Author Archives: restopesto

Collaborative promises, tools and bargains

In the final chapter of Here Comes Everybody, Shirky writes that there are three things that must exist before collaboration can happen: promise, tools, and bargain.

  1. Promise: reason people get involved in collaborations
  2. Tool: facilitators of such collaborative work
  3. Bargain: the rules and expectations of the collaborative group

It is when all three of the requirements are properly met and executed that a group succeeds in collaboration. In my section, I will be focusing on the bargain aspect and also touch on the complexities of collaboration.

A bargain defines the expectations of a group so that everyone can agree and follow accordingly. A successful bargain is one that is “a good fit for both he promise and the tool used” (261). Sometimes the bargain is simple, as in the case of Ivanna’s phone Shirky discusses in Chapter 1. Social networks come with more intricacy. In Flickr groups, there are intricate rules about posting that users must observe. For instance, you are not allowed to post pictures if you do not comment on the two previous images, and you must wait before making multiple postings. This is to combat Tragedy of the Commons, the temptation for user to post their work for potential viewers, but not bothering to pay attention to anyone else’s photos. Alan Page Friske refers to this phenomenon as “equality matching,” where the most talented members of the group don’t get much more attention than the least talented” (276).

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New Media vs. Old Media

Lev Manovich’s “The Language of New Media” delves into the intricacies of new media. In the first chapter, Lev Manovich goes on to outline the dissimilarities between old media and the new media we are immersed in today. There are five key difference are numerical representation, modularity, automation, variability, and transcoding.

1. Numerical representation

Whereas old media is made up of “continuous data,” new media consists of distinct units and numerical codes (ex.pixels). The digital code allows new media to be described as mathematical formulae, and to be manipulated by other formulas. For example, the entertainment industry is notorious for applying “algorithms” to improve photographs. It can be dishonest and presents the viewers with a distorted and unrealistic media objects.

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