Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Open source women back each other up program

The Open source women back each other up program is not really a techy program, but rather:

1. a program I completely and utterly support because in the US at least it is really needed.

2. an interesting example of how the meaning of a techy concept, open source, is being contested. Or rather, how it's metaphorical meaning is being contested. And I agree with one person who comments on the whole thing, the guy who came up with the "open source boobs" phrase should have been saying public domain. Jackass.

--And this is what started the whole tempest to begin with.

And while I will say like everyone else, this response of course is parody; I find it really really tempting sometimes.

The science fiction community--more fun than a barrel of weasels. Or ferrets. yeah.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

More about Facebook

Since I am speaking at two different conferences about the way people participate in Facebook, I have been (believe it or not) reading about Facebook, about relationships online, about what motivates participation, and so on.

here are a few things I've noticed:

  1. Though it was noted at least 5 months ago that many faculty are now using social networks and that 25-34 year-olds is the fastest growing segment of users, no one seems to be looking at how or why they use FB. Some articles have been written about faculty disclosing too much online, but so far I have found nothing else.
  2. Almost every academic study (and there are many) concentrates on either how kids/teens use FB, class, racial or ethnic differences in who uses FB, how to use FB to teach, or how to use it to make money.
  3. There are lots of non-academic slideshows and articles comparing FB and MySpace about how to make money or seduce women with FB. --I mention this because my search efforts are hampered by these kinds of documents cluttering the web.
But I have found some very interesting stuff about online relationships from Jonathan Marshall who has published about a concept he calls 'asence' including this one in Fibreculture. In brief, he argues that particpants in online communities experience asence, which he explains:
In offline societies, it is generally possible to tell whether a person is present or not. Presence and status are acknowledged by others making, at the least, eye contact or grunts in a person’s direction, or by their pointedly ignoring that person. Identity is reinforced by reaction. People are generally aware of who is listening to the conversation and of their reactions to each other. Online this is usually not the case. It is possible for a person to be present without others being aware of them: there is no marker of existence beyond the act of communication itself. “Asence” is the term I have coined to express this almost ontological uncertainty, or suspension of being between presence and absence.
Marshall goes on to argue that in an effort to overcome asence, participants will exaggerate gender characteristics and may also use romance and even netsex to reinforce intimacy. He developed these ideas from studying the Cybermind mailing list, but I think asence could explain certain behaviors I've noticed on Facebook. --more details on that soon.

Two other useful possibilities involved Fluxus and the theory that humans have evolved to be 'infovores' --love that term! But I'll save those for the next entries...
And by the way, apparently Twitter addicts are 61.3% more likely to visit than the average internet user. --Not directly related to anything, but it caught my eye. ;-)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

My friends still rock

So seems like everyone is doing really cool stuff lately.

Lokman's research was actually mentioned in the Huffington Post, and even better (much better) it's now official that he will a fellow at the Berkman Center at Harvard next year while he finishes his dissertation. And I knew him when he was a lowly student of computer science at the University of Utrecht. :-) Back then he was not so professional and only had a personal blog (though even that looks rather pro these days) and the Wong Kar Wai site. Sigh--they grow up so fast. Ok, I was a lowly student then too, but still...

Next, Mirko, while finishing his dissertation, teaching, writing an article for a book he's helping to organize, has also put together a kickass presentation for this event at Utrecht U. where he teaches and is doing his PhD in the New Media and Digital Culture program. I am gnashing my teeth with admiration and envy. Anyway, I think he'll post the presentation somewhere soon or it will be archived and then I'll add the link here.

I, on the other hand, am just waiting to find out whether the rejection email, or the "dear author" email I received is the accurate reflection of reality. More on that later. Or not. ;-)

Friday, April 4, 2008

nothing like reading back over your dissertation...

To inspire at best that oh-so-pleasant feeling of wanting to sink through the floor. Since I decided to reformat my dissertation and put it online for free, I found it really was not possible to do that without actually reading any of it again. And boy was that fun. Yeah.

I think some of the individual chapters might be ok by themselves, but the literacy narrative in the intro. bleah. And the whole thing seems incoherent. But I suppose there's something salutary about reading back over it, just like getting plenty of fiber or something.

--let me interrupt for a minute to say that I found what seems like a cool app. on Facebook called Touchgraph Photos, and I cannot get the damned thing working. (And yes, I have checked the forum and so on.) So tiresome.

Anyway, I probably won't do much with the diss right now because I have too many other things to worry about and work on. (which should be obvious from my procrastinating with Facebook apps) But once I do, dear readers, I will of course link it from here. Maybe. If I can stand the embarrassment. :P

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A funny thing I found today...

My dissertation is available online at ProQuest, linked from a slick page in the UMass Amherst (Where I did my graduate work) library. At first I thought this was kind of cool, until I found that a) they are charging people $41 for an unbound paper copy, and b) they are using a really low quality scan of the bound version in the library! Now this pisses me off on so many levels. First, here I am constantly scrounging for travel money, and someone may be profiting from my diss. without my even knowing. Second, if they had actually asked me, I could have provided a nice digital copy. Third, and most importantly, I am really annoyed not to have been asked or notified, since I am the copyright holder.

So I am going to put the whole damned thing up on Scribd for free, though frankly I find it embarrassing to put something out I wrote so long ago and wasn't so thrilled with even at the time. I think I will also send a sharp letter to the UMass Library which seems to be responsible for all this.