Category Archives: Section IV

Social Networking Technology: New Public Sphere

                Danah Boyd examines the phenomenon of mediated public life, what kind of characteristics it has and how it is different from traditional public life. Today’s youth engaging in public life through social networks sites like MySpace, Facebook, and Bebo. In his article Boyd examines “social dynamics of mediated public life” in order to understand the role of technology in shaping public life. Continue reading

‘The L(o)ng Revolution’ and ‘Scroogled’


In 1974 Raymond Williams wrote an essay about the impact of television on society, “Television: Technology and Cultural Form.” In it, he expressed concern that while television had the ability to offer “extreme social choices” and could potentially lead to a “more educated and participatory democracy,” it also has the ability to further limit and regionalize the way we think and interact with one another to the few choices offered to us by large corporations and institutions.

In today’s reading, “The Lo(n)g Revolution: the Blogosphere as an alternative Public Sphere?”, Anna Notaro begins with this excerpt from Williams’ article in order to put her own into context. While Williams’ assertions are seemingly out-of-date, they can be reapplied to the technology of today, which is the Internet. Her goal for this essay is to explore the political implications of the Internet and she wonders whether the Internet will remain a delimited public arena in which intellectual exchange freely flows between ordinary people, or become highly monitored and limited by potentially anti-democratic values. She concentrates on the “blogosphere” in particular (a term coined by William Quick in 2001 to refer to the “intellectual cyperspace” that bloggers inhabit), and its role in relation to “the intersection between technological change and a reformulation of the public sphere.” Continue reading

Our Digital Persons: Blogs and Google

This weeks readings were Anna Notaro’s “The Lo(n)g Revolution: the Blogosphere as an alternative Public Sphere?” and Cory Doctorow’s Google fiction “Scroogled.”

In “The Lo(n)g Revolution: the Blogosphere as an alternative Public Sphere?” Anna Notaro suggests during this period of never-ending technological advances and the expansiveness of Internet, that we are entering a time where the blogosphere is not just an alternative but, instead, is the new public sphere. Notaro reminds us, however, that we are often clouded by a naïve excitement in the hope that the internet will be an ideal agent for social change and “true” democracy, but we must wait to see if it will live up to its potential.

So how do blogs play a key role in this idea of public discourse, professionalism, and political communication? Continue reading

The Mass Amateurization of Social Communication

In Clay Shirky’s book, Here Comes Everybody, he examines the dynamics of group organization in social, cultural, and political fields, as described in the previous post “Cooperative Frameworks.” Shirky goes beyond this notion in the proceeding chapters and explores the capabilities that new media have given to the user and the ways in which individuals have appropriated new media tools and applied it to collective action.  “Cooperative Frameworks” provides a contextual platform on which Shirky builds his next points regarding self-publishing and collective action via the Web.

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The Shift to Social Communication

In Here Comes Everybody and the lecture “How Social Media Can Make History,” Clay Shirky elaborates on the impact of social technologies and the shift that occurred in the media environment.  Ever since the popularization of the Internet, media has become more social.  Shirky declares on the cover of his book, “revolution doesn’t happen when society adopts new technologies—it happens when society adopts new behaviors” (160).  In his book and lecture, Shirky reveals how new technologies—such as the Internet and its features like e-mail and websites—allow for society to adopt new behaviors.  These technologies did not cause the changes in society’s behaviors; these technologies empowered society to adopt the changes.

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Cooperative Frameworks

In the book Here Comes Everybody, Clay Shirky explores the profound impact that the loosely structured group has on society.  The ease at which these groups, free of managerial frameworks, can be formed today is rapidly changing the institutional landscape.

In 2006, a woman named Ivanna left her phone in the back of a New York City cab.  She asked her friend, Evan Guttman to offer a reward for its return by e-mailing a message that would show up on the phone.  Eventually, Evan set up a website about the missing phone which prompted several significant events: Continue reading

Networks; The Power of Hubs

How do some  webpages on the Internet become so ubiquitous that we are rarely ever less than two short links away from viewing that page? How have some webpages become so popular among the hundreds of billions of webpages that are on the Internet currently, not to mention the new ones that pop up almost every second? More importantly how do certain pages become the centre for web activity and lead us to other pages within their network? Albert-Lázló Barabási explored these questions about networks and the organization/disorganization of interconnectivity within his Chapter titled Hubs and Connectors .

Barabási begins the piece by explaining both the power and importance of links within the web. Quite simply the larger number of Continue reading

All Linked Up: An analysis on the growth of networks.

Our latest reading is Linked written by Albert-Laszlo Barabasi. The reading centers on research and developments regarding the “network” through time.

