Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Two Quick Things

-I do not recommend Thai Kitchen instant pad thai in a box. Oh, Pad Thai kits in a box - the kind you make on the stove - are great, I swear by 'em. And Thai Kitchen makes many other fine products, such as their red curry paste. Very tasty. But Pad Thai cannot be made in your microwave. In all fairness, I knew that before I bought it, but seriously how cool would microwave Pad Thai be if it actually worked? So I tried. I tried and I failed. What did Condoleeza Rice do about making Pad Thai in the microwave? Nothing.

-Do any Math nerds out there know what it means for the relationship between two variables to be "curvilinear"?

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Diebold AccuVote-TS Security Demonstration

Everyone needs to see this. Many of you probably already have. Hella compelling video by Professors out of Princeton showing just how easy it is to hack a diebold voting machine.

Better, clearer, higher resolution video, along with the full paper detailing the findings of the research team can be found here: LINK

Youtube isn't all drugs and Jihad

Perhaps some folks were turned off by my recent youtube posts. They weren't exactly safe for work, or small children. As a bit of a change of pace (not quite a unicorn chaser, but close) here is a sample of a totally sweet (and hilarious) set of french language short cartoons I recently discovered on there. I don't speak french, but I think its funny.

Blogging right now

Pizza at my apartment. This silliness will end when the novelty of my macbook wears off.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Phun with Bluebook

I'm spending today converting an essay from last semester from Chicago-style citations (favored by historians) to Bluebook-style citations (favored by legal practitioners and scholars) so I can submit it to the journal Communication Law and Policy as my chair has advised me to do.

I've sometimes joked that some towns have bad road signs because they don't want to make it easy for strangers to navigate the town. "If you was from here you'd know where you was, if you ain't then go home." Bluebook seems somewhat the same way. Why on earth would one subsititute "U. Pa. L. Rev." for "University of Pennsylvania Law Review" except to obscure and mystify things for those without training in the law?

Friday, September 22, 2006

Guardian Article

The guardian read through the statements of inmates about to be executed on Death Row. The article on it is here. (Found, like so many other things, via BoingBoing).

The distaste of a British newspaper at bloody American barbarians and their savage practices is palpable. Understandable, but a shame really, since for me this reduces the utility of an article like this as a teaching tool. My undergraduates would read the distate as anti-american bias and dismiss the content as coming from an unreliable source. They have been trained to do this very well, and it is a difficult habit to break them of (especially if one doesn't wish to simply reverse the polarity of their bias and turn them into slavish, name-droppy, latte-liberal trendheads)

The power of the excerpts really speaks for itself. The ultimate Other, the capital murderer, heard in his or her own voice. I would hope, at least, that some of them might find the humanity in these words obvious and compelling. That's probably naivete on my part.

How can I teach them, I wonder, that the monsters they have been taught to hate are all just people?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Reading Boing Boing

So you don't have to. They just linked to Bruce Sterling's new story over at New Scientist: LINK.

I get down on Sterling sometimes, because I feel like he can sometimes be better in touch with technology than humanity. Stories like Distraction, for example, can tend towards over-simplistic characterization, even while they paint a thought-provoking (if cartoonish) vision of a future political and economic system. I suppose this story isn't terribly long on characterization either, but it is short enough that imagination can fill in the blanks. I really like it. I think it handily sums up a whole set of fears about the possibilities of the internet, that much vaulted space of freedom, becoming a space of control.

If I have a criticism, it is this: does this story still frame the issue at hand as a choice between negative freedom and control? Sterling does a good job of bringing in elements that focus on issues of creative expression - the protagonist's banned hobby of graffiti, for example - but there still seems to be a dichotomy of the "mommy state" vs "the electronic frontier." How do we create space of freedom that are not spaces of privilege, as so many spaces of freedom have historically been?

Friday, September 15, 2006

You Tube In Iraq

The following link goes to a you tube video of what appears to be a visual record made by iraqi insurgents of sniper attacks made on US troops. The video may be an authentic record of such attacks, or it may be a doctored video attempting to show what appear to be attacks for propaganda purposes. I can't tell. It's a very disturbing piece of footage, if you haven't garnerned that from my description thus far. I post it here for 2 reasons.

-to again show the diversity of stuff going on on you tube

-in the hopes of getting the assistance of my friend Ben (who knows some Arabic) in reading the titles on the video, which I'm curious about

Thursday, September 14, 2006

More Found on You Tube

This kid manages to cram at least 2 seperate violations of copyright, and a depiction of illegal drug use into his video. Watch it while you can... I think its an interesting example of some of the productive stuff going on right now.

It will be interesting to see what happens if Universal goes ahead with the planned legal action against You Tube it announced today. If they try to follow Mgm v Grokster and argue that the You Tube business model promotes infringement, when many of the infringers on You Tube, like our Boba Fett enamored friend here, are not simply passing around copies of songs (as on tradtional p2p) but creating something out of existing media it could be a very interesting, very important test of the Grokster rule. (Note: the sentence I just wrote is a mockery of proper grammer. Meh. I'm blogging.)

My Screwed Up Video Camera

The Isight on my macbook isn't working right.

This is what I see whenever I turn it on. Once the image becomes normal, it stays that way... until you stop and then restart the camera. I'm hoping to have it fixed soon, but for now I thought I'd share, in part because its kinda fun to watch.

