Texting That Saves Lives -TED Talk Nancy Lubin (Not for children)

Half a Billion People Were Defriended Last Year


Amanda Borland, a sophomore at the University of Southern California, sits at her computer scrolling through a list of names. Suddenly she stops and clicks on a picture. “That is a random person I have never talked to,” she says. In an instant, Borland “unfriends” another Facebook contact. Borland originally added these people while running for student government in high school; now she sees no reason to keep them as friends.

“For me, it is weird to reach out to someone who is technically linked to me personally, when I literally have no idea who they are,” Borland says.

The idea of “cleaning out” Facebook friends is getting more popular: The percentage of people unfriending other Facebook members rose from 56 percent in 2009 to 63 percent in 2011.  In gross terms, 158 million people were unfriended in 2009, and more than a half a billion in 2011. Experts predict the trend will only increase in coming years, and they see it as a potential problem for Facebook’s business model, which relies on leveraging information gained from a user’s profile and personal networks.

Morley Winograd, director of the Institute of Communication Technology Management at the University of Southern California, says the unfriending trend is only natural as the Facebook demographic shifts from largely college users to a majority older than 35. Older users are more concerned with privacy and want to limit access to their profiles to people they trust.

Millennials, on the other hand, are starting to use Facebook as a way to promote, manage and store their lives, deleting friends once a contact ceases to serve a function. As users delete friends, their networks shrink, and Facebook loses an edge in interconnectedness. This presents a problem for advertising: Facebook charges based on how well an advertisement is targeted to a user, and the more information Facebook can gather, the better they can target advertisements.

“If they have targeted all your friends, then they can serve up advertisements to you and your network,” says Karen North, director of the Annenberg Program on Online Communities at USC. “As you decrease your reach, you decrease the ability of Facebook to advertise.”

Experts say that the fewer friends a person has, the harder it is for Facebook to interpret the world the subscriber comes from. In turn, the less information Facebook has, the less they can charge for advertisements on the subscriber’s page. Facebook declined to comment on how changes in user behavior could affect their business.

North suggests this trend points to a more significant issue. The unfriending phenomenon suggests many users view Facebook as a utility, a place to network or post a photo gallery, instead of a hangout spot. She says many social media experts have noticed the level of engagement is declining. People are not only unfriending, they are spending less time on Facebook overall.

“The phenomenon where people were living a big chunk of their lives hanging and interacting on Facebook is decreasing,” said North. “All of that does have an impact on the value of Facebook, whether it is the amount of engagement, going on fewer times, or using it more efficiently.”

Unfriending may also affect certain kinds of advertisements, like sponsored posts or page posts. These particular advertisements “rely on the size of the friend base of someone that ‘likes’ one of those types of ads,” says Kate Sylanski, an advertising specialist at Modcloth, the online retailer that advertises with Facebook. Modcloth has previously invested in sponsored posts, but the ads have not generated increases in revenue.

It’s also possible that the trend could enhance the accuracy of Facebook’s efforts to target users, because the company can assume that those defriended had little to no influence on the user’s life. “The ‘unfriending’ trend could make these types of ads more appealing to companies because ‘friends’ may hold more water and truly be people you feel connected to in your Facebook community, therefore making them a more like-minded audience,” Sylanski says.

But if ‘unfriending’ is a problem for advertisers, that means trouble for investors. Facebook’s “pending IPO depends on increasing the amount of revenue per subscriber that the site generates,” says Winograd, who researches the Millennial generation along with political scientist Mike Hais. The two theorize that fewer friends per person mean fewer referrals or less sharing. That means less revenue from each Facebook visit. The narrower a person’s network of friends, the less likely something on her page will go viral. In any case, “a reduction in people, in connection, or in time and energy spent on the site would make advertisers and potential investors nervous,” North says.

There is little hard data on the question so far, but North is seeking funding to conduct research on the trend and gather more concrete facts on the true effects of Facebook ‘unfriending.’

