Quinnipiac Assignment 02 – ICM 552 – Ethical Dilemmas

Ethical Dilemmas

For this week’s essay, we were asked to write about ethical dilemmas with reference to four questions asked in a Harvard Business Review article called, How Ethical Are You?

The questions were as follows –

1. An executive earning $30,000 a year has been padding his expense account by about $1,500 (or 5%) a year. Is that

  1. Acceptable if other executives in the same company do it
  2. Unacceptable regardless of circumstances
  3. Acceptable if the executive’s superior knows about it and says nothing

I selected #2, under a deontology ethical theory (e. g. ethical behaviors come from duty). #1 is a kind of “everybody else is doing it, so why shouldn’t I get away with it?” type of argument. That’s a tempting argument, but it ends up being a kind of hedonistic one. Personally, I enjoy hanging around and doing nothing on snow days, but it’s far better if I shovel. Part of the reason I shovel is to be kind to my neighbors. Another reason is to keep them from slipping on my property and suing me. But it’s also the case that others might do less than I do. Certainly, as the wind rattles my windows, I would prefer to sip cocoa and stay inside. That’s answer #1.

As for answer #3, that could potentially go to company culture. After all, unless I’m the boss, who am I to question and dictate company culture? But padding an expense account is no way of going about protesting a low salary or attempting to address a financial injustice. It’s a better move for the superior to meet the salary issue head on and, assuming the executive deserves a higher pay rate, then give the executive a raise. If the executive doesn’t, then this backdoor raise isn’t doing anyone any favors – and it might even speak to ethical issues with the superior. It’s been my experience that salaries come from one company financial bucket, whereas expenses come from another. By looking the other way, the superior is providing a raise via allowing the executive to dip into someone else’s till.

2. Imagine you’re president of a company in a highly competitive industry. You learn that a competitor has made an important scientific breakthrough that will substantially reduce, if not eliminate, your company’s profit for about a year. If one of the competitor’s employees who knew the details were available to hire, would you?

  1. Yes
  2. No

I felt this one was a tossup. I think that there has to be the assumption that virtually anyone is “available to hire”. Furthermore, there is nothing in the fact pattern about this possible future employee being bound by a nondisclosure agreement. If this person is bound by an NDA, and they honor it, then my hiring them – or not – makes no difference in the grand scheme of things, unless they are the main architect of the scientific breakthrough. And even if they are, the breakthrough has already been made. I just feel like it wouldn’t matter much either way. As for the ethics of hiring one person away from a competitor, that is how people are hired all the time. Top talent always has experience, and that experience is inevitably with a competitor. I just fail to see the damage here, I suppose. Under a consequentialism ethical theory, there just doesn’t seem, to me, to be much that matters in terms of consequences and results of going either way.

3. The minister of a foreign nation where bribes are common asks for a $200,000 consulting fee in return for special assistance in obtaining a $100 million contract that would generate at least $5 million in profits. Would you

  1. Pay the fee, feeling it was ethical, given the moral climate of the nation
  2. Pay the fee, feeling it was unethical but necessary to ensure the sale
  3. Refuse to pay, even if you lose the sale

This time, I chose #3. Yes, it’s nice to make a profit, etc., but the circumstances are distasteful. I question the requirement of paying this bribe. Perhaps something else could be arranged? This might be less ethical squeamishness on my part, and more like a question of social justice. In some ways (I’m a cynical person), I’m wondering if that same $200,000 could be spent on a ‘consulting fee’ for someone who could use the money a lot more than a presumably wealthy minister. I recognize that this is often a ‘cost of doing business’. I’d just rather not further line the pockets of someone who’s already in beer and skittles. My approach is somewhat utilitarian (per A Framework for Thinking Ethically), as my intention is to attempt to make the sale – after all, my fellow employees may be counting on me – while at least trying to quite literally redistribute the wealth a bit more fairly.

