Camille Reyes

Archive for the ‘Social Networks’ Category

The State of Media sponsored by a URL Shortener

In media, Social Networks on March 26, 2012 at 11:40 am

An interactive map that shows the relative popularity of media outlets by state? Sign me up! I am straight-up fascinated by this project between Bitly (the peeps who shorten web links) and Forbes. For instance, seeing my Oregon bathed in the pea soup green of NPR overflows my giant bowl of Portland pride. Notice I say Portland and not Oregon. That’s one of the issues with this study as it tracks social media sharing, and I seriously doubt residents in rural Oregon are chatting about one Melissa Block. Have you ever been to John Day? I didn’t think so.

Mmmm, painted hills. (Photo:

Before I continue to point out some other concerns with this study/project, I want to stress how cool I think it is. They get a gold star for grabbing my interest, for making me share and care. Their advertisers should be pleased. Now, on with the rub …

“When you share or click a link on a social network like Facebook or Twitter, you’re most likely using a Bitly link.”

Know your memes! Know your political economy of media!

Uh, this was written by “friends” at Bitly. What’s in it for Bitly? Facebook has their own proprietary link shortener called I’d have to research if they still use it, or if they’ve dumped it for another service. My point is, the way this is phrased, it is unclear how the process works and how many people are using these links. I may “likely” be using Bitly if it is shortened automatically due to an agreement with Facebook and Twitter, otherwise, I can assure you, I’m likely not. What’s the ratio of traditional hyperlinks to shortened links (regardless of ownership)? It’s also likely that the data makes claims about the population of Bitly users in a state and not the entire state of Oregon, for example. But it is more impressive to look at a map of the U.S. vs. a map of Bitly users.

This is where I would expect Forbes, as a media outlet, to force their friends at Bitly to show a little more Jolie leg, i.e. lift the shroud over the research and give us some numbers, please. I think a standard deviation is some sort of ho-hum night at a gay bar. So when I ask for more numbers, your eyebrow should be arched high, very high.

Pesky Apples and Oranges

Is the Onion (number one in Wisconsin) a media outlet? Here our “friends” at Forbes and Bitly conflate entertainment and news. This is actually a fun debate, and I typically come out on the side of potent vegetables as news; ditto for John Stewart’s show. But if it is news, I think we can all agree that an onion is not an orange, the Colbert Report is not the New York Times. The way information is delivered matters, in this case, to consumption and sharing. What does it mean that satire is more popular than reportage among Bitly users in Wisconsin? This is the state that has shown incredible union solidarity in the face of a particularly nasty Republican campaign to bust unions and feed the rich. I know this because I watch Rachel Maddow on MSNBC. What does this say about me? Are Bitly using Wisconsinites more inclined to share satire because they need more comic relief? Does the Onion simply “cover” Wisconsin more? If so, did this push this result or will Wisconsin Bitlyheads tweet the Onion out of some form of media pride, the way Portlanders drink NPR by the gallon and eat their libraries?

And what of the medium itself? Is there something inherently more “shareable” about print news over audio/visual news? If more people consume news at work, is the A/V content too obvious, i.e. more likely to be detected on the boss radar?

Finally, who are these Bitly users? We may assume they are on the computer holding side of the digital divide. This fact alone leaves a lot of people out. Again, I want numbers at the very least. Idaho peeps may indeed watch a lot of MSNBC, but you say potato and I say potato. I’m not sure which tots we’re talking about. Hey, Pennsylvania, pass the ketchup and the Huffington Post.

Link (non-shortened-heh,heh) to the Forbes story:


The Social Network Review For My Social Network

In Culture, Film, Social Networks on October 4, 2010 at 12:20 am

Try as I might to convince myself that The Social Network is a work of fiction loosely based on real events, I found myself annoyed with the similarities between what I think I know (I’ll get to that) and what was on the screen.  I’m not a fan of Zuckerberg, although I love his software so my discomfort had nothing to do with any awkward sympathy.  No, it was that the film didn’t develop Zuck as a character enough for me, and that it didn’t capture the extremely rare moment in our global culture that he helped to create.  It was too truthy to be entertaining, and too fake to be realistic.

Again, let me be clear, I think Mark Zuckerberg is an ass, at least his public persona at any rate.  I saw him attempt to keynote at the SXSW Interactive Festival years ago.  It was a Q&A format with a journalist who shant be name because I still feel sorry for her.  He was mostly non-responsive save for the sarcastic bon mot, and he watched her go down in a blaze of grotesque self-promotional glory.  Some people barf when they are nervous; the reporter vomited narcissism.

