Presented without comment #30

Nick Srnicek‘ interviewed at Figure/Ground Communication.

By a large margin, most of my academic colleagues are people I first met online, whether through blogging or emailing or tweeting. I’ve since gone on to meet a number of them in the physical world, but the initial connections have almost invariably been via the internet. There’s a pragmatic benefit to this, which commonly goes under the label of ‘networking’ – simply put: the more people you know, the more opportunities arise. Yet on a much deeper and more important level, these connections have truly shaped and developed every one of “my” thoughts. The beauty of the internet – the beauty of philosophical and political communities online – is that one is forced to face up to a simple fact: cognition is collective, extended and embodied. Who “I” am as a scholar – my own process of individuation – has been undertaken and produced only through the medium of online collective thought.

At the same time, in enmeshing oneself in these networks one quickly comes to realize how often you are wrong. Writing on the internet will tend to attract experts on the smallest aspects, and you will inevitably have your claims being torn apart by people who are more knowledgeable in a particular academic corner than you are. As a result, one is forced to take a healthy scientific stance towards your own claims: “I tentatively take this claim X to be true insofar as I believe Y and Z.” Given our own cognitive defects and biases this is the only justifiable stance towards one’s own claims, and the internet effectively mandates that one take such a stance. Again, thought is collective and extended: recognizing our own errors is part of a much larger project of knowledge production.

So if I had one piece of advice for younger students, it would be to get involved in the online communities. It’s been the best intellectual and professional step I’ve taken.

new laptop tonight?‘ by Graham Harman at Object-Oriented Philosophy.

The fourth one, on which I am typing this blog post, was purchased in Cairo in late September 2010. It’s still perfectly workable. However, the keys are starting to stick just a little bit due to all the typing of the past year. 15+ months. That’s probably the reasonable lifespan for my laptop these days, given the amount of writing I do. This time I will probably keep this one rather than give it away. It will be nice to carry a beater around to cafés, not worry about spilling tea on it or being robbed while carrying it, and so forth.

Also, writing is my job. It’s what I do. It hardly seems extravagant to have two of these machines.

“Law and Order” as cultural artifact‘ by Mark Stewart at Television FTW.

What has struck me, 3-ish seasons in, is the way that L&O operates as an artefact, as a cultural historical record. Early seasons are filled with references to AIDS, to DNA, to mobile phones. Incident reports are being completed on type-writers, a foot cop runs to a pay-phone to call in a crime. Sexual harrassment seems to become a common trope as the series progresses. Females serving in the police force and the military becomes a theme. Homosexuality becomes more and more in the public eye, as does racism. I’m struck by the number of derogatory terms used in the show’s early seasons, especially n***er, which seems to be used in every second episode.

Presented without comment #29

Why women don’t like appearing on TV‘ by Suzanne Moore at The Guardian.

Women, if I have to generalise, are very good at faking some things but not always the things that matter. We want to be liked and are fearful of being judged on our looks. There is a freedom in ageing, trust me, but the media needs fresh meat.

Why, though, are we so afraid of being unlovable and ignorant when every day men ooze these qualities in serious discussions? When I was editing, I would often ask women who I knew had expertise to write for me but they would need so much encouragement that often, yes, I would use a less good man simply to meet a deadline. A man who was prepared to fake it.

We say “no” when we should say “yes” because we don’t feel worth it, we don’t feel we can cover every base. This is a problem of political discourse. You can’t go on Question Time and say, “I am not really sure about the euro”, even though no one is really sure about the euro. Or “Actually, NHS funding is not my area” when you are up against politicians who have had teams briefing them. Your job, as I was told aeons ago when booked to appear on Question Time, is to “represent the average mum”, which I screwed up badly by asking that Myra Hindley be released and all drugs be legalised, while sitting next to David Trimble.

10 Things I Hate About Skyrim‘ by Tim Rogers at Kotaku.com.

Skyrim begins most of its proverbial sentences with the names of characters in its made-up dialects. The loading-screen flavor text often catches my eye. The above example is particularly fantastic. It reads:

Kodlak Whitemane is the Harbinger of the Companions. He does not give orders, [yet] his word is highly respected both inside Jorrvaskr and through all the nine Holds.

First of all—what? Second of all: okay.

“Kodlak”: a made-up first name in some made-up dialect that is trying to sound Nordic.

