Comment on Facebook “Top” list by Ruth Bram

Great post, Caroline! I’ve made several FB lists over the years, which I still visit occasionally, but most of the time, I enjoy looking at my normal news feed. I think it just depends on the person, but I agree that having a list brings your attention to people that matter most to you.

Although, like Manuela pointed out, only viewing a feed from a customized list, is likely to block you from posts from people you might not normally talk to. I feel like I gain a certain expertise by viewing information from those weak ties. There are articles and studies that show the benefit of listening to (or viewing information from) weak ties over strong ties (Eg.

Comment on Turing Test by Howard Rheingold

Note that combines human and algorithmic curation — you can curate the feeds that are algorithmially scanned for suggestions (see the pop-out sidebar) that you can then scan yourself to pick and choose the best ones. (And note that Google is already algorithmic curation, built on human decisions about which links to put on sites.)

Article about metacognition education

Students who succeed academically often rely on being able to think effectively and independently in order to take charge of their learning. These students have mastered fundamental but crucial skills such as keeping their workspace organized, completing tasks on schedule, making a plan for learning, monitoring their learning path, and recognizing when it might be useful to change course. They do not need to rely on their teacher as much as others who depend on more guidance to initiate learning tasks and monitor their progress. Students who do not learn how to “manage” themselves well as they proceed through school experience more setbacks, become discouraged and disengaged from learning, and tend to have lower academic performance. They may also be responsible for more classroom management issues.

Many teachers we know enjoy teaching students how to wield one of the most powerful thinking tools: metacognition, or the ability to think about your thoughts with the aim of improving learning. A metaphor that resonates with many students is that learning cognitive and metacognitive strategies offers them tools to “drive their brains.” The good news for teachers and their students is that metacognition can be learned when it is explicitly taught and practiced across content and social contexts.

Comment on Wait, I [Can't] Take It Back by Manuela


You bring up a great conversation. I have to agree that the accessibility to respond immediately or to say something negative or angry to someone can cause us to be regret our actions. I still see the value of writing a physical letter or card instead of an electronic one. For one, it take more effort and usually the other person also construes it as an extra effort on my part. On the other hand, when it comes to anger it is helpful to write physically and process what is written before giving it to the intended recipient. Additionally, for some reason I find that letters are more private than messages (regardless of platform – email, private Facebook message etc) since it is so much easier to copy and paste something electronic and share it with other people. I am usually under the impression that other people are less likely to read something physically written.
On the point about what we handle the digital world, when I am angry or bothered I have made it a point to not answer my messages at all. This does not apply to only the person in the conflict but everyone. I do think that we tend to be too harsh via digital platforms because we do not give ourselves the time to think through and filter our thoughts. I wonder how other people feel about this. I wonder if there are generational differences.

Comment on Turing Test by Caroline

Hi Mandy,

I’m really glad that you raised this objection to the Good and Scoble’s emphasis on the absolute necessity of manual, human curation and the point that it may stem from irrational subconscious fear. During the reading, I remember pausing when Good made his insistent point about that, and not really feeling convinced by his argument. I had not even thought about the potential for algorithmic curation to help us avoid confirmation bias, that’s another great idea!

I’m curious about the specific application of more advanced algorithmic computing to curation. What you think curation of the future will look like, with this in mind? Will the editorializing, the layout design, the audience all be done by computers? What will the human role be in this–simply overseeing and approving? And how will publishing of “newsradars” and the like change as the producers go from people to computers? If you have any thoughts on this, I’d be curious to hear them.

Turing Test

During the discussions around effective curation and introducing a human to help curate aggregated lists, a viewpoint that is strongly articulated by Robin Good and others, I questioned the necessity for this element. I certainly see some need in the current landscape as we don’t quite have the breadth of tools and algorithm sophistication that negates the need for a person’s expertise and synthesizing. However, I see less and less of a need for this as time goes on and we get better at building tools and enhancing curation algorithms.

