1. Who is Paul Graham, and why should you listen to him?

According to Wikipedia, “Paul Graham (born 1964) is a programmer, venture capitalist, and essayist.”
His accomplished works involve work on Lisp, the Yahoo! Store, and the investment firm Y Combinator.
We should listen to him because he is a man that seems to know what he is doing. He sees the flaws of
today’s technology, and invests in the prospective future through his investments in startup ideas. It
also helps that his credentials paint the picture of a very successful computer scientist.

A bio on his website can be found at: http://www.paulgraham.com/bio.html

2. Critique and/or extend one of Graham’s startup ideas.

Of Mr. Graham’s various startup ideas, the one that really seemed to interest me was his idea to replace
email. I was shocked to hear that email was on even on his list. I mean sure, everyone gets a bit of SPAM
once in a while, or some crazy chain mail somehow ends up in your inbox, but overall email seems to work
fine. Perhaps I am one of those people waiting for the email replacement attempt to fail, but I don’t see
email being changed too much in the see-able future. It seems that more than ever, email has become an
important means of communication, conducting business, etc. The success of email, and the reason that I
don’t see it going away, is because of its flexibility. Through email we are able to do a vast variety of
things from writing memos, to sharing projects and videos. Graham does have a point that something needs
to change, but until I actually become a user of the email replacement, I’ll keep my flawed email system.

3. Propose a “frighteningly ambitious” startup idea of your own. Spend at least a paragraph or two describing it.
What problems would it solve? What problems would it create?

One frighteningly ambitious startup idea that could potentially make someone very wealthy is to create a
transportation system that gets rid of privately owned motorized vehicles, or at least manages how they
are operated. It is very evident in Hawaii, where we lack mass public transit systems such as: subways, ferry, etc,
that something needs to change. If someone were to create a system which allowed one to travel from point A to
point B both faster and more comfortably than driving themselves, we would notice a decrease in accidents,
congestion, and more importantly frustration.

Though this may seem like an interesting idea (at least to me), there would be some negative consequences of
implementing such a system. The automotive industry from manufacturers to mechanics (heck even gas stations),
would plummet (except for those involving mass transit perhaps). People would sacrifice the freedom to drive
freely when and where they desire. Though these sacrifices may seem huge, the benefits of safety and efficiency
are perhaps worth a change.

4. This is the part of your post that I will evaluate most heavily when it comes to your grade for this session:
which two specific aspects of the social information infrastructure would help make your idea happen, and why?
Choose aspects from readings or other students’ blogs throughout the course that demonstrate your understanding
of what the social information infrastructure is, and its potential to translate ideas into reality.

The two aspects of the Social Information Infrastructure that would help this startup idea take flight are
serious government investment into generating solutions and the acceptance of a global uniformity.

Government Investment:
The willingness of a government to invest both time and money into an idea will really help things takeoff.
In our previous reading from session 6 regarding ideas which were taken under the white house as priority
problems. If we understand the big picture problems regarding private transportation, such as pollution,
congestion, fatalities, lack of resources, etc, we can take one step closer to deriving a solution.
Once the government takes an active role in the progression of a solution, we see government grants and funding.
This becomes a catalyst which results in a gathering of great minds, each presenting ideas and conducting research in
pursuit of making the world better.
Global Uniformity:
The second aspect of the social information infrastructure is being able to implement this idea globally. In some sense
mass transit has actually shown success in countries such as Japan which heavily rely on mass transit systems. The problem
is facing countries where private transit is considered a symbol of social status. In such areas of the world, such as the US,
we will experience a much greater degree of resistance to changing our cultural values. Though this may be helped along as the
amount of resources available becomes depleted, There will still be many who resist these changes. Take the rail project in
Hawaii for example. There are so many people who feel that such a system would be a waste of tax payer money, despite the
potential benefits that it may bring. What I’m trying to get at is the adoption of a system by people who may not
necessarily share the same values that this system intends to solve.

