Internet Culture

How does the Haifa day-care experiment relate to the actions of– and on– the web? 

The Haifa daycare experiment is one which is often referred to as a means of describing the motivation incentives have upon individuals. In this case, a negative incentive of a fine was set upon those parents who couldn’t pick up their children on time; however, instead of deterring individuals from being tardy, it motivated many to begin seeing the fine as simply another little price to pay for additional daycare. (I mean, come on; who wouldn’t want to get an extra hour of babysitting for three dollars per hour? Sounds like cheap daycare to me. It’s definitely not a deterrent in my eyes).

In the same way, we can see similar behaviour arising on the web. In many social media sites, users can receive ‘penalties’ for violating the site’s ToS. For example, Gaiaonline – an interactive social site centered around art and interests of teenagers – charges users a specific amount of ‘gold’ (the website’s virtual currency) depending on specific violations. If one’s signature picture is too big of a file, a 1000G penalty is incurred, and the user’s account is charged. However, it doesn’t seem to deter many people from using large pictures in their signatures anyways. It doesn’t truly deter anyone when everyone can afford to pay the ‘fine’ – it’s simply a payment to make to keep the picture in question.

Are you part of any “sharing cultures” that are facilitated by– or even exist completely on– the web?

I am not currently a player in any sharing cultures, nor had I even heard of the term before I read this book. I’m not quite certain of what to think of them, though they do seem good. I suppose – in all technicality – the internet itself is a sharing culture. But perhaps that’s too generalized.

What are the problems Shirky proposes, whether you agree with him or not, with the “brain surgery” argument?

Shirky explains that the brain surgery argument is stupid at best for two reasons:

  1. “Slicing up parts of real brains is a job that must be limited to professionals, but it’s not clear that knowing the names of the parts of the brain must be similarly limited.” In a nutshell, he’s simply stating that the title doesn’t generally mean that they are an expert in the field, and that the nom de plume of “professional brain surgeon” may not be accurate in depicting the limits of the person’s expertise.
  2. “The brain surgeon analogy invites the hearer to assume that we should always go with a professional over an amateur.” Again, the same thing regarding titles vs. actual knowledge.

I do, to an extent, agree with Shirky’s claims; I only believe he could have condensed the two into one basic one: Titles don’t mean anything unless there’s experience to back them up.


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