend is really constituted by common interest. This is where Baym’s paper is still relevant. Baym compares an online community to a concept that, in my head at least, resembles a book club. This comparison as well as the data gathered about how the forum was used and what types of people used it goes to show that often, online communities are topic based, supporting my theory that online friendships are established merely by common interest (much the same as real life, except without the interaction.)

Myspace= DRAMA!!

I found Danah Boyd’s piece to be quite interesting and allowed me to reflect on my use of online communities. I was interested in the concept of “friending? online. It was mentioned that “people saw friendships online as content, offline facilitator, online community, trust, courtesy, declaration, or nothing.? (Boyd, Danah) I’ve used blogs, chat rooms, discussion boards and aim and my view of “friendships? online has changed throughout the years. When I used to chat, everyone on my buddy list was seen as a ‘friend’, from friends who I interacted with on a daily basis to friends who I had never seen in real life but felt comfortable enough by allowing them to know me more as a person. Now when I think about online friends, I see them more as “acquaintances? rather than friends. I’ve learned to be more aware of trusting people and using the term “friendship.? I wouldn't necessarily agree with the statement that their just "nothing" relationships because if you communicate in some way, there is some degree of relationship involved.

“Participants must select who on the system they deem to be ‘Friends.’ Their choice is publicly displayed for all to see and becomes the backbone for networked participation.? (Boyd, Danah) It was interesting when I read more about Myspace. Like mentioned in the article, Top 8 is allowing people to show a connection that states who they really are. In other words, they described it as a bookmark that serves as a way to chose people who matter the most. I use Myspace now and then, but have never been a huge fan of it. It’s interesting how TOP 8 has been such an effect on friendships/relationships online. Just like most Myspace users, I put people who are closest to me on my top list but have never had people complain about it! For instance:

“Myspace always seems to cause way too much drama and i am so dang sick of it. im sick of the pain and the hurt and tears and the jealousy and the heartache and the truth and the lies ... it just SUCKS! ... im just so sick of the drama and i just cant take it anymore compared to all the love its supposed to make us feel. i get off just feeling worse. i have people complain to me that they are not my number one on my top 8. come on now. grow up. its freaking myspace.? — Olivia (Boyd, Danah)

CRAZY! Anyway, I don’t think I’ve ever let myself get TOO sucked into these communities. Seems like they are kind of harsh! :X

Wide Open MySpaces

I never thought of myself as belonging to an online community because I do not belong to MySpace, Friendster, Facebook, or any other SNS (social network site). I had heard of, but until this assignment, I had not visited a SNS. But as I thought about online communities I realized that I do now belong to an online community and have for many years. I certainly now belong to the online community of Rhet 3401. Other online communities I have belonged too are the communities of people I have ever exchanged e-mail with or chatted with online. The contexts of these communities have been family, friends (real life friends that is), and business associates.

The online communities I’ve listed and that I have experienced function as an additional means of communication. These online communities, as well as SNS’s, differ from physical communities in that the individuals are usually separated by both space and time. I do not think that online communities are replacing physical communities in our lives, rather, I think that they supplement our lives by giving us yet another medium to communicate our thoughts and ideas in “complex, interwoven, and personalized communities? (Nancy K. Baym, Interpreting Soap Operas and Creating Community: Inside an Electronic Fan Culture, p. 119).

I think that some of the elements Baym observed still exist today in all of the online communities. An example of this is the short-hand idiom used in online communications, such as, ‘r u hungry 2’ (Baym, p. 107). I also think that Danah Boyd is correct in her assertion as was Jenny Sundén in that “in order to exist online, we must write ourselves into being? (Jenny Sundén, Material Virtualities: Approaching Online TextualEmbodiment, 2003). If we do not write, we do not exist because our thoughts through words have no way to make it into cyberspace.

MySpace is my space

In answering the first part of the questions, communities function by a group of people interacting and sharing things with one another. So you can say that real life communities and online communities function and work in the same way. Online communities are obviously different from real life face, to face human contact type of communities because you interact differently with them. In online communities you can hide your identity or make it up. Member gain social capital in the community just by interacting with other people, helping them out, and doing favors for others even when you are not asked to do so. In online communities I think it kind of works a little in the same way, just by interacting, talking, and sharing different things with one another like music and things like that.
I do think that virtual communities are replacing physical communities in some of our lives because it's easier to talk with people because you have more time to do so. An example would be if your at work on a break, you can go online and talk, in a physical community you would have to leave your job for the rest of the day, set up a time and place to meet. It's a lot easier to do this online.