“[Unfriending] is a fact that a smart company such as Facebook will adjust to,” says Ira Kalb, president of consulting Kalb & Associates and an expert in marketing and business. “As long as Facebook has a large, engaged audience, it and [everything] off it will do well.”

Ref: http://www.good.is/post/half-a-billion-people-were-defriended-last-year-will-the-purge-undermine-facebook-s-business/

Digital Natives Are Slow to Pick Up Nonverbal Cues

If you’re a digital native, you should be aware that the internet may have partially rewired your brain in such a way that when you meet people face to face, you’re less capable of figuring out what they’re thinking.

No, I’m not joking. There’s a significant amount of scientific literature on this. Compared with people who didn’t grow up using computers and the internet, you may be slower to pick up on nonverbal cues such as facial expressions, tones of voice, and body language.

That could be a liability if you want to work in a field such as consulting, financial advising, and diplomacy that requires face-to-face interactions. The trick, if you’re looking for a job in areas such as these, is to be aware of your possible shortcomings and try to compensate for them.

Research on the brain’s response to electronic media is fascinating, and not a little disturbing. On the plus side, it suggests that digital natives have higher baseline activity in the part of the brain governing short-term memory, the sorting of complex information, and the integration of sensations and thoughts — so, in certain respects, computers make you smarter. As if to underline that point, IQ scores are on the increase in the United States as the number of digital natives rises, and people’s ability to multitask without errors is improving.

But other research suggests that excessive, long-term exposure to electronic environments is reconfiguring young people’s neural networks and possibly diminishing their ability to develop empathy, interpersonal relations, and nonverbal communication skills. One study indicates that because there’s only so much time in the day, face-to-face interaction time drops by nearly 30 minutes for every hour a person spends on a computer. With more time devoted to computers and less to in-person interactions, young people may be understimulating and underdeveloping the neural pathways necessary for honing social skills. Another study shows that after long periods of time on the internet, digital natives display poor eye contact and a reluctance to interact socially.

Are digital natives really lacking the interpersonal skills necessary for certain types of jobs? An executive of a U.S. wealth-management firm told me that after the financial collapse in 2008, some of the bright young advisers were communicating with wiped-out clients via emails that said, essentially, “Sorry, we can’t help you.” Those who did meet with clients had little time for them and gave the impression that they weren’t interested in hearing clients’ stories. They seemed unable to empathize. So the firm let these employees go, replacing them with older advisers who were willing to sit down, look clients in the eye, and discuss matters face to face. That’s just one anecdote, but it resonates with HR executives I’ve spoken to in a variety of businesses that rely on building trust with customers.

So if you’re a digital native and you’re looking for a position in a field that requires human interaction, you’ve got your work cut out for you, and the first hurdle is landing the job. A few points to consider:

  • Your interviewer may be specifically looking for evidence that you’re willing to make eye contact. Engage the interviewer — show a lively interest. This may not come easily.
  • The interviewer also may be looking for evidence of your ability to pick up on nonverbal cues. Watch for and react to shifts in tone of voice or body language. One study suggests that 55% of person-to-person communication is nonverbal.
  • Make clear that you understand the importance of face-to-face meetings and that you’re willing to sit down with people. If an interviewer or a questionnaire asks how you’d contact someone in a potentially fraught situation, don’t assume that email is the correct answer.

And once you get the job? That’s a whole other subject. Some researchers say the neurological changes wrought by computer use are reversible; others disagree. Even if they’re not, digital natives can train themselves to recognize the limitations of email and Facebook and choose face-to-face meetings if appropriate. They can also continually remind themselves that they may be a bit lacking in the ability to pick up on nonverbal cues — and that they need to make a special effort to pay attention.

Ref: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/03/digital_natives_are_slow_to_pi.html

Digital age affects family time and relationships

You don’t have to earn the mayor’s title on Foursquare or have a personal YouTube channel to know that technology is profoundly changing family life.

