Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report


AllThingsD: For the second year in a row, Mary Meeker is unveiling her now famed Internet Trends report at the D11 Conference.

Meeker, the Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner, highlights growth of Internet usage and other activities on mobile devices and updates that now infamous gap between mobile internet usage and mobile monetization.
But there are many new additions. Among them are the rise of wearable tech as perhaps the next big tech cycle of the coming decade and a look at how Americans’ online sharing habits compare to the rest of the world.
Here’s Meeker’s full presentation:

KPCB Internet Trends 2013 from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

An Ethnographic Approach to Impact Evaluation: Stop Measuring Outputs, Start Understanding Experiences


Panthea Lee, a principal at Reboot, in TechPresident: “Is open government working? I asked the question in a previous post …Too often, assessing the impact of open government initiatives amounts to measuring outputs: how many developers flocked to a civic tech hackathon; the amount of procurement records feeding corruption hawks and socially-minded graphic designers; or the number of tweets or media mentions about a particular initiative, regardless of whether they are from the same industry blogs and actors covering open government.
Quantitative metrics have their place. They may be useful for gauging the popularity of an initiative. They are almost always used to justify funding for an initiative. But, ultimately, these studies say very little about open government’s actual impact on people….We need to move beyond measuring outputs and toward understanding experiences….
Applied ethnography holds great potential for understanding how individuals experience open government initiatives. Ethnography––“a portrait of people”––is the study of people within their social and cultural contexts. It embraces context, examining how results can be explained by human factors and situational interactions. Ethnography allows us to understand the meaning of participation for different individuals––who is affected or not, and why. (Ethnographic research is often mistakenly equated with “interview studies” or other types of qualitative research. An immersive research approach, it uses techniques such as participant observation, unstructured interviews, and artifact collection to attempt a holistic analysis of human behaviours, interactions, and perceptions over time.)
Take, for example, this ethnographic study of a participatory budgeting initiative in Rome. The study found that through engagement with the participatory budgeting process, some participants “discovered a passion for politics,” leading them to join neighborhood associations and local political parties. Other participants, however, left the budgeting process feeling more cynical about and disengaged from participatory democracy.”

