Government surveillance

Many counties keep watching on people under the name of ” ensure social safety”. However, is it a price too high to do so?  Is it really necessary that we need such a surveillance to guarantee our safety?

1) Your address book is the NSA’s address book 

According to the Washington Post, NSA has been collecting millions of email and chat contact lists around the world (West 2013). Although the spokesman claimed that they would not invade ordinary people’s information around untied states, people still feel insecure and worried about such a watching. Surveillance just like an intangible hand makes people feel extremely uncomfortable. Even if the government emphasis this surveillance would not influence average people’s lives, no one can deny the line between public and private surveillance has become more and more blurring. For most of the people, installing monitors in the shopping mall is acceptable, but if you find a monitor in the fitting room, you must feel panic. I bet most of the people believe chat contact lists belong to the area of “fitting room” instead of the public mall. For a long-term, people will generate a sense of uncertainty and untrust towards the government, which decreases country’s cohesion. What’s more, thanks to government surveillance,  the gap between watcher and watched gradually widened. Richards details that such disparity creates a series of consequences such as ” discrimination, coercion, and the threat of selective enforcement”. (Richards 2013, p. 1945).  As the watcher accumulate more and more information by watching, they will definitely transfer this source into political discourse, which turns out a huge gap between the government and the watched.  

2) The United States is hacking China

It was also revealed through Snowden’s leak that NSA has hacked China mainland and Hongkong computers. When this news came out in CCTV( China Central Television), many Chinese shocked. Just like West said, Snowden’s statement deteriorates the relationship between China and US over hacking.

Richards explains this behavior in a more specific way.  “Most forms of surveillance seek some form of subtler influence or control over others” (Richards, 2013, p. 1952-1953). It reminds me the Cold War period, by spying on the other countries the government collected information and gained more power.  Today, Cold War ends, but the contest still exists. The goal of this spying behavior is to guarantee the government able to be one step ahead of any move made by other counties. However, this type of upper hand can lead to blackmail, discrimination and finally caused distrust between two countries.




Crowdsourcing- Waze

When it comes to crowdsourcing, a popular application popped into my mind- Waze. To be honest, I use Waze to replace Google map most of the time, because it navigates home faster. Waze use collective intelligence to create a real-time traffic navigation community. Users report accidents, traffic jams, speed and police traps in this app. So in a word, people use collective formation to find a better route in time as well as avoid unnecessary troubles. I still remembered that I use Waze to save me a lot of time by seeing these updates and avoid specific areas during Irma hurricane.

inrix-pr-waze-global-parking-data.jpgThere are a lot of similarity between Waze and emergency reporting cases. First, they have the similar goal and structure. The goal of  Waze is straightforward: find an optimal route for you. People engage in updating information and benefit from it at the same time. It is a win-win process.  Emergency reporting cases also use similar virtuous mode to encourage more and more users to join in. Second, both two kinds of apps rely more on human sense perception (Asmolov, 2015, p.161), for example,” I smell a fire” or ” I see an accident”. To some extent, it is not so accurate. One time, when I was driving, Waze told me there was a severe accident ahead. But it had proven to be a mistake report.

However, the motivation between Waze and Next Stop Design is different.  Deci and Ryan (1985) differentiate between intrinsic and extrinsic motivators in their Self-Determination Theory (SDT). Intrinsic motivation refers to an inherent satisfaction. Waze’s users report accidents without any paid, just want to make the commute easier. People simply motivated by themselves rather than peer-recognized or other extrinsic motivation. Compared to Waze’s users, Next Stop Design is motivated by a variety of factors, both intrinsic and extrinsic motivations, as well as rational, norm-based, and affective motivators, including the opportunity for career advancement.  (Brabham, 2012, p. 316)




Mobile Internet

Both Wijetunga(2014) and Wasserman(2011)’ articles mentioned how people in two different area access internet by using mobile phones and the unequal use of mobile Internet. However, these two studies focus on the different aspects.

