34 votes

Are certain message boards like Tildes, Reddit etc. social engineering?

The active development of Tildes and the feedback/discussions about features and mechanisms had me thinking. Is the conscious design and moderation of forums for public discourse a manner of social engineering?

I know the connotation of social engineering is usually negative, as in manipulating people for politics. But it's a double edged sword.

Most recently I was reading this feedback on removing usernames from link topics and while reading the comments I was thinking of how meta this all is. It's meta-meta-cognition in that we (well, by far the actual developers) are designing the space within which we execute our discourse and thinking. To paraphrase the above example: user identification can bias one's own impulse reaction to content, either to a beneficial or detrimental end, so how do we want this?

The moderation-influenced scenario is a bit more tricky because it can become too top-heavy, as in one prominent example many of us came from recently... But I think with a balance of direction from the overlords (jk, there is also public input as mentioned) and the chaos of natural public discourse, you could obtain an efficient environment for the exchange of ideas.

I'm not sure what my stimulating question would be for you all, so just tell me what you think.

42 comments

  1. [18]
    hereticalgorithm (edited ) Link
    Yes! This social engineering is not only real, but an unspoken constant of 21st century "platforms", granting tech monopolies effective power on par with state organs (while still operating in...

    Yes!

    This social engineering is not only real, but an unspoken constant of 21st century "platforms", granting tech monopolies effective power on par with state organs (while still operating in service of their bottom line).

    Consider Facebook - if you think comparing them to a state is hyperbole, Zuckerberg himself presented a vision of FB as "global safety infrastructure", with the ability to tackle problems that "no nation can solve". They regularly conduct experiments as egregious as deliberately manipulating users emotions. The effects of their policies and platform design range from self-censorship, even offline, to political echo chambers (anti-vaxxers are one, I'm sure the reader can supply their own examples) and often severe addiction, depression and other mental illnesses. I'm not going to get started on the privacy concerns, or I'll be up all night. Suffice to say that rather than "connecting" society, they have dramatically accelerated it's atomization.

    Ultimately, this is not because Zuckerberg, as an individual, is an asshole/robot-wearing-human-skin, it is due the fact that as a for-profit corporation, Facebook is fundamentally compelled, at a structural/organizational level to make every single design decision, big or small, in the interests of their advertisers and shareholders against those of their users. This affects everything from how annoying notifications are (gotta keep those engagement metrics up) to the privacy concerns (gotta provide data for marketers) and the general toxicity (they aren't making money fixing that).

    And that is why I personally consider tildes (and similar initiatives) to be so critical, because without that profit motive we can actually have platforms which operate in benefit of their users.

    46 votes
    1. [15]
      Nile Link Parent
      Reason why I joined here as well... for discussions like this! well put fellow.... tilder? I don't know what we are yet...

      Reason why I joined here as well... for discussions like this! well put fellow.... tilder? I don't know what we are yet...

      11 votes
      1. [14]
        Gaywallet Link Parent
        And with that question Pandora's box was re-opened once again

        well put fellow.... tilder? I don't know what we are yet...

        And with that question Pandora's box was re-opened once again

        19 votes
        1. [13]
          Nile Link Parent
          sounds like this is a continuing conversation... could you direct me to where I might participate? I'm too new!

          sounds like this is a continuing conversation... could you direct me to where I might participate? I'm too new!

          3 votes
          1. [10]
            cfabbro (edited ) Link Parent
            Scattered throughout the site in various topics' comment sections over the last 8 months. But here are a few of the earliest topics about it to send you down the rabbit hole: ;)...

            Scattered throughout the site in various topics' comment sections over the last 8 months. But here are a few of the earliest topics about it to send you down the rabbit hole: ;)
            https://tildes.net/~tildes/k9/what_will_tildes_users_be_called
            https://tildes.net/~talk/1bt/so_what_should_our_demonym_be

            I am personally in the "no one true demonym camp" since I find it funnier when people refer to users of the site differently every single time in increasingly absurd ways. Tildiers, Tildians, Tilderinos, ~s, etc.

            9 votes
            1. [9]
              Nile Link Parent
              oh god... what have I done to myself!? I need to get work done!

              oh god... what have I done to myself!? I need to get work done!

