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The Zeigarnik Effect and Open Loops [en]

The Zeigarnik Effect and Open Loops [en]

[fr] L'effet Zeigarnik, c'est ce qui nous fait finir quelque chose dans lequel on est lancé, ou qui fait qu'on repense à ce qu'on a interrompu pour y revenir. A mon avis, cet effet joue un rôle clé dans ce qui nous attire encore et encore à retourner sur Facebook ou autre: en prenant part dans des communautés et réseaux en ligne, on met en marche toutes sortes de choses dont on veut voir l'aboutissement. J'ai posté un lien, la chaîne d'actions logique est ensuite que des gens vont liker, commenter et partager. Il y aura peut-être une réponse à donner, ou tout du moins, je veux "suivre" pour savoir comment ça fini. Les conversations en ligne, idem: il y a toujours quelque chose qui se passe dans un chat, la discussion ne se termine jamais.

A few months ago, I stumbled upon the Zeigarnik Effect. It is the effect that prevents us from interrupting our teeth-brushing in the middle. Once we’ve started, we feel a need to keep going. It’s really useful.

For me, it was a missing piece of the puzzle that fitted nicely alongside the idea of GTD’s “open loops”. If you have to interrupt something before you’re done with it or the task is completely, the Zeigarnik Effect will make sure your brain nags you about it.

It explains why it’s important to “just get started” or “just do something”. It also explains why having a lot of ongoing stuff in parallel is stressful.

While I’ve been writing this post, I’ve given myself a wonderful demonstration of the Zeigarnik Effect in action. You see, I couldn’t remember exactly where I’d heard about it. I’m pretty sure it’s in one of James Clear‘s posts, because it’s definitely the kind of thing that he writes about, but I’m not 100% certain.

I can remember the context: for a given task, there is a kind of “tipping point” where the Zeigarnik Effect kicks in, and you finish what you’ve started. Knowing where that point is comes in really handy for getting things done rather than just thinking about how we’re not doing them. I remember the example clearly: for flossing, the “tipping point” or “trigger” in question was when he’d torn the piece of floss off the roll.

I’ve just spent… oh, I don’t even dare tell you… way too much time trying to find that article so I could link to it. I found plenty about flossing and the Zeigarnik effect. The worst is that I already spent way too much time trying to dig out that source when preparing a mini-workshop on “time/task management” I gave two months back. And didn’t find it.

You know the irony? I just stumbled upon the article in question! It wasn’t James Clear after all. And you know the funny bit? I thought I’d add a link to a Google search in the above paragraph. Just to show you how much stuff about Zeigarnik and floss I had waded through. To my surprise, many of the links there were not those I had been wading through an hour ago. Maybe I only searched in specific places where I thought the article was, like Clear’s blog. Anyway. I have it! Incredible!

The reason I went down that rabbit-hole was because it was an “unfinished task”. And the more time I spent trying to “finish” it, the stronger my urge to keep going became. Typical, right?

And here we go again: while looking up some old articles of mine, I remembered that the markdown plugin wasn’t working on the new server. I had to hold myself back from downloading and installing it. It would have meant interrupting the writing of this blog post, though, so I guess that is what just saved me. But now I have this nagging “open loop” in a corner of my mind.

(Bear with me while I add it to my running list of things that need to be done so I can stop thinking about it.)

(Oops, while I was there, I quickly checked a spreadsheet to see if there were any new sign-ups for my next workshop. There weren’t. Do I leave the form open or close it now?)

As you can see, there is a clear link here to multitasking, procrastination, and the general feeling of “not enough brain space” that I have a times. It also makes me think about how when I start something, I have a lot of trouble stopping. Hypertrophied Zeigarnik Effect?

Today — and this is what prompted this post — I suddenly realised that the Zeigarnik Effect played an important part in dragging me back to my computer, or my phone (home to Facebook and Google Plus). By participating in online communities and networks (sounds better than “social media” doesn’t it? more human?) I set things in motion that do not end.