When I first experienced online communities it was primarily on AOL chat rooms. I just thought that in writing text and trying to express yourself online is very difficult. Then I started noticing people using smily faces and things of that effect to convey a sense of emotion. A segment in the Baym article really sums this up. "The computer medium seems at first glance to eliminate just these kinds of cues, [a wink, gesture, posture], but given time, participants respond to this deprivation by creating new ways to convey crucial metacommunicative information." (Baym, 111). The article goes on to say the use of the smily face :) and the sad face :(. This example goes to show that my own experiences online line up with the Baym reading and that this element still exists. I really don't use too many other online communities besides facebook. I rarley use that either but Boyds article really was spot on with how we make people our friends and how it's easier just to accept them as friends instead of rejecting them.

I believe that Boyd is correct in her assertions about making friends, adding friends, etc. in her article. "For some participants, only the closest pals are listed while others include acquaintances. Some are willing to accept family members while others won’t even include their spouse so that they can write bulletins to “just my friends.? Saying no to someone can be tricky so some prefer to accept Friendship with someone they barely know rather than going through the socially awkward process of rejecting them." (Boyd, 1). I think that this part of the article really shows you how online communities develop and how we define ourselves as well. Some would say that what makes you and what defines you is the friends that you hang out with. Well what may define you online is the friends you have on myspace or facebook.

Myspace doesn't make my "Top 8"

Ok, I’d like to start this off by wishing everyone a happy Valentines Day. And I believe that because this week hosts such a Hallmark holiday, the idea of online communities are a perfect conversation piece.

I am or have been involved in online communities. I am currently on the Facebook, and becoming a valid member with in this community. It counts! ? The other communities I have been involved in, I used mainly for information purposes. These mainly included forums for Xbox, when I used to have time for video games. Within those communities, I was mainly just a lurker, as Baym puts it. The only time I participated was when I really needed to find something out that I wasn’t able to get from other peoples conversations. I do not have a Myspace page, because I just don’t see the point…..for me. I already feel bad enough that I have a profile on the facebook, but it proves to be useful once in a while. I’ve noticed that other people in this discussion also feel the same way when it comes to Myspace and Facebook.

As I was taking a look through everyone’s posts thus far, I was rather surprised to see how many of you actually acknowledged the online community as a legitimate community. That’s not to say that I don’t agree, but I thought that there would for sure be people out there who think that online communities contain no legitimacy at all. Just for fun, I looked up the definition of community online, and there were over ten definitions that came up. I read through each one of them, and I did not see one which an online community did not meet the requirements of. However, I feel there are definite limitations that are set by online communities in comparison to real life communities. The main limitation is that in the online world, you can’t actually have physical contact with others. To me, online communities are great for the use of words, but for actually having a physical relationship, I just don’t think they cut-it in that respect. When I’m interacting with someone, I would much rather prefer to see them in person. I understand that there might be some argument to this by saying people identify themselves on Myspace and Facebook with pictures of themselves, or how we even made Avatars. But in my opinion, it is still not the same as actually experiencing that in real life. Boyd talks about how Myspace and how some of its characteristics have the same effect of a real life community, whereas others don’t. The idea of befriending people on Facebook, Myspace, and Friendster is not realistic in my opinion. However, I thought that Boyd made an interesting point of how certain things on Myspace, for instance the top 8, can affect real life relationships and communities. I found this to be so interesting because I could never see myself becoming that involved and care about an online community so much. As someone said in their review, “It’s just freakin’ Myspace!? I also agree with md2506’s post in the sense that the older and more experienced partakers in these communities probably do not have so much drama, and do not become as involved as the younger, more immature, and less experienced users.

Overall, I feel that online communities serve a purpose for many people. However, I do not feel that they will ever take the place of a real life community. People (at least I will) always feel the need for the physical aspect of relationships and communities that the online world can not provide.

Are you really my friend?

