Berkman Buzz: June 20, 2014

June 20, 2014

The Berkman Buzz is selected weekly from the posts of Berkman Center people and projects.
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Sara Watson walks through the uncanney valley of customized ads


Google thinks I’m interested in parenting, superhero movies, and shooter games. The data broker Acxiom thinks I like driving trucks. My data doppelgänger is made up of my browsing history, my status updates, my GPS locations, my responses to marketing mail, my credit card transactions, and my public records. Still, it constantly gets me wrong, often to hilarious effect. I take some comfort that the system doesn’t know me too well, yet it is unnerving when something is misdirected at me. Why do I take it so personally when personalization gets it wrong?

From Sara M. Watson's piece in The Atlantic, "Data Doppelgängers and the Uncanny Valley of Personalization"
About Sara | @swmat

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Global Voices (@globalvoices) demands the release of Tajik scholar, and our correspondent, Alex Sodiqov:
Ethan Zuckerman (@EthanZ)

Ivan Sigal interviewed on bringing new ideas to storytelling


We know that in a networked media environment, what’s abundant is content. What’s scarce is attention. You’re competing against everything for attention: talk, stories, Hollywood, social media, games—all occurring on the same screens. That’s the radical shift we’ve experienced. We also have immediate feedback on what people will or won’t pay attention to. In that context, sharing material is one way to draw attention.

From Holly Stuart Hughes' interview with Ivan Sigal for PDN Online, "Ivan Sigal on Bringing New Ideas and Underrepresented Voices to Storytelling"
About Ivan | @ivonotes

David Weinberger debates Jill Lepore vs. Clay Christensen

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Jill Lepore has an excellent take-down in The New Yorker of Clay Christensen’s The Innovator’s Dilemma. Yet I am unconvinced.

I thought I was convinced when I read it. It’s a brilliantly done piece, examining Christensen’s evidence, questioning his methods, and drawing appropriate lessons, including wondering why we accepted the Innovator’s Dilemma for decades without critically examining it. (Christensen became so famous for it that his last name isn’t even flagged as a spelling error on my Mac.)

I got de-convinced by a discussion on a mailing list I’m on that points to some weaknesses in Lepore’s own argument, including her use of “cherry-picked” examples — a criticism she levels at Christensen — and whether the continuity of companies, as opposed to their return on assets, is the right measure.

From David Weinberger's blog post, "[2b2k] The Despair of Knowledge"
About David | @dweinberger

Clay Shirky reflects on the end of print

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Aaron Kushner, CEO of Freedom Communications and the architect of a contrarian plan to expand southern California newspapers, began erecting hard paywalls for his digital properties while increasing newsroom and print outlay in the summer of 2012. That strategy imploded earlier this month, with layoffs, buy-outs, furloughs and the merger of two Freedom papers, essentially reversing the previous two years of investment.

There’s no nice way to say this, so I might just as well get to it: Kushner’s plan was always dumb and we should celebrate its demise, not because it failed (never much in doubt) but because it distracted people with the fantasy of an easy out for dealing with the gradual end of profits from print.

From Clay Shirky's blog post, "Nostalgia and Newspapers"
About Clay | @cshirky

54 Days in Prison and Counting for Ethiopia's Zone 9 Bloggers

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It has been 54 days since six members of the Zone Nine blogging collective and three journalists believed to be associated with the group were arrested in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The group formed in 2012 in an effort to report on and increase public discussion about political and social issues affecting a diverse cross-section of Ethiopian society.

From Ndesanjo Macha's post for Global Voices, "54 Days in Prison and Counting for Ethiopia's Zone 9 Bloggers"
About Global Voices Online | @globalvoices

This Buzz was compiled by Rebekah Heacock.

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Last updated

June 20, 2014