“Whitemane”: two familiar words to English speakers, combined into one word. We immediately have the impression of this man having a full head of white hair. Maybe he does. Or . . . maybe he’s a she? (With a name like “Kodlak”?)

“Harbinger of the Companions”: the two capitalized words in this phrase are words we may have encountered before if we’ve ever read a book or leafed through one. A “Harbinger” is something that signals something is coming. A “Companion” is a person or thing that one enjoys being with and escorts or chaperones from place to place. However, as these words are capitalized, a little switch flips in the first-timer’s brain, prompting him to expect these words, in this imaginary world, to represent foreign concepts. Maybe a “Harbinger” is what they call a “Master Elite Warrior”, and the “Companions” are a group of Really Tough Dudes who kill anyone that looks at their shoes. It could be possible that a Harbinger is what citizens of the land of Skyrim call a messenger or an oracle, and the Companions are people who like hanging out with people, though the unfamiliarity of a name like “Kodlak” coupled with a pseudo-familiar name like “Whitemane” persuades us to expect the extraordinary. So it is that writing begins to trick us.

In which I don’t try to write like a man‘ by Margaret Robertson at Lookspring.

 General internet rough-and-tumble doesn’t phase me. I’m secretly delighted that the 4th Google result for my name is ‘Margaret Robertson is full of shit’. It amuses me enough that I’ve bought www.margaretrobertsonisfullofshit.com, even if I haven’t quite figured out what to do with it yet. I think, on the whole, I can make my peace with being called a cunt for what I write, but I find it more daunting to be called a cunt for just having one.

History Repeats – Facebook is the new AOL‘ by Jay Baer at ConvinceandConvert.com.

People kvetch about Google and it’s online hegemony. But Google is Urkel compared to Facebook in terms of possession of data. And data = power because data = relevancy.

Imagine if when you went to Google to do a search, you saw a pop-up box that said “To search, first please enter your name; high school; relationship status; favorite movies; birthday; lists all your friends and relatives; and upload some photos of that time you were drunk and did something stupid.”

That’s essentially how Facebook works. Except we GAVE them all that information. They didn’t even have to ask.

Presented without comment #28

But how do we get from “that was a bad idea” to “Reed Hastings doesn’t understand what business he’s in?”  When internet commentators see odd behavior that they don’t understand, why do they assume that the most parsimonious explanation is that management must be a bunch of drooling morons?
I mean, Reed Hastings did manage to build this rather large and successful business that killed off one of the most successful retail operations of its day.  It’s possible that he just sort of did this by accident.  But is this really the most likely explanation?  That he didn’t understand the first thing about how people watched movies, or how to run a business?
The Deepening Paradox‘ by Karl Schroeder at KarlSchroeder.com
So are we alone? Well, there is one other possibility, at this point. I’ve lately been trumpeting my revision of Clarke’s Law (which originally said ‘any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic’). My revision says that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from Nature. (Astute readers will recognize this as a refinement and further advancement of my argument in Permanence.) Basically, either advanced alien civilizations don’t exist, or we can’t see them because they are indistinguishable from natural systems. I vote for the latter.
Why Cyber-Bullying Rhetoric Misses the Mark‘ by Danah Boyd at the NYTimes.
“At first, we thought drama was simply an umbrella term, referring to varying forms of bullying, joking around, minor skirmishes between friends, breakups and makeups, and gossip. We thought teenagers viewed bullying as a form of drama. But we realized the two are quite distinct. Drama was not a show for us, but rather a protective mechanism for them.”

Presented without comment #27

We Are All Human Microphones Now‘ by Richard Kim at The Nation.

There’s something inherently pluralistic about the human mic too; it’s almost impossible to demagogue, to interrupt and shout someone down or to hijack the General Assembly for your own sectarian purposes. That’s clearly been a saving grace of this occupation, as the internecine fights over identity and ideology that usually characterize left formations haven’t corrosively bubbled over into blood feuds there—yet. The human mic is also, of course, an egalitarian instrument, and it exudes solidarity over ego. No doubt, a great frenzy erupts when left gods like Michael Moore or Cornel West descend to speak, but many people only hear their words through the human mic, in the horizontal acoustics of the crowd instead of the electrified intimacy of “amplified sound.” Celebrity, charisma, status, even public-speaking ability—they all just matter less over the human microphone.

