May 09 2010
I found this video while researching for our final paper and it blew my mind.
May 09 2010
I found this video while researching for our final paper and it blew my mind.
Apr 28 2010
If you’re one of those students who likes to do “serious” work while simultaneously looking hot and socializing with others, you probably have been to Mann library more than any other library on campus (Kroch? …There’s a library called Krotch?!). If you are a regular of this club serious study space, you may have realized that the library is actually constantly changing and updating in response to student needs. Or you may have not realized this at all. In fact, the entire library system of Cornell is one huge well-oiled machine that many students never know about throughout their entire 4-year stint as on campus (most likely because they’re ‘networking’ with other students—which is why they’ll probably get a better job than you after graduation. sigh). Anyways, as an employee at the Mann circulation desk for three years, I have seen the library grow from a semi-built study space with few patrons, to possibly one of the most popular libraries on campus. Gone are the days spent playing online Backgammon and Solitare on computers at the desk—now, even perching on the chairs or filling out 1-across in my Sun crossword are signs of a good day. Mann is one crowded study space, even on slope day (I KNOW, right?), and in the past three years it has been changing virtually every day in response to the throngs of students that go there to flirt study.
As an aging student worker, I witnessed a Mann library without laptops for rental. Can you imagine?! Now not only are these items by far our most popular, we have also expanded into Macs and PC laptops, as well as laser pointers, cameras, USB drives, and a variety of other electronic objects able to be checked out at the swipe of a card. These items have come to be accepted as the norm, and are treated by patrons as a right-not a privilege It’s like a dance behind the circulation desk—very fluid—‘swipe, scan, stamp, repeat’—a rhythm that comes like second nature to me now. It truly amazes me how few people actually come to the library to check out books. It’s almost scary that most people forget they’re even there, almost as if they’re props in the study space. As I’ve worked at Mann over the years, I’ve witnessed the changes in technology before my eyes, and each change is a direct response to student need. Want more laptops—we got ‘em! Mac Powercords—now we have those too (and we’re basically the only library with them…beat that Uris)! Too lazy to learn the call number for the book you want?—its right on our website!
Don’t want to walk all the way to Ornithology? Pick up your book at Mann! And, if you’re too lazy to check on our website for room availability—we have it on huge flat screen TVs for you! Going to the library has never been easier or more convenient. Cornell’s networked system is so well organized that students never even realize the complexity of it. Bins of books are hand delivered every single day from library to library, as well as deliveries to specific departments and even professors. As I sit behind the circulation desk and watch the students walk in and out of the gates (each one being counted, in order to provide statistics that later help determine our ever-changing hours), its hard to think that they’ll never know just how tailored the library system is, just how technological it is, and just how privileged they are to have it. It really is a work of art-in technical terms of course. But more likely than not, students will continue to see these services (if they see them at all) as a right, not a privilege, nothing out of the ordinary. So next time you’re stopping by the Mann circulation desk, take a second to think about the web of information and organization that goes behind the entire system–oh, and while you’re at it, feel free to wrap up that computer cord before you hand back to me.
Apr 21 2010
So after sitting for a solid hour furiously brainstorming how to tie The Sims into this blog post, I’m just not seeing it as a feasible option so I’m accepting defeat. I would equate my frustration at this point to the act of trying to get your Sim promoted while balancing their love life/popularity all while making sure they don’t soil themselves or pass
out where they’re standing. Without cheat codes. After sucking up the fact that life (…Sim or real) is hard, my next move was (of course) to venture into the world of Chatroulette, the website that never ceases to entertain. Despite its popularity (and my desire to tell an anecdote or two), the Wikipedia article about Chatroulette hasn’t hit the 6 month mark, and thus I moved on to Omegle.com (Chatroulette’s lamer, older sister). If you don’t know what Omegle is, it’s a friendly chat with a stranger minus the video camera part. Talk about a party killer, right? So after that long saga I settled on CAPTCHA, a nice acronym that really rolls off the tongue that I found referenced on the Omegle Wikipedia page.
What is CAPTCHA, you ask? Clearly not selected for ease of pronounceability, this acronym actually stands for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.” Creative title. You might recognize CAPTCHA better as the annoying little box you
have to fill out when you’re on Ticketmaster at 8am on a Saturday trying to score front row tickets to the Justin Beiber concert. Well, this box of twisty letters is used to make sure you aren’t a robot (because we all know how much they have Beiber fever) and aren’t buying up all of the tickets from lonely prepubescent girls all over the nation. According to Wikipedia:
”A CAPTCHA is a type of challenge-response test used in computing to ensure that the response is not generated by a computer. The process usually involves one computer asking a user to complete a simple test which the computer is able to generate and grade. Because other computers are unable to solve the CAPTCHA, any user entering a correct solution is presumed to be human. Thus, it is sometimes described as a reverse Turing test, because it is administered by a machine and targeted to a human, in contrast to the standard Turing test that is typically administered by a human and targeted to a machine. A common type of CAPTCHA requires that the user type letters or digits from a distorted image that appears on the screen.”
