Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Post 6: Online Self Representation

Answer the questions below based on your own "online existence," whether that be with a personal blog, Facebook or MySpace account, or other online profile you may have. If you do not have an online existence, answer the questions regarding a close friend or family member who does.

First, explain your reasons for having a Web presence. Self-expression? Keep track of friends/family? Find group community?

Next, tell us how much you divulge about your personal life and yourself in your blog or online account. Do you provide a photograph of yourself on your blog/online account? Address or email?


Xiaomin Qian said...
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Melissa said...

I have a MySpace and a Facebook account as my web presence. First I used Facebook frequently, then MySpace, and now Facebook again. My friend Phil said, "Melissa must be in college again..." as soon as he noticed I logged into Facebook for the first time in more than a year or so. Hehe.

I have to say I mostly only use either as a diversion or distraction. When I need a break from studies, I will visit one site or the other to get my mind off whatever I'm working on. I hardly ever visit either site when I'm at home, so I suppose use of the sites is directly related to my boredom at school.

There is a distint difference between Facebook and MySpace. They both act as a social network, but Facebook puts much more emphasis on community and sharing fun applications whereas MySpace puts more emphasis on using as a diary. MySpace is more of a way to passively keep up with friends, while Facebook is a much more active community.

For me, Facebook is a site that provides fun ways to show friends your thinking of them when you're not around them. For example, on Facebook you can send a round of drinks to your friends, fight each others zombies, race critters, or send each other fish or flowers for aquariums or gardens. It's definitely more of a time killer, though and there's a lot more emotion and activity involved in its use.

I use MySpace to read bulletins friends bulletins and blogs and keep track of friends. MySpace seems like a more personal device with less personal information. Things seems more relevant on MySpace than Facebook. Maybe it's just a more serious and less frivolous site. This is the site I use to communicate to people who are really my friends. Good friends - friends who are interested in me for who I actually am, and vice versa, rather than whether I have a zombie they can fight, a garden they can send flowers to, etc.

I do put my pictures up on both sites but I don't disclose any really personal information on either. I talk about experiences like going to renaissance festivals, how a party went, etc...nothing I would feel uncomfortable with strangers knowing. I do provide my email address, but I have my security settings set to be very selective in who sees my profiles and information. My friends all know that if they want to know something personal or have a personal conversation, they all know they can call me or hang out for lunch or a drink in a real place.

Daniela Dimitrova said...

Some interesting links I came across:

Cell phones in Africa:
Slide Show

Technology and Education:
Sanier Lecture

Etse Sikanku said...
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Etse Sikanku said...

Thank you Dr D for these excellent links that you've provided. First the story about cell phones in Africa and the pictures accompanying them are truly nostalgic. I cannot begin to count how many times i went to those kiosks to spend my last 'cedi'(Ghanaian currency) on phone units.

The writer mentioned that "The explanation for the growth, put forward by executives at Nokia, Ericsson, and other companies in the wireless industry, is that poor people are willing to spend their scarce cash on mobile communications because the return on investment is huge." I do not doubt him when he says "A mobile phone can dramatically improve living standards by saving wasted trips, providing information about crop prices, summoning medical help, and even serving as a conduit to banking services".

To me the diffusion of the cell phone in Africa is one example that shows the triumph of the social system above all other factors as a strong instigator for the adoption of a particular technology. What i will say to back my belief in the social shaping of technology concept-with regards to cell phone diffusion in Africa is that the single most important thing that has aided fast and easy diffusion is: the crave for high social status.

By far the cultural materialistic concept as propounded by Williams and others will provide a more convincing explanation for this diffusion process although i do not doubt that in the end-on the evidence of the writer's vivid on the field examples-some technological determinism seems to be taken place. For example the ways in which mobile phones have changed market trade and traditional businesses.

Prof Bugeja's points about the need for acceptance in his book emphasize this point. People all around Africa want to be seen as western, modernized and 'upwardly mobile'. They want to be accepted not only within their societies but in the world-the so called global village- where technology is the common denominator. One of the ways to show such a status is by having a mobile phone. I have seen people who can barely afford a single meal a day worrying about the units or air time available on their cell phone rather than about food. In my former college, one of the easiest ways to impress a lady was by owning a cell phone yourself, buying air time for her regularly or buying her a cell phone. There used to be a rumor that the standard number of boyfriends ladies in that college had was three-one for the purpose of buying her the latest mobile phone, another for buying regular airtime and the last for sex-or sometimes love. We used to call them “mobile girls”

Maybe an unintended consequence of mobile phone in Africa is its ability to transform communication systems, business and the service sector. In reality it is the crave for a high social status that has influenced the diffusion process most. Truly Prof Bugeya's idea that we like to feel “acceptance rather than being displaced” transcends geographical and cultural boundaries.

