Category Archives: Class Reading

Consume What You Want to Be

ImageSocial networks have always asked questions such as ‘what is your favorite band’ or ‘who is your favorite actor’. These questions help to shape your profile and give people things, people and entertainment that you identify with. When someone first friends you, they might take a peak at your profile and see you enjoy a certain movie. How much you enjoy that movie is based on your own personal taste. However people do not have insight into what your personal taste is, so though you might of found a particular film intriguing, it might not make you’re a full fledged fan of the movie.

While reading Hugo Liu’s “Social Networks as Taste Performances”, a thought came up when I came across the line “One is what one eats; or rather one is what one consumes.” (Social Networks as Taste Performances, Hugo Liu, pg 252). It speaks to truth that this relates to the old adage that whatever you may eat defines you as a person. Liu however moved this old adage over to the modern era and used it with out obsession with social networking sites.Image

These profiles we create for the social networks ask us to divulge information that helps to create a persona online. However, since we do not have the luxury of meeting with people online and giving them a benefit of meeting with us face to face, it can create some false expectations of people.

Some of the information could be outdated or could be somewhat inaccurate based on individual perception. So even if you said you liked an action movie three years ago, you might of outgrown and become tired with the genre since then, but because it is still in the list of movies you like, you could create a false pretense of being generally interested in that genre of movie that no longer interests you.

So if it is true that what we consume can define us, it may also be true that whatever is in our history or what people perceive we like can also define us by other individuals.


Are we friends or ‘friends’?


Your on Facebook for the tenth time today, a little message pops up telling you that John Doe wants to be your Friend. Whether you know John that well, are best friends with him or are just acquaintances does not matter as much as it use to, he is requesting to see if you consider him a friend.


After reading “Friends, Friendsters, and MySpace Top 8: Writing Community Into Being on Social Networks Sites” by Dana Boyd, there was a thought that came to mind. Is it possible that with the use of the word ‘Friend’ being used more frivolously than previously and that the use of this word is being used in context where the word is used on a site that documents and records your friendship from the point of acceptance leading us to accept the term friend as being nothing more than a loose piece of terminology?

The idea of what the word ‘Friend’ means, as point out by Boyd is that “In everyday vernacular, a friend is a relationship that involves some degree of mutual love or admiration.” (Friends, Friendsters, and MySpace, Dana Boyd, pg 3). Thus this idea that in order to be a friend with someone that it is a mutual process of enjoying one another equally.

However, with the rise of social networks and their use of the word ‘Friend’, it seems that this may not be the case. Boyd later points out that there are more than just one factor that constitutes what how people use the word ‘Friend’ whether it be with how people talk with one another behind each others back or how they address one another. But this still does not go into the idea that when you go on to a social network and accent a friend request that is from someone you don’t know, does that really constitute a friendship?

In reality the term Friend may be used to much with modern social networks to the point where it doesn’t really hold as much merit or value as it previously had. It is simply a term that we have grown accustomed to and have used more often than could be warranted.

We the Consumers and our Co-workers

ImageI was perusing an article Writen by Frank Kleeman, G. Gunter Vob and Kerstin Rieder that is named “Under paid Innovators: The commercial Utilization of Consumer Work through Crowdsourcing”. In essence this article talks of the working customer with the potential and use of crowdsourcing. So what you may ask is this working customer? Is this customer myself? Well yes, and you are not being given the appreciation for your fine work employee.

So what do you do for this large company where you evidently are now employed? First off you are not actually employed anywhere, you simply are doing tasks that traditionally are reserved for employees of the establishment. For example this could be self-service, how instead of someone checking you out at the grocery store you do the task yourself. What this does is that it relieves the company of certain duties while at the same time entrusting that the customer can do these duties without the worry of fault. So what as happened is that “Consumers have become more like co-workers, who take over specific parts of a production process that ultimately remains under the control of a commercial enterprise.” (Under paid Innovators, Frank Kleeman, G. Gunter Vob and Kerstin Rieder, pg 7). So not only are you helping with the process of gaining the product, you are in a sense helping to build your own product that will be distributed by your bosses at the company.