If you are just dying to learn more, read it for yourself (I don’t want to give it all away) at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CAPTCHA. And as far as stats go, the page has been around since July 2004 and has since had over 2000 edits and contributors.
In terms of sources, some seem more legitimate (ie: Time magazine), while a good amount are very similar references to articles about how CAPTCHA can be bypassed or hacked. Such colorful titles include “Scams use striptease to Break Web Traps” and “Solving and Creating
CAPTCHAS with free porn,” but they actually are referring to legitimate phenomena. So I would say for the most part, I trust the sources (even the one’s that seem a little….out there). In regards to bias, it is true that for the amount of sources referencing hacking, it certainly isn’t referenced as much in the actual article. The same issue is brought up again in the discussion of the article, along with the reoccurring topic of controversy regarding ease of use. According to the article, those with disabilities such as Dyslexia or blindness are unable to use CAPCHAS, which has been considered discriminatory. This theme is continued in the discussion as a main controversy, which actually seems to get heated as time goes on.
If there’s anything that this assignment reminded or taught me, its that Wikipedia really is ALWAYS changing, and that people care a lot about the posts. Over 2000 edits to one article!? That’s ridiculous. One article! About robots! Given the blind faith that so many have towards
Wikipedia, this shows just how easy it is to alter information potentially seen by millions. It shows how controversial something as simple as a test for online privacy can be. At one point edits were even completely stopped on this article for a two week period! But clearly, there are also people out there that care enough about it to monitor the articles, so it’s nice to know that there’s a (human) safety net out there somewhat protecting the content of the over 3,200,000 articles featured on Wikipedia.
Apr 14 2010
This week I am prompted to look back to a time when not only did I look absolutely stunning in my lethal combination of braces & Sketchers, but also a time when I was myself transitioning from a lame and annoying 5th grader to an equally lame and annoying 6th grader. This crucial period in my life was also around the time when Google was actually just coming into existence onto the public sphere. In fact, I can even remember my 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Lord (one time my braces got caught in her sweater when I hugged her), telling the class all about Google and how it could find anything we wanted on the Internet (then she instructed us to look up famous events and illustrate them on our very own historical cereal boxes). At the time, I didn’t care about a search engine, I only cared about keeping my Neopet alive long enough to paint it a different color and feed it a free omelet, Though the year 2000 was supposed to be a time of flying cars and human-like robots, it was actually a time of dial-up broadband and websites like Hampsterdance. Little did we know, this was only the beginning. In my opinion, the internet was a newfangled fad more for experimentation and weird funny jokes rather than a serious information source. Then again, 10 years ago, I was 10. But still, I don’t think that people really took the newfangled interweb very seriously.
So, to be honest, how can we not know more now than we knew then (remember how we thought the apocalypse was coming when the clocks changed to 2000)?? 10 years ago the Internet was still taking shape, and its primary use was far from furthering knowledge and information sharing. Its main use was more geared towards sending e-cards and funny animations, while figuring out how to work e-mail and IM. The Internet is more legitimate now. Now we have webMD, online scholarly journals and Wikipedia. I feel like I can trust the web more now—or at least now I know what to trust and what not to trust, because as Fenton notes, its easier to spot an illegitimate source. We definitely know more now than we did back in 2000, just as 10 years from now we’ll look back and we’ll be saying the same things while we’re wearing our spacesuits on our custom-fit hovercrafts.
Mar 26 2010
In between my strict spring break oh ten regimen of watching tv on the couch and watching tv on my bed, I actually ventured outside of the confines of my house once or twice (if anyone can believe it). On one such extreme venture, I happened by a billboard that almost shocked me out of my half-conscious weeklong daze. It depicted a baby with the words “I had a nose, ears, and mouth 28 days from conception,” a huge pro-life billboard all up in my face, across the street from my local dentist’s office. Aside from the fact that I find the billboard completely inappropriate, it was a reminder of an issue that has played a key role in church versus government debates as well as the health care bill passed just this week.
