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Tag Archives: Mark Zuckerberg

Weekly Summary : Interface!

The major theme that ties this week’s material together includes how on the Web, interface (“a point of interconnection between two independent systems” Mushon) is being shaped in a way that break the balance of power depriving users (as one side of the 2 systems) of their power. The Web is often considered as an open and free media yet users’ experience does not seem to be under their control…

Dan Ariely, Are we in control of our own decisions?

Israeli Professor Dan Ariely teaches Behavioral Economics at MIT. Passionate about rationality, he is the author of Predictably Irrational. Ariely performed this presentation in December 2008. It is obviously meant to push his audience to question itself. He wants people to recognize and understand their limitations…

  • Visual illusions are a physical limitation people are well aware of. They can demonstrate it yet they cannot escape it. Therefore they adapt to it.
  • Cognitive illusions would also be mistakes that we cannot avoid but worst as we cannot demonstrate and understand them.

However some people well aware of this weekness take advantage of it to influence others… Using different examples (organ donation forms, tour operator advertisings, doctors’ instructions and the hottest guy to date…) Ariely demonstrates how you can shape the message you send in such a way that you help people figure out what they want. Here are little tips : working on the format of the question you ask, emphasizing the default option, presenting a worst option than yours etc. While everybody remains in the illusion that they decide, you almost decide for them.

Ariely concludes on a very positive note: what if we put our pride aside and aknowledged our cognitive limitations? Then we would be able to design a better world.

Questions:

  1. Ariely takes for granted that understanding the cognitive illusion we are submitted to would allow us to adapt to it. But these two illusions are not the same at all: visual illusions are very specific and defined while cognitive illusions come down to rationality which is much harder to demarcate and control… Do you still think Ariely’s argument is relevant?
  2. Also, how to raise awareness on cognitive illusions when it could be the mean for some people to acquire so much power over others?

Chris Messina, The death of the URL

Chris Messina is a designer who believes in the open web. He is a member of Open ID and maintains a blog, he works at Google (for the record!). In this post Messina makes a plea on behalf of the URL. He wants to make people realize that URL could disappear which would put our freedom on the Web in jeopardy. To make his point the designer uses 6 examples:

  1. Web TV. A simplified, toned version of computer : no browser, no keyboard, no mouse. It will be “user friendly” but allow no flexibility at all.
  2. Litl, chromeOS, JoliCloud, and Apple Tablet… The design of these tools is  definitely “cool”. Yet it leads to “a  predetermined set of options” always restricting our freedom on the Web.
  3. Top Sites. This features provides you with a selection of the websites that you visit the most. As convenient as it is it prevents us from thinking. We don’t even need to think about the most accurate website to find what we are looking for. Everything on our browser tend to be preset, predetermind. We are becoming passive users.
  4. Warning interstitials and short URL frames. The annoying format of those warnings that we experience everyday contributes to deter us from clicking through certain link. Another way of restricting our freedom.
  5. The NASCAR or this tendency to turn everything into logos for the sake of simplicity. Another abstraction of URL
  6. App Stores or “a cleaved out and sanitized portion of the web”. Big business has the power. Companies, brands are taking control of the digital environment. “The hardware makers got into the content business” and are turning the Web into a shopping mall.

Messina concludes by reminding why there is so much at stake with URL: it allows anyone to create a website and to propagate it. URL empowers users, if users loose access to it they will be cast out of the Web.

Messina also cleary stresses on the interface that are the key issue of the Web: the battle to win “the universal interface for interacting with the web is just now getting underway ”

Questions :

  1. What do you think of Messina’s plea? Do you think the Web will be just like TV, reducing its audience to passivity?
  2. Do you feel that you lose control, that you are driven to a predetermined set of options?
  3. As Messina, do you think companies are responsible for the death of the URL and that they have interest in it?
  4. I feel that the discrepancies between different types of users will be increased and that some people are going to be able to preserve their freedom while other will lose the freedom of their experience. What about you?

