Tag Archives: social networking

Too close for comfort?


I just read an interview with Mark Zuckerberg (the CEO of Facebook) on TechCrunch. Alongside my hesitation to use Facebook Connect, I decided to re-visit my privacy settings and saw the following privacy policy on the applications section:

When a friend of yours visits an application or authorizes it, the information that the application can access includes your friend’s friend list and information about the people on that list. Thus it can access some information about you. Please note that applications are obligated only to act upon the request of your friend and must respect all of your existing privacy settings.

For those of us who are on Fb and have friends (it’s supposed to be a social thing, right?) it seems that there is no way of getting around releasing info to applications unless you’re willing to be very selective about what information you release on your Fb profile. This ultimately means that pretty much every application will get its hands on your information unless you highly restrict:

  • your number of friends (though you still can’t control what apps they may authorise without your knowledge)
  • the info you release (though  most of us probably don’t mind sharing my info with people we’re friends with, which doesn’t equal their applications)
  • … or you just get off Facebook!

Forget hotels


I can’t remember the last time I stayed in a hotel. I’m not a fan of handing money over to hotel corporations for a lot of reasons, though most of my reasons aren’t actually the fault of hotels themselves – I just happen to prefer the alternative places to stay when I go traveling. I have been a proud member of Couchsurfing and Hospitality Club networks for years now and have had so many positive experiences through them that I rarely feel the inspiration to go back to the old ways of staying places.


The thing that stirred my attention recently is Airbed & Breakfast, a social network of people willing to share their homes for money in return. Prices are usually cheaper than those of hotels and as with Couchsurfing you get a chance to connect with locals that can keep you company or at least direct you to sites and events you may never find through guide books. You can rent a room, an entire place or simply stay on someone’s couch. In the US prices per night start at around 20 dollars and go as high as you wish – an average room will be around 80 dollars. You can view pictures of places and owners and also see the exact location on a Google map. Users are also reviewed by people who stay with them, which can build some credit of trust between members.


The old question is whether you’ll be comfortable to stay at a stranger’s house or host one yourself – in principle there is no way to track the new users, but it so far seems like the site is creating a strong community of users that track one another. I’ve dealt with these questions myself before traveling to different countries via Couchsurfing and hosting travelers at my home last year, but after years of using the network I don’t have a single bad experience in my records.


According to Dunbar, human beings are able to maintain stable social relationships with a maximum of 150 persons at a time. In Dunbar’s theory this capacity of the human mind is related to the size of his or her neocortex. The 150 of the people one maintains social relations with may include high school friends or past colleagues with whom a person would want to reacquaint themselves if they met again. Groups above that number usually require some sort of organised control. You can see a reflection of this in news reporting and charity advertising, among others. Why is it that somehow supporting a single child in Africa is often more appealing than the idea of donating money to a school fund or infrastructural causes, which one could deem as more important than a life of a single individual? With news of fatalities, once the number is too high, doesn’t the tragedy of it all get lost among the numbers?

When looking at social networking, and in particular at Facebook, you can easily come across individuals who have a 150+ number of friends. This obviously does not include everyone they have social relationships with, since some people just refuse to do Facebook and some, like the the older generations, sometimes just have no incentive to maintain their presence in the online networking sphere. Assuming that Dunbar’s theory is right, would it be possible to enhance our social networking capacities? Will sites like Facebook allow us to stretch the number 150 and allow us to create and maintain more relationships? This may seem possible, as in normal circumstances we would not have the array of information percolating about our friends’ activities that FB makes available via its news feeds. Whether through status updates or news on your friends’ blogs and break-ups, you’re more often up to date with their situation than ever before. This availability of information stimulates a more regular reacquaintance with one’s friends or colleagues, even family members. Social networks have also been effective in re-connecting people who have lost touch, whether via college networks or simple name browsing. I’m convinced that a lot of people create connections on FB just for the sake of it, regardless of having created a real relationship with a person, but perhaps more and more the friends on FB won’t be just a number?

Are you on Facebook?


After months and months of hearing this question and seeing every day that about half of all computer users at my college were logged into Facebook, I finally concluded that this was something to investigate. I was going to write down all my possible questions and complain about the time wasting, the artificial cyber social lives we live, and all else that could come to my mind on the topic, but the post never happened and instead I finally gave in into creating my own profile on Facebook.

I’m there. With just a week under my belt, I’m so far connected with 18 other people, I’ve created a Flickr account so that I could display my pictures, and put up an RSS feed from my blog, among other things. Whew. I found everyone from my brother to long lost highschool friends and know there’s only more coming.

With almost 50 mln people on Facebook around the globe and 200 000 new users every day, Facebook really does have it going. It’s used by students, businesses, and just about everyone else. Mark Zuckenberg establised the webpage in 2004. Today he is 24 and the business is estimated to be worth around $15 bilion.

Are you on Facebook?

Ring the bell!

A few days back I took part in my first Hospitality Club meeting. At first I was reluctant to go not knowing anyone and never been to such a thing before, but it turned out to be a very fun crowd indeed. It took place at a little place called Piaf and crammed in about 70 people. I don’t think I’ve ever been in one room with people who have traveled more, were from more diverse backgrounds and had a wider range of interests.

Through the past two weeks I’ve been hosting people from the club for the first time. I had two Brazilian girls and then two Mexican guys – all very fun, well-traveled and young people with interesting things to say. When I first stayed with someone as a guest I couldn’t really imagine why people would be hosting so much, but now that I’m doing it myself, putting back into the hospitality system and getting to know new fun people doesn’t seem like that much of a bad thing after all.

The sentimental shoe

With today’s greater ease in communication I think we all get a bit of a sense of false security as far as maintaining our relationships with other people. Have you or any of your friends moved to a different country? Those who move abroad have to re-do all their homework on who their local friends are, which places they like, and what job or studies they attend, which for most people doesn’t leave much time to maintain the friendships from the past.

How many of your friends have you not seen or talked to in the past year? We all email and call, but in most cases, unless the people on the other end are truly close in some way, you lose touch. After a while you could even ask yourself if it’s still worth bothering to make friends anymore. If you have family abroad things get even more complicated. How often do you visit, talk, or write? How much is enough?

Through my experience of being away from home for the past 3 years, I found that the distance can have a variety of consequences on my relations with people. Some of my relationships with friends and family back home have actually gained in quality, since both sides try to make the most out of the little we have. Others, though, through negligence or having to get on with my life in new places, have slipped away. So since the good ones stay and the not-so-close go, is this in fact a good process, which works as a kind of a filter, where only the relevant ones stay? Not sure.

It’s hard to be there for people and be close to them when you’re away, but it can be done if only you try hard enough. If that’s a kind of a life you live, and you keep going, you end up creating new communities wherever you go – what can I say – it must work, otherwise people wouldn’t really want to live their lives like that, would they? Foreign places, people, cultures, always carry some excitement, freshness, and stimulation. But in all the moving, shopping, and making new friends, we should all try our best to stick to the ones we value and love – in a greater perspective those are few and far between.

Keep in touch, everyone.

This post’s topic was inspired by an article I read in the IHT called ‘Taking friendships with you’. Here’s the link if anyone wants to read it as well: http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/11/24/news/afriends.php