Ray knows a thing or two about respect. And about applied anthropology.
If passed, the FAIR USE Act will amend the DMCA to codify recent exceptions granted to the anti-circumvention rules by the Register of Copyrights, which include some allowances for obsolete technologies and cell phone unlocking.
Doesn’t sound like a whole lot, especially since the bill specifically does not address some of the most controversial parts of the DMCA. But if codifying fair use is the goal (as fair use is not yet guaranteed, in the United States), maybe this bill can shake things up at least a bit.
It’s quite interesting to see how a large majority of citizens agree that things need to change yet a handful of corporate entities enforce the status quo without much apparent effort.
It’s also quite funny how many bills in the U.S. have acronyms designed to work as expressions. This one is: Freedom And Innovation Revitalizing U.S. Entrepreneurship Act of 2007. Catchy!
Talk about chilling effects…
Interesting that the NYT should take this issue on. Because of its readership, it might have an impact. Many researchers have, in fact, been having these discussions, including in ethnographic disciplines.
On a recent episode of his video podcast, ze frank made some parallels between “changing your life” and “being perceived by others”: the show with zefrank: most popular.
To me, ze’s ideas connect the sociological perspective on “labeling” (especially in Howie Becker‘s approach) with the notion of “networking for social mobility” in the context of “self-help” or “self-improvement” (typical of U.S.-style Calvinism).
Watched George Stroumboulopoulos’s The Hour last night. He did an interview with Canada’s Auditor General Sheila Fraser who is widely known for her role in unveiling the sponshorship scandal which rocked Canadian politics during the past few years.
Not sure what other people’s reaction has been but, the first time I saw Fraser, her approach and behaviour impressed me as heroic. I don’t tend to have heroes, idols, or even role models (apart from my mother, my paternal grand-mother, and my wife). But I’m touched by people’s sense of duty and Fraser seems to have exactly that.
This isn’t to say that Fraser is a better person than anybody else. But there’s something truly glorious about her work. Maybe there’s something in her attitude which oozes both self-confidence and selflessness. At any rate, I get the feeling that we need more people like her. And I wish she won’t go into partisan politics.
What’s interesting here is that, in her interview with Stroumboulopoulos, Fraser addressed the issue of how chartered accountants (CAs) are perceived. Typically, accountants are thought to be boring, uncool people. Currently, there’s a campaign in Quebec to fight this perception. Some ad agency (Cossette, most likely) has been putting posters in metro cars with actual CAs pictured as glamourous Stars on the covers of fake gossip magazines. There’s also a TV show about CAs (haven’t watched it but it seems to approach the same idea of glamour).
Can glamour backfire on the definition of what a CA should be?
In anthropology, we often have the “Indiana Jones Effect” as people take anthropology to be all about a sense of adventure. There’s also the “CSI Effect” about forensics, which influences the way some people interpret forensic evidence.
Mass media may tend to produce heroes of a specific kind. Is this process detrimental to the type of heroism displayed by Sheila Fraser and, say, Louise Arbour?
Is heroism defined by the epic genre or is the epic genre defined by heroic characters?
Catherine and I have a lot to celebrate. Her recent offer from Austin, her less recent doctoral defense, ten years of living together… We had promised ourselves one truly good restaurant meal. In fact, this promise was made several times over the past year or so but we had never been able to fulfill it. Continue reading “Food and Satisfaction”
This one is more of a web log entry than my usual ramblings.
Executive Summary: Life Is Good.
Latest in the line of corporations getting a clue, Swiss pharmaceutical Novartis releases data it can’t process alone:
For its part, the NIH has suggested making this kind of free access the standard operating procedure for all of its genetic research.
[Update May 21, 2007: Trackbacks closed because of spam.]
This is getting fun!
Which is faster? Communication in a relatively small group of academics, “viral marketing” from Internet celebrities, or blogs by entreprising Web-savvy people? In this case, seems like the latter has an advantage.
Not that it matters. But it’s interesting, in the context of the move toward Open Access in academia.
