So HuffPo thinks my alma mater Earlham College is the most "Hipster" school in America...

According to one astute review on College Prowler, there are "a crap load of dirty hipsters" at Earlham College in Indiana. "If you don't like PBR [Pabst Blue Ribbon], find somewhere else," the reviewer wrote. O-kay. On a more positive note, the Hipster Handbook reports that "Hipsters tend to receive a strong education at Earlham because there is nothing else to do but study in Richmond, Indiana."  I'm not sure if I'm ashamed, amused or proud.  Perhaps a little bit of each?

Ten Principles to Live by in Fiercely Complex Times

If you're like most people I work with in companies, the demands come at you from every angle, all day long, and you have to make difficult decisions without much time to think about them. What enduring principles can you rely on to make choices that reflect openness, integrity and authenticity?

Here are ten that work for me:

1. Always challenge certainty, especially your own. When you think you're undeniably right, ask yourself "What might I be missing here?" If we could truly figure it all out, what else would there be left to do?

2. Excellence is an unrelenting struggle, but it's also the surest route to enduring satisfaction. Amy Chua , the over-the-top "Tiger Mother," was right that there's no shortcut to excellence. Getting there requires practicing deliberately, delaying gratification, and forever challenging your current comfort zone.

3. Emotions are contagious, so it pays to know what you're feeling. Think of the best boss you ever had. How did he or she make you feel? That's the way you want to make others feel.

4. When in doubt, ask yourself, "How would I behave here at my best?" We know instinctively what it means to do the right thing, even when we're inclined to do the opposite. If you find it impossible, in a challenging moment, to envision how you'd behave at your best, try imagining how someone you admire would respond.

5. If you do what you love, the money may or may not follow, but you'll love what you do. It's magical thinking to assume you'll be rewarded with riches for following your heart. What it will give you is a richer life. If material riches don't follow, and you decide they're important, there's always time for Plan B.

6. You need less than you think you do. All your life, you've been led to believe that more is better, and that whatever you have isn't enough. It's a prescription for disappointment. Instead ask yourself this: How much of what you already have truly adds value in your life? What could you do without?

7. Accept yourself exactly as you are but never stop trying to learn and grow. One without the other just doesn't cut it. The first, by itself, leads to complacency, the second to self-flagellation. The paradoxical trick is to embrace these opposites, using self-acceptance as an antidote to fear and as a cushion in the face of setbacks.

8. Meaning isn't something you discover, it's something you create, one step at a time. Meaning is derived from finding a way to express your unique skills and passion in the service of something larger than yourself. Figuring out how best to contribute is a lifelong challenge, reborn every day.

9. You can't change what you don't notice and not noticing won't make it go away. Each of us has an infinite capacity for self-deception. To avoid pain, we rationalize, minimize, deny, and go numb. The antidote is the willingness to look at yourself with unsparing honesty, and to hold yourself accountable to the person you want to be.

10. When in doubt, take responsibility. It's called being a true adult.

A Portrait Of Who Uses Social Networks In The US (And How Social Media Affects Our Lives)

Did you know that out of all social networking users 92% partake in Facebook, 29% participate on MySpace, 18% are on LinkedIn and Twitter is the least utilized network with just 13% usage? Or that males on LinkedIn nearly double the number of females, yet female usage of Twitter almost doubles male usage?

Today Pew Internet & American Life Project, a project of the Pew Research Center, launched a detailed report on how social networking affects our lives that contains these results and more surprising information.  The report includes a wealth of information from whether or not social media is making people less social in real life to detailed demographic data about U.S. usage of each network.

The goal of this report was to discover what social networking is actually doing to people in their personal offline lives.  These are the highlights and conclusions from the 80+ page report.

Who Uses Social Media Networking Sites?

Some of the initial information that Pew Internet presents relates to the social user and who they actually are by age, race and gender.

One of the most weighty stats about social networking usage is the fact that overall social networking usage has nearly doubled from 2008  to 2010.  Back in 2008 26% of adults were utilizing a social networking service (SNS) whereas 47% of adults were using a SNS in 2010.


Leading the increase in social networking usage were those over the age of 35, which grew nearly twice as fast as those 18-35 in the same time period.  Only 18% of Internet users over the age of 35 used a social networking service in 2008 and by 2010 that number was up to 48%.    The average age of an adult SNS user jumped from 33 years old in 2008 to 38 years old in 2010


Typical to similar studies the report backs up the fact that social networking users skew female.  A notable change showed the discrepancy actually grew from 6% more females in 2008 to 12% more female social networking users in 2010:

Site-by-Site Breakdown

One of the most interesting elements of the report is the site-by-site statistics that showed who actually uses the various social networking sites.


A few surprising stats arose from these findings, including the fact that the average MySpace user (32 years old)  is younger than both the average Facebook user (38) & Twitter (33) user.  LinkedIn skews the highest out of all the networks with users having an average age of 40.


