Critical sharing

Sharing without pausing for thought risks making fools of us – as individuals and as communities.

Critical consumption in internet use (crap detection as Howard Rheingold puts it) is a skill, or literacy, citizens of the web have been honing for years. We have build good habits – wondering about the provenance of data in a blog post, who is behind a campaigning website, checking the edit history of a Wikipedia article before we trust its accuracy.

Take the case of Kim Stafford. An act of fancy dress satire leads to online mob-bullying of a student by people who take her lampooning of Tea Party types.

People think they know what they are seeing, think that the context is the conversation. The thing about mobs is if you’re not alert to your actions and intentions, you don’t necessarily know you are part of one.

Uncritical sharing, guileless passing on of memes and stories online doesn’t just matter in extreme cases like this – it’s an everyday affair.

We see the image, and pass judgement and share before we really know what is going on. News organisations have struggled with with the tension between immediacy and truth as news breaks for years – increasingly it also a matter of individual responsibility and perhaps reputation.

People – friends, colleagues and connections alike – think less of someone, pay less attention to them, turn down the volume if their judgement is continually off the mark in what they say and share online.

We have all felt that pang of embarrassment, mixed in with surprise and a little annoyance, when someone we thought was intelligent re-posts a dismal listicle, urban myth or ridiculous scare story. Sometimes a little gentle mocking in reply, or a discreet correction will help them realise their error.

You are what you share?

Slow-mo social: Friction and frictionless sharing


Interesting train of thought set in motion by an excellent blog post from Chris Thorpe.

He makes a case for “frictionless sharing” (stuff you read or see or listen to being shared automatically with your social network) as promoted by Facebook, being “noisy and for robots” while “declarative frictionfull sharing” (deciding to share things and putting a little effort into doing so) as being meaningful.

The end of Facebook quiz spam?: Facebook continues to add privacy enhancements

Facebook yesterday added a welcome feature to its privacy controls: the ability to control who sees different types of content you share via applications.

The example Facebook’s blog used was sharing a greetings card via an app like someecards – maybe you don’t want everyone in your network to see your hilarious design.

Perhaps it will also mean that people will be more likely to be selective in their updates about quizzes and social games like the massively popular Farmville. While many enjoy these Facebook apps, the stream of updates drive other people nuts and can become what one colleague of mine refers to as “functional spam”.

This development’s another good reason to invest the time in setting up different groups for Facebook friends, one of the approaches discussed in the sections on managing networks of contacts in Me My Web Shadow. While some people keep their Facebook network closed and restricted to friends and family, many of us have networks that include colleagues and acquaintances that we don’t want to share *everything* with.

This is a good move from Facebook: I hope there will be further development in making privacy controls easier to access, use and understand.