The Internet as Politicizing Instrument


New Issue of Transformations (Editorial): “This issue of Transformations presents essays responding to Marcus Breen’s recent book Uprising: The Internet’s Unintended Consequences. Breen asks whether the Internet can become a politicising instrument for the new online proletariat – the individualised users isolated by the monitor screen. He asks “if the proletariat can use the Internet, is it freed from the moral and social constraints of the past that were imposed by conventional media and its regulation of the public space?” (32) This question raises further issues. Does this freedom translate into an emancipatory politics where the proletariat is able to pursue its own ends, or does it simply reproduce the power relation between the user-subject and the Internet and those who control and manage it. The articles in this issue respond in various ways to these questions.
Marcus Breen’s own article “The Internet and Privatism: Reconstructing the Monitor Space” makes a case for privatism – the restriction of subjective life to isolated or privatised experience, especially in relation to the computer monitor – as the new modality of meaning making in the Internet era. Using approaches associated with cultural and media studies, the paper traces the way the Internet has influenced the shift in the culture towards values associated with the confluence of ideas around the private, best described by privatism.
Fidele Vlavo’s article investigates the central discourses that have constructed the internet as a democratic and public environment removed from state and corporate control. The aim is to call attention to the issues that have limited the development of the internet as a tool for socio-political empowerment. The paper first retraces the early discursive constructions that insist on representing the internet as a decentralised and open structure. It also questions the role played by the digerati (or cyber elite) in the formulation of contradictory demands for public interests, self-governance, and entrepreneurial rights. Finally, it examines the emergence of two early virtual communities and their attempts to facilitate free speech and self-regulation. In the context of activists advocating freedom of expression and government institutions re-organizing legislation to control the Internet, the examination of these discourses provides a useful starting point for the (re)assessment of the potential of direct online mobilization.
Emit Snake-Being’s article examines the limits of the Internet as a politicising instrument by showing how Internet users are subject to the controls of the search engine algorithm, managed by elite groups whose purpose is to reproduce themselves in terms of neo-liberal capitalism. Invoking recent political events in the Middle East and in London in which a wired proletariat sought to resist and overturn political authorities through Internet communication, Snake-Beings argues that such events are compromised by the fact that they owe their possibility to Internet providers and their commercial imperatives. Snake-Being’s article, as well as most of the other articles in this issue, offers a timely reminder not only of the possibilities, but of the limits of the Internet as a politicising instrument for progressive, emancipatory politics.
Frances Shaw’s paper concerns the way in which the logic of surveillance operates in contested sites in cities where live coverage of demonstrations against capitalism leads to confrontation between demonstrators and police. Through a detailed account of the “Occupy Sydney” demonstration in 2011, Shaw shows how both demonstrators and police engaged in tactics of surveillance and resistance to counter each other’s power and authority. In an age of instant communication and global surveillance, freedom of movement and freedom from surveillance in public spaces is drawn into the logics of power mediated by mobile ‘phones and computer based communication technology.
Karyl Ketchum’s paper offers detailed analysis of two Internet sites to show how the proletarianisation of the Internet is gendered in terms of male interests. Picking up on Breen’s argument that Internet proletarianisation leads to an open system that “supports both anything and anyone,” she argues that, in the domain of online pornography, this new-found freedom turns out to be “the power of computer analytics to harness and hone the shifting meanings of white Western Enlightenment masculinities in new globalising postcolonial contexts, economies and geopolitical struggles.” Furthermore, Ketchum shows how this default to male interests was also at work in American reporting of the Arab Spring revolutions in Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries. The YouTube video posted by a young Egyptian woman, Asmaa Mahfouz, which sparked the revolution in Egypt that eventually overthrew the Mubarak government, was not given due coverage by the Western media, so that “women like Mahfouz all but disappear from Western accounts of the Arab Spring.”
Liden and Giritli Nygren’s paper addresses the challenges to the theories of the political sphere posed by a digital society. It is suggested that this is most evident at the intersection between understandings of technology, performativities, and politics that combines empirical closeness with abstract understandings of socio-political and cultural contexts. The paper exemplifies this by reporting on a study of online citizen dialogue in the making, in this case concerning school planning in a Swedish municipality. Applying these theoretical perspectives to this case provides some key findings. The technological design is regarded as restricting the potential dialogue, as is outlined in different themes where the participants enact varying positions—taxpayers, citizen consumers, or local residents. The political analysis stresses a dialogue that lacks both polemic and public perspectives, and rather is characterized by the expression of different special interests. Together, these perspectives can provide the foundation for the development of applying theories in a digital society.
The Internet and Privatism: Reconstructing the Monitor Space (Marcus Breen)
The Digital Hysterias of Decentralisation, Entrepreneurship and Open Community (Fidele Vlavo)
From Ideology to Algorithm: the Opaque Politics of the Internet (Emit Snake-Beings)
“Walls of Seeing”: Protest Surveillance, Embodied Boundaries, and Counter-Surveillance at Occupy Sydney (Frances Shaw)
Gendered Uprisings: Desire, Revolution, and the Internet’s “Unintended Consequences”(Karyl E. Ketchum)
Analysing the Intersections between Technology, Performativity, and Politics: the Case of Local Citizen Dialogue (Gustav Lidén and Katarina Giritli Nygren)”

The Art of Data Visualization (video)


PBS Off Book: “Humans have a powerful capacity to process visual information, skills that date far back in our evolutionary lineage. And since the advent of science, we have employed intricate visual strategies to communicate data, often utilizing design principles that draw on these basic cognitive skills. In a modern world where we have far more data than we can process, the practice of data visualization has gained even more importance. From scientific visualization to pop infographics, designers are increasingly tasked with incorporating data into the media experience. Data has emerged as such a critical part of modern life that it has entered into the realm of art, where data-driven visual experiences challenge viewers to find personal meaning from a sea of information, a task that is increasingly present in every aspect of our information-infused lives.”

Mapping the global Twitter heartbeat: The geography of Twitter


A new paper by Kalev Leetaru, Shaowen Wang, Guofeng Cao, Anand Padmanabhan, Eric Shook in First Monday: “In just under seven years, Twitter has grown to count nearly 3% of the entire global population among its active users who have sent more than 170 billion 140-character messages. Today the service plays such a significant role in American culture that the Library of Congress has assembled a permanent archive of the site back to its first tweet, updated daily. With its open API, Twitter has become one of the most popular data sources for social research, yet the majority of the literature has focused on it as a text or network graph source, with only limited efforts to date focusing exclusively on the geography of Twitter, assessing the various sources of geographic information on the service and their accuracy. More than 3% of all tweets are found to have native location information available, while a naive geocoder based on a simple major cities gazetteer and relying on the user-provided Location and Profile fields is able to geolocate more than a third of all tweets with high accuracy when measured against the GPS-based baseline. Geographic proximity is found to play a minimal role both in who users communicate with and what they communicate about, providing evidence that social media is shifting the communicative landscape.”

