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Prof. Boerner's Explorations

Thoughts and Essays that explore the world of Technology, Computers, Photography, History and Family.


Archive for January 10th, 2010

Sharing with Everyone or only with Friends?

This is a question addressed by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in a recent interview. Has the public expectation really changed that much away from protecting personal security and privacy? Or is this just a ploy to compete with Twitter? It seems to me that Facebook and Twitter serve two different functions; why do we want one that does everything? Anyone remember AppleWorks?

What do you think? Leave a comment…

Facebook Founder on Privacy: Public is the New “Social Norm” 

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg claims that if Facebook was starting out now, sharing with everybody would be the starting point, rather than with a small group of friends. Is this more about reflecting social norms or changing them to help Facebook compete with Twitter?

The statement, made during a livestream of the Crunchies awards, hits on a hot button issue for Facebook: it recently notified users of privacy changes via a pop-up notification. While the message claimed that Facebook was displaying the message to give users more privacy controls, blindly clicking “next” was a way to make much of your data public. And in fact, some data like the Friends List has become more public without any settings changes by users.

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Facebook Users Guide Online — Thanks to Mashable

This is a good, quick reference guide to the features of Facebook for the beginner or more advanced user as well. Take a look at it and enjoy it…

You can access it at:


safe_image.php Facebook is the world’s leading social network, with over 300 million users and more than 900 employees. But how do you get the most out of it?

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3 Ways Educators can use Social Media…

Yes, social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Skype, and other sites have taken hold on the student population of today. But as teachers learn to use these technologies in the classroom to help promote learning, they might be harnessed to facilitate learning rather than detracting from it…

What do you think? Leave a comment…

3 Ways Educators Are Embracing Social Technology 

Schools are finding it tougher than ever to keep students engaged. Social media has become a valuable and free educational tool for those who have embraced it. Here are 3 great examples.

The modern American school faces rough challenges. Budget cuts have caused ballooning class sizes,  many teachers struggle with poorly motivated students, and in many schools a war is being waged on distracting technologies. In response, innovative educators are embracing social media to fight back against the onslaught of problems. Technologies such as Twitter and Skype offer ideal solutions as inexpensive tools of team-based education.

Pockets of experimentation are emerging all around the world, and I hope to inspire my fellow teachers with some stories of success. From cell phones to social media, below are three schools that have chosen to go with the flow of popular technology to turn the tide for education.

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by Gerald Boerner


JerryPhoto_8x8_P1010031 Today we examine using the Shutter Priority Mode in our photography. While yesterday’s consideration of Aperture Priority mode allows for the creative use of Depth of Field, today’s consideration of Shutter Priority allows us to consider the creative use of motion effects in our photos. There are several ways of using motion creativelyGLB


“When that shutter clicks, anything else that can be done afterward is not worth consideration.”
— Edward Steichen

“The most important thing about photographing people is not clicking the shutter, it is clicking with the subject.”
— Alfred Eisenstaedt

“In a still photograph you basically have two variables, where you stand and when you press the shutter. That’s all you have.”
— Henry Wessel

“In my photographs it is apparent that there was no posing at the moment I released the shutter.”
— Jerzy Kosinski

“Look and think before opening the shutter. The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera.”
— Yousuf Karsh

“Sometimes I do get to places just when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter.”
— Ansel Adams

“I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking. Some day, all this will have to be developed, carefully printed, fixed.”
— Christopher Isherwood

“There’s a discipline. When you take someone’s portrait, you don’t have to take 50 photographs, just find that one so that when you release the shutter, that’s the image that you took.”
— Matthew Modine


Drawing with Light: Shutter Priority

Mode Selection For the professional photographer, the preferred mode of operation is in Manual Mode: the Exposure is determined by manually adjusting both the Aperture and the Shutter Speed. By using this procedure, he/she can obtain the ideal aperture and shutter speed for the creative effect visualized by the photographer. Since photography is their “business”, this is a logical extension of their skill. But just because you are not a pro, you can still use this technique.