LinkedIn is the only social network that has more men than women and the disparity is rather large with men nearly doubling the number of women.  Twitter, on the other hand is almost exactly the opposite of LinkedIn with woman making up 64% of the total users.

Race & Ethnicity

The information contained in the report shows that the vast majority of social networking users in the U.S. are white; the lack of minority participation on most networks is staggering.

African-American users have the lowest presence  on LinkedIn making up only 2% of the total users.  The highest saturation of African Americans is on MySpace with 16% of the total users.

Hispanic users are not prominent on social networking services either.  LinkedIn is comprised of only 4% Hispanics, compared to the approximate 14.5% Hispanic makeup of the national population. Hispanics do however make up 12% of both the Twitter and MySpace user base.

LinkedIn is far and away the most saturated site when it comes to white users who make up a whopping 85% of the user base.

Social Networking Usage

Much of the information that Pew Internet uncovered about social usage was expected like MySpace having users who have been members the longest, Twitter having members for the shortest time lengths, but there was some interesting data in regards to everyday usage.

The main finding in regards to usage is that Facebook is far and away the most popular social networking site.  Other sites don’t come remotely close to the popularity of Facebook.   Of all users on social networks, 92% use Facebook, 29% use MySpace, 18% use LinkedIn and just 13% use Twitter.  That’s right, people who have a social networking account are least likely to use Twitter.


While Twitter finished in last place out of the main 4 sites the frequency of use of Twitter is quite high.  Facebook again leads the pack in frequency of use with 52% of users checking at least once a day, but Twitter is close behind with 33% of  users on the service daily:

Facebook Statistics & Usage

Facebook is a focus of this report and thorough usage data and user behavior is included throughout.

Facebook users are quite active in not only using the service, but interacting with others.

  • 22% of users comment on another’s post or status
  • 26% of users “like” another user’s content
  • 15% of users update their own status
  • 20% of users comment on another user’s photos

The most active Facebook users tend to be women.  19% of women update their status at least once a day, while men are about half that number (11%) when it comes to daily status updates:

In addition to commenting and updating statuses, Facebook users do “like” quite a bit of content.

  • 44% of users in the 18-22 age range “like” content on a daily basis.
  • Men are less likely to “like” Facebook content than women.  20% of women “like” content several times a day compared to just 9% of men.

Breakdown of Friend Relationships

In addition to usage, the report sheds light on the what the most common makeup of Facebook friends might be.

  • 22% people from high school
  • 12% extended family
  • 10% coworkers
  • 9% college friends
  • 8% immediate family
  • 7% people from voluntary groups
  • 2% neighbors

Does Social Networking Hinder Real-Life Social Experiences?

The biggest question that Pew Internet wanted to answer with this report was whether or not social networking hindered off line activity and interactions.  The answer is clear, it most certainly does not.  Not only do SNS fail to retard offline growth, they actually help users develop connections and form stronger relationships in the real world.

Some of the most interesting stats that prove social networks are more than just online relationships are:

  • Only 3% of users’ Facebook friends have never met in person.  While 89% of all Facebook friends have met in person more than once.
  • Internet users have a much more diverse network than those who don’t use the internet.  Out of all social networks, LinkedIn users have the most diverse networks.
  • The average user of a social networking site has more close ties than a non-Internet user and is half as likely to be socially isolated as the average American.
  • Internet Users are more trusting of others than non-Internet users.  Facebook users are over 3 times more likely than non-internet users to agree that “most people can be trusted.”
  • Social networking users may have more of a life than non-internet users.  There is a higher percentage of SNS users to partake in a community group, sports league or youth group than a non-internet user.

Other Interesting Learnings

  • Private messages are not frequently used.  Only 38% of users claim to use Facebook’s private messages at once a week or more.
  • MySpace users have a greater probability to take multiple viewpoints than any other social networking site.
  • Internet users are more likely to know their neighbors’ names than non-internet users
  • LinkedIn is the only platform that skews male.  Nearly twice as many men (63%) as women (37%) use LinkedIn. All other SNS platforms have significantly more female users than male users.

The Demographic Landscape of Social Networks

I’d like to share a brief demographic analysis of social networks that helps explain who uses social networks, and for what purpose.

Before diving in, I think its best to discuss where our data comes from. Amzini is a directory of over 900 social websites that are visited over 7 billion times per month, by over 900 million visitors ( We collect demographic information on each website from, who uses their toolbar to provide estimations of the audience's composition for each site. On an individual site level, these statistics often must be taken with a grain of salt due to small sample sizes and Alexa's bias towards the technologically saavy crowd. However, since our statistics are deduced from 900 websites that average 9 million visits/month per site, our demographic figures provide a unique and informative new look into the social networking industry.

The demographic averages for our entire data set tell a familiar story; social networking is dominated by younger generations with no children, and online networking activity picks up in college. Now that I told you what you already know, let’s look at a categorical breakdown and heat-map featuring demographic data separated into Amzini's 11 main categories.