According to Boyd's article, a friendship, in typical terms, must involve "some degree of mutual love or admiration." In other words, most people would consider friends to be at least somewhat intimate with each other. This is an interesting definition for Boyd to bring up in an article about internet communities. How many of us can say that we're intimate with our computers, or with the profile of some random person we've never met on Myspace? Still, I think community and friendship can be two totally different things. When I think of community, the first thing that usually comes to mind is just the people who come together in a specific place to make civilization possible for everyone. Maybe I'm closer to the people I live with than I am to some of my professors or the people who sell me food at the restaurants around campus, but everyone still comes together to make the campus one big community. Online communities are pretty much the same, only instead of making civilized life possible, they make a social network or discussion group. After all, you can't have either of those things without people.

But anyway, back to the concept of friendship online. I'm proud to say I don't have a Myspace profile, but I've still been sucked into Facebook being a college student and everything, so I'll use it as my first example. Many of the people on my friends list on Facebook are people I see and interact with everyday, people I'd list among my friends here at school if you happened to ask me. Others are people I don't see that often, but I still see and talk to them occasionally when I happen to be in town at home. You could call them friends of mine too. Still others are people I was basically familiar with in high school, but even back then I didn't talk to them much. Sure, I'd recognize and say hi to these people if I happened to run into them again, but are they really friends in the sense that the people I talk to every day are? Also, consider the friends I have whom I've never even met from the message boards. I do enjoy talking to them, and I know I probably would be friends with them if I ever met them face to face because of our common interests, but there's still a level of intimacy that just isn't there with them. In that case, it almost seems like the meaning of friendship, at least colloquially, is totally changed online. It seems to be less of a question of how well you know a person than it is if you know a person. But even so, the idea of there being online communities is still a sound one. Baym's example of a soap opera community is actually pretty similar to the adultswim.com forums. In fact, much of the anime I discuss there is often compared to soap operas because of its serial nature. And just like the soap opera community, there are abbreviations to refer to specific shows (i.e. FMA = Full Metal Alchemist, CB = Cowboy Bebop, and comedy too, ATHF = Aqua Teen Hunger Force etc.), people who lurk, occasional trivia threads, pretty much everything there only relating to a totally different genre of TV.

One Big Happy Community

I find online communities very interesting. Through them we are able to show how many friends we have, what type of people we are, and just try and be cool. I do not belong to any of the three groups that were linked this week, I do, however, belong to Facebook. I like using facebook because it helps me find out how my friends ( and people that I am not a fan of) are doing. It also helps that I can learn their birthdays and screenames so I can IM them and start a conversation to see how they are doing. While I do enjoy Facebook, I can see the negatives that come from it. We can stalk people using social networks and possibly, "mate poach" if we see that a girl has just gone single, we can jump at the opportunity right away. I also enjoy reading posts and blogs, I try and not respond, however, because people take things way too seriously and soon there is just name calling and put downs on the discussion board.

In the case of the Baym article, I found it interesting that while this article was dated, chat rooms were still really popular even at the very beginning of the internet when the connections were slow and it was difficult to look at pages. I totally agree with her statement that "There are two ways to participate in any newsgroup...lurking involves reading without ever posting and posting which means writing messages" (Baym, 105). I consider myself a lurker because I do not like to get into arguments with random people. However, I do find some of the arguments that they present on the different sites I look at interesting. There are also many cases where poeple post spoilers and interesting facts about favorite shows on the website or a place like imdb.com. If you read and post on blogs continuously, you can get to know the people that also post regularly. I also found it amazing that acronyms such as ROTFL (Baym, 113), were created so long ago. I still do not know what they all mean. From reading the Baym article I concluded that if she did the same research that she had done in 1991 now, she would get results that are similar. I am amazed that while so much has changed with the internet, many things have stayed the same.

