Tag Archives: comments

like spiders in a dataweb

Despite my paralyzing arachnophobia, I believe that we are consistently moving toward a future of becoming spiders within datawebs of our very own creation. I use this metaphor as often we are unaware of our own web we leave behind, data dropping becoming second nature in a world that relies heavily on human insight to power consumerism and government policy. “A “digital trail” is a trace you leave behind you” describes Dr. Elisa Orelgia with this unprecedented future leaving insight into what the data trails look like now and what they may look like in the future (2016).

If we break down how our data is collected daily, both on purpose and not, we can observe how much of an impact data has on our lives right now. Pod Academy’s episode on “Digital Breadcrumbs” encompasses this idea as they tell the story of Amanda, a modern woman who gives away bits of information from the moment she wakes up and checks the weather to buying her coffee with contactless payment (2016). All of this data amounts to more than “44 zetabytes” every day as of 2020 and is growing every day (Desjardins 2019). Such an influx in information is fueling consumer culture but also services that may not come to mind immediately like healthcare and travel. There are arguments for the benefits and dangers of such extensive webs but it can be concluded that there certainly has “never in human history been such an information explosion” with that ‘explosion’ only growing by the day (Saha 2020).

The future also includes a growing movement toward combining the nostalgia of past establishments with data acquirance of the modern world. SFU’s Publishing Department wished to explore this unique juxtaposition in the example of Amazon’s physical bookstore where he attempted to  “purchase a book without leaving any data,” a task proving more difficult than he had thought with all sorts of sign ins required (2016). This is a growing phenomena with artificial intelligence technologies using neural networks through (LLM) large language models to analyze databases and provide ‘advice’ based on analytics. Such regularly inputted data is a two way street with location data improving safety while simultaneously compromising user locations on a range of applications. This said, strategies are being put in place to mitigate such an influx in misuse of data with tech policy growing as fast as the amounts of data we provide.

From clear use of data within AI to the terms and conditions we often refuse to read, data is being taken and given at the fastest rate ever seen and it truly has become the propulsion of our world. It seems, for better or worse, we have become the spiders in a dataweb, but it is up to us to decide whether we are the one weaving them.


Works Cited

Desjardins, J. (2019, April 17). How much data is generated each day? World Economic Forum. Retrieved March 28, 2023, from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/04/how-much-data-is-generated-each-day-cf4bddf29f/

Pod Academy. (2016, May 3). Digital Breadcrumbs: The data trail we leave behind us. Pod Academy. Retrieved March 28, 2023, from http://podacademy.org/podcasts/digital-breadcrumbs-our-data-trail/

Saha, D. (2021, July 16). Google cloud brandvoice: How the world became data-driven, and what’s next. Forbes. Retrieved March 28, 2023, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/googlecloud/2020/05/20/how-the-world-became-data-driven-and-whats-next/?sh=386bdb8457fc

SFU Publishing. (2016, March 7). Trying not to drop breadcrumbs in Amazon’s store. Publishing | Graduate and Undergraduate Studies – Simon Fraser University. Retrieved March 28, 2023, from https://www.sfu.ca/publishing/news/editorials/trying-not-to-drop-breadcrumbs-in-amazon-s-store.html


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Community Guidelines

The site’s community guidelines will be centered around my community standards which are heavily informed by The Guardian’s community standards. These include:

  1. I acknowledge criticism of the articles I publish, but will defend my stance as these are simply my subjective opinions regarding topics.
  2. While I understand that some people feel strongly about certain topics, I will remove any comments that may be disturbing or threatening to others.
  3. I will not tolerate racism, sexism, homophobia, or any other form of hate-speech.
  4. I will remove any comments that are evidently commercial or spam.
  5. I welcome debate and dissent, and even personal attacks.

While most of these guidelines are inspired by The Guardian’s standards, the fifth and final guideline is rather unconventional. I will be offering an anonymous option in my comments section so that users of all walks of life feel comfortable participating — especially people that may need to hide their identity. For instance, my essay surrounding Iran’s recent protests may prompt Iranian citizens to comment; however, they may want to conceal their real names due to the regime’s violent crackdowns.

The fifth community guideline makes me think of the TED Talk we watched in class, “How I turn negative Comments into positive interactions”. The speaker expressed that anonymous users feel more comfortable to say what they want and to critique; however, this often leads to hate comments. I feel that while some people will critique my posts, I am open to criticism. As the speaker explained, “empathy is not endorsement”, and therefore, this creates a more open platform for dialogue.

On the other hand, this is simply a local photography blog so I honestly can’t say I’ll stir up any controversy. With that said, “you can’t exist as a writer for very long without learning that something you write is going to upset someone, sometime, somewhere” (Atwood, 2022, para. 7).

I will implement these guidelines by outlining them in a separate page. This way, users understand that their comments will be public and they can follow the standards. Also, having open interaction will allow me to document how people engage with certain topics. Comments coupled with Google Analytics will allow me to determine what kind of content is best for my audience. These tools will address the question: What does my audience want to see? Finally, while there is a contact page where people can directly request certain topics, I believe people are more inclined to comment organically as they engage with content. 

