Thinking about Facebook

We are now firmly into 2011, the kids and grandchildren have departed and the tumult and disruption have subsided…until 12 months hence of course.

Besides the obligatory grouch it was great fun while it lasted, but quiet and “normalcy” have their own powerful attractions for the fragile, mature neural system. One of the highlights of the holidays was a 24 hour stay with friends in the Imvubu Bush Camp in Rondevlei on the Cape Flats; see Flickr for some selected pics in due course.

But thinking about Facebook and its implications for this site is the topic du jour, so let’s start. Mark Zuckerberg has become unimaginably wealthy by catering to the human urge to communicate and to be part of a communication loop. A mixture of vanity, narcissism, the urge to belong and curiosity are the chief components of the fuel which drives Facebook, and (for the sneerers and sniggerers) these are part of all our make-up to a variable extent.

So why are we not all on FB and leave it at that? Well many of us are, of course, but many of us are frightened off by the complicated controls and cluttered appearance. Nevertheless, these are overcomable obstacles. More important is the hard reality that most of FB is incurably shallow, noisy and irrelevant to our interests. So can we recreate FB more in our own image using these blogs – namely, Transcognitive and Bonobotude?

I think we can and would like to set out here the way we can do it.

Firstly, the blogs must be visualised as the forum for a limited group of users with common interests rather than an all-purpose wall for any passer-by to scribble their random thoughts and doings. There are 3 consequences: limited membership, multiple authorship and broadly defined purpose. Let’s take each in turn.

A key element of FB is to increase the number of your “friends” as much as possible as a marker of status and popularity. I propose that these blogs aim rather at attracting not the largest audience, but the most interested and interesting. This is not intended to be exclusivist for the sake of exclusivity – let a 1000 flowers bloom – but simply to ensure that every time we go to the blog to read it we derive some pleasure and value.

And here the two blogs differ somewhat: Transcognitive is a blog devoted to “ideas” while Bonobotude is devoted to “activities”. The boundaries, as always are blurred, but I suggest we try to keep that distinction in mind without becoming paralysed by indecision.

Secondly, it is impossible for me alone to keep the blogs ticking over at a reasonable rate while still maintaining standards. In any case the idea is to showcase different perspectives and the activities of different people so as to stimulate and inspire the rest of us. Any subscriber can comment, and please do so, but those who want to post will require Administrator (that’s me) permission. I still need to get comfortable with the mechanics 0f this but the principle is clear. So please go ahead.

Let’s return to membership for a moment. For the present the blogs are directed at personal acquaintances and friends who conceivably may have an interest. Some of you will not find this sufficiently interesting in competition with all the other demands on your time and energy and will simply not subscribe and slowly drop out. On the other hand some of you will have friends who may also be interested and you should recruit them. This post sets out the purpose, MO and terms of the blogs; use it


My previous post on this (the Transcognitive) site was to introduce Michael Alfred as a co-contributor, partly under the name Gluckstein. So here are a couple of Gluckstein’s Reflections for your entertainment:

Even the best intentions become corrupt.”

Human insight preceded psychology by thousands of years.”

Reader discretion advised: “Self-help books don’t tell you how to deal with a wet fart.

all the best



About Mike Berger

I have followed an exciting and demanding career as a medical doctor and scientist with an equally challenging and varied retirement. I love both writing and photography in all their interactive and diverse manifestations. I have a couple of blogs, Aperture and Solar Plexus, which reflect my interests and commitments. They both lubricate and motivate the creative process and facilitate communication. Through the process of exchange we join a wider family of fully engaged fellow travellers on the journey of life.
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2 Responses to Thinking about Facebook

  1. Aubrey A. Lurie says:

    I am not particularly interested in Facebook, as I dont really care about remote persons small and incidental activities.
    However, it was nice to see Mike & Sheila and their family and friends; – not that I know any of the “friends”. Regrettably most look so OLD, which is an unhappy reminder at what stage we are in life! Another reason for me not to get too involved in FB.

    • This is a comment on FB I came across: “Your mom’s time spent on Facebook will yield a great deal of advertising dollars, but it isn’t going to transform the world. At some point many are going to wonder if it is useful to be a member of a club which will let anyone in. From their 13 year old brother to their 80 year old grandmother.”

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