About Me

!nversed Poignancy!

...I am an eclectic amalgamation of many seemingly paradoxical things. This can be exemplified in both my seemingly endless persistance on many topics and arguments, as well as my careful cautiousness on other topics and arguments. This is largely due to how astute I am of the topic: more knowledge, more persistant; less knowledge, obviously more cautious. I also have times of obsessive compulsions regarding certain things (mostly just my thoughts, however)...

Life and Death

!nversed Poignancy!


An assembly

Possibly impossible

Perfectly interchangeable..


That lives most upright

Beyond the unspoken

Neither a squiggle nor a quibble..

She and Me

!nversed Poignancy!


A daffodil

Tyrannizer of me

Breaking the colors of dusk!..


The rising sun

Infringed with violations

The impurity in the salt..

Love and Poetry!

!nversed Poignancy!


A puerile desire

Buried in the heart

Never leaves..


Sentimentally melodramatic

Cursively recursive

My thoughts idiotic!

The Facebook statistics recently provided by Alexa--such as that the site adds an astonishing 600,000 users per day--are worthy of serious contemplation by social scientists still playing catch-up when it comes to this and other forms of online communication. But at the risk of seeming curmudgeonly (I imagine my fellow friends, Facebook devotees all, rolling their eyes), I want to make a prediction. Social scientists are very fond of "capital," which is a type of resource with a plausible connection to some desired outcome. These include economic capital (money), human capital (skills), cultural capital (powers of discernment vis-a-vis cultural objects), conversational capital (interesting things to talk about) and social capital (social connections). To this list I predict that we will eventually want to add something that I am tempted to call anti-social capital, which is a snarky (and imprecise) term for the absence of ties of a certain type, namely those whose main consequence is that you spend a lot of time online communicating with people who, like you, have a lot of time to spend socializing online. It's not hard to foresee why someone without such connections would fare better at school, in the workplace, and in their family relations than someone with them, other things being equal.

Of course, the problem is not merely time diverted from more serious pursuits--exercise, learning, thinking long and hard about life's problems, interacting with those with whom one shares microbes--but also the disclosure of personal and potentially damaging information. That might point to yet another kind of capital, which I'll call non-self-disclosure capital, which is the state of not having made public (especially online) information about yourself that could result in a serious loss of face, life prospects, and possibly safety if the information gets circulated beyond its intended audience.
All too frequently, someone makes a comment about how a large number of Facebook Friends must mean a high degree of social capital. Or how we can determine who is closest to who by measuring their email messages. Or that the Dunbar number can explain the average number of Facebook friends. These are just three examples of how people mistakenly assume that 1) any social network that can be boiled down to a graph can be compared and 2) any theory of social networks is transitive to any graph representing connections between people. Such mistaken views result in broad misinterpretations of social networks and social network sites. Yet, time and time again, I hear problematic assumptions so let me start with some claims:
1. Not all social networks are the same.
2. You cannot assume network transitivity.
3. You cannot assume that properties that hold for one network apply to other networks

To address this, I want to begin by mapping out three distinct ways of modeling a social network. These are not the only ways of modeling a social network, but they are three common ways that are often collapsed in public discourse.
(a) As a Sociological "personal" Netwrok
(b) Behavioural Social Networks
(c)Publicly articulated social networks

At this point, I would hope that most of us would realize that Friends != friends. In other words, who you connect to on Facebook or MySpace or Twitter is not the same list of people that you would say constitute your closest and dearest. The practice of publicly articulating one’s social network can be quite fraught because there are social costs to the process of public articulation. Issues of reciprocity emerge and people find themselves doing a lot of face-work to navigate the sticky nature of having to account for their social relations in a publicly accountable way. Thus, the list of who you might list as a Friend is often a mix of friends, acquaintances, family members, people from your past, fans, professional colleagues, familiar strangers, and people you don’t particularly like but don’t want to offend. Oh and the occasional celebrity you think is interesting.

