Posted by: paulacunniffe | 12/01/2010

Comments Week 12

I didn’t post a blog this week so here are my comments:

Posted by: paulacunniffe | 11/15/2010

Is the Katine project really crowdsourcing?

While reading Muthukumaraswamy’s article, I felt she took a positive, almost one-sided, view of crowdsourcing. Even when speaking of UK newspaper The Guardian’s Katine project it sounded as if it could do no wrong. ‘Katine was chosen because of the nobility of the cause’ (p57).

There were a few hazy parts to his analysis. Who writes the Katine blogs?  He says Guardian journalists, then talks about local journalists (but there was an illiteracy problem). No clear answer there. Also, what is the importance of the website to the whole project? And does Muthukumaraswamy sugar coat the project, and focus only on the positive aspects?

The problem in finding additional sources for this blog post is that most of the information is published by The Guardian. So when I looked for the improvements this project had brought to Katine, I found only articles from The Guardian.

So what good came out of the whole project? The Guardian focuses on improvements to the region in terms of health, water, education etc. What about the website? I couldn’t find any information on that but I was interested to find out what improvements were made over the three years there.

This article lists the different improvements the project has brought to the Katine sub-county, including boreholes for clean water, building new classrooms etc. It seems that the website was just a by-product of the project, a way to garner publicity.

Muthukumaraswamy’s article glosses over problems or conflict between local government in Africa and those involved in the humanitarian project.

This blog is written by someone who went to Katine to monitor progress of the project, both for The Guardian and on another occasion for Amref. It gives a more frank view of the project and its weaknesses, such as conflict between The Guardian and Amref. The author questions the impact of the website, queries The Guardian’s reasons for being involved in the project and discusses the transparency of the website.

Rick Davies is an independent auditor of the Katine project. He questions how the Katine website can be used productively. I agree with him, it would be a waste if the website was left to occupy space somewhere in cyberspace but not used again. He also says that the blogs were written by local and British journalists.

Subtitle: Wisdom of crowds in specialized reporting by recruiting generalists and experts.

British and local Ugandan journalists wrote the blogs on the Katine website.They can be considered as generalists and experts. Ugandan journalists understand the difficulties in the region and British journalists blogged after visiting the area.

I just wonder can that be defined as crowdsourcing? Should crowdsourcing not be regular people contributing to newsworkers’ work? Surely journalists are not part of the crowd. They are involved in the process of newsmaking already.

The Guardian‘s website brought attention to the area and surely helped the project’s progress. I’m just not sure I would consider it crowdsourcing.

Posted by: paulacunniffe | 11/10/2010

Comments Week 10

I didn’t post a blog this week so here are my comments:

Posted by: paulacunniffe | 10/28/2010

Commons licenses can be a good thing, but in what context?

Have you ever looked for music or books online only to find you can’t get at them because of copyright? This is something ‘creative commons’ aims to counteract.

“Propublica has licensed its content under creative commons, so that anyone who wants to publish their articles can do so, as long as they credit (and link to) ProPublica and include all links in the original story. Instead of putting their journalism under glass, they’re effectively saying to their text: go forth and multiply (Johnson 2010). ”

The idea behind creative commons is to create a network of material through  a collaborative effort, by allowing others use your material. For example, it can be useful for someone making a radio documentary (as I did earlier this year) in finding sound effects or music online.  Material under commons licenses can be used without having to pay for their use. Neilsen illustrated how this works in the MathWorks competition:

“Once you submit your program anyone else can come along and simply download the code you’ve just submitted, tweak a single line, and resubmit it as their own. The result is a spectacular free-for-all. Contestants are constantly “stealing” one another’s code, making small tweaks (Nielsen 2010).“

Creative commons has interesting consequences for copyright, as well as potential problems. The issue mentioned above, of ‘stealing’ from another person, is one particularly contested issue.

One such instance occurred in 2007 when a teenage girl from Austin, TX found that a photograph of her had been used in an advertising campaign by Virgin Mobile in Australia. The photo had been posted by her camp counselor on Flickr under a creative commons license. However, the photographer was not contacted before the photo was used, or attributed on the poster.

“Who neglected their responsibilities though, and should they be held liable? Did the photographer have the right to license his work without getting permission from Chang? Did Virgin have an obligation to verify with the subject of the photograph that she had given her permission? (Wolf 2007).”

The question is whether or not commons licenses are an improvement in licensing laws or whether they will end up being abused by others for profit? Opinions vary (as you can see below).