Australian Political Blog Roll – A Call for Help‘ by Greg Jericho at Grog’s Gamut.

As some of you would know, I am writing a book for Scribe publishers on social media and politics, policy and journalism. As part of the project I thought it worthwhile trying to come up with a list of all Australian political blogs. Such a thing is actually rather difficult to accomplish. The fleeting and fluid nature of the blogosphere means that many blogs come and go, some will will about politics but then drop it as a topic.

Stories and Games (1): Art‘ by Chris Bateman at iHobo.

Can games be art, and should we care either way? Every culture respects some activities and objects as ‘art’, and grants to these a certain esteem that is entirely apart from their practical uses. Art, as Oscar Wilde suggested, is quite useless, but nonetheless great art, good art, and even interesting art attracts a lot of attention, a lot of praise and criticism, and a lot of money. The question of whether games can be art is usually treated in one of two ways – often by presuming either they must be art (Santiago) or they can’t be art (Ebert). In my book Imaginary Games I take another path: the question of whether games can be art is misguided, because all art is a kind of game. To understand why this is so, there’s no better place to start than looking at the relationship between games and stories.

Morozov probes internet’s role in new democracies’ by Marwa Farag for The Stanford Daily.

Morozov began by introducing two perspectives on technology and social change: instrumentalist and ecological.

He summarized the “not particularly intellectually exciting” instrumentalist argument saying, “It all depends on the people. Technology has no impact in itself and it all depends on the human actors.”

In this perspective, the Internet is a neutral tool, an instrument and an amplifier. Morozov used the examples of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, journalist Malcolm Gladwell and New York University professor Clay Shirky to illustrate this position, posing theoretical questions arguing against the instrumentalist position.

Morozov then moved to describe the ecological position, a position he feels is more accurate.

“I’m much closer towards the ecological camp,” he said. “I think of technology tools as having impact and effects that transcend simple usage.”

“The idea is that [the Internet] is more than a tool: It transforms both the environment where politics is made, those who participate in politics and many other keywords in the vocabulary that we use to think about protest and political change,” he added.

He also cited a FirstPost article on a hashtag that trended on Twitter following the detainment of Egyptian-American journalist Mona El Tahawy in the Egyptian Interior Ministry. The article’s headline claimed that #FreeMona resulted in El Tahawy’s release, but Morozov quoted a line from his book to raise concerns with this view.

“If a tree falls in the forest and everyone tweets about it, it may not be the tweets that moved it,” he joked, going on to explain. “The fact that everyone tweets about it does not mean it was Twitter or a hashtag that resulted in that particular outcome. Certainly it was part of the story; but how important it was is something to be studied, not something to be assumed.”

Presented without comment #26

About Twitter Limits (Update, API, DM and Following)‘ by Twitter Support.

The current technical limits for accounts are:

  • Direct Messages: 250 per day.
  • Updates: 1,000 per day. The daily update limit is further broken down into smaller limits for semi-hourly intervals. Retweets are counted as updates.
  • Changes to Account Email: 4 per hour.
  • Following (daily): Please note that this is a technical account limit only, and there are additional rules prohibiting aggressive following behavior. You can find detailed page describing following limits and prohibited behavior on the Follow Limits and Best Practices Page. The technical follow limit is 1,000 per day.
  • Following (account-based): Once an account is following 2,000 other users, additional follow attempts are limited by account-specific ratios. The Follow Limits and Best Practices Page has more information.

No one cares about property damage‘ by Voyou Desoeuvre at Voyou.org

…the liberal position is based around a belief that we can control how we are perceived, and how the state (and its ideological apparatuses like the media) will respond to us. Or actually this could be put more strongly: the criticism reveals the liberal’s desperate need to be in control. The fact that protestors have very limited ability to prevent state crackdowns, and certainly individual protestors can do almost nothing, is scary, and it conflicts with deeply held liberal beliefs about how the state works, and how protesting can change it.

Deep Intellect‘ by Sy Montgomery at Origin Magazine.

“Octopuses,” writes philosopher Godfrey-Smith, “are a separate experiment in the evolution of the mind.”

A woman’s opinion is the min-skirt of the internet‘ by Laurie Penny at The Independent.co.uk.

