Question Forum 5
  • Team 5 Members: Please post your questions on the reading to the Question 5 forum on the wiki by noon on 11/5.
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  • Respondents: Please post your response to selected questions to the Question 5 forum on the wiki by 6 p.m. on 11/7.
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1. "Only the aggregator (like Google, for instance) gets rich, while the actual producers of content get poor. This is why newspapers are dying. It might sound like it is only a problem for creative people, like musicians or writers, but eventually it will be a problem for everyone. When robots can repair roads someday, will people have jobs programming those robots, or will the human programmers be so aggregated that they essentially work for free, like today’s recording musicians? Web 2.0 is a formula to kill the middle class and undo centuries of social progress." -Lanier in a Q&A session

The format of web 2.0 is changing, many of you may remember the South Park episode where internet memes competed for imaginary internet dollars, with the moral being that the model would some day catch up. Well, Antoine Dodson, the "bed intruder" guy who was spoofed on youtube, is getting an education because Google changed youtube's profit model to share revenue with the creators and people featured in videos. How does this change the economics of the internet?

2. Lanier mentions a failed 2007 Facebook feature, Beacon, that posted purchases Facebook users made online to their homepage. When the public resisted the idea and revolted, the feature was removed. Do you think that internet users still care enough to revolt. For example, I've heard multiple people complain about the creepiness of the new "See Friendship" option on Facebook, but no one seems to care enough to get it taken away. Are people getting too lazy and letting things "slide" when it comes to personal information?

3. What do you think would happen if you could no longer post anonymously? Lanier ask us to stop posting anonymously, as a node in the faceless crowd. Post with flavor and individuality". If people owned up to their words do you think this would increase "trolling" or confrontation outsie of the internet realm? Lanier urges us to not post anonymously. In South Korea, whenever you post anything on the internet, you are required to tag it with their version of a social security number. Unless you hide behind a proxy server, there is no such thing as internet anonymity in Korea. Do you think this is a good thing?

Carolyn Erhart on Question Two

Personally I would be really creeped out if Facebook decided to make a public forum off of our online purchases. I believe that these days, with so many stores and mall and conveniences available out there in the big, wide world, the reason people shop online is to make purchases they are not entirely comfortable making in front of others.

I know, I know, some online shopping is for convenience, but there are some extremely personal items available online for everyone's perusing if they so choose. If facebook started showing everyone what I bought online, well, it's not as if my Harry Potter/Siberian Husky/Kitchen Appliance obsession is a point of personal shame, but I think it would be weird for all of my friends to know what brand of whatever I happened to prefer.

Stop and think for a moment how you would feel if, through perusing facebook, you came across the page of that totally creepy guy or girl friend you makes you a little bit sick to think of—I know this sounds weird but we all have that one oogy friend. Now think about how you would feel if you knew so and so preferred that brand of condoms or this type of sex toy. I think that if this started happening I would not only need to wash my eyes with bleach, but never get on facebook again.

Of course this is just my opinion afterall, but I just think some things should be kept private. I think this refers to online purchases, medical supplies, medical conditions, anything that is so personal that if I overheard you chitchatting about it on the phone on the bus I would scooch a seat over..

In saying that, I am incredibly happy that we as an internet nation are still able to rebel against things that really irk us or totally gross us out. There's a very fine line between being a creeper and being a stalker and I personally do not want to toe it.

Eric Kambach response to question 3

Well, another "unofficial" replacement to anonymous posts is posting under a different name through a different page or blog. But I doubt anyone will go that far to keep their opinion clear of their identity.

I don't anything new will come out of the ending of anonymous posts, but I feel the "trolling" or confronting outside of the web will probably increase, and we'll most likely here more reports of domestic violence and conflicts spawning from this.

Should we end anonymity on the web? I really don't know because I have no problem voicing my opinion, either online or off, on whatever the topic is; free speech would probably extend to the webbynets if someone was to challenge that idea at court. If people wish to post their thoughts online anonymously, then they should be aloud to. It's their loss if they feel uncomfortable or frightened enough to post under an alias and not take credit.

Then again crime of all sorts will probably rise with this radical idea in mind, but that is just the evolution of crime everywhere. In fact, it's probably happening already.

All in all, I can either take it or leave it, since I don't hide behind anonymity or any other alias with my ideas on the world.

Caty Gordon, Response to #2

Online privacy debates have reached beyond the debacle of Facebook’s “Beacon” feature. Take, for example, a class action lawsuit settled just last week: Google is on the process of settling with users over the Google Buzz feature, which was essentially an additive social network feature. Google users were concerned that Buzz breached online privacy laws and revolted for a class action lawsuit (for any other Google users out there, you can join the lawsuit until Dec. 6 but it does not include financial compensation). What this proves is that the public outcry over “Beacon” was not an isolated event: users are concerned when it comes to personal information and especially online privacy.

