Monthly Archives: March 2011

Bring on the feeling machines: Intuitive, honest smart devices to help us moderate our behavior and social interactions.

There are two friends everyone should have:

  • One who tells you the truth no matter how harsh (e.g. you don’t check into the gym enough, your dress-sense is subpar)
  • One who encourages you to be truthful to yourself and stop practicing self-destructive behaviors (e.g. your propensity to digitally stalk new/old flames/friends)

Already by your side,  your smartphone could serve both roles.

frog design wrote a great article featured on PSFK questioning the future role of our devices in the mitigation of our interaction with our environment and situations, and relationship with other social actors. They wonder: should we use our devices to encourage us to stay honest and prevent actions that have negative consequences?

The notion of intuitive, honest devices is interesting. When I read this article, I immediately thought of facebook and the way people use it to monitor former (and potential) paramours, in a way that prolongs the fixation. What if your smartphone could chide you from doing this, thereby helping you move on? Google Mail Googles for the emotionally drunk.

I am for technology as a reinforcing mechanism-friend who nudges me to be a better person, or find happiness, or at least encourage me to avoid actions that have ill effects. Bring on the feeling machines.

Read it: frog design: How Honest Should Smart Devices Be?

Grubbing with New Yorkers – Grub With Us, Too!

I think I might be addicted to meeting new people. Actually, it is an addiction to the possibility of meeting new people. First I joined couchsurfing, great, but people can be rather impermanent. Now, Grub With Us finally launched their New York site. I’m excited for new friends who live in my city!

Where to eat and who to meet!

I dis”Like” recent research that asserts facebook improves self-esteem

And thus science decreed, thou must create equivalent groups.

The conclusions that can be drawn in a new study about the effects of facebook are limited, if not erroneousness because the task given the second test group do not allow for meaningful analysis.

A recent study by Cornell’s Gonzales and Hancock published in a cyberpsychology and social networking (?!) journal asserts that using facebook can increase self-esteem as it allows users to stylize their social identity. While I don’t dispute that facebook might increase positive feelings about the self (and fuel narcissism), I do not think that the research methods used in their study allow us to draw that conclusion.

The researchers compared the self-esteem scores reported by three groups, after they each completed a different “self-focused” task. Group 1 was the control and their task was to stare at a blank screen. Group 2 was a test group and did the self-focused task of staring at a mirror. Group 3 surfed their facebook page and associated pages. Each group did completed the assigned task for three minutes and then completed the self-esteem measure.

The test groups in this study should all have had the same end goals, namely the ability to shape one’s persona. While looking in a mirror is a self-focused activity, it is not an engaging or active self-focused activity like updating ones profile, looking at pictures of the self and friends, or pursuing passions’ fanpages. I think a more comparable self-focused activities should have been used as a test groups. For instance, having respondents write a description of their personality and interests, as if describing themselves to a new friend. Related to the mirror idea, another test group could apply make-up or style their hair in front of a mirror prior to taking the self-esteem survey. Similar to the facebook group, I think the other test groups tasks should all feature the ability to actively preen one’s social appearance – physical and personality.

By comparing the self-esteem scores of these two test groups and the facebook group, we can see if facebook creates the change in self-esteem, or if it ability to choose how one is represented in the social sphere that increases self-esteem.

Only once equivalent groups are created can we start to analyze and understand  how social network usage affects users’ psyches.

I must note here that I haven’t read the paper, but if anyone wants to forward, I will gladly read.

Look at the following the links for summaries more info about this research:

Our Facebook wall boosts self-esteem, study finds – Cornell Chronicle

This is Your Brain on Facebook – Fast Company

Facebook makes you “Like” yourself better – PSFK