OnePlus: Taking on the Linux Model

When we think of some of the biggest technology industries that are, crucially affecting our everyday lives, immediately what comes to mind is smartphones. Now almost everyone able to read this blog will possess their own smartphone, probably from one of the main manufacturers such as Apple, Samsung, LG or even Motorola. These are all top-tier companies we are all very familiar with and they make some of the top flagship phones that consumers demand. Now many of you reading this blog have them but something that is happening in the smartphone market is we are becoming aware of the real price of the phones we have.  Just look at the newest iPhone 6S by Apple, it retails at a whopping $650, much more than the paltry $200 someone probably paid through their carrier on contract not long ago. With the realization of such high-prices a new wave of companies hailing from China are beginning to make a splash in the marketplace and one such company, OnePlus, is leading the charge.

The story of OnePlus is a very new one, as the company started up operations only in winter of 2013 they have already launched two successful products and as of today announced their third. What makes them so unique is how they mimic the similarities of Linus Torvalds and the creation of the Linux operating system. As Clay Shirky says it, “The number of people who are willing to start something is smaller, much smaller, than the number of people who are willing to contribute once someone else starts something” (p. 239, 2008). A collective group decided to launch their own smartphone company in the desire to make a simple, better phone at an affordable price, therefore created OnePlus.

What makes OnePlus unique in the same sense of what makes Linux a unique platform is in the way it relies on a much wider community to influence those that make the dedicated changes within the company. Once the company formed the few individuals who would put most the effort into creating a product, now that it has been created an influx of users began to go to the forums of OnePlus and contribute their thoughts and ideas into what would make a great smartphone. Taking regards of interest in mind they launched their first smartphone, the OnePlus One, in April of 2014 using an invite only system to help lessen costs that come with overproduction. Luckily, for OnePlus, their initial product took off as the media was raving about the product and consumers were flooding their website and social media accounts wanting the One Plus One that led to sales that far exceed their expectations.

With a recent announcement today of their new OnePlus X, the third product entry from the company many major manufacturers are taking notice on what is making this small Chinese startup so successful. The use of community engagement and the creation of the company from a like-minded group allow them to lead the charge in the new trend in smartphones. As consumers can see the full price of their smartphones they are wanting a similar product at a lesser price, this is where companies like OnePlus are making strides and we are sure to see many other companies follow suit in entering the American and global markets. Do you know of any other companies or products that operate like OnePlus and Linux? If so what are they doing that is similar or different?

Prisoner’s dilemma in the doctor’s office

Shirky (2008) described a story where two robbers stole, crashed it a half mile down the road and were subsequently arrested by the police. At the police station, both robbers are sticking to the same story, so when the police officer interviews them individually, he offers each robber a first-come, first-serve deal. The first robber to cooperate with police will get a significant reduced sentence or none at all, while the robber gets charged, but if both robbers stick to their stories, they will be held overnight and release because the police do not have an evidence of who committed the crime. Shirky (2008) detailed the simplified payoff matrix to the situation with the four possible outcomes as follows:

1. We each stick to our stories, they’ve got no evidence, and they keep us both overnight. 2. I stick to the bystander story and you turn me in. You get a reward, while I get charged. 3. I turn you in while you stick to the story. I get a reward, while you get charged. 4. We turn each the other in. We both get charged (p. 189).

This is an example of the Prisoner’s dilemma, a thought experiment first conceived by Merrill Flood and Melvin Dresher in 1950, where the prisoners may not make the most rational decision of both sticking to their stories and getting released the next morning because they cannot communicate with each other and coordinate their strategy.

The Prisoner’s dilemma is considered a social dilemma. According to Hittleman (2012) on the WordPress blog Tech for Social Change, “Social dilemmas occur when individuals put their interests ahead of group interests or make decisions that can be detrimental to the group as a whole.” Hittleman (2012) continued by saying “…Individuals often make choices that negatively affect group members because they do not see how everyone can benefit or they do not want to put in the effort of contribution.”

