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New Media in (Outer) Space

New Media is certainly aiding man in its search for new frontiers. Beyond are some introductory readings/viewings to where are these efforts leading:

Required Reading/Viewing:

  • Vint Cerf explains the origins and basics of the Interplanetary Internet Project (3 very short videos)
  1. Node
  2. Frequency
  3. Standarization

Recommended Reading:


The You in Youtube – Conclusion for Travelogue 4

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Concluding post: What makes people collaborate online?

The answer is: a mixture of circumstances. Some of them we can’t control, but in general what the leader of the project does or doesn’t, either helps or complicates the process of online collaboration. The key element? Planning.

During the past 3 weeks, I tried to get people to share pictures of interesting situations they encountered in the subway. I tried with a web page, a Facebook Fan page, and a Twitter account. What I got was collaboration from my own social network—friends, or friends of friends submitted some stuff, but always with a short-spanned interest. The next attempt was to tap directly on audiences already interested in the subject—Flickr groups that shared subway pictures. I also added the competition factor—first, the prize was only about prestige: getting voted as the best picture. Then, I finally got an online photography blog interested in publishing the winner picture on their site.

I hoped that would spark interest a bit more, but the fact is that the new collaborations continued to spring from my previous social network and its subsequent effects. That is, when I launched the contest, I got more response from my original Facebook group (which had grown from my own contacts and the “work” I’d previously done on that platform) than from my call for Flickr collaboration. Even though I tapped on the communities that were already interested in the topic (three groups focused on underground transportation photography) and got “professionals” involved by getting them to publish the winning picture on their sites, my guess is that the Flickr group didn’t find enough reasons to take me seriously: I’d never been an active participant in Flickr before, all of my photos are uploaded on Facebook, and I’ve previously “worked” that audience much more.

What did this experience bring? A lot of learning. Not just based on my own travelogue, but I tried to learn from Leslie’s excellent results what had worked in her case as well.

I’d like to share my findings in this video:

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As sidenotes:

Even though the contest wasn’t successful, I did receive some great pictures, and I’d like to share with you the most popular:

metro zocalo

Author: Davii Rangda.  Caption: A night before the “Day of the Dead” in Mexico City.

I will submit the picture to http://lagiraffe.com/, the site that was most interested in publishing the contest pictures.

Special thanks to Leslie for her help and sharing.

Augmented Reality

Here’s where the future is headed>  Perception is reality… Reality becomes augmented/mediated in a variety of different ways from books, video games, cars, contacts to cell phones, glasses, maps, and much more.  Similarly, our previous topics of interfaces and the ubiquity of digital media complement this topic.  Enjoy fantasizing about all the new possibilities that we will see more and more of especially with this phenomenon.

Required Reading & Viewing:

Recommended Reading & Viewing:

Enjoy digging deeper into this and scouring the net for more… It’s a very sexy topic ;)

Surveillance Society & the Increasing Scarcity of Privacy

Below are some readings that dig into the increasing surveillance of today’s society. In many instances, these new surveillance methods are first being tested in Las Vegas & prisons, and then brought into every day life, most notably through companies searching for the next best way to track consumers.

Required Reading:

Recommended Reading:


New Media: An exciting opportunity for cultural institutions!

New media are pushing the boundaries of cultural institutions by providing them with new tools to play with.

But most of all, new media are the opportunity to reach a broader and younger audience.

  • Required viewings

Even though lots of museums have understood how interesting it is to embed their educational mission in new media, they remain a bit confused on how to use the technology on purpose.

Then why not starting by using new media to ask for people’s advice like the Smithsonian (“the world’s largest museum complex and research organization”) did:

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This interesting initiative generated great content! Look at that it’s really worth it!

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  • Required readings

Here is a guide based on a new book by Nina Simon providing advice on how the museums should work on their relationships with their community

The participatory museum

Nina Simon also feeds a blog: Museum 2.0 (you might like this recommendation that Harris gave to me)

  • To go further…

For those who would like to learn more I strongly recommend to look at the Brooklyn Museum who has become a reference in terms of new media strategy

Also the web site Museum and the Web 2010 has really great academic resources on the topic.

