When Did Columbia Get So Nice?

The Internet is not always a nice place. However, one group of anonymous do-gooding Columbians is trying to change that. Columbia Compliments serves an an intermediary, accepting complimentary Facebook messages intended for specific people and publically posting those messages as its status, without mentioning who sent them. In the end, the lucky recipient gets a public compliment that seems to come from Columbia. Taken together, it’s an anonymous love-fest. But just who is behind Columbia Compliments? They wouldn’t tell us, but we interviewed them anyway.

Bwog: Why now?

Columbia Compliments: We have been thinking about this idea for a while. It just felt like the right time. Midterms just finished (for most people), and a lot of people aren’t as pleased with their results as they would like to be. It’s just so pleasing to see people walk around with a smile on their faces.

Do you have any favorite compliments? What makes a good compliment?

Honestly, there are just so many phenomenal comments that it’s hard to pick just one.
A good compliment is one that puts a genuine smile on the recipient’s face, and urges others to send compliments in as well.

Has anyone submitted a compliment for themselves? If they did, would you post it?

No one has done that thus far. We will only develop a policy for that if necessary!

How long will you be doing this?

We are not in a position to answer this question at the moment.

Is it just one person?

We will not be responding to this question.

Has anyone done anything sweetly romantic? Has anyone done anything creepily romantic?

Sweetly romantic, yes. There have been tons of people that have complimented their friends and loved ones with extremely romantic language. There haven’t been too many creepy compliments thus far, with the exception of one or two secret admirers.

What about all the people who aren’t getting compliments?

The word about this initiative is yet to get to as many people as we want. Once it gets to a larger audience, we hope that one’s compliments will urge others to send in compliments as well—expanding the overall reach of this project.

Lions and Facebook and Froshbears, Oh My!

Last week, we posted some salacious screenshots of the Columbia Class of 2016 Facebook page. This morning we received the following in an email tip from a prefroshbear reader (props!):

So I saw the post about the Columbia Class of 2016 facebook page. It was pretty funny, but those posts have nothing on the stuff people have been posting on the Barnard Class of 2016 page.

She was right.

Bwoglines: “The Greatest Thing Since…” Edition

CANNED BEER: check out this history of the official container of real college’s official drink. (The Daily)

Sliced bread

This stuff is pretty great too

VINTAGE CHAMPAGNE AND SKYLINE VIEWS: Bwog knows it’s never too early to start thinking about Valentine’s Day plans (or to start repressing these same thoughts), so why not a private dinner and rooftop pool swim at the Peninsula for $1500? Gothamist recommends White Castle for “real players,” but Columbians can always do one better. (Gothamist)

POLITICAL OPPORTUNISM: a new Mitt ad makes Tom Brokaw uncomfortable, and he’s not ok with that. (Gawker)

FACEBOOK: neurotic New Yorkers share real life “defriending” strategies. Digital rejection is always easier to palate than the real thing, as these high school seniors will tell you after Vassar accidentally accepted them before rejecting them an hour later. (NYT)

SWITZERLAND: live from Davos at the World Economic Forum, the blog of econ department luminary Joseph Stiglitz’s wife, Anya Schriffin. Protip: wait till Zurich for a “decent cup of hot chocolate.” (Reuters)

Sliced bread via Wikimedia Commons.

2016 Posts Regrettable Things on Facebook, Again

Last semester, after Early Decision results went out, we checked in on the Class of 2016′s Facebook page. We expected to be, uh, entertained; we were not disappointed. So last week, when Regular Decision stats were announced, we thought maybe that the 2016 Facebook’s page had had time to ferment. Again, we expected something to chuckle at. Indeed, we must hand it to you, 2016. You not only outdid our expectations, you outdid yourselves.

Bwog In Bed: It’s Go Time

Ready to do something awesome

Finals start today. Be strong, Columbia. Allow us to whisper sweet nothings in your ear as you blink away the sleep (or lack thereof). This is Bwog in Bed.

Bwogline: Facebook released Timeline yesterday, a new feature which puts out front and in order “photos, links and updates for each month and year since they signed up for Facebook.” One analyst dubbed it, “an arms race between technology companies to know as much as possible about the people using their services.” (NYTimes)

Finals tip: The amount of beverages on your desk is directly proportional to your grade on the exam.