It’s been a pleasure creating this site — thank you! 🙂

Process Post #12

Online comments & Community guidelines

The online comment area should be regarded as the embodiment of freedom and democracy. We can be frank in the comment area, exchange ideas in-depth and understand each other’s views to participate in the topic discussion. However, at the same time, it is also the place where language violence and harm are the most serious. One of the most common critiques of online comments cites a disconnect between the commenter’s identity and what he is saying (Konnikova, 2013). Psychologist John Suler calls this phenomenon the “online disinhibition effect” (Konnikova, 2013). The theory is that when you get rid of your identity, the usual constraints on your behaviour will also disappear (Maria konnikova, 2013). This can be even worse with anonymity. 

Konnikova said that of the 900 randomly selected user comments on articles about immigration, 53% of anonymous commentators were uncivilized, while 29% of registered non-anonymous commentators were uncivilized (2013). Therefore, Konnikova concluded that anonymity encouraged rude behaviour (2013). How should we deal with such physical behaviour? Becky Gardiner et al. said it was simple: “do not read comments,” or turn them off completely (2016). Many people have done this by permanently disabling their comment threads because they become too laborious to disturb (Becky Gardiner et al., 2016). However, simply deleting comments is not a perfect solution. Konnikova said that deleting comments will affect the reading experience (2013). It may take away the motivation to participate more deeply in a topic and share it with a broader audience.

My attitude towards my comment area is to welcome everyone to express any opinions in the comment area since I found this blog. I encourage everyone to participate and create an atmosphere of shared learning and discussion. I have not received any comments so far, not to mention malicious or offensive comments. However, through this week’s reading, I really should consider the concern of comments, so I may create an online community guide in the future to maintain a friendly, open-minded, and respectful discussion area. For example, I might make the first rule that any derogatory comments of any race, religion, gender, age, or ability are unacceptable.

Moreover, I will make it clear in the community guide that such comments will be reviewed and may be deleted. I hope all discussions will focus on topics of common interest rather than offensive comments about others. At the same time, based on my desire to create a shared learning environment, my community guide will make this point clear again. For example, I would advise people to post valuable and relevant content to help others. Furthermore, expect users to submit content based on their own honest opinions and experiences.

This is my current idea for community guidelines, and I will create a dedicated community guidelines page in the future. Starting from the mission and value of my website, I will list out clear key points and rules that create a safe space for my entire audience to connect and interact with each other.


Featured Image via Pinterest

Gardiner, B., Mansfield, M., Anderson, I., Holder, J., Louter, D., & Ulmanu, M. (2016, April 12). The Dark Side of Guardian comments. The Guardian. Retrieved March 28, 2022, from https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/apr/12/the-dark-side-of-guardian-comments 

Konnikova, M. (2013, October 23). The psychology of online comments. The New Yorker. Retrieved March 28, 2022, from https://www.newyorker.com/tech/annals-of-technology/the-psychology-of-online-comments


Week 12 – Diving into the Deep End of Comments

The comments section can be a nasty place.

We learned early on about the online disinhibition effect, which implies that anonymity may allow one to shed their usual restraints or integrity. This means that you may say something you wouldn’t normally or engage in a conversation you would usually avoid because no one actually knows who you are.

This is easily facilitated throughout comment sections that allow people to post anonymously. An article from the New Yorker discusses how comments are often uncivil because there are no consequences for your words. Posting anonymously allows you to say whatever you want and then hide away and pretend it never happened.

“Without the traditional trappings of personal communication, like non-verbal cues, context, and tone, comments can become overly impersonal and cold.”

Maria Konnikova

This article also notes that anonymity is not always bad, but it can promote engagement, risk taking and creativity. Konnikova discusses how people may be more likely to participate in a conversation.

Another article posted by the Guardian talked about who faces the most abuse online. This article showed data revealing that women, people of faith, or members of the LGBTQ+ community received the most abusive comments.

I have often left comments on friend’s posts, or community events, but I often leave this section alone because of all the hate and abuse that can occur. It hurts my heart to see the words people post when they are protected by the anonymity of their computer screen.

But can these interactions be turned into something good?

We watched a Ted Talk in class from Dylan Marron that showed how negative comments could be turned into positive interactions. He has received tons of internet hate from the videos he has created, and he decided that he would call them to try and regain the humanity behind their comment.

A lot of these phone calls went really well, and Marron was able to prompt commentors to think before they post. The most impactful thing he said was that empathy is not endorsement. We can disagree with someone but still try and understand their viewpoint.

“Empathy is not endorsement.”

Dylan Marron

This is so needed today. There is so much hate and division between people with different political or cultural views.

Empathy allows us to extend understanding to the people around us.

Empathy allows us to realize that we all have different upbringings, relationships with our parents, and histories of abuse.

Empathy allows us to see the human in the person before us and take a moment to understand before jumping into hate.

There are people behind every post. Extend empathy before posting cruel messages or a critical comments.

Enjoy the sunshine today friends 😊