In Wijetunga study, he talks about the notion of the digital divide, primarily focusing on the disparities between the privileged and the underprivileged in Sri Lanka. He indicates that the gap of adoption in mobile phones may be closing, but the gap of the quality of its use is still huge, in terms of features functions.  To the privileged youth, internet browsing is a habit, so using the mobile phone to them is a familiar activity rather than a new pattern of behavior. On the contrast, to the underprivileged users, the range of communication options in the mobile phone is limited due to the lack of language skills and unfamiliar with the computer.

Baird & Hartter’s study of the Maasai indicates how mobile phone change herders live in indirect and direct ways. Mobile phones have permeated in local people’s activities in respect to market transactions,  weather forecast, and livestock management. But digital divide still exists in Maasai. To some elder people with low-level literacy, it a hard thing for them to use phones beyond just calling and truly embrace mobile phones.

If given a chance to design a study, I want to focus on mobile gaming.  Mobile gaming industry is rising in China now. And I am a big fan of King of Glory, which is a smash hit game among youth.  It was reported that the game had over 80 million daily active players and it becomes the most profitable games in the world. With the advent of mobile phones, traditional video games empire has fallen apart. Without less location and time limitation, people are inclined to use mobile phones rather than computers to play video games. The study aims to answer two research questions:

1:  How do mobile games change youths gaming habits in China?

2:  How do multiplayer online mobile games change Chinese youth’s social interactions behavior in the real world.

The sample population would be the students who are in the high school and university.  I choose them as my sample population because they are also the target audience of the most mobile gaming in China. Considering the gap of living condition between rural and city in China,  I will pick up Shanghai and Beijing, top two cities in China, as my sample country.

I think this study is really meaningful. King of Glory is just an epitome of Chinese powerful mobile gaming industry. Mobile games not only change the picture of economics but also change people’s behavior unconsciously. For example, youth use more fragmental time to play games, such as using the time of waiting for a bus or a class short break to play games. Because of the convenience of the mobile gaming, youth are more likely to addict to mobile games. What’s more, base on my observation, many youths in China gradually consider the mobile games as a tool to socialize in the real world. I saw many teenagers in this summer stayed together and played online mobile games in some Chinese’s coffee shop. This new type of socialization is the product of online mobile phones which needs people to pay attention. 


Chinese Martial Arts Movie Remix

Martial arts films from China are often referred to as “kung fu movies“, which is an important genre in the Chinese movie history. Many martial arts have an underlying philosophy and basis of peace, which I really appreciate.  So I remixed many classic Kung fu movies to show the beauty of it. In the first half part of this video, I used aggressive pace to show the intense and violent of Chinese martial arts films. And in the second half of this video, I choose some scenes that show the peaceful of this type of film.

Digital outlaws

“Hacker and hacktivists” has been mentioned several times in Johan Söderberg’s article. Before I read this academic paper, I often mixed ” hacker” and “hacktivists”.  According to Söderberg’s explanation, hacker referred to a behavior of breaking into other’s computers. Hacktivists, a relatively new term, is usually referred as a form of protest through hacking behavior. Those hackers who have politically or socially motivated purpose can be defined as hacktivists. In a nutshell, hacktivists are hackers, but not all hackers are hacktivists.

I used to associate all hacking behaviors with criminal things until I found some organizations hired hackers to probe their own company system to make recommendations to improve security. So hacking just like a two-edged sword, you can utilize it to for a malicious purpose or just consider it as a technology to do legal thing. But it is hard to take hacktivist into either legal or illegal category, since the purpose of hacktivist is the political, not profit.

