Wired Pursuits

Archive for September 2009

Facebook has added tagging to its interface. Here’s how it works…

Just enter your status and type “@.” You’ll see a message asking you to type anything. Type the first letter of a person, an event, a fan page, or group page and a list will appear. Then just select the item you want to associate with your status. The item you picked appears in your status as a link.

It’s just one more way to make the hyper-connected world of Facebook even more intertwined.

Thoughts? Is this helpful? A gimmick? Or another “I wanna be just like Twitter” update?

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When the Internet and email first started being used for communications many complained that it would never be as rich as face-to-face communications. It was devoid of emotion, feeling, or personality. You couldn’t really get to know the person you were interacting with. But over time that has changed. Individuals have come up with interesting ways to add emotion and feeling to their communications, and new technologies such as audio and video are allowing individuals to hear an individual’s tone of voice and watch their body language and mannerisms.

We are emotional creatures.

People are by nature emotional creatures. We gain many clues to others by watching their body language, listening to the tone of their voice, and looking them in the eye. How many times have you heard the saying, “it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it comes from?”

With email and the Internet all that was missing in the beginning. Sometimes individuals misunderstood messages because there were no external clues to what the sender really meant. But as social beings, we have come up with many creative ways to add emotion, and therefore understanding, to our electronic communications. I’ve been lucky to be able to see these changes being used by more and more people over the years.

Adding emotion to our electronic communications.

Below is a list of just some of the ways we are putting a face on our communications (well the ones I can think of). I’m sure I’ve missed some, so if you think of others, please add them. Note that I am not including all the design tricks such as color, font, and layout that designers can use to create a “feeling” around a web page. Instead these are things that most individuals can do to convey emotion using a basic keyboard.

  • CAPS LOCK. A simple way to add emphasis. Basically the electronic equivalent of yelling.
  • Bold. Another simple way to show emphasis.
  • Emoticons. Probably the most interesting. Those pesky little characters often added to email, IM, and blog posts to convey feelings. Smile:  :-), wink ;-), shock =o to name a few. Interestingly, emoticons didn’t start with email. There were actually used on the Plato system in the 1970. But the popularity of email has made them more known and common to the general public.
  • Profile photos. Profile photos on Facebook, Twitter, and forums are great ways to send clues about personality (or hide them). Whether they are actual photos or avatars both convey a sense of the person you are communicating with.

I’m what they consider a “non-traditional” student here at Penn State. Basically that means I’m coming into the PhD program having taken a 20+ year detour into the business world. So I guess the non-traditional part is the “real-life” experience I bring to the table (because I don’t really want it to just mean I’m older).

That said, as I walk around campus I’m immersed in a sea of 18-20 something year olds. I get to overhear a lot of very interesting conversations. OK, maybe I listen in in an attempt to feel closer to my kids of the same age whom I left back in VA.

That said, in the spirit of “overheard” Web sites everywhere, I launch the inaugural edition of “Overheard on campus.” It’s about conversations I find interesting or at least revealing in terms of the younger generation and their experiences at college and it’s as close to the actual conversation as my “non-traditional” brain can remember.

Overheard on campus

Male: “As long as I’m here I’ll never miss a football game.”

Female: “Yeah right, unless, like, you have to go home or something.”

Male: “Why would I go home?”

Female: “You know, for family shit.”

Male: “We don’t do shit in our family.”


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