Joho the Blog[msc] Microsoft Social Computing - Joho the Blog

[msc] Microsoft Social Computing

I’m at a small conference on social networks put on by Microsoft Research.

During the brief intros, I make a fool of myself early on, getting it over early. I say that social networks worry me because they are based on explicit declarations of relationship, and because they’re putting valuable relationships behind proprietary walls. Well, it turns out that “social network” means something different to the academics; I meant “artificial social networks” like Friendster. Much of the room must have been puzzled.

Scott Heiferman of MeetUp gave the opening talk. Excellent, but I’ve blogged it a couple of times before.

Now a panel starts.

Ze Frank, who has an ultra amusing site (see The Alphabet, for example), is being arch and funny about social networks. “Where’s the status on line? Where are the velvet ropes?”

Joi denies that social networking tools necessarily diminish social lives and/or spirits. Blogs, he says, is publishing, but IRC is “hanging out.” Changes in presence are events, and people should be able to know about those events. Social software like Friendster filter this: Who do you want to know about your presence, and at what level of detail? Cellphones give you presence, location and mobility, none of which we’ve had in computers, and that makes a big difference.

Tim O’Reilly: We’re in the early stages of building an operating system for the Internet as a platform. We need an architecture of participation. He’s excited about Microsoft Wallop because it tries to find the existing implict data about relationships. We should be creating loose confederations that allow us to query distributed personal/social info (with the proper privacy and permissioning, of course). “We need to reinvent the user control of social networks using an end-to-end architecture…” [Right on!]

Clay‘s 10-minute talk is called “The subject of this talk is not explicit.” He wants to talk about an early mistake social network software is making. Orkut made it one-click easy to make someone a friend. The number of friends went through the roof but the network no longer reflected reality. So, they added a second click: How much of a friend? I don’t need this data; Orkut needs it to create a visible and formal model of the network. But how valuable is a formal model? There’s nothing Orkut can extract from a photo of a face that’s as interesting as what we get from it in an instant. The most important information is implicit.

So, Clay says, what led Orkut to make these wrong decisions? What is Orkut thinking? 1. It thinks that what people are doing when they think about social situations is a form of computation. This is like AI’s mistake. 2. And Orkut also assumes that, when asked, people can express they rules explicitly…but that’s false. [Loved the talk. These are topics I’ve been writing/thinking about, and Clay puts it all so well.]

Steve Johnson says his first two books argued against the idea that the Net consists of little echo chambers. Instead, think of it as a place in which strangers interact and new things emerge. Emergence refers to Jane Jacbob’s view of cities. [I’ve been reading Death and Life…a fantastic book.] He’s afraid that the new social networks are “neutering” these adventurous places. And now people — Joi, for example — are talking about the software social networks overlaying real places. He’d like to use Amazon’s Search Inside facility to search inside his own library, or the libraries of people one or two degrees away. Then he talks against the echo chamber idea: The Net is an echo chamber compared to what, he asks incredulously? TV? Even if you just follow bloggers in your general universe of interests, you’re still following links out to more diverse ideas than ever before. He points out that the criticism used to be that the Net was nothing but flame wars. Now the criticism is that it’s echo chambers. But, he worries, we are creating these social network tools in order to decrease our contact with others. [Jeez, is he good!]

Q: So, is FOAF bad, Clay?

A: No, FOAF encodes links. The degree to which you have to express a full, formal relationship will inhibit its adoption.

15 Responses to “[msc] Microsoft Social Computing”

  1. Digital social networking reflects a non explicit yet formal model of implicit relationships. These are echo chambers of our loose confederations that will inhibit the adoption of the model.

    see?!! I can bullshit also. Why not invite me to the next pannel?!

  2. “Well, it turns out that “social network” means something different to the academics; I meant “artificial social networks” like Friendster. Much of the room must have been puzzled.”

    Ah, thanks for this – at the Aesthetics of Social Networks panel at SXSW Molly Steenson followed my presentation with by saying “I’m going to disagree with Jon….” I never understood what she was disagreeing with, but Molly, now an academic, must have been responding to my focus on technologies rather than the networks they – what’s the word, facilitate? Or partially define? Anyway, there was no real disagreement, I was talking about social network apps, not social networks.

    This subject’s getting a lot of interest. I’m attending a meeting this morning with a bunch of Austinites who want to know more about SN. Last week I presented on the subject via videoconference to a room full of Brazilians.

