Posts about facebook

Ambient intimacy

Leisa Reichelt says that the syncopated updates we share publicly with friends and followers in Twitter (and blogs and Flickr….) add up to what she called “ambient intimacy.”

Ambient intimacy is about being able to keep in touch with people with a level of regularity and intimacy that you wouldn’t usually have access to, because time and space conspire to make it impossible. Flickr lets me see what friends are eating for lunch, how they’ve redecorated their bedroom, their latest haircut. Twitter tells me when they’re hungry, what technology is currently frustrating them, who they’re having drinks with tonight.

Who cares? Who wants this level of detail? Isn’t this all just annoying noise? There are certainly many people who think this, but they tend to be not so noisy themselves. It seems to me that there are lots of people for who being social is very much a ‘real life’ activity and technology is about getting stuff done.

There are a lot of us, though, who find great value in this ongoing noise. It helps us get to know people who would otherwise be just acquaintances. It makes us feel closer to people we care for but in whose lives we’re not able to participate as closely as we’d like.

Knowing these details creates intimacy. (It also saves a lot of time when you finally do get to catchup with these people in real life!) It’s not so much about meaning, it’s just about being in touch.

Right. I argued in this post and column sometime ago that these functionalities — plus our ongoing connectedness on Facebook and our searchability via Google — will have a profound impact on friendship and our relationships. I said there that they will keep us in touch longer and so we can’t just lose people anymore. Reichelt says they also change our current relationships and I agree. It’s quite an insight that this causes a new kind of intimacy: We see the things we wouldn’t see in others’ lives unless we were damned near living together. For some people, I couldn’t care to know that much. For others, she’s right, it is a handy way to catch up, to be in touch.

I’ve mentioned here that I’ve found and been found by friends I haven’t seen in decades (more than I’ll admit) thanks to one or the other of our Google shadows. I’m about to meet up with one of them and we’ve been doing this catchup dance via email, which is also new and fits under Reichelt’s umbrella, I think, for it’s just a cold technological tool that makes it easy to update and catch up. If I’d been catching up via Facebook or Twitter or blogs all that time, the possibilities and definitions of friendship would be different.

Reichelt also talks about the flipside of this, ambient exposure: the publicness that makes this possible but also creates some vulnerability. And each force us to define our societies, the people we want to share with: one person on an email, a few people in a chat, a defined group in Facebook or Pownce, a group we don’t define (if we’re public) in Twitter, anyone at all in a blog.

What a great time to be a Reichelt writing about this or a Danah Boyd studying it or a Tara Hunt living it.

From organizing parties to protests

The Wall Street Journal reports on Facebook being used as a tool of dissent in Egypt.

The activism on Facebook is part of larger efforts by youths across the Arab world to use technology — from blogs to cellphone text messages to YouTube — to challenge their governments and push the envelope on dissent in ways older generations didn’t know. In parts of the Middle East such as Beirut and Tehran, local governments immediately jam cellphones if there is civil unrest, to prevent it from spreading.

In a sign the government is taking the challenge seriously, Egyptian security forces last month arrested a young woman, Esraa Abdel Fattah, after she had formed a Facebook group to promote a strike on April 6 over inflation.

A Jersey app – yagottaproblemwiddat?

My friends at the Star-Ledger have opened a $5,000 contest to create a great Facebook app for New Jersey. They’ve offered up their feeds but using them is not required; they just want a great Jersey app. If Tony Soprano ran Microsoft… (well, they do bear similarities). The judges are Barista Debbie Galant, Winegod Gary Vaynerchuk, Ledger visionary John Hassell, and none other than my son, Jake Jarvis. So what makes a great local app?

Feed me

I’ve been thinking what Gary Vaynerchuk says: Facebook is too slow. Twitter has spoiled me. I want a constant feed of stuff and Facebook is a trickle. It wouldn’t be at all hard to fix. Facebook should let me both increase the flow of information about my friends and to include external feeds in it (Facebook should have done Friendfeed).

I’ve been talking with lots of news organizations about following the feed model. Sometimes, I may want a packaged, prioritized presentation of news. But mostly, to quote Dave Winer, I want a river of news. Facebook did a brilliant job bringing an algorithmic presentation of a feed but now it’s falling behind in feed wars. They’d better catch up fast.

: Meanwhile, here’s ReadWriteWeb summing up various fears about feed OD and how to cure it.

Making up for lost time

Quite wonderful that Facebook announced that Mark Zuckerberg would hold an open Q&A at today’s Facebook event to make up for yesterday. Full coverage on Twitter. V. smart.