An opinion, it seems, is the short skirt of the internet. Having one and flaunting it is somehow asking an amorphous mass of almost-entirely male keyboard-bashers to tell you how they’d like to rape, kill and urinate on you. This week, after a particularly ugly slew of threats, I decided to make just a few of those messages public on Twitter, and the response I received was overwhelming. Many could not believe the hate I received, and many more began to share their own stories of harassment, intimidation and abuse.

The implication that a woman must be sexually appealing to be taken seriously as a thinker did not start with the internet: it’s a charge that has been used to shame and dismiss women’s ideas since long before Mary Wollestonecraft was called “a hyena in petticoats”. The internet, however, makes it easier for boys in lonely bedrooms to become bullies.

You and your entire family are full of shit. You’re welcome.‘ by Jonathan McCalmont at Ruthless Culture.

While the internet does feature a lot of bullying and ‘calling people out’, the real mechanics of the blogosphere are those of the social world. If you start doing things that alienate you from the group, chances are that people will not tell you that you are acting strangely, they will simply start ignoring you. In other words, they will exclude you from discussion until you get fed up and go away. As someone who struggles with these sorts of group-dynamics in real life, I admire the internet’s potential for freeing us from passive-aggressive exclusion techniques and so I admire Bbot’s decision to tell a number of bloggers that he simply cannot continue to read them. His explanations as to why he has ditched some of his subscriptions are fascinating as they show how a genuine desire to engage with what another person has to say has lead only to frustration, boredom and annoyance

There are times when telling someone that they are wrong, deluded and completely full of shit is the most supportive and generous thing that you can do and the relative anonymity of the internet should free us from the rules of passive-aggressive social interaction that make this sort of honesty so difficult to implement. So next time someone calls you out on the internet, say thank you because having them ignore you until you go away is so much worse.

Presented without comment #25

Full Cost Accounting & the B53‘ by Jeffrey Lewis at Arms Control Wonk.

It turns out that the nuclear weapons complex simply doesn’t do “full cost accounting.”  If you build a municipal solid waste facility, for example, the “back end” costs are part of the consideration.  After all, part of the cost of any activity is cleaning up after one’s self (or one’s generation).  That’s not, apparently, true for nuclear weapons or nuclear weapons facilities.  The cost estimates for RNEP and RRW, for instance, only described what it might cost to make the weapons.  Not what it might cost to take them apart someday.  The same goes for all the big ticket infrastructure items in the Obama Administration’s modernization of the nuclear weapons complex like the Uranium Processing Facility. The clean-up costs get passed along to the future, quite possibly including individuals born after the weapons or facilities were retired.

Of course, that’s bad management and, from a generational perspective, a little selfish. It is irresponsible for policymakers to simply pay for the construction of nuclear weapons and related facilities, while leaving dismantlement and clean-up costs to future generations.

A rough, sprawling take on digital rhetoric and writing‘ by James Schirmer.

These differences are even more apparent in digital and online forms as we write for some kind of audience beyond ourselves, thereby revealing acts of performance. This can be more pronounced when others get involved as not only an audience but also as contributors and even co-authors on a text, which is a term still seeing change in the moves toward online compositions. In moving online, we find other people placing demands, but the technologies we use do, too. Just as page in my Field Notes memo book invites me to write, various and sundry social media tools ask me to create, discuss, promote, and measure.

Part of what’s revealed in certain research in digital rhetoric, too, is the impermanence of our discourse. With changes and subsequent questions swirling about the nature of academic and literary publishing, we see plenty of consternation and worry about the future. The recent inclusion of Twitter hashtags in my memo books for archival organizing purposes marks another change, perhaps potential fuel for the fires burning down the English language. Still, I think much of what we have online now is what Sirc hopes for: “writing as assemblage, with a structure based on association and implication; piling stuff on to create a spellbinding, mesmerizing surface” (284).

I’m Tired of Being a “Woman in Games.” I’m a Person.‘ by Leigh Alexander at Kotaku.

Sexism in games remains an unsolved problem, it’s clear. Some of you will be nodding along, and some of you will hear the s-word and roll your eyes and go, “oh, this again?” You guys can piss off-–go click on some new screenshots or a trailer consisting of a release date slowly fading into view. You’re hopeless.

Presented without comment #24

Andrew Bolt and the making of an opportunist‘ by Anne Summers at The Monthly.

