Personal Pollution | Missy Austin


In tonight's Portfolio class, Greg brought up an interesting point relating to the scope of the internet: with all the content floating around and constantly growing, how are we suppose to be able to navigate to what we actually are looking for? Furthermore, how does this point relate to pollution? I think of is as how much on the internet is beneficial to the public and how much might not be; say, an angry, rude or pointless 'tweet' vs. a Wikipedia page. Both can show up in a google search, however, one of them is for personal satisfaction and the other is informative. Should we censor what we put out there simply to cut the amount of junk?

A recent study found that 40% of all tweets are what they call "pointless babble". Interested in what people were actually using Twitter for, the Pear Analytics group conducted a study where they categorized tweets into six different categories: news, spam, self-promotion, pointless babble, conversation, and pass-along value. After looking at 2,000 tweets spanning two weeks, the Pear Analytics group found that the clear winner was "pointless babble" followed by "conversational" and "pass-along value". With all of these morcels of rather insignificant information, it becomes more difficult to find the valuable bits that others benefit from or are even the least bit interested in.

That said, is it wrong to pollute the internet? It serves as an uncensored (for the most part) outlet for all people and the casual sense by which people approach it has made it a conversational tool. Also, how do we label something as trash? However pointless it may seem to post that "your dog pooped in your living room", if it gives someone a chuckle in the middle of a boring day, what's the harm? With a growing number of participants on social networking sights such as Twitter and Facebook, it'll be interesting to see if we eventually "overpollute" the internet.

To read more about the Pear Analytical study, click the following link:

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The point about what people consider to be "pollution" when it comes to the internet is very interesting. I mean, the whole reason I love Twitter is because it's a great outlet for me to say what I'm thinking, when I'm thinking it. I follow other people because I want to know the mundane, little details of their lives. I'd say that before the internet, there was probably more of a filter between our brains and our mouths (especially concerning social media).

You ask the question, "How do we label something as trash?" I think that this is subjective and varies for each of us as individuals. As the saying goes, "one man's trash is another man's treasure." What one person may find completely irrelevant, another may find it absolutely valid.

I also think that pollution with regards to social media, like Facebook and Twitter, is somewhat optional. You can choose whether or not to be friends with someone on Facebook and thus choose whether or not to have their relentless status updates pollute your news feed. This is even more true of Twitter because unlike Facebook, your connection to someone doesn't necessarily have to be reciprocated. You can follow someone without them having to follow you back or approve you first (unless their profile is set to private) and you can easily stop following them at any time. Or, with either, you can simply choose not to socialize in this way at all.

I know we talked over this some in class, but I think you bring up some really interesting ideas, Missy! I never thought of the Internet as this "pollutable" environment that we're trying to keep clean. What would an overpolluted internet look like, anyway? Running out of web space? Unable to find content when you need to?

I agree with Cindy's comment: "one man's trash is another man's treasure." Generally, if you're not interested in people's mundane statuses, they're pretty easy to avoid. To take away those mundane aspects of social media would erase the personal aspect that gives social media such a strong appeal. Without the boring pictures of "my new haircut" that friends from high school can comment on across the country, Facebook ceases to be that non-professional way to stay in touch.

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This page contains a single entry by austi147 published on December 2, 2010 8:26 PM.

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