An online conversation is never-ending. There are always people in the chatroom. I post a link, it will be interesting to see who likes, comments, or shares it. I stumble upon interesting articles that need to be read.

My time on my phone or my computer is spent creating innumerable open loops that I am then desperate to close, while at the same time opening yet others that will also have to be closed. Whack-a-mole.

It feels like my “tipping point” for feeling the urge to finish something (or at least dive in) is ridiculously early. Am I mixing two things up here? Do we still speak of the Zeigarnik Effect when a task has not actually been started? Is thinking about doing it sufficient in some cases to “initiate” it?

So here’s my next mission: taming my open loops. I can’t remove them, but I can learn to live with them better.

(This was originally the title to this post, but given I’m not sure how I’m going to do that it seemed a little misleading.)

Before writing this post, I googled for “open loops social media” and other related searches, and I now have about a dozen articles to read about “compulsion loops” and the inevitable “social media addiction” (disclaimer: I’m not convinced it is correct to speak about “addiction” in this context). I’ll probably have more to write on the topic… if I manage to get around to reading them. 😉

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Our Relationship To Technology: Is Your Smartphone In Charge, Or You? [en]

Our Relationship To Technology: Is Your Smartphone In Charge, Or You? [en]

[fr] Une réflexion sur notre relation à la technologie. C'est pas aussi simple que "addiction! addiction! au secours!".

Today’s post, again, brought to you by an article of Loïc Le Meur’s: Why are we checking our smartphones 150x a day? (Remember when Loïc was a blogger?) He links to a video with the catchy title “After I saw this, I put down my phone and didn’t pick it up for the rest of the day”.

I have mixed feelings about this kind of discussion.

  • On the one hand, I think we need to strive to be those in charge of our use of devices, and not victims of the operant conditioning of modern technology.
  • On the other hand, I think that framing the issue of our relationship with technology as addiction is counter-productive, as it puts the blame on technology and removes responsibility from users.

It’s also not a new conversation, and it pops up every now and again as “today’s big problem”. Hey, I was afraid I had “internet addiction” back in 1998. I read Silicon Snake Oil and The Psychology of Cyberspace, headed off to my chalet for a week, and stopped worrying.

As far as I’m concerned, I’m online a lot, both on my computer and on my phone, but I still perceive being on your phone when in human company as “impolite”. I try not to do it too much. So, usually, when I’m with other people, I won’t be on my phone, unless:

  • we’re playing with our phones: taking photos, looking at stuff together, etc.
  • there is something I need to attend to (I apologize and try and be quick)
  • I’m looking something up to help us solve a problem or get information we need
  • we’re spending quite some time together and are both having “phone-time”

I’m aware this doesn’t mean much: with the same description I could be glued to my phone all the time. How do you define “something I need to attend to”?

So, some context.

My phone is in silent mode, and I have very few notifications set (same on my computer). It usually lives at the bottom of my bag. When I’m working, there are chances it’s next to me on my desk. It’s often charging or abandoned in another room when I’m at home.

I’ll check it somewhat compulsively when I’m on the bus, or when I’m using it “as a computer” to hang out online. If I’m with other people, as I said, I don’t take it out too much (though they’ll be the best judges about how much — I do take it out).

I suffer from FOMO like almost everyone who is connected today, I guess. But I don’t feel that I’m a slave to it. I read The Paradox of Choice many years ago and it really opened my eyes: today’s world is so full of possibilities. If you don’t want to succumb to the anxiety of too much choice and too many options, you need to be aware of what’s going on, and accept you’ll miss out. I try to be selective. I still struggle, but I know I’m going to miss out and it’s not the end of the world. (It’s in my social media survival kit, by the way.)

Why do we end up compulsively checking our phones and stuff? I think there are many reasons, and that’s why saying it’s an “addiction” is a way to frame the problem in a way that makes it difficult to address.

