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Working for Praise


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week 9

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Working for Praise

  1. 1. Social Media week9 Working for Praise last update: March 30, 2009 Trebor Scholz | LCST 2031 A | Spring 2009
  2. 2. What You Need To Know About This Course week 1 Histories of the Internet week 2 Histories of the Internet and World Wide Web week 3 Social Media, Cyber Clustering, and Social Isolation week 4 Participation: Benefits, Numbers, and Quality week 5 Quality. The Wisdom or Ineptitude of the Crowd The Web 2.0 Ideology week 7 week 6 Art and Social Media Spring Break week 8 Political Net Activism week 9 What Does It Take To Participate? Why Participate? week 10 Got Ethics? Labor, Work, What? week 11 week 14 The Power of Users week 13 Net Neutrality week 12 Near Future Scenarios week 15 Presentations Trebor Scholz | The New School University | Eugene Lang | LCST 2031 A | Spring 2009
  3. 3. What Does It Take To Participate? week 9 March 30, April 1 Required Reading: ”The Internet and Youth Political Participation” Kann, M. First Monday. 27 Jul 2007. 31 Jul 2007 <> Warschauer, Mark. quot;Reconceptualizing the Digital Divide.quot; School of Information - University of Michigan: The iSchool at Michigan. 31 July 2002. 03 Jan. 2009 <>. Trebor Scholz | LCST 2031 A | Spring 2009
  4. 4. Semiotics of the Kitchen by Martha Rosler (1975)
  5. 5. Good Charlotte - quot;Keep Your Hands Off My Girlquot;2006
  6. 6. Why? “The two things that people want more than sex or money are recognition and praise.” Mary Kay Ash (Communities Create Brands p27)
  7. 7. Willing to work for praise. The Volunteer Economy Will Work for Praise: The Web's Free-Labor Economy by Stephen Baker quot;masses of free laborers continue to toil without ever seeing a payday, or even angling for one. Many find compensation in currencies that predate the market economy. These include winning praise from peers, earning an exalted place within a community, scoring thrills from winning, and finding satisfaction in helping others.quot; quot;But how to monetize all that energy? From universities to the computer labs of Internet giants, researchers are working to decode motivations, and to perfect the art of enlisting volunteers. Prahbakar Raghavan, chief of Yahoo Research (YHOO), estimates that 4% to 6% of Yahoo's users are drawn to contribute their energies for free, whether it's writing movie reviews or handling questions at Yahoo Answers. If his team could devise incentives to draw upon the knowledge and creativity of a further 5%, it could provide a vital boost. Incentives might range from contests to scoreboards to thank-you notes. quot;Different types of personalities respond to different point systems,quot; he says. Raghavan has hired microeconomists and sociologists from Harvard and Columbia universities to match different types of personalities with different rewards.quot;
  8. 8. friendship Intensities of Participation subscribe read collaborate moderate share remix tag forward write comment favorite link
  9. 9. Willing to work for praise How do you mobilize volunteers? (Some of the previous research has drawn on frequent flier programs.) Abundant non-financial rewards Americans happily toiling for attention on for-profit sites that don't pay them money quot;Communispace, a market research company near Boston, conducts similar studies as it enlists volunteer marketing consultants. The company invites targeted people to join hundreds of social networks organized around certain products and services, from airlines to weight-loss medications. These are virtual focus groups. The volunteers provide insights on advertising campaigns and suggestions for new products. Manila Austin, a psychologist who heads up research at Communispace, says that 86% of the participants contribute to discussions and nearly 1 in 3 adds a fresh post each week. When Austin and her team experimented with financial incentives, they discovered that volunteers appreciated the gesture, but didn't want payment. Participation rose when volunteers received a token $10 gift certificate as a thank-you. But raising the value of the certificates made no difference. quot;People want the validation that they are being heard,quot; Austin says.quot;
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  11. 11. Willing to work for praise. quot;Dinner guests, for example, satisfy social obligations by offering their hosts a bottle of wine. But, says Dan Ariely, professor of behavioral economics at Duke University and author of Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, it would be a jolting intrusion of the market economy if guests instead handed their hosts a check. quot;It's a very delicate line,quot; Ariely says, quot;and the modern workplace is right in the middle.quot; quot;Sweet's first hit on ThisNext was a $400 fishbowl from Red Dot Design. When she posted it on the site, it quickly became one of the most popular items. She hunted for more finds to post. As other visitors to the site found her gems, they gave them high marks, driving Sweet up in the site's contributor rankings. She was becoming a star—what Gould calls a maven. On a recent afternoon, she clicked on the site to check her status. quot;I'm No. 1 in San Francisco, No. 1 in Washington, No. 2 in Denver,quot; she announced proudly.
