The Filter Bubble – Pariser

As I willingly accept technology into my life more and more everyday it has never occurred to me that my information could be being stored and used to track me and profile me.  I knew that ads in Gmail are customized, and they are based on the content within emails. I did not realize how customization had taken on a new life without users even being aware of it. It sounds great right? Having the whole Internet tailored specifically to your personal thoughts and beliefs.  However this does not allow us to fully experience what is new on the Internet.  Pariser give the example of two totally different results for the search query ‘Egypt’.

The fact that Google searches are so different between people is kind of frightening.  This phenomenon could potentially pigeonhole users and it will surely prevent many moments of ‘serendipity’, and happening upon new things. There is no easy way around it either, companies want things to be personalized to their users so that the users will be satisfied with the content.  In his TED talk Pariser talks about the 57 signals Google uses to filter results, they look at what kind of computer you are using, what browser you are on, as well as 54 other variables. Prior to reading this I had no idea that what I was seeing both on Google as well as Facebook was filtered.

I know that I encourage the filtering of Facebook because if I see something I think is not valuable my first instinct is to hid the story.  I have done this several times, and I have recently notices that I see less in my ‘news feed’.  I used to think that this was because there are just so many people on Facebook and they could not possibly put everything each of my friends does through my ‘news feed’.

There is no getting completely away from the filter, and it will be interesting to see how it unfolds in the coming years, and if it will actually upset people or if they will embrace the personalization.  It all comes down to advertising and it is currently taking huge steps to personalize what we see, and it makes me wonder if it is actually all worth it.

The Shallows – Carr

At times the Carr book seemed arduous because he would delve into the history of learning and as I was reading I could not see the point he was getting to.  However looking back having already read the entire thing I am so glad that he included so many historical accounts about learning and development.  It has given me a wider and more clear understanding of the brain and how we have come to be.

I was relieved many times to see that people with PhDs were skimming readings, I try not to do that because it makes me feel guilty that I am not learning as much as I could.  However it did ease the tension I feel when I graze quickly over a news story.

When Carr described the situation he put himself in while writing this book, leaving all technology behind him and concentrating on the book, to me it sounded painful.  However his description did give me hope that if we want to change how we learn and absorb it is possible.  Detaching and remaining detached (As Carr did not do as soon as the book was finished) is a difficult thing to accomplish.

I have said in class before that I think knowing about the pitfalls will help us to avoid them.  For me knowing that skimming and not absorbing whole topics and generally getting swallowed up in the culture of ‘just google it’ is becoming a problem has helped me to think about how I operate with technology.  Actually shortly after reading this book I ordered two books from a series from Amazon and I am happy to report that I finished them both.

It was obvious that Carr was able to get back into a routine of reading and concentrating deeply for long periods of time he just had to put an effort in to do it.  He essentially had to retrain himself to concentrate on things for long periods of time without having distractions.  It is obviously possible for us to retrain ourselves but the first step is knowing that there is a problem.

That being said, is it really a problem that our brains a changing and adjusting to new technology?  It is hard to tell because we are in such an infancy with technology.  With all the history Carr talked about it gave insight into what people said about new technologies in the past.  There seems to always be some fear in the accounts Carr gave about new things being negative, when after time they turned out to be positive.  It is impossible to tell if the advent of the internet will affect us in a negative way, it may just be a stepping stone on our way to the next thing and it very well could improve society.

As the weeks pass my goals get more defined

It is Thursday and I am currently on schedule with the goals I set for myself.  That being said however I have several things that I did not put into my schedule that are being added as I think of them.  So I have added several goals to my schedule for the weekend.  I would like to 1. get 3 on minute videos edited 2. finish and finalize my logo and 3. develop another set of mockups that have the videos at the forefront.

I shot enough video to make four one minute videos, each video is made up of things you need as you begin to sew, and as it will be a community I want to set it up in such a way that users can ask me questions and I can post videos in response. I keep thinking about new things as I go along, and I think it is going to be really great in the end.

As I work on the video I am thinking about the design of the site.  I think that I would like the videos to be the main focus of the home page, because that will hopefully be what draws the user in.  I would like the videos to look clean and organized and I want them to be arranged logically i.e. I want them to begin with easier subjects and move on to harder things.

When I shoot the next set of videos I am going to focus on some things that are slightly more difficult.  I am going to make a table runner for a summer table, a zipper, and a pants hem.  I have done all of these things on my own and (to me) they seem like the logical next step from the videos I have already done.

As for the things I am going to sell, I would like to have 6-9 things, possibly different variations of things that I have on the instructional videos, but also a few things that are not included.  However if a user makes a request for me to do instruction on how to make something I have put for sale, I would definitely do that.

I am very concentrated on the content at this point and I am going to build the site on WordPress.  So as soon as I am through with the finalization of my design and finish the first set of videos I am going to concentrate on getting the site together.  Now I am thoroughly stressed out, it will be a fun spring break this year.

Things are beginning to happen

This week I (with much help from my fellow imedia’ers (Chris, Kate, Kelli, Brittany, & Mrs. Chris)) did the first shoot for my series of instructional videos for the site.  As is to be expected with any kind of production work it took a while to get every shot I had in my notes, and things changed once I really started thinking about how I wanted things to be shot.  All in all I think it went great and I think I will have a great first set of instructional videos to start with.

I am hoping to have the videos edited in full by the end of the week.  So far I am on schedule, and hopefully I can keep it that way.  That being said I have my work cut out for me and I have been adding little details to my schedule to keep myself on track.  Once I am through editing the first set of videos I am going to dive into making more mockups for the site so that I can decide on a final design.  I would like to keep it clean and simple while at the same time stylish and modern.  I have a few mockups that I created already and I would like to build off of those.  I am very excited to finalize the design for the site, so stay tuned because it is going to be awesome.

The weeks are going by faster and faster….

This week I am preparing to shoot my first videos for my capstone site.  As I laid out the plans to start shooting video I started to realize how many things I could add to my schedule.  I would like to stay on top of all of the deadlines I have set for myself, and so far I have, but it is not that far into the semester so I will see how it goes in the coming weeks.

During my first set of videos I plan on doing basic instruction on how to do a straight stitch, how to thread a machine, how to care for a machine, how to re-purpose an old scarf, as well as how to repair a pair of (Jess Gerber’s) jeans.  My hope is to get plenty of footage to start with so I have a lot to work with when I go to set things up on WordPress.

I am also going to incorporate paypal into the wordpress so that I can (hopefully/perhaps) sell my own wares.  I am not looking to make money, I just want to have that extra facet in my site.  But who knows how that will pan out as the semester moves along.  I am still not totally concrete on what things I would like to make for it, I have several ideas and I am reserving some time during the coming weekend to sketch out a few things I would like to do.

So in conclusion I have a lot to do, and anytime I am not curled up in the fetal position crying (in the corner) I will be working on my capstone.