However, for most situations, we can simplify this process a bit by using the Shutter Priority Mode. In this mode, you determine the Shutter Speed that you will use to achieve the desired image motion effects. In some cases, you want to isolate your subject from its background, therefore you will use a Panning and a Slow Shutter Speed by selecting a slow Shutter Speed and Pan with the subject. This means that your Shutter Speed will be 1/60th of a second or longer. If you want to freeze your subject as well as keep the background sharp on all objects, you want a fast Shutter Speed. This means that your Shutter Speed will generally be 1/250th of a second or faster, depending on the speed with which the subject will be moving). In both cases, you must keep the camera steady, which usually requires a tripod, although fast Shutter Speeds of 1/500th or above can generally be hand-held safely.

Once this creatively appropriate Motion Effect for your composition has been selected, you then allow the camera to determine the Aperture that will yield the proper Exposure. Using this mode allows you to think (Visualize) the photo’s composition and let the camera complete the calculations for you.

How do you select this mode? On most cameras, you will have an “Tv” option on your mode selection wheel (or however your camera sets the mode). You will then select the appropriate Shutter Speed for your composition, compose the picture, press the shutter release down half way to set the focus, and take the shot. Voila! You get a great picture; OK, maybe not a great picture every time, but a great exposure.

NOTE: Just remember that there is the Exposure relationship that we presented last week:

exposure-triangle Aperture (amount of light allowed through the lens), Shutter Speed (the length of time that the light exposes the film or sensor), and the ISO (the film speed or sensor sensitivity) all interact to determine the correct exposure. In the description of using Aperture Priority above, the user controls the Aperture and the camera determines the Shutter Speed. But what about the ISO (noise or sensitivity) in this equation? That depends on what your recording media is:

Film… If you are using film, each roll of film has a designated ISO depending upon the light-sensitive material used to capture the light. Some cameras will allow you to override the film’s designated ISO, but then you must compensate for this during the film’s development.

Digital… If you are using a digital camera, you will have an adjustment that allows you to set the ISO (sensitivity to light of your sensor) for each shot. Unlike film, you no longer need to take every shot at the same ISO sensitivity level. More about this in a future posting.

Shutter Speed: How Long the Light will Expose the Media

shutter_ Shutter Speeds: Control how 
long the light is passed through
the lens.

Every step in this table represents a ONE STOP change in light. Each Shutter Speed setting changes by a factor of two, for example, if you change from an 1/125th to 1/60th, you will allow twice the light through the lens. Likewise, if you change from an 1/125th to 1/250th, you will allow one-half of the light through the lens. By extension, moving from 1/125th to 1/60th will require only one-half the aperture (f-stop) and moving from 1/125th to 1/250th will require twice the aperture (f-stop).

Like the pupil in a human eye, the aperture on a camera controls light. It does so by closing up to restrict light, and opening up to let it through. A slower shutter speed  number indicates MORE LIGHT is allowed through the lens for a given amount of time.


Motion Effects in your Photographs

In addition to setting the Shutter Speed when using Shutter Priority, you also need to consider how you want to record the movement. You choices will include:

  1. Fixed Camera… With the camera at a fixed position on a tripod, you will record moving objects with or without motion effects (blurring), depending on the Shutter Speed and the speed with which the subject is moving;
  2. Fixed Camera/Slow Shutter Speed… With the camera at a fixed position and the shutter speed set to a long setting, any objects that move during the capture will appear either blurry, ghosted, or will not appear at all. This is a technique that was used frequently by many early 20th century street photographers.
  3. Hand-Held Camera/Fast Shutter Speed… With the camera hand-held, shutter speeds of less than 1/60th of a second will produce out-of-focus, or blurred images. However, setting the shutter speed to 1/250th or faster will freeze moving object in their background.
  4. Panning the Camera/Slow Shutter Speed… With the camera moving in synch with the subject, it is possible to stop the subject in the photo while the background will appear blurred due to the motion of the pan. (See the Wikipedia article on Panning at for more information. We will deal with Panning more later.)
  5. Fixed Camera/Slow Flash… By using a long shutter speed and a “rear curtain” flash, you can freeze action of the subject but blur the background. [This is not necessarily restricted to Shutter Priority, and is included here for completeness.]
Some Examples

Let’s look at some examples of the effect of Shutter Speed on the Motion Effects of a photograph.


Freezing: Freezing is a very common technique. Given a scene with an object that moves at a certain speed, the photographer can capture it with a high shutter speed and freeze the action.

