Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Next week's class: social networking

There is no set reading for next week's class.  Instead, we want you to choose one social media platform (Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Flickr etc) and critique it.  Pay attention to things like what it allows you to do (that you couldn't do before?), what it prevents you from doing, its history, privacy provisions, the credentials it requires, who owns what, how it protects users etc.  Post a brief summary of your critique in the comments below but be prepared to elaborate when we discuss them in class.  You can use your portfolio to record your critique in more detail.


  1. My critique is on Facebook purely because i have the most knowledge of this social networking site and not a lot of knowledge of the others. My analysis summarised is as follows:
    -Private company, owned by shareholders, biggest is Mark Zuckerberg
    -Allows users to prescribe how visible their page is
    -Based on 'friends'
    -Ability to bring people together in real life quickly e.g. political protests
    -Several different types of interaction available to the user
    I came to the conclusion that the world is a better place because Facebook, is around despite some criticism surround privacy, persuading people not to meet in public and loss of identity issues, when placing an avatar of yourself on the internet.

  2. I decided to do a critique of a website I have heard a lot about but have never actually got around to trying. This way I could critique it with fresh eyes, with my experiences of Facebook and Twitter etc to compare to.

    Tumblr is essentially a cross between a blogging service, Twitter and Flickr in that it allows quick updates like Twitter, where people can follow each others accounts. There is, however a heavy emphasis on photos, videos and things other than simple status updates.

    It was very easy to set up an account, requiring very little information. Its main plus points are that it is very customisable, and it has links to things such as Twitter and Facebook, instead of being totally independent from them it works with them.

    The only drawback I see is that is isn't very widely used in my aquaintances and therefore I wouldn't really use it much I don't think. Unlike Twitter, where "following" complete strangers involves only 140 characters of funny statuses every now and again, Tumblr would most likely not be used between people who didn't know each other in that same way.

    It seems to be quite good at protecting users. There is an option to make it private. Unfortunately I cannot find much information as to the actual ownership but it seems not unlike Facebook and Twitter.

    I will continue to explore the site and see what it has to offer.

  3. I decided to critique Linkedin because I thought it would help me get to know about how to use the site, as many employers have said that it is an imperative utility for networking in the professional arena and that it makes you easier to find when employers go a googling after you make an application (which is apparently 80% of them these days)

    Linkedin is really a social networking site for professionals, it is like an online CV or resume where you can list your skills and work experience rather than the films you like or the bands you're into. It allows you to upload your CV in one sweep so it's very easy to set up a profile. As you spend more time working for a company you can meet more and more people and expand your profile as you go. You can also link up with friends of friends, clients, or colleagues from previous jobs.

    I think the unique selling point for Linked in is that it allows you to network from your computer at home - i.e. you can get in touch with other members of your company, view jobs, get your CV out there and make new acquaintances in the business world. In other words you can 'meet' useful contacts without having to spend an evening standing against a wall at a drinks party, pretending to look at your phone and waiting to be approached. Whether it's healthy socially is a question applicable to all social networking sites but I think for Linkedin it essentially allows you to maintain relationships already forged, and expands from these in the working world where there is often very little time.

    Another benefit of Linkedin is it has been around since 2003 but has never been in significant trouble for violating privacy laws or putting it's users at risk (although it problems have been highlighted now and then) Arguably this is because it is fairly low profile if we compare it to something like Facebook, but all in all it seems like a no-nonsense solution to keeping a neat record of useful contacts, as well as being a mini launch pad where you can sell yourself on your own personal profile page. It' pretty user friendly with a step by step guide to setting up a profile and getting started.

    I suppose what you need to remember is that if you decided to set up a profile, a potential client or employer will see everything on your CV, which may not be tailored to what they are looking for, so I expect it's best to be clear but without too much detail.

  4. I went for a blast from the past with Bebo. A big pull was the nostalgia (Bebo was my first serious encounter with the internet.)

    Bebo to me seemed the general model that sites like Facebook built upon, but the incredible success of Facebook and the drop in Bebo traffic has resulted in the relationship being reversed. Bebo have recently (February this year) included into a 'notifcation' feature which is very unsubtly taken straight from Facebook.