4. On becoming a new member of the board of High Fly Insurance Co. (HFI) you learn that it’s the officially approved insurer of the Private Pilots Benevolent Association, whose 20,000 members are automatically enrolled in a HFI accident policy when they pay dues. HFI pays a fee to PPBA for this privilege and gets access to the PPBA mailing list, which it uses to sell aircraft liability policies (its major source of revenue). PPBA’s president sits on the HFI board, and the two companies are located in the same building. Would you:

  1. Do nothing
  2. Raise the issue in a private meeting with HFI’s chairman
  3. Express opposition to this at a director’s meeting but accept whatever position the board takes in response
  4. Express vigorous opposition and resign if corrective action were not taken
1. An executive earning $30,000 a year has been padding his expense account by about $1,500 (or 5%) a year. Is that Acceptable if other executives in the same company do it Unacceptable regardless of circumstances Acceptable if the executive’s superior knows about it and says nothing I selected #2, under a deontology ethical theory (e. g. ethical behaviors come from duty). #1 is a kind of
Seal of the United States Federal Trade Commission. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is an incestuous business relationship. I feel that the answer is a two-parter. I would start with #2. Some of this is a matter of finesse, as board members are high up in any company. You don’t get to that kind of a position without being somewhat discreet. There is nothing in the fact pattern about what happens during that private meeting, and I intend to tell the chairman that this is akin to the kind of logrolling that goes on in cartels. I just can’t see the Federal Trade Commission not being interested in such an all-too convenient arrangement.

If #2 failed, I would probably go to the nuclear option, which is #4. And if there’s any price-fixing going on (not in the fact pattern, but a very real possibility in such an arrangement), I don’t want to be on the receiving end of an investigation. I like staying out of Federal prison.

My decisions are more likely to be made with respect to consequences. After all, I don’t relish the idea of going to a Federal penitentiary. But it’s also in the sense of virtue and duty. Dereliction of duty and a failure of virtue also create consequences. Can I sleep at night? That’s often my motivation and my litmus test.

What would you do?

Work at WebTekPro

Work at WebTekPro

I was hired by this Houston web design company in December of 2014.

The story of my being hired is a bit amusing.

Work at WebTekProFor the past few months, I have been performing various social media tasks for a Star Trek podcast called, ‘The G and T Show’. This entails things like live tweeting the Sunday shows, preparing interesting lists and notes for Facebook, optimizing blog posts, adding appropriate annotations to YouTube, crafting pins for Pinterest and posts for Tumblr, and growing all social media presences. It’s been challenging, fun, and rewarding.

Along the way, any number of Star Trek professionals are interviewed, including legend Larry Nemecek. Nemecek has been interviewed several times, but this time it was in conjunction with an effort called Enterprise in Space. It was a group interview, and that included Johnny Steverson, the Chief Development Officer. Steverson was impressed with the interview and with this small podcast’s social media presence. He asked the hosts, “Who does your social media?

We talked less than two weeks later, and I was hired. I’m an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Specialist. I like the work.

Quinnipiac Assignment 01 – ICM 552 Physician Boundaries and the Internet

Physician Boundaries and the Internet

The physician and patient relationship is, by definition, an intimate one. They see us naked, and we ask them questions about everything from sexuality to social issues, from the seriousness of disability to the not so serious halitosis. They tell us when we are dying, and when we are going to become parents, and when we are getting sicker, no matter what we do. We share our concerns about obesity, aging, and smoking, too. The boundaries can become blurred.

The psychiatrist (or psychologist) to patient relationship can have even fuzzier boundaries as we talk about our relationships, our addictions, our fantasies, and our fears.

In You, your doctor and the Internet (LA Times, August 26, 2010), Judy Foreman tackles this question. Foreman talks about two aspects of how the Internet is reshaping the physician to patient relationship and is rubbing away at boundaries.

Friending Your Doctor

One way is in the realm of friending. Are you friends with your doctor? Should you be? And what about your psychiatrist? As Foreman points out, this could be more trouble for the patient than it’s worth. Imagine being a patient in addiction recovery. Oops, better not post those party pics. But what if your buddy tags you anyway? Will you move quickly enough to intercept the incriminating evidence? And yes, evidence, for the stakes are undoubtedly higher if therapy is court-ordered.

