A Cloud Somewhere in Great Britain

The media platform Soundcloud is based around the concept of cloud computing, or as currently defined by Wikipedia as “the delivery of computing as a service rather than a product, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices as a utility (like the electricity grid) over a network (typically the Internet).” In essence, the separation of computers and their applications from the inferstructure and servers that run, store, and manage the information at a separate location. Soundcloud’s server is located north of Leeds in the UK and host all the information that user’s upload to the site, although the headquarters of the company were located in Berlin.

The layers of Cloud Computing are as follows…

User’s Computing Device <–> Application <–> Platform <–> Infrastructure <–> Server

By decoupling the user from the capital cost of infrastructure and servers allows for operational structure costs to rein supreme, allowing The User’s device to be smaller and cheaper. This frees the user’s device from the constraints of location with access to the data, making smart phones access to information much easier. Because I have uploaded songs onto Soundcloud, they exist on a server somewhere in the UK as well as on my own computer at home. By hosting the media on their servers, I do not need to keep my computer on and constantly connected to the net in order for others to listen to or download the media, seeing as Soundcloud’s taking care of the data at it’s remote server. I can in fact access that data myself from a location away from my home computer, possibly on a mobile device such as a smart phone.

By hosting all this information and data in one place, it makes the management of it easier – allowing for greater efficiency and capacity. By centralizing all the information in one place, some problems with privacy arrise. When large amounts of information are stored in one place far away from , they are much easier to be monitored without your knowledge. (I.E. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Room_641A)

Soundcloud’s Investors and its “Freemium” Model

The social audio platform Soundcloud has used multiple ways to encourage its own growth and sustain itself as a viable business. First of all is Soundcloud’s reliance on initial capital investment inorder to afford server space for its cloud format. The German based social media startup’s major investments helped lead to an exponential growth in the number of registered users in the past four years. The first major investment was a 2.5 million euro deal raised by Doughty Hanson Ventures in early 2009, followed then by a huge 10 million dollar deal through a joint effort between Index Ventures and Union Square Ventures recently this January (of 2011.)

Something must be working for the company, because Soundcloud now boasts that it gets 20,000 new sound creators worldwide every single day and has reached the milestone of five million registered members, all accomplished in little under five years of doing business.

As well as initial investment, Soundcloud also uses the concept of a “Freemium” model, in which the basic capabilities of the site, such as registering an account for the use of media sharing, are given to the public for free, but also offers a tiered “premium” subscription model, starting at 29 Euro a month for the “Lite” premium services going up to “Pro Plus” premium for 59 Euro per month that offers even more expanded services. Services and features that are reserved for paying members include: more minutes of data allowed on the cloud, extra stats on who’s listening to your tracks and how, the ability to create more groups, more personalized players, and (frustrating as I’ve found it seeing as I’m only using the free model) the ability to edit tracks after you’ve posted them.

Reviewing What is Reviewed and Why

I’ve done five reviews since last I posted, and my rank has been fluctuating. At first, it actually went down 1,000, but the next day went up to around 190,000. then, the day after that, it went up to 162,795. I did absolutely nothing while this was going on, and I got no more “likes”, so the only explanation is that other reviewers were lowering. The fact that it was such a huge change surprised me. I get that I’m still very low ranked, but it’s cool to see my profile rise and definitely encourages me to write more reviews. At the same time, I’m worried about getting “unhelpful” ratings, so my reviews tend to go more with the general consensus.  No, I’m not lying in my reviews. I’m choosing to review either things I agree with the majority about or things I doubt people will care if I am of a different opinion (like bank or toys). Actually, this picking and choosing of what I review is what I want to talk about in this post. Namely, who reviews what and why.

Before getting to far here, I am focusing on the people who are actually reviewing the product. Thus, Fanboys/girls, Haters, and Trolls are exempt. As for the rest, I can only give my interpretation for what things to review. For instance, a majority of my reviews are of films. This is because they are a product I feel confident in my ability to judge properly. While they aren’t as in depth as I’d like due to time constraints, I feel they give a good idea why you would or wouldn’t like a film. I give my opinion while also suggesting why you might like it. sometimes I end my review with “If you liked Herp-de-derp, you’ll like this movie” or “defiantly worth a watch”, implying that even if you don’t like it, you can still appreciate it.

I also reviewed miscellaneous items, such as Yakisoba, a Wolverine bank, and Yano. These reviews are a little less critical and focus mostly on my interactions with these items. Oddly, the Yano review is one of the three people have found helpful so far. Not sure what that says. Maybe you, dear reader, are the kind person who clicked “helpful”. either way, while looking for micellaneous things to review, I cam across some oddly critical reviews. Here is an example:

It’s a review on a kitana umbrella I own (you may have seen me with it. Doesn’t it look snazzy?). I had thought about doing one (and still may), but couldn’t think of anything to say about it. It looks cool, it works, and it’s lasted me a while. This guy or girl seems to be some sort of umbrella expert, being able to make pros and cons of this particular umbrella as if they had an ideal umbrella to compare it to. I’ve seen similar reviews of electric razors, toothbrushes, and batteries. They act as a authority figure from which we might gleam the correct opinion off of to understand the item as a whole. Now, I’m not saying their opinions are invalid or even that they are not authority figures in these “fields”. All I’m saying is it’s bizarre to me that there is someone out there who considers themselves a umbrella connoisseur.