These incidents illustrate how readily readers of the blog can be revved up without Bolt explicitly directing them. “He was influenced by Howard’s nod and a wink,” says Jonathan Green, editor of the ABC online journal The Drum and a colleague of Bolt’s at the Herald in the late 1980s. “That’s why the blogosphere works so well. You don’t have to say much; you keep your hands clean but it comes out in the comments. You are setting up the discussion.” By claiming not to read the comments, Bolt was able to absolve himself of responsibility for what was said, apologise and remove posts if a complaint was made. But always after the event.

The Book as a Way To Think‘ by Gabriel Sistare at GabrielSistare.com

“The precise thing that makes idea-driven books so valuable to readers — their immersive qualities, the intimate, one-on-one relationship they facilitate between authors and readers — also make them pretty lousy as actual sharers of ideas.”

It is the intimacy to which Garber refers, between an author and reader, that enables sharing the ideas within a text. No feature of an object makes it more or less viral. The resonance of a certain book, article, video, &c, with even one person predisposes it to virality. Human beings make things viral, not the things themselves.

Jeff Jarvis: the game is up‘ by Milo Yiannopoulos at Yiannopoulos.com

…drawing attention to intellectual fatuousness is not the same as “trolling”: this is one debunking Jarvis cannot explain away as someone “disagreeing” with him. And his supercilious dismissals on Twitter do nothing to mitigate the damage done by such a devastating appraisal. Many of us had privately thought of Jeff Jarvis as a bit of a frivolous lightweight. We’ll be less reluctant to say so in his beloved public sphere from now on.

Presented without comment #23

Uncreative Writing‘ by Kenneth Goldsmith at The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The prominent literary critic Marjorie Perloff has recently begun using the term “unoriginal genius” to describe this tendency emerging in literature. Her idea is that, because of changes brought on by technology and the Internet, our notion of the genius—a romantic, isolated figure—is outdated. An updated notion of genius would have to center around one’s mastery of information and its dissemination. Perloff has coined another term, “moving information,” to signify both the act of pushing language around as well as the act of being emotionally moved by that process. She posits that today’s writer resembles more a programmer than a tortured genius, brilliantly conceptualizing, constructing, executing, and maintaining a writing machine.

Perloff’s notion of unoriginal genius should not be seen merely as a theoretical conceit but rather as a realized writing practice, one that dates back to the early part of the 20th century, embodying an ethos in which the construction or conception of a text is as important as what the text says or does. Think, for example, of the collated, note-taking practice of Walter Benjamin’sArcades Project or the mathematically driven constraint-based works by Oulipo, a group of writers and mathematicians.

Avoiding the blogger trap‘ by Marco Arment at Marco dot org.

I’m not just about technology, just as John Gruber’s not just about Apple products and Merlin Mann isn’t just about index cards and Steve Yegge can speak briefly and Jeff Atwood enjoys Rock Band and Paul Graham is a great cook and Ted Dziuba likes stuff and pretty people take shits and maybe, just maybe, there’s an area of Michael Arrington’s life in which he isn’t a dick.

People aren’t so one-sided. Everyone has a life that goes much deeper than the topics on their blogs.

You Are Not Facebook’s Customer‘ by Douglas Rushkoff at CNN (reposted).

Of course, if they stopped and thought about it, they would realize that Facebook is work. We are not Facebook’s customers at all. The boardroom discussions at Facebook are not about how to help little Johnny make more and better friendships online; they are about how Facebook can monetize Johnny’s “social graph” — the accumulated data about how Johnny makes friends, shares links and makes consumer decisions. Facebook’s real customers are the companies who actually pay them for this data, and for access to our eyeballs in the form of advertisements. The hours Facebook users put into their profiles and lists and updates is the labor that Facebook then sells to the market researchers and advertisers it serves.

Deep down, most users sense this, which is why every time Facebook makes a change they are awakened from the net trance for long enough to be reminded of what is really going on. They see that their “news feeds” are going to be prioritized by an algorithm they will never understand. They begin to suspect that Facebook is about to become more useful to the companies who want to keep “important” stories from getting lost in the churn — and less useful for the humans.

Goatse as Industrial Sobotage‘ by the Deterritorial Support Grouppppp.

The ability for this “in-joke” representation to appear within mainstream advertising and commercial image production relies upon two developments within postfordist capitalism: technological development and the proletarianisation of the creative industries. The first point is obvious– the development of cyberspace as a territory of virtual community, and the development of digital imaging hardware/software, has created a means of recording and disseminating chance observations of advertising hoardings, online and offline material and chance observations. It has also created a relatively lawless, anonymous environment where pornographic and extreme material can be circulated without fear of embarrassment.