On the doctor’s end of things, intimate details could be accidentally revealed. We are all, ultimately, responsible for our online privacy, but Facebook in particular seems to be continually tweaking its settings. How fast can the doctor chase after his or her privacy settings, and clamp down on those old embarrassing fraternity pictures?

Googling Your Doctor/Your Doctor Googling You

Foreman also mentions the push-pull of Googling. Should the patient Google the doctor? Foreman is all for that. After all, medical care is a service, comparable in some ways to a garage. You’d check to see if your mechanic was certified, and if they were complaints against him or her. Why not check out your doctor? Or, as Foremen herself writes:

There’s no question that Internet searches can be an important tool for healthcare consumers. “Patients should Google their doctors, to check on credentials, training, scholarly articles and the like,” says Dr. Daniel Sands, the senior medical director of clinical informatics for the Internet Business Solutions Group at networking giant Cisco Systems.

That sort of curiosity seems healthy, to give patients and potential patients some control. For psychiatry and psychology in particular, it’s helpful if there’s chemistry between the doctor and the patient. A traumatized female rape victim might only want a female doctor treating her. A man with impotence might prefer a male therapist. A check on Google can at least get the basics out of the way.

Physician Boundaries and the Internet
Dan Ariely speaking at TED (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But the other half of this, to Foreman, is a different story. For Foreman, doctors Googling patients seems more of an invasion. However, Foreman allows for some instances where Googling might be necessary, e. g. a possibly suicidal patient who stops coming to therapy sessions – it makes sense for a therapist to check up on the patient using the latest and fastest technology. This seems analogous to calling a patient on the telephone if they are in crisis. A physician shouldn’t feel that anything other than sending a messenger is too invasive. There is the matter of urgency, and time delays can be critical.

But what if it’s not so urgent? What’s the protocol for when a prediabetic patient claims to be going for a brisk walk when in reality they’re visiting Burger King (and checking in from Foursquare)? If the doctor ran into the patient in person and noticed this contradictory and ultimately destructive behavior, no one would say that the doctor was invading the patient’s privacy (this is assuming that the connection is a real one and not a result of the doctor following the patient around). It seems that the apter analogy is to active Googling versus stumbling upon (N. B. not the use of StumbleUpon) to find a patient’s activities. A by chance meeting or locating online is one thing; actively stalking, in person or over the ‘net, is something else entirely.

And what of the patient’s own behaviors, in the context of the doctor going too far? In PBS’s Behavioral Ethics video, Dan Ariely says about ethics, “… it’s all about being able, at the moment, to rationalize something and make yourself think that this is actually okay.” Is the fast food okay? Is the snooping? These are patients, generally, who are of the age of majority and are considered competent and sane. Is the fast food in their best interests? Of course not. But when physician concern turns into self-righteous attempts to control patients’ behaviors, then boundaries are so blurred, and were crossed so long ago, that they aren’t even recognizable anymore.

Writing, Ethics, and Quinnipiac

Writing, Ethics, and Quinnipiac

For the Spring Semester of 2015, I decided to double my course load and try to graduate a bit more rapidly. This entailed taking two classes. Little was I to know, when I signed up for these courses, that I would also get a job and my book, Untrustworthy, would be published. Hence my workload began to feel a bit out of control. Continue reading Writing, Ethics, and Quinnipiac

SEO and its discontents

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO and its discontents

Now, I am no expert by any means.

What really is Search Engine Optimization?
What really is Search Engine Optimization? (Photo credit: Go Local Search)

But I know it’s important and so I’m going to take my shot at trying to optimize things as best as I can. The fact that the site and this blog are already on Google (and I already pretty much own jespah as a keyword — I’m #2 on Google already) is encouraging.

In 2010 I met Kevin Palmer for a networking meeting, and told him I was interested in creating a new site for myself. And he told me — it’s like three legs of a stool: Content, Design and SEO.

Content I’ve got. I’ve got content coming out of my ears. I’ve got stuff to write like, like Carter’s got Liver Pills as my Dad would say.

