Read & Respond week 4: Links and Crowds

This week, we’ll be talking about connections: The in-person links that create crowds, and the digital ones that create, well, the Internet. Briggs talks specifically about “crowdsourcing;” the term “the wisdom of crowds” was popularized by James Surowiecki, but it’s been around for a while. Some take issue with the idea that crowds actually have any particular wisdom. Here’s a little tune on the subject from Nova:

Moving on to links and linking, consider some ideas from these posts:

Remember to respond to this post by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, January 31. Keep it concise, relevant, and don’t forget to integrate Briggs!


19 Responses to Read & Respond week 4: Links and Crowds

  1. From Briggs, I think the most important part of this chapter is when he talks about knowing your boundaries as a reporter. Your readers rely on you to be doing your job correctly and you want to too for the ability to gain credibility. He mentions that managing a conversation is difficult for journalist and I couldn’t agree more especially while blogging. I want people to respond and leave questions but that still hasn’t happened. I will try some of the ways Briggs lists in the book to see if that gets more people to respond.

    I agree with the website, now cyberspace is so popular they have so many laws and problems that may not have been thought of before. I think it is going to be impossible to keep up with technology especially with the law because new things happen all the time. For example, the term sexting is when you are sending explicit photos or messages through texting. People get charged child pornography now if you send, save, or receive it. I was shocked to hear about the woman and her daughter. I understand once you put something on the Internet it is there forever, but I think or wish there was more that someone could do about other people using your identity.

  2. amdewitt94 says:

    First I would just like to point out that Bill Thompson is hilarious. His style of writing is funny and witty, and it’s still knowledgable. That combination kept me reading the entire article while also learning something. I, too, feel that although sites such as Pirate Bay are “encouraging” illegal behavior, they technically cannot be held liable. That would be like me posting a link and saying wow guys this leads to pirated films, how awful, and someone clicking it and holding me accountable. Letting you know something illegal is out there is not a crime in itself. While I’m sure charges can somehow still be made (this site knows what it’s encouraging), I don’t personally feel it can be held accountable for the links.

  3. Sierra says:

    We all know that the way people get there news and information in general has changed dramatically over the years and it stays in a constant of change. The internet has changed the way we communicate with others, the way we shop for items and clothes, and even the way we do research on a subject for a story or paper. Crowdsourcing, open source reporting, and pro am journalism has changed news not only for the consumer but also for the producer. It has allowed for the people to get more interactive with their news providers by providing their opinions, asking questions, and sometimes providing their own answers to issues being reported.

    I studied crowdsourcing in a communications class last year and I think that it is extremely important to consumers today. According to Briggs, crowdsourcing is important because it sustains the power of a community to improve a service or information base. Wikipedia is a perfect example of crowdsourcing. Basically anyone can go and put information about something on Wikipedia. A study was done to show that when information went on the website that was incorrect, crowdsourcing would come into play. The wrong information would get pushed to the bottom of the page because of the many contributors that were providing the correct information. The television show “who want to be a millionaire” is another perfect example of crowdsourcing because of the option to ask the audience the question.

    I think that open source reporting and pro am journalism have changed the way we report the news the most. According to Briggs, open source reporting is important because it allows for audience feedback and it also increases the journalist credibility and social capital. Pro am journalism is huge now because its DIY reporting and its easier than ever because almost everyone has a smartphone but it also could get complicated when legal conditions get involved. There are some laws about digital content but according to Briggs, these legal conditions are still evolving.

    I never knew the importance of links and after reading this assignment, I think that corporations like Microsoft are really stretching with the legality of having links on its page. Briggs says that links are an interactive information medium and I agree. I think that they provide easy access to other services so I guess I’m not really understanding the big deal about advertising dollars being lost because you have a link to another service on your webpage. If it really means that much, then why don’t companies like Microsoft make contracts with other services like Ticketmaster to split or get a certain percentage of the advertising dollars being made because in the end they are really just getting advertising from each other? Maybe I’m missing something but I think that the situation is being made to be more complicated than what it really is.

  4. The Wisdom of the Crowd is a very interesting aspect of this discussion. The issue I have is that the “crowd” is not really the crowd. All too often online commenters to news websites are a small percentage of the total number of readers of the news. I agree with everything Briggs presents in Chapter 3, but being able to curate comments seems to be a daunting task. I know that at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette the writer of the story is the one who curates, moderates, and when necessary edits the online comments. Obviously there are going to be nuts commenting, but what is more troubling to me is the coordinated, agenda driven commenters who are trying to distort news coverage to what they think it should be. The art involved in this process of curating online comments and the integrated online discussion that exists on individual topics across multiple websites and platforms will probably have as much to do with who will be the news leaders in Journalism 2.0 than the actual quality of the writing of stories. The courts have started to sift through the issues related to today’s journalistic challenges, but professional codes of ethics need to be updated in order to deal with the challenges of today.

