Category Archives: Uncategorized

New Socialism and the Hive Mind

In their essays “The New Socialism: Global Collectivist Society is Coming Online” and “The Hazards of New Online Collectivism” Kevin Kelly and Jaron Lanier present two drastically views of online collectivism. While Kelly embraces online collectivism as the beginning of a new age in global cooperation, Lanier cautions against trusting the wisdom of an anonymous online collective. Continue reading

The Social Web

This weeks readings, Chapter 5 in Clay Shirkey’s Book, Here Comes Everybody, and Michael Bauwen’s article, “The Social Web and its Social Contracts” both deal with how the social web has created a new kind of form of interaction that has been jointly agreed upon by those who use the web. These social contracts are implicit and for the most part not expressly written but they form a new way of interaction on the web and in our society as a whole. Each writer also talks about how user interaction creates this new form of communication or societal contracts.

In his article, “The Social Web and it’s Social Contracts”, Michael Bauwens talks about how the basis for the web and many of its uses, such as chatrooms and blogs, are built on a underlying social contract that according to him is actually quite stable, even if it is somewhat implied and there are not any real written rules per se. Bauwens believes that internet users allow themselves to have their “attention to be monetized through advertising” because we enjoy the facilities of the internet so much and understand that it is in a sense the fair trade that we must give to use the qualities of the internet that we so value. Bauwens also says though, that we will only permit this fair exchange if it does not stop the ease with which we use the facilities of the Internet that we so enjoy and if that exchange does interrupt our favorite qualities of the Internet we as a society of Internet users will revolt and move elsewhere.

In chapter 5 of “Here Comes Everybody”, Clay Shirkey talks also about social web and the contracts that are in a way inherent within the Internet. Shirky specifically talks about Wikipedia and how it affects the notion of social contracts on the web. Nupedia was the original idea for Wikipedia or behind Wikipedia, however Nupedia failed, paving the way for Wikipedia. Wikipedia’s success may be due to fixing part of the reason that Nupedia failed. Nupedia had an extremely long review process by the owners of the website before posts were approved. Wikipedia has extremely quick updates by users and very little review process, which has also been the subject of complaints as well as admiration. Complaints often stem from the notion that early on in Wikipedia’s popularity, it was often thought of as being extremely faulty because of the little amount of review that each post was submitted to. Wikipedia was orignally created by the inventors of Nupedia, Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger, wanted to create a free version of the higher end Nupedia. Wikipedia eventually became much more successful.

The name Wikipedia comes from the idea of Wiki’s which were small user-edited sites that were originally conceived and created in the mid 1990’s. The creator felt that users would want to have the control of editing and that they would innately trust others with the editing process. Namely one’s peers. After originally using wiki’s to work on rough drafts for Nupedia, Sanger and Wales gave wikipedia is own address and the site blew up, far surpassing the site visits and power of Nupedia. Wikipedia is completely user generated and controlled. A person can decide to create an entry for something, that is edited by peers of course, and then further entries are created off that. Thus the notion of a wikipedia race mentioned in other posts is created. According to Shirky, Wikipedia is able to “aggregate individual and often tiny contributions, hundreds of millions of them annually, made by millions of contributors, all performing different functions” (Shirkey 118). Wikipedia entries are a shared work. Everyone contributes on them and they are never fully done. Each person adds or edits it using what they know or what information they have links to. In this way it is a truly collaborative group project, which works because the users actually have to care about the “product” that is being turned out. For me, it would seem surprising that Wikipedia has been successful as it has been, maybe it is just the skeptic in me but, I would feel that there are enough people out there that don’t really care to make the information unreliable. But apparently, the participants are extremely committed to the outcomes, as Shirky would say.

The Philosophy and Politics of F/OSS (Free and Open Source Software)

Code is Speech – Gabriella Coleman

In an effort to examine the ways in which Free and Open Source Software (F/OSS) developers are reconfiguring what source code and speech mean ethically, legally and culturally, Gabriella Coleman subsequently divulges that the broader political consequences of these redefinitions on for understanding the connections between code and speech.

At the beginning of her essay, Coleman utilizes a long haiku written by software developed Seth Schoen to begin to outline her arguments abut freedom of speech in the software developing world.  The source code is a transcoded bit of Free Software called DeCSS that “could be used to decrypt access controls on DVDs in violation of current copyright laws” (pg. 421).  By utilizing this example of Schoen, Coleman is attempting to highlight how such developments that challenge the meanings of both freedom and speech concurrently tinker with technology and the law using skills that transform and consolidate ethical precepts among developers” (pg. 449).  The legal action surrounding Schoen’s haiku of protest that source code is speech sets up Coleman to better explain the legal pedology and the subsequent battles over intellectual property, speech and software and in particular, the arrests of two programmers (Jon Johansen and Dmitry Sklyarov) and the manner in which their actions both provoked protest, questioned the value of source code and speech and how they made social processes a publicized, media frenzied event. Continue reading

To follow up from the last class, food for thought.


