Sunday, February 28, 2010

Facebook v Blogger, encore

[illustration: an alchemical hermaphroditic past-future gazing medieval Janus you'd recognize if you were our FB friend]

by J J Cohen

Once or twice I've mentioned here my concern that social media sites,* with their somewhat closed architecture, have supplanted blogs, with their open to serendipity, inherently public feel (and I write "feel" because ITM is moderated: though it can be read by anyone who comes along, comments that advertise pharmaceuticals or gratuitously troll do not get published. We are talking about perhaps .5% of all comments submitted, but still: there is selection). I'm going to stop using martial words like supplant or kill to describe the social media "versus" blog "battle," though, because I don't believe we're seeing succession or replacement so much as integration and supplementation. Our FB ITM page has 254 friends. We place a link to our new blog posts there, and it's been interesting (heartening, really) to see that we get a small flurry of comments, often by readers who do not comment at the blog site. We also post some items on FB that don't make it to the ITM main page, such as: a link to a post by ADM on the job market; a link to an article in the Times that claims a fourth-century York grave belonged to an elite black-skinned Roman; and my wondering if we should change our icon of a Roman Janus coin to something more medieval. All of these have spurred good conversations.

I've also noticed a large number of non-medievalists have found their way to ITM via Karl and my Twitter streams, especially through tweets being retweeted. The job market post was especially well disseminated in this way.

This Sunday morning ITM post, born from the fact that possibly for the first time in our entire history the Cohen family has not a single obligation on our calendar, is just to say: I'm less worried about one mode or sphere taking the place of another than I used to be, and more hopeful about overlap and integration.

*Why do people still say "social media sites" that now that we are down to one absolutely dominant space, FB?


Unknown said...

i've thought about this too, having basically abandoned my old blog in favor of FB. Since I communicate with students that way, I even have to remind myself to go to the class blog to post ideas and assignments. I met a couple of lovely friends blogging (including one in Norway whom I'll meet this summer), and endured some trolls and porn sites. FB is altogether different. The Notes section doesn't compare with the posting routine of a blog. Yet the status line is a marvelous little training ground for the succinct and the ambiguous.

However, I think I am the quintessential fan to prove your point: the way I found you was through John Walter (a blogging friend) and Tiny Shriner, which was a FB phenom, for me anyway. Y

Another Damned Medievalist said...

I think it's down to purpose. Blogging gave me a community of friends, but that community also changed the way I participated in blogging. Initially, I was reading a lot of more heavy-hitting blogs, like Crooked Timber, TPM, and Bitch, PhD -- and commenting on them. As I met more and more of the people whose blogs I read, I started to devote more of my reading time to "people I know", because I was interested in the people as much as what they had to say; this is especially true for those people who have become close RL friends.

Some of them had Live Journals, and some of us put together a writing group on LJ. So I got a LJ, and was able to write and lock down a lot of stuff I couldn't on blogger (that's changed now, but I sort of like having my more public self in one place and my more private self in another). So even though I still blog publicly in one place, I've spent way more time whinging at the other!

Also, is LJ social networking or blogging?

Facebook, as you say, is becoming more of a hybrid. I appreciate your linking ot my last post, because I use facebook as my RL public internet face -- students and colleagues can find me there, and I don't want my students to know about ADM. On the other hand, I do want them to see a bit about me and my family, and the interactions between colleagues (and the OMG factor when they realize that I know a lot of people who come up in their reading).

I am really glad you have posted about this, though. It has made me re-think how I interact with people on the internet, and that I *have* allowed some of what I see as semi-professional writing to fall by the wayside in favor of the quick 'how are my friends doing' fixes. And my writing at Blogenspiel is something that does help keep my head in the academic game, so I do need to be reminded of its importance now and then.

Any lack of coherence in this comment is brought to you by loud neighbors and lack of caffeine :-)

Unknown said...

Uh...where am I? I subscribed to a news feed called ICurrent, recommended by a PCWorld online columnist.

Today it took me to this "", where I am leaving my comments to be sown to the winds...It's much like throwing a bottled message into the sea - if such bottled messages were capable of cloning, mutating and endlessly replicating. Keeping track of its progression is quite impossible, as is anticipating its consequences.

As a creator of several Facebook groups, I see the technology of transmission becoming ever more powerful, while that of tracking and control progressively weakens.

FB does not advise me, as administrator, that a new member has joined my group, that a new member has posted a new discussion topic, that such a member has deleted the topic, or that they have left the group.

If somewhere there exists a comprehensive history of what has been posted to the FB groups I "administer", I don't know where it exists nor how I can access it. And so there may be snapshots of text, images, audio posted on "my" group pages that I have never seen, and know nothing of - yet they are nominally my responsibility...

Messages posted on the walls of other FB groups disappear without warning, explanation, or trace singly and in groups. FB groups exist for which no administrator contact address is posted. And after many months of use, it remains a mystery to me what happens to a FB group if the sole administrator loses his or her FB account (yes, I've asked Facebook "staff", they appear to be as ignorant as everyone else - just less honest about it).

My big question for this new world of uncontrollable and untraceable propagation of commentary is this - how can one protect oneself from being misquoted, misrepresented, even impersonated?

meg said...

I'm not sure I agree -- about FB's exclusive grasp on our social-networking lives, or about the larger point.

Occasionally I lament having gotten on Twitter, since it is an addition, not a replacement for something else. And don't get me started on Buzz.

I use them according to the length of what I wish to say, and sometimes the shorter version gestures toward the longer.

Anonymous said...

MySpace is not yet dead, though few academics use it, and is still in business even though only academics use it. How long will Facebook last? It still isn't profitable and Microsoft have already acquired a share. I wouldn't give up on the older media just yet.