  5. The Wisdom of the Crowd video painted an eye-opening picture of the power of crowdsourcing. In math, the average or median measurement is almost always closer to the answer. This translates seamlessly into journalism as well. Polling a crowd and developing a collaborative response will almost always give you a more accurate response.

    Some of my classmates touched on the topic of online commenting, While Briggs noted that this section can sometimes be less than informative, the ability to generate new ideas based off of a group’s input is one of the greatest tools of our modern web. While we may have to scroll through a few useless ads, the value of the posts as a whole make a comment section worth the hassle.

    Briggs uses collaborative publishing examples, such as Youtube, Facebook and Photobucket, to illustrates just how much of the worldwide web is connected and outsourced. The article discussing the issue with hyperlinks suggests however that their may be a downside to being to well-linked, including false framing. This is a difficult area to tread legally, as technology advances more quickly than policy. Personally, I feel like the ability to link to other sites (when accurately linked) promotes more accurate, wholesome content.

  6. First and foremost, I really enjoyed The Wisdom of the Crowds video. Not only was it entertaining, but it tied really well into the Briggs chapter. One thing that I liked right off the bat was one of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s quotes in the beginning. He was talking about political candidates and how though we may debate about who would make the best candidate, there isn’t much argument on the merit of democracy. Millions of people work together to make the decision that no matter one’s political views, we all agree that democracy is important. In addition, Sir Frances Galton discovered that though individual to individual may not agree on a topic, the median responses of a group are the same. His experiment featured an ox, where he got 800 responses of individuals guessing the weight of the ox. Though no one got it right, the median of the guesses was the correct weight. This reinforces that idea that the average guesses of a group or populous is better than one individual’s response. I also liked that this video stated that you don’t have to be an expert on a particular topic to contribute, you just have to have some knowledge of the topic. This allows for multiple individuals to provide feedback and their opinions. Though there may be some variation in opinion or feedback, the general consensus is generally the same.

    Looking at the Briggs chapter, I really liked how he went into detail of what crowdsourcing is on page 93. Crowdsourcing allows for the community to come together and provide value to a website. This can be extremely beneficial because the community knows what is going on and they are the ones being affected by the topic that a journalist may be covering. The community would be able to provide their opinions and insights into a story that may shift the angle of the story, but would be something that the community would relate to. Also, crowdsourcing may be beneficial to journalists because it will result in a more well-rounded story. Instead of only getting opinions from maybe two to four people in the community, a journalist will have a better idea of what the community thinks based off of their comments. Crowdsourcing allows for many individuals to work on one project and contribute to its outcome as opposed to one journalist working on the project.

    Briggs also goes into detail about open-sourcing, which ties somewhat into crowdsourcing. Open-sourcing allows for transparency between readers and journalists. It essentially is, “pulling the curtain back on the reporting process and welcoming the audience’s feedback,” (page 99). Readers are able to help report the story, as crowdsourcing allows them to do also, while informing them of the journalistic process. Knowing the process allows for individuals to better understand everything that a journalist does and what goes on behind the scenes. In addition, open-sourcing increases a journalist’s credibility and social capital because readers are able to “keep them in check.”

    I also found the various court cases in regards to hyperlinking other websites somewhat surprising. I never knew that such cases were in existence and that hyperlinking was a problem. Hyperlinking is a powerful tool, but if only used correctly. Looking at the TotalNews example, that particular website linked to various other news websites that decided they didn’t want to be included in the website because TotalWeb deprived them of their advertising. The advertising provides revenue and TotalWeb was mainly featuring their own advertising. Granted, this must have been a difficult case to deal with but I think that despite the cases talked about in the two articles, hyperlinking can be very beneficial to provide additional information.

  7. Briggs opens with the point that journalists need to “do more with less.” Throughout the chapter, he supports this point by talking about crowdsourcing and other projects where companies will look to the masses to work for little to nothing to make big things happen. This same principle applies to journalism. As journalists, it is okay to rely on submissions from the public to help fill in the blanks.

    It’s great that journalists have relinquished their roles as gatekeepers to an extent, allowing people with newsworthy information to directly contribute on news websites. Besides the obvious benefits, it can also help journalists catch a whiff of a lead to follow up on.