When Ontario celebrated its first Family Day in 2008, parents eager to pry kids off the Internet for a hike could at least unplug the modem.

Five years later, that no longer does the trick, thanks to the proliferation of portable gadgets. They may come along for the hike, but so will the Smartphone.

During your day of togetherness, your kids may also be tweeting between rolls of the Monopoly dice, texting you from upstairs to see what’s for dinner or posting on their blog while out for brunch. Adults may be whipping out the BlackBerry to check emails or update their own Facebook status.

Some families may impose some tech-free togetherness.

In many ways, digital devices have made family life more complicated and subject to distraction. But they’ve also led to some interesting changes in how the generations communicate.

Foursquare, for example, is an app that families can use to check in and track each other’s whereabouts using GPS hardware.

When Alyson Schafer’s 15-year-old daughter needed to raise a distressing subject a few years ago, she sent her mom to the home office and headed into her own bedroom, where she began the conversation via instant messaging.

Mother and daughter were only steps apart, but using a keypad allowed the teen to talk about the scary subject of a friend’s eating disorder at her own pace and without scrutiny.

“This was not a conversation she could start face to face,” says Schafer, a psychotherapist and parenting author. Instead she needed to think, write and stop before hearing an adult’s reaction. Fifteen minutes later mother and daughter emerged and finished the emotional talk in person.

Amanda Lee’s children, ages 7 and 4, haven’t visited their grandparents and their extended family in Australia for several years. But the Oakville mother says they still have a relationship, thanks to regular visits using Skype.

Text messaging allows Andrew Campbell of Hamilton to keep in touch with his teenage sons on those days when they are at their mother’s.

“If I see something that interests them, I can let them know and send it immediately,” says Campbell, a teacher who is active on social media.

As someone who wants his kids to grow up to comfortable, responsible and fluent in technology, he thinks it’s important to model that too.

It’s easier to check in with kids at university or how your school-age child may be doing on a difficult day. Schafer says it also gives them an out — “my mom just texted me that I have to come home” — or a quiet way to arrange a ride if they are in social situations that make them uncomfortable.

While technology can enhance togetherness, the big challenge is not letting it take over, says Toronto filmmaker Kelli Kieley.

She loves going online with Aaron, 10, and Maia, 7, to look up answers to their questions and discovery new websites. “It’s like we’re learning and finding out information together.”

But the downside is that devices, including her own iPhone, are always beckoning. “I find our family time is way more disrupted.”

The changes and challenges were explored last week by a panel of tech-savvy parents and educators at a Toronto event hosted by Bunch, an online parenting community.

Schafer, a panellist, said being attuned to evolving social media is, like potty training, a modern parenting duty. So is understanding why kids are attracted to it, how they use it and setting limits.

As kids learn to navigate and behave responsibly, they need a safe place to bring their questions or talk about troubling things they may observe online without fear that parents will freak out or punish them.

Royan Lee, a father of three and Richmond Hill teacher who uses social media in his classroom, describes it as “a reciprocal learning arrangement” between kids and adults with many teachable moments.

His observations after teaching hundreds of kids: there’s a correlation between families who fear technology and kids who don’t behave appropriately online. When parents use technology with their kids and view it positively, kids follow, he says.

Some studies have found that technology tends to amplify the existing dynamic in a household rather than change it, by exacerbating isolation in families that don’t interact or enhancing communication between those who already have healthy and frequent conversations.

Nonetheless many parents worry that the encroachment of digital devices will undermine family life.

That’s one reason you won’t catch Jodi Lastman or her daughters with hand-held devices if they head out for a Family Day stroll. One reason is Lastman doesn’t own a cellphone. She uses social media in her marketing job and will flip open her laptop as needed when she’s at home. But she doesn’t want face time with her kids, ages 7 and 4, interrupted by the

“false urgency” of text messages and phone calls.

Technology will encroach soon enough, she says. At the moment, she prefers spending family time playing a board game, watching a movie or walking their puppy.

