Shirley Fung\’s Blog

Her journey to make change in the world

Making connections… September 13, 2007

Filed under: Boston,Topic of the Moment — Shirley @ 4:11 pm

From my reflection on the culture in Tanzania vs. the culture in America, I made a note that people are much more friendly to strangers in Tanzania than we are in America. Well, I am reading the book The Transparent Society, for the class 6.805 Ethics and Law on the Electronic Frontier, in the second chapter, David Brin discusses the reasons for why we fear our neighbors, and how that relates to our idea of privacy. I thought that was really interesting, because it really got me thinking that our ethics are really based on the culture and society we live in. Not only ethics evolve over time, but they also are very different from one place to another.

Well I haven’t finished the book yet, but from what I have read so far, Brin proposes that we should rethink about how we should live in the information age, where transparency is going to play a major role in how we live, operate, and interact in this new world. Then, may I ask, how can we break the mindset of our society that we should stop thinking about secrecy, and begin to embrace transparency? The road from centralized control and secrecy to transparency is a bit unclear to me right now, as I know a lot of people would fear that they would have to give up privacy. Brin made it clear in the beginning that you can have both. I am interested in what he would say…

Transparency brings up another idea. In my research, I work with Professor Glen Urban at the Center for Digital Business, where one of our main focus is to work on projects along the ideas of Trust and Advocacy for the consumer. The main idea is that since competitor’s information is so readily available, companies should really be transparent, so that trust can be built. It hasn’t been easy for executives to change their old marketing strategies to this new paradigm, but some have, and they have been successful. Not sure where I am going with this.. just a though.

Ahhh well how is life? School is a little nuts right now, and I am definitely back to MIT mode. I am doing work every waking moment, and it seems like work is never ending. 18.310C is going well, and I am learning really interesting applied math concepts (coin weighing, sorting, etc…). The first problem set was a bit tough, but I think I stressed too much on having it to be perfect. I am loving 6.805 right now, because I am learning all sorts of new things, and I am also gaining other skills such as how to read a judicial opinion. 6.898 is awesome because I am learning about the Semantic Web, and there is a good chance that might affect future research with my thesis.

Job search is in full force! (If anyone comes across this post entry, I just want to say that I am on the market!) I am trying to figure out what to do, and I think that there are some interesting opportunities out there. I hope I get to find a job that I really love.

Enough blogging for now, I should get back to work!

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2 Responses to “Making connections…”

  1. Tse-Sung Wu Says:

    I came across your post as I’m in Stonetown at the moment about to head to Nungwi after a fantastic 15dd safari in the northern areas of TZ.  One of the tribes we met is the hunter-gathering Hadzabe, which I was reminded of in reading your remarks about transparency and trust.  These non-machine societies (the Maasai are the same tho’ more hierarchical and structured) have exactly the transparency that our online social networks are approaching to fully emulate. They’re small, everyone understands and knows each other as well as their contexts.  

    Will there be a time in which social media will be as natural as normal personas? I wonder– currently online personas are constructed, arguably- much more so than in-person ones.

    • Shirley Says:

      Hey Tse-Sung Wu, thanks for your comment! I hope Stonetown is treating you well. I still remember the street market well with the wonderful food. Your remark is interesting. I think that new technology has changed the way we communicate, and I would be curious how that may affect us as a society.


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