Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Srinivasan: Bridges between cultural and digital worlds in Revolutionary Egypt

Ramesh Srinivasan has been working as an Associate Professor of Information Studies and Design/Media Arts at UCLA since 2012 and as an Assistant Professor since 2005. He’s spoken at a TEDx event and been interviewed on NPR, Al Jazeera, and several other media outposts. Srinivasan received his undergraduate degree at Stanford, followed by graduate at MIT and postgraduate at Harvard. Since then, he has published more than two dozen articles relating to media and the information society, including “Bridges Between Cultural and Digital Worlds in Revolutionary Egypt”. Much of his work has been focused on the revolutions in Egypt and Kyrgyzstan and how social media and internet technologies have played a role in facilitating them. Srinivasan is currently working on a book similarly aimed at exploring the role of digital media in power, voice, and personal identity.

In “Bridges”, Srinivasan discusses the divide between the imaginary nature of virtual networks with their real-world ramifications. Online social networks have the ability to shrink physical distances and connect people across the global, but much like human networks, have no true tangible form. Srinivasan begins by addressing two questions he sees as key in the discussion of global networks: first, if the assumption that increased networking begets increased democracy and freedom, and second, what exactly the term “social media” has come to mean today. He does this through the lens of the revolution in Egypt and bases his findings on interviews with a diverse range of people in the country and their experiences with social media.

Srinivasan begins by bringing up some frequently made points on the significance of social media sites like twitter in revolutions and in aiding public discourse. He brings up the ideas that often social media relationships or causes are “weak ties”, ones that don’t necessarily manifest themselves strongly offline -- still a necessary component in successful democratic revolutions. Additionally, twitter and the like are far easier to monitor and use to spread propaganda than other channels. Malcolm Gladwell calls the use of social media in the Egyptian Revolution “the least interesting thing”, pointing out that the brunt of the action was carried out in person rather than online. Srinivasan counters this by pointing out that these criticisms fail to take in the particular cultural context, such as in Egypt, where social media allowed revolutionaries to discuss politics freely, something that wouldn’t happen offline.

Several “vignettes” are shared, anecdotes from Srinivasan’s time spent in Egypt in 2011 during the revolution. He collects the perspectives on the value and place of Twitter from youthful political idealists, hardened revolutionaries, and Tahrir Square. Despite the reverence and celebration seen for twitter in political discussion, many of the protesters on the ground had no knowledge of twitter, nor any way to easily access it. Srinivasan reconciles thesis of the importance of social media networks with general lack of knowledge of or disdain for social media seen at large by pointing out that even though the bulk of people may have been unaware of it, twitter was a key means of communication and coordination for the influencers of the movement. Social media was critical in getting messages and information distributed quickly, globally, and effectively anonymously.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Go Big Read speaker blog post-Melissa Quirk

I really enjoyed seeing Shiza Shahid speak, she was very moving and her story was extremely interesting. Shiza Shahid spoke about her life story, goals, and things she learned. Shiza Shahid came from Pakistan and grew up in an extremely violent time. She discusses her childhood, the terrorism, extremism, and focuses mainly on the restriction of women. She discusses how she spent her time with other people facing hardship as well. It was appalling to hear that women and girls were not allowed to leave a room in fear of their brothers being ashamed of them. Shiza Shahid's insight into her horrible world was eye opening and what she took from it was inspiring. Shiza took this terrible environment she lived in and decided to make it her mission to help others. Shiza even organized a protest at the young age of 16. She describes how even when she had moved on to Stanford University, she still wanted to make a change for women and young girls facing the terrible discrimination in her home country. She explains that she saw a video of a young girl saying that she was not able to go to school because the Taliban would not allow it. This struck Shiza strongly, and she decided to make a plan. She made anonymous videos of young girls speaking on the discrimination and their inability to go to school. It was disturbing to hear that a little girl could not even put on her favorite pink dress because the Taliban did not approve of bright colors. Shiza's main points were to live with passion, constantly innovate and create, and overall know that you are strong. It was so eye opening to hear about how in other countries women do not have the same rights that we take for granted. It was also interesting to hear Shiza's relationship to Malala and how she faced similar hardships. This speech inspired me because of how much Shiza and Malala did, with such terrible circumstances. 

Erik Price Internet Search

I started out this search by looking at my hometown through the NYT census project. Unsurprisingly, I found out that my neighborhood growing up in New Jersey was overwhelmingly white and well educated compared to the rest of the country. My current neighborhood is about 86% white with 73% of residents making less than $30,000, which makes sense considering that almost everyone living here is a college student.