Andrew Rasiej & Micha L. Sifry, Social networking, new governing

This article written in March 2009 clearly defers from the two other documents as it is mostly optimistic regarding the power of users on the Web.

The authors draw their argument on Facebook. The social network has reach such a number of users that it plays a key role in our societies: “it is a meaningful platform for political engagement”. But “is Facebook a public square or a private mall?”. In response to users complaints about a unilateral control of the site, Zuckerberg decided not to change the website but to include users in the website policy and organized a “virtual town hall”. Zuckerberg said he wantes to develop “new models of governance”. So far so good but in reality this seem a bit fake:

  1. It is very unlikely that Facebook will mobilize 30% of its users to take part in the company’s governance.
  2. Facebook did not promote this new development at all. (Indeed, who heard about that?)

It seems that Facebook took very little risk. However, the two social entrepreneurs  founders of Personal Democracy Forum consider Zuckerberg’s proposal as the first step towards “an overall change in expectation about the relationship between digital landowners and digital tenants.”

Question:

  1. A year after their article, I am wondering what the authors would have to say about Zuckerberg’s declaration “privacy is no longer a social norm”? This declaration give me very little hope in the new democracy Facebook could provide us with…

Mushon Zer-Aviv, Interface as a conflict of Ideologies

This essay dives into the very question of interface.

Interface as “the point of interconnection between two independents systems” is all about balance. The design, the way the interface is built should aim at respecting and protecting the equilibrium between the two sides. However, interfaces are often used by one system to gain power over the other. Therefore interfaces are at the center of a major conflict on the Internet.

  • Encoded/ Decoded. The Web highlights the importance of interfaces yet we have been using them forever to communicate and interact between us. Languages for instance are a major interface. Referring to Ferdinand de Saussure M. Zer-Aviv explains how language has been conceived as a circuit on which messages could be exchanged as long as the interface is equally shared. However Stuart Hall has demonstrated that language relies on a system of codes and that “the codes used for encoding and decoding are often different”. There are 3 defined types of codes:
  1. Dominant Code: the sender shapes the interpretation od the receiver (Mass Media, advertising do that all the time as we cannot change the message)
  2. Negotiated Code: the receiver understands the message but does not completely buys into it
  3. Oppositional Code: the receiver understands the message but refuses it and uses another code to decode the message in oppositon to the goal of the sender.
  • The Web’s Communication Diagram. In theory “the Web is a revolutionary tool for gaining ownership of media” as it provides different types of communication: one to one, many to many, one to many. But it has also made the hierarchy at work in those communication system much more complicated.  Indeed the identities of the systems interacting are harder to clearly indentify on the web. The identities are somehow blurred. While the comment interfaces on blogs seem to leave room for users, “the only identity represented through the dominant interface (the website) is that of the publisher.” Most of the time on the web, interfaces fail to maintain the equilibrium between the two independent systems.
  • Commons-Based Peer Production – A new Ideology. The example of Wikipedia the free encyclopedia based on Benkler’s principle of Commons-Based Peer Production: “no one person controls how the resource is used, they are either open to the public or a defined group”. There is not one single author and the quality of content is protected by the moderation.
  • The Revolution will not be verified. Wikipedia is a wonderful proof of what common based peer production can achieve. However, Wikipedia’s strength relies in its “tightly policed ideology“. When people edit in Wikipedia they accept and relay Wikipedia’s ideology. The system works because wikipedia’s editor are strong advocates of Wikipedia’s identity (the respect of the power editors have been entitled to in the benefit of “the greater good”). And indeed, the system has proven to fail when reproduced in the LA Times. Even if the control is distributed there is always “one side who holds the key” and has the power to break the balance. The interface is the carrier of an identity and therefore carries a message in itself.
  • Unknowns Knowns in On-line Urban Space. Even though in theory HTML is simple and accessible to everybody, for practical purposes we experience the web through web pages that are “in the hands of the identity behind it”. Everything on the Web is privately owned and therefore under control. Because of these web pages, “the web has never had any public place” directly accessible. This part relates a lot to Ariely’s presentation: as well as we cannot aknowledge our cognitive limitations, there are things we “don’t know we know”. We don’t know we could think of the web in a different way that the one we get.
  • Cracks in the walls. Even if everything is under control, some things are a bit flexible and give hope for a little bit more of openness on the web.
  1. The RSS feed which gives mobility and visibility to content
  2. Application Programming Interface (API) when “the powers of one software can be shared by another”
  3. Social Bookmarking

