The Hipster Effect » facebook Identity, society and work in the age of perpetual connectivity Tue, 26 Mar 2013 00:35:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Your Facebook identity: comic edition /2012/03/23/your-facebook-identity-comic-edition/ /2012/03/23/your-facebook-identity-comic-edition/#comments Fri, 23 Mar 2012 19:04:52 +0000 Sophy Bot /?p=622 more]]> So apparently Facebook no longer has a privacy policy. Yep, that’s right – what was once its “Privacy Policy” has now become its “Data Use Policy,” which, to be fair, is a more accurate assessment of the policy’s actual content. After all, what Facebook is talking about here is all the different ways it’s going to use the mounds of personal data we willingly feed into it. The funny thing is, that important but telling name change happened way back in September, but only last week did Facebook officially announce that and other important changes to its policies (remember, there are 845 million of us directly affected by such changes).

And so, in honor of these disconcertingly flippant updates, here’s a batch of comics poking fun at the inherently open nature of our Facebook identities. Nervous laughter ahoy.
















Image credits: The Joy of Tech, Mashable, Toothpaste for Dinner, Savage Chickens


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Gone Babel fishin’ /2011/10/11/gone-babel-fishin/ /2011/10/11/gone-babel-fishin/#comments Tue, 11 Oct 2011 02:03:44 +0000 Sophy Bot /?p=234 more]]> What if you could understand anything? Not in an omniscient, faith-challenging kind of way, but in a Douglas Adams, stick-this-fish-in-your-ear-and-you’ll-understand-any-language kind of way? In other words: what if you could easily translate anything?

A couple of decades ago, your exposure to other languages was limited to the scope of your world travel and the multiculturalism of the neighborhood you lived in. You weren’t routinely exposed to the cultural output of another country – much less of many other countries – and there was no need to engage in dialogue with people on the other side of the world. Not until the internet brought down geographic barriers and brought us all online, that is. Now, we’re regularly exposed to information from other cultures and conversations in other languages but, despite the availability of text-based online translators, we remain in the dark to most of what occurs in languages we do not speak. So while the internet was awesome in introducing me to the amazing Swedish electro-swing/hip-hop band Movits!…



…it gave me no indication as to what was being said (indeed, one of the video’s top comments is “Thumbs up if you like this song, even if you don’t understand a word”), nor am I privy to what’s being discussed in the Swedish-language comments left underneath the video. Leave it to Facebook to try and solve the problem of the confusingly multilingual conversation.


A recent post on Mashable points to a newly released weapon in the Facebook arsenal: seamless, built-in translation. This particular tool one-ups others like Google Translate by allowing bilingual users to enter their own translation, which other users can then vote up or down based on accuracy. With a service like this, not only could I understand the comments taking place about my favorite Swedish band, I’d also be able to participate in the conversation, no matter what language I spoke. I’m reminded of a real-life example of this when, at a dinner in Berlin, I had an hour-long conversation with somebody who was speaking German while I spoke English. Each of us had enough knowledge of the other’s language to understand what was being said, but neither was skilled enough to respond in it. Similarly, allowing on-the-fly translations in an online conversation would allow each person to contribute in their language of choice, while still understanding all of the others. And while we’ve not yet progressed to the level of technology where putting something in your ear automatically allows you to understand other languages, surely this is the next best thing.

The internet has already opened up conversations to any and all languages. The next logical step is to open up communication across the linguistic divide. Instead of having an English-language forum here, a German-language forum there, and a Swedish-language forum there, now we can have a single forum where understanding the other participants is as easy as clicking the translate button. There will, of course, be cultural barriers to understanding, but with the ability to understand one another’s words will come the ability to explain and understand one another’s views. Allowing open conversations to take place across cultural divides promises to expose us to new ways of thinking and to further widen our already expanded worldviews.

Now pardon me while I go look up the Swedish translation of “f*** yeah.”


Screenshot credit: Mashable

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I’m being bullied to rejoin Facebook /2011/10/01/im-being-bullied-to-rejoin-facebook/ /2011/10/01/im-being-bullied-to-rejoin-facebook/#comments Sat, 01 Oct 2011 23:40:31 +0000 Sophy Bot /?p=167 more]]> To Facebook or not to Facebook? That is the question, or at least it is for me right now. I quit Facebook back in April 2009 citing a variety of reasons, the undertone of which was, “I don’t like what Facebook does to communication.” Back then, I never imagined there would be a day when I would have to rejoin. But now, two and a half years later, the pressure is mounting and I’m beginning to question whether I can be a full-fledged member of modern society without caving in and reactivating my long-dormant account.