Zuckerberg’s latest PR stunt with the donation to Newark schools is one for the misdirection annals.  On Oprah, she said he had wanted to remain anonymous at first, but later he was persuaded to make it public.  Yes, so he just happened to be persuaded to reveal this information the week before a biopic he has publicly derided is released.  Apparently there was no question on his SAT asking him if we were born yesterday.

That being said, I read David Kirkpatrick’s The Facebook Effect with complete relish and mustard, too.  He really captures the genius of Zuckerberg and his cronies.  The cultural moment is also conveyed without superfluous ballyhoo.  I’d say read the book over the movie.  I have not read The Accidental Billionaires upon which the film is based, and now I have no desire to do so.

I must give proper credit to the zippy Aaron Sorkin script.  We’ve all missed Josh and C.J. delivering insider zingers in the hallways, and Sorkin does not disappoint with his 64 bit dialogue.  The performances were also excellent, especially Justin Timberlake.  Full disclosure: I still listen regularly to Future, Sex, Love Sounds.  So there’s that.

So maybe I’m blaming director David Fincher?  To be honest, I want all of his movies to be Fight Club, and that’s just not fair.  Still, a shot of Tyler Durden would’ve been welcome, something to shake up Zuck’s blank stares.  Really, if I wanted to watch Zuck in action, I’d call up any number of his press interviews on YouTube (I did actually for a paper last semester on privacy rhetoric.)  Also, the frosty breathing special effect was too L.A. studio, not enough Boston winter.  Try again, lads.  I expected more from the Trent Reznor (whoa!) score, too. But again, I want all of his work to be Pretty Little Hate Machine.  I’m flawed, but I’m the blogger, bitch! Bottom line, I wasn’t entertained enough.  Facebook is literally my homepage.  Perhaps my relationship with the material is to blame; it’s complicated.

When censorship-for-politeness ends and I-just-don’t-give-a-f*ck-anymore begins

In Social Networks on September 26, 2010 at 9:13 pm

Guest blogger Savantemeritus appears courtesy of “The Project for Sustained Mental Stimulation.”  She is a fellow grad student in Media, Culture and Communication at NYU.  Gorditamedia knows talent.  You can thank me later.  Comments encouraged.

I had the opportunity to consider the issue of the online identity recently for a class on digital media. The superstar controversies were of course privacy, data-mining, oversharing, and, rather obliquely, a consideration of the plausibility of a Skynet/ HAL-like device coming into reality (the discussion ran quite the gamut). While it was the tendency of most (full disclosure: myself as well) to pontificate their views on these phenomena on a macrosocial scale, I turned the lens inward after class and asked myself the question: when did I stop caring about my overtly liberal link posts and clearly er, dishonorable pictures on Facebook, this despite knowing my ultra-conservative, hyper-Catholic family members lurked in the shadows of my ‘recent activity’? I knew the answer immediately and I borrow the words of my favorite romantic line of all time, courtesy of Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy in ‘Pride and Prejudice’:

“I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.”

Perhaps a big reason is that 1) I know they are not online enough to be offended by my ‘true’ self (while the nature of truth and self is another cogitation requiring a lot more meditation and neuroscience than I can afford right now, for the purposes of this post, let us say that one’s ‘true self’ online is the behavior one exhibits when one is burdened with the least amount of hesitation and the most amount of what we feel is an action most loyal to our sense of personal authenticity). Or if they are like the average online American who spends about 14 minutes on Facebook per day, it might also be because they 2) don’t care about me as much as the narcissism promoted by Facebook has led me to believe or 3) I’m safely lost in the overwhelming stream of their newsfeed. The other category of justification has a tangential relationship to reason #3: most of my Facebook friends are young, like-minded individuals and by constituting a majority of that friend list, they give me enough comfort to express my (contested) ‘true self’.

I remember late in 2006 when slowly but surely, people outside my college life started trickling into the service. First it was the more hip younger relatives, friends from high school and friends from abroad. It was becoming what Friendster or MySpace just never got to- the global critical mass that allowed for a one-stop site where I could find people and be found. I was thrilled; I reveled; I went on mad friend request frenzies. And then, a relative who was head of the local church organization popped up on the request page. And once you go down that path of saying yes to one, it becomes a slippery slope, a snowball… a bloody disaster. Pretty soon there were over thirty members from various branches of both maternal and paternal family tree. What followed was an equally mad frenzy of photo untagging and eventually, a near cessation of active Facebooking.

