Under the Microscope

Benchmark_Restaurant_Dining_Room_Photographed_by_Evan_SungThe first blog post I ever wrote was a crash course of how to survive in the restaurant business.  With having most of my work history being in this industry I felt it would be a good starting point for my first piece that was going to be online.  As the semester winds down, I have decided to go back to the restaurant industry to discuss a topic that has an opportunity for examination.  Application of open source systems within the restaurant industry.  The first blog post, hit on various topics of how to run an efficient restaurant while looking at social cognitive theory by Bandura.  After one develops an efficient operating business, it is time to analyze how efficient the business really is operating.

While analyzing operations, one can do a variety of activities.  For the sake of this discussion we will look at a fairly new way to measure the performance of a restaurant.  The customer is the main driver for how these restaurants stay afloat.  Returning customers indicates that the restaurant is doing a good job on a variety of different levels within the business.  Online survey systems are ways that companies can evaluate how well they are doing from the eyes of the consumer.  These surveys are set in place to evaluate the different aspects of the restaurant.

Every time some pursuit or profession gets computerized, data begins to build up in digital form, and every time the computers holding that data are networked, that data can be traded, rated, and collated. The Open Source pattern, part collaborative creativity, part organizational style, and part manufacturing process, can take hold in these environments when-ever users can read and contribute to the recipes on their own. (Shirky, 2005)

In respect for the topic at hand, this recipe is a recipe for success.  This data that is collected is analyzed to determine the both efficiency of the business plus other vital areas within the restaurant.  These statistics are shared within the restaurant itself, or in the case of a chain of the same business through the headquarters.  This open system of communication will then be interpreted by the leaders of the business to improve on these different categories.  These consumers are illustrating what they would like to see during the operation of the restaurant.  They are trying to contribute to this recipe of success.

To continue this conversation within the open system, companies will give incentives to complete the online surveys.  Whether it be a discount or a gift from the business itself, this reward will continue the conversation.  With an active open system communication operating, the leaders of the business can analyze what areas can be addressed for improvement and note on what is being done well within the establishment.

This open system of conversation through technology, does not have to be exclusive for restaurants.  Any form of assessment can be linked as an open system.  The data that is collected from these different systems can be used to create that recipe of success for business owners.

Shirky, C. (2005). Epilogue: Open Source Outside the Domain of Software and Source. In Perspectives on Free and Open Source Software (pp 483-488). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Wikipedia, Sock Puppets, and Actual Cannibal Shia LeBeouf

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Most people in school know Wikipedia as the website that you’re never allowed to use as a valid source of information. Why? Because it can be edited by anyone and their brother. While Wikipedia asks that you source your information, that doesn’t mean you actually have to have valid information to publish to the page. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to a page on Wikipedia that was headlined with the caption “There may be some issues with the information on this page” or something to that nature.

Unfortunately, despite the possibilities for this to be an excellent resource, Wikipedia suffers a great deal of flack and issues. Due to the fact that anyone can edit the information, they have had frequent issues with people creating multiple accounts to provide false information or to benefit a product/service they might be trying to sell. They call this issue sock puppetry. A person is expected to only edit pages using one account, however, people create multiple accounts to edit the same pages multiple times.

According to Garner (2013) “…it looks like a number of user accounts – perhaps as many as several hundred – may have been paid to write articles on Wikipedia promoting organizations or products, and have been violating numerous site policies and guidelines, including prohibitions against sockpuppetry and undisclosed conflicts of interest. As a result, Wikipedians aiming to protect the projects against non-neutral editing have blocked or banned more than 250 user accounts.”

According to Gardner (2013) “We urge companies to conduct themselves ethically, to be transparent about what they’re doing on Wikipedia, and to adhere to all site policies and practices.”

The problem is that people don’t adhere to these standards. Let’s look back to 2012. There was a song released on the Internet. It was called “Actual Cannibal Shia LeBeouf.” It’s a ridiculously funny song about the actor Shia LeBeouf being a cannibal.

After the song was released, someone went onto Wikipedia and actually edited the page on Cannibalism to state that Shia LeBeouf was actually a cannibal. Wikipedia had the information removed quickly, however, the fact that it could even be posted in the first place is kind of ridiculous. I’m not going to say that I didn’t laugh at it, of course, but if you’re going to have a website that is taken seriously as an information source, you probably shouldn’t let people call other people cannibals on your site.