Those new features are participating to the development of the metaweb which creates “a public space on the web” leading to more flexibility, mobility and participation. Through metaweb users could “retrieve their agency in the interfaces”. Interfaces would not be freezed anymore but the result of an on-going process in which all users can take part.

After having analyzed the interface and all that is at stake, the author suggests to enter into conflict to retrieve the balance in the interconnection between systems through two approaches . A tactical approach consits in destabilizing by questioning something established. It enables able to trully modify and improve the system (the example of Google bomb). A less spectacular but efficient approach is the strategic media one. It is much more sustainable and consits in “influencing the system from within”. Greasemonkey for instance allow users with coding skills to add, remove or fix features on the page, as well as it allows to insert content from other sites into the page.

And indeed you can contribute to the metaweb!

Mushon as contributed to the creation of ShiftSpace “an open source browser plugin for collaboratively annotating, editing and shifting the web”. It allows users to move out of their passivity for a much more active and interactive experience of the web. They have the opportunity to react, produce content and share it among Shiftspace users.

Questions :

  1. This text bring us back to the role of design. What is good design? Is it what prevents us from thinking?
  2. Private interests seem to be responsible for the loss of control of the users on the web. Can we think of a another Web (Web 3.0?) which could not be privately owned?


Concluding Post – How much *TIME SPENT ON*?

I began this journey by first analyzing the beginning of both Social Networking Websites.. At first I was skeptical as to where my topic would be bring me but now I realize how much of a big part of and time is spend on these sites.

So what REALLY led to the demise of MySpace. I believe that their was no demise and that MySpace and Facebook are two entirely different entities that cannot be compared. I don’t think that they serve the same purpose. MySpace has evolved from being a simple social networking site, to an atmosphere or creative sharing. Those who actually are MySpace users are a new generation of young people. Initially, Facebook was set up as a network for college students to contact each other easier. MySpace was the networking site people would go to catch on fun. MySpace as I stated before is a social hub for music, movies, marketing.

This is where my thought for the comparing/contrasting of the layout came about. Initially, the two layouts served the same common goal. You had a few friends, you left them comments, admired their photos and read about their info and who they “friended”.  The past few years this has changed dramatically.MySpace’s login page has a lot more options. You have the ability to see who is online without joining the community, surf through celebrity pages and catch up the latest music/movies. It is now used a marketing tool. Facebook as a different perception. They do have celebrity fan pages, but there is no media attached. The login page for facebook is simple and clean, and you MUST login to see most features.

I actually joined Foursquare this week and became more active on Twitter as well as a social experiment to myself. After hearing about Foursquare in class and at work, I got the itch to join. I haven’t used it much and figure it’s interesting if you want to boast onto your friends where you are or see if they are in the same place.

This week in my research:

I decided to put myself through a social experiment. Be active on all my accounts (minus MySpace) and see how much time I spent on these sites. On my twitter I “tweeted” about 50 times a day. Mostly all on Thursday due to Iran’s 31st anniversary of the Revolution. My Facebook account I had about 60 posts a day, and Foursquare I barely used only to check in to places so my Facebook friends could see. So you can a few hours were devoted to just updating information on my pages. Was I being paid for this – NO. Did I learn anything? NO – well I did learn that my ex’s mother has a facebook … I think MY IQ dropped a bit more..

Then I thought what purpose does this serve? Do people really give a damn what I think of what I’m doing?

There are those small few who do.. but by using my page as a news central did any message get across to these people.. Remarkably yes. In the past year I have received critiques, opinions, praises in the “PHYSICAL WORLD” through sms, calls and in person of how this information, had I not provided it to them, would have left them in the dark.

