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Monday, April 18, 2011

Assignment #7:Rules, shmules

For this assignment I studied Above the Law. Above the Law is a legal tabloid. The site is run by lawyers (and former lawyers) for the enjoyment of other lawyers, wannabe lawyers, and former lawyers.

This community is completely self aware as per the Gazan article. The commenters not only remark on the posts, the interact with and question each other ad infinitum.

I figure for this assignment I should find a lawyer-y site; as attorneys will probably be more likely to follow the rules....NOT.

Here are the terms of service.

Here is the privacy statement.

I did not have to look too hard to find examples of rule breaking. The post I chose was about a Federal District court judge who granted defendant's council a short continuence, as one of the defendant's attorneys' wife was expecting to deliver their first child during trial. Basically, the lawyer wanted to postpone the trail date a couple of weeks until his wife had the baby.

I found way more than 3 examples of rule breaking.

First here are the rules:

Side note - you can't see the comments until you click on this:

I like the "for your protection" part, it's like when you check into seedy motels in Podunk towns and the toilets have that the paper band around the seat that says "Sanitized for your protection."

Most of the rule violations fall under the likely to "cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety or be likely to upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person" variety.

Here are some examples that would fall in to the above category:

This one is interesting because the insults are directed at the writer:

Same with this one:

Here is how the writer responds:

When I first read through the posts I thought to myself "someone should enforce the rules."

However the writer just goes with it and responds.

In the terms of use, methods of enforcement and termination are enumerated:

But after I spent some time on the site reading other posts and comments, I realized this is just the vibe of the community. Most folks are kinda snakry and sarcastic with a hint of meanness and self loathing (insert lawyer joke here).

Below are some examples from another post. This post/comments are about a 1L (first year law student), at the bottom of his class, attending a top 10 school. The 1L is indifferent towards law school, but his parents are paying for it (so no student loan debt). He wonders whether or not he should stay and finish.



Super Mean + a flagged comment:

Writer response - note the use of the F-word:

So it seems like even the writers and people in charge don't follow the rules. It is like a community of rogue users, especially with all the abusive comments (Gazan).

Here are the 5 unwritten rule I came up with:

1. Thou shall be funny.
2. Thou shall not take thyself too seriously.
3. Thou shall disguise racist tendencies in a cloak of self-loathing. (please see above screen shot of by Coincidence, mentioning the AA admit and gay Filipino).
4. Thou shall share thy honest opinion.
5. Thou shall be tolerant of douche bags, for eventually the most prolific contributers will wear this label.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Assignment #6: Interaction and Identity - PART 2

How is online identity shaped and expressed through interactions in this community?

In the proposed Internet Safety Online Community, online identity is shaped differently depending on the role of the participant. For the expert writing in their respective field, their Bios will shape identity, and inform the participants of their qualifications and experience. Also, the links they may share to other works will also help shape the experts identity. The experts will also interact with the participants who comment on their blogs, or ask them specific questions.

As for the individual participants commenting on the expert blogs, or asking questions of the experts, the identity issue is a little more complicated. Because there may be sensitive issues or topics discussed, a degree of anonymity is useful.

Also, because of the nature of this community and the importance of creating a safe place for participants (mainly K-12 students) to discuss topics relating to internet safety (predators, bullying etc...) all comments will be moderated.

Ideally the moderating will be done by the expert to whom the comment/question is addressed.

Sunny Day:

A 6th grade student feels she is being bullied online, she wants to know what she should do.
She posts an ambiguous sounding question on the Middle School Teacher's blog. The expert Middle School teacher suspects that the student is being bullied, referrers her to the appropriate people, and explains some coping and empowerment tools/skills she may utilize while the situation is being resolved.