Xiaomin Qian said...

I have a blog and Myspace.

My blog was created when I still was an undergraduate student. In China, almost every big university has its own BBS. The college BBS is not only a place to talk about current hot topics, it also has a function--building your own blog. My classmates were very interested in this new technology. They built their blogs and asked friends to visit and comment. It became a fashion. I also followed. At the beginning, I just wrote for fun. But later I received so many comments and feedback. The feedback encouraged my writing passion and confidence. I even made several friends through blog. Now, writing blog is a habit for me. I want to record my life, sharing experience and stories, keeping connection with my friends.

The only reason I created Myspace is sharing pictures with my parents. I am the only daughter they have. They care everything about me. They want to know what I ate, what I did, what time I went to sleep, etc. I show them pictures on Myspace in order to reduce their worry.

I never divulge my personal information on the blog. There are no real world address, no email, no real name, no photos. When I write something related to a friend, I always use "x" or nick name to present his or her real name.

Only friends on my Myspace list can see the pictures there. Usually these friends on the list are my close classmates and relatives. I restrict access to my pictures.

tammy said...

This class has been my first experience with any sort of online presence and/or blogging. I did have a couple experiences prior where people had directed me to some sort of blog or online diary to view pictures or stories, but I had never posted anything before this class. It has been a fun experience, but it is not something I could see using outside this class for personal reasons. I like to jealously guard my privacy and have always been nervous about sharing details of my life in a written form. I much prefer a phone call or a face to face over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.
I might try to incorporate some sort of blog into the website for the non-profit group I work for. I think it is an effective way to share ideas about the group and keep people informed about our upcoming activities and get feedback.

tammy said...

Thanks Dr. Dimitrova for providing the link to the campus lecturer. I had really wanted to listen to this speaker. I found his views about the future very interesting, but I strong disagree with his comments about changing the fundamentals of our learning institutions, especially no longer teaching fundamental subjects such as calculus in engineering programs.
Relying on computers for basic research and mathematical computations is fine, but all students need to know how to perform these functions by hand in order to continue moving forward with innovation and applying these skills to new and different problems.
I worked in the engineering field for a number of years and worked with several engineers who were lacking in basic skills for whatever reason. Their designs were adequate for everyday design situations, but because they lacked the basic skills to understand the mechanics and mathematics behind the systems, they were unable to transfer their knowledge to the design and/or analysis of anything outside the realm of ordinary. I believe Dr. Bugeja may have a very valid point in cautioning us not to rely so heavily on virtual resources to the detriment of our material resources and skill sets.

Eva said...

Well, I just have a web-talk with my mom and grandma. I have a blog in msn space and a new facebook.:)
I used msn space usually, because I used to login msn to contact with my friends and will check my space by the way. I will check my facebook nearly everyday. Though there are just a few friends in my facebook now, I like to watch others' pictures and their updated information.

I kept my msn space private and secretary for a long time until I came here. There are somethings about my internal feelings, outlandish thinkings which I don't want to show to others, and I don't think they will understand. Most of time I like to keep a distance in heart to protect myself. When I was leaving, some kind of motivation encourage me to turn my space into public. It's hard to explain or correlate these two things, maybe just a stimula to show that I hope someone will understand me for some part. For its actual use, it did channel messages which full of goodwish between me and my friends, families. They encourage and mention me in comments. I appreciate much for that. For self-expression, I consider myself not that prefer to showing and acting, for I have kept quiet before. Before, my space is one place to record my life and motivation. Now, it's a place for me to share my experience with my friends, not just documentary. Of course, when it is public, I have to limit the gossip and delicate my words sometimes. But overall, it's still me.

In my space and facebook, there are some photos of mine, my family, my friends and my journey.
Besides, you may know my email and nationality from my online existence. I just stick pictures of my friends and my trips more than myself. Normally speaking, just people I know will know my space and facebook. I haven't use any tags of my articles. So it is slightly less public for me to worry about divulge too much.

Scott Schrage -- Program Assistant said...

