Friday, April 27, 2012


Dear Danah Boyd,

     I believe your disccussion on branding and ownership is an important topic of discussion in terms of today's society. The addition of the digital environment seems to blur definitive lines of ownership that are traditionally present in real life. Ypu mention that much of the domains and names present throughout the web are given based on essentially a first come first serve basis, but their are practices and methods that some people employ to still obtain what has already been previously assigned. This transitions into your discussion on identity as well. With the vastness that is the internet, identity becomes very hard to distinguish. Companies out to make a profit can be very personable with people when in reality this just a simple facade. The problem as you mentioned is that everyone is just essentially an account on the internet, with very little distinguishing factors. To help alleviate this issue you mention the importance of policies and definitions that help to make these vague areas a little more understandable and clear cut to society as a whole. This can help in truer representation of both individuals and companies alike, leading to a more open and essentially fair community.
     In terms of a discussion on community, James Gleick brings up some interesting points in his essay titled "How Google Dominates Us". The topic of ownership is also explored in this essay. Gleick notes that Googles AdSense system of displaying ads to users may challenge this. Essentially, based on the queries that one enters, the system will more or less tailor the visible ads to that individual to mimic what the individual is most interested in. The question is then who really owns that information that we as users essentially created. This appears to relate back to your idea of outlining policies regarding this more clearly. While Google claims to act almost as intermediary that leads a person to useful bits of information, systems such as this does raise certain ownership issues especially when it comes to some private data such as queries here. Their attempts at integrating social media into the list of their growing services I believe will complicate many of the areas that you mentioned, complicating the concept of a fairer community.

Jonathan Thai

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Google is Just Different

Dear Mr. Gleick, I’ve always had an admiration for what Google has been able to accomplish in its very brief existence. They have been able to become the most recognizable brand throughout the world yet also the most useful and arguable impactful on our lives. Your article “How Google Dominates Us” explains very clearly what exactly makes Google so special and how they have revolutionized online advertising. It’s also impressive have Google has marketed their image to make their name a verb causing people to think that Google is the place where all the answers are stored and when you search you are just accessing their library. As you have said, Google used mathematics to transform everything online especially advertising and predictive searching. Google realized that they could be different by using numbers to figure out the habits of people, including number of clicks, instead of just relying on their ability to provide information to its users. These points compliment what Christine Harold discusses in her article Ourspace. She talks about how Myspace was able to keep its cool image even when they were bought by the media empire News Corp. Google, while a titan in business and all things media, has also been able to remain cool and attractive to key demographics. Myspace was able to brand themselves as an oasis for brands and Google has been able to brand themselves as an advertising giant across the entire web. While Google is much more powerful than Myspace the two have been able to create a need amongst their users through marketing their unique uses. Sincerely, Andrew Kerth

How much does the internet know about me?

Dear Mr Gleick & Ms. Boyd,

Mr. Gleick, after reading your article" How Google Dominates," it was interesting for you to highlight exactly how easily our personal information is being shared throughout the web. I think personally think there are a lot of reasons. Number one is clearly the use of social media and our carelessness to read the terms of uses when using a social media site or anything for that matter. One of the other reasons, is our desire to want things connected to one device. For instance, having literally everything connected to our phones or everything linked to one email. With us wanting things this way, our information is easily found out and quickly analyzed. The funny part is that one day, I believe, the internet will know more about us than we actually do ourselves. I know I see it every day. Whenever I use my browser, they find something new about me every day. It's actually kind of spooky.

Ms. Boyd, your article continues to talk about the same topic and dives into even more. You talk about how pretty much anyone can view our personal identity online. With you bringing up this point, it made me think about how we should do more to protect exactly how much information about ourselves that we put out there. We put so much information about ourselves out there that we don't filter it at all. Sometimes I think maybe we should limit our use of some social media platforms and not feel the need to use every social media platform that we possibly can. Those along with using the privacy settings that are available to us that also can help limit all this.