    Bill Thompson’s right. The Pirate Bay and other sites like it aren’t responsible for any illegal activity. They only point it out. Thompson wrote, “Perhaps we need a ‘philosophy of linkage’ to explore what the use of a link can signify, before the lawyers decide it for us and limit the creative potential of the web through their lack of imagination and understanding.” This reminded me of the other reading with David Post. Because of legal problems, like the lawsuit with the Pirate Bay, it seems necessary to further explore the deeper ethical implications of linking.

    “Indeed, this hyperlinking capability may be the Web’s most fundamental and revolutionary feature, as the aggregate of millions of these individual hyperlinks creates a truly global interconnected web of information,” Post wrote. If we allow lawyers to crush this feature, it can harm that global web of information. I enjoyed the point about how the real world is full of links, snippets of information that link to the consumers’ information stored in their brains. I never thought of it that way.

  8. I thought that the Wisdom of the Crowd video was an easy way to explain that crowdsourcing is very important when it comes to finding the average response from the public. Briggs stated that crowdsourcing allows small internet communities to come together and provide value to a given website. The video was closely related to the point that Briggs was trying to convey which is that even if a large majority of people have a different opinion on an issue, the overall consensus is generally the same. I think open source reporting is an easy way to get people’s opinions and feedback. In my opinion, a lot of news stations seem like they’re bought out and they report biased news stories. The idea of open source reporting makes me feel like its more of real life reporting.

    The two online articles had to do with linking and copyright information in order to make sure what you’re posting is legal. I never really realized how important it is to word the information on my site correctly so that I won’t get sued for copyright infringement. Briggs mentions that publishers actually have more power than the law supposedly gives them. I feel that people generally have free range to write about what ever they want, but when it comes to copying others ideas’ online, it can be more of a legal battle.

  9. coreymac94 says:

    I especially liked Briggs description of pro-am journalism and how it is improving the field of journalism. “The essence of pro-am journalism is simple once you understand that no news organization can be everywhere all the time. Readers can help provide the ‘what’; journalists can then provide the ‘why’.”

    Even old-school journalists have to recognize how much this should improve journalism. Allowing transparency between the readers and producers of content allow for more information to be gathered. The only issue is that generally commenters or followers of news have biased agendas; and even plenty of journalists do. This is where crowdsourcing comes into play.. You have to be careful where your information is coming from. But that just be plays back to the ‘why’ aspect of journalism – the aspect that separates the real reporters from your average ‘citizen journalist.’

    As for the legal process of hyper linking, it seems that technology – an incredibly fast paced medium – is always going to outpace the legal system, which at times can be an irritatingly slow process. The Internet moves so fast that I think it will work itself out, while the legal system tries to keep up.

    But all of this is reassuring. For the first time in human history we’re seeing a platform where any kind of information can be free and accessible. Full transparency of information, I believe, can only do good for the welfare of society.

  10. audriek says:

    As Briggs says in this chapter “Journalists must get involved.” I like that because I think it is so easy to throw some words together on a piece of paper and proclaim it “done.” Yet, there needs to be much more thought that goes into this process, otherwise it leads to very inaccurate and misleading information.
    Sources that we use in our writing needs to be checked and double-checked. Think about it, if we were using some of the first links we saw, I’m sure our stories would be less than perfect.
    After reading about hyperlinks I realized there is a lot of liability that is soon to follow. I believe that is one thing that not all people realize. Unfortunately, a lot of times, these things seem to end in disputes, and not always the most prettiest of ones. In fact, they can even lead to lawsuits, something that some try their best to avoid all their lives!
    These suits can be costly and quite frankly, ugly.
    Hyperlinking needs to be taking in the context that it was originally created for. It is unfair and unjust to pull a link and slapping another link or title onto it.
    As we move forward with links, we need to keep the copyright claims in mind.
    Something lawyers are focusing on is the “balance of power the internet represent and the fact that they are trying very hard to ensure that the legal system is ignoring the technical reality while imposing a commercially and politically useful reading.”
    One thought expressed in the BBC News article is that we need a “philosophy of linkage!” The reasoning for this is to explore what the use of a link can signify, before lawyers decide it for us. If they do prior to our input, they could be limiting the creative potential of the web because of their lack of imagination and understanding.

  11. Before these readings, I never really realized the importance of the “link.” I never realized how much I use links, or how important they are for nearly everything I access online. In Briggs, he writes that the “link is the primary building block of the digital age.” In the first online reading, David Post also describes the linking capability as the Web’s most fundamental and revolutionary feature. Both online readings also brought up complications—especially legal complications— that come along with linking. However, even with some restrictions to linking (like CNN or Time), linking is necessary for anyone with a blog, website, or voice. Linking connects our voice to other voices across the Web. There would be no community between bloggers, or news outlets, or any type of website really without links the connect them all.

