Social Networks

Entries related to social networks, group psychology, anthropology, and really any of the social sciences.

Social Media Developments

It has been a good couple of days for geeks. First, I got an email from Matt at Spock. Recently, my wife disappeared from Spock. I sent a few emails asking what had happened and Matt responded that in the early days of Spock, they would create search results for people based on information from people’s address books. However, the data in the address books end up not being very good, so they stopped the practice. Then, they started cleaning out those entries. Apparently, Kim was one of the few people loaded from an address book that then went in, set up an account, and added data. Since she was loaded initially from an address book, they deleted her, and I was disappointed to find that my profile no longer listed my wife. The have restored her userid. We put in a bunch of new data and everything seems fine.

One of the criticisms of Spock early on, was that people joined Spock simply to get rid of bad data about them. Hopefully with the cleanup completed, people will join Spock as a means of organizing and presenting good information about themselves.

Then, I got an email from MyBlogLog. Their API has entered a limited invite-only beta. I’m busy trying to finagle an invitation. I did a bunch of extracting MyBlogLog data early on and build some interesting graphs of social networks. The new API looks like it may provide a lot of interesting opportunities to mash up different social networks and see how everything inter-relates. I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

Next, I saw a Twitter message that the Yahoo Developers Network now supports OpenID 2.0. So, now I can tie my MyBlogLog development together with OpenID.

For those a little less geeky, I got a message on Facebook about the Newstrust blog. Tish Grier is doing community development for them. It will be great to see that community grow.

So, lots of fund new stuff for geeks, if I can only find some time to be geeky.

Blogger, OpenID, and Gravatars

The acceptance of OpenID in the blogger community is growing, which IMHO, is a great thing. Today, as I visited various Wordless Wednesday sites, I found more and more people using OpenID, and I appreciated being able to click on their links and go directly to their websites. Unfortunately, the Drupal implementation of OpenID doesn’t handle it quite as nicely.

One downside of this is that OpenID comments on Blogger do not show people’s gravatar. The problem is that gravatar’s are based on email addresses, and OpenID is based on website addresses. One solution would be if Gravatar would accept OpenIDs. Another solution would be if sites managing OpenIDs would support email addresses and connect with gravatar. seems like a perfect candidate for this. You can already verify your OpenIDs and your email addresses with them. If they would make email addresses available, as md5 hashes, then Blogger could connect to ClaimID to display gravatars. It would be a nice addition, and I’m sure there are a lot of other neat applications that could be created if there was a source of md5 hashed email addresses associated with OpenIDs.

Emerging Quirkiness

O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!

- Robert Burns, To a Louse

In 1999, Professor David Jacobson of Brandeis University led a group of anthropology students into a text based virtual world where they were asked to interact with certain residents of the virtual world, and write up the impressions they had formed. Professor Jacobson then used this data to explore how we form impressions of people we interact with online.

I was one of the residents that the students interacted with and I found it very interesting to read Professor Jacobson’s paper about their impressions of me. It was particularly interesting to me since I was going through a divorce at the time and trying to reform my own self-impressions.

It is interesting to reflect on this in terms of my recent experiences with Spock, Spoke, Wink, Zoominfo, and other sites focused on online reputations.

More About Spock

Since I wrote my last piece about Spock, I continue to get interesting emails, tweets, and so on about Spock. Three blog posts about Spock that are worth noting are Web 2.0 Experiments, snafus and stumbles, where the author is ‘hoping that Spock ends up in the dead pool’, Dislikeing Spock Even More, where the author compares Spock to Shelfari, and I am not Spock where the author wonders what Spock really has to do with any of the trusts that he has.

One person twitter, I'm surprised they aren't leaving us comments. Well, I sent an email to Maia Bittner a member of the Spock Team that had added a tag to my Spock profile. I pointed her to some of the blog posts and asked why there hadn’t been comments. She said,

We haven't commented (yet) for several reasons. One is that we want to be judged by our actions and not our words. Trust me, we've been paying very close attention to the parts of Spock that users take issue with, and we've been incorporating suggestions from blogs into our development plans.

I cannot emphasize enough to you how dynamic and (hopefully!) evolving Spock is. We try something out that we think is a good idea, and if people don't like it, we change it.

Another reason we haven't commented is that because of how often the structure of the site changes, we can't make any promises.

The Orkut Virus and Scripts

Last night, I received five scrapbook entries on Orkut saying, “2008 vem ai... que ele comece mto bem para vc”. I’m not sure what that means, if anything, and it surely isn’t something my five friends would have sent me, especially not all at the same time. So I did a little digging.

It appears as if a script hit Orkut last night. The details are a bit sketchy, but apparently if you bring up the scrapbook page with one of these viral scraps in it, it would send that message to all of your friends and join you to a group, ‘Infectados pelo Vírus do Orkut’. Last night, that had 396,849 members. This morning, it is at 690,513 members. The problem is that you cannot unjoin this group.

Google appears to be deleting these scraps as fast as they could and the five scraps were deleted from my scrapbook as well as the one that the virus sent to my wife.

A way to protect against this is to turn off Javascript in its entirety, or to add a tool that partially turn off scripts. I chose the later option, using a Firefox addon called NoScript. It allows you to chose which domains can run scripts and which ones can’t.

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