Sustained Research Essay

The Internet “Underground”

One thing that the average college student is an expert at doing is mindlessly surfing the web, whether it be catching up with (or stalking) friends on Facebook, posting a stream of life changing updates on twitter, watching funny YouTube sketches or videos of human-sounding goats, absorbing whole seasons of shows on Netflix in one night, or mindlessly scrolling through cute animal blogs on Tumblr. According to the Socially Aware blog, 56% of internet users had social networking profiles in 2012, in comparison to the 24% in 2004. Although there are plenty of uses of the internet, the average user spends 14% of his internet time on social media websites (Delaney, Salminen, and Lee). However, a smaller percentage of those “casual” internet users know about the underground, off the beaten path, and sometimes illegal side of the internet. These users lurk in very specific forums, chat rooms, and blogs pertaining to their shared passion of anything from graffiti and vandalism to sexual promiscuity to databases and instructions on drugs of all sorts to how to’s on embezzling, hacking, and scamming. Even though most people use the internet for the basic social networking and movie watching, there is a constant stream of active users that are participants or at least fans of the aforementioned topics. How has the free sharing of information helped facilitate the “openness” of topics formerly never discussed in certain places and deemed taboo? What type of information can be dug up that is hidden from the general public? What are the implications of this changed communication structure to the future of information sharing and societal relationships in general? These are the types of discussion questions that this research paper will contribute to.

It is a widely accepted belief that our society as a whole is becoming freer due to the ease and speed of information sharing. We are freer in our ways of speech, in the types of clothing we wear, in the occupations we choose, in our sexual orientations, in our religious and spiritual beliefs, and in the things we choose to discuss out loud in a public forum. One of the biggest opportunities to express freedom is online because people have an opportunity to post whatever they want, no matter how out of place or improper it could be to discuss in public. For any invention that has the ability to provide a use that has not been available before, there will always be an accompanying “subculture”, or an alternate use that was not originally intended. As a result of this, there will always be nooks and crannies of the internet that require a certain level of knowledge to understand or gain access to. These “internet undergrounds” can automatically become safe havens that can provide an anonymous outlet, like-minded members, and easily accessible information. Even though one may not directly participate, it is still important to remain aware of the workings of the internet subculture because it has the power to change the structure of communication in our society in multiple ways and allow us to discuss our views freely and anonymously.

A perfect example of an internet subculture whose main goal is to remain very well hidden from the mass consumer’s eye by being available to only a select group of people is an anonymous black market called The Silk Road, which was launched in February of 2011. On this illegal version of Amazon, a user that knows how to access the marketplace can order any drug imaginable with Bitcoins, which is anonymous and untraceable online cash, and have it discreetly shipped by the seller to a location of their choosing. Virtually any drug can be purchased on this black market site, including cannabis, ecstasy, psychedelics, opioids, and stimulants (Broderick). Navigating to The Silk Road has been made complex so it can fly under the radar of the average internet user; it must be accessed via a Tor browser. Created by the United States Naval Research Laboratory, the original intent behind Tor was to protect government communications. The main purpose of Tor today is to increase anonymity online by providing a, “network of virtual tunnels that allows people and groups to improve their privacy and security on the Internet” (“Tor: Overview”). Tor users are able to browse websites without revealing their IP address and locations, leaving no electronic trail. Via a Tor browser, users can log onto The Silk Road and make illegal purchases with Bitcoins, eliminating a financial trail as well. In theory, this whole system sounds very discreet, and  since all the sellers ship from the US, packaged are not x-rayed or opened because they do not have to go through Customs, which  checks incoming mail from other countries. According to the Metro newspaper, “Bitcoin is a decentralized virtual currency, meaning neither does it exist in the physical world, nor does it have a central bank such as the Federal Reserve or the Bank of England” (“What is Bitcoin?”). However, the downside of not having a centralized bank is drastic fluctuations of the Bitcoin. In February of 2013, one Bitcoin was worth $20, then in April it reached a record high of $266 before dropping a few days later to $105 (Rushe). Although this system is unstable and can make the user vulnerable to hacking if they do not know what they are doing, many can argue that the premise of virtual money is appealing because it can act as valuable investment when Bitcoins rise. Since it is a currency independent of the regulations of the government and financial institutions, it is up to the users to make sure it is properly kept track it. When purchasing Bitcoins, you are not giving any money to the government, which is appealing to Libertarians who want an unregulated free market economy.

