Mashups and feedback loops readings

1. Mashups: The new breed of Web app, An introduction to mashups:

Duane Merrill gives an in depth description of Web applications. He denotes the difficulties and the progress of public domains in providing open APIs in order to facilitate mashups for third party users. The best and most common example is Google Maps. Web servers that don’t provide open APIs result in Screen scrapping, which is a less reliable way of stripping data from a server. Usually JavaScript is used to create client side requests that execute the logic on the server-side data library. Screen Scrapping is the alternate method of mashing up data to API , this method uses data that is created for human consumption. Mashers can write programs to strip this data, though it is not always consistent since most sites change these tags often when updating the visualization of their content. Ajax is a useful technology to load content that is extracted from a server to refresh content without having to reload or refresh the entire page. The main problem with Ajax is that the user needs to have javaScript enabled on their browser to parse the reloaded content. Merrill poses the social problems of mashups, he denotes that intellectual property is the most salient obstacle. Today, these are not always used seriously, but rather a hobby or a non-profiting project that integrates data. As servers realize the profits of providing open APIs for their content new rules and protocols will be set in place to set forth intellectual property guidelines for creating sophisticated applications.

2. Grey Album Producer Danger Mouse Explains How He Did It,
In this essay Corey Moss interviews Brian Burton, composer of the “Grey Album”. Burton compiled Jay-Z’s The Black Album and the Beatle’s The White Album to create a mashup of Jay-Z’s cappella and the Beatle’s music beats. As the interview continues Burton states that he did not expect for this album to be public, neither gaining the amount of visibility it has received. Partly because when he was in the midst of production he realized that some people, including his friends, could consider it sacrilege to the Beatles. This album is just another sampling compilation, like the many we see in hip hop. The interesting aspect of it is the socio-racial connotations it implies. Though artistically it stands aside from these implications. It is impossible to ignore its social aspect. The Beatles greatly represent the Anglo population of American society, and The Black Album seems to have the same social weight in commentary to the African American society. I don’t see Burton’s album, as just another sampling album, but a strong comment on the way American culture should head towards the future. Blurring the cultural boundaries that persisted for hundreds of years, in this case The Grey Album poses the ultimate description of our current culture and society working towards integration.

3. 1+1+1+1=1 The New Math of Mashups:
Sasha Frere-Jones investigates different music mashups that have been popularized lately. Her first example is the “Frontin’ on Debra” mashup created by Jeremy Brown, DJ Reset. She explains that the song by Beck “Debra” and “Frontin’ ” in collaboration by Jay-Z and Pharell are not similar in style, but rather have an interesting correlation in content. She writes about their content as “for inept Romeos everywhere”, since in both songs the artists make abrupt misogynistic remarks. Then Fere-Jones critiques the The Grey Album, not considering a mashup because their content is so filtered that the origin of the work is not clear. She goes more in depth on the intellectual property rights of Jay-Z’s song “99 Problems”, denoting that the song already has 2 other samples from accredited copyrights.
So what we are seeing is this cycling of samples that later gets discarded and re-contained. Mashing “99 Problems” with another song means sampling, from a sample mashup. This brings a huge question for appropriation does the latest mashup artist owe reference to the sample owners used in Jay-Z’s original?

4. Hacking, Mashing, Gluing: Understanding Opportunistic Design:
Björn Hartmann, Scott Doorley, and Scott R. Klemmer co-authored this research based paper to investigate the use of existing technologies for creating new projects. They divided their research in three sections, Web 2.0, hardware, and ubiquitous computing. From each section they selected 4 participants. Their goal was to pinpoint the uses of pre-existing technologies in the individuals’ projects. For the Web based group 2 of them used Google Maps API, which leads to the argument on expanding publicly accessible API’s. All of the Web participants ran into the same issue at the culmination of their projects, even though some had been offered commercial support for their application, intellectual property rights made it impossible for these projects to be economically viable. As far as the hardware spectrum, the participants were mainly using off the shelf components and other products to evoke a specific concept in mind. Which mean that these mashups, were really prototypes. The idea behind the connection of the objects was more important than the context of the objects themselves. As for Ubicomp participants, there was a salient example of a sound designer. He used other game technologies available and created a physical patch for music interaction. These complex systems can be forged with “dove-tails” or “hot-glue”, write the authors. They consider that a mashup will have a varying amounts of solid and lose connections because of the nature of compatibility within systems.

5. Harnessing the Power of Feedback Loops: Thomas Goetz. Wired Magazine, 2011:
Feedback loops have become an integral part of our lives to accentuate positive behaviour. Thomas Goetz gives the example of radar-speed signs in school zones. He describes how law enforcement could not manage to make motorists respect school zone speed limits by force. If they set out a policemen to ticket people, or flashing lights, regardless of consequence drivers would still not comply with the law. Once they introduced a radar speedometer that exposed each car’s speed publicly on a board, then finally drivers began to change their behaviour. The article asserts that drivers are more struck by reading their speed from a radar display, than their own speedometer on their dashboard, to change their behaviour. I think this has to do with social pressure rather than simply a feedback emotional response. If your speed is plastered across the highway, or school zone, the social pressure of being publicly exposed changes your behaviour.
Feedback loops have a more effective result when retrieving data that is not obvious. For example, Patel’s experiment on electric noise monitoring. This interface results in useful information, that could not be gathered easily, but is necessary to be conscientious about. Examples like the GreenGoose by Krejcarek deal directly with the wanted and personal monitoring of behaviour. With RFID tags, and accelerometers, he managed to create a system that records the use of certain objects that imply behaviour, such as brushing teeth or sweeping. Depending on the amount of use, the GreenGoose keeps the data as points that can later be used for games on his website. This reward model is not necessary, but it acts as an incentive to promote people’s positive actions.

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