Emergent Media & Market

Social Media Marketing

With the current uprising of social media network, it is only reasonable for it to catch the attention of marketers and for them to utilise the network. To put it bluntly, social media marketing means the process of gaining website traffic or attention using social media sites. 

Marketers are re-organising their strategies and transitioning towards social media. As John Elkaim pointed out

The emergence of social media and the steady decline of mass media are the two biggest marketing stories of the decade. Both print circulation and TV viewership have been falling consistently since the turn of the century; TV viewership, for instance, is down almost 50% since 2002.

In contrast, social media has reported massive gains since the early days of MySpace, with social media usage among U.S. adults increasing by 800% over the past eight years.

(Elkaim 2013)

Using social media to personalise marketing process, marketers are able to harvest data collection, data segmentation and data conversion into good use. They are able to categories their customers more accurately and personalise them, and even go to the extend of constructing an audience profile.

Danny Bradbury points out that social networking are gradually being prioritise in our daily life. The number of Facebook users who access it via mobile devices exceed non-mobile users in 2012; 60% of its active users access Twitter once a month, the statistics of the usage is far too significant to be ignore. Hence, it is only smart and reasonable for marketers to jump onto the bandwagon. 

As people usually fiddle around on social sites with their mobile devices for a short period of time for distraction purposes - when you’re waiting for the bus or standing on train platforms. Location-based marketers jump right at the opportunity by providing posters to allow customers to engage with them, by using the location positioning inside their devices. They are even smart enough to use gamification to allow customers to check-in at certain places, thus earning them points and provide coupons and vouchers for several check-ins at the same place.

Facebook caters its services for marketers as well. By creating a page and publicise it, Facebook’s algorithm will compute the data and rank posts on people’s news feed based on relevancy, recency and affinity. Customers’ data will also be tabulated in terms of age range, location, gender and so on.This is useful to marketers as they will have the statistic and data for when any of their posts or updates receive the highest amount of attention - considering people social media is widespread throughout the world and the time zone difference is taken into account. On the plus side, the content will be shared amongst the customers as well to more potential customers, thus, free publicity is achieved.

Another example of such free publicity stunt is probably Mob City. TNT’s new 1940s gangster drama from The Walking Dead's Frank Darabont did something clever by releasing the premiere's full script, on Twitter, 140 characters at a time. This creates a Twitter buzz and the show becomes the most watched, and the most tweeted-about. It is interesting to note that Twitter TV ratings are not equivalent to traditional TV ratings. 

Business marketers are utilising social media to help promote their marketing, however, since the transition is still new and the metrics of widespread is not proportional to the acceptance by people, analysts still remain wary of it.

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References:

TaskRabbit

What is gamification?

It’s basically the use of game mechanics to get people to engage with things they might not usually engage with.

Busque, a 28-year-old engineer at IBM in Cambridge, Massachusetts, hatched an idea for a site in February 2008, and begin creating it four months later after she quits her job. RunMyErrand, as it orginally called.

Every notice how the youngsters are able to stay hours and hours long glued onto the screen with a gaming device on their hand? What’s the appeal, one might ask. Jason Tocci narrowed the appeal of game into 5 categories: 

  1. Accomplishment: rewarding feelings that come from “winning” or otherwise succeeding at a game.
  2. Imagination: practices of pretend, with particular regard to storytelling and simulation.
  3. Socialization: various ways that players use games to connect with one another on an interpersonal level.
  4. Recreation: processes of renewal and pastime, which typically means using a game to adjust one’s psychological or psychological state.
  5. Subversion: behaviors that run counter to norms and expectations, as defined by society and game logic alike.

So, gamification, as Richard Parker would explain, is basically that the simple idea is while lots of people love playing games, while, let’s face it, work is a hassle; so if we were to make work more like a game, it will be much more enjoyable and would seem less like a task. 

This is basically the core idea of Busque’s genius site, which was renamed TaskRabbit, has more than 1,500 runners in San Francisco, Boston, Los Angeles, and Orange County fulfilling up to 3,000 tasks per month. 

The complicated gaming mechanics that runs behind the scene of TaskRabbit are applied as well.

A leaderboard ranks the top runners, displaying the level that each has achieved and their average customer review. The runners also see a videogame-style progress bar showing the number of additional points they need to jump to the next level. Points are awarded for everything from bidding accurately on a task (15 points for being within 15 percent of the sender’s maximum price) to bidding quickly (15 points for bidding within the task’s first 30 minutes) to emailing friends and urging them to join TaskRabbit (three points per email). The level system is exponential: Moving from level 0 to level 1 takes only 60 points, while going from level 20 to 21 requires adding roughly 1,700 points to your tally. The highest level reached so far is 23, achieved only by a 58-year-old former military officer in San Francisco named Alex K. (All the runners are known by their first name and last initial.)

