FB photo fun

FBFriends @ 23/08/07Thanks to Friend Block I can see all of my 238 friends profile pics in one place.

Some observations (NB, I can’t count very well) I leave it to you to suggest interpretations:

8 have not provided a picture at all and so are represented by a ‘?’

3 are represented by hand-drawn caricatures of themselves and 1 has a Simpsons avatar.

There is one cartoon character (Pinky), one stuffed toy and one toy cartoon character.

There is one cat in sunglasses and one cat with the mouth of a shark. One person is a pair of Lions, possibly copulating.

4 have some other form of graphic design (I can’t think of a better description at the moment).

Four people have pictures of themselves further processed with an imaging tool.

10 people have included other people in their profile pictures mostly people with their spouses and children.

Four people have pictures of themselves as children.

One person has two heads (or perhaps two faces)

Two people have their names in the shot.

21 of those who have photographs of themselves have chosen monochrome images. Most of these are men.

Of those with simple headshots about 30 are not looking into the camera.

Around 20 have one hand up to their face in some way.

7 are wearing sunglasses.

One person has a parrot. One person has a snake.

Yes. These are my friends.

[UPDATE: Since posting, it has come to my attention that two of the monochrome folk have gone coloured *AND* both put on shades – co-incidence or conspiracy?]

My Boy

june07 105Sixteen years ago this morning, my life-situation went through a quantum leap when my wife said “I think it’s started”. By the end of the day, Ewan was with us and *everything* had changed.

It had been hot and humid that week and we were building up to a thunderstorm while I sat around in the delivery room, waiting and completely powerless.

I’m seeing a few friends going through this transition to fatherhood at the moment. It’s one of those ‘life is simultaneously so ordinary and extraordinary’ times.

In August 1991 I was temping (in the London offices of Chevron, I think) having just had a big piece of work cancelled (the legal case I was working on got settled suddenly before it went to court) That situation went on for about a year until I went to university which took 4 years, worked for one employer for nearly 7 years and now been self-employed for 5 years.

The world feels enormously different – I had a vague knowledge but no experience of BBS’s at the time, but if I’d heard of the internet, I certainly never thought I’d live and work there :) My job now, whatever it is, just didn’t exist and neither did the sorts of companies I work with. It was a couple of years later when I’d got a JANET account that I first saw the pre-mosaic WWW running in a terminal window.

I remember buying a paper in the hospital and seeing that there was some sort of coup attempt going on in the Soviet Union. After Ewan arrived I went down to a payphone and called the various branches of the family, I can’t remember taking many photos, but there are a handful in a drawer somewhere.

How weird. Newspapers, payphones, no digital photography, Soviet Union.

He was a fine boy and now he’s turning into a fine young man. Recently he’s started cooking for himself, asking me for hints and tips in the kitchen and how to use the washing machine :) Now he can apply for a National Insurance number, get a job (and be on the lowest level of minimum wage), get married (with consent from his parents), and, you know, all the rest.

He plays bass guitar and next month is starting at the Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford.

I love him to bits.

Happy Birthday Dude!

Losing it

Still musing on the fear of “dark forces”, “bad people”, shifts in power, and similar trivia.

In sorting out the Podcast Archive I listened again to Johnnie at “Blogging, A Real Conversation” from 2 years ago. He started with something like this video (though we didn’t have Youtube in them days).

Johnnie used it to illustrate the illusion of authority. I guess I’m surprised at how many people are still yet to acknowledge their Ceaucescu moment.

Danger… Danger, Will Robinson!

BathroomI was writing a comment on the previous post and feeling constrained and then remembered “It’s my blog, I don’t have to use the comments if I don’t want to”. Which is kind of part of what I was trying to get at before. I also wanted to separate this out from the comments because I don’t want it to appear that what I say is directed at anyone who has commented on that post already or may comment there in future. OK, disclaimers and excuses and apologies out of the way.

This is what I’m happy doing:

I’m happy sharing all sorts of personal details and information about me online – in fact some people have said read my blog in order to find out more stuff about me. That doesn’t mean that I will share everything online. I’m not at all likely to publish my PIN numbers, passwords and the memorable information scripts to my bank’s security theatre. I’m not bothered about you knowing where I live, but that doesn’t mean I’ll give you a key to my flat.

That’s a fairly good summary of my privacy position. It makes sense to me. You may well take a different position on privacy. If my position doesn’t make sense to you, that doesn’t make either of us right or wrong, it just means that we make different sense of the world. I know that some people feel uncomfortable about this level of openness.