As for design, I use WordPress. It is far, far simpler to just use their templates. They have an excellent understanding of how to put together a sweet-looking website and give it some style. And it’s mine and I made it and I am not only fully responsible for the content, I am also responsible in every way for its design and usability. With the help of WordPress, it’s prettier and more usable than ever.

But then there’s SEO. My friend, Robert Gentel, who runs Able2know, which we both manage (he’s the owner, I’m the Community Manager/Project Manager/Chief Cook, etc.), is an SEO whiz. I have talked to him about it a little bit. As I spread my own wings, I also learn from classes at Quinnipiac and from looking at Google’s own tools and, frankly, from my own experimentation.

I’ll either fly or fall onto the pavement. The first option is more attractive, so SEO it is.

Oh and the title? It’s a play on Freud’s book. I’m not a big Freudian but I do love the title.

Sometimes a title is only a title.

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Content Strategy for the Web by Kristina Halvorson, a Book Review

Content Strategy for the Web by Kristina Halvorson

Content Strategy for the Web is a short, snappy read that combines information about Content Strategy as a discipline with tips and tricks for throwing a lasso around your own company/site’s content.

content-strategy-burger
content-strategy-burger (Photo credit: raphaelle_ridarch)

Kristina Halvorson is essentially the doyenne of Content Strategy. Her main ideas are as follows:

  • You probably need less content and not more.

Figure out which content you’ve got and archive whatever isn’t working for you, e. g. fulfilling some sort of purpose. Good purposes are things like building trust and expertise, answering customer questions and facilitating sales. Not such good purposes are things like get some content out there because we’re naked without it!

  • For whatever currently published content that does not fulfill a good purpose, either archive it or get rid of it entirely. It’s not helping you, and it may very well be harming your company.
  • Get someone in charge of content. Not surprisingly, this is the Content Strategist but the idea is, someone needs to steer the ship.
  • Listen to the customers and the company regarding content. The company may be setting out content that’s confusing to the users. The users may be asking for something that can’t quite work. It may or may not be in the company’s best interests to fix either problem, but at least you’ll know what the issue is and,
  • Start asking why content is out there in the first place.

 

This process begins with a content audit, e. g. know what you’ve got out there. Then talk to the users. And, once these processes are completed, one can start to think of a strategy.

Yes, it’s really that much time before actually creating any content. Why? Because doing the ramp-up now will save a lot of headaches later. Think it’s a bear to audit and check every single piece of content on your site now? How are you going to feel about it next year?

I bet you’d be thrilled to only have as much content to deal with as you have right now, at this very moment. So start swinging that lasso now. It’s time to audit.

I have to say, while I can see where Ms. Halvorson is coming from, there was also a large chunk of the book devoted to, essentially, justifying the Content Strategist’s existence. And perhaps this is necessary with a new discipline — I don’t know. But it does make for an edge of defiance, e. g. this discipline is good enough!

It is. Don’t worry.

Rating

4/5

 

Pegasystems Buys Indian Social Analytics Company

Pegasystems Buys Indian Social Analytics Company

According to the Boston Business Journal, Cambridge-based Pegasystems has acquired MeshLabs. The thinking was to expand Pegasystems’s means of crawling the web and pulling Twitter data.

My Ideal Twitter Analytics Tool
My Ideal Twitter Analytics Tool (Photo credit: cambodia4kidsorg)

Pegasystems’ technology was able to extract tweets that mentioned certain companies, but was unable to filter anything beyond that. With the purchase of MeshLabs, this ability has been enhanced. Now, according to the article, “a social media post can be analyzed to figure out how viral it could go based on the social influence of the user, among other things.”

In the areas of social mention and sentiment analysis, this kind of more granular filtration is key. To simply see where and when a certain phrase has been mentioned online is all well and good, but the absence of context makes such captured data virtually useless.  If, for example, the New York Mets are mentioned one thousand times in the New York Times in June of 2014, that sort of a vanity metric does not say much to the person reading it. Are these a lot of mentions? A few? Average, more or less?

