Globalization and Capitalism

Globalization and Capitalism

by Christine Schantz, Derek Kan, Shreyas

New York Times recently won four Pulitzer prizes and one of the articles was about modern globalization practices of some of the best enterprises respected not just in America but the world over like Apple [1] and Walmart. The fact that this seemingly worrying trend is being observed in places like Apple, which just a few decades ago proudly boasted of being built and developed indigenously in America, brings to light some of the key factors of a globalized workplace and knowledge workers.

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Technology and Culture

by Ishita and James

When Walter White, the main character in the AMC television series Breaking Bad[1]was about to go under general anesthesia, his wife – suspecting that he had lied about having two cell phones – told him that she had found his cell phone. Walter unintentionally revealed the truth when he responded, “Which one?”

This anecdote highlights how the character’s choices about how to manage his double-life often involve considerations about how he appropriates technology. These appropriations, however, are not essential reflections of what something like duplicity looks like in any technological system or interconnected community. Instead, there are context-specific patterns that characterize interpersonal interactions and social negotiations which are often unique to certain cultures. Horst and Miller’s ethnographic research in Jamaica demonstrates that keeping some people in one’s cell phone contact list unaware of the other identities which may be on that list does not necessitate acquiring a separate phone.

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OLPC, quality, and equality

by Eric Zan, Max Gutman, Aisha Kigongo

Earlier this year, the OLPC organization deployed instruction-less boxes of tablets to remote Ethiopian villages in an experimental attempt to see if illiterate children with no access to schooling or previous exposure to written words can learn to read on their own. Promising early observations show that kids are heavily engaged with the training software preinstalled on the machines, and within weeks they were able to spell words and recite songs. Within several months, kids were able to ‘hack’ the settings of the devices to personalize their desktop. “The fact they worked around it was clearly the kind of creativity, the kind of inquiry, the kind of discovery that we think is essential to learning,” said McNierney, OLPC’s CTO.

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Digital Inequality

by Brian Murphy, Charles Wang, Sonia Navani, and Ashley DeSouza

The U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration popularized the term “digital divide” to describe the disparity in access to technology between the rich and the poor. (Warschauer, 2003) In her article, Hargittai argues that the “digital divide” has evolved into “digital inequality” that must consider “different aspects of the divide, focusing on such details as quality of equipment, autonomy of use, the presence of social support networks” and “experience and user skills.”  Hargittai suggests that it is this combination of things that propels some into a group of ICT “haves” and relegates others to a group of ICT “have-nots.”  The challenge with a gap determined by a complex collection of skills and experiences is that those at the bottom fall further and further behind, leading to “an increased gap among groups over time.” (Hargittai, p. 938)

Online job searches provides an interesting example of how technological progress can actually highlight challenges for those on the lower end of the gap.

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Social Media Gestures as Political Acts

Authors: Priya Iyer, Lisa Jervis, Prabhavathi Matta

On Monday, March 25, the gay rights organization the Human Rights Campaign launched its campaign  to get people to change their social media profile pictures on to a pink and red version of their equal-sign logo, to show support for marriage equality. Within two days (according to the New Yorker), more than a million people were sporting the logo on their pages. This issue is the latest to be represented on social media by a change in profile picture: other examples include in Twitter users posting green icons to show solidarity with protesters in Iran in 2009 (; late last year people used black dot icons to speak out against sexual violence in India and show support for the victim of a Delhi gang rape that made global news.

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Social Translucency, follow up from guest talk by Judd Antin

At the guest talk on April 4th, Judd Antin mentioned the concept of social translucency. Here’s a reading for those of you who are interested in reading further – Erickson, Thomas and Wendy Kellogg. (2000). Social Translucence: An Approach to Designing Systems that Support Social Processes. In ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, Vol. 7, No. 1, pgs. 59-83.

Commons-Based Peer Production

by David Gries, JT Huang, AJ Renold

In Commons-based Peer Production and Virtue, Benkler and Nissenbaum note how the internet has given birth to an era of decentralized collaboration “among large groups of individuals, sometimes in the order of tens or even hundreds of thousands.” These groups cooperate effectively to, “provide information, knowledge, or cultural goods.” In this blog entry, we briefly examine four case studies of peer production: 1) Mechanical Turk 2) Wikipedia 3) HealthTap 4) Khan Academy. We found it useful to conceptualize these collaborative communities along two axes: 1) the nature of the work and 2) motivation of the contributors. Drawing from Haythornwaite, we distinguish the nature of the work as “Lightweight” vs. “Heavyweight”; we characterize the motivation of contributors as market-driven vs. other more nuanced social/individual motivators. (1)

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