              3 votes
              1. [8]
                Amarok Link Parent
                So many options. Tilderinos, Tilderians, Tilders, Waves, etc. I love love love the fact that there's no collective favorite. Part of me wants to see the snake as a mascot (matching the logo) and...

                So many options. Tilderinos, Tilderians, Tilders, Waves, etc. I love love love the fact that there's no collective favorite. Part of me wants to see the snake as a mascot (matching the logo) and have us all called snakes. Something tickles me about taking an untrustworthy, somewhat reviled creature as the mascot.

                I know on 4chan/SA et al, we'll all be Tildos. Always a tildo, never your tildo.

                5 votes
                1. [7]
                  Nile Link Parent
                  I think what makes the no Demonym idea appealing is that we all want a platform with a breadth of different ideas and for it to maintain as a place for discussions, not the favoured view towards a...

                  I think what makes the no Demonym idea appealing is that we all want a platform with a breadth of different ideas and for it to maintain as a place for discussions, not the favoured view towards a meme culture that ultimately divulges into a popularity contest. It seems like you can be wrong here or not quite fit in but you're still welcome to a voice so long as it isn't hurtful. Nothing is making you subscribe to an identity and submit to the top of the day content that passes as entertainment.
                  So keep tilding you sneaky snake!

                  5 votes
                  1. [6]
                    Amarok Link Parent
                    I think I like the snake because it has a 'be on your guard' element due to the subliminal association. Snakes aren't viewed as trustworthy, and perhaps it's time we all were a bit more on our...

                    I think I like the snake because it has a 'be on your guard' element due to the subliminal association. Snakes aren't viewed as trustworthy, and perhaps it's time we all were a bit more on our guard about who we are dealing with in online communities. Perhaps it'll subconsciously move people towards being a bit more cautious.

                    2 votes
                    1. [3]
                      Nile Link Parent
                      Very very very good point. Anonymity comes with a price. Is that a venomous viper or a cuddle noodle?

                      Very very very good point. Anonymity comes with a price. Is that a venomous viper or a cuddle noodle?

                      2 votes
                      1. [2]
                        Amarok Link Parent
                        I say we let the hats and coats tell us. ;) I just can't think of a not-horrifying way to make that work in the interface.

                        I say we let the hats and coats tell us. ;)

                        I just can't think of a not-horrifying way to make that work in the interface.

                        1. Nile Link Parent
                          I agree with your sentiment, I find minimalism appealing for sure... still cute AF

                          I agree with your sentiment, I find minimalism appealing for sure... still cute AF

                          1 vote
                    2. [2]
                      Bauke Link Parent
                      Hmm, I feel like that would be kind of a little antithetical of the "assume good faith" part of Tildes, depending on your interpretation of "being on guard"/cautious of course.

                      Hmm, I feel like that would be kind of a little antithetical of the "assume good faith" part of Tildes, depending on your interpretation of "being on guard"/cautious of course.

                      1 vote
                      1. Amarok (edited ) Link Parent
                        The next best choice I think is caterpillars. That's if you want cute and cuddly. I'm much more into the hat/coat concept than the creature we hang them on. Maybe we just use humans - 'remember...

                        The next best choice I think is caterpillars. That's if you want cute and cuddly.

                        I'm much more into the hat/coat concept than the creature we hang them on.

                        Maybe we just use humans - 'remember the human' is a goal too.

                        1 vote
          2. [2]
            Gaywallet Link Parent
            I'd say use the search function but I'm not entirely certain what to search for, only that I've seen this discussion many times.

            I'd say use the search function but I'm not entirely certain what to search for, only that I've seen this discussion many times.

            1 vote
            1. Nile Link Parent
              well TIL of the word Demonym thanks to @cfabbro so we can start there, but also he's provided two very entertaining links already. personally I like this user's perspective. @Eivetsthecat says:...

              well TIL of the word Demonym thanks to @cfabbro so we can start there, but also he's provided two very entertaining links already.

              personally I like this user's perspective. @Eivetsthecat says:
              "Apparently the ~ was originally added to type writers through the use of a dead key, which was a key not marked for a function. I don't have any ideas for names but I though that was a cool little aside to add to the decision making."
              which to mean really sums up the whole conversation of the demonym doesn't it? The point isn't who we are but the content in which we apply. That's at least my own perspective for now.