A quick rundown of a few elements in a timeline surrounding the dissemination of ideas about the “Web 2.0” via a video created by a fellow anthropologist. I haven’t been really involved in this dissemination process but I find interesting some of the links that connect some of the people who are involved.
On January 31, Kansas State University anthropologist Michael Wesch posted a neat video on YouTube, apparently in response to a video about Web 2.0 posted by China-based tech educational specialist Jeff Utecht almost a year ago. The video has been attracting a lot of attention from different people and some of this attention has followed interesting paths.
Lessard had already written a piece on six cultural groups characterising Internet’s continuing history. That piece has been at the back of my mind for a while, especially when the concept of “Web 2.0” is discussed.
(FWIW, since hearing about it in Tim O’Reilly’s writing a few years ago, I have been thinking of “Web 2.0” as a decent label. That label has already been overused but it did lead to interesting discussions by diverse people.)
Apparently, Lessard found Wesch’s video through someone else. Others have certainly created buzz about Wesch’s video for other reasons (techno-enthusiasm) but Lessard appears to have been rather quick at noticing the insight in Wesch’s video. In fact, Lessard’s blog entry about the video is itself quite insightful and rather elaborate.
This is the first example, in the paths I’ve observed, through which Wesch’s video has been commented. It’s the one linking what we may call “entreprising Web analysts.” People who make a living online (and may depend on online social networking like LinkedIn and blogs). Seems like this path was the fastest one, though I have no idea what happened with Weisch’s video between January 31 and February 5.
A second line of dissemination: what we may call “viral marketing by Internet celebrities.”
On February 6, Internet celebrity and science-fiction author Cory Doctorow (a fellow post-Buster Canadian) mentions Wesch’s video on his well-known blog BoingBoing (through a mention on gaming blog Wonderland). Internet celebrity and Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig then posts a blog entry about Wesch’s video on February 7. (Interestingly enough, on Lessig’s blog, some comments about the video relate to ethnography and cultural anthropology.)
Now, the third mode of dissemination: informal communication among academics.
By February 9, Michigan State University librarian Shawn Nicholson sends a message to librarian mailing-list ANSS-L about the video. This message is relayed to a Google Group on Open Access Anthropology by Weber State University librarian Wade Kotter.
(As luck would have it, I attended a brewclub meeting later on February 9 and fellow Montreal coffee and beer enthusiast Aaron Marchand was asking about Web 2.0 after having seen Wesch’s video.)
As it so happens, Michael Wesch himself is a member of the OA Anthropology Google group and he explained to the list, on February 10, that this video is a draft created for an online edition of academic journal Visual Anthropology Review.
It’s only at that time that I found the time to watch the video and share it here. Anthropologist and artist Sarah Butler then commented on the video via my blog. Which motivated me to to send a message to OA Anthro about Web 2.0 in the context of Open Access. It’s only while writing that message that I noticed Lessard’s earlier blog entry on Wesch’s video.
Now, what’s my point in all of this? Well, I’m simply trying to emphasise Wesch’s idea that online communication (and the Web, specifically) may be forcing us to rethink different aspects of the dissemination of knowledge. Including the differences between , one one hand, academic gatekeeping (experts and “peers”) and, on the other hand, the fluid relationships of online-savvy, motivated people.
In other words, I’m emphatically not saying that any of this proves that academics are too slow for the current means of online communication. Nor am I trying to imply that communication among Web-savvy people is in some ways “better” than group discussion among academics. But we do need to reassess the value of “publishing” as the sole model for the dissemination of knowledge.
Why do I care so much? Well, apart from the fact that my doctoral research has to do with what we may call “knowledge workers” in Mali, I happen to care about the way academics and others handle issues surrounding communication. As naïve as it sounds, I still do think that dissemination of knowledge is an important mission for academics.
My battle cry: RERO!
And I mean that in a positive, optimistic, hopeful, idealistic way.