So I was thinking about how we ended off last class, and figured it was worth exploring the idea reality mashups with MIPs. Basically, if MIPs work on social networking sites, how does that translate into how they work in actual interpersonal relationships, and furthermore how persuasive experiences really only work the same way online, because people dont communicate that way in real life.

There are many examples of these online, most of the satyric. But I was wondering if this makes sense to people, and if you agreed or disagreed with the disparity of the two.

Facebook: How private is it?

In the article titled “Mass Interpersonal Persuasion: An Early View of a New Phenomenon” BJ Fogg explores the role mass interpersonal persuasion (MPI) plays in social networking sites. Fogg believes MPI, a new form of persuasion, emerged when Facebook launched its Facebook Platform in May 2007. The new platform allows third parties to create and distribute web applications to all members of the site combining interpersonal persuasion with the reach of mass media (2).

He explains a course he created at Stanford University teaching the psychology and metrics of Facebook applications. Students were instructed to test various options and use data to create and distribute their applications, competing against big companies and professionals to attract users (3).

Fogg describes the six components of Mass Interpersonal Persuasion. An important point to note is that these components have existed before the Facebook Platform, however, they had never been used all together until now.

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The MIP distro

The articles, Mass Interpersonal Persuasion by BJ Fogg, and Social Network Sites: Public, Private, or What by Danah Boyd, both explore the expansion of social networking sites, their societal acceptance, and the implications their future growth. However, each author takes a separate approach in their framing of social media and its uses. For Danah Boyd, this scaffolding revolves around the clash of public and private spheres especially as it relates to the relationship between today’s youth and educators. This lens is reflexive of Fogg’s asserting of the growth of Mass Interpersonal Persuasion within social networking sites, but it also juxtaposes the relationship between this growth and Boyd’s concept of the private space.

In Boyd’s article, the separation of physical and virtual spaces forms the precedence between the dissonance of utilization within social networks. While the use of social networking sites is pervasive in technologic-communication society there exists a tension within the perception of this space as a personal forum vs. a public forum. In particular, the youth of our society is confronted with the distribution of identity on social networking sites, but the separation of personal and public spheres of these sites is perceived differently by the young and old. Correspondingly, this difference in perception is a result of “mediated publics with a homogeneous audience are not nearly so well-received in a mediated public with variable audiences (Boyd 3).” I find that Boyd’s assertions of co-opting the public and private spheres provides only a limited understanding of the cross-sectioning of public and private spheres–by only focusing upon the disparity between youths and educators Boyd fails to encompass the gravity of distribution within mass publics.

In contrast, Fogg’s assertions of Mass Interpersonal Persuasion (MIP) is a holistic view of distribution in general. Fogg uses Facebook as the springboard for the development of MIP. Markedly, this platform allowed for 3-rd party application developers to distribute their apps over a social networking site, a level of access never seen before. These structures combined allowed for the persuasion experience of MIPs to be broadcasted to an mass public that no technology has allowed before. Singularly, it is enabled through the development of technology. However, more importantly it is through social networking platforms like Facebook that provide the social development of technology to matter. The technology also enables a high level of automation that dovetails into high levels of social distribution. These combinations ultimately contribute to the rapid distribution of apps on Facebook. Correlatively, the new form of persuasion that MIP creates through social networking also highlights the influence of persuasive experiences upon users. There is a reason why Facebook and these apps have had such success in their distribute, and this is a result of the simple psychological effects that developers impart upon the design of apps and the responses of users. Similarly, apps are designed with analytic metrics to measure the effectiveness of app programming. These are the main attributes of MIP, however I will list thing once again in the following:

1. Persuasive Experience: An experience that is created to change attitudes, behaviors, or both.

2. Automated Structure: Digital technology structures the persuasive experience.

3. Social Distribution: The persuasive experience is shared from one friend to the next

4. Rapid Cycle: The persuasive experience can be distributed quickly from one person to another.

5. Huge Social Graph: The persuasive experience can potentially reach millions of people connect through social ties or structured interactions.

6. Measured Impact: The effect of the persuasive experience is observable by users and creators.



Technologies Changing Society

    In the continuation of Here Comes Everybody, Shirky expands on the effects of society no longer being constrained by transaction costs.  In chapter 3 he focuses on how society has come to a period of mass amateurization and its implications; chapter 6 is on new the forms of collective action, chapter 7 is on how powerful collective action can be versus individual action, and his TED talk reiterates these points emphasizing effective use of society’s new tools.

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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.

Navigating Virtual Cities

The Greek poet Simonides was famous for building memory-places: stories turned into architecture, the original information spaces. Doug Engelbart expanded upon this idea of information-space and brought us the interface: a translator of the zeros and ones of computer language into the words, concepts, images, and associations of human language. Interface maps the virtual cities of the 21st century.

Virtual City

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