In the Boyd article I believe that she is somewhat correct in her outlook on Friendster, MySpace, etc... While I agree that we like to have access to as many profiles as we can and can show how many friends we have, this is just not the case for me. I have often rejected people that have tried to be my friend because either I do not know them, or I knew them and didn't like them and I knew that they did not like me. Why would I want to associate myself with someone that I will just talk bad about when they leave the room? From what Boyd states, "varied populations who began to participate and define context through their Friends were faced with context collision when people from different facets of their lives joined the site." It seems to me that social networking sites have almost created cliques on another level. There are groups that peopel cannot get into unless they are asked to join, parties that you need to be invited to, and groups that you know there are certain people in them. I agree with Boyd that many people do do this sort of thing in social networks, however, it is not something that I like to do

As a previous poster said, it is easier for people to communicate in social networks. However, I do not know if this is a good thing. People know that no one knows who you are unless you want to reveal yourself. You could say somehurtful things and get into an argument without ever meeting someone, when, in fact, you and that person would have been great friends if you met in a class or at work. I think people need to realize that it is not that important how many friends you have because when you do things like "Top Eight" or the feed on Facebook could hurt the feelings of a true friend and that relationship should be the one you want to save.

My Name is Earl....

I do not know if many of you watch “My Name is Earl?, but there was an episode a few weeks ago relating to online communities. To summarize it briefly….
Earl & Randy went to help the deliveryman (the one that was in the truck Joy stole) so that he could cross him off his list. When they got to his apartment, they found that he had passed away (apparently the Murphy bed flipped up and crushed him). Earl decided Karma wanted him to throw a funeral for the deliveryman; he could not find any family or friends. His neighbors and co-workers did not remember him. Earl and Joy were cleaning out his apartment; Earl accidentally bumps the keyboard of the PC. Messages began popping up all over the place. Here the deliveryman was part of a large online community –he played games, chess, cards, ate dinner weekly via video with a woman from India, belonged to a book club, etc. He was very well known and liked in his own online community. Earl held a funeral and invited all of his online friends (who all physically met each other for the first time).

That episode popped into my head after the I posted. Just thought I would share it with you. I know it is just TV series, but sometimes it can reflect how society is changing. Anyway, the timing was there….

Virtual Communities

I use the Internet multiple times throughout the day, every day. I mainly use sites such as facebook, my emails, and course blogs to send my ideas and thought across as well as help maintain my social relationships. Even though I have not been a participant of such things like r.a.t.s and MUDs, I think that my facebook account satisfied my social needs. For instance, I am able to talk with my friends and those that I am only slightly acquainted with, I am able to join groups and post pictures that I like and take out ones that I don’t like of myself. I am able to be social without face-to-face interaction from the comfort of my bedroom. I have known some people that could spend hours and hours on facebook whether it was looking at other people’s profiles or loading their weekend partying pictures. I think that it is a sort of an escape and allows people who are shy to be more active and social than they otherwise would have been in a face-to-face situation. I think that it lets people express themselves freely because they can post their favorite quotes and random comments, and put a lot of information about themselves if they really wanted to. I like the fact that the only people who can see your profile your friends. I think that it really helps to create a sense of security and trust in the facebook community. I think that r.a.t.s does a similar thing where it satisfies some part of people’s social needs. People are able to post their comments on the different soap opera episodes and to talk with other about more serious issues by placing “TAN? in their subject line. I think that it lets people be more serious but at the same time have fun and enjoy reading the spoilers if they so chose to do.
Because of the way the Internet and computer-mediated communication has become a huge part of the way we keep in touch with people, I think that it will continue to decrease the amount of “face? time that we have with our families and friends. The more people will feel like they can be just as social if not more so when communicating online, the more time they will continue to spend in front of the screen.

The building of social communities and relationship ties are not foreign concepts to people. People like to have friends and families that they can communicate with and depend on for emotional support among many other needs. It used to be that people depended more on face-to-face contact with one another and that was until the creation of the Internet. The Internet opened doors to a different kind of communication; it made some things that were thought as impossible possible. A thing like communicating with someone clear across the world in a matter of seconds was unthought-of. MUDs, email, online chatting, and r.a.t.s connected people with each other and created the same emotional bonds and ties over time as did the face-to-face communication. R.a.t.s is something that I have not heard of until I read the article by Nancy K. Baym. I did not know that there were sites that people could go on to be updated on the latest episodes from different soap operas. It’s a community of their own because they all share a similar interest and there are certain norms that people need to abide by. R.a.t.s is one of the many “computer-mediated groups share the topics around which they organize, the system that links them, and the communication that passes between them? (103). Traditions develop in computer-mediated communities when there are prominent and prolific groups of people who have influence and power in guiding the formation of traditions. “Traditionalization occurs through a group’s communicative practice? (106). I found it interesting that people conducted a study on the demographic of the r.a.t.s participants. The study showed that there are approximately “72% females and 28% males? (105). I was more surprised to find that there were that many men who were participants in the group. That’s about a third of the participant population.
Another thing that I found interesting was the r.a.t.s offered a tangent section in the group. It let “those who have developed social relationships to enrich them by increasing the breadth of their interaction? (109). “Tangents are used as a forum for discussion issues of particular concern to women, including experiences with violence against women, worst dates, whether or not to change names when marrying, and more? (109-110).

