Archives for June 2014
After our first class, I decided to move my blog over to Tumblr. I previously moved from WordPress to Ghost. Now, I moved from Ghost to Tumblr. In most cases, when you move any structured data from one place to another (ie. a data migration), you use an existing tool that exports and imports data. Traditionally, a Google search and some decently written tutorials will be enough. In my case, I couldn’t find anyone who had migrated their blog from Ghost to Tumblr. This could be because Ghost is so new. It could also be because Tumblr isnt very import friendly. Either way, I decided to use the labor market places online. Or as I like to call, the Human API.
The Human API is my definition of hiring someone on a labor market place through the internet. Im not intending to dehumanize the person on the other end. In fact, someone is starting a company with the same name. (Although its a health-tech company looking to do something completely different). I find it fascinating that I can hire a person to do something I need, through a few text posts.
When I use the term Human API, I refer to the ease of accessing a service based on a web request. I can access a user service based on a request I made through a website. I make a POST request containing parameters that tell the system what I need. After a long callback, I get a series of responses and determine what data to trust. After deciding to trust one data source, I submit my payment for escrow and return to waiting. I am given a promise that I will get a certain response back. Once the promise is complete, I process the rest of my payment.
In my case, I needed to do something that I knew was very simple, but potentially time consuming. Specifically, I needed to copy and paste text from one window to another. I didn’t feel like doing the work and I valued the task enough to pay to have it done.
To make sure the task would be done correctly, I wrote up a clear instructional document with screenshots. The document showed the potential employee how to do the work. If they didnt think they could do the job, this step was meant to filter out candidates. This was also an exercise for me to make sure there was no miscommunication through the process.
The document can be viewed here
Once I completed the document, I sent a series of emails to potential employees. My selection was based on the asking price I set for my task: 10$. I was given choices to choose from people across South East Asia. I sent emails to a Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Thailand, and the Philippines. After sending out direct emails, I posted the job listing and waited for responses. Less than an hour later, I began receiving responses and determined who I wanted to hire.
The results were varied. Many of the responses seemed like copy-and-pasted answers. Im sure these people are sending out messages all day, hoping to get a few jobs that will result in paid work. I decided to make my selection based on the responsiveness and chose a person who didn’t have any previous work. After sending over the Google document with my instructions, the person reconfirmed that she would not have any issues with the task. I initiated the contract and an hour later received an email tell me everything was completed.
I was very pleasantly surprised at the speed and quality of the work. For the record, Ghost.io will export your blog posts in a JSON format. The format is well structured and can easily be used to import content into any blog service. Tumblr does have methods for importing blogs. One specific approach uses an external service that imports Blogger posts as a Tumblr app. This can be used by converting the Ghostio posts into the Blogger format, then running the import service. Tumblr itself does not have an import utility that I know of, so this is your best bet. Otherwise, you can use the Human API too.
Made With Paper
I have a personal networking thesis. I believe the social bonds with the greatest potential value are those that are less than three degrees of separation away. This isn’t to say that strangers or seemingly random connections can’t be valuable. This is to say that those who are further away have greater value to offer for the effort invested.
Robert Putnam discusses the concept of Social Capital in “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community” (2000). He explains to two types of social capital: strong and weak social ties. Strong social ties are the relationships that develop through direct interactions with other people. Through mutual investment of effort by two or more people, strong social ties develop. For example, two people working together will develop a strong social bond. In comparison, a weak social tie are bonds developed through shared affiliation with a larger party or group. For example, being apart of the same class, living in the same housing community, or being a member of the same club.
Putnam observed that society was losing opportunities to foster weak social ties. He believed these communities were critical for the emergence of strong social ties. Putnam observed weak social ties allowed for economic opportunity, political organization, and personal happiness. He observed that the previously common “Bowling Clubs” were at their lowest registered membership. This statistic also applied to religious study groups and faith circles. Putnam observed a change in communities, where-in people had less time to developed weak social ties.
In a later book, “Better Together: Restoring the American Community” (2003), Putnam applies his observation to the realm of religious organizations and emerging internet communities. His observation of social breakdown did not apply to the internet communities. In fact, in 2003, internet communities were the opposite. Putnam interviewed and researched active individuals in the then growing classifieds website Craigslist. Putnam recognized an interested phenomena arising in the community forums and for-sale pages. People who had little to no affiliation to one another were answering questions and offering personal help. In 2003, this shift in social interaction was not obvious. In 2014, we see how our social ecosystem dramatically changed. Facebook, Reddit, and other technology based social venues have replaced the weak social platforms.
In the past, weak social ties would expose people who were not likeminded. The result of affiliating with a group was that you were coming in contact with ideas that you did not necessarily believe in. In our present–day social networks, we surround ourselves with individuals who agree with us. When we come in contact with beliefs we don’t agree with, we silence the opposing voices. This comes in the “unfollowing”, “blocking”, or disassociating with the entire digital services.
Considering this: social ties of our generation are either strong or non-existent. This means we have our close circle or no circle. We are either busy or lonely. Technology makes it easy to craft platforms for social interaction. Scaffold up a Twitter or Pinterest clone in an afternoon with the Hartl or One-month-rails tutorial. The ‘how’ behind creating platforms is trivial.
As our last class discussed, now we ask the ‘why’ and for ‘what’. “Community is the result of someone planting a flag and waiting to see what happens.” That takes guts to do. So whose going to do it?
Breakfast by mom (at Orange County California)