Author Archives: Cynthia Wang

About Cynthia Wang

I'm a singer-songwriter - I write and perform your typical heartbroken singer-songwriter fare. Oh, I also teach at Cal State LA, but that's not going to be the focus of this blog.


Test test test

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Posted by on June 15, 2016 in Uncategorized


Facebook declarations

I just noticed that Facebook copyright thing that seems to have been around for a while resurface last night/this morning, but what’s even more interesting is that the “I hereby declare” part of it has turned into a meme. And, of course, Facebook isn’t making newsfeed clumps stating that “24 of your friends are talking about ‘I hereby declare’.” Which makes me wonder how their algorithm works…

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Posted by on November 26, 2012 in Uncategorized


Listening to algorithms

Crawford’s piece about listening in on media and messages very much run in parallel to Lacey’s point a few weeks ago about listening as an imperative factor to the public sphere. Crawford, though, types out the kinds of people and agents who are listening (individuals, politicians, corporations, as well as the different modes of listening (reciprocal, background, delegated). In order to your voice to have any sort of meaning, you need to have listeners. It seems like people like Crawford and Lacey are taking Carey’s model of communication and addressing the part that has often lay dormant (figuratively and literally). They’re addressing the audience – the people being spoken to, the half of the model of communication that has been seen as passive, as only consumers, and attempting to see this part of the communication loop as an active one, as one that listens in, rather than passively takes messages from producers. The act of listening, both argue, is active. In digital media, and in Twitterspace, which is what Crawford concentrates on, the act of listening is, indeed, an act, that is constituted in the different modes, and by different forms of agents.

I very much agree with the point that there is a privileging of the voice. If we were to take a gendered look at this, it seems as though we might be able to make it into a gendered metaphor, and one that works with colonization as well. That the voice penetrates into a space, and disseminates seeds of information and messages, but without a receptacle, it becomes merely masturbation, with no hopes at all of reproducing, or letting the seeds, or the message, proceed with any significance, no hopes of affecting change, or instigate an exchange of ideas and discourse. After all, Western imperialism would not be a thing if there weren’t the non-West to receive Western culture and mentality of Western consumer capitalism. Much like theories of the Other, there needs to be an opposite in order to define the principal. A Slave to define the Master. And oppressed to reinforce and ensure superiority. A listener in order to render the speaker significant.

There is now an expectation to use these services, and to listen to these services. Our world has normalized these technologies, and if we want to participate in a certain social circle, we must use these technologies too. Think about how many invitations for offline events come on Facebook now. If you choose not to use it, you are cut out from many social events for which information can only be gotten on social media.

David Beer gets into algorithms and the technological unconscious, in which we are being controlled by power structures that we cannot see, and that machines increasingly talk more to each other without human intervention or human agency. As Hayles says, referenced by Beer, these systems, though, aren’t infallible. An example of this that came from some of my previous research was the Flash Crash in May of 2010 when the Dow dropped 1000 points, and no one knew why, but high frequency trading, which is trading done at the nanosecond level by algorithms, were suspect in this catastrophe.

Here’s the Kevin Slavin TED talk on algorithms.

I had posted yesterday about how Facebook groups status updates and posts by friends according to key themes, the latest that came up the day after Thanksgiving being Christmas. In a faux cheerful way, Facebook informs me every time I sign in now that 23 of my friends are talking about “Christmas.” Facebook, through its algorithms, creates a sort of public sphere, a common topic, that only you can see, and that really, only you can participate in, because you are presumably the only person who knows all of the people in your newsfeed that Facebook says are talking about “Christmas.”

Another algorithmic thing that Facebook does is determine which posts are most visible, which friends show up on top of your newsfeed, which is presumably some algorithm that involves how much you click on their profile or respond to their posts, and vice versa.

These ideas about Facebook tie into our discussion last week about filtering and customization. In this case, and, likely in most cases, algorithms play a huge role in how we perceive the world, how we get information, even without us being active. It chooses and filters for us, it anticipates what we want to see and feeds it to us. What’s the bottom line here? Is it so there are more eyeballs glued to the screen? So that we continue listening? What role does the algorithm play in our continued and sustained listening, and how much, then, can we say we are active in our acts of listening if algorithms are tied so closely with our experience of the public, of dialogue, discourse, and democracy? 

