ye olde net…

An article on the resurgence of ‘closed’ social media sites or ways of limiting your social media networks to *actual* friends or net acquaintances – which the writer suggests are remininiscent of old style news boards, bbs’s, and … email lists, for my money.

a short excerpt:

Rebecca Greenfield, writing for Fast Company, traces the return of the internet newsletter to the death of Google Reader. A representative from TinyLetter told her that there was an uptick in users just as Google pulled the plug last year. Some of us switched to other RSS readers, nevertheless a number of bloggers saw their community and traffic take a hit, and posted less as a result. (By the way, Aaron Straup Cope has a tool to read TinyLetters with RSS). Sara Watson told me TinyLetter is one of the sponsors for “99% invisible,” a podcast with an audience of a number of bloggers and former bloggers. There’s another reason why people are turning to newsletters to publish content now: it is a not-quite public and not-quite private way to share information.


anyway, one for the files:



online trust: that old chestnut?

every new generation needs to reinvent the wheel in some way.
below is an excerpt from an article in the WSJ on the old chestnut (for us cranky old netdynammers) of “How to tell if someone is lying to you in an email”.
you’ll note that the expert quoted on this is working for the military, and thank goodness us language experts can still get a job paid for out of tax dollars spent on defence.
but wait – why is this so old hat and ho-humifying to the likes of us over 50s?
a cursory search of the netdynam archives using, say, the term ‘trust’, will reveal that the topic was indeed thrashed almost to death back in 1996.. if my memory serves me well…

meanwhile, here’s a bit of what the article has to say on the topic:

It is possible to catch people lying because they often are bad at it, says Tyler Cohen Wood, an intelligence officer and cyber branch chief at the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Science and Technology Directorate, and author of a 2014 book titled “Catching the Catfishers: Disarm the Online Pretenders, Predators and Perpetrators Who Are Out to Ruin Your Life.” (Her views on the subject are her own and not those of her employer, she emphasizes.)

“The majority of people prefer to tell the truth,” says Ms. Cohen Wood. “That’s why when they are lying, the truth is going to leak out.”

There will be clues. To identify them, Ms. Cohen Woods suggests using a modified version of a law-enforcement technique known as statement analysis, which is a way to look for deception by analyzing a person’s words.

To begin with, pay attention to a person’s use of emphatic language. It doesn’t necessarily mean he or she is lying, but rather that he or she really wants you to believe what is being said. This is also the case when a person keeps saying the same thing over and over in slightly different ways. “They wouldn’t repeat it if it wasn’t important to them,” Ms. Cohen Wood says.

Look for language that distances the writer from the intended reader. In person, someone may unconsciously distance himself by crossing his arms in front of him. In writing, he can achieve this same effect by omitting personal pronouns and references to himself from a story.

Say he receives a text that says, “Hey I had a great time last night, did you?” He might reply, “Last night was fun.”

Another technique to watch out for is the unanswered question. You ask, and the other person hedges or changes the subject. Most likely, the person doesn’t like saying no, or doesn’t want to hurt your feelings. But he or she also may also be keeping something from you.

a pre-history of social networking

here’s a several part article on the “pre-history” of social media: from email through the WELL to… well, facebook and twitter i spose….on the ars technica site
strangely, it seems we lived though it and now it’s being written about as historical narrative. certainly an interesting way to check on the discourses of history and how historical facts and beliefs get to be constructed. and of course, if we put ourselves back in the 60’s as young people, we’d also be reading about the 2nd world war, which occurred in the 40’s, before we were born, at a time when many people were alive who’d lived through the era.
of course, wait just a minute, we are not so old yet are we?
i mean, all that email list, newsgroup, and BBS stuff only really got going in the mid-90s, and so we are only 15 years or so down the track, and it’s now history for the younger generation – who by the way, at 18-20 years old are not net-savvy at all by my surveys. the only thing they do regularly is consult their facebook page, and that limited to posts among their ‘friends’ – the wider world and its concerns do not yet impinge… all those facebook ‘groups’ – they are looked on with a slight disdain even by my informants.

the evolution will be social…

some sort of conference later this year in New York with wide ideas about how social networking can be conceived as ‘not just a marketing opportunity’. check out the blurbs and blogs at the CONTACT site.

