BEBO- comparing social networking sites

While I was working on my website I decided to visit other social networking websites and compare how effective they are in portraying identity. I wanted to analyse how a profile template limits the extent to which each individual presents themselves.

Website 1: Bebo 

profile features:

  • profile picture
  • about me
  • timeline
  • friends
  • widgets
  • polls
  • whiteboard
  • groups
  • bands
  • posts
  • skins
What I think distinguishes this site from Facebook is its skins feature. Like blogs, Bebo gives users the opportunity to customise their profile settings and create or use a unique skin or background for their profile page.  Also, the page layouts of each profile can be customised – encouraging unique layouts on profile pages.
Also, bebo’s ‘widgets’ feature encourages individual expression as it provides an array of functions that each individual can customise such as: creating their personal ‘pet’, or; customising an LED scroller to present a message or a name, or; creating photo montages.
The whiteboard function also encourages users to visit their friends’ pages and communicate through drawings and pictures – an effective communication method.
What I found interesting in particular about Bebo, is its ‘love’ function. It gives users the opportunity to give a digital heart to one Bebo friend a day. Along with the profile information, Bebo presents the number of hearts each individual has received.
Dear Bebo creator: What are we trying to say when we portray the number of ‘digital hearts’ on our profile pages? Does it really show who we are, how we are feeling or share our experiences with others?

art vs design

In class today, we discussed the difference between Art and Design. After thinking about it for 5 minutes, I resolved  that art is a medium through which we communicate a message: whether it is sharing experience, visions, imaginations, emotion, mere aesthetics, opinions on various matters such as society, a philosophy etc. Whereas, design simply serves a purpose or function. However, when something is designed to communicate a message, I think that the line between art and design gets distorted.

For example, in class today, we watched a video that explored the use of a conversation machine. When asked whether it is art or design, I thought that the video itself is the artwork and the conversation machine is the design. The video of the conversation machine is the artwork as it is the medium used to creatively portray the machine’s function. The machine itself is the design, as it fulfills a specific function, and it is merely being displayed in a video that IS the artwork…it’s very confusing to distinguish the two!

While I think about this video more, I realise…what if this conversation machine does communicate a message…is it now an artwork?

Now that I give this more thought…is MY website a design or an artwork?

I think that my satirical simulation of facebook is an artwork designed to question the effectiveness of facebook in portraying identity and thus connecting people…this is such a confusing matter – i’m not sure that i’m making any sense.  I need to give this more thought over the next few weeks as I create my website!  While this matter remains unresolved, I thought i’d end this post with the dictionary definitions of the two so that I can think about the definitions and how they apply to my project. ie. which part of my project is design and which is art.

art

–noun

1.the quality, production, expression, or realm, according toaesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or ofmore than ordinary significance.
2.the class of objects subject to aesthetic criteria; works ofart collectively, as paintings, sculptures, or drawings: amuseum of art; an art collection.

de·sign

–verb (used with object)

1.to prepare the preliminary sketch or the plans for (a work tobe executed), especially to plan the form and structure of: todesign a new bridge.
2.to plan and fashion artistically or skillfully.
3.to intend for a definite purpose: a scholarship designed for foreign students.

Imagination and Identity

Camper Bank of Imagination is another interactive site that encourages individual expression…it allows users to submit phrases beginning with the words ‘imagine that…’. While it is not a social networking site, it encourages individual expression and allows people to connect and communicate online. I like the simplicity of the site’s layout…by simply clicking on a coloured box, an individual’s imagine that phrase is revealed. Hence, each colour comes to signify a different imagination, a different thought process…a different identity.

link for website here: http://www.bankofimagination.com/

 


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Erik Johansson’s series of surreal photo-manipulations really caught my attention because of their simplicity and inherent depth.

For instance, in the image on the lower image, the cluster of telegraph poles resemble a forest. Further emphasising this parallel with nature are the patches of grass on the ground and the texture of the poles which resemble the trunk of a wild tree rather than the fashioned timber of a telegraph pole.

Furthermore, the cloudy backdrop and the darkened pallet in the image creates an eerie, ominous scene, presenting the familiar and mundane telegraph pole as something sinister.

By taking the telegraph poles and returning them to the forest – the origin of the timber poles –  Johansson condemns humanity’s subjugation of nature, allowing us to realise that humans use natural resources to create simple everyday objects like telegraph poles – objects that we never considered harmful to the environment.

It is this simplicity and depth that I strive to achieve through my website. Johansson compels us to view telegraph poles in a different light. By simply altering small elements on Facebook – a seemingly harmless website we use on a daily basis – I want to allow the user to perceive facebook differently,which will in turn, question the effectiveness of the website in portraying identities, and ultimately, question the way they present their identities to others in general.