Tuesday, May 24, 2011

How wise are the... crowds?


There is a principle which is one of the the basic in statistics and opinion polls. If you take a large number of people and ask them their opinion on something, most of them will probably give you an answer close to reality. It is also called common believe or wisdom of the crowds. Modern societies (mainly democratic ones) are based on this principle. Their goverments are elected by the majority of voters. However, the question of the source article is how unbiased is the crowds opinion on something when they know what the majority of the society is thinking on it.

Take for example a pop star that you don't really like. You can't say you enjoy his/her songs. You have a neutral and maybe slightly negative opinion on him/her. What if you knew that 70% of your friends think s/he is talented and like him/her. Whould you give him/her a second thought? Whould you alter your opinion to his/her favour? Well... this is another phenomenon called mass psychology. We often tend to follow large masses' opinions even if we are not 100% sure about them.

Now combine the latter with social media like facebook and twitter where you can easily see what large groups of people follow. Even better you can identify frineds of yours that you might respect their opinion in those groups. There you have it. A much easier and more effective way to bias the wisdom of crowds. So the question is... how wise are the crowds today with all this social media information sharing? The source article discusses the question and presents an experiment which shows that maybe crowds are not as wise as they were without all this social information sharing.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

How do you want your... algorithms?


I'm a programmer and have to say my job is writing algorithms, so... I love them! However that was not the case when I read the article above. Not to mention when I watched the talk on the video. What Ali Pariser is saying in the video is that there are plenty of algorithms that take under account a variety of parameters when we search (google) the web and read our newsfeeds on facebook. The experiment with two people googling the same keyword and taking different results is stunning!

So here come's the question. Yes, we'd love to have algorithms filter content and suggest to us the best of it. But what happens when these algorithms work and you don't know it? Even worse, what happens when these filters are applied without giving us any control on how they work? Do we end up with information junk food? Do we end up with the information that some people want us to see and ignore the rest of it? What about different point of views? Can we reach them easily? Do the algorithms allow us to think and understand different points of views? Do we end up in our own little information bubble or we connect we the rest of the world?

Think about it!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

How do you view the world now?

Social media and your changing world view - TNW Social Media

Sometimes you have to read an article to realise it yourself. Our way of communication through social media has changed and still changes the way we view our world. First of all, you can keep in touch with friends in other countries and learn the news from their point of view. Not to mention that you can also read about what's happening from everyday people you never knew (see Twitter) and will probably never meet. Using social media made each one of us a reporter and news consumer at the same time. Every post an tweet is a small article about what's happening around us as we see it. From the tinyest to the biggest events.

First time I realized this power was some months ago with the events in Egypt. Having a friend of mine there and following his tweets made me feel as I was right there. Reading tweets and posts from real everyday people such as me and you those days made you feel you were there. Second time was in Japan earthquake. Same feeling. Empathy and realization of what's going on. Followng the events from the source, from everyday people living them right there, right now, changes the way you understand them. And that's a first step in breaking the barriers societies, religions, cultures are building.

Living events is one part of the change. The other is reading about other people's opinions. You don't have to necessarily agree with them. Having firends with different cultural backgrounds and reading their opinions in various subjects takes you in their place. Makes you stand in there shoes. Even if you disagree you can at least understand why they are thinking the way they are. The only way to feel that up to now was by reading news from newspapers, listening or watching them on radios and tv channels. Nowadays you can see the real people's opinions without the media's filter. That's a big change. Mass media's filter distances you from the actual events and in many cases alters reality. Well now, with social media... that filter is gone and the distance is closing. You can find out what real people are thinking just by some clicks and that's... magic. Let's just hope it works for good!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Schools on Facebook.

How Schools Can Use Facebook to Build an Online Community

Given the fact students nowadays are heavily exposed in the new digital world and social media are a big part of it, how can schools use them efectively? I know that many of you will probably stop reading right now thinking I'm crazy to discuss such a topic. It's not a taboo, students even in very young ages have facebook profiles. It won't be long that you will start seeing facebook profiles of 7 or 8 year old kids appearing as suggested friends to your profile.

So, it doesn't help at all trying to stop the inevitable. But since we can see it coming we can brace ourselves and our kids for it. Schools utilizing social media to connect their students and share content and infromation with them can also teach them how to use social media correctly. Apart from sharing content and information about their events and activities thay can also inform their students about how to protect themeselves when using social media. All that and many more can be done using the media itself and giving live examples of how to protect yourself and what can be caused from not using it correctly.

In a world where almost everyone will have a digital identity (or even better a cyber-identity) it's safe to know that teacheers in schools will teach your children how to protect themselves. Better safe than sorry.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Books Die Hard

Why Books Will Probably Never Die - TNW Media

In a previous post I noted out the benefits from reding ebooks instead of classic paper books. Some, may have misunderstood it but I never said that books will stop to exist. Books will exist for ever (or at least I hope so). As the nature of publication is changing towards digital there will always be the classic part of paper books.

So, for my readers who thought I was tottaly on the e-book side, there's an article with arguments for paper books. After all, I am one of those who still enjoy reading a paper book and I am currently reading one. However, I believe that the best part in reading a book is its content. So either you read it in paper of in electronic format the real value of it will still be its content.

Let's face it... books are like Bruce Willis in "Die hard'!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Let the world saving games... begin

Why the future of work is play - TNW Industry

I know that many of you will think that I am joking. No, it's not a joke. According to the article and Jane McGonigal, games can save the world. Gamers are so enganged in them and share a set of characteristics that everybody should have to make the wolrd whould be a better place. Usualy we play games to escape reality. What if instead of just escaping reality we could apply what we've learnt from our game in the real world?

That's the idea. Engage gamers in games that will influence them in the right way and make change their lives for better. According to the article we need half the population of earth to devote about an hour of gaming everyday in order to achieve that... epic win!

So... do you want to play?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Is there something special about Fridays?

Why Users Are More Engaged With Social Media on Fridays

This post is posted on a Friday for a reason. No... I won't give any hints on good restaurants, cafes or clubs for the weekend, but as the research in the source suggests Friday is one of the best times to gain traction on your posts! So, if you are relaxing on your nice leather ergonomic chair heading for the weekend and checking on Facebook or scanning through Tweets to see what your friends are up to then please continue to do so.

In any other case, just take a second and think of yourself on a Friday afternoon, after a tiresome week, in your office just before you head out. What whould you do? Check on Facebook and Twitter? You are not alone!

Now, if you excuse me, I see my friends on Facebook are heading out for a coffee so... I have to go too.