              3 votes
    2. JakeTheDog Link Parent
      Yea, I'm with you in your conclusions. There's a nature-nurture balance that ought not to be disturbed by third parties (e.g. shareholders) if we our objective is to benefit the users. And I've...

      Yea, I'm with you in your conclusions. There's a nature-nurture balance that ought not to be disturbed by third parties (e.g. shareholders) if we our objective is to benefit the users. And I've been impressed with the quality of Tildes so far (though admittedly, it's still a clos d group). I'm probably going to start donating, since money is still a necessity.

      3 votes
    3. AlastrionaCatskill Link Parent
      You have just described something I could not for years. My mental health problems started on Facebook, and the toxicity of other sites post-2015 only made things worse. I have my one friend's...

      You have just described something I could not for years. My mental health problems started on Facebook, and the toxicity of other sites post-2015 only made things worse. I have my one friend's group keeping me afloat, and that's it.

      2 votes
  2. [6]
    Emerald_Knight Link
    That's just a copy-pasta definition. Note definition #1. By selecting strict moderation guidelines and design decisions (centralized planning), a social media platform can maintain (regulate) the...

    so·cial en·gi·neer·ing
    noun

    1. the use of centralized planning in an attempt to manage social change and regulate the future development and behavior of a society.
    2. (in the context of information security) the use of deception to manipulate individuals into divulging confidential or personal information that may be used for fraudulent purposes.

    That's just a copy-pasta definition. Note definition #1. By selecting strict moderation guidelines and design decisions (centralized planning), a social media platform can maintain (regulate) the shape (development) of civility and discourse (behavior) of the platform (society).

    Now, to word it better instead of shoehorning something to match the definition: social media platforms like Tildes and Reddit (rather, individual subreddits) choose moderation as a tool because they want to drive discourse and activity to match up within a given set of rules and/or guidelines and often make design changes to help facilitate this. The hope is that user behavior and contributions will fit the purpose of the platform and not derail it, ultimately resulting in a higher quality experience for everyone. These rules/guidelines are (usually) put in place by a single person or a relatively small group of people, who serve as the authoritative voices for the platform. Even in Tildes' case, Deimos basically serves as the final word on what is and is not allowed here.

    It's kind of a loose equivalent, but it pretty much fits the bill for what social engineering is within the context of definition #1. So I would say, pragmatically, that yes, these platforms absolutely do engage in some form of social engineering.

    18 votes
    1. [4]
      Nile Link Parent
      it's interesting because we have these same dynamics in the physical world. If you don't subscribe to the way your city and town runs on a cultural level you can feel very isolated and not...

      it's interesting because we have these same dynamics in the physical world. If you don't subscribe to the way your city and town runs on a cultural level you can feel very isolated and not represented. Think of an muslim in Texas, I'd assume they'd have a hard time subscribing to their "terms of society" which I don't think I need to spell out to people, doesn't seem to align with cultures outside of Christianity. So what happens when a group or person in power changes their message repeatedly like a set of terms of service... it's kinda hard to keep up, and you begin to accept the reality of your environment and is why I sort of feel sorry for Trump voters. Their biases and opinions have been slowly changed to stay inline with their social groups that are adamant with staying red but are uninformed (or uninterested maybe?) in learning the real values that once constructed the GOP party. It's a shame.

      4 votes
      1. [3]
        cfabbro (edited ) Link Parent
        That's a pretty remarkably broad generalization and not wholly accurate from what I have heard; Austin in particular is considered quite liberal and progressive.

        Think of an muslim in Texas, I'd assume they'd have a hard time subscribing to their "terms of society" which I don't think I need to spell out to people, doesn't seem to align with cultures outside of Christianity.

        That's a pretty remarkably broad generalization and not wholly accurate from what I have heard; Austin in particular is considered quite liberal and progressive.

        3 votes
        1. [2]
          Nile Link Parent
          You're right, I'm certainly not being fair to Texans in general and that is wrong of me to say. But I don't think you can deny the type of social dynamics we have to subscribe to and what can...

