Social Media

Has the Web Turned Into a Popularity Contest?

by JenniferCobb on 02/13/2012

The Internet and the WWW are in their relative infancy.  20 years is just not a lot of time for anything to reach maturity.   I think it is safe to say that the web has grown from a wild, unfettered space full of creative and yet fairly unkempt growth to a place dominated by apps […]


Real Names in the Networked Global Community

by JenniferCobb on 09/09/2011

At the recent Edinburgh International TV Festival, Andy Carvin of NPR tweeted a question to Eric Schmidt — “How does Google justify its real names only policy on Google+ when it could put some people at grave risk?”  Carvin was referring to places like Libya and Syria where the government routinely uses the Internet as […]

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The saying that “everything that is old is new again” has particular resonance as we stand in the midst of historic political gridlock and renewed economic shocks.   It feels like we are re-entering a pre-Enlightenment land of superstition and orthodoxy, a land where we have no appetite for civil dialogue and debate.  This is the […]

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Social Media and Meritocracy: The Myth Reborn

by JenniferCobb on 07/10/2011

The roots of the modern meritocratic dream were planted in the 1950s by a British civil servant named  Michael Young.  His novel The Rise of the Meritocracy (1958) painted a picture of far-distant 2034, where society would be guided by near-perfect IQ tests to sort the more intelligent and gifted into positions of social power.  […]


The new Pew study out this week, Social networking sites and our lives, paints a very rosy picture of social networking (SNS).  SNS is associated with more trust, larger networks, more political engagement and greater social support.  Key findings from the study include: ♦  Facebook is the clear winner in the world of SNS.  59% […]


Ethan Zuckerman, writing today in his blog about privacy and the public sphere, states that in the digital world, “Ephemeral behavior becomes a permanent record.”  This simple statement gets to the heart of many of the issues we are facing as technology becomes a ubiquitous and permanent part of the fabric of our lives.   What […]


Facebook and Personality Types: Two New Studies

by JenniferCobb on 05/13/2011

With more than 600 million users worldwide, Facebook is having a marked effect on our social interactions and sense of self.  It is no surprise that academics are rushing to understand this impact.  Two recent studies look at the way various personality types impact Facebook use.  This is a rich vein of inquiry, as it […]


Income Inequality, Anxiety and Facebook

by JenniferCobb on 03/13/2011

We have all heard the bad news.  Income inequality in the US has reached historic proportions. ♦   The top 10% of Americans now control 2/3rds of our national net worth ♦  Since 1983, 43% of the wealth created by the U.S. economy went to the wealthiest 1% ♦  The top 20% accrued 94% of the […]


Teens, Tech and Politics

by JenniferCobb on 02/27/2011

We know teens are on-line. A lot.  I see it with my own kids – texting, gaming, facebooking — often all while doing homework and/or watching TV.  Two new studies out last week examine the impact of all this activity on two important issues – civic and political engagement and exposure to diverse perspectives.  The […]


Hillary Clinton, Internet Freedom and Values

by JenniferCobb on 02/16/2011

Hillary Clinton’s speech on Internet Freedom yesterday went a good distance toward addressing some of the most naive responses to the Internet’s role in the unfolding events in the Middle East.  Early sound bites labeling the uprising in Tunisia the “Wikileaks Revolution” or calling Mark Zuckerberg a modern-day “Moses” because of Facebook’s role in Egypt […]

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Diversity and Social Media: Helping or Hurting?

by JenniferCobb on 02/13/2011

There is a small controversy raging about whether social media use is creating more diverse networks or exacerbating an existing trend toward smaller, more homogenous social groups.  This question matters.  A lot.   Robert Putnam (of Bowling Alone fame), following a lineage that dates back to de Tocqueville, argues that engagement with diverse social networks fosters […]