(Tsotsis, 2011)

The engagement of the task runners is intense - as they get paid to do so PLUS their level on the site increase. They’re workers, making good money and enjoying their time doing so as they get the sense of rewarding achievement like Tocci described above, hence it creates an illusion of grunt work like assembling IKEA furniture to making a beer run ‘fun’.

In social sense, I find the entire idea appealing as it creates “employments” for people who are unable to find a job. Some people are able to develop their own business model where they can actively hunt jobs down and running tasks from one day to another - and the bonus part is, they get paid while boosting their bunny level up as well! This will certainly reduce the unemployment statistic.

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Science Museum

For an event or exhibition relevant to ‘emergent media’ that I have attended in my own time, I chose to go to the Science Museum which is situated at Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London, SW7 2DD.

Upon arrival, I entered the interactive installation situated at the top floor, it is called Universal Everything & You which brings together two digital audiovisual artworks, which are 1000 Hands and Presence.

1000 Hands is an application where are available for visitors to download and sketch simple line drawings that will evolve into magical, dynamic sculptural forms generated by computer code while Presence, is a series of dazzling moving spots, lines and colour blocks created with dancers from Benjamin Millepied’s LA Dance Project. The latter part of the work is non-interactive. 

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Later, I went on to the 3D printer department where a brochure is saying that artists, enthusiasts and entrepreneurs all over the world are taking advantage of 3D printing to imagine and create things. 
In UK alone, around 4.8 million 3D printed things are made by enthusiasts each year. It is a method that allows people to affordably create indivual items. 

At the 3D department, the most eye-catching thing is probably a bicycle that being displayed on the wall, presumably created by 3D printing as well - including all the individual parts. 

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Jon Meyer, an aerospace engineer, has his work on display as well. He explains that 3D printing helps create perfect aeroplane part where he and his team create three different hinges using different method for aeroplane hatches. 

"The first hinge is made the traditional way. We designed a complex 3D printed second hindge that was much more lighter than the original. But it spread its load differently and put extra stress on neighbouring plane parts."

"So we designed a third hinge. It spread forces just like the original hinge, but is much lighter."

It is interesting to note that Meyer points out that 3D printing allows him to create complex part in titanium, and predicts that in future the planes will be cheaper to produce, lighter and will use less fuel.

Another interesting contribution of 3D printing that was on display is of the medical field. Apparently, over 5.5 million people have already been treated using 3D printed medical parts. Today’s medical specialists are harnessing the power of 3D printing to create custom-made implants, and medics might be able to print bespoke treatment made with biological materials, drugs and living human cells in future.

Dietmar W Hutmacher, a medical researcher, created a skull patch using 3D printer. He says that a 9 years old patient lost a piece of her skull, so he scanned her head and designed “scaffolds” that fit body shape and size, and encourages new bone growth - and it’s an exact fit for ther mission bone! To point out, it is printed in “body friendly” materials and has a precise network of channels. 

Hutmacher states that 

The girl’s own bone cells travelled into the scaffold implant and new tissue grew. Within three years the scaffold dissolved. New healthy bone had filled the missing piece of he skull. 

A video explanation can be found here:

There are several significant medical contributions as well from 3D printing, including replacement parts like ear, for example. Anthony Atala, a medical researcher says that in future, if we were to lost an ear, the other ear will be scanned and a computer model will be generated. The ear will be printed using our own cells and “body friendly” materials and the cells will grow into new tissue inside us. Noses, fingers are also printable but the latter will be much trickier as tendons and joints will be taken into account. However, Atala is optimistic about what 3D printing is able to provide and is enthusiatic about printing more complex things like organs.

There are several more things that 3D printing are capable of that are on display including of arts, sculpture, bags and so on.image

YouTube

YouTube, as Henry Jenkins would describe -  a hybrid media space where commercial, amateur, nonprofit, governmental, educational, and activist content co-exists and interacts in ever more complex ways. It serves as a large database, a library, or a medium even, for people, especially youngsters, to perform “social peacocking” – a term that rose to attention since the uprising of social media. Like the name implies, “peacocking” is exactly like a the bird peacock showing off its beautiful tail to attract attention – in this case it’s more of the online community showing off their “talents” and “ability” to attract viewers, or as I like to put it: “Internet points” (which consists of “likes” and “viewers”)

However, amongst the sea of videos, there are still some ways to categorise the content. To quote Clement Chau’s study:

Although the majority of viewers are adults, teens between fifteen and nineteen years old account for 17 percent of YouTube’s market, with about even male (8 percent) and female (9 percent) representations. Thus, young people account for a significant portion of the YouTube audience.(Chau, 2011)

As the majority of the audience are young people, the video content of YouTube usually caters much more towards their taste, to the point where there is a significant difference on “low art” and “high art” within the quality of the videos. 