URLs of previous readings:
session2: wejnert: http://cognitrn.psych.indiana.edu/rgoldsto/complex/wejnert.pdf
session6: http://www.whitehouse.gov/innovation/strategy/catalyze

A grand challenge that I would be interested in being a part of involves stabilizing and stimulating growth within the job market of the United States. Being a computer science major, we will potentially be forced to compete on an international level for job opporunitites. We see various countries like China and India, whose people are willing to do the same job Americans will, but at a fraction of the cost. This interests me because I know quite a few college graduates who are struggling to find a place in the workforce; and it’s a real issue that will impact the amount of money that goes back into our country. http://www.gallup.com/poll/149453/unemployment-emerges-important-problem.aspx

The three main stakeholders that would be involved in this issue include: The United States government, the citizens of the USA, and the companies that choose to outsource employees. A main source of revenue that the government recieves, comes from taxes. If we keep employing cheap labor outside of the country, the government recieves less money. The citizens are probably the ones being hit the hardest right now. People need jobs in order to pay bills, put food on the table, and provide a proper environment for their children. We see that more and more people are becoming relient on welfare due to unemployment. The companies which participate in outsourcing are also involved, for obvious reasons.

Although we can see that a potential solution to the falling employment rate would be to generate more jobs in Anerica, we should consider the factors which resist change. For the United States government, such a distraction would be maintaining the balance between freedoms and safety. A potential distraction for citizens, is not wanting to accept the employment that is available. A distraction for the outsourcing companies are the amount of extra money that would be needed to maintain a localized workforce.

The way for the government to overcome their resitance would be to follow the current trend of unemployment and come to the conclusion that in order for our country to prosper, we need to get more citizens into the workforce. To combat the citizen’s distraction, the government would need to create step-up programs as opposed to handouts. By helping the citizens obtain and maintain employment, their dependency will be reduced, perhaps. The way to help the outsourcing company to conform to change might be to heavily tax outsourced goods, which could generate a “support local” ecconomy desire.

Google Ad-Words:

Key Phrases I chose:

1. Independent movies: global (135,000) and local (27,100)

2. international films: global (90,500) and local (33,100)

3. Hawaii international film festival: global (1000) and local(720)

Most used search terms:

1. imbd: global 30,400,000 and local 9,140,000.

2. 2011 movies: global 13,600,000 and local 2,240,000

3. watch free movies online: global 5,000,000 and local 1,500,000

Of the three terms returned by google Ad-words. none of them will probably meet the needs of our target audience.There is a big difference between a hollywood movie, and an international film. The audiences of each, not neccessarily interested in the other. The entries that google gave us back are primarily for people wanting to watch pirated streams of movies, check movie ratings/times, and wanting to look up movies.


Week 5: Teamwork!!

Posted: March 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

Looking Back


An idea which really stood out from this session’s readings is the idea of building “instant” trust. While I’m sure that we all respect one another as a student in the Information Technology field, trust isn’t something that is easily obtained in a short amount of time. This is important for our GMOC project teams, especially since many of us don’t know who each other is, their backgrounds, strengths, etc. It’s interesting to break down ways in which trust can be potentially obtained, but in the end, trust can only be validated by the one relying on you.


Session 2 of http://brysonyhori.wordpress.com/ has a small reflection of “How to be a Leader in your Field” from our previous assigned readings. The importance of this article in relation to our project is about being a leader. While there can only be one leader at a time in order to promote a good flow of teamwork, it’s necessary for everyone to have a take charge mentality which promotes informed choices, and the ability to delegate tasks in an efficient way.