John talked about ‘‘tragedy of the commons” by Garrett Hardin (2013). Hardin imagined an open pasture where everyone could bring their animals to it and eventually overuse the commons.  The term has gradually evolved to many meanings of varying subjects,.  Many researchers use this term as a metaphor to discuss environmental issues. But I think the idea of “tragedy of the commons” can also be applied to the network world. Like overgrazing in an open pasture or overfishing in a public sea, the digital place is also continually over exploited recently. Just like John takes public kitchen as an example, “everyone remains whole, despite being shared” (p. 200).  The virtual world can be seen as a shared kitchen, many people bring their own goods to this public place or take seasoner from there regardless it does not only belong to yourself.

This theory maybe can explain some reasons why pricy is so prevalent in many countries.  Before 2015, a majority music websites or apps didn’t charge users until relative laws of protecting copyright published. To most people, they were used to listening to music for free. I guess they thought” If everybody in this country is getting music via file sharing, so why I need to purchase them? ” If we consider the whole internet as a pasture, as long as one of their friends get his or her music for free (other farmers bring animals), they would not like to pay for it, since it seems unfair to them.

Ostrom has a more positive view of this situation, he believes that people can find ways of regulating themselves and agreeing on their common rule. From my perspective, to solve piracy issues, we should not only depend on self-regulation, since as human being we have our human weakness. What we need is strict laws and statute.


Viral Online Media

When society enters into the social media era, everyone becomes a reporter. People hope their video, content or post could go viral online and capture audience’s attention. But the standard of what content is more likely to go viral is constantly changing.  In the past, people in China are more likely to share big issues, such as social news, startling entertainment news or something specifically related to them. However, there is a trend that many trivial things go viral and are highly shared by people in recent years.  In 2016, an advice of China’s richest man goes viral. This is a typical example of how a snowflake becomes a big snowball.


This event originated from a formal interview to Wang Jianlin who is a businessman in China. The host asked Wang Jianlin, one of the richest people in China, to talk about his former business experience.  When he talked about the early days of launching his business,  he said, “You shouldn’t be that ambitious. Set a small target first, like earning 100 million yuan ($15million).”  When this video was put online,  this sentence sparked heated discussion. People think 100 million yuan is a small case for Wang Jianlin, but for most people, this goal is too unreachable. So people consider this sentence as a joke, which triggers people to rewrite similar sentences with a humorous tone.  For example, some students wrote sentences like, “Set a small target first, I will study at Harvard in the future.”   Many single men poked fun at themselves said,” Set a small target first, I will marry Fan Bingbing” ( who is considered the most famous and beautiful actress in China).

We can tie the results of this case to many points that were discussed in the readings of this week. First, just like BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti said: ” humor is inherently social”(2013). Humor brings people closer each day.  And this case also confirmed what Berger and Milkman mentioned in his article that positive stories, especially amusing ones tend to get shared more  (p. 200). Second, the affective evaluation which Alhabash & McAlister (2015) regard as a component of virality is evident in the case. Many people like, share, retweet this sentence and video. But one thing both essays are missing is they ignore the importance of the participatory aspect of the online user. Without people’s participation in rewriting sentences, Wang Jianlin’s original sentence would not go viral to such a degree. And two-way interaction would be the trend in the future,  since people are no longer content with only retweet or share posts without adding their own ideas.

What’s more, the definition of engagement in Saleem Alhabash’s article is limited. She only focuses on how people access to a hot topic, people’s “like” or retweet behaviors, but the part how people truly get involve into this topic is missing.  When we look back to this case, we found people’s creative comments are the protagonist of this “play”, not the Wang Jianlin’s interview itself. 



If I have to explain algorithms to a 9-year-old boy, I would like to use how children build their own pizza in Blaze as an example. To build a satisfying pizza, you should follow a guidance step by step. First, you should choose your favorite sauce as a base, and then chose cheese, vegetables, finally meat. And the process you following order steps and continually closing to your goal is Algorithms. At first, countless ingredients in front of you make you overwhelmed, but as the algorithm becomes to work, it narrows your choices. Finally, you will get a satisfying result ( a delicious pizza).


