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Tales from Facebook [Paperback]

Daniel Miller
2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
RRP: 15.99
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Book Description

26 April 2011
Facebook is now used by nearly 500 million people throughout the world, many of whom spend several hours a day on this site. Once the preserve of youth, the largest increase in usage today is amongst the older sections of the population. Yet until now there has been no major study of the impact of these social networking sites upon the lives of their users. This book demonstrates that it can be profound. The tales in this book reveal how Facebook can become the means by which people find and cultivate relationships, but can also be instrumental in breaking up marriage. They reveal how Facebook can bring back the lives of people isolated in their homes by illness or age, by shyness or failure, but equally Facebook can devastate privacy and create scandal. We discover why some people believe that the truth of another person lies more in what you see online than face–to–face. We also see how Facebook has become a vehicle for business, the church, sex and memorialisation. After a century in which we have assumed social networking and community to be in decline, Facebook has suddenly hugely expanded our social relationships, challenging the central assumptions of social science. It demonstrates one of the main tenets of anthropology – that individuals have always been social networking sites. This book examines in detail how Facebook transforms the lives of particular individuals, but it also presents a general theory of Facebook as culture and considers the likely consequences of social networking in the future.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 220 pages
  • Publisher: Polity Press; 1 edition (26 April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745652107
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745652108
  • Product Dimensions: 22.7 x 15.4 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 343,290 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

′With social media playing an increasingly dominant role in our lives, it was about time somebody undertook a serious academic study of the way the Facebook phenomenon is changing and shaping behaviour... Whatever your feelings about the ever–present Facebook, Twitter etc, they are here to stay, so this book is an intriguing guide to as–yet uncharted territory.′ The Style King

‘Miller has written an insightful and engaging look at what Facebook has done to Trinidad and, more intriguingly, what Trinidad is doing to Facebook. For anyone keen to understand what human culture is becoming as the internet becomes its nearly universal vehicle, Tales from Facebook is obligatory reading.’ Julian Dibbell, contributing editor for Wired magazine and author of My Tiny Life and Play Money

‘Tales from Facebook is a genre–busting tour de force. Miller moves between fascinating stories of the often unexpected ways Trinidadians (for whom the verb “to friend” is over a century old) use Facebook to thought–provoking discussions of the broad implications of social networking sites. Readers from a wide range of backgrounds will find this book an insightful treasure.’ Tom Boellstorff, Professor of Anthropology, University of California, Irvine, and author of Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human

From the Back Cover

Facebook is now used by nearly 500 million people throughout the world, many of whom spend several hours a day on this site. Once the preserve of youth, the largest increase in usage today is amongst the older sections of the population. Yet until now there has been no major study of the impact of these social networking sites upon the lives of their users. This book demonstrates that it can be profound. The tales in this book reveal how Facebook can become the means by which people find and cultivate relationships, but can also be instrumental in breaking up marriage. They reveal how Facebook can bring back the lives of people isolated in their homes by illness or age, by shyness or failure, but equally Facebook can devastate privacy and create scandal. We discover why some people believe that the truth of another person lies more in what you see online than face–to–face. We also see how Facebook has become a vehicle for business, the church, sex and memorialisation. After a century in which we have assumed social networking and community to be in decline, Facebook has suddenly hugely expanded our social relationships, challenging the central assumptions of social science. It demonstrates one of the main tenets of anthropology – that individuals have always been social networking sites. This book examines in detail how Facebook transforms the lives of particular individuals, but it also presents a general theory of Facebook as culture and considers the likely consequences of social networking in the future.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flawed but interesting study of Facebook usage 1 Aug 2011
By Peter Durward Harris #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
These days, it is increasingly hard to escape Facebook, whether or not one is actually signed up to it or not. Even the main news stories carry occasional stories about Facebook, most of them negative. Yet Facebook can also be a force for good, although the good stories don't generally make the headlines. This book is the first serious study that I've read about Facebook. It illustrates the impact through twelve short stories, averaging about twelve pages each, each focusing on an individual, their use of Facebook and how it affected their lives. A thirteenth short story focuses on a food that has its own Facebook fan page.

The thirteen stories are all from Trinidad, a former British colony in the Caribbean whose inhabitants have (it seems) taken Facebook to their hearts. While one may argue about the choice of Trinidad as a research base, it does allow the author to add interest to the book by telling us about various aspects of Trinidad, its people, their life and culture. That said, if you really want to learn about Trinidad, there are plenty of other books devoted to the subject. With the 50th anniversary of independence from Britain due in 2012, there may be more coming soon. While Trinidad is very different in many ways from any major industrialized country you care to name, there are enough similarities to make it a viable research base. People still have the same basic needs even though they may express them in different ways.