Annoyingly, there are a bunch of "Erik Price"s and we're apparently all software developers, so it ends up being a mad rush every time a new service comes out to get the "erikprice" user name. The main Google results for my name end up being links to whoever got that username first. So for example the only facebook and twitter results are for another Erik Price. My personal site and a couple of my accounts end up on the first page. Most of the other results are talking about Erik Price the judge or Erik Prince, apparently the founder of the Blackwater PMC. Searches for my emails mostly end up revealing things I've written and publicly distributed, which fortunately is intentional. My social profiles are pretty locked down, so there's not a ton other than my profile picture and education that people can see without being friends with me.

Overall, I didn't find anything too shocking in the results. Someone searching for me would mostly just end up finding out that I am a software developer, which is exactly what I want to share. I did find a pretty lousy picture of myself from my work freshman year though.

Watkins: The Very Well Connected

S. Craig Watkins is a professor at the University of Texas-Austin in the Radio-Television-Film department. His area of study focuses on young people's social and digital media behaviors (UT-Austin). He has written three books: The Young and the Digital (2009), Hip Hop Matters (2005), Representing: Hip Hop Culture and the Production of Black Cinema (1998). His upcoming book will discuss evolving digital media and social inequality. His main focus is to help people utilize digital media to help them build social capital and connect them with social and civic technologies that can apply to real world applications. The reviews of the piece are generally positive as Watkins is praised for his findings on social media. The piece is written towards academics and scholars, but the style can be understood by parents who would be most interested in the content. Parents would be highly interested in this book because of Watkins insights on children and their usage of social media.

The chapter "The Very Well Connected," discusses the changes in communication between individuals and the arguments of whether or not strong connections have become weaker or vice versa. The internet is a tool to not only bring information to people, but also people to people (Watkins, 52). He argues with personal experiences of subjects that communication and relationships have not become weaker, rather they have changed into less deeper conversations that do not occur at one moment in time. A person could leave a brief message on another individual's Facebook wall and wait for them to respond later. Communication has evolved to, "enable us to keep up contact with more people, albeit in ways that are typically brief and casual rather than extensive and always deep" (Watkins, 68). Relationships are still deep and intimate, but that intimacy has evolved to shorter, but more meaningful communication. It is still too early to determine whether or not the internet has strengthen or weaken relationships, but early evidence will suggest that it may strengthen relationships that are already strong and social media will be a compliment to face-to-face communication. The Internet has brought great speed to the flow of information and has made non-face-to-face communication almost instantaneous. With these developments, the content of messages also become shorter and quicker to read, but still contain genuine feelings between individuals.

Watkins brings up the concept of strong and weak relationships, which forms the basis of his arguments. He shows that strong relationships contain deep and genuine communication between individuals, whereas weak relationships lack these basic qualities (Watkins, 54). These are generally related to offline relationships. The argument that is made asserts that these relationships are threatened and intimate offline relationships may become extinct due to the rise in Internet communications. Watkins then shows that people will always maintain these offline relationships because several relationships on the Internet can be formed between individuals who possess no personal information about each other. I found it interesting that Watkins concludes that social media can be used as supplement to personal offline relationships. Communication mediums do not have to be divided, rather they can merge together and be used to supplement each other. After reading this, I completely agree with his points and they apply to my life similarly to those subjects mentioned in the chapter.

Works Cited

Watkins, S. C. (2009). The Very Well Connected. The Young and the Digital: What the Migration to Social Network Sites, Games, and Anytime, Anywhere Media Means for Our Future. Boston: Beacon Press.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Jacob Lorig Internet Search

I spent some time looking myself up on the internet over various outlets online. I first started by entering some of my basic information (Address, Phone Number, Email) on a few websites. I actually found that by entering my basic information online, not a lot of personal information was revealed. When putting my cell phone number on the White Pages website, the only information that was available was that I am located in the Chicagoland area.

I followed up the basic search of myself by doing some research on different social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin). I tend to stay protective of myself on social media. When I was in High School, my Facebook profile was less limited, allowing people who were not Facebook friends with me to view some of my photos and personal information. Since applying to college, however, I have limited my profile on Facebook much more and have kept a close eye on anything that gets posted on my timeline. However, it is a bit creepy that people who are not my Facebook friends are able to see my hometown, age, education, work experience, and interests. My Twitter and Instagram accounts are private, meaning that anyone who I do not accept cannot see my profile and posts. On Linkedin, information about where I am from is available, and people are able to see my connections on the website.

After looking on Social Media, I concluded my research by looking myself up using Google search. Similar to my previous search, the first links after searching my name on Google was my various Social Media profiles. Something that did make me a little uneasy was putting in my last name on Google leading to links to other members in my family and information about them. Overall, I feel comfortable about what information is exposed about me online.