New Media and The Digital Natives

We are no longer citizens of different nations, but citizens of the internet…

Required Reading:

  • We Are Digital Natives by Barrett Lyon – “Some Digital Natives are deeply affiliated with all sorts of interests that bring them together organically: Piracy groups, massively multiplayer online games, open source software development, cracking encryption, etc. Others become deeply interested in movements such as Anonymous, the RBN (Russian Business Network), or even terrorist organizations.”
  • The Future of The Internet and How to Stop it by Jonathan Zittrain – “The Internet’s current trajectory is one of lost opportunity. Its salvation, Zittrain argues, lies in the hands of its millions of users. Drawing on generative technologies like Wikipedia that have so far survived their own successes, this book shows how to develop new technologies and social structures that allow users to work creatively and collaboratively, participate in solutions, and become true ‘netizens.’

Recommended Viewing:

  • Born Digital presentation by John Palfrey – “As part of the Google D.C. Talks series, and in partnership with Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Professor John Palfrey offers a sociological portrait of “digital natives” — children who were born into and raised in the digital world — with a particular focus on their conceptions of online privacy.”
    (you can play it in the background, it’s not very visual)


Required Reading:

What is cyberterrorism?  Even experts can’t agree

The government has failed to convene its various departments to forge a single definition. The FBI alone has published three distinct definitions of cyber-terrorism.

Required Listening:

Richard Clark on the Growing “Cyberwar” Threat

Clarke says that cyberattacks can come from another country — or from a lone individual. Malicious code may infect a computer via a security flaw in a Web browser, or it could be distributed through secret back doors built into computer hardware. And though the government has set up security measures to protect military and intelligence networks, he worries that not enough is being done to protect the private sector — which includes the electrical grid, the banking system and our health care records.

Recommended Listening:

Assessing the Threat of Cyberterrorism

Lewis says that an attack can be simple and crude: malicious software placed on a thumb drive and left in a parking lot can wreak havoc on a computer system. He predicts that within a decade, Al Qaeda will develop capabilities to carry out attacks on the web — but says that terrorists may not bring down the entire Internet because they also realize the benefits.

Recommended Reading:

The battle against cyberterror

The cyberthreat to the electricity we use and the water we drink is real, experts say, but there’s no need to panic – at least not yet.

New Media and the (Uncertain) Future of Journalism

Potential Topic in New Media: “New Media and the (Uncertain) Future of Journalism.” We touched on this briefly in the beginning of the semester, but I think it is an area that is very rich and could benefit from a deeper discussion. How bad is the existing journalism “crisis”? What are potential solutions? What will it take to get us there? What is the appropriate role (if any) for government funded journalism? I tried to make these required and recommended readings reflective of the debate more generally, and what is happening currently in the field.

Required Reading/Viewing:

Recommended Reading/Watching:

Weekly Summary: Education Evolution in the Age of New Media

This week we dive into the discussion how education is changing with the rise of new media and how the education systems should change. In particular, we look at the point of view of two scholars, Cass Sunstein and Don Tapscott. Sunstein tells of potentially dangers of too much evolution and what we must do to avoid these perils in MyUniversity.com while Tapscott vehemently argues for how the system of higher education must adapt and change to the rise of new technology and new methods of learning in The Impending Demise of the University. Let look into what these two scholars think and said:

MyUniversity.com? Personalized Education and Personalized News by Cass Sunstein

Cass Sunstein looks into how education can be personalized for individuals. Sunstein states that personalization brings much efficacy in terms of learning more and faster and thereby makes education more efficient. Moreover, he explains that certain level of personalization is inherent in the education system in the very basic level of education such as students choosing which college they wish to attend. However, what Sunstein focuses on in his article is the level of personalization that education should be given. Sunstein argues that too much personalization can bring about a problem of “filtering” and make the society into fragmented heterogeneity without a binding force. Sunstein suggests that while personalization should be embraced, two requirements must be kept:

1) Unanticipated encounter: Being exposed to materials and knowledge that one would not have sought out individually under complete personalization.
2) Common experiences: Shared experiences among people to enable people to understand one another.

In order to explore this concept, Sunstein asks the readers to imagine a utopian world with complete personalization. During this thought experiment, he states that the feasibility of such world is the least of our worries with the rise of emerging media. Indeed, since the publication of this article in 2002, the world of today somewhat resembles Sunstein’s thought experiment. Yet, the differences between this thought experiment utopia and today’s society still exists. As Sunstein explains while the world has become more personalized, we are still able to experience “unanticipated encounter” and “common experiences”. In Sunstein’s example, he states that while more newspapers have become available and one may choose to read the newspaper that has the topic he is most interested in, he is still susceptible to being exposed to content he would otherwise not have encountered in that newspaper.

