Posts tagged with "social networking" - Faerye Net 2010-12-02T17:45:50+00:00 Felicity Shoulders Mass Effect needs social networking 2010-12-02T17:45:50+00:00 2010-12-02T17:50:48+00:00 <p>I was working on a larger post about how <em>Mass Effect 2</em> stacks up to my <a href="" target="links">cherished dreams and suggestions</a>, but one little digression started to snowball until I gave it its own blog post.</p> <p>So, more generally about <em>Mass Effect 2</em> later. One irritation I had with <em>Mass Effect 2</em> early on was the seeming disappearance of my Commander Shepard&#8217;s love interest from <em>ME1</em>. This was addressed later on, and I am (mostly) appeased. However, let&#8217;s be clear: my extremely Paragon Commander Shepard puts the &#8220;fidelis&#8221; in Semper Fidelis. She is a one-fraternization officer. It does not matter what dizzying array of potential flirtations you put in her way, she <em>is not interested</em>.</p> <p>And wow, does this game have a lot of potential flirtations. Just because I believe in human-alien cooperation, people, does not mean I am interested in <em>that</em>! It got so I was so relieved to chat with Grunt, say, or Miranda &#8212; just because I knew no inadvertent signals were being sent or received.</p> <p>Of course, your in-character interactions in game are scripted, triggered by your choices in the <a href="">conversation wheel</a>, and there&#8217;s no way to tell the game &#8220;Please, stop having Shepard lean languorously at the beginning of conversations and lowering her inconsistently rendered eyelashes.&#8221; No way to preemptively tell all the potentially interested NPCs in the world that they can take a number if they want Shepard to save them from peril, but if they want Shepard&#8217;s number, they are out of luck. I understand, the system&#8217;s limited. How would they do that?</p> <p>How could they implement a passive communication system by which everyone who makes Shepard&#8217;s acquaintance could learn basic information like whether or not she&#8217;s taken? One that operates on a simple system of checkboxes and information fields?</p> <p>Yes, I propose <strong><span class="caps">SPACEBOOK</span></strong>.</p> <p><a href="" target="pics"><img src="" width="500px" title="mockup of Shepard's Spacebook profile"/></a></p> <p>In this as in so much else, your Shepard may vary. But this is my Shepard, and as such, you&#8217;ll note an important detail:</p> <p><a href="" target="pics"><img src="" title="Not interested in Space Dating" width="500px" /></a></p> <p>Many awkward situations could be thus avoided. Of course, Spacebook would be owned through shell corporations by the Shadow Broker, but who are you kidding? The Shadow Broker knows all that stuff about you anyway.</p> Zeitgeist in the machine 2010-06-13T00:04:57+00:00 2010-06-13T00:48:55+00:00 <p>You know how you&#8217;ve never heard of something, and then you hear about it seven times in one week? I used to think it was largely psychological &#8212; you wouldn&#8217;t have noticed the extra instances until you had a context and a reason to remark them. (In fact, there&#8217;s a psychological term for this impression: the <a href="" target="links">Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon</a>, a learned psychologist informs me.) But I think it&#8217;s also partly real, an effect of zeitgeist, critical mass of relevance. Or as we now say, of something being <a href="" target="links">&#8220;trending&#8221;</a>.</p> <p>I had an interesting experience along these lines recently. I had seen the cover of <a href="" target="links">Janelle Monáe</a>&#8216;s first album <a href="" target="links"><em>The ArchAndroid</em></a>, but I hadn&#8217;t really registered it until I saw a link round-up on <a href="" target="links">Racialicious</a> with two links to blog posts about her, one of which had an embedded video. Long story short, I ended up buying both <em>ArchAndroid</em> and her earlier mini-album and loving both. (While I mostly use this as an example, I do recommend checking her out: her voice is as versatile as her songwriting talent, and her album is catchy but smart, eclectic but cohesive.) I <a href="">tweeted about it</a>. This was June 7.</p> <p>On June 9, I noticed her <a href="" target="links">uh, imprint</a> had retweeted my tweet, as they do most mentions of her, and that their most recent retweets mentioned that her name was trending. And now <a href="" target="links">she&#8217;s showing up other places</a> I wouldn&#8217;t have expected. The weird part here is that her album came out <strong>May 18</strong>, and it&#8217;s getting this body of attention now. One of the original two articles I read was complaining that no one was noticing her album &#8212; that it didn&#8217;t have &#8216;buzz&#8217;. A week later, I think that&#8217;s no longer the case. And that&#8217;s what is so odd about trending topics. There is now a metric for buzz.</p> <p>It used to be that zeitgeist lived up to its ethereal name (&#8216;geist&#8217; is literally &#8216;spirit&#8217;), but now we have to some extent bottled that genie. As we analyze, capture, track and archive more and more about our lives &#8212; where we go, who we like, what we watch and listen to &#8212; there will probably be other moments like this, when the intangible becomes suddenly concrete. Perhaps some of them will make us nostalgic, but perhaps it&#8217;s a good thing. That blogger complaining that Janelle Monáe didn&#8217;t have buzz was creating buzz. She was one (big) rock hitting more pebbles, and the hillside moved. We can measure this buzz because all of our voices contribute. There&#8217;s something charmingly democratic about it, even if it means the world is that much more mechanical.</p> Social Networking Etiquette for Self-Promoting Writers 2010-02-26T14:45:00+00:00 2010-02-26T15:30:21+00:00 <p>Writers tend to be self-employed, and are often &#8220;their own brand&#8221;. This can mean the lines between promotion of work and promotion of self are blurry, especially as more and more people are active on social networks like <a href="" target="links">Twitter</a>, <a href="" target="links">Facebook</a>, or more niche sites like <a href="" target="links">Goodreads</a>.</p> <p>My writing career is pretty young, so I may be an odd person to listen to about marketing. However, thinking about my future as a self-promoting writer has colored my experiences as a reader, consumer and user of social networks. These are the rules I&#8217;ve internalized. I say they&#8217;re &#8220;for writers&#8221; but I suppose they&#8217;re for anyone who is their own brand &#8212; anyone who finds the personal and the promotional mixing in social networks, and doesn&#8217;t want either to suffer as a result.</p> <p>1. <b>Don&#8217;t do anything that makes you uncomfortable.</b> I hear people talking about the sites they use as if they are giant chores, or acting as if sooner or later someone will force them at gunpoint to sign up for <a href="" target="links">Twitter</a>. They won&#8217;t, and you can live your life and have your career, I&#8217;m fairly certain, without having a Twitter account. You have to decide what you&#8217;re comfortable doing, not just now but longterm. Everyone&#8217;s different. If using <a href="" target="links">Facebook</a>, or even blogging, is a chore and you think it&#8217;s eating away your creative time, don&#8217;t do it.</p> <p>2. <b>Remember these are <em>social</em> networks.</b> Even if your primary reason for being on a network is business, you&#8217;re surrounded by people who are doing it for fun (okay, not with <a href="" target="links">LinkedIn</a>.) Their expectations for the network are social, and if you only use it for promotion, they&#8217;ll feel used and turned off. If you occasionally mention your books and stories, but also post silly anecdotes and links, you&#8217;ll come off a lot better than someone who is only posting promotional info. Another way of being social: engage in genuine conversation with others and comment on their links and doings. If doing the social stuff seems like too much of a chore, consider #1. Those networks may not be a good fit for you.</p> <p>3. <strong>Offer information, don&#8217;t demand attention.</strong> There&#8217;s a natural order of obtrusiveness in communication, something like:</p> <ul> <li>Dropping by</li> <li>Phone call</li> <li>Text message</li> <li>Instant message</li> <li>Email</li> <li><span class="caps">RSS</span> feed</li> <li>Posting on the web and hoping they read it.