Alison Cottrell Internet Search

Using the Internet to research “Alison Cottrell”, one would find the most information on LinkedIn because that account is public. Through LinkedIn one would see that Alison goes to University of Wisconsin Madison and studies marketing there. She was previously an Event Coordinator at Red Frog Events, where she worked in public relations. Other jobs include a sales representative for Frank Productions, and academic organizations like Alpha Kappa Psi and Lean In. Through Facebook, one could see Alison’s cover photos and profile pictures, as well as her interests including the Chicago Blackhawks, the Chicago Bears, the Chicago Marathon, Warrior Dash, Sex and the City, The Great Gatsby, and Fiends the TV show. She lives in Chicago but is from Park Ridge, IL. Looking up Alison’s zip code and phone number one can see she is from Park Ridge, IL. Demographics from this area include: the median age is 45, over 95% of the population is a high school graduate or higher, 3.6% of the individuals are below the poverty level, and the median household income is $86,521. Lastly, by doing a Google search, one can find a few of Alison’s past profile pictures, LinkedIn account, and some articles including her name from the Park Ridge Advocate regarding high school soccer.

            Overall, I think this search was very interesting, but even through social media I could not find a lot on myself, besides LinkedIn because it is private. I think this is because I am very aware of privacy issues on the Internet, so I try to keep my social media sites like Facebook as private as possible.

Alejandra Pena Internet Search

I began my search on and and looked up my hometown. I found that Eden Prairie, Minnesota is by no means racially diverse. With a population of 62,603, 92% of the population is white, 2% hispanic, 2% black, 4% asians, and 1% fall under the category of other groups. I was pretty surprised by how predominately white my hometown ended up being, and I at least thought it would be a little bit more diverse based on what I've personally witnessed. The median household income was $97,014 and the median home value was $354,700. I would consider these medians to be fairly accurate, but I also know that Eden Prairie has a very wide range of incomes. There are definitely distinct lower income areas as well as extremely affluent neighborhoods.

When I went on to google myself, the only thing that showed up was my Facebook account. However, even then I wasn't the first result to come up. When I finally found myself the only thing you could see was my current profile picture and a few facts like where I work and attend school. Aside from my Facebook account nothing else came up when I googled myself, which was both surprising and comforting. I was relieved that I was fairly difficult to find, as I try and keep most of my Facebook and other social networking sites as private as possible. I have never had a twitter or a myspace so I didn't have to worry about those sites, but I was surprised that other things such as my instagram account or pinterest page didn't show up at all. Also, when I searched my phone number and past and current emails, nothing came up that was linked to me. I expected that at least my wiscmail account would show up, but again there was nothing. Overall I enjoyed this activity of researching myself, even though I realized I'm pretty irrelevant from an internet standpoint. However, I was happy to discover that no personal or revealing information about myself was out there for the world to see.

Online Self Analysis-Adam Carney

After doing some research about myself and the community in which I live in, it became very shocking to me about how much can be found out about me that is highly accurate on the internet. My Facebook profile can be looked at and any form of social media such as twitter or linkedIn can be looked at as well. I fortunately do not have anything embarrassing or stupid on social media profiles, but there was a bit of a wakeup call for me when I saw everything that could be seen about me on the internet. People can search my phone number and see the exact area in which I live. Also, through websites that look at demographics, people can see the exact environment in which I grew up in.

Someone could look at my profile on Facebook and see where I go to school, and that I am interested in Music, movies, sports and many other things. Also, through looking at my area demographic people can see that I grew up in a well off neighborhood that is very suburban and predominantly caucasian. My linkedIn shows my job experience and gives a sense of my minimal experience for someone my age. There is so much that can be found.

 It is incredible to think about how accurately one can be depicted on the internet, and how one slip on a profile could lead to some trouble. I for one am not a huge advocate or user of Facebook. I actually try to avoid using it as much as possible. However, there is enough information about me on my profile for someone to get a general feel for who I am. Every photo I am tagged in, every post I make, every like I make anyone can see. It is the fact that I could be associated with one problematic post that could throw my credibility out the window to someone who could be trying to hire me. Anything posted is available to the public and even if it is deleted, it could still have been screenshotted and saved by anyone in the world. I truly understand the power of the internet, and I now am even more aware of the power of media sites.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Melissa Quirk Internet Search