There’s no set of information that a human can learn/retain better than a computer, and while it may be a bit unsettling to think about, algorithms are also getting much better at making consistent adjustments and learning without human assistance. I would also argue that technology-driven curation can eliminate some of the concerns we’ve discussed previously like humans tendency to curate information that confirms their worldview.

I question if the need for human curation partially stems from a fear of reliance on technology and possibly misconception about how well algorithms can learn.

I don’t think anyone can be sure of the timeline for the elimination of human curators, but many would argue that it is an inevitability. One relevant (although maybe a bit sensationalist in presentation) video is called “Humans Need Not Apply”.

Would recommend watching this if you have 15 minutes – again somewhat extreme and sensationalist but some powerful points about the future of the labor market is made that relate to this discussion. Would be curious to see if this changes the viewpoint of the authors of this week’s texts or yours.

Wait, I [Can't] Take It Back

Have you ever written a really emotional letter to somebody whom you believe has wronged you, full of all of the bad things that they did and the intense anger that you feel, only to throw it away or burn it once you’re done writing it?

Now, have you done the same thing over email or text message, but actually sent what you wrote rather than discarding it? 

I’m sure everybody has sent a message that they later regret sending, unfortunately that’s the consequence of living in a digital world. However, what we don’t realize is that these messages, usually sent without first taking a step back and formulating a rational response, will now exist forever. You may be able to apologize, but you can’t take it back.

What happened to the practice of writing out an angry letter simply for your own purposes? What happened to keeping these thoughts privately to yourself in order to avoid doing harm to the recipient? Well, nothing is private anymore. Our entire lives are online for the world to see. We are used to instantaneous interactions, instant gratification, serious conversations through our screens rather than face-to-face. Why keep our thoughts to ourselves when we can easily and instantaneously send them through the web to the recipient?

Problem is, we don’t realize that most of our initial reactions to messages we receive are not processed through the rational parts of our brain. Thus, if we are too quick to reply, and reply angrily at that, we haven’t given ourselves time to rationally process either the received message or the message we are about to send. This can be detrimental, because we can no longer just burn or throw away our messages they are there there, in the recipient’s inbox, only deleted if the recipient chooses to take that action. In the digital world, then, the agency now lies in the recipient, not the sender.

So how do we handle this? Well, take a step back, take a breathe, think things through, write multiple drafts. Only then should you hint “send.”

Article that inspired this post:


Delivery: Mindmap of My Media Use

In an earlier post I asked my peers to share a mindmap of their media use so that we could get a visual overview of each of our experiences with different social, organizational, and productivity tools.

I tried several different mindmapping resources in order to present my own experience, and I for the purposes of quickly conveying and organizing the information I wanted to communicate I found that was the easiest tool to use, manipulate, and share. Here is a link to a preliminary mindmap of tools I use both online and offline. I will continue to develop this mindmap throughout the remainder of this quarter.

You will see that I use a variety of different tools that perform the same functions. For example, I use all of the following collaboration and syncing platforms: Google Drive, OneDrive, Box, and Dropbox. I use all of these tools in different ways, and I’d be happy to share the nuances that I have discovered through my own experiences with you. In return, I hope that you will create a map of the tools you use so that I may learn from your experiences, as well.

If you would like to share your own mind map, please feel free to post it in your own blog and link to it in the comment section below. Please feel free to use whatever mindmapping software/method you prefer.

Below is a screenshot of my mind map as of 10/28/14:

Screenshot 2014-10-28 03.49.45

Social Media Diary, Participatory Culture, and the 90-9-1 Rule

“Keep a social media diary of one typical weekday & evening, hour by hour. Briefly characterize the kind of social media participation that you take part in or witness. Argue for or against the assertion that these activities are evidence of a “participatory” culture. Furnish examples to support your characterization.”

What should seem like a straightforward exercise proved to be a bit of a challenge, as I haven’t experienced a “typical” day and evening since Fall quarter began six weeks ago. Each week and day has its own special commitments. The reasons for this are due to many things culminating at once, in addition to my decision to enroll in a heavy course load. As a Master’s student, I decided to take as many units as possible by enrolling in 23 units, as well as to shop an additional 3 unit course for the first 3 weeks of the quarter; these units were in addition to completing a 5 unit statistics course at another college on the semester system and working 2 part-time campus jobs. In short, there just is no typical day.

