"Social networks such as Facebook and on-line gaming are changing people's view of who they are and their place in the world, according to a report for the government's chief scientist. The report, published by Prof Sir John Beddington, says that traditional ideas of identity will be less meaningful. ... It states that the changing nature of identities will have substantial implications for what is meant by communities and by social integration.
The study shows that traditional elements that shape a person's identity, such as their religion, ethnicity, job and age are less important than they once were. Instead, particularly among younger people, their view of themselves is shaped increasingly by on-line interactions of social networks and on online role playing games.
The study found that far from creating superficial or fantasy identities that some critics suggest, in many cases it allowed people to escape the preconceptions of those immediately around them and find their 'true' identity. This is especially true of disabled people who told researchers that online gaming enabled them to socialise on an equal footing with others."
(Pallab Ghosh, 21 January 2013, BBC News)
"Who knew that swine flu could also infect Twitter? Yet this is what appears to have happened in the last 24 hours, with thousands of Twitter users turning to their favorite service to query each other about this nascent and potentially lethal threat as well as to share news and latest developments from Mexico, Texas, Kansas and New York (you can check most recent Twitter updates on the subject by searching for "swine flu" and "#swineflu"). And despite all the recent Twitter-enthusiasm about this platform's unique power to alert millions of people in decentralized and previously unavailable ways, there are quite a few reasons to be concerned about Twitter's role in facilitating an unnecessary global panic about swine flu."
(Evgeny Morozov, 25-04-2009)
"A Twitter uprising has taken place in Moldova, with anti-communists using the internet site to mobilise supporters and organise a demonstration in the country's capital. [...]
This is not the first time that a Twitter tag has been used to mobilize young people around a particular event; the most famous previous case has been that of 'griots' - the tag used to report on the youth riots in Greece, which later spread to Europe, arguably also with the help of Twitter. Likewise there were reports that last week's G20 demonstrations were being organised by Twitter and certainly Twitter played a role in reporting on them."
[The people in the streets seem pretty real to me, so it is by no means just a 'virtual' revolution; nevertheless the extent to which it was orchestrated through the internet brings a whole new meaning to the idea of democratic participation.]
"The identity of the 27-year-old mother of Baby P was last night being circulated on the internet with the names of her boyfriend and the third man convicted of causing the child's death, after online vigilantes began a campaign calling for violent retribution against them.
Facebook shut down pages carrying threats and abusive comments about the mother after thousands of users subscribed to groups carrying the names of the couple and Jason Owen, 36, who were convicted at the Old Bailey this week of causing the 17-month-old boy's horrific death. The judge's order allows Owen's identity to be made public.
One Facebook group was entitled 'Death is too good for [the mother's name], torture the bitch that killed Baby P'. Another that carried the name said 'Baby P killers should be hanged Drawn and Quartered'. The page contained graphic threats of violence and the addresses of the three.
Facebook said that although many of the comments on the chat groups it hosted reflected conversations taking place 'from the House of Commons to the man on the street', it was making sure that comments breaking the court order and its own rules were removed.
Another social networking site, Bebo, removed the mother's profile page after abusive messages were posted, while her Friends Reunited profile was also being circulated.
The difficulties of policing the internet were highlighted when the mother's name briefly appeared in a discussion thread about Baby P hosted by The Sun. The information was removed.
Mark Stephens, of the Internet Watch Foundation, said: 'There is a ... problem with trying to enforce court orders that apply to the UK ... We either need to develop more sophisticated ways of dealing with this kind of information when it is posted or we decide to recognise the permeability of information once it reaches the internet.'"
(Cahal Milmo, Saturday, 15 November 2008, The Independent)
"Come to Cronulla this weekend to take revenge. This Sunday every Aussie in the Shire get down to North Cronulla to support the Leb and wog bashing day ..."
(anonymous text message, circulated between 5-10 December 2005)
Fig.1 Sydney Morning Herald's Photographer Andrew Meares captures the fury of the Cronulla riots.
[The use of mobile telephone text messages to incite racial hared at North Cronulla beach in Sydney, Australia is a prime example of what Howard Rheingold calls 'Smart-Mobs'. Although it is clear in this case that the content of the messages has very little to do with the idea of being smart - the fact that groups of individuals are able to self-organise in this way is. Such technology allows individuals to form groups in an ad-hoc manner (in this case, groups of foolish red-necks), which is interesting give the centralised nature of most other communication avenues.]