I first searched my hometown on and found that in 2013 13,171 people lived in my hometown of Western Springs, Illinois. I then looked on and found the demographics for Cook County, and saw that the population is around 5,257,0001 and it is 45% white, 25% black, 22% Hispanic, 6% Asian, and 1% other. I moved on to search myself, and was a little weirded out by the results. I googled my full name and the first thing that came up was Facebook accounts. When I clicked this, mine was the first account to come up. This may be because of cookies tracking, but this creeped me out because I try my best to keep my Facebook private. When I clicked on the account it showed a few of my profile pictures and some music I had liked a very long time ago. I moved down on the Google search results and found that both my old and new twitter accounts were listed(I had forgotten the password to the first one and had to make a new one). The tweets are open for everyone to see, which I also found quite creepy. However, I don't really post anything inappropriate or controversial and don't use Twitter much at all so I was not too worried. The next thing that came up on the search results that was actually linked to me was the link to this class blog. When I looked in Google images the only image I found that was related to me was an old tweet I had posted with a picture of my sister and I. It is frustrating that I am not able to make my old accounts more private without the passwords. It is also  was weird that there was so much information available on me when searched However, I am conscious of what I post on social media and will continue to be even more so after this in depth search.

Jonathan JD Keiles - Internet Star?

After doing some research on the internet about myself, I wasn't too surprised about the results that I found. Years ago when I first started getting into the internet, I didn't think twice about posting whatever I wanted to post online. About a year ago I started realizing how when you post something online it is there for anybody to see and it will never go away. This fact was concerning for me so now I take more precaution from posting anything too crazy. After searching my name the first thing that came up was my Twitter. I was a little surprised by that because on twitter I go by JD Keiles when my actual name is Jonathan.  So now I know that it is so easy for somebody to read any of the thousands of tweets I have had in the past. Overall my internet persona does not portray anything too shocking about me. By using my phone number, anybody could find out where I live or where I even go to school. With this information they can make judgements about who I am just because of the town I came from and the demographics of it. I was able to find out who my entire family was through stalking myself, especially my mother who uses facebook frequently. It is concerning that today we live in a place where the only time you know you're having a  private interaction is when you're face to face. My other concern, and only real concern, is that I cannot see how much my behavior online is actually visible. My "data" is very valuable from an advertisement stand point and I can't even see what that persona of me looks like to advertisers. Overall, after exploring myself online I realize that it is very important to watch what you post because people might define you by your posts and not actually by who you are as a person.

Zack Moore - Online Self-Search

This assignment was very interesting to do and I found out that while there is not a large amount of personal information about me easily findable online,  with what is available about me and aggregate data that is available for many social groups that I fit into one can construct a pretty accurate profile of things I might be potentially interested in. While searching online for personal information about myself I was able to find my resume with contact information on LinkedIn and was able to see some pages I had liked on Facebook. When I searched for my personal email I was able to find several websites that I had created accounts on, thus illustrating what types of online communities I identify and interact with and what some of my interests are. Using this information it would be fairly straightforward for a company to create a profile of my interests and be able accurately choose which ads to show me based on those interests.

 Although I could not find my address publicly viewable online many websites require you to enter an address so it is certainly possible that an advertising company would know my address. When I looked up my address I found that I fit into a lot of the statistical majorities for my area. I am part of the majority ethnicity of my home area, fit into the majority age group, and fit into several of the majority demographic measures. Similarly, I fit into many statistical majorities here in Madison as well. By looking at all of this data it would be fairly straightforward for a company to create a fairly accurate profile for me and be able to fairly accurately gauge what sort of advertisements would appeal to me. I found it very interesting that even with a fairly minimal amount of personal information it was still possible to create a decently accurate profile of me based on that personal information in conjunction with aggregate data.

After doing this assignment I am very curious as to what information on me advertising companies actually have. Although I could not find a publicly viewable page with my address on it, I know that I have had to enter it online for various websites before and it is very possible that this data was sold to an advertising company. While I'm often conscious about what information I put on a specific social network or website, when you combine the data from all of those individual sites along with any data I may have entered on other websites it becomes clear that someone could make a very robust and accurate profile of me. In the future I am definitely going to keep this activity in mind when I enter personal data online because I now have a better idea of how easy it is for an individual, is to get to it and it is likely even easier for large companies to do.

Caroline Kreul Online Persona

If one were to look at my geographic and demographic information both from my hometown and my address in Madison, as well as my online social media persona, they would be able to identify me as a college student relatively easily. I believe they also would gain a relatively inaccurate view of who I am as an individual.

In terms of where I am from versus Madison, one would see from the 2012 census that I grew up in a small town of less than 6,000 people where the average income is over $200,000/year and is 98% white. When looking up census information from the same year in Madison, one would find that the average income is less than $30,000/year and while the majority (83%) is white, there is a more diverse representation.  From this, one could assume that I an over-privileged white kid from a vey affluent family who came to school at Madison, presumably being supported by her affluent parents and so realistically not falling within the low income range. While I am white, I don't think it's fair to assume that the rest of this is true. I am privileged in the sense that I am of the majority race in my hometown and in Madison, but what one might not realize is that my family does not fall into this high average income, and I have worked all through high school and college to support myself for the most part. In this way, the geographic data misrepresents me as an individual.