    In Briggs, there was a quote that said something along the lines of “write what you know and link to everything else.” There are so many sources and websites that are beneficial to any type of writing that it is important to be able to provide that connection from your article or website to another article or website for your viewers/readers. For bloggers and journalists, that quote is really important. We can’t just write without referencing where we got our information, so we need sources, and the easiest way to connect our work with our sources is to link to them.

    Briggs also mentions that “everyone is a media outlet.” We can’t be media outlets unless we utilize the technology so readily available to us. We can be a news source as well when we use social media to voice information we know or discover. In Briggs, he discussed how news outlets utilize their viewers/readers comments to better their news production and to integrate the viewers and readers into the news process—crowdsourcing. We become journalists when we tweet our local newspaper or news station with tips. We become journalists when we take pictures of accidents or fires or even the weather. But, we wouldn’t be able to call ourselves journalists without modern technology. We would just know things or see things without the opportunity to share this information.

    I really liked Briggs’ writing on the crowdsourcing mentioned above and pro-am journalism. As a journalist, these terms are critical for us to know moving forward with our career. And, as the chapter mentioned, journalism is changing, so crowdsourcing and pro-am journalism is really influential as to where journalism is going.

  12. pmlilly says:

    From the chapter in BriggsI particularly liked his description of why open-source reporting is important. I had never actually heard of this term until I read this chapter. It is really cool to me that this strategy actually allows your followers to view how a story works, and is made. It also make perfect sense that if an outside party was to look at your work and how you did it they would be obligated to see the reporter as an objective outside source just reporting on what happened. On the flip side of that though if you were being one sided your audience would be able to see it very easy. I think this is cool from both standpoints because 1 people would not be able to call you one side if they can see your process and you did it right, and 2nd if you don’t go through the right process people will know and this will kind of keep you honest in a sense that you have to do it right or your audience will know.

    I have to say reluctantly I actually laughed a few time during that song particularly about the mean/median. That being said the clip still had a good point that can relate to crowdsourcing. It relates because collectively all the peoples guesses were correct when averaged out, the same can be said about crowdsourcing because then the median of everyones comment will be the about what the correct comment should be.

  13. EmilyGMartin says:

    I actually enjoyed the Wisdom of the Crowd video (even if the subjects of statistics and math were mind-numbing). I liked how they talked about how everyone is able to contribute to the conversation.
    “You don’t have to be an expert. If you know something, then you can contribute.”
    This ties in nicely to Briggs’ topic of open-source reporting. By getting your information from multiple sources, experts or not, you are less likely to appear biased and more likely to be increasingly factual.
    “If you have a group of people and they each have tiny bits of information then you can learn a lot if you van just gather those bits of information.”
    News stations, such as Fox News, could learn a thing or two from this.
    Having multiple sources will for sure bring in bias, but having both sides allows the journalists to remain unbiased themselves and, in turn, produce a quality story. (unless of course you write opinion pieces, then by all means, be biased). Even having multiple opinions can create one overall consensus among the masses.
    Briggs talks about commenting on blogs/posts/statuses, what have you, and he says that you should remain factual and civil in spreading your news/opinion.
    He also said that you should be aware of legal issues, as those can arise in these types of situations.

  14. matthewfergo says:

    “He found the wisdom of the crowds,” certainly speaks to what the video was getting at, as well as what I believe is Briggs’ most important point in the chapter. In the beginning of chapter 3 of Briggs, John Cook says that he believes his readers are much smarter than him. It makes sense to me because it’s essentially bringing in all the knowledge of one’s audience and putting it together. To combine all of their information they know into the author’s reporting simply gives a better perspective on the topic. That’s why social media is so important for journalists to utilize today. Open-source reporting works similarly in that, it opens up the reporting process to the public and thus increases the credibility of the journalist. In today’s world, people like to be involved in the media’s distribution of information. In the video, the median/mean dilemma essentially meant that when crowd-sourcing, on average, an answer from the crowd will be correct, but there is a lesser chance that one single person taken at random will be correct.

