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11/27/2010 / Francesca Lyn

Privacy and Surveillance

Do employers have the right to know what their employees do when they are not working? Why or why not?
Employers do not have the right to know what their employees do when they are not working. I knew I agreed to this but I did not want to come up with reasons based on things like how much an employee drinks or goes to nightclubs. The first thing I came up with is if you are searching for another job. Nobody would argue that searching for a different position in your own time was unethical. But your boss might not take it very well if he finds out you are meeting with a potential new employer on a social networking site. Another issue I thought about a lot is sexuality and gender identity. A workplace does not have a right to what happens in someone’s bedroom or to know that someone has had a sex change if they do not what to disclose it.

Can these cases with professional athletes (Sanderson, 2009) can be applied to (or compared with) other types of employees — such as lawyers, teachers, advertising sales reps, etc. Why or why not?
At first I thought that this case with the professional athletes was very different from any other types of employees. Athletes are constantly being interviewed, recorded, or photographed. Their actions are more closely looked at and seen as a part of the public domain. But now we have facebook. Much of our life, no matter how insignificant, is being recorded. An interesting article about this subject is “Israel Uses Facebook to Catch Female Draft Dodgers”. The only difference is that most of the potentially embarassing or even illegal things we post on facebook are not profitable for others.

Should people be concerned about the location tracking capabilities discussed by Abe (2009)? Do these technologies have negative aspects?
The location tracking capabiltiies are a serious concern for me. When FourSquare was first introduced I was really disturbed. A lot of friends were announcing their whereabouts using FourSquare posted to Twitter and it seemed like a perfect opportunity for a stalker. This guide tells you to avoid “checking in” at places where you are particularly at risk – home, your bank, work, your child’s school, and the doctor’s office are all mentioned. It also mentions that location tracking could be the perfect guide for burglars to come in and rob you without interruption.

Does Abe’s argument about hospitality make sense to you in the context of online surveillance? Why or why not?
I was a bit confused about the concept of hospitality that Abe used. The connection is tenuous at best. I do not know if you can strengthen your argument by applying a scenario in which even Derrida admits is pretty much impossible. This just might be me but it always raises a red flag in my mind when someone tries to connect an aporia of Derrida to a real life situation. I know Derrida is a very hot subject to talk about and I wonder if making the connection is more of a chance to show off some knowledge of philosophy rather than a thoughtful nuanced reading of Derrida connected to the concept of online surveillance.

I also found this story about a banker getting fired for boasting about her severance package.

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11/14/2010 / Francesca Lyn

Crowdsourcing Public Radio: The Brian Lehrer Show and the SUV Map

Written in response to Karthika Muthukumaraswamy’s “WHEN THE MEDIA MEET CROWDS OF WISDOM: How journalists are tapping into audience expertise and manpower for the processes of newsgathering” and Anand Giridharadas’s “Africa’s Gift to Silicon Valley: How to Track a Crisis”.
Brian Lehrer is a popular public radio host on WNYC. On July 26, 2007 he asked listeners of his radio show to count all of the SUVs on their block.
I love that I could listen to the original radio broadcast of this case. I found the whole project really interesting and Brian Lehrer is a very engaging speaker. I really liked the way Brian Lehrer introduced the term “crowdsourcing” to his audience. Terms like this are often thrown around in the media to sound cutting-edge but not explained in easy terms. While we are on the subject of terms, I found the blog post “Network Journalism Versus Citizen Journalism Versus the Myriad of Other Names for Social Media in the News World” really helpful for defining these sometimes nebulous seeming roles. Since I am one of the few non-journalists in our class I found it particularly interesting to think about where I could possibly fit in.
Jeff Howe helped explain how crowdsourcing worked on the air. Getting Howe to talk about crowdsourcing seems to have brought a lot of attention to it, as he originated the term. Howe is a contributing editor for Wired magazine and a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. He literally wrote the book on crowdsourcing, entitled Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd is Driving the Future of Business. Just about every blog having to do with New York City, environmentalism, crowd sourcing, or citizen journalism covered the SUV map case. I can see why Muthukumaraswamy included it. I wonder why she did not mention Howe? It seems like a very important person to overlook.
While I was reading about this case I wondered why Brian Lehrer would engage his readers with this type of crowdsourcing? Prior to reading this I had never heard of Lehrer. Lehrer focuses on local issues. It makes sense that he would ask listeners to contribute to a case. Muthukumaraswamy’s heading of this case in her article “Wisdom of Crowds in General-interest Reporting by Recruiting
a General Audience” is an apt title. Public radio is all about listener support and involvement to it is perhaps uniquely aligned to the “wisdom of crowds”. I also think that this is a good example of crowdsourcing but I think the fact that it’s goals were different from something like Ushahidi. Ushahidi collects information that would be hard to get and aggregates it in a useful way. The information that Lehrer asked for was not something he could not have looked up himself. We have records for how many SUVs inhabit New York City. The point was awareness. Lehrer found a way to introduce the concept of crowdsourcing to his audience in a compelling way while also bringing in the problem of conspicuous consumption.
In searching for more information on this case in particular and crowdsourcing in general I found “Crowdsourcing: Enlisted Legmen, Formerly Known as the Audience”. I strongly suggest taking a look at it in it’s entirety. It focuses on a few public radio crowdsourcing projects and then closes with some tips for stations that would like to have their own successful crowdsourced projects.