But those of us who don’t use these platforms as a broadcasting central.. What are they doing on there.
This is a great link to some information based on the time spent on these sites, it states

From April 2008 to April 2009, total minutes spent on Facebook increased from 1.7 billion minutes to 13.9 billion minutes – an annual growth rate of 700 percent. MySpace comes in second with 5 billion minutes in April 2009, roughly 2 billion minutes shy of time spent in April 2008.

So how much time do you spend on your social networking site? AND what are you doing on there? January 2009 – ages 25-50 spent an average of 3.5 hrs on FB.

An interesting find for the week – when search this topic in GOOGLE and you type “TIME SPENT ON” – see what is the first choice is ….SCARY!

Mini Poll

Hi All – I decided to post a Mini Poll if you don’t mind answering it.. I figure since we are all pretty educated on SNSes.. This group would be a good sampling to test on.. :) Also, if you don’t mind in your comments explaining why you chose that answer… and also, if you can think of a better answer..

Danone challenging its audience on FB: PR or CSR???

I have inquired a bit further on Danone’s social activities on Facebook.

Their social media strategy mostly aimed at mobilizing people. To achieve their goal they not only designed a Facebook page (which woudn’t have been original at all) but they linked it to the “Causes” application provided by Facebook. They pionneered as Facebook was trying to implement this application for the 1st time in Europe in France and Spain.

Danone created  Pour un nouveau capitalisme – The “For a New Capitalism” application using slideshows and quizzes to teach users about “Social Business” and encouraged them to submit ideas for how capitalism can be ecological, socially transformative, and profitable. These ideas have been voted on, and the winner got to meet Nobel Peace Prize winner, Mohammed Yunus, on March 6th, in Paris!

Regarding Corporate Social Responsibility issues, credibility is THE core question. People are no longer convinced by code of conducts or plain statements. They want action. In this respect, Danone initiative is very valuable because it has reversed the roles and challenged its audience. People were giving the opportunity to create their own project

Danone + Mark Zuckerberg

But in fact, Danone responded to a competition organized by Facebook . Facebook wanted to implement the application Causes to further develop their activity in France. A good reason enough to have Mark Zuckerberg coming…

Danone met great success and gathered more than 10 000 players. The project La Voute Nubienne proposed by Antoine has won. He won this competitive game with his project for what? Meeting with M. Yunus!I assume it must have been thrilling but what the concrete benefice for the association?

Indeed, we know very little on the help provided by Danone to the project. There do not seem to have any follow up…

And a year after the ceremony to deliver the prices, Danone.communities did organize the same kind of show with their M. Yunus but they did not launch another “CSR” game…

PR or CSR ?

MySpace and FB – Who has the better layout? Why? 2/7

February 7, 2010

Today I would like to discuss the difference in layouts between MySpace and Facebook.

What I have I have learned about this new media environment, or “SNS” Social Networking Site is that the design or “layout” is very crucial to acquiring specific types of users.

First I would like to analyse the Facebook layout – I found a very helpful image as you can see below. Due to the terms and conditions of Facebook, you MUST have a profile photo (or else they will pester you to upload on) and it must be  a photo of you, and not a Doppleganger :) The user has the following abilities on Facebook:

  1. Update their status
  2. Upload a current photo
  3. Apply for network membership (location – which they plan to remove)

I also found a site that outlines the limitations to Facebook, click here for more info.

MySpace layout is a bit more complicated but their is good reason for this. I personally don’t find the design to be very appealing because it is cluttered on their home page.

Clay Shirky brings up a great point during his lecture, “Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, “

His example of Bronze Beta and the simplistic design of it was successful. Also, because the group, had a collective nature, it was held together by the affection for one another. The saavy mood of no design, it wasn’t about the technology, it was about the content, more features would have been a distraction.

But as for the user  in “MYSPACE” themselves, users have the ability to express themselves by implementing code and changing their background images, adding music, basically implementing their own personal feel and personality into their pages. It is a great tool for those who don’t have the knowledge to build their own website and use the social networking site to express themselves.

