Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cliques & Clickstreams

British Anthropologist Robin Dunbar studies Primate socialization and came up with the Rule Of 150. That is the figure he attached to the number of meaningful, stable, social contacts that we would naturally maintain. This number is presumably imposed by the neocortical processing capacity that we inherited.

For most of Human history this was probably quite true. Humans probably spent nearly half of their time focussing on social grooming in order to keep the group together. We naturally form protective cliques to protect ourselves, even out here..damn that Selfish Gene.

Now Facebook, Twitter, and Blogs, are stretching our little Primate brains to their limit. Cybergrooming is redefining the meaning of socializing. We may be grooming more people, but how much of it is sustainable and meaningful?

I think that this is why Bloggers get burned out and quit. The cost/benefit analysis & work-to-fun ratio simply might not provide enough of a return on your investment. Cybergrooming & networking may be very important to you and for many it is equal to or eclipsing the connections in the so-called RW or real it?

All of this chat-ronizing also has a sinister shadow lurking beneath, the clickstream. Like it or not, every click on your keyboard is being recorded, colated, and analyzed, so that someone, somewhere, can sell that information to somebody else, who is going to try to sell something to you and your demographic cohorts.

Some of us forget that digitized chatter is so easy to lock and load. I've fabricated some outrageous notions and expressed unpopular views that are definitely not politically correct. Many of my blog postings, taken in or out of context, would open me up to a world of grief should any of those narrow minded little asshats ever get motivated. HA! WhatEVERRRRRRRR!

That being said, I still have this bizarre idea that this may be the last bastion of free speech. You still can't say things on the opinion page of your local newspaper the way that you do out here. For the most part I am expressing my views because I have a safe cyber-room full of like-minded peeps, whom I in return, reciprocate and groom..
see, there is that damn selfish gene again! Maybe I wouldn't be so brave if I was getting kicked in the balls everytime that I said something stupid?

Most of us are not super-connectors with hundreds, thousands, or millions of contacts, so chances are excellent that nobody could be arsed to get on our tits about what we say..they just want to know where we go...for now.

How conscious of your predicament are you?

A are you overextending your social grooming abilities?
B do you care that your clicks and cliques are being sold?


  1. ...(kicks Donn in the balls)...
    I'm a social grazer - I can't do more than one deep relationship at a time.
    Do you think I should sign up for Twitter?

  2. is that the right answer? Have I won?

  3. I imagine some poor sod having to read through all our twitter and guess it is a job given as punishment to the office idiot.

    There must be too much information whirling around the net for anyone to process it meaningfully.

    In short ... my head is buried in the sand

  4. I couldn't imagine trying to sift through all the stuff floating out there in Cyberspace.

    What a gawd-awful job that would be! So much mindless chatter with absolutely no significance to find the one or two bits that have substance.

    I don't care. I enjoy the time I spend on blogs, and twitter and such. But then, I don't have much of a social life either....

  5. Frankly HE, I don't give a Damn!

    I say what I fink and if peeps don't like it they can leave a nasty comment for me to delete or leave as I choose. this is my world and those that pop by are welcomed and loved.
    OH Shit! That means I care. Bugga! It ain't suppose ta work like that....

    Any one who can sell my work must be damn frigging good and very very poor!
    OH and who says ya say stupid things huh?
    Lock n Loads peeps it's blogger season.

  6. Proctor and Gamble are on my case :o(

  7. KAZ
    *recoils in agony from the swift boot in the cookies

    Yes by all means come and're only allowed 140 characters and it doesn't need to make any sense. I don't even know why it exists or why I am doing it?

    That is the correct answer and now we move on to talent segment of the show. What will you be doing for our viewers in the audience this evening?

    Yes we certainly have nothing to fear from Big Brother..atleast not until they have software that can unscramble of nattering and break it down according to our preferences in 20 categories for over 800,000 different sites of goods and services..oh they already have that? OK then, start worrying.

    So you are OK with the trade-off then? Have you reached 150 yet? I think that you can deduct co-workers in the RW and some rellies, neighbours and random acquaintances. How many Bloggers are you up to?

    We cannot all be born with your steely resolve so most of us are stuck trying to make everybody happy..sort of a shotgun approach.

    You should be giving Bloggers online lessons on how to stick it to the MAN!

