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I enjoyed reading this and while agreeing with some of your points, I see that the 'idle chit-chat factor' exists just as prevalently in online socialisation as in F2F. In fact, it is the very thing that results in me hardly accessing Facebook nowadays and will probably happen on Twitter eventually.


Hi Largerama - oh, I know that, I was just parodying the journalists who accuse social networks of being trivial, as if lots of normal conversation wasn't trivial also. In truth of course we find as much depth/triviality in both spaces, but the criticism of social media is often made by comparison to a mythologised version of face to face interaction.


Fair point Martin

Gary Myers

A good point that f2f conversations can be "a facile, shallow form of interaction compared with the rich dialogue we have built up over centuries in social media", and that rich debate can be greatly lacking.

An interesting study shows how deeper conversations can actually be better for your health. http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2010/03/23/20100323deep-talks-increase-happiness.html


Very good :)

That said, one minor point - the Dunbar number isn't limited to physical interactions. It's a measure of neocortex size plotted against social group size. Whilst Dunbar only measures non-human primates (which are clearly barred from online interactions) it's still a mental figure, not a physical one - so it's not unreasonable to say that it extends to online interactions as well.


@John - yes I know, and there's been a bit about the Dunbar number applying in Facebook still, but I'm not so sure. I think we're seeing new forms of relationships that can be maintained because we can share with many at once. My little joke here was that after centuries of online interaction, the Dunbar number might seem like a restriction. Ok, it is a _very_ little joke ;)


Hmm, not sure if the mis-attribution to Shakespeare rather than Descartes was deliberate, but couldn't help but point out this minor error:-) And I remind you that the original Latin was of course 'Dubito ergo cogito blogo sum'.


@David - yes, I was waiting for someone to spot it. It was intentional - in my parody I was trying to get at the indignant journalist who reveals themself to be ignorant. But it was a bit of a rubbish way of doing it on reflection. Love the latin!

Luis Brissos

This is my comment, a post in my blog together with some other ideas that have been brought by this post...


Gideon Burton

This is awesome! I'm going to require the students in my digital civilization course (http://bit.ly/digiciv) to read it. I only wish you'd taken it further.


Thanks Gideon - I'd be interested to see/hear what your students make of it. As for taking it further, how about asking your students to develop it? Could be fun?

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