The MySpace Profiles has the following:

  1. Friends
  2. Profile Picture
  3. Age
  4. Date of Last Login
  5. Mood
  6. Online or Not

A lot of celebrities, more specifically artists in the music industry promote themselves on MySpace due to the creative freedom the site provides. Several celebrities also have fan pages on Facebook, but find the limitations to the layout restrict their expression they want to broadcast to their fans. Facebook is a great communication tool in order to actually speak to those who you thought would never gain a chance to. MySpace allows users to connect creatively with their favorite artists. By posting things on their pages other than text…

  • Your Friends List, and the posts made by your friends and photo albums. You have the ability to control what is being seen by certain groups of people. You would be surprised to find how many cyberstalkers or lurkers are ou their roaming through your page. danah boyd actually put this into perspective for me by stating
  • “Abstract While it is common to face strangers in public life, our eyes provide a good sense of who can overhear our expressions. In mediated publics, not only are lurkers invisible, but persistence, searchability, and replicability introduce audiences that were never present at the time when the expression was created.

    I was wondering if any of the classmates had any input as to what type of questions could be asked as far as this topic is concerned or should I travel onto another platform – or relate these SNSes to issues that have erupted in the news (ie: use of facebook profiles in trials, twitter activity, etc.. Any constructive criticism, will be greatly appreciated.

  • Travelogue 2: Facebook vs MySpace! Updated 2/7/10

    I have been reading a lot of press on social communities recently because I take a very cautionary step when engaging socially on Facebook. It could just be paranoia or simply wanting to be too private but at times I feel like Facebook might have a hidden agenda.

    After completing the assigned readings for this week, my view on Privacy become even WORSE. By worse I mean, I don’t want to engage in any sort of online activity unless it is necessary for school or work.

    It took me literally, 2 years to create a MySpace account because I was pestered by friends and kept hearing stories and I almost felt like I missing out on something very important on conversations.

    So now I look back and say, well, what happened to My Space. Is it still around? Facebook has engaged in what they are calling the “Technology Lock In.” Technology lock-in basically means “the idea that the more a society adopts a certain technology, the more unlikely users are to switch. ” So for someone like myself, I probably will never switch back to MySpace because it doesn’t meet my needs or fit my current lifestyle socially.

    Basically, I would like to explore the beginning of this social phenomena.

    1. How did MySpace start? Quick Bio on MySpace
    2. What secret ingredient did they possess to make themselves so successful?
    3. Where did they go? What did they do wrong? Where are they now?
    4. Facebook – Who are they? Quick Bio on Facebook
    5. Where did they come from?
    6. What are they doing right?
    7. How much are they worth?

    An interesting video on MySpace vs Facebook (has a mild technical perspective)

    YouTube Preview Image

    I am open to constructive criticism, ideas, or paths of travel you suggest for this travelogue.

    Mainly, I would like to travel the path from MySpace to Facebook, but also add a touch of the Privacy issues we were learning this week during our Google Challenge. I’ve always wanted to explore the demise and rise of these two groups. I would like to stay away from Twitter because in my own perspective it doesn’t have all the functionalities that these two sites do, and its use and purpose are much different.

    February 7, 2010

    Today I would like to discuss the difference in layouts between MySpace and Facebook.

    What I have I have learned about this new media environment, or “SNS” Social Networking Site is that the design or “layout” is very crucial to acquiring specific types of users.

    First I would like to analyse the Facebook layout – I found a very helpful image as you can see below. Due to the terms and conditions of Facebook, you MUST have a profile photo (or else they will pester you to upload on) and it must be  a photo of you, and not a Doppleganger :) The user has the following abilities on Facebook:

    1. Update their status
    2. Upload a current photo
    3. Apply for network membership (location – which they plan to remove)

    I also found a site that outlines the limitations to Facebook, click here for more info.

    MySpace layout is a bit more complicated but their is good reason for this. I personally don’t find the design to be very appealing because it is cluttered on their home page.