These questions tie into Lash’s idea of post-hegemonic power, in which power and power structures are constituted within us, and our Facebook walls, and in what we have seemingly chosen to do, rather than imposed on us from outside. It is within the system itself, and is invisible to us.

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Posted by on November 25, 2012 in Uncategorized


Testing this to make sure we can all post.

I realize that Udacity didn’t get to Object Oriented Programming, which is what I have left in the Python the Hard Way. I’m going to continue looking at that this week, and hopefully at some point it will click.

As for the project, as I alluded to last time, the project that I had been talking about seems to have turned into an outside project that may not be appropriate as a final project for this class. I’ve been talking to Ev about possibly working on his project with him (the one with the Lab/Annenberg locator and collaborative application tool, and/or making a game that’s around legal rights of LGBT individuals around the world. Something similar to SPENT.

Quick Python update and test

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Posted by on October 18, 2012 in Uncategorized


Google fun

This seems to be going around today. But talk about SEO for the dems.

Go to Google, click on “images” and search for “Completely wrong”

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Posted by on October 10, 2012 in Uncategorized


quick question about append and loops

for i in range(0, 6):
    print "Adding %d to the list." % i
    # append is a function that lists understand

# now we can print them out too
for i in elements:
    print "Element was: %d" % i

So, when I print this out, it doesn't print out 6, even though the range is 0 to 6. Why not?
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Posted by on October 2, 2012 in Uncategorized



I’ve hit some bumps in the learning python process. Lesson 26 was debugging code. I got most of it, but haven’t figured out how to import the python file in order to have the code work in python. Not sure if I’m being clear here….but I think I have to do something in python (like, importing a python script) for this part to work…

import sys

sentence = “All god\tthings come to those who weight.”

words = ex25.break_words(sentence)
sorted_words = ex25.sort_words(words)

sorted_words = ex25.sort_sentence(sentence)
prin sorted_words




Otherwise, I’ve moved on and am finally learning logic. That part is fun. No real issues yet.

Also, Andrew, if you’re reading this, I would love to try rooting my phone via your netbook. Thank you. 🙂

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Posted by on September 26, 2012 in Uncategorized


Quick Rooting Update

I spent about two hours researching this whole rooting the Android business, using the help of the wiki and google. It seems straightforward enough — need to run Odin, need to run an insecure kernel, then install some new ROM.

The problem is, all of the versions of Odin I downloaded only runs on PCs (all *.exe files). I’m thinking of borrowing someone’s PC, or trying to do this in the lab. The challenge with the lab is that I may not be able to install programs on it.

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Posted by on September 25, 2012 in Uncategorized


Publics and the Government

What does Schudson say?

Schudson’s analysis centers around state influence over and role in creating public spheres. He maintains that the state and the public, the government and civil society, are deeply intertwined, stating that “government must be understood as part of a public sphere and not as a separate dimension of social life.” (Schudson, 532) What’s interesting is that there didn’t ever seem to be a true separation of government (public) and candidate personalities (private). He asks (and answers himself), “Is contemporary political discourse uniquely impoverished in its focus on personalities rather than issues in elections? No. In fact, in the late eighteenth century elites urged voters to vote on the basis of the candidates’ characters, not on the basis of particular issues of interests.” (Schudson, 530) This ties back to some of the readings we did the first week on the illusion of objectivity and the transcendental self. Candidates are supposed to be looking out for the public good, and yet, what is “good” for the public is going to largely be determined and shaped by the private realm of each individual candidate’s life. Take, for example, the recent Mitt Romney “scandal” ( Let me first put forth the disclaimer that what I think he said shows that he’s out of touch with most of America, and was just a fairly stupid thing to say, and get recorded, and lacks compassion for individuals who are going through everyday struggles, and is just…really problematic and irksome (and that’s euphemistic). Ok, disclaimer inputted.

We’ve already established in Calhoun’s piece in Week 1 that the “public good” is a very slipper thing. Mitt Romney is acknowledging the fact that not all Americans have the same priorities, and that different people need different things. Obviously, he said it in a really callous and uncalled-for way, which then, in turn, homogenizes about half of America. This is where the real problem lies. The president is supposed to vie for the public good. But what is the public? For ALL American people? Maybe this is the contradiction of the office that Romney touches upon – that people are going to have different opinions, so he needs to concentrate on getting the votes of the people who will put him in office so he can, with his own background and history, impose what he thinks is “good” for the public upon ALL Americans? I’m getting some cognitive dissonance from my own analysis and am getting a bit annoyed with myself. I’m going to stop. Maybe we can discuss in class and pick this apart.

