Social software and social reality

Social software, as exemplified by Facebook, claims to make us more social, but it often ends up encouraging some pretty antisocial behavior. We know by now that a successful platform breeds anonymous spam, but beyond that it’s amazing how weird otherwise normal people can act. There is, for instance, spam from people you know. As a columnist for The Onion once wisely put it, My Brother Is Going To Love This Forwarded List Of Lawyer Jokes

When you forward a mass-forwarded e-mail, you get a good feeling inside. As nice as it is to receive a 10-page list of mommy-mommy jokes, it’s even nicer to send that list along to dozens of other people you think would enjoy it, too. Like my brother Jim. Jim is just the sort of guy who appreciates funny stuff like that. To give you an idea of his crazy sense of humor, he once replied to a list of “25 Reasons I’m Late For Work” that I forwarded him. His reply read, “Stop sending me all this crap.” Isn’t that hilarious? That’s exactly why I know he’ll love these lawyer jokes!

Some social behavior on the web is so odd that it makes you wonder how it would play out in real life. On the LibraryThing blog I came across this video of what Facebook would be like without the computers.

That video reminded me of another one I saw from CollegeHumor.com. The premise for this one is: what would a business meeting be like if people behaved the way they do on web comment forums? Beware: this one does have some rude language. Internet Commenter Business Meeting.

Swiss spaghetti harvest

Happy April First!

From tingilinde I found this gem: a genuine BBC documentary on the Swiss spaghetti harvest of 1957. At first I thought it was a newly minted faux-old spoof. But, my God! you just can’t fake that BBC voice over. What a pro! Fortunately, there was an attached link to the Museum of Hoaxes that described in great detail the story of the Swiss spaghetti harvest. In it, we learn that the commanding voice belongs to one Richard Dimbleby (that name! that voice!).

Since 1955 Panorama had been anchored by Richard Dimbleby, whose authoritative, commanding presence had made him one of the most revered public figures in Britain. If Dimbleby said it, people trusted that it was true. As one of his colleagues at Panorama put it, “He had enough gravitas to float an aircraft carrier.” Which is one of the reasons why the spaghetti harvest hoax fooled so many viewers. His participation lent the hoax an air of unimpeachable authority.

“Many of you will have seen the vast plantations of spaghetti in the Po valley.” Lovely! I can only guess that global warming might be good news for the spaghetti crop. I hear they’ve got fettuccine growing as far north as Smolensk.