V10 meets H3

by taniwha

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Surely it's the curse of the modern world that so many people now work at a computer while the compter also provides the biggest distraction from work ever devised ... (Dave Gorman)

When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race. ~H.G. Wells _______________________________

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Arrived in the post this morning. I think I'm developng a reference
book fetish.
29th Sep 2007, 08:43  

Dhamaka says:

looks interesting. weren't you going to send me over a bit of your stuff to read....?

the other night I had a rather circular discussion about what constitutes a community on the internet. I could have done with some backup / techie words from you or kyoob, but suspect I'm going to have to settle for lots more reading

(how do you spell techie?)

29th Sep 2007, 08:46

taniwha says:

Oh yes, the revision was accepted by the journal. I'll send it through later today.

Rheingold wrote the seminal book on the topic (http://www.rheingold.com/vc/book/). I contributed to an article on this issue. I'll send you a copy.

Which side did you come down on? Community?

29th Sep 2007, 08:54

Dhamaka says:

absolutely - but it's really difficult getting the idea of an internet community through to someone who hasn't experienced it for themselves

and thank you

29th Sep 2007, 09:14

taniwha says:

Perhaps it is a bit like religous experience. To those who haven't experienced one, they don't exist?

Maybe for some people who have not experienced local face-to-face community, they have no reference point for virtual community apart from abstract principles?

29th Sep 2007, 17:14

Dhamaka says:

Possibly indeed

29th Sep 2007, 18:03

taniwha says:

It sounds like you have found a stronger sense of community online than you ever did locally Mandy. Why's that?

29th Sep 2007, 20:35

JokerXL says:

Are you analysing Mandy by MobLog Taniwha?
Could be an interesting experience.
*sits back*

29th Sep 2007, 22:42

taniwha says:

Mandy - it sounds like the appeal is community without the rough edges? I agree that people can be smarter too- we have time to reflect before we write (sometimes).

I have a local community as well as an online one. The guy in the corner shop knows my tastes and caters to them. Max in the local cafe gets my usual without needing to be asked. I know the mayor to chat with ...

I'm wondering what the difference is though ... I chat, exchange news, have particular needs met, the ties are loose with some mild obligation with both, have a sense of being in 'my place' with both.

Joker - I think I may be analysing myself as much.

29th Sep 2007, 22:52

Dhamaka says:

I think that one of the strengths of the internet is that you can more-or-less choose the people and communities-of-interest with which you associate. While I feel very much part of the community where I live, I have more in common with the friends I've made from further afield and I've met most of them on the internet.

Joining moblog - which I consider to be a working internet community - was a stroke of good fortune and has enabled me to understand my feelings and attitudes towards communities in general more than many other experiences.

For me part of the benefit of moblog / internet friendships is the intensity and speed of communication, while I have to say one of the disbenefits (horrible word I know) is the time that it can take up.

Meanwhile the biggest difference for me is simply one of choice. I choose to be part of the moblog community but am only part of my local community because I'm a communicative and (relatively) sociable person and live here.

29th Sep 2007, 23:16

MaggieD says:

Mmmm, agree with D and Mandy on the matter of choice, in a community defined by proximity, you are (to varying degrees and dependent on social class) limited as to who you interact with, and the social irritations can not be so easily ignored, on Moblog (or any internet community) you do have the element of choice, and you can give out as little or as much as you want about yourself....

30th Sep 2007, 18:14

taniwha says:

I can't help thinking about what it has been like in the past for people who felt they didn't fit their community of proximity - you know, gay people in red neck towns, for example. Perhaps on the Internet, there is a place for everyone.

About ten years ago I moved to a small rural town and found it an isolating experience partly because I wasn't a local - "we were townies." On the Internet relationships do seem to build up more rapidly (reminds me a bit about my work in telephone counselling - anonymity, fewer social niceties to follow, barriers to communication reduced).

But, I have to ask, can it sustain community?

