Art/Aesthetics · Digital Media · Social/Politics · Technology

The Curse of “You May Also Like”: Algorithms and “big data” are good at figuring out what we like—and that may kill creativity.

Of all the startups that launched last year, Fuzz is certainly one of the most intriguing and the most overlooked. Describing itself as a “people-powered radio” that is completely “robot-free,” Fuzz bucks the trend toward ever greater reliance on algorithms in discovering new music. Fuzz celebrates the role played by human DJs—regular users who are invited to upload their own music to the site in order to create and share their own “radio stations.”

The idea—or, perhaps, hope—behind Fuzz is that human curators can still deliver something that algorithms cannot; it aspires to be the opposite of Pandora, in which the algorithms do all the heavy lifting. As its founder, Jeff Yasuda, told Bloomberg News last September, “there’s a big need for a curated type of experience and just getting back to the belief that the most compelling recommendations come from a human being.”

But while Fuzz’s launch attracted little attention, the growing role of algorithms in all stages of artistic production is becoming impossible to ignore. Most recently, this role was highlighted by Andrew Leonard, the technology critic for Salon, in an intriguing article about House of Cards, Netflix’s first foray into original programming. The series’ origin myth is by now well-known: Having studied its user logs, Netflix discovered that a remake of the British series of the same name could be a huge hit, especially if it also featured Kevin Spacey and was directed by David Fincher.

Excerpt from an article written by Evgeny Morozov at Slate. Continue THERE

Social/Politics · Technology

Good News Beats Bad on Social Networks

BAD NEWS SELLS. If it bleeds, it leads. No news is good news, and good news is no news.

Those are the classic rules for the evening broadcasts and the morning papers, based partly on data (ratings and circulation) and partly on the gut instincts of producers and editors. Wars, earthquakes, plagues, floods, fires, sick children, murdered spouses — the more suffering and mayhem, the more coverage.

But now that information is being spread and monitored in different ways, researchers are discovering new rules. By scanning people’s brains and tracking their e-mails and online posts, neuroscientists and psychologists have found that good news can spread faster and farther than disasters and sob stories.

“The ‘if it bleeds’ rule works for mass media that just want you to tune in,” says Jonah Berger, a social psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania. “They want your eyeballs and don’t care how you’re feeling. But when you share a story with your friends and peers, you care a lot more how they react. You don’t want them to think of you as a Debbie Downer.”

Excerpt from an article written by JOHN TIERNEY, at the NYT. Continue THERE

Book-Text-Read-Zines · Social/Politics · Technology

The Social Media Reader

With the rise of web 2.0 and social media platforms taking over vast tracts of territory on the internet, the media landscape has shifted drastically in the past 20 years, transforming previously stable relationships between media creators and consumers. The Social Media Reader is the first collection to address the collective transformation with pieces on social media, peer production, copyright politics, and other aspects of contemporary internet culture from all the major thinkers in the field.

Culling a broad range and incorporating different styles of scholarship from foundational pieces and published articles to unpublished pieces, journalistic accounts, personal narratives from blogs, and whitepapers, The Social Media Reader promises to be an essential text, with contributions from Lawrence Lessig, Henry Jenkins, Clay Shirky, Tim O’Reilly, Chris Anderson, Yochai Benkler, danah boyd, and Fred von Loehmann, to name a few. It covers a wide-ranging topical terrain, much like the internet itself, with particular emphasis on collaboration and sharing, the politics of social media and social networking, Free Culture and copyright politics, and labor and ownership. Theorizing new models of collaboration, identity, commerce, copyright, ownership, and labor, these essays outline possibilities for cultural democracy that arise when the formerly passive audience becomes active cultural creators, while warning of the dystopian potential of new forms of surveillance and control.

Text and Image via NYU Press

Art/Aesthetics · Design · Digital Media · Earthly/Geo/Astro · Eco/Adaptable · Education · Human-ities · Projects · Social/Politics · Technology

cyberGARDENS Summer School

A Summer School focused on the future of food consumption, its new urban landscape, environments of novel culinary exploration, hybridization of traditional practices, rites and festivals with contemporary digital design technologies, prototyping protocols and bio-gardening techniques.

