An Amateur’s Lament

Amazon’s advertisement for the Kindle Fire opens with a Voltaire quote:

The instruction we find in books is like fire. We fetch it from our neighbors, kindle it at home, communicate it to others, and it becomes property of all.

We Are What We Choose

In this post on Cyborgology, PJ Rey convincingly speaks to the project of dismissing the concept of digital dualism. He argues that as technology becomes sufficiently advanced and ubiquitous, we begin to think of it as natural extensions of ourselves.

As such, is [sic] not hyperbolic to claim, for example, that Facebook is a piece of equipment that has become an extension of our very consciousness. As equipment, social media fundamentally alters who we are.

Rings true for me. But more than anything else it emphasizes the importance of thinking carefully about the ways in which we are extending ourselves.

In Defense of the New Google Reader

Brian Shih, a former PM for Google Reader, wrote a scathing take-down of the recent changes to Google Reader on Monday.

And plenty of his criticisms are well deserved. It’s certainly true that the visual changes seem to prioritize consistency with the rest of Google’s visual redesign over the practical considerations of the product.

Intimacy is Performance

I was surprised to find a lot of interesting discussion around my last post about Intimacy and Performance on Facebook. Some of it was about the distinction between ‘intimacy’ and ‘performance’ and a lot was about mediated experience. Both of the discussion tracks got me thinking about our relationship to communication technology.

We can measure the progress of communication technology in two ways:

  • The reduction of physical limits on social interaction.
  • The increase of signal fidelity of digital communication to pre-technological social communication.

Intimacy and Performance on Facebook

Facebook launched three interesting new features last Thursday: Timeline, Ticker, and Open Graph.

Timeline

Timeline is a replacement for the profile page that collects and displays your Facebook status updates, photos, links, etc. in a clean, easily perusable way. One of the first things I thought of after seeing the announcement, was this “Dear Sophie” ad from Google.

Superficially, they’re very similar. Both showcase the use of technology to capture meaningful events and share them. Even the types of relationships and events are similar. But the different presentations betray an important distinction in purpose between the two sets of services.