Wrap-up: Media for the Good and the Goofy

Posted in The Gnovis Blog

This week on gnovis, the use of media (from the hipster glasses to old-school Museums) was the topic. We have filtered the Fools to bring this week’s wrap-up.

On gnovis

Lauren tackles the ephemeral and ever changing tastes of the hipster. Asking how the modern hipster came to be begs many questions around the diffusion of cultural meaning via new media technologies, the paradoxes inherent with trying to create a counter-culture within a capitalist model, and whether a true counter-culture is even possible at this moment in Western society given our increasingly globalized world.” I was particularly fond of her historical account of the changing definition of the term on UrbanDictionary.com.

April Fools day was this past week. This is a celebrated holiday in technical and engineering communities. MIT has a long tradition of notorious pranks, a tradition that has percolated into large tech-sector organizations as well. This year my favorite “prank” was probably Google’s CADIE, an artificial intelligence agent, that among other things, quickly started a blog (new window). What is CADIE thinking? Well, apparently: “Through analysis of Google’s index, I have determined that I <3 pandas.” Adorable.

Ashley may not share my fervor for April Fools day: “It’s the only holiday where being kind of mean to somebody counts as ‘celebrating’ and, quite frankly, I don’t like jerks.” She does, however, take us on a memorable walk down April Fools Lane, providing a list of classics such as BBC’s Spaghetti Harvest.

Finally, Trish considers two different types of Museums, the old-school space of reverence and reflection, and the our contemporary “Wonder Closets” geared at providing an experience. There is a debate going on about the difference, and Trish provides some great links and weighs in herself. “The articles linked above exhibit trends away from the quiet sanctuaries of history, and toward dynamic factories of experiences.”

Around CCT and the blogosphere

James Chen shares his experience of lending on Kiva (new window), a micro-lending service that allows anyone to flex their philanthropic arm and lend money to small businesses in the developing world. “I even went on the website, created an account, and made my first Kiva loan to a team of female entrepreneurs in Pakistan. When I clicked on the “Lend” button to get a list of entrepreneurs seeking loans, I was expecting to see a large list running several pages. Instead, only 12 accounts appeared requesting amounts of about around $1,000 each, and for the next half hour their requests were literally being fulfilled right before my eyes. In fact, if I didn’t act quickly enough, I would have missed out on being part of the lending team for that group of Pakistani women!”

We have all heard how newspapers are folding (no pun intended) left and right. Much of the debate has been around the impact of blogs on the news media industry and the quality of journalism. I was very happy, then, to run across Kevin Donovan’s thoughts on academia as a potential solution (new window) to the problem: “Academia can do two things to support a vibrant, reliable information ecosystem: support open access and support faculty blogging. Open access publishing increases the availability and reach of scholarship; the original articles are more accessible, allowing more general purpose writing to piggy-back off them.”

Boing Boing ran a post about why URL shorteners like TinyURL suck (new window). I suspect they didn’t read my post on the MLA from last week, but if you would like to see all the reasons the MLA shouldn’t just use TinyURL, you should check out this post. While not about the MLA issue, it does speak to the vulnerabilities of URL shortening services, and the inherent problems when URLs (litterally, “unique resource locator”) are anything but unique.