The Facebook “See Friendship” feature is as arguably the more invasive of any other Facebook applications. Though the feature is brand new there is already talk of an ensuing online privacy breaches because the tool extends beyond the previous “wall to wall” capabilities. It’s not just creepy that strangers can look up what events you attended with Friend X, what pictures you have with Friend X, an entire history of your posts, wall comments, picture comments, and mutual friend listings – it’s plain insidious. For all of the “privacy” and “security” settings that Facebook purports, this new feature seems to expunge them all. True, users can “Opt Out” of the “See Friendship” option, but without such knowledge of how to ensure privacy users are subjected to unsurpassed levels of public self-advertisement.

Facebook has already been sued for breaches of online privacy; however, their “Facebook democracy” of allowing users to vote for impending change to the network’s structure is impeding the chances of a feature that the majority of users are opposed to. Users do have a say when it comes to personal information in that regard. And there are other examples as well: Craigslist, US vs. Ziegler, State vs. Reid, Blizzard Entertainment – all of the changes involved in these settlements were a result of user feedback.

So no, I don’t believe users are getting lazy and letting things “slide” when it comes to the publication of personal information. In fact, I’d argue that we’re becoming more savvy and alarmed by features (like “See Friendship” and Google Buzz) that distribute personal information either unknowingly or allow too much to be exposed. As users we put so much information out there that it’s our responsibility to be aware of where it’s going and who is accessing it, especially when it falls into the hands of social networking sites.


Ryan Molitor-Question 3 Response

It seems to me that eliminating anonymity from the Internet might do quite well, especially in America. I know that in many countries this doesn’t pose such a problem. It seems the population of other countries has a tendency to be excellent to each other. They help each other out, not by being pejorative, but by offering a constructive and calm form of criticism. This not the American way.

Here in the states we aim to piss people off, but want to avoid any confrontation that might result in ourselves getting mad. I try to be an advocate of peace and, for the most part, avoid insulting people unless it’s in retaliation. It’s always in retaliation. The contemptible American wants nothing more than to create some grandiose feeling within him by telling everybody else they are inferior and that their opinions are simply wrong—but this just cannot be done when someone has a say in how much you suck, and may actually argue with a little more substance and validity. We can’t have that, can we?

On the other hand anonymity can be a great thing. Look at craigslist. If I have to make a post for subletting an apartment I want to make sure I can weed through the nut jobs and tweakers without taking offense to my declination of their proposal. To be honest, there will be no balance—ever! Americans will always be despicable to each other and everyone else, but they also want a sense of protection and security from ever having to be in the same room with someone they just called a jerk. That is why I suggest this—what if we just scrapped the internet?

___

Katie Stitt: Question 3

I think anonymity should go away, but there are plenty of disastrous effects if anonymity is simply discarded. People already are threatened and killed for voicing opinions, however harsh or true. Requiring people to then be accountable for every word said could backfire. Though I’m a clear proponent of accountability, I can see many who would otherwise post anonymously now remain passive participators through their screens. It takes a lot of nerve to post something with your name on it, and doing so has consequences. People who post on the Collegiate Times website, for example, are constantly harassed for comments, whether they are simply inoffensive statements or baseless claims aimed to injure. Either way, plenty of anonymous posters have good arguments, but may be reluctant – out of fear for repercussion, perhaps – to sign their name next to it.

Lanier’s “request” is full of good intentions. It would be nice to be able to post something and own up to it, knowing that while people may verbally attack you or simply disagree, there is no chance of a physical assault or real threat. Unfortunately, that is not realistic. The creators of South Park were bombarded with death threats for airing a cartoon depicting Mohammed – imagine the consequences posters would face if they were required to provide their identity too. While he means well, Lanier misses the other side of his request. By asking posters to no longer post anonymously, he is potentially setting up a system that stifles speech. If people believe their safety is jeopardized by what they say or post, many will refrain from posting. Those that do might post and censor themselves in the fear that they are being watched.

There are obviously two sides to Lanier’s point in his manifesto. Ideally, people should post with a sense of accountability. I think it is cowardly to post hurtful comments without taking responsibility for the damage. But I also realize that not all cultures accept free speech and that for many, severe repercussions exist for revealing one’s identity.


Christopher Roubo

Response to Question 2

Personally, I’ve never felt strongly enough to revolt against anything on the net. But then again, I’ve never had my personal information affected by anything in particular on the net either (I’ve never even heard of Beacon before, for instance). So I have a hard speaking from personal experience on the idea of revolting, but I like to believe that if anything DID affect me that much, I would be up in arm s about it.