“A Commons license promises freedom, but requires the creator to abandon several; including the freedom to assign one’s rights as one wishes, according to principle or whim. (Orlowski 2007)”

“Many of those involved with CC have continued to fight that good fight, rather than just assuming that CC is “the answer.” So, in the end, I agree that we should be clear to recognize that Creative Commons and efforts to really rethink copyright are two separate things, but that doesn’t mean that Creative Commons is necessarily bad for copyright policy issues (Masnick 2009).

I think the most important thing to think about before you put something online under a commons license is how you would like your works to be used. Would you be happy if your photo turned up on a billboard?

Posted by: paulacunniffe | 10/18/2010

Activism in hiding?

When looking for a comparable site to Move On I expected to find a participative interactive website with comments and forums. This was not what I found. After looking unsuccessfully through a number of websites I chose

The About section of the Citizens United page says that their aim is to ‘reassert the traditional American values of limited government, freedom of enterprise, strong families, and national sovereignty and security.’ Their store sells DVDS such as ‘Hillary: The Movie’, ‘Obama: The Hype Effect’ and ‘Celsius 41.11’ – which ‘reveals the lies behind Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11.’ I’m going to go ahead and guess this website is pro-Iraq war and pro-President Bush, so the opposite perspective to Move On.

Move On and Citizens United have similar websites. They both have links for contributing or volunteering and sections for buying merchandise – such as books and DVDs.

The Citizens United website has separate sections for upcoming events, photos of past events and press releases. There is also a store (mentioned above) where users can buy books and DVDs. These DVDs are also displayed in a side bar on the website’s homepage. This is all similar to the Move On website.

However, I was surprised to see little interaction with users on either site. How do these organizations move challenges from the ‘virtual world to the real world’ if there are no forums, comments etc?  They have ‘real world’ events but what makes their followers move from participation in the virtual world to the real world? Citizens United’s website has tabs linking to their Facebook page and Twitter account. I decided to look there for the answer to my question.

Citizens United have an active Facebook page with over 6,000 followers. They update their status often providing mostly links to their blog posts. Most responses thank them for bringing things to their attention, although one comment calls them ‘bozos’. They also have a Youtube page which shows trailers of ‘Citizens United productions’ documentaries. Finally, their Twitter page publicizes their DVDs and books, especially one called ‘Battle for America’.

Judging by the comments on their Facebook page and retweets of their content on Twitter it seems that their ‘documentaries’ and blog posts are what is motivating people. But it is hard to judge who is motivated, and how, when you can’t see any forums, chat rooms, comments.

Rohlinger and Brown’s article puts a lot of emphasis on the role of the organization’s website because it gives people a free space for political dissent that offers anonymity and protects activists from backlash in the real world. I don’t see where this is happening (have I missed something?) However, maybe their article could be updated to look at social networking as a motivator. This seems to be where the conversation is.

Posted by: paulacunniffe | 10/09/2010

Honing my political knowledge through The Daily Show

Jon Stewart. Am I the only person who remembers him from that movie Big Daddy with Adam Sandler?! I hadn’t watched a full episode of The Daily Show before this week. I watched Tuesday and Thursday’s show online. It’s annoying you can’t get away from the commercials even if you watch it online! Tuesday’s ‘news’ portion focused on a story about President Obama apologizing for medical experiments carried out on Guatemalan mental patients in the 1940s, where they were infected with syphilis (in a variety of disgraceful ways).

Lewis Black also did a segment about an NBC series on education and the documentary ‘Waiting for Superman’. I saw Lewis Black doing stand up in Ireland last summer. He’s incredibly jittery in real life which makes him hard to watch. I also literally ran into him on his way offstage in a dash to the restroom. I hope that’s not my claim to fame.

Thursday’s show talked a lot about house foreclosures, which I’d already heard a bit about in the news.

Do you notice how Stewart brings actors on to talk about their movie and then doesn’t talk about it once? And how he always seems to be promoting his rally or his book? On Thursday he spent half his interview with Naomi Watts talking about some benefit he organized that she attended.

The ‘soft news’ approach makes the stories covered more accessible and digestible, especially for people who do not watch ‘hard news’. However, I agree with Xenos and Becker that political comedy is a ‘supplement to, rather than a replacement for, traditional hard news.’ (p319) I would not watch The Daily Show in the future to get my daily dose of news.

During my Google news browsing I didn’t find myself actively seeking out political stories. I looked at a story about Fox’s Glenn Beck sending out Mormon coded messages on his show because I wrote about Glenn Beck in a previous post. I was interested in the foreclosure story on The Daily Show, especially because the situation is similar in Ireland so I read a story in the Washington Post about the moratorium. AP had a story about anti-gay bullying strategy in schools following a recent spat of suicides amongst teens. Apparently conservatives think it’s ‘unnecessary and manipulative’ and will sway feelings towards homosexuality. I scanned a lot of international news but didn’t read more than the first paragraph.

