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Fascinating article in the May 15th The New Yorker by John Cassidy entitled 
"Me Media: How hanging out on the Internet became big business." Discusses 
Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook.com; also, MySpace.com and other similar sites.

To my way of thinking, there is something very generational about this 
activity; I'm 54 and like and use the Internet and e-mail, but I don't like 
it and use it in the same way that, apparently, many younger people do. 
Reference is made to Duncan Watts at Columbia who says that these sites 
reflect (quoting Cassidy) "a dramatic shift in how young people view the 
Internet." Watts says: "Now everyone is used to the idea that we are 
connected, and that's not so interesting. If I had to guess why sites like 
Facebook are so popular, I would say it doesn't have anything to do with 
networking at all. It's voyeurism and exhibitionism. People like to express 
themselves, and they are curious about other people." It's analogous to 
"hanging out at the mall." Younger people who prefer cyber experiences, 
which is a bit scary to me.

This article talks about Internet realities that are expanding exponentially 
(lots of people are paying money, and a relatively few people are making 
enormous sums of money). "Social networking" is getting to be Big Big 
Business; it's no longer very small or quaint or pure or (merely) academic. 
The "real-world" (well, Cyberworld--is that "real"?) tail is now huge and is 
now wagging the SNA dog.


Michael C. Reed, Ph.D.
Independent Consultant & Cultural Anthropologist
Kalamazoo, Mich., USA
[log in to unmask]   Tel. & Fax 269-342-4025    Cell phone 269-808-8983

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