30th Sep 2007, 19:39

MaggieD says:

If Moblog (the site ) was closed down for any reason, then I think the 'community' would close with it, that is apart from the people who have made friendships groups that function outside of Moblog, be they already established friendships (and in the case of Leeds, 'communities') or those made as a result of Moblog ..... I do think Moblog is a community, albeit a tenuous one, because it is based on the ability to interact on the internet .... however I don't think I have ever come across as supportive a set up (the reason I got involved was because of the support it gave to Alex and My Hermione and others in similar situations across the world) .... so, whatever your definition of community is, I think Moblog fits mine ......

30th Sep 2007, 20:49

Dhamaka says:

I value Moblog for its inclusiveness and the support it gives people but have on occasion been horrified to see that some of us are not as inclusive as I thought and hoped.

Sadly for me that seems to be another characteristic of a *real* community - as does differences in opinion as to how it is run. The thing that I wonder is whether the moblog community is as unique as it seems. Surely not....

(Second Life seems to be something else entirely although I have no time to investigate it)

30th Sep 2007, 21:17

taniwha says:

It depends on how's its defined I suppose. Inclusiveness is interesting because it seems that community is a bounded concept defined by having an inside and an outside (based on a shared identity, shared way of doing things, shared goals). Moblog I think is a very permeable community - people can join with little trouble and they tacitly learn to become participants, sometimes peripherally and sometimes more centrally.

What I do wonder about is whether a community can be one while preserving the anonymity of its members?

30th Sep 2007, 21:27

Dhamaka says:

that depends on what you mean by anonymity. Most people have faces they show to the outside and while it's easier to be selective as to what you show here, it's very difficult to hide the way you see the world when you're posting images of your own creation. Difficult too because many people contribute late at night or when they have a bit of spare time and they're often tired or drunk... with obvious consequences.

There's more than names and addresses to identity. I believe you can see that by looking at how some people who start off with a second more anonymous blog give up and go official on them or just get found out.

30th Sep 2007, 21:30

MaggieD says:

D: I do not get the impression that most/many people post while tired or drunk .... some, maybe, but overall I think the majority of the pics/posts I see are made by perfectly sober people ..... I do agree that it is difficult not to show your outlook on the world by the pics/comments you make, especially over a period of time ....

30th Sep 2007, 22:03

Dhamaka says:

oh I didn't mean that a majority of people do - and apologise to mobloggers if that's how it came over. I think you're right in that people are sober and together but I also think that sometimes people squeeze in the time to blog. It only takes one tired night to show something more of yourself than you might otherwise do.

I don't mean that they look less nice or less good for it either. Just that they show something that, for their own reasons, they might not otherwise do. And I think you're right about the time thing too

30th Sep 2007, 22:30

MaggieD says:

Yep, agree that we all let a little more slip than we would ordinarily when we are tired or drunk, but that is the same in the real world, and probably occurs with the same amount of frequency, only difference being that on the internet there is a wider audience ...

But on a very different note, I think the internet has played an incredibly positive role in the situation in Burma .... 20 years ago the same situation was largely unreported, now it is all over the net and just maybe, this will make a difference .....

30th Sep 2007, 22:48

Dhamaka says:

absolutely - and here's hoping..

1st Oct 2007, 06:59

taniwha says:

Maybe it's not an anonymous community after all - we post pictures of our lives, and express views of the world in which we present something of ourselves. In terms of levels of communication, perhaps people get to a more intimate level sooner because of the online-ness.

I've posted to Moblog with a whiskey in my hand from time to time and have been more gregarious for it. I write dopey things sometimes,not because I'm bombed but because I realise I haven't explained the tangential well enough and because I don't have the opportunity to clarify.

With Burma - Douglas Rushkoff called the internet a 'truth serum' because there are so many people connected to it that half truths get ferreted out and corrected etc. For more, the internet only highights the subjectivity of knowledge and truth. Anyway, the internet and mobile comm.s have really highlighted the issue. I'm amazed at the paradox of reports from journalists who aren't allowed in the country ("our reporter in Bangkok said ...") are still able to access interviews and images from people there.

1st Oct 2007, 08:20

Dhamaka says:


SLG and I had a short discussion about the level of involvement required for someone's second moblog to be discovered. If the individual doesn't communicate or comment then it's much more difficult, since you only have a familiar photographic style to go on. Having said that....

