Posts Tagged ‘Facebook’

Terms of Service and civic rights

February 21, 2009

The most recent Facebook faux pas has been analysed as a lesson in customer managment for online businesses. (This post is adapted from my comment there.)

I argue that there is a larger context in which this issue resides. Clues to its existence can be found in John Sviokla’s observation that Facebook is ‘the 6th largest “country” on the planet”, and that ‘every firm will eventually have a social media strategy’.

Social media is creating a public sphere of unprecedented dimensions, with characteristics that make regulation difficult and which challenge notions of ownership, and which has powerful agency for change.

This online public sphere exists almost exclusively in proprietary spaces. Online terms of service, regulation, and notions of ownership will need to be framed not just in terms of consumer rights, but civic rights.

The collision of fronts

December 11, 2007

I have been thinking for a while now about a post on Design Research about the problems with Facebook’s attempt to monetize its social network assets (that’s us) by making us into unwitting viral marketers. The author, Sam Ladner, reminds us of Erving Goffman’s notion of “the front”:

Using the theatre as a metaphor Goffman argued that we actually “perform” multiple selves. Each place we go has a “front” that we learn to incorporate. A front has a wardrobe, a setting, a decor, make-up, a script and stage direction.

Ladner argues that

Facebook’s Beacon didn’t work because it forces people to use multiple fronts AT THE SAME TIME.

In my view, even without Beacon, Facebook has that propensity. And so does blogging, particularly this kind of blogging where some of us are attempting to integrate blogging about our research and blogging about whatever else we want to blog about, including ourselves. We can choose what we blog about, which is a lot better than having our online purchases broadcast to everyone on our social network (surely they thought how embarrassing that could be?). But if we are going to blog in our real names about real things then there will be a collision of fronts.

Sam Ladner has pinpointed for me the issue that I felt but wasn’t articulating so well, which has been holding me back from “research blogging”. Now all I have to do is work out how to use multiple fronts at the same time without worrying. No – I have to start enjoying it!