These networks are NOT the same. Your mother may play a significant role in your personal network but, behaviorally, your strongest tie might be the person who works in the cube next to you. And neither of these folks might be links on your Facebook for any number of reasons.

Our instinct then is to ask: which is the “real” social network? Frankly, it depends on who you ask. Your mother may be cranky that you don’t talk to her as often as your colleague and she may resent your refusal to Friend her on Facebook, but this doesn’t mean you love her any less. Of course, this doesn’t stop her from thinking you don’t love her. If we’re trying to understand emotional affinity, the behavioral and publicly articulated social networks aren’t particularly helpful. But if you’re mother thinks that time is not only a proxy for emotional depth but a proof of it, your behavioral social network might really upset her.

The truth of the matter is that there is no “real” social network. It all depends on what you’re trying to measure, what you’re trying to do with those measurements.
Today I found an invitation to a Facebook group "We will not pay to use facebook, we're gone if that happens".

I guess this echos the sentiments of a generation that believes that it should get stuff for free. But really, can this really be so? Facebook, google, yahoo, etc can only survive given revenues that may be used to cover costs. Web portals with mounds of data are not easy to maintain.

On the other hand, people are concerned by the concentration of huge amounts of personal data, especially with the social networking sites. Who owns the data?

It briefly hit me that the P2P infrastructure may work reasonably well for social networking. The idea is for the network to be built up in overlapping pieces. Each indivdual stores his own information and those of his/her friends. The informing of others that information has changed may be done through a series of pings.

Naturally, a big issue is that of the storage and transfer of data. A LOT of data may have to be stored for each contact. Furthermore, one has to ask oneself to what extent does one desire to be a conduit for people to contact one's friends and how much bandwidth one is willing to dedicate to that end. Another is that of "closed cliques" being inaccessible to the world.

The latter problem would probably be solvable after some brief thought, but not the former. People are selfish by nature, and the amount of storage space and bandwidth demanded by such an application would be non-trivial.

Well then, is Facebook's current setup as near optimal as we expect? It's hard to move away from a central repository. It makes things so much easier. We can decentralize a little though... Who knows?

I used to go for a walk every night. It was a pleasant habit—exercise, fresh air, quiet time alone to think. I made a point, whenever possible, of walking in an area away from the city lights, where the sky was dark enough that I could get a good look at the stars. I knew how to pick out some of the constellations, though I could never quite understand how anyone could see a goat or an archer in the patterns of stars. Seeing shapes in clouds is one thing, but mentally connecting the dots to form a complex picture didn’t really work for me. That’s not to say I didn’t see anything in the stars, though. As I looked at a particular star, I would think about the possibility of life in outer space, the chance that a planet circling that star may be home to people like me—or unfathomably different beings. I’d think about how Earth is just another one of those countless planets and the sun just another one of those countless stars. And picking my favorite star of the moment, I’d say to myself, “Someday I’ll find a way to go there.”

Looking at the stars and thinking about them in this way always had a very calming effect on me. I felt as though it gave me a sense of proportion, that it put my own crises and ambitions in perspective. It didn’t make me feel insignificantly small; instead, it made me feel somehow privileged to be able to see and understand what may be out there, and to realize I’m a part of something so big.

Nowadays I don’t notice the stars very often, and when I do, I don’t usually think about them as I once did. But every now and then, I’ll be on a trip—an island, a desert, a rural getaway somewhere—and again the stars will catch my attention. Invariably I’ll wonder why I hadn’t noticed them in so long. Is it just that I’m older and busier? That may be part of it, but a bigger part is that the lights of the city often make it very hard to see the stars, always focusing my attention on the surface of my own planet. This is one consequence of the increasing problem of light pollution.

The term “pollution” is apt because excess or unwanted light can be an irritation or even a safety hazard. Like air pollution, light pollution is typically a by-product of machines and devices that were intended to make our lives easier, more convenient, and safer. Another similarity is that light pollution can be reduced greatly with careful attention to design. But because most people have become accustomed to light pollution as a fact of life, there is usually little incentive to worry about it when designing or purchasing lighting products.
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