DIGITAL AMERICA

Author Archives: Vicky

Bye, Bye Information Economy, Hello Attention Economy!

// Posted by Vicky on 04/25/2013 (11:39 AM)

Information has always been a valuable asset. With the introduction of the World Wide Web in 1991, the United States has been in a state of transition to an information economy. Today we are predominantly an economy of information workers;… Read more

Information has always been a valuable asset. With the introduction of the World Wide Web in 1991, the United States has been in a state of transition to an information economy. Today we are predominantly an economy of information workers; they don’t spend their time producing physical goods rather they devote their time to creating, developing, and sharing information. Information professions have emerged left and right; everywhere from computer software production and designing interfaces to cyber-security and even hacking. An information economy is based upon the premise that information has economic value and requires an information marketplace in which such value can be exchanged. But it is changing our economy more than that…digitization and technology has birthed a new economy – an economy of attention.

“By definition, economics is the study of how a society uses its scarce resources. And information is not scarce – especially on the Net, where it is not only abundant, but overflowing. We are drowning in information, yet constantly increasing our generation of it. So a key question arises: Is there something else that flows through cyberspace, something that is scarce and desirable? There is. No one would put anything on the Internet without the hope of obtaining some. It’s called attention. And the economy of attention – not information – is the natural economy of cyberspace.”[1]

“‘Attention,’ write Thomas Mandel and Gerard Van der Leun in their 1996 book Rules of the Net, ’is the hard currency of cyberspace.’ They’re dead on.”[2] – think about this, there is a reason that the most successful people and businesses on twitter have thousands of followers and I only have 132. There is a reason that there are now programs to “buy” more followers – attention is what is driving our economy.

On one hand, the attention economy is aiding our economy by making businesses more efficient. “When information is abundant, the false positives are very costly – they are basically deal breakers. Consumers happily leave sites, knowing there are a ton of alternatives out there. Unfortunately, this becomes a lose-lose situation, because if consumers rarely find satisfying experiences then retailers won’t get consumer dollars. The idea behind the Attention Economy is to create a marketplace where consumers are happy, because if they are shown relevant information – then retailers are happy too, because happy consumers spend money!”[3] Think about Ads that are now personally tailored to fit your life, or Netflix knowing which movie titles to recommend. The attention economy is driving a competitive marketplace, and competition inevitably leads to innovation.

On the other hand, the Internet provides free content, and this free content that is competing with pay-for-service content for attention has the possibility to completely change our economic system. Instead of producing goods and services for ourselves or for profit, “we will be producing content and amusement for one another, without engaging in explicit (taxable) financial exchange”.[4] Michael Goldhaber goes even further, saying, “As the Net becomes an increasingly strong presence in the overall economy, the flow of attention will not only anticipate the flow of money, but eventually replace it altogether.”

So what does this mean for our generation and future generations? The article by Michael Goldhaber was written in 1997…is there still an attention economy today? Has it become more prevalent? I would argue yes. In my Lady Gaga course this semester we have studied Celebrities, and how in a postmodern world mediated and driven by screens, whether that be your iPhone, television, or computer, attention, not talent, is all one needs to become famous (take Kim Kardashian for example). I’m not sure what an economy driven only by attention would look like…but it seems to me, with the rapid growth of technology and digital culture meshing with physical culture, that we’re certainly moving in that direction.

 


[1] Goldhaber, Michael H. “Attention Shoppers.” Wired, December 1997. http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/5.12/es_attention.html?pg=1&topic=&topic_set=.

[2] Goldhaber, Michael H. “Attention Shoppers.”

[3] Iskold, Alex. “The Attention Economy: An Overview.” ReadWrite, March 2007. http://readwrite.com/2007/03/01/attention_economy_overview.

[4] Iskold, Alex. “The Attention Economy: An Overview.”

 


Categories: Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

A Case for Millennials

// Posted by Vicky on 04/22/2013 (12:14 AM)

Am I the only one sick of us Millennials being called a failing, stupid, unmotivated, lazy, self-centered generation? It seems like everywhere I look some baby boomer or someone from Generation X is constantly putting down our generation.  Yes, we,… Read more

Am I the only one sick of us Millennials being called a failing, stupid, unmotivated, lazy, self-centered generation? It seems like everywhere I look some baby boomer or someone from Generation X is constantly putting down our generation.  Yes, we, Generation Y or the Millennials, are more connected than any other generation, but why does this have to be a bad thing? First, let’s remember that we were born into the digital age, it was not something we chose and we cannot be held fully responsible for where it has landed us. But I will argue that our tech-savvy generation has made the best, well maybe not the best but good use, of what the Internet has to offer. Older generations need to stop criticizing us for adapting to the digital world that we were born into.

