The juxtaposition could not have been more perfect. A post on a small, but tight community in a Facebook Group called out for paid help on a project. It wasn’t a large job, but the pay was decent and one group member – let’s call him Ollie – wanted it. “I’m hardworking and reliable, and would love this opportunity,” he commented on the post. He was the second person as well, after the obligatory “sounds cool” comment.
There was one small problem for the potential employer. Ollie’s Facebook profile picture displayed a young man slightly the worse for wear taking part in a game of human Buckaroo. Click through and status updates varied from discussion of Ollie’s assorted hangovers and Ollie’s night’s out.
Rather glad that Ben Goldacre chose to write about the “Facebook can give you syphilis” non-story from last week. It seems everybody’s got it in for Facebook at the moment and while there’s a lot you can complain about, some of the ridiculous stories written about the site take bad reporting to a whole new level.
When somebody who struggles with most forms of maths and science at the best of times (ie me) can spot huge flaws in the science and maths and correlations, then chances are the facts behind said story are pretty poor.
Twitter, it’s fair to say, has seen its profile soar in the UK media in the last couple of weeks, thanks, in no small part, to a growing band of celebrities who’ve joined the site.
Now, if you’re a celeb, you’re no one if you’re not on Twitter (ok, not quite. Don’t take this statement literally). Jamie Oliver swung by today. Phil Schofield has been Tweeting away from the set of This Morning . The Daily Mail has started republishing assorted celebrity Tweets as articles. And swathes of new users have started signing up to the site, prompted by the celebrity Twitterers and the media coverage.
But this post isn’t just to push his site, it’s also to pick up on one of his comments in the article:
“I do believe that social networks are the next big thing when it comes to specific interests. They are just so dynamic and take traditional outlets like magazines – often the glue for interest groups – onto the next level. The wisdom of the crowds thing really means that niche social nets have tremendous value. “
My own feeling is that any regulation probably wouldn’t work, because the web moves too fast, and probably wouldn’t solve long-standing problems or fears about the number of children using social network sites.
[Although you could also argue that as these kids have been using the internet all their lives, they're probably a hell of a lot more switched on and web-literate than most of us adults.]
Wat Tyler has a list of subjects that won’t get A level students into Cambridge, along with a bit more about dumbing down. Given that nearly all the A levels I took were on the list , I doubt Oxbridge would come calling to me nowadays.
(Although, unless the standard of physics GCSEs has risen significantly over the summer, the sciences hardly inspire confidence for our great young minds.)
As somebody who spent the majority of his A level and university life studying soft subjects, I always feel slightly compelled to defend them. Or rather, the ones I studied, or near-as studied, in this case communication studies and media studies.