Author Archives: Luke Into the Wilde

anonymity, free speech, and why i use reddit

While reading Hogan’s article and thinking to myself, “mmhmm. yup. yes. agreed.” etc., I realized that it’s the thing I value most about Reddit as a social network. His general premise, that “real name sites” like Facebook are necessarily inadequate for free speech, represents exactly why redditors feel that our site is such a cohesive online community.

Hogan’s point that real name sites deny people the right to be context specific is effectively countered by the site’s username system. Because though an individual user’s comments can be seen by anyone, his or her screen name cannot be traced back to him or her unless he or she decides to share that information in comments. As a result, users can provide honest answers and/or support to difficult questions about addiction, loss, secrets, legal, political, or relationship issues. They can very easily create “throwaway” accounts for this exact purpose so that even those who interact with them on other parts of the site don’t know about this side of a particular user. In this way individuals are never “[tethered] to a single all-encompassing key (the real name) that unlocks whatever [they] say.”

Whenever I see an article on ESPN on which I might ordinarily weigh in, I hesitate because it requires my thoughts to be forever inseparably linked to my Facebook profile and therefore my identity. However, if that article is shared as a link on Reddit, I will almost definitely share my thoughts.

Finally, Reddit deals with the necessary problem of curation when a site has a constantly updating feed full of millions of people’s content by allowing the content to be democratically voted on by the site’s users based on whether that content adds to the site or takes away from it. This way you are placing your trust in the community to decide who should read your content, rather than a single individual or company.

technoloy & community



This week’s blog prompt:

 Look at the image of the community you drew before discussion today as a case study. From the discussion we had today, what traits do you think makes it a community? Do you think social media and modern technology could impact on how your community functions?

Each of the following elements in my diagram of the important elements of my Stanford community are affected in a variety of ways by social media:

  1. a blend of social, personal, and professional/work life
    • Social media and the internet allow me to participate in my Stanford community much more easily than if I didn’t have it. I find out about lots of social events through social media, as well as keep in touch with friends and family involved in Stanford, and it definitely helps me work on projects and stay up-to-date on the goings on at IDA where I work. While all of these tools certainly have the possibility to take me out of my community and pay less attention to the events happening around me, I would say that they have a net positive effect on my communal engagement.
  2. a nurturing environment
    • Stanford certainly uses social media to make people feel welcome, especially with the class of 2016 Facebook page (and for all the other classes). At the same time, people are probably less likely to see that their friends are in need of help if they mainly keep in touch through social media, because people tend to portray only their happiest selves online, which might mean that fewer people would reach out should a friend really be in need of help.
  3. leadership and structure
    • The class of ’16 Facebook group helped me to develop an understanding of the structures and hierarchies at Stanford before I ever got there (though now it is little more than a spam-filled message board).
  4. space to grow
    • I think Solnit was right when she stated, “ Space for free thought is routinely regarded as a void, and filled up with sounds and distractions.” I think in some respects at Stanford, technology prevents us from delving as deeply into conversations, arguments and discussions, since it’s so easy to talk either talk to someone else and not have the conversation in the first place, or to hop online to avoid confrontation. With that said, I think within the STS department, they explore social media and allow us to delve more deeply into its theory and thereby use it as a space in which to grow.




vinyl and postmodern attention

For my birthday two years ago I asked for a record player. My roommate at boarding school had had one for my junior and senior year and I’d begun to develop a small collection. I don’t like vinyl because I want to be a pretentious hipstery jerk. Instead, I like it because it’s one of the few aspects of my life in which I can’t customize my experience and filter out the things I do and don’t want.

In every aspect of my digital life, I can handpick things I want. I choose the feeds in which I’m interested, respond only to texts and emails I want to answer, watch only shows and videos that directly align interests, and generally only read blog posts about sports, technology, or the classes I’m in. I’m not exposed to new ideas because I have so much opportunity for choice.


A photo posted by The Wilde (@lukedewilde) on

Of course, I pick the vinyls I buy and listen to because they’re by artists I like, but I don’t pick and choose which songs I want to hear like on iTunes or Spotify. I simply press start and listen all the way through, paying careful attention to the context of each track within the album. This manner of listening means I’m obviously exposed to tracks I wouldn’t normally listen to, and it forces new musical ideas on me, which provides inspiration, and also offers a rare lesson in patience in what’s normally an instant-gratification world. Then, when my favorite songs come on, it’s all the more satisfying and having invested the time to explore the whole album.

be my eyes – volunteering with social media

I recently learned about an awesome new app called Be My Eyes, a nonprofit, open-source app in which non-sighted or visually impaired people can pair up with sighted volunteers to help overcome problems that require sight using mobile video chat. The app allows its users to request assistance from available volunteers and for their service, these helpers level up, providing additional incentives and possible rewards for users willing to lend a helping hand pair of eyes.

This is a fantastic example of using the internet and social networks (in this case the model of a social gaming network as well as open source code) to do incredible, tangible good (to the tune of almost 10,000 sessions at the time of this writing).

Be My Eyes joins programs like Google Helpouts (which offers lessons and tutorials either for free or for payment) to offer interactive video assistance online. I am willing to bet these are at the forefront of what will be a growing movement towards a more resourceful, crowdsourced internet. They are part of an internet economy that is slowly shifting towards hybrid/sharing model for a generation that is beginning to show that it increasingly values social good as much or more than money.

tbt: comparing and contrasting the motivations of early internet users to social media users of today

Think/write about your own motivations for using social media and joining online communities. How are you motivations and goals similar to the early Wellites and virtual community members? How and why are they different?

