10 Updates

Too Titillating For Twitter: Why Outsourcing Social Media Participation Is Disconcerting

May 7 2014, 3:45pm CDT | by

The Los Angeles Times just updated the design of its online edition. One of the new features is called “sharelines,” and it’s basically summaries appearing at the top of articles that readers can...

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11 weeks ago

Too Titillating For Twitter: Why Outsourcing Social Media Participation Is Disconcerting

May 7 2014, 3:45pm CDT | by

The Los Angeles Times just updated the design of its online edition. One of the new features is called “sharelines,” and it’s basically summaries appearing at the top of articles that readers can click on to instantly tweet out. Even the editor’s super-succinct note introducing the changes begins with three of these talking points!

While this exercise in concise craftsmanship is informative and user-friendly, it’s also got disconcerting overtones. Seen in the larger context of technological development, it’s a wakeup call to examine how often we’re being asked to outsource labor at the expense of living up to our potential.

Look, the modification is easy to appreciate. Readers today share stories before they even read them! So, if a glance is all it takes to socially signal interest, placing sharelines at the very beginning of each piece makes lots of sense.

And, yes, this modification capitalizes on established habits rather than taxing us to step outside of our comfort zones and create new ones. Reader’s have grown accustomed to effortlessly clicking buttons to blast the titles of stories across social media , as well as pre-selected lines that journalists or editors highlight as evocative content.

I’m not proud to admit it, but I’ve even deliberately constructed sentences with an eye towards making them titillating to tweet. Much like SEO optimized headlines, this manipulation is hard to avoid in age of information abundance. At least that’s my go-to rationalization. How else could I sleep at night?

But with each new addition to the spectrum of possibilities for offering frictionless testimonials, readers are encouraged to believe that letting other people do their thinking is a normal and desirable occurrence. Why decide what’s worth saying when you can save time and energy by outsourcing that judgment?

With sharelines readers are confronted by code that’s designed to capitalize on inertia and encourage the spread of generic summary over thoughtful personal assessment. Beyond the bias of favoring description over critique, there’s also an element of deception in play. The externally created tweets look as if individuals authentically generated them. Because there’s no officially recognized violation of public trust occurring, faux expressions of considered reflection aren’t stamped as pre-packaged, ventriloquized goods.

Critics will say my concerns are overblown since the marketplace of ideas will sort things out. After all, nobody is forced to use sharelines. Every time you send one, you’re making a choice to be lazy. If the choice turns out to be a poor one, you’ll get negative feedback. People might ignore your bland feed. Maybe you’ll lose followers.

And, of course, plenty of opportunities still exist for readers to get actively involved with the stories they want to discuss. In many cases, you can still leave comments at the bottom of an online article. You even can have a productive dialog with folks on Twitter who end up reading something that your disseminated shareline brought to their attention.

While there’s truth to this rebuttal, broader trends suggest it is an incomplete account, and that important questions are getting lost in the shuffle. What values does code reinforce when it mediates how we think, act, and communicate? Are the algorithms and layouts (what nudge theorists call “choice architecture ”) that we confront daily inspiring us to be independent and conscientious thinkers—folks who take time and put in effort before coming to conclusions about what matters and why? Or, are our intermediaries increasingly encouraging us to go on autopilot in situations where time is on our side, leaving the hard but morally and cognitively meaningful work to others?

When seen in isolation, the shareline update appears to be nothing more than a harmless tool for broadcasting what we’re reading, considering reading, or believe others should think we’re reading. But that’s how innovation transforms society without us appreciating the full extent of each change. Sadly, a little outsourcing here and there can go a long way.

 
Update
10

7 weeks ago

RM47mil KWSG contributions still unclaimed

Jun 9 2014 7:54am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: About RM47 million of contributions in the Teachers Provident Fund (KWSG) still remain unclaimed, the Dewan Rakyat was told toda ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
9

7 weeks ago

Gold shop lost almost RM1mil

Jun 9 2014 3:50am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KANGAR: A gold shop owner lost almost RM1 million after after the safe on in his shop was broken into by robbe ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
8

7 weeks ago

Motion to debate MAS losses in Dewan Rakyat rejected

Jun 9 2014 3:39am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: AN emergency motion to debate the losses incurred by Malaysia Airlines last year, amounting to RM1.2 billion was rejected by the Dewan Rakyat ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
7

7 weeks ago

MH370 Tragedy: Hisham: RM27.6 mil spent on 1st phase of SAR

Jun 9 2014 2:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia spent some RM27.6 million in its first phase of the search operations for missing Malaysia Airline flight MH370, said Acting Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Husse ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
6

7 weeks ago

9.1m litres of diesel seized in a month

Jun 8 2014 1:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA: The Domestic Trade, Cooperatives, and Consumerism ministry has seized some 9.1 million litres of diesel and property worth RM58 million since mounting ‘Operasi Diesel Selatan’ ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
5

7 weeks ago

Girl, 9, awarded RM2.78m compensation for medical negligence

Jun 6 2014 4:56am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: A nine-year-old girl who suffered brain damage during her birth at a government hospital was awarded over RM2.78 mill ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
4

7 weeks ago

Malaysia's total trade in April up 12pc

Jun 5 2014 11:52pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's total trade in April 2014 rose by 12 per cent from a year ago to RM123.86 billion due to growing trading activities, International Trade and Indust ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
3

7 weeks ago

Works Ministry to spend RM20m for upgrading works at 50 accident black spots

Jun 4 2014 11:35pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

JOHOR BARU: The Works Ministry will implement upgrading works at 50 accident prone locations in the country that have been identified this year inv ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
2

7 weeks ago

Najib launches loan scheme for Ramadan traders

Jun 4 2014 10:24pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today launches RM45 million Ramadan Ba ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
1

7 weeks ago

Residents bring up objection against Kidex to Suhakam

Jun 4 2014 4:49am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PETALING JAYA: A group of 20 Petaling Jaya residents held a meeting with the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) over their objection against the proposed RM2.2 billion Ki ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 

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