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April 30, 2008

The New Age of Television

YouTube has become quite the phenomenon and why shouldn't it...anyone that wants to be a star can and YouTube provides the audience to make it happen. Whatever your interest may be you can make a video and have an opportunity for the world to see. I remember this couple that had posted their wedding dance to YouTube. They had such a growing popularity that they were invited to be guests on the Today Show. The fact is that these online videos can be produced without huge production and promotional budgets. Literally anyone can post a video. Michael Wesch's YouTube explanation of the power of Web 2.0 technologies has been watched more than 2.8 million times around the world. "My video created great connections for myself and the university," said Wesch. "More specifically its success resulted in extensive nationsal and international media coverage, donations to KSU anthropology department, as well as broad and intense interest in the program from students and faculty around the nation and the world" (Lights, Camera, Action).

Many may wonder if this is a fad that will pass. "An August 2006 report by In-Stat, a technology research firm, indicates otherwise. The report predicts the number of households watching online videos worldwide will grow from 13 million in 2005 to 131 million in 2010" (Lights, Camera, Action). This creation is also changing the way of advertising. YouTube is a medium in which you can reach a vast amount of people with a form of television online. It can target content that is relevent to it's product. Until now, advertisers have underwritten mass media to reach mass audiences, but since the network TV audiences have shrunk, they are realizing the opportunity the Internet offers.

The problems facing YouTube are like many other internet sites is that of protecting the works of others. "YouTube had until recently been at a loss to manage the situation, relying on safe-harbor provisions of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act to insulate itself from liability. Until it actually installs a newly developed copyright infringement sniffer, the best it can do is take down individual clips in response to a rights holders complaint" So what about "Evolution of Dance," for instance? To put together this medley, did Laipply license 30 songs? "Don't know," replies YouTube senior marketing director Julie Supan. "You'd have to ask Judson." In the next breath, though, she suggests that the brief music excerpts fall within the bounds of fair use. (YouTube vs. Boob Tube).

In conclusion, YouTube has allowed people to share their creative expressions with the entire world. It is in no doubt here to stay. With it projected to have 131 million households view it by 2010 and for Google to acquire it is no small deal. YouTube is in a way the new age of television.

April 28, 2008

knowledge that has no knower

Social knowing, in chapter 7, starts off with a description of “middle-aged white men� in an editorial meeting, deciding what goes on the front page of a newspaper. I just read the chat I missed before spring break…you were having a Web 2.0 editorial meeting!

Everything is Miscellaneous goes on to talk about how obsolete the old style meeting it because of sites such as Digg, where readers rank articles to decide what will be on the front page of the website.

But the overall theme in each chapter of this book seems to be that knowledge and how you get it and how you organize it, is in upheaval because of the internet and its social interaction. For those who have been critical of the upheaval, this quote sums it up: “If these experts of the second order sound a bit hysterical, it is understandable. The change they’re facing from the miscellaneous is deep and real. Authorities have long filtered and organized information for us, protecting us from what isn’t worth our time and helping us find what we need to give our beliefs a sturdy foundation. But with the miscellaneous, it’s all available to us, unfiltered� (Weinberger, 132).

It’s obvious Weinberger thinks Wikipedia is fabulous, because he gives us yet another Wikipedia example. The Encyclopedia Britannica claims to be written by “Nobel laureates and Pulitzer Prize winner, the leading scholars, writers, artists, public servants, and activists who are at the top of their fields� (134). Wikipedia is written by anyone. Jimmy Wales, the founder, says they are more concerned with an author’s contribution, not their credentials. “We care about pseudoidentity, not identity� (135), so Zocky, a prolific contributor, has a great reputation and no one knows who this person really is.

But the whole point of being successful as a Wikipedia contributor, according to Wales, is to be neutral. “Wikipedia insists that authors talk and negotiate because it’s deadly serious about achieving a neutral point of view� (136). He also said that he considers an article neutral when people stop editing it. Weinberger calls this a “brilliant operational definition of neutrality� because it makes it a social interaction.

I haven’t come across any of the neutrality notices (Weinberger, 140) Wikipedia posts on some of its most disputed pages, but I can imagine many are on pages that are politically oriented. And, as everyone knows, politics makes for some heated discussion that is rarely neutral. It’s hard to negotiate someone to your political viewpoint.

Anyway, Weinberger goes on to talk about the back and forth of negotiation between contributors and this isn’t something I’ve wrapped my head around entirely…so two people negotiate their differences on a page and are done working on it, “Yet the page they’ve negotiated may not represent either person’s point of view precisely. The knowing happened not in either one’s brain but in their conversation. The knowledge exists between the contributors. It is knowledge that has no knower. Social knowing changes who does the knowing and how, more than it changes the what of knowledge� (144). This makes me want to say, “huh?�, but I think I get it. In social knowing, we learn things by actively working to make it understandable. We work with others to get their knowledge and pass along ours to make knowledge that is everyone’s. Anyone else want to chime in?

Worth a shot.

To facilitate finishing up this project in (our originally intended) cohesive fashion and maybe ending up with something we can leave online after the course ends, I've started a new discussion thread in the class forum:
"Final Wiki - What issues are left?"
Please take a look, might be worth your while, and you might be able to help one of your classmates by asking or answering a question, or just leaving an opinion.

I've always found forums to be an easy way to go about this kind of thing. Really easy to participate, and low pressure. In case you were wondering why...

The benefits of disorder

The benefits of disorder

In Chapter 6 of Everything is Miscellaneous, David Weinberger argues that messiness is virtuous. Not only is order morally inferior to messiness, it conflicts with the way humans naturally think and make sense of the world. Aristotle’s clear-cut rationality is antithetical to the natural disorder of the world.

