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Posts Tagged ‘social media

“Status is welcome, agreeable, pleasant, and hard to obtain in the world”*…

 

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“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a person in possession of little fortune, must be in want of more social capital.”

So wrote Jane Austen, or she would have, I think, if she were chronicling our current age (instead we have Taylor Lorenz, and thank goodness for that).

Let’s begin with two principles:

  • People are status-seeking monkeys*
  • People seek out the most efficient path to maximizing social capital

I begin with these two observations of human nature because few would dispute them, yet I seldom see social networks, some of the largest and fastest-growing companies in the history of the world, analyzed on the dimension of status or social capital.

It’s in part a measurement issue. Numbers lend an air of legitimacy and credibility. We have longstanding ways to denominate and measure financial capital and its flows. Entire websites, sections of newspapers, and a ton of institutions report with precision on the prices and movements of money.

We have no such methods for measuring the values and movement of social capital, at least not with anywhere near the accuracy or precision. The body of research feels both broad and yet meager. If we had better measures besides user counts, this piece and many others would be full of charts and graphs that added a sense of intellectual heft to the analysis. There would be some annual presentation called the State of Social akin to Meeker’s Internet Trends Report, or perhaps it would be a fifty page sub-section of her annual report.

Despite this, most of the social media networks we study generate much more social capital than actual financial capital, especially in their early stages; almost all such companies have internalized one of the popular truisms of Silicon Valley, that in the early days, companies should postpone revenue generation in favor of rapid network scaling. Social capital has much to say about why social networks lose heat, stall out, and sometimes disappear altogether. And, while we may not be able to quantify social capital, as highly attuned social creatures, we can feel it.

Social capital is, in many ways, a leading indicator of financial capital, and so its nature bears greater scrutiny. Not only is it good investment or business practice, but analyzing social capital dynamics can help to explain all sorts of online behavior that would otherwise seem irrational.

In the past few years, much progress has been made analyzing Software as a Service (SaaS) businesses. Not as much has been made on social networks. Analysis of social networks still strikes me as being like economic growth theory long before Paul Romer’s paper on endogenous technological change. However, we can start to demystify social networks if we also think of them as SaaS businesses, but instead of software, they provide status. This post is a deep dive into what I refer to as Status as a Service (StaaS) businesses…

Eugene Wei (of Amazon, Hulu, and Flipboard, among other tech successes) on the implications of our hunger for recognition and rank: “Status as a Service (StaaS).”

Pair with: “Understanding Tradeoffs (pt. 2): Breaking the Altruism vs. Capitalism Dichotomy.”

[Image above: source]

* Buddha [Ittha Sutta, AN 5.43]

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As we contemplate our craving, we might recall that it was on this date in 1845 that a method for manufacturing elastic (rubber) bands was patented in Britain by Stephen Perry and and Thomas Barnabas Daft of London (G.B. No. 13880/1845).

In the early 19th century, sailors had brought home items made by Central and South American natives from the sap of rubber trees, including footwear, garments and bottles.  Around 1820, a Londoner named Thomas Hancock sliced up one of the bottles to create garters and waistbands. By 1843, he had secured patent rights from Charles Macintosh for vulcanized India rubber.  (Vulcanization made rubber stable and retain its elasticity.)  Stephen Perry, owner of Messrs Perry and Co,. patented the use of India rubber for use as springs in bands, belts, etc., and (with Daft) also the manufacture of elastic bands by slicing suitable sizes of vulcanized India rubber tube.  The bands were lightly scented to mask the smell of the treated rubber.

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Written by LW

March 17, 2019 at 1:01 am

“Unless it wants to break faith with its social function, art must show the world as changeable. And help to change it.”*…

 

Andrei Lacatusu, a self-taught digital artist from Rome, created this series of digital art called “Social Decay.”

Learn more at “Artist Imagines The Decay Of Social Media Companies“; see the full set at Lacatusu’s Behance page.

[TotH to the always-illuminating Pop Loser]

* Ernst Fischer

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As we contemplate a post-social media world, we might recall that it was on this date in 1996 that the first version of the Java programming language was released by Sun Microsystems; the language, created by James Gosling, had been in use in since 1995 as part of Sun’s Java Platform.  Its ability to “write once, run anywhere” made Java ideal for Internet-based applications.  As the popularity of the Internet soared, so did the usage of Java.