Three realistic actionable ways to develop trust early on:


1. Meet face to face with our group members in order to match our “voices” to people.

2. Get everyone on the same page by establishing goals and a timeline of how the project will run.

3. Gain group responsibilities and follow through with them.



Some Reactions to this Week’s Videos


Fried’s M&Ms:

I found that Fried’s presentation made a lot of sense. It’s very ironic that people are able to work their best outside of their “work environment.” I liked how he pointed out the two types of distractions are what lead to low amounts of work being done. The first was forced distractions upon which someone stops you from working abruptly. The second, the one that I am prone to, is passive distractions. The thing about passive distractions is that they are called upon by the user when they find a need to be distracted, or are taking a break. I found this very enlightening because 2 of my biggest distractions are passive. It was a really big surprise to see that my worst enemy is actually myself!!


One idea discussed by Fried is to use isolation. As he stated before, giving someone 4 hours of clean uninterrupted work is one of the best things you can give someone. I think that similarly, our group can use a RFC system which will allow us to get our work done, but at the same time allow our group members to provide input in a non-disruptive way.


Wujec’s Spaghetti Marshmallow Tower Challenge:


Wujec’s presentation about team work, and plan processing was very interesting. I liked how he termed the “Uh-Oh” and “Ah-Ha” moments. His Marshmallow Spaghetti Tower experiment results were very interesting to follow. I especially enjoyed his crack at business majors being out done by Kindergartners. He also provided an interesting insight to the importance of specialization within groups. It makes logical sense. The teams made of people who understand the natures of structures would naturally do better than the average person.


The one thing that our GOMC group can take from this is the idea of prototyping. We can work on our individualized mini-tasks independently, and then improve them over collective comments from the rest of the group. This will ensure that we are not “building a structure without using the marshmallow till the end.” We want our project to be a work of progression, not a huge mass of work which might collapse at the end.



Environment I work best: A quiet, well lit area, away from friends, family, and other distractions. I would say a study room in the library or the living room in my house when no one is home.




Three biggest distractions and how to overcome:


1. Forcing myself to stop not-work: Noticing and fixing things before I’m able to effectively get work done efficiently. I swear that finals week is when my house is at its cleanest.


Strategy: maintain a clean work environment, so there are no excuses to take me away from work.


2. People: I tend to be a little too easily distracted when I’m around people. I just have this problem noticing little things that they do, talking, or getting distracted by movements.


Strategy: Isolate myself away from non-group members in order to get the most returns with minimal distractions.


3. Distracted by Hobbies: I feel that I get my best work done in the morning. I often have to struggle much more in order to get similar results at night or in the afternoon. During this time, my mind seems to wander around to things that I want to do, such as playing tennis or video games.


Strategy: Manage my time so that I am able to schedule my work time around times where I would be most efficient. Setting aside a small portion of the day to let my mind wander might also make it easier to get work done when I need to.



GOMC Project Fear!!


I think that my main concerns focus around task management for the GOMC project. What I mean by task management is modularization of project work. Giving people assigned mini projects which will have assigned deadlines. Our group could then do something like a RFC (request for comments) to incrementally improve work (i.e. prototyping). I feel that it’s a bit too early in the project to see the direction our project will take. Right now we are in the process of figuring out what needs to be done, and will hopefully get to assigning team members with specified tasks.


Social Searching by Evans and Chi

1) An example of a “social search” you’ve engaged in recently, following the definition proposed
by Evans & Chi. In your example, respond specifically to each of the six questions posed by
Evans and Chi on p. 83.

An example of social search that I actually used last night would be looking the United States
Tennis Association’s schedule for mixed doubles league play.I had a vague idea that the
information that I was searching for was located in the USTA website. I googled USTA tennislink,
the name of the section of the webpage, and came to find what I was looking for.

Before Search: I needed to find out the schedule of matches for my tennis league team. I needed
this information in order to find out which days I would be able to participate in matches.

During search: My algorithm for re-discovering this information used navigational search. I have
used the USTA’s tennislink many times before, I just haven’t memorized its URL.I used google to
help me navigate fairly close to my intended destination, then foraged for my intended
information by navigating the local links to my specific content.