The fact of the matter here is that the video has gone viral and countless analyses and articles bashing Romney and defending Romney have since come out, each in its own public sphere, but with the ultimate knowledge that the discussions going on in these oftentimes disparate public spheres will tie into decisions that will eventually be made by the state. If I talk to my friends about how Romney is out of touch, or post it on Facebook, this conversation would likely take place in the private realm, but our social interaction would influence our government. Moreover, and I think this is really the point Schudson is making, it is because of the framework of our government that I am even able to have these social interactions with my friends – that we even have this discussion. The government enables certain aspects of the public sphere, and enables our ability to use the press in order to help us make decisions that ultimately then effect the government. It’s cyclical and intertwined.

Now, here is where I disagree with Schudson. How about globalization? And digital media’s enabling of communication and civic action outside the boundaries of the nation-state? This is a question that I have for my interest in the Asian LGBT Diaspora. How much is discourse and public opinion shaped based on the priorities or ideology of a nation, but how much of that is bleeding across borders because of the Internet and because of these transnational means of communicating? No doubt it is still shaped a bit, but I don’t seem to think that this public is encapsulated in the influence of the government as much as Schudson puts forth in his article.


What does Sunstein say?

Sunstein takes us through the history of free speech. His main point is that the visibility and the debates of free speech have only gotten much more interesting within the last century or so, particularly between 1925 and 1970. There are two camps here. One tries to limit government’s regulation of the First Amendment, usually seeing government as the enemy which infringes upon the freedom to express. This side vies for very slight regulatory practices and is known as absolutism. The other side, which more closely mirrors the traditional, historical outlook on the First Amendment, calls for more governmental and legislative regulation with a whole slew of topics, deemed detrimental to society (hate speech, criminal plots, etc) or which threaten the state.

Sunstein’s problem with absolutism lies in the freedom it gives corporations, commercials and ads aired during tv (he cites the exorbitant amount of time given to that), and the like. He does get into the fact that there are many tiers of free speech, and that governments can regulate speech depending on the situation (libel, obscenity, etc). For example (and this was an example I was very excited about because my Political Science teacher from high school told us), public figures can only win a libel lawsuit if they can prove malicious intent, but regular people just have to prove that what was said was untrue. This is an example that Sunstein gives of tiered freedom of speech (Sunstein, 9). You have the freedom to say/write untrue things about someone if they’re not famous, so your freedom of speech is conditional.

This idea of free speech has gotten very interesting with the advent of social networking sites (of course we’re going to go there again, right?). What if you write something untrue about someone on Facebook? And I feel a lot of the false things on Facebook ARE done with malice. 

Sunstein also makes us consider free speech and high and low culture. We can take a 4-year-old to see the statue of David in Florence in all of his naked glory, and yet we shield him from nudity and sex acts on TV and in movies, which gets slapped with a TV14 or an R rating. I’m reminded of the film “This Movie Is Not Yet Rated.”


How are these readings related?

Both Sunstein and Schuedon (and the other readings this week) explore the legal quandaries of speech and its contradictions in negotiating democracy. They bring up interesting questions about the government’s role in the freedom of expression, in our idea of the public, in the ideology of the state, whether it is in the public sphere in terms of what we say, or our freedom to say anything at any time. The question then becomes, how is a democracy really constituted? What are the freedoms outside the government? How much agency do public spheres (including the press) have to instigate change? (I’m going to start using the plural to describe public spheres, because there’s never just one…) How much responsibility does the government have to protect public spheres, and hence, ideas that do not mesh with their own? How much influence do public spheres have on the government’s actions and legislation? How is the government suppressing expression and discourse (in the form of institutionalized or subtly designed censorship) in public and private spaces?


A few more case studies and examples to consider. Not quite within the realm of democracy, but will be interesting to consider how this week’s readings and themes tie into a global society and transnational ideas of publics.

Gu Kailai, the wife of Chongqing’s Communist Party chief, was accused to killing Neil Heywood. China censored any searches for Gu Kailai or Bo Xilai (, stunting any sort of discourse in the public about these issues that may potentially hurt the state or make the state look bad.

Cao Ni Ma. I’ll explain in class. But first, you should watch this video.

