This is the first to the panel sets to look at one of our major themes, the social impacts of APPs. In the last week I have had several people mention that they like texting rather than talking (the phone call) as they feel more in control. This issue of control of image and situation appears to be central factor or motive driving the current use of APPs. What makes it perplexing is that any number of studies point out that people are actually disclosing a lot more about themselves at a very personal level online at the same time they want more control.
This is a major theme in the BreakUp 2.0 studies: that relationships collapse due to personal information disclosed on social media sites, especially photos that then get misinterpreted (?) by the significant other. From my POV as a dinosaur the puzzle is why post it at all if it can lead to issues?
The imperative to post every aspect of our lives for public (or more accurately, the select public) consumption seems almost to have become a need that has to be satisfied, with potential consequences not in the equation. Even more striking is that this is not based on close social proximity, but rather on digital relationships.
When you look through the panels you will likely note the emphasis on 15-18 year-olds, which is a reflection of the literature rather than a critical demographic group.
Think over what changes you would make if talking about your colleagues (undergraduate college students)—would the analysis look the same, or be different? How? This is an example of using the critical thinking from the Learning training on these panels.
I really like Schomaker’s discussion of ‘colonizing’ in the context of the avatar (panel 4) as she makes it clear that we construct our digital image—it’s not a passive process.
The second key concept here is that which came up during the last election cycle here in the U.S., that of the perceptual bubble. The narrowing of POV seems like a rather obvious scenario today, but it’s important to remember that WEB 2.0 was based on global dissemination of information, broaden one’s horizons—not narrow them. So how did Wikipedia, the Gutenberg Project and Zuckerberg’s vision of Facebook from 10 years ago turn into the perceptual bubble?
At this point we are probably too much still within the situation to be able to adequately analyze it, but these issues are central to the need for more research like what we’re looking at this semester. It also points out the need to look at older social interaction platforms (which some of you are familiar with), especially online gaming and virtual worlds—both of which have major functions as social platforms.
Work done on clans/factions in World of Warcraft and Eve Online, along with work on communities in Second Life (think of Pleasantville) seem to have suggested the ‘narrowing’ of Web 2.0 into very small discrete communities.
As you look through this and the next (5C Social Behavior) panels try projecting where you see all this going in the next 5-10 years.