Been pretty busy recently. Have a bunch of things to read and catch up with. So this’ll just be a series of links. I feel they’re all related, in a way…
- Apple – Thoughts on Music
- Rethinking Academia
- Jazz Liveliness Online
- RIAA’s Creative Accounting on CD Prices
Will the GBN jump in now or did it do so already?
Who said anthropologists were out of the loop?
Web 2.0 in just under 5 minutes.
Hey, blog-brothers and sisters!
Feel free to put a plug to your blog, here. Doesn’t even need to rhyme.
Got the idea from YULBlog last night and thought it might be neat. (Besides, it’s a shameless attempt at getting more comments and/or pings.)
Though it might not seem so obvious, I’m longing for comments… 😉
Aux blogueurs, carnettiers, carnettistes et cornettistes.. Y compris ceux de YULBlog.
Ploguez votre blogue (carnet, billet, journal personnel, fluegelhorn) ici. Même pas besoin de rimes… 😉
Waiting for Google’s presentation app, I tried some of the other suggestions contained here:
Google prepping presentation product | Webware : Cool web apps for everyone
I had already prepared my presentation in “the application that should remain nameless but has a name rhyming in ‘Showerpoint’,” so I didn’t want to rebuild it from scratch.
Thumstacks looked perfect for my needs (I specifically do clean, simple presentations for my classes). Unfortunately, I couldn’t see a way to import content directly (maybe it’s there but I didn’t have a lot of time) and, in Firefox, I couldn’t paste content from my presentation. Too bad. It would have been most excellent, I think.
Then tried Zoho Show. It imported my PPT presentation just fine (though the dialog box was confusing) and it’s exactly the kind of “web-based Show-her-point” thingie I was looking for. Except for one thing. Switching from one slide to the next was just way too slow for my needs. Maybe there’s something I did wrong but it would take several seconds to show the next slide and my students were getting anxious. So I switched back to “Flowerpoint” during the break.
Spresent looks like a neat way to prepare Flash presentations, but that’s really my thing.
ThinkFree is probably the obvious choice and I’ll try it next time.
Why use a Web app for presentations? Well, there’s the possibility of collaborating, of course. But there’s also the issue of bringing the presentation from one computer to the next. Using the classroom presentation computer, you have to get the presentation on the computer (Zoolander flashback: “The files are in the computer?”). It’d be with a USB thumbdrive but, for some reason, the computer in my classroom doesn’t have a readily accessible USB slot (and I don’t have a thumbdrive but my media player works as one).
Besides, it’s easier for me to keep a file in a central place and keep adding material to it.
To me, the killer app is the outliner. A web-based outliner that could do presentations would be a wonderful tool, for me. It would fit sooooo well with my workflow, I would swoon.
So… Erm… Is there such a thing already? Pleeeeez?
I quite enjoy being powerless. Much more comfortable. And fun.
What’s more, nothing you say can nor will be used against you in a court of social capital.
Let’s hear it for power-free humanism!
Completely unsolicited, of course. In no particular order.
- Malian tô millet and sauce dish
- Chungking Express poetic movie
- Lamb sandwich from l’Olivier at Jean-Talon Market
- Oregon, long-lived and eclectic Jazz band
- Boris Vian
- Ripe Brillat-Savarin cheese from Atwater Market
- West Africa
- Woody Allen’s Stardust Memories
- Mussels marinère with Belgian beer
- Open Access policies for academic texts
- French Chanson
- Quality beer and all-you-can-eat ribs at Redbones
- Geeky conversations
- Beef banh mi from Nhu Lan on Saint-Zotique
- Cultural awareness
- Flemish Red ales
- Geek culture
- Orval tart and bitter Belgian ale
- Peter Sellers’s Being There
- Free/Libre Open Source Software movement
- Reblochon cheese from Migros
- Myst-like adventure games
- Lactancia My Country unsalted butter
- PalmOS (GarnetOS) devices
- Le Paltoquet French theater-like movie
- Mort Subite gueuze on tap at Pianissimo
- Mountainous regions
- RJ Coup de grisou buckwheat ale
- TuniZika Tunisian music podcast
- Pieces of dry beef («rebibes») from Migros
- Apple computers
- Ripe avocados from Atlantic Superstore in June 2003
- Calabash Music "fair-trade" music store
- Hunting Island, SC
- Freshly-baked bread rolls from Doré mie
- Well-Rounded Radio open-minded music podcast
- View of Lake Leman from the BFSH2 building
- Sea scallops
Please, don’t flame me! 😉
Though there is a specific context for this post, I prefer not talking about it. For once, context seems to matter less! 😉
Flame wars (FWs) are those personal confrontations which happen so frequently online. FWs are seen as the bane of the online world. I don’t find them particularly appealing myself. Some FWs have been at the centre of the collapse of some online communities. FWs may even be related to some people’s fears of communicating online (or offline!).
