Category Archives: The Politics of New Media

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

How can innovative “pay by..” models stem file swapping? …(or can they?)

“Physical” music sales are down. Forever. And they’re not alone. The question now isn’t if people will download music, but how. Will they steal it? Will they know they’re even breaking the law? Will they pay for it? Lot’s of record companies and big retailers seem confident they will. If they buy it, what can they do with it? Will it be “theirs” or will it be theirs only if they have iTunes?

Is DRM it, or are there obvious solutions right under our noses?

If your favorite band offered you their new album for FREE, would you still pay for it? Conversely, if you just took it for free without asking, would your favorite band be pissed at you? Still, is free web-distribution the little guy’s best chance for recognition (and future sales)?

Seems also like the music industry just doesn’t get the dynamic of evolution inherent in new media. Sure, they’ll win some battles. But they’ll lose the war.

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Filed under A democratic medium?, Business 2.0, P2P (Peer to Peer), When New Meets Old

Wikiganda

On November 17th, 2005, an anonymous Wikipedia user deleted 15 paragraphs from an article on e-voting machine-vendor Diebold, excising an entire section critical of the company’s machines. While anonymous, such changes typically leave behind digital fingerprints offering hints about the contributor, such as the location of the computer used to make the edits. In this case, the changes came from an IP address reserved for the corporate offices of Diebold itself. And it is far from an isolated case. A new data-mining service launched Monday traces millions of Wikipedia entries to their corporate sources, and for the first time puts comprehensive data behind longstanding suspicions of manipulation, which until now have surfaced only piecemeal in investigations of specific allegations.

Read more from WIRED, the BBC and the New York Times and see which government agencies and corporations are editing Wikipedia articles about themselves and what articles are currently undergoing intensive editing.

Previously from WNM: Wikis and Wikipedia: Who’s writing this stuff?, Look up ‘Payola’ in Wikipedia and Evaluating Wikipedia’s credibility

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Filed under The Politics of New Media, Wiki

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

So if bloggers are like journalists, should(n’t) they adopt similar ethical standards?

The modified bill that passed the committee today included a provision that limits its protections to those who make “financial gain or livelihood” from their journalism. Bloggers who make ten bucks a quarter from their Google ads seem unlikely to get protection, though this will depend on how broadly the courts interpret “financial gain.”

Read this item from Ars Technica. Previously from WNM: Free Flow of Information Act positions bloggers as journalists

Disclosure is a tricky business and as a practice is still ill-defined even in the realm of traditional journalism. The general idea is that anything that might be seen as a potential conflict of interest between a writer and the subject of his story should be disclosed to the reader. If I invested in a startup I am writing about, for example, or if the CEO is my best friend, I should disclose that fact. But it’s not always so cut and dry.

Read this item from the Read/Write Web

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Filed under Blogosphere, The Politics of New Media

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