    Clay Shirky brings up a great point during his lecture, “Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, “

    His example of Bronze Beta and the simplistic design of it was successful. Also, because the group, had a collective nature, it was held together by the affection for one another. The saavy mood of no design, it wasn’t about the technology, it was about the content, more features would have been a distraction.

    But as for the user  in “MYSPACE” themselves, users have the ability to express themselves by implementing code and changing their background images, adding music, basically implementing their own personal feel and personality into their pages. It is a great tool for those who don’t have the knowledge to build their own website and use the social networking site to express themselves.

    The MySpace Profiles has the following:

    1. Friends
    2. Profile Picture
    3. Age
    4. Date of Last Login
    5. Mood
    6. Online or Not

    A lot of celebrities, more specifically artists in the music industry promote themselves on MySpace due to the creative freedom the site provides. Several celebrities also have fan pages on Facebook, but find the limitations to the layout restrict their expression they want to broadcast to their fans. Facebook is a great communication tool in order to actually speak to those who you thought would never gain a chance to. MySpace allows users to connect creatively with their favorite artists. By posting things on their pages other than text…

  • Your Friends List, and the posts made by your friends and photo albums. You have the ability to control what is being seen by certain groups of people. You would be surprised to find how many cyberstalkers or lurkers are ou their roaming through your page. danah boyd actually put this into perspective for me by stating
  • “Abstract While it is common to face strangers in public life, our eyes provide a good sense of who can overhear our expressions. In mediated publics, not only are lurkers invisible, but persistence, searchability, and replicability introduce audiences that were never present at the time when the expression was created.

    I was wondering if any of the classmates had any input as to what type of questions could be asked as far as this topic is concerned or should I travel onto another platform – or relate these SNSes to issues that have erupted in the news (ie: use of facebook profiles in trials, twitter activity, etc.. Any constructive criticism, will be greatly appreciated.

  • Week 2 Summary

    I will try to follow Alexandra’s format from last week. This week’s assignment included: “Scroogled” by Cory Doctorow, “Facebook’s Move Ain’t About Changes in Privacy Norms” by Danah Boyd, “Search Me” and “Short of Anonymous” from On the Media, “This Week In Google 25: The People’s Republic of Google”.

    Scroogled

    Scroogled is an interesting fictional stroy from Cory Doctorow. In the story, the protagonist Greg comes to learn about how Google has come to work with the Department of Homeland Security to provide information about specific individuals. It is a very interesting concept that Doctorow explores into. At immigration check-point in a airport, the security officials use what type of ads pop up based on a person’s search queries. Greg is scrutinized and thoroughly investigated due to having model rocket ads being shown up in his ads. From his friend Maya, he comes to learn that Google agreed on a deal with the government to provide service in exchange for more freedom to conduct business as they desire.

    Even more shocking is that Google is everywhere and government is watching you everywhere. Once a person like Greg is flagged at the airport, they can be followed and checked for “suspicious patterns” by cameras on the street and search queries and e-mails. Maya, using her programming skills, developed a program called Googleclean to turn a person like Greg into a normalized individual. Life seems normal at first after this, but Maya learns that her program is being used by Google to promote political agendas. Maya is scared by this and the fact that DHS officials know of her dubious activies and flees to Mexico. Meanwhile, Greg is contacted by “consultant” to work for Google to perfect Maya’s Googleclean, so that it can be better used to promote secret political consipiracy. On his first day back, Greg learns Maya killed her self in Guatamala.

    From a personal standpoint, while I think this is an interesting take on Google’s ubiquitous nature in the modern world, it is completely unrealistic. There is absolutely no way that it will ever become possible to use search logs and advertisment being served to judge a person on a legal level. From a legal standpoint, you can only tie back information from cookies to a computer, not to an invidual and in this modern day where many people use multiple computers (including smartphones), correctly identifying a person to a political agenda is impossible to perform. Yes, the information can be useful in business and advertising perspective, because business function by probability and numbers. Government, especially when it enters the legal territory, functions in a black-or-white, legal-or-illiegal world. I am very intrigued by the concept of Googleclean; however, it already exists. Deleting your cookies will do the trick and opting out of Google’s ad preferences will also “normalize” you. Just go to www.google.com/ads/preferences.