  3. Microsoft Social Computing Miniconference

    David Weinberger blogs Microsoft’s Social Computing Symposium, which was organized by Lili Cheng and Microsoft’s social computing group and included many of the usual suspects. David blogs several observations, including Joi’s – as usual I find myself …

  4. Knights of the living web

    What a week this is already turning out to be in the metaworld: Mitch Ratcliffe posted another essay from the O’Reilly book last night. Jon Lebkowski writes, ‘About technology for SNs I keep thinking “The map is not the territory,…

  5. confessions of a backchannel queen

    Some musings on why I tend to end up in the IRC backchannel at conferences.

  6. Dear Whomever May Be Reading This…

    Wax Museums, PT Barnum, personal campaign and mission to define the times, irony, love, heartache, love, the battle and fight for freedom and to live without being afraid, confusion….. I am lost, I am alone, I am totally and utterly alone, but I find comforts in things so few understand or even acknowledge. Below is some of my story that is still being written. This is what I want to share with you.


    An Open Reflection Written By Jamie Leigh of ; please feel free to publish.

    Moments defined in time. Moments captured in time. Moments constructed through time. Moments built to represent time. Moments built to hide the time. Moments built to preserve a time. Moments built to suspend the time…

    …Artificial images to trick changing times?

    Times goes by, yet certain images sustain the test of this illusion human beings have called ‘time’. These man-made creations provoke thoughts and take the visitor, the looker on an emotional journey through redemption and salvation, light and dark, and the good and bad of human accomplishment. Within each floor is a new world, a journey through time, a new background and environment in which to get entranced in, and an atmosphere of silence and stunned movement that finally uses diversity as a means of celebration and unity, as apposed to separation and violence.
    Yes, it’s hardly a secret ; in fact, I’ve been extremely candid about my love of wax museums for as long as I can remember. A strange curiosity and even stranger sense of security and safety I get whenever I visit them. I’ve always talked about how they’ve managed to capture my imagination and offer some hope in the sense of a world and a magic that is so hard to come by these days, especially in a world filled with hate and constant fear. It’s a universe of the unknown, a space galaxy where few are able to be transported because their own minds and inhibitions prevent them from letting go. These simple statues, these images, these characters, whether they be political figures, entertainers, sports legends, or people who stood their ground so strong despite the circumstances and hardships with which they were faced, continue to retain a sense of odd hope for me. Perhaps not what they are, but what they represent. The concept of re-creating someone and the process of doing it and then watching as others stare in fixation and wonderment continues to be one of my most favorite pastimes. An eerie almost creepy lack of understanding by some who hold little to no interest, yet to me, a beautiful sense of totality and escapism.

    The provocative and wide-ranging exploration of wax as cultural metaphor. Something I’ve held a fascination and fixation with and dreamed of literally being a part of, has never once slid or been tested. A cast of weird characters in different settings, different eras throughout history and time, present a blanket of clarity to me that I only find in similar places of escape such as amusement parks or through films.

    There they stand, demanding your attention, demanding your eyes read the tiny words explaining whatever significant achievement or addition to the universe they gave or died for while they were alive, and for those who are still living, what they’ve done up until this point. It’s right there, on a tiny black piece of glass written in white clean lettering with a small spotlight glaring down so you can read. Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of any wax figures descriptions is for those who still continue to live and breathe an open “1950 – ” space just anticipating their grand exit. I’ll never understand that, nor the reason they are etched into tombstones just waiting… waiting to be finished off so the complete two dates can be idolized in stone forever. I want mine to never be revealed; for the space to remain blank and empty in an effort to prove my point of accepting that there are certain elements of magic and immortal excitement in the unknown and in the mysterious. You just never know, so you can only wonder and ponder possibilities. A giant question mark, it’s how I dream and how I fantasize, and it’s how I’d want to be immortalized.

    London, 1921. The world’s greatest wax sculptor watches in horror as flames consume his museum and melt his uncannily lifelike creations. Twelve years later, he opens a wax museum in New York. Crippled, disfigured, and driven mad by the fire, he resorts to body snatching and murder to populate his displays, preserving the bodies in wax. “In a thousand years you will be as lovely as you are now,” he assures one victim. In The Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933), director Michael Curtiz perfectly captures the macabre essence of realistic wax figures that have excited the darker aspects of the public’s imagination ever since Madame Tussaud established her famous museum in London in 1802.
    Obviously not alone in my intrigue (at least, not to my knowledge but you never know, especially with me), artists in general, have been fascinated by wax sculptures, seeing in them-and in the unique properties of wax itself-an eerie metaphoric power with which to address sexual anxiety, fears of mortality, and other morbid subjects.