That was censorship for the sake of politeness. It wasn’t all the fault of Facebook’s open registration- I was graduating from college, neck-up in a thesis and looking for jobs. But no doubt, a significant part of the decline was that it became too onerous to consider whether I could stand to live with dissenting kin, and even dissenting ‘friends’ knowing my stand on reproductive rights or marijuana legalization.

By seeing the scale of variation among my relatives, friends and acquaintances, the painful wonder of the multi-faceted self, that the self is quite variable, hit me and the difficulty of maintaining any sense of authentic self in the face of an audience of such aggregated temporal, geographic and personal difference just became too hard.

So instead I became a voyeur, a casual Facebook stalker on nights when I ran out of episodes to catch up on the DVR. But about a year later, I found myself in grad school– tagging myself in the same dishonorable photos I forswore, thoughtlessly liking pro-gay marriage links and sharing an analysis of the health care overhaul for my own little discordant Facebook world to see. And just like the start of Mr. Darcy’s love for Elizabeth Bennett, I could not “fix on the hour, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation.”  I just was. And upon reflection, this change in behavior was a reflection of a change in focus- I was no longer thinking that what I was putting out there was for everyone. I was posting mostly for my graduate peers, who were actively engaged in all sorts of social networks. Their activity inspired me to participate and they became my primary audience. This happens to coincide with Lento et. al’s findings that “a user’s retention and interest in blogging could be predicted by the comments received and continued relationship with other active members of that community” (quoted from Java et. al). It is not that I stopped caring what everyone thought… it is because my social barometer had adjusted to be more sensitive to my immediate community (graduate students) online than the rest of the digi-zens populating my online social network.

Ever dependable is our brain. Responding to the contradictory pressures wrought by bringing one’s divergent offline worlds to one virtual universe, it develops an adaptation: caring about what certain people think. This isn’t new, if you really think about it. I remember living in an analog world and selectively caring-what-other-people-think as a sanity preserving tool. I learned this fairly quickly. The only difference is, back then, a massive server in some anonymous data center was not there to document one’s personal evolution for posterity’s review.


Buzz Humana

In Social Networks on February 27, 2010 at 5:16 pm

This piece by Jeff Jarvis is perhaps the best thing I’ve read on the changing nature of the media, that old chestnut of new media v. old media.  I have no idea who Jarvis is (yet), but he references folks I am familiar with like Clay Shirky.  I also found this piece thanks to NYU J-Professor Jay Rosen’s tweet stream, which seems extremely fitting given the way authority in content has shifted.

I was actually talking about many of these ideas, although far less logically, with a professor a couple of weeks ago.  I said much attention had been given to citizen journalists or this trend of user-generated content, but what of the editors?  Who chooses the content for the front page when that concept is fast becoming an artifact? I came into NYU with an interest in news credibility and the role of aggregation, still wholly relevant as suggested by Jarvis’ model.  Yet now, I am more intrigued by the human link section of his diagram.

I’m finding a huge portion of my information these days through human links via Twitter and Facebook.  I also share a consistent amount of links.  We are becoming mass editors, taming the information overload through our own identities.  Credibility too is less of a top-down, centralized affair and more of  a set of individuals waxing and waning trust and popularity with megaphones of various sizes.  It’s much more than Gladwell’s Tipping Point, much more than the cool kids creating culture.  My grandmother could use her substantial trust capital, and with a dash of branding and base technical guidance from me, generate her own following, her own publishing empire.  The possibilities are dizzying, and incredibly fun if you’re interested more in ideas than money.  It’s a tough time to be a ruthless capitalist.  You need to care or you will bleed out, stabbed by a primordial business model and a new domineering audience.

The content author is still incredibly important.  The stuff must originate from somewhere; content is still queen (c’mon did you really think I’d give it to him?).  Yet I keep gravitating toward that human link orbit.  I’ve long been fascinated by this role called curator.  As early as high school, I was noted for my ability to synthesize information from diverse fields, a kind of intellect that feeds on breadth and connection.  It occurs to me that this preference is what tractor beamed me to the Media, Culture and Communication program at NYU, and what propels my fascination with social networks.  Academia on the whole however, by my observation, favors depth over breadth—the esoteric trapped in a brown tweed blazer with elbow patches and a pipe.  This could prove problematic for me if I decide to pursue my doctorate.  I’m having a hard enough time choosing a thesis topic.  Commit to one idea?  Would you tell a bee to only pollinate one flower?

Buzz off!  (Follow me and all my flowers, even the wilted Bunnicula-ed ones, on Twitter at gorditamedia.)

Speaking of bunnies (see how I flit about?):