Who Do Online Advertisers Think You Are?

Image: Edward del Rosario

Image: Edward del Rosario

“Should we worry about ads aimed specifically at us everywhere we go on the Web and, increasingly, on our mobile devices too? Yes, and not just because the ads can be invasive and annoying. Real-time bidding also makes the online marketplace less of an even playing field, allowing companies to send loyalty points or discounts — or price increases — to individuals based on their perceived spending power. The travel site Orbitz, after learning that Mac users spend 30 percent more on hotel rooms than P.C. users, has started to send Mac users ads for hotels that are 11 percent more expensive than the ones that P.C. users are seeing, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article. […]

As our experiences become customized, there is more at stake than just discount coupons and deals. There’s also the future of our common culture. As personalization shapes not only the ads we see and the news we read but also the potential dates we encounter and the Google search results we receive, the possibility of not only shared values but also a shared reality becomes more and more elusive.” (Jeffrey Rosen, NYTimes.com)

When Screens Touch Back

“As students of media, however, we are (rightly) trained to be suspicious of technofetishistic and deterministic narratives. Instead of grounding our analysis in what tactile touch screens promise to do later, we should rather try to understand them for what they are being asked to do, to understand the desires embodied in the various attempts to give touchscreens a dynamic tactility. The following questions then come into view: what economic imperatives are steering and configuring this project of making tactile? What sensations does the screen allow into the tactile field, and which ones does it shield the user from? What sensations are desirable, and which are to be marginalized? What sorts of new intersubjective contacts are opened up? When the screen can touch us, whose touch is it acting as a surrogate for? (Or, “who penetrates whom” through tactile prosthesis?)” (David Parisi, FLOW)

Also check out the Popular Science clip on “Haptics” that Parisi references.

Image: Immersion Corporation: TouchSense® 5000

Image: Immersion Corporation: TouchSense® 5000

U.Va. Computer Science Grad Student Develops ‘Musical Heart’

Musical Heart - UVA Today

Photo: Dan Addison

“Musical Heart works by merging a microphone that detects the pulse in arteries in the ear with earphones that bring in music from a playlist on a smartphone. An app selects tunes that optimize the heart rate of an individual user based on a given activity, whether running, walking or relaxing – playing fast-paced music for hard workouts, and slowing the beat for cool-downs. An algorithm refines the music selection process of the system by storing heart rate data and calculating the effects of selected music on the rate. Over time, it improves music selections to optimize the user’s heart rate.” (Fariss Samarrai, UVA Today)

NTU scientist invents pocket living room TV

NTU scientist invents pocket living room TV

Image: Nanyang Technical University

“Named the “Social Cloud TV”, this system allows you to watch TV programmes and online videos with your family and friends at the same time. The system leverages a cloud backend for media processing (e.g., video transcoding), such that the same video can be streamed into devices in the most suitable format.  When viewing a TV show or perhaps a live soccer match, you can invite family and friends to join your session, from either your phone book or social networking contact lists.” (Nanyang Technological University)

The Way We Read Now

The Way We Read Now - NYTimes.com

Image: Jeffrey Fisher

“I still prefer to consume sentences the old-fashioned and nongreen way, on the pulped carcasses of trees that have had their throats slit. I can imagine my tweener kids, in a few years, beginning to picket me for my murderous habits: ‘No (tree) blood for (narrative) oil.’

It’s time to start thinking, however, about the best literary uses for these devices. Are some reading materials better suited to one platform than another? Does Philip Larkin feel at home on an iPad, and Lorrie Moore on a Kindle? Can I make a Kay Ryan poem my ringtone? Will any gizmo make “The Fountainhead” palatable?” (Dwight Garner, NYTimes.com)

For Impatient Web Users, an Eye Blink Is Just Too Long to Wait

For Impatient Web Users, an Eye Blink Is Just Too Long to Wait - New York Times

Photo: Peter DaSilva for The New York Times

“People will visit a Web site less often if it is slower than a close competitor by more than 250 milliseconds (a millisecond is a thousandth of a second).  ‘Two hundred fifty milliseconds, either slower or faster, is close to the magic number now for competitive advantage on the Web,’ said Harry Shum, a computer scientist and speed specialist at Microsoft.” (Steve Lohr, NYTimes.com)