LIRNEasia uses Facebook as another window to its web content that is located primarily on the blog. Since the blog is searchable, it has never been a problem for us that Facebook search sucks. But that is not the case for people who use Facebook as their primary web interface. Now, Facebook is trying to make it easier to find that lost photo or restaurant recommendation and unearth other information buried within your social network with a tool it calls Graph Search. On Monday, the company will roll out the feature to its several hundred million users in the United States and to others who use the American English version of the site.
Complaints against the negative effects of social media (described as weapons of mass distraction) are not new. They had been leveled against the original social media: the coffee houses that were introduced in the 17th Century. Not everyone approved. As well as complaining that Christians had abandoned their traditional beer in favor of a foreign drink, critics worried that coffeehouses were keeping people from productive work. Among the first to sound the alarm, in 1677, was Anthony Wood, an Oxford academic.
Bangladesh has ceremoniously celebrated the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day on May 17. The day also marked eight months of shutting down of YouTube in the country. Now the authorities have decided to take over the command control of social media. Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu at a media call on the same day said the government would take the help of ‘special technology’ to bar objectionable materials from being viewed on the social media websites. It would be easier to remove disagreeable contents from Facebook once this technology was put in place, said Inu.
An old folk tale describes a tired traveler in the desert, where the nights are cold. His camel is outside the tent. The camel wants the warmth of the tent. The traveler permits him to bring in the snout. By morning, the camel is in the tent and the traveler outside.
At LIRNEasia, we have used social media to drive traffic. As people spend more time on social media, they have to spend less time on something else. We were beginning to see the drop in blog readership (could have been caused by other things too). When we started tweeting and using Facebook, traffic picked up again. So we see the efficacy of social media.
In light of what’s going on in North Africa and Western Asia, the liberating potential of social media is very much on the agenda these days. Here is Clayton Shirky on the subject in a debate in Foreign Affairs: It would be impossible to tell the story of Philippine President Joseph Estrada’s 2000 downfall without talking about how texting allowed Filipinos to coordinate at a speed and on a scale not available with other media. Similarly, the supporters of Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero used text messaging to coordinate the 2004 ouster of the People’s Party in four days; anticommunist Moldovans used social media in 2009 to turn out 20,000 protesters in just 36 hours; the South Koreans who rallied against beef imports in 2008 took their grievances directly to the public, sharing text, photos, and video online, without needing permission from the state or help from professional media. Chinese anticorruption protesters use the instant-messaging service QQ the same way today. All these actions relied on the power of social media to synchronize the behavior of groups quickly, cheaply, and publicly, in ways that were unavailable as recently as a decade ago.
One of the things I always have to pause and explain when talking about our Teleuse@BOP work is why 100% of Filipinos at the BOP use SMS and some never use the mobiles to make a call. Now we find the Americans are beginning to emulate the Pinoys. Liza Colburn uses her cellphone constantly. She taps out her grocery lists, records voice memos, listens to music at the gym, tracks her caloric intake and posts frequent updates to her Twitter and Facebook accounts. The one thing she doesn’t use her cellphone for?
The NYT article on efforts to track the effects of the Louisiana oil spill uses database and mapping applications, fed by txts and emails. Mobile 2.0? A technology created to track political violence in Kenya with social media is now being used to log the effects of the oil spill on the Gulf Coast. Witnesses’ texts, tweets and e-mail messages generate the rainbow of dots on a map and database of spill-related damage at the Louisiana Bucket Brigade’s Web site.
Does Facebook make you less social? Not necessarily. Not if you’re American, according to a NYT report. Hundreds of daily updates come from friends on Facebook and Twitter, but do people actually feel closer to each other? It turns out the size of the average American’s social circle is smaller today than 20 years ago, as measured by the number of self-reported confidants in a person’s life.
Dr. Gordon Gow presented the working paper titled; The future of community-based hazard information systems: Insights from the Internet sharing economy. Dr. Gow who was previously at the LSE is now an Associate Professor at University of Alberta. The presentation began by looking at situations where systems/programmes are developed but only to fall to disuse.