It all started a year ago when a little birdie told me, “You should write a non-fiction book,” and then proceeded to make me its personal work slave. “Research this!,” the birdie told me. “Research that!,” it said. “Now start writing!,” it told me some months later and, more recently still, “It’s time to start blogging!” With blogging came promotion, with promotion came social networking, and with social networking came – you guessed it – Facebook. Or at least it might now have to.

In the process of creating and promoting this blog, I’m beginning to wonder whether I’ll be able to continue my work without rejoining Facebook. And while I do miss some of the social aspects of the site and, considering that I tend to move to a new city every few months, it really would make it easier to stay in touch, the reasons for my current troubles are directly tied to my work life. Following are the top three barriers I am now facing because of my personal decision not to participate in Facebook, and why it is that I’m truly feeling bullied into rejoining the network.

1. There are sites I can’t comment on.

A couple of days ago, I was reading an interesting article on TechCrunch and immediately scrolled down to the comments section, only to find that the site requires you to sign into Facebook before giving your opinion. This precludes me from joining any conversation on that site or any others that, like TechCrunch, require you to sign in through the Facebook social plugin. And though I’m also given the option of logging in via Yahoo, AOL or Hotmail (who uses those anymore?), I’m not given the option to log in through any sites that I actually do use, like Google, Twitter or LinkedIn. The implied message is a bit daunting: if you’re not on Facebook, you’re not welcome here.

2. There are services I can’t sign up for.

Last week, internet music service Spotify made waves when people realized it requires a Facebook account to sign up. Sure, there are other music sites out there, but with Spotify being hailed as the best free service around, I’ll be blatant: it kinda sucks that I can’t join. Similarly, I kept on reading about group-listening service this summer but, when I finally headed over to the site to check it out… you got it, also requires a Facebook account. With the growing ubiquity of Facebook, I can understand why developers would rather piggyback off of its existing user base rather than create a new system, but come on. I am on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. Why should I be required to use one particular social network to join, without being given the option of using another? Without the ability to join these sites, I’m completely left out of the loop, and that directly affects my business.

3. There are pages I can’t see and information I can’t get to.

As a regularly performing DJ who’s heavily hooked into the arts and music culture (not to mention the entrepreneurial networking scene), I tend to go to a lot of events. The problem is, sometimes I can’t even see what I’m invited to. More and more event organizers are using Facebook as their main avenue for posting event details and collecting RSVP lists, leaving non-Facebookers like me in the dark. And while the larger promoters tend to have dedicated pages for their events, others post absolutely no details outside of the Facebook barrier. Yet again, the implication is stark: if you’re not on Facebook, you probably shouldn’t be coming to our event anyways.


Beyond all that, there are of course a great many missed opportunities to connect with friends and to network with possible business partners, but that’s something I’ve always been willing to chalk up to my own decision to avoid the Facebook life. Unfortunately, now that I’ve launched a new blog and am beginning promotion of my forthcoming book, the business reasons to rejoin Facebook are overwhelming. So I ask you this, readers: have we reached the point of no return with Facebook? Can you still fully participate in social and entrepreneurial culture without a Facebook account? And if not, what does that mean for those of us who don’t want to join, especially in the face of increasingly stark privacy issues?


Note: It is October 10th and I am rejoining Facebook. Talk about an ideological bummer.

Image credit: birgerking

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Facebook cradle to Facebook grave /2011/09/22/from-facebook-cradle-to-facebook-grave/ /2011/09/22/from-facebook-cradle-to-facebook-grave/#comments Thu, 22 Sep 2011 21:34:41 +0000 Sophy Bot /?p=76 more]]> Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled today a new version of its website that does away with the traditional profile page in favor of a personal timeline inviting you to “tell your life story.” A preview video posted on the Facebook website hints at a life lived entirely online, from youth photos to marital bliss to the new baby in the family, and presumably on and on throughout the generations. It demonstrates what a life meticulously documented and shared online would actually look like, but a closer look shows us that it’s already happening. A full 81% of children have a digital footprint by the time they turn 2 years old, with 23% of children having pre-birth scans uploaded by their parents. On the other end of the human timeline, a whole slew of companies has been coming forth to deal with your online legacy after you die, and Facebook itself memorializes user pages and allows friends and family to post to the memorialized wall. Is the concept of a Facebook timeline really that surprising, then?