In practice, this is the default amateur motion photography technique as in most cases it doesn’t require any advanced knowledge from the photographer.

raanan_bachelor_party_-_4350-2 An Example of Freeze Framing:
Subject in focus while the background shows motion.

In order to achieve an accurate focus it is recommended to enable the camera focus points according to the object location in the planned composition. This way the photograph can be taken without recomposing while taking the photograph, a step which will obviously cause lost of focus while capturing high speed motion.

Panning: Panning is a photography technique performed through capturing an object in motion while moving the camera in parallel to the object. By moving the camera together with the object, the object remains sharp and the background becomes blurred. The background blur is a result of the motion and is in the opposite direction of the object motion. This help us both to pass the feeling of motion and to isolate the object from the surrounding. Even if there are other objects in the same distance from camera (that would normally be in focus together with the prime object being photographed), they will be blurred  due to the speed and direction differences.

124panning Panning technique 

There are two ways to set your camera to perform panning:

  • Set the camera to shutter priority mode (Tv in Canon / S in Nikon) while setting the shutter speed to be slow enough to capture the motion but not too slow that the entire image will be blurred, considering both the object speed and the selected focal length.
  • Set the camera to fully manual mode, define the shutter speed according to the above instructions, define the aperture according to the desired depth of field, once both are set, measure the scene light and set the ISO to the appropriate value in order to receive accurate exposure.

Panning An Example of Panning:
Camera follows subject to
maintain it in focus while the background shows motion.

I find the first method to be more simple but less accurate, definitely the method to start with.

Once the camera is set, the next step is to track the moving object. Due to the fact that during the exposure the viewfinder is usually unusable (unless you have a rangefinder), it’s recommended to start following the object ahead of pressing the shutter button in order to gain the feeling of motion for the sharpest result.

Smearing: In a way, the opposite of panning is smearing. Smearing is photographing with a shutter speed slow enough that the objects to be photographed are blurred in their motion. Due to the fact that the target objects are slightly blurred. The technique is mostly relevant in scenarios in which one would like to “tell the big story” (and not to for portraits/closeups work).

smearing_stockholm_work_trip_teliasonera_-_9020 An Example of Smearing
(Motion Blur) from using
a slow Shutter Speed

In order to achieve a professional look in which the smearing does not look “accidental” there must be sharp object(s) in the photograph. In the example above, you can see the runners being blurred while the man standing in the front and the people in the back are all sharp. This way the image both feels professional and passes the feeling of the runners pace.

Technically speaking, the guidelines are similar to panning. The only difference is the requirement to stay stable while photographing (which might lead to a bit faster shutter speeds to receive sharpest result).



Background and biographical information is from Wikipedia articles on:

Shutter Priority can be found at…

Shutter Speed can be found at…

Panning the Camera can be found at…

Other Web Sites: Motion Photography Techniques…

by Gerald Boerner


JerryPhoto_8x8_P1010031In this fourth installment in our overview of the development of the Internet we will examine the emergence, in this first decade of the 21st century, of social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, and others. These networks have revolutionized the way people communicate and stay in touch, almost to a fault. Most of these technologies have made the phone call or the email message somewhat old fashioned. The ability to use many of these systems from your cell phones, via SMS service, have further impacted this technologyGLB


“[The youth] can steer you in the right direction.”
— Freddie Laker, director of digital strategy for Sapient

“New marketing is about the relationships, not the medium.”
— Ben Grossman, founder and chief strategist for BiGMarK

“By creating compelling content, you can become a celebrity.”
— Paul Gillin

“Think like a publisher, not a marketer.”
— David Meerman Scott

“Social graph-iti: There’s less to Facebook and other social networks than meets the eye…”
— Paul Saffo, quoted in The Economist, October 18, 2007

“Social media offers new opportunities to activate…brand enthusiasm.”
— Stacy DeBroff, founder and CEO of Mom Central

“Hook into someone’s flow [via corporate postings of photos, videos, and other content on web streams before a new product is released].”
— Bill Cava, chief technology officer for Ektron

“The Internet is the biggest psychological and social human experience…We make encouraging viral activity.”
— Cynthia Gordon


The Internet Today: Social Networking

MarkZuckerberg A social network service focuses on building and reflecting of social networks or social relations among people, e.g., who share interests and/or activities. A social network service essentially consists of a representation of each user (often a profile), his/her social links, and a variety of additional services. Most social network services are web based and provides means for users to interact over the internet, such as e-mail and instant messaging. Although online community services are sometimes considered as a social network service in a broader sense, social network service usually means an individual-centered service whereas online community services are group-centered.

