Dr Alex Lambert’s lecture provided great insight into the role of Facebook as a commodity and how it’s new feature, the graph, is used to enrich via connections.
Alex points out that, it’s “…not just about data, it’s about the connections”. In today’s society, Facebook plays a central role in creating revenue for businesses (especially advertising) through data harvesting. It sounds like a mean thing, and it kind of is. Each one of our likes, our posts, our shares and comments functions to enrich the connections on Facebook. As users/participants we may feel that primarily we are creating and displaying our identity, however in doing this we are losing our privacy, something that we once used to value and hold dear to us.
These new ego-centric networks make YOU the centre point of your virtual world. Here the personal is foregrounded, a behavior that seems to fit very well with the lazy, self-centered image that surrounds Gen-Y. The nature of Web 2.0 and Social Media functions largely around building an image, even a brand of yourself, and broadcasting that to a larger community. Through doing this we are already commodifying ourselves, it only seems logical that in a world constantly looking for new markets someone would find a way to use that information for capital gain
I believe that it is clear that our behaviours have been shaped by technology. This more self-conscious, image-conscious type of person is a result of needing to constantly be aware of what is going on around us and how we, or someone we are with may broadcast this to the wider community. Alex Lambert points out the notion of performed identities, in regards to the public space (Facebook) and the private space. Computers and internet in the home (and at our fingertips) has contributed to a blurring of the lines between public and private, but Lambert suggests that how we act in each is context dependent and still different – singing in the shower only happens when we know no-one else is watching.
Moreover, Lambert proposes that we find the idea of performed identities (being able to select and create what is published) satisfying. This might be because we are able to exercise large amounts of control as to how we are perceived by others, or it might have something to do with the fact that it is largely acknowledged we now have this sense of heightened awareness that we can play to (the way one poses in front of a camera) when coming into contact with any media.
However, in building our image, in being central in our own web of connections, what do we actually gain? We give away so much of value to others, but is building an image worth is when there is little gained apart from a notion of self-worth that is generated by a largely virtual community?