Reflecting the reflection- pub 802

I was looking forward to taking PUB 802 when I was reading about the master’s courses on the SFU website. It definitely helped me not only to develop the opinions I had about technology but also to create new opinions on how to deal with technology on a personal and a professional level.

This course has made me really interested in learning about technology.  For example, before I started the course, I wanted to know more about the “tech industry” and how to get into the tech industry after I graduate. Instead, in week two, I saw a whole new point of view on the tech industry. I realized I have been a part of the industry without even noticing. Readings about how the web changes things, especially how there is no Tech Industry anymore in the world we live in. Readings about how the web changes things made me realize that technology is incorporated with almost every action we do

I enjoyed that we all had a chance to lead the class discussion. Because it is not graded directly, it gave me the opportunity to challenge myself by choosing a topic I did not know a lot about without fear of making mistakes. Week 4 and 5, when we learned about Internet Business Models, were the most interesting weeks for me. They opened a new horizon that allowed me to form informed opinions regarding the ongoing problems the publishing industry is facing. They also helped me understand that there are a lot of unexploited business models that can help the publishing industry get better results, and we should not necessarily follow or focus on the dominant business models.

Another aspect of this course that I enjoyed was using Hypothes.is to annotate. Although I was not the kind of user who made a lot of annotations all over the place, I appreciated the fact that I could read others’ annotations. It allowed me to see different perspectives on a single idea. Moreover, it made me aware of how people can look at things in a way that is different than mine.Hypothes.is also made me a better reader because I found myself stopping to think and analyze every time I saw an annotation. I am not going to lie here, sometimes I felt overwhelmed by it. However, overall, when comparing the pros and cons, this tool has been very helpful.

In terms of the weekly blog post, I felt those were a bit too much to be doing every week. They were very challenging for me because writing is not my sweet spot. I tried my best to incorporate the comments I received to new blog posts, but due to the delay in receiving feedback, I was not able to do this as much as I would have liked. As I write this reflection essay, I have received feedback on two of my blog posts and there are three after those two I still did not receive any feedback on. While I definitely understand that Prof. Alpreni was very clear that he was making an effort to get them back to us as fast as possible, I just wanted to clarify that this was challenging for me because I would have liked to receive more comments on how to improve. As a person who likes to work on herself, I will be waiting for the feedback and will be updating the published blogs simply because I want to get better at writing, even after the class is over.

Overall, I enjoyed this class. It was a class where we were all able to work collaboratively every week, which allowed us to develop new opinions about the structure of technology as a whole. Moreover, it allowed us to learn how to interact with different technologies while doing our weekly assignments.

A Publisher’s Dream

The publishing industry has been through many big changes in, especially with the rise in popularity of ebooks and buying books from Amazon. Customer data a very useful tool in the publishing industry. If I were a publisher, data about reader’s data would be the most effective data for the company.

Gathering readers’ data especially their behavior and interactions with the book and knowing what readers find engaging and what they do not can help us as publishers unlock previously hidden assets within our publishing lists. We have seen a lot of books that got rejected at first because the publisher did not think it would sell but later ended up on the bestseller list. This can happen when there is not enough data for the publisher to make an informed decision. Therefore, the reader’s insights can help publishers understand their readers better and thus make better new editions of books and improve the quality of the books taking user input into account. User data can give us more information about which authors and genres we should invest more time in. It also helps in gaining market insights by acknowledging which types of books are running out of steam; if there is any problem with a book itself, the reader’s data will help us identify exactly where it is. By knowing where and when they stopped and continued reading  It will give us opportunities to make a decision regarding the publishing content. This can help paint a detailed picture, allowing publishers to predict future book purchases and forecast sales and predict bestseller list–every publisher’s dream!

The main concern we have as publishers is getting customers’ data without breaching their privacy. As I always mention, transparency is the key. We should be very clear with our customers on how we are tracking and collecting their data. This model will allow us to retain customers and attract new ones. . Even if, as a publisher, we are not collecting the data ourselves and we receive it from another party (what we see in most cases in the publishing world), we should not resell or share any private information.