More to the point, the idea of the working customer is to use this concept on such a large scale that you can achieve crowdsourcing, which is to say being able to use the crowd to create products that would be received. By giving your input as a working customer you are in turn helping to shift what the answers will be while companies utilize crowdsourcing.


What’s that? You want to know some examples? Well thanks for asking that fantastic question random internet user! Take for example the numerous times that you were sitting on your nice comfy coach at home when suddenly an exciting commercial comes on about how YOU can help decide what the new flavor of Doritos may be.
This is an example of crowd sourcing, using the public to help build the product but within the control of the company.This is true with Lay’s campaign for a new flavor as well or with Mountain Dew having YOU decide what their new drink will be.

ImageSo with this there had to be a question. Are the consumers getting shortchanged for their effort. Granted yes the consumer may be only asked to click a button of their favor flavor but this request is within the confines of what the company is looking for which is to expand their number of flavors with some new ones that they thought up. So really what I want to ask is that is there a way that we the consumers could contribute more to our co-workers? Is there a way that we could contribute past what is just expected of us?

Human Computation – Computers and humans working together

Robots and Humans working together

Recently I read an article written by Alexander J. Quinn and Benjamin B. Bederson titled Human Computation: Charting the Growth of A Burgeoning Field. Now human computation is how some of us interact with our computers and more importantly how us and our computers are able to do some amazing things. Now for those who may not know what human computation is, the simplest definition is one of how it refers to when a computer cannot solve a problem and needs a human to solve the problem for it based off of some of the work the computer has done.

So here’s an example of what human computation is that is given in the reading I mentioned above. There is a mobile application called VizWiz “that enables a blind person to take a picture of a situation in life and ask a question about it to working in the cloud (i.e. “Which of these doors is the men’s room?”)” (Human Computation, Alexander Quinn and Benjamin Bederson, pg4). The computer itself does not have the ability to decide which of the two doors is the men’s room, what the computer does have the ability to do is to take the photo, and distribute it the cloud to other people who do have the ability to tell which door is right. It is also noted that in the case of bad answers, pranks or mistakes that “the system solicits redundant answers” (Quinn and Bederson, pg4). This means that the computer and its users capability are based not merely on individual ability but rather the ability of the computer coupled with the ability of others.

We can see another example of this with how MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) has been striving to help integrate a stronger relationship between humans and robots by doing training were instead of having humans being reviewed it’s the robots. The general idea of the program is to reverse robot and human roles, were instead of seeing the robot as doing what it can do while the human can change, the robot is the one that is being enhanced with impressive results.

Survivor and the spoiler hierarchy

This photo helps to show the flow of a collective intelligence

After reading Jenkins’ Spoiling Survivor: The Anatomy of a Knowledge Community, a thought came to mind. Though in recent years with the rise of websites and groups that pride themselves as being spoilers, or in other words, people who go out of their way to analyze their favorite medium in order to figure out information that has yet to be disclosed, there has arisen a problem. With the rise of spoilers you see the sprouting of a new concept, the collective intelligence, of where there is a sense of power among those with certain caches of knowledge or who converse with others who have these stores of knowledge. As it is noted in the article, Pierre Lévy has argued that “No one knows everything, everyone knows something, all knowledge resides in humanity.” (Spoiling Survivor, Jenkins, pg 26-27). This idea is that though people have access to all of knowledge, there are people who have claim on certain knowledge. What I am trying to say is that since no one person has knowledge of everything, this means that certain people have certain information that others do not, though we all have access to it. As later noted in the article there is a hierarchy within this collective intelligence or Brain Trusts which Jenkins asks to be though of “as secret societies or private clubs, whose members are handpicked based on their skills and track records.” (Spoiling Survivor, Jenkins, pg 38). These brain trusts check their information behind closed doors which is argued to be a way to protect their privacy in order to achieve the highest accuracy of predictions or information. However this can cause a divide between these higher up spoilers and the general public. This idea being that though we have this chance of creating a more equal democracy we still face the issues of putting some above others with a hierarchical system.

A great example of this collective intelligence in recent media is with the ending of the popular video game, Bioshock: Infinite. The ending was heavily reviewed over by dozens of players of the game, with many of them submitting graphs and timelines to help people who may have been confused understand the games complex ending. Here is an example of one such flowchart, warning, SPOILER ALERT.