Amir Zaffa

Week 2 - Media Ideologies

Dear Ilana Gershon,

“Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover” completely resonated with my ideals on relationship maintenance and digital media. The concept of media ideologies, and different mediums having specific uses and values is intriguing. The story that the undergraduate Halle gave, about using text for joking with her boyfriend, leading to his text message break-up as perceived completely inappropriate is totally proves the concept.  The fact that Doug had said that he felt bad because he was not kidding when they would joke about the other girl, shows that he has difficulty communicating “serious” messages.  The fact that he chose to use text message to finally come clean and end the relationship was unfortunate for Halle, since it was so unexpected and the conversation was awkwardly drawn out because of the misunderstanding.

Imagine if text messaging did not exist, especially in situations like this.  The people who have the most trouble with confrontation face-to-face would probably never be moved to action.  In a way, you could almost say it is a good thing that it does exist, or else how many people would just be stuck in a relationship they do not want to be in because of fearing conflict?  I think that this shows people need to realize the importance of learning effective communication skills with and without technology in order to maintain our interpersonal relationships.  Mediated communication has become an easy way out, but in the end it leaves one person defeated and the other feeling like they had saved face, when in fact they just appear worse.

Domination of the Internet

Dear Gleick and Boyd,

It is obvious that Google has dominated the World, let alone the Internet.  It is impossible to not want to Google something we need the answer too.  Not only is it a place where we can get our questions answered, we now have a place where we can send emails, watch videos (YouTube), create presentations and PowerPoint through GoogleDocs, and so much more.  They have expanded into so many other different arenas that make obtaining information so much easier.  Because it has become such a big part of the Internet, the question for my generation and younger ones is “how did we get information before Google?”  Though it seems like a silly question, it is valid for the ones that have been raised on Google.  It’s hard to imagine our world without it. 

            In Boyd’s article, the idea that people’s account and domain’s name has an identity is interesting.  People create an image around their name and are sometimes solely known for their name and not even their real first name.  Though it may seem crazy, you can’t blame the follower and friends of these people who are unaware of their real names and only know them by @namehere.  It is all about identity and people what to have the perfect name for their online identity. 

Kelly Myers

The Watcher

Dear Danah Boyd,

A main reason why some people join social media networks is because they like the idea of being watched.  So many people use their blogs and pages as a means to get attention from people.  Twitter and YouTube are two main sites where people can get the most attention that they want.  People can say what ever they want here either creating controversy or finding ways to relate to their audiences.  As a result, Twitter and YouTube celebrities have been created because they like the idea of being watched/followed by a large amount of people.  They have a power over their audience because they keep coming back to listen to what they have to say.  The stories that you provided about the teenage girls and their Facebook pages were good examples of what frequently happens in the Facebook world.  There is not much privacy when posting status to people who are you friends.  One teen found that deleting her posts would help decrease the drama she was experiencing while the other had to be more aware about her status choices because she was friends with her mom.   People are constantly watching what you are doing on line whether you like it or not.  Therefore wise choices need to be made about what people but online because people are always getting in trouble for what they put online without thinking about the consequences. 

Kelly Myers

Facebook Pics

Dear Mendelson and Papacharissi,

Since I am a college student, I can relate to much what you are discussing in this article.  Going back to MySpace days, we all found ourselves taking pictures just for the sake of putting them up and wanting to get the most likes and comments.  We are all in way looking for validating from our peers for acceptance through our pictures.   We all want to be told how pretty, handsome, or how nice our outfits are, all through these social media sites.  How can we forget out the infamous mirror picture? People spent a lot of time in their bathrooms trying to get the perfect shot.  Though it seems ridiculous looking back, at of us still do it today.  Now that we are in college, you see albums on a daily basis of parties, chill nights, and spring break vacations on how much “fun” they are having when little do we know if these pictures are as realistic as they seem. 

