Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Group 6

It was interesting seeing how Britannica sizes up with wiki. 3 errors to 4. Though the big fuss about inaccuracies in encyclopedias is over blown. One has to look back on the original intention of Encyclopedias. Pliny the Elder certainly wasn't to be cited as particularly accurate, having included creatures that in actuality never existed. But the book was an interesting vantage point to see the world back then.

Likewise, modern encyclopedias are a compendium of common knowledge, and common knowledge is usually more subjective than factual. I would be curious to see if there are statistics that detailing how many people use wikipedia for actual research. Encyclopedias are fine for first graders wanting to report on bears and how they eat honey, but never a good source for the biologist. Encyclopedias can be used to find sources and get a second opinion.

Britannica's finding that Nature's study was flawed is like watching a six grader yelling at a fourth grader for getting his project on osmosis wrong. Nature had journalists do testing, journalists aren't scientists or staticians of any sort, any they sometimes fail to release all the details in hopes of making a better story. Britannica tends to leave out details in hopes of keeping concepts simple.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Group 4

The Kid with all the news breaks barriers of class and status with an eye for the news. Social capital and monetary capital are distinct things, and social capitol would seem to be more important in today's society. Social capital tied with technology anyway. It adds to the adage "It's who you know." A 21-year old college student with a lot of connections can out run Brian Williams, maybe by being more connected with the people. I frankly can't stand most of the idiots on network tv news, they're more like robots with their pretentious smiles and useless facts ad nauseum... The blogger on the other hand is able to focus on things of interest, drink a cup of joe down the street while discussing politics with real people. Of course, this is a bit of a romantic view. There's also the blogger who hangs out with extremists and posts either Bush is the devil or send your kids to Jesus Camp.

I think it's too patronizing to assume that because people seek the news they want, and hang around with people with similar political views, that there is a shrinking of the public sphere. People aren't necessarily lab rats who will jump to the stimuli with which they most identify.

The public sphere takes a new form, will citizens discussing ideas on blogs and posting links to online articles.

The old public sphere of newspapers and radio will have to adapt if they want to stay relevant. That might start by breaking up the media trusts that own 90% of broadcast and print.
They might find themselves more relevant the more people that get involved. Take WORT-fm.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Group 3 response

Copyright Office Lists New Exceptions to the DMCA

The exceptions seem like rational bases for fair use law. People should be able to use copyrighted material, copy it for purposes that are educational, meant to back up legally purchased material, or for archival collections in a library. The idea is that the artist and author must be able to protect their intellectual property while not restricting public access to their work. I wonder what became of 1201, and would it matter... If someone wants to back up their legally purchased CD on their Ipod, how would law enforcement stop such an act? The panopticon isn't that extensive, nor would it be tolerated in a democratic society.

Digital Land Grab

-"Attacking media consumers damages relationships vital to the future of their cultural franchises, but corporations see little choice, since turning a blind eye could pave the way for competitors to exploit valuable properties."

I copied and pasted this just to spite corporations...

Jenkins has a point that folk culture, which applauded some amount of plagerism, has been supplanted by copyright legislation and intellectual property. Though he seems to interpret it rather nostaligcally.

The Bible, Qu'ran, as well as Greek science and mythology were all preserved thanks to a friendly attitude towards plagerism, to copy was to spread the word of gods, so to speak. Though then, the economy, how people recieved their goods, was primarily a agricultural, fuedal venture.

The industrial age and subequent information age produced an economic system based on knowledge and services. And copyright seems to allow this production system to be profitable to the creators.
In this case, copyright seems like the next evolutionary step in protecting production, laws against stealing chickens and tractors became laws against stealing songs.

This analogy; however, still assumes that production modes have just adapted to technologies, it's possible that production and commodity will take on a new form in the future. Take open source.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Group 2

Perhaps I don't have a clear enough understanding of net neutrality. But I don't see a problem in larger companies paying for larger bandwidth. But there should be some base amount of bandwidth so that nonprofits, like schools could have a decent amount on which they could conduct business. It seems unlikely that large ISP's would have an interest in pricing them out of the market. A monopoly on bandwidth is not likely a good business practice, much like eliminating competition.

Contrary to the Denver Post article, the debate isn't along party lines. Sensenbrenner and Tammy Baldwin both favor net neutrality. Such different ideologies agree on something.

Instead of mandating that everyone be equal, wouldn't it make more sense to make regulations, such as anti-trust laws, or anti-bandwidth hoarding laws.

If the "pipes" weren't large enough to allow Youtube to be dominant at first, the tube would be able to expand it's reach past Google eventually, the process of building bandwidth would come as people start to favor Youtube. As long as people are given some base amount of functional internet, is there a huge problem?


