Sunday, September 29, 2013

Friendships have a Seven year Expiration Date?

Gerald Mollenhorst Friendships have a Seven year Expiration Date
Friendships have a Seven year Expiration Date

Had a good chat with someone recently? Has a good friend just helped you to do up your home? Then you will be lucky if that person still does that in seven years’ time. Sociologist Gerald Mollenhorst investigated how the context in which we meet people influences our social network. One of his conclusions: you lose about half of your close network members every seven years. You are stuck with your family but you can choose your friends. Really? For years sociologists have argued to what extent personal networks are the results of your own preferences or the context in which you can meet someone. Would your best friend have been your best friend if you had not been in the same class for three years? You may have more Facebook friends as the years go by, but when it comes to your close friends, you lose about half and replace them with new ones after about seven years, new social research suggests.

As a result, the size of your social network stays about the same.People might like to think they have control over whom they choose as friends, but social networks could also be influenced by the context in which we meet one another. Sociologist Gerald Mollenhorst of Utrecht University in the Netherlands was interested in finding out exactly how many our networks are shaped by social context or by personal preference. He conducted a survey of 1,007 people ages 18 to 65, and then contacted the participants seven years later. From the original group, 604 people were re-interviewed. The survey contained questions such as: Who do you talk with, regarding personal issues? Who helps you with DIY in your home? Who do you pop by to see? Where did you get to know that person? And where do you meet that person now?

Many sociologists assume that our society is becoming increasingly individualistic. For example, it is held that we strictly separate work, clubs and friends. Mollenhorst established, however, that public contexts such as work or the neighbourhood and private contexts frequently overlap each other. The results showed that personal network sizes remained stable, but that many members of the network were new. About 30 percent of discussion partners and practical helpers had the same position in a typical subject's network seven years later. And only 48 percent were still part of the network. This finding goes against previous research which had showed that social network sizes are shrinking. Mollenhorst also established that networks were not formed based on personal choices alone. Our friend choices are limited by the opportunities to meet. He saw that people frequently choose friends from a context in which they have previously chosen a friend. Also, whether or not our friends know each other strongly depends on the context under which people meet.

Another recent study showed that social networks were shrinking dramatically. Scientists at Duke University, and the University of Arizona, Tuscon, published a study in 2006 claiming that social networks were not only shrinking a great deal, but that the number of people claiming to have no one with whom to discuss important issues was skyrocketing.

7 year frindship
Friendships have a Seven year Expiration Date

I've heard this figure thrown around by many friendship experts and psychologists over the years, and I think it's an interesting study. My personal opinion is that this is more factual as we get older. A fascinating component that seems to be missing from the study is the impact of the Internet in expanding the opportunities to meet new people and changing the dynamics of social context. In the end, the opportunity to meet reigns above it all, as you can’t fall in love with Mr. Right or meet Miss Best Friend if you never have the opportunity.

One take-away message: If a friendship is meaningful, it needs to be nurtured.
Do most of your relationships have a shelf life?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Unplug For A Few Hours

unplug detox internet social media
Unplug detox internet social media

Are you constantly on your smartphone, laptop, tablet or PC checking your email, Facebook, Instagram, or twitter? I’m sure we’re all guilty. But how do you feel after you've checked out or checked in all of your social media channels? When you’re constantly stalking, um, checking your friends status’, updates, tweets, etc, it can make you feel a certain way about yourself. Something in the age of connection that has so many feeling so lonely. Something that even in this instantly searchable world has so many feeling so lost. Because when we have more Likes than friends, something has to give. We’re addicted to feedback, addicted to sharing our story with our social audience. It’s almost like the event didn't happen if you don’t post about it. There is no doubt that the use of technology has increased over the past several years.  I must admit, Facebook and Twitter take over most of my time on the Internet; therefore, it was no surprise when I stumbled upon one article that shared some of the detailed statistics for how people use the “Top Social Media, Apps & Services.” And while I had a pretty good idea of how popular social media had become over the years, the use of some of the following social media sites surprised me – especially My Space. People simply cannot nurture hundreds of connections without something having to give. 

