My turn

This week its my turn to provide the other students with readings, so I wont be commenting on that. Rather, I will do a short post on what my thoughts for class will be, since I`m going to be in charge of parts of it, and then I`ll write a bit on what I hope to achieve, both with my masters and in class.

Firstly, my thesis will be on The silent majority and participatory culture. What I hope to achieve, my “end goal” so to speak, will be to identify reasons why people want to participate in the online discourse, how to generate an interest in participating and lastly reasons why people avoid participating.
I hope to produce something akin to a book, or a guide to participatory culture, and I think the key to success here, is to identify why and why not people want to partake in this. By reading my thesis, people would gain a greater understanding of what it is to participate and the benefits from that one can reap from this.

I will have to divide my focus into two groups, the silent majority and the vocal minority. Hopefully by identifying key reasons why people participate, I will be able to come up with a sort of guide or rule of thumb on how to increase participation. My thoughts are that this will be useful in any scenario where one is dependent on the crowd and their feedback.
I aim to look at participatory culture in a few distinct areas with a different form of participation. The ideas I have at the moment are the gaming community and specifically those who produce content made to benefit others, guides, lore, tactics on forums and bulletin boards, and those who stream or produce video content and are engaging their audience that way.
I will also look at other forms of participation, like those who produce and/or correct information on sites like Wikipedia and lastly I will look at participation and the lack thereof as a whole.

One of the biggest issues I have encountered so far will be to define participation and the quality of contributions. Do I need to split them into different categories or genre’s? Will it suffice to call something useful or useless? An example would be someone who has spent 50 hours creating a game guide for no other reason then to help others V.S. one who posts a picture of food on a website or social media and just types #dinner #food.
Creating these definitions will be a challenge, and also trying to avoid being biased when labeling contributions. We all have biases, but being aware of them and hopefully being considerate while working might help me avoid the bigger issues, or so I hope.

The second large problem I know I will encounter, is how to reach out to the silent majority!? By posting on different forums, by using amazon Turk or by actively engaging with streamers, wont I just be reaching the vocal minority? So how do I reach the counterpart then? One idea I have would be to create an anonymous questionnaire and hopefully have the faculty spread it to students at UIB, and going by unconfirmed statistics, most of the answers I get would be from the silent majority. I can also post it on open forums and take my chances that seeing who its anonymous and does not require a login or giving up credentials to answers it, I might get a few lurkers there aswell.
Who knows, and that is the hard part of trying to research the silent majority, they are silent… And therefore hard to reach, and harder to research.

I’m thinking that my research will be part case study part elimination process, by eliminating factors as I go, I hopefully will end up with a few key factors that play an important role in participating or not. These factors will then be easier to research once they are narrowed down.
One topic I will also look at, which is more theoretical and academic will be the consequences of participation.  I will use the 90–9–1 rule as a basis here. This is translated into 90% lurkers, 9% vocal but less engaged and 1% being the most vocal and those who regularly produce content.
Going by these numbers, it would mean that EVERYTHING we see online today, all the websites, all the forums, all the blogs and all the user-created content you can think of, is created by 10% of the internet users we`ve had since its origins… Digest that for a minute.
Now, imagine we could bump that number up to say 15 or even 20%. How would that change the web as we know it? We already have an incredible amount of information online, and we live in a society of total and utter information overload. What then, will be the consequences of increased participation. Would it cause a collapse, seeing how incredibly much content could be produced. Would sites like Reddit and Wikipedia soar to new heights and in turn become major online economics, like others have before them, Facebook, YouTube and Google to name a few.
Will crowdsourcing become the new way of getting things done? Crowdfunding be the new investors? If 15% of those who have access to the web gave you 0.1$ you would have 55,500,000$. That is insane, and surely more than enough money for any startup business to get on its feet.

So there you have it, that’s what I have planned for my thesis, as of now at least, and parts of what I have in mind for my session in class.
So if there are any lurkers out there, which I know there is, gimme a feedback, write me a comment, or even better, tell me why you don’t want to or like to participate!
In advance, thank you.


Algorithmic Awareness vs Accountability

A quick note to thank Victor for his presentation last week.  His early MA research on algorithmic awareness has been an important part of our discussion and shared learning in the seminar.  Victor has further evolved or developed his thesis focus recently, shifting from the consumer side of the equation (i.e. considering an individual’s relative awareness level of online algorithmic manipulation & data tracking) to the producer side side of the phenomenon (-perhaps this shift lends more emphasis on algorithmic accountability (?)).   I think this is a smart move for the implications of the overall inquiry.

Please remember we that we have crowdsourced an excellent reading list on the issue of data tracking, AI, and algorithms here:

Also, for further understanding of the current research on the issue, please read this NYTimes article posted yesterday, and the resulting twitter thread in response to the claims made by author Cathy O’Neil.  The thread (twitter conversation) that ensues in response to O’Neil’s post points to a wealth of important research work being done (in a variety of academic disciplines).  In short, the twitter thread is a treasure trove of possible leads/resources when considering the current work being done on the societal implications of algorithms:

Next up!:  Aspacia will take us through some thoughts on the significance of early digital literacies in a school context, and Nicholas will guide us through his early consideration of the “silent majority”.

I look forward to these discussions!

See you soon,

Dr. Zamora


Digital Literacy and The Silent Majority

This week’s blog will be divided into two separate parts. Two of my classmates will be presenting their thesis, each dealing with a different topic.


First of all, I’ll be talking about Digital Literacy. In my eyes this concept signifies the capability someone has to deal with digital media. A digitally literate person knows how to make use of online tools, what the implications behind it are, what the dangers are, etc. A topic that gets brought up a lot in the context of this is privacy on social media. It is often stated that many people don’t stop to think about the implications or possible consequences when they post something themselves. Various people say that this should be something that schools need to adopt in their curriculum. I do agree that schools can play an important role in teaching the skills needed to foster a good handling of online media, but I think that you will never be able to do this solely through education. A lot of it, I feel, comes down to trail and error. You can tell children all about the dangers on something, but if they don’t experience it themselves or through someone close to them they will never truly learn it. The majority of it is dependent on themselves and their direct environment as well. It is a very important skill, one that will be fundamental in the future.


As a second topic here is that of the silent majority in participatory culture. I never thought of a concept like this in a digital context. My understanding of it was always through a political view. An interesting statement was that big data could potentially lead us to knowing what the general line of thought is of the silent majority. While this could indeed be a big development, a few concerns can be brought up. First of all that of privacy, many people have already voiced their discontent of data gathering to make advertising more personalised. Is the use of this data for political reason than so much better? If anything abuse of personal data in this context could have some very dangerous implication. What I do find interesting is ‘the 90-9-1 principle’ that was proposed in one of the articles. This states that 90% of a community are lurkers, 9% are sporadically vocal and 1% is incredibly vocal. I’ve always thought online communities were more defined by a sort of 80-20 or pareto-principle. Whereby 80% of all the content comes from 20% of the community. I will look further into it though.
All in all, I’m curious what my classmates will bring tomorrow.