The Silk Road marketplace is a prime example of an internet subculture that can be accessed with Tor, and The Silk Road is an example of the type of sites hidden in the highly controversial Deep Web. All internet content can be divided into the Surface Web and The Deep Web. The difference between them is the former consists of static pages, “they reside on a server waiting to be retrieved, and are basically html files whose content never changes”, and the latter consists of dynamic pages which are housed in databases and cannot be indexed by search engines (Iffat, and Sami). There are a series of blocks set up for the sole reason of keeping the casual internet browser out: “it is hard to find what you are looking for, you need more than a passing knowledge of computer science, and you will have to write down the exact addresses of the sites you manage to find, and stock them in your bookmarks” (Albarracín, and Holloway).

The Deep Web could be considered as a major force in the restructuring of the information sharing system.  Since it was created in 1994, the Deep Web “contains 7,500 terabytes of information, compared to 19 on the Surface Web”. Under the surface, it houses an enormous amount of data and resources generally missed by the public eye. The Deep Web can be a dark and dangerous place depending on what type of information the user is looking for. There are websites for hiring assassins, instructions on how to firebomb and napalm, and sites about staring a holy war against The United States. The is a website called Brimstone Entertainment that allows strippers, prostitutes, and escorts to list their “services” and fees. In the Crime Networks, users can discuss their exploits and also provide tips to others. It is also almost impossible for the government to track and shut down these types of sites because of the high-anonymity levels and the sheer size of the Deep Web. The issue that this raises is whether this “internet underground” does more harm than good. There have been expressed fears about terrorists exploiting this structure to find out sensitive information and use it to do harm. Weapons can also be purchased on the Deep Web through The Armory, an online weapons store that mails out the weapons in pieces to be assembled by the user. Although any determined criminal could find a way to get their hands on a weapon, The Armory opens up another option for them, and “if even a single gun is shipped to a single person, we’re living in a society in which things that kill people can be moved around the world with zero accountability” (“The Secret Online Weapons Store”).

On the other hand, is there a positive side to the Deep Web? Criminals are drawn to the Deep Web because it is difficult to trace, but one does not need a criminal intent to find something useful. Even though most articles discuss what terrible things can be found on it, including child pornography, a positive side of the Deep Internet does exist. There is a website on the Surface Web named the Complete Planet whose goal is to discover different Deep Web databases and categorize them into tabs like agriculture, art & design, literature, music, technology, religion, and sports.  Listing over 70,000 searchable databases, “the value of [this] is extremely high. Each database is very focused in nature and the sheer numbers of them indicate that there are hundreds if not thousands in any given subject area” (“About CompletePlanet”). As a result of the availability of such specific information, many more possibilities could be opened up for research. Institutions of higher learning already have access to many databases, but of the academic kind. If scholarly databases like Academic Search Premier, LexisNexis, and JSTOR are used by college students and professors for research, what would happen if all college students and professors had access to the Deep Web? Would our research evolve because we would have the availability to dig even deeper in search of relevant information? Would institutions become even more prestigious for teaching its’ students to find out information like even before? One academic search engine already exists that provides students with limited access to the Deep Web, it is called Scirus. To protect students from the dangerous websites, it only provides access to scientific content, but this does little to limit the scope of information. With Scirus, a student could search over 167 million websites, journals, and databases. A quick search on this search engine pulled up 2,556,411 hits for “developmental psychology”, yet the same search on Academic Search Premier pulled up only 40,894 hits. This goes to show that the Internet really is like an iceberg with the majority hidden underwater and just below the average user’s radar.

Just like the Deep Web could be used in academia to pursue in-depth research, it could also give people access to free, unbiased, and most importantly, anonymous communication in countries with strict censorship like Vietnam, Syria, Iran, China, and Saudi Arabia. The Deep Web can provide a gateway to other perspectives and news that would be censored otherwise. For example, in China you cannot find any information on the situation in Tibet, freedom of speech, and instances of police brutality. In Saudi Arabia, 400,000 websites pertaining to politics or religion have been blocked (“Top 10 Countries That Censor The Internet”). Political activists can use the Deep Web to read up on news of their country from the perspective of others, rally for protests, and just as an outlet for the oppressed speak out anonymously and without the fear of execution.

