Social Network Size.

In his 1993 study Robin Dunbar took a look at the proportion of the cortical size (the outer part of the brain, that is involved in higher functions such as spatial reasoning, conscious thought, and language) to the total brain size, and compared the results with group sizes and language of humans beings. Dunbar developed an equation to calculate an average group size that a human being is able to overlook. The result was 147.8, with a rather wide range of possible variation from 100.2 to 231.1. These cognitive limitations of stable social relationships have come to be known as Dunbar’s number (Dunbar, 1993). Continue reading

Thoughts on Social Media and Small Talk.

Again a very interesting podcast episode (again in German, sorry) has left me thinking about the topic of social media’s effects on small talk:

I think everybody who uses Twitter or Facebook recently has experienced a similar situation as the following. Saturday night you go out with your friend and you tell her how your week was.

You say: “Wow … crazy, on Tuesday I have found a 50 Euro bill in the street.”
Your friend: “Yeah I know, I have read it”

Of course she knows the story because you have twittered about it immediately.

In retrospect you might realize that the intention about the 50 Euro story was not to share this experience, but it is rather a tool for the initiation of more profound conversation, hence small talk (this must not be the only intention though, it could also be a tool to strengthen the relationship, but lets stick with the example).

Well, what has happened? Continue reading

Effectiveness of Social Media Bots.

To measure a machines success in imitating human behavior various techniques can be applied. This is commonly known as the Turing test, as developed by Alan Turing (1950). The effectiveness of bots can also be evaluated using a classical Turing test where the quantity and the quality of a bots output is measured and tested on a human test person.

Ineffective countermeasures:

This image shows a CAPTCHASocial network services such as Facebook have introduced certain security techniques to identify bots from humans such as CAPTCHAs (machine unreadabla pictures that can only be parsed by a human user) or automatic detection of massive friending, fake profile names and other unregular behavior. The effectivness of these measures is limited as Huber, et al. (2009) conlude: Continue reading

Social Bot Design Strategies.

At the time of writing social bots have still been barley examined. Only few academic research can be found on this topic and it is only possible to identify few design approaches of sophisticated social media bots. The few documented approaches have been published by researchers. It is to assume that there are other social bots that have not been identified yet.

We can identify social bots of three types: Continue reading

Introduction to social bots.

Bots, also known as Web Robots or Internet Bots, are software that is used to do simple and repetetive tasks to substitute human labor. The most widespread use of bots is in web site spidering or web site crawling where these programs crawl and index web sites to create a map of the internet.

Bots are part of the internet since the very beginning. There is a growing number of bot types that can be encounter nowadays. Apart from web crawlers, bots have been widely used as spambots to distribute spam emails or as chatterbots (also called talk bots, chatterboxes or artificial conversational entitities), bots that simulate human conversation, mainly in a chat room or instant messaging environment, and intent to fool human users into thinking that the program is a human being. Continue reading

Social Bots.

These days I spent a some time investigation social bots. That are computer bots, software programs, that are designed to participate in human compunication via social media.

The idea of bots as helpers or administrators is nothing new to information technology. Lots of them are in use as chat bots observing the behavior chat room users, for instance. But these modern social bots are more.

Social bots are different to classic bots as they try to trick other human users into believing that they are human. Another speciallity is that they cannot only participate in communication, but they also activlely form the typology of their proper social network by creating connections to other users (friending/following).

The quality of such bots is still very inconsistens and many bots can easily be identified as such though engaging them into a profound conversation.

If you have some programming knowledge you can easily create your own sophisticated bot using the real boy (http://ca.olin.edu/2008/realboy/), but there is also a simpler way to maintain your proper twitter bot through the website botize.com (http://www.botize.com/index.php?ln=en).

Thoughts on Digital Identity.

The possibilities of digital identity management have become more and more sophisticated over the years. 20 years ago there was little more space for defining identity than a username and a biography (at least to the mainstream user), social media services nowadays offer functions to communicate that we like/read/listen/watch a great variety of digital content. Profiles have become ever more sophisticated allowing us to create a limitless multimedia timeline of our own lives.

But what really identifies us is the relationship to our connections? In social network services it is possible to encounter twelve Continue reading