The New Intimacy Economy

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Lately Facebook is getting a little too intimate with me. “Good morning, Leigh,” it coos. “Thanks for being here. We hope you enjoy Facebook today.” Then, like a slice of dystopian cafeteria lunch, it serves one of its abysmal “memories” into my feed, some forgotten years-old share, and when I tell it I don’t want to see that, Facebook scrapes apologetically: “We know we don’t always get it right.”

Pretending at closeness is really the only way forward for anyone who wants to make money on the internet. As such, watch as organizations pretend, with increasing intensity, that they are individuals. Start counting how many times platforms, services and websites entreat you in human voices, with awkward humor, for money. Watch as the things we expect to be invisible, utilitarian, start oozing emojis and winky-smileys. Even Silicon Valley, global epicenter of whitewashed empathy voids and 1-percenter sci-fi wank fantasies, is going to pretend it cares about you. Especially Silicon Valley. Ugh.

Your inbox is going to fill up with requests for professional favors from strangers who tell you they love you. They are not remotely your peers, but they’ll expect you to work for them anyway for exposure, for credit, for kudos, for ‘the community’. They add emojis for effect, too. Your feelings are now professional currency. Everyone who makes anything digital is monitoring the exchange rate to survive. Every content creator is now a community manager.

You live in a network of friends, likes, favorites, hearts and stars. The future is not a prison of robot overlords, but a Lucky Charms hell world stuffed with ‘plushies’ you backed on Kickstarter. Tell Your Story, Medium begs me in the field where I post this article. Please like and share this article. Please Tweet at me to tell me I kick ass.

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The curly fry conundrum: Why social media “likes” say more than you might think

Good TED Talk video where Jennifer Golbeck talks about what is revealed by Facebook likes (giving me the opportunity to use the tag “curly fries” for the first time on the blog):

…[A study] looked at just people’s Facebook likes, so just the things you like on Facebook, and used that to predict all these attributes, along with some other ones. And in their paper they listed the five likes that were most indicative of high intelligence. And among those was liking a page for curly fries. (Laughter) Curly fries are delicious, but liking them does not necessarily mean that you’re smarter than the average person. So how is it that one of the strongest indicators of your intelligence is liking this page when the content is totally irrelevant to the attribute that’s being predicted? And it turns out that we have to look at a whole bunch of underlying theories to see why we’re able to do this. One of them is a sociological theory called homophily, which basically says people are friends with people like them. So if you’re smart, you tend to be friends with smart people, and if you’re young, you tend to be friends with young people, and this is well established for hundreds of years. We also know a lot about how information spreads through networks. It turns out things like viral videos or Facebook likes or other information spreads in exactly the same way that diseases spread through social networks. So this is something we’ve studied for a long time. We have good models of it. And so you can put those things together and start seeing why things like this happen. So if I were to give you a hypothesis, it would be that a smart guy started this page, or maybe one of the first people who liked it would have scored high on that test. And they liked it, and their friends saw it, and by homophily, we know that he probably had smart friends, and so it spread to them, and some of them liked it, and they had smart friends, and so it spread to them, and so it propagated through the network to a host of smart people, so that by the end, the action of liking the curly fries page is indicative of high intelligence, not because of the content, but because the actual action of liking reflects back the common attributes of other people who have done it.

Thanks Benoit and Paul for forwarding the link!

Facebook data know you better than your own mother

facebook-like-personality

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By harvesting Facebook “Likes,” the researchers’ computer model proved more accurate at divining a person’s self-reported personality traits than their own kith and kin.

…In the core part of the study, the competition between man and machine came down to who knew the subject best. But subjects don’t necessarily know themselves that well. Even though the Like-based computer model was geared toward predicting a person’s own evaluation of himself based on the Big Five [a set of personality measures that includes openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism], the model proved eerily adept at predicting real-life behavior refracted through a user’s Facebook activities (e.g. number of status updates, political affiliations)—in some cases, the model outperformed the subjects themselves.

I Am Not My Internet Personality, and You Probably Aren’t Yours, Either.

Photo: Heide Benser/Corbis

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It is part of the modern condition to pose and posture online, and it can be very fun to make fun of the various ways in which people make asses of themselves. But the unfiltered nature and open playing field of social media make it easy to forget that it’s all a performance. In person, Michael was great! Really and truly. His terrible use of social media was part deliberate schtick and part stone-cold, childlike buffoonery, but it was all very lovable.

…The gap between public and private personae used to be the exclusive concern of entertainers, but now anybody who wants to can live Martin. Plenty of prestige bloggery has been devoted to analyzing the phenomenon of “social-media happiness fraud,” which we’ve somehow elevated to Russian-novel levels of agony: Those people posing in bikinis? Don’t feel too envious of them, we’ve been told, for they are dead inside, too.

The ability to “research” people this way has already been catastrophic for casual dating, as we’ve all been forced to reduce other human beings to a series of forensic clues so as not to be murdered or have a boring two hours at a restaurant. While certainly expedient, the newish convention of deciding whether you like somebody before you have ever been in their physical presence is both depressing and a teensy bit unfair. Doing it to people we are already in actual relationships with is bananas and horrible. I’ve had to defend friends to the friends I’m trying to set them up with by saying things like “She’s not like this in person.” It is possible to excessively photograph your cat and be lovely to spend time with. It would be cool if we could just maybe start giving people the benefit of the doubt on this.

What Your Email Style Reveals About Your Personality

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People use language in different ways, and those differences are a function of their personality. Our choices are spontaneous and unconscious but they do reflect who we are. Text mining studies have found associations between key words and major aspects of personality. The more frequently people use those words, the more likely it is that they display certain personality traits.

For example, extraverts talk about fun-related stuff: bars, Miami, music, party, and drinks. People with lower EQ are more likely to use emotional and negative words: stress, depressed, angry, and unfortunate. Narcissists talk about themselves–the number of self-referential words (e.g., “I,” “me,” “mine,” “myself,” etc.) is indicative of someone’s self-love and entitlement. Artistic and intellectual individuals use highbrow words, such as narrative, rhetoric, and leitmotiv.

Your Personality Type, Defined by the Internet

Five, a start-up, can analyze Facebook posts, including those by the social network's co-founder, Mark Zuckerberg, to determine personality types based off of select key attributes.

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Using a link to Facebook posts, Five analyzes the language in which we write, and determines our relative affiliation to five personality attributes: openness, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness and neuroticism. It then shows comparisons with famous people (based on their public writings and statements), as well as your Facebook friends.

Based on the initial responses to the site on Twitter, “people seem to identify pretty strongly with the personalities we generate,” said Nikita Bier, the co-founder of Five, which is working on a product for online conversations that will use similar technology. “Only about 10 percent said we were outright wrong about them.”