You better buy the cow, because I do not work for free.

Some of the themes in Howard Rheingold’s book, Net Smart, seem to be

  • give your full attention to people online and off-line
  • check your privacy settings on Facebook and be mindful that whatever you write online, because it will be there forever
  • to participate to help others and build your social capital

I found these to be common sense and good ideas. However, there are things such as remixing of copyrighted materials, which I did not agree with.

No copyright infringement for you!

As a small business owner who has dabbled in photography and videography, I do not agree with people taking works and remixing it into their own works and calling it “fair use,” if these people are getting paid for it. I fully stand by the copyright law, and I believe that people must ask for permission before using it. If there is a fee involved, fine. The artist has spent a lot of time creating his or her artwork, and they should be paid for it.

Now, if that artist wishes to create things for the public domain, or as Rheingold calls it, “collaboration” with others, that is fine too, but in the latter, the artist was asked if they want to share their work for free, when another person wants to create a project with that artist’s help.

I can do it, but it will cost you…

Moreover, just like with “playbor,” where people are doing work that seems more like play, but they are not getting paid for it, people need to know this upfront. While Rheingold said that many people do playbor to help the greater good, I, personally, fit into the group that refuses to be exploited. I, unfortunately, have been in that position of doing work and not getting paid for it before, and I will not let it happen again. I believe this is one of the reasons why corporations keep making a profit, while their employees who earn so little, continue to make so little, because there is no reason for the corporations to pay a decent salary when there are people who are willing to do the work for free, or for mere pennies.

Similarly, Rheingold mentioned to help others and to pay it forward, so that others will help you when you need it. He says that he helps everyone who contacts him. But, in my opinion, this is only possible if you do not work a full-time job and or have a family to raise too. Free moments should be spent with the family and relaxing from work. And for those who receive so much email and other messages, this sounds like too much work. I do believe that we should leave the world a better place than how we came into it, but helping others all day leaves little time for oneself and one’s own needs.

Understand, that I know for a fact that if I tried to respond to every message on Facebook or email, providing advice or whatever is needed, I would spend an entire day and not be done, because people respond back with even more questions. I do understand the importance of giving my full-attention to whomever I am talking to face-to-face, but online? I can maybe do that with a couple of people who I have a good relationship with, but if I did that for every email and message, I would not have any time for the most important people in my life, which is my family. Thus, I am happy to fail at gaining online social capital.

Disappearing websites? Say it ain’t so!

After reading Rheingold’s how-to instructions on Facebook privacy, I was wondering why his publisher would allow this information to take up space. Rheingold, himself, has stated, Facebook changes its privacy settings often. Thus, his steps for changing Facebook’s privacy settings probably became obsolete within a month or two after his book’s publication.

Now, as someone who has written for online publications before, naming that amount of websites that he did is a big no-no, and for the same reason that I mentioned in the above paragraph. Websites can go obsolete or change their urls within weeks of publication. I would assume that adding website urls in a printed book would be a much bigger taboo. But since it has been years since I last had something published in physical form, perhaps the rules have changed.

Anyway, I think that Rheingold’s book is good for beginners who are looking to enhance their social capital, build good online networks, know where they could go to participate in collaborating, and to learn what not to do online. While there were times that I thought, “Oh, yes, I should do that more,” I did not leave learning something totally new. This may be because I may be a more advanced user of social media…who is trying to actually back away from social media as it was taking up too much of my life. It will be interesting what I do next with my life in regards to social media. How about you?

Posted on October 24, 2015, in Literacy, Social Media, Technology and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I always think that it’s interesting to hear from someone who came away from a shared experience (like reading a book) with a completely different outlook. Maybe it’s because I am still a young professional with only five years experience under my belt, not a seasoned professional like yourself, but I enjoyed reading Rheingold’s book and took a lot of his arguments to heart.

    It was refreshing to hear for once someone discussing the Internet and social media in a positive and constructive way. He gave a lot of different suggestions as to how we can manage our online presence and still remain engaged with our offline relationships – giving the power and the responsibility back to the individual and trusting that the human race can find a balance despite and even through our increased connectivity.

    As a graphic designer I’m also sensitive to being asked to do work for free. I want to be paid for my time too! However, the examples that you’re referencing in checking emails and responding to Facebook messages are not what I got out of that chapter at all! There are ways that we participate in crowd sourcing in a constructive way that doesn’t involve taking our focus from family time. Take google maps for example. When I am sourcing navigation instructions from my phone I am also contributing to the traffic data in real time to help make the app’s info more accurate. I don’t expect to get paid for supplying that information because I benefit from the free info garnered from all of the other drivers. No time was waisted and I don’t need to send Google an invoice.

