Week 9: Library 2.0

This week’s discussion is focused on Web 2.0 and how it affects libraries.  Of particular interest this week was the folksonomies created by tagging.  One cannot go anywhere on the internet without seeing tagged content.  I add tags to this blog that I think are relevant, but in many spaces users/readers are tagging the content that they find.  Although I am not a tagger, nor do I participate in any social media, one site I do love for its tagging is LibraryThing, a wonderful Library 2.0 tool.  Many times I run out of authors to read, and because I am a member of LibraryThing, I can sign in and click on a book in my library and find recommendations, both from the site itself and it algorithms as well as from other users.  LibraryThing like other recommender systems aggregates the data from its users in order to make recommendations.  If you have an Amazon account, you know what this is.  If you like, then you may like . . .  Library user data if used can be very helpful in the library when readers would like to find something similar to what they know they enjoy, making books selection an easier task.

Speaking of books, we also read about ebooks.  Last year for the first time ebook sales surpassed print sales.  Readers are falling in love with their Kindles, Nooks, iPads, etc.  Availability of titles from Amazon or Barnes and Noble has allowed ereading to skyrocket.  Libraries are doing their best to keep up with the ereader phenomenon, but unfortunately, costs and title availability from the publishers are preventing library patrons to have access to the titles they may most want.  The following link exhibits how most best sellers are not being offered by their publishers to libraries and if they are, the exorbitant cost of these titles.  In order for library users to be satisfied with the available etitles, publishers and libraries are going to have to find common ground. PDF of the Top Twenty Bestsellers and Their Availability

Interesting articles relating to ebooks:
AAP Reports US eBook Sales Up 46% in 2012, Now Well Over a Fifth of US Book Market
The Big 6 – eBooks in Libraries
21 Book Publishing Predictions for 2013: Indie Ebook Authors Take Charge
Libraries Can’t Buy Many of Amazon’s Ebook Hits: January 2013 Ebook Report from DCL
ALA applauds Macmillan Publishers’ entry into library market

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Week 8: Poverty

This week we discussed Microfinance.  I think that some of the points that Aneel Karnani discussed in his paper, “Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: A Mirage,” are not really true.  I am definitely not an expert on microfinance or any type of global commerce, but from observations in my day-to-day life.  Just from reading the paper, I get the feeling that Karnani is making assumptions about a population that a sociologist would be more qualified to make, and if indeed others think like Karnani and believe his solutions, then poverty will never be eradicated.

To be clear, I also am not a sociologist, or do I know anything about the levels of poverty in developing nations, but contrary to popular belief we do have poverty in the United States.  Yes, the threshold for poverty in the U.S. is not $700 per year, and to be considered impoverished in the U.S. is vastly different than impoverished nations, but for today’s blog, I am merely making a couple of comparisons of human nature.  Again, I just want to state here that I know nothing about poverty or developing nations; I am commenting on human nature.

“Selling inexpensive, low-quality products does not hurt the poor. Insisting on not lowering the quality actually hurts the poor by depriving them of a product they could afford and would like to buy”(Karnani 21).  Karnani makes this statement after describing an affordable laundry detergent that “c[an] cause blisters” (20).  I think that the poor would like to have a low-cost quality product that does not physically harm them in any way, and as we have learned in our discussions of frugal innovation, this is not impossible.  I realize that this is just one example but it angers me.  It almost seems that by saying that good quality actually hurts them, he is saying that because they are poor, they have no feelings, or are less than human- they do not even want the good stuff- they want to buy harmful products merely because they can afford them.

It is a dichotomy they would like to buy faulty products or are faulty products what they can afford?  Logically, I cannot wrap my head around his reasoning.  Should we not be trying to provide quality products for affordable prices instead of saying that poor people really only want the low quality products.  To me, that is like saying, oh well, your child is really smart, and maybe we can give him financial aid, so you would not have to pay out-of-pocket for a great education, and the parent then saying, no, although we are getting this great education for free, we do not want it because the quality of the education is too good.

I have one more point of contention (to discuss in this post- I could write a paper on this).
“Poor people are, of course, price sensitive. “Companies assume that poor people spend only on basic needs like food and shelter.” Prahalad and Hammond (2002) disagree, stating that “such assumptions reflect a narrow and largely outdated view of the developing world. …In fact, the poor often do buy ‘luxury’ items.” Quite the contrary! The poor spend about 80% of their meager income on food, clothing and fuel alone (Gangopadhyay and Wadhwa, 2004). This clearly does not leave much room for luxuries!” (5-6).
Karnani disagrees with Pahalad in that the poor spend on luxury items.  Later in the paper he implies that the poor “know better,” so they only spend money on exactly what they need.  As I read his paper, I keep forgetting that the poor are different than the rest of us- they do not want what they cannot have, and they never spend money on items that they do not need.  In the Matt Damon video I linked to in an earlier post regarding sanitation, Damon recites the stat that more people have cell phones than access to toilets.  Matt Damon Goes On ‘Toilet Strike’.  Karnani thinks that poor people wanting such luxury items is ridiculous, but as we know from our discussions, a cell phone is not only a cell phone, and mobile technology can improve one’s condition.  People are going to spend money on items they do not need, and just because you are poor does not mean that you are more conservative with your money and spend more wisely.

If what Karnani is saying about poor people across the globe is true, then we need to fire all of our government workers around the world, because according to Karnani, they are inherently different, and they do not need or want quality in their lives; they understand that no matter what cheapest is best, and they will be more fiscally responsible because somehow they missed being a part of humanity.

Side note:
India’s income inequality has doubled in 20 years– Karnani mentions that research shows trickle down economics works.
More recent poverty stats:
Poverty Facts and Stats– 80% of the world’s population lives on less than $10 per day.  Karnani apparently feels that this is sufficient: “Surprisingly, Prahalad (2004, p.33) even claims that “the poor as a market are 5 billion strong” (4). Surprisingly? he claims? Does Karnani think that $10/day is adequate for people’s needs?

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Two Articles About Privacy

Opinion: Privacy was good while it lasted – CNN.com.

The Internet is a surveillance state

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Diversity in Silicon Valley – black, female, and a Silicon Valley ‘trade secret’ – Mar. 17, 2013

Diversity in Silicon Valley – black, female, and a Silicon Valley ‘trade secret’ – Mar. 17, 2013.

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Dan Pallotta: The way we think about charity is dead wrong | Video on TED.com

Charity and Microfinance?

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Syrian Cyber-Rebel Wages War, One Hack At A Time : NPR

Very relevant to ICT and protests.

Syrian Cyber-Rebel Wages War, One Hack At A Time : NPR.

Posted in Government, Social Informatics | 1 Comment

Facebook ‘likes’ can reveal your secrets, study finds – CNN.com

Just another example of our loss of privacy:

Facebook ‘likes’ can reveal your secrets, study finds – CNN.com.

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