Is Facebook geared to dullards?

... researchers looked in particular at connections between social-network use and the personality trait that psychologists refer to as "need for cognition," or NFC. NFC, as Professor Zhong explained in an email to me, "is a recognized indicator for deep or shallow thinking."

People who like to challenge their minds have high NFC, while those who avoid deep thinking have low NFC. Whereas, according to the authors, "high NFC individuals possess an intrinsic motivation to think, having a natural motivation to seek knowledge," those with low NFC don't like to grapple with complexity and tend to content themselves with superficial assessments...

The study revealed a significant negative correlation between social network site (SNS) activity and NFC scores. "The key finding," the authors write, "is that NFC played an important role in SNS use. Specifically, high NFC individuals tended to use SNS less often than low NFC people, suggesting that effortful thinking may be associated with less social networking among young people." Moreover, "high NFC participants were significantly less likely to add new friends to their SNS accounts than low or medium NFC individuals."

'The Social Network': a review of Aaron Sorkin's film about Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg

With a massive hand from the film’s director, David Fincher, Aaron Sorkin (“Sports Night,” “The West Wing”) helped steer an intelligent, beautiful, and compelling film through to completion. You will see this movie, and you should. As a film, visually and rhythmically, and as a story, dramatically, the work earns its place in the history of the field.

But as a story about Facebook, it is deeply, deeply flawed. Indeed, Sorkin simply hasn’t a clue to the real secret sauce in the story he is trying to tell. And the ramifications of this misunderstanding go well beyond the multiplex.


Google CEO Schmidt: no anonymity for you

Since Google's CEO has proclaimed the future of the web is no anonymity, does that make it a fact? If we keep hearing that privacy is dead and long buried, how long before we accept that anonymity is an anti-social behavior and a crime?

Security expert Bruce Schneier suggests that we protect our privacy if we are thinking about it, but we give up our privacy when we are not thinking about it.

Schneier wrote, "Here's the problem: The very companies whose CEOs eulogize privacy make their money by controlling vast amounts of their users' information. Whether through targeted advertising, cross-selling or simply convincing their users to spend more time on their site and sign up their friends, more information shared in more ways, more publicly means more profits. This means these companies are motivated to continually ratchet down the privacy of their services, while at the same time pronouncing privacy erosions as inevitable and giving users the illusion of control."

The loss of anonymity will endanger privacy. It's unsettling to think "governments will demand" an end to anonymous identities. Even if Schmidt is Google's CEO, his message of anonymity as a dangerous thing is highly controversial. Google is in the business of mining and monetizing data, so isn't that a conflict of interest? Look how much Google knows about you now.

Bruce Schneier put it eloquently, "If we believe privacy is a social good, something necessary for democracy, liberty and human dignity, then we can't rely on market forces to maintain it."

A Reddit member saw Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and Colin Powell speak yesterday. This is his take on Sarah Palin.

Today I went to a Get Motivated seminar. There were a number of speakers. Colin Powell spoke about meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev during the cold war, being the US Secretary of State and leading the greatest military in the world. Rudy Giuliani spoke about lowering crime rates in NYC and the effects of leading the city during September 11th and dealing with crisis. Mitt Romney spoke about helping fund Staples as a business start-up, as well as a few other business start-ups and managing the Winter Olympics in Utah. Apollo Ohno spoke about his olympic career. While John Walsh spoke about getting laws changed in congress to protect children and helping catch over 1000 fugitives during his TV shows 23 years on the air.

When it was finally Sarah Palin's chance to speak, being the last speaker of the day, she spoke about her high school basketball career for close to 30 minutes. Yes, I am being completely serious here.

Palin was originally scheduled to speak by satellite transmission but she surprised everyone at the end by actually showing up in person. I live in the most conservative state in the Union, Utah. She started off her speech trying to relate to the crowd. The event was held at Energy Solutions Arena, the home of the Utah Jazz. She spent five minutes telling us about how great it was that she was speaking in our basketball arena and the ties that the state of Alaska has with the Utah Jazz. Carlos Boozer, a Jazz player, grew up in Alaska. John Stockton's wife was from Alaska, Karl Malone likes to fish in Alaska and she claims to have done a 7th grade book report on "Pistol" Pete Marovich.