Everything on the Internet as you mentioned is a reflection of the things we want to put up.  Unless we are tagged in some unflattering pictures, every move is calculated because of the image we want people to see.  It was interesting that you wrote about the different kinds of pictures that college students take and the difference between female and males pictures.  What you mentioned was true being that I have seen thousands of pictures on Facebook from my hundreds of friends.  At the end of the day, a lot of us are being nosey and want to see what our old high school classmates are up to, and how much “fun” they are having at school since pictures really do say a lot. 

Kelly Myers

Alone Together

Sherry Turkle,

I can say that I agree with everything that you are saying in your article.  Robots are something that we used to look at as something of the future.  It is scary to know we have reached the “future” and robots are among us.  I agree with you that using robots to replace a romantic partner is ridiculous.   Though I can see the benefits of using a robot as a companion, but going as far to have sex with it is not only disgusting, it is outlandish.  I could never understand why some people would willingly purchase a robot as a romantic partner when there are millions of people that can provide more than a computer in the form of a human.  On the other hand, I can see it being beneficial to the elderly especially when they were lonely in nursing homes.  Though I feel that they still need human interaction and the affection that they are seeking from a real person, this may be a temporary replacement. 

            The whole fact that technology has taken over our lives is completely true.  It is almost impossible to not see someone on the buses on campus not on their cell phone or listening to their iPods.  Now that iPhones have become more popular than Blackberries, we are constantly iMessaging and playing games with one another on the countless games applications.  Talking on the phone and face-to-face communication can decreases as a result but this is the generation that we have grown up and it has just become something of the norm.  It crazy to know that technology has taken over our lives when 30 years ago people only communicated through the telephone.  How times have changed!

Kelly Myers

Users and Non-users

Dear Sally Wyatt,

I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to learn how to use the internet and have access it at all times despite the country one lives in.  The Internet has become such a crucial part in the lives of almost all in the world and everyone should have the benefit of experiencing it.  Reading this article made it clear to me how outdated it is.  Reading some of the statistics about the usage of the Internet is completely different from what it is now.  It is also weird to hear that there was even a stereotype of the average user, which was “a young, white, university-educated man”.  This is shocking knowing that all people of all races and education levels use the Internet.   One other thing that I found interesting was that there was an decline in the amount of internet users ages 18 to 29.  Now this is the age group and ages younger than 18 than are the primary users of the Internet with no trace of slowing down with their Internet usage.  Overall I believe that everyone should be a user of the Internet, even people of the older generations that did not grow up with computers.  You also mention people who are not users of mobile phones.  This is also a little weird to hear since even my 7-year-old cousins have their own cell phones now.   Technology has changed so much since 10 plus years ago and it is almost a necessity to have Internet access and cell phones for everyday use.   

Kelly Myers

Week 14 - Branding

Dear James Gleick,

I completely agree with your article on how Google dominates everyday life. Google is used for so many things, more than just simply a search engine (although it's the only search engine I really ever hear of being used). Google has branded itself across the internet as a conglomerate of everything to do with the internet. From search engines to social media to blogs, Google is virtually everywhere online, and is the best example of branding in the past decade.

This branding relates to Boyd's article about complex online identities. This article deals mainly with managing online identities on social media platforms, and Google+ is another example of how Google brands itself on another platform. I personally don't use Google+, I only use Facebook, but Facebook is another example of how self branding works on the internet. There's a reason Google is dominating everyday life, and it goes along with Boyd's discussions about trademark and personal reputations in a virtual space. When something as powerful as Google is able to infuse itself in everyday life, its no wonder people say its "taking over the world."

Week 13 - Online Play

Dear Jason Tanz,

I enjoyed reading your article about how cheeky satires can become big video game hits. Games like FarmVille are taking over the world due to its ease of accessibility, addictive play, and social media push by Facebook. The interesting thing about FarmVille is how simple the game really is but how many people continue to play it. It represents one of these perpetually changing online worlds where there is never an "end" and you can simply keep playing, which keeps people on it for longer and longer times.