Hop on over to Bwog’s corner of the Twitterverse for more hot tips.

Stressbustyourself: Exercise can get your heart pumping and endorphins flowing, re-energizing your body and mind. Take a brisk walk or jog around the block to get your mind ticking along smoothly.

Overheard: One girl, inadvertently demonstrating why we should all just sign up for OKCupid already, “You see, it has to be that one perception is overpowering the other. Either he’s really really cute and he’s French or he’s really French and so that makes him cute. It has to be one or the other.”

Last but not least: HARDCORE ends tonight. Catch up on it before the grand finale.

Mascot on a motorcycle via Wikimedia

Butler Archetypes: The Social Networker

It’s been a long weekend—one you spent in Butler, no doubt. Re-join us as we continue to profile those library regulars who spent it with you. In this installment of Butler Archetypes, Carpal Tunnel Victim Conor Skelding takes a close look at just how many notifications the guy next to him has. 

Sketch from Louise McCune's dream journal.

He’ll give up anything, just to feel that rush.

New tab, f-key, return, c-key, down arrow, return, tab, password, return—inhale, pause. The moment it takes for the page to load stretches to infinity. Then, yes! God, YES, a notification! His brain floods with dopamine release.

We’ve all been there; Butler can be a sad, lonely, place. Who are you to judge the guy next to you for taking the edge off with a little Facebook action? We all do it in moderation, and it’s not as big a deal as people make it out to be.

But oh, no. With this guy, it will never be just be “a little.” He needs those little red boxes. He craves them.

Seeing a fellow human being go on like this isn’t easy for you. He’s fighting his instinct, fighting his brain which has not-so-sensibly determined that the immediate return of Facebook outweighs his paper. And the Reference Room isn’t a very friendly place—maybe a little human reinforcement, a head nod from you, will go a long way to curb his cravings. But you wonder… will he try to Friend you after?

And there he goes again! He’s waiting for the page to load. When it does, he’s disappointed, but tries to hide it. You can see him drafting an internal status; “No notifications? Whatever. Anyways, I just checked! How crazy is that. People value me. Back to workkkkk.”

Do they really, though? He’d better check, just one last time…


Bwoglines: Satire Edition

Today’s Bwoglines challenge the things you love most:

Cartoons: Pinocchio should be punished, Spongebob will destroy our children (Slate, Atlantic)

Cigarettes: The future of smoking is e-cigarettes. (NYMag)

Sex: Has been displaced by Facebook. (Gizmodo)

World History: It’s whatever. (New Yorker)

Take-Out: It’s evil! (Gothamist)

Emoticons: Sometimes they look like vaginas. (NYT)

Google: Is actually taking over the world. (WSJ)

There’s one exception! Beavis and Butthead are not only recognized for their honesty, compassion, and humility, but are also back for a new season, starting Wednesday. (NYT)

Top of Their Class: Facebook Heroes of 2015 — Nnamdi Nwaezeapu

Results of the p90x

Every war produces heroes, and this summer’s battle over delayed housing assignments that broke out on the Facebook page for the Class of 2015 is no exception. Bwog is profiling some the most famous and infamous personalities involved that social media shitstorm. In Top of Their Class, you can read about some of the people you met on the Internet, on the Internet.

Name: Nnamdi Nwaezeapu

Famous For: Sympathies towards the housing lottery, workout advice, existential revelation

Significant Posts:

“i couldn’t stand go go at first. but it grows on you. like your hair.” – July 30th at 7:22 p.m.

“i feel so sorry for all of the wallach doubles kids. but it’s so fun to watch them scramble for transfers lol.” – July 16th at 8:24 p.m.

“p90x FTW!” – August 9 at 9:23 a.m.

“i just got my wallet stolen right out of my back pocket by a crackhead! any crazy s**t happen to you guys before?” – May 19th at 7:38 p.m.

“my wallach single is going to be where all the action is. all the time.” – July 31st at 4:40 p.m.

“there is a bomb ass mcdonalds near my house.” – July 19 at 5:47pm


Top of Their Class: Facebook Heroes of 2015 — Austin Akins

The start of a night full of regret...

