Visualizing Social Media
I'm interested in how these texts and technologies generate data, automatically, as we use them. The 5k Twitter Friends Network Browser allows users to examine the networks of connections among Twitter users. (Note: Video is a silent animation.)
Twitter is interesting because it's mundane and stupid and often sounds like people just talking to themselves about their lunch. But this non-purpose-driven communicaton is extremely vital: It's the suggestion that we're somehow in touch with the people who follow us on Twitter or friend us on Facebook. Think back to the Skype example. Is a Facebook friend really a friend? Sometimes; sometimes not.
Are all your "friends" really the same kinds of friends? Is it that simple, friend or not-friend? Of course not.
I have something like 250 Facebook friends, the majority of whom I don't think I've ever met or even communicated with beyond the Facebook Invite.
This isn't necessarily a bad thing, just a little quirk. Some critics make much of the disjunction between real friends and "Facebook friends" (Emerson, 2008), but it's really just an odd linguistic quirk—most people know the difference between a real-life friend (even one with whom most of their communication is digital) and a Facebook friend.
Such linguistic quirks offer us a glimpse into emergent geographies: what it means to call someone a friend, what happens when our technologies automatically gather data about us, how we spatialize and move within information spaces in new ways.
Sometimes you're in a new space before you realize it.