Flash Fiction: a complete story
in one thousand or fewer words.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Greeks Have a Word for it: 'New' Literacy

We've heard it so often in the last few years: kids can't write any more. It may have been true. I remember seeing the most appalling writing from high school students. However, social networking, beginning with text mail, may have changed that.

According to a Wired story, researchers at Stanford University, led by Professor Andrea Lunsford, examined more than 14,000 samples of writing of college students, including academic writing, blogging, email and other forms of immediate communication and found that literacy had take a giant leap not seen ' since Greek civilization'. That's a weighty statement. The researchers attribute this to the large increase in the volume of writing now done by young people, primarily social networking. Prior to immediate forms of writing, people wrote infrequently. Another change is that this writing tends to be of the persuasive type, so the quality of the writing rises as the writers struggle to persuade their peers.

Here is the full article on the recent surge in literacy.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Twitter Growth Due to Teens?

According to a NYT article, Twitter's explosive growth did not occur in the expected demographic. Twitter offers a communication medium somewhat like text messaging. Teens' short-message communications revolve around their friends, which seems to be a home run for Twitter. But teens seem to prefer their text messaging over Twitter's broadcasting (multicasting, really) service. Twitter has found more traction, after the initial swarm of early adopters, for promotional reasons, including personal and business promotion. Similarly, adults were late adopters of Facebook-like social networks but now account for much of its recent growth. For a more complete picture of this, here is NYT's article on growth of social networks.

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Friday, August 7, 2009

Social Networks/Real-Time Web: Solution Looking for a Problem

Media Bistro has an article about entrepreneurs and the "real-time web," the constant twittering, updating and general busyness on social networks. Since readers and writers are early adopters of these technologies, they might be interested in the attempts to make a buck from them. A graph in a sidebar in the article shows twitter.com traffic rising from about zero in February 2008 to 45 million visitors per month in June 2009.

Ron Conway anticipates making large investments in the real-time web:

He thinks there is at least $5 billion to be made on the real-time Web, from retailers providing instant discounts on Twitter to marketers targeting ads to people based on products or services they mention in tweets.

For the rest of the article, go here.

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Is Blogging Dead?

This is my first real-time blog post. As I'm writing this, I'm reading a Mashable article about the future of blogging. Already, the author, Mr. Steve Rubel, has wondered if blogging is dead. If that is the case then, I might not finish this post because, well, if blogging is dead, what would be the point of flogging a dead blog, right? So if I just stop like

<-that, then you may infer that blogging is dead and you should spend more time tweeting. So, I'll read a little more now...still alive...still alive...has to evolve or succumb to Darwinism...doesn't sound good...oh, I could be syndicated!...or not. I'm not in a blog network; might be doomed. Ew! I might merge with a journalist. And there's a complicated diagram; I hope there's not a test. Ew! There's stuff about connective tissue in the future-of-blogging diagram. Sounds like Borg issues. A join the continuum Borg blog?

What a minute! The article stopped without a definite yes/no answer. Did blogging just die? Let me check...no, they want you to add more ideas to the blog diagram to help save blogging. OK, I suggest that bloggers be paid huge sums out of national coffers. That would save it for sure.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Montana Town's Anti-Social Networking Policy

By way of SlashDot: If you want to work for Bozeman City, Montana, you're going to have to 'fess up all your Internet secrets: your web pages, blogs, your membership in Facebook, IRC chat rooms, YouTube services and the like. This is part of their background investigation. For writers and readers, this could include your writing sites.

When asked about creating a separate Bozeman Facebook page, then asking applicants to add the City as "friend," thus allowing the City to view the applicant's profile, Sullivan said officials could explore the option. This would limit the city to only view the page of the applicant.

According to several Internet sources, Bozeman has a population of about 27,500. It is hard to imagine such a town being able to pay for the inevitable legal challenges to their policy, especially since several organizations provide free legal service to defend Internet rights.