11/07/2010 / Francesca Lyn

Remix VJing

I thought it would be a good direction to show what I do within my Master’s program. I view Girl Talk’s work as similar to some of my video mixing work, I take video for many sources and use them as part of large-scale video installations. I also work with digital audio and samples.

10/31/2010 / Francesca Lyn

Art in Context?

Do you like this painting? According to the artists, if you are an American, you should. Can we quantify taste? Viewpoints? Values?

Truth is a number.
Alex Melamid

Agreement doesn’t scale.
Michael Nielsen

I think it is impossible to create some sort of measuring system to “extract value”. The problem of trying to create some sort of measuring system reminded me of Komar & Melamid’s The Most Wanted Paintings project.  Sometimes when you set about creating some sort of standardization in “value”, you end up with the lowest common denominator. Who gets to decide what is valuable and what is not? Who’s values are we measuring?

In an age where opinion polls and market research invade almost every aspect of our “democratic/consumer” society (with the notable exception of art), Komar and Melamid’s project poses relevant questions that an art-interested public, and society in general often fail to ask: What would art look like if it were to please the greatest number of people? Or conversely: What kind of culture is produced by a society that lives and governs itself by opinion polls?
Michael Govan, Director, Dia Center for the Arts

We need a comparable yardstick for information systems, a measure of a system’s ability to extract value from a given unit of information. Call it, in this example: textual productivity. By creating fluid networks of words, by creating those digital-age commonplaces, we increase the textual productivity of the system.
Steven Berlin Johnson

What kind of information system is created if only the most productive remains? Remember, this is not a problem where a quantifiable answer is even possible.  A “network of words” is not the same as a math problem. Should “textual productivity” be the end goal of a system? Do we want the informational equivalent of the painting above?

Their America’s Most Wanted combined a liking for historical figures, children, and wild animals by placing George Washington on the banks of an attractive river or lake. Near him walk three clean-cut youngsters, looking like vacationers at Disneyland, while in the water behind a hippopotamus bellows. To consider the survey seriously and then turn to its painted results is to realize you’ve been conned. It’s as though Marcel Duchamp had managed to secure foundation funding for an extensive cross-cultural study of aesthetic preferences in plumbing before presenting the world with Fountain.
Denis Dutton

10/17/2010 / Francesca Lyn

Online Activism

Burma

After reading both articles, my first reaction is that I am sadly uninformed about Burma. I know very little about the country at all so this article is a great entry point to find more about it. I read the Wikipedia entry about it to better familiarize myself. Now, I am absolutely fascinated. I would I wonder if things would have turned out differently with the 2007 protest if all the monks were equipped with smartphones to communicate and document? Also, Aung San Suu Kyi is said to be released from house arrest in November, I wonder if the media will get free access to talking to her? Will she tweet?

MoveOn.org vs. Democracy for America

For this week’s post we were asked to find a political organization comparable to MoveOn.org. I used to be on a MoveOn.org mailing list but am not presently active with any political group. I actually asked via facebook for my friends to come up with suggestions since a simple Google search came up with so many results. I eventually decided to research Democracy for America. Democracy for America (DFA) has more than 1 million members which is less than MoveOn.org. DFA was founded by Howard Dean in 2004.

The aesthetics of both websites are very similar. Both stick to a color scheme of red, white, and blue. They both have links to their facebook pages prominently displayed, suggesting that they are both tech-savvy and value social networking. Both websites are organized very similarly. I checked the “about” pages of each organization to see if I can identify some key differences.  MoveOn.org is an older organization than DFA. MoveOn.org is also a family of related organizations – made up of a PAC and a nonprofit. DFA seems to be entirely a PAC.

If I were to do a study of members of DFA similar to the one done of MoveOn.org member’s I would expect to find people with fairly liberal beliefs. I would even say that I expect some overlap between DFA and MoveOn.org. Both MoveOn.org and DFA endorsed Barack Obama for the 2008 Presidential Election. Both seem to have varying levels of involvement you can have within the organization and both seem to champion the idea of “grassroots” organizing.

After reading all of this I have a lot of questions about political organizations such as MoveOn.org and DFA. I wonder how different a study of MoveOn.org members would be now that Obama is our President? Do they feel safer demonstrating?

10/03/2010 / Francesca Lyn

Shopping online

The following blog post is in response to “Effects of Internet Commerce on Social Trust” written by Diana C. Mutz in Public Opinion Quarterly (2009).

I must admit that I am one of those people, those last holdouts that still does not completely trust online ordering. Ebay still makes me nervous. My fears are not that I will not receive the item I purchases. Rather I am afraid someone will send me something defective and I will not be able to get my money back or the item replaced. Maybe I have trust issues?

