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Oversharing on Social Media- Another Case of Fractalonia?

// Posted by on 04/15/2014 (9:50 PM)

After reading Deirdre’s post this week on the Wired article, “Why Privacy is Actually Thriving Online,” I was struck by an opinion piece on Wired.com. The piece, entitled “Science Says: The Baby Madness on Your Facebook Feed is an Illusion,”… Read more

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After reading Deirdre’s post this week on the Wired article, “Why Privacy is Actually Thriving Online,” I was struck by an opinion piece on Wired.com. The piece, entitled “Science Says: The Baby Madness on Your Facebook Feed is an Illusion,” (http://www.wired.com/2014/04/babies-on-facebook/ ) serves as a case study on whether oversharing on social media is a legitimate of perceived trend. Many people tend to complain that new mothers are constantly posting photos of their newborns, and it escalates to the point where photos of someone’s new baby are all over one’s newsfeed. However, “Morris discovered, new mothers post less than half as often… Photos grow as a chunk of all postings, sure—but since new moms are so much less active on Facebook, it hardly matters.” Based on your experiences, do you believe these findings to be true? If these claims are valid, then why do we still hear people complaining that others overshare on social media sites?

The answer can be linked to our perpetuation of the phenomenon and Rushkoff’s notion of fractalonia. According to Rushkoff, we try to see patterns and make links between things with such fervor that we sometimes end up drawing links that have no truth. Morris first cites algorithms as a probable cause indicating that “viewers disproportionately “like” postings that mention new babies. This, she says, could result in Facebook ranking those postings more prominently in the News Feed, making mothers look more baby-obsessed.” From what I have observed on Facebook, posts that highlight a significant event in one’s life tend to get the most “likes.” Such posts could be about a college acceptance, an internship, a job, an engagement, and yes, a new baby. We look to link the perceived increase in posts to the fact that the baby is new and the parents are excited, yet in the process, we lose sight of the reality that more “likes” on a photo makes Facebook advertise it to friends of the poster more ubiquitously. Thus, we fall prey to fractalonia by making a link between a cause and effect that is not necessarily the case, and we further perpetuate the perceived “oversharing” of the photos by continuing to show our support by “liking” them.

Another cause cited by Morris is a frequency illusion. A Frequency illusion occurs as “once we notice something that annoys or surprises or pleases us—or something that’s just novel—we tend to suddenly notice it more. We overweight its frequency in everyday life.” Again, we are guilty of fractalonia by engaging in this thought as we are drawing a link that does not exist in an effort to make more sense of things. Based on our class discussions on overwinding and present shock, I believe we commit fractalonia because in this day and age, “any and all sense making must occur on the fly” (Rushkoff 201). Information is linked in order to constantly create new information as we live in an age of multitasking and constantly being “plugged in.” It forces one to question what would happen if everyone cut back even just slightly on the number of times they logged into Facebook. Would we still think people are oversharing? Or would we see a photo of a newborn, like it, and continue scrolling without a second thought because the same or a variation of the photo has not already been seen the other six times we logged in that day?

It is important to recognize “the value of observing the world around us like a scientist—to see what’s actually going on instead of what just happens to gall (or please) us.” Rushkoff seems to agree in his statement that fractalonia “doesn’t mean pattern recognition is futile. It only shows how easy it is to draw connections where there are none, or where the linkage is tenuous at best” (Rushkoff 202). Based on this case study and the nature of fractalonia, do you think that oversharing on social media is actually a phenomenon? Or are we so consumed with checking social media sites multiple times a day that we begin to perceive a few photos as ubiquitous?


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Look at This F*in’ Hipster

// Posted by on 04/09/2014 (1:32 PM)

Can we stop demonizing hipsters?

I’ll admit it: I used to obsessively check up on LATFH to see what ridiculous things made it on there.  Also, Stuff White People Like, which might as well be renamed “Stuff Hipsters Like.”

Yes,… Read more

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Can we stop demonizing hipsters?

I’ll admit it: I used to obsessively check up on LATFH to see what ridiculous things made it on there.  Also, Stuff White People Like, which might as well be renamed “Stuff Hipsters Like.”

