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McLuhan Redux: The Schoolyard Is The Code
October 25, 2010 4:44 PM   Subscribe

The Daily Beast discovers that the college programmers behind Facebook not only love their captors but also perpetuate the atrocities they themselves endured. Behind the new code of the schoolyard...

High School or Facebook?

• New kids have trouble making friends.
• No one wants to be your friend if you don't follow the code. It is against the rules to tell you what the code is.
• The campus newspaper prints story about the old kids.
• To get gossip, you have to give gossip. Without gossip, you can't get gossip.
• Stalking doesn't help your reputation
• Being stalked helps your reputation
• Connections to the outside help a little
• The more photos you have in the yearbook, the better
• Other people backing up what you say is the golden ring
posted by nickrussell (28 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
What?

Facebook isn't really for making friends, it's stalking the friends you do have. Also, the article seems to be about randomly showing up in people's feeds, but nothing stops you from commenting on their stuff or sending direct messages.
posted by delmoi at 5:01 PM on October 25, 2010


or you could do what I've done to control your feed: have less friends

(yea, yea , or disconnect from FB completely...)
posted by victors at 5:01 PM on October 25, 2010


Huh... I never exactly knew that they tracked who views what pages for how long. Talk about a fucking privacy atomic bomb if that ever leaks.
posted by codacorolla at 5:03 PM on October 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Other people backing up what you say is the golden ring

I was going to favorite this post but then I became self-conscious.
posted by Joe Beese at 5:06 PM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


speaking of which, the seasons are changing, and its time for a facebook friend purge. please check the bulletin board outside of room 203, across from the auditorium, to see if you made the cut.
posted by Mach5 at 5:18 PM on October 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Somebody should write some kind of movie about this toxic social environment...
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 5:19 PM on October 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


goddamnit facebook we just want to see all posts by all of my unhidden friends in reverse chronological order why is this so motherfucking hard for you to understand
posted by Ian A.T. at 5:20 PM on October 25, 2010 [15 favorites]


Ian A.T., they actually tell you how to do that in the article. It's an option on top of the Recent feed.
posted by LogicalDash at 5:25 PM on October 25, 2010


The Daily Beast pisses me off because every time I see a link to it I think I'm going to the angry-awesome The Beast and then I just get let down.
posted by jnrussell at 5:26 PM on October 25, 2010


AnectdoteFilter: I have maybe 200 "friends" on Facebook; maybe a third of those are active users. I've met everyone of them face-to-face (my personal strategy is not to accept requests from people i don't know), and I never use any "applications" or games. My Facebook is spam is very limited, and my enjoyment of the site is proportional to what I pay for it, so, it is at least POSSIBLE to use it and not want to blow up your own head.
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 5:28 PM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't post on Facebook often, but when I do it's usually along the lines of "Hey, I'm coming to London next week, who wants a beer". It's good to know that rather than being shunned, it might just be that nobody ever sees my posts in the default view.
posted by nowonmai at 5:32 PM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


People compare all kinds of shit to high school. When I was in law school I kept hearing how it was just like high school. It's a very important frame of reference for some people, even (especially?) if they claim not to have liked it.

To the extent that anything is like high school, it's because high school is the first and longest-lasting example people have of human adult troupe dynamics (or why would people's high school experiences be so similar to each other's?). The same themes should show up in any large-ish closed society.
posted by grobstein at 5:34 PM on October 25, 2010 [6 favorites]


Holy cow, do they want to hide that! To make sure that you see everything in your Most Recent stream, go all the way down to the BOTTOM of the page, choose Edit Options, and--as usual with Facebook--try to decipher the pop-up.

But this is bigger than that issue, though. Facebook, for whatever reason, doesn't want us to use Most Recent: they rename it, they make News Stream the default view, they make it so that you still don't see everything by default. Anyone want to hazard a guess why? I'm trying to think of a revenue-based reason to discourage the Most Recent feed, but I'm coming up blank.

