I believe the topic raised in this lecture is a very vast and intriguing one. The problem of crowd wisdom has been present in the human history from the moment we started forming societies. Nevertheless, the scale and power the Internet gave it seems to have transformed this problem into a real modern day phenomenon.
The invention of mass media such as radios or TV enabled reaching out to a wider audience and thus became a tool for influencing public opinion. However, it was the Internet that took this privilege from a very small group of people and gave practically everyone an opportunity to speak up on a public forum. Sure, not every opinion can move the masses, but thanks to sites such as social media everybody can share their views – even if it will reach only a close group of friends. Therefore, unfortunately, today’s Internet often seems to resemble more of an intangible bundle of millions of various opinions, than a place of constructive discussions.
Another consequence of Internet’s accessibility and mass scale is the anonymity that it gives to its users. It is possible to write an opinion that would be seen by thousands of viewers and remain unbothered about its aftermath. Being just a small tribe in an online crowd lifted the weight of responsibility for our actions almost completely off our chests, leaving us in a very comfortable position. Even so, is comfort really all we should be looking for?
It is also delusional to think that the Internet is free of any manipulation. I think most people are much more susceptible to what they see on the Internet, than they are aware of. But what is more disturbing though, is that there are individuals, as well as institutions on the Internet who are perfectly aware of this fact and know how to take advantage of it.
This all puts into doubt the value of Internet as an ideal platform for democratic discussion, which was also highlighted in the Eugeny Morozov’s book “The Net Delusion”. Still, I believe Internet and social media have many advantages. It is that if we use it without caution we can easily become the victims of crowd wisdom it brings and so, what we need today in my opinion is thinking critically every time we swipe through the web.
Day by day internet becomes more and more important in our life. It slowly replaces conventional means of administration and instruments used in everyday life. It has become quite common, that instead of printed records, all information of students’ performance is available exclusively online. Given the opportunity of doing our taxes online, we can also avoid waiting in never ending lines in offices. Today it is also possible to buy a wide range of products online. What is more, many people refuse to use printed press and prefer gaining information via internet. Fulfilling our legal obligations and carrying out tasks which are considered an inevitable nuisance via internet is definitely easier, quicker, and more comfortable. Although in my opinion, it can have negative impacts. From the social point of view, a future where the internet dominates over other information systems and where the World Wide Web rules the world, is rather a dystopia than utopia. In a world, where we do not have to leave our homes in order to do anything, we cease to have any sort of interaction with other people. This can cause a setback in our social skills. Moreover, we might fall into the state of apathy. Having the opportunity to turn our attention towards issues that are less difficult to deal with – which is provided by the internet, we may choose the easier way, and let others deal with problems. But who are these ‘others’? Another concern that rises regarding an ‘internet utopia’ is the question of privacy. Every move we undertake on the internet can be traced and used against us. If everything we do becomes known to the government, we make it easier to find ways to control us. Probably, the most important question is what if there will be no electricity to power the servers? What will we do if the ‘internet utopia’ will crash down because of the lack of energy? The question if this kind of utopia can be just is also of huge importance. Will it be possible to provide access to internet to everyone? If not, which is the most probable scenario, then we can not call it a true utopia.
I was preparing myself to write several comments and I found this TED video with Lanier’s speech on youtube. In his talk he touches the topic of people’s virtual identity and creating avatars. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwbGumZ-FYg I found this video very interesting and I think everyone should see it. It turns out that even small changes of details in a digital design can be meaningful for our perception and can have deep effects on us, humans. Our identities can be influenced or completely changed by working gadgets. Different types of media wake different potentials of human nature up and force us to adjust our actions to the reality and needs created by particular type of media. The virtual freedom we get is only an illusion. Although it is called “an open culture”, it really encloses us in a narrow space between reality and many alter-egos we can develop, changing out behavior online. What we consider “a new possibility” is actually a new limitation, a trap we can get caught online very quickly. In his book “You are not a gadget”, Lanier says that what happened to elements online, like files and musical notes, may happen also to the definition of human being. Our identity online, although we consider it great and unique, is already diminished and abbreviated to the login we created. Lanier says that people get used to pseudonimity and anonymity online and it may be the case that in the future they will forget that things could be different. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIwikI7IVYs This is another Lanier’s interview and this time he explains that people are no longer able to cope with the amount of information they get online. The perfect solution to this problem is a prospective invention of a super-browser, which will show us only the set of information we really need, but this is obviously only utopia. WWW world is constructed in a way which prevents us from consciously selecting information. The impression that we have control over what we see on a website is vague. Online reality connected with human being nature exceeded our abilities in the world but also showed a new dimension of no return.
