Author Archives: hzty

FCC Loses to Comcast in Net Neutrality Case

I read in the Washington Post (you can sign up for free to read, I think) today that the court ruled in favor of Comcast in a recent net neutrality case. Basically, this means that Comcast can choose at what speed it wants to deliver information based on the content. Previously, Comcast had to treat all traffic equally. Now Comcast can be bought to show some websites faster or slower, making information less equally available. Comcast’s argument is that it’s trying to stop downloading. I’m not sure this benefit outweighs the restrictions it’s going to put on internet usage.

Anyway, this is all as I understand it. Read the article, let me know what you think or if you get something else out of it.

You Can't Text Message Break-up!

I was having a discussion with a friend today about the appropriateness of technology when it comes to breaking up with someone (or really for any serious conversation). I feel like it’s generally considered unacceptable to text someone to break up with them, a sign that we still find technology somewhat impersonal and inconsiderate. We then started talking about whether it was more or less acceptable to break up with someone via instant messenger (I said more, he said less), although we both agreed that these were less than ideal ways of breaking the bad news. We also talked about skype. With skype, there’s the face-to-face contact and instant response that are usually cited as necessary for break ups. For some reason, however, I still think this would be far more jarring than a phone conversation, even though it’s essentially a phone conversation with video. I don’t know if this is just me resisting forward motion into the digital age or if there’s a legitimate reason for my wariness.

Here’s my personal list of appropriate ways to break up with someone in order of most appropriate to least:
In person
Over the phone
Instant messenger
Text message

Thoughts? Your personal list?

Opt-In Privacy

While I’m sure most of us have facebook’s news feed ingrained into our lives to the point where we can’t imagine the uproar it caused when it was first released, these articles successfully reminded me just how little privacy is valued in the facebook world.

I think one of my main problems with facebook (as was demonstrated at the release of the news feed and continues to be demonstrated today) is the opt-in nature of privacy on the site. I constantly feel as if I have to choose to hide things on facebook, rather than choose to show them. Your profile is public unless you choose to make it friends-only, and any and all edits you make on your personal info automatically shows up on people’s feeds whether you want it to or not (does everyone really need to see that I’ve only now realized that MGMT has and will always only ever have three songs I like?). When someone tags a picture of you, it doesn’t ask you whether you’re fine with it before it goes up, it’s up to you to detag the picture. Even more embarrassing, there’s no way to remove pictures completely; if you’re tagged in an album and you detag yourself in one of the pictures, it’s far too easy for “friends” (facebook friend is a much looser term than friend) to go back to the album and look at that same embarrassing picture.

I think the top news feed feature is useful for cutting down on some of that; at least, I hope that these breaches of privacy are only occurring with friends I at least see on a semi-regular basis. However, a girl named “Linda Liu” keeps showing up on my top news feed despite the fact that we’re only friends because she was a freshman when I was a senior, we’ve talked exactly once, and I’ve never written anything on her wall/on her photos. Every day she shows up I have to wonder who this girl is and why facebook has decided that she’s important enough to me that I want to see all the private details of her life. I finally worked up the energy to permanently remove her from my feed but for a while I was just confused when she showed up; I’d read the updates occasionally as (like one of the articles suggested) I seem to have that same weird fascination with having the ability to know about this semi-stranger’s life. I just wonder if she’s aware that her privacy isn’t even opt-in for her, it’s opt-out for me.

Side note: How awesomely dated was the Pew Research piece? Who remembers xanga?

Youtube: Our Generation's Candid Camera

Does anyone else remember shows like candid camera? Or the still-possibly-airing America’s Funniest Home Videos? I feel like these shows have become antiquated, due in large part to the introduction of Youtube. Now, instead of watching kids get hit by balls on your television, you can watch them fall onstage on your computer! The amount of humiliation and failing that goes into the average video is definitely comparable to any of the winning videos on AFV. Looking back at the tv shows, they seem kind of stupid and juvenile, yet, when it comes to youtube, I’m still entertained by a video of a kid complaining about being bitten. Why? I’m really not sure. All I know is that I believe Youtube has filled our need for schadenfreude and voyeurism, capturing everyday moments gone so very, very wrong. I really can’t explain certain videos’ popularity otherwise.

Reading Response to Courtney Love (that was weird to type)

I think this is the first and last time I’ve been asked to read an article written by Courtney Love. And possibly an article that angry and bitter. She obviously feels she’s been abused by the current music distribution system but I’m not sure how she’d feel about music piracy when you consider legal digital music distribution. I think, at this point, she would support any measures that would give less money to the people she feels stole her money, which made the article a little biased.

