mstem

Recent blog posts by mstem

The Internet Exposes Tensions and Opportunity Between Nations and their Diasporas

Liveblog from the Global Voices Summit (#gv2012) here in Nairobi.

Diasporic communities can now take virtually full part in national political and civic life in their countries of origin, thanks to new media. From the academic and activist perspectives, what are the consequences?

Inside/Outside: Diaspora Influence  #GV2012

Left to right: Gershom Ndhlovu (Zambia), Elaine Diaz (Cuba), Susan Benesch (American University, School of International Service), Nanjira Sambuli (Kenya), Fred Petrossian (Iran)

Let Us See Under the Hood

Our machines can do amazing things. Our mapping and travel tools can span numerous transit agencies and modes of transport to conveniently navigate us across the land. They still mess up, which is acceptable. But when they fail, we don't even know that they have errored, or how, and this is less OK.

On an intermediary leg of a marathon journey from Washington, DC to Nairobi that included a DC Metrobus, a ZipCar, a BoltBus, a commuter train, an airtram, two 6+ hour flights, I needed to simply get from Penn Station to JFK Airport. I already knew that the Long Island Railroad was the best combination of price and speed for my needs, and HopStop's website confirmed it. Unfortunately my BoltBus ran an hour late, and I found myself recalculating the trip from my phone using HopStop's mobile app. For whatever reason, whether an errant filter or another limitation of the mobile app, HopStop no longer showed me any LIRR options. In this case, I knew I wasn't seeing the results I needed. I just couldn't do anything about it.

Upworthy's Content Goes Further Than Yours, and Not Because It's Better Content

Sara Critchfield and Adam Mordecai's talk at Netroots Nation (#nnupFTW) was less-than-standing-room only, so I've combined the parts of his talk we were able to catch with a similar talk by their colleague Peter Koechley at the Conversational Marketing Summit. Thanks to Deepa Kunapuli for her notes.

Technology and Human Rights

Liveblog of the Netroots Nation panel, Safeguarding Democracy: Innovations in Technology and Human Rights

Caitlin Howarth, of the Satellite Sentinel Project, has assembled an impressive panel of women working at the intersection of tech and human rights. First up is Emily Jacobi, cofounder of Digital Democracy (@digidem).

Emily has seen some amazing changes in the world in the past few years, and she attributes these changes to technology and how people are using it. People who were completely marginalized from conversations are picking up the tools of mass communication. Digital Democracy focuses on small 'd' democracy and the grassroots engagement rather than large institutions.

Finding Bieber: Using Computers and Humans to Surface the Talent in Millions of YouTube Videos

This is a writeup of Hrishikesh Aradhye, Ph.D.'s talk at the Media Lab last month, with my own commentary sprinkled throughout.

Power to the people, at last! It's a new hour
Now we all ain't gon' be American Idols
But you can 'least grab a camera, shoot a viral

Kanye West, Power

An hour of video is uploaded to YouTube every second (or ten years' worth of video every single day). Think about that for a minute. That's a lot of content. And, as haters everywhere have pointed out already, a lot of it is crap.

The more interesting point, though, is that some of these videos are actually really good. If YouTube can get better at surfacing the good stuff, whether it's a funny comedian, a talented singer, or a hilarious FAIL clip, we all benefit (including Google). Identifying talent has traditionally been a very subjective art, and as a result, the quantification of talent hasn't really been discussed in published literature.

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