  • FOMO: with the internet, we have access to everything that is going on, all the time, everywhere. If we want to be “part of it”, hang out with the cool kids, or share the video that’ll get us 20 likes, we feel a pressure to “not miss” what is going on in the real-time stream. So we overload ourselves on the input side. We think we need to consume everything.
  • Operant conditioning: I’m clicker-training one of my cats, Tounsi. He knows that a click means a reward is coming. When I’m reinforcing a behaviour, I use an intermittent reinforcement schedule: he doesn’t get a reward with each click.
    See how this fits with digital interfaces, and even more strongly, social media? I think Kevin Marks is the first one who first pointed out this phenomenon to me, when I was having trouble taking breaks from my computer even though I had bad RSI.
    Suw Charman-Anderson wrote about how it applies to e-mail back in 2008. We check our mail, there might be some candy in there. We check Facebook, there might be a like or a comment. Nothing? It only makes the urge to check again more compelling: the next time could be rewarded!
    Yeah, dopamine plays a role in there. Understand how your brain works so you’re not a slave to your hormones and neurotransmitters.
  • Validation: we want to be loved and appreciated, and some of what we’re looking for online is just that. Oh, somebody responded to my post. Oh, somebody sent me a nice e-mail. Ooh. But people who thinks that this is the only thing in play round down our issue with technology to an “ego problem” (very fashionable). It doesn’t help. But yeah, if you feel that your drive for franticly checking your phone when you’re having dinner with a friend is just that, maybe it’s worth addressing.
  • Work: the other time when I ran off to my chalet to find some peace was in 2008, and it was not to escape technology. It was to escape work. Our relationships to work and technology are very much entwined. Often, when people say they’re “addicted to their email”, and you take the trouble to dig a bit, you realise the problem is not “email” but “work”. They can’t pull away from work. They work during the week-ends, the evenings, their holidays. This is, I believe, a bigger issue than technology. Our relationship to work, as a society, is unhealthy. (And: Americans, you have a way bigger problem here than us Swissies.)
  • Not engaging: people often look at “not engaging” as a consequence of excessive use of technology. It’s the message conveyed by the video Loïc linked to in his post. I think that’s missing the point that “not engaging” can be the objective here. Relationships are difficult. Being present is difficult. Being with oneself is difficult. Being present to life is difficult. We do many things to avoid doing all this. We veg’ in front of the TV. We talk about unimportant stuff to avoid dealing with what matters in our relationship. And, increasingly, we dive into our phones.
    In the past, I used my camera a lot to “find my place” in social gatherings that would otherwise make me feel awkward. If I’m the person taking photos, I have a place. I have a pretext for interacting with others. I can remove myself from what is going on to be the observer snapping pics. It’s much more difficult to find my place and be with others if I’m just me, with no escape.
    So when we look at somebody who has his nose in his phone during a dinner party, I’d also ask “what is he avoiding by not being present?”

I think I have a reasonably healthy relationship to technology — and work. I have my drinking completely under control 😉

So, a wrap-up:

  • I check my phone in the evening before going to bed, and it sleeps on my bedside table, on but mute, and it never wakes me up (except when I ask Siri to do so).
  • I generally keep my phone muted and in my bag and my notifications off (also on my computer!)
  • I understand how FOMO and operant conditioning work, I’m aware of my need for validation and how I react to the infinity of choices in the world around me.
  • I stop working at the end of the day, and on week-ends, and I take holidays. Real holidays, not work-holidays.
  • I “switch off” a couple of times a year, taking a week or a few days off somewhere with no internet, where I don’t work and use my computer mainly for writing and having fun with my photos. This helps me remember what it is like to live more slowly, and makes me want to bring some of that back into my “normal” life.
  • I try and give priority of my attention to the people I’m with offline, without being religious about it. If I do need to attend to my phone or online stuff when in company, I try not to “disconnect” from the person I’m with offline.
  • I consider that I am the one in charge of my relationship with technology, and strive for a healthy balance between my ability to spend time totally immersed and connected and multitasking, and my ability to be completely (as completely as possible) present to the “offline”, be it a book, a person, an activity, or myself.
  • Like so many things in life, it’s about having healthy boundaries.