If you know how to get inside the system, you can get access to virtually any kind of information at your fingertips. A question to ponder is how the Deep Web and Tor will change our communication structures in the future. Since any unregulated and “off the grid” system allows people to run rampant in both seedy websites and scholarly treasure troves, will more people discover and be drawn to this underground world? We already saw the direct effect of people discovering Bitcoins- its value dropped within a few days of Gizmodo and Metro covering the topic of anonymous currency. It is difficult to say how the Deep Web will develop and whether it will receive a substantial increase in traffic, but one thing is for sure- it allows for high levels of anonymity, has great potential, and must be used with caution.

Works Cited

“About CompletePlanet.” Complete Planet: The Deep Web Directory. BrightPlanetCorp. Web. 2 May 2013. <http://aip.completeplanet.com/aip-engines/aboutcp.jsp&gt;.

Albarracín, Pablo, and Christopher Holloway. “WELCOME TO THE DEEP WEB: THE INTERNET’S DARK AND SCARY UNDERBELLY.” World Crunch. World Crunch, 17 Nov 2012. Web. 2 May 2013. <http://securityaffairs.co/wordpress/6599/intelligence/deep-web-and-censorship.html&gt;.

Broderick, Ryan. “Traveling Down the Silk Road to Buy Drugs With Bitcoins.” Motherboard. Vice Media , n.d. Web. 29 April 2013. <http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/traveling-down-the-silkroad-to-buy-drugs-with-bitcoins&gt;.

Delaney, John, Nathan Salminen, and Eunice Lee , eds. “Infographic: The Growing Impact of Social Media.” Socially Aware. Morrison & Foerster LLP, n.d. Web. 29 April 2013. <http://www.sociallyawareblog.com/2012/11/21/time-americans-spend-per-month-on-       social-media-sites/>.

Iffat, Rafia, and Lalitha Sami. “Understanding the Deep Web.” Library Philosophy and Practice. N.p.. Web. 2 May 2013. <http://unllib.unl.edu/LPP/iffat-sami.htm&gt;.

Rushe, Dominic. “Bitcoin hits new high before losing $160 in value in one day.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited, 10 Apr 2013. Web. 29 April 2013.

Swift, James. “Traveling The Silk Road to the Deep Web’s Darkest Corner.” Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, 27 Jun 2012. Web. 29    April 2013. <http://jjie.org/silk-road-deep-webs-darkest-corner/&gt;.

“Top 10 Countries That Censor The Internet.” Listverse. Listverse Ltd, 2 Oct 2010. Web. 2 May 2013. <http://listverse.com/2010/10/02/top-10-countries-that-censor-the-internet/&gt;.

“The Secret Online Weapons Store That’ll Sell Anyone Anything.” Know Too Much. N.p.. Web. 2 May 2013. <http://knowtoomuch.info/post/27631506528/the-secret-online-weapons-   store-thatll-sell-anyone>.

“Tor: Overview.” Tor Project. The Tor Project. Web. 29 April 2013. <https://www.torproject.org/about/overview.html.en&gt;.

“What is Bitcoin? An Idiot’s Guide to the Virtual Currency.” Metro UK. Associated Newspapers Limited, 11 Apr 2013. Web. 29 April 2013. <http://metro.co.uk/2013/04/11/what-is-bitcoin-an-idiots-guide-to-the-virtual-currency-3592493/&gt;.

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Sarah Vowell’s “The Wordy Shipmates”

Her form of “history” is different than most other kinds of history you’ve read. How does that kind of “rule-breaking” impact you as a reader? How does it help the essay as a whole?

Vowell’s story telling is different because she finds a way to relate history to today’s current events. Unlike textbooks that spew out dates and locations, she starts off her analysis on Puritans talking about how most of our knowledge about that time period comes from tv shows like The Brady Bunch, The Simpsons, Mr. Ed, and Happy Days. In addition, what we have learned in school about New England colonials focus on Plymouth in 1620 and Salem in 1692. What makes Vowell’s writing different is she focuses on one area of history that many people don’t know about. She does not tackle a huge subject by writing about the Puritans over a multiple centuries, she focuses on 70-year span of history. In comparison to school textbooks, this is a very small time frame to write about. This allows Vowell to very closely examine and research her topic.