Due to the scheduling of my courses, consistencies in my routine that could be thought of as “typical” occur in weekly intervals in which the second Monday may be similar to the first Monday, the second Tuesday may be similar to the first Tuesday, and so on. Even then, however, it seems that no two days have been similar enough for any day to be thought of as typical. Every day for the past week I would think to myself that, since this day isn’t typical, I should not use it for my diary. Further, because this quarter is uncharacteristically busy for me, I don’t spend ample time using social media.

In contrast to what would seem to be limitations on my ability to infer insight on my own social media use from this exercise, the varied nature of my schedule has actually revealed to me an insight I had not consciously acknowledged prior to writing this post. While my daily commitments are constantly in flux, there is a constant pattern across my usage of social media: in spare moments that I have to relax, I choose to do so by reading forum posts in online communities.

Monday 10/27:
Finish my take home midterm.
2:00AM Read Reddit threads, and check Stanford YikYak for new posts. Check my emails. Go to bed.

9:00AM Wake up, check my emails. Get ready for class. Print my midterm. Get breakfast.

10:30AM Go to lecture

11:00AM while in lecture, filter emails. Draft email to the professor with my questions regarding the lecture as he speaks. (I do this for questions that are important to me but that I know are beyond the scope of what there is time to discuss during lecture). Check the Social Media Literacies Facebook group.

12:00PM get lunch. See notifications for activity on YikYak and ignore them. [Note, in retrospect: I should turn these notifications off. I always ignore them. I hadn’t thought to turn them off until now].

12:30PM do homework for next class and communicate in real time with project group via email.

1:00PM-5:15PM in class, no use of social media or electronic devices.

5:30PM-7:00PM: do homework

7:00PM-11:00PM: Work at product realization lab.

11:00PM: Get dinner. Check YikYak briefly.

12:00AM: Check email. Go on Facebook to check social media literacies group. Do reading for class.

A takeaway point I have from doing this activity is that although I feel like I am on social media all the time, my social media activity is actually very limited. I feel like I am on social media often because I choose to allocate the limited free time that I have to social media, especially as a source of entertainment and relaxation. My media activity is primarily devoted to email for utilitarian reasons, Facebook (very limited) also for utilitarian reasons, and YikYak and Reddit for entertainment. While I am not a contributor to Reddit (I am a lurker), I do consider my involvement to be participatory. I am actively listening to these posts and reflecting on them. My activity on YikYak is undeniably participatory, as I will occasionally (perhaps twice a week) contribute a post or comment.

How is it that I can be absolutely exhausted, yet I still would rather postpone sleep and read the personal anecdotes on interesting conversation threads than go straight to bed? It is because I find happiness reading the stories of other people and learning from their experiences. I enjoy reading jokes, learning about unfamiliar topics, and hearing different viewpoints articulated in ways that never would have occurred to me.

Interestingly, I actually feel I am a more active participant on Reddit than I am on Facebook. On Facebook I will occasionally post a status update, but the actual “participation” on Facebook comes from me simply having a profile. I have an online presence on Facebook due to the existence of my profile, but I am rarely on the website. In contrast, I don’t have a reddit account (at least I don’t have one linked to my identity and I never post comments. I do have an account so that I can subscribe to the subreddits I like), but I would make a strong case that I am a much more involved participant on Reddit than I am on Facebook. On Facebook, I have a profile, but nobody is home. On Reddit, you may not know I’m there, but I know I am, and that is all that matters.

Consider the 90-9-1 rule discussed by Jacob Nielsen, which he summarizes: “In most online communities, 90% of users are lurkers who never contribute, 9% of users contribute a little, and 1% of users account for almost all the action.” While 1% of users may account for almost all of the content on Reddit, or on any online forum community, participation within the community is not restricted to those who post. Users may participate in different ways. Perhaps the meaning of participation in the context of social media should be reexamined.