Rainy Day:

Same situation, except the Middle School expert fails to address the underlying bullying issue. The student then feels isolated and let down. The student no longer visits the site.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Assignment #6: Interaction and Identity

For this assignment I have 3 goals:
1. Update y'all on how the SUMMER OF THE SHARK shoot went. Specifically, I want to share results from the online casting
2. Share my ideas for the design of the online community dealing with internet safety and children
3. Discuss the Hawaii Actors Network casting experience and design ideas for the internet safety community in relation to the readings

We had four beautiful days of shooting. In that time we shot 12 re-enactments; I cast 23 featured roles, over a dozen extras, and a handful of "people on the beach." Of the featured roles 8 were from HAN, 6 were classmates/friends, 5 were actors I regularly work with, 2 were referrals from friends, and 2 were from an "actors showcase" I attended (these are put on by actors and/or acting coaches for casting directors/producers/directors to showcase talent). Of the extras, 3 were from HAN, the rest were friends or referrals from friends.

Of course, all the actors I regularly worked with did AWESOME! That is why they are my "go to" talent. Also, the referrals and friends/classmates all did well. Most of the HAN actors did fine. But there were a couple of issues.

1. Exaggerated skills.

In the Donath article, Signals in Social Supernets, the author states, "Trust is belief that the other is trustworthy." I think perhaps I was too trusting of the actors. I truly trusted that then someone says they surf, they surf. It's not like we were shooting on the North Shore in the winter. We were shooting at baby Makapu'u (cockroach cove)on a small and gentle day. I had one actor who during the telephone interview stated emphatically and unequivocally that he was a surfer; he even sounded a tad bit annoyed that I was asking so many questions. He says, "I have been surfing for 34 years." So guess what, once out in the water, we shot for 2 hours and this actor could not even get up on a single wave. He could not even stand up once on the board.

Interestingly, the referrals from friends, who were very humble about their skills, even questioning if they were good enough to be out there were the BEST ones. They caught countless waves during that two hour stretch and they were graceful and natural.

Donath talks about "Assessment signals" vs. "Conventional signals." In the above example I trusted the actor's conventional signals, when perhaps an assessment signal would have clued me in real quick that this guy was a squid. However, I did not have a surf/beach casting in the budget. I guess one not so great extra is really not so bad considering most everyone else from HAN was good.

2. Deceptive Pictures

I thought I took care of this when I asked all the folks who made the first cut to email me a recent snapshot. I know all to well that done up, photoshopped, professional headshots sometimes do not reflect an actor's real look.

There were 2 HAN actors who showed up to set quite a bit heavier than their pictures.

Perhaps my experience described in the 2 issues above can be partly explained in terms of weak ties vs. strong ties, as per the Donath article, "Weak ties are more distant acquaintances, people known in a specific context and towards whom one feels less responsibility."

Maybe because the actor felt that our ties were weak, they did not feel as "responsible" as the referrals from friends who had strong ties to their real life friends who made the introductions.

Using What I Learned From The Casting Experience And The Readings To Design An Online Community

After reading the Liu article, I decided that the Internet Safety Online Community I am designing for my final project is not about "taste statements." The Internet Safety Online Community is focused on education and support. Trust also plays a huge role in this site.

Donath states, "The combination of these types of ties arguably makes social supernets viable: The stronger ties bring reliability to the profile, and a large set of weaker ties expands the scale and scope of the network." I would like to utilize this approach when designing the OC.

As I am working through this final project, I am refining the scope of the OC.

Here is what I got so far:

Well, that's all for now.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Using Social Computing Systems To Cast A Project Vs. The Old School Way (or there is still room for dinosaurs)

Always wanting to work efficiently, I pondered how I could make this assignment work multiple tasks.

A Little Background

Before this whole school thing I made a living as a producer and casting director. I still take gigs during my school breaks to pay for my kids’ tuition (that should be the subject of another blog one day).

For spring break I decided to take a gig as the Hawaii Production Coordinator for an episode airing on the Discovery Chanel’s SharkWeek. We did the same gig last year. My husband and I work as a team. As we both have other things going on (he works in house for a different company editing/directing/graphics and I got this dual degree [JD & MLISc] plus work thing); it is easier to do these big projects tag-team.

