Tag Archives: Sociology

The World as 100 People Visualized

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My daughter is engaged to a robot

If your kid came home and told you she was planning to marry a robot, would you be accepting? Do you think the possibility of such is just folly? The author of this piece thinks we should take it seriously.

Guess Who’s Rolling to Dinner

August 13, 2011 by Mark Brady

In the 1967 movie Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy have their white, liberal views tested when their daughter brings home Sidney Poitier as her new fiancé. Well, many parents raising children today are going to have their own views and values put to a similar test in the not too distant future. Only this time it won’t be a fiancé of a different color, he or she will be of a different techno-biological persuasion. Welcome to the singular world of … Loveotics.

Many parents already struggle with how much time their kids spend on the computer playing video games, living a Second Life and social networking. Just imagine what it’s going to be like when Johnny or Jane calls and breaks the news: they’ve decided to marry a bot. Sounds pretty far-fetched, doesn’t it? So do many developments in today’s world until we begin to raise our head and our consciousness and begin to look around. And then drill down into specifics and discover astonishing developments going on that we were completely unaware of.

Read the rest here: committedparent.wordpress.com

This is just the beginning – Are you thinking inside out?

Disclaimer reminder: I currently work at Facebook and worked on Google+ up until the end of 2010. This post does not reflect anything I did at Google, or anything I’m doing at Facebook, and is simply my personal opinion about the state of the world.

Since Google+ launched last week, many people have been asking me my opinion about it. Unfortunately I can’t talk about specifics (hello, non-disclosure agreements) but I can talk broadly about the state of the world.

When it comes to representing relationships online, there are two big questions:
1. Our offline relationships are very complex. Should we try and replicate the attributes and structure of those relationships online, or will online communication need to be different?
2. If we do try and replicate the attributes of our relationships, will people take the time and effort to build and curate relationships online, or will they fall back to offline interactions to deal with the nuances?

We’re only at the beginning of trying to answer these questions. Google+ is a well designed product, but it is not “the solution” to the problem of representing complex relationships online. In fact, there probably isn’t “one solution”.

If you think about the first question above, Google+ is both trying to replicate offline social network structures (with circles) and build social network structures that are unique to the online world (with following, and with the fact that anyone can add anyone to a circle, independent of whether these people have met offline). Is this the best approach? No-one knows. If history has taught us anything, it’s that trying to predict the future is a fools game. Especially when that future is wrapped up in complex relationships and network effects. Remember, this is just the beginning.

The second question is the big unanswered one. Most user experience problems can be defined with the simple equation: Is the effort I need to go through worth the perceived benefit? Is the effort of creating circles, and managing them over time, worth the perceived benefit of sharing to those circles? Is the effort of figuring out who is in the audience of someone else’s circle worth the perceived benefit of the value derived from commenting? Again, no-one knows the answer to this question. But it’s going to be fascinating to see it play out.

Finally, it’s worth noting a trend that will make the task of representing relationships online even harder. Many fields of science are starting to discover that most of our behavior is driven by our non-conscious brain, not by our conscious brain. This refutes much of our understanding of how the world works. When we meet people, for the first time, or for the ten thousandth time, there are far too many signals for the conscious brain to take in, analyze, and compute what to do. So our non-conscious brain does the analysis for us, and delivers a feeling, which determines how we react and how we behave. It’s our non-conscious brain that will be deciding which social network succeeds and which one fails. It’s going to take most, if not all, of our lifetime to figure out what is happening in the non-conscious brain. This is just the beginning.

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This is just the beginning – Are you thinking inside out?

Disclaimer reminder: I currently work at Facebook and worked on Google+ up until the end of 2010. This post does not reflect anything I did at Google, or anything I’m doing at Facebook, and is simply my personal opinion about the state of the world.

Since Google+ launched last week, many people have been asking me my opinion about it. Unfortunately I can’t talk about specifics (hello, non-disclosure agreements) but I can talk broadly about the state of the world.

When it comes to representing relationships online, there are two big questions:
1. Our offline relationships are very complex. Should we try and replicate the attributes and structure of those relationships online, or will online communication need to be different?
2. If we do try and replicate the attributes of our relationships, will people take the time and effort to build and curate relationships online, or will they fall back to offline interactions to deal with the nuances?