It isn’t that we don’t naturally categorize things and ideas. We do and we need categories and systems of order. Weinberger’s point is that, contrary to Aristotle, we naturally think about categories as prototypes (pg. 87). Prototypes are “basic level concepts� about a category of things that share common characteristics—like members of a family who resemble to one another.

Weinberger cites the research of Eleanor Rosch to argue that we form prototypes from the example up. The features that things have in common define the prototype. We know something is a member of a category if it has enough of the common features to satisfy the criteria for that prototype. What’s interesting is that not all things are equally good examples. Some examples can have fewer of the prototypical features. Nonetheless, we still recognize the inferior examples as members of the same category. “We can know what something means even if its can’t be clearly defined and even if it’s boundaries can’t be sharply drawn (pg. 185).�

If it looks like a dog, smells like a dog, feels like a dog, and barks like a dog, it probably is a dog. In real life, that’s good enough for most of us.

This is the opposite of what Aristotle said. He believed in a top-down, static, pre-existing order of “pure essences� that define all things. In Aristotle’s system, something belongs to a category if it satisfies the definition and all examples must be equally good examples (pg. 183).

Following the trajectory of Aristotle’s philosophy leads to problems pretty quickly. How do we categorize exceptions or those things that sort of fit a category? There’s so many things like that! His system isn’t practical.

In contrast, prototype theory is very practical. Roch’s research suggests that by knowing something has the features of a prototype, we know more about the object. Prototypes enable us to predict properties about members of a particular category. In Weinberger’s view, the predictability factor makes prototypes biologically and evolutionarily efficient for us (pg. 186).

The blurry edges of prototypes mirror the social networks we inhabit at work and in our personal lives. It also mirrors wisdom. A sophisticated understanding includes ambiguity and complexity. Insisting on simplicity, uniformity and explicit categorization leads to the opaque white space of the modern organizational chart that hide the actual goings-on of daily life. As Weinberger says, knowing is to swim in the complex (pg. 198).

Weinberger is wise to point out the differences between prototypes and folksonommies. Folksonommic categories happen even when they include fish and bicycles. They have the properties of prototypes without there having been a prototype (pg. 194). What are we to make of these? Arbitrary associations aren’t very useful even though they might be creative.

It’s a relief to know that messiness has virtue. I just wish the 3rd order of messiness applied to the physical world. If it did, there would be no good reason to straighten up the riot of clothes in my bedroom, chaos of shoes in my closet or the mail spilling out of the in-box. I would simply apply metadata to every shoe and t-shirt and leave them be.


April 27, 2008

Everything is Misc.

We learn something new everyday. We learn about miscellaneous stuff all the time. In regards to the grad reading assignment of pages 107-172 Everything is Miscellaneous , I was super intrigued about how the Universal Product Code (UPC) / bar code came to be. Here is a quick history lesson . . .

"In 1948, two graduate students at the Drexel Institute of Technology in Philadelphia overheard the president of a local grocery chain asking a dean to sponsor research into how to read product information automatically. The students, Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver . . . came up with a set of straight lines . . . and in 1951 they unveiled a machine that could translate the bar codes back into numbers. . . . In 1966--four year after Silver died, at the age of thirty-eight--the idea went commercial when the National Association of Food Chains put out a call for automatic checkout machines to speed up checkout lines. . . . So the association established the Uniform Grocery Product Code, the grandparent of the Universal Product Code . . . In 1981, the U.S. Department of Defense required bar codes on all products it purchased and the UPC went mainstream. Today there are about five million items scanned every day, in more than 140 countries." (Weinberger, 2007, p. 107-108)

I never knew the history of bar codes until I read the chapter in Everything is Miscellaneous. I guess I always thought that UPC's were "always" around. Oh the things you learn! Oh the things you pass on to others that you learn . . . like what I'm doing right now. I hope I'm doing well in my third week as "Professor Nguyen" and hope you are loving learning.

April 17, 2008

Short & Sweet

You've heard many of times the saying "short and sweet". Well, I will keep this entry short and sweet. Editing to me means making things better. When editing, however, it means to not totally change the original work as to give it a "face-lift" but rather to suggest and give feedback on how to improve the original work to make it better. We have to keep the "elements of style" in mind.

Like last week, I'll re-enact myself as a professor . . . Okay, in summary, the elementary principles of composition are:

*Choose a suitable design and hold onto it
*Make the paragraph the unit of composition
*Use the active voice
*Put the statements in positive form
*Use a definite, specific, concrete language
*Omit needless words
*Avoid a succession of loose sentences
*Express co-ordinate ideas in similar form
*Keep related words together
*In summaries, keep to one tense
*Place the emphatic words of a sentence at the end
(Strunk, 1972, p. 10-27) . . .

Although reading text from earlier than the 21st century may seem ancient and outdated, there are elements that never change. Language may change over time, but the aforementioned elements remain constant. In addition, they are labeled "elementary principles". When I think of elementary, a phrase that constantly comes into mind is elementary/grade school. There, I strongly feel that foundations and footprints for life are set. We constantly grow as the years go by; however, I believe our elementary years are when we are molded. Elementary may mean basic, but some basic concepts are the root of life. It is like that book, "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten".