When I shared Loïc’s post on Facebook, he commented that we seemed to have similar points of interest these days. For some time, I’ve found what Loïc is writing about much more interesting to me. It’s more personal. Less about business, more about life. Life has always been the thing that interests me the most. My interest for the internet and social media comes from my interest in how people connect and relate to each other.

Interestingly, this is also the kind of stuff I’ve decided to shift my work focus to. Labelling myself as a “social media” person doesn’t fit with what I really do and want to do, specially in the Swiss context where “social media = digital marketing”, something I have very little interest in and want to stay the hell away of. So I’m moving towards “I help you use technology better”. Helping people have a healthy relationship with tech, use it to do their work or whatever it is they need to get done better. Some of social media fits in there too, of course. But also stuff like (yes, still in 2013), learning to use and manage email properly. (I’m actually preparing a training proposal for a client on just that these very days.)

So, how’s your relationship to technology? Who is in charge, you or the compulsion to check if there is something more exciting going on?

Note: I wrote this article in one sitting, getting up once to go to the loo (!) and checking my phone’s lock screen on the way back (it’s charging in another room) to see if I had a message from my neighbour, as we had been exchanging messages earlier and made a vague plan yesterday to maybe hang out together and look at cat photos this morning.

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Se former en médias sociaux à Lausanne (SAWI) [fr]

Se former en médias sociaux à Lausanne (SAWI) [fr]

[en] Info-session next Thursday for the course I co-direct in Lausanne on social media and online communities. Tell people around you!

Le 4 juillet (jeudi prochain) aura lieu la prochaine séance d’info pour la formation que je co-dirige avec Yan Luong au SAWI: Spécialiste en médias sociaux et communautés en ligne. C’est à 18h30 à la Maison de la communication.

C’est la quatrième année qu’aura lieu cette formation. Le temps file! Chaque été, on reprend le programme et on met à jour — parce que dans notre business, ça évolue tout le temps. Je peux déjà vous dire que je suis extrêmement contente de la mouture 2013-2014, et qu’on a une jolie brochette d’intervenants (venant parfois de loin) au programme.

Si vous avez dans votre entourage des personnes qui s’intéressent aux médias sociaux, ou qui devraient se spécialiser dans ce domaine, invitez-les à participer à la séance d’info du 4 juillet. La formation commence en septembre, finit en mai, comporte 5 modules-blocs de 4 jours (à la suite), et un projet d’étude à mener en parallèle.

Yan et moi présenterons à la séance d’info la formation, sa structure, comment ça fonctionne, on parlera du contenu, et on répondra à toutes vos questions. (Et je peux déjà vous répondre ici, si jamais!)

Lors de l’ouverture de la formation j’avais écrit un argumentaire qui est toujours d’actualité. Lisez-le si vous avez besoin de convaincre quelqu’un que cette formation est pour vous.

3e #back2blog challenge (4/10), avec: Brigitte Djajasasmita (@bibiweb), Baudouin Van Humbeeck (@somebaudy), Mlle Cassis (@mlle_cassis), Luca Palli (@lpalli), Yann Kerveno (@justaboutvelo), Annemarie Fuschetto (@libellula_free), Ewan Spence (@ewan), Kantu (@kantutita), Jean-François Genoud (@jfgpro), Michelle Carrupt (@cmic), Sally O’Brien (@swissingaround), Adam Tinworth (@adders), Mathieu Laferrière (@mlaferriere), Graham Holliday (@noodlepie), Denis Dogvopoliy (@dennydov), Christine Cavalier (@purplecar), Emmanuel Clément (@emmanuelc), Xavier Bertschy (@xavier83). Follow #back2blog.