      ·         Evernote: 60 million users
·         Facebook: 1.15 billion users
·         Foursquare: 33 million users
·         Gmail: 425 million users
·         Instagram: 130 million users
·         LinkedIn: 238 milion users
·         MySpace: 32.6 million users
·         Pinterest: 70 million users
·         Twitter: 500 million users (200 million active)

With statistics such as these, it is safe to say that people spend a large part of their day on the Internet. There is a popular saying; “moderation in all things,” which simply implies that people should not do or have too much of anything. I ask the question – can people have too much of social media? It’s easy to get caught up in social media, as well as useful apps and services that seem to make our lives easier? Sites such as Skype and MeetUp allow us to connect with others; iTunes, Pandora and Spotify bring us all of the latest music. And then of course there are the social networks such as Twitter and Facebook that keep us up-to-date on all that is going on around the world almost every minute of the day.

unplug detox internet social media
Detox internet social media

 Sometimes people justify the excessive use of social media with the argument that it keeps them connected with family and friends and also allows us the opportunity to meet new people. While that may be true, we can actually do this offline. It is good to take a break from technology to rejuvenate, refresh and relax our mind.  Can you recall the feeling you have when you get home from a long work-day and finally get the chance to sit and unwind?  We can actually experience that same feeling of relaxation when we “unplug” from the Internet and detox from all of the technology we encountered throughout the day. Below are some suggestions on how to “unplug.”

 In the morning before work or school, use that time to reflect on the day's tasks

1.       During lunch break, instead of grabbing our cell phone to check Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, use that hour to rejuvenate and relax our mind. This will help us feel refreshed and recharged
2.       During morning or evening commute to and from work, leave our mobile device in the bag. Enjoy the surroundings and do some sightseeing as we walk to our destination
3.       Don’t check mail or text messages while having dinner with family and friends. Give them all of our attention; the texts and email will be there when we're done.
4.       Unplug on the weekends (at least one day). Schedule time for yourself to do an activity that brings you joy.
5.       Encourage your kids to do the same.

Try involving yourself in activities that will enrich your life. That could be picking up the phone to actually make a call to a loved one, doing some basic exercises outdoors or just reading an inspirational book. Alternatively, if you have a business connected to your use of social media, keep up your media engagement. However, you might still want to consider the basic tools of balancing work and play. After all, the best creativity often results when you’re actually living life, not just posting about it. If we’re not careful, we’ll find ourselves staring at our computer screens and mobile devices morning, noon and night with no separation from work or play.  Well, it’s time for me to unplug for a few hours.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Facecream: Facebook Flavored Ice Cream

Facebook Flavored Ice Cream
Facebook Flavored Ice Cream 
People love social media. But some people love it … more than others. Dare we say too much? They love it enough to name their child “Like” in honor of the Facebook button. They love it so much it becomes more than a way to connect – it becomes the centerpiece for celebrations, an over-arching decorating theme, or the linchpin tying together their proposal. We’re still not sure what’s going on with the Facebook-themed Hindu temple, it’s the perfect example of how lavishly some people are displaying their affection for social media.

All that being said and done, Can you imagine tasting a social network? Although supermarkets have yet to see Twitter Tetrazzini or Tumblr Tiramisu … Facebook-flavored ice cream exists. The iconic Facebook “f” logo is pretty much everywhere these days, and I bet as many people recognize it as the Nike Swoosh or the Apple logo. And while Facebook hasn’t gone too nuts slapping its logo onto merchandise at this point, that doesn’t mean that we can’t visualize it. You already practically live on Facebook. Now you can eat it, too. However, you might have to travel overseas to taste it. In case you didn't already feel a bit conscience-stricken about all those hours staring at your news feed, now you can guilt over consuming Facebook-inspired calories to your daily drama. The ice cream, tinted blue of course, is sold at Admir Adili and Ibi Adili's ice cream shop, Valentino, in Croatia. The new creation, which actually tastes like candy, has been a big hit among customers. The flavor was inspired by Admir's own daughter, who is like many teenagers around the world and spends quite a bit of time on the site.