Given the predisposition of 2015 to Facebook and the general madness that is a Columbia pre-frosh page, Bwog is profiling the famous and infamous stars of social media. In Top of Their Class, you can read about some of the people you met on the Internet, on the Internet.

Name: Austin Akins

Famous for: Planning to live it up in Carman with his roommate Wyatt, representing the Columbia wrestling team, epigrams of social insight

Significant Posts:

“been looking for a cougar since I’ve been legal” – August 6th at 2:24 p.m.

“um, excuse me? do you realize, when I was only 5 years old, I led an entire ARMY of G.I. Joe’s over pillow mountain to defeat the evil troll empire? don’t tell me i’m not influential” – August 24th at 1:15 p.m.

“Did anyone else just have an earthquake? That was pretty sweet. I was just like bouncing on my bed… “– August 23rd at 1:16 p.m.

“Repost this if you are a beautiful strong black woman who don’t need no man” – August 20th at 3:56 p.m.


Top of Their Class: Facebook Heroes of 2015

The advent of social networking brought radical new social dynamics to freshpeople interaction in the form of class-wide facebook groups. The Blue & White has discussed the discarded walls of years past, and explored the legend of everyman Aaron Phillips. This summer, delayed housing assignments precipitated an unprecedented maelstrom of activity on the 2015 page, which also showcased never-before-seen coordination amongst classmates, who figured out exactly who was in whose Lit Hum section, on whose floor, and what concerts they would attend together come fall.

A few voices rose above the fray—you remember those kids who were all over the Facebook page. Bwog’s freshperson of the people Bijan Samerah is meeting the people behind the profiles.

Name: Eric Donahue

Famous for: Posting endless tirades against the school’s financial aid department

Significant Posts:

“The front-page Wal-Mart ads about ‘be a cooooool regular college student with your waffle-iron-cofee-maker and your swanky postmodern plastic furniture and your Blu-Ray player and suave laptop for taking notes in the quad while everyone plays scooter-frisbee behind you in front of quaint brick buildings’ are just illusions for the wide majority of actual American families” – August 11 at 1:55 a.m.

“RETURN MY FUCKING PHONECALL” – August 1st at 1:53 p.m.

“Anyone else looking to start some SERIOUS NERF COMBAT this fall?!” – May 30th at 10:21 p.m.

Read more for an interview with this most illustrious of Facebook characters.

Res Life Builds Communities, One Door Tag at a Time

Dorm door tags and floor themes are always cause for a lil’ giggling. We think that’s kinda the point—laughter builds community! Maybe Res Life is on to something here! Here’s a collection of some of our favorites from this year. And we heard through the grapevine that one RA knitted personal coasters for each of her residents. Props. Send us more at tips@bwog.com, or post them in the comments.

Supporters of Syrian Regime Attack Columbia’s Facebook Page

Screen shot of the page, filled with attacks

Hundreds of posts appeared today on Columbia’s Facebook page an unofficial Facebook page for Columbia University unaffiliated with the university declaring support for President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, the Washington Post reports. The furor is apparently a backlash against a Wall Street Journal story that ran this morning, quoting Columbia prof Hamid Dabashi: “This whole arrangement between Syria and Iran is in deep trouble because of the Arab Spring. The geopolitics and the Arab street are changing and it’s leaving them exposed.”

A few sample comments:


The Syrian people is the only one who has the right to grant legitimacy to the president, who leads his country and is not entitled to Mrs. Clinton to give legitimacy to one or the impartiality of it.

All syrian people love Bashar Al Assad

Apologies are beginning to appear on the page, such as:

On behalf of the Syrian people, please accept my most sincere apologies for the charade taking place on your page today. This is the doing of the farcical “Syrian Electronic Army”, a Facebook page that has made it its mission to mass-spam pages of various foreign newspapers, universities and international bodies with endless broken-English pro-Assad platitudes. It has been closed down by Facebook over and over but it keeps being resurrected by the same group of pro-Assad imbeciles. -cont’d

But by now the stream has slowed a little and exchanges such as this are adding a touch of humor:

Use Protection

You Are Here

You never know when someone on your Wi-Fi network is trying to change your Facebook status, tag Aaron Phillips in your profile picture, play FarmVille, or worse. Fortunately, such profile infiltration is easily avoidable. Bwog updates you on how to keep your digi-self free from malicious tampering.

