Revisit One of My Old Posts

http://ene4cindychen.blogspot.com/2011/02/my-parallel-computing-mind.html

I wrote this at Valenti’s day this year. Still looks a brilliant post~

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Is Internet Culture a Geek Culture?

I tried not to be a geek before. Although I came from an engineering background (this is a stereotype that engineers tend to be geeks), but the engineering department was too small in that university compared with psychology, education, literature, philosophy and science. I never really regard myself as an engineer, though I work hard and team hard.

I don’t know about video games, I don’t know about Internet memes, I don’t know about comics, and I don’t know about acronyms and “stupid” jokes. I am kind of a unique person from my generation, I was doing things so goal-oriented that I think I shouldn’t do any irrelevant things. Those were all irrelevant to me before, so I didn’t know any of them. I still think I should spend the limited time of my life on achieving my goals, otherwise I won’t get there. I don’t have so much spare time. However, these things become relevant to my goals now, because I feel pressure that in order to be a good programmer (though Hanjun warned to be careful to call myself programmer), in order to be a good social media researcher, I have to become a geek somehow.

I am quite nice, open, and human-centered person. I think myself more as a researcher. I have to stand at a higher point to embrace the geek culture.

What are the differences among geek, nerd and tech-savvy? (I know I should Google it, just forgive me being lazy and busy once. Could this become a troll? Not enough.)

How to Find People to Follow and my Anger about Twitter

I said in class that I tend to blog when I am angry or unhappy, since I am so angry about Twitter now, I decided to write why I am angry first and then write about how to find interesting people to follow there.

What makes me angry about Twitter (disclaimer: these are all just my personal opinions based on the way I use Tiwtter, the purpose I use Tiwtter, my situation, my technological background, etc. I understand that different people use it for different purposes, and different tools are designed for different purposes. ):

Twitter Web UI

1.First of all, I tends to use more than 140 characters whenever I really want to express my idea. So blog is way more suitable for me than twitter. I know I have to learn to be concise, but I don’t want to be concise to a point that I have to write so many abbreviations and acronyms that don’t make sense to me, nor other people. I am intending to substitute twitter with blog, they are different platforms anyway, but something like Facebook status or Google+ stream would be better.

2. I set the preference for notices whenever I get mentioned or replied, but I get notice sometimes, sometimes NOT.

3. Why I heard so much complain about privacy issue on FB, not that much about Twitter. People just forgive it because it’s simple, and because it’s meant for public?

4. There is not a concise way of organizing the conversations, they are all just mashed together. I cannot just follow a the conversation about one hashtag, I have to hear all the irrelevant tweets by people in the list.

5. I cannot use Google Voice number to send text to or get text from Twitter! This maybe a problem of Google Voice, rather than twitter.

Tweetdeck:

1. I took me forever to find the “favorite” button, and actually it’s not a button.

2. I don’t know what is the difference between group and list here, when I created a group, it automatically turned to a list, and the group is empty. If you don’t want the concept of a group, why leave the function there?

3. I feel it’s convenient to use the notice window to reply people’s tweets. However, if I write reply here, the autoname function disappears and the auto-including hashtag function disappears too. I have to manually type them in.

4. The biggest problem here is that I cannot see the back-n-forth conversation among people very clearly here. If there is one original tweet, and several replies. When read the original ones, I cannot see the replies. When I see one reply, I can click “in reply to” to see the original one and this one reply, and also many other irrelevant conversation between these two people will also show up, and I cannot see other relevant replies. The Web UI has a right arrow at each tweet that is nicer. The right arrow and the “in reply to…” are different functions, and tweetdeck only has “in reply to…”

5. When I reply somebody’s tweet, I cannot see my own reply in a thread, which will make think I didn’t reply successfully. I have to go to check my tweets again.

6. A good thing here about Tweetdeck is that I can create a search column, so I can only follow the relevant tweets here.

Twitter iPhone:

I am very disoriented when I first started to use the tweetdeck iPhone, I don’t know which column is which, and how to go to the next column. The screen is so small and cannot display the whole name of the column sometimes.

My iPhone, my email and Tweetdeck send me notices at different paces, and sometimes one of them will omit some tweets, or delayed for a long time. Or sometimes I am not in front of my laptop and have to rely on my phone. So I cannot turn either of them off, in case I didn’t see some important tweet. However, sometimes they are really disturbing, I just want to turn all of them off and do something else!

As we are going to talk about Internet Culture next week, I feel every phenomenon is existing and has evolved around a culture. Twitter is like this too. It is designed for 10 people, and has evolved to this point today because of the collective effort of people who like it or use it. These people grew up with this culture and are very much used to this culture. Other people, like me, very different to enter into this culture. Of course, the difficulty also depends on whether I really want to enter into this culture or not, whether I think it’s worthwhile. If I decide that I have to enter into this culture no matter what, because it will bring value to my future, I will do it no matter what. Similarly, I am always angry that there are so many abbreviations and acronyms in English, but this is how this language has evolved, thus if I decide to use English for the rest of my life, I have to embrace it.