If you live somewhere in the world where it’s hot and sticky, you know that nothing makes you feel better than some cold, refreshing ice cream. Ice cream shoppers are always searching for that new flavor that everybody will like, well this store may have found one. It’s hard to have an edge as an ice cream shop (or, so I imagine, I have never run an ice cream shop.) Unless you’re going to get funky with your flavors and start infusing your vanilla with ayahuasca and appealing to a niche of psychedelic summer treat enthusiasts or something, ice cream is just ice cream. But Admir and Ibi Adili, brothers who run Valentino ice cream shop on Murter Island in the Adriatic Sea, found a unique way to attract social media lovers in the area: They created a blue-and-white ice cream and named it “Facebook” complete with a logo that will look familiar to anyone who spends too much time creeping on acquaintances via the world’s most scary-popular social network.

The Facebook ice cream does not taste like Facebook because Facebook is a social network and you cannot taste it (though I imagine it would taste like complete narcissism, blended with constant complaining and a hint of baseless political expertise.). I don’t even want to imagine about what a Twitter ice cream would taste like. It doesn't take much to mimic the social-media giant, The Facebook ice cream tastes like gum and candy, thanks to the flavored blue syrup. This isn’t the first time someone’s made some quick money off of goods with a social-media theme (you can buy Twitter shoes if that’s what you want to do with your money), but it might be the first time someone has made a type of food that supposedly captures the essence of a social network. You can still get the colorful treat if you find yourself on Murker Island, although that might change if Zuckerberg and company catch wind of the confection, since the Adilis are using the Facebook name without permission. While the Adili brothers have yet to ask Mark Zuckerberg for permission to use the Facebook name and logo, Admir assures that “if he calls, I’ll ask him.”

Facebook Flavored Ice Cream
Facebook Flavored Ice Cream 

Selling a scoop for a euro ($1.32), the ice cream apparently tastes like sugary sweets and chewing gum, but it’s become a hit as many passersby were immediately drawn to Facebook’s trademark logo — as well as the novelty.

*** Check it out ***
Facebook Page of Valentino:

 Facebook, the world’s most popular social network, has just passed the 100 billion valuation mark, but now you can have a slice of it for as little as 1 euro. The flavor has been a big hit among tourists, even though the Adilis didn't exactly ask Mark Zuckerberg permission to use the name and logo. Perhaps their next flavor will be Copyright Infringement.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Origins of the song Happy Birthday

Warner/Chappell copyright happy birthday
Happy Birthday Song Copyright

Before most people blow out the candles on their birthday cake, they usually sing “Happy Birthday to you.” You know the song well. But then again many of you will be surprised to find out that the highest royalty producing song of all time is "Happy Birthday". More than anything, you will be stunned to find out that Happy Birthday, the same song we belted out hundreds of times throughout your life, is in fact copyrighted and not part of the public domain. In other words, every time you sing the song at a birthday party, you technically should pay a royalty to the copyright holder. But how exactly did Happy Birthday become a privately owned, copyrighted song in the first place? The full history is fascinating.

Patty Hill & Mildred Hill 

The origins of "Happy Birthday" date back to 1893, when a pair of sisters named Patty and Mildred Hill co-wrote a song called "Good Morning to All". The sisters were also school teachers and they soon introduced the song to their kindergarten class. Their students loved the song so much that Patty and Mildred decided to include it in a book they were co-writing called "Song Stories for the Kindergarten". By publishing the book with the song, melody and lyrics, the sisters took the first and most basic step required for securing a copyright. In reality, it's likely that at the very least the song's melody was not an original Mill sister production. There were several songs at the time that pre-date "Good Morning to All" that shared a very similar tune and lyrical structure. A few examples include songs called "A Happy New Year to All", "Good Night to You All" and "Happy Greetings to All". But the Hill sister's version is the one that gained national popularity.