When searching for my name online, even with using social network keywords like "Facebook" and "Instagram," the same search results come up. First, my LinkedIn account comes up followed by various articles that I have written for Moda Magazine. Image search results for me name include images of myself and images from articles I've written for Moda, my LinkedIn photo, my Google account image, and a photo that was taken for the style section of the Herald. From these various searches, one can easily find that I am a college student who is about to graduate and has an interest in fashion and writing. While this is true, a google search doesn't express my interest in digital studies and user experience.

Online Representation of Myself

Based on the geodemographic marketing analysis on myself, I found out that it was possible for someone to find out my address and full name just by entering my phone number in a reverse lookup website. However, to obtain that information, most sites require you to pay some small amount of money. My zip code can also give a lot of information about the area I am living in. Once someone knows your zip code, they can find out more about the population, average income and diversity in your community.   

From my search through social media sites like Facebook and Linkedin, I can actually retrieve my profiles and see my profile pictures displayed. From my Facebook profile, I can see my personal interests such as hobbies, favorite movies, favorite music that I have indicated in my profile. I can also see my status as a student at UW-Madison. Similar to my Facebook profile, my Linkedin profile shows my current occupation, which is a student at UW-Madison. Furthermore, Linkedin also shows my employment history, student organizations I have participated in and the languages I know. Next, I did a Google search using my full name. All the results were about Teddy Wilson, a famous Jazz Musician. I tried other words like “W Teddy” and “Teddy, Wilson” as suggested, but I still could not find anything about myself. In the end, I tried modifying my search queries, like adding “wisc” and adding “Madison” after my full name. This modification worked and I could find my Linkedin and Facebook profiles in the top search results.

A person from a geodemographic firm would think that I am just a typical college student living in a college town. I think this is a fair and accurate representation of me. There is relatively few information about myself since I am still in school and have not established my career yet.        

Friday, October 24, 2014

Google Search: Matt Petrosky

I found this assignment to be very interesting to see how I am perceived on the internet and the size of my presence on the internet. I looked up my address and phone number and the results were not that surprising. It was quite interesting to see the size of my town and other economic facts about my town as well. Some of the data was surprising in that many of the percentages were higher than I thought they would be. My suburb is also very similar to neighboring suburbs indicating that the general area is almost the same other than some demographic changes. The income distribution for my area was very interest because I thought most people's income would be closer to the median/average. In reality it is more heterogenous that I expected.

When searching for myself on the internet I found very few of the top hits were of myself. As it turns out there are a lot more people who share my name than I thought. The only search hit that was actually myself was my Twitter account. The rest of the pages were of people who had a larger professional impact in their fields. I found one person who shared my name who is a camera operator in Hollywood. His results came up much more because of the grandeur of the movies and TV shows he has worked on. I also found many of the hits are from Facebook and other social media websites indicating that most people are found on the internet through social media rather than a professional network. The depiction of me on the Internet is accurate since I am a just a college student from suburban Philadelphia.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Online Self Analysis

Online Self Analysis 

         I thought this assignment was very interesting and fun to do.  Starting with the geodemographic information, when I entered my cell phone number, the internet identified that it came from a town a few towns over from where I actually live.  However, when I went to the website, there was a link that said it had all of my personal information if I paid a certain amount of money, which I did not do but feel that it is a little scary.  When I looked up my home zip code in the census finder, I was not surprised by the results I saw, but I had never known the exact numbers of the population, income, and other data so it was cool to see how my town is compared to the ones nearby, which I also checked.  The most interesting part of the assignment I felt was the map that showed the percent of people of different races and ethnicities.  My school district encompasses many different towns in my area so I looked at all of them.  It was crazy to see my town, which has only 5% black, and then see two towns over an area with 70% black.  Next I looked n various social networking sites I am a member to to find myself,  I saw a couple pictures that I know are not private, such as Facebook profile pictures or cover photos, LinkedIn information, and twitter tweets.  Lastly, when I googles myself, I was surprised to see many other Alyssa Rothmans come up before me.   I had to reach the bottom of the second page to find my Vine account, which I don't even use anymore.  Then I went to google images and found some pictures of me scattered throughout many others.  I even found my picture from my post on this blog.  Overall, I think my internet presence depicts me accurately even though it was hard to find if you didn't know exactly what you were looking for.  I was also surprised that it was hard to find things about me since I have so many social media accounts. 

