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Presentation Slides: Remix

Crowdsourcing: the SUV map


For this week’s blog post, I choose to explore the Brian Lehrer Show and SUV map case. To me, this case is a great example of crowdsourcing, that is, using public (a large group of people) to reach a large amount of data and information.


This article discusses how Brian Lehrer sees the case of SUV map. It indicates that the feeling of “(local) community” is an important reason for audience to join the crowdsourcing activity voluntarily. I will say I agree with his opinion. Although I don’t think that the national or international audience cannot form a feeling of “community,” however, I do believe it is easier to form the “community” in local, for it is more related to audience’s daily life. Moreover, the Lehrer’s show attracted more audience’s attention during the SUV case; it seemed that “crowdsourcing” also opened a platform to let the audience and the broadcasts have a semi-symmetrical communication, and make the content of the show more “user-generated.”


Another article I find discusses about some problems that Lehrer faced when holding the SUV exercise. One of the problems is “credibility,” mentioned by Lehrer himself, which also questioned by a lot of people. From my opinion, SUV case is a “crowdsourcing of a quantitative research.” However, counting the number of the SUV in one block by many people at the same time seems not very reliable. An SUV can be driven around; a same SUV can be counted in several times by different people in a day. But I do believe this kind of crowdsourcing can be a useful reference sometimes; the online mapping (reporting violence) brought up by the Kenya lawyer can be a good example. The “online violence map” cannot be a hundred percent accurate; however, it can give audience a general idea of the issue, and helping them to prevent another tragedy happens.


The third article I find is posted in a blog of a magazine; the article talked a little about Lehrer’s SUV map case and then it started to discuss about the problem of “gas-guzzling SUV” (this phrase has also being mentioned in the official SUV map website). There are several comments under the article that replied by the reader. This article is not totally related to the SUV map, but what I find it interesting is that the “SUV crowdsourcing activity” might bring more people to discover and care about important issues (environment) that are related to their personal life (the one they didn’t care about before.)


The SUV map case is discussed by Muthukumaraswamy under the section of “Wisdom of crowds in general-interest reporting by recruiting a general audience.” I will say it is in the suitable section. However, I think the “general audience” should also be defined as the citizen who has the better technology instruments (poor people might not have a chance to become the “general audience” that mentioned in Muthukumaraswamy’s article.)


A remix video of Copyright War


The attitude of both sides (copyright holders and remixers) toward the copyright law are rather different. I think it is very interesting to illustrate it in the video.


Be Serious or be playful?




Reusing Online Context

Neilson indicates in his article that the online collaboration can contribute to the policy making (for Wikipedia); he also points out that having a rating system for the process of collaborative policy making can be helpful to prevent some problem( because we can’t just open the policy document to let any people edit it).

“Imagine you had a way of automatically scoring policy proposals for their social utility. You really could set up a Policyworks where millions of people could help rewrite policy, integrating the best ideas from an extraordinarily cognitively diverse group of people.” (Nielsen)

It seems that by reusing other people’s idea, millions of people could develop a policy that not a single person could think of. And, according to the argument above, if people could use other people’s text online freely, copy and rewrite, sometimes the new context might be very impressive:

“ the words could be copied, re-arranged, put to surprising new uses in surprising new contexts. By stitching to gather passages written by multiple authors, without their explicit permission or consultation, some new awareness could take shape…” (Johnson)

Well, I agree that by using the text online freely, the “textual productivity” will be increased. However, I don’t think “free of using the online text” is always suitable for every type of context.
First, if we could use the online text freely, can we use the text in any way we want? If an advertising agency tend to use a remixed text on TV, then who is the copyright holder? As more and more people start to remix the text and the online material,

“Copyright law enters a gray area.” (Shachtman)

Second, the idea of “death of the author” is to let people deconstruct text or re-interpret it in their own way.

“The ability for each reader to add to, alter, or simply edit a hypertext opens possibilities of collective authorship that breaks down the idea of writing as originating from a single fixed source.” (Keep, McLaughlin, Parmar)

According to the idea that mentioned above, each reader interprets and uses the text in different ways; in this way, the meaning of the text become not rigid (can be twist into other meaning). What I am thinking is: if people try to use this idea to defame a politician/celebrity by putting a snippet of his/her speech into a remixed context and twist the original meaning purposely, some people might be misled by the remixed context easily (if they didn’t hear the original speech).

By collage the snippet of the speech into other text, the speech of the politician can be change by the online users:

“from the sublime to the ridiculous, from the serious to the comedic, from linguistics to multimodal semiotics… “ (Anya)

In this way, the changing of the original meaning of the speech might influence the opinion of the public toward some politicians or celebrity. The free use of online text could help people to develop new thoughts; however, it can also lead to some negative consequence.

Online Activism

The political organization I am familiar with doesn’t have English versions, so I went to Wikipedia to search for a political organization website that is comparable to The organization “Glaad” (The Gay & Lesbian Alliance against Defamation) caught my eyes. This website (organization) attempts to amplify the voice of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) group; it especially focus on preventing media to negatively portray LGBT. Although the issue of Glaad cares isn’t quite related to, I sill discover some similarity between these two websites.

Rohlinger and Brown indicate that after 9/11, the anti-war activists were being labeled as unpatriotic (p.140). Therefore, the participants of regarded online participation less risky, for they can discuss anonymously online to prevent acquaintances labeling them. The online forum gave those who have dissents a platform to present their thoughts and be heard without expose identities in the real world. This less-risky trait of (especially after the 9/11) is similar to Glaad. Glaad has provided a platform for those who don’t want their sexuality to be out of closet in the real life, but at the same time wish the voice to be heard. Both of these websites create a platform for minority voices to be able to gather together. and Glaad both have the similar layout of their websites. Both websites have a category for “press,” which implies that the organization is influential among similar organizations. The “blog” and the “stories” categories enable participants to discuss the issue and express their thoughts. The “donate”, “publications”, and “event” categories linked the virtual world to the real world, which engage the participants in “intermediary forms of activism (p.133).” As Rohlinger and Brown indicate, the real world participations of include “engage in discussion, watch a film, and write personalized letters to officials (p.144).” The website of MoveOn indicate that there are a lot of campaigns that they are working on, and they hope people could voluntarily join in real life. On the other hand, the Glaad also have real world events such as workshop for “new media training at creating change” and “thank Glaad it’s Friday”; the LGBT group amplifies their voice by these real world call-to-actions, which is also a form of activism. The internet helps these two organizations to connect regional participants to join local events, which make the voice of grassroots stronger.

It should be noted that the website of Glaad has a category called “report media defamation.” Participants can report the likely-defamation in media (i.e. TV, magazine) in order to let Glaad to request the media to not doing so. This category gives the participants who want to be anonymous also have a chance to participate in semi-real -world events.

To sum up, Glaad present a phenomenon as the article mentioned: provide a space for people to form point of view away from dominant groups; allows individuals to participate anonymously and buffers challengers from high cost of activism; and moves challenges from virtual to real world (p.133).

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