The main types of social networking services are those which contain category divisions (such as former school-year or classmates), means to connect with friends (usually with self-description pages) and a recommendation system linked to trust. Popular methods now combine many of these, with Facebook and Twitter widely used worldwide. [Other parts of the world have used other systems that have taken a “back seat to Facebook and Twitter. GLB] Some of these historical and regional networks include:

  • In North America… MySpace and LinkedIn;
  • In Canada… Nexopia;
  • In Germany… Bebo, Hi5, StudiVZ;
  • In Hungary… iWiW;
  • In Spain… Tuenti;
  • In parts of Europe… Decayenne, Tagged, XING; Badoo and Skyrock;
  • In South America and Central America… Orkut and Hi5; 
  • In Asia and the Pacific Islands… Friendster, Mixi, Multiply, Orkut, Wretch, Xiaonei and Cyworld;  and
  • In India… Orkut and Facebook.

There have been some attempts to standardize these services to avoid the need to duplicate entries of friends and interests, but this has led to some concerns about privacy.

Although some of the largest social networks were founded on the notion of digitizing real world connections, many other networks as seen in the List of social networking websites focus on categories from books and music to non-profit business to motherhood as ways to provide both services and community to individuals with shared interests.


The notion that individual computers linked electronically could form the basis of computer-mediated social interaction and networking was suggested early on. There were many early efforts to support social networks via computer-mediated communication, including Usenet, ARPANET, LISTSERV, bulletin board services (BBS) and EIES: Murray Turoff’s server-based Electronic Information Exchange Service (Turoff and Hiltz, 1978, 1993). The Information Routing Group developed a schema about how the proto-Internet might support this.

Early social networking websites started in the form of generalized online communities such as The WELL (1985), (1994), Geocities (1994) and (1995). These early communities focused on bringing people together to interact with each other through chat rooms, and share personal information and ideas around any topics via personal homepage publishing tools which was a precursor to the blogging phenomenon.

Some communities took a different approach by simply having people link to each other via email addresses. These sites included (1995), focusing on ties with former school mates, and (1997), focusing on indirect ties. User profiles could be created, messages sent to users held on a “friends list” and other members could be sought out who had similar interests to yours in their profiles (Boyd & Ellison 2007, p. 3). Whilst these features had existed in some form before came about, this would be the first time these functions were available in one package.

It may be hard for the younger generation or newer Internet users to realize how far these social networks have come. I can remember when the only way to “chat” with friends was either be using IRC on the Internet (a text-based chat system) or by using a bulletin board system (store and forward). Then came America On-Line (AOL) with their network of dial-up sites and the ability to talk to friends in real time. What we have now, using our high-speed Internet connections, our more advanced computers or computing devices (cell phones, PDAs, etc.), and these social networking sites have made a major breakthrough in peer-to-peer communications. Much of this is based upon the Web 2.0 technologies that have only been available for the past five years.  GLB

Despite these new developments (that would later catch on and become immensely popular), the website simply wasn’t profitable and eventually shut down (Boyd & Ellison 2007, p. 3). It was even described by the website’s owner as "simply ahead of its time." One such model of social networking that came about in 1999 was trust-based, such as that developed by Innovations included not only showing who is "friends" with whom, but giving users more control over content and connectivity.

Chizonfriendster01 Between 2002 and 2004, three social networking sites emerged as the most popular form of these sites in the world, causing such sites to become part of mainstream users globally. First there was Friendster in 2002 (which Google tried to acquire in 2003), then MySpace and LinkedIn a year later, and finally, Bebo. By 2005, MySpace, emergent as the biggest of them all, was reportedly getting more page views than Google. 2004 saw the emergence of Facebook, a competitor, also rapidly growing in size. In 2005, Facebook opened up to the non US college community, and together with allowing externally-developed add-on applications, and some applications enabled the graphing of a user’s own social network – thus linking social networks and social networking, became the largest and fastest growing site in the world, not limited by particular geographical followings.

