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 Group Work That’s Wikipedia

This week I read chapter 5 in Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirkey and Michael Bauwens’ article “The Social Web and its Social Contracts”.  The chapter in Shirkey’s book is about Wikipedia and how users are motivated to help make Wikipedia a success. Michael Bauwen’s article is about how the social web is based on an underlying but stable social contract. User participation is vital in both articles. Continue reading

Failure is Free

This week’s readings, “Failure is Free” by Clay Shirky and “Code is Speech” by Gabriella Coleman, discuss the importance and the success of the open source system in current society. First I will review the logic behind an open source system and why/how it has become such an integral part of how we manage and structure our organizations. I will then go over the issues that surround this rising system.

In chapter 10 of Here Comes Everybody, Clay Shirky discusses the logic of publish-then-filter than has emerged from the evolution of the open source system. This new method has been enabled by the idea of “failure for free”. Shirky explains this using the success of Stay At Home Moms (in chapter 8 of his book). Like any group formed on the Web, every Meetup group faces the problem of balancing specificity and size. In other words, each group wants to create a sense of local community and shared interest without being too general or too specific. An ideal group would exist right in between the generic and the specific—something achieved by the Stay At Home Moms (which can be demonstrated by the success of the group). How was this achieved? Did Meetup know that this would be such a big hit? The process of such group formation is actually quite ironic. Meetup uses an untraditional methodology in which they “do best not by trying to do things on behalf of its users, but by providing a platform for them to do things for one another (Shirky, 235). This seems to be reversed customer service—doing the least possible to serve the users, and instead leaving it up to the users/consumers to communicated and serve themselves. This leaves much room for failure as one may predict. Most groups fail due to a lack of interest by users (too generic, too specific, too boring). The user’s judgement is highly valued because the rise of groups is not a business decision, but a by-product of user behavior. As Shirky writes, “Meetup is succeeding not in spite of the failed groups, but because of the failed groups” (236). This is simply because failure is free. Through trial-and-error systems such as Meetup, successful groups such as Stay At Home Mom are born.
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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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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