Movie-map.com

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After discovering Literature-map.com, I found Movie-map.com, an artificial intelligence site to help you find movies you’re likely to enjoy. I can play with it for hours. Now I have to see how much I like the recommendations.

After entering Zazie dan le Metro as a favorite movie, I got these results.

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I also liked The Red Balloon, Spring, Supper, Autumn, Winter, Spring, Edward Scissorhands and some of the others. I need to watch more to of the above.

Here’s what inputting Yi Yi yielded.

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You can contribute to the movie recommendations by participating on Gnovies.com.

Social Media in China

Note: The cliches and vernacular language referring to historic events are used to protect this innocent grad student, not to sound folksy.

Since I’m back in China, I thought I’d share some of my experience with social media here and dig deeper by discovering what some experts say on the topic.

When I first came to China to work in spring of 2009, I could access Facebook, Twitter, blogs, YouTube, anything I could think of. Yet 2009 was an important year because it was the anniversary of certain events that I won’t even type here because who knows if I’d have internet tomorrow.

One by one these services disappeared and my colleagues, other Americans and Australians who teach here felt a kind of technology grief, a definite sense of loss and disconnection.

Chinese technology does offer some substitutes, but since I’m not literate in Chinese, I haven’t signed up for them. The government does allow and control social media. The main Web 2.0 services more or less parallel what’s found elsewhere. Weibo is like Twitter; Ren Ren and QQ resemble Facebook; YouKu and TuDou are Chinese YouTubes.

The government does turn off these services and has websites turn off commenting at critical times like last spring when an official in Chengdu was up to no good.

To learn more, I read Thomas Crampton‘s article “Social Media in China: The Same, but Different.” From Crampton, I learned that:

  • Chinese spend a lot more time online than other developing countries. In fact, their usage resembles that of Americans and the Japanese.
  • China is the one Asian country where youth have more online than offline friends. (In most Asian countries face to face friendships outnumber online friendships.) The Chinese live a large part of their lives online.
  • The Web 2.0 services I’ve compared above aren’t exact mimics. Youku and Tudou carry more professionally produced videos, many of which are pirated. Given how much more online video compared to televised video Chinese watch, these services are the defacto broadcasters. They’re actually a lot like Hulu.com.Because Chinese uses ideograms rather than an alphabet, a “tweet” on Weibo can contain around 4 times as many words as an English tweet. Weibo’s closer to a blogging platform than a microblogging one.While Ren Ren with its blue and white layout tries to be the Chinese Facebook, it has more competitors. Douban, Kaixin001, and QZone each attract a different demographic.
  • The Chinese learn about the internet through friends, who are loyal to a particular social media. Thus, Crampton asserts, they come to view the internet as YouKu or as Douban.

As far as the last item above, I think some elaboration is needed. My students seem familiar with many sites, not as many as Westerns, but they use Wikipedia (for plagiarism and, I hope, actual reserach), and they watch videos and play games online. I do take them to the computer lab to work on assignments and many of them go off task and use a variety of computer games, email services and shopping websites. I think their view of the web is rather narrow, because they don’t learn to use computers in school. It’s clear that they’re self-taught, but they don’t only use one service.

I checked to see how universities and their libraries used social media and none of the three I looked at Shandong University of Science and Technology, where I work, Shandong University, a higher level school in this province and Tsinghua University, one of the top colleges in China, had links to Weibo, Ren Ren or other Web 2.0 services. In contrast colleges in Korea, like Sogang University do contain Facebook and Twitter links for the library.

References

Crampton, T. (2011). Social Media in China: The Same, but Different. China Business Review, 38(1), 28-31.

Further Reading

Google: The Dark Side of Aggregation

As part of our module on Aggregation, I find myself pondering Google’s dominance as a search engine and Web 2.0 service provider. While the company claims to “do no evil,” it seems that Google has outgrown its the slogan. While they aren’t on par with Hitler or Stalin, that doesn’t mean that they only do good–far from it.

Google amasses massive amounts of data via its search engine, browser, email service, Picasa, Google Docs, Google Maps, Google+ and Google Scholar for sale to advertisers.Television, newspapers, radio also make their money from advertisement. Yet only a few Nielsen families who’ve agreed to supply data on their behavior are needed to keep these older media in business. Even if you don’t set up a Google account, Google profits from your search behavior. Is there any harm in this? Well, that depends on how much you value privacy and whether you feel entitled to good customer service in this business relationship.