I picked up on stories I was previously interested in. Watching The Daily Show didn’t make me automatically interested in political stories. I was just as interested in finding out more about Naomi Watt’s new movie as politics.

Baum talks about factual knowledge effects of ‘soft news’ and how ‘soft news’ may be more suited to ‘influencing attitudes and providing informational shortcuts’ (p 181) than providing long term learning. I agree. The Daily Show brought topics such as foreclosures to my attention but I did not pay close attention to details within these stories.

Posted by: paulacunniffe | 10/02/2010

Media Diary Day 7

In a serious departure from my usual media consumption today I read a newspaper. As in a physical paper. People still buy newspapers here all the time – particularly at the weekend. My dad buys the same paper religiously and has done for as long as I can remember. We spend Sunday morning doing the crossword. Today I read the Irish Times, which comes with Saturday magazine and other supplements. It was weird reading a paper again because in Gainesville, besides maybe the Alligator, I’ve never bought a paper!

My brother was hogging the TV in the living room playing his PS3 (oh the joys of being home!) but I shoved him off to play some Rock Band. If you’ve never played this game you’re missing out. It is SO much fun! I don’t sing though. No-one wants to hear that.

Reality hit after that and I had to go to my grandmother’s funeral removal mass. Phones were turned off, it was the most detached I’ve been from some form of media all week. In the evening time after all the guests had left I sat down in frot of the TV for 3 hours. I had a quick look online at facebook and my emails. Now I cannot sleep (even though it’s almost 2am). There’s this terrible show on TV about some British ‘psychic’. Seems bad reality tv isn’t confined to the US!

I’m thinking about what I’ve learned about my media consumption this week… the first thing is that I’m a serious creature of habit. I get up in the morning and the first thing I do is turn on my laptop and check emails and facebook. I might not even reply to my emails straight away but I check to see what’s there. If I’m trying to wake myself up I’ll go straight to AOL Radio, even though their Fresh 40 station plays the same songs over and over! I watch the same small selection of TV shows all the time (regardless of the country I’m in!)
The second thing I learned is that I’m finally getting into the swing of life as a master’s student. This week was the first week that I managed to get my reading done before the weekend. I think I’ve finally worked out a system of being productive – don’t go home for lunch!

Unfortunately life happened this week and got in the way of my media diary… because of that the latter half of the week didn’t really match the first half. I think I can still take the same lessons from this experience, even if I did have some upheaval halfway through!

I spend too much time on Facebook! Maybe it’s a comfort thing because I’m away from home and I use it to keep tabs on what’s happening with friends in Ireland. It could just be habit, or a distraction from work/study. I think it’s all of the above!

Being away from home there are two things that have been my savior in Florida – skype and webtext. I really love skype, it’s even great for calling international cell phones at a low rate. Webtext is a great way to text friends/boyfriend in Ireland, even if it does mean I feel like a pimp with two cell phones!

The last thing I learned is that I love sharing links/looking at links people have posted. I’m more likely to get my news that way than by going directly to a news outlet’s website. I’m a real fan of the idea of ‘like it, share it’.

I’d like to say that after this week I’ll read more news, because I feel this is missing from my daily media routine. I’m not sure how successful that will be, but I’ll try!

Posted by: paulacunniffe | 10/01/2010

Media Diary Day 6

Arrived in Dublin airport 4.30am US time. As soon as I was off the plane I turned on my Irish cell. My US one is still buried in the bottom of my bag somewhere (not much different to when I’m in Florida really!) Came home, talked to my family and went to bed for a few hours. Being home is weird, I feel like I shouldn’t be here!!

Got up at 11am US time and had an angry phone conversation with a girl at the car insurance company who won’t give me temporary insurance on my car while I’m here because I’m not 25. Rage. I haven’t been in Dublin with no car since I was 18!! Watched some Irish TV (yay I know what all the channels are!) Saw this really interesting, but sad, news story on Sky News (you might remember I wrote about them in my convergence post). Apparently 4 people have committed suicide using chemicals in the UK in the past two weeks. It is believed that the first pair who committed suicide met online. Scary.

After the news I paused on Criminal Minds for, oh, the whole episode. Some friends called my cell so I updated them on the plans for the weekend. Caught up with my Gainesville roommate on facebook chat to let her know I got home safely.

That’s really where my media consumption ended. I only checked facebook 3/4 times today – usually that figure would be 10/12!

