Quinnipiac University College of Arts and Sciences

Professors Present in Japan

In Faculty, Research on April 3, 2013 at 3:35 pm


By Courtney Marchese, Assistant Professor of Interactive Digital Design

At the beginning of March, Prof. Courtney Marchese and Prof. Charmaine Banach of the Interactive Digital Design Department, attended the 7th annual Conference on Design Principles and Practices at Chiba University. The event held just outside of Tokyo, Japan, included almost 200 accepted academic presenters representing the design field from all around the world.

Prof. Marchese and Prof. Banach’s interactive workshop was based off of a jointly-authored article called, “A Closer Look at the New Phenomena of Mob Hack Reviewing”.

The article describes how design, specifically web-based, was once a tool for disseminating information in static pages and is now a two way communication tool not only with the design itself, but also with other users of that design. Attendees of the workshop discussed “mob hack reviewing” as an Internet meme phenomenon where webpage users post surreptitious reviews of a product or service, in which the review itself serves as social, political, or environmental commentary. A mob effect takes place virtually, where the participants hack the review with their new agenda. The participants do not formally agree on a common purpose, but enter into a kind of pact with each review, written to perpetuate a common theme.

One example of “mob hack reviewing” on Amazon is the Bic Cristal For Her Ball Pen, with over nine-hundred reviews that highlight the outdated social concept of needing a female version of a product. Long gone are the days of manufacturing gender-specific merchandise, especially one as androgynous as a writing utensil. Rather than reviewing the product itself, reviewers use the comment board as a forum for ironic commentary about gender assignment. With Bic as a jumping-off point, the conference group discussed other examples of social responses to items and articles from Amazon, CNN, and other websites.

The workshop also discussed implications of mob hack reviewing as a powerful online tool to either guide or mislead other web users. Thoughts were also shared about it’s social context, varying levels of online censorship around the world, and how the phenomenon can be used in the future. It was truly interesting to discuss at an international conference and gain global insight for how “mob hacking” affects issues in other areas of the world.


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