Collecting data is crucial for business survival, yet there is no clear way to implement it without breaching anyone’s privacy. Taking into consideration how recent the use of data in business models, it seems we are in the trial and error phase. Companies are trying to use data in many different ways, some are failing and others are succeeding. I think that the next phase will allow businesses to collect data in an easy manner while being honest with the customer. But for now, as publishers, we should take the initiative to be transparent with users by giving them the option to provide their data or refuse to do so.

Yes to Share

Since the rise of the Internet, more and more businesses are focusing on all the data they can collect and buy in order to generate more profit and attract more customers. The goal of data democratization is allowing anybody within the industry to use data at any time and make decisions without any obstacles. Data democratization can be of great use to collectively help the growth of these businesses, but in the world we live in, a democracy cannot be attained easily. When it comes to data democratization, each entity looks at it in a different way. Business who have a monopoly are less willing to share their data, while small businesses that do not have a monopoly can benefit more from receiving data and are willing to share their own in return. There are pros and cons to data democratization in the publishing industry. Freely sharing data in the publishing industry could be beneficial considering the people who work in the industry are usually passionate about what they do and are more interested in sharing their projects than doing strictly business.

In the publishing industry, data is needed now more than ever. About 1 million books are published in a year in the US only but the sales numbers are unpredictable. Tracking, analyzing, and understanding the readers is critical to the survival of the book. We are now witnessing the rise of new startup platforms whose main goal is to collect not only sales data but focus on the reader’s habits too. Having all the data from all the publishing houses are combined, not only will it result in making better business decisions but can also decrease the “book rejection” percentage.

Data democratization in the publishing industry means also Amazon should make their data available. Since Amazon is a dominant player in the publishing industry, this cannot be seen as a possible option for the time being since. Not having Amazon’s book related sales data, leave a huge gap in the data of the publishing industry. But that should not stop the publishing houses and the (online)bookstores collectively combine their powers and share their data. Consolidating the power of the publishing houses and the platforms that collect data within the publishing industry can truly make a  difference in the future of the publishing industry. From acquiring authors and titles to publishing the books.

Considering the data-driven era we live in, now is the time for publishing houses to share and combine all their data, not tomorrow. We have numerous authors rising and a huge number of decisions to be taken. If the publishing industry focuses on following only their gut and not the data, the sales numbers will remain unpredictable, and the levels of book rejection will stay high.

Don’t Mine, its Mine

We always underestimate what we have until we lose it. My location tracking according to Google started in 2016. It is scary to know how much data is collected about you, how your personal information that you once thought nobody knew is all stored somewhere. Data privacy is an issue people are starting to be aware of. A survey conducted in 2016 (see graph ) showed that, globally, over 50% of Internet users were somewhat more concerned or much more concerned about their privacy than in 2015.  This is understandable as more companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon are using and selling our information without our full awareness. Data privacy is a problem that has been recently identified and actions should be implemented to solve this issue before it escalates thus making it even harder to find a feasible solution. I think at this point we should focus on pushing for transparency as it is unlikely that social media companies will stop collecting our data. If users are at least informed about where their data is going, they can be a bit more in control of it by deciding whether to join the website or share their information with them or not.

The Internet is not what it used to be. In the beginning, we would use it to send and receive information. Privacy was a small concern. Now, Zeynep Tufecki describes the Internet as a surveillance machine. Facebook, one of the main companies that own a lot of user data, collects user data to create a platform for advertisers that will generate billions of dollars. Facebook is not open about this aspect of its business and only discusses its intention to connect people around the world. Does this make us as users angry? Yes! Why? For a lot of us, it is not because Facebook has our data. Let’s be honest, we have been suspicious of  Facebook for a long time. The problem here is transparency; how does Facebook use our data? Facebook has been selling our data to other organizations like Cambridge Analytica, who were using the data for things like the American presidential election without our consent. This made users concerned about what truly happens behind closed doors in companies with access to so much valuable personal information.

Data is a fairly new term that business and people have been recently using but not everyone fully understands it. Those in charge of making laws should be people who are fully aware of how data is collected, how social media platforms work, and how privacy can be breached.  A recent example of how politicians are not informed on the topics they should can be seen in Mark Zuckerberg’s hearing in the U.S. When he was questioned by the US Congress, it was obvious by the kinds of questions some members asked that they did not understand how Facebook worked.