Accusations against us are coming from all over. OnlineSchools.com put together data from Pew and Kaiser and created the infographic below indicating that technology and media consumption are negatively affecting young people’s grades, behaviors and emotions. The graph shows that forty seven percent of the heavy media users reported typically earning grades of C or below in school, compared to just 23 percent of the light users. And twice as many heavy media users as compared to light users are reported getting in trouble frequently. So  according to the Pew and Kaiser study, technology and media use is negatively affecting our lives.

 

Some people are going even further…Mark Bauerlein, author The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future, argues that Millennials are under-using or misusing the Internet and technology available to them. Bauerlein argues that Millennials ignorantly use the Internet to extend and deepen social ties rather than using it to learn and enrich themselves in history and worldly affairs. The “dumbest” generation…well thanks Mark Bauerlein.

In response to the Pew and Kaiser study, I would argue that the impact of technology and media use on low grades reflects not on the students alone but on the education systems failure to keep up with the times. Keeping in mind that Millennials are trained to process information differently due to technology, the Internet and digital media, our educations need to adapt to support that and use it to their benefit. According to the National Lone Star Report on Aligning Technology with Student Success, “Of more than 6,000 students polled across 36 campuses, 77 percent said their grades improved through web-based course material and online classroom managing sites like Moodle”. Therefore, use of technology in the classroom is strongly tied to positive results including higher grades. So maybe we’re not the problem, you are…times have changed and its time our education system catches up.

In response to Mr. Bauerlein, who claims that “America’s youth know virtually nothing about history and politics” I would say he’s full of crap. Bauerlein writes, “You [the Millennials] are six times more likely to know who the latest American Idol is than you are to know who the speaker of the U.S. House is” but according to the National Conference on Citizenship, “Millennials vote at a rate higher than other generations at their age and are generally more committed to civic and political causes.” In fact, in the 2012 Presidential Election, our generation, ages 18-29, was a key factor in President Obama’s re-election. Robillard on Politico.com writes, “Obama easily won the youth vote nationally, 67 percent to 30 percent, with young voters proving the decisive difference in Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio, according to an analysis by the Center for Research and Information on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University”.

In contrast to all the negative press that Millennials are receiving, I wish shed some light, and save the name of our generation. I believe that the Millennial generation is by far one of the most politically and socially active generations that America has had in a while. Many older activists may dismiss us as slackavists as they believe that our digital activism has less affect that hitting the streets in the name of a cause. Our non-traditional activism, including Facebook posts, Tweets, YouTube videos, etc., cannot be dismissed! Taken alone, yes, much of our digital activism may not seem like much. But our online efforts merge with offline efforts and can be powerful as we have seen through OWS, Yo Soy 132 and the Arab spring uprisings. Gay marriage is now legalized nine states largely due to online efforts and digital activism. Millenials are changing activism, redefining it even…and whether or not older generations embrace or accept it doesn’t matter, the results speak for themselves.

So what that we like to connect with friends on Facebook, tweet about what we’re doing, or Instagram a photo of our dinner…our leisurely use of the Internet and technology should not overshadow our intellectual, humanitarian and practical uses of it too.


Categories: Uncategorized

#WeAreAndiola

// Posted by Vicky on 03/31/2013 (6:31 PM)

Slacktivism is a relatively new term that combines the terms “slacker” and “activism” and is used to both represent and criticize digital activism for its lack of real, physical, and/or time-consuming action. Slacktivism is anything from tweeting, sharing a photo,… Read more

Slacktivism is a relatively new term that combines the terms “slacker” and “activism” and is used to both represent and criticize digital activism for its lack of real, physical, and/or time-consuming action. Slacktivism is anything from tweeting, sharing a photo, or wearing a color or symbol that represents or supports a specific cause. Prominent examples of slacktivism are the Kony 2012 campaign and the Trayvon Martin case. More recently we have seen slacktivists take up the Mexican-American immigration cause.

