#6 – Accounting for successful platforms

Shirky’s model of promise, tool, and bargain apply in the same way to social tools not discussed in “Here Comes Everybody”. For example, Twitter, Facebook, Craig’s List, and Lastfm all give a very simple promise; they want the user to share their stories, likes, news, etc to their friends and online peers. They are also successful because of the simplicity in using their service, just sign up and start! (Only exception is Lastfm, but since the service is desirable, installing a program or add-on isn’t too difficult for users, considering it makes organizing and getting statistics of their music collection a lot easier than going through each file or cd!)

Observing these trends in successful platforms provides a good idea and goal for our own platforms that we’re starting for this course. The Emily’s List (not yet named as such) is something I think that has a simple promise, and will be easy to use. I really do think that once we seriously start it up, it’ll be a big hit. It is modeled after two very big and successful services after all, and there is a need for the service withing the Emily Carr community. Perhaps in the near future, students who want to sell or buy will just look at the site and not on bulletin boards around the school anymore! (Though I don’t know why ECU never thought of having a “Emily Bulletin” site, instead of just a housing site..probably not enough demand for one.)

When we were still in the brainstorming stage, I wondered to myself why this couldn’t be a Emily Carr gathering space. Sometimes in school, it seems that everyone is in their own cliques either due to their major, or due to langage or nationality. I think it’d be great for there to be some kind of virtual gathering space, where all the nervousness and barriers are thrown out the window; a place where fellow students and professors can link up based on interests. But at the same time, I don’t think there is a huge need for this, though it’s definitely something to think about.

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#5 – Communication, collaboration, filtering & failure

Wow this week’s practicum was challenging.. so much stuff already up there and I didn’t really think I had anything new to contribute..

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Shirky discussed in this recent reading of the new media production and how it affects us socially in communications, collaborations, and how we live our lives. He went back to some examples we learned about from the Wikinomics reading, and it was refereshing to look at those examples from a different viewpoint. Instead of focusing on how much of a success and leaving out all the other failures like the Wikinomics reading did, Shirky emphasized that it’s very easy to fail running an open source production. In fact he turns the whole definition of failure around, proving that failure within an open source collaboration is actually much better than within the old module. He also talks about how powerful collaboration is, and about love and trust for one another that we collaborate with.

I really thought this week’s reading was interesting; such a huge emphasis on the “love thy neighbor” aspect that Shirky discusses. Sometimes with technology, I find that despite it was invented to bring people together, it does the opposite and distances us. For example, that Instructables.com site; I think it’s a wonderful site, it’s really useful! But I think about how often we ask our parents or peers before on how to do something, and I find that a site like that may actually distance us from those people. Instead of going up to your parents to ask how to do such and such, you could just go online and look it up. That reliance and connection with your parents doesn’t really exist anymore. But at the same time technology does bring people together, just in a different way. It can definitely help in bringing people from places around the world, and in bringing people with the same interests or causes.

The failure section was just as interesting, I have never seen such a positive side to over failure.

#4 Clay Shirky – Sharing, Community, Remix

This is a little late, yesterday was my birthday!! (woo hoo I’m 21 haha)

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As I read this week’s reading in Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody, I found the text to be a lot more comprehendable than Wikinomics in the way that Here Comes Everybody focuses on the action and reaction, and on the positive and negative possibilities of each example given. It’s a lot easier to understand and agree, since he  provides both sides of the argument and looks at the overall picture.

What are the implications of the new “ease of assembly” (48) for politics, the arts, culture or design?

What I want to write about isn’t exactly about the “ease of assembly”,but rather the results of having an ease of assembly and how it relates to the professionalism as discussed in the latter part of this week’s reading.

One question I have regarding the journalism – blogging discussed on pages 70-72 though, does journalistic priviledges apply when blog posts are open to read on the web? From how I understand traditional journalism, they do private interviews to get privileged information. But if this information was free to access on a blog, how would that be considered priviledged?

The example of professional photography leads me to think about how these days, anyone with a quality camera like a canon slr can take “professional” looking photos. This begs the question then, what exactly is professional? Is it the quality, their popularity, how they present themselves, their prices (if it involves pricing), or something else? As mentioned on page 75 though, “the only real arbiter of professionalism in photography today is the taxman; in the United States, the IRS defines a professional photographer as someone who makes more than $5,000 a year selling his or her photos.” But someone just as good as a “professional” may not be doing it for a living, would it be wrong to not call them professional as well?