Although the majority of users are crying foul at the newly announced redesign, past experience has shown us that Facebook overhauls are met with an initial clamor followed by quiet adaptation. And indeed, Zuckerberg seems to have hit the mark with this recent announcement. The question is, are we really ready to deal with a transparent life?


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Franks and Quaints /2011/09/22/franks-and-quaints/ /2011/09/22/franks-and-quaints/#comments Thu, 22 Sep 2011 19:00:22 +0000 Sophy Bot /?p=70 more]]> Chances are, you’ve said it or heard somebody say it within the last day: “Oh yeah, I’ve got a friend who’s involved in that / has worked with them / has one of those / also collects mint condition Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figures.” With the rise of internet groups and social networks, the average individual is connected to more people than ever before. Whereas once your social ties were limited to your immediate geographic area, the internet allows you to connect with people all around the world. What’s more than that, the nature of social networks allows you to stay connected. That elementary school friend that moved to another state is no longer lost to the ages – she’s right there on Facebook, and apparently she’s now got three kids and likes ham sandwiches.

Your average Facebook user has 130 friends. That’s 130 jobs, 130 homes, 130 wardrobes and 130 lifestyles, the elements of which all flash upon your news feed on a daily basis. So when in casual conversation, somebody mentions that cool new music streaming service they’ve just joined, there’s a good chance you’ll respond, “Oh yeah, I’ve got a friend who uses that.” But is “friend” really the right word?

I brought this question up at a party last night, asking why we don’t have a shorter form of the word “acquaintance,” because, let’s be honest, most of the time that’s actually what we’re talking about. I asked if we couldn’t shorten it to quaint, saying “Oh yeah, I’ve got a quaint who does that.” At this point, one of my conversational partners looked around the room and asked, “Well no, quaint wouldn’t really be appropriate for these people here, would it?” And indeed, standing in a photography studio surrounded by taxidermied animals and pop art and the kind of mad crowd that would gather in such a clandestine setting, I had to agree.

“What about Franks?” asked another conversational partner. “You could call those other people Franks. You could have a Frank who does that.”

As we discussed the matter further, the conclusion we came to was this: it’s true that many of the people we refer to as “friends” in everyday conversation are actually no more than acquaintances. It’s also true that the word “acquaintance” has a stiff, formal tone to it, and just isn’t as simple to use as “friend.” A new word is needed. And so, Internet, I pose to you a challenge. We are the generation that got LOL, OMG, <3 and mankini added to the Oxford English Dictionary. We’re quite adept at creating and adopting consistently new slang. So why have we not yet created a simple word for the type of acquaintance that we all have a lot more of these days? Any suggestions?

Photo credit: Rubenstein


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The internet we breathe /2011/09/21/the-internet-we-breathe/ /2011/09/21/the-internet-we-breathe/#comments Wed, 21 Sep 2011 20:36:44 +0000 Sophy Bot /?p=64 more]]> Early man might have had that whole fire thing going for him, but that’s nothing compared to our newest resource of choice: the internet. A new study released by Cisco found that 1 in 3 college students and employees ranks the internet as a fundamental resource for the human race – right up there with air, water, food and shelter. More than half of those surveyed said they could not live without the internet, and 2 in 3 respondents said, if forced to make a choice, they would choose the internet over having a car. The message is clear: life without the internet is no longer a viable option.

Another interesting finding of the study illustrates how the shaky divide between life and work is tumbling down. Fully 7 in 10 employees said they “friended” their managers and/or coworkers on Facebook. With nearly 9 in 10 employees globally maintaining an active Facebook account, statistics are proving what common sense has been pointing to for years: there’s no denying that our social lives and our business lives are increasingly tied together. To top it all off, smartphone penetration continues to increase, with more than half of employees surveyed calling their mobile device “the most important technology in their lives.” So not only do we friend our bosses, we take them with us everywhere we go, and 33% of us consider the ability to do so as important as breathing and eating. More statistics after the jump.

via GigaOM

Photo credit: Alex E. Proimos


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