Wednesday, November 05, 2008

To T/S and the likes

Dear Treespotter,

Thank you for your letter. It is so sweet I've been crying all night long. Not that I'm the weak little girl here. But because it, your letter, depresses me. I've been trying to concentrate on my thesis. Damn, if only I knew it could be this tough, I wouldn't have majored in economics. I blame that on the barristas here. Yes, those five disillusioned, irresponsible econ chauvinists: Aco, Ujang, Sjamsu, Ape, and Rizal. They're the ones who made fall me in love with economics. Frankly at first I thought economics was bullshit. I hated economists, they behave like they know everything. But as I started hanging out in this Café, I often overheard them guys talking. And boy, it's interesting. I realized economics is not just about growth, inflation, and employment. It is about why people do what they do. So there I was. When there was an opening, I immediately applied. And I became the manager of the café. The pay is pretty, but it's not the only thing I factored in. I loved the environment too. One thing led to another, I even applied to an economics school.

Then things changed. Apparently I put too much faith in the ceteris paribus dogma, I wasn't all prepared when the fun barristas started to cut their time in the café. I knew they did that because they were involved in many other but also useful things. At the same time I started to write my thesis -- "skripsi" as they call it here. So I too have less time. (Frankly as I desperately needed advice for my thesis only to find all the barristas were busy, I considered quitting. But I changed my mind. This café is still the most fun place for me, even though them barristas can be nasty). Good that the café is still alive though, albeit less frequent happenings. But we -- the barristas, the guest mixers, and me, will all come back safe and sound. I, for one, am still the lesbian cute manager who will resume playing music soonish. Aco will have to resume his Econ101, otherwise we keep cutting his paycheck. Ujang will post again from somewhere rural. Sjamsu has promised to come back in-between his gigs (I hate it when he spends more time with his band playing Queen or whatever somewhere and less time playing here. But I think it's because I have been too skewed to jazz (well actually to hip-hop too recently). OK, I'll play some rock. And yes, we've got Pasha for music too). Ape will report more on his noble fight against poverty. So far Rizal has been very loyal (although I know it's because he's stressed out with his exams there).

Finally let me tell you about my thesis I have been mentioning above. I'm working on the economics of Facebook (another reason I spend more time there than here). I'm interested in how people signal each other through that thing. My hypotheses are firstly, Facebook will provide a way to market to discipline so-called observers. Before, we have seen observers or commentators or op-ed writers (or "pengamat" as they call it here) talk so much bullshit without reservation. Now you can criticize them immediately via Facebook network. They will get aware and conscious. (Blogs to some extent fail to deliver that service). Sooner or later the writers will realize this. They will seek balance between revealing much at the Facebook at the cost of exposing themselves to direct check by "friends" and the enjoyment of "social-networking" (sorry Aco, you don't like this term, I know) at the cost of having to be really careful in saying or writing things somewhere else. The easiest control for this is arguably the size of your network. In other words there is an optimum level of network size (i.e. the number of friends you have in the Facebook) so as to leave you in a comfort zone. I'm interested to find where that level lies, given types of people, and not just op-ed writers.

Secondly, Spence signaling theory is alive and well. Add to that the revealed preference principle: trust what you see, not what you hear; trust what people do, not what they say. It is very interesting to see how people try to make others believe what they are. Hence, the urge to get into the middle, to appeal to the majority. Or to be exclusive, for whatever reason. Many people tone down their otherwise strong ideology so as to get more friends from "the other side". Some do just the opposite so as to be perceived as a sexy eclectic and hence getting more friends from "the same side". Some put their academic titles so explicitly, their first names are professor or doctor. Some buy Blackberry and can't wait to let people know when they download Facebook-for-Blackberry. Some keep reporting their status with different cities to reveal their big fly mileage. Some students use that to make fun of their teachers and professors (some are so excited they sound silly). Some are just so cool.

So that's it, T/S. I've been busy. And pardon me that I don't care with the current crisis. Maybe the barristas do. But thank you, I'm nostalgic too. Buy me drink?

Kate Salemba (see, the damn Facebook has forced me to reveal my identity)

1 comment:

  1. okay, i just got back here and there are tons of interesting posts. How do you guys keep quiet for months and suddenly jump all in two days?

    anyho, the facebook is REALLY, REALLY interesting. I was on facebook for a short while, then i got really sick of it. It has my work friends, and it has a picture of my gf kissing other people and that kinda reached the line for me. Can't see the optimum thing for anything there and i just stopped using it.

    The awareness thing is real and legit, it just failed to work for me. but keep me (us) posted about it. it's interesting.

    I'm interested on your thoughts on why you think blogs don't work, but we'll pick it up later...