Therefore, keep these principles in mind. These are the building blocks of language. These will help you in any writing. I will take one of the principles to heart--"Omit needless words". On that note, I will leave with this one recommendation of keeping the elementary principles of composition in mind. Once again, they are:

*Choose a suitable design and hold onto it
*Make the paragraph the unit of composition
*Use the active voice
*Put the statements in positive form
*Use a definite, specific, concrete language
*Omit needless words
*Avoid a succession of loose sentences
*Express co-ordinate ideas in similar form
*Keep related words together
*In summaries, keep to one tense
*Place the emphatic words of a sentence at the end

April 11, 2008

A Lesson on Everything

Okay class, put on your thinking caps! I'm Professor Nguyen, and I'm about to give you a lesson on everything. . . .

Well, I'm not really a professor, and I'm not really going to give you a lesson on everything. This week's assignment calls us grads as Krista wrote in the e-mail: "to post up a brief reflection on your reading, just so the rest of the class [non-grads] can know what's going on this book." We were to begin reading Everything is Miscellaneous by David Weinberger. As Krista described in her e-mail, "Weinberger's book spends a lot of time looking at ways humans have historically approached this problem and what transferring so much information into digital environments does for the ways we order it." Before that, she had written, "Over these past couple of months, you've watched us struggle to create some sort of order for all of this information and some way for 13 disparate people to have something like a loosely workable plan." Without further ado, here is my lesson to you on 'everything' and hopefully you'll struggle no more! It is fitting that Weinberger dedicates this book to the librarians, so I am dedicating this lesson to our class. Here we go! . . .

The prologue of Everything is Miscellaneous starts off the book with Weinberger being at the Prototype Lab, which is a full-sized store mock-up of Staples. This type of setting reminded me of my days working at The Limited when I was an undergrad. Weinberger hit it right on with: "In a physical store, ease of access to information can be measured with a pedometer, and each step is precious." (Weinberger, 2007, p. 3) Later on, he asks, "But we all know how reality works, so why worry about what might be possible in some sci-fi alternate universe?" (Weinberger, 2007, p. 6) Answer: "Because the alternative universe exists. Everyday, more of our life is lived there. It's called the digital world." (Weinberger, 2007, p. 6) In the digital world, there is all this information which many probably wonder about the organization of it all.

Weinberger goes into The New Order of Order . . . "For decades we've been buying albums. . . . As soon as we went digital, we learned that the natural unit of music is the track. Thus was iTunes born, a miscellaneous pile of 3.5 million songs from over a thousand record labels. . . . Apple lets customers organize the pile any way they want and markets through their customers' choice of tracks and playlists rather than to the mass market. By making music miscellaneous, Apple has captured more than 70 percent of the market." (Weinberger, 2007, p. 9) BUT ". . . the iTunes store isn't even all that miscellaneous. It's a spreadsheet that can be sorted by the criteria iTunes provides: the track's name, length, artist, album, genre, and price. If you want to browse, first you pick the genre, artist, and album, in that order. If you want to browse by the artist and then by genre, you can't." (Weinberger, 2007, p. 9-10) So iTunes: miscellaneous but not

Weinberger goes on to talk about paper photos vs. digital photos and how we took less pictures with paper photos and more pictures with digital photos. I know I did! I remember with those disposable cameras from the 90's, I planned more carefully on what photos I would take as to not "waste photos". With the digital camera, I just shoot and shoot and shoot. Compared to my hundreds of paper photos, I will have thousands of digital photos in my lifetime, which brings us to the question of organization of the photos. "The user-based organizing of photos is already happening on a massive scale at Internet sites like Flickr.com, where people can post their photos and easily label them, allowing others to search for them. Moreover, anyone can apply descriptive labels to photos and create virtual albums made up of photos taken by themselves and strangers." (Weinberger, 2007, p. 13) Flickr and Facebook are part of our class apps. Similar to Flickr, Facebook allows photos to be labeled and albums to be created. There is also a way in Facebook to tag photos with people's names of whomever is in the photo, and the photos will be added to those persons' Facebook page. My friends have done that, and sometimes I'm like, "Ohmigod!" when I see the pics.

Something else that I was like "Ohmigod!" to was reading in Everything is Miscellaneous the part about the three orders of order (Weinberger, 2007, p. 17-23). It was somewhat confusing, but in summary:
*First order of order: organizing things ourselves (silverware in drawers, books on shelves, photos into albums)
*Second order of order: separating information about the objects from the objects themselves (catalog listing entries alphabetically by subject so you could find the object)
*Third order of order: digital order (removes the limitations of 'paper-based labeling' in how we organize information--i.e. we don't need Avery labels and printer ink toner for digital ordering)

In closing, I leave you with this . . . "Beyond alphabetical order is the purely miscellaneous: Every idea is browsable and ideas are instantly assembled into [outlines and listings] relevant to each person's particular needs and way of thinking. This is the world the digital order is creating." (Weinberger, 2007, p. 32) The focus is on you and your individual needs. You are everything! . . . and this has been a lesson on 'everything'. Thank you, class!

Order of Orders

This week’s readings were all about organizing and categorizing in both the physical world and the digital world.

For a little background, on page 17 of Everything is Miscellaneous, Weinberger introduces the idea of orders of order (and uses a group of photos called the Bettmann Archive as an example):

  • In the first order of order, we organize physical objects.
  • In the second order of order, you physically organize stuff (e.g., card catalogs, ledgers) about the physical objects. It’s the stuff that helps you keep the physical items organized.
  • In the third order of order, you are organizing electronic bits of information using preferred terms, descriptions, and tags.

    Along with this idea is a theme that shows up in both books “…in the physical world, two objects cannot occupy the same place at the same time� (Weinberger, 4), and “Physical objects can typically be in only one place at one time� (Information Architecture, Morville and Rosenfeld, 221). Because of this “brute fact,� the people who work with physical objects have to, first, use the first order of order to carefully decide how and where to put them, and then secondly, use the second order of order to figure out how to keep track of all of it.