Ref: http://www.thestar.com/living/article/1133178–digital-age-affects-family-time-and-relationships

Would you kiss someone via robot messenger?

Long-distance lovers hoping for a smooch can now transmit their passion through robotic lips.

Artificial intelligence researcher Hooman Samani has developed the kiss messenger, or Kissenger, to add a new dimension to those wistful Skype-dates with someone far away.

“The basic concept is that you have two robots, both outfitted with an artificial pair of lips,” explained Sebastian Anthony of ExtremeTech.

Kissenger system consists of a pair of robots to transfer kiss over distance. (Lovotics)“The lips are highly touch-sensitive, but can also be manipulated by motors inside the robot.”

To seal the deal, the partners must take out their Kissengers – small, pig-like robots with floppy ears and googly-eyes – and, well, lock lips with them.

The robots are equipped with soft silicon pads that transmit lip movements between partners.

The Lovotics website suggests the Kissenger may appeal to singles and those who want to smooch a virtual character. The robots can use artificial intelligence (AI) to transmit those kinds of kisses, too.


Ref: http://www.cbc.ca/news/yourcommunity/2012/02/would-you-kiss-someone-via-robot-messenger.html

Study: Multitasking hinders youth social skills

(CNN) — FaceTime, the Apple video-chat application, is not a replacement for real human interaction, especially for children, according to a new study.

Tween girls who spend much of their waking hours switching frantically between YouTube, Facebook, television and text messaging are more likely to develop social problems, says a Stanford University study published in a scientific journal on Wednesday.

Young girls who spend the most time multitasking between various digital devices, communicating online or watching video are the least likely to develop normal social tendencies, according to the survey of 3,461 American girls aged 8 to 12 who volunteered responses.

The study only included girls who responded to a survey in Discovery Girls magazine, but results should apply to boys, too, Clifford Nass, a Stanford professor of communications who worked on the study, said in a phone interview. Boys’ emotional development is more difficult to analyze because male social development varies widely and over a longer time period, he said.

“No one had ever looked at this, which really shocked us,” Nass said. “Kids have to learn about emotion, and the way they do that, really, is by paying attention to other people. They have to really look them in the eye.”

The antidote for this hyper-digital phenomenon is for children to spend plenty of time interacting face-to-face with people, the study found. Tweens in the study who regularly talked in person with friends and family were less likely to display social problems, according to the findings in the publication Developmental Psychology.

“If you eschew face-to-face communication, you don’t learn critical things that you have to learn,” Nass said. “You have to learn social skills. You have to learn about emotion.”

The Stanford researchers were not able to determine a magic number of hours that children should spend conversing per week, Nass said. Social skills are typically only learned when children are engaged and making eye contact, rather than fiddling with an iPod during a conversation, he said.

FaceTime and Skype are not replacements for actual face time because other studies have found that people tend to multitask while on video calls, Nass said.

Nass is a self-described technologist of 25 years, who has worked as a consultant with many major electronics firms, including Google and Microsoft. He said the findings disturbed him.

A few years ago, Nass worked on a study about how multitasking affects adults. He found that heavy multitaskers experience cognitive issues, such as difficulty focusing and remembering things. They were actually worse at juggling various activities, a skill crucial to many people’s work lives, than those who spent less time multitasking, Nass said.


Ref: http://edition.cnn.com/2012/01/25/tech/social-media/multitasking-kids/

Media use, face-to-face communication, media multitasking, and social well-being among 8- to 12-year-old girls.

