Internet Miscommunication Part 2

I watched a video the other day. It described a phenomenon that is called a Filter Bubble.  The phenomenon is, put simply, that your view of the world is slanted by the fact that the posts you see are filtered by what a web site knows about your preferences. For instance, Facebook selects items to show you based on people that you have selected as your friends. As such, they probably have similar tastes and opinions to yours. If you support a particular point of view, either your friends do too or you get annoyed by there rants and mute them. Consequently, over time you hear only one side of the story. Then, when something like an election or a referendum happens, you are surprised that it goes the way it does. You are blind sided by the fact that you have self selected just the parts of the story that you want to hear.

What can be done to remedy this problem? One thing that comes to mind is to actively seek information from diverse sources. Another suggestion is to seek information from diverse types of media, for instance, news papers, magazines, radio, and television.

The sad thing is that we have been so indoctrinated by the convenience of the internet that we have become lazy. It takes too much effort to read magazines and news papers. It is work to sort through them and decide what we are interested in. There is no Google for the physical world. There isn’t even an easy way to search media like film and television. YouTube is a start I suppose. Note that YouTube is owned by Google.

The important thing is, no matter where you look for information, look for as many different sources as you can. No one channel is going to give you the entire range of ideas on a given issue. And for goodness sake, don’t depend on Facebook as your primary source of news.

Internet Miscommunication Part 1

I was lucky enough to be working in the networking department of an up and coming software company at the beginning of my career. As a consequence, I had access to email before most people in the world. Even then, it was apparent that email was a volatile communications medium. At first we attributed it solely to the fact that it didn’t have the benefit of the subtle back channels that facial expression, body language, tone of voice, and inflection offer our face to face communication.

Upon further reflection though, it occurs to me that we have been communicating with the written word for centuries. There was something else in play here. For instance, it was easy to send email and once you hit send, it was gone. It was easy to write a quick note. It was more like an informal conversation so it was approached with less thought than a physical letter might. It took more discipline than most of us could muster to read what we had written carefully to make sure it couldn’t be misinterpreted.

And then there was the fact that the person, or persons, with which you were communicating weren’t present to give you immediate feedback, either positive or negative. This delayed any corrections that might be made to the message until the recipient had had time to stew about it for a while. And when they had built up a head of steam, it was, again, too easy to snap back a confrontational reply without due consideration. Thus were flame wars invented.

At the time, we thought there might be something to the idea that email was only used by technical types who didn’t have the best reputation for social skills. Only time and the rise of the public internet would disprove that theory. It seems that anyone, socially adept or not, was equally capable of miscommunicating via email. And the situation just got worse when the discussion forum was invented.

I have more to say about the evolution of online interpersonal communication. So much more that I am going to post this as part one. In part two I will explore some of the unexpected social impacts that arose from the vast social networks like Facebook.

Facebook May Be Good For Something After All

I have to say, I’m ecstatic. I re-established contact with one of my cousins last night. I have talked to him on several occasions since we have been grown but I hadn’t heard from him in quite a while. I recently added my brother, Truett as a friend on Facebook and last night, I noticed that he had added several new friends. As it turns out, many of them were our cousins and their offspring. I went through friend chains finding and friending many of them. I didn’t friend those who hadn’t met me at least once as I didn’t want to be some creepy old man that they never heard of asking to be their friend. I have had two very brief (a la instant message) interactions with my cousin Randy (or is it Randall now). I was always Joe Kellie to them and now I have dropped the Joe to be called Kellie by friends, family and colleagues alike. I will probably ask what he prefers. Times change but, hopefully, people are still essentially who they always were.

I don’t particularly like Facebook but I am so glad that it helped me re-establish these ties to my past. I was just starting to miss them a lot. I guess I’ll put up with the things I don’t like about Facebook (too many to enumerate here and besides, this blog is to praise Facebook, not find fault with it). So much for my pseudo-monthly blog post. Stay tuned… you never know when I might post again.

Getting Settled In to the Vloggerhood

I’ve been producing videos on You Tube since September of 2006. I have yet to follow through with my original plan and produce a short fictional video to post. Maybe some day I will make my video short story as I call it. In the mean time I have been very busy.

I have posted a documentary of my father-in-law’s 79th birthday party (my first video on You Tube). I’ve posted the obligatory cute animal video. I’ve posted a number of videos responding to questions or challenges or entering contests. I’ve posted a how-to video. The how-to video got me featured on the front page of Live Video.