Now I’m not about to go setting my bra on fire and throwing out my razor, but I do consider myself a feminist. Needless to say I saw the billboard and was not happy—plus, I prefer my politics to be served up to me on the news or online, not in my face on my way to get my molars sealed. Especially regarding a matter I support so greatly. So in light of recent events, I picked http://www.feminist.org/default.asp as my go-to website for this week’s post. The site, a non-profit, is the home base for the Feminist Majority Foundation and is decked out in pink, purple, and grey with their slogan “Equality around the world” at the top of the page. The site is professional looking besides the color scheme (pink? really!? I expected more from you feminists) with tons of information and sections on the different causes they support, as well as hard-hitting facts and figures. The sections include Home, Newsroom, Events, About Us, Career Center, Take Action, Our Work, Research Center, Hotlines, Shop, and Donate. Overall, very professional and well put together.
The website doesn’t have a forum per se, but it does link to many resources and sites to join groups in support of the cause. In terms of a balance between information and discussion, it really doesn’t feature much on the discussion side. As a non-profit organization advocating for a specific cause though, this comes as no surprise. I wouldn’t expect it to be a discussion forum because those that go to the site do so for specific reasons. If there were a forum, such a controversial issue would get heated and may delegitimize the tone of the website. This site recognizes that its role is not a discussion board, but rather an outlet for the feminist message and a source for information in support of the cause. The extent of user engagement is links leading to pre-written letters to be sent to politicians in the “Get Involved” section. So overall there’s no active debate or discussion going on here, but I wouldn’t and don’t expect it from this type of non-profit website.
Mar 18 2010
The following is an excerpt from my first paper.
I know its not as exciting as my weekly rants about Jusin Beiber.
Sorry I’m not sorry.
“A crucial part of this open-sourced system that Bruns supports, relies on the condition that produsers “are able to gain personal merit from their individual contributions, and such individual rewards finally are a further strong motivation for participation in produsage communities and projects” (29). Essentially, according to Bruns, rewarding the individual with social capital is motivation to contribute to the community and generally keep the collective information building. For instance, many websites have ratings that will boost the “popularity” of a contribution. A high rating on a site such as our New Media and Society class blog website is a social reward because the blog comes up as a top hit and is thus given more visibility. This gives amateurs power to advance via skills rather than connections or status. The idea is that by contributing a lot of good quality information “those committed, long-term participants in produsage who rise to the higher levels of the produsage heterarchies…[will] lead by example, not by coercion, by merit, not by power inherited from a position in the hierarchy, by consensus, not be decree” (Bruns, 30). For instance, top rated amateur YouTube sensations have now become popular celebrities due to the top ratings from their peers in the online community. This is also how popular celebrity blogger Perez Hilton rose to fame, and now he even owns his own record label. This way, agencies with agendas will not play a large role, and society will build upon collective information for the betterment of itself as a whole—with its ‘leaders’ self-selected by individual merit. Common property is key because it will level the playing field by giving everyone the same access to content. Any person can contribute regardless of affiliation or status, which means that people will be self-motivated to succeed, rather than driven by an outside agenda.
Though this system of amateur produsage success seems flawless and has proven its effectiveness through key examples such as YouTube and Wikipedia, the major factor overlooked by Bruns and his supporters is money. As wonderful as common property and individual social rewards are for the advancement of society and motivating individuals, it is inconceivable to think that it would actually work, given human nature and inherent viewpoints on monetary gain. In a society where people are both money and power-hungry, a virtual commune online simply cannot work on the end of the individuals the way that Bruns fanaticizes. Take for example, the case of Napster, a peer-to-peer based music sharing service. By allowing users to swap their personal music files for free, “such technology would, claimed many, undermine one of the most important means of profit accumulation in the recording industry: the sale of music commodities to consumers” (Hesmondalgh, 208). This backlash caused the website to shut down, and multi-million dollar lawsuits were filed against the creator of Napster. The artists and individuals felt that this free sharing was unjust and prohibiting them from acquiring the financial success from their careers—even though at the same time such a service could potentially also be promotional to them. Napster is a key example of how individuals seek monetary gain rather than just status from online produsage.”
And also, just because I thought it was funny…check out this viral marketing campaign for Coke…
Mar 10 2010
This “World Summit on the Information Society” is most likely a 100% sham. Honestly, I would not be the least bit surprised if the whole operation was a secret drug smuggling ring or a mail-order bride service because there’s no way that this event actually existed and that this document is legitimate. If it did, I’m appalled. Why, you ask? Well, because its the most idealistic and unnecessary document ever created. Of course it would be great if we eradicated HIV/AIDS and malaria, achieved universal primary education, ensured complete environmental sustainability, and developed global partnerships for development for the attainment of a more peaceful, just and prosperous world…. who wouldn‘t want that?!? Why don’t we just slap on “discover the meaning of life” while we’re at it. I mean, I get that this document is supposed to be helping us move forward and ‘fix things’ with the world, but its a little hard to take seriously when it reads as broad and completely non-feasible.