Visited my family; my two close cousins traveled over from England so we caught up. Funnily, one looked at me with big sad eyes and said ‘What are we going to do here with no TV and internet all weekend?!’ (They are staying in my grandmother’s house but no-one lives there so cable TV has been shut off)

Started to write the eulogy that I’ll be saying at my grandmother’s funeral on Monday. Went to visit my boyfriend and then groaned when I had to get a taxi all the way across Dublin back home. Stupid insurance!!

Posted by: paulacunniffe | 10/01/2010

Media Diary Day 5

Today’s diary isn’t going to be very interesting because I spent all day travelling. Woke up, checked emails and facebook and texted people at home to let them know what time I’d be arriving in Dublin (it’s a long journey in case you were wondering!). Sent emails tying up any loose ends while I’m away.

My big thing today was radio. I spent the drive to Tampa jealous of my roommate who has fancy XFM radio in her car. Unfortunately I don’t think that had been invented back in 1994 when they manufactured my retro Nissan Altima!!! But regular radio was my savior for the two hour drive to the airport. Until the stations disappeared. That happened a lot. I listened to all music radio, there wasn’t really any talk radio (I was on FM though so that might have been the reason).

Spent all my time between flights on my laptop, trying to get some assignments done so I don’t miss deadlines. Contacted some friends back home on facebook chat. Sent text messages via webtext. In other words trying to distract myself!

I’m posting this Friday morning as I was flying all night and… wait for it. New York’s JFK airport doesn’t have wifi. Seriously. Well unless you want to pay $10 for it! So couldn’t post before I got on the flight. Listened to my iPod for most of the flight. I also played solitaire (card game) on it, which I like to do when I’m on the bus/plane/train to pass the time. Watched Criminal Minds on the little TV stuck in the seat in front of me (can you tell I like crime shows?!) On my first flight (Tampa to NY) they actually had TV channels so I watched Made on MTV and Top Chef: Just Desserts on Bravo. Pastry chefs are so bitchy!

Get ready for a 100% Irish post tomorrow.

Posted by: paulacunniffe | 09/29/2010

Online shopping – the good, the bad and the indifferent.

Meet Lauren (23, from Long Island, completing her master’s in December) and Emily (23, from Tampa, just started her master’s this Fall). Finally, meet Steve (20, from West Palm Beach, a Junior). Lauren and Emily are my roommates. Steve is Emily’s boyfriend. All three are UF students.

They were my three guinea pigs for this week’s blog post.


1. Have you purchased anything online? Do you shop online often?

2. How did you feel about purchasing online before your first purchase?

3. Describe your first online purchase?

4. How did you feel about online purchasing after your first purchase? Did your original view change?

5. If you had the opposite experience (i.e positive or negative) would your feelings be different?

6. What do you like and dislike about online shopping?


All three have shopped online. Lauren and Emily were both anxious and nervous before their first purchase. Both were worried about the security of their credit card. Lauren was also worried about the validity/authenticity of the products. Would she get what she ordered? I should mention that Steve is an incredibly laid-back person – it takes a lot to worry him! He said he wasn’t worried but it is a long time since he made his first purchase.

Lauren had a good first experience of shopping online. She bought books from the UF bookstore so she says she knew it was a ‘safe’ option. Emily also had a good first experience, but she adds that she recently had an awful experience. She didn’t get what she ordered and her money wasn’t refunded for over a week. She said this wouldn’t stop her from buying things online, but she won’t use that website again.

Lauren also said she has had terrible experiences, especially from one website, because she bought items that turned out to be bad quality. She is sceptical of buying things online now and avoids it when she can.

Steve has bought lots of things on eBay and is happy with his purchases. He said he checks the reputability of the sellers before he buys something. He likes buying things online because he’s lazy – he doesn’t like going to the store (that’s a quote!) His only criticism is that sometimes you can’t ask questions before buying.

Lauren and Emily both like that online shopping allows them to shop from stores not located locally. Their dislikes include not being able to try things on and having to wait for them to arrive.

The two girls were apprehensive about shopping online. Lauren still is and says she doesn’t shop online much. Her first purchase changed her view, increasing her intent to buy again, but subsequent bad experiences have turned her off. She doesn’t trust the ‘unknown person’ she is buying from. Steve has a high level of trust, but checks who he is buying from on sites like eBay. Emily had a good first experience and has a high level of social trust. She will still shop online despite having had a bad experience. Steve was the anomaly in the group (does it have anything to do with him being a guy I wonder?!) He had a high level of social trust before shopping online and continues to do so.

This goes along with Mutz’s findings that those who have a positive experience in their first online shopping experience have a higher intent of buying again and have increased social trust in those they do not know – online sellers. Bad experiences can lower this trust but it seems that people will still buy online – but perhaps not from the ‘bad’ website.

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