Another rule that Sarah Vowell breaks is formality. While reading her book, I felt like she was talking to me instead of at me. This was a very refreshing writing style for me to experience because most history textbooks or articles are very dry, boring, and never funny. She has a sense of humor which makes reading her book fun and engaging. She also talks about her own childhood and the two Cherokee family heirlooms she owns, reinforcing the idea that she is talking to you instead of at you. This level of informalness makes the reader feel more comfortable about what they’re reading; they don’t feel like they’re going to be quizzed at the end of the chapter.

Another “rule” she “breaks” is crossing time boundaries. While textbooks are very rigid about the time period they discuss, Vowell brings up Obama, The Great Gatsby, Martin Luther King Jr, Reagan, and 9/11. This helps the reader relate the distant past that we probably don’t know much about to events or people every American is aware of.

Longform.com “Best Of” Lists

Post 3 things that made the essay you read interesting, noteworthy, or valuable. What about the essay do you think users of Longform appreciated so much?

The essay I chose to read was Molly Young’s “Sweatpants in Paradise”.

  1. I liked how the author introduced her article. Instead of giving us the dry definition of immersive retail, she gave us another way to think about how we can get immersed in things and loose all sense of time and space- swimming, fighting, experiencing a migraine, having sex, shopping. She brings up the “shopping wormhole” and how we can feel disoriented while stepping outside after spending a few hours at the mall. 
  2. It is noteworthy how the author brings up a topic by weaving in a personal situation. She discusses her own experience at Hollister while pointing out the selling strategy of the store- to connect specific sounds, smells, visuals, and textures to the brand name. She talks about very specific aspects of Hollister and how they all contribute to immersive retail.  She saw that the store was dimly lit, there were fog machines and potted plans, half naked models, and generic “cool” music playing at 80-85 decibels.
  3. It was interesting for me to learn that there is no relation between the Californian town named Hollister and the brand named Hollister. There is also no relation to the year they put on their tags, 1922. Hollister was started up in 2000.

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I believe the users of Longform appreciated this essay because it presents a dry and well known topic in a new light. Instead of telling us what immersive retail is, she first talks about the overall shopping experience. Then she discusses the reason behind buying such items- to fit in. She talks about how people portray a certain persona, which is dependent on what they wear. Young is able to connect Hollister, high school fashion, weed, and an interactive science exhibit in a way that make sense and is interesting to the reader.

David Foster Wallace’s “Consider the Lobster”

How does Wallace turn a rather ordinary experience (covering a food festival) into a captivating essay?

As I began reading Wallace’s piece on the Main Lobster Festival, I thought it would just be an 11 page article on exactly that. However the first thing that threw me off was when I printed the article- as I skimmed through it, I noticed 3 pages of footnotes, some of them a whole paragraph in length. I couldn’t imagine why one would need so many long footnotes, especially on an article about a festival.

Wallace begins his article fairly normally, describing the festival, what goes on during it, who attends, and where it is located. A few paragraphs in, I learned that lobster used to be considered very low-class food, and some colonies allowed their inmates to eat lobster only once a week because they thought them to be the equivalent of rats. This is when I realized that there was something fishy about this article (pun intended). Wallace went into a very detailed explanation of the lobster itself and it’s previous stigma, which isn’t necessary for an article that claims to be about a festival.

Wallace then spirals into criticizing everything about the festival itself, including how everything comes in Styrofoam and with plastic utensils, the lack of manners of the eaters at the overcrowded tables, and having to pay $20 for a folding chair. This is the point at which I realized that this article was very out of the ordinary- what writer would bash the festival he is supposed to write about and shed a positive light on?

It must be noted that this article was written for Gourmet magazine. Whether they be about recipes, food festivals, different ways of food preparation, and reviews of restaurants, it is clearly supposed to feature food related articles. Wallace begins to create a very jarring and even repulsive atmosphere when he asks “is it all right to boil a sentient creature alive just for our gustatory pleasure?” He then goes on to describe the process with which the lobsters are boiled alive. He uses sickening similes like “the lobster will sometimes try to cling to the container’s sides or even to hook its claws over the kettle’s rim like a person trying to keep from going over the edge of a roof”. Wallace makes sure to point out that his objective is to not give his readers a PETA-like reproach, but “to work out and articulate some of the troubling questions that arise amid all the laughter and saltation and community pride of the Maine Lobster Festival”.