Yes, I love to laugh at hipsters, particularly the ones so driven to self-indulgent but self-conscious irony by a sheer need to be so uncool it becomes cool… but seriously…”the end of Western civilization”?!  That’s what we’re calling them?  At least that’s what Douglas Haddow at Adbusters called them (https://www.adbusters.org/magazine/79/hipster.html).  And Rushkoff, in his book Present Shock argues that hipsters are incapable of creating new culture and thus must inauthentically bum cultural artifacts off of previous generations and nostalgia.  New York Magazine proudly proclaimed the death of the hipster in 2010 (http://nymag.com/news/features/69129/).

As for other Millenials, most find hipsters just plain annoying.  It takes a lot of effort to look like you care that little.

You know what I think?  I think hipsters are awesome (okay, maybe lose the awkward ’70s porno mustache, because it’s really freaking me out).

We’re not the first generation to take on the cultural artifacts of our predecessors: music, language, literature…these all get absorbed into future generations without those generations being seen as inauthentic thieves of previous culture.  And we’re certainly not the first generation nostalgic for previous eras.  Warren Harding ran his presidential campaign on the concept of a “return to normalcy”…in the 1920s.  What he was preaching was a return to late 19th-century life and ideals in the aftermath of the first World War.  We’re not talking about the end of time here…we’re talking about the next step in a progression.

And hipsters fit into that scheme, just like the rest of Millenials.  But as a generation, Millenials have been told that we’re antisocial, incapable of communicating (texting will be the downfall of the English language as we know it!), selfish, vain, entitled.  And you can react to that in different ways: you can fight it, like many bloggers or writers in our generation have done.  You can accept it.  Or you can choose not to care about what society says your generation is.  That’s the route the hipsters have taken, a route that prizes irony because irony provides distance.  You can’t be judged for the things you don’t care about.


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Spring loading is Leading the Existence of Dark Pool Markets

// Posted by on 04/06/2014 (6:15 PM)

When looking at the world around us today we use patterns and formulas for most of our activities. From knowing the exact process at a fast food restaurant to checking the weather these formulas have been created and implemented to… Read more

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When looking at the world around us today we use patterns and formulas for most of our activities. From knowing the exact process at a fast food restaurant to checking the weather these formulas have been created and implemented to make our lives efficient and more useful. The question that is posed in Rushkoff’s blog Present Shock is, are all these processes and mechanization always right? Isn’t it possible that the algorithms could fail and that we cause more harm than good with the way we have relied on them to such an intense extreme. In Present Shock Rushkoff details an example of this.

“A stock market  driven by algorithms is all fine and well until the market inexplicably loses 1,000 points in a minute thanks to what is now called a flash crash.”

This was exemplifying by using High Frequency Trading and the use of algorithms when predicting future share prices. While HFT trading is a huge source of revenue for companies such as BAT, when it fails it could also cripple the entire industry. These algorithms while they are useful and have predicted a huge number of stock trades many humans could not are still subject to failure and should not be followed blindly. When hearing about HFT stocks in the greater business community, for the most part there are no good things. Even in a clip from CNBC it talks about how HTF ‘s may lead to a misuse of information in a two-lane system of information. NY Attorney General Scheiderman argues that it is not within the law to allow a limited access of information to only those that can afford it. This goes hand in hand with the articles we read a month ago about how technology can only further increase this income gap through the lack of information or lack of access to key technological resources.

http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000264583&play=1

Another result of HFT and algothrithm spring loading are traders moving away from tradition stock forums and moving to the dark pools of Geneva or what has also been deemed dark markets. These markets will only cripple the broader market more and are said to be worse than simply high frequency trading. These dark pool markets reduce transparency and most of these venues lack integrity. This could result in a huge problem for the markets and for traditional traders. In an article from CNBC that say that “We have academic data now that suggest that, yes , in fact there is a point beyond which the level of dark trading for particular securities an really erode market quality.”

http://www.cnbc.com/id/101558398

    Rushkoff states they have resort to a main strategy of avoiding spring loading situations altogether. This cause traders to lose the advantages of HFT’s trades but regain their sense of control over the market and apply their real world knowledge. However as Rushkoff states this as a solution I am also left without many answers and with many more questions. While it is all well and good to suggest avoiding HFT trades and apply your real knowledge what happens when this is unavoidable. It is certainly unavoidable to trade today without the presence of algorithms and future projections. How does Rushcoff legitimately suggest we avoid HFT’s trading short of entering dark markets, which are even more detrimental, then the existence of high frequency trading. These new forms of trading which have become more and more known are only going to strength with the passage of time and the increase in technology. Should we simply accept these forms or should we fight against them, which seems to be what a majority of the business world is doing today. Will we eventually succumb to these methods and accept them? If that happens we still have to be aware of always present risk that they might fail and that human intervention still needs to be at the forefront of our thinking. We cannot simply hand over our markets to these future algorithms and high frequency trading systems.