One of the business models I personally admire is Everlane, a clothing brand. They simply focus on being transparent in every step they take in their business where they provide the actual cost and the markup compared to other stores. People appreciated it, loved it and bought their product. Although the Facebook business model cannot be easily changed, maybe transparency can be seen as the first step towards a bigger solution. If users are fully aware of how social media companies process their data and the benefits it has for them, there would not be as much anger and they might be more appreciative. Giving users the opportunity to agree or opt out of having their data collected and sold in exchange for a benefit (for example, it lets Facebook show you relevant content and the service remains free) would allow people to make informed decisions. If someone did not want to have their data collected, Facebook could provide the option of paying a small monthly fee instead. It is important to remember that when a service is free, it is because the user is the product.

Facebook will not stop collecting data; data is now considered as the main reason for business growth.  Therefore, instead of being against it, we should appreciate where we are at now and companies should use it to benefit the users. Laws should be implemented not to get rid of companies’ ability to store our data but so that companies are transparent and users are aware of what is being collected and for what purpose. That way, everyone can provide informed consent rather than being in the dark.

Fair Use in the digital Age

We are living in an age where content can be created and shared online within seconds. Thankfully, copyright laws allow people to protect their ideas and creations in a time where it would be extremely easy for Internet users with bad intentions to take someone else’s work, pass it off as their own, and sell it or profit off of it. However, sometimes copyright issues can get complicated. The concept of fair use (called “fair dealing” in Canadian law) can be hard to define when it comes to the possibilities that new technologies give us.

This can be seen in the lawsuit against the comedian YouTubers behind H3H3 Productions channel, who mostly make “reaction videos.” These are videos where both hosts, Ethan and Hila, make fun of other Youtube videos and channels. They usually show short clips of the video they are discussing while making jokes and critical commentaries in between. They are a very popular channel with approximately 2.6 million subscribers. In 2016 they were sued by Matt Hoss, another YouTuber comedian. H3H3 posted a video making fun of one of Matt Hoss’s videos, and they showed some of his video clips. Matt Hoss filed a suit claiming copyright infringement. The Kleins argued that it fell under the “fair use” clause in U.S. copyright law. Fair use states that there are some cases in which you can use someone else’s material without their permission. For example, if you are only using a few parts of someone else’s video and you are doing a parody of it you could argue it is fair use.

When it comes to fair use four factors are considered by the judge in charge of the case. He or she looks at the purpose of the work, the amount of copyrighted content used, and the effect of the use of the content on its potential market.

The purpose of the video posted by H3H3 was to parody and ridicule one of Matt Hoss’s video. The Kleins took only around 3 minutes of Matt Hoss’s video and embedded it in their 14-minute video. They used different clips of his video with their own commentary in between. Regarding the nature of the original work, Hoss’s video was a published work which gave Matt Hoss less reason to defend his copyright claim than if it were an unpublished work.

In terms of the effect, since Klein’s video does not include any wrong statements, it results in not having any “actionable opinion” that makes the purpose of the work not harmful. Even though the Kleins criticized Matt Hoss’s using a lot of intense and brutal words in his videos, the judge mentioned that they are rough equivalents to the commentary and criticism that might happen in a film studies class. Therefore, it is not a market substitute for Matt Hoss’s video.

The Kleins won the lawsuit and they set a precedent for future reaction videos since this was the first time that a case like this had been heard in the US. I still wonder whether this situation needed to go to court. People in this digital age are creating a culture all the time and not because of any monetary incentive, and that creation can be shared everywhere and at any given time. Strict copyright laws might be restricting people’s creativity in the digital age.

The Ideal Image of the web

Last week’s reading gave me an idea of how the web was originally defined and envisioned. What is it now? How is it being taken advantage of? How can we change it? And what does the future hold for us?  Before last week, I did not have a complete understanding of how the web started I never thought about it as a huge space, since I personally spend most of my time online on Facebook, Google, and other social media platforms. Along with our study readings, I am reading on the side books about the history of business which I found to be similar to the history of the web. So in this blog post, I will connect the models discussed in  these two readings in an attempt to think outside the “loop” and find the common ground. One model talks about how, before, people used to own their space on the web and the other looks at how people used to work for themselves and have their own land. Then it all changed to working for someone else and using other’s space and information.