At some point, the kindergarten students began singing the whenever someone celebrated a birthday. It is generally believed that the students can be credited with changing the lyrics to "Happy birthday to you" as we know it today. Over the next thirty years, "Happy Birthday" became the standard song to sing at a birthday celebration all across the United States. Around this time, an entrepreneur named Clayton Summy purchased the song rights from the Mill sisters for a nominal amount of money. In 1935, Summy instructed a pair of song writers named Preston Ware Orem and Mrs. R.R. Forman to officially write and publish the melody and lyrics to Happy Birthday as we know it today. At this point, Clayton Summy formed a new company called Birch Tree Group Limited to protect the copyright of Happy Birthday. Between 1935 and 1989, Birch Tree Group Limited worked to enforce its copyright on all public performances of Happy Birthday. Any time the song was performed publicly or for profit, Birch Tree Group would get a royalty or licensing fee.

Patty and Mildred Hill co-wrote a song called "Good Morning to All".
Patty and Mildred Hill co-wrote a song called "Good Morning to All"

In 1990, Birch Tree was acquired by entertainment conglomerate Time Warner for $15 million (roughly $27 million in 2013 dollars). In 2004, the music publishing arm of Time Warner, Warner/Chappell Music, was acquired by a group of investors led by billionaire Edgar Bronfman, Jr. Today Warner/Chappell charges $10,000 – $25,000 for the right to use their song one time in a movie or television show. This explains why you often see movie characters sing an odd, custom-written version of a birthday song on screen. It also explains why chain restaurants frequently sing their own versions a birthday song when they crowd around your dinner table. As crazy as it sounds, it is technically illegal for a large group of unrelated people to sing Happy Birthday publicly (like at an office party) without paying a royalty to Warner/Chappell. Today, Warner/Chappell earns an estimated $2 million per year ($5500 per day) from royalties and licensing fees related to "Happy Birthday". Over its lifetime so far, Happy Birthday has generated an estimated $50-100 million in royalties. Even if you use the conservative $50 million estimate, that's more than enough to make Happy Birthday the most profitable song of all time. The second most profitable song is Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" from 1940, which has generated $36 million in royalties. According to, the song has been considered as protected by copyright because the lyrics appeared in a songbook in 1924 and a piano arrangement for it was released in 1935.A year after the publication of the songbook titled Song Stories for the Kindergarten containing the ditty, a copyright application was filed. Under a revised copyright law, works created after 1923 are guarantee 95 years of protection

Happy Birthday Song
Happy Birthday

But all that might change if a New York filmmaker named Jennifer Nelson has her way. In June 2013, Jennifer Nelson filed a lawsuit in New York claiming that Warner/Chappell's copyright is 100% invalid and that Happy Birthday belongs to no one. As part of a documentary about the song's origins, Jennifer claims to have gathered a mountain of evidence that proves beyond a doubt that the song actually entered the public domain as early as 1920. "More than 120 years after the melody – to which the simple lyrics of Happy Birthday to You is set – was first published, defendant Warner/Chappell boldly, but wrongfully and unlawfully, insists that it owns the copyright," the plaintiffs wrote. In addition to seeking the liberation of Happy Birthday into the public domain, the film-makers are asking the courts to order Warner/Chappell to return all of the licensing fees they have collected for the song – estimated at as much as $50m.Happy Birthday has been cited by the Guinness Book of World Records as the most recognized song in the English language.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Invasion of the Selfies

Selfies are pictures you take of yourself

Selfies are pictures you take of yourself. They are showing up all across social networks — often but not exclusively posted by women. As the numbers and frequency of selfies increase, the phenomenon has garnered attention.  In our globally connected 24/7 world, anything that gets attention, gets talked about.  Some view these self-created self-portraits as proof of cultural—or at least generational— narcissism and moral decline.  And some on the other hand, view them as a by-product of technology-enabled self-exploration. Undoubtedly, many are fans of getting their finest face out there, and who better to take a stunning, heart-dropping, people-envy-me photograph than ourselves? Everyone from bloggers to celebrities to the general public tossing up countless spur-of-the-moment head shots, one stunning shot after another and posting them on social media. Why are we so obsessed with selfies and, in particular, the people who take them? The familiar if dull refrain is that selfies reflect the narcissism of our age, spurred by the easy sharing capabilities of smartphones and the cameras they house. Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr provide potentially far-reaching platforms to broadcast close-ups of our faces, particularly the ones we deem fit for consumption by others.

