I recently co-ran workshops at a couple of graduate schools in Stockholm. At the end of one of the sessions, a series of questions from the students evolved into one of the themes of the day: Knowing when your work is finished is one of the most valuable skills.
Sociology grad student Nathan Jurgenson recently spurred interesting debate with a post at The New Inquiry called “The IRL Fetish.” As the title suggests, Jurgenson approaches the verve with which people celebrate disconnecting, unplugging, and going offline. The romanticization of being offline – of trading MP3s for vinyl, email for letter writing, and wearing a weekend tech sabbatical as a badge of honor (and later tweeting about it) – has been a recurring topic as the tools for digital communication have accelerated and become more widespread. Read more
The increase in the number of cars on the road over the past few decades has created headaches for everyone, from drivers to transportation planners and law enforcement. Advances in digital technology over the past several years, however, have made driving in some places less of a pain. For instance, digital signage on busy roads can alert drivers of alternate routes if there is an accident up ahead. Automakers have been working on Adaptive Cruise Control technology to help regulate your car’s speed in relation to the ones around you. GPS systems now plan your routes based on real time traffic data pulled from sensors, news stations, and other drivers over time.
But a well connected network is only part of the solution to chronic traffic issues. For the past few years, drivers have been using tools that largely focus on making each individual user’s life easier, when we really need to be moving toward innovation designed to make the system as a whole more efficient. And for this to fully work, people must then learn to use new technologies in less self-interested (and more responsible) ways. Read more
No two rating systems are created equal. Yelp and Netflix, for example, both feature five-star ratings and reviews, yet the relationships we have with each are full of nuance and have very different effects on our motivations for using the sites and contributing reviews, our assessment of the reviews and those who wrote them, our trust in the various user communities, and on the actions we take when using each site.
A handful of us recently spent some time discussing rating systems and user reviews, prompted by Christina Cacioppo’s post on the topic from late last year. Our conversation coalesced around the variables that affect our interpretation of various 5-star ratings, and the ways they are deployed by different sites. Below are two hypotheses about the differences between crowdsourced recommendation systems.