    While on the subject, Google is also starting to use cropped images from Google maps ( as the basis for those CAPTCHA quizzes that used to use squiggly letters to verify that you’re a human. You would have to enter a CAPTCHA answer to submit your form anyways, but now that you’re using your human brain to decipher numbers sourced from Google Map images your input helps make street signs and house numbers more accurate for the good of the many people who use that service!

    I agree that we all have to draw our own lines when it comes to social media, ‘playbor’ and the content that we freely offer the internet. That’s what I took away from the book. If your line is… closer… than other people’s, that’s totally up to you! It sounds like you’re already mindful and careful with your intellectual property. Other people will make their own decisions.

    • I never thought of the google maps contributions! I was just reminded this initiative: According to a news piece about it,

      WikiCrimes in Brazil, and similar initiatives in Venezuela, Panama, Mexico, Argentina and Chile, provide interactive maps that people can use to anonymously report crimes, describe what happened and pinpoint the location. In this way, crime mapping identifies danger zones – crime hotspots – within a region with generally high crime rates, to enhance people’s awareness, preparedness and safety.

    • I really appreciate your comments here Allie, so thoughtful. And I thought the CAPTCHA approach was so cool–until now. I guess I know where my lines are drawn.

      Mary had a related sentiment on her post about Netflix. It appeared to her that Netflix was pushing potential content to in her queque that she didn’t ask for/select. After a bit of research, it turns out that all those ratings you give aren’t just helping the video rankings themselves.

      They also tell Netflix what you like to watch which helps them know what to put in your recommendations. But, they also compare you to other users. Like Google putting the CAPTCHAS to good use, Netflix is putting your stars to good use. They take those ratings to help inform what others like you will see in their recommendations.

      I don’t if it’s cool. It’s feel kinda Big Brother-ish. We’re back to those lines you were talking about.

  2. I was surprised about the URLs too and had thought it was because it was an MIT University Press publication and they often maintain both open access versions of their books and updated web components, but it looks like that wasn’t the case with this book:

    I think you could write an entire paper about playbor, copyright infringement and the work of creative commons licenses! See and Nudge, nudge πŸ˜‰

    I admire your statements about refusing to be exploited and “no” is my favorite word, but I do wonder about people in positions where they can’t say no as well as how difficult that can be in tough economic times. For example, I was in a 2 hour meeting today discussing budget cuts to our college and the only solution that we have is upping the course load for our already exploited adjuncts, even when the art school’s accreditation agency clearly states we cannot. But tell that to the provost, board of regents, and governor. As much as we try to argue how detrimental this will be to our students, no one listens. 😦

  3. I thought the whole Facebook privacy thing was odd too. I’m not sure how he could have addressed it better though. Perhaps, he could have instructed someone how to best search for the most current and accurate information on the web to find such information. I know from experience that Facebook makes it exceedingly hard to find all the information regarding their privacy settings and difficult to stay up-to-date on them. I am still mad that I am no longer able to keep my profile photo hidden… although they could have changed again.

    I also have to agree with you on the URLs. Countless times I have encountered outdated URLs in materials that I have ran across. While it doesn’t necessarily take away from the author’s credibility, it sure does make me irritated with the author for bothering to post them.

  4. Hmmm, if no one listens there is always posting on social media or tipping off the media. People seem to act more properly if they feel someone is watching. πŸ™‚ But thank you for trying to help out the college students.

    And thank you, Professor, for the paper idea.Maybe that can be the subject for my paper that we have to have done in December? πŸ™‚

    Allie, people can use their time how they wish. If it does not effect me, then I am fine with it. But I do not like companies being sneaky about getting their tedious work done for free by the unsuspecting public. If there is fine print, of course, most people are not going to read that. Big companies are always trying to find ways to make the CEOs richer. Big companies already get hand outs from the government, many companies only provide minimum wage to their worker base, and now companies are using the masses to do free work for them too? (Besides, also using the traffic of the masses for making money on advertising on their websites).

    To Rebecca and Aaron, thank you for posting. I have to agree with both of you. It is a bit creepy. As for Facebook, they should be aware that there are people who need for stay complete private for a reason (stalkers, abusive people, etc.).

  1. Pingback: So long, and thanks for all the fish | Communication Strategies for Emerging Media

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