 

During the Agrarian era, the concepts of companies and workers exploitation did not exist. There were farmers, bakers, butchers, and more. Each of them had their own space to work with and get their own income from(1). This is similar to how the web was in the past. Each website had its own domain and remained within it. Each would work, write, publish, and, most importantly, own their information and have control of it. I agree with what Kelly said when Chimero mentioned it in his article about the Good Room, the web was a boundless and shared estate. Also, as it was mentioned in the article “The weird thing about the internet today”(2) by Madrigal, O’Reilly wrote that the foundation of the web is basically hyperlinking where the “the web of connections grows organically as an output of the collective activity of all web users”. For me, that is the nostalgic idea I kept of thinking after last week’s readings.

 

Then industrial age came by and government and businesses started employing workers. Nowadays, we live in a world where we learn that there is one single right path to take: study, work hard get a great job, then retire and live happily ever after. Looking at it from my perspective, it is one big loop.  We are taught when we are young so it is not easy to change; it is very risky to move away from the normal/correct path. So basically, we are used to following what we see everyone does and what we think is normal. This is relevant to how the web is now: a space that is owned by big companies. Most of the users are in stuck in the loop because of the convenience and the easy-to-use interface. Nowadays Hyperlinking is not something we even think about. As Madrigal mentioned in his article:

most of the action occurs within platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and messaging apps, which all have carved space out of the open web”

 

The two models discussed here are comparable., and they make me think about what the web can become. People started going back and opening their own business to generate their own income at during the recession. When people are struck with the reality of being in the loop they might realize that is not the only choice they have. Thinking of the future web, am I going to wait for a huge online “bomb” to awaken us?  Or am I going to start looking at all the space that is available on the web to make something valuable again?

 

References:

Kiyosaki, Robert The Business of The 21st Century,2014.

Chimero, Frank , https://frankchimero.com/writing/the-good-room/,

Where Do I Stand?

 

I have tried all kinds of personality tests to find who I am and where I stand. Funnily enough, learning about your own personality is not very easy and we are in need of tests and algorithms to tell us what we can do. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we shouldn’t use these tests. On the contrary, with all the different point of views and opinions we hear and arguments we have, we (or at least  I) sometimes lose track of what we are standing for and who we are. Wondering where am I going with this? Well, for me, when I asked myself where I stood and what I believed in after reading the article by Adam Gopnik, How the Internet Gets Inside Us, I instantly thought I was Ever-Waser. I believe in technology and what it can accomplish in the world; I used to be the type of person who immediately updated her phone applications (I am now prioritizing). I also want my career to be solely focused on data and technology. Does that mean I am one of the Better-Nevers? I’m still not quite sure.

Two years ago, I did a presentation in my class about the utopia and dystopia of the internet, social media to be specific. I watched two Ted Talks before presenting. One showed how social media can end up taking over someone’s life and the other one how the Internet and technology were creating a better space for people. After that, I watched a video that talked about both, the utopia and dystopia of the internet, technology and the web, Digital Dualism, how some people differentiate their online self (not authentic, not the real you) and their offline self ( that show authenticity and reality). The video pointed out that we should look at the issue in a different way: what if our offline is our online life? Maybe we should start seeing the technology as a place we actually exist in instead of a space we go to.

 

Now, going back and relating to the main idea of this blog, where do I stand? Better-Never, Never-Better or Ever-Waser. One of the highest personality traits was a Mediator. Maybe I am actually a mediator; I cannot take an extreme side in most of the arguments I have, I always try to provide a solution that suits both sides/parties. So when it comes to choosing where I stand, I directly went with the Ever-Waser because I looked at it as a choice that combines both the better-never and the never-better.  It is the option that made sense to me. Hanna from the video mentioned that we sometimes live in a society that is “influenced with a dualist mindset” choosing between good and bad, black and white, offline and online instead of focusing on the connectivity and the opportunities the technology can provide us. So for the third time, where do I stand? I think for the sake of my technology passion and my inner thoughts, I will not be a mediator this time and although I 100% believe there is more to this than classifying yourself into three categories, I see myself in a new category. One that combines both the Better-Never and the Ever-Waser.

 

Reference:

Spegel Hanna, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uddoLwk6Ay8.