Sessions at SXSW Interactive 2011 about Ethics

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Sunday 13th March 2011

  • Hoax or Transmedia? The Ethics of Pervasive Fiction

    by Andrea Phillips

    The classic ARG storytelling technique involves putting content into the real world and web as if the story were really happening. But the line between truth and fiction online is blurry -- and getting blurrier all the time -- so not everyone who finds your content will know it's not for real.

    One person's hoax is another's deeply immersive experience. And what one considers a killer practical joke can be a terrifying ordeal to somebody else. So how does a transmedia designer learn to strike the right balance between immersive and responsible?

    LEVEL: Intermediate

    At 11:00am to 12:00pm, Sunday 13th March

    In Room 12AB, Austin Convention Center

  • Crowdsourcing: Innovation and/or Exploitation?

    by Fred Benenson, Jonathan Zittrain, Lada Adamic and Lukas Biewald

    You've probably already heard about crowdsourcing platforms like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and CrowdFlower which offer anyone the ability to employ thousands of humans to perform on demand micro-assignments at pennies per task.

    But does crowdsourcing even work? What value can thousands of dislocated clicks really provide? Is this really the future of online labor?

    In this panel we’ll be examining the topic of crowdsourcing, the crowdsourced labor market, and the entrepreneurial and creative opportunities made possible by “human APIs.”

    We’ll also tackle some of the newest innovations in crowdsourcing such as virtual labor for virtual goods where Farmville and other MMPOG gamers are awarded in-game currency for doing real-world microwork such as tagging photos and filling out surveys.

    However there's growing concern that these Farmville migrant workers are being unfairly exploited. This is further complicated by the fact that many of them happen to be minors.

    But does it even make sense to equivocate their work with “normal” labor? Are there really people living in developing nations that live hand-to-mouth on their income from crowdsourcing? Finally, what are the regulatory and social considerations that we can expect in the future for this space?

    LEVEL: Intermediate

    At 5:00pm to 6:00pm, Sunday 13th March

    In Room 9ABC, Austin Convention Center

Monday 14th March 2011

  • Bite Me—Are Ethics Gone in Food Criticism?

    by Marcia Gagliardi, Robert Sietsema, Jane Goldman, Ben Leventhal and James Holmes

    In the past, food critics paid for their meals and were reimbursed by the newspaper/magazine. And most mainstream media food critics would go to exceptional ends to keep their identity secret. Their critique of the food would be unmarred by any special treatment from the restaurant chef or staff. End of story. But today everyone's a food critic, and with the rise in social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, and more, their reviews can be broadcast far and wide. Food critic anonymity has gone out the window with one Google search.
    Recently, Time.com food critic, Josh Ozersky was dressed down by the Village Voice* NYT for not revealing in a column in which he extolled the benefits of having fancy chefs catering your wedding that the caterers at his wedding were doing so for free. The recent FTC rulings mandate that bloggers disclose when they're reviewing something they're not paid for, but those rules don't extend to bloggers operating under the leaky umbrella of a corporate parent.
    In the proposed panel, Jane Goldman, editor in chief of CHOW.com, one of the most popular food websites, will bring some of the most influential people in the food industry and discuss this growingly important issue in food journalism. This panel will call out the spectrum of professionalism in online and offline food journalism and the issue around transparency reverberates through all aspects of online journalism and blogging.

    LEVEL: Intermediate

    At 11:00am to 12:00pm, Monday 14th March

    In Hill Country AB, Hyatt Regency Austin

  • Creation, Curation, and the Ethics of Content Strategy

    by Margot Bloomstein

    From Monet to MTV, what practices connect the salons of Paris with Danger Mouse, NFL.com, and Facebook? More importantly, what's your place in that continuum? If you work with content, embrace your place in the ethical debate of creation and curation. It's nothing new—but it's time for user experience practitioners to acknowledge it.