Now I think the key point probably is that to put important time urgent information on Twitter is a bad idea. Time urgent information should be left for emails and phone-calls. Twitter is just a loosely coupled information system, where we may find interesting people and interesting articles to read if we want. To put timely urgent information there is simply too much pressure, because then I cannot turn if off as I want anymore. I understand the practices on Tech621 is just for us to immerge in the social media world, but no more in my normal life.

Okay, let’s go to talk about the real topic: how to find interesting people to follow on Twitter. Although twitter has made angry for many parts, but there is still one part that is crucial and useful to me, that is, I can find important people to follow and find interesting article to read.I am sure there are many ways to identify people, and Dr.V has mentioned some in class. Here I just provide one unique one that works for me:

First, follow an organization. Second, follow the people that showed up in the tweets of the organization. Third, unfollow the organization.For example, I followed an organization @socialmedia2day. It will tweets people’s names and their interesting blogs, then I will go to look at the blog and decide if I am going to follow the people. After a certain period of time, then I starts to know many people to follow, and starts to utilizing other more advanced ways to follow people, then I can unfollow the organization.

Re-Visit: Clay Shirky TED Talk about Cognitive Surplus

I watched this video many months ago, and recently think it would be helpful to re-watch it since I am thinking about socially distributed cognition as one theoretical framework for social media and crowdsourcing. I don’t know whether folks have watched this video or not, I recommend everyone who is interested in social media to watch it!


Clay Shirky defined Cognitive Surplus as the tremendous amount of resources enabled by human motivation to contribute and share, and the modern digital media tools. The world has over a trillion of hours a year to commit to shared projects, and modern technologies have unleashed the hidden power in the spare time. He mentioned that people weren’t couch potatoes because they liked to be, it’s because consuming was the only opportunity they were given to. The intrinsic motivation to create and share is empowered when given the modern media tools.

I am thinking that what is the difference between cognitive surplus and socially distributed cognition. It seems that distributed cognition and socially distributed cognition take a perspective of a much smaller scale, it emphasize the cognitive process between individual person and the environment, then socially distributed cognition scales up a little bit to include individual person’s friends, relatives and other people around. I was looking for a cognitive theory that could scale up to the modern web, and this cognitive surplus looks quite a good candidate. However, it talks more about cognitive resources rather than the cognitive process.(So more to think about and look for here…)

Another main idea of this video is about the difference between sites like Ushahidi (this is an interesting site that worth look at) and LOLcats/Flikr/YouTube. The opinion is that Ushahidi creates civic value by the participants that would benefit the whole society, while other sites are only creating communal value. He advocates that more sites should be designed around human generosity. I have some doubt on this, isn’t YouTube creating civic value that could benefit the whole society?

There is another point that’s motivational to me. He said There is a spectrum between mediocre work and good work. but there is a gap between doing nothing and doing anything. So as long as we are doing something, we have passed that gap, and we are in the spectrum, then we could struggle to get to the  top of the spectrum sometime in the future 🙂 This is very inspiring to me, at least to my coding skills.

Towards Being Professional

I went to TREC to play badminton yesterday morning, as I planned for this semester, I should go to play badminton every Saturday morning. I was playing badminton for fun here and there for all my life before I came to the US. Mostly I was playing in the backyard, or some random outdoor places, and never really become good at it. I don’t even know the rules for playing in a badminton competition. Now I realize that if I am going to sick with my plan and play every week at TREC with all those “professional” badminton buddies, I have to be professional! First of all, I should invest in a decent badminton racquet, preferably from YONEX, the world #1 badminton racquet brand. I should also invest in sports shorts and shoes. (No Jeans whiling doing sports anymore!) I should change my attitude to be professional, otherwise it will be even shameful to show up at the badminton court.

What’s changing me is the environment. I was playing in an unprofessional manner for almost 15 years, and all people around me were unprofessional. So I never think of that I should be serious about playing badminton, and I should work on polishing some of the hard parts. I will never get to be good this way, and I will get get more fun out of it this way. I now believe that part of the fun from doing things is being really good at it. If not, we should work on the hard part to be really good at it!

I talked about this with a friend who is doing her master degree at Saudi Arabia. She knows many Chinese students who have had some experience in the US, and many of them are very “professional” badminton players, different from Chinese students there directly from China. I feel maybe part of the good thing of this country is that people take many things serious, and getting all the gears to do it.

Similarly, I was “thinking critically” for all my life, but never know how to think like a professional researcher until I became a PhD student. I was using social media sites for so many years, but never know how to do research about it, until I am taking TECH621 Social Internet this semester~All these provide immerse environment for being professional.