Are we getting less empathetic?

Scientific American: “College Students Are Less Empathic Than Generations Past” conversation conversation

And while the survey is focused on the young, could we see the same shift in older generations if asked today?

Tweet into meaning

Sociologist Erving Goffmanll said that all of life is performance, and Peggy Orenstein in the NYTimes says that Twitter is a new stage.

Jeff Jarvis is getting ready to write a book about “abundant publicness” and some of the thoughts and quotes from the linked post are thought provoking.

“Once-abundant privacy is now scarce. Once-scarce publicness is now abundant.”

Two questioning reports on social networking and culture

Jeffrey Rosen in the NYTimes reports on the effects social networking will have on our efforts to redefine ourselves:

It’s often said that we live in a permissive era, one with infinite second chances. But the truth is that for a great many people, the permanent memory bank of the Web increasingly means there are no second chances — no opportunities to escape a scarlet letter in your digital past. Now the worst thing you’ve done is often the first thing everyone knows about you.

Tom Meltzer in the Guardian reports on the strange paradox of loneliness among the most connected generation seemingly ever:

This is not just a teenage problem. In May, the Mental Health Foundation released a report called The Lonely Society? Its survey found that 53% of 18-34-year-olds had felt depressed because of loneliness, compared with just 32% of people over 55. The question of why was, in part, answered by another of the report’s findings: nearly a third of young people said they spent too much time communicating online and not enough in person.

In a YouGov poll published by Samaritans last December, 21% of young people aged 18-24 identified loneliness as one of their major concerns. Young people worried more than any other age group about feeling alone, being single, about the quality of their relationships with friends and family. Such figures have led newspapers to dub us the “Eleanor Rigby generation”; better connected than any in history, yet strangely alone.

Ethan Zuckerman at TEDGlobal on the challenge and opportunity

Interested in how information reaches those it needs to reach? Intersted in acts of journalism crossing cultural gulfs and divides? Interested in web services and connectivity? You will want to watch Ethan Zuckerman’s talk at TEDGlobal 2010 and I hope be inspired: “Ethan Zuckerman: Listening to global voices”:

Check out his ideas on how to use Twitter to open up your world.

Zuckerman and danah boyd are helping establish a reasoned view of the Web and its potential based upon its now decade-plus history. It is why I feel project’s like Zuckerman’s Global Voices are so important. Following is danah boyd’s talk at PDF 2009: “danah boyd – PdF2009 – The Not-So-Hidden Politics of Class Online”:


Ethan Zuckerman’s transcription of the talk

danah boyd: transcription of her Personal Democracy Forum (PDF) 2009 talk: “The Not-So-Hidden Politics of Class Online”

Clay Shirky: “Power Laws, Weblogs, and Inequality” John Naughton: “The internet: Everything you ever need to know”


“If you believe in The Long Tail, then stop saying the web is “flat” okay?”

“It exists, and its influence matters”

The call to action:

raise voices, go beyond babel, engineer serendipity, build bridges, cultivate xenophiles, rewire

Want to know what people want?

Well this doesn’t get you exactly there, but László Kozma has a Perl script and some analysis that points you to the top sentences on the Web that start with “How can I” using Google. Fascinating stuff.

ProPublica relaunch includes ‘future of context’ ideas

You can read about it at Nieman Journalism Lab.

Check out some sample reports:

ProPublica: Gulf Oil Spill

ProPublica: Tainted Drywall

ProPublica: Buried Secrets: Gas Drilling’s Environmental Threat


The Future of Context

A few recent thought provokers on living the linked life

Bruce Schneier: Privacy in the Age of Persistence: We must, all of us together, start discussing this major societal change and what it means. And we must work out a way to create a future that our grandchildren will be proud of.

Nick Bilton: NYTimes: ‘Controlled Serendipity’ Liberates the Web: We are no longer just consumers of content, we have become curators of it too.

Anil Dash: CNN: Don’t let Twitter, Facebook, Google be the only game in town: There’s no reason that organizations or individuals who want to use the Web to relay critical information have to rely on Twitter or Facebook or Google or any other giant of the technology industry in the first place. We’ve just forgotten a bit about how the Internet was supposed to work.

Roger Ebert who is living with what his fight against thyroid cancer has dealt him and how the Internet helps him connect: Nil by mouth: So that’s what’s sad about not eating. The loss of dining, not the loss of food. It may be personal, but for, unless I’m alone, it doesn’t involve dinner if it doesn’t involve talking. The food and drink I can do without easily. The jokes, gossip, laughs, arguments and shared memories I miss. Sentences beginning with the words, “Remember that time?” I ran in crowds where anyone was likely to break out in a poetry recitation at any time. Me too. But not me anymore. So yes, it’s sad. Maybe that’s why I enjoy this blog. You don’t realize it, but we’re at dinner right now. (bonus link read his piece on making out.

Bruce Sterling – “Today’s bleeding-edge technology is tomorrow’s broken legacy system.”

I started to pull together some choice quotes from Bruce Sterling, answering questions about the “State of the World 2010” at the WELL, but realized I’d be quoting far too much. You are better off reading the whole thing yourself. Enjoy.

Okay, one quote! In this he is discussing network-culture:

It’s not that print’s a medium, and the web’s a medium, and you get to migrate between media. The Web is a metamedium that turns everything it grips into network-culture.

*So it’s easy to see that mags are in for it. What’s a little harder is looking at the hollow shell of your once-favorite antique shop and realizing that’s all about eBay. “Gee, I’m on the web all the time now… time for a stroll, it’s a sunny day… Gosh, my neighborhood’s full of spooky holes.” Gothic High-Tech.

Update: Wired: Katie Hafner The Epic Saga of The Well

Two obits at NPR: one worthy, one not

NPR: In Memoriam: Sweet, Sad Rocker Vic Chesnutt

NPR: The Man Is Gone, But Long Live The Blogosphere (via Garret Vreeland). Jeff Jarvis knows blogging as well as anybody, but NPR should have talked to people who knew Brad Graham, or, as Garret suggests, were at least among his contemporaries in that first wave of blogging. He offered way more than the word ‘blogosphere’ to the history of blogging and way more to the world other than blogging. Check out this related Metafilter thread.