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Refuge From the Internet: Does it Exist?

// Posted by on 04/02/2014 (2:03 PM)

This week in class we discussed Rushkoff’s book Present Shock, in which he tells us that our preoccupation with technology is causing is to miss out on the “now.” Rushkoff’s book shows us that we need to reexamine our relationship… Read more

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This week in class we discussed Rushkoff’s book Present Shock, in which he tells us that our preoccupation with technology is causing is to miss out on the “now.” Rushkoff’s book shows us that we need to reexamine our relationship with time before we a experience a future we didn’t expect. The constant use of technology and internet is stifling the creativity of our culture by making too much information readily available and holding our generation back from creating anything original. I agree with Rushkoff in a lot of ways; I think that we are extremely distracted from the present and that this could be hurtful to our generation.

I read a few articles from Wired that I think connect well with Rushkoff’s book and our class discussions about the constant use of internet all over the world. While it used to be hard to find a place to get internet connection and surf the wed, it’s now harder to find an escape from it. If we open up our computers to find that we don’t have wifi, we’re more shocked than we are if we find that we do have it. A long car ride used to be an excuse to sit back, relax, and listen to a few CDs. Now people have “hotspots” on their phones that allow them to get internet access on their computers and phones while in motion. It has even gotten to the point where certain people have anxiety if they don’t have access to their e-mails, texts, and tweets, even while they’re, say, in a plane thousands of feet above ground. This shows us that the places that used to be sanctuaries from the technological world and our always-on lives are now being invaded.

“[To get away] we go where it’s impossible to connect, no matter what. But quite soon those gaps will all be filled. Before much longer, the entire planet will be smothered in signal, and we won’t be able to find places that are off the grid” (Honan, 2013).

The quote above is from a 2013 article in Wired called “Can’t Get Away From It All? The Problem Isn’t Technology- It’s You.” The author talks about broadening internet access throughout the country, and how the places that we used to escape to are now places you can be completely plugged-in. Mat Honan, the author of the article thinks that if we can learn to resist the urge to go online, we can create these places of refuge for ourselves. But can these places even be considered sanctuaries from our internet lives if we can get in touch with anyone and search anything? Will we compromise our sanity in we continue down this road? Where can we get away from our online lives if we have internet access everywhere we go?

The image above shows the places that we have internet access in orange, and the places we don’t in dark red (as of September 2013). The places that aren’t orange are mostly uninhabited areas. Another aspect of this is the idea that we can “mentally unplug.” Even in a place where we have internet access, is it possible to shut everything off even when you know you can use it?

The second article, by the same author, was about wifi on airplanes. Even if it’s possible, says the author, airlines might want to reconsider the degree to which we can access this. The article talks about how much we will probably disturb one another making phone calls, streaming movies, hogging the outlet plugs, or even skyping and facetiming with the people below. Is it really necessary to have access to these things while we’re flying? I know this might be convenient, but I still don’t think its healthy for us to have access to all of these in-flight gadgets.

“If you’re really looking to unplug, the connection you have to sever isn’t electronic anymore—it’s mental” (Honan, 2013)

I think that the novelty of the idea of having internet wherever you go has worn off, and just as soon as Americans realize the state of present shock we are in, we might all long to be in a place where we can’t have access to everything at our fingertips. Another aspect of this is the idea that we can “mentally unplug.” Even in a place where we have internet access, is it possible to shut everything off even when you know you can use it?

 

Articles:

http://www.wired.com/2014/03/honan-flight-risks/

http://www.wired.com/2013/10/honan/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffbercovici/2012/07/10/were-all-internet-addicts-and-were-all-screwed-says-newsweek/

 


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The Power of Gaming: Virtual Reality Simulation & PTSD

// Posted by on 03/31/2014 (10:39 AM)

Throughout our class discussions this semester, we have been grappling with the question as to how digital technologies change the way we live. One of the most interesting evaluations that I have encountered thus far is presented… Read more

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Throughout our class discussions this semester, we have been grappling with the question as to how digital technologies change the way we live. One of the most interesting evaluations that I have encountered thus far is presented in Rushkoff’s book, “Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now.” In chapter 1, Rushkoff discusses how games invite our ongoing participation and therefore allow us to avert present shock altogether, as we, the players, become the story and can act it out in real time. The power of gaming is seen in the fact that virtual reality has now become a useful new therapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, especially with war veterans. While Rushkoff was initially inclined to write off the treatment as a way that technology is breaking the human contact between therapists and their patients, he quickly changed his viewpoint after he participated in psychologist Skip’s virtual reality simulation. Rushkoff said the simulation made him feel like something was resolved about the incident, and, the fact that that Skip was experiencing the simulation with him the whole time was comforting. In this way, technology actually united Rushkoff and Skip.