If you are interested in the digital economy, I can recommend some interesting and new articles according to this issue:
-> 3 Steps To Succeeding In Today’s Digital Economy http://www.forbes.com/sites/steveolenski/2015/06/24/3-steps-to-succeeding-in-todays-digital-economy/2/
-> In the Digital Economy, Reinvention is the Word http://www.psfk.com/2015/06/digital-economy-reinvention-internet-of-things-world-dataa.html
-> The Digital Economy Is Turning The Business World Upside Down http://www.forbes.com/sites/sap/2015/05/28/the-digital-economy-is-turning-the-business-world-upside-down/
I was also looking for information about this topic in the Polish media, but unfortunately there is practically nothing… If you don’t speak English you will not learn about the digital/Internet economy. Some start-up conferences are devoted to this subject, but there is more photos than content or information. It’s strange, because we have many websites or thematic portals, but it’s really hard to find someting valuable on them. I must say, that Polish sphere of the Internet is very poor quality…
It’s true that today the Internet is used in the wider politics. Thanks to the internet people Its true that today the Internet is used in the wider politics. People by internet can avoid the forbiden behaviour during the election silence, like it is in Poland (because in some countries election silence doesn’t exist). During the election in 2015 year in Poland people used nicknames for candidates for President – and everyone knew that the discussion was about election but according tothe law everything was right.can avoid the forbiden behaviour during the election silence, like it is in Poland (because in some countries election silence doesn’t exist). During the election in 2015 year in Poland people used nicknames for candidates for President – and everyone knew that the discussion was about election but according tothe law everything was correct.
Talking about internet flash mobs and crowds, first that comes to my mind is use of crowd manipulation and crowd propaganda to influence people thouhghts and actions.
Very often on the internet there are presented photos from the events that portray wider group of people than it really is. This practice is common to politics and business.
Propaganda is „the consistent, enduring effort to create or shape events to influence the relations of the public to an enterprise, idea or group” and this is commonly used in internet and television. Therefore in my opinion everything we see and read on the internet should not be taken for granted.
Talking about the crowd wisdom, internet fandoms seem to be particularly interesting. Basing on the most famous popular culture phenomena, they sometimes gain a collective political power. For example the Harry Potter Alliance have performed a serious civil action for victims of the conﬂict in Darfur which has brought some significant results (such as forcing UNO to officially condemn war crimes during this conflict). I have written about the other example – dopting the salute from The Hunger Games
by the anti-junta protesters in Thailand – several weeks ago on this page.
The members of fandoms also work together and use the pieces of information they have to reach the hidden media conent – for example, Henry Jenkins writes about the Survivor tv show fandom – its members were working together and investigating reports in hotels, flights, and social media accounts of the show’s participants to find out who is the Survivor’s winner even before the start of the programme!
Now, all information about voting, policy, election we can find in the internet. In social media information goes so rapidly to the recipient, much faster than by TV – in internet it’s enought to use one button to add new message/video. In policy internet is comfortable but also dangerous because people can check for example election polls, election results faster than oficial TV will give information about it – so the possibility of falsification of votes is lower.
I guess we will have to see if centers of power and influence developing outside of the „Core” will truly make things decentralized. I can’t think of any reason why such new centers of power would not just become these „elite” cores in their own right, in due time. I think the rise of social media moguls is a good demonstration of this.
Lanier’s thesis that crowd can be wise is kinda shocking for me. Yet, in the internet it really works (sometimes!). As Lanier states, the key is to use this wisdom in a right way. However, the author emphasizes that still, the personal intelligence is a core of this phenomenon. Anyway, I agree with him – cloud compution, all that „@homes” projects create a completely new way of solving really difficult problems. Obviously – as Lanier says- there is a need to cross a divide line between problems to be solved by individuals and by crowd. Lanier also shows few dead ends of e-crowd and cloud computing – ie. jittering and vandalism on George W. Bush’s Wikipedia page. So, as I said before, we need to set the stable rules in this case, otherwise it might go really, really wrong, as many examples from the internet’s history show. About the political participation – yes, there’s a lot of hate in the Web. Why? Because people feel anonymous and there is no additional costs of writing something silly ’bout one politician. Check out latest presidential elections – there were dozens of silly memes, quotes which seemed to compromise president Komorowski. And it’s inly a tip of an inceberg. In polish internet, there are lots of sites (mostly far-right though) filled with hate and other bad feelings. It costs nothing to write few rude words and post it via Web. And that’s the dark side of the internet, the big agora of ideas and opinions. I don’t want it to be censored, I just hope that when people get used to the Web, they will change their behavior. See, mr. Sikorski has sued few net users for hate speech about him and as far as I remember, he won. Maybe that’s the way to make it better or at least present the e-hate problem to the society? And by the way, the collective behavior works here (according to my . One hater brings fuel to another one. So the crowd didn’t become wiser in the internet…In the end, I just wish that there will be a clear divide between crowd’s problems and individual problem’s in the internet, cause then, any work (intellectual etc.) might get way more effective that it ever was in the real life.
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