What did people measure for the QS assignment?

For our observations, we sent out a survey on what students collected for the QS assignment and compiled the responses into several visualizations:








Finally, the link to our raw data


-Julia, Niall and Charles

Increased Corporate Ownership of Data

As a result of increased corporate ownership of data, we are living in an era of Internet/social media addiction. We see this clearly demonstrated by the behaviors of the characters in The Circle, but is best explained by Mae’s ex-boyfriend, Mercer. “The tools you guys create actually manufacture unnaturally extreme social needs. No one needs the level of contact you’re purveying. … It’s like snack food. … They scientifically determine precisely how much salt and fat they need to include to keep you eating. You’re not hungry, you don’t need the food, it does nothing for you, but you keep eating these empty calories. This is what you’re pushing. Endless empty calories, but the digital-social equivalent.“ (134) In other words, what Circle creates isn’t something the cyber citizen necessarily needs, but something addictive. Although The Circle describes a fictitious and futuristic society, it is frightening that the characters’ behaviors resemble our actions now. Nowadays, we rarely separate ourselves from our phones, using them and our media outlets as a way to post and share our every move with our Facebook and Instagram networks. Whenever a significant event happens, like the Presidential Election, everyone suddenly becomes an expert on the subject, sharing their knowledge and insights on Twitter. Sharing Economy is the modern version of neo-panopticon, since everyone is watching (or at least capable or watching) everyone else under the rating metrics in this highly connected and autonomous marketplace. In a nutshell, the emergence of new ideas enabled by new technology has provided us with seamless simplicity and convenience, but has also deeply shaped our social behaviors and online culture. The development of technology and sharing-economy is so rapid that it’s impossible to imagine what will unfold in the next decade.

When the data self overtakes the embodied self, we lose the control of how we live our life. Unfortunately, corporations own the data and from that, they want us to behave the way they desire, mostly the “unnatural” way.

How Connected Are You?

For our observation this week, we asked all of our classmates to send us the following lists:

  1. 15 of your friends at Davidson
  2. 15 of your classmates this semester at Davidson
  3. Every professor you have had at Davidson

Our goal was to create a network graph that shows the connections we have through the people in our classes.

We have 4 visualizations to accompany these lists. There is one network graph for friendship:


One network graph for classmates:


One network graph for professors we’ve had at Davidson:


Note that in the overall graph below that the edges indicate either friends, classmates, or professors (or all of the above?):


Here is the link to the Google drive folder that contains our .dot files and pdfs so you may zoom in closer to examine the graphs.

**** Updated ****

Visit this link for a better graph layout: http://truthexistseverywhere.com/network_dig210/index.html



Want to Play?

The article we read by Jennifer Whitson focused on how gamification of the quantified self can constantly adjust one’s daily lifestyle to adapt to a “better” life as seen by the designer. Whitson references Nike+ as one of the quantified self apps that allows the user to track their workout routine and observe the quality of their health throughout their day. By accessing this information and creating visualizations of this data, the user can then interpret this to find ways to get closer to the goals that the app has created for them. This use of the person’s data is not seen as surveillance in a negative way because people view this as an attempt to help them become healthier. However, there is no serious delineation between the surveillance of Nike tracking your phone for “workouts” and the government tracking things such as your phone to know where the phone and user are. This poses a serious question to viewers that if we allow apps like these? She does not delve into this divide because she feels it is a slippery slope, but is very important for viewers to consider these similarities.

Whitson also addresses how gamification is only applicable if the person is actively interested in the game. She says, “for it to be experienced as play, everyone needs to be a willing participant”. This thought as well as her belief that “rules are locally situated and constructed by the participants” provides the possibility of reverse analyzing this, to find out what games we are playing subconsciously, in our everyday lives? After reading this we realized that things such as weighing in after a meal or such, was still some form of a game that we would have never considered.

Where do we draw the line on how much we want to be tracked versus what that tracking can give us access to? Also, so much of our life is about a quantified-self game, when do we get to stop playing, or do we even really have control over the game anymore?

Week 9 Response

Group 3’s post and this week’s readings/discussion have been focused on how, or even if, digital society has effected the person-to-person society or the “real” world. Boesel delves into the idea of the “quantified self” and how its popularity has exploded over the past decade whether it be for the health-minded academics of the future or the “fiendish, delusional narcissists,” while Mejias takes the structure of a modern network and applies it to a society integrated by social media. While both seem to believe that the digital society has taken root in the real world and that this is a positive thing, these are still up for debate. Most importantly, it is neither good nor bad. Our digital society definitely affects the ability and kind of networking, development of ideas, and day to day communication between physical bodies but can never replace the connection of 1-on-1 interaction.

One of the most interesting aspects of social media platforms like Facebook is the creation of not just a supplementary connection for those people we see from day to day, but an alternate connection for those who we never plan to meet. We find ourselves creating a digital connection that is either redundant in that it is trumped by constant human interaction or potential in that the satisfaction of being validated by the creation of a new connection comes before the necessary work.

But nonetheless, digital society allows like-minded people to gather and trade ideas on the free market from the comfort on their own screens. While this may sound wonderful, and in practice it allows for the abundance of support and advice where it is needed and unfortunately unavailable, it leads to the false pretense that all ideas can be expressed without ramification in day to day life from person to person.

Finally, due to this newfound ability to express without ramification, many attempt to bring the impulsive, reactionary tendencies of the digital society and are met with much resistance due to the ever-present fears of judgement, criticism, and embarrassment of the person-to-person interaction.

With all mind, it’s easy to see that physical interaction will always be the mainstream of interpersonal communication whether it be out of desire, efficiency, or simple necessity. In the same way the computer was to eliminate the printed page or the escalator to the simple staircase (look how far we’ve come), the digital world will never be able to surpass the the physical though we have tried in emojis, expressive acronyms, and gifs. Even the “friend,” the “follow,” and the “like” fail to match the real-life counterparts as we continue to specify the site that they derive from.