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

We're Doomed: Virtual Lawyers

We're doomed, not by swine flu, but virtual lawyers. It's a sign of the Apocalypse. It seems some law firms are setting up shop in virtual worlds like Second Life to handle disputes like pirated virtual goods. Virtual money there translates to real money. So when an allegedly scuzzy citizen there sells pirated virtual goods owned by another, furniture in this case, actual money is lost. Some Second Lifers spend a fair amount of time and talent constructing objects for sale, and pay high rental fees for their virtual real estate.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Google's "Sort of" Social Networking: My Profile

Google has made something of a play in social networking by providing a "google profile" feature. Their justification from the official Google blog is that everyone has searched for their name on Google and didn't always like what they found. The information could have been old (and possibly embarrassing) or associated with someone else with the same name.

The premise of the service is that you can start your official profile, so that it will be vetted...um, corrected.

Google would appreciate it if you considered this the top rung of your network of social networks; then everyone would go to Google for links to your Facebook, Myspace, et al accounts. Clever.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Facebook Users: B- Students?

There is no need to mince words: Facebook-ers have lower grades than non-users, according to a survey of college students, in which the Facebook-users' GPA was 0.5 less (3.0 to 3.5 compared to 3.5-40) than non-users, and they studied about 66% less (1-5 hrs/week compare t0 11-15 hrs.

To me, it seems that the Facebook-users are more efficient studiers or better prepared. They sliced off 66% of the study time with only a 13% drop in GPA. That's great! (Small print: but forget medical school or a top B-School.)

That...does not necessarily mean that Facebook leads to less studying and worse grades -- the grades association could be caused by something else. However, it does raise more questions about how students spend their time outside class on activities such as Facebook, part-time jobs and extracurricular activities.

For more about this study, go here.

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Whrrl: Real-Time Storytelling

Jeff Holden, former V.P. of Consumer Websites for Amazon.com has started a new company, Pelago, whose first product, Whrrl, is a sort of real-time storytelling service in the social-networking arena. In this article, James Turner of O'Reilly Radar interviews Mr. Holden about Whrrl. (If you don't know about O'Reilly's Zoo, then you're not a computer geek.)

A story in Whrrl has a beginning and story structure with multiple contributors who can inject photos and text. Here are some examples of its use, according to Jeff Holden:

What we're seeing right now is a lot of the families are using the product to share stories....Alison Sweeney, she's the host of the Biggest Loser and she was on Days of Our Lives for years...she visited the set of Days of Our Lives with her family. And so it's actually entitled, "Family Visits Days."...Melissa Pierce, who's a really very successful video blogger and just general blogger; she's done a number of very, very funny stories. She did one called "Lonely Bear" about this gummy bear lost in the world.

When asked to differentiate Whrrl from other social networking products, Holden said:


But one of the things about our product in terms of this gated communities question is that we actually let people have complete control over the privacy level, the level at which they want to broadcast. And they can control that separately in real-time and after the fact.

For a more complete representation of the interview, go here.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Does Facebook Own Your Stuff?

Since so many writers use Facebook for social networking, I think this is a critical issue: the apparent change in the terms of service that assigns the rights to your Facebook content after you close your account. Here is a NYT article about Facebook's TOS (see Licenses section). I think this is the blog article that began the controversy.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

FriendFeed Meta-Social Network

It had to happen. Some geeks from Google, Yahoo, Oracle, Berkeley, CMU, Cal Tech, CWRU, Stanford, MIT (and those are just ones in Birkenstocks) joined forces for a social network called FriendFeed. With this service, you can glom bits from all your other social networks into one super-aggregated masterpiece (Facebook articles, Flickr photos...).

I'm thinking of finally taking the social-networking plunge and firing up my ASR-33 teletypewriter machine (with paper tape). I've heard they even have ASCII art these days.

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Friday, January 30, 2009

How to Ax Your Network Friends

Your Facebook friends-list has expanded from 10 intimates to 400 friends, lovers, hangers-on and total strangers. Now, you're wondering how to ax, um, cull, defriend, unfriend the ones who are total strangers, other than your bloated friends-list. Is there proper etiquette for this?

Tell the truth: would you unfriend ten people for free a hamburger?

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

The End of Solitude

The End of Solitude, a bit of nostalgia for the pre-social-networking days, by William Deresiewicz: as everyone seeks more and broader connectivity, the still, small voice speaks only in silence

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