Oct 14

2014 and the Ministry of Truth | Newspeak: Minitrue

Abigail Leffler says Big Data Brother… one bit at a time

ICT (Internet communications technology) enables gathering of digital data derived from our online interactions and other iterations such as those that come from GPS (Global Positioning System)-equipped devices. This interactivity being ‘a necessary condition for social, cultural and political participation’ (Lievrouw: 2013, p. 15) functions as a catalyst for change, development and humanitarian relief.

Just consider that all the tweets, blogposts and Facebook entries generate big data and so do all the ‘likes’ and endorsements and any other information pointing to user connection networks and to activity levels of individuals on the Net.

To give you an idea of how large big data actually is, every minute of every day we create

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Oct 14

Real Virtualities

Abigail Leffler considers the use of open data in academia

Do you like cartoons? If you do, you may enjoy this eight and a half-minute long one by Piled higher and Deeper (PhD) advocating for the use of open data in academia.

The authors submit that ‘tax payers are already paying for knowledge to be distributed broadly’ (Shockey and Eisen: 2012). Research and peer-reviewed papers in the public domain benefit not only students and researchers in both developed and less developed countries (for the latter, open data is precious as it may be the only resource at hand), but authors as well, as it helps them gain more visibility in their field.

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Oct 14

Open Data: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Abigail Leffler defines and explores the significance of open data used in new and social media in the context of development and social change.

That Gutenberg moment

‘We live in a Gutenberg moment,’ announces Nadine Schuurman, ‘in which we are migrating from book reading to Internet browsing’ (Schuurman: 2013, p. 372). And ever since Johannes Gutenberg and his printing press idea, adds Michael Mandiberg, ‘technological innovations have enabled the dissemination of more and more media forms over broader and broader audiences’ (Mandiberg: 2012, p. 1). Indeed the implications of the Internet phenomenon are far-reaching.

With the advent of Web 2.0 (O’Reilly: 2004, in Mandiberg: 2012, p.2), new forms of communication have emerged. New media (of which social media is a subset) is non-linear, interactive, peer-to-peer in nature. This means that we no longer live in a model where a few dictate what the rest consume: we have become both producers and consumers of online information, and social media in particular provides the infrastructure that facilitates this information sharing. Mandiberg notes that ‘at the end of this first decade of the twenty-first century, the line between media producers and consumers has blurred, and the unidirectional broadcast has partially fragmented into many kinds of multidirectional conversations’ (Mandiberg: 2012, p. 1).

A cacophony of voices

Media participation has thus become part of media consumption. This interactivity is ‘a necessary condition for social, political and cultural participation’ (Lievrouw: 2011, p. 13), making new media an ideal catalyst for social change. The result from this variety of inputs is, as expected, a cacophony of voices singing to us through instruments as diverse as Twitter, Facebook, blogs, the mobile Internet (mobile phones) and YouTube, to name a few. Cacophony may be a disturbing sound but it definitely sets the tone for development and social change. Acknowledgement of dissenting voices leads to democracy at least, and to social change at most.

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Sep 14

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