One place one would not typically associate with having any of them would be the doctor’s office. According to Johnson (2015), the doctor-patient relationship has mirrored the Prisoner’s dilemma in recent years. Johnson (2015) explains the following situation:

A patient seeking opioids for pain may have real pain or may be faking. If he has real pain, the rational choice for the doctor is to treat him. If he has fake pain, it is still in the doctor’s best interest to treat the patient. Otherwise, the patient will give him a low satisfaction score — resulting in loss of reputation and reduced income.

This leads to the doctor prescribing the antibiotics anyway, which is in this case are opioids, against their medical advice because they either know the patient will become so insistent on prescribing the antibiotics that they will go seek another medical opinion until they get the treatment they desire or the doctor does not want to argue with the patient any longer because they have other patients wanting to see them.

The quick  solution to a social dilemma leads to bigger societal complications.

This especially comes into play today in the modern view of the health system in the United States. Previously, the patient’s symptoms were assessed and they were provided with the best available treatment, but in today’s marketplace, the health system is trying to cut costs from rigorous medical testing of treatments, while still trying to improve health (Johnson, 2015). The patients want antibiotics cheaper of what they think will be the treatment, but doctors want more thorough testing done to prove it is safe before antibiotics hit the market, which creates The Prisoner’s dilemma.

To compound this issue, the over prescribing of antibiotics is causing the evolution of “superbugs,” which include “E. coli, salmonella, MRSA, supergonorrhea” (Newsday Editorial Board, 2015). Superbugs are antibiotic-resistant because bacteria has to find ways to repel the proliferation of antibiotics, which creates stronger, more complex bacteria.

Shirky (2008) argues we can gear for and reduce social dilemmas, but we can never solve them completely. Social tools make it easier for society to prepare for the various social dilemmas created because it is easier to amplify the message for collective action. Much like Shirky’s (2008) discussion of the power of hashtags to inspire calls for collective action, the same can be done to curb our addiction to antibiotics.

Will the power and the amplification of social tools be enough to curb this trend of superbugs or will superbugs, which are increasingly growing in this technological age take hold?

Comment Free Zone?

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Vice is a popular website and magazine that appeals to all that enjoy arts, culture, and news. Although appealing to a wide variety of people, Vice has decided to start a new site called “Broadly.” Broadly will be a site that focuses on female interests. One of the interesting features of this website is that no comments will be posted for any of the articles. Tracey Morrissey, the editor in chief, stated, “”If you want to say something nice you can email us, if you want to say something mean you can go to hell,” she said. “My writers deserve to be protected from that bull—-.” Topics that will be explored include politics, culture, and fashion.

After reading Clay Shirky’s chapter titled Promise, Tool, and Bargain, I was able to piece together exactly what Vice is trying to do. With Broadly not allowing any comments, it allows the author to post freely without any negative feedback plastered on the page. Shirky states, “The promise is the essential piece, the thing that convinces a potential user to become an actual user (Shirky, 261).” Vice’s promise is that an author posting to the Broadly website will not have to deal with any rude comments making the website a “safe” place to post. One of the examples Shirky uses is the promise from the Voice of the Faithful and their slogan “Keep the faith, change the church (Shirky, 262).” Vice, “hopes to elevate the coverage of women’s interest,” this is what Broadly is all about.

The tool is the website itself. This website is for women and anyone who wishes to talk women’s interests. According to Shirky, “there is no such thing  as a generically good tool; there are only tools good for particular jobs…a good social tool is like a good woodworking tool-it must be designed to fit the job being done, and it must help people do something they actually want to do (Shirky, 265).” Vice wanted to make a safe place for women’s interest and they did just that.

