The Propagandist’s Cute Cat Theory

sorry for the late post…

The effectiveness of participatory media as a platform for political activists in disseminating dissident messages has been well observed in the recent years. From Tahrir Square to Causeway Bay, political activists around the world have been taking advantage of various participatory media platforms to spread their ideas and organize real-world protests against their governments.

This raises an interesting question: since most participatory media that are used by the political activists are open for everyone to register and publish information, what would happen if the government decides to utilize social media to spread propaganda? An analysis of various propaganda campaigns on participatory media around the world would reveal that propagandists could also benefit from participatory media, but the form and the content of the propaganda would need to be carefully tailored in order to ensure the effectiveness of the propaganda.

In the paper I will analyse the advantages and the challenges the propagandists will run into in spreading propaganda on participatory media, and whether the “Cute cat theory” can still be hold true in the dissemination of propaganda

Facebook Messenger App

Final Details on Paper


Facebook Messenger App


  1. Introduce and give back ground to Facebook, messaging, etc.  2-3 paragraphs
  2. Explain the force to app splintering 1-2 paragraphs
  3. Explain why Facebook forced this app 2-3 paragraphs
  4. Explain the tradeoffs of forcing the app 1-2 paragraphs (backlash)
  5. Conclusion 1-2 paragraphs

Final Cometh p.3

The impermanence surrounding Pinterest account deletion clearly has come effect on it’s users. My guess if that it makes the deletion less serious and therefore more likely to happen. In order to fully analyze the effect of the option to temporarily close the account, I need to know more about Pinterest as a company and it’s customer demographics.

1. (some company history)

2. (Pinterest comparied to other companies, economically)

—-Side Note, on the Forbes website, users have the option to comment after just having read the title. One can expect almost nothing except knee-jerk reactions. Forbes also makes it incredibly hard to print their articles, but sharing is no big deal.

3. (break down of Pinterest demographics, in terms of income)

4. (infographic about pinterest users)

These sources tell me that Pinterest users, for the most part, are young (24-35), middle class mothers. I’m assuming, for now, that the mothers use the site to pin projects and clothing for their children, but so far I still need to do more research to see what makes the impermanent account closing a good idea (but I’m considering going down the route of talking about why it’s bad).


Final Cometh p.2

This was supposed to be published a while ago.


I won’t go into the details of what I found, I’ll just introduce the most interesting aspects.

The results of the research:

1. PINTEREST: When you cancel your account on Pinterest, the site keeps your pinboards (albums, basically) alive. You can even return to the site with all of your settings and boards intact if you use the same email address.

—-This seems to suggest that Pinterest knows its members will come back, even if they take a break. Either Pinterest members habitually feel the need to suspend their boards, or Pinterest designers know there’s something in Pinterest that makes the members return. They could be playing on human psychology.

2. WORDPRESS: the notifications tab is shaped like a speech bubble.

—This makes the notifications feel less like intrusive alerts and more like a conversation. The notifications tab also includes comments, so WordPress seems to be encouraging replies to those comments. On other participatory media sites, the speech bubble also signifies the message tab, which creates and even strong suggestion to the user that those notifications are not meant to be seen then ignored.

3. ORGSYNC: events are both in the feed, in the calendar, and off to the side.

—-Orgsync REALLY does not want people to miss their meetings. Unlike other sites I’ve been to, OrgSync puts your events in your feed. The designers seem to realize how seldom users look at the calendars on the site compared to how frequently they scroll through their feed. Putting the events in the feed ensures people will see the events.

4. TUMBLR: tutorials aren’t optional, they appear as the user scrolls past the object.

—(Amusing side note: when users first sign up, tumblr gives them the option to choose from a list of pre-designed names such as CrispyCheesecakePatrol and SparklyWonderlandStrawberry)

—The designers realize young people don’t bother to go through the tutorials because they prefer to figure out the site themselves. I suspect this is the result of being the first generation to grow up with ubiquitous computer and internet usage (there was no one to teach us how to use a computer and internet). As I scrolled through my tumblr dashboard, important icons would animate and a textbox would appear with one or two sentences explaining it’s function. This method of giving a tutorial both ensures that everyone sees it and tells the users which functions are important.


Ultimately, I’ve decided to focus on Pinterest. It, like Facebook, allows users to come back after they’ve decided to quite without forcing them to rebuild their networks and re-gather information. I’m curious as to which site decided to do this first and I want to know why, specifically, they do it.