To prove my point, the popular and famous YouTubers (people who upload YouTube videos) with high amount of subscribers are PewDiePie and NigaHiga, both of them are bought to Internet fame due to their videos, which are all high on entertainment value. Even so, it is hard to consider those as “high art”. Chau even states that YouTube has “relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement”.

One thing that is interesting about it is that even if its low quality of art form, a lot of uprising stars began their fame from YouTube. Exhibits include Jenna Marbles and Walk Off The Earth. Music industry veteran Scott Cohen even points out that these people are fully utilising the free and available social platform and are earning more audiences and fans alike by doing things differently from music industry. 

Society nowadays are always on the hunger for micro-content and YouTube is the perfect platform for it and it provides engagement for both party - the YouTubers and the viewers. YouTubers build up their viewers gradually by constantly feeding them what they want, and what they want is video, the more the better. Plus, the YouTubers are making money as well! In Stuart Dredge’s article, it was mentioned that Jenna Marbles in on her way of earning $10 million in just 2013 alone, by just doing advertising and endorsement, thanks to her 11.4 million subscribers. 

Music industries alike are shifting their attention to this particular social site, to the extend that: 

The Music 4.5 conference focused on YouTube’s potential for the music industry and musicians, including trends that are being driven by MCNs – the term used for companies with networks of channels on the video service – and their young YouTubers, rather than established companies and stars.(Dredge, 2013)

Eric Mackay, vice president of international business affairs and business development at Vevo, states that fan engagement is the upmost priority. “You need to know what your fans want, then you super-serve them… if a user feels connected to the artist, they’ll watch more videos,” he said. 

Vevo are picking up the hints and are learning from the YouTubers, in the first-ever YouTube Music Awards, the ten nominees for Artist of the Year drew about 10 billion views combining official videos from October 2012 to November 2013 are as shown:

image

To conclude, YouTube is definitely a place where video consumption are on the rise which its richness in participatory culture are something to keep an eye on. 

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Cybernetics and human enchancement

Humans are forever a greedy bunch. They always reach out to grab onto things that are beyond their capabilities, no matter socially, geographically, or mentally-wise. In this era where technology is rapidly improving, it really is just a matter of time until human totally infused themselves with machines and pushing the boundaries of their existences.

Humanity’s hunger of immortality predates back to Qin dynasty and perhaps much later than that. One of the more famous quests for immortality and youth is perhaps Elizabeth Báthory who bathed in the blood of countless virgin girls in order to regain her youth; Qin Shi Huang’s immense hunger for immortality drove him to his end due to mercury-poisoning despite his belief that it is supposed to build resistance to death.

With the current vast technology possibilities, the world where people commonly viewed as ‘science-fiction’ will no longer be mere ‘fiction’ anymore, at least, to a certain extend. For starters, in recent years, Oxford Nanopore came up with a certain device called the DNA sequence machine that is capable of sequencing human genome within hours. To add on, it is only the size of a USB memory stick to boot.

Such technology will prove it ways to be beneficial to mankind by altering the DNA sequence to help code out the potential harm towards human, for example, cancer cells, hereditary family health issue such as asthma, leukemia, diabetes and so on. This will help prolong human lives and rule out the possibilities of losing your loved ones over sickness. However, as there is always two sides to everything, such technology might have its cons as well. As mentioned previously, humans are a greedy bunch, in order not to lose on the starting point of everything, parents might use this to their advantage to ‘code’ their ‘perfect child’: one that is smart, intelligent, and attractive. This might trigger an ethical issue by accusing the parents want to ‘play God’ and not giving the child their right to choose whoever they are supposed to be. Furthermore, as such technology becomes common to people, and considering the mindset of a parent, the future generation might suffer the consequences of not having much of gene variety as they are all coded to the ideal perfection, as in, they will all be the same. In such cases, the sci-fi scene such as of the 2013 film Oblivion where there is a huge number of Jacks and Victorias might be far from being just a mere fiction and lies a possibilities of what might happen in our future.

However, by just looking to our current situation where cybernetics is just an uprising issue where humans are gradually combining themselves with machineries, people are already questioning the borderline of such situation. Human has begun implanting machineries in their body, the most common ones are probably being prosthetic. By pushing the technology further, Steve Mann - or known as “the father of wearable computing” - as the name implies, is whom people credit for as the first person to develop a wearable computer, with its most prized possession: the "Eye-Tap" sunglasses, a wearable recording devices that records his everyday life from his point of view and gets projected real time to a projector or his personal website. 

To quote an article on Wired.com :

The modern glasses come with a mounted mini-camera for recording and broadcasting live feeds on the Internet. Plus, the right lens of his glasses also operates as a tiny computer screen: a basic DOS type screen, with the ability to do simple commands such as surf the Web, check e-mail and write small programs. A customized hand-clicker, about the size of a mouse, operates the entire system.

