[thingist] the thing with facebook
w at thing.net
Thu Jul 15 00:28:59 UTC 2010
Caspar Stracke wrote:
> Re: Facebook links and interaction with social media
> absolutely not necessary in my opinion. A Facebook antidote? Despite
> debates on privacy, I dont really understand the big fuss here. What
> has one to do with the other?
> People come to fb to giggle with (or at) their friends or -as some
> THING members- becoming friends with Paul the octopus. That's it.
i am always surprised how sanguine some people, who in many other
respects display some degree of critical faculty, take the facebook
phenomenon. during the dot com years, i somehow got on the list of a
focus group head hunter. he probably thought the "ceo" of thing.net
would be a qualified participant for focus groups that dealt with new
online services, technical products, advertising and these kind of
things. i often gladly accepted, since the groups met in the early
evening, not too far from the office, and included coffee and sandwiches
and at the end of a 90 minute session an envelop stuffed with $200 in
cash. this is the difference, facebook doesn't give you free coffee and
cash and behind the one-way mirror glass wall there are no human
marketing spooks watching you, but banks of computers registering your
every "like" and aggregating it into mind-blowing amounts of marketing
recently some web sites popped up helping facebook and other social
networking aficionados to "commit suicide," sites like
http://www.seppukoo.com/ and http://suicidemachine.org/ (btw, the
southpark episode is worth the download). they all were hit with cease
and desist orders from zuckerberg & co and surprisingly they all
complied. another indicator how media culture has changed. we relished
those fights and employed every trick in the book to keep going and
provide time and legal wiggle room, didn't matter whether the opponent
was DOW or eToy or Mattel.
recently on the idc list an aricle appeared which i am reposting below.
the author of the article notes the suicide phenomenon on social media
networks and suggest an even more effective method of resistance. stay
on and just befriend everybody and like everything, just flood the
system with meaningless clutter (not that it isn't full of that
already). so THE THING member you allude to, the one befriending paul
the oracle octopus, is doing just that. back when i was doing these
focus group sessions, i was almost always bored to death with the
products or design suggestions, so i invented answers i thought they
might be fishing for or sometimes i just went for the opposite. it was
a similar strategy. at least i was paid handsomely for my time.
---- from iDC list --------------------------------------------
Sean Dockray wrote:
Everyone now wants to know how to remove themselves from social
networks. It has become absolutely clear that our relationships to
others are mere points in the aggregation of marketing data. Political
campaigns, the sale of commodities, the promotion of entertainment –
this is the outcome of our expression of likes and affinities. And at
what cost? The reward is obvious: we no longer have to tolerate
advertisements for things for which we have no interest. Instead our
social relations are saturated with public relations. But at least it is
Unlike the old days, when we could invent online identities daily, our
social networks today require fidelity between our physical self and our
online self. The situation is unbearable.
The frightening consequence of it all is that we believe in the value of
these networks. We understand perfectly well that our privacy is being
renegotiated without our consent; the rules are changing in plain view;
but we still participate! It is like a new form of money, something we
realize is a myth, but we act like it is real and that is its power. We
can’t leave because everyone else is there! Or because we are invested
in the myth ourselves.
The question is how do we extract ourselves from this predicament?
Recently, some programmers figured out how to computationally do exactly
this. By entering in your username and password, the software would
delete as much information as possible, ultimately removing the account
itself. It was a radical enough idea to attract the legal attention of
This software did not go far enough!
When someone disappears from Facebook, does anyone notice? Does this
software retroactively invalidate all of the marketing data that has
been collected from the account? Has this person de-dividuated
themselves? No, silence has not disrupted the system in the slightest!
Social networks need a social suicide. In the same way that 99.99999% of
users on Facebook don’t exist within the cloistered world of one’s home
page, an invisible user – one who has committed suicide – is simply a
non-factor in the constant and regular computational logic of the thing.
The answer isn’t silence, but noise!
Suicide on a social network is a matter of introducing noise into the
system. It spreads viruses and misinformation. It makes things less
interesting for others. It disrupts the finely calibrated advertising
algorithms on which suggestions are made – for friends, groups,
institutions, ideas, and so on. Social networking captures, quantifies,
and capitalizes on positive feedback. It records and reproduces
similarity. Oh yes, everyone is not watching one of three mass-produced
choices; but beneath all of the possibilities there is only one choice!
The one for you!
A roadmap for an effective Facebook suicide should do some of the
following: catching as many viruses as possible; click on as many “Like”
buttons as possible; join as many groups as possible; request as many
friends as possible. Wherever there is the possibility for action, take
it, and take it without any thought whatsoever. Become a machine for
clicking! Every click dissolves the virtual double that Facebook has
created for you. It disperses you into the digital lives of others you
hadn’t thought of communicating with. It confuses your friends. It pulls
all those parts of the world that your social network refuses to engage
with back into focus, makes it present again.
Invisibility comes in many forms, and on social networks it is the form
of a radical overload of information – a maximum participation. No more
thought, because every considered click adds to the collaborative
filtering algorithms that makes sure everyone continues to like what
they like, but in slightly modified form. Click everywhere, click often,
and don’t stop until you have disappeared beneath a flood of
This is a call for suicide, for the abandonment of seriousness and
belief. It is a call to reclaim ourselves from the sad version of
ourselves that lives in that bloodless village. Don’t become nothing,
the singular point defined by an absence, become everything, with
everyone else. Drown the system in data and make a new world in the
ruins that remain!
iDC — mailing list of the Institute for Distributed Creativity
and if you are still not clear what "the big fuss about privacy and
facebook" is about, here is a starter via bruce sterling:
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