ME, according to the internet

While researching myself, I thought it was interesting to see how accurate the demographic information of both my campus and hometown addresses are in predicting things about me. They correctly predicted my age and race but were off in household income and education. Additionally, when googling myself I came across some things that I did and didn't expect. First off I don't appear among the top result and I doesn't help when you add UW-Madison to the search. There is an Art professor here at UW that shares my name so she dominates the search results. However, if you look far enough you will find me. I found my twitter account which I barely used and my pinterest. I did not find my facebook profile. On subsequent pages I also found this blog and a few articles that I was in from my hometown newspaper. 
Overall, I thought that I found a fairly accurate picture of myself and there wasn't any information that I wouldn't want the public to know. 

Who Am I to Google?

Per completing this assignment, I want to think that the information Google can collect with me is super neat, but at the same time creepy. I do not mean to say that I feel invaded by the information out there, but it is very odd to see how something as simple as typing in one's phone number can instantly be linked to where in the nation that number is coming from, in my case, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Since I have a gmail account, when typing in "Jen Erickson", the first thing that came up was my gmail icon photo. It also provides links to websites that I myself use; for example, Linkedin, Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter. However, when clicking on Linkedin and Pinterest, the faces that pop up are not mine, which leads me to believe if when others Google search, "Jen Erickson" from a computer other than mine, if my face does appear. The other Jen Erickson's out there that are featured on my computer are all women in their thirties or forties. By seeing ladies who are slightly older than me featured, brings my image to be a younger, more professional woman who enjoys her crafts and homemaking. I cannot say that I am disappointed in this representation, but it does make me wonder, again, what others see when they search my name and the information they can gather to draw a quick conclusion of who I actually am.

Monday, October 20, 2014

"The Relevance of Algorithms" by Tarleton Gillespie

     Tarleton Gillespie's article "The Relevance of Algorithms" primarily argues about how algorithms have become an ever-increasingly more important part of every day life because of how they filter and organize the immense amount of information that is found online so that it is easier and more manageable for users to parse through. He talks about how algorithms play a vital role in a massive number of online services that we use every day, from search engines to social networking sites. Algorithms allow users to find what is relevant, what is popular, and what is useful from the mass of data that exists on the web. Gillespie then talks about what algorithms are from a more theoretical perspective, explaining how they are, in general, simply tools to transform "input data into a desired output" (Gillespie, 2014, Page 168). He explains how algorithms are essentially worthless if they are not provided with a database from which to work off of. Gillespie talks about how often these databases are built from the practice of collecting user data and activities online. Gillespie goes on to talk about how "raw data" must be prepared to an extent before algorithms can be successfully run on it. Another important topic discussed is what the databases choose to exclude, as this is what can differentiate similar databases from each-other. Gillespie also discusses the claims that many algorithms try to make about what they can conclude from their data. Many algorithms make very large claims about what their data shows, and often it can be argued that they do not actually illustrate as much of a correlation or pattern as they claim to. Many people look at algorithms as being a very credible source of information without asking why the data shown is accurate or relevant. Gillespie then spends a lot of time examining how algorithms tend to change over time and with the changes in how society views information privacy and what they view as a credible source of information. As a computer science major I found this article to be very interesting because I don't often think about the way that algorithms I write could be used or why I feel that they are accurate. I find interesting to consider why the algorithm I am writing should be credible and I think that consideration will lead me to writing better algorithms in the future.

     Tarleton Gillespie is an associate professor of information technologies at Cornell and focuses on the implications of such technologies, their laws, policies, and technological changes. He has written many other publications on various technology topics, from copyright to the digital divide, including several others on algorithms. His first book was published in June of 2007, and his first article was published in 2004. "The Relevance of Algorithms" was first published by Gillespie in 2013 but will be featured in a forthcoming anthology called "Media Technologies" that will be published by the MIT press and contain several articles on similar topics by various authors. The article has been written with an audience of people that are somewhat versed in technology and the internet in mind, but is written in a way that allows for many people with even a basic knowledge of the ideas to understand it well. The article has been received fairly well by readers, and it has been cited in many other papers on the topic. It has also been presented and featured at several conferences and gatherings that focus on information policy and social implications, and has been widely regarded as a work that makes a clear point and supports it well.

One question I have after reading this article is if companies create their algorithms based off of outside reasearch or if they build them from their own internal reseearch, and how they provide credibility for their algorithms accuracy.