While most of the other speakers were able to walk around the stage talking as they moved about, she stayed at the podium that was set up for her. She was the only speaker to use a podium and she appeared to be reading her speech most of the time. At times she was reading it word for word, as her eyes did not leave the paper and she would correct herself, when she mis-pronounced something.

While I was trying to figure out where her Utah Jazz and Alaska analogy was going, she then started to talk about the great basketball coach, John Wooden. She started to quote a number of his famous sayings. I was not aware that she was on her small high school's basketball team. She told us how John Wooden's philosophies and coaching skills, shaped her into who she was today and that they were some of the most influential and driving forces in her life today. She not only quoted him but she also went through his pyramid of success. I thought this was odd, as most of the other speakers were talking about their own philosophies and what they had learned in their life to shape them into who they were. She was using someone elses material.

During her teams playoff run, she had hurt her knee. She was devastated that she could not play in a few of the playoff games and she let her coach know that if the team did make it to the championships game, she was going to play no matter what. She did not want to waste all of her practice time and effort that she put into playing basketball to be for nothing. She went into quite a bit of detail about her high school career, as she spoke on it for close to 30 minutes.

There are a lot of people that have played high school sports. High school basketball is something that I never did. However, there are a lot of high school athletes out there. When you are sharing a stage with amazing people, that have actually been able to accomplish some very amazing things in their life, you would hope that you could come up with more then just your high school basketball career. A career that you were injured in, sat on the bench over half the games in the playoffs but did get to play in the final game. Yet, you state this as being one of the most, if not the most, influential experiences of your whole life?

While none of the speakers dove into politics, more then just a small jab here or there, I did admire that Sarah Palin, did not take the time to bash the current administration. She did have quite a few intriguing quotes, that I'm sure her speech writer pulled from some other source. She is a woman of faith and did bring up god a number of times. She also had quite a bit of energy during her speech, even though as stated earlier, she did not leave the podium or look up from reading her speech for more then a few moments at a time.

I do not know how Sarah Palin, has been able to climb her way to the top of the conservative movement. While she does have a certain sense of charisma, her lack of experience, knowledge and expertise was very measurable. As stated earlier, seeing her on the stage with men that have accomplished so much and can actually say, they made a difference in their lives was a travesty. I do not know how she maintains such a following with so many conservatives in this country. She was very much out of her league today.

Maybe if things don't work out for her in her political career, she can always go back and be the coach of a small girls basketball team in Alaska. Where she can use her vast knowledge and expertise. So that she can not only help and inspire but she can also help the Republican party find their next charismatic nominee for the Executive Branch of the government.

Facebook's culture problem may be fatal

Facebook is wildly successful because its founder matched new social media technology to a deep Western cultural longing — the adolescent desire for connection to other adolescents in their own private space. There they can be free to design their personal identities without adult supervision. Think digital tree house. Generation Y accepted Facebook as a free gift and proceeded to connect, express, and visualize the embarrassing aspects of their young lives.

Then Gen Y grew up and their culture and needs changed. My senior students started looking for jobs and watched, horrified, as corporations went on their Facebook pages to check them out. What was once a private, gated community of trusted friends became an increasingly open, public commons of curious strangers. The few, original, loose tools of network control on Facebook no longer proved sufficient. The Gen Yers wanted better, more precise privacy controls that allowed them to secure their existing private social lives and separate them from their new public working lives.

Facebook's business model, however, demands the opposite. It is trying to transform the private into a public arena it can offer advertisers. In doing this, the company is breaking three cardinal cultural norms:

  1. It is taking back a free gift. In order to build profits, Facebook has been commercializing and monetizing friendship networks. What Facebook gave to Millenials, it is now trying to take away. Millennials are resisting the invasion to their privacy.
  2. Facebook is ignoring the aging of the Millennials and the subsequent change in their culture. Older Gen Yers want less sociability and more privacy as actors outside their trusted cohort enter the Facebook space in search of information and connection. These older Millennials want more privacy tools for control of their information and networks.
  3. Facebook is behaving as though it owned not only its proprietary technology platform but the friendship networks created on it. It doesn't. Millennials believe that ownership of their networks of friends belongs to them, not Facebook, and resist their commercialization.

Facebook, under intense pressure, is belatedly agreeing to streamline and strengthen its privacy tools. That will lower the anger of its audience but increase the anxiety of its advertisers. The brand value of Facebook has already taken a hit and competing social media platforms that promise privacy are beginning to appear.

read the rest at Harvard Business Review