    How to do this organizing has apparently been a time-consuming, thought-provoking problem for a long time. In Information Architecture, all of chapter 9 is devoted to ways of organizing information using thesaurui, classifications, etc. in order to find other information. It touches on the old (Dewey Decimal System) to new (metadata tags and navigation).

    But now, with so much information being put online, organizing is obviously very different. This leads Weinberger to suppose “…now, for the first time in history, we are able to arrange our concepts without the silent limitations of the physical� (Weinberger, 7). The physical objects aren’t really there—it’s just bits of information, which is where the third order of order takes over.

    When the object is digital, a piece of data can show up in multiple spots and be found through multiple methods such as keywords, hierarchy, or even misspellings. Flickr or del.icio.us tags can lead the way, as can metadata, a thesaurus, a synonym ring, or one of the many other ways information is organized online.

    Weinberger says, “As we invent new principles of organization that make sense in a world freed from physical constraints, information doesn’t just want to be free. It wants to be miscellaneous� (7). There doesn’t have to be a direct path to one location like there would be in finding photo in the Bettmann Archive (Weinberger, 17). The miscellaneous way is using one of the many ways to find a digital photo in the Corbis online catalog of images (Weinberger, 20).

  • Thinking out of order

    Can I organize my thoughts about Everything is Miscellaneous anyway I want?

    Words the up mix what when happens if I? Not. Happens what if when the words up mix I? Nope, not quite. If when the words I mix up what happens? Hmmm. That’s semi-intelligible. What happens when I mix up the words? One limitation is that words must have a minimal degree of organization to say something meaningful. What makes words meaningful? Words are meaningful when they express something that people can understand. How many people must understand something for it to qualify as meaningful?

    I think the Internet is a good metaphor for the epistemology of social constructionism. And the Wild West. There’s no center. There’s no edge. There’s hardly any laws and the authorities are indistinguishable from the rest of us. Where are the knowledge authorities out there? Who’s in charge?

    Order on the Internet looks like a tag cloud. It comes from hundreds or 10 or thousands or 13 baker’s dozen individuals who read something and encode that document with a tag that says “This means this to me.� The big words in tag clouds show emergent consensus. Consensus becomes order that indicates what people have agreed they know about something. On the Internet, the social construction of knowledge is visible. Groups of us agree that something means this or that, that it’s true or false. Tag clouds illustrate the process.

    Weinberger believes that how we organize the world reflects not only the world but our interests, our passions, our needs, our dreams (pg. 39). Cultures influenced by ancient Greek epistemology, such as ours in the U.S., reflect our belief in a natural order. There are laws governing the physical world. Knowledge results from discovering those laws. Our system of ordering knowledge itself reflects the physical world (pg. 6).

    The problem with our epistemological tradition, according to Weinberger, is that it is subjected to the same limitations as the physical world. Material things and information we use to order them can exist in only one place at a time, they require space, are relatively unstable, and expensive and time-consuming to maintain (pg. 17).

    Compare, for example, the cost of maintaining the digital vs. the print collections of vintage photos the Library of Congress just placed on flickr. Consider the issue of access: how many people can simultaneously look at the photos on flickr compared to how many can look at the prints in the library. How many people knew the photographs existed before they appeared on flickr?

    Weinberger argues that we place a high value on creating order because we equate order with beauty (pg. 34) and efficiency (pg. 12). I believe that order also means control—or at least the appearance of it. Those who create order have control and control creates power.

    Web 2.0 technology allows ordinary people like me to do what only experts did before. If I want, I can be a cataloger without a library science degree. All I need is access to flickr and a tutorial in tagging to start cataloging the Library of Congress photos. If I want, I can be a journalist without professional training. All I need is information and some ideas and Internet access to any of hundreds of citizen media websites or a blog.

    Using Web 2.0 technology opens new possibilities for how we order information and knowledge itself. It’s creating sort of a bloodless but not painless revolution: citizen librarians and citizen journalists threaten the experts. And the experts are used to having control and the benefits that come with power—mainly in the form of jobs.

    I am still overwhelmed by the infinity of the Internet. It’s counter-intuitive to me that the answer to too much information is more information, as Weinberger suggests (pg. 13). I feel daunted by a tag cloud like ours on deli.cio.us. For me, the information is too flat, too diluted. I want to narrow the subjects so they are more focused. Or what about receiving 4,872,399 results on a Google search? To use that information, to find what I need its necessary to narrow the choices …

    On the other hand, I appreciate the value of organizing books, photos or music however I want because the order meets my personal interests. I’m sure it’s good for business too. But in those cases, I don’t have to think about anyone but myself. It doesn’t matter if the order I’m creating is useful to others. Ironically, it seems to me that the need to share contradicts the highly custom ordering Web 2.0 technologies make possible. How do we collectively create and share information effectively and efficiently?

    Now I’m back to my initial pondering about meaning. Meaning happens when people share an understanding. As the Web 2.0 revolution continues, I think we’ll need to find a good balance between the personal and the collective, the amateur and the expert even as we reconsider the definitions of those roles.


    April 9, 2008

    Is Paul Douglas in our class?

    I was reading CJ's column in the StarTrib and saw this quote by Paul Douglas, newly unemployed meterologist:

    "In a few years we'll look back and laugh at what we were watching, how we were communicating, how we got business done, how we received news, weather, sports. There is a tidal wave sea-change coming, a true information revolution that will transform the way we communicate and surf for news that matters in our lives. I'm looking forward to being a part of this Next Big Thing. The timing is nearly perfect. I'm sticking around, and with a little luck and serendipity Minnesotans will be hearing back from me again soon, wearing a few different hats, trying something new, and hopefully, in a way, better."