A few similar articles by other authors include:

Privacy-Preserving Data Mining by Rakesh Agrawal and Ramakrishnan Sirkant

The Memex

I found the increased focus on associated, rather than indexed information in the 1967 update to the description Memex was rather interesting. Like the proposed Memex, the main goal of modern search engines is to provide a semantic understanding of the internet, rather than a simple indexing of information. This means discovering how different pieces of content and authors are related to one another, and interpreting user interaction in a "do what I mean, not what I say" way. Although the concept is intuitive enough to be proposed over 50 years ago, the practical difficulties in implementing such an intelligent scheme means that today we still are not at the place Vannevar Bush wanted us to be. A relevant xkcd comic comes to mind when thinking about the gap between "this should be possible today" and the actual difficulties of implementation.

Looking around for a relevant related article, I stumbled on an individual's attempt to prototype the Memex in software. The implementation aimed to follow the original paper as closely as possible, implementing the interface as closely as he could given the limited description. He later went on to build another physical prototype of the device, using Bush's original idea of an augmented desk.

Memex - Zack Moore

"As We May Think" by Vannevar Bush was a very intersting read  and I really enjoyed seeing what his vision of the future would be. It amazed me how accurate many of his ideas have been in theory (although not int he way they have been relaized). His ideas about how information is indexed and stored to be retrieved later have been very accurate as we now read ebooks and find information online and see how it is related. The re-visited article that was written a few years later provides even more accurate claims and brings into account the early rise of  digital technology that began at that time. While the ways in which Bush saw his ideas being relaized (with a large desk that stores information on microfilm) didn't happen as he expected, the general ideas have all been realized fairly accurately.

After reading "As We May Think," the re-visited version, and the commentary on it I performed a search on Google for "Memex." After searching through a few pages and reading a few articles I ended up at one called "Memex's Time Has Finally Come." This article talks about new technologies that are being created today that are continually realizing more parts of the Memex. It also tackles the idea of why an actual Memex has not ever been created. The article proposes several reasons for this including that technology has not yet reached a point where created a full Memex is possible, as well as there not really being a need for a full Memex. People don't seem to have much of a need to record every memory that they have, so a machine that records them all would not really be necessary. With the amount of information that would be brought in by such a device, adding "paths" (the modern day equivalent of tags) would be very difficult to do, and finding any relevant information would be a monumental task. The article continues on to talk about how contemporary services such as Evernote have come to work a bit as a Memex by allowing people to store thoughts and ideas online that can be accessed at any time from anywhere. With services such as Evernote and the amount of technology that we now carry with us the article argues that it will now be possible to tag and store information in a way similar to the Memex that has never been possible before.

Link to article:

"Memex"-Wilson Teddy

I read both articles by Bush, the one written in 1945 and the other one written in 1967 and found his ideas truly interesting. He dared to imagine things that did not exist during his time. His design of the “memex” is really carefully thought and provides the details originating from the fruits of his imagination. The “memex” helped inspire scientists and other innovators to create new products that have features similar to the “memex”. One interesting thing Bush mentioned is the way human brains work through association. Bush believed that it is not possible to fully replicate the associative capability of the human brain, but he thinks we can create a machine that works in an associative fashion, similar to the human brain. The MIT symposium in 1995 also added a couple valuable insights. One of the main themes discussed is how the co-evolution of technology and human practice is producing fundamentally new ways of human-machine interaction. This theme directly relates to Bush’s creative idea of the “memex” which can change the way humans work together with machines.

After searching online using the keyword “memex”, I found a website that summarizes the articles Bush have written. The webpage describes Bush’s prominent role in the society at that time. He was as an engineer, policy maker and science administrator who had interests in technology and politics. He is popular for his role in developing the atomic bomb and his work on analog computing. The webpage also includes a sketch of the memex. It looks like an ordinary desk from the outside, but inside, there are multiple cogs and moving parts that make the desk extraordinary. In the webpage article, the author mentioned that several notable scholars have given credit to him for his influence and foresight. One of the scholars is Ted Nelson, who did the pioneering work on the first hypertext system. Other scholars are Joseph Licklider and Douglas Engelbart who made significant contributions in the field of technology.   


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Memex-Adam Carney

Vannevar Bush was someone whose mind was thinking so far into the future when technology was so undeveloped as compared to modern times. His idea of the memex was revolutionary for his time and was a concept that only few could grasp. I read an article from the new york times called When We See 70 Years Ahead. It talked about the vision of Bush and how in our society today there are people that are looking 70 years ahead to what could be the next ground breaking technology. I found it interesting how the article stated, "Already, many of us spend hours each day with our computers in a sort of virtual reality environment, which seems to have spatial and even emotional connection to our individual needs." Bush was able to see something that was such a radical concept, yet it is one of the most intricate parts of our lives today. His ability to see past what is convenient now, and what will make things more convenient is incredible. Without ideas such as the memex our society would not be able to progress as quickly as we have. The real question is what is going to be the next memex and when are we going to see this next step in the development of technology and society as a whole? module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Ar%2C%7B%222%22%3A%22RI%3A15%22%7D