Then there is the matter of sentiment analysis. Are the mentionings, overall, positive? Or are they negative? Or are they, perhaps, merely neutral?  Why does this all matter? It matters, in part, because we marketing types want to know if we are loved by the general public. In addition, though, when thinking about whether a post will go viral, strong sentiments (positive and uplifting, or outraged complaints) seem to have a better chance of going viral. Without understanding the emotions within a post (if any), the answer to the question of whether a bit of content will go viral is an unknown.

This combination of different types of software promises exciting information, in the field of social sentiment analysis. I’d stay tuned, if I were you.

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Snapchat Settles with FTC over Privacy Issues

Snapchat Settles with FTC over Privacy Issues

Snapchat ends up settling with the FTC over privacy issues. The Boston Globe reported this year that the images being passed by the Snapchat app weren’t vanishing without a trace, as advertised.

Catching up with Taylor
Catching up with Taylor (Photo credit: ekai)

The temporal nature of its content proved extremely appealing to younger Internet users, and now it turns out that Snapchat’s content is a lot more durable than anyone wanted it to be.

There were a number of ways that content could be copied, including taking screen shots of the app.

But wait, it gets worse

According to the article, not only was the content kept, but, “ Snapchat transmitted users’ location information and collected sensitive data like address book contacts, despite its saying that it did not collect such information. The commission said the lax policies did not secure a feature called “Find Friends” that allowed security researchers to compile a database of 4.6 million user names and phone numbers during a recent security breach.”

Oops.

Remember This?

It was only 2013 when the company was offered a multi-billion dollar buyout by Facebook. They refused, thinking they could do better.

Double oops.

Going Forward

The FTC isn’t messing around. Per the article, “Snapchat will be prohibited from misrepresenting how it maintains the confidentiality of user information. The company will also be required to start a wide-ranging privacy program, a sort of probation, and will be independently monitored for 20 years. Fines could ensue if the company violates the agreement.”

Yeah, that’s gonna stink for a while.

There are a few morals to this story, I feel.

  1. Don’t be greedy. Facebook’s paying billions of bucks! What were the owners of Snapchat holding out for? Their own country?
  2. Don’t promise stuff you can’t deliver. 
  3. Don’t assume your users are so clueless that they won’t find workarounds. Never underestimate a determined user.
  4. And, for the users, don’t assume your content is private unless you have absolute control over all security and privacy settings. And the best way to have that kind of control is, don’t put your content online if you want it to remain private.
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Quinnipiac Final Paper – ICM501 – Creative Obfuscation

Quinnipiac Final Paper – ICM501 – Creative Obfuscation

Internet identity, reputation, and deception in the online dating world. Truth and little white lies on the Internet.

Introduction

Several weeks ago, when participating in class, I used the term creative obfuscation. The idea behind it was (and still is) that people of course bend the truth or cover it up, or they lie by omission. Some of these lies are more egregious than others.

For my final paper, I decided to look at what it all means with reference to Internet dating. And boy, was there a lot of fodder! Here are some excerpts.

Identity

For many people[1] these days, social media is wrapped with identity, as identity is, in turn, intimately wrapped up with social media. It is often a daily[2] presence in our lives. As Julia Knight and Alexis Weedon discovered, online life and self are increasingly just as important as offline life and self.[3] “In 2008, Vincent Miller’s article in Convergence recognized in our ubiquitous and pervasive media the essential role of phatic communication[4] which forms our connection to the here and now. Social media has become a native habitus for many and is a place to perform our various roles in our multimodal lives, as a professional, a parent, an acquaintance, and a colleague. The current generation has grown up with social media and like the 10-year-old Facebook, Twitter too has become part of some people’s everyday here and now.”[5]

[1] About 39% of the world is online, according to Internet World Statistics. This includes just fewer than 85% of North America and over 2/3 of Europe and Oceania.

[2] According to Pew Research, in 2013, 63% of Facebook users visit the site daily. Just under half (46%) of Twitter users visit that site on a daily basis.