    Damn those evil twisted freaks at P&G! Why can't they just let a girl have fun? I'll tell you why..because they want you to think that you MUST buy their products to be complete and happy. It takes about $1M a year for a gal to stay in top form with all the doo-dads and what-nots that she needs to applicate, insert, remove, cover, change, re-colour and ingest and look her best. Then and only then could she be truly happy!

  8. I would answer your question were it not for the 149 other bastards who keep interrupting me.

  9. Well put. I go through blogger burnout cycles and right now am experienceing one where I can still blog and read other blogs but my commenting has dropped right off. That said, I'm spending WAY too much time on Facebook, so maybe it's compensating for my current short attention span. I do like the new social networking technology, though, because I can just close my laptop when I've had enough. Not so easy to do in person!

  10. Groomin'? I'm no fucking horse, don't want to get married and serving no horses. On tablets, at least. And I have way under or less than 150 social contacts a day, a week, in my lonely live. And no, I do not care whether some idiot company checks my clicks - let them rot in hell! It is about personal contact, it is about understanding, it is about "fun" - the most abused word in history - maybe it is about joy, and about saying and speaking true, truely, ach Scheiße isn't there a goddam space on earth left where these greedy little suckers do NOT put their Wieners in?
    I do not believe that thee is ever a kind of programm that is able to "measure" (beurteilen oder besser: verstehen) conversation - there IS NO artificial intelligence! It is all stuck in 19th century ideas about "Vermessen" and "natural science" as in Naturwissenschaft - and it is all wrong, stupid and beleidigend für den menschlichen Gst: Es ist GEISTLOS! DUMM!
    ACH ...

    gimme a fag ...

  11. I forget to comb my hair sometimes...

  12. Thank the Gods that I am THE Michael, Master of My universe, thus anything I publish on my blog is the utter truth that cannot be challenged on any level whatsoever.

    I think........

  13. fuck'em. let them try and base a sales approach on my red ass. i need the laugh. meanwhile the emperor has no clothes, a unicorn tattooed on his ass AND a tiny dick. THATS RIGHT GOOGLE ADSENSE IM TALKING TO YOU.

    It works the other way, you know. this is how we insidiously influence web inc...their minions are constantly exposed to our witterings and gradually sweet sweet sedition is poured into the porchsteps of their ears! and another one down and another one down and another one bites the dust!! WE SHALL OVERCOME!
    *heaves molotov cocktail into front lines of of oncoming Smiths, rushes back to Nebuchadnezzar and beats feet for Zion*

  14. A - pretty conscious. But no more than in my real life. Hell i talk like this to anyone... so really makes no matter. but pictures, i don't post of my girls (actual children that is) because i don't want to worry about the what if's.

    B - not really. apparantly i need vi@gra and a penis enhancer. At least that is what i get spammed for.

  15. Well, I am happy with the things I share, and the things I share ought not matter to those who I don;t care about, and to those who care and who I care about, they will love whatever I write. Sale-ability of my stuff..nope, is't worth buying. Social grooming, I am a butterfly, I flutter wherever I feel like it, lol.

  16. Donn, I have more contacts in the RW with family and friends and coworkers than I do in bloggerland or on twitter.

    So I think I am pretty balanced.

    I like to spread myself out... kind of like my own personal interweb of personal connections. :-)

  17. The thing that a lot of people fail to realise about the internet and cyber-friends is that it only goes as far as you take it. Just because people/things are THERE, does NOT mean you have to follow it up. It IS possible, and indeed easy, to minimise one's contacts/network/obligations to the ones you actually want. It's as fun and as easy as you make it, by choice.

  18. I'm not sure if I can place a number on how many significant social contacts I can manage without going bananas!

    Truth be told, I've best friends spread out over the world that I may not talk to or write to in months (in some cases, years!), but when we do communicate, it's like we pick up right where we left off and our friendship is as strong as ever.

    A. I'm not sure if I even have the right social grooming abilities. I don't always do what the group wants :)

    B. I think it's a waste of time to try and guess what someone or a group will like based on a small amount of unrepresentative data collected on the internet. Still, it is creepy, like having someone go through your trash! I almost feel like a celebrity hounded by the stalkerazzi!

    *Dons dark glasses and hat and proceeds to punch out fotografers*

  19. *rolls giant wheel of cheese onto First Nations' front lawn*

  20. ho-ho-ho...stand still so I can aim a kick.

    I agree with you and plan on ignoring any further nonsense in my inbox from Facebook.

    On the other hand I blog because I laugh at my own jokes and I'll bet you make yourself laugh too and so we'll keep writing even when no one else is reading.