February 13, 2007

MYSNS

I first wanted to come right out and say that in my current opinion Myspace is taking a downward slide. It takes forever to load and is loaded so full of fake friend requests and spam that I don't even enjoy using it anymore. The idea of Myspace and all other online social networks is great. Users can join various communities, get in touch with old high school friends, check out new artists on the rise, perform long term chats through wall postings, and ect. The biggest problem that seems to have came out of it is the whole concept of friends. According to Boyd only 2 out of the top 13 reasons for people to friend people are because they are actual friends or family with them (Boyd 8). I believe that because it is the internet and there is so much anonymity to it people just become "friends" with anyone. Why not, theres not as much risk involved as there is in real life in developing friendships. This often leads to so many people who take advantage of other's disregard for who they let into their "network" in order to spam them. Often because they have nothing better to do or they need an easy way to advertise. I do love how the author notes that the type of people who commit this spamming/hacking/joking are, "shy and even anti-social, and they enjoy the power of hitting so many systems with such little effort" (Gurak 97). (This quote was more so directed at hackers, but I like to fit spammers in the same catergory).

Besides Myspace, there are other internet communities that I really do find a great deal of pleasure in being a part of which havn't been corrupted quite yet. For example when I used to build computers for my friends and family I quite often participated in usergroups to problem solve things that would come while putting the computers together. I have also participated in other social networks that dealt with music and movie reviews as well.

To summarize. I believe people need to be more careful with how they treat their myspaces and other SNS's. While they can become a great tool to help keep in touch with your real life friends or discuss things in an environment that is much more anonymous than real life with others, it is very important to keep a distinction with who is really your friend. After all, "friends are expected to provide a shoulder to cry on, be a partner in crime, and guarantee to bail you out of jail" (Boyd 4).

It's Freaking Myspace

My favorite quote within a quote this week is, " 'come on now. grow up. its freaking MySpace.' " (Boyd, Friends, Friendsters and Top 8) I agree with this quote. If we take the internet too seriously, we will lose sight of reality.
But how do we define reality in 2007? Boyd takes this question a step further in her study of online the reality of friendships and how they are being skewed by online communities such as Friendster and MySpace. "Failing to understand the culture of Friending that has emerged in social network sites contributes to the fear of the media and concerned parents over how they envision participants to be socializing." (Boyd, Friends, Friendsters and Top 8).
My first thoughts of this article were, big deal, so what, get over it. I can handle the social implications of MySpace, why can't everyone else? But then I imagined myself as a concerned parent. I fast forwarded my life 13 years to a time when I will have a teenager. How will I monitor his use of MySpace? How will he deal with rejection, or never being on someone's "Top 8"?
Will he have the same struggles at school as well as online? Suddenly I want to shut down MySpace to protect him from hurt or any venue that could damage his self-esteem. However, that's when the communication piece comes in and we, as adults who understand that social networks are not always as them seem, need to teach our children a greater insight into human relationships and human needs.

One way of gaining better insight is understanding William Schultz's FIRO-B Program.
This theory/program describes the fundamentals of interpersonal relations. The dimensions are called Inclusion, Control and Affection (basic human needs).

"Schutz says that the need for inclusion is the inner drive 'to establish and maintain a satisfactory relation with people with respect to interaction and association.' It has to do with being in or out. (AFirstLook.com) This dimension relates to social networks 'add me as a friend" and "look at how many friends I have" mentality.

"Schutz defines the interpersonal need for control as 'the need to establish and maintain a satisfactory relation with people with respect to control and power.' It has to do with being on top or on the bottom. (AFirstLook.com). This relates to "Top 8" and social networking "accepting and rejection".