    Search Me

    In this short internet radio segnment from On the Media, Google’s Marissa Mayer discusses how Google’s information collection from search queries work and about Google’s policy to promote more privacy. Starting point of the discussion centers around how Google’s Chrome browser will make all personal data collected anonymous within 24 hours and how all ada collected from searches will be made anonymous in 9 months instead of previous 18 months. (One thing I believe Bob Garfield made mistake with stating this is that all information will be deleted after these periods, not made anonymous. Any information being collected is already anonymous for Google or any other search engines.)

    Marissa Mayer states that “you are giving up some personal information, but you are gaining a lot of familiarity.” She also clears up that “first thing to understand on search logs is that they are not personally identifiable. We don’t know who you are,. So we don’t know your name, or your e-mail address, or information that would tie your searches to you.”

    As an employee of Google, Mayer is saying the “right” thing and some may think that she is corporate-speaking. However, from a person who is working with Google’s data on a day-to-day basis, much of what she says is just the fact. It simply is true. Personal information are not collected, but just your acivities and preferences are monitored, and while that does sound controlling and scary, much of it is used for the benefit of the user as well.

    Short of Anonymous

    In the “Short of Anonymous” segment from On the Media, Alissa Cooper, the Chief Computer Scientiest of the Center for Democracy and Technology, discusses the limitations of Google guaranteeing anonymity. She mentions that the definition of “anonymized” is flexible in a sense that while it is true that Google data cannot identify you as a person, it can be used to infer who you are indirectly. She states that “information in the logs that they hold can probably sill be tied back to an individual” despite the fact that information by itself will not identify the individual.

    Bob Garfield summarizes nicely that “I can set my own degree of privacy on my browser for more or less utility from that same browser”. What he says is very true; allowing your browser to collect more information can provide you with more utility in a sense that your internet experience can be catered and personalized for you. However, that also mean the browser and search engines need more information from you to provide that utility. For instance, on Amazon, it will tell you what products you might like and what products you might be interested in based on the information they collect from you browsing history and purchasing behavior. Or they will send people e-mail on promotions and discounts on certain items based on that data. This can be useful and nice, but it also involves letting them know more about me.

    Facebook’s Move Ain’t About Changes in Privacy Norms

    In this blog, Danah Boyd discusses the latest statement from Mark Zuckerberg that “the age of privacy is over” and that sharing information with the public is the norm now. Boyd argues that this is not the case and making being public a norm should not be the case. He states that being private should be the default and becoming public should be by choice. While the choice is stil there, Boyd argues that there does exist a difference in what is the “default” setting. Boyd also argues that this move by Facebook and Zuckerberg is purely a business decision trying to gather more information to use for revenue generating activities, and Boyd states that what Zuckerberg is trying to suggest by saying that being public is the norm in modern world is just a ploy to legitimize their information collecting activities.

    Boyd makes a very logical argument that makes a lot of sense. And I can honestly say that he made me confused as to how I stand on this issue. Before I had believed the same thing Zuckerberg stated. I thought being public is becoming the norm and people want to almost “overshare” their lives. However, on principal what Boyd suggests is convincing in that the default should be the choice to remain private. Yet there also is the counter-argument that Facebook can choose to do whatever they want and since people are following how Facebook wants people to be public by default then Facebook can make it remain that way. Facebook is not obliged to philosophical goodness or rightness. Honestly, I am a bit torn in how I should stand on this issue.

    This Week In Google 25: The People’s Republic of Google

    In this Internet TV segment, Leo Laporte, Gina Trapini, Jeff Jarvis, and Siva Vaidhyanathan discuss opinions and implications around the latest statement from Google that they will pull out of China unless Google is allowed to keep their information data away from the Chinese government.

    As Siva Vaidhyanathan mentions 30% of Chinese population is amazing potential revenue and pulling out of China would be a huge risk. However, as he also points out, if Google’s security is compromised by the Chinese governemnt and if an anti-goverment political activist is arrested based on g-mail documents or search queries, Google might face a dangerous situation with public discontent. As Google’s mantra states, Vaidhyanathan suggests that this move is in line with “Don’t Do Evil”. In other words, Google seems to be taking the route of lesser risk over greater risk.