Aside from the ridiculous idealism of the document, I don’t completely hate it. I mean, I guess its better than nothing, right? The ideas are there, even though their implementation isn’t specified in the slightest. But still, I can’t be expected to take it seriously when its 13 pages of idealism without concrete plans of what will actually be done to fix all of these problems. I see why countries like China would be against the document, especially the part about a little concept we ‘mericans like to call “Freedom”. Not like beer, chicken wings, mullets, and Nascar freedom (waho00ooo00!), but the other kind (China hates both). So maybe to me it seems ridiculous to state the obvious, but I could just be needing to look through it with the eyes of a 56 year-old Chinese man. Fine. Point taken.
Speaking of China and other countries, the document stresses cultural and linguistic diversity and identity maintained through the digital network. But, it also stresses standardization…so now I’m just confused. Of course we want to maintain diversity, but lets be real here-the internet was created in English and is still predominantly used in English. Even this document itself is only translated into 6 languages, so great start there (last I checked there are approx 2,000 languages in the world). How can we try to maintain our own diversity and language, yet still share our thoughts and ideas online? Again, another unrealistic scenario–thanks Geneva! Either way, again, I don’t totally hate the document and what it’s trying to do, but I feel like the money spent for all of these dudes in suits to fly to Geneva, rent out hotels, and draft up the document, could have gone to a starving kid in Africa for 10 years. The existence of this document essentially changes nothing, so maybe these peeps should set some quantifiable and realistic goals and work on those instead of sightseeing in Switzerland.
Mar 03 2010
Turrow argues that historically, the way that advertisers have thought about consumers has played a major role in shaping media and consumption practices. He talks about the “construction of the consumer” as a fundamental aspect of how media is designed and distributed. LAME. To be honest, I’m not interested in how the consumer is “constructed” or which came first, the chicken or the egg or the slanket or the snuggie. It is what it is, and without proof, the fact stands that both advertising efforts and consumption practices developed in tandem with one another (that’s what in tandem means anyways). So I’m not buying this “construction” thing Turrow is trying to throw at me…but I will give my two cents about the evolution of the media, because that is something I actually find worthwhile to blog about.
Okay, so everyone born and raised with Sega or N64 or even pong (no, not beer pong, the other pong) might be surprised to learn that advertising used to be centered on a mass-based approach (back in the stone age, you know, before the 1970s). Weird. The main purpose of advertising was to reach as many people as possible. At that time, consumption of products for the general masses was “the cats pajamas”…and if you aren’t following, well basically it was popular to have soap as soap—none of these facial scrubs for men or fruity feminine foams—it was just soap. It didn’t matter if you were a woman, man, or some sort of in-between thing (ie, Old Greg)…you bought the same toothpaste, soap, dishes, and boots that everyone else bought.
This advertising approach is completely foreign to generation X, who grew up on politically correct, gender specific everything. In the late 70s and 80s, market segmentation became the new tactic by advertisers as modes of media became more segmented. Kids growing up with Legos found themselves being targeted by gender for the first time (circa 1971), and all of a sudden there we’re skip-its for girls and creepy crawlers for boys. Compare that to the unisex (and ever popular) “get the ball on a string into the cup” game that parents considered ‘neat’ back in the day, and you’ll see why this was so much cooler. So basically, even though the 80s came with shoulder pads and giant hair of glory (fails on all accounts), advertisers were onto something and consumption boomed.
Now, there’s a third stage to this media/advertising/consumption evolution that Turrow tells us about, and that is a shift to behavioral marketing. You would think that with all the progress in advertising and targeting, advertisers might have some other grand plans for the future. And, in some ways behavioral marketing is brilliant, but in other ways its creepy as hell. Essentially, it’s a hybrid mix between advertising and stalking. Through behavioral marketing, advertisers track online and in-store activity and gather data down to even the items you browse (so you aren’t even safe in the comfort of your own home). Advertisers are raking in the dough from spying on you. If I spied on you right now through your window, you would probably have me arrested. How is this any different with advertisers online? How is this legal? How is it ethical? As we talked about in class, yes there is a cat and mouse game going on as advertisers try to ‘break through’ to consumers, but how far is too far? My final verdict: Let me hang out with my gender-targeted Lego set/easy bake oven/skip-it combo and leave my internet browsing history of singles cruises and “how to find a boyfriend” self-help books alone.
Feb 26 2010
Twitter=Soapbox for tweens. Gag. I wish I could punt you off of those soapboxes and back into your sandboxes.
