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robertogreco : yelp   9

Bret Easton Ellis on Living in the Cult of Likability - The New York Times
"On a recent episode of the television series “South Park,” the character Cartman and other townspeople who are enthralled with Yelp, the app that lets customers rate and review restaurants, remind maître d’s and waiters that they will be posting reviews of their meals. These “Yelpers” threaten to give the eateries only one star out of five if they don’t please them and do exactly as they say. The restaurants feel that they have no choice but to comply with the Yelpers, who take advantage of their power by asking for free dishes and making suggestions on improving the lighting. The restaurant employees tolerate all this with increasing frustration and anger — at one point Yelp reviewers are even compared to the Islamic State group — before both parties finally arrive at a truce. Yet unknown to the Yelpers, the restaurants decide to get their revenge by contaminating the Yelpers’ plates with every bodily fluid imaginable.

The point of the episode is that today everyone thinks that they’re a professional critic (“Everyone relies on my Yelp reviews!”), even if they have no idea what they’re talking about. But it’s also a bleak commentary on what has become known as the “reputation economy.” In depicting the restaurants’ getting their revenge on the Yelpers, the episode touches on the fact that services today are also rating us, which raises a question: How will we deal with the way we present ourselves online and in social media, and how do individuals brand themselves in what is a widening corporate culture?

The idea that everybody thinks they’re specialists with voices that deserve to be heard has actually made everyone’s voice less meaningful. All we’re doing is setting ourselves up to be sold to — to be branded, targeted and data-mined. But this is the logical endgame of the democratization of culture and the dreaded cult of inclusivity, which insists that all of us must exist under the same umbrella of corporate regulation — a mandate that dictates how we should express ourselves and behave.

Most people of a certain age probably noticed this when they joined their first corporation, Facebook, which has its own rules regarding expressions of opinion and sexuality. Facebook encouraged users to “like” things, and because it was a platform where many people branded themselves on the social Web for the first time, the impulse was to follow the Facebook dictum and present an idealized portrait of their lives — a nicer, friendlier, duller self. And it was this burgeoning of the likability cult and the dreaded notion of “relatability” that ultimately reduced everyone to a kind of neutered clockwork orange, enslaved to the corporate status quo. To be accepted we have to follow an upbeat morality code where everything must be liked and everybody’s voice respected, and any person who has a negative opinion — a dislike — will be shut out of the conversation. Anyone who resists such groupthink is ruthlessly shamed. Absurd doses of invective are hurled at the supposed troll to the point that the original “offense” often seems negligible by comparison.

I’ve been rated and reviewed since I became a published author at the age of 21, so this environment only seems natural to me. A reputation emerged based on how many reviewers liked or didn’t like my book. That’s the way it goes — cool, I guess. I was liked as often as I was disliked, and that was OK because I didn’t get emotionally involved. Being reviewed negatively never changed the way I wrote or the topics I wanted to explore, no matter how offended some readers were by my descriptions of violence and sexuality. As a member of Generation X, rejecting, or more likely ignoring, the status quo came easily to me. One of my generation’s loudest anthems was Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation,” whose chorus rang out: “I don’t give a damn about my reputation/ I’ve never been afraid of any deviation.” I was a target of corporate-think myself when the company that owned my publishing house decided it didn’t like the contents of a particular novel I had been contracted to write and refused to publish it on the grounds of “taste.” (I could have sued but another publisher who liked the book published it instead.) It was a scary moment for the arts — a conglomerate was deciding what should and should not be published and there were loud arguments and protests on both sides of the divide. But this was what the culture was about: People could have differing opinions and discuss them rationally. You could disagree and this was considered not only the norm but interesting as well. It was a debate. This was a time when you could be opinionated — and, yes, a questioning, reasonable critic — and not be considered a troll.

Now all of us are used to rating movies, restaurants, books, even doctors, and we give out mostly positive reviews because, really, who wants to look like a hater? But increasingly, services are also rating us. Companies in the sharing economy, like Uber and Airbnb, rate their customers and shun those who don’t make the grade. Opinions and criticisms flow in both directions, causing many people to worry about how they’re measuring up. Will the reputation economy put an end to the culture of shaming or will the bland corporate culture of protecting yourself by “liking” everything — of being falsely polite just to be accepted by the herd — grow stronger than ever? Giving more positive reviews to get one back? Instead of embracing the true contradictory nature of human beings, with all of their biases and imperfections, we continue to transform ourselves into virtuous robots. This in turn has led to the awful idea — and booming business — of reputation management, where a firm is hired to help shape a more likable, relatable You. Reputation management is about gaming the system. It’s a form of deception, an attempt to erase subjectivity and evaluation through intuition, for a price.