By Pea, Roy;Nass, Clifford;Meheula, Lyn;Rance, Marcus;Kumar, Aman;Bamford, Holden;Nass, Matthew;Simha, Aneesh;Stillerman, Benjamin;Yang, Steven;Zhou, Michael
Developmental Psychology, Jan 23 , 2012, No Pagination Specified.
An online survey of 3,461 North American girls ages 8–12 conducted in the summer of 2010 through Discovery Girls magazine examined the relationships between social well-being and young girls’ media use—including video, video games, music listening, reading/homework, e-mailing/posting on social media sites, texting/instant messaging, and talking on phones/video chatting—and face-to-face communication. This study introduced both a more granular measure of media multitasking and a new comparative measure of media use versus time spent in face-to-face communication. Regression analyses indicated that negative social well-being was positively associated with levels of uses of media that are centrally about interpersonal interaction (e.g., phone, online communication) as well as uses of media that are not (e.g., video, music, and reading). Video use was particularly strongly associated with negative social well-being indicators. Media multitasking was also associated with negative social indicators. Conversely, face-to-face communication was strongly associated with positive social well-being. Cell phone ownership and having a television or computer in one’s room had little direct association with children’s socioemotional well-being. We hypothesize possible causes for these relationships, call for research designs to address causality, and outline possible implications of such findings for the social well-being of younger adolescents. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

Does Technology Affect Happiness?

As young people spend more time on computers, smartphones and other devices, researchers are asking how all that screen time and multitasking affects children’s and teenagers’ ability to focus and learn — even drive cars.

A study from Stanford University, published Wednesday, wrestles with a new question: How is technology affecting their happiness and emotional development?

Lucy Gray with her daughter, Julia.Michelle Litvin for The New York TimesLucy Gray with her daughter, Julia.

The answer, in the peer-reviewed study of the online habits of girls ages 8 to 12, is that those who say they spend considerable amounts of time using multimedia describe themselves in ways that suggest they are less happy and less socially comfortable than peers who say they spend less time on screens.

The research raises as many questions as it seeks to answer, as the scientists readily acknowledge. That is because the research was based on an online survey taken by more than 3,400 girls, a sample that may well not be representative of the larger population and, because the responses are self-reported, are not subject to follow-up or verification by the researchers.

Among the crucial questions that the researchers were not able to answer is whether the heavy use of media was the cause for the relative unhappiness or whether girls who are less happy to begin with are drawn to heavy use of media, in effect retreating to a virtual world.

But the researchers hypothesize that heavy use of media is a contributing factor to the social challenges of girls.

The reason, say the researchers, is that on a basic, even primitive level, girls need to experience the full pantheon of communication that comes from face-to-face contact, such as learning to read body language, and subtle facial and verbal cues.

“Humans are built to notice these cues — the quavering in your voice, perspiration, body posture, raise of an eyebrow, a faint smile or frown,” said Clifford Nass, a Stanford professor of communication who led the study. Social media, he added, leaves the conversation two-dimensional. “If I’m not with you face to face, I don’t get these things. Or, if I’m face to face with you and I’m also texting, I’m not going to notice them.”

The peer-reviewed study appeared Wednesday in Developmental Psychology, a journal published by the American Psychological Association, as part of a series of articles on interactive technology and human development. There is no analogous study about how screen time affects boys.

The fact that the study was based on an online survey gave pause to some academics. While they said the paper raised good questions, they also expressed concern about giving it too much weight, given that the researchers were not able to follow up with the survey subjects to get important context, including their family circumstances, income or ethnicity.

Moreover, the limitations of the online survey did not even allow the researchers to verify the ages of the girls.

Lyn Mikel Brown, an education professor at Colby College who studies girls’ behavior, cautioned against reading too much into the research because so little is known about the survey subjects.

It may well be, she said, that girls who seek out online relationships are girls who otherwise might not feel social at all.

“Finding like-minded people online and issues they can relate to and work on with others can be incredibly important,” she said.

But she also said the research should provoke further study about the connection between time spent online and social development, and should provoke conversations in families.

“The clear message is also how important it is for parents to create opportunities for girls to unplug, to live a balanced life, and increase quality face-to-face time with the people important to them,” Ms. Mikel Brown said.

Patricia Greenfield, a distinguished professor of psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles, who edited the article, said that that even though the authors did not find that Internet use causes unhappiness among girls, the correlation that the authors did find was very significant.