Feb 26 2010
The above title is a direct quote from a from a Twitter user that calls herself “ilu_JB_number1″. I’m not kidding. The first portion of the tweet reads “Q: What is your favorite food?” and that is actually the answer. Now, before I throw up go off on another tangent about how much I absolutely loathe Justin Beiber, let me just take this moment to check in with the world to see if we’re on the same page here…Twitter sucks. Like white out blizzard conditions, 4 classes in a row, and spilling a coffee all over your dry-cleaned button-down shirt type of sucks. (aka, even more than the series of events occurring throughout the last 12 hours of my day).
If you remove the last letter from “tweet” and replace it with an “n,” you will understand the main reason why twitter is so awful: tweens. Twitter gives tweens like ilu_JB_number1 a forum to write embarrassing things they’ll regret later, while simultaneously annoying the general tweeting public. Also, (according to my own calculations) I am fairly certain that Twitter will singlehandedly lower the average literacy level by approximately 5,000% by the year 2020. Twitter gives the world a soapbox, and everyone needs to get off of theirs–well, at least if they don’t have anything worthwhile to say. Do I sound slightly elitist? Yes. Am I right? Absolutely. No one cares that you love yarn and peppermint milkshakes. Good for you! Stop taking over my life with your ramblings and updates and go knit something or buy yourself a milkshake, because I sure as hell won’t be footing the bill.
For the sake of the prompt for this week, I’ll interrupt this insightful rant commentary to get around to a few required talking (typing?) points for the week. First of all. I checked out the Twitter website, as instructed. I should mention at this point that I (gulp) actually have a Twitter account, so I know how it works. Now, before you start chastising me with all of the ‘ha! you DO have a twitter’ nonsense, let me just say that I made the account, tweeted 4 times, realized that I hated it, and haven’t used it since (so you see I gave it a fair chance). Anyways, I digress.
So, when I searched the sickeningly blue Twitter website with the creepy one-dimensional
teardrop/bird mascot with backwards arms (?), I noted that some of the popular tweet topics included pop culture references like American Idol, the Olympics, and (of course) the musical stylings of Justin Beiber (so you KNOW its good). Yes, Justin Beiber was actually one of the top tweeted items. It seems to me like Twitter plays host to a lot of young people who are connected and concerned with fast paced culture. There were also some political and worldly relevant topics (I felt shocked). So I decided to click on GOP and delve a little deeper into the world of Twitter.
So after I click on GOP, Twitter decides to give me a brief definition of GOP. I don’t know why this matters because If I click on it I probably know what it means or could figure out from context clues, but I guess its nice enough. I wonder what it would tell me if the main topic was ‘cheese’ or ‘air,’ or if those don’t merit an explanation. Some tweets included:
“Obama wants to rush Health care threw http://bit.ly/33xdDM .Obama took 6 month’s to pick out a dog” (Please note the spelling of the word ‘through’)
“GOP=The No Brigade”
“Obama, GOP fail to reach accord on health bill”
“Did you think the GOP was really squirming today? They seemed smug to me. I saw them smirking and laughing like 9th-graders.”
So clearly the tweets range from cut-and-dry serious to lame (smirking 9th graders?) to funny, and the people tweeting range from average joes to political activists and people who know what they’re talking about. Twitter is a soapbox that evens the playing field, in that anyone—from big wigs to little people get a say. It is truly a forum for ultimate democracy (well, as long as you have Internet access). Now, if Twitter was a forum solely for newsworthy issues, this would be a whole different story and I wouldn’t hate it so much. Politics would be involved much more and people would actively search out Twitter for political querys and to asses the political climate. The playing field would level and I wouldn’t want to knock that blue bird thing down a few pegs with my beloved duck hunter rifle. But thats not the case as long as obnoxious tweens and celebrities continue to make a mess of the site. No one cares what you have to say every second of every day, especially when its written in crude caveman speak.
Maybe I’m just bitter because I found out that all of my four initial tweets show up as the fourth hit on google when you type in my name, even though I made my account completely private months ago. So not only will my future employers know about my love of waffles, they will also hear a slew of language I would prefer not to repeat on this
blog. Either way, I have made the mistake and learned, but the world hasn’t–Tweets might seem great in the moment but no one wants to hear them, no one cares, you look like an idiot, and they’re PUBLIC. I repeat PUBLIC. So this one’s for you, ilu_JB_number1, my life is a whole lot worse now that I know that Justin Beiber looks great in the color violet. And yours is a lot worse when you leave your tweendom and start looking for a real job. So, thank you tweens and Twitter, for taking up valuable space in my brain and valuable time out of my life as well as everyone else’s.
Class Blog: New Media and Society