“Exhaust data” cite in the Economist

A few weeks ago, Economist reporter Andreas Kluth wrote a nice piece about Facebook and social networking services in general, titled Social Graph-iti.

He kindly quoted me referring to the peripheral vision that Facebook’s MiniFeed gives you, all assembled casually, almost randomly, from “exhaust data.” It’s a weird phenomenon.

The most basic activities on Facebook include “friending” other Facebook members and adding small Facebook apps to your profile. As you do this, you quickly realize that these events become an intermittent narrative of your actions on Facebook, and that they show up on your “friends'” feeds. So when you buddy with Joan and Bobby, all the people you’re already friended with see that you just friended Joan, then Bobby. Then they see you added the Werewolf app, and so on.

Not very useful, right? Except this flow gives you this ongoing feel for what your posse is up to, without explicitly asking anyone or running a query. That’s what I mean by peripheral vision, and it is useful.

I’ll come back to Facebook and its dynamics shortly. For now, though, this post goes out the virtual door, so it won’t sit half-baked forever.


About Jerry Michalski

Lateral thinker, itinerant troublemaker, convener, idea mill.
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2 Responses to “Exhaust data” cite in the Economist

  1. Cayrn says:


    Folowing some of ur deeds.
    Very interested, so …

    Posted an extract (clip) of your blog on :

    Posted back on your blog the permalink of that clip :

    May be considered as a useful social networking interaction ?…

  2. Interesting thoughts about our new digital lives and their representations on the internet. I have been researching this from a theoretical point of view. Relating it back to dualism and Descartes. One way I have started to describe this phenomenon is through the popular anime series “ghost in the shell”. Where the author took this concept into the future and made it a integral part of society.

    Anyway, you can see my thoughts about that here, The Ghost in the Machine (still a work in progress)

    Also, I defined a similar term, “digital exhaust“, created a page on Wikipedia about it, and cited you and your economist article in the wikipedia article.

    You are welcome to help me better define the term, improve the wikipedia article, or discuss it more with me.

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