Frankly, I could see many people having the same idea: If it doesn’t concern me personally, I won’t give it a second thought. If it does, then I’ll do something about it. I know that sounds bad and obviously I don’t apply that policy to everything in life, but it is something I feel strongly resonates with anything related to the internet.

Response to Question 3

The idea of posting with my real identity online seems like it would have its ups and downs. If I posting on, say, a public forum, using my real name would make some sense since I would really be voice my opinion on whatever was important to me to everyone else on the internet and if I couldn’t go through with that, then I shouldn’t be saying it in the first place.

However, if this meant eliminating my privacy altogether- as in anyone could see everything I’ve ever seen or shopped for online, then I’d naturally feel much more insecure about the whole thing.


Amanda Thomas - Question 2

I don’t see this new Facebook option as highly personal, but that may very well be my digital desensitization speaking. “See Friendship” does not make anything public that was not already; it merely makes it more easily accessible. Personally, I find the “See Friendship” option a bit weird, my biggest complaints being: 1- It removes the “wall to wall” option, and I’m still partially revolting against conversations via comments on wall posts. 2- It is creepy to see the totality of peoples’ Facebook interactions available in one location; it’s almost promoting internet stalking—molding us into stalkers. 3- It shows me interactions between people that I do not care to see. (Luckily, I can choose to not click on “See Friendship.”)

I think there is a facet to Facebooking in which users complain about every change to the set up; I have yet to hear of a change that someone didn’t complain about. But after a few weeks we typically adjust, overlooking that which offended us previously. I may adjust to the “See Friendship” along with everyone else in a few weeks (or months), but then again, I may choose not to. Should we adjust to every change that the digital world presents us with? No; however, we often do. I do not really think that “See Friendship” will be the downfall of Facebook society, but if anyone organizes a revolt, I may or may not be in.


Lauren Kaye

Well, I think questions two and three are interesting when juxtaposed: are we getting lazy with our personal information and would It be better if the internet were not anonymous and we were required to post our personal information if/when we post online? I would answer yes to the second question, and I would answer maybe to the third question. Really, I would say that people’s behavior online would change, but I don’t feel confident saying whether that would make the internet better or worse.

As Shirky discusses in the book, the anonymity of the internet has great potential: sites like Ushahidi let citizens navigate around the government’s media blockade. They took action and got international aid. If the internet were not an anonymous forum, many citizens might have been deterred from participating/reporting for fear of government or military retribution.

Likewise, the anonymity of the internet allows retribution against people who do not deserve it. As we discussed in class, gossip websites, and stretch-pants websites allow people to behave very poorly because they feel protected by their internet identity. Nye discusses this when he talks about people’s separate identities in chat rooms. People feel they can assume a new identity, and potentially, without assuming responsibility for those actions.

There is a backlash against the internet because it is being abused in this way. Students are being bullied and committing suicide because there aren’t checks in place to prevent or control individual’s behavior online. If we were to do what Lanier suggests and “stop posting as a node in the faceless crowd,” we may not be able to get away with internet bullying or bashing. I would argue two points against this idea. Number one, that anonymity on the internet should not be revoked to impose a collective conscience. Number two that taking away the anonymity of the internet may do more bad than good. I think everyone has had the opportunity to take advantage of the internet’s anonymity in a negative way. Our conscience should prevent us from doing this in spit of the anonymity—for the fact that you know that while you may not be caught/penalized for your behavior—that there are real repercussions for the person you are targeting. I think websites that give people a voice who would otherwise not have one are worth keeping the internet anonymous.


April Baker

I think that if people care enough about an issue, they will readily protest it, especially if they’re protesting anything on the internet. The beauty of the internet is that people can use the thing they are protesting to organize and contact an audience with the same feelings to support their cause. I also think that the simplicity of using the internet and its incredible accessibility have changed how we define progress and change. It is now much easier to organize, approach, and measure a group in terms of online participation (or the clicking of a button) than it was when successful protests required real signatures and physical bodies in one place, which cost time and money.

Earlier this year, Facebook removed a picture of a woman breastfeeding. This caused a lot of protesting from other mothers, who felt that Facebook was sending a message that breastfeeding was gross or inappropriate. This obviously came to Facebook’s attention, particularly the group If breastfeeding offends you, put a blanket over YOUR head!, which has over 260,000 members. Other than probably mediocre media attention, and an apology from Facebook, (who, as far as I can tell, did not return the image or agree to allow all images of breastfeeding), I feel like these woman have done little more than bring attention to the subject; they didn’t actually achieve change.

I’m sure there are countless example of people having beef with Facebook and receiving plenty of support and attention and apologies. However, few of them seem to expect or receive any sort of real, tangible or visible change. They’re not looking for a change in policy or an amendment to the Constitution. They’re not even looking for the kind of change that sit-ins and picket lines have been known to produce. These days, protestors seem to feel they’ve made a difference if their “like” on Facebook counts for one one-millionth of a dollar.