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Posted by on September 23, 2012 in Uncategorized


Geolocation Storytelling and Narratives

Here’s my idea for a project for this semester. I’m not sure what to call it yet. Any suggestions (for a name) and feedback (for the project itself) would be fantastic. 

This is a multi-platform geolocation application that would tell the stories of a specific demographic of people, namely Asian/Pacific Islander LGBT folks. The purpose would be to share stories, histories, experiences, social activism, and community priorities across national and cultural borders to increase an understanding of the global climate of LGBT activism among the demographically Asian. 

Three levels of content (keeping in mind each level can be expanded to different geographical locations):

  • Historical stories and events
    • Where did historical events take place?
    • Where did community organizations start? Where were their original headquarters?
    • What were some of the stories that came out of these locations?
      • For example, let’s say I’m in the middle of Los Angeles, and I want to explore places that were historically significant to the Asian LGBT community in LA. I can pull up this application on my phone and see that in the next block over was where A/PLG was started, and get a history of the organization, the key members, etc. There may be then a link to a video of a documentary about the individuals who started A/PLG, and other tidbits of information about that time period and that location.
    • The reason I want this to be GPS-based rather than building/corporation/company-based (like Foursquare or Yelp) is because oftentimes organizations used to be in places that aren’t there anymore, or have moved, yet the historical geographical mapping provides a geographically-based historical narrative.
  • Current issues and priorities, and events
    • What are the issues that organizations are currently concentrating on?
      • For example, API Equality LA concentrates on issues of gay marriage and the Fair Education Act (which has since been dropped)
      • What is the scope of the current issues of each community or culture? Do they care about the global aspect of LGBT issues? Do they care to know about what is going on outside of their community or nation?
    • Past and upcoming events related to these movements may be mapped out, creating a visualization of activism locally or globally. These would likely be uploaded by organizations themselves, or moderators who are connected with these organizations.
    • Resources for LGBT individuals in different locations and countries
  • Individual stories
    • People can upload pictures, videos, audio, texts, links, etc to certain locations that tell of their own stories. This is the more social-networking/foursquare bit.
    • Ethnographic filmmaking/oral interviews etc

Current connections:

  • API Equality LA (Los Angeles)
    • API Equality LA has instigated the Pioneers Documentation Project which captures the stories of Asian American LGBT activists who were involved in the LGBT and Asian American civil rights movements in the 60s and 70s, and started organizations like A/PLG (Asian/Pacific Lesbians and Gays).
    • They are still looking for a platform by which to distribute this information.
  • Barangay LA (Los Angeles)
    • Filipino LGBT organization based in Los Angeles. Has expressed an interest in this project.
  • Koreans United for Equality (Los Angeles)
  • Pink Dot (Singapore)
    • Made initial contact, but no solid connections yet
  • Website
    • Chinese language site for LGBT resources in Chinese-speaking areas, most in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Asia
    • The webmaster is amenable to us improving upon the site, incorporating it into this project. This site could potentially be a great resource 
  • I also have a few leads in Hong Kong, Japan, China, the Philippines, and Indonesia that I will have to explore.

How to proceed:

It seems to make sense starting out locally in Los Angeles, as this model is likely easily translatable on a global scale. Ultimately, I’d like to map out stories of organizations and people on a global level, concentrated to the Asian diasporic networks, but possibly extending outside of that scope. The purpose of this is to create a portal by which people can understand what is going on with LGBT individuals across the Pacific, either in their country of origin (as it pertains to those of us in the US) or in diasporic locations (for those who are in Asia and wondering about their “people” outside their place of origin). This, of course, also assumes an exploration of alternate citizenship extending beyond nation-state borders predicated on identifying as LGBT or whatever the way of identifying is in their country. For purposes of productivity, I will probably be using the identity definitions and understandings used in the US.

My next steps:

Figure out what’s already out there in terms of applications that use geolocation and storytelling or narratives.

Investment for this project is very low. The value of this application lies not with the people who use it (like many social networking sites), but rather the content that is provided, which will be obtained in conjunction with the community organizations involved. The purpose here really is to get stories out there, to make sure there is an avenue through which these stories can be told, and these histories and narratives can be preserved.

The technical stuff:

We will likely look for a code that has already been made in terms of geolocation and mapping, and tweak it to serve the purposes of this project.

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Posted by on September 16, 2012 in Uncategorized