This past January the police showed up to Erika Andiola’s house and both her mother and brother were handcuffed and detained in immigration detention centers, ready for deportation. Ms. Andiola is the co-founder of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition, a group that fights for the rights of immigrant children brought illegally to the United, as she was. Immediately after her mother and brother were hauled away Ms. Andiola posted a video on Youtube.

This video is a prime example of how digital media can turn local issues into global issues. As Ms. Andiola says in the tearful video, “this is not just happening to me, this is happening to families everywhere”. Ms. Andiola’s message was heard by the digital world and her family was released shortly from custody after the Obama administration was put under severe pressure from activists. Activists tooks on Ms. Andiola’s cause through phone calls, e-mails and online petitions, but primarily on Twitter, where they mobilized support under the hashtag, #WeAreAndiola.

The New York Times article argues that, “their swift releases underline the power of the youth-immigrant movement and their social media activism”. But slacktivism, or social media activism, such the movement on behalf of Ms. Andiola, is often highly criticized. Gabrielle Corvese, from the Brown Daily Herald, writes, “The vastness of social media makes these acts incredibly easy. You can share a picture to let your Facebook friends know you care. Twitter has a hashtag for every cause. But what is the actual effect of these actions? Though social networks allow the easy spread of information, a problem arises when the only support for a cause is a photo with a few thousand shares. While it is satisfying and convenient for the individual to show concern for an issue, those in need of support receive little benefit.”

To reply to Ms. Corvese’s statement I would argue that the Erika Andiola case clearly illustrates the power and effect of “slacktivism”. A single tweet alone may not cause change, but thousands and millions of tweets can attract enough attention and support to put pressure on our politicians to enact political and legal reform. Digital activism can more than often lead to actual, real life action.

While I take the side of these “slacktivists” arguing that any and all activism is positive there are still many, like Corvese that would not agree with me. What do you think are the positive and negative outcomes slacktivism? Do you slacktivism proves that our digital generation has become lazy? Or do you see it like me, as activism naturally transitioning alongside with our culture into the digital realm?


Categories: Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Virtual March on Wall Street and Online Activism

// Posted by Vicky on 03/25/2013 (12:27 PM)

On October 5th, 2011 thousands of people gathered in Lower Manhattan to take part in the Occupy Wall Street Solidarity March.  The march protested against the growing income divide and widespread unemployment due to the influence and corruption of large… Read more

On October 5th, 2011 thousands of people gathered in Lower Manhattan to take part in the Occupy Wall Street Solidarity March.  The march protested against the growing income divide and widespread unemployment due to the influence and corruption of large corporations and big banks. But what about the millions of Americans not living in New York who were likewise outraged and suffering from the greedy bankers and unjust policies that wrecked our economy and undermined our democracy?  How could they get involved? How would they get their message across? Well on October 5th OWS joined forces with MoveOn and used the “third space” to gather nationwide support through a Virtual March on Wall Street. The virtual march allowed users to upload pictures of their own protest signs and tell their stories online. It added thousands of voices from across the country and showed just how widespread outrage at Wall Street really was. (Check it out http://civic.moveon.org/occupy/)

The virtual march on Wall Street is just one example of how the Internet and technology “a community of more than 7 million Americans from all walks of life who are using the most innovative technology to lead, participate in, and win campaigns for progressive change.” They have utilized the third space in numerous ways such as online-petition signing and online fundraising. MoveOn is a United States based and strictly American targeted group, but this is an example of how the internet and technology can be used to link issues from a small town in say Indiana to larger towns such as New York; it makes the local national. As Sassen writes, “Computer-centered interactive technologies have played an important role…these technologies facilitate multiscalar transactions and simultaneous interconnectivity among those largely confined to a locality” (366).

I believe the advantages of digitization and activism to be clear, but the disadvantages also need to be addressed. In traditional forms of activism: protesting, marching, journalism etc. there is always a traditional form of authority to maintain law and order. But on the Internet traditional forms of authority fall short, especially when things can be posted anonymously. Are we okay with activism that can’t be monitored or truly governed over? What happens if that activism turns violent or dangerous? What about “hacktivism”? We must remember while digitization and technology opens the door to many positive possibilities it likewise brings negative possibilities along with it.