"truth serum as trend"? In that same discussion I tried to explain to my friend how interesting it was to see worlds collide on facebook, and how I thought that a certain level of internet usage (ie with social, business and academic networks plus other stuff such as blogs, dating etc) might force a more 'authentic' lifestyle on some people. I think that's another subject though.

1st Oct 2007, 17:43

taniwha says:

Increased authenticity happens when we go multimodal huh? You may have something. Getting onto Facebook was a step away from anonymity for me and felt a bit weird, even uncomfortable. That feels like a strange statement because for the last two years, I had been posting photos of birthday parties, family outings, business trips and even from my stint in hospital ... how anonymous did I think I had been up to that point? Thinking this through though, I had been offering a glimpse of myself that I could control (it's not true that cameras don't lie - they do nothing but lie). Once I went onto Facebook someone had my last name and could learn stuff that i couldn't control. This takes us back to what we described as communities we could tailor. Online community is tailored and controllable perhaps?

1st Oct 2007, 19:33

Dhamaka says:

I think we underestimate our own (and other peoples') online heuristics.

Whether on the street or virtually we work within (and to) many parameters. Many of these are only indirectly our choice. We choose what we present to the world every time we go outdoors. The way we dress, our clothes, the way we interact with others.. We do the same online. While we consider it easier to present an image of our own choosing how successful are we really? Certainly we can better control the content of images we display and the words that we use, but the internet is more intense.

Here on moblog deleting past threads or substantially changing something you've said is considered a *very bad thing*. Deleting whole threads is a definite no-no and those who do so are treated either viciously or with considerable unease. (not surprising when you consider -how the community has grown and that deleting someone else's words indicates at best a cavalier disregard for a fellow community member). But a moblogger makes one little slip that betrays more of them to the world than they wanted and either they show everyone it was important enough to them to change or it stays there forever. Because of the nature of moblog people review old photos and previous conversations so it's always noticed by those who are interested. There's a moblog-social-cost to every significant moblog-change.

With regards to our images we can (and do) control what we show. With enough time, expertise and dedication I'm sure we can make images that don't reflect the way we see the world. But who has that time? Given the amount of time we spend choosing and preparing a normal set of shots to post, could even an experienced professional photographer devote sufficient time to present a different image and sustain it? I doubt it, not unless they were prepared to spend their entire lives on just creating and maintaining their moblog persona. I'm sure people try. They may even succeed for a while but even if they're not 'spotted' I don't believe that level of control is sustainable.

The same's true for words, to a lesser extent. While we're more accustomed to dissembling with words, we're also more accustomed to working out when something's not quite right. People can feel 'fake', 'wierd', 'a little strange' or just 'over controlled'. I know my b*llsh*t detection (online heuristics) have improved tremendously as a result of my moblog interactions. My god-daughter, who was born to this technology has had a 'good feel' for people online for as long as I can remember.

So while online community is tailored and controllable to a certain extent, I believe it's less tailored and controllable than we like to believe. It's early days, but I think the trend will continue. Online or RL, it's how we're made.

that was long! I had better get on with some work now :)

2nd Oct 2007, 08:31

taniwha says:

Yes, we can not communicate even online. Though there is a line of argument that suggests that anonymity, the potential for deception and impoverished social presence make for an environment that is a poorer one for forming relationships, building knowledge and learning. It occurs to me that online, people do most things they do offline they just leave their bodies behind. We perhaps overlook the editing and censorship that goes on face-to-face. In real life, we know of deceptions that do go on as well. So perhaps it would be false to make a distinction between online and offline friends and communities. The dynamics are the same but the medium is different.

With heuristics for detecting bollocks ... I do get that strange out of alignment feeling offline more often than online ... or I am more prepared to accept good intentions behind miscommunication when I'm online. This kind of reflects what I first discovered about being online (but in '91) was that it was generally a space with more good will than bad and i think this is still true today. Is it?

2nd Oct 2007, 20:16

Dhamaka says:

It certainly is in my experience although as a single individual I'm hardly a representative sample... But then again I think that it's also like RL in that you get out of it what you put in

2nd Oct 2007, 22:57