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    nmw 16:06:05 on 2016/01/20 Permalink
    Tags: abnormal, , , , , , , , , , , digital media, digitalisation, digitalization, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , market research, , measure, , , , messages, , mob, mobs, , normal, , , , rumor, rumors, rumour, rumours, , smart, , , , , , , , , untrue   

    Propaganda + Subjectivity in Retard Media 

    I was recently discussing a radio program with a friend who understands media quite well – but who seemed to be „playing dumb“ during the discussion. The radio program in question was a German one – BR’s Radiosalon had broadcast a debate about privacy versus the „espionage“ tactics used by many online media giants (I used the word „espionage“ to describe the behavior of such mega-media companies’ data gathering techniques, the BR Radiosalon program was actually called „Wie soll unsere digitale Zukunft aussehen?“ )

    My friend is an acclaimed scientist with a deep understanding of statistics, research methodology, etc. I have a great deal of respect for his work, and I do not wish to ridicule him. On the contrary, the views he expressed are actually quite widespread and widely considered to be quite “normal” (I will get back to this aspect of “normal vs. abnormal” further below in this post). Indeed, these views were also discussed in the radio program.

    The point in question is whether or not people have “something to hide” (though in my opinion the more crucial issue is that most people seem to have little or nothing to show). I agree with my friend that there is little to be concerned about if / when other people collect data (indeed, I am even of the opinion that data cannot really be “owned” — the way I see it, data are always freely available to anyone or anything that can recognize them). If someone sees me and scribbles onto a notepad that my race is “caucasian”, then their racism is their problem, not mine. Whether other people check off boxes or fill in blanks has nothing to do with me — instead, it is all about their point of view, perspective, biases, prejudices, etc. I couldn’t care less if large media companies record data about me or my behavior — unless they use this data to lie about me or to propagate rumors which are untrue.

    If a larger portion of the population were more literate, more numerate, etc., then even such misinformation and propaganda would not really matter very much (cf. also this post by Gavin Patterson, CEO of BT). The other day I posted a “heatmap” graphic that was used in an article which was purported to be about how much of a webpage is commonly read. Of course it is impossible to measure whether a person actually reads something, but that did not prevent the author from pontificating profusely on the topic.

    Apparently, the vast majority of people are less interested in literacy than they are in belonging to a crowd.:

    Freud was saying that masses are bound by libidinal forces. They love each other and delegate their ideas and ideals to the chap on top. […] Hate is delegated to the others outside. — Dr. Leopold Löwental (39:50 – 40:25) in the BBC documentary “Century of the Self (Part 1): Happiness Machines”

    Belonging to a crowd is normal, not belonging is abnormal. No one wants to be abnormal, and the media propaganda machinery is based on a foundation of belonging to the crowd, riding on the bandwagon, etc.

    Today, few members of the complacent illiterate generation realize that what they perceive to be “objective” news are actually usually personalized (and therefore “subjective“) marketing messagesespecially online. People visit facebook.com quite often, but they rarely (if ever) realize that the “news” they receive via their “newsfeed” is anything but objective. Likewise, the phrase “just Google it” is commonly understood to mean that Google is also objective. If fact, nothing could be further from the truth: Google is a corporation focused on maximizing profit — and that means showing you (the Google user) links they expect you will click on, such that the corporation (Google) will be paid by advertisers (and note that the link does not even need to be an advertisement — Google will also make money by displaying the advertisements controlled by Google which are displayed on the page, i.e. the so-called “organic” link the Google user clicked on). The fact that Google is a money-printing machine is a testament to the high degree of illiteracy we continue to observe today. Most members of the complacent illiterate generation are suckered into believing some subjective marketing message is actuallynews” — and that it is what the “normal” crowd also believes, that it is true, an objective truth, etc. — many times over each and every day.

    At this point in the discussion, another friend chimed in and said “I cannot manage my daily life without my smartphone” (and the smartphone is made by the very same media conglomerates which profit from selling advertising disguised as “news”, “notifications”, etc.). Hence, the mass of men (and women, too) continue to lead lives of quiet normalcy, guided by advertising messages which cater to duping illiterate suckers into believing everything is hunky dory because they are normal (and also users of “advanced technology”).

    Note that I don’t believe either of my friends should be called a “sucker“. In my opinion, they are simply illiterate (which most people refer to with the term “digital literacy“). They seem to be cognizant of their illiteracy — and yet they nonetheless remain complacent.

     
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    nmw 13:14:09 on 2015/01/24 Permalink
    Tags: , broadcast, broadcasting, , , , , , , , , , measure, , narrowcast, narrowcasting, online engagement, participate,   

    Engagement is Beautiful 

    One thing many people often forget is that engagement does not describe a status so much as it describes an activity.

    People who are familiar with my thinking — and even moreso the thinking of the giants I sometimes attempt to jump up on their backs — may recognize the similarity of this post’s title with the title of a collection of essays by E. F. Schumacher (namely “Small is Beautiful”). Ideally, this book would be required reading for anyone with the ability to read at the level of college freshman. But I digress….

    Engagement is not merely a matter of choosing a ring, making promises and exchanging a kiss. First and foremost, to engage is to participate… and even beyond mere participation, it is a binding commitment and a recognition of an inseparable interconnection… that our lives are intertwined, some might even say something like interdependent.

    It doesn’t need a ring.  It need not leave a trace. It is here and now, but not necessarily manifest “in real life”. It is both visible and also invisible at one and the same time.

    Yet in this moment I wish to leave philosophy aside a little, and focus instead on a very commonplace kind of engagement, something more mundane, so common that is might even be considered downright vulgar… — at least in some communities.