    Detailed analysis on the other blog

  5. Officially over-taken in users by Facebook in April 2008, is a mere distant memory in the mind of the social networker. Since then, despite many re-designs, the membership number has steadily declined. Previously known for its unashamed display of vanity, Myspace was a popularity contest of sorts, and it worked. Nostalgia for Myspace is inevitably entwined with teen angst; it was a coming-of-age public blog, a widespread discovering that looks and music taste really did matter and we had them to flaunt!

    But in returning to the site after 6years, what does it have to offer?

    In my opinion, Myspace still stands as the best social networking site for entertainment and music. The problem is, perhaps, that they prioritized these aspects of the site, unable to keep up with the innovation in social relationships at sites such as Facebook. One could consider it to now be a 'social entertainment' site instead.

    Everything about Myspace seems to have a less classic feel than Facebook. Although you can manipulate your profile, choose your own theme, display your mood, and add music to your profile, the overall effect in simplicity could be likened to a school in uniform and a school without: just not as smart.

    Myspace is, however, more than sharing between friends, it wants to share with you what/who it has to offer. In revisiting the site after the selling to Specific Media and Justin Timberlake earlier this year, the Myspace vs Facebook debate could call for some revision. If everyone was to move (back) to Myspace, would we be getting more out of our social networking experience, in terms of having everything we want in one place?

  6. Quote on Facebook from Myspace originator, Tom Anderson:

    FAQ #2: People often ask me what I think of Facebook? Put simply, I love it. Facebook has accomplished what I wanted to accomplish when I started MySpace--that "everyone" would be online, and "everything" online would get more fun & useful because its social. To me, Facebook just keeps getting better & better. Now when they remove that 500 character limit on posting (rumored this week), I'll be able to say much, much more.

  7. This is total innovation. Facebook really sweep the floor with any other site.

  8. I feel that the advent of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have irrevocably changed the way we interact socailly both face to face and from a distance. The way we interact is constantly evolving and will continue to do so as technology advances.
    I personally feel that this is a good thing and the benefits of a system such as Facebook far outweighs the negatives. However this depends on how it is utilizied.
    Therefore there needs to be a tight leash kept on the privacy and personal details aspect of sites such as Facebook. I feel that users should constantly question the motives of those individuals and companies that they entrust with their personal and intimate data. It is only through this process of constant monitoring that the running of such websites can be policed. I feel that it is very necessary for there to be such a system in place to avoid the 'running away' of power in the hands of a select few.

  9.  Facebook, just an opportunity to ‘connect and share with the people in your life’?
     It has always been known that university is a time enjoyed by many people because they can, to an extent, re-invent themselves and express a persona quite different from the one they were known for at school. As our trusty friend Wikipedia tells us, the term facebook derives from ‘ the colloquial name for the book given to students at the start of the academic year by some university administrations in the United States to help students get to know each other’. . Here we have it…facebook was invented by college students, who alongside wanting to get to know each other, also had the ultimate opportunity to re-invent themselves in a way that is concrete and there for all to see. For instance, I am going to use the example of the fictional character of Jenny Taylor, a nineteen year old from leeds, studying natural science at the University of Birmingham. Let’s say that you meet Jenny on a night out and think, ‘wow that Jenny is pretty hot’, and decide that you want to add her as a friend. You ask her name, find her on facebook, and the rest is history. On finding her profile, you see that it reads ‘hey, I’m Jenny, a fun loving girl from Leeds, who enjoys shopping, chilling with friends and eating Indian food’. Instantly you think, ‘wow that Jenny seems pretty cool’, and strike up your first ‘conversation’ with her on facebook. What you don’t know is that Jenny, that ‘fun-loving’ gal is actually suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and is very unlikely to enjoy walking down Broad Street with you hand in hand if it means that she has to stand on every third pavement stone. However, it would take for you to actually meet Jenny properly and spend some time with her in person before you learnt this fact about her (make of it what you will). Nonetheless, it would appear that this desire held by college students to ‘re-invent’ themselves is a universal phenomenen which has resulted in facebook now reaching 138.9 million users in the U.S alone. Therefore I would argue that facebook should perhaps re-think their slogan, making it read something along the lines of ‘facebook allows you to be all that you want to be to the people in your life’.


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