Tag Archives: Internet

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

On switching off

My dad has this question that he rhetorically throws around whenever he’s with company and someone ask a Google question (for example, what’s the third flavour in a B52 shot?). He says “Oh gee, if only one of us had a small computer like device that we could carry around in our pockets that has access to all of the answers in the world…” and then inevitably pulls out his phone and Googles the question.

What I’m trying to say is that sometimes phones are great devices that can help out in certain social situations. For example a trivia question argument between two friends, or letting someone know you’re lost or running late.

Sometimes though, phones and friends don’t mix. I’ve heard that some people have a rule when they go out to eat with friends, that everybody places their phone face-down on the end of the table and the first person to pick up their phone to check it, also picks up the entire bill. Not a bad rule, but the fact that it exists surely reflects something about our society.

For our IRL 2013 event, we thought it might be difficult to ask people to actually switch off their phones for an hour and a half. I framed that time by suggestion to the planning team that it’s the same length as a short movie, and most people can go that long without checking their phone (although I know I am guilty of taking a phone call mid-movie, only once and I left the theatre, but still…). We were so worried about having to control the no-mobile-phone rule during the event that we even considered making one person the anti-phone police for the event.

Thankfully it didn’t come to that. In fact, we actually forgot to get everyone to turn their phones off at the beginning of the event! The switching phones off video that you can see here is totally staged. It happened right at the end of the event, and if you look closely, you can even tell that some of the phones weren’t actually turned off, just the screens switched to blank!

What I thought was amazing was that even though we all had out phones in our bags or pockets, not one person even peeked at their screen during the event. Nobody was tempted to check what was happening online because we were all too busy enjoy ourselves in the moment.

I think it helped that we didn’t all know each other too well. It’s easy to be rude in front of friend you know well, as you’d expect their forgiveness and even their understanding. With strangers you don’t know what to expect. I also think it helped that we had a lot of activities planned, and there was no down-time where people were wandering around wondering what to do. Boredom very quickly leads to checking your phone, seeing if maybe there’s something better happening somewhere else.

Reading Notes: “Users of the world unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media”

Kaplan, A. M., & Haenlein, M. (2010). Users of the world unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media. Business Horizons, 53(1), 59-68. Retrieved from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0007681309001232

– Social Media is on the rise

– Firms have less control over what information customers can access

– The event of Social Media is sort of an evolution back to the original point of the Internet: to share information between users (but it’s more than that, and it’s different from Web 2.0 and User Generated Content (UGC)).

– Focus on six types:

  1. Collaborative Projects
  2. Blogs
  3. Content Communities
  4. Social Networking Sites
  5. Virtual Game Worlds
  6. Virtual Social Worlds

So these categories are making me think about Social Media in a way I haven’t considered before.  I’m thinking about how useful it is to divide Social Media into categories. I’m thinking about the six categories above and wondering about the ones I don’t recognise (1, 3, 6) and also thinking about the differences between the ones I do (2, 4, 5).

– Defining Web 2.0 as a place where collaboration became more common/valued than publication. For Web 2.0 to exist it needed:

  1. Adobe Flash
  2. RSS
  3. Ajax (asynchronous Java Script)

– Kaplan and Haenlein consider “Web 2.0 as the platform for the evolution of Social Media” (2010, p. 61).

– Three things are required for content to be considered UGC:

  1. Posted publicly (or to a select group) – so not IM or email
  2. Have creative effort- so not reproductions of other work
  3. Be created outside professional practice – so not created for an audience from a business POV.

– “Social Media is a group of internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technical foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of User Generated Content” (2010, p. 61).

At this point in the reading, I finally noticed that the references in this article were also hyperlinks. I was slightly disappointed to find that they only linked to the bibliography at the bottom of the article, but I think it’s a good idea to use in my report at the end of semester.