We’re only at the beginning of trying to answer these questions. Google+ is a well designed product, but it is not “the solution” to the problem of representing complex relationships online. In fact, there probably isn’t “one solution”.

If you think about the first question above, Google+ is both trying to replicate offline social network structures (with circles) and build social network structures that are unique to the online world (with following, and with the fact that anyone can add anyone to a circle, independent of whether these people have met offline). Is this the best approach? No-one knows. If history has taught us anything, it’s that trying to predict the future is a fools game. Especially when that future is wrapped up in complex relationships and network effects. Remember, this is just the beginning.

The second question is the big unanswered one. Most user experience problems can be defined with the simple equation: Is the effort I need to go through worth the perceived benefit? Is the effort of creating circles, and managing them over time, worth the perceived benefit of sharing to those circles? Is the effort of figuring out who is in the audience of someone else’s circle worth the perceived benefit of the value derived from commenting? Again, no-one knows the answer to this question. But it’s going to be fascinating to see it play out.

Finally, it’s worth noting a trend that will make the task of representing relationships online even harder. Many fields of science are starting to discover that most of our behavior is driven by our non-conscious brain, not by our conscious brain. This refutes much of our understanding of how the world works. When we meet people, for the first time, or for the ten thousandth time, there are far too many signals for the conscious brain to take in, analyze, and compute what to do. So our non-conscious brain does the analysis for us, and delivers a feeling, which determines how we react and how we behave. It’s our non-conscious brain that will be deciding which social network succeeds and which one fails. It’s going to take most, if not all, of our lifetime to figure out what is happening in the non-conscious brain. This is just the beginning.

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Dead Man Blogging

“Here it is. I’m dead, and this is my last post to my blog.”

I’ve been haunted since I read those words a few weeks ago.

Jenn Whinnem had hosted a discussion on {grow} about our digital footprint and the implications when we die. Johnny Russo, added a link to a post by Derek K. Miller, who wrote his farewell to his blog community and family in anticipation of his death from a terminal disease.  It is a stunning, poignant, post and it ends perfectly.  “I loved you, I loved you, I loved you.”

Since that day, Derek’s post has been pounding in my head.  When I die, should I just die, or do I publish a coda? What happens with this community? Is there such a thing as a digital legacy and is that something you can prepare for?

In 2007 I suffered an extremely serious spinal cord injury and could have died.  The doctors were surprised I could walk afterward and suspected the injury might even affect my cognitive abilities.  For months, my brain was on random play, sending unpredictable signals to my arms, legs and neck.  I never knew what sensation or pain I would be feeling next.  My nervous system was out of control and nobody could know when, or if, this would end.

I was lucky. Other than a plate in my head, the lasting effects of this trauma are minimal.

So I’m acutely aware of how fast you can lose it all. Death had a hand on me and I escaped that time.  But it is going to happen, perhaps without warning. Perhaps tomorrow.

How should I use this blog and my other “digital assets” to say goodbye to you, my friends and my family on MY terms?  What happens to {grow} and this digital footprint when I die?  Will any of you even know what happened? Does any person know how to get into my account to publish something to say, “Well, he’s gone. You can move along now.”

This is uncomfortable, but I have begun writing my farewell blog post.  A little at a time. Might take years. But I’m doing it. I am also leaving a set of instructions to my kids so they can find the “publish” button. It’s a start.

I think this makes sense … as much as an emotional issue like this can make sense.  I think it would bring closure for all of us, although from my position, it won’t really be on my mind unless I turn into a blogger spirit who can’t rest until somebody publishes the last post! The WordPress Ghost.

How things have changed.  My grandmother died exactly 10 years ago.  She was a lively, interesting woman but her stories live on only in my mind.  As far as I know, not a single video, photo, or voice recording of Grandma exists in the digital world.  In fact, if you google her name, the search returns images of Halle Berry.  This would have amused her.

All my grandmother left was a box of photo albums and her collection of Hummel figurines.  But we’re busy producing fresh masses of permanent, searchable content.  Buckets of it.  Articles. Photos.  Videos. We are the first generation who can potentially live forever through our personal published works. We can have a cyber-soul.

What is that digital life story going to look like for you?

When I started looking into this subject, I found that curating your content legacy and preparing for digital afterlife is becoming a big business. Think about it.  As the Digital Natives grow older, of course they are going to want their cyber selves to live on.  The ultimate narcissistic final act.