After search: I actually forwarded the information to my other teammates in order for them to
check their availability against the match dates.
Survey Data

1. What kind of information were you searching for?
League schedule for my mixed doubles tennis team.

2. Did you talk with anyone before you searched?
Yes, I was informed by a teammate that the schedule information had been released.

3. What steps did you take to find this information?
I used google to find USTA’s tennislink page. I then used the links on the page to
search for the schedule information I needed to find.

4. What did you do just after you searched?
Check out the data: locations, times, other team’s information, etc.

5. If other people were nearby, were you interacting with them or were they influencing your
search process?
No, I pretty much knew where the information was located.

6. After you found the information, did you share it with anyone? If yes, how did you share it?
Yes, I shared the information with another teammate in order to have them check the
match schedule against their personal schedules.


2) Try to break their proposed “canonical social model” of search on p. 85, based on the social
search experience you described above. Did your search flow precisely through the components
they describe? Are there elements missing in their model that would describe an important step
in your social search?

In regards to the model on page 85 of Evans and Chi, my search process followed the flow chart
of information searching perfectly. I think that this may have been because the search I
conducted had a very similar process to one that they had investigated more thoroughly.
The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Social Search Engine

1)What is Aardvark’s “central technical challenge”? In your opinion, what are two pros and two
cons of a social information seeking system like this? Would you use it?

Aardvark’s “central technical challenge” is selecting the right user to answer a given question
from another user.The asker will want a reliable source because misinformation will discourage
the user who is asking from continuing to use the aardvark system.

Pro1: The answers you are getting are based off feedback from real people who may better
understand your intentions.
Pro2: A ranking system which helps users critique the reliability of the information obtained
from an answerer.

Con1: Relies on the participation of many users to function effectively.
Con2: Will take a bit of waiting time to get answers from users.

Would I use it? No, I don’t think so. I feel like I’d be much more comfortable searching with a
search engine, using rating sites like Yelp, or asking friends and family members for advice.

2) What happened to Aardvark, and why?
Google bought them out for $50 million and shut it down in September 2011. Google
perhaps feared that the social networking revolution would phase the popular search engine out
of business.


Week 3: A very special business.

Posted: February 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

For the Google Online Marketing Challenge (aka. GOMC), I would like to work with McCully Bicycle and Sporting Goods. McCully Bike is a local mom and pops sporting goods store which first opened their doors in 1923. Though much has changed since then, they still serve Hawaii as one of the best local stores for bike repairs, fishing supplies, and other sporting goods. The company has recently re-opened their homepage located at: http://mccullybike.com/. It is very barebones, and could definitely be improved. The reason that I am selecting this company is because I have worked there for a little over three years as a tennis stringer, and feel as if the company is like a second family. Though primarily in the tennis department, I have witnessed and felt the aloha spirit which continues to make McCully Bike so successful today.
The core audience for my company would be to stay connected with local patrons as well as guests coming to Oahu from around the world. The website would provide our customers with a means to see the new products coming in, as well as the special in-store offers we are having. It also gives a face to the company that may entice potential customers to check them out. With the economy being in such a slump, using social media is a great way to promote business.

While McCully bike has primarily generated business through word of mouth, they are always looking for new ways to promote local business. The website adds a new way for potential customers to find their way to the front door. If I had to pick five terms that would be likely to retrieve their page through a google search, I would pick: bicycle, sport, fishing, local, and mccully.
As for five non-textual elements that the desired audience would value:
1. Pictures of products: Words can only do so much, but a picture is worth a thousand words!! If we are able to show our customers the types of merchandise we carry, it will entice them to check it out for themselves. This would fall under topicallity and variety.
2. Product videos: With new innovations coming out every year, it would be nice to have some videos demoing the benefits and advantages of using newly released products. This would fall in the range of specifity.
3. Sales: By having our sales clearly visible on the website, we can steal some customers who might have otherwise gone to a competing company. This would fall in the category of familiarity of online shoppers looking for local deals.
4. Learning center section: Many times customers may be interested in a particular sport or item, but have little to no knowledge regarding it. A learning center section of the webpage would provide customers with general tips and knowledge (ex: how to choose the right type of bike). This would be associated with curiosity.
5. Map of stores and locations: Although the store was originally on McCully Street, it has actually moved further down King Street. Aside from this, it’s also a surprising fact to our customers that most of our serious bike repairs are done at our warehouse location on Hausten street. Knowing which store location to go to would save time and possible frustration. This would fall under accessibility.