Columbia’s wireless network is unencrypted, which means nefarious eavesdroppers can monitor how many times a day you visit Bwog or discover your secret love for Rick Astley’s complete works (and mash-ups thereof). It also means that, without too much trouble, they can log into your Facebook. Luckily, Lord Zuckerberg and his minions have recently released a feature allowing you to protect your Facebook data from snoopers.

Facebook does automatically encrypt your password, hooray! But once you’ve logged in, your computer is assigned a temporary unique identifier called a cookie that is used to keep track of you on the site—so that you don’t have to enter your password again every time you click a link—and this cookie is unencrypted by default. Armed with your cookie, creepers can imitate your computer and surf Facebook with your identity.

There’s a simple fix. To enable full encryption: log into Facebook, choose Account–>Account Settings–>Account Security (change). Then check this box:

Welcome to Alt Text

Microsoft Paint, because pros don't need Photoshop

visual stimulation via Wikimedia Commons

LectureHop: Committee to Protect Journalists, Part Deux

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Bwog’s intrepid lecturehopper Peter Sterne presents to you the second installment from Friday’s event organized by the Committee to Protect Journalists, in which he considers the role of the internet and social media in revolutions around the world…

The second panel, moderated by Slate editor-in-chief Jacob Weisberg, considered the nuanced role of the internet, both positive and negative, in the recent revolutions in the Middle East. Rebecca MacKinnon, the co-founder of Global Voices Online, argued that the debate over whether the internet is more useful for the “good guys” or “bad guys” misses the point; the internet’s effectiveness varies across countries and across time. Danny O’Brien, the coordinator of CPJ’s Internet Advocacy Center, agreed, explaining that journalists in Tunisia, where the government stole reporters’ and protesters’ Facebook passwords, need very different forms of support than those working in Egypt or Libya, where governments have tried to shut down all internet access. Shutting down the internet, though, does not mean shutting down the revolution. Nazila Fathi, a Nieman Fellow at Harvard who has covered Iran for the New York Times, recalled that a month after the Iranian government shut down texting services in an attempt to stop protesters from organizing demonstrations against the regime, they decided to turn it back on because they were losing so much money and thousands of protesters were still taking to the streets every day.


LectureHop: Committee to Protect Journalists

Yesterday, dozens of journalists gathered in the Kellogg Center for Journalism on the 15th floor of IAB for two panels organized by the Committee to Protect Journalists, an organization that has defended journalists around the world for the last 30 years. Bwog’s intrepid lecturehopper Zach Kagan presents to you the first of a two-panel lecture. It examines how war reporting has changed over time. Stay tuned until tomorrow to read about the second panel, which considers the role of the internet and social media in revolutions around the world, now and in the future. The panels were also livetweeted and filmed; footage of them will eventually be posted on CPJ’s multimedia site.

The first panel, moderated by Dan Rather, consisted of four distinguished journalists: The Washington Post senior correspondent Rajiv Chandrasekaran, prominent Colombian journalist Maria Teresa Ronderos, award-winning photojournalist Michael Kramber, and Terry Anderson, an ex-marine and journalist who was kidnapped by Hezbollah militants in 1985 and held hostage for seven years. According to Josh Friedman, director of the CPJ, the Committee was formed partially in response to Anderson’s capture, with a goal to protect journalists from similar threats.

Rather opened discussion with a statement on the difficulties of war reporting: “There is nothing glorious about war. It may seem sophomoric to say that, but there’s a tendency for TV to flatten things out, and I know as someone who started in print, went to radio, and ended up on TV. The best thing it does is literally take you there on the proverbial magic carpet, but it loses its context. No one that has been on the battlefield considers themselves heroes, and I think while TV glorifies war, we shouldn’t forget that that is real mud and real blood.” By the end of this statement, Rather was overwhelmed with emotion. Terry Anderson shared Rather’s sentiments, arguing that the 24-hour news cycle doesn’t faithfully portray the battleground as well as we think. Ronderos has a unique perspective on this, having covered the guerilla wars within her own country and watched while people in the city commented on the War in Afghanistan they only saw on television, completely oblivious to the fighting that was going on within their own borders. (more…)