Writing about Instagram in a recent New York Times essay, Jenna Wortham had this to say (not specifically about selfies, but the same principles apply).  Instagram isn't about reality — it's about a well-crafted fantasy, a highlights reel of your life that shows off versions of yourself that you want to remember and put on display in a glass case for other people to admire and browse through. It's why most of the photographs uploaded to Instagram are beautiful and entertaining slices of life and not the tedious time in-between of those moments, when bills get paid, cranky children are put to bed, little spats with friends.

Selfies aren’t new, in spite of the recent surge.  Self-portraits tagged as #selfie began to appear on the photo-sharing site Flickr and on MySpace back in 2004 and the first definition of a ‘selfie’ gained entry on by 2005 (albeit spelled ‘selfy’).  But camera phones, especially those with front and back lens action, have made taking selfies faster and easier than ever. Young women are the biggest population of selfie-posters and you know its going mainstream when marketers jump on the bandwagon.  The Fashion Conglomerate Westfield launched a contest called “Selfies Style” soliciting selfies that highlight individual style after research indicated that six out of every ten women used their mobile device to take self-portraits, most of which end up on Facebook.  Humans have long demonstrated an interest in self-exploration.  From early Greeks to present day, people have used self-study and self-observation to explore identity and sense of self. The camera in the 1860s launched a new era of selfies, but the technology demanded skill and expense.  As the camera evolved, more and increasingly creative versions of self-portraiture appeared.  Digital cameras freed portraiture from the cost and time lag of film. Then mobile phones became cameras, too. You might not always take your camera with you, but you always have your phone.  The floodgates were open on our ability to not only document everything at no marginal cost, but share them as well. (Mobile Internet access allows easy real time posting but people can also post to a Facebook page using text messaging as well.)

Selfies are pictures you take of yourself
Selfies are pictures you take of yourself
A new study from the U.K. confirms what we've long suspected: Oversharing of Facebook photos is more than just a nuisance, and uploading a hundred "selfies" per day could very well be damaging to your real-world relationships. The study found that both excessive photo sharing and sharing photos of a certain type makes almost everyone like you less. "This is because people, other than very close friends and relatives, don't seem to relate well to those who constantly share photos of themselves," explained Dr. David Houghton, the study's lead author, in a statement released by Scotland's Heriot-Watt University. "It’s worth remembering that the information we post to our 'friends' on Facebook, actually gets viewed by lots of different categories of people: partners; friends; family; colleagues and acquaintances; and each group seems to take a different view of the information shared. “The study evaluated various types of photographs (self, friend, event, family, scene, object and animal), and how each affected a handful of different types of relationships (a relative, partner, close friend, colleague and a general Facebook friend). To gauge the impacts of the photos on relationships, 508 participants were then polled, and their reactions were measured on a scale of "support" and "intimacy."

Consider this: According to statistics of the top 10 tags on Instagram, two explicitly have to do with taking selfies, and the third most popular tag, #me, is devoted entirely to self-shots. That’s 67 million self-portraits. The fifth-most popular tag, #photooftheday, predominantly contains selfies, and that tag has over 56 million photos. And just straight-up announcing #selfie is the 27th-most popular tag, with over 27 million photos. So there are an absurd amount of vanity pictures of Instagram. Then there’s Snapchat. Since Snapchat is a picture messaging service, it lends itself even more to selfies, since you’re generally just taking a picture of yourself to send to your friends and romantic interests. And if you take a Snapchat picture and think “dang I look good,” you’re probably going to want to re-take and post somewhere where everyone can see it – like Instagram. So, while we’re all for snapping the best Facebook profile photo and Instagramming your heart out, we’re adding this tiny PSA: Make sure that you’re enjoying the moment you’re photographing. The photos and the comments may fade, but that one moment in time is meant to last forever —and awesome memories require no Photoshopping.