Blog post 12: Comments




Crowdsourcing: the White Cups Contest


On April 22nd, 2014, Starbucks decided to launch a white cups contest. This contest encourages customers in the U.S. and Canada to decorate a Starbucks cup with customized art, take a photo of it, and submit the design through social media using #whitecupscontest. The winning design will be printed on a limited edition Starbucks reusable plastic cup. It is a successful case of crowdsourcing because Starbucks received 4000 entries in just three weeks on the Twitter and Instagram. The crowd showed great eagerness and participatory on this project. Starbucks received wonderful visual content for their social media pages, and increased their social media reach. Here is the link of the introduction of the contest: Starbucks White Cup Contest.

In Asmolov’s article, people who are in the disaster area would use hashtags to achieve their civic engagement on the Internet. In White Cups Contest, hashtags are the same which are important tools for people to take part in this crowdsourcing process. Starbucks also make using social media the requirement. People must hand in their works by using Twitter or Instagram. Moreover, Internet users not only played a role as responder who contributes his or her resources, but also can appreciate others’ work by using #WhiteCupsContest. It is the same as what Asmolov said, “a subject can play different roles, as a recipient of information, as a sensor that can provide information, or as a responder who contributes his or her resources”(2015, p.175). In this way, people who search #Whitecupscontest can watch tweets only related to the white cups contest, which is a sort of classification. In other words, “it makes engagement more coordinated around particular objects”(Asmolov, 2015, p.163).

In my opinion, the second similarity between this case and the assigned articles is about the reasons that people take part in this contest. I think the reasons are accord with Brabham’s view. Firstly, the reason is related to the intrinsic motivation. I have seen an article on Starbucks website to interview the winner of the white cups contest in 2014. She said, “my work on the cup really represents who I am as an artist.” she also said that she was so enjoyable during the painting process. Therefore, it is the same as the saying that “to express oneself and to have fun are clear intrinsic motivators, fulfilling basic needs to have voice and enjoy oneself and enjoyment is a simple, powerful motivator”(Brabham, 2012, p.322). Moreover, many people who join this project said that it is fun. Secondly, the extrinsic motivation. In my opinion, making money is a significant motivation for people. Starbucks set a “25 cups of coffee and $300 gift card” as the reward, which is a big attraction for people.


In additional, “participatory culture” was one of the most important factors that made this crowdsourcing successful. As Brabham said in his article, “participate culture is the culture with relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement, strong support for creating and sharing one’s creations”(2012, p.314), people who draw pictures on the white cups wasn’t require high painting skills. Moreover, it was easy and convenient to get a Starbucks white cups from any Starbucks in the U.S. Therefore, they were more passionate to create their own work, showing their imagination and creativity.

In a nutshell, it is a successful case of crowdsourcing. The white cups contest is held every year after 2014, helping Starbucks build their brand and attract people to buy their coffee due to their creative cups design.

Mobile Internet: Rooted in People’ Daily Life

Both Wijetunga(2014) and Wasserman(2011)’ articles mentioned how mobile Internet put effect on people’ daily life. And they both mentioned a concept called digital divide, which refer to unequal use of mobile Internet in Africa and Sri Lanka. However, they discussed about different reasons that cause digital divide.

The difference between Wijetunga and Wasserman’ articles is that Wijetunga’s article mentioned that “mobile internet can be used to fulfill various social functions, such as fun and entertainment, personal relationships, work, information access(Wijetunga, 2014, p.717).” To be specific, the privileged youth has access to social media whereas underprivileged youth to some extent couldn’t use such features of mobile phone due to their language level and lack of prior exposure to Internet.

In Wasserman’s articles, although mobile Internet is controlled mainly by political power and it causes many citizens get into the political process with limitation, Africa citizens did enjoy the benefit that “they use mobiles to text, transfer money, check market prices for agricultural products, monitor elections, send and receive public health or emergency messages, take photographs, make films, search the Internet, and, increasingly, for social networking(Wasserman, 2011, p.148).” Moreover, some social activists tend to use mobile internet for protests and activism. In a nutshell, people in Africa use mobile Internet to participate political activities better.

If I have a chance to create a study about mobile Internet, I will carry out a study which focus on how mobile Internet increase fragmentation reading during people’ daily life in China. This study will examine to what extent mobile Internet affect Chinese people’s reading habits. I will do this research on different mobile platform, such as Weibo, Wechat, QQ. The sample I concentrate on will be the youth, who aged between 12 and 30, including both male and female. Two main research questions will guide this study.

RQ1: Following the popularity of mobile Internet, how Chinese people’s reading habits change?

RQ2: How the change of people’s reading habit affect Chinese people’s other parts of daily life?