Broadly is Vice’s safe place for anyone interested in posting anything that is a women’s interest. Having the freedom to post articles varying from politics to fashion is the approach they are using to appeal to various authors. On the website itself they will be featuring three different subsections. The first subsection is titled Ovary Action. This section will focus on women’s reproductive health and news. The second section is Broadly Meets; this section will include interviews with prominent people. Lastly Style and Error focuses on fashion. These are just the beginning sections of the website. There will be additional sections added in the future as the site gains a following. What are your thoughts on this website? A safe site without any comments seems nice but what do you think is going to be the outcome?

http://www.adweek.com/news/press/vice-launches-first-female-focused-channel-166208

Shirky Clay, Here Comes Everybody: Revolution doesn’t happen when society adopts new technology, it happens when society adopts new behaviors, (New York: Penguin Group, 2008) p 261-292

Online: The New Barber Shop Talk

There was a time when people gathered in small groups in many of the local establishments around town and talked about the daily reminiscing’s going on.  You may still see this today at the local gas station or the old timers barber shop.  One thing that you do see in these small groups are that they are all older individuals.    They are a treat to sit in and if you are able to involve yourself in this small group conversation, I highly recommend you do.

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What that small group resembles is much like we see online now just in a larger scale.   The thing that these social online forums, blogs, IRCs, and many others platforms is that they remove barriers to entry.  They do not require the vast amount of resources available to enter.   They are present regardless of time and distance.    It is just a matter of you finding the group that you are most compatible with.  These online outlets allow people that can not meet face to face to share ideas about the topic of interest.   As Shirky makes a example out of the SAHM groups on meet up , online group culture has allowed many people to network with many more people that they would not otherwise be networked with.

One issue that I kept on coming up while reading the later part of Shirky’s book Here Comes Everybody, was online sports forums.  There are hundreds if not thousands of sports forums.  There are many social networks sport forums as well that not only allow you to post on a forum wall on the topic of interests but also make it more of a interactive experience.  I think that is partly why we are seeing a rise in fantasy sports.  Not only is it a fun, competitive activity, with the gambling involved, but brings together many different kinds of people with a shared interest. Sports and the internet has allowed a community of people to come together and discuss the issues they find relevant.  We have a few mainstream forums that are specified for wrestling.  Within these forums, people pose questions and general discussion to receive other peoples opinions.  I think it is very positive to wrestling.  It is almost as if it is natural PR and gets the wrestling audience excited about events that they may not otherwise know about (they could live across the country).   So we have this pretty niche group that are die hard followers and I consider wrestling not be very mainstream so it is safe to say you may not be able to talk to John Doe at the barber shop everyday.  Many people may have never even watched a college wrestling match.  These online forums, blogs, and websites offer an escape for someone that has a interest in it but has no one to reach out to in his physical realm.  The ability to reach out and to be apart of an semi-organized group that can share ideas and have a general discussion is very beneficial.

One thing that I think is very important within these small digital groups is the use of lose moderation.  Shirky (2008) uses examples of the of how YM had to shut down posts because Pro-Ana girls were dominating the post dealing with health and beauty with comments on how to stay anorexic.   Now granted, wrestling is by no means a social issue like anorexia but forums stay alive by having content that is focused on the subject matter they cater.    You will even see the hosts of these forums post the links to the discussion on social media, thus cross-networking into different outlets.  I think this is a pretty cool feature as it allows the ability for others within the community to interact and reach more people that hold the same interests.

These wrestling sites like intermit.com, flowrestling.com, ohiowrestler.net, and yappi.com are great examples were wrestling fans can come together and interact   We no longer need to use vast resources to come together to talk about issues that we have within that specific community.    You no longer need to go to the gas station or barber shop to listen to the happenings of today but know you can have a cup of coffee in the morning by your PC and interact within your small group.

Tyranny of the Masses

I feel  like this weeks blog should take a different direction than those of my previous ones. While I sat for a moment trying to determine what to write about this week I had decided to look to this weeks Shirky readings for an answer. Reading chapter 7 Faster and Faster out of Shirkys’s book Here Come’s Everybody, it hit me. Looking over the chapter and reading into the discussions about non-violent flash mobs and how they were being detained in Belarus because their government being afraid of masses, I stumbled up a thought about the United States.

