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)

Sonia Livingstone on Children and the Internet

Sonia Livingstone on Children and the Internet on Social Science Bites (SAGE)

Nigel Warburton – You mentioned exposure to pornography, to racism, to cyber-bullying, is that the limit of risk for a child online?

Sonia Livingstone – Among the most common risks are exposure to pornography and cyber-bullying, though those remain relatively low level. The other risk that people really worry about, it the risk that strangers, paedophiles, ‘weirdos’ (as kids call them) will locate a child, especially a vulnerable child and will exploit and abuse them. And we spent quite a while thinking about firstly how to ask children about that, if they are not aware of those risks, because there are ethical issues in the research we are doing. And then, how to decide what is a risk, because many children go online precisely to meet new people and make new friends. And a ‘new friend’ before you get to know them is a stranger. So, working out which are the strangers who are going to become good friends and which are the ones who are going to harm you is a really subtle judgment that we are asking a child to make. Many children do the kinds of things that allow them to make new friends, like they post their personal information, and they add contacts to their social networking or their instant messaging that they don’t otherwise know, they put out all kinds of information about themselves. But, mainly, they don’t meet strangers and they certainly don’t meet weird strangers out to sexually abuse them.

Long Distance

Long Distance - RadioLab

Image: melloveschallah/flickr/CC-BY-2.0

In the mid-1950’s, a blind seven-year-old boy named Joe Engressia Jr. made a discovery that changed his own life and many others. While idly dialing information on the family telephone, he heard a high-pitched tone in the background and started whistling along with it. Slowly, he learned to recognize all kinds of tones, pulses, clicks and beeps that the phone system used to talk to itself. And when he got good at decoding those sounds, he became the grandaddy of a whole movement of like-minded obsessives known as “phone phreaks.” (RabioLab)

Virtual Pacifism

Virtual Pacifism - On The Media

Image: (Battlefield 3)

“I don’t actually know if this is true, but I’ve heard rumors about a guy who went through the entire game with nothing but a shield, and there are other games — one was called Deus Ex — that are just all about shooting and mayhem and craziness and, and people sort of sneak through them or they use sedative darts to get through them.” (Conor Dougherty on OnTheMedia)

The Dilemma of Being a Cyborg

The Dilemma of Being a Cyborg - New York Times

Image: Tom Gauld

“Foer said, ‘What makes things memorable is that they are meaningful, significant, colorful.’ Data is weightless and characterless and takes up very little space. The more of it we save, the more we lose the ability to differentiate it, to assign significance and meaning.

I’m pretty sure, for instance, that my husband still doesn’t know my phone number, which he stored on his phone on the day we met, whereas I remember his because he wrote it down for me on a tiny scrap of paper that I pinned to my bulletin board, where it gradually accrued meaning. In my mind, my husband’s phone number is inextricable from his handwriting, and it lives on a jagged-edged, ephemeral scrap that resurfaces every once in a while, usually when I’m looking for something else.” (Carina Chocano, NYTimes.com)

Affordances, technical agency, and the politics of technologies of cultural production

a dialogue between Gina Neff, Tim Jordan, and Joshua McVeigh-Schulz

Affordances, technical agency, and the politics of technologies of cultural production - Culture Digitally

Image: Culture Digitally

“My problem is that we as academics of technology don’t yet have the theoretical language and tools to talk about these systems. We have rightly corrected technologically deterministic theories to better account for user agency and the social construction of tools. However, I am beginning to think that we may have “overcorrected,” with the pendulum swung too far in the direction of human power, ignoring the serious questions that remain about how tools are designed, how they function socially, and how users are aware of their positions and power.” (Gina Neff, Culture Digitally)

With Enough Bandwidth, Many Join the Band

With Enough Bandwidth, Many Join the Band - New York Times

Photo: T.C. Worley for The New York Times

“Skype and other videochat programs have transformed the simple phone call, but the technology is venturing into a new frontier: it is upending and democratizing the world of music lessons.  Students who used to limit the pool of potential teachers to those within a 20-mile radius from their homes now take lessons from teachers — some with world-class credentials — on other coasts or continents.” (Catherine Saint Louis, NYTimes.com)