Social networking began to flourish as a component of business internet strategy at around March 2005 when Yahoo launched Yahoo! 360°. In July 2005 News Corporation bought MySpace, followed by ITV (UK) buying Friends Reunited in December 2005. Various social networking sites have sprung up catering to different languages and countries. It is estimated that combined there are now over 200 social networking sites using these existing and emerging social networking models, without counting the niche social networks (also referred to as vertical social networks) made possible by services such as Ning. Twitter, launched in 2006, has as recently as 2009 eclipsed many other social network services and–although lacking in some of what were considered the essential aspects of a SNS–has allowed add-on services to connect and supply these services via its public API.

Social impacts

Twitter_logo An increasing number of academic commentators are becoming interested in studying Facebook and other social networking tools. Social science researchers have begun to investigate what the impact of this might be on society. Typical articles have investigated issues such as Identity (Boyd 2006), Privacy, E-learning  (Mazer, Murphy & Simonds 2007), Social capital (Ellison, Steinfield & Lampe 2007) and Teenage use.

A special issue of the Journal for Computer-Mediated Communications was dedicated to studies of social network sites. Included in this issue is an introduction to social network sites (Boyd & Ellison 2007, p. 3).

A 2008 book published by Forrester Research, Inc. titled Groundswell builds on a 2006 Forrester Report about social computing and used the term "groundswell" to refer to "a spontaneous movement of people using online tools to connect, take charge of their own experience, and get what they need–information, support, ideas, products, and bargaining power–from each other."

Facebook2007 Adam Acar, PhD candidate in the Department of Communication Sciences has studied how online social networking members are "one-and-a-half times the number expected in real life." In his article "Antecedents and Consequences of Online Social Networking Behavior" he depicts how the average user of facebook has about 217 members (Hill and Dunbar, 2003). He also states that "Perceived lower risk of accepting new members, easiness of requesting a membership, social desirability and failing to exclude members who actually are no longer contacted, might have cause online social networking to be larger than real networks."

It has not taken long for social networking sites to become prevalent amongst the youth. The reason for this has been brought up by Danah Boyd. Contemporary youth has consistently been presented restrictions that prohibit what they can and cannot do. There has been a rapid increase in curfew legislation along with loitering laws intended to prevent teen violence and drug use. In addition to government rules and regulations teenagers face another authority, parental figures. Parents and/or guardians tend to place rules on where they can be and when they can be there. This combination of laws and household restrictions hinders and limits the area of social interaction to school and maybe with nearby neighbors. As a result the youth turns to online networks that allow them to communicate with not only their friend circle but others with similar interests. Social networks have ultimately become the best frontier for teenagers to interact and socialize.

Social good

Several websites are beginning to tap into the power of the social networking model for social good. Such models may be highly successful for connecting otherwise fragmented industries and small organizations without the resources to reach a broader audience with interested and passionate users. Users benefit by interacting with a like minded community and finding a channel for their energy and giving. Examples include, TakingITGlobal, Care2,, WiserEarth, OneWorldTV, FreeRepublic, OneClimate and Network for Good. The charity badge is often used within the above context.


On large social networking services, there have been growing concerns about users giving out too much personal information and the threat of sexual predators. Users of these services need to be aware of data theft or viruses. However, large services, such as MySpace and Netlog, often work with law enforcement to try to prevent such incidents.

While most of these social networking sites have been “beefing up” their sites, security and privacy remains a continuing problem. We all need to remember that, no matter how many safeguards the sites put into place, if we don’t take advantage of them or are careless with our passwords and information. This is especially true of those who seek to have hundreds or thousands of “Friends” or “Followers”. Such a privileged status opens us up for abuse. A “Word to the Wise” should be sufficient hereGLB

In addition, there is a perceived privacy threat in relation to placing too much personal information in the hands of large corporations or governmental bodies, allowing a profile to be produced on an individual’s behavior on which decisions, detrimental to an individual, may be taken.

Furthermore, there is an issue over the control of data—information that was altered or removed by the user may in fact be retained and/or passed to 3rd parties. This danger was highlighted when the controversial social networking site Quechup harvested e-mail addresses from users’ e-mail accounts for use in a spamming operation.