This then leads me to my final point in this post: what I have yet to write about and why I haven’t. The most obvious answer for a lot of the stuff is simply that I don’t feel I know enough about the item to be able to write a legitimate review. That, or the thing doesn’t interest me. Shoes are a good example of this. I’m largely ignorant about computers, so rating the one I’m using right now doesn’t seem right. Finally, perhaps the biggest two reasons I haven’t broadened my review horizons very much is because I’m really not used to writing seriously about them or they take to long. I have beaten over five video games this semester ( Batman:AC, GoW3, Ghost Trick, 3h 3p 3d, Dues Ex: HR, and Super Mario Land 3ds if you were curious (and by god, you were)) , but there are so many different aspects to write about, I’m a bit overwhelmed to do it. Plus, there are already great reviews for most of those games, so writing a review with any depth seems pointless. Similarly, I have a huge collection of graphic novels that I can review (Me being a geek should be of no surprise to anyone who’s read any of my previous posts…). Again, there are so many aspects to a comic to write about and I’m so inexperienced with writing about them, I feel a little intimidated as to what to write.

I will eventually break out of this review funk, but for now I’ll stick to mostly writing about what I’m used to writing about: Films

Wiki Wiki What?!

For my Wikipedia entry I decided to edit the 43  Things page because when I looked at it, it had the least amount of information provided about the site. I added the ‘Uses’ section to the page. I decided to focus on the personal pages of 43 Things and how it can be utilized to organize goal, challenge yourself, set deadlines, and help and cheer on others.

The Last Hurrah

For my last blog post, I wanted to try and do something new on each of the three social networking sites that I have been exploring throughout the semester.

First I went to Google +. I have found this site the most enjoyable to use because I am most familiar with the layout. It is most similar to Facebook, which I use everyday, so most of the features I intuitively know how to use. I am impressed, however, with the outside connections that Google + provides with other Google services. Using your Google + account, you are automatically connected to searches, photos, calendar, and my new favorite, Goggle Docs. I decided to use Google Docs with my water polo team to see how it would work out. We used Google Docs as an order form to place an order for apparel. It worked out so well. Everyone was able to access the document and go back and change their order if they wanted to. I would highly suggest this to use for other sports teams or group projects.













I then went to LinkedIn. I really like the idea of LinkedIn as a way to connect with other people in a professional way and search for jobs. However, I found the site a little intimidating to use. I think that the boundaries of social networking and professional life are a little blurry and I was not sure exactly how to proceed. Even though it is in a completely professional way, I still felt strange making certain connections. For example it felt awkward to make a connection with a co-worker that I do not really talk to very much at work. For my latest visit, I decided that as a graduating senior in the spring I should look into job opportunities. I narrowed my search to specify what I was looking for in a job and was surprised how many results came up. …but then I got overwhelmed and started freaking out a little bit about the real world so I had to get outta there. I will definitely be utilizing LinkedIn more in the future though.














Finally, I revisited the most unique social networking site that I have been exploring this semester, 43 things. This site has an excellent concept I think. I really like the positive and supportive atmosphere that the site provides. I like the way that you can cheers other people and keep track of your progress on your goals. It gives a place for people to tell their life’s dreams and actually try and make them happen. The absolute best part about the site is the cheer feature. I decided that I would give out all the remaining cheers I had to give out as a little parting gift. I cheered on people that had goals like skydiving, going on a roadtrip with no predetermined destination, and my favorite, taste 100 types of chocolate. nom.












Basically I had an excellent experience with exploring different social networking sites…but the main part about them is that they need to be popular and utilized by other people too, which is why Facebook still has the upperhand in my book.



















Final Thoughts on WoW

Hey All. This is my 7th and final post of the semester!

Throughout my experience with WoW, I have found identity formation to be the most fascinating thing. Elements of the games such as the avatar, alignment, race, class, and profession all influence identity formation. Culture is also a contributing force to the virtual world, and I’m not the only one studying it!

This link is to Digital Culture, Play, and Identity – a book that analyzes the trends in identity in WoW, and how culture from real life translates to virtual culture. Topics include: social etiquette, economic transactions, and gender dynamics in WoW and what they mean for real life as well..

Notably, this is what I have added to WoW’s Wiki page (the WoW page on Wikipedia cannot be changed, so I elected to change WoW’s own version of Wikipedia – “WoWWiki”). Anyway, under the section of Professions, I added a note about identity (link can be found here):

Professions and Identity:

Often, professions may coincide with your interests in real life. It may be to your advantage to pick a profession which interests you in real life so that your interest in your profession in WoW stays strong. Likewise, allowing your online identity to carry over into real life through professions can be just as rewarding. However, choosing a profession that is new to you can be equally enriching as a way to explore new identities.

On the topic of identity, there was a recent issue with identity portrayal in WoW. The admins of WoW required for all players to list their “real” names, ie their human names, but this caused privacy concerns and was discontinued as a policy. I find it interesting that the curators of WoW want their players to portray their true identities, but it’s quite obvious how this could be a problem. So while on one hand I see this as a step forward for integrating virtual and real identity, on the other hand I see the privacy problems this may cause.

Thank you all for reading, and have a great winter break! Good luck on finals!


43 things year in review

So I have only had an account on 43 things for part of the semester, so my accomplishments on the site are far from what they could be with more invested time. However, there is a  tab that you can click that gives you a summery of your year in review and sums up what you have done, the entries that you have written, and the cheers that you have received and given.  It shows when you were most active in the year in a graph and gives you a statistic of how many cheers you received for each cheer that you gave. Looking at my year in review, it is kind of sad. I think that with further use of this site I would be able to develop my goals further and make a more impressive year in review report.

Here’s my year (or few months):