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Médias sociaux chez Orange: rencontre-discussion pour blogueurs [fr]

Médias sociaux chez Orange: rencontre-discussion pour blogueurs [fr]

Le prochain Expert Interview chez Orange, sur les médias sociaux, aura lieu le 13 mai (initialement planifié pour le 30 avril, mais on a déplacé à cause de eComm). Voici le formulaire d’inscription:


On a remarqué lors de notre premier Expert Interview consacré au service clientèle qu’il y avait un très fort intérêt pour les activités d’Orange touchant aux médias sociaux. Pas étonnant de la part de blogueurs…

Du coup, après un deuxième Expert Interview consacré au réseau (pour le bonheur des geeks et moins geeks), on a décidé de mettre dans la chaise de l’expert Christoph, spécialiste des médias sociaux chez Orange, et avec qui (accessoirement!) je travaille sur ce mandat. Je suis sûre qu’il pourra satisfaire votre curiosité et je me réjouis de la discussion.

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My Interest in Organisations and how Social Media Fits in [en]

My Interest in Organisations and how Social Media Fits in [en]

[fr] Ce qui m'intéresse dans ces histoires d'organisations, et le lien avec les médias sociaux (du coup, aussi des infos sur mon intérêt pour ceux-ci).

I found these thoughts about organisations at the beginning of Here Comes Everybody fascinating: organisations and how they disfunction are a long-standing interest of mine, dating back to when I was a student with a part-time job at Orange. My initial interest was of course function rather than dysfunction. How does one make things happen in an organisation? What are the processes? Who knows what? It was the organisation as system that I found interesting.

Quickly, though, I bumped my head against things like processes that nobody knew of and nobody was following. Or processes that were so cumbersome that people took shortcuts. Already at the time, it seems I displayed a “user-oriented” streak, because my first impulse was to try to figure out what was so broken about those processes that people found it more costly to follow them than come up with workarounds. Or try to understand how we could tweak the processes so that they were usable. In reaction to which one manager answered “no, people must follow the processes”. I didn’t know it then, but I guess that was when I took my first step towards the door that would lead me out of the corporate world.

More recently, and I think I haven’t yet got around to blogging this, I have remembered that my initial very “cluetrainy” interest for the internet and blogging and social media really has to do with improving how people can relate to each other, access information, and communicate. The revelation I had at Lift’06 (yes, the very first Lift conference!) while listening to Robert Scoble and Hugh McLeod about how this blogging thing I loved so much was relevant to business was that it pushed business to change and humanised it. Blogging and corpepeak don’t mix well, blogging is about putting people in contact, and about listening to what is being said to you. As the Cluetrain Manifesto can be summarised: it’s about how the internet changes the way organisations interact with people, both outside and inside the organisation.

That is what rocks my boat. Not marketing on Facebook or earning revenue from your blog.

Again and again, when I talk to clients who are trying to understand what social media does and how to introduce it in their organisation, we realise that social media is the little piece of string you start pulling which unravels everything, from corporate culture to sometimes even the business model of the organisation. You cannot show the human faces of a company that treats its employees like robots. You cannot be “authentic” if you’re out there to screw people. You cannot say you’re listening if you’re not willing to actually listen.

Of course, there is the question of scale. I’ll get back to that. Personal doesn’t scale. Radical transparency or authenticity doesn’t scale. But your average organisation is so far off in the other direction…

I’ve realised that my interest lies more with organisations and forms of collaboration and group effort than with social media per se, which I see first and foremost as a tool, a means to an end, something which has changed our culture and society. I find ROWE and Agile super interesting and want to learn more about them. I have a long-standing interest in freelancing and people who “do things differently”. I’m interested in understanding how we can work and be happy, both. I’m also realising that I have more community management skills than I take credit for.

In the pile of books I brought up with me to the chalet, next to “Organisations Don’t Tweet, People Do” by my friend Euan Semple and books around freelancing there is “Delivering Happiness“, the story of Zappos, and “One From Many“, the story of VISA, the “chaordic organisation” — and “Rework” (37signals) has now joined the ranks of the “have read” books in my bookshelves.

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Personal, Social, and the Shortcuts [en]

Personal, Social, and the Shortcuts [en]

[fr] Je me demande si toutes ces fonctionnalités pour nous "simplifier la vie" dans notre utilisation "sociale" des outils ne vide pas partiellement ceux-ci de leur "socialité".