There are many things that the website could add to improve its effectiveness towards customers. The one thing that I would like to see happen: “get the community involved!!” As a local business, McCully bike needs to separate itself from the big stores (ie. Walmart) and bring that feeling of family to the local community. Showing local events on their website that are happening and trying to get people involved would not only promote business, but strive to create lasting relationships with customers.

I feel that the this week’s readings regarding the growth of innovation compliment each other quite well. The first article was very interesting in the fact that it broke down many factors which lead to the success or downfall of a new innovation. The second article invokes the reader to take steps in pursuing innovation. Rather then sitting on the sideline waiting for great ideas to happen, we should all strive to take part in further developing ideas. Finally, the last article takes into account how the majority must be taken into account, at least in the later stages of innovation. I really like the way he pointed out: “the user is not like me.” Overall, the three articles strive to teach us how innovations spread, how they can be conceived, and how they relate to the outside. So yeah, I definitely think that these articles are talking about the same thing, though in different view points.

An innovation that I think will be very interesting to be a part of in the next five years is the development of a more powerful and portable energy source. We have all these great inventions being developed (i.e. smart phones) but don’t really have a strong enough power source to match. Here is a link showing some of the interesting developments being developed today:


Since the creation of the battery many years ago, there are already many leads of information to hunt down. Taking from Agre, meeting with experts in the profession and forming thought groups to bounce ideas would be a good way to see not only what’s out there, but what hasn’t been tried yet. Taking from Wejnert, we can see that there is a real public demand for better energy sources. Even if the initial costs are high, the more developed this innovation becomes the better the cost versus benefit ratio will become.

Three other ways that could help the spread of this innovation:
1. Holding sessions at Universities to get the new generation interested in something that they will probably be affected by.
2. Trying to set future trends along the line of current trends. Ie. everyone wants cleaner energy now.
3. Getting the people interested in new developments in energy through the social infrastructure. Spreading news through youtube and facebook about what may be possible in the future along with what is happening now.

Similarly to Hong’s approach, we are thinking along the lines of the general public. While not everyone may be interested in how the new and stronger batteries work, virtually everyone knows the irritation that comes with our limited developments in batteries.

Since this blog is being used for a course in “The Social Information Infrastructure”, it seems only appropriate that we first elaborate a bit more about what those words mean. Our first week’s readings came in the forms of two online texts, and a blog, which is where the majority of this week’s blog derives.

Too be honest, before this week’s readings, I’m not sure how I would define an infrastructure. When we think about infrastructures, the first things that probably come to mind involve various forms of structures and construction. The World English Dictionary defines infrastructure as “the basic structure of an organization, system, etc.” Elaborating from the Bowker et al. and Erickson readings, I find that the social information infrastructure is very much like a spider web. As Bowker et al. points out early in their text “Beyond bricks, mortar, pipes or wires, infrastructure also encompasses more abstract entities, such as protocols (human and computer),standards, and memory”. The social information infrastructure is a seemingly infinite number of connections ranging from hard and software, to the people who use them. If we leave any one aspect out, our web loses that much more integrity. Adding to this train of thought, Erikson points out that our infrastructure isn’t only defined physically, and that “other sorts of online activity also count as social – creating a web page, bidding for something on eBay™, following someone on Twitter™, making an edit to Wikipedia. These actions may not involve people we know, and may not lead to interactions, but nevertheless they are social because we do them with other people in mind: the belief that we have an audience – even if it is composed of strangers we will never meet – shapes what we do, how we do it, and why we do it.” Taking from this, we are able to define the social information infrastructure as the combination of physical people and equipment, along with the actions associated with them,

