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The web and the real world… Podcast 2

This week’s podcast focuses on Facebook hijackings, social media & the legal system, Google smoke screens and more.


JM_FacebookHijack Read More »

Shiftin’ Some Spaces? Kind of..


So, as much as I love Shift Space (really, I think it’s pretty amazing), I couldn’t come up with many ideas for what to critique. I love the internet, and spend most of my days “surfing the web” for all sorts of fun things, but I couldn’t really come up with something that made me angry (I already did 4chan twice..) or was incredibly thought provoking. I also don’t use a lot of special applications or plug-ins on my internets, so there’s not a lot for me to critique. I’m not a very political person, and that seems to be what Shift Space is best suited for. So instead I decided to critique and explore the new “list” feature on Twitter using stickies. There are some caps under the cut. Also, I know Mushon told me about creating thumbnails for big pictures, but I forgot how to do it. HALP! Read More »

We’re ready, are they?

In the realm of local politics , does social media create a stronger link between constituent and representative? In my analysis of Corey Booker use of social media, I can say that it brought Corey Booker closer to his constituents, but I am not entirely sure it brought them closer to him.

In my travelogue, I showed how well Corey Booker broadcast his activities to the citizens of newark. From youtube, to twitter, to facebook, there are so many ways to stay up to date and be inspired by all the hard work that Mayor Booker is putting in to revive the city. But how well can Corey Booker hear his fans? Is that the purpose of the fan page? I contacted the mayors office numerous times regarding these questions but got no reply.

While I did point out in my two previous posts that Booker did respond to certain comments, the response amounted to Booker asking to converse with the individual off of the page. Why is this? This lead me to think that the page is really just a place for people to sing the praises of booker’s work. Again, Im all for positivity as a means to get people excited and involved, but the dialogic potential of social media was missing. It would be wrong to label facebook as a public space in the traditional understanding of the public sphere. As Lauren pointed out in a comment on my last post, facebook is a great way to aggregate opinion, but the comments that the posts illicit are more often than not those that wouldn’t benefit anyone in policy making.

Overall I would say that the introduction of social media into the political realm is a good thing in that it provides another outlet for citizens to be aware of local issues, but for the time being, the potential of social media for garnering useful feedback is being squandered. Maybe the reps just aren’t ready to encourage their constituents to tell them how they feel…

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.

Real-Time Travel is Trending… in Hell

Twitter Trending Topics As of 1:05 a.m., Friday, Oct. 30, 2009

Twitter Trending Topics As of 1:05 a.m., Friday, Oct. 30, 2009

I went deep into the wilds of the Twitter Trending Topics tonight; and I saw the heart of darkness.  Seriously, I haven’t felt this much pain researching a cultural artifact since…uh, I can’t come up with anything.  To those giddy at the prospect of calling me an elitist (with love to Clay), get ready to cheer: #gorditasnob.

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What do the Trend Topics on Twitter say about our collective consciousness?

“At the very least the integration [between Bing and Twitter] might bring real time into the consciousness of more consumers, though.”

“Google organized our memory,” Segal says, “Real-time search organizes our consciousness” (Thompson 46).

Wow, these two quotes seem to give a lot of power to real-time web fun.  Sure, one talks about bringing real-time into the minds of most consumers, and the other sees real-time search as actually organizing consciouness.  The common word here is consciousness though, and the notion of a new technology doing anything with our collective consciouness is a compelling one, even if the two are just flirting with each other over a few harmless tweets.  I could have focused on real-time search, however the very word “trend” just oozes the shared experience of the masses.  Plus, there might be less talk about algorithms.  Bonus!

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WTF FTC? What does the FTC have against bloggers? Or…How are varying media outlets going to cover the roll out of the FTC rules?

Sorry for the delay in posting, I was out of town yesterday.

The blogosphere continues to react to the proposed FTC rules proposed on October 6th and set to go into effect December of this year, regarding disclosure of any goods or services that a blogger receives and reviews.

These rules promise to vastly alter the ways in which bloggers can review consumer goods, services, as well as other media products such as books, music and even software.  Most strikingly is that it sets apart bloggers and traditional news reporters as in television and newspapers.

Clearly, bloggers are up in arms against the way these rules will affect their reporting ability.  Even more is the penalties imposed on these bloggers, which can measure up to $11,000.  Bloggers are often unpaid, and these fines are completely out of line for this type of work.  Even more insulting is that these rules are only set to go into effect for online bloggers, and not paid journalists in other outlets.  These individuals will not have to disclose any products or sponsorships they receive.

Also, there is a strong argument in some blogs that the entire prposed set of regulations is unconstitutional, with different writers giving their input on this emerging debate. Read More »

Corey Bookers Social Media Arsenal and how he uses it

Since his election in 2006, Booker has overseen a 36% drop in crime, doubled the amount invested in public housing development, attracted some 100 million dollars in donations to local charities, and recently turned down an appointment to Obama’s cabinet. After graduating from Yale Law, he lived in a public housing complex in Newark where he organized the residents to fight for better living conditions. Now, as mayor, he lives in a neighborhood traditionally known to be overrun by drugs and gangs.

Mayor Booker is the type of public servant who, despite coming from a wealthy family, being a rhodes scholar, and generally being a member of the professional elite, keeps his feet on the ground and lives with the people he is working for. So how does he use different social networking tools to further his quest to stay as connected as possible?

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Can Social Media Change the Relationship Between Representatives and Consituents in Local Politics?

large_Cory Booker tweets all day longThe website TechPresident.com noted on October 16th that Newark mayor Corey Booker has “833,779 Twitter followers, and 14,768 Facebook supporters.
According to the US Census Bureau the Population of Newark is 281,402 (2006 estimate) which means that Booker has more than 3 times the population of Newark following him on Twitter and the equivalent of 5% of the population of Newark as Facebook supporters.”

To answer the question I will embed myself as a fan of the mayor on facebook and I will follow him on twitter to get an idea of how he uses the two platforms. I would also like to connect with his staff regarding their strategy around using social media, and then connect with his constituents to see what they think of the mayors use of facebook and twitter.
What I am interested in seeing is whether or not local politics is using social media to bridge the gap between representative and constituent or if social media is just being coopted as another broadcast medium.