Yesterday, as I was gathering the links to the posts of the other #back2blog challengers (bloody hard work if you ask me), I remembered that I had left a comment on one of Delphine‘s posts.

I’ve been leaving quite a few comments on blog posts since the challenge started. Often, with “modern” blogging tools, you can check a little box to receive an e-mail alert when somebody responds to your comment. (Not on this blog. I run WordPress, but my server doesn’t send e-mail.)

It’s nice, because it relieves us of having to remember that we left a comment, and if conversation erupts (reward!) we will be informed.

Having to remember I had left a comment at Delphine’s reminded me of the time before RSS readers were popular, before coComment, before Facebook Connect, before WordPress even. Everything was much more “manual”. And with that, I believe, more personal. Part of what goes in to create a relationship is time, and effort. Time to find that blog post. Effort to remember.

Now, JP is arguing (and I’m with him here) that when you try and scale personal, you get social.

I am wondering, though, what it is that you do lose on the way, if you scale far enough.

Mass-everything did not come up from nowhere. As I learned the hard way while promoting Going Solo, shortcuts have a price. Send an e-mail copied to 100 people, or send 100 personal e-mails, and you won’t have the same efficiency. That’s why Americans take the trouble to make house calls or phone up people to convince them to vote.

And while I immensely appreciate all the features of modern social media which make it so much more easy for us to be social, I’m starting to think that some of what I find distasteful with some uses of social media is not just those who are stuck on the other side of what I think of as the “Cluetrain paradigm shift”, but maybe also what happens when we wind up taking too many shortcuts to make it “easier to be social”.

Are we headed for a form of “mass social media”? Are we already there, sadly, for some part?

Even if this is true, that does not mean that we have to give up on the “true” social, or even “personal”.

I remember a few years ago one of my friends (Suw if I’m not mistaken) saying that she didn’t get why so many people were complaining that “Twitter wasn’t what it was”.

On Twitter, one has complete control over who one follows. You don’t have to go and follow all the new-styled social media gurus. Or the annoying self-promoting people. You can stick to those who rock your world, and have a Twitter experience that doesn’t change so much over time. (Of course the people you follow change, but that’s another thing.)

You can use Twitter like mass media, or you can use Twitter like social media, or like personal media. The choice is yours.

#back2blog challenge (9/10)

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Social, Plural of Personal (or When Personal Scales) [en]

Social, Plural of Personal (or When Personal Scales) [en]

[fr] Grâce à JP et sa série d'articles, je viens de me reconnecter avec ce qui fait la fondation de ma passion pour le web et les médias sociaux: qu'ils mettent les gens en contact direct, et dans le contexte de l'entreprise, humanisent celle-ci. A lire.

Today I am going to send you to read JP Rangaswami, after my latest spree of ranty pots. JP is writing a series of articles around the idea that social is the plural of personal. And he is so spot on.

I was so happy when I read JP’s first article, because it made me remember what attracted me to social media in the first place (at the time, “blogs” or “social software”) and helped me understand the growing dissatisfaction I have developed about the field over the past years.

What I find interesting about social media in a business setting is how it helps humanize the organisation/company. How it puts human beings back in touch with human beings. And how in the context of an authentic relationship, you need to care for things to work out.

I am so frustrated that French does not have a good word to translate “care”.

I had a revelation when I went to the very first Lift Conference, in 2006. Here are the posts I wrote during the conference (see how blogging has evolved since then — this was before Twitter and Facebook). My memory tells me that I owe this revelation mainly to the talks of Robert Scoble and Hugh MacLeod, and the conversations we had during the conversation. I remember that it was this pivotal moment which made me understand what use blogs (at the time) were in a business context, and therefore that there might be a way to earn money with what was fascinating me.

Update: link to lift06 videos.

Six+ years later, well, you know the story.

