Mittwoch, 30. Januar 2013

Welcome to the dark side

We all know that quote, but in relation to Internet freedom and the freedom of the press, it is worth asking: which side is the dark side?

Unlike many governments want to make us believe, I think it is not necessarily the hackers and whistleblowers. (I even had to think about whether I wanted to write this, traceable, on the Internet).
But when we mentioned this famous photo in class, it really made me want to get more into this discussion.

I know this is not a short article, but very well worth the read, it is eye-opening especially in relation to the policy of the US government(s), although they are surely not the only ones who protect the real criminals and hunt down and arrest the ones who talk about these crimes publicly.

Now you don't have to be a friend of anonymous, and you might think that some secrets are secrets because the could affect 'national security', but after reading this, you'll probably have a more differentiated opinion. It seems as if hackers and whistleblowers are not the ones threatening our democracies - in fact they might some day in the future be the ones who save them by being the only ones who speak up and reveal the truth.

Montag, 21. Januar 2013

Small country, big idea

Iceland not only has glaciers and erupting volcanoes, it also has something innovative and unique: the first crowdsourced constitution.
According to this article, an astonishing 50% of the voting population took part in the process, suggesting their ideas in places like Facebook and Twitter. With this help, the constitution was then put together by a constitutional council, followed by a referendum in which 2/3 of the people voted in favor of the new constitution.
Now that is patricipatory politics for you!

Why is something like this not possible in other countries? To be fair, most other western democracies have a bigger population( Iceland only has around 320,000 inhabitants) and a smaller number of people with Internet access than Iceland ( 90% of the Icelandic population have an internet connection.)
Still, this does not explain why it seems impossible to have such an integrative political process in other countries.
In my view, the mentality of the citizens plays quite a big part in this. During the financial crisis, instead of bailing out banks, Iceland took in consideration what was best for the people and decided to not save the financial institutions. It was what he citizens demanded. And when they demanded a new constitution, they got one. Probably it is about time that we demand from our governments more possibilities for participation. We might get them if we are persistent enough.

Donnerstag, 17. Januar 2013

Going Viral Gangnam Style

Doing a silly little dance - does that make you an Internet VIP? No?
Maybe if you add a catchy tune and a tasteless costume then?

What makes people want to watch a video like Gangnam Style no matter what their cultural or educational background is? When do videos go viral?

Obviously even the clever marketing strategists haven't yet found out how exactly content of social media goes viral, or rather: how to produce content that does. But we can take a closer look to see which things might indicate that a video, picture or meme could go viral.

Some first hints provides this article on Wikihow about going viral. Next to talking about how to promote content so that it gets spread, they also mention certain characteristics of that content: awe-inspiring, triggering emotions, positiveness, quirkiness and interesting topics or cute cast like babies and cats.

YouTube's Trendmanager Allocca in this interesting video talks about videos going viral and identifies some of the successes ingredients: tastemakers who make a video popular, creative participation by the community (that takes on the video and changes it or builds something new with it) and unexpectedness.

This site even monitors which videos go viral in real time. The categories under which the films are stored include animals, crazy, cute, funny, music, sports and nerds. It seems to proof what the other articles describe as relevant, as it shows a lot of human interaction provoking emotions, cute or funny clips of animals and babies or crazy, unusual sports.

Gangnam Style's success, considering this ingredients, then is not so surprising. It is crazy, funny and unexpected, it has a catchy tune (so includes the music aspect as well) and it provides the opportunity for multiple alterations and parodies by a creative community.

Still, the success of videos can't be planned and having a video going viral remains a bit of a mystique rather than a coordinated effort with a clear outcome.