The glasses give Mann dual perception. With his left eye, he sees the world like the rest of us. The right lens has a tiny camera, which projects an image onto the lens. Half of his world is Windows Media while the other half is reality. The duality causes Mann to interact with other people as if he has no sight. He torques his head, leaning in as people speak to him, and often appears tentative moving around rooms.

Interestingly, Neil Harbisson, is the first person to have a passport picture in his UK passport to show off his cyborg nature and cause him to subsequently become the first person to be a government-recognised cyborg. In this passport picture of his, he is wearing a head-mounted device called an eyeborg that helps him to see colours. Although it seems a little far-fetched to be classifying everyone who have a piece of non-biological element intact to their body as ‘cyborg’ - you might as well even called people with prosthetics one as well; transhuman are gradually on the uprising to fight for their ‘rights’. 

The fight for their ‘rights’ is probably induced by society’s poor reaction towards these people and it raises a few eyebrows in terms of social implications. Since young, we were thrown with several cartoons or films indicate that ‘robot will take over the world and humanity will face its doom’. Like the recent Robocop trailer, it raises an interesting question and the people’s concern regarding the issue: Who is in control, human, or machine?

People remains sceptical about the balance between machines and humanism. To point, Mann was physically assaulted in a McDonald’s restaurant in Paris, France for his eye-piece device and was forced to remove it even though Mann has a medical documentation to prove that it can’t be removed without special tools as it is permanently attached to his skulls. 

While we are unable to predict the future, I still remain optimistic of the advancement of technology will be beneficial towards mankind. I don’t object the wariness of human towards the unknown, when it would certainly have its own drawbacks; I am still looking forward to the possibilities of genetically programming my future child and implementing machineries in me to help improve quality of life.  

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Algorithms

Internet, as how we like to envision like the 1999 American–Australian science fiction action film The Matrixfamous green screen of data is made up of a series of 1s and 0s

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The way the datas can be arranged is into 

101

111

000

010

and a whole lot more. They are called algorithms, and are a part of what best described as ‘magic maths’. They are basically datas that are being transmitted back and forth. Like for example, when we order something online, Skype video calls and much more, the communication is being encrypted. The data that we input into the device will be encrypted and in order for the other end to retrieve it, they are require to decode it, it is somewhat similar to person A sending secret message to person B using smoke signal. 

Alex Hern explains how encryption functions by the following example:

If Alice has a piece of information which she needs to get to Bob without anyone else seeing it – maybe a credit card number which she’s using to buy a computer with, or perhaps evidence of state wrongdoing which she’s leaking to a national newspaper – she has to encrypt it. (…) 

Public key cryptography means that Bob can tell the world his public key, and let them know that anything encoded with that will be readable by him and only him. Alice sees the public key, locks up her credit card data using it, and then sends that packet on the way.

Only Bob, using a second, private, key can decrypt the data and read the number. (Hern, 2013)

As mentioned, algorithms play a significant role in Internet data. However, when Google change its search algorithms, it creates quite a few problems for companies. One example is Decormeyes.com received dozens of angry complaints on the Internet, but Google mistook it as it being popular and cause the site to be on the top ranking for spectables brands - which is somewhat similar to how Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus being the popular searches on Google and earn them the status of being “big time celebrities” while they are constantly being mocked and made fun of by social sites alike. 

Kevin Slavin, assistant Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at MIT points out a disturbing fact - how our world is being shaped by algorithms. Such complex programs determine the stock prices, architecture and much more, and we are writing codes we can’t even understand, with results that we can’t control anymore. He even states that 

“We’re running through the United States with dynamite and rock saws so that an algorithm can close the deal three microseconds faster, all for a communications framework that no human will ever know; that’s a kind of manifest destiny.” (Slavin, 2011)

The government, however, took an interesting take on all the data and algorithms flooding around the world. The most recent one that caused an uproar is probably the NSA (National Security Agency) ‘s surveillance algorithms which is said to aid the agency’s anti-terror work. With almost every people on the planet own a mobile phone, Washington Post reports NSA is able to log almost five billion mobile phone location records every single day.

Privacy issue has been brought up by citizens alike as the agency has accumulated about 27 terabytes of data that gets analysed by a computer system called Co-Traveler, while only 1% of the data gathered was actually useful in anti-terror work. The American Civil Liberties Union voiced out that such surveillance that performed without any public debate are against the privacy of foreigners and Americans.

With information being harvested from analysing taps installed on mobile phone networks and location-information that network logs as people move about, Microsoft legal counsel, Brad Smith, says that such action performed by government are equivalent to computer viruses and cyber-attacks. They even stated that they are expanding encryption across services and reinforcing legal protections of data.

It is interesting to see how the battle on harvesting data being carried out, while I wouldn’t go as far to support the NSA’s surveillance, I am curious as to how far algorithms will take us. 

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