I am at SXSW this morning. I just came from the session “Is Privacy Dead or Just Very Confused?” about the difference between private and public spheres and how they are contextual and social contract dependent. They talked about how strange facebook was for merging all ones contexts together (this is my own critique of it). This post was written while listening to Dave Morin talk about the future of the facebook platform “The Search for a More Social Web” (it was really a product plug) – As he oppened the talk he gave us a history of human communication that had the personal computer preceding the ARPA Net (clearly he would benefit from a visit to the Computer History Museum where we hold the Internet Identity Workshop twice a year). While listening I can’t help but keep wondering if I am just to “old”.
When I was in my first year of university at UC Berkeley the web was just beginning to diffuse to widespread use in that context. We had LAND LINES then. I spent $300 a month on long distance to talk to friends back home in canada. I was not “socially” connected via electronic media back then. Some people from my “old lives” have found me in facebook but I don’t feel “socially connected” to them in that I really don’t think they care about what I am “doing now on the web” and I don’t really have an ongoing social relationship with them so that i want to know “all” about what they are doing. They are NOT my “friends” but in facebook they “are”. I don’t want to be rude and unfriend them I am “interested” in their lives – like would be interested in hearing from them once every couple months but they are not in my social world.
I notice a real gap between myself and those 10 years younger then me who had facebook IN highschool and college – they love it cause it keeps them connected to their “friends”. I wonder about this cultural social time divide.
Today I am hearing facebook talk again about how they have people’s “real identities” with their “real names” and how important this is for authenticity. Dave Morin is going around convincing people to switch from their online personal handles in twitter to their “real” names. I thought about just being “Kaliya” in twitter but decided that my online twitter persona and voice would be that of my “professional” self – “IDENTITY WOMAN” I do talk about some personal things I do and mention opinions outside of “just my professional self” but it is not “me” there are ideas and opinions and things i do on the web that are not for everyone to see and I don’t share them in twitter. What I don’t like about facebook and the idea of facebook connect is that it feeds “everything you do” by default to “everyone you know” (within that system – they call these people “friends”). I want to present different selves to different audiences not because I want to “hide” but because I am connected to very diverse communities/friends and they all don’t want to hear about everything I am going everywhere it is to much “social noise.”
I am not sure if Facebook understands that having people use their “Real Names” is not actually what creates authenticity – the issue has been on the web is not “who you are in real life” but the inability to have online persona’s that are persistent over time and context. The investment into these and the ability to have them be useful has not been solved until recently. Bob (his blog is Cesi n’est pas un Bob – a reference to the Rene Magritte painting Ceni n’est pas une pipe/This is not a pipe) and the folks at the Burton Group have been talking about the possibility of people creating Limited Liability Persona’s to create persona’s on the web that are linked to “you” if something goes wrong but is not linked.
The audience of mostly young men in their 20’s and 30’s many of them “developers” on the facebook platform cheered all that was announced today by Dave Morin. I was left wondering and wrote this post as a response.
I am a member of the bridge generation – between the hyper connected young “digital natives” and the digital immigrants. (I was on BBS’s in Highschool (the local school board set one up just for kids within the city school system – that is where I hung out). My child hood home had a rotary telephone). while on vacation in Canada this summer I was struck by the conversations that I overheard by people older then me dabbling in facebook and being kind of freaked out by it. (In Canada Facebook has much higher penetration into the “general” population). The conversations I was having with highlevel leaders in the nonprofit and social business world at a retreat I was at about the dangers of building on closed silo’s like facebook was just beginning to dawn on them – they now understood. I am also a woman and the conversation we had at She’s Geeky regarding women and their presentation of self and identity online was really good. WE ARE DIFFERENT then dudes in their 20’s in San Francisco.
So I wonder… Am I to “old” to get Facebook? – or do they not get it? “it” being the needs of older people and the ability to control in more fine grained ways what people see about me. “it” being the needs of women in social space online.
We shall see.