</li> </ul><p>Twitter and Facebook status updates are somewhere between <span class="caps">RSS</span> feed and posting on the web. They&#8217;re mostly passive. It&#8217;s up to the other person whether they want to check the site, and whether they pay attention to that particular item, gloss it over, filter that sort of content, whatever. That&#8217;s pretty unobtrusive. Many people have, say, Twitter direct messages or Facebook messages set to notify them by email, which demands more of their attention. So use messages, or event invitations, more sparingly than you do wall/status posts or tweets. (This is especially true of Facebook messages to multiple recipients, as even if a user deletes the original message, he or she gets all the replies. Facebook&#8217;s suggestion for dealing with this is to educate your friends about using &#8216;reply&#8217; rather than &#8216;reply-all&#8217;. Oh, that sounds fun.) I don&#8217;t mean you should never send out email or email-level communiques: just that you should remember you&#8217;re being more demanding of your audience, and reserve their use for more important occasions.</p> <p>4. <strong>Avoid multi-posting.</strong> There are limits to this. If I subscribe to your blog&#8217;s <span class="caps">RSS</span> feed, follow you on Twitter, and am friends with you on Facebook, I expect a little overlap. But you should also be aware that that overlap exists. Consider it before implementing reposting software, for example, and also consider whether the place you&#8217;re reposting content has robust filtering (Facebook has decent filtering; Twitter doesn&#8217;t unless you use some of the most cumbersome third-party software.) Consider this most strongly before multiple-posting something on the same network. Sure, a double-post for time-zone reasons might be reasonable. But repeating much beyond that, you run the risk of the reader seeing that bit of self-promotion three times on Twitter, another two times on Facebook, one time aggregated on your blog, another time when the blog post is piped into another site&#8230;the last thing you want is your potential readers &#8212; especially people who know you and should be rooting for you &#8212; tired of you.</p> <p>5. <strong>Opt-in, not opt-out.</strong> If you want to use more aggressive tactics than I&#8217;ve discussed above, consider using an opt-in system: for instance, making a &#8220;page&#8221; for yourself on Facebook. &#8220;Profiles&#8221; have friends. &#8220;Pages&#8221; have fans. While you still don&#8217;t want to spam people continuously, if people sign up to be your fan, they explicitly want to hear about your career, and you don&#8217;t have to worry about #2. It can be awkward for someone who values you as a friend to have to opt out of your marketing efforts. You don&#8217;t want to put them in that situation. Using a different medium, like a fan page on Facebook, an author page on Goodreads, or a group e-mail list, allows your friends to opt in if they&#8217;re interested, instead of assuming your social network also wants to be your marketing network.</p> Graceful exit 2008-07-28T08:03:10+00:00 2008-07-28T08:05:36+00:00 <blockquote>A long time ago we used to be friends,<br /> but I haven&#8217;t thought of you lately at all&#8230;<br /> <strong>-<a href="" target="links">The Dandy Warhols</a></strong></blockquote> <p>I&#8217;m back on <a href="" target="links">the friend thing</a>.</p> <p>If social networking had a cheesy 50&#8217;s film strip, the narrator would say, &#8220;Never again will you have to wonder what happened to that guy from math class. Never again will you lose track of that one <em>really cool girl.</em>&#8221; It&#8217;s an excellent theory &#8211; as we diffuse across countries and hop oceans, friendships can be preserved, connections strengthened despite distance. You can reconnect with people you thought you&#8217;d lost.</p> <p>But on the other hand&#8230;do you still like each other? You remember drifting out of friendships during high school as your interests and personality changed. How much more have you changed since then? If you still click, that&#8217;s amazing. But maybe that one <em>really cool girl</em> from high school doesn&#8217;t like me anymore. Maybe your drinking buddy from college has changed religions and given up on pop culture. It&#8217;s hard to rule out until you&#8217;ve had a good look at each other&#8217;s Facebook profiles, or until you realize you&#8217;ve been &#8216;networked&#8217; for six months and realizing you haven&#8217;t a word to say. And then there are the people you meet, the new friends, who you don&#8217;t end up seeing again. You move, they transfer schools or break up with your friend, and there they sit on your &#8220;Friend&#8221; list, someone you met twice and liked. Forever.</p> <p>When I am thirty, how many <a href="" target="links">Facebook</a>, <a href="" target="links">goodreads</a>, or <a href="" target="links">Jyte</a> &#8220;friends&#8221; will I have, and how many of them will really want me on their list? But on the other hand, who wants to &#8220;defriend&#8221; someone on Facebook, thus transforming the world&#8217;s most passive communication device into something a bit passive-aggressive?