The power of social networks …

I’ve long been interested in the social networking phenomena and particularly how it polarises opinions. Of all the recent incarnations, the one that has polarised the most opinion has to be Facebook. Now, I’ve posted before about it (and if you want a more in depth view I can heartily recommend JP Rangaswami‘s blog – confused of calcutter) but this mornings FT.com article made me smile and I just had to post part of it here.

Under the title Facebook Revolt forces HSBC U-turn the article reports that …

“….HSBC on Thursday reversed its decision to take away students’ interest-free overdrafts as soon as they leave university after it suffered a consumer revolt by graduates on the pages of Facebook, the cult social-networking site.
The bank said it was not “too big” to listen to customers and that it would freeze interest charges on overdrafts up to £1,500 for students who graduated this summer, repaying any interest charged in August……. ”
“……The move would have cost a graduate who had the maximum interest-free overdraft of £1,500 nearly £12 a month, or more than £142 a year. But a group set up a month ago on Facebook by Wes Streeting, a vice-president of the National Union of Students, called “Stop the Great HSBC Graduate Rip-Off”, attracted strong support from members of the social-networking site which is hugely popular with students and graduates.
The group, which attracted more than 5,000 members, caused acute embarrassment to HSBC at a time when all high street banks are busy marketing their services to young people arriving at university for the first time this September.
Mr Streeting said: “There can be no doubt that using Facebook made the world of difference to our campaign.
“By setting up a group on a site that is incredibly popular with students, it enabled us to contact our members during the summer vacation far more easily than would otherwise have been possible.
“It also meant that we could involve our former members – the graduates who were going to be most affected by this policy.”
“….. On Thursday Andy Ripley, HSBC’s head of product development, announced the climbdown and said the bank would work with the NUS to “enhance our new account offer so that it fully reflects the needs of recent graduates”.
Members of the group celebrated the bank’s U-turn by posting messages on the campaign’s Facebook page…”

As Wolfie Smith would say – power to the people !

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On immersion therapy ….

… or why grown ups just don’t get it (…..and maybe we never will)

I posted a long time ago about Second Life and Facebook and how I didn’t really understand the attraction of either. Just to recap, I considered Second Life to be an unsatisfactory role based gaming experience and I didn’t understand why we needed yet another way to interact and communicate online using Facebook.

I was of course deluged by people who would gleefully tell me that “I just didn’t get it”. As was my wont back then, I listened carefully, read diligently and then simply concluded that everyone was wrong 🙂

Well it turns out that I was wrong – I didn’t get it ….. and the worrying thing is that my generation (if you don’t know me, I’ve slipped into the wrong half of my mid forties) don’t get it and in all probability may never get it.

The “it” that I’m referring to is what happens when someone immerses themselves completely in an experience. I realised this when a colleague (of similar age) and I were discussing our Second Life and Facebook experiences. What became clear was that we used them as you would use any other computer applications or game. We started them up, used them for a while, shut them down, went and used something else, came back etc etc ….. which is a very structured and detached relationship. My kids, and those that I know, use these solutions very differently. They immerse themselves in them. In the case of Second Life, adopting genuine persona’s, constructing new relationships/interactions and behaving in a new way as a result. Actually, if you watch committed gamers playing the current genre of networked computer games they do the same. It seems to be the same with Facebook. Of course my daughter could phone, txt, IM or email her friends to tell them how shes feeling – but she doesn’t – she updates her status in Facebook to reflect her mood and then interacts with her friends using it (and its associated application)s to communicate all manner of related feelings, information and activities as a result.

And maybe that’s the point, and the real reason why ‘grown ups don’t get it’. We’ve forgotten what its like to be immersed in something and to engage at that level. We are too thoughtful and practical. We are looking to use something to get something done. We are academically interested and deal in practicality rather than allowing ourselves to become immersed in the emotional impact.

Maybe its just part of growing up ….and maybe, if we really want to understand this stuff, we need to stop behaving and thinking like adults. Now, what would that bring … ???

Just a thought …

Learning from your kids …. cont

I’ve no idea how long I’m gonna continue this topic – I guess until my kids stop surprising me so it’ll probably run forever …..

Anyway, I always said I’d never be like my parents when it came to music. If I had £1 for every time my father came upstairs to tell me to “turn that bl**dy racket down” when the Marshall was cranked up and I was practising along to something suitably heavy, I’d be a wealthy man right now.

I’m sure his comments were more often than not directed at the songs rather than my skills as a guitarist (I hope) but recently I have caught myself doing the same thing and its quite a frightening experience. So imagine my surprise when my 19 year old daughter gives me a CD and says “just put this in the car and drive”.

We’ll I’m 9 tracks in, haven’t heard a duffer yet and I’m suitably surprised. The band are Fall Out Boy and I’m sure lots of people know them. Now this doesn’t make me ‘down wiv da kids’ or increase my cool / street cred one iota but hey – it made me smile