The Informed Brain in a Digital World


Description of new report from the National Academies: “Digital media provide humans with more access to information than ever before—a computer, tablet, or smartphone can all be used to access data online and users frequently have more than one device. However, as humans continue to venture into the digital frontier, it remains to be known whether access to seemingly unlimited information is actually helping us learn and solve complex problems, or ultimately creating more difficulty and confusion for individuals and societies by offering content overload that is not always meaningful.
Throughout history, technology has changed the way humans interact with the world. Improvements in tools, language, industrial machines, and now digital information technology have shaped our minds and societies. There has always been access to more information than humans can handle, but the difference now lies in the ubiquity of the Internet and digital technology, and the incredible speed with which anyone with a computer can access and participate in seemingly infinite information exchange. Humans now live in a world where mobile digital technology is everywhere, from the classroom and the doctor’s office to public transportation and even the dinner table. This paradigm shift in technology comes with tremendous benefits and risks. Interdisciplinary Research (IDR) Teams at the 2012 National Academies Keck Futures Initiative Conference on The Informed Brain in the Digital World explored common rewards and dangers to Humans among various fields that are being greatly impacted by the Internet and the rapid evolution of digital technology.”
 

Social media, personality traits and civic engagement


New Paper on “Influence of Social Media Use on Discussion Network Heterogeneity and Civic Engagement: The Moderating Role of Personality Traits” in Journal of Communication: “Using original national survey data, we examine how social media use affects individuals’ discussion network heterogeneity and their level of civic engagement. We also investigate the moderating role of personality traits (i.e., extraversion and openness to experiences) in this association. Results support the notion that use of social media contributes to heterogeneity of discussion networks and activities in civic life. More importantly, personality traits such as extraversion and openness to experiences were found to moderate the influence of social media on discussion network heterogeneity and civic participation, indicating that the contributing role of social media in increasing network heterogeneity and civic engagement is greater for introverted and less open individuals.”

Mobile Phone Data Proves Humans Are Predictable During Chaos


Ciara Byrne in FastCompany: “Research presented by Linus Bengsston’s Flowminder Foundation to the recent Netmob 2013 held at MIT’s Media Lab showed that our movements after conflicts and disasters are highly predictable. Analysis of mobile phone data from the 2011 civil war in Cote D’Ivoire (CIV), showed that population movements were up to 88% predictable, an accuracy that was consistent with data collected after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. In fact, we become more, rather than less, predictable in crises.”

Social networks as evolutionary game theory


in the Financial Times: “FT Alphaville has been taking a closer look at the collaborative economy, and noting the stellar growth this mysterious sector has been experiencing of late.
An important question to consider, however, is to what degree is this growth being driven by a genuine rise in reciprocity and altruism in the economy — or to what degree is this just the result of natural opportunism…
Which begs the question why should anyone put a free good out there for the taking anyway? And why is it that in most collaborative models there are very few examples of people abusing the system?
With respects to the free issue, internet pioneer Jaron Lanier believes this is because there isn’t really any such thing as free at all. What appears free is usually a veiled reciprocity or exploitation in disguise….
Lanier controversially believes users should be paid for that contribution. But in doing so we would argue that he forgets that the relationship Facebook has with its users is in fact much more reciprocal than exploitative. Users get a free platform, Facebook gets their data.
What’s more, as the BBC’s tech expert Bill Thompson has commented before, user content doesn’t really have much value on its own. It is only when that data is pooled together on a massive scale which allows the economies of scale to make sense. At least in a way that “the system” feels keen to reward. It is not independent data that has value, it is networked data that the system is demanding. Consequently, there is possibly some form of social benefit associated with contributing data to the platform, which is yet to be recognised….
A rise in collaboration, however, suggests there is more chance of personal survival if everyone collaborates together (and does not cheat the system). There is less incentive to cheat the system. In the current human economy context then, has collaboration ended up being the best pay-off for all ?
And in that context has social media, big data and the rise of networked communities simply encouraged participants in the universal survival game of prisoner’s dilemma to take the option that’s best for all?
We obviously have no idea if that’s the case, but it seems a useful thought experiment for us all to run through.”
 

Is Social Media Changing How We Understand Political Engagement?


New Paper (By Juliet E. Carlisle and Robert C. Patton) analyzing Facebook and the 2008 Presidential Election in Political Research Quaterly: “This research conceptualizes political engagement in Facebook and examines the political activity of Facebook users during the 2008 presidential primary (T1) and general election (T2). Using a resource model, we test whether factors helpful in understanding offline political participation also explain political participation in Facebook. We consider resources (socioeconomic status [SES]) and political interest and also test whether network size works to increase political activity. We find that individual political activity in Facebook is not as extensive as popular accounts suggest. Moreover, the predictors associated with the resource model and Putnam’s theory of social capital do not hold true in Facebook.”