"Having just spent another morning of my life reading the most boring details of other people’s mornings, I’ve realized how very little things like Twitter, FaceBook, or FriendFeed actually contribute to one’s life: it’s more like sitting in a room full of over-caffeinated narcissistic Tourette’s patients with ADHD who are all trying to be the most entertaining. And, really, what’s so social about a monologue?"

In medical and scientific research, asking subjects for information about their behaviors is normally strictly scrutinized by institutional review boards, for example, to ensure that adolescents and their parents have informed consent. It is not clear whether the same rules apply to researchers who collect data from social networking sites. These sites often contain a great deal of data that is hard to obtain via traditional means. Even though the data are public, republishing it in a research paper might be considered invasion of privacy.

Privacy on Facebook is undermined by three principal factors: users disclose too much, Facebook does not take adequate steps to protect user privacy, and third parties are actively seeking out end-user information using Facebook. Every day teens go on social networking sites and reveal their most inner thoughts for the whole world to see. Information such as street address, phone number, Instant Messaging name are disclosed to an unknown population in cyberspace. What’s more, the creation of a Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, etc. account is a fairly easy process to do and no identification is required, which can lead to identity theft or impersonation. "For the Net generation, social networking sites have become the preferred forum for social interactions, from posturing and role playing to simply sounding off. However, because such forums are relatively easy to access, posted content can be reviewed by anyone with an interest in the users’ personal information". What Anyone Can Know: The Privacy Risks of Social Networking Sites Privacy on the net is a rare thing these days and ultimately it is left to the user to be responsible and improve his or her privacy online. A Privacy Paradox

Notifications on websites

Facebook_log_inThere has been a trend for social networking sites to send out only ‘positive’ notifications to users. For example sites such as Bebo, Facebook, and Myspace will not send notifications to users when they are removed from a person’s friends list. Similarly Bebo will send out a notification if a user is moved to the top of another user’s friends list but no notification is sent if they are moved down the list.

This allows users to purge undesirables from their list extremely easily and often without confrontation since a user will rarely notice if one person disappears from their friends list. It also enforces the general positive atmosphere of the website without drawing attention to unpleasant happenings such as friends falling out, rejection and failed relationships.

Access to information

Many social networking services, such as Facebook, provide the user with a choice of who can view their profile. This prevents unauthorized user(s) from accessing their information. Parents have become a big problem to teens who want to avoid their parents to access their MySpace or Facebook accounts. By choosing to make their profile private, teens are able to select who can see their page and this prevents unwanted parents from lurking. This will also mean that only people who are added as "friends" will be able to view the profile. Teens are constantly trying to create a structural barrier between their private life and their parents.

To edit information on a certain social networking service account, the social networking sites require you to login or provide an access code. This prevents unauthorized user(s) from adding, changing, or removing personal information, pictures, and/or other data.

Potential for misuse

Twitter-030709The relative freedom afforded by social networking services has caused concern regarding the potential of its misuse by individual patrons. In October 2006, a fake Myspace profile created in the name of Josh Evans by Lori Janine Drew led to the suicide of Megan Meier. The event incited global concern regarding the use of social networking services for bullying purposes.

In July 2008, a Briton, Grant Raphael, was ordered to pay a total of GBP £22,000 (about USD $44,000) for libel and breach of privacy. Raphael had posted a fake page on Facebook purporting to be that of a former schoolfriend Matthew Firsht, with whom Raphael had fallen out in 2000. The page falsely claimed that Firsht was homosexual and that he was dishonest.

At the same time, genuine use of social networking services has been treated with suspicion on the ground of the services’ misuse. In September 2008, the profile of Australian Facebook user Elmo Keep was banned by the site’s administrators on the grounds that it violated the site’s terms of use. Keep is one of several users of Facebook who were banned from the site on the presumption that their names aren’t real, as they bear resemblance the names of characters like Sesame Street’s Elmo.

Risk for child safety

Citizens and governments have been concerned by a misuse by child and teenagers of social network services, particularly in relation to online sexual predators. A certain number of actions have been engaged by governments to better understand the problem and find some solutions. A 2008 panel concluded that technological fixes such as age verification and scans are relatively ineffective means of apprehending online predators.