    Jeff Jarvis agrees with Vaidhyanathan on this point, stating that “Doing evil is bad business”. However, the point on which Vaidhyanathan and Jarvis seems to be in disagreement over is whether Google was motivated by purely business strategy of avoiding risk, or if Google was motivated to promote free speech as well. Jarvis is on the side that Google wanted to not just avoid evil, but promote good as well through supporting free sppech.

    Viadhyanathan also brings up an interesting point. He says “it’s not a total bluff that they will pull out of China. It is a total bluff that they will run an un-filtered, un-censored web search project in China on Google.cn….The reason why this is important in a larger sense is that Google is making a stand for the internet itself…Google is the first company to openly speak about the level of attacks and level of vulnerability….They cannot stand for this level for aggresive intrusion.” This is somewhat pessimistic view on Google’s decision, but also a very shrewd and realistic observation. Chinese government will not succumb completely to Google’s demands, and Google cannot possibly expect Chinese government to completely change. However, as Vaidhyanathan states, Google seems to be looking for the compromise point.

    Leo Laporte and Gina Trapani believe that the move by Google is driven a lot by ego and is 4 years late. They state that there seems to tech geek ego of being offended by security breach and this could be a brilliant PR move to cover-up the security breach. To a certain extent that seems natural and true. However, Jarvis continues to believe that motiviation to do good was involved in Google’s decision.

    Social Media as the Moneymaking Machine


    You are thinking about buying a product. It could be anything. A music file from iTunes store, or a new book, or a guitar, or a computer, or even a TV. Whatever it may be you are probably going to do some research about it. What kind of music this band plays? How engaging or exciting is the author? Does the computer function fast and are its hardwares up to date? You might go to expert reviews or check out blogs. I tend to be a bit obssessive about the products that I buy doing a lot of over-research. For example, I purchased a TV few weeks ago. I went on every imaginable tech review sites and blogs to learn about the latest TV technologies and how they function, what brands are reliable and what functionalities do I need and not need. The thorough research did help me, but in the end it really came down to listening to some experiences my friends had with specific TVs. I think this may be the case for a lot of people. What your friends–or people who you know and trust–tell you can be very convincing source of opinion in infuencing what you end of purchasing.

    In comes social media. I am still unsure which company or which method of social media I want to concentrate on for my next travelogue, but I am thinking along the lines of Facebook, or Foursqure. For now, I will start my journey with Facebook. Facebook is literally gigantic in its reach. If your friend that you know to be a fashionista is a fan of Paul Smith, you might be more likely to become a fan of Paul Smith and buy his clothes. It is a very insteresting concept. Or if you see a lot of comment about this new band on your friend’s wall, you might be interested to check them out. “Facebook is expected to reach $435 million in 2009 and $605 million in 2010.” Mark Zuckerberg had thought that social media is not going to be able to generate as much ad revenue as search engines or display publishers, and in the current scale of thing, he is probably right. Google made almost $20 billion in revenue, and Facebook’s $0.6 billion looks tiny in comparison. However, it is generating crazy investments from private equity firms and corporations and private investors. If it does go public, the stock prices will soar. Clearly, something is going on and people are interested in it and it could be a money making machine. I want to explore and travel into this spectrum. See how this is being done and what the prospects look like for the future.

    More specifcally, where is social media marketing heading? Business speaks in numbers and dollars. In this case, you see the dollars Facebook is making, but it is more difficult to see the dollars coming out for companies using Facebook as advertising medium. How is this world going to change? How do you quantify and numerically reason and explain the marketing activities on Facebook? In other words, how do you measure the buzz and return on marketing investment?

    I know we weren’t supposed to use Google, and YouTube sort of is Google. OK, I failed the challenge, but here is a thought to leave you with from two years ago on 60 Minutes (a lot has changed since then. They are making money like crazy):
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