I’m also thinking of Etsy as an example; there are tons of artists there from fashion designers to illustrators. The fashion designers, the idea of needing a physical store is already outdated. Isn’t it possible that the whole foundation of fashion magazines, fashion shows, the “professionalism” become outdated as well, like photography and journalism? The problem though I know of with Etsy and this definition of professionalism is that many times sellers who are new (but have a great product) on Etsy have no idea that they need to collect taxes and file for business licenses. Some people just assume they can put their items up and sell like eBay. So the customers assume that these sellers are professional, but really they’re very new to being a professional of the traditional sense.

Does this bring down the value to “professionalism”, I’m starting to think it might. But completely overtaking the value, maybe not. I think quality will always be synomous to professional, however quality may become less important if speed becomes more important.

#3 Tapscott & Williams – Platforms for Collaboration

Since I already wrote a bit about wikis in last week’s reading response, I think I will just focus on the platforms aspect of this week’s reading.

Two questions from the wiki prompt I’ll be writing about:

1.) What hinders the development of these platforms?
2.) Describe the tension between business and profit on the one hand, and generosity and volunteerism on the other.

Om Malik, quoted on pages 206-207, says the following

I wondered out loud if this culture of participation was seemingly help[ing] build businesses on our collective backs. So if we tag, bookmark, or share, and help del.icio.us or Technorati or Yahoo become better commercial entities, aren’t we seemingly commoditizing our most valuable asset- time. We become the outsourced workforce, the collective, though it is still unclear what is the pay-off. While we may (or may not) gain something from the collective efforts, the odds are whatever “the collective efforts” are, they are going to boost the economic value of those entities. Will we share in their upside? Not likely!

The quote above is one I think summarizes a hindrance that platform development faces, and is one I started to question last week in regards to the “why bother” feeling of the people. (I’m so glad with each week at least one my questions are tackled in the readings!) It really is a “do you see the cup as half full or half empty” deal, with it being do you really want to participate in something bigger than yourself, or do you just want to be stuck in your own little minuscule world worrying about how you aren’t profiting financially. I think instead of taking on the perspective of financial profit, perhaps it’s wiser to look at it as experience and being able to see the results in say 20 years down the road, amazed at the type of world created through your participation.

Malik’s point is valid; I definitely understand his position, therefore I’ll attempt to argue the other. Of course we all want to make financial profit by contributing our time into these businesses, after all time is money. But by contributing to these platforms, in essence one is contributing their time to making the world a better and more efficient place to live in. That should count as a huge pay-off, even if it might not pay the bills. I do think that more of these businesses should offer back some kind of compensation for their contributors; maybe through some kind of contribution points program. It shouldn’t be enough to be the only incentive to contributing, that would defeat the whole purpose of the open source platform, but there definitely should be something.

Some businesses offer up freedom as a way to compensate for your time. (For example on page 209, ebay & flickr) Freedom to use their service and to gain recognition from it, allowing you to profit and allowing the businesses running the service to profit from referrals. Tension between profit and volunteering comes in when the business wants to implement a way to gain from all it’s users. Ebay, although it’s technically free to use to buy things, it’s not free to sell. The fees are quite heavy, however they provide a service that allows you freedom to get rid of items that you would not be able to make profit off of otherwise. (Or you might have a smaller audience.) If the fees were any higher, no one would bother with ebay anymore, and they would all move on over to free sites such as craigslist or kijiji. (I believe ebay has lost a lot of users compared to a few years ago, based on my own experience with buying there) Flickr, free to use, but offers special benefits for subscribers. This allows for a balance of that profit / volunteering tension as no one feels cheated by not being required to subscribe or be forced to pay fees in order to use Flickr. But if, like mentioned in the reading, Yahoo! implemented some kind of commissioning program for the artists using Flickr, that would allow for them to bring in many more users.

As a result of this reading, in general and in a very oversimplfied way, I believe people care for three basic things in life. Freedom, profit/gain of some sort (ie. recognition), and time. For the business that wants one of these three basics, they’ll have to provide the other two to the user.

chatting with parents

Today I was chatting with my parentals about what I’m learning in this course, (I don’t normally since during the school year I live on the other side of the continent) and I thought what they were saying was interesting.