    I think he's been reading some of the same books as us.


    April 7, 2008

    2.0 book cataloging

    I've been wondering whether cataloging for libraries couldn't be done socially a la flickr ... then I read about the Library of Congress project allowing the public to tag 2 large collections of vintage photos posted on flickr. The Library views the project as an experiment. How cool is that?

    Then I read our assignment from Everything is Miscellaneous and he made it seem like not only would social cataloging be feasible but maybe even better than conventional systems. By way of looking for resources on citizen journalism, I came across Weinberger's blog by the same name and happened upon a link to a site called LibraryThing.com. It's site for people to list their books and among other things tag and sort them.

    Not only is everything miscellaneous, it's already been done!


    April 6, 2008

    Searching Flickr with more power

    As we dive further and further into our Wiki work I thought I would share a Flickr tool with all of you. Compfight does a great job of searching through all of the material on Flickr better than its own advanced search feature. I just tried it out tonight and thought it worked pretty well. It found what I was looking for included some bridge photos that I had not already found while searching through.

    Once again I found this great tip on Boing Boing click here to see the entry.

    Here is the direct link to Compfight incase you want to check it out and bookmark it.

    April 4, 2008

    Wiki Architecture

    In Moreville and Rosenfeld's book Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, the chapter on "Practicing Information Architecture" fits well with what we are doing with Flickr. Their Venn diagram shows "...three circles (which) illustrate the interdependent nature of users, content, and context within a complex, adaptive information (relationship)" (p. 24). The diagram can help us see there should be no limitations when researching a topic on the web.

    In regards to Context, Flickr can help put a company into perspective. Flickr can help display the work this company has done. For instance, I tried to pull up any Flickr pictures for Flat Iron Construction on previous works they did. Because I had to follow Creative Commons rules I could find only a few shoddy pictures of one bridge, finding good pictures would have been very helpful in our wiki. Pictures are worth a thousand words (sorry for the cliché) and would give our readers a sense of who this corporation is by seeing exactly what works they have created.

    In regards to Content, if I am correct, this would apply to data only and certain documents may not be a good idea to keep on Flickr. However, a use may arise in the near virtual future.

    Lastly, Users are the backbone of any company. I would think that a company would want to get its "face" out there, wherever "there" may be. Works they have done, the people they have helped, the people who work for them.

    These circles show, in our changing world, we can still relate to each other on a personal and professional level. We have been learning how to do this all semester with Twitter, del.icio.us, and our wiki. Adding Flickr to that equation only enhances a virtual relationship for anyone working in our "neo-techno shift" (I just hadda use it).

    Fabulous flickr

    Sara McD.

    Prime example? Epitome? Protypical? Exemplary? Quintessential. That’s the word. And there it is, right back where we started on page 38 of Wikinomics: flickr is the quintessential Web 2.0 application. It embodies every principle and practice of the second generation of the Web: “culture of generosity,� creativity and self-expression, self-organization, emergence, the wisdom of crowds, folksonomy, open-sourcing, and prosumerism. Wikis, being another exemplary Web 2.0 application, are a natural complement to flickr. For both philosophical and practical reasons, it’s only logical that we would draw from the public square on flickr to add a visual dimension to our wiki.

    A culture of generosity
    With 6,450 photos, flickr probably has the largest single archive of photos on the 35W Bridge. How did that happen? What motivates people to publish their photos online for all the world to see and potentially use and repurpose? The authors of Wikinomics credit the “culture of generosity� that pervades Web 2.0 technology (1). 2.0 technology engages users with opportunities to publish and share their ideas, express themselves creatively, participate in creating something, and collaborate. The co-founder of flickr believes that users are motivated by “ … systems of value other than money that are very important to people: connecting with other people, creating an online identity, expressing oneself … garnering others’ attention … The culture of generosity is the very backbone of the Internet (2).� As the author of Connect! states however, it’s not all altruism (3). Pure entertainment and self-interest contribute to flickr’s popularity as well.

    Regardless of motivation, flickr members who shared their photos of the 35W Bridge, collectively created a unique visual record of the disaster. Their action exemplifies another defining characteristic of Web 2.0 technology and economics identified in Wikinomics: emergence. The concept of “emergence� refers to self-organizing, collective action that unwittingly results in creating something new and beyond the scope or capacity of a single node in a network (4).

    The wisdom of crowds
    By virtue of sharing their photos on flickr, members convert personal value into collective value. They add new and greater value through tagging. Tagging leverages the “wisdom of crowds� or the collective wisdom of individuals and enriches users’ Internet experience with unique information and knowledge. The benefit of crowd wisdom is that it aids discovery, organizing content, and searching on the Internet (5).