A common misuse of social networking sites such as Facebook is that it is occasionally used to emotionally abuse individuals. Such actions are often referred to as trolling. It is not rare for confrontations in the real world to be translated online. Online bullying is a relatively common occurrence and it can often result in emotional trauma for the victim. Danah Boyd, an individual familiar with social networks quotes a teenager in her article, Why Youth (Heart) Social Network Sites. The teenager expresses frustration towards networking sites like MySpace because it causes drama and too much emotional stress. There are not many limitations as to what individuals can post when online. Inherently individuals are given the power to post offensive remarks or pictures that could potentially cause a great amount of emotional pain for another individual.

Interpersonal Communication

Interpersonal communication has been a growing issue as more and more people have turned to social networking as a means of communication. “Benniger (1987) describes how mass media has gradually replaced interpersonal communication as a socializing force. Further, social networking sites have become popular sites for youth culture to explore themselves, relationships, and share cultural artifacts". A Privacy Paradox Many teens and social networking users may be harming their interpersonal communication by using sites such as Facebook and Myspace.


Social network services are increasingly being used in legal and criminal investigations. Information posted on sites such as MySpace and Facebook has been used by police (forensic profiling), probation, and university officials to prosecute users of said sites. In some situations, content posted on MySpace has been used in court.

Facebook is increasingly being used by school administrations and law enforcement agencies as a source of evidence against student users. The site, the number one online destination for college students, allows users to create profile pages with personal details. These pages can be viewed by other registered users from the same school which often include resident assistants and campus police who have signed-up for the service. One UK police force has sifted pictures from Facebook and arrested some people who had been photographed in a public place holding a weapon such as a knife (having a weapon in a public place is illegal).



Katie Hafner & Matthew Lyon. (1998) Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet. Simon & Schuster

Background and biographical information is from Wikipedia articles on:

Social Networks can be found at… 

Facebook can be found at…

Twitter can be found at…

The Internet can be found at…

The World Wide Web can be found at…

Other Web Sites:

Susan Barnes, “A Privacy Paradox: Social Networking in the United States”, First Monday…

Danah Boyd & Nicole Ellison.  (2007) "Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship". Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 13 (1)…

by Gerald Boerner


JerryPhoto_8x8_P1010031 Today we visit one of the more interesting publications during the American colonial period: Poor Richard’s Almanack. Benjamin Franklin published this series from 1732 to 1758 and in it he included practical information for the colonists. It became a second “Bible” for these hardy folks in a challenging environment. Enjoy some of the parables (sayings) from the Almanack and read on to learn a bit more about the history of Franklin’s endeavors.  GLB


“With the old Almanack and the old year Leave thy old vices, tho’ever so dear.”
— Poor Richard’s Almanack

“He that riseth late must trot all day, and shall scarce overtake his business at night.”
— Poor Richard’s Almanack

“Well done is better than well said.”
— Poor Richard’s Almanack

“People who are wrapped up in themselves make small packages.”
— Poor Richard’s Almanack

“Little strokes fell great oaks.”
— Poor Richard’s Almanack

“If a man could have half his wishes, he would double his troubles.”
— Poor Richard’s Almanack

“He that by the plow would thrive, Himself must either hold or drive.”
— Poor Richard’s Almanack

“Laziness travels so slowly that Poverty soon overtakes him.”
— Poor Richard’s Almanack

Benjamin Franklin: Poor Richard’s Almanack

Poor_Richard_Almanack_1739 Poor Richard’s Almanack (sometimes Almanac) was a yearly almanac published by Benjamin Franklin, who adopted the pseudonym of “Poor Richard” or “Richard Saunders” for this purpose. The publication appeared continually from 1732 to 1758. It was a best seller for a pamphlet published in the American colonies; print runs reached 10,000 per year.

Franklin, the American inventor, statesman, and publisher, achieved success with Poor Richard’s Almanack. Almanacks were very popular books in colonial America, with people in the colonies using them for the mixture of seasonal weather forecasts, practical household hints, puzzles, and other amusements they offered. Poor Richard’s Almanack was popular for all of these reasons, and also for its extensive use of wordplay, with many examples derived from the work surviving in the contemporary American vernacular.

The Almanack contained the calendar, weather, poems, sayings and astronomical and astrological information that a typical almanac of the period would contain. Franklin also included the occasional mathematical exercise, and the Almanack from 1750 features an early example of demographics. It is chiefly remembered, however, for being a repository of Franklin’s aphorisms and proverbs, many of which live on in American English. These maxims typically counsel thrift and courtesy, with a dash of cynicism.

