The IRL Fetish

The IRL Fetish:

But this idea that we are trading the offline for the online, though it dominates how we think of the digital and the physical, is myopic. It fails to capture the plain fact that our lived reality is the result of the constant interpenetration of the online and offline. That is, we live in an augmented reality that exists at the intersection of materiality and information, physicality and digitality, bodies and technology, atoms and bits, the off and the online. It is wrong to say “IRL” to mean offline: Facebook is real life.

Really great article about our connected lives. Via Daniel.

“Real-world friends”

I grew up in a time when I didn’t even know what the internet was; I believe I was 14 or 15 when I first logged on. Kids who have grown up with the internet and Myspace and Facebook and all of these things their whole lives will look back and wonder what the heck we meant by “real world” friends, or “social media strategies.” They will see these things as no different than the notes we passed back and forth in class or those first phone calls from your girlfriend that you had to take in your parents’ kitchen because you didn’t have a phone in your bedroom.

Pat Dryburgh –

The Masked Social Network

Effectively Instapaper has found a way to keep its users engaged with the site’s main purpose, reading, while offering users ways of keeping tabs other readers. It’s like getting a peek at someone else’s bookcase, without them knowing that you peeked.

Imagine what would happen if Twitter operated this way: you have no inkling of who is following you and others have no clue if you are following them. You just have an account that you post to, occasionally a person responds to you. The only way you know if a person is following you is when you go to Direct Message them.

Imagine that, because what would really change?

Ben Brooks – The Masked Social Network.

Missing the point with school social networks

I read an Edudemic article this morning about the future of school social networks:

Now, a movement is afoot to create student-friendly social networking sites, which would be limited to education and bound to particular districts or schools. These sites would give students the chance to communicate with peers in person and via the computer, in a setting not unlike an online school. Yet the most desirable aspect of school-friendly social networks may be that they would allow students to work together in a productive manner, while providing adults with the peace of mind sites like Facebook simply cannot offer.

This is all well-intentioned but it likely won’t be successful in any meaningful way.

It reminds me of educational video games. Things that education executives draw up to try to marry technology with their version of learning. They don’t work. You can’t create a video game that kids will want to play by removing its soul.

Similarly, creating a school social network by allowing for social connections which parents, teachers, and administrators approve of misses the point. You’re leaving out the soul of a network. It’s this soul that makes Facebook and Twitter so appealing in the first place.

Growing up outside of a very small, rural town meant being extremely isolated in many ways. Had you told a junior high or high school version of myself that I could use something like Twitter, Facebook, or, hell, even my blog to connect through shared interests with people irrespective of place, age, or social status I would have been floored.

That’s the soul of these platforms. That’s what makes them revolutionary for schooling. If you think creating sanitized, school-friendly networks watched over by parents and administrators is going to create any meaningful learning opportunities then you’re totally missing the point.

Educate kids on proper usage. Teach them online safety. Show them the power of serendipitous connections to people a world away. But don’t, for their own sake, limit their potential because of fear.

Google+ and importing identity

Thanks to an early invite from Raanan I played with Google+ over the weekend. I want to jot down one thought about how Google+ treats identity.

A significant barrier to entry for many social tools is finding the people you already know who are using the service. This is what gets you hooked on a social service.

After logging in and exploring the UI for a bit I went to start creating circles. Here are the options, besides search of course, Google gives for finding people.

Yahoo! and Hotmail are the only two external contact sources I can use. 1 Those of us who have taken the time and carefully created lists of people we follow elsewhere should be able to import those networks directly into Google+. I don’t particularly care about the people Google recommends for me to follow.

With all the data Google has they could be populating lists of people. Instead presenting new users with their email address book, Google recommendations, and Yahoo! and Hotmail imports Google+ could instead be pulling data from Twitter, Facebook, Google Reader, and much more. Break each service into a filtered list and voilà, easy and relevant user discovery for first-time users.

Our identities online are formed by much more than our address books. If Google+ is what comes next it would be nice if they acknowledged and worked with this.

What’s important as a first run experience on Google+ is whether the people I follow elsewhere are already there. The easier it is for people to bring in their existing networks of friends and followers the better Google+ will fare.


  1. Seriously?! How miniscule is the Venn diagram of Google+ and Hotmail users?