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April 30, 2006

a final link round-up

Here are some links that I’ve been saving for you guys in my aggregator.

Social Bookmarking 101, a virtual lecture by Collin Brooke at Syracuse University.
Break of Day in the Trenches, a blog devoted to historicized attitudes toward war in roleplaying games, written by Esther MacCullum-Stewart.
A brief account of virtual marriage proposals and sexism in MMPORGS by Jill Walker at University of Bergen.
Yochai Benkler's new book "The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedoms" is available in PDF. Essential for those interested in intellectual property in digital environments.
Pro-lurker points to Concordia University's CFP for a conference on conducting research online. The focus includes but is not limited to

  • Ethical Issues
  • Researching video game console culture
  • Fieldwork Boundaries & Possibilities
  • From online & offline and back again: the question of merging identity
  • Post-Virtual Research: Situating the virtual as a space of inquiry after the real/virtual debate
  • Ethnography in cyberspace
  • The future of qualitative research online
Deadline for submissions is July 1. She also points to a special issue of Interdisciplinary Humanities devoted to the topic of Technoculture. Deadline for that one is mid-May, so hurry.
Aaaand... Ann Galloway’s put together a working bib on the Internet of Things.

Update: Short, unscientific City Pages article on virtual economy and labor outsourcing in WOW.

March 23, 2006

internet backbone

Remember when we were talking about cybergeography a few weeks back? Today, the very cool Information Aesthetics blog is featuring a map of the current internet backbone. Here's the description:

An extremely detailed map of the North American Internet backbone including 134,855 routers. the colors represent who each router is registered to: red is Verizon, blue AT&T, yellow Qwest, green is major backbone players like Level 3 & Sprint Nextel, black is the entire cable industry put togethe, & gray is everyone else, from small telecommunications companies to large international players who only have a small presence in the U.S.
this map demonstrates that although AT&T & Verizon own a lot of Internet pipes, they currently do not dominate the Internet infrastructure (yet).

February 5, 2006

code controls content

Two relevant and related news stories from this weekend:

Today’s New York Times includes an article on charging companies for email. The gist is this:

America Online and Yahoo, two of the world's largest providers of e-mail accounts, are about to start using a system that gives preferential treatment to messages from companies that pay from 1/4 of a cent to a penny each to have them delivered. The senders must promise to contact only people who have agreed to receive their messages, or risk being blocked entirely.

The Internet companies say that this will help them identify legitimate mail and cut down on junk e-mail, identity-theft scams and other scourges that plague users of their services. They also stand to earn millions of dollars a year from the system if it is widely adopted.

So corporate, economically-driven email will have priority over your personal messages to your grandma. And there’s really nothing to stop this pay-for-play model from trickling on down to the masses. danah boyd makes a good point about the chilling effect this potentially has for email as a communications platform:

... Email is already dying amongst youth. Right now, most of us in our 20s view postal mail as the site of bills and junk mail; the occasional letter and package is super exciting, but we can almost always predict those (they are usually correlated with birthdays, holidays and the one-click button). For youth, it’s the same story with email — you get notices from parents, adults, companies, junk mail, and the occasional attachment that was announced via IM. Add postage stamps to this and email will become even less valuable; your friends won’t pay for it so the system will highlight the companies over your friends — yuck. Even those who appreciate sending email will be alienated by turning this into a capitalist enterprise. Yuck. Bye bye email, hello IM and SMS and alternative asynchronous message systems.
There’s also been a lot of discussion sparked by the Nation’s piece entitled The End of the Internet. It details the major communications corporations’ lobbying efforts to operate Internet services as private networks, removing federal oversight. An immediate change would be a policy of throttling connection speeds on identified undesirable content (mp3, video, and porn downloads), while giving more bandwidth to content from preferred corporate customers.

This speaks to a number of interests in this course. Commercialization of the Web is both a historical and current issue, and the implications that has for individual, creative content will be something we cover later on with Lessig’s book. There are privacy issues, since the process of inspecting content packets (“deep packet inspection”) means that services providers will know exactly sort of content you’re sending to and fro. Are they entitled to this information? What will they do with it? What will federal agencies do with it? The article also ponders our “digital destiny,” which raises the issue of technogical determinism. Lots of stuff to talk about here.

January 26, 2006

“Cyberspace is Past Its Sell-By”

As an addendum to our conversation last Monday about Laura's piece, there’s this bit from Wired Magazine. It asks members of the technorati “What do we call it if we aren’t calling it ‘cyberspace’?”

(Via Purse Lip Square Jaw)

January 24, 2006

about the blogroll

If you look over on the sidebar, you’ll see that I’ve begun a small blogroll for us. So far, it consists of blogs written by other Internet researchers. Some are Rhet/Comp folk, some are Sociologists, some are from other disciplines. Most are in the U.S., but there are a few from Norway and Australia. (The Norwegians, Jill from Jill/txt and Torill from thinking with my fingers, have formed a research guild in World of Warcraft. Those of you who are interested in games may want to make a point of reading them.)

I tried to give everyone access to edit or add to the list, but it looks like access to blogroll functions is limited to the blog administrator. If you have anything you’d like to add (now or later), just let me know and I’ll post it on there. We might add more blogs, or we might begin to build a listing of web-based resources to share amongst ourselves.

If you want to make a habit of checking these (or any other blog) on a regular basis without spending a lot of time on it, you may want to use an RSS aggregator. This is very simple, and doesn’t require you to know any code at all. I use Bloglines, which is free and quite intuitive. If you're using the latest Safari (OSX Tiger) as your browser, you can use its built-in aggregation feature. Otherwise, you can google around and see what else sounds good for you.

and away we go...

If this posts, then we’re up and running.