I’m trying to remember if I also met Euan Semple that year at Lift, or if it was somewhere else, or later. Do you remember, Euan? Anyway, a few weeks before reading JP’s post, I had ordered Euan’s book, “Organizations don’t tweet, people do”. I haven’t yet started reading it but I’m really looking forward to diving in. Same thing: it’s all about putting people, and personal, and relationships, and trust, and authenticity back in front of the scene.

Somewhere along my business life, with all my freelancer insecurities, the pressure to actually earn a living through my activities and interests, I seem to have lost touch with the core of my passion for the living web. Not to the point where I’ve sold out to some ad agency and started spewing out viral videos or whatnot. Not so much in my actions — more just that I forgot.

But I remember now.

Thanks, JP. Thanks, Euan. And thanks to all of you along the way who have not let go and are not letting go, and are working to make our organizations more human-friendly.

#back2blog challenge (7/10):

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Defriending, Keeping Connections Sustainable and Maybe Superficial [en]

Defriending, Keeping Connections Sustainable and Maybe Superficial [en]

Yesterday I read Laurent Haug‘s post Defriendization is the future of social networks. (Laurent organizes the Lift conference, next month in Geneva — are you going? Here’s why you should.) I’m not sure I’m with Laurent about defriending. I guess I’m more of an advocate of being lazy about friending. That’s why I have 200+ people waiting in friend request purgatory on Facebook.

It is true, however, that with an online social network, you keep on dragging your past connections with you unless you defriend. In offline life, connections loosen with time, you stop seeing people, stop calling, stop writing, lose track of where they live… and connect again on Facebook. We have two movements here:

  • the fact that people tend to drift out of each other’s lives, and online social networks do not really have a way to reflect that
  • the fact that in a way, we like “collecting” our contacts, even if they’re not active anymore, as a way of making present or tangible some part of our past lives.

Sometimes, reconnecting with people who have drifted out of your life can be a great thing. I think that’s because in many cases, there is no real reason (like conflict, for example) for having drifted apart. It’s more a combination of circumstances and the absence of a strong incentive to not let the relationship dissolve.

I think that one of the obsessions with defriending has to do with having excessively high expectations about what one owes one’s connections. One of my keys to social media survival is “you can’t read everything”, which as far as relationships go translates to “you can’t have an active relationship with all your connections”.

It sucks, I know. I do believe that there is a psychological limit to the number of people we can handle in our lives (cf. Dunbar’s number). I also believe that social media, in a way, allows us to cheat with this — but it’s only cheating. It makes it easier to keep loose ties alive, and reactivate old relationships, but it doesn’t fundamentally change how many people in our lives we can really care about on a regular basis.

If you try to keep your online social network connections as meaningful as “regular friendships”, you can only fail.

I think this is part of the explanation of what I’d like to call “social media burnout” and that we’re seeing popping up all over the place. The links I’ve collected in relation to this theme are of high-profile social media people, but this happens to “normal” people too. They go wild about Facebook for a few months or a year, and then drop it all because they got sucked into it too much. Now, the people I’ve linked to above are not doing the “all-or-nothing” thing, and they might very well not be properly burned out, but they have in common that at some point, they have realised that their social media “life” was not sustainable as is. This happens outside social media too — but I think there is something specific to social media here, in the way that it dramatically lowers the energy necessary to establish and maintain connections.

Though one must never forget that the people at the end of our social media connections are real people, we must also acknowledge that it does not automatically entitle them to a deep, meaningful relationship with us. It’s OK to keep things superficial. It’s necessary, or your brain will fry.

Coming back to Laurent’s article, he points to three links that I would like to comment upon, in my typical rambly and disjointed blogging style ;-). I initially wrote a huge long post, and then decided to chop it up. Keep reading (after the lunch break):

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Journée Ada Lovelace: Suw Charman-Anderson [fr]

Journée Ada Lovelace: Suw Charman-Anderson [fr]

L’an dernier, mon héroïne scientifique pour Ada Lovelace Day était Marie Curie. Un nom que tout le monde connaît. Cette année, changement de registre. Je vous propose une femme moins connue mais bien vivante, et que j’ai l’honneur de compter parmi mes amies proches. (J’avoue que le choix a été dur: pas tellement “mais de qui vais-je bien pouvoir parler aujourd’hui?” mais plutôt “bon sang, laquelle vais-je choisir?!”)