Sunstein states that in an over-personalized where individuals are nearly completely isolated from each other in terms of news and education can also cause the problem of reduced “public sphere”. Sunstein suggests that as the world becomes more personalized, we must keep the public forum doctrine to promote three important functions:

1) Speakers can have access to wide array of people. Sunstein shares examples that if one wants to speak out about high taxes or police brutality, existence of public forum helps them to share this opinion with many others.
2) Speakers can have general access not only to a heterogeneous group, but also to specific people and institutions with whom they have complaint.
3) The public forum doctrine ensures that the people will be exposed to wide variety of ideas and other members of the society.

In the new emerging media world, such public forums should be present, not just the specialized and isolated forums. Sunstein states that effects of isolated personalization can be especially traumatic in the case of education without proper control. As people inherent seek what is interesting to them, groups will become divided and polarized, leading to increased racial and cultural divide as well as political rifts. As a whole, Sunstein is for personalization, but only under an appropriate degree and not complete personalization.

The Impending Demise of University by Don Tapscott

Tapscott in The Impending Demise of University states while universities and colleges have the highest attendance than ever, yet they are losing their hold on the “monopoly” of higher education. More innately, Tapscott states that there exists a definite and clear disparity between the pedagogy defined by the instructor and one by the students. In the ages of digital, according to Tapscott, the students are no longer bound by the one-way street type of teaching the old pedagogy offered and are limitless and map-less in their pursuit of knowledge through the medium of Internet. (Tapscott also mentions that the universities have become too concentrated on research and less on education itself. However, I would personally argue that this is not a recent phenomenon and unrelated with emerging new media.)

Tapscott argues that “Industrial model of student mass production” must end and will end. He says the current pedagogy is a “broadcast learning” system where the instructor is the “broadcaster” and the students are the listeners. However, Tapscott points out the rise of technology and internet has enabled the students to tune into different broadcasts as the source of knowledge. Moreover, the new generations of students are adroit in their use of such medium and such method of learning. The teachers—“broadcasters”—must adapt to cater to these new students:

“They’re used to multi-tasking, and have learned to handle the information overload. They expect a two-way conversation. What’s more, growing up digital has encouraged this generation to be active and demanding enquirers. Rather than waiting for a trusted professor to tell them what’s going on, they find out on their own on everything from Google to Wikipedia.”

Tapscott states that universities have been the slowest to adapt as smaller liberal arts colleges are beginning to change and internet universities and classes are rising. In certain cases, there are new models of education being innovated. Tapscott shares an example of “Good Questions” program from Dr. Maria Terrell of Cornell, combining the web-based elements and in-class lectures. Students can ask warm-up questions before class and the professor can cater their class to address those questions (Very much like our class, I think). According to Tapscott, interactive learning allows for students to learn at their own pace and making direct input to what is being taught and therefore exhibits better efficacy.

As students find more channels to learn and find knowledge, Tapscott says that universities must adapt and that “universities should be places to learn, not to teach”. By doing so, he makes several challenges to different aspects of universities in order to become a place to learn:

1) Challenge to Teaching: Tapscott says teaching system should accommodate for next Geners, who are used to interactive learning and learning from each other in groups. New methods of pedagogy must be defined.
2) Challenge to the Revenue Model: classes in universities must differ from internet lectures and classes that can be had for free in order to justify its high prices.
3) Challenge to Credentialing: new method of credentialing must be determined to effectively measure the aptitude of university as a learning institution.
4) Challenge to the Campus: campuses should be able to offer a holistic package of education experience, in which students get together and think and learn together and ultimately enhance the learning experience.
5) Challenge to the Relationship of University to Other Institutions: Tapscott states that students should be able to learn not just from instructors of a particular university he is attending, but also from intellectuals from other institutions through the digital medium (not just through books).

In conclusion, Tapscott makes a bold statement that if the universities cannot adapt and change, they will perish.

My University.com, My Government.com: Is the Internet Really a Blessing for Democracy?: Presentation by Cass Sunstein

This is a talk at University of Michigan in which Sunstein discusses several of the points he made from the previous article. The article did seem somewhat ahead of his time, but this talk was held December 2008 and seems more relevant to today (he brings up Google News). In this presentation, Sunstein mentions additional experiments and meta-analysis that reveal striking effects of group polarization, and thereby stresses the dangers of over-personalization and “architecture of serendipity”.

First experiment was held in Colorado Springs, which leans conservative, and Boulder, which tends to be liberal. Participants in both cities were asked to give their views anonymously on three issues:

1) Should the US sign the international agreement to control the emission of greenhouse gases?
2) Should employers engage in race conscious affirmative action policies?
3) Should Colorado recognize same-sex civil union?

