• Motorburn
      Because cars are gadgets
    • Gearburn
      Incisive reviews for the gadget obsessed
    • Ventureburn
      Startup news for emerging markets
    • Jobsburn
      Digital industry jobs for the anti 9 to 5!

All posts by Carmen Schaefer

Carmen Schaefer
Carmen Schaefer believes she can tell everything there is to know about a person just by spending some time studying their Facebook pages. This interest in the social networking titan was spurred by an MA completed through Wits University in Johannesburg. Her full-time job is lecturing Visual Communications at Vega Cape Town, and says that students, (as well as her own) Facebooking habits fascinate and inspire her daily!
  • Facebook: a shrine for the digital age

    About two years ago a friend of mine died. He was a kind, genial and fun-loving man, and his death at a too young age came as a shock to his vast circle of friends and family. I remember the first time I accidentally came across his Facebook profile after his death: his profile photo was still the same, and for a moment it felt like he was still alive. His wall was being used by many of his friends to express their grief and loss. In fact, his wall was a testament to the suddenness of his death:...

  • Life without Facebook: Scarier than you can imagine

    Last night I indulged in a little fantasy, imagining what my life would be like without Facebook. I had a bad day and was cross with the world and I thought: I’m going to delete my entire Facebook account. I suppose the fact that deleting Facebook in my head means getting rid of the world is quite telling. I realised that I don’t know where on Facebook I would delete my account, so this morning I started to investigate. Under FB Security settings one can deactivate ones account, and this is what most people mean when they say they’ve...

  • It’s complicated: Thoughts on why Facebook doesn’t like you to be alone

    Jane Austen was a big fan of an advantageous marriage, and so it seems, is Facebook. One's changes in relationship status are the most prominent feature on the Timeline after being born, and of course, joining Facebook. Facebook has even designed little icons for these events; I recently saw a friends’ engagement announced with a little blue ring and a neat date underneath. Is meeting the right person such a notable achievement? Irritated singletons might wonder why all the Timeline announcements are necessary, surely getting together with someone special is a chance occurrence, exactly like winning the lottery. Others might...

  • Thanks to Facebook, my birthday is an event

    I recently had my birthday, which for most people is the day of the year when they have the most activity on their Facebook page. When I checked my Facebook on the day I saw only four birthday posts on my Timeline. I felt taken aback. All of the people that I have close relationships with had already phoned me by then, I had a great birthday date planned, and was going to see all of my closest friends at a birthday party the next day, so why was I still disappointed by my four Facebook posts? I started...

  • The mechanics of a Facebook breakup [Case Study]

    Susan Sontag said that photographs "furnish instant history, instant sociology and instant participation." Nowhere is this truer than on Facebook. A user’s photos create an "instant history". "Instant society" is created by who is tagged in the photographs and where, and "instant participation" by the ability that all the friends have to comment on the photographs even if they were not part of the moment that has been captured. When I first started studying the Facebook profile of the beautiful and popular Emma FB, I was struck by a photo taken on the way to her Matric Ball. She is...

  • The difference between Facebook friends and real friends: A case study

    My object of study, the 21-year old beauty who I call EmmaFB, has 921 Friends on Facebook. Her friends are from all the phases of her life, from pre- and primary school, high school, university, going out, friends of friends, and family members. This range of friends has been confirmed by international studies to be the typical set of friends a young person has. As EmmaFB told me in an interview I conducted with her, she goes out a lot, meets people and then is what she calls "invited" by them on Facebook the next day. She does not...

  • Shades of Jane Austen’s Emma: The art of the Facebook photo pose

    This piece was inspired by the Facebook Profile of a beautiful and rich young lady for whom, in order to protect her privacy, I have chosen the pseudonym of EmmaFB (After the title character in Jane Austen's Emma). When I first started investigating her Facebook, there were 468 tagged pictures of her. A few months later, she was tagged in 317 photos. She had untagged herself or deleted (if the photographs were in her own albums) over 100 pictures of herself in that time period. Roland Barthes, the famous linguist, semiotician and photo connoisseur, writes extensively on the moment...