The research was based on an online survey of about 80 questions answered by 3,461 girls whom the scientists found by advertising in Discovery Girls magazine. The researchers found that the average amount of media use by the girls surveyed was 6.9 hours per day, a figure that included reading as well as screen time. The average amount of time spent in face-to-face social settings was 2.1 hours, a figure that did not include classroom time.

Some parents of girls who are heavy Internet users said the research addressed questions that they had been concerned about.

Lucy Gray, 45, who lives in Chicago and helps schools integrate technology, said her daughter, Julia, 13, has for several years been a heavy consumer of media — she watches movies on her laptop, has an iPad, iPhone and a Nintendo DS portable game machine. Ms. Gray said that Julia can have trouble picking up on subtle social cues in face-to-face interactions, but she is not ready to blame her daughter’s heavy use of technology.

In fact, she said, she thinks that, on the whole, the technology has helped her daughter navigate the world socially.

“She’d be missing out on an opportunity if she wasn’t connected.” Ms. Gray said.

At the same time, Ms. Gray said, she worries that her daughter, who is using Facebook more, is playing out her social life online sometimes without the benefits of the full emotional range that comes from face-to-face interaction.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” Ms. Gray said of the social implications of social media.

Lena Garzarelli, 13, an eighth grader in Asheville, N.C., who spends as much as two hours each day on Facebook, video chatting with friends and using other multimedia, said that the technology, on the whole, has helped enrich her social life. But she said that she felt it could be a poor substitute for face-to-face interaction.

She has had instances, she said, of serious miscommunication because her real meaning was lost in text-based communications.

When people converse online, she said, they “may not understand how I feel because they can’t see the emotion in my face and can’t hear my voice.”


Ref: http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/25/does-technology-affect-happiness/

Study shows that kids, unlike adults, think technology is fundamentally human

Growing up with the Internet gives today’s children a very unique view on the way the world works — one that is vastly different from that of older generations.

These kids, the ‘digital natives,” are raised with modern technology deeply embedded into their lives, and form a natural understanding of its benefits. This deeply rooted acceptance gives kids a unique perspective on how technology can be further used to make our lives easier, and helps researchers predict future needs for innovation.

What can we learn from the digital natives?

We asked this question back in September, and it’s one that research firm Latitude sought to answer with its KIDS – Kids Innovation Discovery Series initiative. Now, Latitude is back to find out how technology, specifically robotics, can be used to inspire new opportunities for learning and creativity.



Latitude’s Robots @ School study, which was conducted this month, asked kids across the world to illustrate and write a story that answers this question: “What would happen if robots were a part of your everyday life — at school and beyond?”

The results provide a compelling look on how youngsters feel about modern technology, and most importantly, reveals that tech has a huge potential for blurring the lines between learning and play. Steve Mushkin, founder and president of Latitude explains:

Education and learning are moving, at least in many children’s eyes, beyond acts of knowledge transmission toward acts of exploration and creation.”

With children so easy to embrace robotics, it’s clear that there’s a ton of potential for integrating intelligent technologies into learning environments. Besides, the idea of “exploring and creating” sounds a heck of a lot better than answering true/false questions out of a booklet. Clearly there are tons of new and interesting ways to learn, and technology is, in many ways, responsible for this.

Taking a deeper look at the stories the children created, the survey found that unlike many adults who see technology as separate from humanness, it seems that “kids tend to think of technology as fundamentally human: as a social companion that can entertain, motivate, and empower them in various contexts.”

While this dreamy perspective is partially the result of childhood imagination (something kids from any generation can have), it is clear that kids are eagerly anticipating new ways that tech can enhance their lives.

Sure, it’s easy to dismiss how children look forward to the future and dream without inhibitions, but that’s exactly what some of the greatest innovators of our time have done. Children don’t just react, they imagine, and that’s why this study can’t be overlooked.

Check out the full study, including the kids stories and illustrations here. You’ll also want to check out the infographic below, which is based on the results.