</p> <p>I propose a tapering mechanism. If someone doesn&#8217;t look at my profile, click &#8216;more&#8217; on my book reviews, or otherwise exchange digital high-fives with me for six months, let me fade off their list. Maybe the system can warn them first, ask them quietly if they really want me to go. Not with a plonk but a whisper, I will fall off their friends list, off their updates and off their radar. And if they ever wonder, &#8220;What is up with that weird Felicity girl, anyway?&#8221; they can search for me anytime. They can read my blog, shrug, and move on. We aren&#8217;t friends anymore, and that&#8217;s okay.</p> Against "Friendship" 2007-12-14T16:40:51+00:00 2008-05-25T20:18:54+00:00 <p>I blame Myspace.</p> <p>Probably there are 200 different rants on different topics that begin that way, but this one is mine. And it&#8217;s about contacts, the way links are forged between nodes (people) in social networks. </p> <p>The first social networking site, in any way, that I used was <a href="" target="links">Flickr</a>. Flickr allows you to designate people as &#8216;contacts&#8217; and watch their photos. This is explicitly one-way, and you don&#8217;t have to reciprocate or approve&#8212;nor do people who have &#8216;contacted&#8217; you appear on your profile as part of your Flickr personality. While &#8216;contacts&#8217; may be slightly overstating the degree of acquaintance, it is fairly serviceable. You can further designate contacts as &#8220;Friends&#8221; and/or &#8220;Family&#8221;, thus allowing them to see photos at different privacy levels. While some might benefit from a customizable privacy-level scheme, this keeps the system agile and is quite practical.</p> <p><a href="" target="links">Jyte</a>, the next social network I entered, also uses the &#8216;contact&#8217; terminology, and allows you to tag your contacts to describe the relationship, which is appeallingly open-ended and a good way of differentiating people whose Jyte claims and comments you like and people with whom you exchange Festivus gifts.</p> <p>So far, so good. But someone on Jyte got me into these book cataloging websites, namely <a href="" target="links">goodreads</a>. From there, I also got into <a href="" target="links">LibraryThing</a>, which sadly seems to be superior but is not getting the new membership gestalt goodreads is. LibraryThing started out with &#8216;watchlists&#8217;, public and private&#8212;people whose libraries you wanted to ogle. They slowly accepted the inevitable and added &#8216;Friends&#8217;, but kept the watchlists as well, and thus are immune to my rant.</p> <p>It&#8217;s goodreads that gets to me. Every few weeks I get &#8216;friend requests&#8217; from complete strangers. Sometimes they are strangers who do not seem, from their profiles, to read English, and thus can have only a desultory interest in most of my reading material. These strangers usually have upwards of 200 &#8216;friends&#8217;. Are they trying to &#8216;friend&#8217; everyone on the site? Are they, as I peruse the existing friends of some of these gregarious hounds, trying to friend every visibly young female member of the site? Or are there some other commonalities, some legitimate reason they want the input of all these strangers on reading materials&#8212;we all put 5 stars for <em>Pride and Prejudice</em>, or admitted an interest in science fiction, or something? I don&#8217;t know, but these people from the planet Gregarion are not my &#8216;friends&#8217;. The poor word is abused enough by being beaten into the shape of a verb, and now we are trying to stretch it over the concept &#8220;a person on another continent I have collected&#8221;?</p> <p>It&#8217;s a weird and slightly creepy feeling, trying to guess from someone&#8217;s profile whether they are a friend of a friend, someone I&#8217;ve met under an online moniker, or who shares my interest, or whether they&#8217;re trying to jam me in the ether jar in order to pin me on their profile. It&#8217;s not only uncomfortable, it&#8217;s a waste of my time. That&#8217;s time I could be spending hovering over the &#8216;send friend request&#8217; button on <a href="">Facebook</a>, wondering if I can really, after years of separation, despite how I cherished the person, still ask them to call me by this word I still value, &#8220;Friend&#8221;.