[3] Knight, Julia and Weedon, Alexis, Convergence, ISSN 1354-8565, 08/2014, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp. 257 – 258, Identity and social media

[4] Phatic communications are generally language for the purposes of social interaction rather than the conveying of information or the making of inquiries, e. g. ‘small talk’.

[5] Knight and Weedon, Ibid., Page 257.

Reputation

Quinnipiac Assignment 12 – ICM501 – Creative Obfuscation
Jeff Bates (hemos from Slashdot) at linux.conf.au 2003 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Unlike offline reputation, online reputation can be categorized and quantified. For sites attempting to preserve and promote civility, but which cannot or will not adopt a real-names policy like Facebook’s, reputation scores can sometimes alert other users to an individual’s tendency to be either helpful or abusive. As AS Crane noted in Promoting Civility in Online Discussions: A Study of the Intelligent Conversation Forum[6], “Moderation in combination with reputation scores have been used successfully on the large technology site Slashdot, according to Lampe and Resnick (2004). Slashdot moderation duties are shared among a group of users, who can assign positive or negative reputation points to posts and to other members. Users who have earned a sufficient reputation rating are allowed to participate in moderation if they wish. Meta-moderators observe the moderators for abuse and can remove bad moderators, or reward good moderators by assigning a higher point value to their votes.” In Slashdot’s case, it would seem that good behavior not only is rewarding in and of itself, but it also provides a reward in the form of being granted the ability to police others’ behavior.

[6] AS Crane, 2012, Promoting Civility in Online Discussions: A Study of the Intelligent Conversation Forum, rave.ohiolink.edu, Page 17

Deception

For those who bend the truth on Facebook and other social media websites, some of the consequences are unexpected ones. For example, a ten-year-old child who claims to be thirteen will, in five years, be considered eighteen on the social networking site. This will alter her privacy settings automatically, allowing images to be seen by everyone, including pedophiles.[7]

[7] Olsen, Tyler, 22 April 2013, Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire: An Explanation of Deception, Professor Combs English 1010-21

Conclusion

Although it is fairly easy to bend the truth when composing an online dating profile, an in-person meeting will expose the lie to all, and the liar will lose social capital and likely never make it to a second date. More problematic is when a person’s sincerely developed identity does not jibe with their appearance or their birth characteristics. Differences between online verbiage and offline appearance might not have an intentionally malicious origin, and it is entirely possible for online daters to, through ambiguity or poor word choice, appear deceptive and untrustworthy when they may be anything but.

But regardless of the reason for an untruth, online daters care about their reputations and their online and offline appearances. What others think matters to them. Much of that is directly related to the fact that the object behind the use of an online dating site is to meet; the mission is the date. Setting up the date for failure or the loss of face is not in online daters’ best interests and most of them act accordingly in order to assure success or at least prevent and minimize failure and the loss of social capital.

Personal identity matters in the online world, and it is a heady brew of inborn traits, learned and attained characteristics, and identification, desire, and preference. For the person presenting their identity and showing this admixture to all and sundry, what it means to be them, what they think of as the ‘self’, is what is cobbled together from potentially thousands of measurable and nonquantifiable data points in order to present a full picture of their personality. For the recipients of these messages, the potential dating partners and perhaps even more permanent mates, the choice is whether to read or listen to these many messages and accept all or some of them, even if they conflict with or downright contradict the evidence that the recipient can observe or otherwise gather independently.

You are who you were at birth, who you have become, and who you claim to be, and who you think you are. But that does not mean that anyone has to believe you, accept you, or love you.

Quinnipiac Assignment 12 – ICM501 – Participation and Control

Participation and Control

As the Internet has grown, the creation and invention of products, including software and applications, has proliferated. Online society is far more participatory than its comparable offline cousin. For creators, collaboration has become the order of the day. Online communities have taken a great leap forward and have begun to make lasting works as a function of their shared interests and preference for togetherness. These people aren’t just chatting. And so arise issues of participation and control.

