Fata Morgana (chimerically) wrote,
Fata Morgana

cameraphones and smart mobs and identity, oh my!

I was invited, in stead of my advisor who is on sabbatical, to give a lecture in Mass Communications 10 today about the cameraphone project. Luckily, I didn't have to do it alone: I recruited mroth to help, and we traded off speaking throughout the hour. And we also had slides my advisor had presented a month or two earlier to work from. All things considered, it went well. You can see our slides here (be patient: it's 105 slides in a 5MB pdf file). I'm sure we made a few fans by ending 10 minutes before the class was scheduled to end, too, after 1 hour of lecture and 10 minutes of questions. Afterwards, the professor thanked us several times for a "wonderful lecture," and the two students who I knew from ballroom said that grad students should talk about their research more often. :~) Two other undergrads expressed interest in getting involved with the project. Overall, I was happy with how it went.

Students coming in - probably the biggest crowd I've ever presented to (except for my silly 5 minute talk at graduation)

After we finished, I rushed back for the last part of my second identity and storytelling class. I took a gamble signing up for it at the beginning of the semester without knowing anything about it, but so far it has been fabulous. I regretted that I missed most of it today, especially since one of the guest panelists was the creator of Flickr (though the topic was gaming, not photography). I would summarize the class content, but the class blog is doing a better job of that than I could do with limited time. I'm hoping to write about narratives in photo-sharing of various kinds for my paper for this class, perhaps extending it into my social psychology final project on identity and self-representation in photography.

I stayed on for Howard Rheingold's participatory media class, 7-9 on Tuesdays (so late!). I loved the lecture he gave as part of SIMS' Distinguished Lecture Series, but I haven't been as crazy about the course - it seems disorganized and nothing in it has really grabbed my interest. Here are my notes from his talk (by no means complete or even necessarily coherent):

Humans are a social animal. Their evolution is characterized by cooperation, not competition. Scientific advancement couldn't have been done without communities, though the individuals who placed the keystone often get the credit. The phenomenon of literate populations acting collectively started with the printing press, at a time when literacy went from thousands to millions. Luther, Thomas Paine, and others were the first democratizing "self-publishers." Now there's a new addition to democratizing forces: computers and wireless.

Axelrod used the prisoner's dilemma as a probe by computerizing a tournament of prisoner's dilemma strategies. He found that the tit-for-tat strategy won, but could be defeated in partner games. In another game, one player proposes a split of $100 (or a sum of up to a few days' minimum wages in local currency) between her/himself and another player, and another accepts or rejects it. The experiment was first done on Japanese, US, and European college students. Most participants rejected offers that weren't at least 30-70 (and most offers were around 30-70, too!). Around the world, there were places where no offers were accepted and others where all were; some where offers were generous (closer to 50-50) & others were stingy (worse than 70-30). In general, humans punish cheaters even at expense to themselves (reward parts of brain are active when punishing) - we have a strong sense of fairness.

In biology, role of competition vs. cooperation is controversial. Margulis postulated that mitochondria evolved as a symbiote. Symbiotic relationships are very important throughout life.

New forms of cooperation create new forms of wealth:
  1. Toyota treats suppliers as a network, not market - teaches them how to be better rather than dropping them for being bad
  2. IBM, HP, and Sun are open-sourcing some projects
  3. Sony
  4. Lilly publicizes difficult chemical synthesis problems and gives IP deals to solvers
  5. eBay provides seller's feedback information to buyers (economists would say this market doesn't exist) - this system can be gamed, but it's generally pretty honest
  6. Innocentive
  7. Amazon - open APIs, 65,000 developers
  8. Google's Adsense has made some bloggers rich :)
  9. Open-source communities
  10. Wikipedia
  11. Thinkcycle
  12. Bittorrent
  13. Seti@home and other "swarm supercomputing collectives"
  14. $50 political campaign contributions are starting to be important
Technologies of cooperation - first name for "smart mobs"
  1. Easy to use (email, blogs, wikis)
  2. Enable connections (links)
  3. Open (no license needed to publish)
  4. Group-forming (ebay, wikipedia, buddy lists)
  5. Self-instructing ("view source," blog clients)
  6. Leverage self-interest (pagerank)
Cooperation studies span many fields: sociology, business management, psych, biology, cultural evolution, political science, economics, computer and information sciences
When Rheingold presents, each group has been interested in their own part. The social dilemma is at the intersection of all these groups; group-forming, institutions, collective intelligence, collective action, and collective collaboration are at the peripheries.

Rheingold wants a tool that enables people to make a map of the information from all these fields in a way that makes sense to them. He also has an idea for an "institute of the future," where exams and games are cooperative. He's fascinated by self-organized communities, and recent examples of self-organized disaster relief, and wonders what proportion of altruistic behavior is needed for various kinds of communities to work.

The #1 reason people contribute to open-source projects is to learn to code - it's the place to find expert teachers (perhaps brutal, though). These communities need trusting people to start them, then some untrusting ones to police.

On the topic of the cameraphone project, there are plans afoot for three joural publications, and I'll be going with my advisor to 4S next week to see her present the work (and to see a friend and get to know the community). Stress! Excitement! I'm going to have to make this a short update, alas - I have two papers to work on, both due Friday. My dad's website is coming along, though more slowly than I (or he) would like. So much to do! I'll post more later when I have a bit less on my plate.
Tags: academics, berkeley, research, talk

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