Wallace’s second to last paragraph consists of open ended questions to the reader that he doesn’t provide the answers to, a “food for thought”. He asks what makes it okay to for gourmets to dismiss the whole issue of cooking lobsters alive? Do they just not want to think about it, or are they firmly convinced that lobsters don’t feel pain? Aren’t gourmets supposed to be extra-aware of the food they’re consuming? This article ends on a very different note in comparison to how it began. He starts to describe the festival, but then goes on a scattered tangent discussing the ethics of cooking lobsters alive.

My experience while reading this article was positive and eye opening, but it definitely wasn’t what I expected from the beginning. I was surprised to realize that I was able to get through an 11 page article about lobsters, especially because I’m not much of a “foodie”. What made this article interesting to read for me was that Wallace examined lobster from all sides- their structure, what they eat, where they live, their place in history, and the ethical issue of their consumption. It is very evident that the author did his research before putting together such an article.

Paul Graham’s “The Age of the Essay”

5 sentences from Graham’s essay that I think are worth talking about in class on Monday:

  1. It’s no wonder if [essay writing] seems to the student a pointless exercise, because we’re now three steps removed from real work: the students are imitating English professors, who are imitating classical scholars, who are merely the inheritors of a tradition growing out of what was, 700 years ago, fascinating and urgently needed work.
  2. Good writing should be convincing, certainly, but it should be convincing because you got the right answers, not because you did a good job of arguing.
  3. So if you want to write essays, you need two ingredients: a few topics you’ve thought about a lot, and some ability to ferret out the unexpected.
  4.  If there’s something you’re really interested in, you’ll find they have an uncanny way of leading back to it anyway, just as the conversation of people who are especially proud of something always tends to lead back to it.
  5. . Anyone can publish an essay on the Web, and it gets judged, as any writing should, by what it says, not who wrote it.

TED.org Presentation Response

The TED talk that I chose to watch is called “Charlie Todd: The Shared Experience of Absurdity”.

http://www.ted.com/talks/charlie_todd_the_shared_experience_of_absurdity.html

Charlie Todd is the creator of Improv Everywhere, a group that stages public scenes like flash mobs, a no-pants subway ride, and ghostbusters running through the New York Public Library. I’ve been a fan of Improv Everywhere for the past 4 years, so I chose to watch this TEDTalk to obtain some information on how this group began. Todd starts off his presentation introducing the first no-pants subway ride. As he starts playing the footage taken by a hidden camera, he talks over the silent video giving comments and describing what was happening. Only after the video is over, he talks about the objective of Improv Everywhere, which is to cause scenes in public places which are positive experiences.

He introduces the second project, “Look Up More”, by talking about how he saw a girl dancing in the window of a very large department store across from Madison Square Garden. Then he proceeded to show an Improv Everywhere video in the same location, which featured a person standing in front of each window, doing jumping jacks, dancing, and holding signs saying “Look Up More”.

After that, he talks about an email suggestion he received from a high schooler, saying that he should get everyone to put on blue polo shirts, khaki pants, and to stand around a Best Buy. Charlie Todd thought this was a great idea ended up doing just that. He then shows the audience hidden camera footage taken in a Best Buy.

The last project he mentions happens on the subway in New York. Todd wanted to stage a project which would made commuters smile on a very cold winter morning. He then shows a mass of people going up the escalator, and actors standing on the steps next to the escalator. As the crowd moves upwards, they pass actors holding signs: “Rob wants”, “To give you”, “A high five”, “Get ready”, and the last sign was held above an actor’s head, saying “Rob” and a downwards arrow. In the footage you can see the commuters’ puzzlement, then smiles and chuckles as they pass each sign and realize what is going on.

He then goes on to give the audience a glimpse of other projects they’ve done by showing photographs instead of film footage. He ends his presentation by mentioning how important it is to play, whether you are a child or an adult. The audience is left with the message that there is no right or wrong way to play, even if you’re an adult.