Categories: Uncategorized
Tags: ,

The Dangers and Advantages of the “Smartphone Revolution”

// Posted by Vicky on 02/24/2013 (8:39 PM)

Let’s forget hackers, cyber warfare and foreign espionage for a second and bring it back to something much simpler. Smartphones – iPhones, Androids, etc- it seems like every one has one these days. But as harmless (and cool) as they… Read more

Let’s forget hackers, cyber warfare and foreign espionage for a second and bring it back to something much simpler. Smartphones – iPhones, Androids, etc- it seems like every one has one these days. But as harmless (and cool) as they may seem, what real threats are they posing to our personal security and individual privacy? Recent reports have revealed that Android and Apple keep records of their users’ locations tracked through their mobile phones. This is a huge security issue; think about it, if someone got their hands on this information they could easily use it to stalk you, find out when you’re not home and rob you, etc. Network World’s investigative article goes even further saying that these privacy and security threats are “intentionally built into well over 80% of the iOS and Android apps on the market”. After analyzing the apps offered on both phones they concluded that smartphones users are at risk for outsiders getting access to (1) their contacts on a smartphone (including the contact information that may come from corporate email that syncs to the phone) (2) their calendar information and (3) their location. So what can we do? According to Brian Chen, author of “Always On: How the iPhone Unlocked the Anything-Anytime-Anywhere Future-and Locked Us In”, turning off the location functions on our phones isn’t enough – Apple won’t let you opt out of their tracking services.

On the flipside, Smartphones can also help increase our security according to the Pennsylvania State Police who launched the “See Something, Send Something”. The app allows users who see what they deem “suspicious activity” to send a picture or a text to the Pennsylvania Criminal Intelligence Center with their smartphones. And according to the York Daily Record article, they are doing this without putting the users at risk! According to the article, the app “uses privacy protection software for safeguarding the tips and citizens’ personal information” and “allows the criminal intelligence center to engage citizens without a tracking location or storing of personal information”. The launch of the “See Something, Send Something” app has been met with both positive and negative responses. Some people see the potential for increasing public safety with more eyes out on the streets while others see this as an extension of “Big Brother”. What do you think?

Sources:

http://www.networkworld.com/newsletters/techexec/2013/020113bestpractices.html?page=1

http://www.ydr.com/local/ci_22453492/pennsylvania-state-police-smartphone-app-creates-privacy-concerns

Chen on Apple iPhone Privacy Issues


Categories: Uncategorized
Tags:

Siri: Bonding Humans and Machines

// Posted by Vicky on 02/11/2013 (12:19 AM)

After reading the introduction to Mark Poster’s book “Information Please: Culture and Politics in the Age of Digital Machines” I immediately thought of one thing…Siri. In the introduction Poster tells a cute story of a little boy who… Read more

After reading the introduction to Mark Poster’s book “Information Please: Culture and Politics in the Age of Digital Machines” I immediately thought of one thing…Siri. In the introduction Poster tells a cute story of a little boy who made friends with a telephone operator that fed him information. Poster follows up the story by saying “Increasingly one retrieves information not from a person, such as a telephone switchboard operator, but from an information machine, especially from networked computers. And thus we are ever more normally brought into contact not with other humans directly but with information machines. ‘Information Please,’ as the post reminds us, was once a person; now it is a machine” (3). Surely we can agree with Poster as we are constantly faced with pre-recorded machines when call our doctors offices for example. But what now would Poster have to say about Siri, Apple’s new virtual personal-assistant application? Yes, Siri is a “machine” but some would argues she is much more than that. As quoted in the Huffington Post article, “This, after all, was no ordinary iPhone app, but the progeny of the largest artificial intelligence project in U.S. history: a Defense Department-funded undertaking that sought to build a virtual assistant that could reason and learn.” Siri operates in multiple languages and can do anything from send a text to research a question to make reservations or buy a ticket. But it is Siri’s sense of humor, I think, that perhaps gives her her most “human” quality. Siri, notorious for funny/witty remarks, has joked with her users about things such as weakness (ask it about gyms, for example, and Siri sends back a mocking, “Yeah, your grip feels weak.”) and their need for therapy. This kind of humorous reaction makes the interaction between the user and Siri appear to be more “real”, ultimately bonding humans and machines. “We’re moving more and more towards an interface like the interface we have with each other,” says Saffo, a technology forecaster and associate professor at Stanford University. “Our whole trend is toward ever more intimate interactions with machines [...] and with each phase, machines are doing something ever more central to our lives.” What do you think comes next?

