Category Archives: A Culture of Participation

Social Marketing’s bet that we’ll do their work for them

Build it and they (us) will advertise for us (them). Genius. If it works.

For a long time now web marketers have been struggling to get heard above the din of flashing web animations and banners. No longer. If you ever wondered how social networking giants Facebook and MySpace made money (and why they’ve in turn been purchased by megamedia companies Microsoft and Fox), wonder no more. It’s target marketing. And it’s powerful. Or at least some are betting it will be.

If marketers believe in numbers, Facebook is betting they can deliver them. Facebook Ads (powered by Facebook Beacon) is a viral marketing distribution system wherein Facebook members are “empowered” to share (recommend) their product and purchasing habits with their online buddies.

To make this work Facebook, to the displeasure of many, lifted it’s longtime ban on member profiles that weren’t actual people. Corporations wanting a piece of the social marketing action can now create brand-specific profiles, but unlike your average-joe-Facebook-member, they’ll be tracking the behavior of their Facebook friends.

Think about marketing distribution channels for a second. Millions of dollars spent to advertise in print and on tv stand to be replaced by….us. And we’re cheap (free).

It’s not like everyone in the socialsphere is chomping at the bit to market to their online pals, but the fact is it’s a seemingly natural attempt to co-opt a fairly normal offline behavior. The markets as conversations crowd sees this all as incredibly natural.

Since Facebook’s announcement there’s been plenty of criticism. There’s the typical rants against insidious stealth advertising techniques, but privacy concerns are the primary cause for alarm. It may even be illegal. But I doubt it.

Don’t worry, the government is getting involved, so it will all probably work out.

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Filed under A Culture of Participation, Business 2.0, Privacy, Social Media, Virtual Communities, web 2.0, When New Meets Old

Lifecasting: The Age of Narcissism, Exhibitionism blooms

Lifecasting comes naturally to today’s youths, who are used to living their lives in public, posting details of every hookup and breakup on their Facebook or MySpace pages. Anyone with a laptop, webcam and Internet connection can do it. As with any new medium, people are trying to figure out the rules of etiquette. The budding phenomenon raises questions about the privacy of people who may not want to appear in the live streams, as well as copyright implications of, for example, broadcasting music that’s playing in the background. But companies such as Los Angeles-based Ustream, which powers Gnant’s webcast, and Justin.tv in San Francisco are racing to become the dominant purveyor of such live, unfiltered programs. In the last year, the technology behind live streaming has become so cheap that start-ups such as Mogulus, MyStreams and Veodia can afford to give it away in hopes that they can make money through the mainstays of TV’s reality shows: advertising and product placement.

Excerpt from Welcome to their world — all of it, from the Los Angeles Times (free password req’d)

A short overview of Lifecasting is available from the UK Times Online.

Previously from WNM: Mommy blogest

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Filed under A Culture of Participation, Technology, our Mirror, User generated content, Virtual Communities

Jimmy Wales outlines plans for open-source, user-powered search engine

Volunteers can download the Grub web crawler, which runs in the background on their PC, indexing web pages according to their content. The crawler will be used as the basis for Wikia’s forthcoming search service. By contrast, search engines like Google run their own web crawlers and keep details of the way they work secret.

Read this item from New Scientist and contribute your knowledge of Jimmy Wakes or Grub to the Whats New Media Wiki.

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Filed under A Culture of Participation, Open Source, Search

Cyberchondriacs, Cyberquacks…why is health info on the Internet surrounded by negativity?

Cyberchondriacs are not only using the Internet to educate themselves, many are also using it to assist in their conversations with their physicians. A 58 percent majority of adults who have gone online to get health information say that they have discussed this information with their doctors at least once in the last year. Furthermore, more than half (55%) of cyberchondriacs have searched for health information based on discussions with their doctors.

More from Harris Interactive and commentary at Ars

This article discusses the growing trend towards ‘lay’ people accessing information about health from the internet. Surveying the major studies of online health consumption, I argue that this phenomenon can be seen as a marker of a broader shift in focus within public health discourse and the popular media on health as an individual ‘lifestyle’ issue. Despite this cultural shift, the medical debate over online health consumption has been largely negative, viewing the internet as an unruly and unregulated space of mis-information and lay web users as potential victims of ‘cyberquackery’. In contrast to this reductive account, I discuss a qualitative study I conducted into young people’s use of the internet for health material that showed they are often highly sceptical consumers of online health material. Furthermore, the study found that the kinds of health material young people access is informed by issues of social positionality or ‘health habitus’ complicating individualistic notions of lifestyle ‘choice’.

Abstract from Tania Lewis’ Seeking health information on the internet: lifestyle choice or bad attack of cyberchondria? in the journal of Media, Culture & Society

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Filed under A Culture of Participation, A democratic medium?, Virtual Communities

Turns out their are maps for these territories. Lots of them.

With the help of simple tools introduced by Internet companies recently, millions of people are trying their hand at cartography, drawing on digital maps and annotating them with text, images, sound and videos. In the process, they are reshaping the world of mapmaking and collectively creating a new kind of atlas that is likely to be both richer and messier than any other. They are also turning the Web into a medium where maps will play a more central role in how information is organized and found.

Read this article from the New York Times

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Filed under A Culture of Participation, A democratic medium?, Aggregate, Connection/Isolation, Social Media, Technology, our Mirror, Tools, Usability, User generated content, Virtual Communities, web 2.0, When New Meets Old

Web Widgets become serious business

The rise of widgets was caused by several factors including the adoption of RSS, the expansion of the blogosphere, growth of social networks, fashion of self-expression and the democratization of the web at large. Originally, the goal of widgets was to simply deliver a miniaturized version of a specific piece of content outside of the primary web site…A major development in the history of widgets occured just this week; the W3C published a draft of the first widget specification. The goal of this effort is to standardize how widgets are scripted, digitally signed, secured, packaged and deployed in a way that is device independent, follows W3C principles, and is as interoperable as possible with existing market-leading user agents on which widgets are run.

from The Evolution of Web Widgets: From Self-Expression to Media Companies at the Read/Write Web

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Filed under A Culture of Participation, A democratic medium?, Business 2.0, Digital Commons, Media Evolution, Productivity, Tools, web 2.0

Digital Sharecropping: Lessig warns of user-generated content exploitation

In May, Lucasfilm announced plans to enable fans of the “Star Wars” series to “remix” “Star Wars” video clips with their own creative work. Using an innovative Internet platform called Eyespot, these (re)creators can select video clips or other content and then add images or upload new content, whether images, video or music. Eyespot is one of many new technologies inviting “users” to do more than use the creativity they are consuming. Likewise, Lucasfilm is one of many companies recognizing that the more “users” use their creativity, the thicker the bonds are between consumers and the work consumed.

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A dark force, however, has influenced Lucasfilm’s adoption of Eyespot’s technology. A careful reading of Lucasfilm’s terms of use show that in exchange for the right to remix Lucasfilm’s creativity, the remixer has to give up all rights to what he produces. In particular, the remixer grants to Lucasfilm the “exclusive right” to the remix — including any commercial rights — for free.

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Hybrids are an important future of Internet growth. Businesses will have to think carefully about which terms will excite the masses to work for them for free. Competition will help define these terms. But if one more lawyer protected from the market may be permitted a prediction, I suggest sharecropping will not survive long as a successful strategy for the remixer.

Commentary from Lawrence Lessig for the Washington Post

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Filed under A Culture of Participation, A democratic medium?, Aggregate, Digital Commons, Electronic Storytelling, Fair Use, Same as it ever Was, Tools, User generated content, When New Meets Old