Russ Feingold was thinking many of the same thoughts I was thinking upon planes flying into the twin towers. The crime was egregious, but if government would squelch certain tenants upon which this nation was founded, the government becomes more of a threat than any terrorist.

FISA's issuance of broad powers to the Executive makes the U.S. take a more absolute role in protecting itself, though without judicial review, the absolute power to protect becomes absolutism. Terrorism seems to have had its effect, not to obliterate a nation, but scare a nation so much that it becomes less recognizable. If we had been more cautious, instead of beating war drums and having a sudden rush to nationalism, we could have maintained the support of Europe's democracies and other world powers creating a unified ideological front to deal with those bent on limiting power to the privileged few.

The idea that government is watching relates to the panopticon idea. Much political participation is online, and it comes as no surprise that citizens will be more wary of what messages they send when they sense that government may be watching. The government tells you that legit people have nothing to worry about, but when innocent people have names that sound similar to a terrorist (Cat Stevens), the innocent become disturbed, and wiretaps, suspectl lists become less tools of law enforcement than tools of oppression

Friday, November 17, 2006

My Feed got the best of me

I gave up Facebook for nearly 36 hours. I've learned that I resisting the Facebook urge created a lot more time for me to do real things, like talking to people in person, which was relatively refreshing.

Though upon receiving several facebook queries from friends through email, my curiosity about what my friends were saying in this virtual world got the best of me. "Come Ben, look at our messages. Just once, so you can reply to your friend who's living in Russia. We won't eat you..."

And I rationalized the importance of following my curiosity as a good character trait of an effective journalist. And I couldn't leave my friend in Russia hanging...

In sum, Facebook is a great tool to stay connected with distant friends, but in my everyday life, real interaction is more fullfilling, and probably a wiser use of my time.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


This a nice, relaxing book to read before Thanksgiving break.

With Titus and his friends completely reliant on the feed to tell them where to shop, how to entertain themselves, what to wear, I think of the predictions of Karl Marx on how capitalism will cause society to go awry.

Marx's idea was that a large opiate (religion) would poison the intellect of the workers, so that they wouldn't worry about the toils and power arrangements that subjugate them. The corporations will control the masses by creating a demand for products. Those corporations in charge will pull the strings on demand and production in such a way that will give them the greatest capital, while the worker gets a few crumbs while wallowing in shit.

The idea in feed has similarities. The corporations own everything, producing demand and driving thoughts. Still, Titus and friends get thrown a bone to keep them happy. For example Titus feels uneasy about the way corporations are running everything, though he finds solace in the fact that "everyone has a job." Also, the accessibility of "knowledge" "makes everyone smart," even though they watch Oh? Wow! Thing! (Friends) and don't know what to do with themselves when the feed goes null.

And the government is complict, "forget those lesions, corporate America would never hurt our freedom, corporations good."

This is Marx's meg worst nightmare...

Monday, November 13, 2006

Part 8 of the neverending Reader

Poster analyzes postmodernity through the lens of information organization and electronic communication. Electronic communication, he posits, is displacing the idea of a rational, autonomous, individual. The individual is rather being multiplied in various representations that are disseminated widedly in a decentralized environment. (think fax, mass emails, globally -accessible blogs) Identity becomes unstable as information/symbols/language that define it is multiplied, separated from the author, and used for marketing and monitoring. Like print, electronic communications allow speech at a distance to be more efficient. Though the way language is interpreted, confounds single definition of the individual. Information organisation may exude control (databases - superpanopticon), create alternate realities (advertisement), or complicate meaning across great distance (electronic writing).

Michaels observes how the introduction of film, an early 20th century information/entertainment technology, has affected the culture of an closed, Aboriginal society, the Yuendumu, whose primary information technology is oral tradition. The contrast between the West and the Aboriginals is apparent in the older generation's fears that film and television did not broadcast in their language, and could subvert their culture. And with twenty-two Aboriginal languages, there is a conflict with a media system that attempts to homogenize civilization.

The Warlukurlangu, or fire ceremony, was one such cultural object that was displayed on film of savage theatre, though subsequently became material for scholarship. The Yuendumu eventually favored that such ceremonies be filmed, taking part in the film shooting process. The film became a commodity in the group's traditional value of information sharing. Though the value of film to Warlpiri people's culture in the future depends on how the information is framed, whether by the West or by the Warlpiri themselves.

Plant argues that technology is female. A female, Ada Lovelace, is the first programmer, though her development of calculation machines is named after her male boss. The cyberfeminist must retake her place as the developper of technology. From a female telephone operator at the beginning of the century, machine and woman act together to become equal to men, though end up being more complex than the men in charge are aware. And in subtle ways, the feminin dominates technological development.