I was talking to them about this whole idea of mass collaboration, and how the “Western” world is becoming more and more open to sharing and collaborating with others. They told me, “that’s how the people in China and “Eastern” world used to be back in their and their parents’ generation, but now they are becoming more closed off, and everyone is becoming more and more protective about their ideas and becoming more unfriendly.

I know I’m oversimplfying here, but I wonder are there any peer production / open source sharing modules from other parts of the world, as most of these examples are North American / European(?) based.

#2 Tapscott and Williams – Peer Pioneers Response

After this weeks reading, I’m very happy to have had some of my questions answered from the previous week (especially on music and how they would gain capital). But then I got to thinking how this open source model applies to my art practice, and whether it’s something I’d like. (Again, this came out so much longer than I expected, but that’s what’s so great about an online course!)

– How is peer production applicable on an image (for photographers, illustrators, painters, and other types of “image” artists) if peer production was to be used in that context?

-It does away with intellectual property rights, “Traditional forms of intellectual property confer the right to exclude others from using or distributing a creative work. Peer production is more or less the opposite. Communities of producers typically use ‘ general  public licenses’ to guarantee users the right to share and modify creative works provided that any modifications are shared with the community.” (69)

On a personal level, I don’t like the idea of doing away with all intellectual property rights. I would care about how my art (and by extension, myself) is represented. The open-sharing aspect of  peer production is admirable, but when it comes down to the possibility that someone could misuse my artwork in a way I find (or others find) offensive, I’m not too enthusiastic. Sure one can argue that with Web 2.0, its impossible to protect your work completely, however from my understanding, copyright attempts to do so. A few days ago, an artist I watch on deviantART (Acrylicana for those interested) found that fake knock-offs of one of her prints were being sold as t-shirts in Australia(knock off & original print). Even worse was that the store in Australia didn’t know they were knock-offs (they had bought from vendors in Thailand). Because her fans in Australia were able to help her contact this store, she is now able to enforce her copyrights and stop them from misrepresenting her name on fake goods. Is there a difference between derivative work and those knock offs? At the same time, because of this, I can definitely see mass collaboration as a strength, she was able to find those stores because of her fans collaboratively trying to help her.

To be honest, I’m not a fan of remixing. I can see how it could improve the quality of work, but it can also ruin it. Often I find remixes to either come across as uncreative or disrespectful to the original creator. Sometimes I don’t understand why people would want to rely on someone else’s work, when they can create a completely new work, especially in the case with music. For sure it’s difficult to come up with an original tune, but that’s what makes the effort worth it so you can claim it as your own!  I believe that there is a difference between being inspired, and literally using someone else’s work. Now I’m not proposing that all remixes are terrible, obviously there are really well done ones that are wonderful, because it keeps in spirit of the original or brings a refereshing new twist. I also don’t deny that it’s a huge aspect in media and entertainment (people love expressing their opinions after all). I admire the open trust and also the good nature in improvement, I just think it’s like a double edged sword; it’s not only positive, but can also be negative.

I’m interested in the kinds of  moderation that will be involved in this peer producing module, and if the original creator can prevent offensive representations of themselves.

Wikipedia actually states my concern through a contemporary example, The Numa Numa Dance video, that I have as a result from this week’s reading and lecture. O-zone is the original creators of the song heard in the Numa Numa Dance.

In contrast to their multi-platinum status in Europe, O-Zone never entered the charts in the United States. The viral video Numa Numa Dance helped to slightly boost awareness of “Dragostea din tei” in the United States, but while the song received moderate to major airplay, most Americans knew it simply as “Numa Numa” and never knew the name of the original song or the group that performed it.

How will they go about enforcing new derivative media to acknowledge the original? I think it’s important to ask these how questions in order to mediate those who are unsure and to fully implement the model. I don’t think that the old model will necessarily die out, however I do agree it will become less popular. I think there will always be people who are reluctant to change, or do not want to participate with the majority. Perhaps in the future, after mass collaboration has reached it’s height, people may argue it’s better to go back to the older model, who knows.

Another more recent example I can think of in the animation world,  is the Caramelldansen meme. Similar to the Numa Numa video, but they include the original song’s name as part of the title to avoid confusion. It started with a Japanese visual novel animated sequence, that someone put with the Caramelldansen song. Now if you search Caramelldansen on youtube, you can find so many versions of the same animation sequence but with different characters from all sorts of media. Luckily the original band Caramell likes the phenomenon, but what if they didn’t and found it offensive? Would they just have to suck it up and accept what their music is being used and known for? (In this case it’s not offensive in any way, I’m just wondering possibilities.)

