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Facebook’s lifestream
October 25, 2009, 3:35 am
Filed under: images | Tags: , , , , , ,

In april of last year facebook announced that users would be able to import material from delicious, flickr, picasa and yelp. This extends beyond my theme of images and into something else, but I think it is an interesting because it demonstrates something significant about social networks at this point in time. Although our topic is as broad as social networks and personal histories, we have primarily discussed this in relation to facebook. Facebook’s primary feature is the news feed, which streams the activities of all your friends to be viewed in one place. Now you can add content from your other social networks to this feed. At the moment the list of participants includes not only flickr, picasa, delicious and yelp, but also digg, google reader, youtube, last.fm, pandora, photobucket, hulu and kiva. You can also import content directly from your own blog or rss.

image from javier.reyesgomez on flickr

I was thinking of importing my delicious account just to see what it would be like, but I’m not sure I really want everyone I know to see what I bookmark. It has nothing to do with what I bookmark on delicious and a lot more to do with the concious and very apparent decision to import this content. What kind of impression would it give that I want everyone to my bookmarks? The other thing which kind of disturbed me was the amount of information this would give my facebook friends. It’s not really anything private, it’s actually pretty mundane stuff and I think this is what bothers me. There are just certain really ordinary things that I like to be able to do without feeling as though everyone I know is watching. I’ve always been a little bit like this in everyday life. As a kid I hated that my brother and sister would follow me around watching me cook or paint or whatever. This feeling is also related to the fact that facebook tends to break down the boundaries of the different social spheres we inhabit. Usually you give different appropriate information to different people in your life. It’s almost as though the different social networks we participate in online are a replacement for the different kinds of relationships we have in real life.

But how do behaviours change when we feel we’re being watched? Do you think facebook will become a kind of hub of social networks? Is facebook creating a panoptic society?

ps: the facebook news feed changed ever so slightly this morning. Already people are signing up for groups like “please give us our old news feed back”. This happens every time the function or the layout of the site is changed. I can’t remember thiss ever having an effect. But maybe I haven’t been paying all that much attention.

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