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Written by LW

January 23, 2018 at 1:01 am

“Our social tools are not an improvement to modern society, they are a challenge to it”*…

 

The limbic system is the center for pleasure and addiction in the rodent nervous system. In a controlled study on adolescent rats, scientists sought to determine whether or not the levels of dopamine, the “feel good” neurotransmitter, could be maintained in this region over prolonged social media use. With a series of topical content posts, evergreen posts, and meme dissemination, scientists were able to gauge whether or not the “thrill” derived from getting likes, favorites, or retweets was sustainable over a finite period of time…

Rats that only ever received 20-30 likes after sharing a “well-rounded” think piece would enjoy an extremely high level of dopamine if they broke 50 likes on an unexpected political rant declaring that “Trump had finally gone too far.” But, when the same rat racked up similar numbers by acknowledging that his news feed was a “political echo chamber,” activity in this region of the brain slowed down once again…

In short, social media does not prove to be a sustainable source of cognitive reward…

Read the all-too-painfully-relevant “results” in full at Adam Rotstein‘s “Regulation of Dopamine During Social Media Use in Adolescent Rats.”

* Clay Shirky

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As we burst bubbles, we might recall that it was on this date in 2000 that the nuclear generating facility at Chernobyl in the Ukraine, was (finally) shut down.  14 years earlier, it had been the site of the worst nuclear power plant accident in history (in terms of cost and casualties), one of only two classified as a level 7 event (the maximum classification) on the International Nuclear Event Scale, the other being the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011.  On April 26, 1986, Reactor #4 exploded, creating massive damage in site and releasing 9 days of radioactive plumes that spread over Europe and the USSR.  Two were killed in the explosion; 29 died in the immediate aftermath (of acute radiation poisoning).  The remains of Reactor #4 were enclosed in a massive “sarcophagus,” and the other three reactors were returned to service.  One by one, they failed.  The decommissioning held on this date in 2000 was ceremonial.  Reactor #3, the last one standing, had in fact been shut down the previous week because of technical problems. It was restarted– unattached to the national grid and at minimum power output– so that the world would be able to see it symbolically switched off.

The hole where Reactor #4 stood before the accident

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Written by LW

December 15, 2016 at 1:01 am

“Art is the only way to run away without leaving home”*…

 

As we prepare ourselves for pumpkin carving, we might pause to recall an era in which other fruits were ornamentally hewn.  As a 1905 issue of American Homes and Gardens magazine put it, “it is surprising what can be done with the conventional orange.”

More table decorating tips at “The Art of Ornamental Orange Peeling.”

* Twyla Tharp

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As we sharpen our knives, we might pause to recall that it was on this date in 2008 that the “Sichuan Guangyuan citrus maggot event” went public; a huge portion of the region’s citrus (ornages and tangerines) were found to be afflicted by small maggot-like worms.  The episode is noteworthy as an relatively early example of the power of Chinese social media:  though the government did its best to support continued citrus sales by censoring any news media mention of the outbreak, BBS forums and SMS messages carried the news– sufficiently successfully (citrus sales in Beijing plummeted) that the official outlets had to relent and report the news, along with assurances that the government was responding…

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Written by LW

October 21, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Nobody makes movies bad on purpose”*…

 

There are currently over 235,000 films on IMDb; their average rating is 6.31, with half the movies clustered with ratings between 5.5 and 7.2…  but someone (or in this case, something) has to come last; and in this case, it’s the Bollywood film Gunday, which weights in with a 1.4– the only film in the database with a rating lower than 1.8.

But Gunday was the top-grossing February movie in Bollywood history, and well-received by U.S. critics: The New York Times’ Rachel Saltz ended her review of Gunday by calling it “downright enjoyable.” RogerEbert.com gave it three out of four stars, and Variety called it “a boisterous and entertaining period crime drama.”   So how did it win the race to the floor against such formidable competition as Gigli, or Battlefield Earth, or Troll 2? FiveThirtyEight explains

The film made a misstep that has doomed it to the bottom of the IMDb pile. “Gunday” offended a huge, sensitive, organized and social-media-savvy group of people who were encouraged to mobilize to protest the movie by giving it the lowest rating possible on IMDb. Of “Gunday’s” ratings, 36,000 came from outside the U.S., and 91 percent of all reviewers gave it one star. The next lowest-rated movie on IMDb — 1.8 stars overall — has a more even distribution of ratings, with only 71 percent of reviewers giving it one star. The evidence suggests the push to down-vote “Gunday” was successful, and that shows just how vulnerable data can be, especially when it’s crowdsourced.