Within this environment the “in-joke” differs markedly to workplace in-jokes of the past. Today, you might be the only person in your office who gets the joke. But worldwide you’re connecting to thousands of others in a form of exploded solidarity. It’s a dynamic form, a vivid social relationship the marketeers can – for the time being – only dream of invoking with their cosy stock images of friends-coming-together, sharing a joke over a glass of chardonnay. The proletarian – especially within the present conditions, the info-prole – is a force who pushes forward innovation through her resistance to capital, and it is capital who exists on the back-foot, damming the flow of proletarian innovation, demanding enlarged logos in order to harness its power.

Presented without comment #22

‘Persona_Ebooks’ And Game Community In The Web 2.0 Era‘ by Leigh Alexander at Gamasutra.

What is “Horse_ebooks?” If you’re a high-volume Twitter user, or you participate in some of the more cultish avenues of internet culture, you’re familiar with this feed — it’s just a bot designed to sell ebooks about horses, apparently.

It seems to populate itself automatically, primarily with snippets from the books themselves. Combine that with other inscrutable fan algorithms and the Tweets are surreal and funny enough that “Horse_ebooks” has attained memehood.

Examples of fan-favorite Horse_ebooks Tweets include: “I hope for your sake you are ready for a life WITHOUT back or neck”; “Famous Crab”, and “How to Teach a Horse to Sit, Give a Kiss and Give a Hug,” as well as lines that look more like erectile dysfunction spam than anything one would find in an ebook about horses.

Rethinking learning and assessment and the dmlbadges competition‘ by Alex Reid at Alex Reid dot net.

 What do we want to say about real, authentic learning? It marks you. As Frank O’Hara writes in a different context, “If someone’s chasing you down the street with a knife you just run, you don’t turn around and shout, ‘Give it up! I was a track star for Mineola Prep.'” If you learn, you are transformed. Your medals won’t help you run faster or farther, but the hours of running will. As an undergrad, I realized I could take a course, purchase none of the books, show up for half the lectures, and still get a B. Personally, I never cared about the grades or the diplomas that resulted. I just went about learning what I wanted to. If I spent long hours practicing music and learning studio recording by trial and error, which I did, the proof was in the music I produced. If I studied creative writing for my MA, the proof was in the poetry I wrote and the readings I gave. Today, I am still marked by learning and that mark is visible in the writing I publish, the courses I teach, the program I administrate, and so on. As we all know by now, you just do it.

This is part of what’s so insidious about press savviness: it tries to hog realism to itself.” by Jay Rosen at his Public Notebook.

Savviness! Deep down, that’s what reporters want to believe in and actually do believe in— their own savviness and the savviness of certain others (including operators like Karl Rove.) In politics, they believe, it’s better to be savvy than it is to be honest or correct on the facts. It’s better to be savvy than it is to be just, good, fair, decent, strictly lawful, civilized, sincere or humane.

Savviness is what journalists admire in others. Savvy is what they themselves dearly wish to be. (And to be unsavvy is far worse than being wrong.) Savviness—that quality of being shrewd, practical, well-informed, perceptive, ironic, “with it,” and unsentimental in all things political—is, in a sense, their professional religion. They make a cult of it.

Facebook is a monopoly, so why shouldn’t it be nationalized?” by David Mitchell at The Guardian.

I’m sure Facebook would claim it’s not a monopoly – strictly speaking it isn’t – but it clearly wants to be and, if there are whole sections of society who feel obliged to sign up in order to be able to communicate with one another, then its dreams are coming true. Next there’ll be electric sheep. Facebook isn’t aspiring to be Cable & Wireless or AT&T, major players within a medium; it wants to be the whole telephone network.

In some ways, this works well for everyone. It’s more convenient if we’re all joined up by the same social network, just as Google is more useful as a search engine because almost everyone uses it. It would be different if, like phone providers, different social media sites communicated with one another – if you could send someone a message from your Facebook account that popped up on their LinkedIn or Netlog page (I looked up those names on Yahoo). But you can’t and, while it’s providing its services for free, there’s no pressure on Facebook to rein in its monopolistic urge.