[Air-L] facebook, twitter and annoyances

danah boyd aoir.z3z at danah.org
Sat Oct 31 14:03:56 PDT 2009

Life isn't so neatly compartmentalized.  Remove the internet for a  
moment.  My guess is that you have dear friends who are sometimes  
brilliant to speak with and sometimes, not so much.  You don't reject  
them as friends just because not all of the conversations are  
brilliant.  Likewise, you have colleagues who you have intensely  
philosophical debates with but, when standing in line for lunch, the  
conversation centers around something else. We can value people for  
just one facet of their lives but our friends and other intimates are  
more than that.  Of course, perhaps you have friends who could never  
stop talking about their kids so you stopped inviting them to dinner  
parties.  This happens too.  But none of our strong connections with  
people are truly always on topic.  We just easily forget the chitter  
chatter and remember the deeply meaningful.

Perhaps we should be asking ourselves: Why is it that, when we go  
online, we want to optimize for the brilliant conversations only?  Why  
do we want to reduce our connections down to only one facet? Is this  
because of the asynchronicity?  Is it because of our self- 
involvement?  Or something else?

Personally, I like the peripheral awareness that's baked into status  
updates.  Sure, some of what you say is brilliant, but mostly I like  
the tempo of the connection, the reminder of personality and quirks,  
the feeling of being part of humanity even when I'm sitting in my  
living room.


On Oct 31, 2009, at 11:41 AM, Barry Wellman wrote:

> sounds like we need multiple twitter accounts.
> but life may not be so neatly compartmentalized;-)
> how do you feel about Oscar Wilde.
> Barry Wellman
> _______________________________________________________________________
>  S.D. Clark Professor of Sociology, FRSC               NetLab Director
>  Department of Sociology                  725 Spadina Avenue, Room 388
>  University of Toronto   Toronto Canada M5S 2J4   twitter:barrywellman
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> _______________________________________________________________________
> On Sat, 31 Oct 2009, Baym, Nancy wrote:
>> Date: Sat, 31 Oct 2009 10:34:00 -0500
>> From: "Baym, Nancy" <nbaym at ku.edu>
>> To: Barry Wellman <wellman at chass.utoronto.ca>
>> Cc: aoir list <air-l at aoir.org>
>> Subject: Re: [Air-L] facebook, twitter and annoyances
>> Of course it's complex. But what if another of that person's  
>> followers
>> funds the food updates a lovely way to feel connected but is annoyed
>> by all those professionally tinged informational links. "Interesting"
>> is not a quality of message but of a particular listener's response  
>> to
>> a message. "Almost all" is often an unwarranted assumption from one's
>> own point of view. Furthermore, even if "almost all" holds, they may
>> not be the people most important to the tweeter.
>> Nancy
>> On Oct 31, 2009, at 10:06 AM, "Barry Wellman"
>> <wellman at chass.utoronto.ca> wrote:
>>> 1. Nancy, I think it is more complex. What if there are really
>>> interesting people whose posts are often filled with gems, but at
>>> the same
>>> posts some self-infatuated or status update stuff ("going for
>>> breakfast")
>>> ("sitting in my garden") stuff which is not interesting to almost  
>>> all.
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"taken out of context, i must seem so strange" -- ani

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