Check out our video at: http://www.vimeo.com/23404029

Edited by Danielle Spano

Voices by: Danielle Spano, Natalie Ashoory, Jessica Yu & Elizabeth Connerat

Expanding upon our initial proposal, we have began to explore each of the interactive fashion apps. We divided the four apps among the four of us in order to allow for each of us to conduct further research. Elizabeth is researching “Go Try It On”, Natalie is researching “Trimirror”, Jessica is researching “Opinionaided” and I am researching “Glamour Ask a Stylist.”

After spending the weekend interacting with these different applications and sites, we found that the most interesting part of this new media was the type of community they fostered. None of us ever came across any negativity on the site. People were helpful and supportive—they really wanted to see those how posted outfits, questions, etc. do well. This sort of “Good Samaritan” community seems to different from the rest of the internet.

By interacting with different users, we tried to determine how the sites are monitored, and if maybe the administrators are just deleting all nasty comments. Read the rest of this entry »

After doing some initial investigation into the sites we chose to analyze (Kickstarter, CofundOS, Rockethub, and Quirky), some important themes in crowdfunding have started to emerge. There are some basic problems that site administrators have to deal with when trying to create a platform for non-traditional start-up funding, many of which resemble issues that we’ve been talking about all semester. For example, almost every site handles the task of vetting proposals differently. Some, like Kickstarter, require that a funding proposal first be approved by site staff before being shown to potential funders. CofundOS, on the other hand, allows any proposal to be posted, and relies on users to filter out the garbage for themselves. Those are just two examples- every site handles the publish/filter dynamic differently. Other important differences arise in how the sites manage the relationships that come into play in projects like these. The ways in which funders interact with each other and with who they are funding, as well as with the project itself, vary widely from site to site. Read the rest of this entry »

When starting a small business or launching an idea, the biggest hurdle is often obtaining the seed money necessary to get the venture off the ground. One often has to rely on the depths of their own pockets, generous relatives, or the goodwill of a loaded investor. The Internet and the advent of crowdfunding offers an alternative that promises to turn this model on its head. Individuals around the world are able to make affordable contributions to projects that they feel a personal connection to or would like to see come into fruition for one reason or another. Some donate as little as ten bucks, while others donate thousands of dollars, creating a system of investment that is readily reminiscent of the creation of Linux or other open-sourced projects.

In order to develop this travelogue on crowdfunding, we have each chosen a particular website that will serve as our individual “case study” for the duration of the project. Using a set of predetermined methods, we will each accumulate data on our selected site, and then compile our findings, comparing and contrasting in order to shed some light on this online phenomenon.
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From Jessica’s initial proposal, we all decided the best approach to starting this travelogue would be to use the “Go Try It On” app ourselves. Knowing we needed to explore more than one application, we also looked at Trimirror and Opinionaided. Trimirror is similar to Go Try It On in that it’s a fashion based site. Opinionaided offered us a different perspective into online advice communities in that people could post any questions they wanted to get feedback. In their how to video on their main page (which we linked to earlier in the post), they show an example of a guy asking how to propose to his girlfriend.

After spending the weekend interacting with these different applications and sites, we found that the most interesting part of this new media was the type of community they fostered. None of us ever came across any negativity on the site. People were helpful and supportive—they really wanted to see those how posted outfits, questions, etc. do well. This sort of “Good Samaritan” community seems to different from the rest of the internet. Read the rest of this entry »

After just finishing a travelogue about privacy on Facebook, I’ve been thinking a lot about anonymity on the internet. Usually, we associate anonymous internet users with people who are, for lack of a more eloquent word, “creeping.” We want our privacy, but at the same time we feel we have the right to know who everyone else is–because if someone wont reveal himself, he must be a creep. There are a few places on the internet however, where people respect and support each other, despite anonymity.

For this travelogue, I want to explore confessional websites like Confessions4U and Post Secret to see how people use the internet as a place to speak freely about personal things. Twitter updates, Facebook statues, and blogs can’t compare in what people are willing to say on these confessional sites. The travelogue would feature research about how these sites were started and how they have affected their users.   Read the rest of this entry »

Legions of the Underground will do little to alter the existing conditions and much to endanger the rights of hackers around the world. Declaring ‘war’ against the country is the most irresponsible thing a hacker group could do. This has nothing to do with hacktivism or hacker ethics and is nothing a hacker could be proud of.
- 2600, the Chaos Computer Club, L0pht, Heavy Industries, Phrack, Toxyn, Cult of the Dead Cow, Pulhas, and !Hispahack (1999)

We quickly discovered while studying hacktivism that a coherent and consistent definition is an enigma. Maybe this is a reflection of the decentralized and deeply individualized medium that plays host to it, or maybe it’s due to its sheer newness. In our research, we were able to identify two major motivations in work that self-identifies as hacktivism: the values of activism and street protest and the ethics dominant in hacker culture. In their book Hactivism and Cyberwars: Rebels with a Cause?, Tim Jordan and Paul Taylor identify these two strains as mass action hacktivism and digitally correct hacktivism, respectively. We will explore this terminology further in later sections, but it is important to note that Jordan and Taylor base their distinction on the hacktivist’s relationship to an inherently disembodied cyberspace. In their view, digitally correct hacktivists embrace this feature of cyberspace, whereas mass action hacktivists counter it by attempting to populate this space with embodied agents. To be clear, the two aren’t meant to be hard and fast divisions, nor could they be. In fact, most hacktivist activity could be argued to demonstrate elements of both. However, these categories do provide a useful analytical framework for examining hacktivist actions.