Among other tasks, I am charged with the duty of casting. I have cast everything from student films to 30 second TV spots to million dollar movies. I have done it the old school way (notices on call boards, agency calls, open call or scheduled auditions) and sometimes I have utilized newer methods (email lists, craigslist, etc...).

Old school style:

This screenshot was found at this site. This is a very real example of what you end up with at the end of the day:

And this is what I normally look like a few hours into a casting session:

For my present casting assignment, I have to cast actors for a series of re-enactments for SharkWeek. They are all non-speaking extras; some featured, but most are non-featured.

After first exhausting the group of players I like to use all the time, whenever I can (they are reliable, good and easy to work with). I decided to cast the rest via an online community of actors.

I joined the Hawaii Actors Network.

Here is the casting notice I posted:

A Bit About Hawaii Actors Network

The site is like a mash up of Facebook/Myspace/LinkedIn community for actors.

They got status updates like Facebook:

They got groups you can join like FB:

You can post resumes and such like LinkedIn:

You can add music like Myspace:

Alert -- mean girl tangent coming up...

Honestly, when I used to do myspace, this used to annoy me to no end! This whole playing music crap when I visit your page...whatever...if I wanted to hear what kind of lame "13-year-old-girl 'I feel soooo emo so I'm gonna bring all y'all down into my quasi-passive-aggressive whine for attention' music, I turn on cable TV or the radio or call up my sister.

Sorry, my mean girl slipped out.

Anyways...back on track....

Casting Online VS Casting In Real Life

In the Dempsey article, the author states, "People connect and share themselves through ‘social objects’ (music, photos, video, links, or other shared interests) and it has been argued that successful social networks are those which form around such social objects."

The Hawaii Actors Network site is made up of users (actors) displaying all their social objects for casting directors, producers or anyone who will hire them to see.
Examples of social objects included resumes, headshots, comp cards etc.....

The Dempsey article also states "Participation in a shared communications space blurs boundaries between work, social interaction and leisure." I found this to be true in the HAN. They do meet ups:

and people ask for all kinds of help:

Getting Users Involved

To illustrate the "eight major decision points" surrounding the annotations discussed in Dr. Gazan's article, I decided to post my casting notice as a blog entry instead of posting it in the "casting call" group.

I wanted to see if people would comment. The actors did not have to comment to submit for the parts, because in the casting notice I asked interested actors to message me privately. Below, I will compare the eight points in terms of In Real Life (old school casting) and casting online.


Online: The display included an option to add comments, view comments, and view all my blogs.
IRL: All you see is the notice on the call board.

Ease of Annotation

Online: Any member can comment.
IRL: Unless you write on my casting notice (frowned upon - -kinda vandalism), there is no commenting.


Online: There is none. A member has to include name and profile information to comment.
IRL: I guess if no one sees you marking up my casting sheet, then it is anonymous.

Control of content

Online: I can delete comments, so can the owner.
IRL: I can take down my notice, so can the stage manager or other authority person.

Harvesting annotation content

Online: Easy to do
IRL: Not so much

Ease of retrieval

Online: Easy to do
IRL: Harder - got to make calls, schedule audition, wait for submissions, look through submissions

Traffic and network effects

Online: This is the best part of HAN! Within minutes I got tons of responses (over 50 responses in 30 minutes). The Leibenluft article also supports this phenomenon, "Post a semicoherent question and the responses will come within minutes, if not seconds."
IRL: Unless a class is letting out nearby, and even then, it does not even come close.

Notification and sharing

Online: Easy to notify (email, private message, wall post) easy to share
IRL: Not as easy (calls, waiting, meetings, waiting)

Measuring Success in the Community

In her article on social networks and information filtering, Kristina Lerma states, "users with active social networks are more successful in getting their stories promoted to the front page. We believe that this, coupled with the observation that top-ranked users have larger social networks, explains their success." I think this is true for my posting. All the commenting, private messaging, and friend adding made for lots of activity.

Also, I think the post was successful because, as Caroline Haythornthwaite explains in her article
"Participation can be motivated by interest in the particular endeavor." The endeavor here is probably the strongest motivator for an actor - landing an acting gig.

