Alina Turgend writes about bragging and the way it stimulates the part of our brains linked to stimulation from sex.
Alina Turgend, The Etiquette of Celebrating or Bragging About Achievements
Last year, two Harvard neuroscientists published a paper, “Disclosing Information About the Self Is Intrinsically Rewarding,” in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They conducted brain imaging and behavioral experiments and found that when people talked about themselves, there was heightened activity in the same brain regions associated with rewards from food, money or sex.
Diana I. Tamir, co-author of the study and a doctoral student at Harvard, said the research focused not on bragging, but on answering neutral questions about one’s personality.
“When asked questions about themselves, there was more reward activity than when asked about someone else,” Ms. Tamir said. And there was even more activity when the participants could choose to share information, by pressing a button, with someone outside the scanner.
Another experiment found that people were willing to give up small amounts of money to reveal information about themselves, rather than talk about someone else.
“I think there is a natural human tendency” to talk about oneself, Ms. Tamir said. “The interesting question is why we are motivated to share.”
Another interesting question is when sharing turns into bragging — and the answer is often in the eye of the beholder. As one commenter wrote on the Canadian blogwondercafe.ca, “I wonder if it’s sharing if I do it and bragging if someone else does it.”
Although boasting may seem more acceptable now, Susan A. Speer, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Manchester in England, has found that “self-praise” is still largely considered unacceptable.
Professor Speer, a conversation analyst, looked at a variety of data, from psychiatric interventions to everyday conversations, that involved self-praise. The information came from the United States and Britain.
In her study, published last year in the Social Psychology Quarterly, Professor Speer discovered that in almost every case, directly praising oneself seemed to violate social norms.
She said people responded to self-praise negatively or, more subtly, with a long silence or a roll of the eyes.
She found that the only way to really blow your own horn — or toot your own trumpet, as they say in Britain — without alienating someone was to repeat something positive someone else said about you.
It’s easier for a listener to respond to this kind of self-praise, Professor Speer said, by saying, for instance, “How nice someone said that.”
Even being self-deprecating about accomplishments doesn’t work. In fact, it can be even more irritating, and it has come to be known as “humblebragging” or “underbragging.”
Examples? Complaining about e-mail service from Cannes or about having to sign too many autographs. As Henry Alford wrote in The New York Times last November about his annoyance with this phenomenon: “Outright bragging expects to be met with awe, but humblebragging wants to be met with awe and sympathy.”
I’m all for masturbation — after all its been shown that having more orgasms prolongs life, not to mention the immediate benefits — but it’s one of those things that’s best done behind closed doors. So, let’s cut back on the bragging, especially underbragging.
I am personally trying a strategy for cutting back. I am retiring anecdotes: once I tell anyone an anecdote that could be construed as braggage, I then plan to not tell that anecdote again for at least a year.
Did I ever tell you about the time I…?
Dropbox has added a feature to enhance sharing. You can indicate that others can share a folder once you’ve shared it with them. Very useful.
I guess it’s not unexpected, since rumors have been flying around about more cuts at AOL:
AOL Slashes Staff at AIM Unit; Wider Cuts Expected - Nick Bilton via NYTimes.com
The AOL Instant Messenger group took the deepest cut so far. A former AOL employee said the group was “eviscerated and now only consists of support staff.” This person, who asked not to be named because they were not allowed to speak publicly about the company, added that “nearly all of the West Coast tech team has been killed.”
In a statement given to The New York Times, AOL confirmed last week’s layoffs. A company spokeswoman declined to say how many employees had been cut.
“We are making some strategic but very difficult changes to better align our resources with key areas of growth for us as a company,” the statement said. “We remain committed to our presence in Silicon Valley and driving innovation in consumer products and mobile.”
Jason Shellen, vice president of the AOL messenger products who was based in the company’s West Coast offices and who once ran Thing Labs, is among those leaving. Mr. Shellen declined to comment, but AOL confirmed his departure.
I think AOL blew a great chance.
Starting in late 2006, Greg Narain and I worked on a project with AOL, called Nerdvana, where we envisioned using the buddylist model of AIM as the basis for a brand new way to share media. The images above were taken from a design we produced in early 2007. Relatively quickly after that date we were bogged down in endless committees all fighting for their funding, following the arrival of Randy Falco, and the departure of smart people like Jim Bankoff, now the CEO of SB Nation, who hired us in the first place.
Bankoff and other at AOL had their curiousity piqued by a piece I wrote in April 2005, called Nerdvana, that sketched out a new synthesis of instant messaging, social networking, and social media sharing. And it included an open follower analog, which was implemented in Twitter in 2006.
A year later, I was approached by an AIM manager, Alan Keister, and we launched an effort to prototype the Nerdvana concept. However, once Bankoff was gone, the project slowly ground to a halt, and was shut down because our design was ‘too complicated’ for the folks still there to grasp. Or maybe we were trying to do too much.
Still, a shame: because AIM had hundreds of millions of users at the time, sending billions of messages every day. Nerdvana might have been a breakout for AOL, instead of dying the death of a thousand cuts.
And with AOL’s CFO, Artie Minson, now running M.A.M.A — mobile, AIM, Mail, and About.me — I have to presume they are positioning themselves to sell it off, or spin it out.
- Brian Shih, Reader redesign: Terrible decision, or worst decision?
I think that Google reader now looks like the back of an organic cereal box. Go read all of Brian’s comments.
