March 16, 2013
Last December, the Global Times, China's English-language tabloid, ran a story on the local punk band Bear Warrior, which found an ingenious way to measure the audience response to their songs. Its lead singer is a graduate student majoring in precision instruments at a university in Beijing, so he designed a device—"POGO Thermometer”—that measures the intensity of the audience's dancing through a series of sensors embedded in the floor carpet in the music hall. The signals are then transmitted to a central computer where they are closely analyzed in order to improve future performances.- The Curse of “You May Also Like”
According to the Global Times, the band found that fans “started moving their bodies when the drums kicked in, and they danced the most energetically when he sang higher notes.” As its lead singer put it, “the data helps us understand how we can improve our performance to make the audience respond to our music like we intend.”
The upside for Facebook is that by having other websites link themselves in through the Open Graph, they are able to collect information about user habits beyond the confines of their own pages. Whenever the Like button is clicked, Facebook’s data system receives information about the pages their users frequent. In this way the Like button operate as tendrils, passing data back to a central nervous system. From this data, the many and varied pieces of code that make up the website’s brain can decide how to proceed, often making ads relevant to your previous browsing appear on your screen...- How do you like me now?
Apart from the rarely used Share and Report buttons, your options are to Like or Comment. This is an uneven choice. By forcing this dichotomy, Facebook requires that any negativity or disapproval must be expressed through a comment...
By simply providing a Like option, without the opportunity to Dislike, Facebook creates a place of relentless, expected positivity. The inherent ease in liking compared to the effort required to comment means that criticism requires additional commitment. Far from the vacuous mouse-flutter of a Like, commenting requires the thud of fingers on a keyboard, the unmoving motive of a durable thought. As a result, within this space, negativity has to be viewed as more negative than positivity is positive; you have made the extra effort to disagree.