Wednesday, October 31, 2007


I like what Boyd discusses in terms of the networked publics seen in popular social networking sites such as MySpace, Cyworld, Orkut, and Facebook. I would have loved to seen her address the Newsfeed on Facebook, though. What I find so fascinating about the Newsfeed is that many Facebook members were adamantly against the Newsfeed when it first started. Many Facebook groups (which is interesting-- a group within the network to oppose/state dissatisfaction with the network) were started to oppose the Newsfeed, complaining that it invaded privacy too much. This seems to be the most fascinating part when thought of in the context of Boyd's article-- public information made too public? What the Newsfeed did effectively was "network the network". What were isolated public facts about friends that you had to look up on your own was now made available all on one page-- and not only that, but was timelined, linked to other friends, etc. In Boyd's works, this public information was made more persistent, more replicable, more searchable, and more available to invisible audiences (instead of the more determined of friends finding your updated information, all of your friends could see it). This example of a networked public is so intriguing because it was not received well (at first) by the majority of the networked public. It leads me to think about how all of the Newsfeed-opposed Facebook users got used to the Newsfeed. Did they end up liking it? Did they stop using Facebook (unlikely)? Did it become a non-issue? My guess is that they grew accustomed to it and the Newsfeed made what was once thought of as a very linked and involved networked public even more persistence, searchable, replicable, and available to invisible publics.

1 comment:

M. Kirstin S. said...

I would agree with the last option you list. I found it strange that when faced with such a sudden/unannounced/drastic change to Facebook, those who had been on it the longest (which was really only something like 2 years at that point) felt some sort of ownership/entitlement over the shape of the site. For a lot of people, facebook happened with the arrival of college, and what's strangest is the enthusiasm/degree to which we jumped on board. Of course facebook would evolve, but the idea of it "changing beyond recognition" and breaking what we'd gotten used to is remarkable to me.

What I find so interesting about Newsfeed is a much of what I talk about in my blog post this week. It removed pieces of you from your total (cohesive) profile and places them in a new context, not of your designing, consistent with the movements, behaviors and words of others. It is another breaking down of the online double and yet another place for identity to circulate, since your changes and updates and available alongside those of others and necessarily interact meaningfully with those other pieces in the process.

The biggest mystery to me is the Newsfeed algorithm. Who, out of everyone who updates, shows up in your Newsfeed? Which pieces of information float to the surface?