Social Networks

39 articles
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A woman starts a new job with a massive, all-knowing social media company; an excerpt from Eggers' The Circle, coming in October.

"Mae looked at the time. It was 6 o’clock. She had plenty of hours to improve, there and then, so she embarked on a flurry of activity, sending 4 zings and 32 comments and 88 smiles. In an hour, her PartiRank rose to 7,288. Breaking 7,000 was more difficult, but by 8, after joining and posting in 11 discussion groups, sending another 12 zings, one of them rated in the top 5,000 globally for that hour, and signing up for 67 more feeds, she’d done it. She was at 6,872, and she turned to her InnerCircle social feed. She was a few hundred posts behind, and she made her way through, replying to 70 or so messages, RSVPing to 11 events on campus, signing nine petitions and providing comments and constructive criticism on four products currently in beta."

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A history of the divide between computing and language, and why we “define and regiment our lives, including our social lives and our perceptions of our selves, in ways that are conducive to what a computer can ‘understand.’”

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The autopsy of a once-dominant site.

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A profile of Mark Zuckerberg, savvy CEO.

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An Iowa dad’s surprisingly short path from commentor to screenwriter.

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On the popular iPhone app.

Just the day before, President Barack Obama had signed on and begun sending out photos. This seemed like a real sign that Instagram had arrived. Obama already has accounts on Flickr and Facebook. He (or his people) must have seen something unique and wonderful in Instagram's audience, some way to reach people via that channel that it couldn't through others. When the President joins your network, it's news. And while it's great news, it can be the kind of thing a company isn't prepared for. But as it turns out, Obama is a fractional compared to Justin Bieber.

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In a dark echo of Rear Window, a wheelchair-bound hacker seizes control of hundreds of webcams, most of them aimed at young women’s beds.

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On the intersection of technology and revolt.

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A profile of Christopher Soghoian whose “productions follow a similar pattern, a series of orchestrated events that lead to the public shaming of a large entity—Google, Facebook, the federal government—over transgressions that the 30-year-old technologist sees as unacceptable violations of privacy.”

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Relying on programmers to map real world social connections is like “hiring a Mormon bartender” and other observations on why our strange urge to document the nodes of friendship is doomed.

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Apple vs. Google vs. Facebook vs. Amazon.

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In Silicon Valley, up all night coding in the dorms with the aspiring Mark Zuckerbergs of tomorrow.

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A cautionary inquiry into the unchecked hive mind.

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How a musical subculture evolved alongside a technological subculture:

Rave's rise mirrors the Web's in many ways. Both mixed rhetorical utopianism with insider snobbery. Both were future-forward "free spaces" with special appeal to geeks and wonks.

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On Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and the gender dynamics of Silicon Valley.

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Inside the world of online dating:

If the dating sites had a mixer, you might find OK Cupid by the bar, muttering factoids and jokes, and Match.com in the middle of the room, conspicuously dropping everyone’s first names into his sentences. The clean-shaven gentleman on the couch, with the excellent posture, the pastel golf shirt, and that strangely chaste yet fiery look in his eye? That would be eHarmony.

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How what was once one of the most popular websites on Earth—with ambitions to redefine music, dating, and pop culture—became a graveyard of terrible design and failed corporate initiatives:

In retrospect, DeWolfe says, the imperative to monetize the site stunted its evolution: "When we did the Google deal, we basically doubled the ads on our site," making it more cluttered. The size, quality, and placement of ads became another source of tension with News Corp., according to DeWolfe and another executive. "Remember the rotten teeth ad?" DeWolfe says. "And the weight-loss ads that would show a stomach bulging over a pair of pants?"

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On the “world’s largest social network that you probably haven’t yet heard of” and its enigmatic founder.

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The rise, fall and stubborn survival of a teenage Internet celebrity who discovered that the real world can be a very scary place.

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“The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads.”

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An insider history of the fall of Myspace; from Rupert Murdoch calling Facebook a mere “communications utility” to the disastrous 2006 deal with Google that demanded huge pageviews and ads everywhere, and finally the present day ruins of a titan.

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A profile of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.

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A story written about Twitter and one its founders, Evan Williams, when the company’s chief source of revenue was subletting desks in their partially filled office.

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An artifact from the era when MySpace was king.

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“If 4chan sounds trivial, that’s because it is. The site certainly doesn’t make much money…In fact, you could say that 4chan has cornered the market on the trivial on the Internet, which is no small feat (the trivial usually spreads by accident on the Web, according to no logic).”

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A profile of Jack Dorsey, co-founder (and displaced CEO) of Twitter. Dorsey’s latest venture, a mobile credit card system called Square that only officially launched in February 2011, already processes more than a million transactions per day.

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How a journalism professor named Dan Sinker became the most entertaining part of the Chicago mayoral race.

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A grandmother from Chicago, she’s one of those people who knows everybody. And those people who know everybody, the connectors, make the world work. A study of the power of (offline) social networking.

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When Conan O’Brien left NBC, he agreed to stay off TV for months and stay quiet about the network and its executives. The agreement contained no mention of social media, however. On the origins of a digital renaissance.

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A remembrance of relationships formed when the author, at 13 and using a false identity, frequented hockey chat rooms.

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How the social networks that popped up in Facebook’s absence—the site is not available behind the Great Firewall—are changing Chinese culture.

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The new purgatory; what becomes of digital identities after death.

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A tech neophyte looks for answers in Silicon Valley, “the last place in America where people are this optimistic.”

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Can real activism happen on Twitter and Facebook? Malcolm Gladwell says no.

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A 2006 profile of Mark Zuckerberg as Facebook opened from a college-only site to a public social network.

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The writer (Aaron Sorkin), director (David Fincher), and actors (Jesse Eisenberg & Justin Timberlake) of The Social Network on dramatizing the real story of a 20 year old into “the Citizen Kane of John Hughes movies.”

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Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, on the eve of the release of The Social Network, believed to be a deeply unflattering portrait of him and the genesis of his company.

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A 2009 profile of the guy behind 4chan, Christoper “moot” Poole, his anonymous army of millions, and how it’s all losing him money.

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Foursquare and Gowalla are in a VC-funded race to become the dominant location-based social network. But their founders say both companies have a larger purpose.