          You're right, I'm certainly not being fair to Texans in general and that is wrong of me to say. But I don't think you can deny the type of social dynamics we have to subscribe to and what can happen if you don't. You can be really socially ostracized. Look at hikikomori in Japan - these individuals separate themselves due to the extreme pressures that their "terms of society" force on them to act a specific was in social engagements. This can cause significant anxiety to an individual and force them to retreat into themselves.

          Sorry if I insulted anyone from Austin!

          Edit: @cfabbro stop responding to my posts, I need to work! Your conversations are too engaging!

          5 votes
          1. cfabbro Link Parent
            Yeah, I wasn't disagreeing with your overall premise... I just somewhat took offense to your lack of nuance in that particular statement. But enough, 👋 shoo! 👋, go back to work! :P

            Yeah, I wasn't disagreeing with your overall premise... I just somewhat took offense to your lack of nuance in that particular statement. But enough, 👋 shoo! 👋, go back to work! :P

            1 vote
    2. JakeTheDog Link Parent
      So basically we're in a cult of cognitive manipulation lead/engineered by @Deimos ;) But hey, I'm all down for reasonable people making decisions for everyone else in the interest of efficiency...

      So basically we're in a cult of cognitive manipulation lead/engineered by @Deimos ;)

      But hey, I'm all down for reasonable people making decisions for everyone else in the interest of efficiency and maximum benefit to all. I'm not really a fan of democracy anyways, let alone moderator oligarchies (unless I'm one of them, of course).

      3 votes
  3. [2]
    diode Link
    I don't know if you're referring to Reddit or not, but assuming you did, I think Reddit's problem was that it wasn't top-heavy enough. Reddit's lack of planning allowed for subs like /r/CoonTown...

    The moderation-influenced scenario is a bit more tricky because it can become too top-heavy, as in one prominent example many of us came from recently

    I don't know if you're referring to Reddit or not, but assuming you did, I think Reddit's problem was that it wasn't top-heavy enough. Reddit's lack of planning allowed for subs like /r/CoonTown and /r/FatPeopleHate to emerge organically, and their naive belief in "free speech"(even though they're neither the state or a public utility) allowed those types of communities to fester.

    Personally I left HackerNews for Tildes because it seemed that the communty had grown bigger than what the moderators and forum culture could handle, which lead to discussion quality (in my opinion) going down.

    As to the question of whether forums like these are social engineering, I think they mostly just amplify the macro trends that are prevalent in the media at the moment. I don't really have any empirical proof but you can kinda see it with how as forums get bigger, the sentiments held start converging with the mainstream more and more.

    10 votes
    1. JakeTheDog Link Parent
      I'm referring to top-heaviness being bad in the same context as what hereticalgorithm said about Facebook. I think bottom-up organization is always best. But it only works of there is active...

      I'm referring to top-heaviness being bad in the same context as what hereticalgorithm said about Facebook. I think bottom-up organization is always best. But it only works of there is active engagement by everyone. It's unfortunate that the extremes are always the loudest. I think this is also what happens with large groups - the mainstream today is generally extremism/reactionaries. on both ends

      I'm in full support of free markets of ideas. If fucked up niches want to exist, so be it. Thay is the shadow side of humanity. There is a lot worse out there then groups dedicated to fat haters. Furthermore, it can be contained and avoided, instead of having no outlets and infecting other groups. Assuming that these groups don't grow out of hand, which I don't think is likely if we accept most people are good. For Tildes, I've seen quite a bit of user-lead moderation (just people calling out each other on shitty replies) which is exactly the kind of engagement we need to promote.

      In the words of my friend, this is the "collective sanity".

      3 votes
  4. [2]
    patience_limited (edited ) Link
    "Social engineering" has assumed a negative connotation thanks to the likes of Facebook and hacking/cracking communities. We need to think in terms of the engineering of social spaces and commons...

    "Social engineering" has assumed a negative connotation thanks to the likes of Facebook and hacking/cracking communities.

    We need to think in terms of the engineering of social spaces and commons throughout history, from the Greek agora, to the parks and stadia of modern times. We call the social guidance those spaces enforce on the users by names like architecture, policing, or urban planning.

