Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Social Networking Flurries

So, there's been a flurry of activity since that social networking article came out in the New York Times (see my previous post), with the piece being picked up by a number of blogists. And it was reprinted on Tuesday, December 4th in the Toronto Globe and Mail (p. L-2), under the title "Logging the ancient history of Facebook"--my friend and fellow media ecologist from up north, Alex Kuskis, sent me an e-mail with a jpeg image of the page, so here it is for the record, albeit too small to really read:

No, it's not the article about the monkey, I know what you were thinking. It's on the right hand column.

Anyway, I really am not at liberty to report about all that's been going on, apart from giving you the basic weather report (see the Vincent Van Gogh Weather Map from the post before last), which is flurries, not a storm.

But on the topic of Web 2.0, a short piece in today's North Jersey Record stands out. This is a theme that came up repeatedly in media ecological discussions in relation to television, how being on camera, or just being covered changes people's behavior, not the least by making them more self-conscious. It was a major issue in Neil Postman's arguments against allowing cameras in the courtroom in New York State, and it comes up in the research that Paul Thaler undertook under Postman's guidance. Here now, it is applied to both the somewhat different phenomenon of being under surveillance, and also to being on YouTube:

Worker fights robber to 'look good' on YouTube
Tuesday, December 11, 2007

ELMWOOD PARK – A Dunkin' Donuts employee who whacked a robber over the head with a tip cup Sunday night said only one thought was running through his mind – not looking like a wimp on YouTube.

Dustin Hoffmann, a borough musician who has worked at the coffee and doughnuts chain for 10 months, said he fought back because he wanted to "look good" if the surveillance tape turned up on the popular video-sharing Web site.

"What was going through my mind at that point was that the security tape is either going to show me run away and hide in the office or whack this guy in the head, so I just grabbed the cup and clocked that guy pretty hard," Hoffmann said Monday.

The robber walked into Dunkin' Donuts on westbound Route 46 shortly after 5:30 p.m., ordered a blueberry cake doughnut and handed Hoffmann a dollar bill, Police Chief Donald Ingrasselino said.

As Hoffmann opened the register, the bandit lunged at him behind the counter and started grabbing cash, Ingrasselino said.

But Hoffmann didn't give up the money easily, attempting to stop the robber by grabbing his wrists and hitting him over the head repeatedly with a metal cup used for holding tips, the chief said.

Police are attempting to download the surveillance video in a digital format, but Hoffmann said once it's available, he is putting it on YouTube himself.

"There are only a few videos like that on YouTube now, so mine's going to be the best," Hoffmann said. "That'll teach this guy."

The robber fled with $290 in cash, but not before losing his baseball cap in the scuffle, said Ingrasselino.

The robber, who police described as an unshaven, 5-foot-10 to 6-foot tall white man in his 30s, with a medium build, black hair and long sideburns, was wearing a black baseball cap, a blue sweatshirt, a white T-shirt, blue jeans and beige work boots.

Police believe he is the same man who robbed two Dunkin' Donuts in the past two weeks – one on Route 46 in Parsippany, in which he stole $1,500, and the other on Route 10 in East Hanover in late November.

In January, a Belleville man was charged in connection with a string of burglaries at Dunkin' Donuts shops in Paramus, Garfield, Rutherford and Lodi.

Anyone with information can call police at 201-796-0700.

This is from the Local section of the North Jersey Record, p. L-1 to L-2. The moral of the story is a point made by Henry Perkinson, that television, and by extension video surveillance and YouTube, makes us more moral, in a sense. At least, in this instance, the self-consciousness generated by the media environment makes us concerned about our image, how we appear to others, and therefore about whether our behavior lives up to our ideals. It also shifts the motivation from avoiding guilt, an inner dilemma, to avoiding shame, an outer-directed concern.

Curiouser and curiouser.

1 comment:

Dr. Fallon said...

Aye, there's the rub...would that we could choose rightly in the silence of our hearts, without the danger (or, as in the Chinese ideogram, opportunity) of being seen on television.

"...but soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It speaks and yet says nothing..." --Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media