I found hundreds of resources out there to help you manage the digital end game, but here are just a few to give you a flavor of this emerging industry:

Several services will contact loved ones (or hated ones) with emails when you die.  They all basically work the same way. You queue up your emails and then the service sends you periodic emails to confirm you’re still alive. If you stop responding, your emails get unlocked and are distributed. This way, you can communicate your passwords, last wishes, and long-held secrets after you’re gone. One site will send your emails on dates you choose for 60 years into the future. An example of a free service is Dead Man’s Switch.

Another cottage industry is the curation of digital assets for future generations.  There is a wide variety of options, both free and paid. A site such as My Wonderful Life allows you to put together an online scrap book of everything that was important to you. This company has a great slogan: “You only get one chance to make a last impression.”

While the world of physical assets is fairly clear-cut thanks to wills and legal procedures, digital asset management is confusing. What will happen to your domains? Where’s that Adsense money going? What about your PayPal account? What about the half-finished novel backed up in Dropbox? Entrustet is an example of a company who will manage your assets as your “digital executor” when you pass away.

In the creepy category is Lifenaut.com which promotes ”a database of personal reflections captured in video, image, audio and documents about yourself that can be saved, searched, downloaded and shared with friends.” This information is meant to be filtered through an “interactive avatar,” modeled on you, “that becomes more intelligent as you add more information.”

VirtualEternity also claims to convert the personal data you provide into an avatar — sort of like one of those chatbots that some online companies use for automated but more humanish customer service. “We want to give users the gift of immortality” they say. Basically this is an avatar that you teach to be you.

If you want to keep up with emerging trends in this field, you might want to check out The Digital Beyond, a comprehensive website on the subject examining practical, legal, and emotional issues of a digital legacy.

As I reviewed what I had written, I notice that this started out as a personal post about my mortality and digital legacy and it has devolved into a “how-to” post.  Probably some deep meaning there. I’ll let you junior psychologists figure it out.

Any way, Mr. Derek K. Miller has inspired me to get serious about this and I’m considering my digital afterlife and how I want my blog to end some day.

Of course you already know the last line.  “I loved you, I loved you, I loved you.”

Why mess with perfection?

 

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Dead Man Blogging

“Here it is. I’m dead, and this is my last post to my blog.”

I’ve been haunted since I read those words a few weeks ago.

Jenn Whinnem had hosted a discussion on {grow} about our digital footprint and the implications when we die. Johnny Russo, added a link to a post by Derek K. Miller, who wrote his farewell to his blog community and family in anticipation of his death from a terminal disease.  It is a stunning, poignant, post and it ends perfectly.  “I loved you, I loved you, I loved you.”

Since that day, Derek’s post has been pounding in my head.  When I die, should I just die, or do I publish a coda? What happens with this community? Is there such a thing as a digital legacy and is that something you can prepare for?

In 2007 I suffered an extremely serious spinal cord injury and could have died.  The doctors were surprised I could walk afterward and suspected the injury might even affect my cognitive abilities.  For months, my brain was on random play, sending unpredictable signals to my arms, legs and neck.  I never knew what sensation or pain I would be feeling next.  My nervous system was out of control and nobody could know when, or if, this would end.

I was lucky. Other than a plate in my head, the lasting effects of this trauma are minimal.

So I’m acutely aware of how fast you can lose it all. Death had a hand on me and I escaped that time.  But it is going to happen, perhaps without warning. Perhaps tomorrow.

How should I use this blog and my other “digital assets” to say goodbye to you, my friends and my family on MY terms?  What happens to {grow} and this digital footprint when I die?  Will any of you even know what happened? Does any person know how to get into my account to publish something to say, “Well, he’s gone. You can move along now.”

This is uncomfortable, but I have begun writing my farewell blog post.  A little at a time. Might take years. But I’m doing it. I am also leaving a set of instructions to my kids so they can find the “publish” button. It’s a start.

I think this makes sense … as much as an emotional issue like this can make sense.  I think it would bring closure for all of us, although from my position, it won’t really be on my mind unless I turn into a blogger spirit who can’t rest until somebody publishes the last post! The WordPress Ghost.

How things have changed.  My grandmother died exactly 10 years ago.  She was a lively, interesting woman but her stories live on only in my mind.  As far as I know, not a single video, photo, or voice recording of Grandma exists in the digital world.  In fact, if you google her name, the search returns images of Halle Berry.  This would have amused her.