    Folksonomy & the public square
    The Library of Congress recognized the value in the wisdom of crowds and launched an innovative project with flickr to harness that wisdom for the public good. Through a new site on flickr called “the Commons,� the Library has made 2 large collections of photos available to the public to tag: http://flickr.com/commons. The director of the project cites the folksonomic approach as the best means for the library to accomplish its mission with regard to these collections: ensure better access to the library’s collections and have the best possible information about those collections for the benefit of researchers and posterity (6). Tapping the knowledge of thousands of flickr members can surface missing information about the photos that would otherwise be very difficult or impossible to find. “If such information is collected via Flickr members, it can potentially enhance the quality of the bibliographic records for the images (7).�

    User generated content & open-sourcing
    The metadata being created by flickr members for the vintage photo collection is a type of user generated content—content that is typically created outside conventional professional organizations and processes usually without profit motivation. Media organizations began to embrace user generated content well before the Library of Congress. The BBC for example, institutionalized the use audience contributions after the London subway bombings, accepting some 5000 photos of the event. Most media organizations have followed suit realizing that sourcing content, especially photos, from the public widens access to expertise and diverse perspectives well beyond that of a single journalist. They routinely turn to citizen journalists for information, knowledge and content. Consequently, some of the photos posted on flickr were used in major mainstream media reports: http://www.flickr.com/photos/diversey/980121621/in/photostream/

    Prosumerism and citizen journalism
    Web 2.0 applications like flickr have increased the prevalence and affordability of the means of production and publication on the Internet. The new technology enables individuals to actively participate in the creation of many products and services, transforming them from consumers to “prosumers� who co-innovate and co-produce (8). The resulting culture of collaboration has given rise to the practice of citizen journalism: anyone with a digital recording device like a camera and an Internet connection can be a journalist. That’s what the collection of bridge photos on flickr represents. Citizen journalism and the culture of collaboration has upset the mainstream media’s previous monopoly on generating news and information. For the sake of its own survival, mainstream media is hurrying to find ways to work with its news prosumers.

    Flickr is a case study in Web 2.0 technology. The phenomena of flickr is not exempt from problems however. Flickr challenges the interpretation of copyright law and has been sued for infringement of individual privacy. (See the section on “Dispute over copyright issues� in the Wikipedia entry for “flickr.�) As we incorporate photos from flickr into our wiki, we should be sensitive to issues like privacy that even copyright “free� photos may test.

    1. Tapscott and Williams. Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything. Portfolio Hardcover, 2006. pg. 205
    2. Ibid., pg. 206.
    3. Zelenka and Sohn. Connect!: Web Worker Daily’s Guide to a New Way of Working. Wiley, 2008. pg. 224.
    4. Wikinomics, pg. 44.
    5. Ibid., pg. 208.
    6. Raymond, Matt. “Library of Congress blog.� 16 January 2008. http://www.loc.gov/blog/?p=233. Retrieved on 4 April 2008.
    7. Ibid.
    8. Wikinomics, pg. 125.

    "A picture is worth a thousand words."

    I love photos! Do you remember those shirts that say, "______ is/are my life. (fill in the blank)" Well, one of the many words that I would fill the blank in with is, "Photos are my life." If my home caught on fire, my photos would be on the top of the list of items that I would want to save. I think part of the reason why I love photos is because I really think that "A picture is worth a thousand words." Whoever came up with the saying is a genius. With Flickr, it is a site to post photos, thus posting thousands and thousands of words without actually using any letters/text (although you could add captions to the photos). Photos to me add something that words cannot.

    When we use Flickr though, we have to keep in mind the class materials/readings/activities of the past. During the week where we had to define a successful wiki site, a number of people had mentioned consistency as being important. Yes consistency and moreover relevancy . . . We wouldn't want to add photos that have nothing to do with the 35W bridge collapse (i.e. hot celebrities at parties or random objects of interests like the million dollar bra). One of our earlier readings a few weeks ago included, "Time is money, and for most projects, the cost of your team's time will be the largest percentage of your expenses." (Brown et al, 2007, p. 107) With that being said, we have to use our time and pick our photos wisely...therefore no photos of million dollar bras please! ;-)

    Going from photos on Flickr to the wiki site, Information Architecture is key. We learned about Information Architecture in weeks 4 and 5. Information Architecture "involves art and science of shaping information products and experiences to support usability and findability...the structural design of shared information environments." (Morville & Rosenfeld, 2006, p. 4) "Structuring, organizing, and labeling...It's what information architects do best...Findability is a critical success factor for overall usability." (Morville & Rosenfeld, 2006, p. 5) This is all important in regards to photos added to our wiki site because we wouldn't want to add a photo upside down or mislabel a photo or place a photo at the very bottom of the web page hundreds of lines below the last set of text so that the site visitor would have to scroll all the way to the bottom. It may be good finger-on-mouse exercise for the site visitor but very bad information architecture! This week's http://www.webstyleguide.com/graphics/index.html will help us with coming up with good information architecture because, "IN THIS CHAPTER [it will] show you techniques to optimize the look and efficiency of your Web page graphics."

    It's good that we're adding photos to our wiki site. As I mentioned earlier, photos add something that words cannot. Imagine if our wiki site was just text. I think that would be oh-so-boring. With photos, we are not only adding graphics, we are adding thousands of unspoken words. With that, I leave you with this picture I got at http://www.clipartguide.com/_pages/0512-0706-1513-2815.html

    Free Picture of Two Soldiers Raising Up The American Flag. Click Here to Get Free Images at Clipart Guide.com

    What does this photo mean to you? I could tell you in a thousand words what this photo means to me, but in short -- To me, this photo means America, and how I love this country and the great people here in this country . . . like you guys and anyone else who makes the most out of life.

    Puzzled People With Pictures

    In the third week when we began to use Del.ic.ious, I felt very confused because I did not really understand how to navigate around it, because I did not know what the site was fully capable of. I understood the concept of a bookmark but I did not know how it was such a broad social benefit to many individuals and organizations. Open thinking like this type allows for people to understand that they don’t have to do it all by themselves anymore. Zelenka mentions, “You can now be more a composer than creator from scratch. You can find inspiration, ideas, words, photos on the web—and then use them to create something of personal or social value [giving credit as appropriate]� (Connect pg. 32).

