Tuesday, September 29, 2009

When Networking is Not Working

So, Facebook has now become the medium not just for announcing improved relationships, but also can the place to watch the slow motion train wreck of divorce. It is actually surprising that de-friending was not one of the first steps.....

The internet does not, I think, really change the dynamics of relationships--that technology does not cause divorce. However, it does allow people to broadcast faster and wider than ever before. Sometimes a good thing, sometimes not so much. I know that I have been a bit less discrete about the various ups and downs in my life on FB than I have here on my blog with the vain hope that only my friends see the former and not the latter.

There is no doubt that the internet and sites like facebook allow information to travel far faster than before. During the Grandmaster Ultimate tournament, I told the other old folks (who started playing later than I did) about how strategies and tactics took time to travel to Ohio from NYC back in the old days. Now, if a team in Germany develops a particularly advantageous strategy, it spreads across the world very quickly.

The question is really then about velocity and about the width of the audience, as other technologies (the phone, the radio) allowed information to spread, just not as quickly or as widely. People found out about affairs and divorces in the old days (in days of Mad Men) by slower forms of gossip and indiscretion. So, does the velocity and breadth change how the actors behave?

This is something I just started pondering in class on Monday and have to continue with, as the speed of commerce and the speed/breadth of destruction probably have changed how countries behavior in International Relations. I am just not so clear whether the internet has really changed how people behave--does it make personal conflict or cooperation more or less likely? It is probably a wash in the end as it facilitates people of similar interest to meet, but it also creates more points of tension as well (the news that there was a facebook group about whether Obama should be killed!?).

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