Tag Archives: technology

Killed by the Internet

The internet wields its power to revive and destroy, but the destruction that it brings is not always negative. A recent article in the Telegraph looks at 50 things that are being killed by the internet.

The humorous ones:

#4 Sarah Palin (I can only hope)

#22 Enforceable copyright

#34 Mainstream media

#44 Trust in Nigerian businessmen and princes

The sad ones:

#13 Memory

#14 Dead time

#50 Your lunchbreak

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Picnic Day Three

Picture 8

As Picnic came to a close, I finally was able to sit down with three speakers to have a conversation about their work with technology: Katrin Verclas from MobileActive, Jeremy Ettinghausen from Penguin Books Digital Publishing, and Greg Skibiski from Sense Networks. Video of the interviews will be featured on the Picnic website in the near future.

Mobility for Change

MoMo

Photo by Jöran Maaswinkel

The first day of my week kicked off with a Mobile Monday afternoon around the great topic of utilizing mobile technology in emerging markets to create social change. Last fall, I worked on a research project related to mobile banking that focused primarily on the way the developing world is taking this up full force. I spotted this trailer for the recent documentary Hello Africa on the website of Mariéme Jamme, one of the speakers at Monday’s MoMo.

Physical vs. Digital Storage

mac storage

Amazing visualization of physical vs. digital storage on The Next Web. This is just one of many. Thanks Miss Bierbaum!

Trust in Numbers

we feel fine

A recent NYT article about the rising field of sentiment analysis – translating human emotion into hard data –  underscores the importance of sophisticated algorithms to analyze and understand the growing amount of information created by individuals online. Whether these new services and applications are tracking emotions or quantifying behavior, the consumer is taking center stage. I thought I’d list some that have captured my attention:

Sense Networks, recognizes patterns in behavior by tracking the path of mobile phone users and analyzes what those behaviors reveal about the user.

Wakoopa, a downloadable service that tracks the programs and applications running on a user’s computer, and other pertinent information such as the frequency and duration of use. From this, Wakoopa distills user habits about when and how they use certain programs and web services.

We Feel Fine, pictured above, explores human emotions by scouring blogs for the phrases ‘I feel’ or ‘I am feeling’ and presents these feelings as an online collaborative art project. While it’s not really quantifying its findings, it’s so beautiful.

Jodange, a service that filters traditional and social media to gauge the influences on consumer thought and opinion.

Newssift, a project by the Financial Times Group, that incorporates meaning, relationships, and sentiment into news with a business slant.

To Take the Stage

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Personas, a Metropath(ologies) exhibit by the MIT Media Lab, creates a portrait of online identities according to algorithms that scour the web. A great concept, created by Aaron Zinman, and I was eager to see how it painted me. After entering my name, a quick check aggregated relevant online data and created a somewhat vague description of a person that is associated with books, news, online, and legal. Me, supposedly. Or, at least, the online version. The beautiful ‘problem’ is that my name brings up many references to ‘Carly Simon’ or ‘Cameron Diaz’, but the influence of mischaracterizations is part of the whole concept. Interestingly, this depends on the analysis, for every time I entered my name, I received a different assessment. A nice reflection of the liveness of the online world.

“It is meant for the viewer to reflect on our current and future world where digital histories are as important – if not more important – than oral histories, and computational methods of condensing our digital traces are opaque and socially ignorant – for now. Fortunes are sought through data-mining vast information repositories, and this kind of data is indispensable but far from infallible.”

In Latin, the word persōna carries with it a connotation of the theatre, which is often carried over into the English use of the word. The persona is the mask or character that the actor assumes before taking the stage, or our public face. As individuals living out our lives (often simultaneously) in local and online spheres, this concept enters a new dimension where the multitude of scenes requires us to approach in full character at the blink of an eye. On LinkedIn, I am a professional. On my blog, I am a curious writer. On my bike, I am a local. At work, I am focused. At home, I am everything and nothing. This fascinating and sometimes exhausting fact of life isn’t anything new. Anyone who has ever read a Jane Austen book sees the extent to which social expectations dictate the intricacies of our interactions. Propriety and sensibility become attuned to the expectations and norms of society and the responses they demand. We adorn ourselves in the proper persona in order to join the dance, to take the stage, which has been set before and the lines have been memorized. As T.S. Eliot said, ‘Humankind cannot bear very much reality.’ So, we assume our positions, even online.

An Offline Gathering

offline

“We’re fighting against this whole idea that everything people do has to be constantly chronicled. People think that every thought they have, every experience — if it is not captured, it is lost…When it’s off the record, you actually listen to the conversation, not just wait for your turn to speak.”

— Michael Maline in a New York Times article about the rise of offline parties, where guests are not allowed to blog, Tweet, or take pictures of the event. It seems that talking about it is even discouraged. Perhaps ‘offline’ really can exist.