Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Don't let Facebook hurt your feelings; composer Jaron Lanier weights in


Classical music composer and technology commentator Jaron Lanier asks in the New York Times today “Should Facebook manipulate users?”, link here. Of course, music composers  (most of all Mahler) and songwriters (and performers) can manipulate the emotions of listeners.  But I found it rather astonishing that the moods of Facebook users could be affected by the order of their personalized news feeds.  Oh, I feel better when my sports team (right now, the Nationals) wins.  Call that a bit of necessary eusociality.

  

I don’t like to make too much of the whole whitelisting mechanism, and the preoccupation with numbers of “friends” or “followers”.  Sure, it’s nice to know that you can post a link to something important without the effort of writing a story and that dozens of people will see it.  But I don’t like to be in the position where being unfriended or unfollowed can mean that much.  I do wonder about some of the followers that look like spammy advertisers, or "friends" from Africa and Russia (where I have never been yet -- although that could be motivated by the anti-gay laws there).  I don’t see the need for layers of visitors who get to see different areas of personal information according to some kind of “security clearance’.  Everything I post is public (unless I send an email to a specific party).  True, I do use one listserver (GLIL) a little.  I find most celebrities or public people do keep public twitter and Facebook feeds (that used to be Myspace), and you can look at them any time without having to be a follower.  I find you can send a tweet or Facebook message to a “celebrity” and most (not all) will acknowledge or reply – some will “favorite” and forward the messages (to millions).  

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