I am an avid user of Airbnb, which is an online service, enabling people to rent short-term lodging. Every time I go to a new city, I am given hundreds of houses that they think I may be interested in. Algorithms determine how my listing appears in search results. The sequence of houses appears on user’s page never random. House’s quality, trip experience, ease of booking,  price, host credit degree and guest preferences are all the factors that influence the rank of lists. Algorithms automatically will put some houses that they consider good on the top for you. What’s more, you can control over many factors in this app, such as price, number of beds you need, location. Airbnb helps you to filter and sort the most matchable houses. Because of algorithms, I save a lot of time just focusing on the houses which suit my taste.


In the Crawford article, various scenes were discussed to show how algorithms affect real life. Scene 2 is the one which resonates me most. Amazon is a very user-friendly website. I use it to buy everything from shoes to bookshelves. Sometimes the recommendation list of Amazon is really smart and saves my time. Last month  I wanted to buy a camera. After I put a camera into my chart, a lot of relative accessories popped on my page. Presumably, these are things that other people who bought my item also liked or bought. To be honest, it really helps me, since I have no idea about how to choose camera accessories. Algorithms at that time just like an old friend who keeps giving me advice with patience. But things go differently when I choose something that I am very familiar with.  For example, when I buy some makeup. Because I have a clear goal, so that recommendation seems more disturbing rather than useful for me. Besides, the information that algorithms give to us is limited. Amazon would not tell you why users love to purchase two items together or did the person like both of them? From my perspective, algorithms are not perfect, but they are struggling to be perfect.

Privacy online

I hate to admit that our generation tends to underestimate the danger of privacy disclosure.I bet most people never read privacy policy when they download a new application or set up a new account. The policy page is too lengthy and people are eager to see what the colorful content hiding for them.   

I am a heavy user of Booking, since it is a really popular and convenient travel application. I use it to book hotels and find landmarks in different countries. Here is Booking’s privacy policy. The most worrying thing among privacy disclosure for me is financial insecurity.  Unlike video website or some social media, this type of website has the strong relation to your financial security. Besides some basic contact information, users inevitably need to provide their payment information and the names of anybody traveling with you to the Booking. It makes sense that without that information, you can not complete a reservation online. But few of us concerned about the dangers behind this self-disclosure.

The content of how does Booking share users data with third parties makes me astonishing. Users data are not only shared to accommodations we booked, but also send to local Booking office, third-party service providers, payment providers, other financial institutions and even business partners.  I can’t imagine my own personal information will be exposed to such a big scale. Who gives Booking business partner right to use our information for their own internal purposes, such as analytical purpose.  Same as what Christian Fuchs said in his article that “capitalist prosumption is an extreme form of exploitation, in which the prosumers work completely for free” (Fuchs, 2012, p.145). I also noticed that Booking business partner use our information to customize advertising for us. Sometimes it is really annoying when advertisings pop out on your smartphone screen. Especially in Email, I keep saying “unsubscribe, and they continue to send me emails.

Due to Teddicken’s article,  he deduced that there is a positive correlation between self-disclosure behavior and social relevance of the applications (2014, p.252).  I totally agree with this statement. Take Booking as an example again, I am a loyal user of this web. So I would like to share my thoughts and feeling in the commentary section on Booking, which self-disclose more intimate information.

Just as what Gary Kovacs said, there are so many websites tracking me without our consent. It shouldn’t be the price we accept for just getting on the internet. But both articles don’t give us a specific solution to solve this solution.Teddicken said, “users usually do not allow their privacy concerns to influence their online behavior (2014, p.251).” Indeed, even though I carefully read this policy statement now and I feel worried, I will still use this website to book hotels. 

Just a week ago, Microblog in China updated the privacy policy and the real name policy. If you don’t provide your ID and agree to some related statement, you can not publish your new blog and comment others. So in this case, with anger and helpless, you have no choice except accept it and click “agree” button.