Alors un peu logiquement (même tellement logiquement que beaucoup ne le feraient pas, et donc ça vaut doublement la peine de le faire) je vais vous dire quelques mots sur Suw Charman-Anderson — l’initiatrice de la Journée Ada Lovelace.

J’ai rencontré Suw en 2004, ou peut-être même fin 2003 (la date exacte importe peu) sur IRC. IRC, c’est un réseau de chat “pur texte”, très ancien, et qui plaît bien aux geeks et geekettes. On s’est rencontrées “en chair et en os” quelques mois plus tard, mi-2004, et on est tout naturellement devenues amies. Mais ce n’est pas pour vous parler d’amitié que j’écris ici.

A l’époque où je l’ai connue, Suw s’était lancée (tôt!) dans la création de sites web (HTML et compagnie), après des études en géologie. Elle avait appris le gallois (“geekette”, ce n’est pas juste pour la technologie pure et dure!) et s’était mise au Python pour pouvoir programmer son propre robot IRC. Elle a rapidement acquis une réputation internationale comme experte en médias sociaux (social software à l’époque), au point qu’elle a d’ailleurs dû à un moment donner mettre un moratoire sur ses engagements à l’étranger en tant qu’oratrice. Elle a également créé l’Open Rights Group, une ONG dédiée à la protection des droits numériques au Royaume-Uni (et ailleurs).

Dans ce monde des médias sociaux, mine de rien à majorité masculine, Suw est mon héroïne-soeur. Elle est une scientifique de base, ouverte sur le monde des humains, et qui navigue avec aisance dans le milieu des nouvelles technologies. Elle (et d’autres comme elle) me rappelle que je ne suis pas seule. Qu’au milieu de tous ces hommes qui occupent souvent le devant de la scène dans notre milieu professionnel, il y a d’autres femmes comme moi, qui n’ont rien à envier à qui que ce soit, que ce soit par leur parcours ou leur expertise.

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Atelier IIL sur les médias sociaux: liens et ressources [fr]

Atelier IIL sur les médias sociaux: liens et ressources [fr]

[en] Here are links for the teachers who attended my workshops on social media this morning at the IIL in Geneva. Many of the links are in English, so click through them even if Frenc

Ce matin, j’étais à l’Institut International de Lancy dans le cadre d’un formation continue mise sur pied par l’IFP, pour animer deux ateliers consacrés aux médias sociaux dans le milieu scolaire. Comme promis aux enseignants présents (j’en profite encore d’ailleurs pour vous remercier de votre accueil et de votre participation!) je vous donne ici les liens vers les deux présentations Prezi (le tueur de Powerpoint) qui m’ont servi de support, ainsi que quelques liens à explorer:

Les deux présentations en ligne vont évoluer un peu au fil du temps, comme j’ai bien l’intention de les étoffer pour mes prochains ateliers!

Mise à jour 07.01.10: pour s’essayer au blog, ou carrément se lancer dedans, je recommande la plate-forme, ou pour faire une installation sur son propre serveur web — c’est le système qu’utilise le blog que vous lisez en ce moment. Il existe toute une communauté francophone très active autour de Je vous encourage également à créer un compte Google si vous n’en avez pas encore un afin d’essayer Google Docs et ses documents partagés.

Mise à jour 07.01.10, 19:30: un autre article à lire absolument (merci Jean-Christophe!), c’est “Facebook doit entrer à l’école“. Vous en avez d’autres? Laissez un mot dans les commentaires avec le lien!

Mise à jour 12.01.10: de l’importance des ses mots de passe et de protéger sa boîte e-mail, clé centrale de son identité en ligne, lisez Cette année, le père noël était un pirate (mais pas ce genre de pirate, attention!)

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