Aside from the addictive playstyle of FarmVille and other games like it, these games are great profit makers because of their microtransaction system of payment. You can buy little in game things for $1 or $5 and nobody really thinks that this is a whole lot of money to spend on a game. However, these numbers add up over time without anyone realizing it, which makes it a great way for these types of games to make money.

Overall, I enjoyed the article about these cheeky satire games. I've personally found myself playing games like FarmVille before too, so I'm no stranger to its addictive power.

Week 12 - Working in Virtual Worlds

Dear Linden Labs,

Working in virtual worlds is an interesting topic. IBM has taken it to the next level by having virtual work done in second life. There are a lot of benefits of working in a virtual world, as your article explained. There's the fact that you can overcome virtual distance, temporal distance, and physical distance all at once by having meetings in a virtual world. It's also a great way for employees to get to know each other in a virtual setting, especially if they cannot physically meet in the same place. It creates a space that people can meet which alleviates the problems of trying to acquire real life space, which can sometimes be a problem.

However, your article fails to mention any of the drawbacks of using second life as a virtual meeting place. One of the biggest drawbacks is the fact that not everyone is as techno savvy as others, and sometimes the virtual gap between two people can be so great that technologies such as second life aren't something that can realistically be bridged. Aside from this, over reliance on technologies brings problems of its own. What happens when the virtual meeting space is no longer available? I feel like this article should have included some of these drawbacks and explained maybe how second life could have overcome them.

Week 14-Online Privacy

Dear Mr. Gleick

After reading your article “How Google Dominates”, I must say I am rather disappointed in how little I realized my information is being exposed on the web.  As far as I am concerned, I am nothing but a part of Google’s big test to enhance their online advertising.  In your article you state, “Seeing ads next to your e-mail (if you use Google’s free e-mail service) can provide reminders, sometimes startling, of how much the company knows about your inner self”.  From a personal standpoint, I did not know how much these companies know about me just from my recent searches and cookies on Google.  The data that Google is able to retrieve from us and sent to the advertising company its scarily accurate.  After reading your article I must say that the advertisements I do see online are very similar to what I search about sports and wellness.  This is similar to what Facebook does because they track users’ information by the pages they “Like”.  Our advertisements are geared towards the interests we show in an online social platform.  

Hannah Boyd,

Your article “A Customer Service Nightmare: Resolving Trademark and Personal Reputation in a Limited Space” brings up an interesting point about online privacy.  You talk about how almost anyone can view our personal identity online.  Although it is hard to prevent everyone from viewing our online identity, there are steps we can take to decrease the risk of being seen from people we do not know.  For example, on Facebook, users can change their privacy settings to only be seen by their Friends and not the public.  This means employers would not be able to search you online and find your Facebook.  However, the problem with online is privacy is that a lot of these social platforms make it very hard for people to understand how to change their settings.  Therefore, people end up having a large exposure to their online identity.

Steve Schreck   

Week 10 - Groupthink

Dear Susan Cain,

Your article on groupthink was an interesting one and reaffirms my belief that by playing devils advocate, I'm doing more than simply trolling a group I'm in. Groupthink is a dangerous situation to find yourself in, where the entire group just goes along with the ideas that one person randomly comes up with, and then have the rest blindly follow.

Keen's article talks about the democratization of online media, which in a sense can be considered going down the path of groupthink. However, as with any good democracy, I think that the voices of everyone with different opinions will be brought to light, and this helps stray away from groupthink.

The final related article was from Shirky and it was about trust in collaboration. I think it is obviously important to build trust in a collaborative setting, but if everyone trusts everyone, then nobody is going to want to speak out against that person if they don't completely agree with their ideas. This is the kind of situation that promotes groupthink that Cain was talking about.