Cannibal

According to Gardner (2013) “With a half a billion readers, Wikipedia is an important informational resource for people all over the world. Our readers know Wikipedia’s not perfect, but they also know that it has their best interests at heart, and is never trying to sell them a product or propagandize them in any way. Our goal is to provide neutral, reliable information for our readers, and anything that threatens that is a serious problem.”

I agree that Wikipedia has their readers’ best interests at heart. I don’t doubt that for a minute. However, giving any person posting access might not be the best idea. Anyone can go on the site, create an account, and immediately begin editing pages and information. There’s no test you have to pass. No training required. Nothing. So things like this happen:

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So, here’s my question for you: Is it a good or bad thing that Wikipedia allows anyone to edit their site? It’s clearly causing some problems for them in the grand scheme of things. Sure, something silly like the Shia LeBeouf incident isn’t the worst thing that could happen, however, if they’re banning an extensive amount of accounts, it might be time to reconsider giving the world so much power.

References

Gardner, S. (2013, October 21). Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director Sue Gardner’s response to paid advocacy editing and sockpuppetry « Wikimedia blog. Retrieved November 18, 2015, from https://blog.wikimedia.org/2013/10/21/sue-gardner-response-paid-advocacy-editing/

 

Paris Participation

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The tragic events that took place in Paris on November 13th, 2015 bring to light the power that social networking has on a global scale.  Although still as an ongoing investigation, the attacks were against un-armed citizens in Paris at five different locations.  After the “fires” had been put out, motive lies with ISIS and other terrorist groups behind these attacks.  News of these attacks immediately hit the wire, within a matter of minutes the world got the news.  If someone didn’t happen to catch the evening news before bed on the 13th, the news of these attacks filled social networking sites the following day.  Both ideas of shared awareness and participation of the user web can be examined through these terrorist attacks.

Social Networking many times is the only way that people receive current event news during their week.   Roughly 25% of the total world population is on social networking as of a statistic of 2013.  1 in 4 people had exposure from different platforms to this news that happened over the weekend.  By simply being on the SNS itself, one can read and understand what happened in Paris.  Various sponsored news web engines thrive on likes and shares over the platform. Their publications give users the news as soon as it hits the wire.  These news publishers develop a shared awareness to the population of the group itself.  With this news comes controversy, the 1st amendment gives people the freedom of speech and this includes speech online.  Although harsh comments can be edited and censored people can freely debate the different currents events that happen during the week.  These different sites within the platform share their publications with the online world.  However these sites are not always very credible, sometimes these sites fabrication of stories or completely made up.  Unfortunately many people are not aware of this.  Overall, the point I am trying to make is that the SNS has potential to develop shared awareness to the users on the platforms.

Participation can be explained through the tragic events that happened in Paris.  Everyone develops a sense of sympathy whenever something like this occurs.  The world developed this kind of sympathy and empathy when the attacks on September 11th occurred.  When news of these attacks surfaced, people started showing their sympathy to those in Paris.  #PrayersforParis was a huge hashtag for this movement that showed how people participate in these social movements.  Also with this hashtag was the different pictures that surfaced to show support to those involved in the attack.  The peace symbol with the Eiffel tower in the center was a common photo, or simply any picture from French culture would suffice as showing support to those affected.  The main example of showing participation through the social networking site is the profile picture alteration.  For a limited time, any Facebook user can changed their profile picture to have a French flag filter over it.  By doing this you would be showing support to the people of Paris.  Showing support during times of struggle like this really says a couple things.  One it is nice to see that we are supportive of one of our allies during a time like this for them.  During the September 11th attacks the people of Paris shared sympathy for the people of New York.  More alarming of the two is the power took on in such a short time.  Why this attack did all the users jump on the sympathy train?  During this same timeframe other areas across the world had been affected by terrorism attacks.  Every day there are acts of terrorism that takes lives every day.  Why did this specific event cause such a stir?

I am very interested in your opinions on here. I will actively be checking during the week to create some conversation to this subject.  Only educated and respectful responses are invited to this blog, comments will be monitored.

