Digital Democracy

A blog for the course New Media and a Democratic Society

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Blog Post 12 (privacy and surveillance)

Posted by clocke22 on December 1, 2010


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Blog Post 11: Comments

Posted by clocke22 on November 18, 2010


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Remix: War on Culture

Posted by clocke22 on November 7, 2010

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Public Character of Records Might Depend on Context

Posted by clocke22 on October 30, 2010

“In the Mathworks competition there is an absolute, objective measure of success that’s immediately available – the score. The score acts as a signal telling every competitor where the best ideas are. This helps the community aggregate all the best ideas into a fantastic final product.” – Nielson

The idea of collective action for a final goal, where all members of society benefit, tends to go against the American ideal of the rugged individualist.  But, as the Mathworks competition illustrates, the results can be greater than any individual would attain on his or her own.

“A single piece of information designed to flow through the entire ecosystem of news will create more value than a piece of information sealed up in a glass box.” – Johnson

Individual works that remain open have more value to society than those in closed systems, although the value to the individual might be greater in a closed system.  The values at hand our different — the greater good or individual gain.

“By opening up public data, we saw an opportunity to make local government more efficient, transparent, accessible, and collaborative. From an economic development perspective, we viewed open data as an abundant raw material that, in skilled hands, could be transformed into a valuable asset with real social and economic benefits.”  – Skip Newberry

In the specific context of government information that is accessible to the public, opening data to the public can make economic sense for government entities who release raw information and leave it to other entities to tranform into valuable information.  Government entities also forgo economic benefits they could gain by releasing/developing the data with in-house, closed systems (state laws do recognize a copyright/proprietary interest in government-created software).

“The best way to ensure that the government allows private parties to compete on equal terms in the provision of government data is to require that federal Web sites themselves use the same open systems for accessing the underlying data as they make available to the public at large.” –Robinson, Yu, Zeller & Felten

In fact, requiring government to use open systems for government data will promote more opportunities for private parties to develop ways to access information, leading to greater access.

“Open data is a valuable resource to society, but simply posting it online is not enough. For data to be truly open, it must be stored in an open format through which it can be shared, repurposed, archived, and retrieved without risking obsolescence, unintended technological limitations, or requiring the use of proprietary applications. The format of the data determines the value of the resource and the extent to which it can be analyzed and repurposed.”  –  Chander Kant

There are varying levels of openness associated with puiblic records.  Government entities have an obligation to make records as transparent as possible, without hampering searches by bad technology or proprietary limitations.

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Class Followup: Readers don’t actually prefer celebrity news

Posted by clocke22 on October 19, 2010

This study shows that “meatier” news topics are more profitable than Lindsay Lohan topics.  Perhaps the media is underestimating the public??

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Political Activism: Moving On Trusting Republicans?

Posted by clocke22 on October 17, 2010

I compared to The National Republican Trust website. Like MoveOn, the National Political Trust is a political action committee (PAC), though it is essentially the opposite politically and ideologically of MoveOn. Rohlinger and Brown’s study of MoveOn found that the Internet provided an alternative space to engage in political activism in the post-9/11 environment. Members noted that participation online (anonymously and/or at a national level) allowed them to engage while limiting the risks associated with being politically active against the administration in power but while living in a relatively small community and having work ties to the prevailing administration. featured first a call to action regarding the upcoming midterm elections (“Save the Senate”). It also included links to donate, join on social media (i.e., Facebook), watch multimedia content, information about current campaigns, and an invitation to join local councils. The GOP Trust website was similar in that it had links to donate, join on social media and watch multimedia content. However, the GOP Trust homepage was much longer than the site. IT was also different in that instead of using pictures showing its members in a positive light, it instead featured several unflattering photos of Democratic leaders such as President Obama and Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi was featured several times, one notable photo featuring her with a headscarf on. The GOP Trust site did feature an invite to sign a petition but mostly consisted of headlines and commentary. The major difference between the two sites was that MoveOn was more issue-focused instead of provocative and invited visitors immediately to connect with local activists. While both offer opportunities to engage politically online and anonymously, GOP Trust seemed to be more of a news consumption and donation-oriented site whereas MoveOn was more oriented toward online and local activism. Also, MoveOn features prominently at the top of the site a “Sign Up” link, whereas GOP Trust does not have an analogous link (instead, it has “Staff,” “TV Videos” and “Contact Us”). Overall, GOP Trust seems to be less grounded in the “real world” and local activism, which is actually compatible with the concerns expressed by some of the Rohlinger and Brown interviewees.