Open Source is the vanguard of that movement.One interesting offshoot is how Apple is beginning to suppress unconventional and unauthorized development. According to Zittrain, J. (2010, February 3). A fight over freedom at Apple’s core. FT.com. [Link | Alternate Link], “An e-mail reader was denied because it competed with Apple’s own Mail app. Imagine if Microsoft’s Bill Gates had decreed that no other word processor but Word would be allowed to run on the Windows operating system. Microsoft lost a decade-long competition lawsuit for far less proprietary behaviour.”

Quinnipiac Assignment 12 – ICM501 – Participation and Control
Steve Jobs and Bill Gates (Image credit: –David and Jennifer– on Flickr via Creative Commons.)

This participatory culture is pervasive in OSS (Open Source Software) development communities. A Long Ranger type of developer seems to be becoming a thing of the past. As Liao, T. (Forthcoming.). Open source challenges: The role of the android developers challenge in shaping the development community. New Media & Society. [Posted to “Course Materials” on Blackboard] wrote, “The practice of developers helping one another is noted across many OSS communities. In this case, even within the context of a competition, one type help that did occur was responses to direct inquiries. Eric, a graduate student programmer, describes his experience: ‘It’s pretty rare that I can’t find the answer to a technical question […] There are a few people who seem very helpful (interview).’ Michael Martin, founder of GoogleAndBlog.com, also described a general atmosphere of mutual help: ‘There was a lot of helping and assistance and kudos and compliments, […] from my perspective in talking to developers everyone was helping each other out as opposed to animosity or ultra-competitiveness (interview).’ Informants unanimously described the prevalence of this type of help occurring during the challenge and noted that the challenge did not have a noticeable effect on this type of help.” (Page 13)

However, the other side of the coin is the question of how much control a company or a content producer can exert. As is explained above, Apple is putting the brakes on this sort of development, even though initially they had embraced it. But the general public is evolving, whether Apple likes it or not. We are moving from a passive consumer culture to a far more proactive/active shared content creation/development/artistic/artisanal culture. This is a hybrid of production and usage that Axel Bruns has coined as a portmanteau word: produsage. See: Bruns, A. (2008). The key characteristics of produsage. In Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life and beyond: From production to produsage (pp. 9–36). New York: Peter Lang. [Posted to “Course Materials” on Blackboard].  As Bruns states, “For consumers turned users, the media are no longer ‘something that is done to them,’ as Shirky had described it for the traditional model; instead, they become much more actively involved in shaping their own media and network usage.” (Page 15)

But who owns what’s being made? Who decides on the direction that it can take? Can anyone exert a measure of control? In response to hacking issues, Congress got active. As Coleman, E. G. (2013). Coding freedom: The ethics and aesthetics of hacking. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press [Link | Whole-book PDF] wrote, “The copyright industries told Congress that their economic future in the new millennium utterly depended on a drastic revision of copyright law (Vaidhyanathan 2001). Congress listened. These industries successfully pushed for a bill— the DMCA— that fundamentally rewrote intellectual property law by granting copyright owners technological control over digitized copyright material. The main thrust of the act, with a few narrowly defined exceptions, is that it prohibits the circumvention of access and copy control measures that publishers place on copyrighted work.” (Page 84)

But these all seem to be reactions after the fact of creation and invention. Congress acts to punish copyright violations. Apple shuts out Open Source development efforts. Produsage, it would appear, is not the manufacturer’s best friend. But what of the artist? I can only speak for myself, but I have seen how consumption of art has also changed. Instead of readers more or less passively consuming artistic content, they morph it. Hence there are how many cover versions of songs on YouTube these days? My own experience is perhaps even stranger. I post fiction online, with chapters spun out slowly over time and generally not posted all at once. I have had readers suggest to me the direction that the story should take. This is always completely unsolicited. It is as if our culture, which no longer can passively consume content, is also losing its understanding of the difference between critiquing and suggesting. I get the feeling no one suggested to Charles Dickens (who also published on an installment basis) that he should have four ghosts in A Christmas Carol, and not three.

Speaking only for myself and my own artistic creations, I want my control back.

My leap into a Social Media career

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