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Technology & Innovation

Rethinking Social Networking

Facebook and Twitter enable us to share ideas and discoveries with incredible speed and efficiency. At the same time, there’s a growing awareness that our identities in these virtual spaces are being constrained in ways we’re only beginning to understand. 

Four years ago, Facebook had 100 million users. Today, it has close to a billion. It’s tough to remember a time when every article on the internet wasn’t covered with share buttons, or when you couldn’t “like” something by clicking a little thumbs-up icon. 

Social networking continues to evolve rapidly, especially with the widespread adoption of smartphones and apps, but the digital dust has had a couple of years to settle on Facebook and Twitter, and people are starting to look around and reflect. What they’re noticing is that these new tools – while incredibly useful for rapid-fire sharing – are constraining our identities and communication in ways we’re only beginning to understand. 

Artist Jonathan Harris on four cultural phenomena – compression, disposability, curation, and self-promotion – that social media have amplified and accelerated. 


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