  • The reading describes how network analysis originally grew from graph theory. Leonhard Euler, was a Swiss mathematician who first examined graph theory. Euler addressed an issue in a small town called Konigsberg where locals wanted to discover if there was anyway one could, “walk across the seven bridges and never cross the same on twice?” Euler discovered that such a method did not exist by constructing a graph based on the bridges of Konigsberg, he made the various bridges nodes and connected them by links and thus the “network” was born.
  • Linked illustrates a network with the example given on page 14, if you gather a group of 100 strangers, then eventually as human beings have a natural desire for companionship, they’ll begin to form small groups of acquaintances. Then by introducing a small detail to the group, such as a rare wine, the news will rapidly spread by individuals or nodes that bridge the information from one group to another. Types of networks include the society, the internet, a cell, or the brain. And all these networks can be illustrated by graphs.
  • Paul Erdos and Alfred Renyi, two mathematicians who studied the wine simulation suggested the best way to form a network is to connect nodes randomly. By randomly connecting nodes, one will be eventually left with one giant cluster. Where in, one can navigate to anyone else by the navigating the links of the nodes. Similarly, one can say that all humans are apart of a worldwide social cluster, where we can navigate to one another through various connections. Nevertheless, Erdos and Renyi’s theory only takes into account random networks, where all nodes are equal. On the contrary, in the actual society web, networks have distinct class systems such as governments and social hierarchies.
  • Later on, Stanley Milgram, would reveal research that suggests that nodes in a network are less random than Erdos and Renyi thought them out to be. Milgram sought to find the “distance” between any two people in the United States and thus formulated an experiment where he sought to bridge two people by sending letters to randomly chosen residents. If you didn’t know the actually recipient, you would resend the letter to someone who you think might be closer to the recipient. Milgram’s research concluded the famous, “6 degrees of separation.” Similar to six degrees of separation, social networking websites such as facebook, and Myspace list mutual friend lists that illustrate this exact theory. When becoming friends with a NYU student from a different hometown then you, sometimes you’ll find that you’re already connected by a mutual friend. I just discovered that Emma now dorms with a girl who lived down the hall from me last year.
  • A current event that illustrates the six degrees of separation model is the new addition of “lists” to Twitter. Twitter, a social networking website has recently launched Twitter Lists which allows you to cluster users who have similar tweeting topics. Thus one can create, an athlete list, a movie star list, etc. Then people can subscribe to your lists to access the people you follow. So if one is looking for a very funny twitter user whom they don’t know, they might access their friends “Hilarious People List” and continue on the chain until they find exactly who they’re looking for. The new development was designed specifically for people who seek to make Twitter more organized.
  • Moving along, in 1980 Tim Berneres-Lee sought to make the information in every computer accessible to everyone else, Tim envisioned a virtual network where we all bridge to one another, and this network eventually became the World Wide Web. This made me recall a previous post on our blog called, “The Power of Words,” ( the post discusses how society has taken technologies from the past and built upon them to apply them to the needs of today. It’s easy to see how networks have grown from groups of immediate neighbors, to long-distance neighbors through postage, to the telephone network, to the internet. Through today’s World Wide Web, we’re allowed to stretch our networks farther than ever before because we correspond to virtually anyone in a matter of seconds. The post also describes how society needs links to help bind and restrict data, because too much data at one time would be overwhelming. Similarly, we need networks to better organize the people we know. Networks help us narrow down the people we know because taking on everyone can be overwhelming. Precisely what the new Twitter Lists are trying to accomplish.
  • Linked later goes on to describe how “six degrees” is a product of our modern society that we have designed to keep in touch or in other words communicate over long distances. In Mark Granovetter’s Social World he describes a network where small fully connected circles are connected by strong ties. Granovetter’s theory suggests that certain nodes can group together that bridge to another group by one link. When thinking about connections like that I recall, Zoom, the picture book by Istvan Banyai. In the book, the pictures unfold as if one is zooming in onto a specific image. Though certain pictures are connected very tightly, they eventually connect to a transition picture that connects them to the next scene.
  • The last network discussed is the Circle Network by Duncan Watts and Steven Strogratz. Their networks illustrates how nodes are connected to immediate neighbors which are eventually connected through long range links. Unlike the previous networks, the Circle Network is not based on random bonds. It has the most structure, it’s very much like a classic character web in literature. Especially in Shakespearian literature, the characters have very distinct connections and relationships that play into a plot. This also shows how a “network” is an integral part in telling a narrative similar to how we’ve made other connections between narratives and media.

It’s a Small World After All

The reading for this week, Linked by Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, began to outline the concept of networks by highlighting several network theories.

The idea of networks first originated with a Swiss mathematician named Euler.  He lived near a town named Konigsberg which had seven bridges.

The people of the town had always tried to cross all the bridges only once, but Euler offered a proof that it was impossible to cross the seven bridges of Konigsberg without crossing one more than once by laying out vertices at common points.  This spurred the idea of graph theory, which includes “a collection of nodes connected by links” (11).  His graph had nodes that were pieces of land and links that were bridges.  Nodes with an odd number of links must either be the start or end of the journey, and since the graph had more than 2 nodes with an odd number of links, there was no way to only cross each bridge once.

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