  21. as much as i know it is happening,, i don't know for sure how i feel about it.. it is like the valuable dollar saver cards at the grocery,, i know they are in essence tracking my purchases?? but i have nothing to hide.... do i????

  22. fuckit all, i already have a dossier, i know, i've seen it! xoxox

    (but, well done and thoughtful essay, sugar, on big brother and his global holding company!) ;)

  23. I know I can cheer up someone half a world away but if you look at the big picture you see what silly stuff we sometimes do and then just don't feel funny for a while.

    People on the line mostly never give themselves up enough for real friendship because you just don't know if the other is a spamming gorilla. Hell is other people, I believe that like minded people like me have been scattered across the globe from the mothership to hide among the apes.

    Its not free speech as long as you go through Google hence my Catholic post getting requested that I remove it.

  24. are you overextending your social grooming abilities?

    Old Knudsen picks the ticks off me.

    He is also psychic and doesn't need to read my blog to know what I've posted.

  25. i do SO love the word "asshat", but i can never remember to use it. poop and fiddle-dee-dee!

  26. and for my meaningful comment...

    all those cyber-connects don't really count 'cause they are psuedo-cliques and involve no real emotional/relational support except for a "reply" or "email picked up"

    in other words, no actual touchy-touchy/feely-feely... DENIED!

  27. and another thing...

    italics, bolds, and underlines are a cop-out to spiciness. one's clever diction should suffice for adding a bit of the piquant.

  28. I had a really well honed comment, but someone in the Real World (a small eleven year old) had just totally distracted me. . .

    she thinks she has nits


    that's one thing I like about blogging, you don't catch stuff off people


    ps you may groom me anytime you like Donnnnnnnnnnnn

  29. You look like my soon to be ex husband.. he is a jackasshole but not bad to look at. -wink, wink-

    About overextending. I put lots of pics on my blog, I love myself and my kids. I do not mind if you know I have sex or like to show off my pics, but whats inside and what really makes me tick is too personal and will not ever be up for the entire world to view. why??? to protect myself from that terrible feeling of, oooh, I think these people may know too much of me and if you truly want to know who I really am, you can ask.

    That said...most people believe I am very open and I am, to an extent, but not really. I don't twitter or facebook or even myspace, although that was only because I WAS married and felt weird about it, anyway-- I think you know what I mean.

    Free speech feels good but the audience could be as small as a few friends and as big as the whole danged planet, so you decide what you want your boss or neighbor to know about you, cause the internet and all your buddies on it do not always mix well with your real life. Just saying.

  30. Mmm I admit to struggling to maintain my blogger life, especially as the sun has started to creep back over the horizon.

    At some stage my guilt at not looking in on folk will make me quit.

    And so far Twitter is a step too far for me.

    I think what you say is more risky for young kids who still think they might have a career, old souls like me burned their bridges long ago :)

  31. Great writing Donn. I love and salute your style. You are not afraid to stick your chin out. Your thinking is not stuck in a tunnel. We need more of that. I will visit again. Best to you. Cheers!

  32. 150?

    Oh. I guess I need about 148 more.

  33. WHen I realized I was at risk for getting over-extended in elctronic network, I set some limits. Blogging I still thoroughly enjoy, although I have freed myself from the tyranny of tagging. Facebook, I only use to cathc up with people and don't do ANY of the extras. Requests to join Twitter, movie or book review groups or what have you I delete as quickly as I do chain letters and forwarded messages.

  34. i only play with my fluff pet in facebook. i don't know how long my attention will last though.

    Why do you have 149 "other" people in your house? Are you hosting a party?

    Are we all doomed to nurture shorter attention spans out here? It is kind of scary that we are trimming our social grooming down to a few seconds. I'm willing to let my Facebook go dark and Twitter is good for Traffic and Weather Reports but other than that I don't see how it can have any meaningful benefits..other than having more pseudo-encounters that are less fulfilling?

    Those greedy little suckers will put their skinny little wieners in any place they can. The whole thing IS insulting because those greedy bastards look at us as nothing more than potential consumers. Somehow they will weasel their way into the fabric of our social's up to us to ignore them and block them for as long as possible.

    They're desperate because the Gen Xers are a lot more cynical and savvy than the Boomers were with TV, Print, and Radio Ads. Lucky for them that the Boomer's kids, the Millenials, are even bigger suckers than their parents were! I'm not sure how that happened but it did.

