Week 3: Blogs and RSS Feeds

The New Facebook Timeline

While I think that this whole Open Graph thing that Facebook has introduced with their Timeline is interesting, and I agree with Beth Kanter’s blog that it has potential to increase peer-to-peer sharing, I also think that it has potential to be very damaging to the public sphere. I worry that with so much monitoring of people’s activities on the web, the information that we are exposed to will be limited by our own likes and dislikes. I imagine that with Open Graph, the information people wish to share will show up on other’s news feeds or something. I am wondering what information will “make the cut” to show up on someone’s news feed. For example, I heard that during presidential elections in the United States, Facebook was monitoring users political interests and selecting what information would appear in news feeds based on this information. If you were a supporter of the Democrats (made clear by “liking” a page or writing on someone’s wall about it), all of your Facebook friends who were Republican supporters and performed a similar activity (“liking” the Republican page or posting about their support of the party) would not appear in users news feeds. Facebook and social media sites look at this as catering to user’s interests or making information that they may be looking for more readily available. It cannot be ignored, however, that if all of our interests appear in the forefront of searches or our social media sites, we are less likely to stumble upon information that we wouldn’t seek out ourselves. We are losing one of the most wonderful aspects of the internet: the ability to share, learn, and benefit from an abundance content, not just our own specified interests. I worry that organizations may be overrestimating the amount of information that will be shared through Open Graph. If one user donates to organizations and another user listens to music, I wonder if the person’s activity with the organization will appear at the forefront of the music listener’s Facebook page, or if it will be something that doesn’t make the cut because it is not in this person’s interests.

Blogs and Organizations

I have always felt a little bit uncomfortable with blogs for the exact reason that the nonprofitorgs blog names: I would have no idea what to blog about. That is on a personal level, though. My life is not very exciting. For organizationis, however, I am definitely beginning to see the appeal. The blog post “10 Blog Content Ideas for Nonprofit Organizations” is really useful; it really breaks down all of the ways that an organization can use a blog. My favorite use is to allow guest bloggers to share expertise and experience. I think that this makes the blog a lot more exciting and can act as a call to action as well.

RSS Feeds

Prof. Neal’s explanation on what RSS feeds are, how to add one to your blog, and how to subscribe to RSS feeds were very clear! I had no trouble setting an RSS feed up on my blog and I am slowly but surely getting more comfortable subscribing to others. I am actually very happy that this was introduced. For the first week of class I was trying to keep track of my classmates blogs. I was unsure of the angle that my blog post of the week should take so I wanted to see what other people had written. My one issue was that I had to actively seek out each individual blog, not knowing who had completed their post of the week. Now that I have Google Reader, I can subscribe to my classmates blogs and I will have all of the information I want on one page. I am also excited about this because I would forget that the lesson for the week could be posted at any time on Wednesday. Now that I have Google Reader and a subscription to MIT3852, I just need to check Google Reader. I am wondering if I can somehow set up an e-mail notification for when there is a new blog post for MIT3852. I will be exploring this later tonight and will update you on what I find next week.

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About anameth3852

third year MIT student at UWO
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