No need to geotag, reveal your location by ‘online dialect’

Cultural changes attributed to technology has always interested me, of course it’s hard not to these days. Take the recent coverage of Aflockalypse, and other mysterious mass animal deaths in the US. These are most likely attributed to technology, but not because there is some super microwave emitting weapon sucking power from all the cell phones and redirecting it, but because being more connected makes people more aware. According to the article Technology to blame for animal die-off panic “instant communications — especially when people can whip out smart phones to take pictures of critter carcasses and then post them on the Internet — is giving a skewed view of what is happening in the environment.” So when I saw this article about How tweets reveal where you’re from, I had to read it.

According to the article (which is not about cyber stalking or privacy, which the name seems to hint at), a study revealed that “where you’re from actually deals with how microblogging service reflects regional dialects and slang.” Carnegie Mellon University took a look at this in a study of “9,500 users and 380,000 messages.” During this study they found that, like traditional dialect, without knowing the actual location of these microbloggers, the could identify “regionalisms from spoken speech, such as Southerners’ “y’all” vs. Pittsburghers’ “yinz,” and the regional-based references to soda vs. pop vs. Coke.” And although unlike in real life where we can hear the accent, the study can determine your location within 300 miles because of the way you text, tweet, etc.

"Researchers clustered Twitter users based on the regional terms they included in their tweets. This map shows how tweets were clustered to reflect different characteristic regions, including Northern and Southern California, Chicago, the Lake Erie region, Boston, New York, Washington, Northern vs. Southern states, and Florida."

But why is this cool? According to the team, “The study shows that people continue to develop new ways of using language, regardless of whether they’re talking over lunch or exchanging messages on Twitter;” and shows that technology is having a direct impact on cultural evolution. The team is presenting their findings at the Linguistic Society of America annual meeting in Pittsburgh, you can get a copy of their work here.


Internet TV: present and future

Internet TV is growing like a fire, getting larger as it’s fueled from the outside. Mike Panic, a contributor on a general interest blog Randomn3ss, wrote a post this year outlining the full list of websites that “stream full TV shows and movies.” Since that time 47,388 people have viewed it, over 10,000 just this past month. According to his blog, 32 major networks, including MTV, CNN, USA, Cartoon Network, History Channel and Comedy Central, allow live streams of full episodes on their websites. According to this scenario and looking back to the infancy of Internet TV, we can expect to see positive trends for Internet TV viewing well into the future. With its rising popularity and convenience, Internet TV takes power away from traditional cable networks and puts it in the consumer’s hand. Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt voiced his concern in a February interview about losses and the emergence of “video cord-cutters… [who] choose not to buy subscription video if they can get the same stuff for free.[2]” Growing technologies like mobile devices, DVRs, and Netbooks help consumers decide how to consume TV, making traditional cable networks revisit their business models. Entertainment and technology shape our culture, therefore it’s important to see how our culture might be influenced by internet TV in the future, this paper will discuss this.

There are many ways to watch TV programs today. We can plan an evening around the original air time, wait for the season DVD to come out, view it later using a DVR or TiVo, download it online using a bit torrent program, view it OnDemand, or watch it online anytime using the network website or an aggregator like Traditional TV viewing is based on a timetable, which has influenced our culture to coordinate around our favorite shows. In the popular sitcom Friends, character Joey asks astonished, “you don’t have a TV, what does all your furniture point to?” This assumes a cultural norm for the TV to be the center of one’s life.

There has been a trend in recent years for older companies to stumble at adapting their business plans to meet the demands of competition. For example, Apple succeeded in the music space as the newcomer because the industry could not act quickly enough, now Apple is the leader in the music industry. Newsweek reporter Daniel Lyons calls these old companies “old-media guys,” but asserts we should not underestimate them. One of these “old-media guys” is NBC, who Lyons discusses in his article Old Media Strikes Back, as exercising their latecomer position against YouTube by thoughtfully creating Hulu. Unlike YouTube, whose philosophy was to “figure something out,” NBC took the time to create a clear business plan. According to advertisers, YouTube “has lots of content, but…much of it is utterly worthless,” while potentially all Hulu’s titles “can carry advertising and 80 percent of the streams… have advertising attached.” Continue reading

Authenticity Steps up to Digital Records

An article in today’s New York Times article highlights the University of Washington and their work on “releasing the initial component of a public system to provide authentication for an archive of video interviews with the prosecutors and other members of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Rwandan genocide.” With people become increasingly more savvy in editing photos and videos I think this is an important step forward. “the authenticity of digital documents like videos, transcripts of personal accounts and court records can be indisputably proved for the first time…The University of Washington researchers are the first to try to simplify the application for nontechnical users and to try to offer a complete system that would preserve information across generations.”