Charlie Todd’s presentation strategy differs from a traditional power point presentation because he always has something playing as he is talking, whether they are pictures or film footage. He also talks over the footage and explains what is going on in each one. He also tells the audience his inspiration behind each project. What I’d like to adapt from this TEDTalk into my own project is constantly having something play behind me as I am talking- this engages the audience and keeps them on their toes for what is going to come up next. I would also like to introduce my video of Candy Chang by telling my audience why she created her first wall. As I am introducing her Before I Die wall, I will have pictures of other walls around the world playing behind me. As Charlie Todd does, I will make sure to keep the tempo fast paced and fun.

“Presentation Zen” Strategies

The article I chose from Presentation Zen is “On the power of speech and telling your own story“.  This article discusses the Ignite formula for spoken presentations- “20 slides with each slide advancing automatically every 15 seconds”. It is crucial to simplify speech and eliminate the boring or unnecessary parts. The strategy that I can take away from this is planning what I’m going to say before I make any slides. Then after I know exactly what I am going to say, I will make my Prezi slides based off that. I believe this order is much easier, I do not want to be staring at a slide with a few pictures on it and try to figure out what to say to fill up the time. Our group mutually decided that we will write out a full transcript of what we are going to say, time it to make sure everything takes up 20 minutes, and only then will we create our Prezi presentation.

It it crucial that the audience remains interested and on their toes during the entirety of our presentation. We don’t want to throw facts at them, we have had enough of those experiences during lectures in which the professor just “talks at us” the whole entire time. I will engage my audience by forming my speech around the layout of a story with an exposition, conflict, and resolution. The main artist I decided to talk about is Candy Chang, who is the creator of the original Before I Die wall in New Orleans. After word of her wall got out on social media, similar walls began springing up all over the world. Since my audience can learn about the details later if they are interested (like her artistic history and education), I will only focus on the most crucial and important parts. This will be the inspiration behind WHY she created her wall, WHERE is was located, WHEN it was made, HOW she made it, and HOW the word got out about it. I will keep in mind to tell my audience WHY they should care about the objective of our project: since we live in the 21st century, anything and everything can be discovered online, even talent. The internet is a great way to land jobs or spread the world about something you are working on. Because I will be keeping this point in mind, the audience will feel a connection to what I am talking about.

According to the article, the most important part of a speech is having an interest and passion about what you are taking about. The audience can easily pick up whether the person is talking to fill up time about something they couldn’t care less about, and a person actively discussing their topic, wanting to instill the same passion about it into the audience. This is why I chose to discuss my favorite artist, Candy Chang. Hopefully my interest in her work and what she stands for will be picked up by my classmates.

Chapter 10 Clay Shirkey Reflection

Shirkey explains the idea of “lowering the cost of failure” with open source software projects being hosted for free on sourceforge.net. He goes on to point out that three quarters of the hosted projects haven’t even gotten a single download, the majority of open source projects fail. The ones with millions of users are extremely rare. However, Shirkey goes on to state that open source projects lower the cost of failure because they “rely on peer production, the work on [these] systems can be considerably more experimental, at considerably less cost, than any firm can afford” (245). The fact that they are almost destined to commercially fail ultimately lowers the cost of failure, because it happens so often with free software.

This concept can relate to the Communications project we are working on because of the mass amateurization of media. Since practically anyone can write an article and publish it online for free, projects can be conducted at virtually zero cost. Without the hindrance of budgets, we are able to experiment and make bigger leaps with online projects. We do not have to consider whether it will gain a wide enough following and revenue to make the project financially worthwhile.

The more we lower the cost of failure, the more we can explore different possibilities with our projects. Companies that fund their projects tend to stick to whatever strategy works for them without exploring other alternatives due to financial restrictions. However, open source projects can explore endlessly due to a low cost of failure. Formal institutions cannot undertake projects who’s resources will not offset the outcome, yet with open source, “even the risky stuff can be tried eventually” (Shirkey 249). A specific example of how we can take advantage of this aspect is experimenting with the different layouts of different blogging platforms. Since the majority of them are free, we can see how our project looks on Tumblr, WordPress, Blog.com, Blogger, Weebly, ect.

Our group can give our full attention to the project we are trying to put together due to a very low cost of failure. Even if our tumblr does not get traffic, we would not have wasted resources on its’ development (aside from our time). This is the main reason we chose to visually present our articles on a free blogging platform,Tumblr. It is accessible to anyone and does not have a sign-up cost.