On the other hand, Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity drew approximately 250,000 people to Washington D.C. just a few weeks ago. So maybe it’s more plausible that people will protest in person when they are given the opportunity, but the ease of organizing internet protest has taken away all those opportunities.


Lenise Phillips-Question 1

The economics of the Internet are definitely changing, and even though it does seem like "only the aggregator gets rich," I think the Internet gives a lot of people opportunities to make some extra money. Spring boarding off the YouTube example, a lot of people started channels as a hobby and a means to share information with other people - right now I'm thinking of all the random channels I see all the time on the 'Most Viewed' page like Sxephil's weekly social commentary or that one Fred kid whose weirdly influential presence on the Internet blows my mind. These people started these videos for fun, yet ended up with a huge following, and now most of these people are YouTube partners and make weekly videos for a living. I'm really not sure I'm answering this question in the right way, but I guess the short of it would be this: Not everyone gets rich quick on the Internet, but nowadays there's a place for everyone to make money. And I guess that's how economics of the Internet have changed.

It's true that bigger companies like Google have a huge advantage over the producers of the content, but I don't think that means these producers get cheated in a big way, and I don't think we should worry yet about losing potential jobs because of programming robots. Maybe I'm an optimist, but I really don't think there will ever be a time when human intelligence and creativity has a lesser value than that of a machine.

You can't really put a price on creativity, but that's why I think the economics of the Internet works in such a cool way. Like I said, people start YouTube channels for fun. Usually they have a knack for something like comedy, political satire, music, whatever, and so they make videos to share that talent with people. Something that starts out purely innocent turns into a money-making hobby, which then often turns in to a sole source of income. What is it people always say? Do what you love and you never work a day in your life? I kind of believe the Internet gives more people the opportunity to do that. In this scenario, I'm reminded of what Shirky talks about in Cognitive Surplus—about how the Internet is accessible and permanent. So many people have access, which allows for media to get shared rapidly among many audiences, and more importantly, what you put up there is usually pretty permanent. And for argument's sake, let's say that's a good thing.


Lindsey Macdonald - question 2

I don’t think that people are getting lazy in terms of revolting against things that they think are creepy/invasive; instead, I think that people just choose what they think is more important and spend their time worrying about that issue instead of ones they view as less harmless.

Take the “See Friendship” option for instance. Although it does take it a little bit farther, this option is very similar to the “Wall-to-Wall” option that used to be in place. With that option, you could see all the conversations those two people had through wall comments. You can also do this with the “See Friendship” option. The big difference is that now you can see things like all the photos they’ve been in together or events they’ve “attended” with each other. While this is slightly creepier, it’s not really all that different from just going and looking at everyone’s individual pictures and events because everyone posts these things on Facebook in the hopes that people will look at them.

This Beacon application is different because when people buy things online, they usually don’t mean to show the whole world what they’re purchasing. Like Carolyn said, some people shop online for convenience or maybe because what they wanted wasn’t in the store, but others shop online because they want the privacy. They don’t want people to know what they’re buying because it could be something embarrassing. For example, the other day I saw a commercial for a service for people to get incontinent supplies delivered to them, so they wouldn’t have to go to the store and purchase them. That would surely be embarrassing if on Facebook it came up that you purchased a carton of Depends. There are just some things that people want to keep private and there are other things that people don’t care about sharing.


Amanda Duncan:Question 1

I am not sure that the internet was ever anything other than a complete and total capitalist hegemony. Not to sound like a complete and total Marxist or anything, but this is how the economies of profit have worked. A great example of this is video games. You have tons of workers doing the intellectual work, but the owners are the only ones that are making any profit on it. Even though this is slightly different from the examples stated, the concept is the same. IN order to make a profit, the corporations have to force their workers to work horrible conditions, as evidenced in the EA Spouse Controversy. As machines become more and more efficient, and costs go down, companies are going to be forced to look to other ways of making money.

Transparency, is, I think, a very important part of this equation. Without it, companies could pocket as much as they wanted. We saw this in the stock market crash of 08, where these huge banks were posting profits, but really, they were making more and keeping the extra as bonuses. With the idea of profit sharing with the creators, this is drastically going to change this model that I outlined above. It makes intellectual property that is posted online a viable source of income.

I’m interested to see if this will bleed over to other areas of the internet, and how this will affect things, like advertizing prices. I would think that they would go up, since the companies have to make their money somehow. But what about all those videos that compile things, like music, to create something else. (an example that comes really quickly to mind is the Pepsi Ad with the head bobbers… would it be the same without that music? No!) So if that ad were made by an ordinary youtuber, would Haddaway get some of the profits too? Just some food for thought.