I’ve also produced several vlog videos. Vlogs are the video equivalent of blogs. But you knew that, didn’t you? I sometimes think that I only have two kinds of visitors here, those that randomly stumble across my site, never to return and those that just want to post comment spam.

That’s a big difference that I’ve noticed between this blog and my You Tube videos. My videos are actually seen by other people, a good many of whom I had never met before they saw my videos and started interacting with me. Vlogging is two way communication. Blogging, not as much so. It could be, but it never has been for me with this site.

I’ve noticed a pattern in my posting of videos. I seem to make a flurry of posts approximately once a month. I’m hoping to use this observation to change this behavior. I guess time will tell.

I also realized that I am really engaged with the individual vloggers that I subscribe to. I care about what is going on in their lives and I miss them when they don’t post for several days. This has motivated me to try to post more frequently than once a month.

One of the vloggers that I subscribe to goes by the screenname of UpDownMostly. Tim is a good guy. I’m pretty sure he lives in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina. He is incredibly active in the You Tube community. He is a role model for me. He watches more videos than I can imagine being able to watch and makes at least half a dozen videos a day, primarily video responses.

I guess the essence of this engagement that I’m talking about is interaction, both through text comments and video responses. When it comes right down to it, I’m addicted to the You Tube community. But is it an addiction to want to participate in a community like this. I may joke about it being an addiction but I really don’t think it is. I think it is just a normal human desire to interact with and belong to a community.

Quick (relatively) Update

So much has happened since my last post. I thought I’d get back in the swing of blogging by catching folks up. I figure if you’re not interested in what’s going on with me, nobody is forcing you to read this :-).

First, and by far most importantly, I got a new MacBook! This is so exciting for me. It has a built-in web cam so vlogging is now a breeze. I still intend to make video shorts with the Canon Elura 100 (my DV palmcorder), but I don’t have to go to the trouble to set up the tripod just to record a vlog.

I’ve gotten totally addicted to the community aspect of YouTube/LiveVideo (hereafter referred to as YT). I have to check in on what my friends are doing every day. I still use text commenting for most of my interactions but when I have something to say that doesn’t fit in a comment, I make a video response.

That kind-of explains one of the reasons I haven’t posted here in so long. I use this blog as a platform for publishing my opinion on various topics. The only thing is, my blog is largely unread. My posts on YT get some traffic, and even better, I get feedback from folks. I know, I’ve got comments turned off here. But that’s only because all I ever got were comment SPAM!

We finally got the external webcams to work on my wife’s ibook, after her new MacBook arrived. You don’t really think I could get a new MacBook without getting her one too :-). Now my daughter has my wife’s old G4 iBook, her boyfriend has her old G3 iBook and everyone is happy for the time being.

We discovered Stickam just before we got the new MacBooks. My wife is well on her way to Stickam addiction. I’m afraid I’m not far behind. In case you don’t know, Stickam is a sight that combines interactive video and text chat with a kind of MySpace like home page (I think they may be owned by the same company as MySpace). You can post video, audio, and still pictures to your page. You can make friends and hang out in each others rooms. You can create chat rooms to hold meetings in. I’m still a little fuzzy about all the details. It’s kind of overwhelming at first.

I also discovered a new blog that I love (thanks to revbob over on Ex Cathedra) called The Sheila Variations. She’s a very cool, very literate, artsy type person with neat friends and interesting opinions. I’ve added her to my daily browsing list.

This is turning into a novel. I’ve covered most of the high points so I’ll finish this up and post it. I intend to post more frequently now that Spike (that’s my MacBook’s name) is my constant companion. Cheers!

Finding Old Friends

I was following a link to a band’s page on MySpace last night when I remembered that I have a MySpace page so I logged in and checked it out. I had forgotten that I had entered my High School in my profile so I decided to check out who else had a MySpace account that graduated when I did. The amazing thing was I found a friend that I hadn’t seen or talked to since High School. I sent him a message but I haven’t heard back from him yet.

After that, I spent several hours filling in details on my MySpace account and looking for other people I knew. I found the pages of two of my current friends and sent them friend requests. I also found both of Pam’s pages and sent her friend requests. Of all these friend requests, the only one that has responded so far has been Pam. I thought I had found Erin’s account so I sent her a friend request. When she got home from work she told me that she didn’t have a MySpace account. Oops!

While I was updating my MySpace profile I posted a blog post pointing anybody that was viewing my account there to this blog. Maybe this will generate some traffic here. I hope so. I’d love to get some readers. I suppose if I were to write more interesting posts, I might get more readers. Naw, what am I thinking? People love to read boring drivel like this.