In yesterday’s post I made reference to an article that I wrote entitled The Concept of Facebook. I thought I might as well provide a link to the article for those that are interested:
The following is an exerpt from the article to give you an idea of what it is all about…
I find the Facebook phenomenon very interesting. What is most interesting is the question as to why it has captured everyone’s and interest. The following are a few thoughts on social networking sites in general and Facebook in particular. There is much to say on this topic and it certainly can’t be said in a few pages so consider the following simply representative of a few themes that will at least serve to ideally stimulate your interest in the topic and hopefully some discussion as well!
FACEBOOK AND SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES
The question that we want to ponder is: what is it about the Facebook community that makes it more interesting than other communities? Think for a moment about the circle of friends you associate with (pretend this was in the pre-facebook era!). What is it about the particular interactions with these friends and the information you had about these interactions that made this particular set of people your close friends.
The question I want you to reflect on is: what sort of information is it about a group of people (and the individuals that constitute that group) that defines the group as your friends?
We are notified when friends post pictures, when friends connect with other friends, which friends are attending which events, who is dating whom etc.
This, in and of itself, is not the whole story, however. What makes the information that we receive relevant in a unique way is that we receive it in real time.
Continuity of Experience: Real Time Interaction
By real time, I mean as it happens. Effectively, Facebook updates information on a continuous basis letting our friends know about changes in our profile as they are made. If this does not sound all that exciting, I ask you to reflect on how you interact with your friends and more generally how you interact with anyone. If you think about this for a moment you will realize that life happens in real time!
The way that we walk through our days and our lives is such that we are presented with a continuous flow of information, images etc. some of which we interpret as relevant and some of which is trivial or useless.
It is the continuity of experience that is something that, heretofore, has not been effectively replicated by other social networking sites, and that makes the Facebook experience unique.
The Space Between You and Other
When you think of the way that you walk through life, one way to think about it is to realize that we are always in spaces. This is to say that, for example, we might get up in the morning go to the bathroom to take a shower, go downstairs and have breakfast with our families, go to school or work for day, go out to dinner with friends at a restaurant later in the evening, attend a lecture the following day and so on. When considered as such we note that each of these ‘environments’ can be considered a space. If you think about things in this way, it becomespretty apparent that ones life is reflected in the spaces within which you are present and the patterns with which you participate in these spaces. You will note that you go to work five days a week and spend eight hours a day in ones ‘work’ space. You will note that every week you attend a rehearsal with your band and so on.
What is interesting is that you will also associate certain people with the spaces that describe your life. Your home will be associated with those in your immediate family. It might be your wife, your parents, your children and so on. The question is: what is it about the spaces that reflect your life that make it possible to associate particular people with each space?
It is the fact that they are in close proximity to you!
It seems pretty obvious that people that are in the same spaces are proximal to you. For example, it is obvious that if you live in the same house as someone then you are closer to them (in some sense) than a total stranger; if you attend a class with other people, you are closer to them in some sense than you are to people that you have never seen. But what is it precisely that creates this proximity.
It is that you are present in relation to them in a certain way!
Presence is the idea that any actions that we might make are observable by others. When thought of as such it seems pretty obvious that if we are in the same room as someone else, then if we move, the other person will notice. This isn’t rocket science! Therefore, proximity and presence are closely related and the point is simply that those that we are proximally related to are those that we are present in relation to in a manner that makes it possible for us to intentionally make it such that the other person is aware of us. Again, consider the case of those that are a part of your home. If you yell, they will hear you!
How is this relevant you ask!
Facebook Modifies Presence!
What makes the concept of presence an important idea is that Facebook modifies ones presence in relation to others, and in virtue of this changes the nature of space itself.
All that is being said is that it is now easy to get the attention of others at a distance.
What is important about this is that it alters the pattern of communication that is possible.
Facebook Enables Implicit Communication
To better understand this idea, we need to think a little bit about communication. Without getting too deep, we need to begin by realizing that communication needs to be understood in four different ways:
Intentional: the act of communicating something where there is an intention to communicate. In other words a person means to communicate something to someone specific, or to some specific people. Examples of this include talking to someone, writing letters to someone, telephoning someone etc.
Non-Intentional: the act of communicating something when there is no intention to communicate anything specific to anyone in particular. Examples of this include getting a book published, writing a song that gets distributed and so on. In these cases, we intend to communicate, but not to anyone particular.
Explicit: the act of communicating something that is crystallized in some way – written, verbal, a picture etc. Explicit communication can be intentional or non-intentional. For example we can communicate intentionally and explicitly by writing a letter and sending it to someone, or telephoning someone. It can be non-intentional in the case of the publication of an article. In both cases, what we communicate is crystallized in that we have consciously formulated it.
Implicit: the act of communicating something non-intentional that is not crystallized – best understood, for example, as body language, tone, inflection etc.
If we think about communication as such, we see that Facebook makes possible implicit communication in ways never before possible. This is due to the fact that it facilitates the creation of imagery that becomes part of the public domain. When one places a picture on ones profile, writes a note etc. one is placing the object within a domain where it becomes possible for someone to view the object, read the object and so on.
What is intriguing about implicit communication is that it is essentially a new form of communication – one that, to date, has been the purview only of authours, musicians, artists and so on. In the past it is only those that have created content that was deemed worthy of being part of the public domain that actually became part of the public domain. Today we can all create content that is part of the public domain.
I make no judgments on whether the content that is created is worthy or not of being in the public domain as I don’t think that this is the issue. What is important is that the possibility for presenting ourselves to the world has become possible, and that has unique and exciting implications.
For the rest of the article go go: The Concept of Facebook