The protest against “Gunday” is the most recent cause célèbre of a Bangladeshi nationalist movement called Gonojagoron Moncho, or National Awakening Stage. Gonojagoron Moncho was founded in response to the trial of Abdul Quader Molla, a Bangladeshi Islamist leader who last year was found guilty of killing hundreds of civilians as part of a paramilitary wing during Bangladesh’s liberation war from Pakistan in 1971. He was sentenced to life in prison for his crimes by the Bangladeshi International Crimes Tribunal. But many Bangladeshis found that sentence too lenient, and more than 100,000 of them gathered in Shahbag Square in the capital city of Dhaka to challenge it.

After months of protests and escalating violence from counter-protestors, Gonojagoron Moncho got its wish. Molla’s political party, Jammat-e-Islami, was banned from participating in future elections, and Molla himself was retried, sentenced to execution and hanged to death late last year.

Flush with success, the movement has since become an online alliance of bloggers focused on protecting Bangladesh’s history and promoting the country’s image. That includes protesting “Gunday,” because of the film’s reference to the Bangladesh Liberation War as the Indo-Pak war. In its first 11 minutes, the movie claims that India alone defeated Pakistan, and implies that an independent Bangladesh was simply a result of the fight.

On Twitter, activists used the hashtag #GundayHumiliatedHistoryOfBangladesh to get the word out about the protests and to ask supporters to bury the film on IMDb. (By using a quarter of their character allotment on the hashtag alone, though, there wasn’t much room for the activists to elaborate.) Facebook groups were formed specifically to encourage irate Bangladeshis and others to down-vote the movie. (A sample call to action: “If you’re a Bangladeshi and care enough to not let some Indian crappy movie distort our history of independence, let’s unite and boycott this movie!!!”)…

Read the tale in its entirety at “The Story Behind the Worst Movie on IMDb.”

* Roland Emmerich (who should know…)

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As we ponder the pointing of our thumbs, we might recall that it was on this date in 1958 that Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo premiered in San Francisco, in which it was set.  Vertigo‘s critical arc was the opposite of Gunday‘s:  The film received mixed reviews in its initial release, but is now routinely cited as a defining work of the American auteur’s career.  Attracting significant scholarly attention, it replaced Citizen Kane as the best film of all time in the 2012 British Film Institute’s Sight & Sound critics’ poll, has appeared repeatedly in best film polls by the American Film Institute… and has an IMDb rating of 8.5.

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Written by LW

May 9, 2014 at 1:01 am

Anti-social media…

 

https://i0.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8350/8234050502_07b811a5ac_z.jpg

Long-time readers will know of your correspondent’s high regard for the Yes Men.  So it’ll be no surprise that he’s also a fan of their on-line cousin, Jon Morter.

Morter, who holds down a day job as a “legitimate” social media consultant, is the anonymous presence behind Condescending Corporate Brand Page, on which he skewers the wrong-headed things that corporations do in their attempts to turn social media into advertising.  In England he’s best known as the guy who waged a Facebook campaign to make a (classic, but hardly seasonal) Rage Against the Machine tune from 1992 the #1 Christmas single of 2009–and raised more than $100,000 for charity in the process.  (Though the that fact that he won Pret A Manger’s 25th anniversary search for a new breakfast sandwich with a well-timed one-word recipe–“bacon”– runs a close second.)

Read a fascinating interview with “the king of the social media pranksters” at CoCreate

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As we recheck our privacy settings, we might recall that it was on this date in 1988 that Frank Drebin (first) foiled an attempt to assassinate Queen Elizabeth II– Naked Gun premiered.

https://i2.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8064/8232986495_6cef8561f8_o.jpg source

 

Written by LW

December 2, 2012 at 1:01 am

Social Media: Systematically Gaming the System…

 

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As we reconsider acting on those Yelp reviews, we might recall that it was on this date in 1967 that “La Bateau,” a 1953 paper cut by Henri Matisse was hung in New York’s Museum of Modern Art…  upside down.  It remained on inverted display for 47 days.  Genevieve Habert, a stockbroker, noticed the mistake (by comparing the hanging to the photo in the catalogue).  As it was a Sunday night and there were no curatorial officials on duty, Habert informed the New York Times, which in turn notified Monroe Wheeler, the Museum’s art director… who had the piece rehung correctly on Monday.

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Written by LW

October 17, 2011 at 1:01 am

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