Question Popularity

This week I was interested in looking at which questions would be most popular in the google docs using word count as a measure of popularity. My first hypothesis was that the first questions would have the most words because they are the ones that people first see. My other hypothesis was that questions dealing with issues that occur in the earlier parts of the book would be more popular because perhaps people hadn’t read all the way to page 200.

Question Group 1 Words Group 2 Words
1 571 883
2 517 430
3 744 625
4 470 503
5 388 349
6 460 443

Dig 210 Blog Post

The table and graph show that there were similar tendencies between the groups but no clear patterns for explanation. Question 3 references page 182 yet was one of the most popular questions so my second hypothesis seems to be disproved and while there is a gradual decrease from the first question to the last one it is not significant enough to prove my first hypothesis. Thus, it could be that certain questions were just more popular and easy to answer than others.

Social Norms and the Internet

When looking at Joyce Walker’s “Narratives in the database: Memorializing September 11th online,” I was especially struck by the same quote as Chris. It reads as follows:

“The space of the Internet, with its connective elements of database, hierarchy, and hyperlinking, is nevertheless constrained by the categories we create and into which we place its discrete elements,” (Walker, 139).

I find the relationship between social norms and activity on the internet particularly interesting, especially with the creation of anonymous apps like Yik Yak. I would agree that for the most part people’s activity on the internet is bound by social norms. You don’t very often see people post extremely controversial things on public domains such as Facebook or Twitter. When I read this quote I immediately thought of Yik Yak and the controversial things that are posted every day. The key here is the anonymity associated with Yik Yak. If you post something controversial on Facebook people will connect you to your beliefs. On the other hand, there is no way of tracing a particular Yik Yak to a specific person so there is a sense that there are no consequences associated with “yakking” whatever comes to mind.

I then thought about how most of the outwardly inappropriate or hateful yaks get taken down soon after they are posted. Each person in the Yik Yak network has the power to influence what content is removed and what stays so in this sense social norms are still enforced on anonymous venues like Yik Yak. When a yak is taken down in a certain area it could be seen as a reflection of the beliefs of that region of yakkers.

Thus, this enforcement of cultural and social values on the internet brings up the question of bias. Are the things you read on the internet really expressing both sides to the story or is the content inhibited by social norms?

Apple Setting the Trend


Towards the end of Tuesday’s class there was an argument about the utility of some of the Apple Watch’s features. The main topic of discussion was the feature allowing users to send their heartbeat to friends. Rather than making an argument addressing the potential pros and cons for this feature, I’d rather look at the progression of electronic trends and Apple’s role in setting them.

While people now may look skeptically at the apple watch and see it as an interesting and perhaps intriguing piece of technology, maybe in five years people will see the watch as an essential part of their wardrobe. Trends are extremely viral and unpredictable and if the watch is even half as successful as Apple’s recent innovations (ipod, ipad, iphone) it will become essential for a large quantity of people.

The same viral and unpredictable nature of trends can be applied to some of the more obscure features of the watch, like the heartbeat. The concept of sending selfies back and forth may have seemed foreign a decade ago but now is engrained in our culture. Perhaps in a couple of years people will be sending their heartbeats back and forth. Maybe that technology will evolve into a whole new trend. While these trends cannot be predicted, Apple will probably be leading the charge with their extremely loyal following and their ahead of the curve products. In conclusion I would say don’t sleep on the Apple watch. I would not be surprised if in a few years the Apple watch will be as commonplace as Apple’s other products.


Time Between Question and Answer (Part 2)

Unknowingly, I collected the same data as Spencer this week. My data looked similar but a little different.


Mean (seconds) : 7.07

Standard Deviation (seconds) : 5.46


Mean : 6.28

Standard Deviation : 4.87

The slight alterations in my data vs Spencer’s could be a result of different timing strategies or different questions timed. To explain this data I hypothesized that the more reading we had assigned, the longer it would take between question and answer. Tuesday’s reading assignment was significantly longer than Thursday’s so I thought there would be a large difference between question and answer times. In reality, the means were fairly similar so my hypothesis was likely false. One explanation could be because we don’t always discuss the readings directly. Often we break off and do group work or use our computers.  I found that when we are asked to share what we’ve found on the computer, our time after the question is very small, averaging around 2 seconds. This could be because people are excited to share what they’ve found. To get more specific data it could be helpful to categorize the questions into different groups, like questions about the reading or questions about group work, in order to get a better understanding of the time between question and answer.

Freedom of Choice

In Alice Marwick’s article “How Your Data Are Being Deeply Mined,” she gives an example of a consumer shopping for shampoo. In this scenario the customer is undecided in his/her choice and is picking up several different bottles. In this futuristic store the consumer’s eye movements would be tracked and a coupon for a specific bottle could be printed from the shelf, urging the customer to make a specific decision.

This scenario brings up a theme that is not only related to data collection, but has been in a pressing concern in America since its beginnings. This is the freedom of choice and whether or not anyone but the individual has or should have the power to make decisions for them. People in the United States have always held the power of choice as very important. From resisting taxation without representation before the Revolutionary War to resisting Bloomberg’s decision to ban certain drink sizes in NYC, American people have always valued the ability to make their own decisions. In the shampoo example, a customer’s data in combination with their eye movements results in a third party trying to make their decision for them. It’s as though the advertising company knows better than the consumer. Based on the historical examples in this country I don’t think this will go over well if it ever becomes a reality.

Marwick addresses this problem briefly when talking about how Target began sending pregnant women coupons directed towards their specific needs. Instead of responding positively, the women didn’t like that Target knew they were pregnant. Target was forced to mix other advertisements in with those directed towards pregnancies in order to get the women to use the coupons. I feel as though the same end may come to shelf coupons. Instead of pushing one produce heavily I think they will have to give multiple options so consumers still feel as though they have the ultimate power in their decision.