I currently have a Facebook account, which I utilize mainly for the purposes of keeping track of friends (especially those whom I rarely see) and, in some instances, setting up / checking for social meetings in which I might be interested. At the same time, I have definitely found myself using it as a diversionary time-waster, though I've cut back on this in recent months.

I don't divulge a great deal about myself on my Facebook page; I relegate it primarily to what I consider to be rather superficial information (i.e., favorite movies, music, etc.), without providing much in the way of more in-depth philosphical, political, religious or other such beliefs. This is partly unintentional (I'm a somewhat private person by nature) and partly intentional, as I believe that more personal information should be shared interpersonally, rather than digitally. I allow only my friends to access my contact information, such as my phone number and e-mail address, and the majority of my photographs were posted by my friends. I always evaluate these photos to ensure that they are of the sort that will not potentially embarrass me, as I like to think I've learned this lesson from those who were unfortunate enough to suffer the consequences of unflattering / potentially incriminating photos.

Scott Schrage -- Program Assistant said...
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Scott Schrage -- Program Assistant said...

I think Tammy makes some interesting points about the way in which we may sometimes come to rely upon technology to perform tasks / functions for which we were once responsible. I think it's been fairly well-established that most individuals will take short-cuts when given the opportunity, even when they may be aware of the detrimental long-term effects of doing so. In the same way that an engineer may depend upon a computer to perform functions that he / she no longer feels the need to learn, we may collectively come to depend upon digital communities to replace those in which we have lived for so long.

Andrea said...

I have a Web presence in Facebook, MySpace, and Xanga. The Facebook account was created out of curiosity as an undergrad. It's not so much for creative expression as it is talking back and forth with a few friends from different colleges. I don't find any community from the Facebook account, it's merely just a way to speak with a few friends and don't live close by. I divulge very little in the Facebook account. I keep pretty tight privacy settings with the account mainly staying pretty simple and not a huge display. I do have a photograph of myself on this account, but I don't provide any other contact information besides the school email which I use to have the account open.

I have a MySpace and Xanga blog for my thesis research. They are not personal blogs and I try really hard to keep them strictly for the pro-ED research. It's mainly to message females who've considered participating in my research. I divulge in these blogs just enough to create some unity and to give a visual to my thesis project and a little about myself.

Once I graduate in the Spring though, I'll be canceling the accounts because they won't be needed anymore. I might consider keeping open the Facebook account, but I probably wouldn't miss it once it was gone. I've also considered creating a personal blog to write about things that I think are important (women's issues, mass media, political news, etc.), but I've never gotten around to it. I might consider doing this once I graduate, but even I do, I'll likely not divulge much at all about myself, but will keep it pretty topic-related. I also won't be posting a photo of myself or any other personal contact information.

I think I've become more in favor in recent years for privacy in terms of online interaction; others seem to be in similar boats. Maybe this whole "Web existence" is really starting to change with more and more coverage in popular media regarding privacy and identity theft.

Melissa said...

I agree with Scott on the point that personal information should be shared interpersonally, rather than digitally. Sharing it digitally dehumanizes the information and doesn't necessarily allow you to be selective as to whom you share it with.

_ said...

facebook is the only social network site that I use. It premiered the fall of my freshman year, so it really defined how I make (facebook) friends and how I keep track of people afterwards. Casual social contacts end up friending you on facebook. Once they've done that, you haven't got an excuse to forget their name in real life. And, while you're learning their name online, you end up perusing their profile so you have something to talk about next time.

For me, the process kept escalating until I found myself with tons of "friends" - all of whom I "knew" a little bit about from their facebook profile - but not a lot of people with whom I'd consider an authentic friendship. Kinda disappointing - and something I tried to remedy this year.

Besides social ties, I am pretty active in using "Events" to draw people in, "Notes" to rant about silly things, and "Photos" to try and present happy images of myself.

Since "the simulacrum is true," some of the information on my facebook profile is bogus. My real friends know things like hometown or favorite activities, and everyone else can guess for themselves. My profile itself is set to private-but-searchable, so if you're not my friend, you can't see my profile or access my photo.

(Speaking of Baudrillard, what do you think about SuperPoke? That's like the ultimate simulacrum. If I "kiss," "lick," or, goodness forbid, "grope" someone, wouldn't it become "true" in real life, and make things awkward - even though nothing happened at all?)

_ said...

For those of you who keep facebook accounts, what kinds of applications do you use?

