Tag Archives: popularity contest

Individualism, Freedom, and Food

A surprisingly superficial podcast episode on what could have been a very deep subject.

Open Source » Blog Archive » The End of Free Will?

start a conversation about manipulation, persuasion and freedom from choice

To summarize the main issue of that episode: is marketing and "upselling" by restaurant chains undermining the individual freedom to choose quality food? Apparently simple a question, but billed as much more than that.

Maybe they refrained from delving deeper into any of those issues because philosophical discussions, perhaps aesthetic ones especially, are off limits in "polite company" in U.S. media. Too bad.

Actually, I’m genuinely disappointed. Not necessarily because restaurant chains are very important an issue for me (in Montreal, they don’t seem to have the exact same type of impact and I love to cook). But because the show’s participants all came very close to saying very important things about individualism, food, and freedom. The first two are too rarely discussed, IMHO, and the third could have been the "hook" to discuss the other two.

Ah, well…

If you want to know more about my thoughts on this podcast episode, check out some of the tags below.

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Video Merits

Video Bomb

Refers to Digg and Delicious. Mentions iTunes and Participatory Culture’s own DTV as software clients.

Interesting that they should mention democracy. The About page unapologetically calls it meritocracy, which is honest and accurate.

Like other systems available online (for instance, Podcastalley and, obviously, Digg), the way users rate content is by adding their “vote” to as many items as they want. That in itself is an interesting concept. The only thing the user needs to say is “I like these ones,” without any need to compare specifically. It’s not competitive in a strict sense, yet it’s a rating system. So it’s more of a popularity contest than a true meritocracy. It’s a bit like the “two thumbs up” statement on so many movies in that it doesn’t require much from the reviewer yet it’s a way to assign positive value. Because some reviewers acquire social capital, their choices will become popular which adds a positive feedback loop to the system.
Of course, people can post comments, which is the very basis of the type of contact and communication proposed by the venerable (!) Slashdot as well as the whole blogging community.
The other part which is quite important is that tags are applied to content which makes for community-created bottom-up classification (unlike strict taxonomies). Many online systems have this (say, Technorati). Of course, classification may be unreliable at first and tags may seem idiosyncratic. But the tagging system itself seems to work well on average. Good way to observe cultural schemes being created.