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Political Knowledge: Serious Comedy

Posted by clocke22 on October 10, 2010

I watched the Oct. 4 and Oct. 5 episodes of The Daily Show. The first featured a story on U.S. syphilis experiments in Guatemala, army policies and failing schools.  The second show featured coverage of CNN’s Rick Sanchez being fired for his comments about Jon Stewart and author Sam Harris.  After watching these, I browsed Google News.  I started scrolling down the main stories in the center of the page, clicking on links to a story about the Chilean miners (thank God they get out soon!), the breakup of Ben Harper and Laura Dern, a N.C. girl missing, and a Congressional candidate who used to do Nazi reenactments. There were lots of sports stories in the main feed, which I was not interested in, so looked to the right sidebar at “spotlight” and “popular” stories.  I read about a girl kidnapped 26 years ago by her mom who just found out and a recent Duke grad who took the time to make a 42-page PowerPoint “thesis” about her “horizontal academics” with Duke athletes.  I skimmed an article and then watched a video because I was interested to see what exactly she put in there.  I liked one expert’s comment: “If it’s shared online, it’s shared with the entire world.”  Of the stories I looked at, I had prior exposure to all but the N.C. girl missing (which I looked at because I have family in North Carolina, and wondered if it was near where they lived) and the Nazi-reenactment politician (shock and awe factor).   There were no stories that directly correlated to the issues I watched on The Daily Show.  I think my experience was somewhat similar to the Xenos and Becker respondents, though I did not seek much political or foreign policy content.  But I did seek out things that I had been exposed to before – a friend told me yesterday about the Duke scandal, I had previously watched video of the trapped miners, I heard about the long-lost girl on the radio.  In that sense, I did seek out things I had been exposed to, and maybe that plays into what happened in Xenos and Becker’s experiments.  As for Baum’s argument that soft news can increase learning (though not necessarily long term) and that even if facts aren’t retained, “feelings” are, I very much agree.  I don’t see much distinction between The Daily Show and the evening news: facts are facts; video clips of politicians speaking are the same.  The intent of the viewer might be different, but the essential “news” is often the same, so it seems obvious that there would be some connection.  It seems like The Daily Show is also a bit of a “meta-news” experience in that it employs clips from other news outlets and stories (i.e., using outside clips to illustrate its stories).  I wonder how that two-step analysis is figured into the research of Baum, Xenos and Becker.

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Shopping: More Social Than You Might Think

Posted by clocke22 on October 3, 2010

My three subjects are my friend Alana, my mother, and my sister.  They all live in Florida.

1. When was the last time you purchased something online?  What was it?

Alana:  Two weeks ago, tickets to Broadway musical Wicked.

Lisa:  Six months ago.  A movie from Amazon.

Mom:  One year ago – clothes from Kohls.

2.  Was your last online purchase a positive experience? Why or Why not?

Alana: Yes.  Very positive.  I got the best deal from all of the other places I checked.  And it was easy.

Lisa:  Yes.  “It was quick, easy and cheap.” 

Mom: Yes.  Didn’t have to go to the store, it was easier.  All her information was already stored so was easy.

3.  Have you ever had any problems with buying things online?

Alana:  I don’t do a lot, but I’ve never had a problem.

Lisa: Yes.  Bought clothes online that didn’t fit, had to return and it was a hassle.

Mom:  “Actually,” no.

4.  What motivates you to buy something online rather than in the store?

Alana:  It’s just easier.  You don’t have to leave your house; they ship it to you and you don’t have to go anywhere.

Lisa:  It is easier to find items online.

Mom:  The distance between the store and the house is too far (most shopping is an hour away).

5.  Do you assess a site’s credibility before buying?  If so, how?

Alana:  Yes.  Look for references, see what people say about it on user reviews.

Lisa:  Have bought from “off sites” didn’t know much about; no, doesn’t check.

Mom:  Looks for security symbol.  If doesn’t know of the site already, not likely to buy anything.

6.  Do you ever worry about the safety of your credit card information?

Alana:  Yes, but not that much.  I figure it’s just as safe as handing it to someone in the store at this point (they could have portable copiers/could take information in person).

Lisa:  Very much.  I fear my credit card and bank account being trust.  Causes to pause and think about getting locally rather than online.

Mom:  Yes.  Sometimes worry if someone gets the card number and makes unauthorized charges.

Mutz concludes that e-commerce can increase general social trust in that it is a risky behavior that, if all goes well, will leave the buyer feeling good about an interaction with a stranger.  This experience will increase the buyer’s overall faith in people.  However, as e-commerce becomes the norm (with equal risks to in-person transactions), this potential will decrease.  Social trust can also drive e-commerce; if other influences increase social trust, people will be more likely to engage in online shopping.  Online shopping, just like joining a club or speed dating, is a social activity, according to Mutz.  The results of my surveys showed that the ease and convenience of online shopping was a big incentive to purchase online.  All had positive experiences and only had reported ever having a negative experience.  Alana, who is also the oldest of my interviewees, said that her concerns about credit card security are equal for both online and in-store purchases, illustrating Mutz’s statement that once the two methods are equally trusted, social trust building will no longer occur.  Two of the three vetted sites for credibility.  Interestingly, the one who did not vet sites was also the most concerned about the security of her credit card information.  I think overall, they show positive experiences, consistent with Mutz’s theory; they also indicate an acceptance of online shopping, which might undermine the value of e-commerce as a builder of social trust.