There’s a wealth of literature on FWs. This post is mainly based on my experience on (literally hundreds of) mailing-lists, forums, discussion boards, and blogs since 1993. I did read some of the research on FWs but this post is more about my own thinking.
Though it will probably sound more general than it should be, it’s based on something similar to an ethnography of online communication. As such, I don’t think so much on direct causalities but on different patterns, linking FWs with other dimensions of the culture of online groups.
Ostensibly, FWs come from breakdowns in communication. Moments in which communication ceases to work properly. Note that the notion that communication is a direct transmission of a signal is a very schematic model and that I tend to prefer models which take into account diverse goals of diverse participants as well as inter-subjectivity. Authors that have influenced my thinking about those models include Gadamer, Hymes, Jakobson, Goffman, Sperber, and Molino. (Luckily, all of these authors are easy to find by their last names! Unfortunately, all of these names refer to male speakers of European languages…)
Communication breakdowns (CBs) happen in a variety of contexts and seem to be related to a large variety of factors. Differences in communication norms are quite common, even in contexts which seem to be fairly homogeneous in terms of “communities of communication” (or “speech communities”). According to some, there are speech communities in which gender differences imply such discrepancies in communication norms, causing the “You Just Don’t Understand!” principle. Quite often, a communication event will break down when the goals and expectations of different participants clash on the very possibility of communicating (“We just can’t be having this conversation!”). In my experience, rarely does CB happen when people simply disagree on a specific topic. There are many online groups in which it is quite common to take disagreement “the wrong way,” and get angry because of what appears to be much of a challenge. Though such a perspective on disagreement may contribute to communication breakdowns, my observation is that disagreement alone doesn’t cause CB. Though the term “misunderstanding” («malentendu», «quiproquo») may seem to apply to any CB, it could also be used more specifically to refer to the (very frequent) cases in which discrepancies in the way specific utterances are understood. The whole “this is not what I meant by my use of the word ‘banana’ in this post on electrical conductivity!” and other (funny to the outsider) examples of miscommunication.
In my experience, CBs are more the norm than the exception, in many contexts. Especially in verbal-intensive contexts like discussions among colleagues or fans of different teams. Quite clearly to me, online communication is also verbal-intensive and a talkative (garrulous?) guy like me takes to online communication like a fish to water.
Come to think of it, it’s really an extraordinary event (literally!) when two people fully understand each other, in a conversation. I mean, when each of them really groks what the other is saying. On average, people probably get compatible understandings of the communication content, but the kind of “merging of horizons” characterising true inter-subjectivity is quite uncommon, I think. Notice that I’m not talking about people agreeing with each other. As you probably notice, people often misunderstand each other more when they strive to make sure that they agree on everything. In fact, such a “conflict avoidance” attitude toward communication is quite common in certain speech communities while it’s ridiculed by members of other speech communities (some people probably can think of examples… :-D). Some communication scientists probably disagree with me on this matter (especially if they apply a strict Shannon-Weaver view of communication or if they hold McLuhan’s view too dearly). But, in the speech communities to which I belong most directly, disagreement is highly valued. 😉
If miscommunication is so common, it’s difficult to think of CB as the “root cause” of FWs. As so many people have been saying, since the explosion in online communication in the early 1990s, written language can be especially inefficient at transmitting “tone” and other important features of a person’s communicative intention. Online communication is mostly written but attempts to fulfill some of the same goals as oral communication. Instant Messaging (IM) and other systems of synchronous, typed communication constitute an excellent set of examples for the oral-like character of online communication. They also constitute a domain in which communication norms may differ greatly. Usually based on comparative age (most IMers are relatively young, which may cause a “generation gap”) and not, as far as I know, based on gender (i.e., younger women and younger men seem to hold fairly similar norms of communication in IM contexts). More interesting to me than the tired tirade about the “poor quality” of IM language is the fact that IMers appear quite efficient at transmitting more than just information through a rather limited medium.