This topic is very important because fragmentation reading happened frequently in our daily life. People use their mobile Internet to watch news, connect with people, deal with their work problems. Most of these message are fragmented and patchy. When people using mobile Internet, they acquire message or entertainment quickly from texts, images and so on. This acquiring method cause people to get information like having a fast food meal. Additionally, this fragmentation reading habit has extra influence on people’ other parts of life. Therefore, this topic is meaningful. Moreover, the youth is the main force of using mobile Internet because they are eager to accept new things and they learn very fast. In other words, they are more affected by mobile Internet than elder people. Choosing this group of people to analyze is able to help me figure out typically to what extent people’ reading habits are affected by mobile Internet, and how this reading trend will put effect on individuals’ daily life and society.

Remix: An Agent Couple

The video materials come from a TV series called The Disguiser in China. In the original story, the leading actor and the leading actress didn’t have any love line. They were just partners. I changed the story line and edited this story. Moreover, I add four different styles of non-Chinese music to show different emotion of the Chinese characters in different periods of the story.

Digital Outlaws: Collective Action Framing & Piracy

Collective action framing has been mentioned a lot of times in the Söderberg’s article, even as a part of the title. I have heard about collective action but collective action framing is totally different from it, basing on the article’s context. In my own words, I think collective action framing is a framework which provides goals and existing reason for hackers. It means that “how social movements construct narratives interpreting the world in a way that gives meaning to hackers’ struggles (Söderberg, 2013, p.1287).” It shows the rationality of hackers’ existence. The answer of why hackers doing their job and what hackers’ standpoint could be find in the meaning of collective action framing. I cannot find examples which accurately describe this concept. However, I found a example which can shed light on it partly. Russian hackers have released secret information about 25 Olympic athletes about drug problems recently. Even though many agencies thought that is illegal, hackers didn’t show any fear of laws and others’ judgment in response. That they chose to release such data on the Internet shows they tend to be an information-sharing groups. They generated intangible information online instead of produce actual product. Moreover, they focus on their enterprise and find warrant for themselves. This is a kind of collective action framing.


The term “piracy” was discussed by John (2014) in his article. To some extent, it is a concept that is used to be discussed together with “file sharing” often, especially on the Internet. Piracy means stealing others’ idea and works, even spread them in a wide range. Many people want to discern piracy and file sharing because they think file sharing should a fair action according to its literal meaning but piracy isn’t. Piracy is unfair and it will harm the original author’s right.  In China, piracy phenomenon is so serious that the government and entertainment industry are struggling to repress it. The place where many piracy things happen is Baidu Cloud. It is a virtual store space which everyone can create their own space to store their resources. However, it means that many people can use it to share movie, songs and so on. Some movies which have been on in the foreign counties but have not been on in China will be spread through Baidu Cloud in advance for free. For people who used it, it can be a “file sharing”. However, for the government, the movie producers, the original singers, it is a kind of actual piracy.


Foreign Policy and the Internet: Curb Terrorism


I chose an article “The Internet is Not the Enemy”. The article is mainly about that different countries put forward similar policies to curb the Islamic State (IS) to recruit people on the Internet. The IS although is not a “nation”, it conquered more and more places across two countries, Iraq and Syria. In addition, it uses the Internet to spread its thoughts, disseminate terror videos, which show they were killing people, and recruit people all over the world to their cause. That is why many countries released policies in order to restrict the IS’s use on the Internet. The U.N. Security Council’s resolution toward terrorists and terrorism has been mentioned the most times. However, the author of this article believes that the U.S. government should attempt to repress terrorism by encouraging Internet companies, to improve their filters system for users, which enables them to choose what they do or do not wish to look at.

Firstly, the article accords with Shirky’s opinion to some extent. As Shirky said, “Activists in both repressive and democratic regimes will use the Internet and related tools to try to effect change in their countries, but Washington’s ability to shape or target these changes is limited”(2011, p.11), terrorists, in my opinion, can be defined as a specific group of activists, keep trying to access to the Internet. Although the government can influence their use of Internet for a while, it cannot work forever. They are easily to hide on the Internet. Therefore, that restricting the IS to use the Internet is not the perfect way to curb terrorism. It is more important to improve Internet users’ experience of choosing what they want to read and what they refuse to view.

However, it shows a contradictory between the U.S policy about curbing terrorism and improving Internet freedom, from the U.S’s policy of the Internet in the past. The reason is that the block of terrorism information will also affect some researchers’ research related to the IS and terrorism. Moreover, it is likely to provide the country with a motivation to limit the online freedom, in order to fulfill some political purpose.

As Comor and Bean said, “US foreign policy will remain largely determined by the country’s perceived political, economic, and military needs”(2012, p.216),  the viewpoint can be supported by the article. Terrorism threat the U.S’ Internet users, even tries to recruit people from the U.S. One of its purposes is to separate the country. Therefore, US foreign policy that curbs the use of Internet of terrorist mainly fits the government’s political and military purpose. In light of this viewpoint, the U.S’s policy of hinder terrorists to use the Internet can be understood as a strategy to protect country security. Therefore, that “it is important to be clear that engagement is meant to be strategic rather than free-flowing”(Comon& Bean, 2012, p.205) is able to be confirmed by this article.