The first story here focuses on a marriage that might have been in trouble anyway, but Facebook usage destroyed it. Some of the detail may be Trinidadian, but the basic story could easily be British or American.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Mark Meynell TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
It's one of those brilliant ideas that you kick yourself for not thinking of first. "Ok, so for my next trick project, I'm going to spend six months in Trinidad trying to understand the impact Facebook has had on the island's culture." Genius. But that's precisely what UCL Anthropology Professor Daniel Miller has done - and it's not quite as random or self-indulgent as it might at first appear. Desptie the rather anodyne title, and the faintly ridiculous cover image, his book Tales from Facebook contains some very helpful and interesting insights into the effect of social networking.

But for all my jibes, Trinidad is actually quite a shrewd subject - it is relatively small and self-contained, it is non-western, and most significantly, has perhaps the second highest per capita proportion of Facebook users in the world (second only to Panama). So it does lend itself to this sort of study. And Facebook must be studied - for its growth from a privileged frat house site to a global phenomenon has made its mark on all our lives whether we've a facebook account or not.

Being largely ignorant of the disciplines of anthropology, I learned a fair amount - and in contrast to some of the things I've read on Facebook which are either a bit too pop-culture amateur, too generalised, or too moralistically luddite, this study at least had some sort of rigour and methodology to it. I didn't always quite connect with the book's style, and inevitably it is often anecdotal. But still, a number of helpful things resulted from this research. 3 interesting surprises, in particular, stood out for me, suggesting that Facebook's most hostile detractors are mistaken, at least some of the time. So this is not so much a review as a reflection on some of his points.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tales from Facebook 23 Oct 2011
Format:Paperback
If Facebook were a country, it would be the third most populated one. Facebook is like a walled garden of friends and family, where you can find out everything about them; it is like a slower cycle to find things out. Once you add a friend to facebook friend list, then you will always know everything about his/her life. You become a part of your friend's life.

The book "Tales from Facebook" by Daniel Miller is not an analysis of Facebook but is an anthropological view of presenting how Facebook has become a small scale society, where people can construct a field or set of relationships. For example, the first story of the book looks at a marriage that might have been in trouble because of Facebook. We can see from the first chapter that Facebook has become the "place" that people or families can meet each other. From this perspective and as anthropology tends to analyze a set of relationships as kinship, we can argue that Facebook nowadays has become the tool which can observe kinships through social networking. As a result, we are realizing that Facebook has turned out to be something much closer to older traditions of anthropological study of social relations such as kinship studies. What I am trying to say is that this book is a serious academic study so is to be expected.

This book is the first anthropological analysis of Facebook. It illustrates the impact of thirteen different stories from Trinidad, which, in each different story, try to reflect an aggregate of an individual's private sphere where each friend or a family member is presented in the same space, in the same community or even better in the same home.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Meandering and directionless
Firstly, I'd have to say that this book is badly misdescribed in the blurb - this promises to be a set of well, Tales from and about facebook. It's not. Read more
Published 23 months ago by N. Gratton
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting rather than surprising or startyling investigation of...
In Trinidad!

This is an account of one anthropologist's investigation of how Facebook, the internet social networking site, has influenced life in Trinidad. Read more
Published on 27 Nov 2011 by Lark
2.0 out of 5 stars Confused as to what it is trying to be
I felt that this book (Tales from Facebook by Daniel Miller) was confused in what it was trying to be. Read more
Published on 27 Oct 2011 by J. S. Hardman
4.0 out of 5 stars engaging, inescapable Facebook!
Social media is an unavoidable currency in our society. Here is a fresh and serious academic study of the way the Facebook phenomenon is changing and shaping behaviour. Read more
Published on 6 Oct 2011 by J. DOUGLAS
5.0 out of 5 stars Tales from Trinidad Facebook users
Not being a Facebook fan myself but fascinated by the phenomenomen that Facebook has become I chose this academic review to gain an insight into what the fuss is about and was not... Read more
Published on 29 Sep 2011 by M. J. Robinson
2.0 out of 5 stars Tales from facebook
I've read this book quite thoroughly...not what I was expecting. I enjoy using facebook on a regular basis but I found this poorly written and badly paced. Read more
Published on 25 Sep 2011 by Ghost of Kai
2.0 out of 5 stars Really Wasn't What I Was Expecting
When I read the blurb for this book I was expecting to end up with a book that was about Facebook - but what I got was a book that was more about life in Trinidad. Read more
Published on 11 Sep 2011 by RozziD
2.0 out of 5 stars A sociological account of trinidad?
Read the detail more carefully than I did before choosing this book-pretty fascinating if you are looking for a detailed account of life in Trinidad rather than a study on effects... Read more
Published on 21 Aug 2011 by avid british reader
1.0 out of 5 stars Bitterly disappointing. Nothing new or revelatory here. Where's the...
Right- here's the thing.You can write an academic textbook. It won't sell by the truckload, but you will have integrity and may add to the sum of human knowledge. Read more
Published on 16 Aug 2011 by M. W. Hatfield
4.0 out of 5 stars A sociological account
Take care, this is not the fluffy light read for Facebook fans that the cover may hint at. It is an in depth sociological study. Read more
Published on 14 Aug 2011 by Kindle Customer
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