The UI decisions just don’t seem to make sense. And the integration with Google+ seems to break privacy:
Keep in mind that on top of requiring 3-4 times as many clicks, you also now must +1 a post publicly to share it, even if it’s shared to a private circle. That bears repeating. The next time you want to share some sexy halloween costumes with your private set of friends, you first must publicly +1 the post, which means it shows up on your profile, plus wherever the hell G+ decides to use +1 data. So much for building a network around privacy controls.
The frustrating thing is that these pitfalls could have been avoided through a more thought out integration. As Kevin Fox has already pointed out, Google could have easily made it so that sharing was pushed through G+ (therefore giving providing content on G+, and gaining all the benefits of an integration), but also replaced shared items from People You Follow with a Reader-specific Circle.
But no - instead, they’ve ripped out the ability to consume shared items wholesale from the product. The closest analogue might be if Twitter made it so that 3rd party clients could use the Retweet functionality to push Retweets to a user’s stream — but only allowed you to consume Retweets on twitter.com.
It’s almost as if Google wants to demonstrate that, yes, they don’t really get platforms. Instead of improving the G+ API to support Reader as a fully functional 3rd party client (a la Twitter), they’ve instead crippled the product under the guise of improvements.
John Tropea takes a pass at explaining how sharing works on Google+ (Google Plus):
How is it different to Facebook and Twitter?
As an online relationship model; Facebook is symmetric, Twitter is asymmetric, and Google Plus is asymmetric
- Follow (asymmetric) - enables you to follow people (those people don’t have to follow you back in order for you to see their content in your stream…you are basically their fan)
- Public - your posts are shared in the public
- Friend (symmetric) - you cannot read and send each other updates unless you both follow each other (this is called “friend”)
- Private - you posts are not shared in the public, instead they are shared with all your friends only (this is called a “walled garden”)
- Selective Reading & Sharing - you can also read and share with just a selection of people (this is called “Lists”…this isn’t a primary design feature and isn’t used that much as far as sharing goes)
- Follow (asymmetric) - enables you to follow people, just like Twitter, where those people don’t have to follow you back
- Public and/or Private - your posts can be shared in the Public, or just shared with All Circles or a selection of Circles
- Selective Reading - you can also read posts in a stream from just a selection of people you follow (this is called “Circles”)
- Selective Sharing - you can also share posts with just a selection of people (this is called “Circles”)…BUT unlike Facebook, unless “those people you follow in your circle” follow you back, they won’t see your post in their stream, instead they will see it in an alternative stream called “Incoming”.
Posting to Circles
I post about my trip to Melbourne and limit this to my Family circle (this circle has 6 people in it)
Because I’m so used to Facebook I have assumed that all those 6 people will see my post.
Wrong? Only the 4 people that have followed me back will see that post in their “Stream”.
The other 2 people will only see that post if they look at their “Incoming” stream.
The 101 - when you choose a Circle only the people that follow you back will see your post
Posting to Public
It simply means that all people that follow me will see my post in their stream
Just say Judy follows me, but I don’t follow her (therefore I don’t have her in a circle)
And just say I post to a Circle, and not Public.
This means Judy will not see my post at all.
Posting to Individuals (Mentions)
This has nothing to do with Circles.
But just like Circles and Public; Individuals are a selection you can make in choosing an audience to post to.
The way you can post to Individuals is pre-fixing their name with an “@” or a “+”
The difference in limiting to who sees your post using this selection is that it will also send that person a notification that you have “mentioned” them. Which kind of makes it very similar to the Twitter @mention feature. In Google Plus there is a stream called Notifications where you can view all these pushed mention posts.
Google+ requires me to create a mental model: the intersection of actions that I have taken, such as following others or putting them into circles, and the actions they have taken, most importantly whether they have followed me or not.
One snag in this is that there isn’t a simple way to know who exactly will see what you post in Circles when you do so. Another snag is that your stream is defined by the union of all those you have Circled, which is another thing that is not easy to find out.
A confession: I am not currently using Google+ actively. I am sitting out the surge of interest because I actually don’t have a burning need to use it, and the social dynamics remind me of Friendfeed, with the same people advocating it.
In some recent writings and presentations, I have explored the topic ‘Time Is The New Space’:
We are not sharing space online, although it the conventional wisdom says we are. We are sharing time. Time has become a shared resource.
Our time is increasingly not our own, in a good way, as we move into a streamed model of connection.
Individual time becomes less of a reality, and a shared thread of time will become the norm — shared with those that are most important to you and those that reciprocate. This will change the basic structure of work.
Time is increasingly less linear, less mechanical; but more subjective and plastic.
Individuals will choose to trade personal productivity for connectedness, as voices in the stream ask for help, pointers, and introduction. Connectedness will trump other obligations, specifically timeliness.
I want to build on one aspect of this topic: to the degree that we rely on real-time streaming as the basis of our work interactions, we will sense that we are sharing time, not documents, or other artifacts. Interaction in real-time forms the context of our interactions, and displaces many prior social objects.
In particular, this means the end of documenting status by reports: moments are what we share, not memos.
The elements of the memo are atomized into a scattershot of micro status updates, which, like macro blogging before it, has thrown away the stucture of beginning, middle and end. We are always at the start, middle, and end. Not everything fits into a 140 character Twitter post, but long form writing won’t necessarily look like memos, but a slightly slower stream made up of larger chunks.
In everyday, more prosaic terms, I am betting that the operational documents that flowed, sluggishly, through the interoffice mail of companies in the ’90s, and as email attachments in the ’00s, will simply not be created in the ’10s. Instead, people will simply aggregate others’ streams — both micro and macro — ordered by time and topic. Or simply remain aware of what folks are doing in an ambient way, sharing time. A fully streamed world, not batched.