    How do you give credit, and how do you know when it is appropriate? Before reading Bound By Law last week, I only had a tiny idea of what copyright meant, and the only reason I knew anything was because of Krista’s guidance through Flickr, when I was instructed to tag photos related to the 35w bridge collapse. I had recently just learned what attribution was. I was dumbstruck when I found out in Bound By Law that when you create something you own it seventy years after your death. What a horrible web of misguiding rules, but it seems to have gotten easier for me to recognize what the different types of copyrights mean and how to utilize them from the “fair use� policy. I guess the only problems that I have run into in Flickr are searching ideas. Not every person thinks of a picture the same way or describes it in the same manner so when you type in what you think is the description for a certain idea, you are only getting a limited amount of pictures based on your descriptive words.

    Resisting for no reason

    I have to admit I have resisted using Flickr only because with all of the other Web 2.0 applications I use I had to draw the line somewhere. Perhaps it is good that this class if forcing me to explore it because it seems to have some very useful applications outside of sharing photos with families and friends. Upon further exploration of flickr these last few days I can’t help but notice how it ties into our generally theme of the class. The first reading I thought of was the chapter Platforms for Participation in Wikinomics. The opening to the chapter talks about the early creation of Google maps. It seems that many of these Web 2.0 programs were created the same way. It seems that client participation platforms are the basis of Web 2.0. Flickr arose from the development of an online gaming platform which was later scraped and Flickr became the primary focus of the group (Wikionmics). For this reason I see Flickr as an emerging platform that is largely shaped by user participation. It is obvious that Flickr also falls nicely into place with our discussion from last week regarding copyrighted material. It is obvious that while much of the material on Flickr is intended for personal use by others in the network, it is also clear that other material needs to be protected from "poachers" who may feel that they have the right to use other's material as their own. The Creative Commons video really applies to this discussion and although I'm not sure where I stand on the topic I do feel that some material is meant to be shared while others is meant to be protected. Do think that material shared on site such as Flickr should be fair game or do you think that the standard copyright laws should apply to that material as well? I know legally this question has already been answered but I still feel it is an interesting discussion especially in light of our class.

    My personal opinion of Flickr has changed since I actually began using it. I think that once you bite the bullet and add it to your collections of Web 2.0 programs it is very useful and interesting. I love how it brings such a large community of people together. The more I explore and utilize it the more I will grow to appreciate it.

    Flickr Vs Chaos

    While flickr contains a vast library of pictures and the ease with which one can search for pictures with creative commons licenses makes it a useful tool for anyone looking for pictures. However, one of the trends I noticed while looking through the selection of pictures on the 35W Bridge collapse is that there are numerous duplicates and pictures that are similar to each other in composition. There is also the limiting factor that no two people think the same and thus view the picture and the tagging of those pictures in different ways making searching difficult as there is no overriding scheme for the labeling of those pictures. We saw this in our del.icio.us tagging, where, even when our main topic was the same we still were left with a large cloud of tags, including various spellings and phrasing of the same ideas. This makes searching difficult however it also allows for a greater accuracy in how those pictures are categorized instead of relying on a set number of predetermined tags. There is a difficulty is balancing utility and versatility, too much one way and the tool can become too chaotic and too far the other way makes it the labeling too rigid. While there are many photos of the bridge in the flickr database the range of subjects under the tag is very limited with most of the photos being duplicates of the same image with slight differences in point of view while not containing any new information.

    ...Better, Stronger, Faster... a request

    I have a quick personal request for the class here:

    - Please Please include at least something brief in the NOTES section of your del.icio.us links.

    - Please also include plenty of tags on your del.icio.us links. Better too many tags than to have lots of useful information languishing undetected for lack thereof.

    - If your Flickr photos (or other links) have generic titles, please revise them for inclusion in del.icio.us.

    - Please be aware of when you are logged in, and let's keep personal links out of the urgent emergents list... ;)

    I think the reasons for these points are pretty self explanatory. Without good tags we can't find everything we should. Without notes and/or retitling, the hundreds of Flickr photos titled "I-35W Bridge Collapse" or some such can only really be searched by full browse, which defeats the purpose of linking them in the first place. Agreed?

    Thank you!

    P.S. - In Movable Type, you can approve people's comments on the blogs you've posted. I'll be keeping this one current if anyone has anything to add or debate. Cheers!

    April 3, 2008

    Flickr Likes and Dislikes

    Okay, another thing just made me say “wow� I just watched the Flickr geotagging demo and it makes me wish I had a digital camera for all of my trips when I was in my 20s…Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, Wyoming, Texas, Washington (both state and DC), and other points west and south. I could have created an amazing record of my “traveling before I grow up� life. But instead, I have many photo albums with my own handwritten tags.

    And now I’ve just spent the last 2 hours looking for photos in Flickr and my back hurts…bad posture tonight. But luckily, I’m finding some photos for the chronology and the political repercussions, including one with construction workers protesting for transportation funding and another that says, “Governor, we have a problem.� Happy I found those two.

    Here’s what I like and dislike about Flickr so far:

    • Some amazing shots of the bridge (and many other things non-bridge related). I wonder if some of these people were nearby with cameras before the surrounding area was shut down, or if they were working, or just had a great telephoto.
    • People will take a picture of anything and everything.
    • I can download different sizes of the photo.
    • People can comment on the photos…good and bad comments.
    • It’s anonymous…I may actually post some photos of my own and see what comments I get. In the meantime, I can lurk.
    • Photo creators are generous enough to allow us to use their photos. I like the Creative Commons licensing.
    • I can sort by most relevant, most recent, etc. and can use either thumbnails or details.