Each and every one of us has the capability to communicate through different forms of technology making life easier. We can come together in group chats for projects that are due, we have groups on Facebook  of people that share similar interests, and we have many other means of coming together through texting, social media outlets and whatever gives us the power to communicate to each other so that others can see. What Shirky would call “everybody knows, everybody knows that everybody knows, and everybody knows that everybody knows that everybody knows.” Now according to the examples given in this chapter, Belarus took an example of how the masses protested in Leipzig, Germany and how they developed their masses to take down a corrupt government. Belarus had no means of knowing when or where people would even show up for a flash mob. They used their military power to manage to hear through the grapevine about the potential of flash mobs to go and detain members of those groups. They had believed that the power they attained was being threatened. That what military republic had the potential to be overthrown by these flash mob groups. The problem they had ran into was that the flash mob groups were non-violent. The most they could do was arrest them to get them apart from each other. They could not risk a backlash from people who have the capability to photograph events that occur and share them with the rest of the world.

This is where I bring the United States back into this. We have an organization in the US called the NSA. And recently they have been in the spotlight for some risque business regarding spying on United States citizens trying to get an idea of potential terrorist attacks against the US. At least that is what they claim they are doing. I almost feel that the US after attacks on 911 and the events of ISIS and other militant groups, feel the US government is afraid of members of it’s country organizing against it in some fashion. The civil discourse that occurs across our country that is onset by events set forth by our government is giving them reason to fear the masses. People are upset and outraged at what the government does to our people and environment and I feel that the US government fears organized protests. Just look at some of our policies on protesters. Some government officials are trying to get your rights to protest, even in non-violent situations, taken away. A prime example of this would be the events that occurred in Baltimore a few months ago. I urge you to think about this. To think about how we use our technology to communicate our messages to one another. None of this I can really back up with sufficient evidence. But, from simple observation and scare tactics used in the media, this is the way things are starting to look to me from an objective standpoint. I question everything I see, but do you feel that our grouping should be something that is stigmatized as “tyrannical?” Our joining together to support a cause can produce great results. In fact when one person does something on their own their power is substantially much weaker than of those who are in mass.

Facilitator of FUN

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With the development of online technologies and the spread of information over the internet, brings forth new conversations on how we do things.  Sports fans across both the United States and the Globe look to the internet to get the latest news, stories, and statistics from their favorite teams.  These fans are engaging in a group structure in participation of their loyalty to the team.  Fan Pages are great ways to keep these fans updated and engaged in the “nation” of the team.  By getting participation from the fans the front office of these sports team can increase sales of product, tickets, and overall likeness of their program.  The front office has a big task ahead of them when trying to retain loyalty to their program, especially online where face-to-face interaction is not commonplace.  These administrators need to be educated on the different types of communication through technology.  After becoming educated on the way we communicate through different online platforms, the administrator can hire employees to maintain this online presence.  This post will cover the main principle of gaining online loyalty, and give some examples to evoke this principle.

Money makes the world go round!  If the administrators could pay their followers to be loyal to the fan site, team this would lead to great results.  Users would be getting paid to remain loyal to the program and participating on the online realm.  Sounds great right?!  Unfortunately, this is not a smart financial decision because there is too much leeway between different sports and organizations that it would be a negative effect on the program.  The next best thing for these users to receive is emotion.  By designing the online presence to evoke emotions from the user is the next best thing that the user is looking for.  If the fan site is evoking positive emotion from the user it will keep them coming back for more, which is the main goal of the administrator and facilitators of the site.  The designers should stray away from creating conflict and developing negative emotion amongst the site.  This is where the employee comes in to monitor activity within the site.  Not saying that a little back and forth posting isn’t warranted for banishment from the site, but if it crosses emotional boundaries from the positive realm to negative then it is something that needs to be looked at.  Emotions like Pride, Love, and Passion are emotions that the administrator of the site should look to evoke for both the team and the site itself.  By developing these positive emotions it will not only increase loyalty to the team itself, but will boost the participation on the site itself.  We can change the saying to, Emotions make the world go round!

