Sometimes the online world reveals unsuspected parallel dimensions. This is an unknown restyle of Neural independently (and secretly as we never knew about it) made by NY-based Motion and Graphic Designer, Clarke Blackham. Very nicely made, perhaps only a bit glossier for the magazine’s line, it testifies once more how even your most familiar outcomes can have another life somewhere else.
The reward-return system Facebook uses to entice users back to their profile to check for likes on posted photographs, comments on their status updates and peruse their ever-growing friend count creates an algorithm of addiction most users can testify to. Statistical number-crunching and manipulation of this data further customises the kind of posts we are exposed to and who they are from. Facebook metrics are used to quantify our social activity, and create a system that values qualitative insight into the kind of social connections we make. Facebook Demetricator is a free web browser add-on that hides Facebook metrics in order for a user to focus on content and people and not the numbers commonly representing them. All counts disappear so that a user can interact within a social network without enumerated rewards. According to Ben Grosser, the author of the software, “the quantifications of social connection play right into our (capitalism-inspired) innate desire for more”. This can clearly be backed up by that very notion that the advertising revenue raised by Facebook is dependent on the content the users put into it, which is in turn not rewarded by a monetary payment [as it is the case with some other online systems] but with the gratification of ‘numeric popularity’. When we are presented with a status update, or a photograph, what degree of autonomy do we have in our experience? How does our perception change according to whether 2 people have liked a status update compared to several hundred? How many less photographs might be posted if Facebook removed its like button all together? These are some of the questions the author of Demetricator raises. The software works by removing all traces of counts from the interface – for example ‘You and 7 other people like this’ becomes ‘You and other people like this’. It’s important to note that the software doesn’t affect the database content, but only the display of these counts seen on the user’s page. Grosser is taking feedback from users of Demetricator to gauge how their experience of Facebook is changed by it. He is inviting users to engage with the questions ‘Who are my friends?’ ‘How do they think?’ and ‘What have they said?’