Here is the Leaderboard, as of last night:

Interestingly the Leaderboard is viewable by the whole community.

After reading the Geisler and Burns article I realized that a tagging function would have been good to have for this blog post. I think that the tags "SharkWeek" "Discovery Channel" and "Casting" would have drawn even more eyes to my post.


HAN makes a casting director's life easier when it comes to casting extras. If I don't need to see you "act" it is all good.

Room for the dinosaur Old School Way

But it can never replace the face to face - especially then the stakes are high (a featured speaking role).

Although you can do a video chat audition through HAN, I need to see the actors, get a feel for them, a lot of this business is run on instinct. I do not think I can go with my gut based on a video chat.

On a side note - This is my favorite part of the community - Pet Actors! Yay! BEST EVER!!!

Whatever you are looking for they got it....




And dogs (this is the pet of the month)

Monday, February 28, 2011

Assignment #4: Trust Mechanisms/Social Capital

After reading the selections on trust mechanisms/social capital I wanted to find communities that would show examples of both in action.

To make my life little easier, I went to the BLAWGS section of my bookmarks. This is where I put blogs that are law related, and were recommended (like an “[i]ndirect assessment of reputation occurs when one party relies on observations” as described in the Forming Social Networks of Trust to Incentivize Cooperation article) to me or that I came across, intending to read, but just not haven’t found the time to do so, in other words, the stuff on “the back burner”.

Alright, now it is time to stir the pots on the back burner . . .

First, I went to the LawLawLand Blog. This is a blog published by a very young looking entertainment lawyer in LA.  It looks like he gets different attorneys from his firm to write about current issues in the practice area of entertainment law.

A cursory look at the site shows that it does not get a lot of commenting, so I figure, this may not be what I am looking for in relation to this assignment.

On the author side, it seems like the individual writers garner trust by posting a picture of themselves that is clickable and links to a bio with education information and career experience. The author’s phone number and email are also displayed.

On the surface this can be seen as an action that invites the reader to think “trust me, I am an expert.” But the above examples can also be seen as the authors exhibiting social capital by telling the readers “look at all the social currency I have.” Trust or social capital - I guess it depends on how you look at it.

Before dismissing the site outright, I saw one posting that got a few comments, I read it and BINGO – it was totally about a trust mechanism as described in Establishing Trust Management in an Open Source Collaborative Information Repository: An Emergency Response Information System Case Study.

Under the definitions of different communities put forth in the Massa article, the LawLawLand blog would be categorized as a opinion site. Massa lumps opinions with activities, but for this site, it is mostly opinions, maybe a little activity stuff. For example, one author tells about her personal Justin Bieber experiences while addressing copyright issues.

The discourse between the author and the commenting contributor illustrates “that trust is subjective because every individual makes his or her own decision to trust.”

Below are a couple of screenshots of the conversation.

First the commenting contributor takes the leap, and decides to trust:

"Long story short, yes the Beliebers committed a felony, but did their actions cause any harm and if they didn't should they be illegal."

Then the author builds on that trust:

“First, thank you for reading our blog, and an even bigger thank you for taking the time to comment. We always appreciate and encourage further discussion.”

This statement is building on the trust.

Then the commenting contributor reciprocates:

Thanks for responding to my comment. I really appreciate the open discourse as I feel that is the best way to truly understand an issue.”  
This reciprocates and further builds on trust.
I think that was a pretty good example of a trust mechanism in action.  
Now on to stir the next pot on the back burner….looking for examples of social capital…
I went to the Copyrights and Campaigns blog.  This is a blog by Ben Sheffner.  It does not look as  fancy as LawLawLand but there is more a little more commenting happening with the posts.  In addition, the right side panel is full of all kinds of social capital displays:
Top 100 law blogs of 2010 -- ABA Journal
Top 100 law blogs of 2009 -- ABA Journal
"Good legal reporting ... the best; it's not even close" -- Copycense
"always-insightful" -- THR, Esq.
"Interesting and new" -- How Appealing
"Must-read" -- Wired
"Always insightful" -- Exclusive Rights
"Very strong blog...just, you know, the facts...pretty intellectually honest" -- Hitsville
"Big time copyright supporter," "support[er] of copyright insanity" -- Techdirt
"From the dark side...prolific...interesting reads...insightful commentary you can’t find other places in the blogosphere...a just plain good read...the copyright equivalent of Grand Moff Tarkin." -- Arbitrary and Fanciful
"Running dog...point man for the content cartel...pretend[er of] disinterest...ruin[er of] real peoples' lives." -- Recording Industry vs. The People
Also to further show his awesomeness and huge amounts of social capital, his credentials are listed prominently.  I guess this also establishes that he is worthy of our his social trust.
The one post I found that had several comments did not seem to have the “trust statements” described in A Survey of Trust Use and Modeling in Real Online Systems, but, there was a sense that the author was an expert rich with social capital. 
In fact here is an example of the author making use of that trust/capitol and dispensing knowledge in a decidedly professorial style:
Randy said...
Hello Ben, Could you please do me a favor and explain this in layman's terms. I thought I understood, but then I read Matthew's comment which to me says the opposite. Can Harper still claim to be an innocent infringer? Randy
Ben Sheffner said...
@Randy: The Fifth Circuit ruled that Harper cannot claim the "innocent infringer" defense because the record label plaintiffs had affixed proper notices on physical CDs embodying the works at issue. See 17 U.S.C. § 402(d) ("If a notice of copyright in the form and position specified by this section appears on the published phonorecord or phonorecords to which a defendant in a copyright infringement suit had access, then no weight shall be given to such a defendant’s interposition of a defense based on innocent infringement in mitigation of actual or statutory damages, except as provided in the last sentence of section 504."). The Supreme Court's refusal to hear the case leaves the Fifth Circuit's decision in place.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

NYT article about blogging...


I know this is outside of our "assignments," but I came across this NYT article this weekend, and it has been on my mind. The quote about a blogger not wanting to blog in the traditional sense anymore because of a "lack of readership." And, how now he twitters.

Anyways-- have a great short week, y'all!


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Assignment #3: Motivation & Participation or That's Cool and All But I really Don't Care Enough to Make the Effort to Comment

Virtual Community Attraction: Why People Hang Out Online
explains that people “hang out” on line for four reasons: 1) Information; 2) Social Support; 3); Friendship and 4) Recreation. I agree with this statement. In fact, I can give examples from my own experiences with SNS that fit into those categories.

1. I hang out at many places for Information (CNN, NPR, Hawaii News Now);
2. For Social Support (The Happiness Project , The People’s Therapist);
3. For Friendship (Facebook)
4. For Recreation (I hang out at lots of these places, but my favorites are Above The Law, NPR books, and Copporette).

The authors, referencing two earlier articles (Furlong, 1989; S. G. Jones, 1995; Wellman et al., 1996), state that, “The most frequently cited reason [for joining a virtual community] in the literature is to access information.” I agree. That is why I chose to join THR. I am currently completing at externship at a law firm, working under an attorney specializing in Intellectual Property and Entertainment Law. I want to learn as much as I can about the current cases, research and litigation trends in the field.

In the article, Using Social Psychology to Motivate Contributions to Online Communities the authors give a thorough explanation of studies and experiments using social psychology theories to explain and manipulate contributions to online communities. The authors posit that people will not contribute if they feel like their “contributions have little likelihood of influencing the group.” I agree with this, somewhat. I see the point, but I am not sure most participants really care about “influencing the group.” That would put the conversation in the area of debate or persuasive conversation. Perhaps for some groups like political communities , or legal communities this may be true. In fact, as I will explain later, most of the comments in the community I followed were of this nature. THR, Esq. focuses on issues in Entertainment Law. But I think the majority of people on many mainstream sites are not there to debate or persuade.