    The purpose of all these efforts is to create public commons that facilitate human coexistence, collaboration, relief from other social constraints, commerce, shared experiences, preserves of variety and diversity that would otherwise become extinct...

    Designing the social functions of the space helps preserve it for the majority of users. If you think about common (though commercialized) spaces like Reddit, it's gone through some of the same waves of degradation and revitalization described for New York's Central Park here, often for similar reasons.

    So we can think about the architecture and "urban planning" of the Tildes site, including its rules, permitted and restricted behaviors, as aiming to "socially engineer" the preservation of the space to maximize its ability to continuously enable beneficial common uses, regardless of scale.

    We have ways to provide users with notice of positive or negative behavioral excursions that damage the agreed-upon common utility - reputational "rewards" and "fines". It's eventually going to require more direct policing, but groundwork for automating and crowd-sourcing some of the policing is nice architectural design.

    As to the usernames discussion, I think of it as an attempt to moderate a feedback effect that we know can arise in social fora, the equivalent of stampeding in crowded spaces. We tend to gravitate toward or away from people, rather than approaching ideas even-handedly. I was one of the advocates for no usernames on topics. I understand that there's utility in knowing who endorsed an idea, but the identity of the poster is right there if you click through to the comments.

    6 votes
    1. JakeTheDog Link Parent
      Ooh yes, you're filling in the gaps where I was struggling to articulate my thoughts. I used the word "environment" to generalize these social spaces and "social engineering" to generalize urban...

      Ooh yes, you're filling in the gaps where I was struggling to articulate my thoughts. I used the word "environment" to generalize these social spaces and "social engineering" to generalize urban development (since the latter does have such an effect on how we form communities and interact with others and the environment).

      I do hope Tildes is designed in a way where it won't go to shit in 10 years. I think we have plenty of counterexamples to learn from, though.

      Thanks for your well-articulated thoughts.

      4 votes
  5. [4]
    NaraVara Link
    It is, but so is everything. Mankind is a social animal and we develop and condition ourselves based on our social environment. I behave differently around my parents compared to my friends...

    It is, but so is everything. Mankind is a social animal and we develop and condition ourselves based on our social environment. I behave differently around my parents compared to my friends compared to my workplace. None of these is an "authentic" self, they're the emergent behaviors I have based on the understood norms and relationships I have with the people around me.

    Online/textual communication isn't really "natural" so our cognitive processes aren't necessarily adapted to it. This calls for mindful design around how we interact with our communities to make sure we're actually getting what we want out of our interactions with them. In the same way Roberts Rules of Order exists to make large deliberative discussions possible, design choices around a discussion forum have to be made to make sure we are interacting with the system in ways that make it a productive experience for those involved.

    It's worth reading The Tyranny of Structurelessness for an explanation of how this works. It was observed in leftist/feminist organizing spaces in the 70s which were informed by sort of an anarchist/anti-heirarchical mindset and it checks in on the ways that knee-jerk aversion to rules and process actually enforces, rather than mitigates against unjustly coercive systems. Whether you're consciously making social engineering decisions or not, your decisions have social engineering consequences. It's critical to make sure you're aware of those consequences and making sure they don't turn sour on you.

    6 votes
    1. [3]
      JakeTheDog Link Parent
      Yea, I agree with you on all those points. Particularly on the irony of the "liberating" leftist/feminist strategies. I would challenge your point on natural speech, though. Yes, we have not...

      Yea, I agree with you on all those points. Particularly on the irony of the "liberating" leftist/feminist strategies.

      I would challenge your point on natural speech, though. Yes, we have not evolved with textual communication, but we are highly adaptive and the large majority of us learn to read and write from a young age. Moreover, some of us, such as myself and maybe many other Tilderts, find text as a preferred means of communication. Having thoughts on paper, out in the open, but also editable and re-readable by others allows more engagement than say a lecture. I, for one, become a bit more thoughtful when posting to a heavily-moderated or high-quality messaging site like this. Not that this is an argument against anything you said, maybe just a different perspective to support what you said.

      I'll definitely get around to reading that link of yours, though.

      3 votes
      1. [2]
        NaraVara Link Parent
        The wasn't really focused on communicating through text so much as the infrastructure around how we communicate through text. Anonymity is a good example of a novel social dynamic that we don't...