"Surveillance, Power, and every day life" Blog post-Melissa Quirk

 Lyon’s article “Surveillance, power, and every day life” focused on the surveillance present all around the world and the growth of surveillance. The main idea of the article focused on surveillance in its different forms, the issues and controversy that follow types of surveillance, and the new technologies that contribute to the transformation of surveillance. One interesting idea and question I pulled from this article, is whether excess surveillance is positive or negative for society?
David Lyon is the Director of the Surveillance Studies Center, Queen's Research Chair in Surveillance Studies, Professor of Sociology and
Professor of Law at Queen’s University, Canada. Lyon has numerous books and publications on the topic of surveillance. This article was geared towards the audience of both professionals and the general public. It came from the Oxford Handbook of Information and communication technologies and came out in 2009. Surveillance is a hot topic in our society today, and Lyon’s investigation, insights, and research contain interesting viewpoints that are widely recognized.
 Lyon points out that surveillance can be more democratic than one would think.  He touches on the idea of “the end of privacy”, and describes that privacy is relative. “The Chinese have little sense of personal space as Westerners understand it, and the Japanese have no word for privacy in their language”(459 LYON).  A “surveillance society” is in place in society today which is much more democratic. This differentiates the surveillance in the western society from the common idea of a higher-power surveillance. Lyon mentions that this new surveillance society takes away the attention of the totalitarian and disciplinary surveillance models.
 Surveillance creates large controversy. Not only is the end of privacy an issue that accompanies surveillance, but “social sorting” as well. Lyon explains how social sorting in government safety surveillance increased and transformed greatly after 9/11. Many innocent people are targeted as “suspects”. Similarly, people are targeted through marketing techniques. Computer surveillance of peoples’ online activities helps companies target ideal customers without customer request. Surveillance’s lead into social sorting and privacy issues creates great controversy, especially as surveillance continues to increase.
 “Dataveillance” is a term Lyon uses to describe the new form of surveillance found in society, which makes surveillance more democratic. The transformation of technology in society creates a new form of surveillance that is not only led by the higher powers, for example government and corporations, but by the public as well. Citizens have numerous simple and advanced technologies that all serve as surveillance technologies. Lyon does a great job at breaking down the idea of surveillance to more than just the feared over-watching power and shows the democratic side. Any person with a cell phone can take a picture and post it for the world to see.
Is surveillance negative or positive? It is difficult to determine this as citizens who are active in surveillance as well. Surveillance keeps society safe and informed, but it also can have great negative consequences

"Memex"-Melissa Quirk

It was very interesting to see Bush’s initial thoughts and predictions in “As we may think” on the “memex”, or future advanced society. He was very close and even accurate in many of his points and predictions of what the future would bring and the vast improvements and flaws. It was almost even more intriguing reading Bush’s article twenty years later on the “memex revisited” as time had passed and advancements had occurred. The reactions of the many scholars at the Symposium held at MIT in 1995 added some great points and insight on Bush’s idea of the “memex” and the outcome and flaws of his predictions. It was also interesting to see how although this was the most recent required reading on the “memex”, there was still so many advancements ahead of their arguments in light of today’s society and technology. Bush was very descriptive and clear in his predictions and I enjoyed reading them and comparing them to life and technology today.

I searched for a commentary on Bush’s idea of the “memex” and found “The lost manuscripts: commentary on Bush’s memex” by Michael Fraase. Fraase did a wonderful job of commenting both critically and positively on Bush’s predictions and articles overall. He touches on the idea of mass storage and Bush’s doubt in this capability. However, we now have great capacity for mass storage. I agree with Fraase’s critical analysis of Bush’s doubt in society’s future capability in storing mass amounts of information within technology. Just look at how much information and technology the iPhone can hold, and it fits in my pocket! I also liked how Fraase touched on the idea of communication technology, as I took great notice to this as well when reading Bush’s articles. However, I wish Fraase had used more examples and gone more in depth. Although considering his commentary was written in 2009, he did not have quite as many communication technology examples as are present today five years later. This brings me to Fraase’s mention of the speed in which technology has grown. He acknowledges Bush’s prediction of the technology growth and speed of the “memex” and ties it into the present quick growth of technological advancement. My only critique is that I wish he had gone more in depth of how quickly technology transforms in society today, but again, this commentary was five years ago. Overall, Fraase did a wonderful job of analyzing and linking the ideas in Bush’s article with society’s advancements and technology today. I enjoyed reading all these articles and seeing Fraase’s view.