T+N: Digital communities, social media and cyborg anthropology

T+N (Then+Now) posts will be past posts from other social media, paragraphs lifted from e-mails, or transcribed print journal entries + metadata with as much context as I can conjure up for the original post + new thoughts + ideally, comment aggregation.

This was originally a Facebook note (posted Thursday, May 26, 2011 at 9:53 a.m.), titled “Digital communities, social media and cyborg anthropology — discuss.” I was a) really excited about the TED Talk I link to below b) worried that I was the only one who cared c) curious about journalists’ opinions about social media for selfish job-search-related reasons. For now, new stuff will be denoted by italics, until I decide to format stuff differently.

Hi friends,

I have tagged you because I think you are profound, thoughtful, interesting or interested in these topics. As I wrap up my service as a City Year corps member, I’ve been thinking about the creation of communities, digital and IRL. I’m also interested in the role of technology in identity formation (thanks in part to a ton of super-meta conversations with @Dharmishta).

I’ve also been thinking about digital literacy: how important is it for students, how does social media shift human interactions, the evolution of information technology, and the role of both in improving education and creating social capital.

A few materials that have influenced my thoughts:

  • This New York Times article about high school teachers using backchannels during classes to engage their students.

    “When we have class discussions, I don’t really feel the need to speak up or anything,” said one of her students, Justin Lansink, 17. “When you type something down, it’s a lot easier to say what I feel.”

  • This TED talk about how we’re all cyborgs now by @caseorganic. (We’re cyborgs because the way we use technology as extensions of our data processing and receptacles of our identity.)
  • The seven tenets of GOOD/Corps and their self-identification as “a business-success engine born at the crossroads of the Values Revolution and the Digital Revolution.”

So why did I tag you? Because I want to know:

  • What drives your use of social media?
  • If you share content, which networks do you share it on? How do you determine what’s worth sharing, and who do you share it with? (Tangent: Do you use social media for work? This conversation is also fair game.)
  • How connected do you feel to your geographic community? How connected do you feel to any community (and how do you define it)?

Discuss. (+1 for name-dropping any French philosopher/theorist.)

-30- original post

Update: This post is less than two months old, but since then, Google+. I think that this blog and that network, along with reading a bunch of anti-fb rhetoric (slash no longer being able to ignore the blatant disregard for user privacy/information ownership), together = me migrating toward other networks. I also had the opportunity to have a lot of conversations about ideal digital learning spaces in the context of job interviews, shhh … (during which I didn’t drool, but did hyperventilate a little), and I did not get less geeky about any of these topics.

The note sparked two likes, an e-mail exchange with a former Daily Bruin colleague (which started as a discussion of web traffic from Facebook and Twitter for a local paper and turned into a conversation about our generation and our lives), and one of my favorites, this e-mail from another friend, 9 days later: “Hello. Maybe when you are free from the bonds of [workplace redacted], you can visit us and we can talk about how social media relates to real-life interactions.”

Which reminds me, I should hang out with my IRL friend, you know, IRL.

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