        The wasn't really focused on communicating through text so much as the infrastructure around how we communicate through text. Anonymity is a good example of a novel social dynamic that we don't deal with in the real world. There's a ton of little things like this affecting how we interact online that we take for granted in "meatspace" because we have biological instinct and thousands of years of socio-cultural conditioning that govern our RL communication.

        2 votes
        1. JakeTheDog Link Parent
          Hmm yea fair enough, the infrastructure does change the dynamic.

          Hmm yea fair enough, the infrastructure does change the dynamic.

          1 vote
  6. [2]
    gyrozeppeli Link
    Yes, but I think it should have a different term, because "social engineering" already exists. (Manipulating people or companies by acting you belong, etc, in order to gain access or otherwise do...

    Yes, but I think it should have a different term, because "social engineering" already exists. (Manipulating people or companies by acting you belong, etc, in order to gain access or otherwise do something fraudulent). I.e. pretending to be the IRS and calling people, or wearing name badge and pretending like you work in an area in order to get access to places one shouldn't have access to.

    5 votes
    1. JakeTheDog Link Parent
      Idk if I agree with that, that sounds more along the lines of crude "hacking" and targeted manipulation. Social engineering can function on communities and societies, too.

      Idk if I agree with that, that sounds more along the lines of crude "hacking" and targeted manipulation. Social engineering can function on communities and societies, too.

  7. [2]
    knocklessmonster Link
    First, I'm with @gyrozeppeli, "Social Engineering" is more of a con term, deceiving people to get them to do stuff, but I get what you mean, the idea of being manipulated by social media isn't a...

    First, I'm with @gyrozeppeli, "Social Engineering" is more of a con term, deceiving people to get them to do stuff, but I get what you mean, the idea of being manipulated by social media isn't a particularly new one, and is a cause for concern.

    Jaron Lanier has said a lot on this topic, if you want some interesting reading/watching.

    I may get it wrong, but my understanding is his theory is that as we use social media, it changes us. We reflect the opinions we want to see, and become fundamentally different people. He has a TED talk where he blames part of the issue on us users being shaped accidentally in the pursuit of profits on the part of the companies (Google, Facebook, etc) that use our data for profits. He doesn't think it is necessarily intentional, but a thing that evolved out of the marketplace, and I agree. They benefit from reinforcing certain systems of use and are chasing a buck. By my understanding, Lanier thinks that had we established a system of revenue generation in which the users pay directly for use, a subscription, this model would not have existed. He doesn't mean that these services should only be available to those with money, but rather that the service goes where the money is, and unfortunately social media and search engines profit from this social manipulation, and generally shows itself as the creation of echo chambers and filter bubbles, effectively working to keep us engaged to generate those sweet advertising monies.

    5 votes
    1. Nile Link Parent
      I think social engineering is the correct term but we aren't looking at the correct perpatrators. Social media in itself is a technology and like a technology it can not be good or bad - it is...

      I think social engineering is the correct term but we aren't looking at the correct perpatrators. Social media in itself is a technology and like a technology it can not be good or bad - it is dependent on it's actors and how the technology is used. A gun fires bullets and kills people - was that person a good person or a bad person... who held the gun? The gun doesn't care, it is unbiased to it's use and will freely allow it to be fired if not regulated. Social media has become a global problem and thus would need global regulation - but we do not live in a society of globalization (not yet accepted at least). And so we have private companies being used by personal interest for political gain. There are many sources you can look to for proof that bad agents are on these platforms and are fully manipulating user's opinions and actions in the real world - this is social engineering.

      1 vote
  8. [3]
    dwightwalters Link
    I read this story in Wired yesterday, which describes in detail the efforts of an Italian techno-utopian who started at Olivetti and evolved into a web consultant and social media mastermind. He...

    I read this story in Wired yesterday, which describes in detail the efforts of an Italian techno-utopian who started at Olivetti and evolved into a web consultant and social media mastermind. He was behind the rise of the political movement which now rules Italy, in tandem with Nationalist allies. Whatever ideas we've all had about this subject as a powerful force for change or group control have already long been implemented at the international scale.

    4 votes
    1. Nile Link Parent
      Great source thanks for this article!