Let me state upfront that I’m no fan of Google after a hacking I experienced a few years ago. I try as best I can to use none of their services.

If you have a customer service issue with the corporation, I’ve found it impossible to get help or information. Given Google’s size, the media’s coverage of its fun workplace, its slogan to “do no evil” and its desire to provide more services as time goes on, one would expect a customer service staff that’s responsive to consumers’ needs. When my account was hacked into, they closed off my accounts, try as I might I could not reopen them. Both Facebook and Yahoo responded within hours to my emails and Yahoo had a representative call me in response to a letter. Google did not respond to letters or emails. Unless you have an employee’s direct line, a call won’t be accepted.

Some have argued that more regulation is needed. Governments regulate utilities because they’re necessary to our lives and they have little competition. Perhaps Google and Facebook need to be considered utilities. People do need information in the information age, almost as much as we need water and power. I’m all for more regulation because Google has not cooperated by changing its policies when governments and individuals have stood up for their privacy rights.

The results of a drawn out legal battle came out this week and Google’s been required to pay 38 states $7 million dollars in a legal settlement. Furthermore, they must develop a campaign training employees in privacy protection and they must destroy the data they collected. Seven million seems like a pittance and hardly a deterrent. Google has yet to delete data it promised German courts it would delete two years ago. Yet it is a win, however small, for those who value privacy.

What concerns me with this issue is not just Google’s overreach and the relatively small settlement, but how journalists fail to tell the whole story. It seems too many reporters are still enthralled with the Wonderboys of Google. According to the Columbia Journalism Review, most news outlets reported the story in terms that favorably depict Google. CNET.com and others report that the fault lay with a “rogue engineer.” However, testimony shows that the engineer, Marius Milner, informed colleagues at Google that he was writing code that would collect this data and Google was uncooperative in providing evidence to the Federal Communications Commission. Google’s behavior in this case and in the legal disputes in Europe show me that they do have too much power and should be reined in.

Resources

Chittam, R. Poor coverage of Google’s Street View scandal settlement. Columbia Journalism Review. March 15, 2013. Retrieved March 23, 2013.

Newton, C. Google reaches $7 million settlement with states over Street View case. CNET. March 12, 2013. Retrieved March 23, 2013.

Further reading

  • James Farrows of The Atlantic explains why he won’t adopt Google’s new Keep feature. Google has a record for dropping services that lack mass appeal. Google, heed the Lucas Critique. You’re training people to avoid your new products.

 

Sound Cloud: Dr. Peter Kreeft

Here’s a recording of Dr Peter Kreeft talking to Act One screenwriters on Why What They Do Matters and Why it Matters to God.

Brain Pickings

Brain Pickings is a fun site I’ve recently discovered. It’s got all kinds of cool posts and videos on how to think better, how to be more creative and just some fascinating finds like a map of American Literature or the illustrations and story of Dr. Seuss’ one adult book about the Seven Lady Godiva’s. From street art to neuroscience, Brain Pickings has it all.

Less than cable but still . . .

Netflix, my main supplier of entertainment, is doubling their prices September 1. Currently, I get one DVD at a time and all the streaming I want for $7.99. What a deal. In a few weeks to get the same service I’ll have to pay $15.98. It’s not that much more money, but it is double the current price so the proportion shocks me. (Is there an English word with a negative connotation that means to slightly shock? I need one here.)

I probably watch 5-6 DVDs a month and stream 30 minutes of video a day.

I can understand Netflix’s need to raise prices, but question the choice to double them. If I ran Netflix, I’d probably offer $7.99 for either the DVD or streaming option as they will do, but then charge $11.98 for the combined option.

I do now feel like the drug user who’s coaxed into an addiction by cheap high and now that I’m hooked, made to pay a higher price.

But I’m not that hooked. I do have hulu.com, which I haven’t watched much and in the fall there will be more viewing options. And I’ve got a reading list that keeps getting longer, so this change won’t be that painful. It’s more annoying than anything else.