    In literate society, there is something known as “online” — and also “online engagement”. Online is the presence of someone’s attention within the sphere known as the world-wide web. Online engagement is their active participation in the online space.

    Up until now, online engagement has been assumed to result in some manifestation, some kind of virtual media trail in cyberspace that roughly corresponds to what is commonly referred to as a “paper trail” in paper-space. This might be a media file, or it might be just a couple bits that get passed along as the result of a click, a swipe, the press of a button, the movement of a smartphone through the ether of the physical “real world”, etc. As you might be able to guess from what I have written above, I want to change that.

    My concept of online engagement is more on a cognitive level: It is at the level of caring. I do not restrict the notion of engagement to such statements as “I did not engage in any sexual activity with X”. The way I see it, simply caring about X is already an act of engagement… — engagement is possible even if no bits are involved.

    This is so because I view engagement in a way quite similar to the way people think about being able to speak a language. To be fluent in a language does not require that the speaker constantly speak all of the words in that language (indeed, this seems more like a nonsensical construct — it is not even possible to speak [or even think of] more than one word at a time). Yet we do realize that there are people who can speak a language… and that means they can express their ideas with words at a level that is appropriate in any given situation (and that they can also understand the meanings of other people’s expressions in a similar manner). Therefore, when people choose to express some ideas, they also choose not to express other ideas. This vacuum, null and void of any “data bits”, is nonetheless a choice of engagement in X and also an act of avoiding something that might be referred to as “not X”. Disengagement, however, is something else… — more like disinterest, disentanglement, indifference, independence and so on.

    I want to sum this up and come to a preliminary close. We can choose to engage online — sometimes more, sometimes less. We will participate in some things in some ways, and we will not participate in other things at all. We cannot participate in everything, everywhere, all the time. If we engage in a thousand different things, then our level of engagement will be relatively thin across all of those things. If we choose to engage in only 10 things, then our narrow focus may be parochial. That said, there are so far no clear measures of engagement.

     
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    nmw 18:45:11 on 2015/01/11 Permalink
    Tags: , , , measure, , metric, metrics,   

    Money Doesn’t Make Us Happy 

    Many people seem to make some kind of logical mistake (I wish I knew more fancy latin names for the type of logical errors people make in their reasoning — then I could perhaps add a neato phrase here to impress people).

    Obviously, people want to be happy. There are some things many people believe will make them happy — and since many people believe that, the demand for such things is generally quite large. Since the demand for such things is quite large (and since such things are also quite often in limited supply), it is quite common for their market price to be high enough to give those people who want these popularly demanded objects the impression that they need money to get these things (and therefore also that they need money to become happy).

    I do not doubt that quite a few people who are reading this are thinking to themselves “oh, but you do need money to buy food and a roof over your head”. Note that I never said you don’t… — and the reason why I didn’t say that is mainly because I don’t want to argue that point (though I feel like I could, I find it far simpler to simply point out that the amount of money actually needed for survival is quite small… indeed: so small that I consider it to be negligible [perhaps with the possible exception of some life-threatening medical conditions]). Yet again I digress from the main point….

    The main point is that money and happiness are (in my humble opinion) definitely not interchangeable measures — to think that to measure happiness, you could simply measure money instead is undoubtedly a gross error.

     
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    nmw 17:35:55 on 2014/12/29 Permalink
    Tags: , , measure, , object, , , , , point of view, , resolution, resolutions, resolve, , scientist, sign, significance, significant, signify, signs, subject, , viewpoint   

    Regarding Random Rituals, Recognition, Response, Resolution and Revolution 

    Do you think it’s time to start again? So do I — every day!

    I want to start up this blog post revisiting what I took up the other day (in my previous post — there must be link lying around somewhere)… and add a little twist (which you might have done yourself — but just in case you were too lazy, I’ll pick it up and do it for you ;) ).

    It’s not a great leap from where I was to the idea that recognition is something that leads to slavery — and since I (like Mick Jagger) don’t wanna be your slave, recognition is not a metric that I need to care about.

    On the other hand, the vast majority are very fixated on counting beans — and all this coolbeans business is in part due to a steep fall in the price of bean counters (over the past couple decades). These days, you can’t take two steps before stumbling over yet another measurement guru — but just between you and me: even nit-pickers don’t count the crap these nut-jobs pay attention to (perhaps they have a different perception of “virtual reality” than what might be considered normal).

    With ever more bots chasing each other around — and counting, measuring up, and otherwise following and tracking and screwing up each other’s nuts and bolts — there is definitely an inflation in the meaning of numbers… and numeracy has quite certainly become somewhat of a bubble market. But I digress….

    I had actually resolved to write about resolutions — and I don’t mean graphic.If you actually plan to resolve to do something, let me present you with a little thought experiment: Let’s say (just for kicks) that you can either change the world (let’s also assume the change is “for the better“) or your level of recognition in the world, but not both. Which would you prefer? If you don’t know my answer to that question, then I think you should be more concerned about your reading skills than New Year’s resolutions.

    Assuming you have been able to figure out my answer, let me reward you with a wonderful tidbit that was shared with me this morning — it’s a quote:

    Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

    This quote is attributed to Viktor Frankl, but I have yet to read its source (his book titled “Man’s Search for Meaning”). I have read quite a lot about Viktor Frankl, but still have read none of his writings (in their entirety). The reason why I consider this quote interesting is because of the way the word “response” is used. I think a “scientist” might view this as an observation made by someone other than the person choosing (i.e., from an “objective” perspective). My gut tells me, though, that Viktor Frankl might have preferred an interpretation that the subject (at least) also subscribes to (and thereby gives meaning to).

     
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