Following submission of their anonymous views on these topics, people engaged in discussion for 15 minutes. Then participants were asked to submit their view again in anonymous manner. According to Sunstein, the experiment revealed three interesting results:

1) After discussion group views were polarized and became more extreme.
2) Before discussion, internal diversity became existed but when examined after discussion, internal diversity disappeared.
3) The difference opinion of median between Colorado Springs and Boulder became dramatized.

The second example, Sunstein shared involved a meta analysis of Courts of Appeal in the U.S., which is comprised of three judges. Looking at historical judicial decision, the decisions are far more extreme and ideological when the panel is composed completely of Republican appointees or completely of Democrat appointees. For instance, Republican appointees vote pro-gay rights 14% in a 3R panel. Democrat judges vote pro-gay rights 100% in a 3D panel. Sunstein states that these percentages increased/decreased closer to 50% when the panel was mixed with both Democratic appointees and Republican appointees.

In the third example, 1,000 jury-eligible people in TX involved in the study. The participants were presented with asked to rank a hypothetical corporate misconduct on a scale of 0 to 6 and assign proper dollar amount of punishment. The median score in a group of six tends to be highly predictable measure of the median score of another group of six and were also in line with median American score. However, there were a lot of unpredictability on dollar value of punishment. In a follow-up study, instead of just submitting their score and monetary punishment value, the participants were grouped and asked to delivery a decision as a group after a discussion. According to Sunstein, there is a systematic severity shift: “people who are disturbed get more disturbed and people who were lenient became more lenient.” In other words, issues that had a median score of 5 become a 6 on the severity rank scale and issues that had a median score of 2 became 1. In addition, groups were systematically severe in terms of monetary punishment level. In 25% of the cases, the punishment level was at least as severe as the highest individual member’s punishment level before the discussion.

These examples stressed the point Sunstein made in the article about the dangers of group polarization. In order to prevent dramatic polarization, Sunstein suggests that “architecture of serendipity” must be put in place in education. The “architecture of serendipity” is essentially the two rules he suggested in the article of “unintended, un-chosen encounter with a person, a topic, or an argument” and “shared experience that unite people across differences”. Sunstein states that his ideas on public forum doctrine and implementation of architecture of serendipity in education system were inspired from Jane Jacob’s theory on urban public spaces in American cities. Sunstein believes that education system and Internet society can function like the urban public spaces that Jacobs described, serving as places in which people can meet others that differ not only in terms of looks but also in ideology and more importantly co-exist in harmony with them.

Sunstein points about that in the current blogsphere, political topics and views have become fragmented and polarized. Readers will tend to go from one blog representing one particular end of the political spectrum and move to another blog of similar content and political view, making oneself more extreme. One solution Sunstein suggests regarding this is that people start to practice more respectable linking to provide readers with means of becoming exposed to blogs and ideas that are not necessarily aligned with the current blog they are on. Sunstein states that the over personalization–through blogs or digital education–can be dangerous because of two factors:

1) People have natural tentativeness to reach conclusion on a given topic; however, ff given corroboration, people become extreme. Being exposed to only one view or side of a topic will push the people to the extremes.
2) Personalization of information and education brings about lack of exchange of information. In a filtered group, people will have chance to listen to only views that reinforce one view and will not have the chance to be exposed to other views.

In order to stress the danger of this, Sunstein shares a famous social conformity experiment. (He didn’t say, but I am pretty sure that it is by Solomon Asch). In this experiment people were given series of lines and were asked to choose on that is closest in length to a given line. The experiment session involved several people at the same time, but only one was a subject and others were confederates. When the confederates all chose a clearly wrong answer, the experiment subject also chose the wrong answer on 70% of the times despite the fact that the correct answer was very clear. Sunstein states that if social conformity is so powerful even when the answer is clear, on moral, political, and social topics, restricting oneself to only “personalized” views can make them conform to ideas that he/she might have otherwise thought too extreme.

Overall, Sunstein’s presentation is very much aligned with his article. However, in the presentation he even more strongly stresses the dangers of potential group polarization towards extremes and lack of exchange of information that can be caused to too much personalization. He does concede that in certain cases, the isolation through personalization and polarization may be a good thing as in the cases of anti-communist movement in the USSR or civil rights movement. However, it can also be the cause of birth of terrorists. He stresses that we must proceed with caution on the growing individual personalization through new media.