      Great source thanks for this article!

      2 votes
    2. JakeTheDog Link Parent
      I finally read this. Man I love WIRED articles, so well written. Hmm, it looks like "real" democracy is still unattainable given such examples of social engineering. Kind of depressing. But I...

      I finally read this. Man I love WIRED articles, so well written.

      Hmm, it looks like "real" democracy is still unattainable given such examples of social engineering. Kind of depressing. But I wonder if there will be a way to mass-immunize the public against subtle BS in the future... maybe we will all have a much better handle on our critical thinking? Scientific literacy + mindfulness? That plus psychedelics may be the only way to battle social engineering...

  9. Pilgrim Link
    If you feel like going down a bit of a rabbit hole on how the medium influences the overt message, I'd suggest watching this lecture from Marshall McLuhan who coined the term "The medium is the...

    If you feel like going down a bit of a rabbit hole on how the medium influences the overt message, I'd suggest watching this lecture from Marshall McLuhan who coined the term "The medium is the message," as @rts noted in their comment.

    Link to video:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImaH51F4HBw

    4 votes
  10. Nile (edited ) Link
    I'm currently writing my thesis for my Masters of Architecture, and what began as a study of virtual reality has slowly turned into a political science and digital technologies study on our...

    I'm currently writing my thesis for my Masters of Architecture, and what began as a study of virtual reality has slowly turned into a political science and digital technologies study on our perceptions and fabricated realities. When you break it down, social media isn't any different than any other medium to which someone has already helpfully mentioned Marshal McLuhan's famous saying "The medium is the message". If you haven't read his thesis Understanding Media and you're interested in this stuff, you can get a pretty clear depiction of our reality from reading his work.
    http://web.mit.edu/allanmc/www/mcluhan.mediummessage.pdf
    I reference it probably too much in my own thesis but that link only has chapters 1 and 7 which are super concise and poignant to our current political social media woes.

    I'll copy a bit of text from my working document to share some ideas. I don't have time to link the citations atm as I'm actually trying to write this thing for a deadline this Friday... I'm just procrastinating right now.

    "Accoding to Dr. Corolus, a Media Psychologist at the University of Würzburg, users relate social media as a “hyperpersonal communication” when in reality, online messages are often misconstrued in tone and expression.(71) The online communications we have lack the interpersonal human aspects of face-to-face communication.

    “Being confronted with a reduced communication mode leaves room for interpretation under some circumstances, resulting in rather positive interpretations and positive feelings. We feel especially close, we blind out the rather negative, focus the possible positive intentions behind a text message and over-interpret. Although being reduced in terms of media richness, it is an emotionally charged medium. Because it is reduced it is sometimes bigger than real life.” – Dr. Astrid Corolus (72)

    Yet according to the study, upwards to a third of respondents admitted that face-to-face communications happen less due to social media which is inline with the U.S. GSS study.(73)(74)

    What sounds even more far fetched is the 2014 study done in collaboration with Facebook(75) to examine the effects of social media communications on a global scale. In these social-science studies facebook not only proved that a global mood exists, but through manipulating key vocal users they could distribute emotion on a massive geographical scale.(76) To put simply, Facebook can limit the content it shows you from the catalogue of information that your friends and family are sharing, commenting, and liking. If they were to show you primarily happy messages, you’ll likely relay positive messages in return.(77) Your new messages of positivity are then supported by friend’s echoed messages and the algorithm working behind the scenes to push it.(78)" - bare in mind, this method of social manipulation can be applied in many ways... see Brexit, Trump, Islamophobia, antisemitism, and other forms of tribalism.

    I'm curious to know if something like TurnitIn or whatever my school is going to use to verify plagerism is going to pull this chunk of text for my book... it'd be funny if it does simply because I reveal the alias Nile within the book and relate my own experiences within the digital environment... certainly an algorithm telling me I copied myself despite me acknowledging and referencing my own writing as being part of the intended text kinda tickles me. I wonder if my school would see it the same way I do. If not... hello future ethics board... please let me graduate.

    1 vote
  11. rts Link
    "The medium is the message." –Marshall McLuhan

    "The medium is the message." –Marshall McLuhan

    5 votes