 

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Plenty of Swipes in the Sea

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A play on the saying “plenty of fish in the sea”, referring to that there are plenty of romantic matches in the world.  Just because one doesn’t work out, this saying indicates there are other options out there.  The whole dating scene has taking on a new frontier in recent years, the internet.  Various dating sites have emerged onto the scene, both for a cost and free for online users to utilize to find that special someone.  These online databases of romance seekers gives the user the opportunity to interact with other users, almost eliminating the “first meet”, “first date” side of face-to-face romance.  These dating sites have both positives and negatives for any romance seeker.  By being exposed to these online pros and cons, there is an opportunity for these online practices to make their way out of the virtual world and into face-to-face communication.  The convenience of these sites gives users the opportunity to scan through thousands of users that are logged onto the site.  The term swipe came originated from chat roulette, where a user could simply swipe from one user to another to find someone to communicate with on the website.  A fairly new dating/romance site Tinder has adopted this swipe method to give the user the convenience of exploring romance seekers within a certain area.  To communicate with users on the platform, both users need to “like” each other, depending on the location of the user, there can be thousands of possibilities.  Hence the title of the blog, plenty of swipes in the sea.

As mentioned in the introduction, there are both positives and negatives surrounding this new phenomena. Users are granted access to online data bases of romance seekers just like them.  It creates a community where information and pictures are shared for others to examine and possibly reach out to them.  Users will create a profile, which will include a bio, interests, likes, and pictures of themselves.  This is where the first negative aspect of the site occurs.  Users have the opportunity to “edit” themselves to attract a romantic pairing.  Any character flaws that the individual may have, will be discarded and only the best parts of the user will be used in creation of the profile.  In addition to the bio section of these dating sites, the pictures chosen are another negative aspect of the dating site.  For many sites there is a cap on how many photos can be uploaded to the profile.  Why would someone post a picture of their bad hair day?  These photos could be a misrepresentation of the user because only the best photos are used to create this sense of self on the profile.  The idea of editing oneself on these online dating sites can make its way into face-to-face communication.  This sense of creating the best perception of oneself, can carry over into non-virtual relationships.  By “editing” and not showing the true self to prospective romantic partners can create a harmful relationship in the end.

Another area of negativity within these online dating sites is the number of possibility.  Instead of developing relationships online and working through issues that may arise, the user will simply move onto the next match that comes up.  The convenience of these sites brings another aspect that can correlate into the non-virtual dating scene.  By being exposed to more choices in the dating database, it shows that people with more choices tend to be unhappy with all of the choices.

Although there are many negatives in the online dating communities, positives are defiantly present on these platforms.  To start these sites can be used to meet new people within an area.  For example, someone who is new to a city because of a career does not know many people within the area.  Romance is something that many people need in their lives to be happy, this is a way that new comers to a city can find romance.  Also the convenience factor of online dating is good for those who do not have a lot of time.  Rather than going to an event, such as speed dating or a meet and greet, the user can access potential romantic matches online via computer, cell phone, or tablet.  The pictures and bios give the users the opportunity to scan potential matches by the photos and bios.  It is human nature that every human has different attributes that are attractive to them like hair color, skin color, and height/weight, are all examples of this.  By filtering these potential partners, the user has access to meet someone they are physically attracted to.

Overall, by doing a brief examination of these online dating sites, both positives and negatives emerge from the analysis.  What it really comes down to is personal preference of these dating sites.  For some these sites can be very helpful in finding a potential romantic partner, for others this may be a bad idea for finding that special someone.  All in all, these sites really are physical proof that there are plenty of fish in the sea.

Technology is Harming Our Relationships, and We Can Stop It

Like at Your Own Risk

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For years people have been saying that your information is never safe on the Internet. No matter how many privacy settings you change, and how little you post on social media, the fact of the matter is that they’re right. No information is safe online. The funny thing is that it can gather your information accurately just by you liking a post on Facebook.

According to Kosinski, Stillwell, and Graepel (2013) “We show that easily accessible digital records of behavior, Facebook Likes, can be used to automatically and accurately predict a range of highly sensitive personal attributes including: sexual orientation, ethnicity, religious and political views, personality traits, intelligence, happiness, use of addictive substances, parental separation, age, and gender” (p. 1).

So, if you like a post on Facebook or decide to follow a page for something you support, they can collect data about you and your personality from that. But my question is this: How accurate is it really?