Sources:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/22/siri-do-engine-apple-iphone_n_2499165.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/06/fashion/when-your-phone-humors-you-noticed.html?_r=0


Categories: Uncategorized
Tags: ,

The Rise of Erasable Social Media…or So We Think

// Posted by Vicky on 02/10/2013 (7:27 PM)

Snapchat is a photo sharing/messaging application that was developed by Stanford students, Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy, as a project for one of their classes. The genius behind the application is that it auto-destroys the sent images seconds (up to… Read more

Snapchat is a photo sharing/messaging application that was developed by Stanford students, Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy, as a project for one of their classes. The genius behind the application is that it auto-destroys the sent images seconds (up to 10) after being opened. Snapchat was launched in September 2011 and by 2012 it was named the “Fastest Rising Startup” by TechCrunch. According to The New York Times, Snapchat is now valued between $60 and $70 million and approximately 60 million snaps are sent every day!

So why and how has Snapchat become one of the biggest and most popular apps out there? Well there are many reasons, but I believe that much of snapchat’s success is in response (or resistance) to the rise of Internet giants such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Most people find social media networks and large search engines to be “among the least trusted industries when it comes to protecting customers’ privacy online.” So “Snapchat subverts these existing networks because its user base doesn’t want the content itself to show up on the web” and their privacy-based content promotes consumer trust and loyalty. Want to know just how deep this consumer trust and loyalty runs? Just look at the recent rise of Facebook’s self-destructing messaging app “Poke” in which Snapchat crushed all competition.

Although Snapchat’s popularity and success is based on privacy and consumer trust, Snapchat only offers the illusion of true self-destruction. Snapchat quotes “When you send or receive messages using the Snapchat services, we temporarily process and store your images and videos in order to provide our services. Although we attempt to delete image data as soon as possible after the message is transmitted, we cannot guarantee that the message contents will be deleted in every case. For example, users may take a picture of the message contents with another imaging device or capture a screenshot of the message contents on the device screen. Consequently, we are not able to guarantee that your messaging data will be deleted in all instances. Messages, therefore, are sent at the risk of the user.” So do we buy this new notion of Erasable Social Media? Is there any technology that we can truly trust with privacy?

 

Sources:

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-02-07/snapchat-and-the-erasable-future-of-social-media#p5

http://techcrunch.com/2013/02/10/snapchat-rise-assumptions/

http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/snapchat-vs-poke-the-tos-showdown/


Categories: Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Paradoxical Power of the Internet

// Posted by Vicky on 01/20/2013 (7:29 PM)

The Internet in Society: Empowering or Censoring Citizens? (video)

Professor Rosatelli tweeted a link to an RSA Animate adapted from Evgeny Morozov’s talk on the internet in society. The video exposes myths about the freedom and transformative power of technology – specifically the… Read more

The Internet in Society: Empowering or Censoring Citizens? (video)

Professor Rosatelli tweeted a link to an RSA Animate adapted from Evgeny Morozov’s talk on the internet in society. The video exposes myths about the freedom and transformative power of technology – specifically the internet. Morozov agrees that the internet and connectivity can promote reform, change and ultimately democracy but he argues that people ignore the fact that the internet is also a place that dictators and authoritarian governments can for their own benefit. He calls us to consider the intended uses of technology v. the actual uses of technology.

This video led me back to this week’s class reading on “The Shifting Politics of the Computational Metaphor”. The chapter gives a history on the paradoxical power of the internet and technology; Free Speech Movement thinkers such as Dyson and Barlow believed that technology empowered the people and was an outlet to overthrow bureaucracy even though it was simultaneously being used by the Government for purposes of military command and control. Turner poses an important question: “How was is that the informational economy came to be seen not as an oppressive force, but as a site of political and cultural change?” (16).

This issue of the paradox of the internet (and technology as a whole) is still ongoing as we see authoritarian governments, such as China, not only censoring the internet but using the internet for their own propaganda. China is currently paying people, often referred to as “50 cent armies”, to put out pro-government messages and create anti-democracy bots. So what does this mean for the future of the internet? Is it really a source of social change or is it being used for more bad than good? When looking not just at how politics have polluted the internet but how social and digital media outlets have been used to bully and promote negative lifestyles, I believe that there were high hopes and aspirations for the internet but that the reality of it isn’t as positive or pretty as we had intended.

sources:

Turner, From Counterculture to Cyberculture

http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2012/12/31/twitter_bots_for_democracy_could_combat_authoritarian_governments_50_cent.html


Categories: Discussion, Uncategorized