  12. 12. Willing to work for praise. The unwritten quid pro quo between Gould and Sweet amounts to a boilerplate contract for much of the free-labor economy. Gould provides a stage for Sweet to strut her stuff, a platform to reach millions of shopping fanatics around the world. This is the key to his business. It draws advertisers to targeted sites populated with shopping enthusiasts; ThisNext gets paid for each click. He's happy to give Sweet a boost by putting her in touch with media (including BusinessWeek). His team also sends mavens such freebies as skin cream and HaberVision sunglasses, which list at $200, Sweet notes. With this blend, Gould and other entrepreneurs manage to cash in on free labor—while glossing over the issue of financial remuneration.quot; quot;Making money is up to Sweet, who has a full-time job as a designer. She thinks that she might cash in on her stardom somewhere else—on blogs, books, TV, or even at a new job. (Her blog,, gets tens of thousands of hits per week but has yet to make much money.)quot;
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  14. 14. fb, flickr: letting others in on the experience archiving memory also breaching power: uploading mp3s identification transparency of rules Participation In Social Media and power dynamics individual vs. network value format of contributions tone, passion, humor, personality low threshold engagement trust type of content scale time sifting through music sites relaxation group belonging “I give because I am link to local community great” (agonistic giving) social capital job driven by guilt: yelp,, food blogs emotional support sharing the experience contributing to of one’s time & place access to information the greater good software architecture feedback translation mobile computing pleasure of creation intellectual property self-improvement hormones reciprocity scale friendship challenge embodied and networked sociality signal-to-noise ratio permanency and gender privacy of content cc Trebor Scholz
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  16. 16. Kindergarten, Kibbutz When Free Comes at a Price
  17. 17. Illustration: Abbot Miller/Pentagon Microcelebrity Clive Thompson on the Age of Microcelebrity: Why Everyone's a Little Brad Pitt
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  19. 19. quot;We encourage people to do the work by taking advantage of their desire to be entertained.quot; ESP Game quot;We encourage people to do the work by taking advantage of their desire to be entertained.quot; Image recognition is something that computers are not good at. Computer vision techniques donʼt work well enough, according to the creators of the ESP game. While people are perfectly capable to recognize and describe images, they are not especially willing to spent long hours to do so without getting paid. Two randomly assigned partners play the ESP game. Players are not told who their partners are and they cannot communicate with them. Online, a large number of such pairs play simultaneously. Both players see the same image. The goal of the game is to guess the words with which the other person is describing the image. Once both players have typed the same description of the image, they can move on to the next image. The creators of the game call this process “agreeing on an image.quot; The ESP creators encourage people to do the work of describing images by taking and they count on the desire of players to be entertained. Better proper labels attached to each image online would allow for improved image search online and for better accessibility of websites to blind people. “…almost 1.3 million labels were collected with only 13,630 players, some of whom spent over 50 hours playing the game! We believe these numbers provide evidence that the game is funquot;
  20. 20. quot;The world becomes a continuous and inexhaustible process of emergence of inventions that goes beyond slavish accumulation.quot; --quot;Reinventingquot; Nigel Thrift, p281
  21. 21. “Public discourse craves attention like a child. Texts clamor at us. Images solicit our gaze. Look here! Listen! Yo!” “[Publics] are virtual entities, not voluntary associations. Because their threshold of belonging is an active uptake, however, they can be understood within the conceptual framework of civil society— that is, as having a free, voluntary, and active membership.” Warner, Michael (2002): Publics and Counterpublics. In: Public Cultures, vol. 14, no. 1, 49-90.
  22. 22. Trebor Scholz Twitter: trebors Blog: Delicious: Flickr: LibraryThing: