observations from a slightly mad german-american

Friday, June 16, 2006

Interesting Social Phenomena

This rambles. It's quite random. But that's okay. A.D.D. boy is in town.

One wonders sometimes about the psychiatric and sociolical effects of more and more of our lives going online.

With the introduciton of the graphical web browser in the 90's, you suddenly saw an outlet for college students and scientists aross the world to become self publishers. The most common thing that I remember seeing? The "Home Page", which basically listed favorite bands, favorite movies, links to other friends home pages, and maybe a photo or two.

Then came the blog. Self-publishing really takes off with the click of a few buttons. Soon, it seemed *everyone* was blogging. And what were most of them? The Dear Diary variety, with people revealing not just the boring details of their daily life, but the intimate "secrets" that they would never talk about publically. But there it is for the world to see. (As a side note, and I'm guilty of this on MySpace, those are the dullest blogs. Give me something that's *about* something. Give me something to take away. Make it about the reader.)

And if they weren't online diaries, then they were technical or political blogs. (I'm guilty on both counts.) Fun to write, maybe. But boring to read.

Anyways, the main thing is that all of these people are sharing themselves in a BIG way online.

THEN COMES WEB 2.0. Say what you like about that term, but it's taken hold. By that I don't mean the whole interactive rich-client-like AJAX whatever business. I mean the social web. Web sites became dynamic, with their content updated by the users and visitors, not by the One Guy to Rule Them All. del.icio.us, MySpace, Tribe, dailykos, any CivicSpace site.

The Web as Meeting Place really has taken off. MySpace is at, what, 50 million users. That's a big "city". One where each user has their own home page listing -- hah! -- favorite musicians, movies, etc, with links to other friends home pages., etc. Except that this website is dynamically updated by its users. IT's a meeting place. People send messages there instead of via email.

The most intersting thing I've seen their is the way people user testimonials/comments there. Messages that once would have been sent privately are now out there for everyone to see. Often they are replies to private messages. I wonder what the ramifications will be, both for those who embrace this communication style, and for us fuddy-duddies that like old-school propriety.

Twill be interesting.


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