According to Kosinski, Stillwell, and Graepel (2013) “For example, the best predictors of high intelligence include ‘Thunderstorms,’ ‘The Colbert Report,’ ‘Science,’ and ‘Curly Fries,’ whereas low intelligence was indicated by ‘Sephora,’ ‘I Love Being A Mom,’ ‘Harley Davidson,’ and ‘Lady Antebellum.’ Good predictors of male homosexuality included ‘No H8 Campaign,’ ‘Mac Cosmetics,’ and ‘Wicked The Musical,’ whereas strong predictors of male heterosexuality included ‘Wu-Tang Clan,’ ‘Shaq,’ and ‘Being Confused After Waking Up From Naps.’ Although some of the Likes clearly relate to their predicted attribute, as in the case of No H8 Campaign and homosexuality, other pairs are more elusive; there is no obvious connection between Curly Fries and high intelligence” (p. 3).

As the article states, some of the predictions make sense. There is a more likely chance that a person who likes a Science page is probably more intelligent. But thunderstorms and curly fries? I don’t really understand how liking a page about a certain type of food can peg your intelligence level. It seems a little unreliable to me.

Sure, I do think there is some solid information you can gather from a person’s social media habits. For example, social media is blowing up with this whole Starbucks Red Cup issue.

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People are going nuts over the fact that someone complained about a plain red cup being anti-Christmas. It’s all I’ve seen on social media since the complaint was first made. Now, I have yet to see anyone posting about how they personally believe that the red cup is offensive, but I’m sure there are people out there. The point I’m trying to make is that posting about how you feel about this “issue” says a lot about you as a person. It opens a realm of predictions to be made about your religious background and even your political background. I think it’s pretty safe to guess that a person complaining about a red cup being anti-Christmas is probably pretty conservative, whereas someone who isn’t complaining is probably more liberal. Now, maybe someone hasn’t posted about this red cup fiasco, but instead they liked a post someone else made about it. They’re going to get tagged for that too, and it’s going to show up in the Newsfeeds of their friends. More predictions will be made.

Just looking at something like this goes to show you that assumptions are going to be made no matter what your social media activity is. You don’t have to make a post to give away information about yourself. Your information is going to get out there whether you want it to or not. How does that make you feel? Does it bother you, or has it gotten to a point where that’s just the way it is and we don’t really think about it anymore?

References

Kosinski, M., Stillwell, D., & Graepel, T. (2013). Private traits and attributes are predictable from digital records of human behavior. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 1, 3-1, 3.

How the digital systems and devices can be designed to adjust the behavior of users?

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How do you think the digital systems and devices can be designed to adjust the behavior of users? Digital systems and devices can be designed to adjust the behavior of users. The population in general is and can be easily influenced by technology, whether it can be for the good or for the worse.  Kosinski, et al. (2013) stated, “Predicting users’ individual attributes and preferences can be used to improve numerous products and services. For instance, digital systems and devices (such as online stores or cars) could be designed to adjust their behavior to best fit each user’s inferred profile”. We would hope that it can be for the better and when it does happen for the worse, we hope that this is not intentional. I prefer to focus on how digital devices can help adjust human behavior for the better.

Nowadays, it seems that any problem can always find a solution with an app on your mobile phone. Kosinski, et al. (2013) illustrated, “Inference based on observations of digitally recorded behavior may open new doors for research in human psychology”.  Sometimes, apps remind us of problems that we have, or help us discover problems that we did not even realize existed.  Since we have this dependency on the latest app or upgrade, the market can easily adjust our behavior by allowing us or disallowing us access to these apps.  If apps were automatically included on a phone and clear instruction was given on how to operate the apps, the buyer/user would me more prone to using them.  For example, I would not actively seek an app that would help me lose weight.  But, on the other hand, if I bought a new phone and the app was included, I would strongly give thought to the idea of being aware of my diet and exercise habits.  Even if it doesn’t happen immediately, I think within time, I would explore how to use the app and once I discover how useful it easy it would be, I would use this app to help come up with a weight loss program and follow it.  In other words, the power of suggestion itself carries much influence on a person’s behavior.