The third interpersonal desire of the FIR0 triad is 'the need to establish and maintain a satisfactory relation with others with respect to love and affection.' Whereas the need for inclusion had to do with being in or out, the need for affection has to do with being close or far." (AFirstLook.com) This dimension strangely, is the one I believe is the greatest need for all humans. The need for affection and attachment. I would boldy assume that most social network users have had insecure attachments in their lives and that MySpace is compensates for that void. In the Gen X and Y we see more insecure attachments because our primary caregivers were in the workforce and other factors in our environments. The pendulum is shifting though, and with an increase of stay at home parents, we may see social networking shift in a more positive direction as well.

In conclusion, I believe not matter if it's our high school cafeteria, the breakroom at work, or on online social networks, there will always be social hierarchies and interpersonal joy and conflict. We cannot escape it, but we can control our own personal awareness and self-actualization.


Soaps + Online Friends = Community

Which online community do I belong to? I belong to my online work community. I email a group of people frequently and feel as if I know them. I have never met or talked on the phone to them. There are some people who telecommute exclusively and online is the only way to reach them.
Baym
I actually found the Baym article on soap operas and community creation quite interesting albeit dated. While I try to avoid getting hooked on soap opera type shows, I can see how it can happen. Yes, I do admit to being hooked on Melrose Place a few years ago. Every week, first thing in the morning, my friend and I would talk about it. We must have had too much enthusiasm. Our co-worker finally asked us one morning what kind of friends we had that slept with everyone else. Apparently he didn’t watch Melrose. Anyway, the soap opera community is obsessed with fictional characters played by actors/actresses that they do not even know. On the other hand though, they have developed an online community built around a single passion, soap operas. If you feel like posting, spoiling, or updating, go ahead! If you just want to lurk (of all words), go ahead! Feel like introducing yourself, then go ahead and unlurk! Beyond the topic of soaps, it is truly interesting to see how the group structure (standards) of R.A.T.S. was developed over the course of time. I was actually surprised at some of the rules and their simplicity – abbreviated soap names, key words in the subject line (update, trivia, TAN), etc. With structure, it makes sense that these created communities last and draw in new members. Just as in any conversation, opinions and insights are part of the R.A.T.S. community. Through this, the group gets to know one another better and have a stronger sense of belonging.
Boyd
I was surprised that when Friendster was launched, the founders expected users to list their actual friends instead of others. But it makes sense to me, that if you want to meet new people, show a different side of your personality (true or assumed), create an aversion to a boring life, then why would you only include the people that you already know? An option would be to create duplicate or fake Profiles, but Friendster was not happy about this decision. As the article states, “One of MySpace’s early strategies was to provide a place for everyone who was rejected from Friendster or who didn’t want to be on a dating site.?

In these online communities, I think it is easier for people to communicate. Users have more time to think about responses, can delay answers (or even decide not to answer questions), word questions carefully, and avoid gestures that may give away more insight than is intended. There is a lot of good that can come from digital communities. There is no limit with whom you can communicate with. It’s like the pen pal from school but on fast mode (no more waiting weeks or months for a reply). But, in my opinion, there is nothing like a face-to-face friendship in a physical community.

Digital Communities

My first contact with the social networking giant Myspace came when a member of my band set up an account for us to advertise. I remember when I initially looked at the site, I took me some time to figure out what the point of the website was. Now of course the site is a peice of every teenage vocabulary and such a thought would seem absurd to some. But even as I've become fairly familiar with the site over the years in using it for band related purposes, (posting events and invitations, blogging here and there, dealing with comments and things, and most importantly contacting other bands) however I don't have a personal one for myself. I think the site is a very useful networking tool for bands at other groups but as for having an individual account I've never really seen the point for myself. Whenever I used the site it was only to check mailings and the like; I didn't spend much time exploring other peoples profiles. Another online community I would consider myself a part of is a news foum at a music website called absolutepunk.net. There's a lot of users posting there at varying degrees, so until recently I've been a lurker. But I've began making small posts from time to time. The message board as a whole functions iin many of the same ways as the r.a.t.s. forum described in the Baym piece. There are many different subgroups covering all music related topics, and I've definitely noticed Baym's point in action that "a small group of people does most of the performing" (Baym, 105). "Flame-wars" (117) are also definitely in full affect in the forum, as it's basis in music allows for much difference of opinon. It's interesting that these sites that are aimed at recreating personal socialization over distances seems to have replaced (for some) socialization even for those that live nearby.

