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Tag Archives: mashups

Accessing the Mashup

Count how many times I say access….


Mashup Culture

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That’s been in my head all weekend, good luck shaking it.   This above is just one of the many examples of mashups we hope to explore throughout the coming weeks.

The mashup world has taken the internet by storm. Internet theorists like Lawrence Lessig and Yochai Benkler regularly site mashups as a new form of expression. From politics to entertainment, mashup culture embraces the relationship between the infinite repository of the internet and media editing software to recombine existing content in the creation of new meaning.

In this travelogue Gabriel and I  will explore the ways that the mashup medium has been used in entertainment, education, and politics. One example of mashups in the realm of politics that we all know about is Mushon’s dislocative tourism project, where the stories of individuals are mashed up with interactive maps.

Lawrence Lessig in his book Remix has gone so far as to say that the mashups are like a new form of writing with audio and visual content. In line with this idea, we will produce a videocast that show current examples from the mashup realm that we believe to be strong examples of cultural  and political expression.

Concluding remarks on kaChing

I liked the way this travelogue turned out, even though my method of inquiry kept changing from week to week. I suppose that was the point; I seem to recall Mushon telling us that we should refrain from having it too mapped-out beforehand, and to be open to opportunities to derive… This travelogue was, in my mind, a success, because events in real-time had an immediate impact on the direction of my inquiry. I would not have created the mash-up had I not been forced to reevaluate my stance on the mirage of permeability (explained in my previous post); I would not have reevaluated this stance were it not for the sudden attention my 2nd post attracted from the co-founder; and I wouldn’t have written the 2nd post at all if the markets were in my favor that very morning! (That was the day that Google and Apple stocks tanked– my virtual portfolio lost about $100,000 in value that day.)

It’s about 6:40 a.m. and the markets are still closed. However, I can tell some of you have been playing my little mash-up game, because I have 111 queued trades for when the market opens: mostly in buying Google, Motorola, and Nokia stock. Let’s examine this. A brief crawl of the news over the weekend shows that Nokia has been getting a lot of attention over their upcoming lawsuit against Apple (over the patent of the iPhone) and that they are shutting down support for their proprietary mobile game platform, N-Gage. However, the biggest piece of news comes from Google’s announcement that they will be taking over the GPS data market, incorporating the data-gathering methods of the Google Earth project into the open source Android platform, creating powerful competition with companies like Garmin, Tom Tom, and Nokia itself. In fact, the day Google made that announcement, Garmin and Tom Tom stock tanked. (Nokia’s losses this week were not especially alarming, and cannot be attributed to “news shock,” but Nokia is an industry giant with it’s fingers in so many other pies than GPS data trafficking!)

The terrain being outlined, let’s look to Twitter to see if we can make any predictions for today’s market rollercoaster… Checking out the latest Twitter feed on Nokia, we see that 1) people are buzzing about the n97, a new smartphone offering, 2) Nokia has made some improvement to its voice searching capabilities, and 3) a lot of the twitter chatter is in languages other than English (which reflects on just how large Nokia is in markets overseas, even though it no longer has a large chunk of market share here). Breaking news and Twittersphere Chatter seems to infer that today will be a day to watch Nokia on the stock exchange. Given the fact that Nokia closed on Friday at an almost 3-month low, it might be a great time to buy Nokia if we believe that all this buzz generated around the company will put its stock is on the rebound. By visiting my mash-up game, we have collectively made this very decision; let’s see if it pans out!

In response to a few comments. If anything, I have (or rather, had) high hopes for kaChing in teaching about investing. Also, given its origin as a Facebook application, it has situated itself in the ideal spot for such a project. I took a few moments surfing the bulletin boards on kaChing to get a feel for who was discussing, and what their tone of interaction implies about what brings them to kaChing. I do notice a lot of discussion by people with a real stake in the company (co-founders, “genius traders”, etc.) with some response from the community-at-large. However, I don’t have any specific demographic data about the make-up of that community-at-large. I would be curious to know home many of them were students vs. how many were young professionals. It’s unclear.

Thanks a lot, everyone, for your comments/feedback! This was a lot of fun– I hope my next travelogue is equally, if not more, inspiring. :)

Sea Change

After submitting my last post, I received an email from one of kaChing’s co-founders, Jonathon Galore, who was interested in reiterating kaChing’s fundamental philosophy: that of increased transparency in the realm of investing. Although my last post was admittedly critical of kaChing, Galore’s note provided me the opportunity to rephrase what I belive is at the crux of my inquiry. I responded:

“There are obvious, and fascinating, tensions between kaChing’s aim to promote transparency in investing and the industry’s business model as a whole– an industry that relies upon opacity to yield the greatest profit. As I continue my 3-week exploration of kaChing, I ultimately want to foster dialogue centered around these tensions. My hope is to learn how applications such as yours challenge the public’s notions of penetrability, and whether or not there still exists only a myth of penetrability in the face of such solid institutions as the stock exchange.”

With this in mind, I’d like to approach kaChing from another angle: that of the API.

So, what is an API?

An API (or application programing interface) is a moderately new introduction to software culture. APIs allow a programmer (and you don’t even have to be a good programmer!) to make calls to a web service, or other software, that can effect that service remotely. For instance, whenever you see a photo gallery from Flickr embedded in a Facebook profile, it’s a successful exploitation of Flickr’s API— Flickr is allowing Facebook access to the data it requires. As tech analyst Josh Walker put it in the year 2000, “is basically like building a house with no doors.”

In being quick to adapt their service to incompass open architecture, kaChing is inevitably (and purposefully) inviting the mash-up. As a service with an API, kaChing is situating itself as one of the numerous services that encourage mixing of differnt data sources to point out something interesting, and possibly elucidating, about the world at large. Taking a cue from Camille’s travelogue on Twitter’s trending tags, I tried my hand at building my own Twitter/kaChing mash-up. I got this idea from the moment I stumbled upon kaChing, and decided to mock it up as proof of concept: By visiting this link, you allow my portfolio to be commanded by Twitter’s incessant chatter. I have 6 somewhat notorious stocks in my kaChing portfolio. If there’s a peculiarly large amout of chatter about any of these stocks over Twitter, my portfolio will either liquidate or stock up on these stocks (depending on the direction the stocks are going…)
ALSO, if you visit the site from between now (Friday night) and Monday morning, the markets will be closed, so any changes you effect won’t show— all orders to buy or sell stocks will be queued for when the market opens. Just letting you know now, so you don’t say “oh, but Harlo, it doesn’t work“.

Picture 22

*Another proviso: this is not by any means a sophisticated investing strategy! This is only to prove a point!

And what is the point? kaChing is a manifestation of a new way of participating in culture; current trends of citizen journalism, peer-production, open application architectures, and the like have a large impact upon how we, as members of society, situate ourself in regards to various cultural institutions. kaChing’s very interface promotes, and was no doubt inspired by, our increased will to test the borders between the public sphere and the private sphere; institutions previously sealed-off are now, if only seemingly, widely accessible.