This article also made me think about the “long tail” concept. With infinite shelf space, musicians can provide music without major labels and get back more. From this standpoint, Love’s argument doesn’t seem to hold.

Also, it just really made me think about this post: Stuff White People Like #93: Music Piracy which covers a bunch of this stuff.

How do you read your news?

Reading about journalism and the internet made me think about my own news reading habits. Even with the mass amounts of information/news available online I still pick up a copy of the New York Times from Carnegie or the SCC every day. I’ve tried to read news online, subscribed to feeds, etc but for whatever reason I read the most news when I have a physical paper in my hands. Usually my feeds would go unread, building up more and more until I end up deleting them for good, untouched. I also find that I read more a broader selection of news with a newspaper (I am more likely to read cover-to-cover rather than just selected types of news I’m interested in that I’ve subscribed to). I don’t think that this choice is better for everyone; I just know it works for me.

So what about you guys? Which do you prefer when it comes to reading the news: physical or digital? A mixture?

Authority and Commenting

One of the primary defenses that Sullivan (and many others) provides for the authenticity of blogging as a news source seems to be the checks-and-balances system of comments. I agree that comments give blogging a more interactive relationship between reader and writer. However, I’m not sure I’m sold on the extent to which commenters make blogging more legitimate. The problem is that I find much of the time commenters don’t have the authority to check the original author. Stop and consider comments on any Youtube video. Ever.

If there are commenters making ridiculous, unfounded, fact-checked-by-wikipedia comments, the author has a choice: engage in a discussion with the commenter, ignore the commenter, or delete the comment. If (s)he chooses the former, the commenter may happily commence trolling and other readers will be forced to try and figure out which person has more authority (and many may choose and quote the untrue facts the commenter has made).  Additionally, if there is more than one troll (as is so often the case), the writer will be forced to address a million unfounded claims which, even if easily dismissed, will be time consuming and likely frustrating. Legitimate comments may become lost among a sea of comment wars. On the other hand, ignoring these attacks is in some ways more dangerous. It reduces the legitimacy of the original article and makes it seem like the comment has an element of truth. Simply deleting the comment has the same effect and damages the writer/reader relationship.

I guess I’m not totally ready to accept commenting as the cure-all for blogging authenticity. At least, not until commenters figure out a way to gain and establish some form of authority as well.

Long Tail Response

I loved how this article (and his blog as a whole) touched on the economic aspects of digital media. I thought it tied into previous comments about how digitization is making everything so much more accessible and commercial. I was particularly interested in his note that systems like iTunes should reduce their prices since we’re not getting as much for our money. This theory, which I’m sure will go over horribly with those who pushed prices up to $1.29, does have some interesting ramifications.

First of all, I wonder if that means that Anderson would agree with the whole multiple pricing on iTunes now. It does seem to help overcome the situation he described in which people don’t think that 99 cents is worth it for most of the non-singles. On the other hand, this seems to be feeding more into what he described as the overvaluation of hits.

The second consideration I had was what Anderson thinks of the effect this proposed change of pricing will have on music videos. A lot of money typically goes into producing music videos and music companies depend on these songs being hits. The point of this type of marketing is hit making. The Long Tail effect doesn’t seem to work here. Lower budget videos or fewer hits seem like unappealing options (to me, at least). I’m interested to see how companies deal with The Long Tail while not sacrificing these other aspects of the music industry.


Today I got a Save the Date from my friend who’s getting married this summer. Unlike the usual paper save the dates, however, this one was special! My friend and her fiancée have decided to make all their arrangements for their wedding online! Instead of a paper rsvp, they’ve sent everyone a link to vimeo and a stop motion music video that they made. I understand that I’m biased, but it’s completely adorable. Furthermore, they’ve created a website that is linked to all their online gift registries and a facebook event-styled rsvp section.

Granted, this may be a little difficult for people who are technologically challenged so they have a paper counterpart as well, but I thought this was an awesome example of people making the shift to technology for every bit of their lives!

Afternoon Response

I know I’m late responding to Afternoon, but I finally got a chance to get really in depth with the program.

As others have mentioned, I can officially say I am not a fan. It was really like a nonsensical, really long choose-your-own-adventure. In fact, I think it gave hypertext a bad name.

The whole purpose of hypertext, it seemed to me, was to meld the reader and the writer and to make reading an experience that works with one’s mind. Afternoon just seemed to work against my mind. Hypertext has been described as blending the writer and the reader; a customizable experience in which the reader can have as much or as little information as desired.

Afternoon, on the other hand, made me feel like Joyce wanted me to feel lost. Like he had placed me in a maze to confuse me, not to work with me. I felt even more distant from the writer and couldn’t tell what he was thinking at all.

In short, this seemed like a very, very poor version of what Landow had envisioned.