In the spaces that occurred between noted calendar days, Franklin included proverbial sentences about industry and frugality. Several of these sayings were borrowed from an earlier writer, Lord Halifax, many of whose aphorisms sprang from, “….[a] basic skepticism directed against the motives of men, manners, and the age.” In 1757, Franklin made a selection of these and prefixed them to the almanac as the address of an old man to the people attending an auction. This was later published as, The Way to Wealth, and was popular in both America and England.

Poor Richard

Franklin borrowed the name “Richard Saunders” from the seventeenth-century author of the Apollo Anglicanus, a popular London almanac which continued to be published throughout the eighteenth century. Franklin created the Poor Richard persona based in part on Jonathan Swift’s pseudonymous character, “Isaac Bickerstaff.” In a series of three letters in 1708 and 1709, known as the Bickerstaff papers, “Bickerstaff” predicted the imminent death of astrologer and almanac maker John Partridge. Franklin’s Poor Richard, like Bickerstaff, claimed to be a philomath and astrologer and, like Bickerstaff, predicted the deaths of actual astrologers who wrote traditional almanacs.

Poor_Richard's_Almanack_Illustrated A nineteenth-century print based on Poor Richard’s Almanack,
showing the author surrounded by twenty-three illustrations
of many of his best-known sayings.

In the early editions of Poor Richard’s Almanack, predicting and falsely reporting the deaths of these astrologers—much to their dismay—was something of a running joke. However, Franklin’s endearing character of “Poor” Richard Saunders, along with his wife Bridget, was ultimately used to frame (if comically) what was intended as a serious resource that people would buy year after year. To that end, the satirical edge of Swift’s character is largely absent in Poor Richard. Richard was presented as distinct from Franklin himself, occasionally referring to the latter as his printer.

In later editions, the original Richard Saunders character gradually disappeared, replaced by a Poor Richard, who largely stood in for Franklin and his own practical scientific and business perspectives. By 1758, the original character was even more distant from the practical advice and proverbs of the almanac, which Franklin presented as coming from “Father Abraham,” who in turn got his sayings from Poor Richard.

Franklin began publishing Poor Richard’s Almanack on December 28, 1732, and would go on to publish it for 25 years, bringing him much economic success and popularity. The almanack sold as many as 10,000 copies a year. In 1753, upon the death of Franklin’s brother, James, Franklin sent 500 copies of Poor Richard’s to his widow for free, so that she could make money selling them.


For some writers the content of the Almanack became inextricably linked with Franklin’s character—and not always to favorable effect. Both Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville caricatured the Almanack—and Franklin by extension—in their writings, while James Russell Lowell, reflecting on the public unveiling in Boston of a statue to honor Franklin, wrote:

…we shall find out that Franklin was born in Boston, and invented being struck with lightning and printing and the Franklin medal, and that he had to move to Philadelphia because great men were so plenty in Boston that he had no chance, and that he revenged himself on his native town by saddling it with the Franklin stove, and that he discovered the almanac, and that a penny saved is a penny lost, or something of the kind.

The Almanack was also a reflection of the norms and social mores of his times, rather than a philosophical document setting a path for new-freedoms, as the works of Franklin’s contemporaries, Jefferson, Adams, or Paine were. Historian Howard Zinn offers, as an example, the adage “Let thy maidservant be faithful, strong, and homely” as indication of Franklin’s belief in the legitimacy of controlling the sexual lives of servants for the economic benefit of their masters.

Other Events on this Day
  • In 1753…
    Poor Richard predicts “wind and falling weather, then very cold” for the second week of January
  • In 1861…
    Florida secedes from the Union.
  • In 1901…
    A drilling derrick near Beaumont, Texas, strikes oil, creating a huge gusher and signaling the beginning of American oil history.
  • In 1946…
    A radar beam from a U.S. Army laboratory at Belmar, New Jersey, bounces off the moon and returns to Earth in 2.4 seconds.


Dates and events based on:

William J. Bennett and John Cribb, (2008) The American Patriot’s Almanac Daily Readings on America. (Kindle Edition)

Background information is from Wikipedia articles on:

Poor Richard’s Almanack can be found at…