    You do? Well then they'll put you on the list for hair care products and try to get you into a shame spiral for not being all that you can be..afterall..soon we will all be visible when we are online so that will add another dimension to our vanity. Better get ready for your closeup here comes Mr DeMille!

    Yes, you are one of the fortunate ones. I don't think that they have devised a proper counter-attack for self actualised pontificators. They are going to be scratching their tall foreheads for quite some time. Keep 'em guessing!

  36. ...but what ARE these things you call 'friends'?

    And how do you define a real friend or a good friend?

    Does someone who is friendly (be it on the internet or otherwise) become an automatic friend?

    I am so confused, Guru Donn.

  37. I can't honestly say that I think of the vast majority of my twitter/blogger/facebook 'friends' as REAL friends. They are just people I waste time on the internet with. Having a friend I think requires a lot more than just clicking mouses with someone, it really does require meeting F2F partly so you know your 'friend' is not a psycho/has misrepresented himself.

    As for recording my clicks they can do what they want with them. I cannot remember the last time I responded to an advert. No I can: I was probably 25 (12 years ago).

  38. One of these days is my blob going to rear its ugly head and bite me in the ass? Maybe. But until then, Party On, Garth.

    Recently, I did meet F2F with three gals whom I've "known" through blobbing for 2+ years now. They were groovy peachy cool and I could hang with each and every one of them on a regular basis.

    That being said, it does take a LOT of energy to maintain real life friendships/relationships. And for those, I only have so much fuel. Which is why blobbing, etc. is so attractive. It's like one big cocktail party.

    Praise the lord and hand out the ammanition! Mercy sakes alive looks like we got us a humdinger of a convoy!

    A I sound as stupid in real life as I do out here...I like bein' consistent so I do my own stunts that way I don't need a continuity gopher.

    B I never get spammed by advertisers..just two Bloggers were ignorant enough to do that...and they know who they are and they also know that I would gladly hop on a plane and pay a visit to them if they ever did it again.

    You have an excellent vibe and I am fairly certain that you are a mirror image in the rw. Everybody out here doesn't need to know everything..unless that is intended..and you should feel free to flutter about and visit wwhere and whenever you feel like it. No pressure.

    I'm sure that you do have strong ties with the rw. You should be commended for all of your efforts out here too, I see you all over and it makes me feel comfortable knowing that there is about 2 degrees of separation out here..we're all linked somehow. That's cool innit?

    STACE's about choice. I know how frustrated I used to get until I finally discovered that I was having more fun being oot & aboot meeting new bloggers and leaving goofy comments. I love being able to just saunter off and graze for a few days..or forget about it do something else.

    I salute you for being so discerning and peer pressure sucks no matter where you encounter it.

    I don't think that the powers-that-be actually have us under a microscope..they've prolly moved on to Facebook and Twitter to find the super connectors. Facebook is the Motherlode for data mining anyway.

    I don't think anyone cares what I do out here because they don't see me buying anything online.

    Roll one over here too while you're at it. Cracker Barrel medium cheddar.

    as to your second blurb..
    Knudsen Schmudsen! I don't need to read your posts either, atleast on Fridays, to know what you've posted.
    So I must be psychic too eh?

    said On the other hand I blog because I laugh at my own jokes and I'll bet you make yourself laugh too and so we'll keep writing even when no one else is reading...guilty as charged.

    Now I will hold still so that you can boot me..

    HA! Exactly! Those coupons and cards are the best way for them to see what we're buying...but as far as caring what I am doing out here..I ain't buyin' it. Unless Mr Al Kayda has a bee in his bonnet about my hyperbolic asshattery?
    Does he? I doubt it.

    You've seen your dossier!? Show me yours and I'll show you mine sugah.

    I'm small fry so I don't need to worry..people never even show up here from googling those innane nonsensical phrases. Which makes me feel betrayed and disapointed but what are ya gonna do eh?

    You do make me laugh every single day!

    You were censured by the Vatican't? That would be an honour! What do I need to say to go to there?

    Most of us keep our cards pretty close to the vest until we have spent a few years with another blogger or we've chatted without our disguise & avater. You for instance could be some smartass 16 year kid in Delaware and I might be a 78 year old haberdasher in Nairobi.

    I could be!

    And I am going to start using poop & fiddle-dee-dee! You're right this is artificial but I still feel emotional when some of my cybermates are going through tough times. Usually that entails a little more contact via e-mail so that we can have some that should say something about blogging.

