Computers Are One of Us…

Really cool report on a really cool study about how we sort of treat computers like our friends {npr}.

Many people have studied machine-human relations, and at this point it’s clear that without realizing it, we often treat the machines around us like social beings.

Consider the work of Stanford professor Clifford Nass. In 1996, he arranged a series of experiments testing whether people observe the rule of reciprocity with machines.

“Every culture has a rule of reciprocity, which roughly means, if I do something nice for you, you will do something nice for me,” Nass says. “We wanted to see whether people would apply that to technology: Would they help a computer that helped them more than a computer that didn’t help them?”

I know I don’t treat my work PC like I treat my friends, or I wouldn’t have any friends. But I treat my Mac/iPhone pretty well… just sayin’.

Read more here: That Ain’t Smart, That’s Creepy.

Facebook Graph Search

On the Media has a fantastic interview with Tom Scott, author of the new tumblr Actual Facebook Graph Searches.

As the name implies, Scott’s site utilizes his access to Facebook’s new search tool as a beta tester, and contains, ya know, real results from Facebook’s new search feature.

This is one of my “favorites”:

Actual Facebook Graph Search for “mothers of Catholics from Italy who like Durex” from Tom Scott’s tumblr.

Scott sees his project as a warning, of sorts. From the interview:

Facebook Graph Search is interesting, it’s creepy and it’s a wonderful reminder that we need to watch what we put online. As time goes on, this data is only going to become more and more searchable. Processing power only increases and Graph Search would have been impossible five, ten years ago on this amount of data. Most people who have public information on Facebook accidentally probably aren’t going to end up being hurt by it. I mean, a few will take that gamble and lose, but it will be a small minority.

I know there’s lots more to know about Graph Search, and the part of me that’s concerned about our deteriorating sense of privacy is wary of the new feature.

But for now I think it’s actually a pretty cool service. Knowing what bars my friends like in a new town could come in handy, for sure. And Facebook has to keep innovating in this space to avoid becoming the next Myspace, and that increasingly means pushing new ways to use the data it has on us.

Definitely a good time to go over your privacy settings, though.