While we as a class have been quick to find faults in all technology—as entities that separate us from our “true” selves, from our relationships, from face-to-face conversations, etc.—I think it is refreshing to realize that technologies can enhance our relations with ourselves and others as well.

As we discussed in class, nowadays our online lives are no longer virtual, but are considered part of our reality. The virtual reality simulation, therefore, is very much real for the vets suffering PTSD—the smells, sounds, sights, etc. in the simulation incur similar reactions that occurred in the original incident. The simulations can help treat PTSD because the re-creation allows the patient to relive the incident but from the safety and distance of a computer simulation without facing any real danger. While it might seem counterintuitive to re-create the past in order to live in the present, it appears to be an effective tool for people to isolate the old memories and reactions that are repressing their present lives.

This YouTube video shows the process that occurs in a virtual-reality-based treatment. In addition to having the patient experience a virtual reality simulation, Skip also has him talk to a virtual therapist. Interestingly, the patient was at ease talking to the therapist and even admitted that it was comforting because he knew the virtual therapist wouldn’t judge him. I was not surprised he felt that way, but am struggling with understanding if a virtual therapist can fully replace a real human. This concept of technology replacing humans is one that Sherry Turkle describes as “haunting” in her article “The Flight from Conversation.” We humans are starting to doubt our abilities to connect and comfort others and instead pass off those duties to technology, like a baby seal robot: “We expect more from technology and less from one another and seem increasingly drawn to technologies that provide the illusion of companionship without the demands of relationship” While perhaps there are benefits to a virtual therapist, I would find it frustrating to “talk” to someone who had no experience in human life and who could not relate to my feelings. The virtual-reality simulation, however, seems to be able to balance the relation between technology and human contact by using technology to help the therapist connect with the patient through re-creation. What do you think?


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Rushkoff’s Present Shock

// Posted by on 03/30/2014 (8:11 PM)

Douglas Rushkoff’s new novel, “Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now,” describes his feelings towards the digital age and the way he views our society as a whole. He believes that in our world, it is impossible to multitask. You are… Read more

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Douglas Rushkoff’s new novel, “Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now,” describes his feelings towards the digital age and the way he views our society as a whole. He believes that in our world, it is impossible to multitask. You are totally invested in one thing, that you are unable to hear or do the other. Rushkoff introduces this term, “present shock,” simply meaning that we have do not have the ability to cope with the present. When you collapse the narrative that were used to having, that is when you become stuck in present shock. Rushkoff also talks about our real vs. online lives, and the difference between them. He believes that you are not the same in both, and thus you are living two opposing lives. However, I disagree with him. In the digital world that we live in today, our real lives and online ones are combined. When you post pictures on Facebook or upload videos on youtube from a concert you recently attended, those images are your real life expressed online, not two totally different lives. Rushkoff believes our online lives are taking over. If I made the argument that when you attend a concert and spend most of your time videoing it, you are still mentally present at the concert, Rushkoff would disagree. He would say that you are so engrossed in your mobile device that you are missing out on the actual show.

Although it annoys me people on their mobile devices or iPads at concerts, I still do believe you are retaining the concert and living within the moments of it. I would argue that we are able to multitask depending on the situation. Just as Turkel has explained in her articles, the society we are living in is too invested in their phones. I completely agree with this view point. If we all took a second out of our day to just stop what were doing and look around, you’d be amazed at what you would notice, and how many people you’d see on their phones. My phone recently got stolen the other day and I will admit not having it for a couple hours made me on edge. At first it was nice, however playing a division one sport in college and receiving text updates regarding practice, etc. I needed a phone. It angered me a little that I had to instantly rush to the AT&T store to activate an old phone of mine. The idea of going a couple days without one was nice, but one that I couldn’t do. Its unbelievable how digitally tuned in we all are. However, at this point I think it is impossible to change it. Is it possible for our society and the one that we have grown accustomed to, to change their usage of technology?


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