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Living in Gramercy, I have received more flyers and door knob hangers advertising the new website “Date My School” than I know what to do with. “Date my School,” or DMS as it is referred to, is a dating website used to “facilitate meeting of students from different departments within the same school and between different universities.” 

What’s interesting about this site is that it is exclusive to a select few institutions such as Columbia, Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Stanford and NYU. Since users need an active school e-mail to sign-up, the creators claim this prevents “any weirdos, SPAM, SCAM or fake profiles.”

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As students of Media, Culture & Communication, we are forever hearing our professors lament the “death of newspapers” and other traditional news forms. But with this “death” has come an entirely new life form that has gave way to a multitude of news sources on various platforms other than print media. The overarching term for this concept is most commonly known as online journalism. In exploring the various types of online journalism, the form that has emerged as the most interesting and popular recently is nonprofit online news organizations. While there are myriad nonprofit news organizations, our research has brought light two organizations that present new and innovative concepts in online journalism–Spot.us and Propublica.

Both websites are funded by The Knight Foundation which is a foundation dedicated to promoting journalism. Propublica is largely funded by former banker Herb Sandler who pledges $10 million annually to the site, as well as tax-deductible donations made by the public. In further examining these news organizations, we divided the two in an attempt to further delve into the inner workings of each organization, with myself further examining Spot.us, and Andrew examining Propublica.

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We quickly discovered while studying hacktivism that no two people ever have the same thing to say about it. Maybe this is a reflection of the decentralized and deeply individualized medium that plays host to it, or maybe it’s due to its sheer newness. It’s most likely come combination of the two. In our research, we were able to identify two major motivations in work that self-identifies as hacktivism: the values of activism and street protest and the ethics dominant in hacker culture. In their book, Hacktivism and Cyberwars: Rebels with a Cause?, Tim Jordan and Paul Taylor identify these two strains as mass action hacktivism and digitally correct hacktivism, respectively. We will explore this terminology further in later sections, but it is important to note that Jordan and Taylor base their distinction on the hacktivist’s relationship to an inherently disembodied cyberspace. In their view, digitally correct hacktivists embrace this feature of cyberspace, whereas mass action hacktivists counter it by attempting to populate this space with embodied agents. To be clear, the two aren’t meant to be hard and fast divisions, nor could they be. In fact, most hacktivist activity could be argued to demonstrate elements of both. However, these categories do provide a useful analytical framework for examining hacktivist actions.
Read the rest of this entry »

In the reading “Blog Theory,” Jodi Dean discusses how “the essence of the blog is the post.” A post is what constitutes the fundamentality of a blog, living on even after the blogger stops blogging. Anything can be included in a blog post and be represented “in moments as an image, reaction, feeling, or event.” But despite its obvious ubiquity, what makes people actually want to read a blog, be it personal or professional? How does a blog gather a community of interacting readers? Read the rest of this entry »

The open source movement of the 1980s – 1990s did wonders for the distribution of free, quality software like GNU and Linux. Best of all, open source allowed the public to continuously develop the code, allowing for rapid improvement and benefitting from “cheap failure.”  So what happens when we take the same principle of global collaboration and apply it to global issues? Can the methodology behind software development be useful in creating social innovation? Read the rest of this entry »

With the constant inundation of various social media sites, it seems near impossible to keep up with the latest trends. One website that has gained popularity throughout the past year has been Formspring, a question-and-answer-based social website. Formspring was launched in November of 2009 initially by Formstack , an online form builder that allows users to create surveys, but as a result of the website’s success, Formspring.me became its own separate company in January of 2010. Formspring emphasizes a facet of the internet that very few other social websites exploit–anonymity. Most social websites such as Facebook take pride in obtaining as much information about you as possible and publicizing it. Formspring, on the other hand, is focused around the lack of knowledge of its users. In an attempt to further examine the social phenomenon that Formspring poses, I created my very own Formspring account as well as a survey for Formspring users. To further my research in a more factually grounded manner, I conducted brief interviews with a Formspring administrator, in addition to three Formspring users of various ages-middle school, high school, and college. Through my research, I examined the asymmetrical social interaction that Formspring has created between users and how Formspring has aided in changing social behavior and culture.

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In a world where image is everything, Dump.fm fits right in. Co-founded by Internet Archaeology‘s Ryder Ripps, Scott Ostler of the publishing framework MIT Exhibit and core social bookmark programmer for Delicious, Tim Baker, Dump.fm is an outlet for real-time image communication. Says Ripps, “In a way, it is an iteration of both the chat room and the image board, as it uses pictures to create conversation.” The site allows users to upload images from their hard drive, post from their webcam, or paste URLs of images from anywhere online into single chat room.

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A few weeks ago, I came across shatterbox, a social network centered around video narratives of twenty-somethings’ paths to career satisfaction, usually by way of entrepreneurship. The site is in its nascent stages – there are only 28 videos and only 106 members in New York state. Of those members, few of them are very active, many seemingly joined just to view the videos. A few users, though, seem quite enthusiastic, uploading pictures, writing answers to questions on their profile and creating ‘project’ pages to detail the things that they are working on towards realizing their career dreams.
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Deviating away from my initial proposal, I have decided to take the opposite route: instead of researching how we can innovate social media, I am instead hoping to understand how social media is impacting innovation. IDEO, a global design consultancy known for their implementation of design thinking to develop innovative solutions for various companies, has established an online community called OpenIDEO, an online platform designed for creative thinkers to collaborate and share ideas, information, inspiration, concepts, and evaluations. Read the rest of this entry »