Tag Archives: Experiment

Podcast Notes: on Facebook and Personal Reality

My Dad, who has quit Facebook (almost), recently posted a link to a podcast on his Facebook page and it is one of the most interesting podcasts I’ve encountered lately. From the ABC program Conversations came the episode:
Facebook and the last days of reality: futurist Mark Pesce

I listened to the episode while knitting, then a few days later grabbed a notebook and took some sketch notes while I listened again. Here are some of my main takeaways:

  • The Facebook Algorithm  acts as a Cognitive Bias Amplifier because showing us what we want to see keeps us on the platform and the more we use Facebook, the more Facebook knows about us, and has a chance to advertise at us. This has trapped Facebook in a destructive cycle with its users, where users get what they want, not what might be socially good for them. If Facebook tires to change its algorithms to distribute socially necessary information rather than a personalised experience, users will move on to another platform that gives them what they want.
  • Emotional Contagion is spread through Facebook because it is a powerful social network. An example of this is the scientific experiment that Facebook did showing users more positive or negative news stories to find out how it would influence them. There is a related RadioLab podcast about this experiment that goes into more detail about how researchers are able to create experiments on a mass scale now thanks to the data that Facebook collects and talks about the ethics of doing so. The RadioLab podcast The Trust Engineers was published at the beginning of 2015.
  • Facebook has become a Reality Trap; it is now a primary news source for many users, and this is affected by the algorithms that show users what they want to see. In turn, this affects how the media both receives and distributes their messages. The Facebook newsfeed essentially curates a custom reality for each of its users and now communicating across realities has language barriers. According to Mark, this is ruining democracy; “Democracy is a social agreement” and Facebook has become “corrosive of consensus”.
  • Data Sets are everywhere, and being collected and sold by everyone. If you buy a couple of complimentary data sets and line them up, although you won’t have a person’s name and exact date of birth, you will have an incredibly rich profile that will tell you what you need to know about a person, or type of person, in order to effectively advertise (commercially or politically) at them. “We live in a knowledge civilisation now,” says Mark and explains that although it used to be difficult and expensive to weaponize  information, now almost anybody can do it because it has become so cheap.
  • Digital Natives use Facebook differently to Gen Xers (thankfully, I’m in between). Where Gen Xers might rely on Facebook as a main way of accessing the internet, connecting with friends and family, and sharing what’s important to them, Digital Natives take a much more formal approach to the platform. Digital Natives tend to use private sharing systems, sharing with a few people in unobserved ecosystems. They approach Facebook as a formal online space, putting up carefully curated content and using it to engage with older generations who aren’t part of the private ecosystems that Digital Natives favour. They aren’t invested in Facebook emotionally, perhaps intuitively recognising the mess that previous generations have made of the social network, and choosing instead to spend their online time in other environments.

    I personally feel that I’m part of the in-between generation. I didn’t grow up with a smart phone in my hand, but I wasn’t part of the generation that built the web either. Sometimes my generation (Gen Y) gets lumped in with millennials, sometimes we get forgotten. I think generally we are also in-between in terms of our relationship to Facebook. At first we were emotionally invested in the platform, treating it like a grown-up version of MySpace, but in the last few years I’ve seen less and less posts in my newsfeed because we are migrating to other platforms, or posting less on social media generally.  The exception to the rule of course is when Gen Yers start having kids, then I have to unfollow friends to avoid a plague of baby photos in my feed!

There was a lot of information in the podcast that I’m still working on unpacking. The podcast was a result of Mark Pesce writing an article for Meanjin with the same title The Last Days of Reality and I have only skimmed it, but it is on my reading list. Wired also wrote an article this month about the past two years at Facebook and how it’s faced backlash for the proliferation of fake news and curated newsfeeds and has had to navigating coming to terms with the fact that it is both a platform and a publisher. Wired’s article is called Inside the Two Years That Shook Facebook—and the World.

I think that all these podcasts and readings are going to link in nicely to my week one reading for COMU2140, another Wired article titled The Web Is Dead. Long Live The Internet which after a quick skim seems to be about how most people access the internet through closed systems like apps rather than through the wide open spaces that occur when using a web browser. The article was written eight years ago but still seems unnervingly relevant.


APA reference:
Ransom-Hughes, M. (Producer), Fidler, R. (Presenter), & Pesce, M. (Guest). (2018, January 30) Facebook and the last days of reality: futurist Mark Pesce [Audio Podcast]. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/conversations/conversations-mark-pesce/9354558

IM2.2

Integrated Media 2.2 ie. the second time I attempt to complete this course. I found it quite enjoyable last year, and only failed because I didn’t actually complete the report. The only thing that’s changed from last year to this is that the report part of the assessment is now also group and not individual.  So I’m not likely to fail again, considering how seriously I take group assessment. Yay!