    Why? Both companies' and consumers' expectations of user experience have matured, promoting content strategy in interactive teams, efficient projects, and satisfying user experiences. Content strategists shape communication goals, hierarchy, and taxonomy. Innocent choices? Or politics, discrimination, and the dark side of design?

    If you ignore these pitfalls of content strategy, what are the ethical implications? We'll discuss this through the lens of content correlation and "merchandising" on news sites, editing and mashing up to “create” anew, and curating in traditional settings like museums. From seemingly benign audits and style guidelines through published content packages, do curators create meaning? If so, how should content strategists confront similar choices?

    It's been a breakout year for content strategy. Come hear why now we need to confront its ethical relevance—and learn about the missteps of teams that don't—through the lens of case studies and the perspective of the new publishing landscape.

    LEVEL: Advanced

    At 11:00am to 12:00pm, Monday 14th March

    In Capitol View Terrace, Sheraton Austin Hotel at the Capitol

    Coverage slide deck

  • Social-Powered Ethics: Healthcare Faces a New Curve

    by Matt Cyr and Carissa Caramanis O'Brien

    Social media has seen rapid growth, but healthcare, a highly regulated and sometimes conservative industry, started as a somewhat reluctant player. Challenged with the need to comply with HIPAA guidelines as well as FDA marketing policies--even before the agency had addressed social media--healthcare organizations and their audiences were left to figure it out as they went along.

    Led by some smart innovators, social health emerged in 2010 as a force to be reckoned with. Still, there have been missteps as well as successes, and many questions remain. Chief among them is the ethics of social media in healthcare, and how transparency may or may not be the ultimate cure-all. Two social health advocates--a leading social health consultant and an executive from one of the nation's premier hospitals--will lead an interactive discussion to explore the multifaceted challenge of social-powered ethics in healthcare.

    Some of the topics they'll tackle include the birth of the fPatient, the over/under on disclosure, the friendly ghostwriter, and turning regulatory and legal into champions. Attendees will help shape the conversation and walk away with actionable strategies to apply to their social media efforts.

    At 3:30pm to 4:30pm, Monday 14th March

    In Trinity, Hilton Garden Inn Austin Downtown

  • Be Evil: Does Corporate Responsibility Matter?

    by Siva Vaidhyanathan

    In this age of radical transparency, can corporations that mistreat their users or cause harm in the world get away with it? Does the market discipline companies so that responsibility is now an essential part of doing business? Or is corporate responsibility just a clever trick to gain a slight marketing advantage and defer state regulation? Is the first and only duty of a company to provide value to its shareholders? This debate will consider these issues through the lens of Google, the most significant promoter of a corporate moral ethos. It will consider the ethics of doing business in authoritarian places such as China, pursuing environmentally sustainable infrastructure, and treating labor fairly.

    LEVEL: Beginner

    At 5:00pm to 6:00pm, Monday 14th March

    In Salon D, Hilton Austin Downtown

Tuesday 15th March 2011

  • Flexible Morality of User Engagement & User Behavior

    by Dan Ariely and Sarah Szalavitz

    This session, proposed by Dan Ariely and Sarah Szalavitz, will investigate the relationship between morality and user engagement online, as well as in real life. Prior to the presentation, we will ask friends and the SXSW community to participate in an experiment to explore how the choices we are offered by user experiences and online communities "game" the outcome--or whether we are making choices at all, if our brains can't resist seeking Mayorships on FourSquare or growing farms on Farmville. During the session, we'll first offer the survey to attendees, share our findings from the results we already have, and then explore the implications for online behavior, user experience, and morality. We'll consider how cognitively irresistible user experiences are created, as well as its on both our online and offline identities. Further, we'll explore how the predetermination of user behavior by choice optimization and social design, can encourage cheating, both by users and designers. Finally, we'll look at the impact the flexibility of our morality in our various identities and behaviors could have on the future of the choices we'll both offer and be offered.

    LEVEL: Advanced

    At 12:30pm to 1:30pm, Tuesday 15th March

    In Ballroom D, Austin Convention Center