I’m completely cool with you taking whatever position you like on information that you consider to be private to you. The potential for conflict arises when we share information but we don’t share a view on the appropriate level of privacy. You might try to shut me up. I may tell your secrets. Shit happens.

The question is, in a globally networked, hyperlinked, 24-hour world isn’t the inevitable movement towards a more liberal approach to this sort of privacy, simply because the cost of establishing and then enforcing the rules in an increasingly complex network of relationships is way too high (always assuming that enforcement is still possible)?

Social Media Café – Zagging

One of Dave Winer‘s best bits of advice is “zag to their zig” and that’s what I’m trying to do with the Café. Just when it seems that *everyone* in the entire world is getting into online social networking, I want to open a coffee shop and help people meet each other face to face.

There have been suggestions that we use another space to get started. I don’t understand the reasoning for this, so can someone please explain? The space is more important to me (at the moment) than the group. We have loads of ways of meeting up already – I’m talking about meeting the needs of that group in a novel way rather than extending the group, although I’m sure that better facilities will draw new people in.

Thanks everybody for your thoughts on the Communal Vision – do carry it on, but let’s also start talking about how much it will cost.

I’ll be writing on the wiki later but I’ve got to go out now to report on a drop-in centre for young people for the Surrey PCT blog :)

FB – Fluid Boundaries, Fixed Behaviours, Friends Behavingbadly

fbfwCharles Frith (one of my fave twitter buddies btw) writes about two types of people Cold War survivors who see the world as black and white, good and evil and behave guardedly online with spy-like pseudonyms and ‘Post-Coldies” who are more comfortable with a zillion shades of grey and who let it all hang out.

It’s a difference that Helen also touched on in her thoughtful post on social media

Charles also points out that post-coldies don’t mind their friends meeting up, whereas the others will do anything to keep “different” areas of their life separate, even to the extent of lying to their “friends”. No wonder there’s such drama at weddings & funerals.

You won’t be surprised to hear that I feel very much at the post-coldie end of the spectrum but I’m not sure that the Cold War hostilities are the source of this separation, more that these are another manifestation of the same thing – the ancient tussle between what it means to be an individual and what it means to be part of a group, whether that group is at the level of 1:1 relationships, household, village, city, nation or continent (not to mention, planet, which is a whole other metaphysical adventure in itself).

I think another way of putting it is to say that some people are most comfortable getting their rules or boundary conditions from the group and others who are most comfortable setting their boundary conditions themselves. To each of these, the other’s behaviour can seem threatening and dangerous. I would argue that the former lead to more rigid behaviours while the latter lead to more flexible opportunities, but I’m aware that I may have a blind spot around this… and of course we’re talking about preferences, not necessarily hard-wired characteristics.

Ha ha, an example has just sprung to mind. This post is going to be a bit rambly. There are people who will tell you that a post needs a beginning middle and an end, a meaningful title, a relevant illustration and well-constructed tags. Tough shit – this is my blog and I make the rules.

In this context, I’m also thinking a lot about my facebook friending. Whenever there’s a conversation about social networking, sooner or later, Dunbar’s number is quoted – usually people describe it as “the limit to the number of real relationships one person can have” or something equally vague. It’s 150 and it’s more complicated than that description, but I’m thinking, OK, I have more than 150 friends on facebook, what does that mean in the context of Dunbar’s number? Specifically there seemed to be a paradox that although I was over the “limit” there are still a whole bunch of my friends and people with whom I have fairly intimate business and personal relationships who aren’t even on Facebook, let alone “friended” by me.

What I’m thinking at the moment is that I have, until now, (and in common with the cold war survivors) tried to manage groups of up to 150 people in my head – that’s why it feels so difficult! Of course 150 isn’t a limit on the number of people you can know, it’s really a limit on the number of people you can have meaningful relationships with without resorting to further rules and socially agreed boundaries.

So compartmentalising isn’t in itself “a Cold-War thing” or even “a bad thing” it’s a way of keeping our groups of relationships manageable. What online social networking does is to highlight that compartmentalising goes on, that people compartmentalise in different ways and allows for an external representation of a much larger number of my relationships than before which allows you to understand or infer (perhaps correctly, perhaps not) what my rules and boundaries are.

Of course this is probably all covered in Anthropology 101 but I much prefer learning from experience.