Final Paper

While talking about the imagined Hot Spot function in Weibo,  there are some things that need to be explained.

1. The randomness in the function is not really “Random”, but more like describing a disordered recommendation to the users at the beginning. I would like to make the function has a potential to develop itself by getting comments from the user. And with the users choosing “like” or “dislike” a piece of information that is recommended, the system would have the ability to record not only the topics, but also some details about the recommended content such as “with/without picture”, “serious/amusing contents”, “special people”. What Weibo is doing these days is simply dividing the contents into different sections (sports, music, famous people, etc), and lets users choose the sections they are interested in. I would like to pay more attention to the way things are spread at the very beginning, and try to find a way to dig out the information that most people would like to see in a more efficient way.

2. Why Weibo is not doing so? Well, with the big Vs, Weibo actually doesn’t need to do much about the explosive spreading of information—Big Vs do most of the job. However, for an ordinary user, it’s really hard to get some useful information in some cases because any search based on the present system would lead to the post of the Big Vs. So to some extent, the current recommendation and search system in Weibo is sometimes ineffective and crowded with useless information.

Final paper

I want to talk about the existing post on the social media which bother me most in the final paper. There are many existing post which made me laugh or appreciate when they first come up on my screen, but when more and more people repost the same post and it keep pumping up, this phenomenon makes the hilarious post annoying. Here are some reasons that why this phenomenon exists.

  1. People who keep reposting these kind of post want to attract people’s attention on the social network, in order to make advertisement.
  2. There are always people repost it because there are always new users online. They are they people who are new to everything, so it is comprehensible they repost them because this is the first time they see them.
  3. People want to bring the post on one social media to another one make also make people who use different media see it over and over again.
  4. People may copy some of the interesting post from Weibo or Twitter to the blog that not as popular as those hot media, so they win reputation on this media by copying others.

This reasons have different methods to solve them. But this phenomenon have a lot of difficulties to change it. 1,2,4 may be easy to bring down, but the methods may be not practical. And 4 is difficult to change because new users come into the Internet everyday.

Weeks 10/11/12

I would like to see an application developed that allows for spontaneous event planning. Think Facebook events, but with the default set to being public. I imagine the service being gamified to entice more people to use it, and for there to be a variety of sorting methods to allow the consumers greater control over what results they see (and see first) when determining their plans for the night/weekend. There will also be a number of controls for the “producers” of the event, including privacy options for closed groups.

My other feature that could be discussed in my final would be an adaptation of Reddit that takes advantage of Facebook and Google’s algorithms to give a new sorting option based on what subreddits the site thinks the consumer would like to see.

Expanding upon the first idea, my paper is going to be a design proposal for the social spontaneous event planning idea, and here is the outline for how I imagine the paper going:

  • Introduction with an emphasis on the need for such an app

  • Point out the flaws in the Facebook event app and why it has essentially failed

  • Look at other event planning apps that have failed
  • Start to draw the connection that most of the apps that have apparent “success” cover a certain niche, so while most people haven’t heard of them, they’re quite good at what they do just within their respective communities
  • Begin to get into the actual text, starting with a basic outline of the different features
  • Specifically look at the different sorting functions, the default of having events open to the public, and its initial release as closed within the NYUSH community
  • Explain the tradeoffs of each of the features that were looked at in detail (the tradeoff with the default of the sorting abilities)
  • Get into the bit about what will likely happen: gain popularity amongst NYUSH people carving out a dedicated niche and overtaking orgsync, once it is used actively by NYUSH people, open up to NYU students overall when the NYUSH people are studying away and can promote it, take hold amongst the NYU population before eventual opening to the public, which will then take hold because of its use in major cities across the world.
  • NYU alum tend to become pretty famous, talk about how having famous users will prompt further use
  • Also talk about how it can be used as a political tool for spontaneous organization amongst “rebel” groups, how it will likely be banned by the Chinese gov’t
  • Conclusion with wrap up about how the tool will be useful for both the first world college student, trying to find a party for the night, and the oppressed citizen trying to topple a corrupt government across the world.

Final Paper Brainstorming.

I was thinking about writing  a paper on meta data tagging such as geotags, picture tags, hashtags etc., but I realised that would be too vast of a topic and it’s easy to get lost which is why I later decided to narrow down my focus to the hashtag.