We also do not have to worry about paying anyone to write articles because we are contributors, not employees. We can collaborate, try out new alternatives, and post our material for free all while having a low cost of failure. Due to this, we could write about or discover new things that companies relying on employees and a budget would not have been able to. This will give us a leg up against commercial companies than have unavoidable overhead charges. Since none of us are getting paid to put together this project (unfortunately), the amount of work and editing we could put into our project could technically be infinite. On the other hand, the amount effort and time put into a commercial project directly relates to its’ budget.

Due to all of the aforementioned reasons, our projects’ cost of failure is reduced, opening it up to limitless opportunities.

Evan Rosen’s “Creating Collaboration Takes More than Technology”

Discuss how Rosen’s article points to the non-technological requirements that make your group collaboration more effective. 

A non-technological requirement that will make our group collaboration more effective is culture. Evan Rosen makes a good point in his article- technology only gives us the tools for collaboration, it will not happen in a competitive environment with hierarchical positions. We must eliminate all competition because each of us is working towards a common group goal- to create a coherent collaborative project that will highlight how social media can be used as a means for discovery of talent. We must all do our fair share of the work and help edit each others’ articles, because we will be receiving a group grade. Hierarchic projects can be beneficial in some situations, but not ours. We will strive to have internal collaboration rather than internal competition. 

Another aspect that will make our collaboration more effective is to integrate collaboration tools into operational activities. Instead of using these tools just for meeting or updates, we must use them throughout our researching process. Even the in-between steps of our project that won’t be seen by others will be collaborative. This will ensure the deepest level of collaboration and group thinking. We will use Zotero during the researching process so we can see each others’ sources, and Google Docs while we are typing our individual articles. This will also speed up the process and keep us on schedule- instead of taking the time to email a file, wait for a response, and then go back to edit, everybody can work on the project in real time. I believe that Google Docs and Prezi are the best examples of this.

Similarly, it’s also important to be able to “adopt spontaneous work styles”– having immediate access to everybody and their work. This will eliminate formalities like setting up a time to have a group meeting. We can use instant facebook chats, Skype, and texting to stay in touch. As a result, we will be able to have much quicker access to each other, and will not have to wait until the next group meeting or class to voice a concern, question, or new idea.

The last point Rosen makes is that all parties involved in the collaborative project must have access to the same tools. There is no use of using a very expensive hosting site or a database if it is not available to everyone. We must all have equal access so we can do the same level of work. Rosen goes on to explain why this is so important: “The most collaborative organizations give everybody access to the same tools regardless of level, role, or region. This eliminates unnecessary hierarchy, reinforces collaborative culture, and creates greater value.” Our group made sure that we all have access to each tool we’ll be using- GoogleDocs, Zotero, texting, Facebook, Tumblr, and most importantly- an internet connection. 

The requirements necessary for our project to do well are: a non-competitive culture, the integration of collaborative tools, spontaneous work styles, and equal access. We will keep these four points in mind to ensure a successful (and fully collaborative) outcome. The 21st century can offer us an infinite amount of tools, but it is up to the individuals to figure out the most effecting way to utilize them. 

Applying Clay Shirky to Group Project

There are several ideas/points from “Here Comes Everybody” that can apply to our collaborative group  project which includes me, Gina Contreras, Angela Valecce, and Joseph Jacovino.

  • “to clip an article and share it with a group, you would have to copy it first, adding a step and thus reducing the attractiveness of sending it in the first place” (Shirkey, 148)

How this applies to us:

Our group will be using our Facebook group to communicate, Zotero to share our individual sources, and GoogleDocs to share and the articles we have written. This form of communication will be much easier because it’s instant.

  • Email is free, instant, and is not affected by the location of the sender/receiver. “These advantages help account for the incredible successes of email as a medium for group conversation, relative to all previous attempts” (Shirkey 157). 

How this applies to us:

It will be easy, quick, and free for our group to communicate when we’re not physically present next to each other. This will aid us in asking each other questions and finding out the answers fairly quickly, and also in the designation of articles/jobs for the collaborative project.

  • “Social tools don’t create collective action- they merely remove the obstacles to it” (Shirkey, 159).

How this applies to us:

All of the means of communication that we’ll be using won’t create our project, they will just be the tools that we’ll use to complete our task in an efficient and least-stressful manner.