For this short study I chose to ask my boyfriend, a friend from college, and a friend from high school. My boyfriend Garrett is a UF grad student. My college friend Liz is getting her Master’s degree in Education, also from UF. My high school friend Lisa was recently an English language instructor in Spain and is now back in the United States looking for a job.

I have had very little experience reading about research studies, let alone writing one. For my study I wrote six questions about online purchasing:

1. How often have you bought something online in the last two months?
All had made online purchases in the last two months. My boyfriend Garrett made the least with three purchases, Lisa made six, and Liz made fifteen.

2. In general, what do you buy most often online?
Garrett bought mostly books, Lisa bought electronics and clothes, and Liz bought clothes and piano sheet music.

3. What sites do you most often use to buy things online? Why do you use those sites?
All three participants cited Amazon. Lisa also mentioned Ebay. All cited ease of use and affordability being the main factors for choosing these sites. Liz mentioned also using Kohl’s online and Prima Music because of their good sales.

4. What advantages do you see come from shopping online?
Everyone mentioned the ease of comparing similar products. Lisa stated that she actually prefers shopping online as long as it was not something she needed right away.

5. How likely are you to make online purchases in the next two months?
Everyone said they were extremely likely to make more online purchases. Liz even mentioned she was going to buy something from Kohl’s online tomorrow because she had a sale code to redeem.

6. What do you not like about making an online purchase?
All mentioned that returning items were sometimes an issue. Garrett also mentioned waiting for the package to arrive. Liz mentioned that it was inconvenient to not be able to try clothes on.

I was pretty surprised that none of my participants cited that they disliked making purchases online because of any sort of trust factors. However, after reflecting on the type of brands they did choose to make purchasing on, I think that would be a huge factor worthy of further investigation.  Only one website mentioned was one I had never personally heard of.  A trustworthy brand is personified, we feel like we know Kohl’s, Amazon, or even Ebay. Also, maybe my questions were too subtle? If I had to do this type of study again I would maybe make a longer questionnaire and include some questions like:

– Would you purchase items online from a site you had never heard from before?

– How safe do you feel making online purchases?

– How safe do you feel making purchases not online?

09/26/2010 / Francesca Lyn

Speech

The following post is in response to “Blogging for democracy: deliberation, autonomy, and reasonableness in the blogsphere” written by John W. Maynor in Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy (2009).

A proposed Code of Conduct (CoC) is an interesting but totally unenforceable idea. In particular, I personally dislike the idea of not allowing anonymous comments. Sure a lot of anonymous comments can be inflammatory statements – but what about when revealing information about who the commenter is could be damaging to the person’s safety or livelihood? I’m all for civility and the reduction of abuse but those type of comments could be moderated out.

Both blog posts I chose to examine came from the Huffington Post. I chose the Huffington Post because it usually has a ton of people commenting on each entry. It also tends to have writers I have at least heard of before. Huffington Post does not seem to allow completely anonymous posting. You can connect to post through your facebook account, twitter account, linkedin account, google account, yahoo account, or a dedicated Huffpost account.

The first post I chose to examine was “Steny Hoyer: Stephen Colbert’s Testimony To Congress Was ‘An Embarrassment For Mr.Colbert'” written by Sam Stein. This post centered around comedian Stephen Colbert’s testimony on immigration. Steny Hoyer is the House Majority Leader. The second post I chose was “Time Out: A Reality Check for Progressives” written by Clarence B. Jones. This is an opinion piece written by Jones, a Scholar in Residence at the Martin Luther King Jr. Institute at Stanford University. Jones’s post is much more broad in scope. He touches on everything from repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

“Another promising aspect of whether or not blogs will live up to their potential as a positive form for deliberative democracy is in understanding the nature of the internet as a mechanism of transformation.” (Maynor 460)

Maynor identifies problems with the autonomy theory of information  and calls them the three Vs – value, volume, and velocity (462). I find a Maynor’s questioning of the value of blogging content and comments problematic. The veracity of  posts can be proved in similar ways as print media has always been. Common sense tells us that we should investigate sources, the background of the writer, and the reputation of the news source. Also, Maynor uses Wikipedia as his value example. We now know that in at least one study Wikipedia was found to be as least as accurate as the Encyclopedia Britannica. I find volume an interesting factor to discuss regarding the Huffington Post. The post about Stephen Colbert had over 1200 comments when I read it Sunday morning. By Sunday evening it had over 3,000. Of course it would be possible for me to read all of these comments but would that really benefit me or add to the discourse of democracy? I found Jones’s post had more intelligent discourse – it seems like while the celebrity of Colbert attracted more comments, the Jones post had more thoughtful responses.The final V is velocity. The Huffington Post and many other blogs allow you to quickly tweet, email, or post to facebook any of their content instantly. I think that Maynor makes a good point here and we should always take into account just how instantaneous our news is today.