    • Some blurry shots...why bother uploading them?
    • People will take a picture of anything and everything.
    • Tagging seems to be an inexact science, so it can be hard to find exactly what I want.

    As for how it relates to our previous readings, it’s everything we’ve studied so far this semester—it is social, tagged, interactive, and wiki-like—all mixed together.

    Social – I did some browsing through random photos. Skipped kid photos, Scientology protest photos, and a bike rally; focused more on landscapes and oddness. In Wikinomics, Tapscott is talking about del.icio.us, but his description works for Flickr too: “People who use similar tags are likely to have similar interests. Those shared interests provide an incentive to find out what other like-minded people are bookmarking� (42). In Connect!, Zalenka states, “Try social networking websites to show yourself as a three-dimensional human and to see other people in the same way� (270). Flickr could easily be used to build personal relationships.

    Tagged – All photos are tagged, some better than others, but tagged nonetheless. I saw some photos of the bridge (without humans) that were tagged with Carol Molnau and Tim Pawlenty…huh?!? I think the photographer went overboard on Zalenka’s second tip for tagging (“Use lots of tags� [124]). I can only assume the tags make sense to him. Wikinomics says “…tagging…becomes the basis for learning new things and making connections to new people� (42). Sounds social to me.

    Interactive – Flickr is also interactive and social. As a photographer, I can upload my photos to share them and see what comments are made. As a viewer, I can make positive or negative comments.

    Wiki-like – In the wiki-world, the photographer would allow anyone to alter their work. I’m not sure I actually saw any that were altered, but there may have been one. One photo said something like Additional small branch upper right, but I’m not sure it was an altered photo because it didn’t say anything about an original source and it looked like something from a newspaper.

    Tapscott says “The new art and science of wikinomics is based on four powerful new ideas: openness, peering, sharing, and acting globally� (Wikinomics, 20). Flickr has all of these ideas.

    A Picture vs. A Thousand Words

    This week's task of mining Flickr for subject-relevant photos recalled our work in Week 3, getting started in del.icio.us. The reading that went along with that best for me was Chapter 6 of Connect!, in which Zelenka discussed web searching, tagging, bookmarking, and in particular the concept of Orienteering. By now we've been through the ringer with this stuff, to some extent, and with a collectively better understanding and experience on how to go about the search, I look forward to the group's end results with images. Even though we're searching only one site and starting from set terms, using the Advanced Search options, following groups within which we find one good image, and deviating from or expanding upon the initial terms still follows the Orienteering concept and should give us a very nice, pertinent gallery.

    Another point (that I feel pretty lucky not to have run in to with photos this week) is the problem of parallel content becoming identical content. We started approaching a visual representation of that when we used Thinkature in Week 4 to develop our preliminary site structure. Boxes and linkages got very crowded by the time we all made our inputs. With Flickr photos the content really can be identical, not just alike. Plenty of them will serve to depict multiple subjects so we will have to be keenly selective. By all doing this at the same time though, I think it also provides an opportunity to refine for ourselves what our topics are really about, and how that translates visually versus textually. My own topic, Environmental Concerns, is not well and dramatically represented in a variety of ways in many photos. With this event, there weren't catastrophic spills or chemical plumes or anything like that. There were cars and chunks of cement in the river, but one or two photos pretty well covers that - especially when those photos also pertain to every other subtopic. So, the Flickr search was a good exercise in refining that focus.

    Now, I've got my thousand words, but there are all these pictures too. Time to work on striking the balance.

    April 2, 2008

    Photo sharing with Flickr

    I have been introduced to so much technology on the web since taking this class. What I find so amazing is the vast amount of information sharing that is out there. It has become apparent to me that the Web 2.0 has become a place of mass collaboration popularity. Two things come to mind in regards to my observations about previous readings and applying them to Flickr and our use of it. One is that of open-platforms and the other is intellectual property.

    “Flickr provides the basic technology platform and free hosting for photos. Users do everything else. They create their own self-organizing classification system for the site (by tagging photos with descriptive labels.� (Wikinomics, pg. 38). Flickr is very similar to that of del.icio.us in that users tag web sites that are of interest to them and can be shared by anyone that has signed up as a member. Without the collaborative effort from the users, these sites would not exist. In fact, “The culture of generosity is the very backbone of the Internet.� (Wikinomics, pg. 206).

    Intellectual property and copyright are topics that we have discussed in this class. It is not always simple to determine who the work belongs to. According to our reading in “Bound by Law�the laws have changed and all creative works are automatically copyrighted. With the growing popularity of sites that encourage group collaboration and information sharing, determining who to give credit for their work has become extremely difficult. Last weeks introduction to Creative Commons and how the Internet fits in with it was very interesting. There are many different types of licenses that can be used to protect creative work. I am particularly interested in that of Attribution (by) since it allows others to distribute, remix, and tweak and build upon work as long as you credit the individual for the original creation.

    I found it to be very helpful when searching through Flickr photos that you are able to conduct an advanced search within cc-licensed photos. That way we already know that the images are properly licensed for our purposes and we do not need to modify them in any way.

    In conclusion, when using Flickr I think of it’s mass collaboration abilities due to it’s openness to allow anyone to contribute to the site. Intellectual property is also important due to the fact that people are contributing their work and should be recognized for doing so. Overall I found Flickr to be a site that I will not only use for this class, but to share with my family and friends as well.

    Flickr Group Issues

    Can anyone assist here?

    I have a flickr account. I've uploaded photos to my account.

    I can see the WRIT 4662W page in flickr.

    How do I get my photos to the 4662 page?