Tuesday, February 16, 2010

the things are back -- facebook

The library where I work has added more lessons to its former 23 Things course, a series of lessons about Web 2.0 tools and issues. I can't resist a chance to play online during work hours, so I'll be continuing with the new lessons of what has become 28 Things.

For the first of the new Things, I've explored Facebook, skipping over Twitter for now. (More about why when I actually do the Twitter lesson.) This really isn't fair, since I've been on Facebook for about two years now. In fact, I was certain I'd done everything in the lesson long ago. But there was that bit about becoming a fan of the library system. Sure -- one of the first things I did. Ooops. I was merely a fan of the branch where I work. How provincial.

By the time I signed up for Facebook (and Myspace) I'd had web pages, and even a couple of blogs before -- but all were under pen names. This Web 2.0 business of using one's real name and picture (with a preference for candid pictures yet!), and showing at least a semblance of one's real-world thoughts and activities, well, that was something else entirely. After all, hasn't the modern era tended toward more and more anonymity? The 20th century began with a great migration to big cities, where no one knew your family or your past, or watched your daily activities, and continued until ...

But this is the postmodern era. It sometimes seems as if we're headed back to the social expectations of the village, where everybody knows your name, and your friends' names, and where you go, and what you had for lunch. Cyberspace is becoming public.

The way to preserve a good reputation in a village (for you will have some sort of reputation, no matter what you do or don't do) is not to be too standoffish. The thing to do is to be seen in public, to mix with people, and in that way to have some control over your public image. In the cyber village this is done, in part, by creating and maintaining social pages.

There does seem to be a growing trend to try to re-close the curtains a bit. This may be in part because of the harsh judgements some have encountered when they fully bared their "true" selves. It may be, in part, simply because older people, with the caution of experience and the values of an earlier time, are invading the party.

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