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Author Archives: Michael

Vermont Country Stores Reach Customers via Front Porch Forum

From Anne Wallace Allen in VTDigger yesterday…

Jack Garvin, longtime manager of the Warren Store in the Mad River Valley, which sells gifts, housewares, craft beer and other items, said that like every store, his has a group of regulars who meet every morning for coffee. Apart from participating in a huge range of events, Garvin finds it helpful to advertise on Front Porch Forum (FPF), the online bulletin board.

“Regardless of how loyal your customers are — and they love the idea of having a country store in their town — when it comes to bottom line and looking at your wallet and looking at your disposable income, they’ll by and large go to the better deals,” Garvin said. But he added he can see through FPF analytics that his ads reach people outside the Mad River Valley.

“We don’t know how that translates into people walking in the door, but people are paying attention,” he said.


Fighting Online Bullying

From Micah Sifry in Civicist 1st Post today

Katy Steinmetz reports for Time magazine on how Instagram is trying to use AI to reduce how much the platform is used for cyberbullying, but as she notes, “it’s much easier to recognize when someone in a photo is not wearing pants than it is to recognize the broad array of behavior that might be considered bullying.” Oh, and the person in charge of this whole effort, Adam Mosseri, previously was in charge of the development of Facebook NewsFeed, so this should inspire confidence. (How does your AI read sarcasm, he asked.)

One problem with Steinmetz’s article is that she accepts the frame of all the blitzscaled platforms, which is that connecting the entire world online requires massively open platforms, unfortunately creating massive toxic effects. But cyberbullying isn’t, as Steinmetz writes, “a problem that crops up anywhere the people congregate online.” It’s a problem that crops up wherever a platform has been optimized for engagement over any other value, and where there is limited to no human moderation. For example, a user of Front Porch Forum in Vermont, where each instance is centered on a neighborhood of roughly 1000 households and a paid part-time moderator helps keep the conversation civil, does not experience cyberbullying, as a recent study found.






Almost there! Pitch in before midnight Halloween

Wow!  The response from Front Porch Forum members has been amazing.  We’re about $12,000 shy of our October Supporting Member Campaign goal with one and a half days remaining!

Please chip in today or tomorrow.  Thanks much!