What is a community?

My first thought was that I don’t belong to any online communities. Occasionally I will visit the message boards for companies I invest in but you can never be too sure who is doing the postings on those boards. Some of the time it may be the PR firm trying to create some buzz. We have also seen that with viral marketing. Plant an online seed and create some buzz with a new product. Get some bloggers raving about a product and soon you have a groundswell with media coverage. How do we know if those bloggers are legitimate? What is their intention? Is it to independently share their find or was it to help in the companies' marketing plan?

When I started writing this post I didn't think I belonged in any online community and then it hit me in the head! My online communities are my RHET 3401 and ABUS 4509 classes. That is as close as I’ve been to an online community. We occasionally work in teams and I get to know my online classmates pretty well.

Most of the employees in my office have MySpace pages. They all talk about how they can keep in contact with their “friends? and find all of the concerts and parties they potentially could be missing out on. It has been fire walled at my company because of the disruption it can cause. danah boyd writes in her "Friends, Friendsters, and Top 8" article how Top Friends and Top 8 can impact real friendships. She quotes a user who says “MySpace always seems to cause way too much drama?. She also remarks that most of the users are predominantly young. Her study involved mainly14-30 year olds. Did that skew her findings of is that just the demographics of the user? P10

Older (age and experience) MySpace users tend to be less emotionally involved with all of the drama. They shrug their shoulders and accept it as the limitations of the system. P11 Is that a sign that once the newness wears off they lose interest in the product? Is there more to life than online communities? I think my age is beginning to show because I have trouble understanding why a person would prefer a virtual relationship when they can cultivate a real life relationship. The definition of community has changed over the past 15 years. I think what we now call a community is getting looser and looser. Are MySpace and Friendster considered communities? I think the new definition of a community is any gathering of people with like interests or goals. It doesn't matter if it is online or live.

boyd’s definition of friends on page 3 states, “friends are expected to provide a shoulder to cry on, be a partner in crime and guarantee to bail you out of jail.? How does that work in an online community?

February 12, 2007

Thr Reality of Internet Communities

Internet communities often function in the same way many other entities function. This is because; like in the “real world? hierarchy is created by man. For example, in the soap opera news group from the readings, a relatively small percentage of group members contributed to the group’s message board more than once. This is true of many organizations both on the web, and outside of it. To back this up, in Greek Letter organizations there are a relatively small percentage of people that “do? the work necessary to keep the organization running. Especially in proportion to it’s total membership. Likewise, this connects to Danah Boyd’s piece as well. Making friends is essential to networking.

That being said however, Boyd and Kiesler seem to disagree on whether or not online networks are different than “real? world networking, both in gaining social capitol, and is assessing if online relationships are trumping real world ones. Kiesler’s article, while outlines how online networks function, seems to me to support the idea that online networks are an outgrowth of natural human norms. That online networking is not unnatural in the least. One can see this in Kiesler outlining of traditions within online groups. This is because tradition (or even ritual) is at the center of any strong organization. If these organizations had no tradition then it would stand to reason that they had no real importance to people. Therefore It is reasonable to state that Kiesler believes there is a possibility that online groups can supplement, or even replace real world social groups.

Boyd on the other hand makes the assessment that online groups are fickle in comparison to real life groups because the term “friendship? is used more loosely online than it is in reality. This is because friendship is necessary to an online group’s existence. This makes online groups farcical because online, one does not have to associate with enemies. Whereas in real life, one must live with, and work with people they despise. Therefore, one can surmise that, according to Boyd, the only way to gain social capitol on the internet is to gain as many friends as humanly possible. By doing so, one will have a humongous network on which to draw.

Personally, I believe both the authors make reasonable points. However, they both are making general assumptions about the internet, and the people that use it. The assumption is that they both have left out the individual equation. The internet is a media tool, and mankind has subscribed, and written into them for centuries, where it was the Federalists and Anti-Federalists arguing government in the newspapers in the 1700’s, or bloggers today arguing for government, people are just looking for intellectual outlets, and the internet is just as good if not better for doing so. And, it allows people to converse, and associate from hundreds of miles away to converse in seconds. That is why the internet has replaced some of out associations with people in modern times. Just as the TV did, and just as newspapers did in the past.