When I say that it’s the only thing that’s changed, I’m not kidding though. The lecture content and assessment so far are all exactly the same (to the point where the introductory blog post about the lecture still states that the report is individual assessment… copy-paste). It’s okay though, the reason I didn’t complete the report last year is because I got to the end of the semester and realised that it would be very difficult to write a report when I hadn’t been keeping up with the theory all semester. So I made myself retake the course so I could actually learn the things I was supposed to be learning last year.

I realised that I needed something to remind me of that, a motto or a phrase, so that when I find myself tuning out because I’ve heard it before, I can remind myself to tune back in and learn. I noticed that in the job descriptions of SMPs (Social Media Producers) that Seth showed us in the lecture, a lot of them required evidence or proof that you actually know your way around a social media network. So I’m going to think of this course as helping me build some portfolio appropriate content. I’ll work out how to turn that into a motto if I need it later…

I’ve started brainstorming ideas for the event assessment already. I feel like having done this part of the course before is a huge advantage, and won’t bore me because we’ll be planning and executing a different event. It might even be more interesting this time around to make comparisons etc.

On unexpected wins

I think that the best, most successful part of our IRL 2013 event was the picnic and talking games part. Initially, I expected this to be a difficult part to pull off, afraid that participants would find it lame or boring. On the day however, it turned out to be the best part. I think the reason for this was because we had a good size group, only nine people, which turned out to be just about the perfect number for the games we played.

Two truths and a lie would have been a bit too short if there were less people, and way too long if there were many more. This game was also successful because we didn’t know each other very well and it was a silly fun way to get to know some weird facts about each other. One of my favourite three facts came from Chattrin who said

  1. I’m afraid of heights
  2. I love rollercoasters
  3. and I never want to go bungee jumping

we were trying to figure out the lie based on logic, but in the end found out that number 3 was the lie, and he does want to go bungee jumping! I thought this was a very clever combination of facts and also taught us a bit more about Chattrin that just his fear of heights, we also know that his fear doesn’t stop him from doing what he wants. Isn’t that an awesome way to get to know someone new?

The other game we played also went way better than expected. We had originally planned to do only one round of the spy game, but the first round we used more to get the hang of the game and understand the rules, as a group. I was the odd item out for the first game and I had no idea! The second game was run by one of our attendees, Steve, who’d come up with a very good combination- apple juice and apple cider. All the apple juice people thought that the odd one out would be orange juice. I was the odd one out (again!) with the cider and it took me quite a long time to figure that out too! On the third round, the combination was iPhone and iPad. Again, all of us with iPhone thought the odd one out would be Samsung Galaxy or HTC, but this time Pete had the odd one out and pretty much from the start he knew it, so he played a very good strategy to keep it a secret.

 

On not sticking to the timetable

Oh plans, how I love to make plans. I often don’t stick to them though, and in the heat of the moment, plans that don’t have flexibility will break or crack. Thankfully our plan for the IRL event was super flexible. We allocated one person to be the “MC” so to speak, to run the show, ne person to record audio, one person to record video and still images and the others to help the games and activities run smoothly. We had a timetable planned out:

 

But on the day, we went with an order that made more sense to us. I was the “MC” in charge on the day (a role I always seem to snatch up) so I just went with my gut on what we should do. We started with the pledges, partly as a mini ice-breaker, and mostly so that we wouldn’t forget to do them at the end of the day. After that we went straight into the egg and spoon race, because everyone was a little chilly and we needed to warm up and get a bit sill with each other. We then moved on to the picnic and talking games part of the day, dropping the act and react game completely.

What surprised me about the ice-breakers and word games was how much everyone enjoyed them, even though some of them were super cheesy. We ended up playing three rounds of the spy game (aka the pen and pencil game) and even had suggestions for items from our attendees, it wasn’t all just initiated by us, which I thought was really good.

We also got so carried away by actually participating in the event, that we forgot to ask participants to switch off their phone until the end!

I felt like having the flexibility to alter our timetable in this way made the whole day much more enjoyable. If we’d stuck to the timetable, it would have felt a lot more forced, instead the event flowed quite naturally.

Muse Finder- The Story

Once upon a time, there were two girls with a great idea that they needed to test. And there were some willing participants who wanted to see how the idea worked, so they volunteered to play along. This is what happened…

Google Alerts

I set up three Google Alerts for the search terms of Watoto, Uganda and Africa. I set each alert to only show me the news and to go straight to my reader instead of clogging my inbox.

I’m going to give it a few days and see what kind of news I get from these alerts. I’ve not used Google Alerts before and I’m interested to see if it’s any good. I’m glad I could skip the email deliveries though, I get enough junk in my inbox as it is!

Have you used Google Alerts? Did you even know you could subscribe via RSS? Tell me in the comments