It’s very difficult to compare the motivations in internet usage between its pioneers and present day social media users, because the internet itself was a very different environment than it is today. However, I think there are undoubtedly some fundamental similarities to our utilization of social media:

  • encountering new ideas and perspectives (even if they are generally in line with things we already believe)
  • become part of a community that engages with one another based on a similar interests
  • Sharing advice, reviews and support
  • Many platforms (especially Facebook) often serve as a pointer to other content similar to the WELL
  • Many people today find new social media platforms as symbols of alternative community, just like WELL, Usenet and other older forms of internet communication

Those fundamental reasons for using social media can no longer encompass what social media has become however, as transformations in internet technology and ideology,  have vastly increased the capabilities and number of users to the point that many of our reasons for using the internet were not even options for its early pioneers:

  • Maintaining relationships with almost everyone I know. Because most people weren’t online until the early 2000’s, this wasn’t even within the realm of possibility (see below)

  • Using the social media to maintain personal and professional brands. Online profiles didn’t exist to the extent that they do today when the internet was emerging, and could not be used for commercial purposes, so no one could try to sell their music or advertise their company to you, whereas this is the main business model for much of the internet and nearly all social media platform.
  • The internet is mainstream. It is no longer the countercultural, anti-establishment forum that it formerly was.

There are myriad other similarities and differences that I don’t have time to go into, but these seemed among the most prominent and relevant to me.

week one: expectations, knowledge, and the role of social media

I’ve had the opportunity to study social media from a plethora of interesting perspectives. I have seen (part of) the CS side, having taken the CS 106 series. I have looked at it from a psychological, biological, and political economic side in communications, and most recently from philosophical and evolutionary standpoints, during my time abroad at The University of Sydney where I took a course entitled Web Transformations.


I think COMM 182 will be very different from any of these courses because the co-learning structure will keep it highly relevant to current issues and technologies, provide a wide variety of perspectives from heavy social media users, and will allow us to explore many different forms of social media through our various blogging, wiki, and forum platforms, among others.


Each of us brings a unique angle to this class that will allow any one of us to teach everyone else something new. My own role is unique because I am simultaneously studying the effects of social media while trying to put my knowledge into practice to promote my music. Throughout my musical career, I have used nine different platforms and have found huge problems, amazing benefits, and interesting features in each. Some of these findings come from practical use and others come from things I’ve learned studying the material. I’m really looking forward to sharing my specific insights with the rest of the class and hearing about everyone else’s as I continue to get to know them.


I’ll finish this blog post with the platforms I use most frequently, and the ways in which I use them:



I usually have Facebook open somewhere on my computer but only post something maybe 2-3 times a day, most of which are likes or comments. It’s great for sharing large groups of photos with everyone I know, promoting my music on my artist page, easily chatting with anyone I know, and keeping tabs on all my friends outside of school who I don’t get to see as much as I would like. The downside is that Facebook is a total timesuck. It’s cluttered and filled with information about people and topics I’m not interested in as a result of socially necessitated Facebook friendships.



Probably the most interesting place on the internet. It’s a constantly updating feed of everything I’m interested in and by reading it, usually allows me to be among the first of my friends to see a meme, hear a song, or pick up a trending player in fantasy football. It’s anonymity, while presenting a few downsides also allows it to be a more free-thinking progressive part of the internet (at least the subreddits to which I am subscribed are).



Soundcloud is an invaluable tool for musicians. It provides an aesthetically pleasing, yet customizable platform for all the music I want to share with the world. At the same time, I can also comment on other people’s tracks, find interesting new artists and at the same time, increase my own musical following. Bandcamp is also good, but it is more of a music store than a social network, hence it was not included on my list.



The only social network I ever want more of. I get to see most of the cool stuff my friends are doing and don’t feel the need to follow anyone whose life doesn’t interest me. It’s just a feed of delicious food, cool events and parties, and people’s adorable pets. The only downside to me is its incredible potential for jealousy and depression if you are not happy with your current circumstances. As a fairly happy person, this usually does not bother me, but at times in my life I have almost cut it out entirely.



Twitter is very good for getting up-to-the-second news on anything I am interested in, but is not particularly effective for keeping up with friends or promoting music for me because there are so many people constantly posting that it’s very difficult to keep up with one person without actively seeking out their Tweets.



I do not spend a ton of time on YouTube, or at least not as much as most people I know, but it is clearly an essential resource for any creative person and is full of interesting, funny, or beautiful ideas, songs, demonstrations, and news clips. Interestingly, as large as the site is, most of the promotion of YouTube videos goes on outside of YouTube, which has always felt strange but I don’t know if I can explain why.


Yik Yak

Yik Yak is brand new to me but I really enjoy its localization and anonymity, which serve almost as a real-time feed of my community’s thoughts and jokes. It has the potential to be very hurtful, but at the same time, its voting system seems to even things out relatively nicely.


Hi! My name is Luke and I want to give you a little bit of background on me so you have some idea about the person behind the text. I’m a junior at Stanford studying Science, Technology, and Society, which will hopefully help put me in a position to be in the sports marketing or online music industry after graduation. I’ve been studying media and technology since high school and have always tried to pay close attention to the industry trends in order to better prepare myself the world outside of school, and because I’m genuinely curious as to how they affect us personally and societally.

In addition to my interest in media and tech, I’m a hip-hop producer and lyricist, adept panini maker, craft beer enthusiast, and lifelong baseball fan. I look forward to writing more about COMM 182 and hope you enjoy reading about it!