All my grandmother left was a box of photo albums and her collection of Hummel figurines.  But we’re busy producing fresh masses of permanent, searchable content.  Buckets of it.  Articles. Photos.  Videos. We are the first generation who can potentially live forever through our personal published works. We can have a cyber-soul.

What is that digital life story going to look like for you?

When I started looking into this subject, I found that curating your content legacy and preparing for digital afterlife is becoming a big business. Think about it.  As the Digital Natives grow older, of course they are going to want their cyber selves to live on.  The ultimate narcissistic final act.

I found hundreds of resources out there to help you manage the digital end game, but here are just a few to give you a flavor of this emerging industry:

Several services will contact loved ones (or hated ones) with emails when you die.  They all basically work the same way. You queue up your emails and then the service sends you periodic emails to confirm you’re still alive. If you stop responding, your emails get unlocked and are distributed. This way, you can communicate your passwords, last wishes, and long-held secrets after you’re gone. One site will send your emails on dates you choose for 60 years into the future. An example of a free service is Dead Man’s Switch.

Another cottage industry is the curation of digital assets for future generations.  There is a wide variety of options, both free and paid. A site such as My Wonderful Life allows you to put together an online scrap book of everything that was important to you. This company has a great slogan: “You only get one chance to make a last impression.”

While the world of physical assets is fairly clear-cut thanks to wills and legal procedures, digital asset management is confusing. What will happen to your domains? Where’s that Adsense money going? What about your PayPal account? What about the half-finished novel backed up in Dropbox? Entrustet is an example of a company who will manage your assets as your “digital executor” when you pass away.

In the creepy category is Lifenaut.com which promotes ”a database of personal reflections captured in video, image, audio and documents about yourself that can be saved, searched, downloaded and shared with friends.” This information is meant to be filtered through an “interactive avatar,” modeled on you, “that becomes more intelligent as you add more information.”

VirtualEternity also claims to convert the personal data you provide into an avatar — sort of like one of those chatbots that some online companies use for automated but more humanish customer service. “We want to give users the gift of immortality” they say. Basically this is an avatar that you teach to be you.

If you want to keep up with emerging trends in this field, you might want to check out The Digital Beyond, a comprehensive website on the subject examining practical, legal, and emotional issues of a digital legacy.

As I reviewed what I had written, I notice that this started out as a personal post about my mortality and digital legacy and it has devolved into a “how-to” post.  Probably some deep meaning there. I’ll let you junior psychologists figure it out.

Any way, Mr. Derek K. Miller has inspired me to get serious about this and I’m considering my digital afterlife and how I want my blog to end some day.

Of course you already know the last line.  “I loved you, I loved you, I loved you.”

Why mess with perfection?

 

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RECOMMENDED READING: Douglas Rushkoff for Edge “THE INTERNET MAKES ME THINK IN THE PRESENT TENSE”

How does the Internet change the way I think? It puts me in the present tense. It’s as if my cognitive resources are shifted from my hard drive to my RAM. That which is happening right now is valued, and everything in the past or future becomes less relevant.

The Internet pushes us all toward the immediate. The now. Every inquiry is to be answered right away, and every fact or idea is only as fresh as the time it takes to refresh a page…

Read the rest at rhizome.org

Cultures in Conflict series | INFORUM | Fargo, ND

This is quite an impressive series of articles from The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. There’s a link at the bottom of this web clip that takes you to the other pieces in the series, so far. Good reading.

Cultures in Conflict: Woman who fled Burundi’s violence finds home in Fargo

Cultures in Conflict: Woman who fled Burundi’s violence finds home in Fargo

INSIDE: Interactive map with video
FARGO – Fifteen years ago, Laetitia Mizero found herself once again a refugee in her own country.

By
Kristen Daum
, June 11, 2011

What will the Internet be like in 2015?

World population by country: UN guesses the shape of the world by 2100

By the end of this year the world’s seven billionth citizen will be born. The latest United Nations population estimates, out this week, say the global population will reach 10bn in the next 90 years.

According to the UN Population Division‘s best-case ‘medium’ estimate – and you can see the original report here – it will take 13 years to add the eighth billion, 18 years to add the ninth billion and 40 years to reach the tenth billion.