    Nits! Oh how I dreaded those letters from school and the subsequent lotions and stripping of sheets and washing all the clothes and burning the hats and wrapping the entire house in cellophane and gassing every molecule within...aaaarrrggghhh!

    If you do remember your fantastic comment just rephrase it and leave it on a later posting.
    xx oo

    Thank you for visiting and winking at me xx oo.

    You said...I do not mind if you know I have sex or like to show off my pics..that does say pics right? Yes we all need boundaries and we need to draw lines in the sand but we also know what most of the others are interested in..having fun and reassuring ourselves that we may be unique but then again not so much.

    I don't really worry about the world reading my mental masturbations and most Bosses might peek at a Facebook page but blogs still seem innocuous...people who are on Facebook always ask me WHY DO YOU BLOG? WHO READS BLOGS?

    My Facebook page is really boring and I have to make myself check it because I have no idea why I's mainly rellies anyway and they already know how weird I am. Do NOT ask me why I twitter because I have no f*cking idea? Has not registered.

    Ooh I like the sound of the Sun reappearing on your horizon..that's good, right? However don't quit blogging because you feel guilty about visiting. We are supposed to be adults out here and for the most part I have only encountered a handful of people who act like they are back in High School.

    That's pretty good considering that 3 years later I've only had 5 bad experiences. Sometimes I feel a little guilty for not visiting but I do make the effort and I have 150 links that I goes in waves and cycles. Sometimes you get hooked up with an especially funny crowd and it's effortless to just tag along in that circle..that's fun..and this should be fun...not all the time but it is a hobby and not a way of life.

    Well Thank You...I am certainly not immune to such reviews but listen, please do not mistake my bantering for bravery or chin outticism. I am simply a victim of the no-thought-goes-unvoiced crowd and sooner or later it will all blow up in my face..or in my mailbox! Until then, please do come back.

    Don't get another 148 in the rw or out here on my account. That's BS anyway innit? I see you all over the place...which is awesome.

    This 150 thing is currently under attack anyway..especially from the tall foreheads that think that someday we'll be connectd to the other 6.6Billion other peeps on the planet...
    now that, is scary! If we are all connected then it implies that someone can monitor all of us all of the time..hello Big Brother!

    Ooh the Tyranny of Tagging! I think that more people who enjoy that are going over to Facebook..but I like to see what other people do with the same parameters..everyone that I read is very creative and/or super funny! I don't think that I have ever tagged anyone? I have left open requests but not-so-much on the do this or I won't be your friend anymore....I don't mind memes as long as I don't HAVE to do them.

    You have a fluff pet on Fbook? I'll bet that it isn't as big as my AQUARIUM! Have you fed my poor, starving fish lately..hmmm have you?

    Don't try to fool me with your psychobabble! I think that you are right about the friendly/frienduh thingamabob. This should be fun and I like everyone else is drawn to the fun/funny guys & gals.

    That being said I do enjoy serious mindbending queries on LIFE and you can't help but get emotional when people are putting their heart out on their cybersleeve.
    The problem is that you can only take it to a certain level of, I don't mean cyber sex...but I'm sure that some of that goes on too...I mean we only have so much of ourselves to schlep around and time restrictions make it impossible to be ubiquitous...although that is my ultimate goal...yes I want to be ubiquitous maximus!
    *maniacal laughter ensues

    The term clicking mouses gives me a funny feeling in my swimsuit area..does that make me a bad person?
    I hear ya! It is a lot easier to uncover the misrepresentations of F2F friends..usually..sometimes...not always...hey maybe that's why we like cyberfriends. You can just delete. Our little monkey brains have a hard time distinguishing betwtixt real and imaginary and so in many respects there is no difference.

    I read about your experience..that would be insanely fun..with the right group. The thing is knowing them long enough to get a true sense of their real identity. Most of my contacts would be exactly as they appear..I have no doubt...especially the real smartasses!

    It should feel like a party and it is easier and I like that too. Leave all the drudgery and tedium of the rw on your email (atleast most of the time) and let's have some fun. Finding others with the same disdain for how f*cked up our world is makes life all the more bearable.

  43. it bugs me that whatever i send out is being recorded for stats and records somewhere- but i can't stop doing it!
    funny enough, my list of online contacts is smallish... i read a lot of blogs, but only really connect with some of them. even on facebook my friends are either bloggers i've "connected" with or people i know and am friends with in real life. i don't have anyone added just for the sake of adding them.


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