The authors state that people will contribute to the online conversations if: 1)they feel like they are unique and their comments are unique and not redundant; 2)there is a goal; 3) there is a perceived benefit (personal or group, direct or indirect) or 4) they feel that they are helping a group they value.

Why We Twitter: Understanding Microblogging Usage and Communities defines and explains microblogging and specifically Twitter. The authors state, “Such networks were found to have a high degree correlation and reciprocity, indicating close mutual acquaintances among users.” I do not agree with this statement, (see my previous blog entry about my experiences with Twitter). I did not experience any reciprocity even with my “close mutual aquaintances.” However, I do agree with the following statement, “New Twitter users often initially join the network on invitation from friends. Further, new friends are added to the network by browsing through user proļ¬les and adding other known acquaintances.” I joined Twitter after my husband joined and I collected my first followers and people I follow from searching through my hubby’s followers. I also agree with “Most posts on Twitter talk about daily routine or what people are currently doing. This is the largest and most common user of Twitter.” This is mostly how I use Twitter, and I find that I read my friends tweets just to see what they are up to today.

Finally I want to discuss Examining Social Media Usage: Technology Clusters and Social Network Site Membership
in relation the to the second part of this assignment.

The online community I observed was
THR, Esq. The Intersection of Hollywood and Law.

I figure, for this one I would multitask a bit. When I read THR, Esq. I usually say to myself, “I gotta spend some time here looking around.” THR, Esq. is a part of The Hollywood Reporter; it focuses on the legal aspects of the entertainment business. I wanted to look around and see what’s going on in the entertainment law community outside of Hawaii. So I am glad this assignment came up.

As far as modes of participation go, anyone can comment, and anyone can comment on other’s comments. According the Schrock article this a “Many to Many” technology cluster. In addition to definitions and explanations of microblogging and microbolgging terms, this article also discusses gender difference and phychological factors of SNS use and technology clusters.

In THR, Esq. participants can be anonymous or identified, and their identification can be verified and not verified.

As I read through the first posts I noticed there are no comments. Maybe there are no comments because the posts are relatively new. But the more I read I realize that most of the posts have no comments. And the ones that do get commented on usually only have a few comments. I looked at over 55 posts. Here is a list of the only posts that got more than 3 comments:

Post subject Number – types of comments
Piracy lawsuit 4 - debating both sides of issue
Michael Moore lawsuit Over 50 – people love or hate with this guy
CBS lawsuit (family ties song) 6 - copyright/fair use debate
75 million dollar Kardashian lawsuit 17 – wow people are not shy about how they feel about theKardashian- vitriolic, name calling
Live nation rolling stones suit 6 – people love the stones
Suits against people who “share” movies 5 – debate on the merits of suing 100,000 people
“King’s speech” action 9 – treatment of animals in film
“Lie To Me” stolen idea lawsuit 6 - whining about stolen ideas—side note the copyright act protects the unique expression of the ideas, not the ideas themselves!
"Monster-In-Law" law suit 13 – debates about how the suit turned out
Former Golden Globes Publicist Sues Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. Claiming 'Payola’ 10 - merits of Golden Globes “wins”
Legal fight over the song from “The Fighter 14 – discussion about sampling

I think participation is only somewhat encouraged. At the end the each post there is a large, easy to use comment box. And there are reply buttons on the comments to make it easy to comment on a comment.

There is not a lot of participation, perhaps because as described in the article Why We Twitter, this wasn’t a community of “mutual aquantences” as expained in the article. Why We Twitter also discusses the growth of microblogging, and the logistics and usage of microblogging sites (like Twitter). For instance, most tweets are "daily chatter" or just declarations of what folks are doing throughout their day. THR is less daily chatter and more news and information for entertainment and IP lawyers.

Not surprisingly the Kardashian post drew a lot of comments. People love to hate those girls, but that is the subject for another paper, perhaps one exploring the female negative objectification issues - that alone is at least worth 10 pages. And surprisingly, Michael Moore still makes news. People love to hate him too. But for different reasons than the Kardashians I reckon.