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Media Diary Day 7: What I’ve Learned

Posted by clocke22 on October 2, 2010

Today I pretty much watched movies and surfed the web/did homework ALL day.  I watched a Parker Posey movie called “Broken English” that I loved, and “Moll Flanders” that I had never seen even though it came out in 1995.  It was good too.  I also watched the Italian version of “Swept Away”; I actually liked the Madonna version that came out a few years ago.  The Italian version had better acting but the storyline made me uncomfortable because although the rich lady and the boat hand fell in love on a deserted island, it was not until after they hit each other a lot and called each other names…and he still hit her and called her names after they were supposed to be in love and she didn’t seem to mind.  It made me mad.  I also looked up a song online that I heard during the movie “Mammoth” which I also had on today, it was by Cat Power.  I have sort of heard of her but didn’t really know what she sang.  Turns out I loved her music and downloaded an album from iTunes.  I also sent/received a few text messages and talked to my aunt on the phone to wish her a happy birthday.

What did I learn this week?  Well, for starters, I do not have a future as a Trappist monk because I am definitely not comfortable with silence.  Not that I talk a lot per say, but I definitely don’t like silence.  From the time I get up until I got to bed (and until my “relaxation” CD ends while I am already asleep) I am listening to some kind of noise.  It helps relax me but I also wonder if it might be a good idea to just have some silence once in awhile, for self-reflection and all that good stuff.

Also, I rely on an Internet connection virtually all day – at work to check my email and do research; at home to watch TV/movies, look up random things that I could probably live without knowing, check Facebook, and so on.  And in the transitional moments where I am not in reach of my computer I am probably checking my phone for email/news.  It is not that I am waiting on or expecting particularly important emails or Facebook comments.  I think it is more a matter of that “instant gratification” that comes when an unread email is in my inbox or there is a news story I haven’t read yet.  I have a lot of trouble staying focused and the Internet has definitely not helped that problem!  I think the Internet has taken away a lot of the quiet time we as people in general might have once had.  Now there are 24-hour opportunities for visual and intellectual stimulation and as human beings it is hard to resist.  But maybe we should, and instead get some sun, call another person on the phone, etc.  One final thing I noticed was that I rarely talk on the phone, definitely not the minutes I pay for, which is still the minimum plan.  I might consider a way I could cut out that $75/month bill but still retain the ability to talk on the phone.  Maybe a pay as you go phone or skype…but I will probably have to wait until the job search is over so I don’t miss any calls.

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Media Diary Day 6

Posted by clocke22 on October 1, 2010

Today, like most days, began with listening to the radio while I got ready.  I don’t usually do this, but I did check my email on my phone before leaving the house.  Actually, while laying in bed thinking about getting up!  I headed to work, listening to the radio on the way.  I also (and please don’t tell Oprah!) checked my email and tried out Google calendar on the way to work.  At work, I turned on the computer and immediately turned on my Hotmail as well as my iTunes radio.  I started with 80s/90s but switched to pop half through the day for someting a little different.  During they day I checked Facebook a few times, sorted my print mail, checked my email several times, used the phone to return an  inquiry about open meetings (and a book to research the background information), skimmed another book to write a quick response paper, used Word to write a panel proposal for next year’s AEJMC convention, and overheard some radio while I ate lunch at the Reitz Union.  I also browsed the bookstore at the Reitz Union, where I mostly played with the iPads they have out for people to use, trying different apps and playing with the touchscreen capabilities.  I have wanted one since I used it at the bookstore a few months ago.  After lunch I did more email-ehecking.  I also printed several job postings from sites I hadn’t used before (good news is I found lots of opportunities, bad news I now have to sit down apply for another 40 jobs!).  I cleared off my desk and organized some articles and paperwork that had been piling up.

I listened to the radio on the way home.  Once at home, after walking the dog and checking the mail, I turned on Arrested Development via the Wii Netflix (Roswell is over…) and had that on while I checked my email again and then spent time writing the introduction to an article for my work (what I should have been doing instead of looking for jobs, actually). I used the internet a bit to look up some quotes I had in mind and also used a textbook for reference while I wrote the intro.  Then I paid a bill online and went to Wal-Mart to buy some Halloween stuff for my nieces and nephews.

Dinner and several episodes of Arrested Development later (which, by the way, I had never seen before but is awesome!) I flipped around on some blogs and did a Google search on how to save money on groceries.  I had hoped to do more homework but it wasn’t quite happening:)

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