I was also thinking I could write my paper on Facebook analytics. Specifically, the “x people reached” link under page posts that indicates the spread or virality of a single post with an option to “Boost” the reach of that particular post, allowing page admins like celebrities, companies and politicians to reach out to the maximum amount of people they can via Facebook.

I’m still looking into both topics, thoughts?

Final Paper Design

My final paper will direct at NYU Shanghai group. As we have complained about the repetitiveness between Orgsync, NYU Class and Albert, I would like to design a new mobile app for better integration with some new functions as well.

There are mainly four parts:

1. Calendar


The user will see the daily calendar at the first sight when they open the app. It works briefly as a vertical timeline with the title, time and location information of all the classes and events that I have signed up for. At the bottom of the calendar, the user can choose to see a broader range of the calendar, for example, the whole week. Users are free to add their own personal event on the calendar, so that it could serve as a life note for them.

2. Class, 3. Events, 4. Nearby

These three functions will appear on the same interface right after the user clicks out the calendar.

2. Class: 

One thing I have noticed is that students in one class usually don’t have a good platform to communicate. It is really common for us to see on the Facebook that someone is asking who is in Professor XX’s class and what is the requirement for essay X. Therefore, I would like to have a study group for each class. Every semester, those classes will be refreshed. In order to avoid the group sending out to many notifications so that people will feel bothered and stop using the app, people will only receive the notifications from the message with a mark of [Q]. (of course, they can turn off the notification completely too.) People who are also curious with the answers or who are willing to help solve the questions can then share the answers in the group. There will also be a search function that people can see all the [Q] questions. Once they click the question they are interested in, they will be guided to where the question starts in the chatting record. Professors are not allowed to be in the study group, so that students will feel much more freedom to talk and share.

The other thing I have noticed is that students usually don’t know whether the professor’s office hours have been occupied by someone else. Therefore, I think in a parallel interface, I will have a time booking calendar introduced and everybody can book a up to 15 min meeting with professors. They can also post questions to professors. This is also good for professors since they might have received too many questions in email and they will easily miss them.

The third parallel interface will just be resources and assignment center as what we have in NYU Class, where professors can share documents and students can submit assignments.

3. Events

This is mainly for clubs and student governments to list their activities, but not promote the club by posting thousands of pictures. It will be still like a calendar. Users can sign up for those activities that they are interested in simply by clicking “sign up” and they will be automatically added to the calendar.

4. Nearby

Users will see who are nearby and thus being able to invite them to order food delivery for example. This is only to NYU Shanghai students since it won’t hurt too much the privacy setting.

Final paper ideas

Orgsync started to get into our life since we get in college. Though the information is quite all-round and it nearly meets all our needs about extracurricular activities, there’s two main problems about this site. First, It’s quite a burden for students to check this site as frequently as they check their email or Facebook. I think the reason behind is that the information there is too much while its users have to actively find the info that meets their needs. Another is that it is limited inside one college and there’s barely interactions between schools; while as we all know, we need to keep more track on the events outside of school once we get into college.
Therefore, I’m thinking about a mobile app for college students. The main interface is like an instant message app. Colleges need to register for membership and only students from these colleges can get access to this app. Students using this app can can subscribe to activities in specific realms, such as business, philosophy, fashion, etc. Then they will be fed with daily news (same for every user in the same school) and updates about activities inside their school(about the topics they subscribe to). And it can also includes one news about a major students event in the area (a city or a province) and a nationwide one. If the users find anything (clubs, orgnizations, activities)they are interested in, they can reply the key words to get more information or sign up for the event. And they will get notifications about the activities they signed up for or they can go to calendar in this app to check their activity schedule. Also, if they want to get news about activities in other realms, they can reply the key words to get recent news about that topic. Moreover, they can reply schoolwide/ citywide/ nationwide and so on to select information. Students can also send key words to get information to help their daily life in school. For example, if you send “public safety phone”, you will get the number of public safety. Or you can send “lost&found card” to know the latest information about any lost card.
This is what I wrote about the app I want to design last time. Since it has to be participatory media, I am thinking about the possible groups that can make participation happen. One is within every specific school, which can mainly work for the consistency of a school’s tradition, the activities in school, and to build up the school’s impression on others. Another is between schools. I am thinking about some kind of competition to make people more passionate about this app and their college life. But these are just the directions I am thinking about, I would improve it with more details these days.