So, now, how do FWs get started? Is it just that older people don’t know how to communicate efficiently? Don’t younger people have FWs? Aren’t FWs caused by (other) people’s inability to understand simple concepts? 😉
To me, FWs happen mostly in difficulties in recuperating from CBs. When a CB happens in face-to-face communication, there are well-known (and somewhat efficient) methods of preventing an outright confrontation. In some speech communities, much of those methods centre on “saving face.” At least, if we are to agree with Brown and Levinson. Whatever the method, preventing confrontation is often easy enough a task that we don’t even notice it. Even in offline written communication, many speech communities have well-established norms (including genre-specific textual structures) which make confrontation-avoidance an easier task than it can be online. To me, it wouldn’t be unfair to say that part of the issue with FWs is that specific strategies to defuse conflict are not shared very widely. Some would probably say that this lack of standardisation came with the democratisation of writing (in Euro-America, a larger proportion of the population writes regularly than was the case in the era of scribes). Not sure about that. Given the insistence of some to maintain online the rules of “étiquette” which were deemed appropriate for epistolary writing in the tradition they know best, I simply assume that there are people who think online writing had a negative impact when people forgot the “absolutely minimal” rules of étiquette.
What happens online is quite complex, in my humble opinion. Part of the failure to recover from CB may relate to the negotiation of identity. Without going so much into labeling theory, there’s something to be said about the importance of the perception by others in the construction of an online persona. Since online communication is often set in the context of relatively amorphous social networks, negotiation of identity is particularly important in those cases. Typical of Durkheimian anomie, many online networks refrain from giving specific roles to most of the individual members of the network (although some individuals may have institutionalised roles in some networks). One might even say that the raison d’être for many an online community is in fact this identity negotiation. There might be no direct relationship between an online persona and social identity in (offline) daily life, but the freedom of negotiating one’s identity is part of the allure of several online groups, especially those targeted towards younger people.
In a context of constant identity negotiation, face-saving (and recovering from face threatening acts) may seem scary, especially when relative anonymity isn’t preserved. To those who “live online” (“netizens”) losing face in online communication can be very detrimental indeed. “Netizens” do hide behind nicknames and avatars but when these are linked to a netizen’s primary online identity, the stakes of face management are quite high. Given the association between online communication and speech communities which give prominence to face (and even prestige) as well as the notion of communication as information transmission, it is unsurprising to see such a pattern.
In my personal experience as a netizen, FWs are quite easy to avoid when everyone remains relatively detached from the communication event. The norms with which I tend to live (online or offline) have a lot to do with a strategy of “not taking things too personal.” Sure, I can get hurt on occasion, especially when I think I hurt someone else. But, on average, I assume that the reasons people get angry has little to do with my sense of self. Not that I have no responsibility in CBs and other FW-related events. But I sincerely believe (and would be somewhat unwilling to be proven wrong) that taking something as a personal attack is the most efficient method to getting involved in a FW. As I want to avoid FWs as much as possible, my strategy can be measured for efficiency. No idea what the usual average is for most people but given the very large number of online discussions in which I have participated in the last fourteen years, I feel that I have been involved in relatively few FWs. Maybe I’m just lucky. Maybe I’m just oblivious to the FWs I cause. Maybe I’m just naïve. But I live happily, online and offline.
I admit: I am a User. A Mac User.