Upon reading a portion of Erikson’s virtual textbook, which I enjoyed the most out of the three texts assigned. I appreciated how cleanly he divided the sections of the chapter in a way that was very clear and easy to follow. I also liked how he used real world examples of things, that as college students, we have probably experienced to some extent. I did however find that the commentary and quotes near the bibliography a bit of an over extension. I thoroughly enjoyed the article, and felt like the extra stuff didn’t really add all that much to my experience. I did think that the videos were a good resource to have, though I primarily read the text.

A good example of social computing that affected me occurred very recently. I have a friend who has been in Japan for the last couple of years. He’s involved with the JET program which focuses on teaching English to Japanese students. Anyways, I had heard that he had gotten married overseas and I had been invited to the friends and family reception. How does this involve social information infrastructure, you ask?

Well the cultural practice of celebrating the union of matrimony sparked the passing of information. The act of celebrating marriage with friends and family is much older than the first computers, and it’s nice to see how the old traditions marry the new methods of doing things.

Similarly as Bowker et al. points out in his discussion: “And yet there is inevitably a cultural dimension as well. People love libraries and campuses; they don’t tend to feel so fond of their computer screens.” Though we are not bosom buddies, we do have a history of playing tennis and attending the same University. This type of personal connection, is the reason which such methods within our infrastructure exist.

We were also friends on facebook. And in fact, through facebook’s media sharing capabilities, I was able to see pictures of his wedding and wife. As Erikson points at the importance of “linking of information to identity. That is, information is associated with people, and, for the purposes of social computing, the association of information with identity matters.” The information in the form of pictures, was posted with an audience in mind, namely friends and family. My friend could have just kept the pictures on his hard drive, or even make a scrap book. The whole purpose of sharing across facebook was in order to set up a personal connection to something he values.

It was many months later that I would be invited to the reception. He had lost my contact information, but luckily we had a mutual friend who contacted me via text asking for my address. I sent him the info, and later received a letter in the mail.

The letter I received turned out to be an invitation. The fact that he took the extra effort to send a traditional invitation as opposed to an e-vite, really takes into account the traditional practices that are still used today. “The question is whether we choose, for any given problem, a primarily social or a technical solution, or some combination. It is the distribution of solutions that is of concern as the object of study and as a series of elements that support infrastructure in different ways at different moments.” (Bowker et al.) Sure it would have been faster if I got the invitation electronically, but would it be the same message? What are some of your experiences with the Social Information Network?

The information about my friend coming back stateside and throwing a party became “popular” through the passing between friends. Aside from useful information, it’s worthwhile to look at some of the Bacon Cats floating on the web. In our final reading we read about a the Bacon Cat Law of Internet Popularity, stating the impossibility of predicting what becomes viral. In response, I agree that maybe 8 of the 10 things that I find or am given off the web tend to be Bacon Cats. We live in an interesting world, where the majority of the population would be more interested in seeing dancing kittens on youtube, versus an address made by our president. Just look at the most viewed section of facebook, and count for me the number of Bacon Cats in the top ten. No matter how senseless, if my friends find something amusing, they immediately spread it to other people who continue to spread the URL until it ends up being the highlight on “Equals Three”. Another fact which supports the Bacon Cat Law is that people go looking for the useless information. Aside from work, there are many people who use the Social Information Infrastructure recreationally. From posting wedding pictures to showing off your amazing skills on the latest first person shooter, the internet has become a playground. Treating it as such, it’s not really all that surprising to find a surplus of Bacon Cats. Not saying that it’s a bad thing though ;).

Hello world!

Posted: January 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

Hello World -ics491karasu