  15. mtshadle says:

    The concept of the “wisdom of the crowds” is very interesting to me, because I have unknowingly utilized it pretty much as long as google has existed. If I ever have to troubleshoot technology or am curious about strange side effects from medications I often look to online forums to get advice from a large group of people, and more often than not, my technology woes are absolved. I definitely can see how everyone putting small pieces of what they know together to reach a correct or accurate assumption works. I also can see how this gathering of information or crowdsourcing as Briggs writes about it can be useful for journalists. Briggs mentions that crowdsourcing is important because it helps you figure out what people are talking about, how they are talking about it, and what else they want to know. This is a great source for journalists because many breaking stories come from “citizen journalists” as we talked about in class, who may be live tweeting an event. In relation to our assignment this week Briggs also discusses the importance of conversing through social networking. I definitely agree that it is important to engage with other readers and writers because it keeps the conversation going rather than just putting information out there and makes it more relevant to people when they are able to interact. Finally, I think that it is critical as later mentioned in the chapter to keep online conversations appropriate and ethical. Far too often we hear about a celebrity or personality that has caught heat for an inappropriate comment or post made online.

  16. jadenarth says:

    I enjoyed the PBS video about Wisdom of the Crowds because it shows just how important crowdsourcing is. You cannot rely on the opinions of just a few people to get an accurate representation.

    Briggs discusses the importance of links and crowdsourcing. Links are beneficial for almost every type of article. Sometimes they can provide clarity, or provide more information on a subject. And sometimes, there’s just somebody out there who has said it better than you could have.

    I regards to The Pirate Bay article, TPB shouldn’t be held responsible for illegal activity. Technology is also always going to be ahead of the legal system, so one must keep that in mind when things like that happen.

  17. davidstatman says:

    Briggs’ reading this week shows just how much the world of journalism is changing, and the different strategies that news outlets are starting to employ in the digital age. In a lot of these, it seems like some news outlets are starting to move away from journalism that’s done by actual journalists – you have your crowdsourcing and user-generated content, with the “journalists” as it were often focusing more on curating content rather than creating it themselves. This is a way of piecing together a story as sure as reporting it traditionally: even if one member of the crowd only knows about one aspect of a story, you can find others, and build something. As Briggs says, links are the building blocks of the digital age, but we’ve entered into a new chapter where links can be more than just the building block, and can actually be the content itself.

  18. Kaitlyn Powers says:

    The “wisdom of the crowds” definitely sums up the theme of this week’s discussion. Crowdsourcing is extremely important in order to get the most accurate representation of a group. Like we learn in the video, the median of a set of data is usually most accurate to the real value.

    I agree with Briggs about commenting and crowd-sourcing that although you come across the occasional post that is totally crazy and off-handed, in general, it’s an extremely useful tool to not only see the hot topics that people are talking about and interested in, but it also provides journalists with tips and hints and sources for future stories.

    In the case of The Pirate Bay, I agree that they shouldn’t be held liable. They merely provide an outlet for users to download illegal content, not encourage them or enforce them to do it.

  19. John Mark says:

    I think ‘The Wisdom of the crowd’ is an awful name for the concept, but I agree it can help in objective, factual instances. Briggs talks about the different kinds of journalism that involve the community, and it’s absolutely essential to do so. Like we saw in class with the twitter posts during the assassination of Osama Bin Laden, the crowd can be a powerful tool in gathering information. Gathering leads, facts, ideas, and comments is important.

    Where I think the concept fails is the idea that the crowd’s “average” is a better answer than any individual answer. That totally works in factual instances, like the one in the video, but things like politics, art, restaurants, etc. are opinion-based, with little basis in objectivity. This also allows, as the ReadWriteWeb article shows, for a small group of committed people to sway the crowd average. So the idea of the wisdom of the crowd should apply to information gathering, not ratings and opinions.

    Speaking of crowds, Briggs talks about how important link curation is for gathering a dedicated audience. I try in my blog to add hyperlinks to all sorts of media, although the audience that would give me feedback isn’t quite there. I use a variety of link curation search engines and sites, and they help immensely. I do, though, have a problem with the BBC’s explanation of link curation in their Pirate Bay article.

    The article asks as though Pirate Bay links the user to another website where they can download a BitTorrent file, but anyone who has used Pirate Bay (or any file-sharing site) knows that the website contains a direct download of the torrent file itself. Pirate Bay shares connections, not necessarily links.

    I was also confused about how upset the companies in the David G. Post article got. They were acting as though the advertising revenue that TotalNews and Microsoft got was directly taking revenue away from those sites, but I don’t see how. Sure, TotalNews kept its ad frame in place after link you to a news site, but I doubt coding in 1997 was to the point where TotalNews could actively block the linked site’s ads and only show its own.

    So wouldn’t both sites get their own, separate ad revenue? How can those news sites actually lose ad revenue from that system? I’m actually really curious about it, because it really doesn’t make sense to me. Please let me know if you have a better answer.

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