Oh, not that I use a Mac right now. But I’ll probably remain a Mac User all my life.
“Hello, my name is Alex and I’m a Macaholic.”
One year after being forced to switch to an entry-level Windows XP desktop computer, I still have withdrawal symptoms from my days as a full-time Mac User. I get goosebumps while thinking of the possibilities afforded users of Mac OS X. I occasionally get my fix of Mac goodness by spending time on my wife’s 2001 iBook (Dual USB). And, basically, I think like someone who spent the last ten years on a variety of Macintosh models (Mac Plus, iBook, SE/30, Mac IIvx…).
With this addiction, it might be unsurprising that it took me so long to do what any Windows user would have done while buying a computer: getting more RAM.
I finally did exactly that, when I got my first paycheck for the semester. Got a 512MB DIMM a couple of weeks ago and it transformed my PC-using life from a nightmare into something comfortably dull and uninteresting. Not bad for an $80 purchase:
What took me so long? Well, when I went from running Mac OS X 10.3 on a 2001 laptop with a G3 at 500MHz, 384MB, and very little free disk space to running XPSP2 on a 2006 desktop with a Sempron at 2GHz, 512MB, and quite a bit of free disk space, I assumed the new machine would run at least as fast as the old one. When it failed to do so (I would get unbelievably slow response with only Firefox and iTunes as the main apps opened), I started blaming myself more than the lack of RAM. I had noticed a similar lack of performance on some Windows machines in offices in which I had worked in the past. Though I did notice that my pagefile was growing frequently and that many issues I had seemed to be related to memory, I still thought that the fault was in my pattern of use. “Maybe running a browser and a media player at the same time isn’t a common thing to do, in the Windows world.” Oh, it wasn’t an actual reflection. But it’s a set of uneasy impressions I had. And because I didn’t have much money for RAM (and the machine didn’t cost me much in the first place), I wasn’t particularly interested in buying a DIMM just to make sure the machine is working properly.
Then my friend Alain came over, right after I had installed Office 2007. For some reason, my machine was even slower than it had ever been in the past. Extremely frustrating. Alain, a former Mac User, tried to help me investigate the problem. We did talk about RAM but we focused on defragmentation and such. Nothing really made a difference, at the time, but I gained some hope in making the machine somewhat useable.
When I bought the DIMM, the difference was immediately noticeable. In every single process. My machine is no speed demon (that’s really not what I wanted anyway) but it’s not making me want to yell every time I use it. At this point, using a few apps at the same time is almost as efficient as using the same number and type of apps on my previous iBook.
So I now have a full 1GB of RAM on my emachine H3070 and it’s performing semi-appropriately when I have two or three apps open at the same time. My life improved drastically. 🙂
Meanwhile, the Recording Industry is still creating heroes:
Teen accuses record companies of collusion – USATODAY.com
Good job, guys! Keep it up!
This one is even more exciting than the SecondLife statement.
After the announcement that the USPTO was reexamining its patents in a case against open source course management software, Blackboard incorporated is announcing that it is specifically not going to use its patents to sue open source and other non-commercial providers of course management software.
I am writing to share some exciting news about a patent pledge Blackboard is making today to the open source and home-grown course management community. We are announcing a legally-binding, irrevocable, world-wide pledge not to assert any of our issued or pending patents related to course management systems or transaction systems against the use, development or support of any open source or home-grown course management systems.
This is a major victory. Not only for developers of Moodle, Sakai, ATutor, Elgg, and Bodington course- and content-management solutions, but for anyone involved in the open and free-as-in-speech approach to education, research, technology, and law.
Even more so than in Microsoft’s case, Blackboard is making the most logical decision it could make. Makes perfect business sense: they’re generating goodwill, encouraging the world’s leading eLearning communities, and putting themselves in a Google-like “do no evil” position in the general public’s opinion. Also makes perfect legal sense as they’re acknowledging that the law is really there to protect them against misappropriation of their ideas by commercial competitors and not to crush innovation.
A small step for a corporation … a giant step for freedomkind.