Ultimately, the reputation economy is about making money. It urges us to conform to the blandness of corporate culture and makes us react defensively by varnishing our imperfect self so we can sell and be sold things. Who wants to share a ride or a house or a doctor with someone who doesn’t have a good online reputation? The reputation economy depends on everyone maintaining a reverentially conservative, imminently practical attitude: Keep your mouth shut and your skirt long, be modest and don’t have an opinion. The reputation economy is yet another example of the blanding of culture, and yet the enforcing of groupthink has only increased anxiety and paranoia, because the people who embrace the reputation economy are, of course, the most scared. What happens if they lose what has become their most valuable asset? The embrace of the reputation economy is an ominous reminder of how economically desperate people are and that the only tools they have to raise themselves up the economic ladder are their sparklingly upbeat reputations — which only adds to their ceaseless worry over their need to be liked.

Empowerment doesn’t come from liking this or that thing, but from being true to our messy contradictory selves. There are limits to showcasing our most flattering assets because no matter how genuine and authentic we think we are, we’re still just manufacturing a construct, no matter how accurate it may be. What is being erased in the reputation economy are the contradictions inherent in all of us. Those of us who reveal flaws and inconsistencies become terrifying to others, the ones to avoid. An “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”-like world of conformity and censorship emerges, erasing the opinionated and the contrarian, corralling people into an ideal. Forget the negative or the difficult. Who wants solely that? But what if the negative and the difficult were attached to the genuinely interesting, the compelling, the unusual? That’s the real crime being perpetrated by the reputation culture: stamping out passion; stamping out the individual."
socialmedia  facebook  culture  2015  likeability  presentationofself  breteastonellis  online  internet  conservatism  via:rushtheiceberg  uber  relatability  genx  generationx  ratings  criticism  critics  yelp  society  authenticity  liking  likes  reputation  data  biases  imperfections  subjectivity  virtue  anxiety  sharingeconomy  paranoia  blandness  invention  risktaking  conformity  censorship  groupthink 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Vernacular Criticism – The New Inquiry
"There has been a lot of speculation about whether or not social media can measure artistic merit—or any merit—through likes, favorites, reblogs, retweets and so on. But the conversation tends to be limited to the potential of these metrics to measure quality, without acknowledging that such a process of measuring constitutes an attempt to merely “democratize” the meritocracy. This totally misses the potential of social media to account for the plurality of tastes found in the world. And so the counting of social-media attention is always ­unsatisfying—these metrics give a unified count of everything whose sums mean nothing.

Yelp—as well as Amazon and other review sites—shoehorn taste into metered ratings, but they also demand a first-person expression of taste. They ask the user to be a critic without demanding the past labor of cultivation or the other social abstractions imposed by the public sphere.

Meanwhile, the public sphere regularly produces editorials bemoaning the death of expertise—its own slow death. Food and movie critics are catching up with art critics, who have been talking about the crisis of their profession for about a half century. The crisis of art criticism, however, did not originally come from the encroaching masses—the hostile arcana of the avant-garde held them off long enough—but rather because of a hypertrophied art market, whose monetary consensus renders criticism moot, and the professionalization of the art world, the MFA programs that teach artists to develop critical appraisals of their work for marketing purposes, so that it appears in public with an already determined historical significance. That seems like sufficient indication that criticism’s problems stem from its own professionalization.

The early art critic “retained something of the amateur,” writes Jürgen Habermas in The Social Transformation of the Public Sphere. “Lay judgment was organized in it without becoming, by way of specialization, anything else than the judgment of one private person among all others who ultimately were not to be obligated by any judgment except their own.”

Yelp is not the answer to criticism’s problems. On its own it can’t transform criticism, or museums, for the better. The reviews of museums there may eschew the academic jargon of art writing and bourgeois biases of taste, but they tend to replace them with the clichés of marketing and advertising—the register of a commercialized public sphere—found in Yelp reviews of restaurants, strip clubs, or salons.