The Daily Beast pisses me off because they ripped their name off from Waugh's Scoop.
posted by Ian A.T. at 5:34 PM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is mindbogglingly stupid.

"10. Why Facebook Really is Like High School: After weeks of testing and trying everything from having Phil post videos to getting some of his friends to flood him with comments, by the end of our experiment, a few of our volunteers had still literally never seen Phil appear in their feeds, either Top News or Most Recent. These were the "popular kids"—users of Facebook with 600 or more friends."

That's not highschool, that's just life. It's easier to get noticed in a small group than in a large crowd. WELL HOW DARE THEY MAKE FACEBOOK JUST LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE
posted by 23skidoo at 5:35 PM on October 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Regarding the law school comment, please address all concerns about law school with a poorly-written letter to the dean asking for your money back.
posted by nickrussell at 5:40 PM on October 25, 2010


Previously: The Law of the Playground. Cruel and unusual.
posted by ovvl at 5:44 PM on October 25, 2010


I don't really see anything wrong with this. In order to be popular you need to get people's attention--that's almost a tautology. Facebook models "attention" by watching how many times they click your stuff. That is about the most sensible metric I could think of.
posted by LogicalDash at 6:19 PM on October 25, 2010


I'm trying to think of a revenue-based reason to discourage the Most Recent feed, but I'm coming up blank.

I've also noticed it's no longer possible to block the stupid apps my friends are using (autism quotient, anyone?), rather than my friends themselves. Grrr.
posted by smoke at 7:25 PM on October 25, 2010


goddamnit facebook we just want to see all posts by all of my unhidden friends in reverse chronological order why is this so motherfucking hard for you to understand

I'm pretty sure they don't want us to do that because of the server load for the constant refreshes. I consider this to be their problem and use Most Recent all the damned time too.

I've also noticed it's no longer possible to block the stupid apps my friends are using (autism quotient, anyone?), rather than my friends themselves. Grrr.

I mark every "my friend started using this app" post as spam. It may not help but it's my protest against that crap.
posted by immlass at 7:30 PM on October 25, 2010


It was designed to mimic the social experience of college. I don't know why this would be a shocker to anybody.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:55 PM on October 25, 2010


A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.

How about a nice game of chess?

(I've long been a curmudgeonly old bastard, even when I was a teenager, so I pretty much had the same attitude to the 'schoolyard code'.

And part of my objection to Facebook and similar [e.g. XFN] is the lack of "dislike" and "enemy" buttons. Smacks of social engineering, trying to enforce goodness and niceness by ignoring the full spectrum of human feelings and emotions…

That said, I succumbed to the lure of Facebook the other day, joining so I could keep in touch with my friends who graduate soon.)

posted by Pinback at 8:17 PM on October 25, 2010


But in this case, Simonetti's only friends were a hand-picked roster of more than two dozen volunteers who agreed to sift through their news feeds for the duration of our experiment, dutifully recording any Phil sightings.

Does "more than two dozen volunteers" mean that the guy only had 24+ friends as part of this experiment? Because - not to judge - but...who has only 24 facebook friends? Seems like a low number to me and not statistically relevant. Am I missing something?
posted by hapax_legomenon at 10:19 PM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Anyone want to hazard a guess why? I'm trying to think of a revenue-based reason to discourage the Most Recent feed, but I'm coming up blank.

Well, more relevant content keeps you coming back.

In a service like Twitter, frequency equals relevancy. And a few users in your feed who dominate the day with low-quality posts every five seconds crowd out the users you might be more interested in following. Yes, you can take a proactive stance and un-follow them, but I'd guess most people don't bother and—maybe even unconsciously—judge the quality of the service based on what they are seeing when they visit. Maybe that happens even if you ARE being proactive in managing your feed.

Facebook wants you to see the cloud content you're likely to be most interested in, because that in turn makes Facebook more interesting.

The more you stick around, the more likely you are to participate in their revenue streams.
posted by pokermonk at 6:06 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Because - not to judge - but...who has only 24 facebook friends? Seems like a low number to me and not statistically relevant.

