Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Free Ends

A new meme that reconceptualizes 'friends' for the new industrial era.
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One of the main purposes for social networking with new media is accumulating social capital. Having a vast list of contacts can be beneficial in any of the separated areas of modern existence: sex life, social life, professional life, private life, afterlife, real life and many others. In other words social networks are an excellent means to various ends. The implication of having so many of these modern friends, is that many of life's needs and wants can be acquired more easily simply by being friends. Social exchange signifies what is essentially a meaningless word for a purposeful social bond. Therefore the new meme 'free ends' or freeends should be barely considered before complete dismissal by the online community.
rcarty, Feb 20 2013

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       There's no "I" in Fre end.
AusCan531, Feb 21 2013
  

       I decided to be more extrovert, so I looked at someone else's facebook page. Does that count?
not_morrison_rm, Feb 21 2013
  

       Let's break this down:   

       //One of the main purposes for social networking with new media is accumulating social capital. //   

       No it isn't.   

       //Having a vast list of contacts can be beneficial in any of the separated areas of modern existence: sex life, social life, professional life, private life, afterlife, real life and many others. //   

       No, it's not. Either in general, nor for any of the specifics enumerated. Or looked at in another way, yes - Similarly, mung, fava or butter beans can be beneficial in the same loosely defined set of circumstances.   

       //In other words social networks are an excellent means to various ends.//   

       You can pretty much use that phrase, substituting any subject you like for "social networks" e.g. "television", "ham", "sausage dogs", "mung beans" etc   

       //The implication of having so many of these modern friends, is that many of life's needs and wants can be acquired more easily simply by being friends.//   

       I disagree - the implication of having so many friends is usually that you are a Recruitment Consultant, or are in some way compulsively insecure.   

       // Social exchange signifies what is essentially a meaningless word for a purposeful social bond.// I'm not sure what "social exchange" means in this context - but I'm assuming it makes reference to the usual reciprocicital protocol of "befriending" recording an equitably defined link between two people - and the implication that that equitable link has more meaning than the less well defined levels and layers of equitability and reciprocicity when the concept of "friends" is investigated in real life. In one sense, yes, there's more meaning - where perhaps we take meaning here to describe how well defined a particular concept might be. But in another sense, there's a lot less meaning couched in the more tightly defined, and therefore less meaningful technical definition used within the social networking context - i.e. describing some entirely undefined form of connection between a pair of people - ranging from a random or mistaken friend-request being accidentally confirmed - to a close family relationship - all are friends in both contexts - and everyone inbetween.   

       //Therefore the new meme 'free ends' or freeends should be barely considered before complete dismissal by the online community.//   

       I don't know if this is an existing meme, or a call for a new one - either way, I don't really know what it is - and so having been asked to dissmiss something that I didn't (and still don't) know anything about makes me feel dissapointed for one (or both) of two reasons   

       a) I feel dissapointed for having read all the above, made the effort to parse it into something I can understand, only to discover at the end that there's something entirely outside of the idea being referenced to for which I have no knowledge whatsoever, for which I can't make any conceptual links back to the wordy preamble, suggesting perhaps that it either wasn't necessary, or if it was, was focused on some aspect of the poster's current mental discorse that we have no immediate access, knowledge of, or reference to, rendering it largely disconnected, floating in a mist of its own making. I'm tempted to assume that such a meme does exist, but would have preferred to have been introduced to it in some way, since it seems pivotal to the idea - which appears to resolve to call for us to "lets-all" dissmiss it.
b) usage of the word "reconceptualizes"
  

       Of course, I don't blame the poster for my personal feelings of dissapointment - I am entirely responsible for my own actions and feelings - but just wanted to outline them here to put some emotional weight and a sense of context behind the following question:   

       What are you talking about?
zen_tom, Feb 21 2013
  

       Thanks for the reply - I'm still struggling to understand though.   

       To reverse that position, I read the referenced idea - and can see that [bigs] was making some general riffs about tribality and its embodyment in the technological environment we're building around ourselves - while you bring up the idea of materialising "ethos" or "spirit" and it becoming industrialised as a result.   

       On those points - fair enough - but I don't think they carry any deeper meaning than that they've moved from an implicitly communicated property of interpersonal connection into an explicitly, materially realisable one - no big deal there.   

       Even less of a deal since we all accept that by making manifest explicitly, we lose some of that spiritual or ethereal meaning in the process.   