According to one political theorist, one reason people interact is to disclose the "who" - to learn more about people. If facebook gives us the opportunity to do that online - and adding more and more applications can do that - do you think that we'll move away from interacting with one another in real life?

Erin O'Gara said...
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Erin O'Gara said...

I have a Facebook account, but I don't have any special applications, and my privacy settings are fairly high. The main reason I use the account is to stay in touch with friends who don't live near me, and who aren't close enough to check in with on a regular basis. I'm very careful to not use Facebook as an alternative form of communication with people that I really want to stay in touch with, but rather just as a nice way to keep in contact with some friendships that might otherwise naturally drift apart.

Only my friends can have access to my personal information and any pictures that are tagged of me, and I don't have any sort of blog on the site. As a lot of you have already mentioned, I'm very uncomfortable with the idea of divulging too much personal information online. I don't like to share a lot of personal things about myself in general, but if I do choose to talk with someone about it, I need to be very close to that person and would rather do it face to face.

Etse, thanks for sharing your cell phone experience in Ghana, it was very interesting!

Melissa said...

In response to Samuel's second comment, I only use a few different applications...the ones that won't "clog" my facebook page and keeping me from getting to the information I may want more or deem more important. Like I said before, I use facebook as basically a waste of time, not really to keep up with friends. I have all my friend's numbers in my phone and can call them at any time if I need or want to actually interact with them.

In my opinion, Facebook takes the responsibility out of interpersonal interaction. I think we've already begun neglecting each other in real life due to online simulated communities like Facebook. At the same time, I think this is superficial - it seems that the use of such "communities" like Facebook are important to younger folks the same way music and endless chatting on AIM was important in my youth (and many others I know). Music and chatting has less effect and use in this day and age for me and others than previously. In addition, I believe the younger folks will grow up to not hold Facebook and other online communities to be as important as they are now...perhaps they will move on to blogs...

Etse Sikanku said...

I use facebook and hi5 but facebook more frequently.

The reason for joining facebook first of all was because almost everybody was using it (peer pressure or diffusion by interaction). I also realized when i signed on that i got linked to so many of my former secondary school friends i hadn't met in years. I use it primarily to keep in touch with such people and also by joining facebook groups i get to share in communities with topics that i'm interested in.

I don't have much personal information on facebook since most of the people i communicate with already know much about me. Also, i don't have a photo of myself for my profile picture although my girlfriend insists that i do.

The kind of contact information i have there is my email address. Generally, i've met so many people on face book and i think my use of facebook is mostly to keep in touch with distant friends and join in discussions about different issues so despite people's criticisms about facebook, i have found it very useful.

However i'm considering quitting facebook because i do not trust the privacy settings and moreover it has now been open to the whole world which means a lot more people are going to be able to have access and not just the specific group it was created for which makes it look more like we’ve been taken for a ride.

titun said...

For my online existence, I have Orkut, which is an Internet social network service run by Google. It is intended to help users meet new friends and maintain existing relationships. It is also invitation-only. Users must be invited to join the community by someone already there.

It provides me with an instant online meeting place, where I can socialize, makes new acquaintances and finds others who share my interests. It allows people like me to discover friendships, contact future cquaintances and for the desperate, find the next mate.
Orkut's use as a social tool is multifaceted, as various people frequently try to add strangers to their own pool of friends, more often than not just to increase the number indicating their number of friends next to their name in their profile. Many "add-me" communities exist, solely for this purpose. A large number of bogus, cloned, fake profiles also exist, which again raises the question, how far should we go to provide our personal information as there are so many prying eyes hawking at us.

My other big social network is Hi5, which is a massive My Space-style network. This site targets the teens and twenties demographics.
Like most social networks, hi5 gives users a profile page which includes their name, gender, location and a profile picture.
Like orkut we can chat with Friends, share photos and use other fun features. What I like about these “online networks” is you can add friends by sending a friend request or inviting people via email. In addition, you can rediscover old friends by adding your school in the Classmates section, post items on the bulletin boards, adds members to your favorites join groups and send messages to other users.
Though I have used these online networks for a long time, I must say these sites provide more of a diversion to me than anything else. It’s like drug, once you start looking, you want to keep going, with who did what and where with whom. What happened to that someone and so forth.
I agree with some of my classmates, and yes there are random, weird people out there who will occasionally send you a friendly request and if you do not oblige, leave countless messages in your inbox.
I think we as savvy technology geeks have to balance out our acts and decided for ourselves how much time do I really need to devote?