Another way that digital systems can be designed to modify the behavior of the user is to have devices that do not allow for improper use of English. With the creation of texting and instant communication came the creation of a completely new texting language to accommodate that.  Although this new language allows us to communicate quicker, it also contributes to the deterioration of the English language itself.  Now, it is acceptable to carry over this “text speak” in everyday conversation or everyday writing.  It affects especially the younger generation who are not learning proper communication and who do not care to learn proper grammar and spelling because they can effectively communicate with shortcuts.  An automatic spell check that would allow shortcuts or lazy speak of English to even be entered into a text would be an effective and positive way for digital devices to adjust our behavior.

Kosinski, et al.  (2013).  Private traits and attributes are predictable from digital records of human behavior.  PNAS 2013, published ahead of print March 11, 2013.

 

 

 

Social capital in crowdfunding brews small business success

One of the biggest advantages of being online that we shower praise upon social networking websites is the power to bring and connect everyone together in ways never thought imaginable.  This capability of the Internet allowing users to rapidly connect and form interpersonal and romantic relationships facilitates the accelerated growth of social capital. Putnam (2000) provides a clear picture of social capital by defining it as “…connections among individuals – social networks and the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness that arise from them” (p. 19).  “Because human beings are largely social animals, social capital is a necessary resource” (Ji et. al, 2010, p. 1106). People want to be a part of society, they want to be a part of collective and fulfill their need for belonging, as outlined by Maslow (1952).

This is why the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness are born from one’s social network because they want to be a part of communities where they feel involved and trusted. Chiu et al. (2006) outlines two facets of social capital: bonding and bridging. Bonding social capital refers to deeper, meaningful social connections and relationship, which is typical built between family members or close friends, while bridging social capital is typically built between groups with a heterogeneous makeup that come together for a similar cause or a commonality.  People in these groups or communities are able to pull their resources such as knowledge or maximum audience reach. Chiu et al. (2006) findings echo this tendency of online communities and the ability to encourage more pooling of their resources, so the impact and social influence of the online community can be exponentially greater. “…the facets of social capital — social interaction ties, trust, norm of reciprocity, identification, shared vision and shared language — will influence individuals’ knowledge sharing in virtual communities” (Chiu et al., 2006, p. 1872).

This leads individuals and groups involving themselves or donating money to something that is important to them and they want to help others reach their goals. As Shirky (2008) explains, the Internet and its new social tools allow groups to organize, coordinate and collaborate at little to no transaction costs unlike traditional businesses and organizations. This is why crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter and Patreon are successful because groups can quickly and easily organize and coordinate their efforts and resources due to the abundant sources for social capital. Whether it is crowdfunding’s impact on citizen journalism, which allows citizen journalists to cover in-depth local issues that the community cares about, which are not in the spotlight of traditional news organizations or the video game industry in how it subsidizes games and breaks away from the overhead control and influence from high-profile developers, crowdfunding websites have shown to allow for numerous opportunities in accruing social capital. When one is highly motivated and invested, they want to be part of the return process and see where their money is going because there are issues of accountability, and transparency in terms of what individuals see or receive as rewards not being accurate reflections of the final product, especially with the case of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.

Fingerman (2015) explains investors on LocalStake projects or campaigns will “either receive equity, a share of future revenues or interest on the loan in return.” Sara Hanks, CEO of CrowdCheck, says LocalStake might not attract large companies or campaigns because of the website’s promise for “…receive equity, a share of future revenues or interest on the loan in return” (Fingerman, 2015), but it is best suited for community-based businesses such as craft breweries and yoga studios.

Scotty’s Brewhouse, an Indiana- based brewery generated almost $400,000 from 120 accredited and non-accredited investors in a LocalStake campaign earlier this year after an online campaign through social media and advertisements on the brewery’s menus and bathroom stills.

Scott Wise, president and CEO of Scotty’s Brewhouse, said, “It wasn’t really just the money you’re getting in the process. For me, and for a lot of people who dip their toes in these waters, really you are creating fans” (Fingerman, 2015).

Crowdfunding campaigns can show the power, impact and value of social capital in an age where opportunities to accrue it are everywhere. It also shows how motivated users can have their voices heard because the capability of new social tools allow groups to circumvent traditional business hierarchical structures and processes in favor of a self-organizing method.

Where do you think the future trend in crowdfunding websites will be and how will social capital be the potential catalyst?