    I still to this day retain the fantasy of having myself waxed and standing next to all of the other historical and cultural icons that have helped shape this insane society we inhabit today. It’s an unheard of fantasy and wish, but then again, most things I dream of are so surreal and unimaginative that this seems to fit in so perfectly ; but it’s true. I’m not sure why I become in awe of such masterpieces, or why walking through a room of rubber creations makes me feel so safe and at home and at total peace. Sometimes when I’d be alone and no one was looking, I’d walk up real close to certain figures of truly historic significance and just quietly try to put myself in their shoes and think about what it must have been like for them to be who they were at that specific time. I walked past the exhibit of the Royals and as I passed Lady Diana in that long red beaded gown, I couldn’t help but hang my head in sadness and pain and hurt, because in so many ways, her statue represented exactly how she lived her life ; in total silence, floating around and observing things like a ghost. It’s like the elephant man in many ways. A figure so strange, so eccentric, so full of mystery and awe, that all people can think of to do when they cast their eyes upon it is stare. No words, no movements, just stare and watch. Funny how even on this day and at this present time, I still feel people would do nothing more but watch, not see, but watch, and then assume their own judgments on character and reason simply because of what they see. That’s all they know. But, there is a distinct connection for sure. A sense of undisturbed stillness and frozen captivation. A stoic look from someone you’d never imagine coming face-to-face with.

    Maybe I’ll never know what it is about wax museums and their story and history that help me transport, or why they continue to offer some element of imagination and hope in me, or what it is about experiencing and learning about the process that seems so comfortable. And maybe I never will, and I suppose that’s why I continue to trust it and find a personal sanctuary within them.

    Written by Jamie Leigh from deep within her own self-created LABYRINTH walls at

    Curious? Confused? Want to know more, stop over, I promise you won’t see anything else like it.

    Jamie Leigh
    The Official Jamie Leigh Website, LABYRINTH
    “Reality Is Merely An Illusion”
    AIM: xanAmericanGrrlx
    Email: [email protected]
    Personal Diary:
    Voicemail/MOBILE: 516.967.1513 (In New Jersey)
    The Official Jamie Leigh Website, LABYRINTH

  7. Network Me Socially

    Writes David Weinberger: Well, it turns out that “social network” means something different to the academics; I meant “artificial social networks” like Friendster. Much of the room must have been puzzled. David Weinberger is one…

  8. Weinberger on the Microsoft Social Computing Symposium

    Almost as good as being there is reading David’s comments on the Microsoft Social Computing conference….

  9. Google: “all your base are belong to us”

    Google seem to be gearing up for a fight with Yahoo and Microsoft, and social software looks like it will be the battleground. Will individual privacy be caught in the crossfire?

  10. Vis a vis the confusion about the term “social networks”: Here’s a comment from Slashdot that’s really funny if you read “social networks” in the general sense of “interconnections among people” rather than the recent meaning of “software tools for articulating social networks.”

  11. Go On, Get Outta Here, Find Somebody You Don’t Already Know

    Forget the global ultra-computer stuff. It’s all about your former college roommates. I like this blog entry by David Weinberger, who was at a social software conference at Microsoft last week: Shelley Farnham of Microsoft Research talks about the soci…

  12. Ban Jamie Leigh From Blogs

    I call upon the blogosphere to ban Jamie Leigh from blogs. Report her to MT-Blacklist so that her URL,,…

  13. Your blog has been spammed. The comment above from Jamie Leigh is spam. She makes a habit of promoting her own website and dellusions of celebrity by “crap posting” non-sensical essays and press releases to other people’s blogs. My blogs and memes have been spammed by her a few times, as have many others.

    I’m starting an initiative to ban her from doing this to blogs. This post explains it:

  14. Check out this introduction article on Computing:
    Content :
    1 Science
    2 Hardware and software
    3 Security
    4 Data
    5 The human factor

  15. sears credit card account…

    Before one hour payday loan business card credit find small card card consolidation counseling credit credit debt canada in loan only payday payday loan cash advance loan…

Web Joho only

Comments (RSS).  RSS icon