And yet Yelp could help reset the terms of art criticism, as an environment where the judgment of one among others not obligated by any judgment except their own is newly fresh, and where this judgment is honestly subjective and contingent, as tasted by unobligated bodies."
art  criticism  yelp  museums  socialmedia  reviews  2014  briandroitcour 
august 2014 by robertogreco
ON THE QUICKENING OF HISTORY
"Writer and urbanist Brendan Crain writes about the role of new digital tools in preservation efforts. In the existing conflict between preserving buildings to slow the process of loss and the dynamic nature of people, digital layers can maintain a sense of urgency around long-passed events that lend the built environment much of its import."
2012  yelp  placemaking  place  london  nyc  digitalanthropology  geolocation  geotagging  streetmuseum  museumwithoutwalls  historypin  cultureNOW  junaio  layar  digitallayers  digital  socialmedia  history  curation  atemporality  storytelling  architecture  now  urbanism  urban  buildings  preservation  brendancrain 
february 2012 by robertogreco
2010 End-of-the-Year Card
"The 2010 card is a personalized “physical mashup” that combines maps, photos, and business information.

The front panel of the card is a laser-cut map of the streets around the recipient's address. Underneath is an interesting photograph that was taken around the same area. The envelope features a map of local businesses along with their Yelp ratings."
flickr  maps  paper  papernet  2010  mapping  personalization  photography  business  yelp 
december 2010 by robertogreco
Yelp for Religion: ChurchRater Lets Users Review Worship
"What do you get when a Christian pastor, an atheist, a grad student and a lawyer set up a website to criticize churches?
religion  yelp  ratings  online  belief  churches 
february 2010 by robertogreco
Data Mining: Text Mining, Visualization and Social Media: 2010 - The Year of the Neighborhood
"As the geosocial revolution continues - creating more and more intimate links between the digital space and our physical spaces via mobile devices and data driven services - the word 'neighborhood' is becoming more and more prominent. A neighborhood (in urban terms, larger than a block, smaller than a zipcode) is the perfect granularity to connect with users as we spend a good chunk of our time there.

'Near by' is often scoped by neighborhood, our schools define catchment areas at this level, supermarkets serve neighborhood sized portions of the population."
neighborhoods  everyblock  trulia  redfin  nabewise  maps  mapping  data  foursquare  yelp  centerd  gowalla  mytown  geography  statistics  geosocial  gaming  games  nyc  sanfrancisco  losangeles 
january 2010 by robertogreco
Sci-Fi Hi-Fi: Weblog: Ambient Recommendation
"I think the reasons these more casual recommendation and discovery methods work better for me are 3-fold: 1. They allow me to employ my fuzzy, intuitive perception of peoples’ broader personality and taste to determine how likely I am to like the things they like (I thought the person on Brightkite looked cool, so I trusted her taste; I think my Last.fm friends are cool, so I trust that new stuff I see them playing will be interesting to me). 2. They aren’t explicitly recommendation systems, but rather allow people to implicitly recommend things just by going about their normal business (someone likes a web page so they post it to Delicious to remember it later, the hipsters at Frankies like Gene Clark so they play his music while they work and I hear it incidentally). I think people are more likely to participate in this kind of system than one where they are expected to formally recommend things. 3. They don’t require me to narrow what I’m looking for by overly specific criteria"
del.icio.us  design  learning  social  recommendations  brightkite  yelp  flickr  ubicomp  iphone  community  portland  oregon  travel  taste  discovery  serendipity  seach  ambient  inspiration  perception  intuition  interest 
december 2009 by robertogreco
The Dirty Little Secret About the "Wisdom of the Crowds" - There is No Crowd
"Recent research by Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) professor Vassilis Kostakos pokes a big hole in the prevailing wisdom that the "wisdom of crowds" is a trustworthy force on today's web. His research focused on studying the voting patterns across several sites featuring user-generated reviews including Amazon, IMDb, and BookCrossing. The findings showed that a small group of users accounted for a large number of ratings. In other words, as many have already begun to suspect, small but powerful groups can easily distort what the "crowd" really thinks, leading online reviews to often end up appearing extremely positive or extremely negative."
wisdomofcrowds  technology  internet  psychology  readwriteweb  influence  marketing  socialmedia  information  crowdsourcing  ratings  yelp  crowds  socialnetworking  statistics  wikipedia  wisdom  community  research 
september 2009 by robertogreco
Loopt Brings Yelp Reviews to 3G iPhone - ReadWriteWeb
"Loopt enables users to broadcast their status to a broad set of services and find interesting locations and reviews nearby. Their latest release for the iPhone integrates microblogging and reviews from Yelp into its interface"
iphone  applications  socialnetworking  location  location-based  locative  yelp  loopt  geography  ios 
july 2008 by robertogreco

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