More Fun Stuff on the Internet

The Royal Society has published the whole of their journal archive on the internet, and their going to allow free access to it until December (then the bastards will charge an insane subscription fee to see it).

The really fun part?

The Royal Society Archive goes back to 1665.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Even if you are still dangerously limited to elite groups, I still <3 you, Internet

So my reading for my globalization and media class for today was interesting. It basically suggested that there wasn't just one "digital divide," but rather, several of them. Old v. Young, Upper v. Working Class, Urban v. Rural. It was rather dismissive of the internet as a medium for social change, as it saw these divides as creating a sort of veneer of young, upper class, internet connected urbanites. There was little evidence, the reading suggested, of mass mobilization of anyone via internet.

These are all empirical claims I really need to do more checking up on (has anyone seen a decent map of IP space onto real space? Does such a thing exist? One suspects google or someone has one squirreled away somewhere, but they ain't sharing it.) But anecdotally, they seem to hold. The internet darlings have had a hard time gaining traction in American electoral politics thus far (though, maybe, possibly, Lamont is a sign of a beginning of a shift there), and even internet boosters like Benkler seem to rely on only a few examples of fairly small scale mobilization (eg. the Diebold e-mail case).

Here's the thing though... I'm thinking about all this while sitting in a public place, having a cup of coffee, with a 5 pound machine on the table in front of me happily humming along on wireless internet. I'm flipping through a book I'm interested in and I'm trying to find where I can get ahold of some of the stuff referenced in the footnotes. The library index at my University isn't cutting it, we don't have the documents I'm looking for. So I try a google search for the title. Lo and behold, the document I wanted was a policy brief for the house science committee... and the house has handily transferred those (at least for the last decade or so, though I was also able to get Vannevar Bush's brief from 1945 in HTML from the national science foundation) to .pdf and released them onto the internet. My little 5 pound notebook gives me (and anyone else with one) the ability to access, from any number of places, decades worth of government documentation that might have been otherwise inaccessible even to someone in my University library.

With all the potential that gives us to put many eyes on the (legal) code... surely we can do something.

At least I hope so.

Sez Who the Internets are for Elites?

I mean, I love the Internets and I'm just an average Joe, chilling in a coffeeshop, with my MacBook and my fluffy espresso drink.

Just an average, blue collar guy, just look at my shirt!

Yep, that's me... salt of the earth Andy.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Things that ran on recharagable batteries

In my apartment Circa 2003: 0

Today: 5

2 Beard Trimmers
Cell Phone

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Found on Youtube

One hopes its real, after the whole lonelygirl115 affair (which was, i thought, fairly transparent), but this is fairly interesting:

The web's collection of weird video fragments is starting to reach a sort of critical-mass of interestingness.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Internet Dating + Foucault

My Internet Communities class is doing a segment on Internet Dating, I suppose its a valid enough subject - the use of the internet to find mates, to form kinship relations... these are the things communities do, yes?

But I'm having a hard time getting over my distaste. I'm a country boy, and, truth be told, a bit of a prude. Reading about clever, pretty urbanites engaging in a seemingly endless internet-enabled hook-up party leaves just kinda pisses me off. The amount to which that pissed-offedness is actually jealousy is anybody's guess. But, nevertheless, I feel compelled to dream up theoretical support for my predjudice. Doesn't everyone.

Here's the thing: wasn't the hope vested by so many in desire as a revolutionary force based on its potential to encourage links between people and thus to shatter hierarchy? To encourage you to look across the cell at your neighbor in the panopticon, rather than gaze back at the tower, ever wary of its presence, and its promise of violent retribution for those who did not exercise proper discipline.

But this thing we've built out of desire, spinning us all into brands, into advertisements, into clusters of definitive "facts" flying in close formation... its as if the panopticon has been turned into omniopticon the gaze of all applied against all, meeting in the middle, so that in effect it is desire itself that now occupies the tower.

And desire is ravenous, and her sister is despair.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The House Burger

Graduate Student Food meets graduate student video blogging. I understand this is not exactly thrilling content... I'm just trying out the technology at my disposal.

Consumer News

Oh yeah, I also recently purchased a Macbook. It's all kinds of pretty.

Wealth of Networks?

I read Yochi Benkler's excellent Wealth of Networks for an independent study this summer and since then I've been thinking quite a bit about his ideas on emerging forms of distributed production. One note often scrawled in the margins of my copy of Benkler's book is the constant question "Who Benefits?" (often in huge, emphatic capital letters, messily underlined, with 4 or 5 question marks). Sure you can break down huge, complex tasks into small modules that can be worked on collaboratively by network-connected individuals, but how can we be sure that the collaborators reap the rewards of their efforts?

Since then I've been noticing news stories like this one:

that interest me along those lines. It seems Google is using user inputs derived from a sort of game to help generate tag information for sorting images. This article on OReilly sums up my own reactions pretty well

Basically, is a project like this one, where many folks collaborate and contribute (all for, just as Benkler predicted, non-monetary compensation) but it seems to me pretty clear that it is Google that gets the lions share of the benefit from the resulting work, really the sort of thing those of us interested in the radical potential of distributed production are looking for?