– Idea of Media Richness Theory is that the goal of communication is to resolve ambiguity and reduce uncertainty. More info: Daft and Lengle

Table 1

I’m not sure I agree with the table 100% but possibly because I don’t understand the Social Presence/Media Richness category. Will read the Daft and Lengle article at a later date to see if this helps my understanding.

I started skimming the rest of the article at this point (probably something I should have done before I began reading it) and came across a point later in the article that made me want to check the publication date of this article (also something I should have noted at the start). It’s an important thing to keep in mind, especially when reading articles about technology.

– Collaborative Projects

  • “democratic manifestation of UGC” (2010, p. 62).
  • eg. Wikis, bookmarking services like Delicious, Urban Dictionary
  • the idea behind it is that joint effort produces better results than a solo effort
  • can harm firms: the customer feedback cycle
  • can benefit firms: keep track of/in touch with employees

– Blogs

  • “The Social Media equivalent of personal web pages” (2010, p. 63)
  • usually managed by one person, interaction=comments
  • can be good or bad for firms, obviously?!

– Content Communities

  • eg YouTube, Flickr, Slideshare
  • risk of sharing copyright material
  • but reward of reaching potential customers through customer interactions or sharing recruitment videos/ keynote speeches/ press releases etc.

– Social Networking Sites

  • eg FaceBook, MySpace
  • firms can use SNS to promote themselves and reach customers

– Virtual Game Worlds

  • “Virtual Worlds are probably the ultimate manifestation of Social Media  as they provide the highest level of social presence and media richness of all the applications discussed thus far” (2010, p. 64).
  • eg WOW, Runescape (personal eg), X-box and PlayStation online games
  • not too much interest for firms except in collaborative advertising maybe

– Virtual Social Worlds

  • eg. Second Life
  • lots of opportunities for firms to become part of the VSWs and market to the “residents”

I skimmed the rest of the article “Five points about using media” and “Five points about being social” because I know this information already, as I often read it on creative/entrepreneurial blogs about online presence and branding.

Overall an interesting article to start my semester on, and I’ll be looking further into the Media Richness Theory before too long.

Jolts Per Minute

Here is an interesting article about the effects Facebook has on your brain. It’s long, but there’s information about addiction, industrial media models that trickled into Facebook and the rest of the internet, and what you can do about it (if you’re worried).

As future current media makers, we have to be aware of the audience we are catering to and not only how they will engage with our work (their attention span) but also how they will feel about the environment we provide for them to engage with our work in.

Also, the comment thread has some thoughtful feedback and counterpoints to the article and is also worth perusing.

A Year Without The Internet

I was wrong.
One year ago I left the internet. I thought it was making me unproductive. I thought it lacked meaning. I thought it was “corrupting my soul.”
It’s a been a year now since I “surfed the web” or “checked my email” or “liked” anything with a figurative rather than literal thumbs up. I’ve managed to stay disconnected, just like I planned. I’m internet free.
And now I’m supposed to tell you how it solved all my problems. I’m supposed to be enlightened. I’m supposed to be more “real,” now. More perfect.

Paul Miller has written an excellent article about what the Internet really does to you and why it matters. Worth a read, see the whole article here.

Flipped Lecture 3 – Web1.0, Web 2.0, Web 3.0

Web 1.0 vs 2.0
Evolution Web 1.0, Web 2.0 to Web 3.0
Web 2.0 … The Machine is Us/ing Us
Intro to the Semantic Web
The Semantic Web of Data Tim Berners-Lee
Epic 2015

These videos together made up Flipped Lecture 3 which was all about the evolution of the web.

The main ideas I got from these videos includes:

  • Separating form and content meant easy uploading for everyday users (blogs, videos etc)
  • Syntax vs semantics ie. what you say and what you mean. Aparently we have to teach the internet semantics. ‘Cause that’s only going to end well…
  • Users are in charge, we have to organise the data. And there’s a lot of data.

I think I’m going to finish on a quote from my dad. He said something about the fact that we’re moving into web 3.0 without fully understanding what web 2.0 is yet. Wheeeeeee!