Showing posts with label face negotiation theory. Show all posts
Showing posts with label face negotiation theory. Show all posts

Monday, July 23, 2012

Why the Web Divides Us

The Internet has changed many things. But it has not changed the insular habits of mind that make us replicate in our online social networks the physical networks we already have; in other words, connecting with only those who share our interests, laying waste to the utopia of a truly connected world. Ethan Zuckerman's older TED talk on this topic - here . Author Eli Pariser 2011 TED talk on the dangers of a  "personalized web" above.

Both Zukerman and Pariser arrive at the same point: the need for algorithms that let us discover what we want to know as well as what we need to know. But that conclusion still sounds vague. The question is: can developers come up with curatoral algorithms that can look into a mish mash of  unfamilairity and spot in a culture alien to us, and in a context completly different from what we know, the sameness of things we value and cherish? Such curation is a tall order even for humans.

In the 2012 spring issue of the Wilson Quarterly, Ethan Zuckerman argues :
A central paradox of this connected age is that while it’s easier than ever to share information and perspectives from different parts of the world, we may be encountering a narrower picture of the world than we did in less connected days... Despite these lowered barriers, today’s American television news features less than half as many international stories as were broadcast in the 1970s... Search engines tell us what we want to know, but they can’t tell us what we might need to know. Social media such as Facebook or Twitter might tell you to pay attention to cassette recordings in Iran, but only if your friends include Iranians. Social media are a powerful discovery engine, but what you’re discovering is what your friends know. If you’re lucky enough to have a diverse, knowledgeable set of friends online, they may lead you in unexpected directions. But birds of a feather flock together, both online and offline, and your friends are more likely to help you discover the unexpected in your hometown than in another land.
The most powerful discovery engines online may be curated publications such as The New York Times or The Guardian. Editors of these publications are driven by a mission to provide their audiences with the broad picture of the world they need in order to be effective citizens, consumers, and businesspeople. But professional curators have their inevitable biases and blind spots. Much as we know to search for the news we think will affect our lives, editors deploy reporting resources toward parts of the world with strategic and economic significance. When mysteries unfold in corners of the world we’re used to ignoring, such as Tunisia, curators are often left struggling to catch up. The limits of online information sources are a challenge both for us and for the people building the next generation of online tools. 
If we rigorously examine the media we’re encountering online, looking for topics and places we hear little about, we may be able to change our behavior, adding different and dissenting views to our social networks, seeking out new sources of news. But this task would be vastly easier if the architects of Internet tools took up the cause of helping to broaden worldviews. Facebook already notices that you’ve failed to “friend” a high school classmate and tries to connect you. It could look for strangers in Africa or India who share your interests and broker an introduction. Google tracks every search you undertake so it can more effectively target ads to you. It could also use that information to help you discover compelling content about topics you’ve never explored, adding a serendipity engine to its formidable search function. Why aren’t engineers racing to build the new tools that will help unravel the mysteries of a connected world? They may be waiting for indicators that we want them and are ready to use them.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Madagascar: The Mystery of Haggling Revealed

Recently discovered this NPR piece from '06. Seattle based filmmaker Celia Beasley packed it all up and moved to Madagascar. In this heart warming radio piece on NPR she talks about succumbing to expensive Western styled supermarkets in order to avoid the bewildering, though much cheaper, world of the open air market. But what she found most intimidating about the Malagasy markets was the art of haggling. Listen:

From the transcript:
After surveying my fiance's Malagasy co-workers and got an approximate price for a kilo of bananas--1,600 ariary, about 80 cents. I marched up to the closest produce stand and asked for a kilo of bananas... Three thousand ariary. 'That's the foreigner price,' I said, and you know what she did? She nodded. (laughter) 'I want the Malagasy price,' I said... Huh? She'd given me the Malagasy price all right in Malagasy. I realized then that bargaining isn't just about getting the lowest price. It's about having a human interaction. She was telling me that I have to earn the Malagasy price, and just like that, we'd established a relationship. Sure, I can shop only at supermarkets where I know I'll get the same price as everyone else, but there's nothing challenging or human about that.
fyi: I think everyone, even Africans, start out as Westerners when it comes to haggling. It is a 3 part art: it's an ethical as well as social instinct (human interaction), a type of general knowledge (of foods, prices and seasons) and a skill (negotiation). But contrary to what Celia thought, traders in African cities will readily tell you that Westerners, once they've gotten the hang of haggling, turn into cutthroat hagglers.

I think it's because, being foreign, you always think you are being had (and most of the time you are) and also because if you don't speak the lanuage you are prevented from partaking in the full range of human interaction that will properly earn you the deserving low price. So foreigners tend to go with the third part and approach the haggle as tough negotiators, quoting a ridiculously low price, sticking to their guns, bumming the trader out until he or she gives in or refuses to continue with the back and forth.


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