       If we accept that, (and we do) then the emotional charge behind the term "friend" is reduced - and yes, in that sense - the meaning of that word is reconceptualised - but again, there's nothing new, remarkable and certainly not Marxist, Freudian or hypercapitalist about that - or at least nothing *remarkably* Marxist, Freudian or hypercapitalist about that (since by the same measure, anything we're talking about here could be equally linked to those concepts by some degree)   

       Looking briefly and tangentally at this website as a case study - it's notable that there is no implicit "friending" structure implemented here - despite there being an almost exclusively social activity pattern. So what function does "friending" achieve? I'd argue that it's simply a filter - no more - no less. Any baggage you choose to conflate along with that is your own. Without a "friend"-based filter, if I log onto Facebook, I'm going to be swamped with information about everyone in the system - and that's just not interesting to me personally. Here on the halfbakery, the user-base isn't large enough right now for that filtration process to provide significant benefit. But if it were, that might be one filtration-implementation pattern that could be deployed to reduce information delivery to the end user. Other filters might be content, or semantically based. And I think the whole "friend" as filter idea is one step in that direction - the implicit assumption being made that by registering some kind of link with another individual, some industrial server somewhere can mutually +1 any content that either of us have shown an interest in - and as a result, we'll both help improve one another's information filtration mechanisms. It's an heuristic, a rule of thumb that says "things that people I have connected to have found interesting might be more likely to be things that I will find interesting too". I've never been given a bike by anyone I've befriended on facebook. But I think the key point here is that while "friend" is on one hand a borrowed word from real life that's been coopted to describe a relationship between two data objects, the level of significance we should be assigning to that should be similar to the significance behind the various analogous words such as "mouse", or "desktop" or "button" that have a dual real-world and technological connotation. Puns are around us everywhere.   

       Are we talking about jamming this filtration heuristic by randomly registering links in these computer systems between people who don't know one another? Or is it deeper than that? I quickly Googled Marshall McLuhan and Jean Baudrillard who it appears, both talked about media - so I can see the general link here because we're also talking about media. Presumably those guys *really* talked about media in a way that surfaced some significant truths that aren't known or understandable by lay-people - though to me, that sounds pretty much exactly the same as anyone with an opionion in a pub. In this sense, Dave posits some interesting theories on the subject that I could reference obtusely, it should be noted however, that many of these appear to contradict Steve's observations on the subject.   

       I'm enjoying this discourse by the way - I think it's useful...   

       Aha just thought - are you suggesting breaking this pun on what "friends" means, and establishing the convention of "free ends" to mean "friends" in the online-filtration sense?   

       That might be worthwhile, though I don't agree with the general points you make about "ends". It just doesn't match my experience. That could be due to my - and people of my age being less immersed in social media than others - I've only been on facebook since my early thirties - so for a significant portion of my life, social media - in a very real sense, just didn't exist. Maybe it has more of a shaping effect on peoples perceptions than many of us give it credit. That thought worries me a little.
zen_tom, Feb 21 2013
  

       Friend is one extra letter from fiend.
xandram, Feb 21 2013
  

       What zen-tom said, but in fewer words.
DrCurry, Feb 21 2013
  

       The best way to approach this is to state the basic sociological marxist critique of modern industrial capitalism. The argument was that capitalism and factory labour changed human communities from skilled collectives of primary social relations (kinship and historical bonds) to an unskilled mass of secondary social relations and functionaries. In this new mechanical society people had to adopt a functional ethos. This new social arrangement accelerated technological development, and now we have computers. The Internet and social networks seek to resolve 'the separation' caused by industrial capitalism, however it has its own brand new characteristic forms of alienation. Mainly reducing people to content in information systems databases, that are profitable for the capitalist. People inside these databses are essentially reduced to commodity and their lives are open to evalution and appraisal. Inside this new social environment people engage in social exchange, and accumulate connections as social capital. These people who use this technology have taken the new identity "users". This concept 'free ends' is a parody of 'friends' inside these user databases, and comments on this reality of commodification, and social exchange. Indeed this new technological reality is being used to use people, for example exploiting them based on social sensitivies, when what little power can be held over someone when someone else has some usually embarassing information formative of identity. The idea of 'free ends' is a cynical reconceptualization of the way this technology is being used by what is still essentially a consumer society.
rcarty, Feb 21 2013
  

       If anyone has a cached copy of my previous response to zentom that I deleted out of sleepiness I'd appreciate a repost.
rcarty, Feb 22 2013
  

       Of course Freon Ends are banned these days..
not_morrison_rm, Feb 22 2013
  
      
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