tweeting better than blogging?

as suspected, by me – because even though i’m not young i am guilty – people are not blogging so much no more but instead hanging out in the twitter zone or facebook.
well, i’m not guilty of facebook, too much dross and very lowest common denominator, but i am a twitter hound nowadays. but mostly in order to get pointers to other online articles and news stories etc, not so much to update people on my own inane daily thoughts.

i will continue to do that on a blog, since i do like making longish essays.
well, id rather people read them, but even so i’d do it anyway. the only difference being, that online i’m more likely to watch my tongue than in a personal log or ‘diary’.

check out the NYT article on same, based on pew surveys and so on…
like here’s a quote —

The Internet and American Life Project at the Pew Research Center found that from 2006 to 2009, blogging among children ages 12 to 17 fell by half; now 14 percent of children those ages who use the Internet have blogs. Among 18-to-33-year-olds, the project said in a report last year, blogging dropped two percentage points in 2010 from two years earlier.

Former bloggers said they were too busy to write lengthy posts and were uninspired by a lack of readers. Others said they had no interest in creating a blog because social networking did a good enough job keeping them in touch with friends and family.

‘visualising the new arab mind’

someone has used graphic representational techniques to show how twitter was activated in the recent egyptian uprisings – it’s meant to show ‘influence networks’.

there are a couple of comments interrogating how it is to be read, and how it was compiled, etc, so the whole thing is interesting as an applied exercise in using different modalities to represent data..

an excerpt (via susanna on email CITASA list):

Wael Ghonim, a pivotal figure in this self-organzing system who instigated the initial protests on January 25th, is prominently located near the bottom of the network, straddling two factions as well as two languages. The size of his node reflects his influence on the entire network.

The lump on the left is dominated by journalists, NGO and foreign policy types; it seems nearly gafted on, and goes through an intermediary buffer layer before making contact with the true Egyptian activists on the ground. However, this process of translation and aggregation is key; it is how those in Egypt are finally getting a voice in Western society, and an insurance policy against regime violence. Many of the prominent nodes in this network were at some point arrested, but their deep connectivity help ensure they were not “dissapeared”.

and now of course, there is much related matter in discussion mode everywhere… variously termed “the great debate”, ” the arab spring”, and so-on, one of the common debating points (you could check out abc q&a’s program last week but one, for an example if you could get it online out of australia) is whether social media/twitter/wikileaks ’caused’ the uprisings, or merely enabled/helped/provided extra fuel to the spring/fire/activities.
here is a link to one of them by philip n howard, who is apparently an author elsewhere on topics political.

blast from the past

here’s an article describing how our electronic discussion list, the original “Netdynam”, looked to one of our members in its first year. the article was published in a newspaper at that time, and has recently resurfaced – and given us all a walk down memory lane… if you weren’t a member of this list, much of the same probably applied to any other mailing list at that time….

Dateline: February 4th, 1997

I decided to take the Great Leap Forward onto the Internet without
having a clue what that meant. A year ago I upgraded my trusty little
home word-processor to one with an internal fax-modem. At first, I was
disturbed by the interactivity of my new machine – it spoke back to me
in all sorts of ways, intruding upon what previously had been my
silent reverie in front of the screen. Yet when I finally managed to
get all the software programs to work and up popped an email from a
friend in Melbourne, I was startled and delighted. My computer was no
longer a static receptacle. Something was happenning in there.

I stumbled across a reference to a cyber-philosophy email list and
sent off a ‘subscribe’ command. The next day there were twenty posts
in my email In Tray, snatches from the middle of a lively, ongoing
conversation. I read them with fascination. The next day, there were
more. My computer seemed to be feeding me with ideas.

After ‘eavesdropping’ for a week, I took the plunge and sent a post to
the list. I was greeted and welcomed by the same cast of characters I
had been listening to. It felt like a soap opera, only I could step
right in and have an impact on the script. I felt ridiculously
excited, intoxicated with the possibilities of communication which
leapt out of my screen.