Demographic Heatmap of Social Networks


Use of Social Networks by Age and Category

As a whole, we see exactly what we expected... social networks are most popular among the youngest generation (18-34) and are used less frequently for each successive age group over 35. This trend is often attributed to an increased likeness for technology among youth. However, the heat map to the right highlights the important role generational differences in interests plays in creating such a young social networking demographic.

Youth ages 18-24 tend to use social networks to supplement social life, learning, and having fun. These happen to be the three strongest suits of social networking. The categories that are most popular among this age group are Friends/Dating (social life), info-sharing/education (learning), and creative arts/gaming (having fun). Combined, these 6 categories make up about 91% of the total visits per month among sites on Amzini!

The most diverse use of social networks comes from the 25-34 year old age group. This demographic tends to continue to use the services they used in college, but less often. However, as they start to have new interests (business, family), the data suggests this is the age group most likely to use online social engagement to benefit their business/career, discuss or plan travels, and share family-related experiences online.

For the demographic above 35, there is clearly some technological bias against social networking. However, the reasonably high likeliness of these age groups to use business, family, and dating networks suggests that social networking's popularity among youth may be not just be due to technological differences, but to a better fit of interests.


Social options are becoming available for more and more new interests... Do you think these networks are entering in response to a more diverse market? Or do you think the market is diversifying due to innovations that make social engagement valuable for a more diverse set of needs?


Use of Social Networks by Education Experience

The participation rate for social networks across the board tends to be higher for people with college-level education. In college, your network expands beyond your hometown and there is a tremendous amount of information shared between students. As mentioned before, social networking is a great fit for these needs, so the high use among people with college education is not surprising.

Two categories break this trend. The first, Gaming, has an unusually high participation rate among people without college experience. With an extraordinarily young following, it is likely that a high percentage of gamers are simply too young to have college experience.

The second trend-breaker, Places, has a very high participation rate among people with graduate-level schooling. This statistic can likely be attributed to the positive correlation between graduate school and income, and between income and travel.


Does it surprise you that Gaming is the only category where social networks are used more often than other sites among people with no college experience?

Gender and Children

Use of Social Networks by Gender and Children

A social network's gender is probably the demographic most strongly influenced by the community's niche. Many categories present data in line with stereotypes... Gaming is strongly dominated by males, lifestyle and family by females. There are, however, some surprises here. Dating, Places, and Business actually are used more often by females while education networks are used most by males. Are these as you expected?

The dominance of a population without children is likely strongly influenced by the correlation between age and having children. It is also likely that older generations have a decreased need to meet new people as they settle down and have kids. The obvious exception to this trend is the 'Family' category, for which having kids is often the primary reason for participation in the first place.

Browsing Location

Use of Social Networks by Browsing Location

The heat-map of browsing location reveals strong use of social networks in the workplace. This raises an interesting debate. On one hand, strong engagement with social networks at work may suggest social networking is becoming a distraction in the workplace. On the other hand, this engagement may be representative of the increasing application of social websites for practical purposes (beyond socializing with friends).

Social networking is becoming a growing asset to businesses as both a marketing and a communication tool. While extremely strong numbers for the Business and Places categories likely reflect this use, you have to wonder if lifestyle, friends, and interest networks are being used in a social context rather than just for marketing purposes.


What do you think about the use of social internet at work? Do these numbers reflect a growing importance of online communities for businesses? Or are social networks becoming a distraction for workers?

We've given some brief interpretations of this interesting data set, but there are many interesting topics of discussion that we have not covered. What story stands out to you?

Social cues, social responses, humans know when a computer is engaging them | Real Estate Relativity

Social cues, social responses, humans know when a computer is engaging them

Posted on Wednesday, 2010, July 28, 17:18, by Eric Bryn, under social media, social media and direct marketing research.

This research paper from Nokia Research Center, Stanford, and Queens University implies that humans can ascertain with an uncanny degree of certainty when a social message is sent from a computer versus a human. Social responses to communication technologies theory (SRCT)  predicts that humans cannot reliably ascertain such nuances. This research contradicts this premise.

The research team, using prior research in SRCT theories, tested whether humans could discern whether a text message was sent via a human or computer when flattery was an element of the message. They found that humans reliably discern the originator of the message apparently because certain social cues were missing in the computer-generated messages.

Why this is relevant research: SRCT theories could be used by software designers to create computer programs to engage social network users with the goal of getting them to increase self-disclosure under the guise of an interaction seemingly being conducted with a human. With the FTC recently considering allowing people to opt-out of behavioral targeting on the Web, the issue of nudging people towards more self-disclosure is timely given all the issues surrounding privacy and use of PII in social networks, especially if a user discloses such PII under the assumption they’re interacting with a human. This is a very interesting article and quick read (four pages).

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