The teaching model of this Summer School is grounded on the experimental tradition of the Architectural Association and on the design philosophy of ecoLogicStudio, that will curate the event and co-run the design workshop. After setting up our Urban LAB in the SPAZIOFMGperl’architettura gallery [sponsored by Active], we will embark in a series of exploration trips and “gardening” experiments around the emergent bio-farming network of Milano Parco Sud, site to 2015World Expo; inspired by the achievements of the Slow Food movement, we will radicalize their efforts through the deliberate contamination of the traditional and the futuristic, the natural and the bioengineered. Our ambition with AA Italy ‘cyber-GARDENing the city’ is to enjoy 10 intense days within the country with the highest concentration of culinary traditions and learn new cutting edge design techniques to manifest the possibilities of a radical interpretation of such traditions as new global bio-lifestyles. The aspiring cyber-gardeners will be able to explore and invent new hybrid design practices by combining Applets design with distributed urban sensing and mapping, computational parametric design with hydroponic cultivation, and cutting edge digital animation with journalistic and critical narrative. These tree design clusters will be interfaced and interrelated during the workshop giving to all participants the opportunity to experiment with multiple techniques and challenge different aspects of the brief. This final outcome will be a single 1:1 prototypical space to be set up within the lobby of our urban LAB; a space embedded with biological life, sensing potential, ecosystem narrative and real-time social networking interface; a space for the discussion and re-definition of urban agricultural services and supply chain.

Text and Image via cyberGARDENS

Digital Media · Social/Politics · Technology

FREE THE NETWORK: Control the means of reproduction: Media-tech innovation

Motherboard‘s documentary on Occupy Wall Street, hacktivism, and the hackers trying to build a distributed network for the Occupy movement and beyond.

http://freenetworkfoundation.org/

Human-ities · Social/Politics · Technology

The Perils Of Technology Prediction

The outside of the map contains a series of predictions that get more playful and more provocative as you move out towards the edges. Click image to Enlarge. For example:

– There will be a convergence of health care & financial planning
– We will have face recognition doors & augmented reality contact lenses
– Online communities will start physical communities

The center of the map contains some mega-trends such as globalization, urbanization, sustainability, volatility, the power-shift Eastwards, ageing, anxiety and so on. But be careful. Trends like these can get you into all kinds of trouble. In fact they can easily get you into more trouble than predictions because people believe them.

Excerpt of an article written by Richard Watson at Fast Company. Read it HERE

Digital Media · Social/Politics · Technology

Spring Awakening: How an Egyptian Revolution Began on Facebook



In the embryonic, ever evolving era of social media — when milestones come by the day, if not by the second — June 8, 2010, has secured a rightful place in history. That was the day Wael Ghonim, a 29-year-old Google marketing executive, was browsing Facebook in his home in Dubai and found a startling image: a photo­graph of a bloodied and disfigured face, its jaw broken, a young life taken away. That life, he soon learned, had belonged to Khaled Mohamed Said, a 28-year-old from Alexandria who had been beaten to death by the Egyptian police.

At once angered and animated, the Egyptian-­born Ghonim went online and created a Facebook page. “Today they killed Khaled,” he wrote. “If I don’t act for his sake, tomorrow they will kill me.” It took a few moments for Ghonim to settle on a name for the page, one that would fit the character of an increasingly personalized and politically galvanizing Internet. He finally decided on “Kullena Khaled Said” — “We Are All Khaled Said.”

“Khaled Said was a young man just like me, and what happened to him could have happened to me,” Ghonim writes in “Revolution 2.0,” his fast-paced and engrossing new memoir of political awakening. “All young Egyptians had long been oppressed, enjoying no rights in our own homeland.”

Image: Wael Ghonim, photo by Sam Christmas. Written by JOSE ANTONIO VARGAS, NYT. Continue reading HERE

Social/Politics · Technology

Young Indians in social network ‘fatigue’

Indian IT professionals are pictured at an industry event in Bangalore in 2010. India’s urban youth are suffering social-media “fatigue,” prompting a number to delete their Facebook and other accounts, according to a new study.

“Youngsters have started finding social media boring, confusing, frustrating and time-consuming,” the survey commissioned by by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) found.

India’s youth have “started experiencing social-media fatigue” and are tending to log less frequently onto social networks like Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Orkut, and others than when they signed up, the study reported.

The research that polled 2,000 young people aged 12-25 in 10 cities found many were instead using mobile applications such as Blackberry Messenger, WhatsApp, Nimbuzz, or Google Talk that allow them to chat with their friends.

“Tech overload is apparent among youth and their fixation with social media seems to be eroding,” said D.S. Rawat, ASSOCHAM secretary general, commenting on the survey emailed to AFP on Tuesday.

Some 55 percent of respondents said they had “consciously reduced” their time spent on social media websites and it was no longer a “craze” for them.

More than half of the 55 percent who had cut down on their activity on social media sites said they had actually deactivated or deleted their accounts and profiles from these websites.

Of nearly 200 young people interviewed in New Delhi, 60 percent said they found it “boring and sick to see constant senseless status updates.”

Most of the social media website users said they had opened many accounts initially but now preferred now to stick to a single site.

A majority of the Indian respondents also said “compulsive” social networking had led to insomnia, depression and poor personal relationships, the survey said.

(c) 2012 AFP. Via Physorg