Ref: http://thenextweb.com/insider/2012/01/18/study-shows-that-kids-unlike-adults-think-technology-is-fundamentally-human/6680290835/

Unlike in real life, our online friendships are not subject to a healthy natural decay.

Thanks to social-networking sites like Facebook, many of the people that otherwise would have drifted out of our lives can now be linked to us indefinitely online, keeping track of us in the virtual world even if we no longer have any contact with them in “real life.” It’s a peculiar situation, evidenced by the introduction of terms like “Facebook Creeping” and FOMO (fear of missing out)into our vocabularies. But what are the wider implications of these changes?

Social networks enable us to cheat the natural order of things. In our ability to pore over photo albums and analyze status updates, we gain access to information that’s generally reserved for a close friend without actually having to be one. We look at others’ profiles because we are nosy, and because we want to make sure we’re not missing out – that we’re on par with our colleagues and friends. Furthermore, social networks create unnatural digital bonds that keep us entangled in unnecessary relationships. Most of the time it’s harmless, but in certain cases (ex-boyfriends, toxic friendships) these relationships could be unhealthy. A 2011 study identified a condition called “Facebook Envy” arguing that reading what others share on social networks might actually have a negative impact on mood. The existence of “Facebook Depression” is also being debated among health-care professionals.

Related: The Evolution of the Web Persona

I believe it is the lack of natural social decay that is driving some of these behaviours. After all, while some relationships end explosively, the majority decay naturally in a slow and gradual process. We drift apart. We lose contact. Far from replicating this natural passive disconnection online, we are forced to deliberately hit the “Unfriend” button, severing the connection in a swift and decisive manner. “Unfriending” is seen as a digitally aggressive act, and can often carry social implications in the real world. (An extreme example: In Iowa, a woman was arrested for burning down the house of someone who had unfriended her on Facebook.) It’s much easier to simply stay connected to these people online, even if we never communicate with them. Thus, we continue to be “Facebook friends” with people who aren’t really our friends.

Is it really necessary to stay connected to such people? Of course not, but many of us do so because it’s easier than having to look your colleague in the eye and explain why you haven’t accepted his or her friend request yet. We’d rather avoid that awkward moment, so we continue to broadcast pieces of our digital selves to an ever-growing circle that includes bosses, acquaintances, and distant relatives. The result? A need for better and more comprehensive privacy policies that take into account these social complexities.

These policies, however, are often in opposition to the corporate bottom line. Consider, for instance, Facebook’s never-ending push for users to publicly share more information about themselves. It is in Facebook’s best interest for us to continue to “friend” as many people as possible, as it provides the company with more data that it can extract and sell. As a result, Facebook is becoming a broader web that documents the connections of the people we have encountered in our lives, rather than a representation of our closest friends. For Mark Zuckerberg, social decay shouldn’t exist at all.

Related: Has Facebook Gone Too Far?

This, however, is not the only option.

One company that is introducing an alternative approach is Path, a mobile social network that uses the principles of Dunbar’s Number in an effort to manage social decay. Dunbar’s Number (commonly cited as 150) comes from the work of British anthropologist Robin Dunbar, and represents the “cognitive limit to the number of individuals with whom any one person can maintain stable relationships.”

Once users reach that 150 limit on Path, they’ll only be able to add another friend by cutting someone from their list. In this way, Path forces people to constantly evaluate their existing friendships by facing social decay head on.

It will be interesting to see how this social dynamic plays out. If I have 1,000 friends, I might not notice if someone has unfriended me – but I will definitely notice if I’m cut from a list of 150 people, especially if we have mutual friends. What impact will this have?

In this age of social networking, algorithms will continue to evolve to account for the various types of digital relationships that we have. Facebook and Path seem to be taking this in two very different directions, but is either one the right solution? Is there a way to organize our social relationships online that doesn’t lead to unhealthy behaviour?

Ref: http://www.themarknews.com/articles/8012-in-the-facebook-era-it-s-friends-forever