Through this week’s reading, I’m starting to see this module as an option, not a necessity, of an business approach. There are advantages as well as disadvantages, whereas in the previous reading I felt Wikinomics was just looking at the positives.

Advantages to Wikipedia:

1.)Better records for events or topics that are debatable between people, for example, accounts of war and deaths. I can think of one example, an account of deaths between the Chinese government and the students (and Red Cross) of the Tianmenan Square Massacre.

2.) Large contribution base, anyone can submit anything, lots of users to back up and edit for best version.

Also, it’s free, very easy to use, multilingual, and accessible to anyone with  internet.

Disadvantages to Wikipedia:

1.) Relying on Wikipedia as the only source of reference, believing that everything posted on there is absolute truth without checking other sources. (For example, on page 74 regarding Wikipedia’s major disadvantage: Anyone can claim to be an expert on any topic.) You ultimately have to be responsible for making sure the sources are correct.

2.)Contributors who do indeed know a lot of a topic, but may come from a biased perspective. Since it’s open to editing, you have to be wary you don’t search up a topic that someone has purposely altered information to be more favorable to their opinions.

“Despite the huge number of users, Wales estimates that over 50 percent of edits are made by less than 1 percent of users, a clear sign that amid the chaos lies a small but committed group of regular users. On occasion, ‘edit wars’ break out, in which users repeatedly reverse each other’s changes. In these rare cases, a Wikipedia staffer makes the final judgement.” (73)

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The second part of this week’s reading, I’m very happy to find an example I know very well (Second Life) and mmogs. I play it and I know a fellow classmate in my animation year that sells items in it! However, this following part, I felt was too idolizing Second Life in comparison to other online multiplayer games.

“While some multiplayer games forbid real-world trades of virtual goods, the practice is sanctioned, even encouraged within Second Life.”(126)

The problem with this statement, is that most online multiplayer games are games, not virtual worlds where users can create and sell anything they wish. (Many of them are mmorpgs, and are not structured the same way.) But in Second Life, users are only limited to their imaginations; they can create and sell almost anything. Whereas most online games only let the user transfer real life currency to game currency (or game with game), Second Life allows the reverse (Linden Dollars to real currency), allowing players to make real-world money from their virtual items. With other online games, this is not possible, and real-world trading is discouraged as a precaution for those wanting to trade real-world money for an in-game item. (To prevent scams, whether virtual or real, and also to prevent players from spending all their real-world money on virtual game items, and possibly putting them in debt.) Of course Second Life encourages real-life trades, because it’s set up a real-life replicated economy. There’s no way to do so in other online games (such as World of Warcraft), where virtual can never translate back into real-life. That’s what makes Second Life special amongst all the other mmogs, it offers something that none of the other games have offered. But in this statement, I found the comparison to be silly, because the two types of models are completely different.

Something that also bothers me with all this customization content in this second reading, is will people ever become tired of all these services that offer customization? Will there ever be a point later on, that people just become tired of all the individualism, all the customization, that no one will have anything in common in terms of products? Right now customization is still a niche (everyone wants something no one else has, how better to get it than by customizing it yourself?), but will there ever be a point everyone gets tired of being so expressive of themselves and losing the feeling of having something in common?

I was thinking, reading the other blogs in this course, about how social networking was so popular when Myspace first came out. I believe it was after Myspace that Facebook showed up, and now Twitter. There are a lot of people that go “oh another social networking site” and don’t understand Twitter. (I don’t either really, but it’s simple and fun.) I wonder if this will ever happen with Prosuming that Tapscott and Williams discuss, that people go “oh another way we can make the product, offer our opinions” which then lead to the “why bother” feeling when it’s everywhere?

My Comments

these are all the posts I’ve commented on, I’ll update it each time.

http://meriliese.wordpress.com/2009/05/19/the-internet-is-more-than-facebook/#comment-10

http://judylin6868.wordpress.com/2009/05/19/humn-306-su90-1-open-for-editing/#respond

http://billydclam.wordpress.com/2009/05/23/humn-306-%E2%80%93-week-2-%E2%80%93-the-peer-pioneers-and-the-prosumers/#respond