:(
posted by chaff at 10:16 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Huh... I never exactly knew that they tracked who views what pages for how long. Talk about a fucking privacy atomic bomb if that ever leaks.

Why? Doesn't every (major commercial) Web site do this? Mine does for sure. We also have email addresses, street addresses, phone numbers, age, sex, etc etc.

goddamnit facebook we just want to see all posts by all of my unhidden friends in reverse chronological order why is this so motherfucking hard for you to understand

Click "Friends" then click "Status Updates" - close?

I'm trying to think of a revenue-based reason to discourage the Most Recent feed, but I'm coming up blank.

I don't think it's complicated. They want to maximize two things: 1) time spent on Facebook, i.e. number of seconds your eyeballs see their ads; 2) page views on Facebooks, i.e. ad impressions.

They think the best way to do that is with an algorithmic-curated feed of your friends' activity.

I thought the article was interesting, but pretty superficial. I'd like to see some more intensive research on how items surface in that Top News feed.

Seems like a low number to me and not statistically relevant. Am I missing something?

No, you're not. That's why the findings of this article are so shallow. Good idea, bad implementation.

but...who has only 24 facebook friends?

Also, you'd be surprised. I have lots of friends who curate a tight list. In general, my older friends (50-60+) keep smaller lists. (I like to think it's not because their friends are dead.)

I have the standard ~250 or so, but I could curate it down to under 100 pretty easily. Instead, I keep a courtesy list (in-laws, etc) and just hide them all.

I've also set up a "Top Posters" list that includes all friends who ever post anything interesting. I curate that list and basically only check that one and my profile, instead of the home page.

The only think I really wish was easier was accessing custom lists. It's always 2 clicks away.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:27 AM on October 26, 2010


Also, surprised nobody posted this comment from the article. It seems to sum it all up:

Okay... why should i leave a comment ? Good Q .. so the answer is:-why should I ?? I´m no particular friend of anyone or either way... everbody calls me The Loner... so why should I excell in getting myself splashed all over the FACEBOOK Internet..?? Just Why ???
There is no answer for that... nobody is interested.. just like that..
So why am I on FaceBook ¿¿.. because some nut tells me to go fishing if I am not.... This is "indoctrination".. Someone wants the upperhand ON ME..... That won´t work... I am I and you are YOU.. so what´s new ?? We wll never meet.. so what´s the purpose of going that extra mile ?? I am I and you are YOU and we will NEFFAH EFFAH MEET..... because I´m not set to meeting your dirty unwashed face (even if I can´t see you)...... so why should I take a shower and clean up while Im not intend to meeting your dirty face even it you´re funny.... I´m sick.. you hear. I am absolutely possitively SICK of sitting her and talk to you by cybrescript.. You smell .... yeack !! Do I smell..? Yes I do.. lik a bucket of stale roses.. So let´s go smell in seclution.... It helps.. We are not friends and we both smell.... Some darned good reason to stay on your own side of the isle.. which at least smells familiar.... So....?
Let´s get off the subject.... I am getting senile ..
GripeVine... and me, Donah..


... from an anonymous Facebook user

Metafilter: We are not friends and we both smell
posted by mrgrimm at 1:49 PM on October 26, 2010


Because - not to judge - but...who has only 24 facebook friends? Seems like a low number to me and not statistically relevant.

:(


chaff, I should've been clearer about my comment ("not to judge" was my obviously insufficient attempt at clarity): I have less than zero invested in the number of facebook friends I have. I do have, however, as mrgrimm notes, a "courtesy" list and I assume that others do as well. And a quick search indicates that the "average" facebook user has 130 friends...so, that's the only point I was trying to make: it's odd to me that the authors of this article would extrapolate from the behavior of a much lower number to the larger population of facebook users as a whole.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 7:28 PM on October 26, 2010


No offense taken . . I probably have a few more than 24.
posted by chaff at 10:01 AM on October 29, 2010


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