After the administrator of the site decides what kind of emotion that he or she wants to evoke from the audience, they then can look into the content of the site.  As said before the main goal is to boost loyalty to the sports team and the organization as a whole.  Boosting loyalty is a positive outcome for the office, as should be the content on the website.  The content of the fan site should evoke the emotions of pride, love, and passion out of the audience.  Examples of some content are as follows.  The front office pairs up with the local boys and girls club in the inner city to boost funds for them to continue the great job they are doing with the youth of the city.  The office would set up a charity event to raise money for the club, bringing players in to assist with the event.  The office would send reporters/photographers to the event to capture the player/fan interaction.  This is great publicity for the players and the organization.  Evoking positive emotion from the users.  Another example is bringing humor into the fold.  Laughter creates emotion from the users, which is great to increase participation on the site itself.  Creating “memes” to post on the site can have a great effect with the users.  Depicting funny situations through photos and adding a funny punch line is a great way to induce laughter which will correlate with happiness.  One last example is to get photos of the fans themselves whether they be at the game, local watering hole, or at a sports party.  By showing other users in their garb creates a community that the users want to be a part of.

                Overall, just a brief observation and analysis of group participation in the online community.  When creating this online presence the administrator and employees needs to keep in mind that positive emotion is key.  By developing a positive emotion evoking site, it will not only boost the loyalty of the organization, but increase participation on the online presence.

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Recognizing Revolution

The revolution in the ways in which we socialize, share information, and organize that Shirky (2010) discusses in Here Comes Everybody is upon us. In past posts on this blog and through continuing discussions, the rate of change has been a thread that has driven the conversation about how society is able to process and embrace the technological changes and impacts around us. Considering the emergence of Twitter as Shirky’s book was first published brings to light the questions of longevity, especially in a year where Twitter’s stock has dropped and its future long-term appeal remains questionable.

Our ability to connect online—to open source information, code, and ideas has already revolutionized the workforce and the way in which we pursue and distribute our ideas. Consider the underwater robot that David Lang and Eric Stackpole built in an effort to explore an underwater cave to search for gold. Clay Shirky presents the story of Linux and the way in which open sourcing and collaboration has guaranteed its success and initial promise. In similar, but much smaller scale, Lang and Stackpole put their idea out to the larger community online for feedback and help in building a robot that would help them explore an underwater cave.

The results of their pursuit provide evidence of the revolution that is happening around us. Unsure of what design would work best, Lang and Stackpole put two designs online. The result, their final product, was an underwater robot that could be built cheaply with parts easily available to the general public. It is important to note again that their efforts were born out of a personal interest to explore; they went into their endeavor without any pre-conceived expectations or predictions about the larger results their quest might produce.

The result of their quest produced a much larger outcome than simply finding the best design for them to build for their personal exploration. Due to the open source nature, they did receive a lot of input and help in the design of their remote control vehicle (ROV). Throughout it all they shared their design, code, and successes with everyone. The larger result was that their viewers and contributors wanted one too. An effort to explore a cave turned into a business proposition. Using Kickstarter, a network that Shirky (2010) was too early to discuss, they were able to fund their business start-up, distributing ROVs far beyond the geographical area of their small cave where they wanted to search for gold. Another unexpected outcome was the network of affordable underwater robots that are now connected and capable of collecting data across the globe.

Any person with an idea has an opportunity to find an audience and seek out expert advice through the connectedness that the Internet provides. Shirky (2010) identified the ways in which this was empowering in 2010. The small example of David Lang and Eric Stackpole captures even more of the ways in which the Internet has empowered the “everyman”. One small personal pursuit grew into a valuable environmental collection tool.

The revolution is happening now and it is around us. While Twitter and other social media tools may lose some of their shine, real change has arrived in the ways in which we learn, socialize, and organize. The opportunity to grow an idea and make a difference is one that is now accessible to the “everyman”. The question is not whether or not a revolution will happen, it is here. In what other ways have society’s behaviors already changed? What implications will open sourcing have in regards to the workplace and economy?

Shirky, Clay. (2010). Here Comes Everybody. New York, NY: Penguin Books.