I quickly discovered there was a name for people like me: ‘newbie’.
And a whole new set of jargon and netiquette to get my head around, as
I browsed across a range of lists. Just like a television soap opera,
there were immediately recognisable characters in every list – the
attention seeker, the melodramatist, the pugilist, the harmoniser, the
challenger. List conversation went through its intrigues, climaxes and
denouements. On the happiest lists, participants were thrilled to have
found each other and often exclaimed at how the list had changed their

It changed mine. Procrastination was never so much fun…”This
assignment’s so dull, I’ll just dial-up and check my email, see if
those two bozos are still arguing….” There were all sorts of new
decisions to make, like should I save every post which mentions me by
name; all sorts of new experiences, like gossiping backchannel about a
‘stranger’ in New York with another ‘stranger’ who lives in Indiana.

It was clear that certain behavioural lessons had already been drawn
in the relatively short history of cyber-relating. Most lists send new
subscribers a Welcome message which sets out the list dos and don’ts:
writing in CAPS, otherwise known as shouting, is considered the height
of rudeness. Quoting the whole of someone else’s message and merely
adding ‘Me too’ at the end is also seen as very bad form. As is having
a wacky signature drawing which takes up half the screen.

Central to nearly every Welcome message is the cardinal list
commandment, ‘You Shall Not Flame’. ‘To flame’ is to attack, to sneer,
heap vitriol, sarcasm and hostility upon another poster. ‘A flame war’
involves multiple participants. Flamers never give the other person
the benefit of the doubt. Many Welcome messages point out that the
absence of non-verbal cues – smiles, raised eyebrows – can easily lead
to crossed wires in a text-only medium. Email is projection hell.

Flaming is mentioned so often in e-world that you’d think you were
travelling over scorched earth. I’ve seen plenty of trenchant
disagreement and good solid volleying. Nothing remotely resembling
the heat of a flame war – whatever I imagined that to be.

Mostly I was impressed by the civility of my fellow posters.
Especially considering they were nearly all Americans. That was an
initial surprise, as I had rather naively fallen for the idea of
Internet as global village. Wrong. Unless you join an email list for
English soccer fans, odds are that nearly everyone else on any list
you join will be American. Internet culture is American: list traffic
comes to a standstill for Thanksgiving. It also slows down in the
Australian afternoon, when those Yanks are tucked up in bed.

This American facade can lull non-Americans into a false sense of
privacy, as though the Internet is a personal playground remote from
everyday reality. For a time I belonged to a women’s computer list,
which seemed to be replete with the usual Californians, Oregonians
etc. So I was mildly surprised when another Sydneysider suddennly
chimed in in reply to a technical question. Even more surprised when
she told me she recognised my name from some local journalism. Not
long afterwards, I saw a post on the same list from a woman whose name
I in turn recognised. Muted alarm bells went off in my head. It’s a
small world after all and you never know who might be reading your
words on a list.

Lurkers are reading them, that’s who. Anyone can subscribe to a list
but that doesn’t mean they have to participate. There can be dozens if
not hundreds of people out there following the conversation but never
revealing their prescence. Fertile grounds for paranoia, or at least
heightened self-consciousness, you’d think. Yet it doesn’t seem to
stop some people from gushing about their rebirthing experience in
their very first post. That’s even when the list is dedicated to the
intricacies of a software application.

Occasionally someone de-lurks. That’s different from simply
introducing yourself. After all, only someone who has been lurking for
an indeterminate amount of time can be said to de-lurk. Sometimes
de-lurkers do a hit and run, lambasting the list for being
irrelevant/boring/aggravating before disappearing back into lurkdom.
My cyber-philosophy list has many more lurkers than active posters. I
know this because I finally worked out the listserver command which
tells me the names and email addresses of every subscriber. Most are
unfamiliar to me, even after a year of active participation.

Yes, I’m no longer a newbie. In fact, a year in email makes me an old
hand, almost a Net Veteran. I’ve met two fellow listmates who were
passing through Sydney – the world really is shrinking. I celebrated
the first anniversary of my favourite list by doing an IRC session
with the group – is this the definition of mixed media? I’ve learnt a
lot. Most of all, I’ve learnt a lot about boundaries – how to reach
out and connect with people without losing yourself in the process.
Now, I just have to check my email…..

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