Well Connected? The Biological Implications of ‘Social Networking’

Hours per day of face-to-face social interaction declines as use of electronic media increases. These trends are predicted to increase (data abstracted from a series of time-use and demographic studies).

Hours per day of face-to-face social interaction declines as use of electronic media increases. These trends are predicted to increase (data abstracted from a series of time-use and demographic studies).

First published on thewingsofthecarp

Two scientists express their concern about the use of the social Web.  According to Sigman’s article, entitled “Well Connected? The Biological Implications of ‘Social Networking.”, it could  increase the risk of problems as serious as cancer, strokes, heart disease and dementia. Lady Greenfield expressed earlier this month her concerns  in a debate in the House of Lords, in which she said that social networking, as well as computer games, might be particularly harmful to children, and could be behind the observed rise in cases of attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder.

Research suggested that the number of hours people spent speaking to others face-to-face had fallen dramatically since 1987 as the use of electronic media increased.  Social networking sites such as Facebook could raise your risk of serious health problems by reducing levels of face-to-face contact, a doctor claims. Emailing people rather than meeting up with them may have wide-ranging biological effects, said psychologist Dr Aric Sigman.

Social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook allow people to keep in touch with friends over the web. They can swap pictures, play games and leave messages which explain how their day is going. But the lack of face to face contacts can cause health problems as to Sigman. Continue reading

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Google’s one-way mirror

Author: Daniël Verhoeven

The main Google paradox

One way to define contextual information search would be intelligent search. In this article we explore one of the origins of human intelligence: mirror neurons. As to prominent linguists like Arbib  and Lakoff mirror neurons explain the adaptive evolution of the human language faculty and the development of conceptual knowledge (Arbib, 2005; Gallese, Lakoff, 2007). The problem is our easy and accepting relationship with Google. We are geesing at Google and engage with it more and more every day, uncritically unthinkingly.

Siva Vaidhyanathan is concerned about the fact that:

“….we do not properly understand the nature of the nature of the transaction between us and Google. …into our relationship with Google we do not grasp that we are not really Google’s costumers. Google calls us users, but in fact we are Google’s products. Our attention is what Google sells to its customers, which are the advertisers.” (BBC interview)

Continue reading

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a common ground for search in real life and search using computers


cg2Googling has become a verb in our language. This shows the deep impact of Google on our culture and our lives. But Google is not primarily about searching. Google is an information shovel selling adds. In a previous article I intuitively described contextual search as finding information on the web not using Google. I was a little bit surprised about the interest for the story, because the idea of contextual search was still an embryonic idea. In this article I will develop this idea of contextual search further correlating to and in opposition to googling trying to find out what it is and what it is not. When looking for better information search strategies I want to compare our search behaviour using  CMC based systems like Google with natural communication. This is the starting point. This may sound odd and completely off the record, but in fact I’m only re-joining a tradition that has started in the sixties and seventies at the Biological Computer Lab in Urbana Campaing by Gordon Pask Continue reading

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E-reputation toolkit: Social Web Metasearch

First Pubished at 2bloggen

The Socal Web is fantastic if it is built on top of social relations in the real world. Somebody discribed it ironically: “Twitter is for the friends you want to have while Facebook is for the friends you have had.” I have no experience with Twitter, but research demonstrated that  Twitter is not a social network. About Facebook, Myspace… and alike, I can be positive, they are an extra channel for multimedia exchange. For some social Webs are the photo-book we had before… for the activists it’s the place where they launche petitions.

A few years ago there was much ado about the long tail, a statistic concept from consumer demographics to describe the niche strategy of businesses, such as Amazon.com or Netflix, that sell a large number of unique items, each in relatively small quantities. A frequency distribution with a long tail has been studied by statisticians since at least 1946. The distribution and inventory costs of these businesses allow them to realize significant profit out of selling small volumes of hard-to-find items to many customers, instead of only selling large volumes of a reduced number of popular items. The group that purchases a large number of “non-hit” items is the demographic called the Long Tail.

The Long Tail might be valid for sites like Amazon and Ebay, it doesn’t work in social networking. After all social relations are not built on consumer demographics. Maybe the popularity of politicians might work this way, but in politics today, nobody has real friends. So?  A study of Youtube showed that the long tail doesn’t work on the social web. The popularity of videos on Yuotube follows rather the  blockbuster model. Based on the viewing habits of people I know that go to YouTube, this makes sense.  Many simply check out whatever is most popular, which becomes a self-perpetuating cycle.  Desaster tourism works the same way, people slowing down on the highway if there has been an accident. So, beware! It is passing. Once the mess is cleaned, nobody will be looking any longer.

In the real world ‘trust building’ gives stable results when one invests time, while a reputation is shallow and passing. Trust building’ is a process that takes time. One has to give evidence of this truthfulness and trustworthiness, it’s about quality. But on Internet things seem to be different. PR based reputation building seems to work all the time. It suffices to get in the picture without getting in jail and that’s about it.  But keep in mind, it’s about quantity and a self-perpetuating cycle, not about quality.

The tools I list here cost nothing. Look at them, but if you use them, keep in mind that long standing relations are built on trust not on reputation and that relations in the real world are not interchangeable. Continue reading

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Google and net neutrality


Author: Daniël Verhoeven, 22 feb 2009

Avant-propos: finding information on the web NOT using Google or any other search engine

A fortnight ago I planned to write an article about Google and contextual information search, the opposite of full text search (Google, Altavista, Yahoo search…). I started to collect information NOT using Google. I found out that one of my best friends in Belgium, Wim VDB – saw him on the birthday party of Francis – had made a small critical posting about Google privacy: ‘Zoekmachines en uw Privacy‘. When browsing his blog I stumbled on an article of Geert Lovink, I knew Geert a long time ago as a writer in Hactic… I wanted to reconnect. Using the tag http://wordpress.com/tag/geert-lovink, I found an article of him on Weizenbaum and Google search. Weizenbaum is a shared reference, one of the first well grounded critics of the information age. Since Weizenbauw was himself one of the architects of computer technology, he knows what he is talking about. Geert’s  article was a tribute to Weizenbaum and also a kind of Google bashing. This article linked to another article in Eurozine this one from Daniel Leisegan, Das Google-Imperium and to Siva Vaidhyanathan’s huge project:

The Googlization of Everything: http://www.googlizationofeverything.com/. 379 postings until now. Continue reading

Posted in 1s EN, 2B Analysis, Content Filtering, Google, Google Watch, Information Society, Net Neutrality, Uberveillance | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments