Posts by Tags

AAAS

ANT

The ethnography of robots: interview at Ethnography Matters

11 minute read

Published:

This was an interview I did with the wonderful Heather Fordoriginally posted at Ethnography Matters (a really cool group blog) way back in January. No idea why I didn’t post a copy of this here back then, but now that I’m moving towards my dissertation I’m thinking about this kind of stuff more and more.  In short, I argue for a non-anthropocentric yet still phenomenological ethnography of technology, studying not the culture of the people who build and program robots, but the culture of those the robots themselves. Read more

Andrew Lih

Wikimania 2008: Wikipedia Administrators / Arbcom Panel

5 minute read

Published:

This panel was at Wikimania 2008, and featured James Forrester, Andrew Lih, Kat Walsh, and Charles Matthews. Everyone except for Lih is or has been on the Arbitration Committee, and this turned into a discussion about admins. Read more

Arthur Bochner

Technology in the Classroom: A Response to Arthur Bochner

5 minute read

Published:

An outright ban on technology in the classroom - which may or may not include the pen and paper - is not the right answer. If one wishes to curb disruptive behavior, then ban disruptive behavior instead of banning all the little things that could be disruptive. Read more

Benjamin Wiker

Benkler

Does Habermas Understand the Internet? The Algorithmic Construction of the Blogo/Public Sphere

1 minute read

Published:

This is a paper that I recently got published in gnovis, which is a peer-reviewed journal run entirely by graduate students at Georgetown’s Communication, Culture, and Technology program.  It is a sneakishly Latourian intervention into the debate between Habermasians and post-Habermasians regarding the Internet as a (part of the) public sphere.   They have been arguing for some time about whether the Internet (and specifically blogging) leads to political fragmentation or real collective action.  However, they have all taken for granted the highly-automated software infrastructures that mediate our knowledge of the blogosphere.  The article is up in HTML on the gnovis site, but I’ve also made a full-text, metadata friendly PDF simply because Google Scholar likes those.   The abstract is after the jump. Read more

CSCW

Researching Wikipedia Holistically: A Tentative Approach

29 minute read

Published:

This is a tentative article-length introduction to my thesis on Wikipedia. It is an attempt to analyze Wikipedia from an interdisciplinary perspective that tries to make problematic various assumptions, concepts, and relations that function quite well in the “real world” but are not well-suited to studying Wikipedia. I begin by talking about the nature of academic disciplines, then proceed to a detailed but sparse review of certain prior research on Wikipedia. By examining the problems in previous research within the context of disciplines, I establish a tentative methodology for a holistic study of Wikipedia. Read more

Charles Matthews

Wikimania 2008: Wikipedia Administrators / Arbcom Panel

5 minute read

Published:

This panel was at Wikimania 2008, and featured James Forrester, Andrew Lih, Kat Walsh, and Charles Matthews. Everyone except for Lih is or has been on the Arbitration Committee, and this turned into a discussion about admins. Read more

Deleuze

Words and Things: A De-Re-Sub-Post-Construction of Rhizomatic and Non-Arborescent Stratum in Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus

less than 1 minute read

Published:

This was my final project for an Information Studies class I took back in 2006, when I was an undergraduate at the University of Texas.  Our assignment was to transform information from one form to another, and I chose to perform this analysis of Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus.  I scanned and OCRed the entire book and did a visual frequency representation of certain words.  I analyzed by chapter and comprehensively with certain core themes in the work.  I also did a comprehensive analysis with more general or common words. It is intended to look the way it does, as I am going for a “1960s IBM goes to the academy” look. Take what you will from it: it is about 35% art, 25% snarky pastiche, 15% pretending to be linguistics, and -5% serious intellectual critique.  Here is a sample: Read more

Digg

Does Habermas Understand the Internet? The Algorithmic Construction of the Blogo/Public Sphere

1 minute read

Published:

This is a paper that I recently got published in gnovis, which is a peer-reviewed journal run entirely by graduate students at Georgetown’s Communication, Culture, and Technology program.  It is a sneakishly Latourian intervention into the debate between Habermasians and post-Habermasians regarding the Internet as a (part of the) public sphere.   They have been arguing for some time about whether the Internet (and specifically blogging) leads to political fragmentation or real collective action.  However, they have all taken for granted the highly-automated software infrastructures that mediate our knowledge of the blogosphere.  The article is up in HTML on the gnovis site, but I’ve also made a full-text, metadata friendly PDF simply because Google Scholar likes those.   The abstract is after the jump. Read more

Dr. Ahmed Darwish

Wikimania 2008: Opening Keynote with Egyptian Minister Ahmed Darwish

3 minute read

Published:

The official theme or slogan for this year’s Wikimania is “the knowledge revolution that is changing wisdom.” I think this phrase – especially the difference between knowledge and wisdom – was chosen very carefully and I think it is an excellent distinction to make. This morning’s opening ceremony began with a speech from the Egyptian Minister of State for Administrative Development, Dr. Ahmed Darwish. I will relay his comments here, without much analysis – that will come later, when I have the time. Read more

Dr. Ahmed Tantawi

Wikimania 2008: Content and the Internet in the (Globalized) Middle East

7 minute read

Published:

Content and the Internet in the (Globalized) Middle East, Dr. Ahmed Tantawi, Technical Director, IBM Middle East and North Africa.  Another copy of my notes from Wikimania 2008 – this was the keynote speech on the second day of the conference.  He began by warning us that, “I’ve changed this presentation, and I’ll change it during.  That is open content, yes?”  Everyone laughed. Read more

Ethics

User-Generated Content as an Ethical Relation

4 minute read

Published:

I feel bad that I have not written a new entry in so long. I feel like I should apologize - not to the readers, but to the software, to the site itself. I ought to write a new post; I ought to update my status. How did I get into a situation whereby these collections of code could make ethical demands upon me? And is this bad? Read more

Foucauldian

God

Memetic Inkblots

7 minute read

Published:

I explore the memetic inkblot, which refers to units of cultural information that have effectively no singular semiotic value and therefore serve as a psychosocial indicator. In other words, they are so vague and open to interpretation that you can learn a lot about someone by asking someone to give a simple definition of them. Read more

HICSS

Trace Ethnography: Following Coordination through Documentary Practices

1 minute read

Published:

This is a paper I co-authored with David Ribes and recently presented at HICSS, the Hawaii International Conference on Systems Sciences.  It’s a qualitative methodology based on analyzing logging data that we developed through my research on Wikipedia, but has some pretty broad applications for studying highly-distributed groups.  It’s an inversion of the previous paper we presented at CSCW, showing in detail how we traced how Wikipedian vandal fighters as they collectively work to identify and ban malicious contributors. Read more

Habermas

Structural Transformation was Habermas’s first of thirty books

9 minute read

Published:

So given what’s going on* in Egypt and the Middle East, we in the West are fascinated by not so much revolutions and popular uprisings against dictatorial regimes, but an efficacious use of social media. Even Clinton is talking about the Internet as “the world’s town square”, and it seems that the old conversation about the Internet and the public sphere is going to flare up for the third time (1993-5 and 2001-3 are the other two times). Since Habermas is generally credited for bringing this notion of the public sphere to the forefront of popular, political, and academic discourse, it is natural to cite him.  Then critique him to death, talking about how we need to get beyond an old white guy’s theories.  And it feels good, I know. Read more

Does Habermas Understand the Internet? The Algorithmic Construction of the Blogo/Public Sphere

1 minute read

Published:

This is a paper that I recently got published in gnovis, which is a peer-reviewed journal run entirely by graduate students at Georgetown’s Communication, Culture, and Technology program.  It is a sneakishly Latourian intervention into the debate between Habermasians and post-Habermasians regarding the Internet as a (part of the) public sphere.   They have been arguing for some time about whether the Internet (and specifically blogging) leads to political fragmentation or real collective action.  However, they have all taken for granted the highly-automated software infrastructures that mediate our knowledge of the blogosphere.  The article is up in HTML on the gnovis site, but I’ve also made a full-text, metadata friendly PDF simply because Google Scholar likes those.   The abstract is after the jump. Read more

Habermasian

Structural Transformation was Habermas’s first of thirty books

9 minute read

Published:

So given what’s going on* in Egypt and the Middle East, we in the West are fascinated by not so much revolutions and popular uprisings against dictatorial regimes, but an efficacious use of social media. Even Clinton is talking about the Internet as “the world’s town square”, and it seems that the old conversation about the Internet and the public sphere is going to flare up for the third time (1993-5 and 2001-3 are the other two times). Since Habermas is generally credited for bringing this notion of the public sphere to the forefront of popular, political, and academic discourse, it is natural to cite him.  Then critique him to death, talking about how we need to get beyond an old white guy’s theories.  And it feels good, I know. Read more

Hitler

IBM

Wikimania 2008: Content and the Internet in the (Globalized) Middle East

7 minute read

Published:

Content and the Internet in the (Globalized) Middle East, Dr. Ahmed Tantawi, Technical Director, IBM Middle East and North Africa.  Another copy of my notes from Wikimania 2008 – this was the keynote speech on the second day of the conference.  He began by warning us that, “I’ve changed this presentation, and I’ll change it during.  That is open content, yes?”  Everyone laughed. Read more

James Forrester

Wikimania 2008: Wikipedia Administrators / Arbcom Panel

5 minute read

Published:

This panel was at Wikimania 2008, and featured James Forrester, Andrew Lih, Kat Walsh, and Charles Matthews. Everyone except for Lih is or has been on the Arbitration Committee, and this turned into a discussion about admins. Read more

Kat Walsh

Wikimania 2008: Wikipedia Administrators / Arbcom Panel

5 minute read

Published:

This panel was at Wikimania 2008, and featured James Forrester, Andrew Lih, Kat Walsh, and Charles Matthews. Everyone except for Lih is or has been on the Arbitration Committee, and this turned into a discussion about admins. Read more

Linux

Open Source Software: The Newest Specter?

15 minute read

Published:

Corporate adoption of open source software should not be viewed as antithetical to capitalism; rather, it is an example of corporations co-opting Communism to become more capitalist. Read more

MMORPG

Notions of Identity Liberation in Virtual Gaming Communities

18 minute read

Published:

The vast worlds of MMORPGs seem close to postmodern theories of identity, as a player is able to radically constitute their on-line self at will. Despite this, these virtual gaming communities should not be seen as safe spaces in which a subject can realize their true (or ideal) self. Read more

MMORPGs

Notions of Identity Liberation in Virtual Gaming Communities

18 minute read

Published:

The vast worlds of MMORPGs seem close to postmodern theories of identity, as a player is able to radically constitute their on-line self at will. Despite this, these virtual gaming communities should not be seen as safe spaces in which a subject can realize their true (or ideal) self. Read more

Martin Heidegger

Response: Neuromancer by William Gibson

5 minute read

Published:

William Gibson’s novel Neuromancer tells the story of a team of radically different technologically-savvy individuals who are recruited by a young artificial intelligence named Wintermute, who desires to bypass the limitations placed on it by its owners and the authorities. Read more

Marx

Memetic Inkblots

7 minute read

Published:

I explore the memetic inkblot, which refers to units of cultural information that have effectively no singular semiotic value and therefore serve as a psychosocial indicator. In other words, they are so vague and open to interpretation that you can learn a lot about someone by asking someone to give a simple definition of them. Read more

Notions of Identity Liberation in Virtual Gaming Communities

18 minute read

Published:

The vast worlds of MMORPGs seem close to postmodern theories of identity, as a player is able to radically constitute their on-line self at will. Despite this, these virtual gaming communities should not be seen as safe spaces in which a subject can realize their true (or ideal) self. Read more

Open Source Software: The Newest Specter?

15 minute read

Published:

Corporate adoption of open source software should not be viewed as antithetical to capitalism; rather, it is an example of corporations co-opting Communism to become more capitalist. Read more

Max Weber

Networked City

Response: Me++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City by William Mitchell

4 minute read

Published:

In his book Me++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City, William Mitchell describes how information technology – specifically digital, wireless networks which are accessed primarily through portable devices – fundamentally changes how we interact with others. More than anything else, “[c]onnectivity had become the defining characteristic of our twenty-first-century urban condition” (11). For Mitchell, we have given up the virtual reality fantasy that dominated predictions made in previous decades in lieu of subtler revolution: that of the networked self, the Me++. Read more

Neuromancer

Response: Neuromancer by William Gibson

5 minute read

Published:

William Gibson’s novel Neuromancer tells the story of a team of radically different technologically-savvy individuals who are recruited by a young artificial intelligence named Wintermute, who desires to bypass the limitations placed on it by its owners and the authorities. Read more

Nietzsche

Rheingold

Does Habermas Understand the Internet? The Algorithmic Construction of the Blogo/Public Sphere

1 minute read

Published:

This is a paper that I recently got published in gnovis, which is a peer-reviewed journal run entirely by graduate students at Georgetown’s Communication, Culture, and Technology program.  It is a sneakishly Latourian intervention into the debate between Habermasians and post-Habermasians regarding the Internet as a (part of the) public sphere.   They have been arguing for some time about whether the Internet (and specifically blogging) leads to political fragmentation or real collective action.  However, they have all taken for granted the highly-automated software infrastructures that mediate our knowledge of the blogosphere.  The article is up in HTML on the gnovis site, but I’ve also made a full-text, metadata friendly PDF simply because Google Scholar likes those.   The abstract is after the jump. Read more

Technorati

Does Habermas Understand the Internet? The Algorithmic Construction of the Blogo/Public Sphere

1 minute read

Published:

This is a paper that I recently got published in gnovis, which is a peer-reviewed journal run entirely by graduate students at Georgetown’s Communication, Culture, and Technology program.  It is a sneakishly Latourian intervention into the debate between Habermasians and post-Habermasians regarding the Internet as a (part of the) public sphere.   They have been arguing for some time about whether the Internet (and specifically blogging) leads to political fragmentation or real collective action.  However, they have all taken for granted the highly-automated software infrastructures that mediate our knowledge of the blogosphere.  The article is up in HTML on the gnovis site, but I’ve also made a full-text, metadata friendly PDF simply because Google Scholar likes those.   The abstract is after the jump. Read more

Thesis

The Work of Sustaining Order in Wikipedia: The Banning of a Vandal

1 minute read

Published:

With the help of my advisor, Dr. David Ribes, I recently got a chapter of my master’s thesis accepted to the ACM conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, to be held in February 2010 in Savannah, Georgia. It is titled “The Work of Sustaining Order in Wikipedia: The Banning of a Vandal” and focuses on the roles of automated ‘bots’ and assisted editing tools in Wikipedia’s ‘vandal fighting’ network. Read more

Senior Thesis: Democracy in Wikipedia

1 minute read

Published:

My thesis studied the legal culture of Wikipedia to examine the law through stories and histories, giving the reader a sense of not only what the Wikipedian legal system is, but also what fundamental assumptions the community makes in utilizing such a system. Read more

Thomas Kuhn

Response: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn

7 minute read

Published:

A response to Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, in which his work is applied to a personal vignette of experimentation practices in a High School Physics class. When in the course of scientific education should students be allowed to modify scientific theories to fit experimental data instead of modifying experiments to fit the theories? Read more

Trobriand

Weber

Open Source Software: The Newest Specter?

15 minute read

Published:

Corporate adoption of open source software should not be viewed as antithetical to capitalism; rather, it is an example of corporations co-opting Communism to become more capitalist. Read more

Wikis

Conceptions and Misconceptions Academics Hold About Wikipedia

4 minute read

Published:

As an ethnographer, I enter into communities, learn their customs, beliefs, and practices, then report back to the academy to share what I have discovered. In this presentation, I wish to do the opposite, presenting to the Wikipedian community an ethnography of academics as they relate to Wikipedia. Read more

Senior Thesis: Democracy in Wikipedia

1 minute read

Published:

My thesis studied the legal culture of Wikipedia to examine the law through stories and histories, giving the reader a sense of not only what the Wikipedian legal system is, but also what fundamental assumptions the community makes in utilizing such a system. Read more

Wikisym

William Mitchell

Response: Me++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City by William Mitchell

4 minute read

Published:

In his book Me++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City, William Mitchell describes how information technology – specifically digital, wireless networks which are accessed primarily through portable devices – fundamentally changes how we interact with others. More than anything else, “[c]onnectivity had become the defining characteristic of our twenty-first-century urban condition” (11). For Mitchell, we have given up the virtual reality fantasy that dominated predictions made in previous decades in lieu of subtler revolution: that of the networked self, the Me++. Read more

Xerox

Review: Talking About Machines by Julian Orr

6 minute read

Published:

This is a review of Julian Orr’s Talking About Machines, an ethnography of Xerox photocopier technicians. Blurring the line between ethnomethodology, organizational communication, infrastructure studies, human-computer/machine interaction, business administration, and traditional ethnography of work, his study reveals more than just the daily practices of what may initially seem like a boring job. Read more

academia

Closed-source papers on open source communities: a problem and a partial solution

13 minute read

Published:

In the Wikipedia research community — that is, the group of academics and Wikipedians who are interested in studying Wikipedia — there has been a pretty substantial and longstanding problem with how research is published. Academics, from graduate students to tenured faculty, are deeply invested and entrenched in an system that rewards the publication of research. Publish or perish, as we’ve all heard.   The problem is that the overwhelming majority of publications which are recognized as ‘academic’ require us to assign copyright to the publication, so that the publisher can then charge for access to the article.  This is in direct contradiction with the goals of Wikipedia, as well as many other open source and open content creation communities — communities which are the subject of a substantial amount of academic research. Read more

Do you support Wikipedia? News from the Trenches of the Science Wars 2.0

43 minute read

Published:

I show that asking whether Wikipedia is a reliable academic source enframes Wikipedia into an objectless standing-reserve of potential citations, foreclosing many other possibilities for its use. Instead of asking what Wikipedia has done to reality, I ask: what have we done to Wikipedia in the name of reality? Read more

WebCite: An On-Demand Internet Archive

1 minute read

Published:

As someone who studies Internet culture, one of my biggest problems is “link rot,” or broken links.  I’m a big fan of the Internet Archive, but they are usually six to eight months behind on even the most popular sites.  I also applaud sites like Wikipedia for providing stable version histories so that I can point to a specific revision of a page.  However, for all other websites, the only option is self-archiving, which is technically difficult and fraught with problems.  What I have found incredibly useful is WebCite, a free webpage archiving service that fills in this gap. Read more

Wikimania 2008: Collaborative research on Wikiversity with Cormac Lawler

1 minute read

Published:

Collaborative research on Wikiversity by Cormac Lawler (user Cormaggio on Wikimedia projects) at the University of Manchester.  Wikiversity is a relatively young project in the Wikimedia umbrella, but I think it is a natural development and a great space to realize the potential of all the educators currently on Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Wikibooks, and all the other projects. Read more

Conceptions and Misconceptions Academics Hold About Wikipedia

4 minute read

Published:

As an ethnographer, I enter into communities, learn their customs, beliefs, and practices, then report back to the academy to share what I have discovered. In this presentation, I wish to do the opposite, presenting to the Wikipedian community an ethnography of academics as they relate to Wikipedia. Read more

actor-network theory

The ethnography of robots: interview at Ethnography Matters

11 minute read

Published:

This was an interview I did with the wonderful Heather Fordoriginally posted at Ethnography Matters (a really cool group blog) way back in January. No idea why I didn’t post a copy of this here back then, but now that I’m moving towards my dissertation I’m thinking about this kind of stuff more and more.  In short, I argue for a non-anthropocentric yet still phenomenological ethnography of technology, studying not the culture of the people who build and program robots, but the culture of those the robots themselves. Read more

agency

Capital ‘I’ for Internet?

4 minute read

Published:

Do you capitalize “Internet?” Some scholars from the emerging field of ‘Internet studies’ say no. I say yes. Read more

User-Generated Content as an Ethical Relation

4 minute read

Published:

I feel bad that I have not written a new entry in so long. I feel like I should apologize - not to the readers, but to the software, to the site itself. I ought to write a new post; I ought to update my status. How did I get into a situation whereby these collections of code could make ethical demands upon me? And is this bad? Read more

algorithms

A dynamically-generated robots.txt: will search engine bots recognize themselves?

7 minute read

Published:

I built a script that dynamically generates a robots.txt file for search engine bots, who download the file when they seek direction on what parts of a website they are allowed to index. By default, it directs all bots to stay away from the entire site, but then presents an exception: only the bot that requests the robots.txt file is allowed full reign over the site. Read more

The Work of Sustaining Order in Wikipedia: The Banning of a Vandal

1 minute read

Published:

With the help of my advisor, Dr. David Ribes, I recently got a chapter of my master’s thesis accepted to the ACM conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, to be held in February 2010 in Savannah, Georgia. It is titled “The Work of Sustaining Order in Wikipedia: The Banning of a Vandal” and focuses on the roles of automated ‘bots’ and assisted editing tools in Wikipedia’s ‘vandal fighting’ network. Read more

annette markham

Capital ‘I’ for Internet?

4 minute read

Published:

Do you capitalize “Internet?” Some scholars from the emerging field of ‘Internet studies’ say no. I say yes. Read more

anthropology

Senior Thesis: Democracy in Wikipedia

1 minute read

Published:

My thesis studied the legal culture of Wikipedia to examine the law through stories and histories, giving the reader a sense of not only what the Wikipedian legal system is, but also what fundamental assumptions the community makes in utilizing such a system. Read more

anti semitism

archaeology

archaeology of knowledge

archive

WebCite: An On-Demand Internet Archive

1 minute read

Published:

As someone who studies Internet culture, one of my biggest problems is “link rot,” or broken links.  I’m a big fan of the Internet Archive, but they are usually six to eight months behind on even the most popular sites.  I also applaud sites like Wikipedia for providing stable version histories so that I can point to a specific revision of a page.  However, for all other websites, the only option is self-archiving, which is technically difficult and fraught with problems.  What I have found incredibly useful is WebCite, a free webpage archiving service that fills in this gap. Read more

art

Helvetica: A Documentary, A History, An Anthropology

13 minute read

Published:

I recently saw Helvetica, a documentary directed by Gary Hustwit about the typeface of the same name — it is available streaming and on DVD from Netflix, for those of you who have a subscription.  As someone who studies ubiquitous socio-technological infrastructures (and Helvetica is certainly one), I know how hard it is to seriously pay attention to something  that which we see every day.  It may seem counter-intuitive, but as Susan Leigh Star reminds us, the more widespread an infrastructure is, the more we use it and depend on it, the more invisible it becomes — that is, until it breaks or generates controversy, in which case it is far too easy.  But to actually say something about what well-oiled, hidden-in-plain-sight infrastructures are, how they came to have such a place in our society, and why they won out over their competitors is a notoriously difficult task.  But I came to realize that the film is less of a history of fonts, and more of an anthropology of design. Read more

Words and Things: A De-Re-Sub-Post-Construction of Rhizomatic and Non-Arborescent Stratum in Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus

less than 1 minute read

Published:

This was my final project for an Information Studies class I took back in 2006, when I was an undergraduate at the University of Texas.  Our assignment was to transform information from one form to another, and I chose to perform this analysis of Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus.  I scanned and OCRed the entire book and did a visual frequency representation of certain words.  I analyzed by chapter and comprehensively with certain core themes in the work.  I also did a comprehensive analysis with more general or common words. It is intended to look the way it does, as I am going for a “1960s IBM goes to the academy” look. Take what you will from it: it is about 35% art, 25% snarky pastiche, 15% pretending to be linguistics, and -5% serious intellectual critique.  Here is a sample: Read more

The Facticity of Art

less than 1 minute read

Published:

This is a piece of web art or net art, with an included work of art criticism about the piece. The work makes the argument that while interactive digital art can be considered user-centered, this new style and medium is only centered around those possibilities that the creator wishes to make available to the user. You can see The Facticity of Art at http://stuartgeiger.com/art/art-intro.shtml. Read more

art criticism

The Facticity of Art

less than 1 minute read

Published:

This is a piece of web art or net art, with an included work of art criticism about the piece. The work makes the argument that while interactive digital art can be considered user-centered, this new style and medium is only centered around those possibilities that the creator wishes to make available to the user. You can see The Facticity of Art at http://stuartgeiger.com/art/art-intro.shtml. Read more

assimilation

automation

Does Habermas Understand the Internet? The Algorithmic Construction of the Blogo/Public Sphere

1 minute read

Published:

This is a paper that I recently got published in gnovis, which is a peer-reviewed journal run entirely by graduate students at Georgetown’s Communication, Culture, and Technology program.  It is a sneakishly Latourian intervention into the debate between Habermasians and post-Habermasians regarding the Internet as a (part of the) public sphere.   They have been arguing for some time about whether the Internet (and specifically blogging) leads to political fragmentation or real collective action.  However, they have all taken for granted the highly-automated software infrastructures that mediate our knowledge of the blogosphere.  The article is up in HTML on the gnovis site, but I’ve also made a full-text, metadata friendly PDF simply because Google Scholar likes those.   The abstract is after the jump. Read more

The Work of Sustaining Order in Wikipedia: The Banning of a Vandal

1 minute read

Published:

With the help of my advisor, Dr. David Ribes, I recently got a chapter of my master’s thesis accepted to the ACM conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, to be held in February 2010 in Savannah, Georgia. It is titled “The Work of Sustaining Order in Wikipedia: The Banning of a Vandal” and focuses on the roles of automated ‘bots’ and assisted editing tools in Wikipedia’s ‘vandal fighting’ network. Read more

bell hooks

Capital ‘I’ for Internet?

4 minute read

Published:

Do you capitalize “Internet?” Some scholars from the emerging field of ‘Internet studies’ say no. I say yes. Read more

bibliometrics

Perils of Keyword-Based Bibliometrics: ISI’s ‘1990 Effect’

11 minute read

Published:

Have you done historical bibliometric analysis of a scientific field or topic area and found that there is a massive increase in research articles after 1990?  Are you using ISI’s Web of Science and searching by topic or keyword?  If so, don’t make the same mistake I did: these results aren’t because of some sea change or paradigm shift, but rather result from a poorly-documented shift in how ISI began indexing articles after 1990. Read more

blogosphere

Does Habermas Understand the Internet? The Algorithmic Construction of the Blogo/Public Sphere

1 minute read

Published:

This is a paper that I recently got published in gnovis, which is a peer-reviewed journal run entirely by graduate students at Georgetown’s Communication, Culture, and Technology program.  It is a sneakishly Latourian intervention into the debate between Habermasians and post-Habermasians regarding the Internet as a (part of the) public sphere.   They have been arguing for some time about whether the Internet (and specifically blogging) leads to political fragmentation or real collective action.  However, they have all taken for granted the highly-automated software infrastructures that mediate our knowledge of the blogosphere.  The article is up in HTML on the gnovis site, but I’ve also made a full-text, metadata friendly PDF simply because Google Scholar likes those.   The abstract is after the jump. Read more

botany

Wikimania 2008: Collaborative research on Wikiversity with Cormac Lawler

1 minute read

Published:

Collaborative research on Wikiversity by Cormac Lawler (user Cormaggio on Wikimedia projects) at the University of Manchester.  Wikiversity is a relatively young project in the Wikimedia umbrella, but I think it is a natural development and a great space to realize the potential of all the educators currently on Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Wikibooks, and all the other projects. Read more

bots

A dynamically-generated robots.txt: will search engine bots recognize themselves?

7 minute read

Published:

I built a script that dynamically generates a robots.txt file for search engine bots, who download the file when they seek direction on what parts of a website they are allowed to index. By default, it directs all bots to stay away from the entire site, but then presents an exception: only the bot that requests the robots.txt file is allowed full reign over the site. Read more

Bots, bespoke code, and the materiality of software platforms

1 minute read

Published:

This is a new article published in Information, Communication, and Society as part of their annual special issue for the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) conference. This year’s special issue was edited by Lee Humphreys and Tarleton Gillespie, who did a great job throughout the whole process. Read more

When the Levee Breaks: Without Bots, What Happens to Wikipedia’s Quality Control Processes?

less than 1 minute read

Published:

I’ve written a number of papers about the role that automated software agents (or bots) play in Wikipedia, claiming that they are critical to the continued operation of Wikipedia. This paper tests this hypothesis and introduces a metric visualizing the speed at which fully-automated bots, tool-assisted cyborgs, and unassisted humans review edits in Wikipedia. In the first half of 2011, ClueBot NG – one of the most prolific counter-vandalism bots in the English-language Wikipedia – went down for four distinct periods, each period of downtime lasting from days to weeks. Aaron Halfaker and I use these periods of breakdown as naturalistic experiments to study Wikipedia’s quality control network. Our analysis showed that the overall time-to-revert damaging edits was almost doubled when this software agent was down. Yet while a significantly fewer proportion of edits made during the bot’s downtime were reverted, we found that those edits were later eventually reverted. This suggests that human agents in Wikipedia took over this quality control work, but performed it at a far slower rate. Read more

About a bot: reflections on building software agents

less than 1 minute read

Published:

This post for Ethnography Matters is a very personal, reflective musing about the first bot I ever developed for Wikipedia. It makes the argument that while it is certainly important to think about software code and algorithms behind bots and other AI agents, they are not immaterial. In fact, the physical locations and social contexts in which they are run are often critical to understanding how they both ‘live’ and ‘die’. Read more

Bots and Cyborgs: Wikipedia’s Immune System

less than 1 minute read

Published:

My frequent collaborator Aaron Halfaker has written up a fantastic article with John Riedl in Computer reviewing a lot of the work we’ve done on algorithmic agents in Wikipedia, casting them as Wikipedia’s immune system. Choice quote:  “These bots and cyborgs are more than tools to better manage content quality on Wikipedia—through their interaction with humans, they’re fundamentally changing its culture.” Read more

The ethnography of robots: interview at Ethnography Matters

11 minute read

Published:

This was an interview I did with the wonderful Heather Fordoriginally posted at Ethnography Matters (a really cool group blog) way back in January. No idea why I didn’t post a copy of this here back then, but now that I’m moving towards my dissertation I’m thinking about this kind of stuff more and more.  In short, I argue for a non-anthropocentric yet still phenomenological ethnography of technology, studying not the culture of the people who build and program robots, but the culture of those the robots themselves. Read more

The Lives of Bots

less than 1 minute read

Published:

I’m part of a Wikipedia research group called “Critical Point of View” centered around the Institute for Network Cultures in Amsterdam and the Centre for Internet and Society in Bangalore.  (Just a disclaimer, the term ‘critical’ is more like critical theory as opposed to Wikipedia bashing for its own sake.)  We’ve had some great conferences and are putting out an edited book on Wikipedia quite soon.  My chapter is on bots, and the abstract and link to the full PDF is below: Read more

Trace Ethnography: Following Coordination through Documentary Practices

1 minute read

Published:

This is a paper I co-authored with David Ribes and recently presented at HICSS, the Hawaii International Conference on Systems Sciences.  It’s a qualitative methodology based on analyzing logging data that we developed through my research on Wikipedia, but has some pretty broad applications for studying highly-distributed groups.  It’s an inversion of the previous paper we presented at CSCW, showing in detail how we traced how Wikipedian vandal fighters as they collectively work to identify and ban malicious contributors. Read more

The Work of Sustaining Order in Wikipedia: The Banning of a Vandal

1 minute read

Published:

With the help of my advisor, Dr. David Ribes, I recently got a chapter of my master’s thesis accepted to the ACM conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, to be held in February 2010 in Savannah, Georgia. It is titled “The Work of Sustaining Order in Wikipedia: The Banning of a Vandal” and focuses on the roles of automated ‘bots’ and assisted editing tools in Wikipedia’s ‘vandal fighting’ network. Read more

british colonialism

capitalism

Notions of Identity Liberation in Virtual Gaming Communities

18 minute read

Published:

The vast worlds of MMORPGs seem close to postmodern theories of identity, as a player is able to radically constitute their on-line self at will. Despite this, these virtual gaming communities should not be seen as safe spaces in which a subject can realize their true (or ideal) self. Read more

Open Source Software: The Newest Specter?

15 minute read

Published:

Corporate adoption of open source software should not be viewed as antithetical to capitalism; rather, it is an example of corporations co-opting Communism to become more capitalist. Read more

citation

Perils of Keyword-Based Bibliometrics: ISI’s ‘1990 Effect’

11 minute read

Published:

Have you done historical bibliometric analysis of a scientific field or topic area and found that there is a massive increase in research articles after 1990?  Are you using ISI’s Web of Science and searching by topic or keyword?  If so, don’t make the same mistake I did: these results aren’t because of some sea change or paradigm shift, but rather result from a poorly-documented shift in how ISI began indexing articles after 1990. Read more

WebCite: An On-Demand Internet Archive

1 minute read

Published:

As someone who studies Internet culture, one of my biggest problems is “link rot,” or broken links.  I’m a big fan of the Internet Archive, but they are usually six to eight months behind on even the most popular sites.  I also applaud sites like Wikipedia for providing stable version histories so that I can point to a specific revision of a page.  However, for all other websites, the only option is self-archiving, which is technically difficult and fraught with problems.  What I have found incredibly useful is WebCite, a free webpage archiving service that fills in this gap. Read more

citation analysis

Perils of Keyword-Based Bibliometrics: ISI’s ‘1990 Effect’

11 minute read

Published:

Have you done historical bibliometric analysis of a scientific field or topic area and found that there is a massive increase in research articles after 1990?  Are you using ISI’s Web of Science and searching by topic or keyword?  If so, don’t make the same mistake I did: these results aren’t because of some sea change or paradigm shift, but rather result from a poorly-documented shift in how ISI began indexing articles after 1990. Read more

classroom

Technology in the Classroom: A Response to Arthur Bochner

5 minute read

Published:

An outright ban on technology in the classroom - which may or may not include the pen and paper - is not the right answer. If one wishes to curb disruptive behavior, then ban disruptive behavior instead of banning all the little things that could be disruptive. Read more

cms

co-option

collaboration

Trace Ethnography: Following Coordination through Documentary Practices

1 minute read

Published:

This is a paper I co-authored with David Ribes and recently presented at HICSS, the Hawaii International Conference on Systems Sciences.  It’s a qualitative methodology based on analyzing logging data that we developed through my research on Wikipedia, but has some pretty broad applications for studying highly-distributed groups.  It’s an inversion of the previous paper we presented at CSCW, showing in detail how we traced how Wikipedian vandal fighters as they collectively work to identify and ban malicious contributors. Read more

Researching Wikipedia Holistically: A Tentative Approach

29 minute read

Published:

This is a tentative article-length introduction to my thesis on Wikipedia. It is an attempt to analyze Wikipedia from an interdisciplinary perspective that tries to make problematic various assumptions, concepts, and relations that function quite well in the “real world” but are not well-suited to studying Wikipedia. I begin by talking about the nature of academic disciplines, then proceed to a detailed but sparse review of certain prior research on Wikipedia. By examining the problems in previous research within the context of disciplines, I establish a tentative methodology for a holistic study of Wikipedia. Read more

collective intelligence

The Work of Sustaining Order in Wikipedia: The Banning of a Vandal

1 minute read

Published:

With the help of my advisor, Dr. David Ribes, I recently got a chapter of my master’s thesis accepted to the ACM conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, to be held in February 2010 in Savannah, Georgia. It is titled “The Work of Sustaining Order in Wikipedia: The Banning of a Vandal” and focuses on the roles of automated ‘bots’ and assisted editing tools in Wikipedia’s ‘vandal fighting’ network. Read more

collective knowledge

Review: Talking About Machines by Julian Orr

6 minute read

Published:

This is a review of Julian Orr’s Talking About Machines, an ethnography of Xerox photocopier technicians. Blurring the line between ethnomethodology, organizational communication, infrastructure studies, human-computer/machine interaction, business administration, and traditional ethnography of work, his study reveals more than just the daily practices of what may initially seem like a boring job. Read more

colonialism

communication

A dynamically-generated robots.txt: will search engine bots recognize themselves?

7 minute read

Published:

I built a script that dynamically generates a robots.txt file for search engine bots, who download the file when they seek direction on what parts of a website they are allowed to index. By default, it directs all bots to stay away from the entire site, but then presents an exception: only the bot that requests the robots.txt file is allowed full reign over the site. Read more

An apologia for instagram photos of pumpkin spice lattes and other serious things

13 minute read

Published:

I don’t normally pick on people whose work I really admire, but I recently saw a tweet from Mark Sample that struck a nerve: “Look, if you don’t instagram your first pumpkin spice latte of the season, humanity’s historical record will be dangerously impoverished.”  While it got quite a number of retweets and equally snarky responses, he is far from the first to make such a flippant critique of the vapid nature of social media.  It also seriously upset me for reasons that I’ve been trying to work out, which is why I found myself doing one of those shifts that researchers of knowledge production tend to do far too often with critics: don’t get mad, get reflexive.  What is it that makes such a sentiment resonate with us, particularly when it is issued over Twitter, a platform that is the target of this kind of critique?  The reasons have to do with a fundamental disagreement over what it means to interact in a mediated space: do we understand our posts, status updates, and shared photos as representations of how we exist in the world which collectively constitute a certain persistent performance of the self, or do we understand them a form of communication in which we subjectively and interactionally relate our experience of the world to others? Read more

Review: Talking About Machines by Julian Orr

6 minute read

Published:

This is a review of Julian Orr’s Talking About Machines, an ethnography of Xerox photocopier technicians. Blurring the line between ethnomethodology, organizational communication, infrastructure studies, human-computer/machine interaction, business administration, and traditional ethnography of work, his study reveals more than just the daily practices of what may initially seem like a boring job. Read more

Technology in the Classroom: A Response to Arthur Bochner

5 minute read

Published:

An outright ban on technology in the classroom - which may or may not include the pen and paper - is not the right answer. If one wishes to curb disruptive behavior, then ban disruptive behavior instead of banning all the little things that could be disruptive. Read more

A Communicative Ethnography of Argumentative Strategies in a Wikipedian Content Dispute

less than 1 minute read

Published:

This presentation was adapted from a chapter in my Senior thesis on Wikipedia’s legal system that focused on a dispute over the inclusion of images of the Islamic prophet Muhammad in an article about him, using a methodology of communicative ethnography. Most who opposed the image were not familiar with Wikipedia’s unique method of content regulation and dispute resolution, as well as its editorial standards and principles. However, most who argued in favor of keeping the image knew these and initially used them to their advantage. This ethnographic study of the communicative strategies used by the parties involved in the dispute shows how new editors to the user-written encyclopedia first emerged in a hostile communicative environment and subsequently adapted their argumentative strategies. This conflict is an excellent example of how disputes are resolved in Wikipedia, showing how this new media space regulates its own content. Read more

Response: Me++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City by William Mitchell

4 minute read

Published:

In his book Me++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City, William Mitchell describes how information technology – specifically digital, wireless networks which are accessed primarily through portable devices – fundamentally changes how we interact with others. More than anything else, “[c]onnectivity had become the defining characteristic of our twenty-first-century urban condition” (11). For Mitchell, we have given up the virtual reality fantasy that dominated predictions made in previous decades in lieu of subtler revolution: that of the networked self, the Me++. Read more

Notions of Identity Liberation in Virtual Gaming Communities

18 minute read

Published:

The vast worlds of MMORPGs seem close to postmodern theories of identity, as a player is able to radically constitute their on-line self at will. Despite this, these virtual gaming communities should not be seen as safe spaces in which a subject can realize their true (or ideal) self. Read more

Open Source Software: The Newest Specter?

15 minute read

Published:

Corporate adoption of open source software should not be viewed as antithetical to capitalism; rather, it is an example of corporations co-opting Communism to become more capitalist. Read more

communicative strategies

A Communicative Ethnography of Argumentative Strategies in a Wikipedian Content Dispute

less than 1 minute read

Published:

This presentation was adapted from a chapter in my Senior thesis on Wikipedia’s legal system that focused on a dispute over the inclusion of images of the Islamic prophet Muhammad in an article about him, using a methodology of communicative ethnography. Most who opposed the image were not familiar with Wikipedia’s unique method of content regulation and dispute resolution, as well as its editorial standards and principles. However, most who argued in favor of keeping the image knew these and initially used them to their advantage. This ethnographic study of the communicative strategies used by the parties involved in the dispute shows how new editors to the user-written encyclopedia first emerged in a hostile communicative environment and subsequently adapted their argumentative strategies. This conflict is an excellent example of how disputes are resolved in Wikipedia, showing how this new media space regulates its own content. Read more

communism

Open Source Software: The Newest Specter?

15 minute read

Published:

Corporate adoption of open source software should not be viewed as antithetical to capitalism; rather, it is an example of corporations co-opting Communism to become more capitalist. Read more

communist manifesto

Notions of Identity Liberation in Virtual Gaming Communities

18 minute read

Published:

The vast worlds of MMORPGs seem close to postmodern theories of identity, as a player is able to radically constitute their on-line self at will. Despite this, these virtual gaming communities should not be seen as safe spaces in which a subject can realize their true (or ideal) self. Read more

Open Source Software: The Newest Specter?

15 minute read

Published:

Corporate adoption of open source software should not be viewed as antithetical to capitalism; rather, it is an example of corporations co-opting Communism to become more capitalist. Read more

communities

Conceptions and Misconceptions Academics Hold About Wikipedia

4 minute read

Published:

As an ethnographer, I enter into communities, learn their customs, beliefs, and practices, then report back to the academy to share what I have discovered. In this presentation, I wish to do the opposite, presenting to the Wikipedian community an ethnography of academics as they relate to Wikipedia. Read more

Notions of Identity Liberation in Virtual Gaming Communities

18 minute read

Published:

The vast worlds of MMORPGs seem close to postmodern theories of identity, as a player is able to radically constitute their on-line self at will. Despite this, these virtual gaming communities should not be seen as safe spaces in which a subject can realize their true (or ideal) self. Read more

community

An apologia for instagram photos of pumpkin spice lattes and other serious things

13 minute read

Published:

I don’t normally pick on people whose work I really admire, but I recently saw a tweet from Mark Sample that struck a nerve: “Look, if you don’t instagram your first pumpkin spice latte of the season, humanity’s historical record will be dangerously impoverished.”  While it got quite a number of retweets and equally snarky responses, he is far from the first to make such a flippant critique of the vapid nature of social media.  It also seriously upset me for reasons that I’ve been trying to work out, which is why I found myself doing one of those shifts that researchers of knowledge production tend to do far too often with critics: don’t get mad, get reflexive.  What is it that makes such a sentiment resonate with us, particularly when it is issued over Twitter, a platform that is the target of this kind of critique?  The reasons have to do with a fundamental disagreement over what it means to interact in a mediated space: do we understand our posts, status updates, and shared photos as representations of how we exist in the world which collectively constitute a certain persistent performance of the self, or do we understand them a form of communication in which we subjectively and interactionally relate our experience of the world to others? Read more

The Lives of Bots

less than 1 minute read

Published:

I’m part of a Wikipedia research group called “Critical Point of View” centered around the Institute for Network Cultures in Amsterdam and the Centre for Internet and Society in Bangalore.  (Just a disclaimer, the term ‘critical’ is more like critical theory as opposed to Wikipedia bashing for its own sake.)  We’ve had some great conferences and are putting out an edited book on Wikipedia quite soon.  My chapter is on bots, and the abstract and link to the full PDF is below: Read more

Do you support Wikipedia? News from the Trenches of the Science Wars 2.0

43 minute read

Published:

I show that asking whether Wikipedia is a reliable academic source enframes Wikipedia into an objectless standing-reserve of potential citations, foreclosing many other possibilities for its use. Instead of asking what Wikipedia has done to reality, I ask: what have we done to Wikipedia in the name of reality? Read more

Wikimania 2008: Wikipedia as Real Utopia with Edo Navot

5 minute read

Published:

Wikipedia as Real Utopia: Governance, knowledge production, and the institutional structure of Wikipedia – Edo Navot, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Sociology. Here follows my rough transcription of his speech, followed by my comments.  The fact that his is the only presentation I have so far commented on should be taken as a sign of respect, not of disparagement.  I rather enjoyed his presentation, pledge to read Wikipedia as Real Utopia: Governance, knowledge production, and the institutional structure of Wikipedia – Edo Navot, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Sociology. Here follows my rough transcription of his speech, followed by my comments.  The fact that his is the only presentation I have so far commented on should be taken as a sign of respect, not of disparagement.  I rather enjoyed his presentation, pledge to read in depth as soon as possible (I have skimmed it), and admire him for being one of the few academics out there studying social and political thought on Wikipedia. Read more

Conceptions and Misconceptions Academics Hold About Wikipedia

4 minute read

Published:

As an ethnographer, I enter into communities, learn their customs, beliefs, and practices, then report back to the academy to share what I have discovered. In this presentation, I wish to do the opposite, presenting to the Wikipedian community an ethnography of academics as they relate to Wikipedia. Read more

Real, Virtual Communities: A Response to Brian Williams

5 minute read

Published:

Brian Williams talked about how this year’s primary season has shown that even in the age of the Internet, we still have a longing for real communities. I take issue with his use of “virtual community” and claim that most political communities are virtual. Read more

Memetic Inkblots

7 minute read

Published:

I explore the memetic inkblot, which refers to units of cultural information that have effectively no singular semiotic value and therefore serve as a psychosocial indicator. In other words, they are so vague and open to interpretation that you can learn a lot about someone by asking someone to give a simple definition of them. Read more

Why aren’t the GPL and the GFDL freely licensed?

4 minute read

Published:

Works licensed under the GPL and the GFDL can be modified and then freely redistributed, as long as the modified versions are released under the same conditions. Why are we not allowed to modify these licenses and redistribute them? Read more

Senior Thesis: Democracy in Wikipedia

1 minute read

Published:

My thesis studied the legal culture of Wikipedia to examine the law through stories and histories, giving the reader a sense of not only what the Wikipedian legal system is, but also what fundamental assumptions the community makes in utilizing such a system. Read more

Notions of Identity Liberation in Virtual Gaming Communities

18 minute read

Published:

The vast worlds of MMORPGs seem close to postmodern theories of identity, as a player is able to radically constitute their on-line self at will. Despite this, these virtual gaming communities should not be seen as safe spaces in which a subject can realize their true (or ideal) self. Read more

Open Source Software: The Newest Specter?

15 minute read

Published:

Corporate adoption of open source software should not be viewed as antithetical to capitalism; rather, it is an example of corporations co-opting Communism to become more capitalist. Read more

computer science

Researching Wikipedia Holistically: A Tentative Approach

29 minute read

Published:

This is a tentative article-length introduction to my thesis on Wikipedia. It is an attempt to analyze Wikipedia from an interdisciplinary perspective that tries to make problematic various assumptions, concepts, and relations that function quite well in the “real world” but are not well-suited to studying Wikipedia. I begin by talking about the nature of academic disciplines, then proceed to a detailed but sparse review of certain prior research on Wikipedia. By examining the problems in previous research within the context of disciplines, I establish a tentative methodology for a holistic study of Wikipedia. Read more

computer supported cooperative work

The Work of Sustaining Order in Wikipedia: The Banning of a Vandal

1 minute read

Published:

With the help of my advisor, Dr. David Ribes, I recently got a chapter of my master’s thesis accepted to the ACM conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, to be held in February 2010 in Savannah, Georgia. It is titled “The Work of Sustaining Order in Wikipedia: The Banning of a Vandal” and focuses on the roles of automated ‘bots’ and assisted editing tools in Wikipedia’s ‘vandal fighting’ network. Read more

conference

Trace Ethnography: Following Coordination through Documentary Practices

1 minute read

Published:

This is a paper I co-authored with David Ribes and recently presented at HICSS, the Hawaii International Conference on Systems Sciences.  It’s a qualitative methodology based on analyzing logging data that we developed through my research on Wikipedia, but has some pretty broad applications for studying highly-distributed groups.  It’s an inversion of the previous paper we presented at CSCW, showing in detail how we traced how Wikipedian vandal fighters as they collectively work to identify and ban malicious contributors. Read more

The Work of Sustaining Order in Wikipedia: The Banning of a Vandal

1 minute read

Published:

With the help of my advisor, Dr. David Ribes, I recently got a chapter of my master’s thesis accepted to the ACM conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, to be held in February 2010 in Savannah, Georgia. It is titled “The Work of Sustaining Order in Wikipedia: The Banning of a Vandal” and focuses on the roles of automated ‘bots’ and assisted editing tools in Wikipedia’s ‘vandal fighting’ network. Read more

Conceptions and Misconceptions Academics Hold About Wikipedia

4 minute read

Published:

As an ethnographer, I enter into communities, learn their customs, beliefs, and practices, then report back to the academy to share what I have discovered. In this presentation, I wish to do the opposite, presenting to the Wikipedian community an ethnography of academics as they relate to Wikipedia. Read more

Open Source Software: The Newest Specter?

15 minute read

Published:

Corporate adoption of open source software should not be viewed as antithetical to capitalism; rather, it is an example of corporations co-opting Communism to become more capitalist. Read more

consensus

Wikimania 2008: Wikipedia as Real Utopia with Edo Navot

5 minute read

Published:

Wikipedia as Real Utopia: Governance, knowledge production, and the institutional structure of Wikipedia – Edo Navot, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Sociology. Here follows my rough transcription of his speech, followed by my comments.  The fact that his is the only presentation I have so far commented on should be taken as a sign of respect, not of disparagement.  I rather enjoyed his presentation, pledge to read Wikipedia as Real Utopia: Governance, knowledge production, and the institutional structure of Wikipedia – Edo Navot, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Sociology. Here follows my rough transcription of his speech, followed by my comments.  The fact that his is the only presentation I have so far commented on should be taken as a sign of respect, not of disparagement.  I rather enjoyed his presentation, pledge to read in depth as soon as possible (I have skimmed it), and admire him for being one of the few academics out there studying social and political thought on Wikipedia. Read more

Wikimania 2008: Wikipedia Administrators / Arbcom Panel

5 minute read

Published:

This panel was at Wikimania 2008, and featured James Forrester, Andrew Lih, Kat Walsh, and Charles Matthews. Everyone except for Lih is or has been on the Arbitration Committee, and this turned into a discussion about admins. Read more

construction

Memetic Inkblots

7 minute read

Published:

I explore the memetic inkblot, which refers to units of cultural information that have effectively no singular semiotic value and therefore serve as a psychosocial indicator. In other words, they are so vague and open to interpretation that you can learn a lot about someone by asking someone to give a simple definition of them. Read more

Response: Patchwork Girl by Shelly Jackson

5 minute read

Published:

This is a response to they hypertext fiction work Patchwork Girl by Shelley Jackson.  It is comprised in part of ‘patches’ of other works, most notably Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  I have made this essay entirely out of parts from the novel. Read more

Notions of Identity Liberation in Virtual Gaming Communities

18 minute read

Published:

The vast worlds of MMORPGs seem close to postmodern theories of identity, as a player is able to radically constitute their on-line self at will. Despite this, these virtual gaming communities should not be seen as safe spaces in which a subject can realize their true (or ideal) self. Read more

Open Source Software: The Newest Specter?

15 minute read

Published:

Corporate adoption of open source software should not be viewed as antithetical to capitalism; rather, it is an example of corporations co-opting Communism to become more capitalist. Read more

content regulation

A Communicative Ethnography of Argumentative Strategies in a Wikipedian Content Dispute

less than 1 minute read

Published:

This presentation was adapted from a chapter in my Senior thesis on Wikipedia’s legal system that focused on a dispute over the inclusion of images of the Islamic prophet Muhammad in an article about him, using a methodology of communicative ethnography. Most who opposed the image were not familiar with Wikipedia’s unique method of content regulation and dispute resolution, as well as its editorial standards and principles. However, most who argued in favor of keeping the image knew these and initially used them to their advantage. This ethnographic study of the communicative strategies used by the parties involved in the dispute shows how new editors to the user-written encyclopedia first emerged in a hostile communicative environment and subsequently adapted their argumentative strategies. This conflict is an excellent example of how disputes are resolved in Wikipedia, showing how this new media space regulates its own content. Read more

context

Memetic Inkblots

7 minute read

Published:

I explore the memetic inkblot, which refers to units of cultural information that have effectively no singular semiotic value and therefore serve as a psychosocial indicator. In other words, they are so vague and open to interpretation that you can learn a lot about someone by asking someone to give a simple definition of them. Read more

Notions of Identity Liberation in Virtual Gaming Communities

18 minute read

Published:

The vast worlds of MMORPGs seem close to postmodern theories of identity, as a player is able to radically constitute their on-line self at will. Despite this, these virtual gaming communities should not be seen as safe spaces in which a subject can realize their true (or ideal) self. Read more

context collapse

An apologia for instagram photos of pumpkin spice lattes and other serious things

13 minute read

Published:

I don’t normally pick on people whose work I really admire, but I recently saw a tweet from Mark Sample that struck a nerve: “Look, if you don’t instagram your first pumpkin spice latte of the season, humanity’s historical record will be dangerously impoverished.”  While it got quite a number of retweets and equally snarky responses, he is far from the first to make such a flippant critique of the vapid nature of social media.  It also seriously upset me for reasons that I’ve been trying to work out, which is why I found myself doing one of those shifts that researchers of knowledge production tend to do far too often with critics: don’t get mad, get reflexive.  What is it that makes such a sentiment resonate with us, particularly when it is issued over Twitter, a platform that is the target of this kind of critique?  The reasons have to do with a fundamental disagreement over what it means to interact in a mediated space: do we understand our posts, status updates, and shared photos as representations of how we exist in the world which collectively constitute a certain persistent performance of the self, or do we understand them a form of communication in which we subjectively and interactionally relate our experience of the world to others? Read more

conversation analysis

Review: Talking About Machines by Julian Orr

6 minute read

Published:

This is a review of Julian Orr’s Talking About Machines, an ethnography of Xerox photocopier technicians. Blurring the line between ethnomethodology, organizational communication, infrastructure studies, human-computer/machine interaction, business administration, and traditional ethnography of work, his study reveals more than just the daily practices of what may initially seem like a boring job. Read more

copyleft

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Attribution-ShareAlike

3 minute read

Published:

Content on my website and my Flickr account has been licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives license for a while.  I was pretty proud of myself.  But then I got to thinking: why don’t I choose Attribution-ShareAlike?  Obviously, it was product of two kneejerk reactions: I don’t want someone else to make money off my stuff, and I don’t want someone messing with my stuff. Read more

Why aren’t the GPL and the GFDL freely licensed?

4 minute read

Published:

Works licensed under the GPL and the GFDL can be modified and then freely redistributed, as long as the modified versions are released under the same conditions. Why are we not allowed to modify these licenses and redistribute them? Read more

Closed-source papers on open source communities: a problem and a partial solution

13 minute read

Published:

In the Wikipedia research community — that is, the group of academics and Wikipedians who are interested in studying Wikipedia — there has been a pretty substantial and longstanding problem with how research is published. Academics, from graduate students to tenured faculty, are deeply invested and entrenched in an system that rewards the publication of research. Publish or perish, as we’ve all heard.   The problem is that the overwhelming majority of publications which are recognized as ‘academic’ require us to assign copyright to the publication, so that the publisher can then charge for access to the article.  This is in direct contradiction with the goals of Wikipedia, as well as many other open source and open content creation communities — communities which are the subject of a substantial amount of academic research. Read more

Wikimania 2008: New Paradigms for New Tomorrows with Ismail Serageldin

5 minute read

Published:

Director of the Library of Alexandria, Dr. Ismail Serageldin gave a keynote speech on the first day of Wikimania 2008 titled, New Paradigms for New Tomorrows.  It was quite thoughtful and inspiring – the man is one of the most amazing individuals I have heard.  He is learned in so many different areas of academic and cultural knowledge, as well as incredibly wise.  I would recommend watching the video of his speech, but if you are pressed for time you can read my notes. Read more

Why aren’t the GPL and the GFDL freely licensed?

4 minute read

Published:

Works licensed under the GPL and the GFDL can be modified and then freely redistributed, as long as the modified versions are released under the same conditions. Why are we not allowed to modify these licenses and redistribute them? Read more

Open Source Software: The Newest Specter?

15 minute read

Published:

Corporate adoption of open source software should not be viewed as antithetical to capitalism; rather, it is an example of corporations co-opting Communism to become more capitalist. Read more

corporate adoption

Open Source Software: The Newest Specter?

15 minute read

Published:

Corporate adoption of open source software should not be viewed as antithetical to capitalism; rather, it is an example of corporations co-opting Communism to become more capitalist. Read more

creative commons

Closed-source papers on open source communities: a problem and a partial solution

13 minute read

Published:

In the Wikipedia research community — that is, the group of academics and Wikipedians who are interested in studying Wikipedia — there has been a pretty substantial and longstanding problem with how research is published. Academics, from graduate students to tenured faculty, are deeply invested and entrenched in an system that rewards the publication of research. Publish or perish, as we’ve all heard.   The problem is that the overwhelming majority of publications which are recognized as ‘academic’ require us to assign copyright to the publication, so that the publisher can then charge for access to the article.  This is in direct contradiction with the goals of Wikipedia, as well as many other open source and open content creation communities — communities which are the subject of a substantial amount of academic research. Read more

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Attribution-ShareAlike

3 minute read

Published:

Content on my website and my Flickr account has been licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives license for a while.  I was pretty proud of myself.  But then I got to thinking: why don’t I choose Attribution-ShareAlike?  Obviously, it was product of two kneejerk reactions: I don’t want someone else to make money off my stuff, and I don’t want someone messing with my stuff. Read more

Why aren’t the GPL and the GFDL freely licensed?

4 minute read

Published:

Works licensed under the GPL and the GFDL can be modified and then freely redistributed, as long as the modified versions are released under the same conditions. Why are we not allowed to modify these licenses and redistribute them? Read more

cricket

critical theory

The Lives of Bots

less than 1 minute read

Published:

I’m part of a Wikipedia research group called “Critical Point of View” centered around the Institute for Network Cultures in Amsterdam and the Centre for Internet and Society in Bangalore.  (Just a disclaimer, the term ‘critical’ is more like critical theory as opposed to Wikipedia bashing for its own sake.)  We’ve had some great conferences and are putting out an edited book on Wikipedia quite soon.  My chapter is on bots, and the abstract and link to the full PDF is below: Read more

Structural Transformation was Habermas’s first of thirty books

9 minute read

Published:

So given what’s going on* in Egypt and the Middle East, we in the West are fascinated by not so much revolutions and popular uprisings against dictatorial regimes, but an efficacious use of social media. Even Clinton is talking about the Internet as “the world’s town square”, and it seems that the old conversation about the Internet and the public sphere is going to flare up for the third time (1993-5 and 2001-3 are the other two times). Since Habermas is generally credited for bringing this notion of the public sphere to the forefront of popular, political, and academic discourse, it is natural to cite him.  Then critique him to death, talking about how we need to get beyond an old white guy’s theories.  And it feels good, I know. Read more

Does Habermas Understand the Internet? The Algorithmic Construction of the Blogo/Public Sphere

1 minute read

Published:

This is a paper that I recently got published in gnovis, which is a peer-reviewed journal run entirely by graduate students at Georgetown’s Communication, Culture, and Technology program.  It is a sneakishly Latourian intervention into the debate between Habermasians and post-Habermasians regarding the Internet as a (part of the) public sphere.   They have been arguing for some time about whether the Internet (and specifically blogging) leads to political fragmentation or real collective action.  However, they have all taken for granted the highly-automated software infrastructures that mediate our knowledge of the blogosphere.  The article is up in HTML on the gnovis site, but I’ve also made a full-text, metadata friendly PDF simply because Google Scholar likes those.   The abstract is after the jump. Read more

Do you support Wikipedia? News from the Trenches of the Science Wars 2.0

43 minute read

Published:

I show that asking whether Wikipedia is a reliable academic source enframes Wikipedia into an objectless standing-reserve of potential citations, foreclosing many other possibilities for its use. Instead of asking what Wikipedia has done to reality, I ask: what have we done to Wikipedia in the name of reality? Read more

css

Memetic Inkblots

7 minute read

Published:

I explore the memetic inkblot, which refers to units of cultural information that have effectively no singular semiotic value and therefore serve as a psychosocial indicator. In other words, they are so vague and open to interpretation that you can learn a lot about someone by asking someone to give a simple definition of them. Read more

Web Design: Blueprints on the CSS Zen Garden

less than 1 minute read

Published:

This was a CSS stylesheet I wrote for the CSS Zen Garden, which is a really cool concept in web design. There is a standard HTML page in which all the content is wrapped up in div tags, and the idea is to write a CSS stylesheet that makes it pretty. Mine was based on blueprints, and can be accessed here. It turns out that I didn’t make into the accepted designs, but I did get on the list of those that didn’t make the cut. I can see why – it needs some cleaning up around the lines which I might do if I have some time. But I’ll take being top of that list. Read more

cyberspace

Response: Neuromancer by William Gibson

5 minute read

Published:

William Gibson’s novel Neuromancer tells the story of a team of radically different technologically-savvy individuals who are recruited by a young artificial intelligence named Wintermute, who desires to bypass the limitations placed on it by its owners and the authorities. Read more

Notions of Identity Liberation in Virtual Gaming Communities

18 minute read

Published:

The vast worlds of MMORPGs seem close to postmodern theories of identity, as a player is able to radically constitute their on-line self at will. Despite this, these virtual gaming communities should not be seen as safe spaces in which a subject can realize their true (or ideal) self. Read more

cybertext

Response: Patchwork Girl by Shelly Jackson

5 minute read

Published:

This is a response to they hypertext fiction work Patchwork Girl by Shelley Jackson.  It is comprised in part of ‘patches’ of other works, most notably Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  I have made this essay entirely out of parts from the novel. Read more

cyborg

Response: Me++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City by William Mitchell

4 minute read

Published:

In his book Me++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City, William Mitchell describes how information technology – specifically digital, wireless networks which are accessed primarily through portable devices – fundamentally changes how we interact with others. More than anything else, “[c]onnectivity had become the defining characteristic of our twenty-first-century urban condition” (11). For Mitchell, we have given up the virtual reality fantasy that dominated predictions made in previous decades in lieu of subtler revolution: that of the networked self, the Me++. Read more

danah boyd

Capital ‘I’ for Internet?

4 minute read

Published:

Do you capitalize “Internet?” Some scholars from the emerging field of ‘Internet studies’ say no. I say yes. Read more

darwinism

decisionmaking

User-Generated Content as an Ethical Relation

4 minute read

Published:

I feel bad that I have not written a new entry in so long. I feel like I should apologize - not to the readers, but to the software, to the site itself. I ought to write a new post; I ought to update my status. How did I get into a situation whereby these collections of code could make ethical demands upon me? And is this bad? Read more

deconstruction

Words and Things: A De-Re-Sub-Post-Construction of Rhizomatic and Non-Arborescent Stratum in Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus

less than 1 minute read

Published:

This was my final project for an Information Studies class I took back in 2006, when I was an undergraduate at the University of Texas.  Our assignment was to transform information from one form to another, and I chose to perform this analysis of Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus.  I scanned and OCRed the entire book and did a visual frequency representation of certain words.  I analyzed by chapter and comprehensively with certain core themes in the work.  I also did a comprehensive analysis with more general or common words. It is intended to look the way it does, as I am going for a “1960s IBM goes to the academy” look. Take what you will from it: it is about 35% art, 25% snarky pastiche, 15% pretending to be linguistics, and -5% serious intellectual critique.  Here is a sample: Read more

Response: Patchwork Girl by Shelly Jackson

5 minute read

Published:

This is a response to they hypertext fiction work Patchwork Girl by Shelley Jackson.  It is comprised in part of ‘patches’ of other works, most notably Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  I have made this essay entirely out of parts from the novel. Read more

Notions of Identity Liberation in Virtual Gaming Communities

18 minute read

Published:

The vast worlds of MMORPGs seem close to postmodern theories of identity, as a player is able to radically constitute their on-line self at will. Despite this, these virtual gaming communities should not be seen as safe spaces in which a subject can realize their true (or ideal) self. Read more

delegation

The Lives of Bots

less than 1 minute read

Published:

I’m part of a Wikipedia research group called “Critical Point of View” centered around the Institute for Network Cultures in Amsterdam and the Centre for Internet and Society in Bangalore.  (Just a disclaimer, the term ‘critical’ is more like critical theory as opposed to Wikipedia bashing for its own sake.)  We’ve had some great conferences and are putting out an edited book on Wikipedia quite soon.  My chapter is on bots, and the abstract and link to the full PDF is below: Read more

deleuze and guattari

Words and Things: A De-Re-Sub-Post-Construction of Rhizomatic and Non-Arborescent Stratum in Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus

less than 1 minute read

Published:

This was my final project for an Information Studies class I took back in 2006, when I was an undergraduate at the University of Texas.  Our assignment was to transform information from one form to another, and I chose to perform this analysis of Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus.  I scanned and OCRed the entire book and did a visual frequency representation of certain words.  I analyzed by chapter and comprehensively with certain core themes in the work.  I also did a comprehensive analysis with more general or common words. It is intended to look the way it does, as I am going for a “1960s IBM goes to the academy” look. Take what you will from it: it is about 35% art, 25% snarky pastiche, 15% pretending to be linguistics, and -5% serious intellectual critique.  Here is a sample: Read more

democracy

Structural Transformation was Habermas’s first of thirty books

9 minute read

Published:

So given what’s going on* in Egypt and the Middle East, we in the West are fascinated by not so much revolutions and popular uprisings against dictatorial regimes, but an efficacious use of social media. Even Clinton is talking about the Internet as “the world’s town square”, and it seems that the old conversation about the Internet and the public sphere is going to flare up for the third time (1993-5 and 2001-3 are the other two times). Since Habermas is generally credited for bringing this notion of the public sphere to the forefront of popular, political, and academic discourse, it is natural to cite him.  Then critique him to death, talking about how we need to get beyond an old white guy’s theories.  And it feels good, I know. Read more

Wikimania 2008: New Paradigms for New Tomorrows with Ismail Serageldin

5 minute read

Published:

Director of the Library of Alexandria, Dr. Ismail Serageldin gave a keynote speech on the first day of Wikimania 2008 titled, New Paradigms for New Tomorrows.  It was quite thoughtful and inspiring – the man is one of the most amazing individuals I have heard.  He is learned in so many different areas of academic and cultural knowledge, as well as incredibly wise.  I would recommend watching the video of his speech, but if you are pressed for time you can read my notes. Read more

Wikimania 2008: Wikipedia as Real Utopia with Edo Navot

5 minute read

Published:

Wikipedia as Real Utopia: Governance, knowledge production, and the institutional structure of Wikipedia – Edo Navot, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Sociology. Here follows my rough transcription of his speech, followed by my comments.  The fact that his is the only presentation I have so far commented on should be taken as a sign of respect, not of disparagement.  I rather enjoyed his presentation, pledge to read Wikipedia as Real Utopia: Governance, knowledge production, and the institutional structure of Wikipedia – Edo Navot, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Sociology. Here follows my rough transcription of his speech, followed by my comments.  The fact that his is the only presentation I have so far commented on should be taken as a sign of respect, not of disparagement.  I rather enjoyed his presentation, pledge to read in depth as soon as possible (I have skimmed it), and admire him for being one of the few academics out there studying social and political thought on Wikipedia. Read more

Senior Thesis: Democracy in Wikipedia

1 minute read

Published:

My thesis studied the legal culture of Wikipedia to examine the law through stories and histories, giving the reader a sense of not only what the Wikipedian legal system is, but also what fundamental assumptions the community makes in utilizing such a system. Read more

derrida

Response: Patchwork Girl by Shelly Jackson

5 minute read

Published:

This is a response to they hypertext fiction work Patchwork Girl by Shelley Jackson.  It is comprised in part of ‘patches’ of other works, most notably Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  I have made this essay entirely out of parts from the novel. Read more

design

Helvetica: A Documentary, A History, An Anthropology

13 minute read

Published:

I recently saw Helvetica, a documentary directed by Gary Hustwit about the typeface of the same name — it is available streaming and on DVD from Netflix, for those of you who have a subscription.  As someone who studies ubiquitous socio-technological infrastructures (and Helvetica is certainly one), I know how hard it is to seriously pay attention to something  that which we see every day.  It may seem counter-intuitive, but as Susan Leigh Star reminds us, the more widespread an infrastructure is, the more we use it and depend on it, the more invisible it becomes — that is, until it breaks or generates controversy, in which case it is far too easy.  But to actually say something about what well-oiled, hidden-in-plain-sight infrastructures are, how they came to have such a place in our society, and why they won out over their competitors is a notoriously difficult task.  But I came to realize that the film is less of a history of fonts, and more of an anthropology of design. Read more

digital governance

digital humanities

Wikimania 2008

less than 1 minute read

Published:

I am currently in Egypt for Wikimania 2008, which is being held this year at the Library of Alexandria. On Sunday, I will be presenting my ethnographic analysis of conceptions and misconceptions academics hold about Wikipedia. This presentation was going to be about old, computer-illiterate professors but has turned into something much more interesting: a commentary on Wikipedia’s status in the so-called postmodern digital humanities. I will update the post on this site as I finalize my presentation. Read more

discipline

Researching Wikipedia Holistically: A Tentative Approach

29 minute read

Published:

This is a tentative article-length introduction to my thesis on Wikipedia. It is an attempt to analyze Wikipedia from an interdisciplinary perspective that tries to make problematic various assumptions, concepts, and relations that function quite well in the “real world” but are not well-suited to studying Wikipedia. I begin by talking about the nature of academic disciplines, then proceed to a detailed but sparse review of certain prior research on Wikipedia. By examining the problems in previous research within the context of disciplines, I establish a tentative methodology for a holistic study of Wikipedia. Read more

Technology in the Classroom: A Response to Arthur Bochner

5 minute read

Published:

An outright ban on technology in the classroom - which may or may not include the pen and paper - is not the right answer. If one wishes to curb disruptive behavior, then ban disruptive behavior instead of banning all the little things that could be disruptive. Read more

discourse

A dynamically-generated robots.txt: will search engine bots recognize themselves?

7 minute read

Published:

I built a script that dynamically generates a robots.txt file for search engine bots, who download the file when they seek direction on what parts of a website they are allowed to index. By default, it directs all bots to stay away from the entire site, but then presents an exception: only the bot that requests the robots.txt file is allowed full reign over the site. Read more

Bots, bespoke code, and the materiality of software platforms

1 minute read

Published:

This is a new article published in Information, Communication, and Society as part of their annual special issue for the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) conference. This year’s special issue was edited by Lee Humphreys and Tarleton Gillespie, who did a great job throughout the whole process. Read more

An apologia for instagram photos of pumpkin spice lattes and other serious things

13 minute read

Published:

I don’t normally pick on people whose work I really admire, but I recently saw a tweet from Mark Sample that struck a nerve: “Look, if you don’t instagram your first pumpkin spice latte of the season, humanity’s historical record will be dangerously impoverished.”  While it got quite a number of retweets and equally snarky responses, he is far from the first to make such a flippant critique of the vapid nature of social media.  It also seriously upset me for reasons that I’ve been trying to work out, which is why I found myself doing one of those shifts that researchers of knowledge production tend to do far too often with critics: don’t get mad, get reflexive.  What is it that makes such a sentiment resonate with us, particularly when it is issued over Twitter, a platform that is the target of this kind of critique?  The reasons have to do with a fundamental disagreement over what it means to interact in a mediated space: do we understand our posts, status updates, and shared photos as representations of how we exist in the world which collectively constitute a certain persistent performance of the self, or do we understand them a form of communication in which we subjectively and interactionally relate our experience of the world to others? Read more

Does Habermas Understand the Internet? The Algorithmic Construction of the Blogo/Public Sphere

1 minute read

Published:

This is a paper that I recently got published in gnovis, which is a peer-reviewed journal run entirely by graduate students at Georgetown’s Communication, Culture, and Technology program.  It is a sneakishly Latourian intervention into the debate between Habermasians and post-Habermasians regarding the Internet as a (part of the) public sphere.   They have been arguing for some time about whether the Internet (and specifically blogging) leads to political fragmentation or real collective action.  However, they have all taken for granted the highly-automated software infrastructures that mediate our knowledge of the blogosphere.  The article is up in HTML on the gnovis site, but I’ve also made a full-text, metadata friendly PDF simply because Google Scholar likes those.   The abstract is after the jump. Read more

Review: Talking About Machines by Julian Orr

6 minute read

Published:

This is a review of Julian Orr’s Talking About Machines, an ethnography of Xerox photocopier technicians. Blurring the line between ethnomethodology, organizational communication, infrastructure studies, human-computer/machine interaction, business administration, and traditional ethnography of work, his study reveals more than just the daily practices of what may initially seem like a boring job. Read more

Researching Wikipedia Holistically: A Tentative Approach

29 minute read

Published:

This is a tentative article-length introduction to my thesis on Wikipedia. It is an attempt to analyze Wikipedia from an interdisciplinary perspective that tries to make problematic various assumptions, concepts, and relations that function quite well in the “real world” but are not well-suited to studying Wikipedia. I begin by talking about the nature of academic disciplines, then proceed to a detailed but sparse review of certain prior research on Wikipedia. By examining the problems in previous research within the context of disciplines, I establish a tentative methodology for a holistic study of Wikipedia. Read more

Response: Patchwork Girl by Shelly Jackson

5 minute read

Published:

This is a response to they hypertext fiction work Patchwork Girl by Shelley Jackson.  It is comprised in part of ‘patches’ of other works, most notably Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  I have made this essay entirely out of parts from the novel. Read more

Notions of Identity Liberation in Virtual Gaming Communities

18 minute read

Published:

The vast worlds of MMORPGs seem close to postmodern theories of identity, as a player is able to radically constitute their on-line self at will. Despite this, these virtual gaming communities should not be seen as safe spaces in which a subject can realize their true (or ideal) self. Read more

Open Source Software: The Newest Specter?

15 minute read

Published:

Corporate adoption of open source software should not be viewed as antithetical to capitalism; rather, it is an example of corporations co-opting Communism to become more capitalist. Read more

dispute resolution

A Communicative Ethnography of Argumentative Strategies in a Wikipedian Content Dispute

less than 1 minute read

Published:

This presentation was adapted from a chapter in my Senior thesis on Wikipedia’s legal system that focused on a dispute over the inclusion of images of the Islamic prophet Muhammad in an article about him, using a methodology of communicative ethnography. Most who opposed the image were not familiar with Wikipedia’s unique method of content regulation and dispute resolution, as well as its editorial standards and principles. However, most who argued in favor of keeping the image knew these and initially used them to their advantage. This ethnographic study of the communicative strategies used by the parties involved in the dispute shows how new editors to the user-written encyclopedia first emerged in a hostile communicative environment and subsequently adapted their argumentative strategies. This conflict is an excellent example of how disputes are resolved in Wikipedia, showing how this new media space regulates its own content. Read more

disruptive behavior

Technology in the Classroom: A Response to Arthur Bochner

5 minute read

Published:

An outright ban on technology in the classroom - which may or may not include the pen and paper - is not the right answer. If one wishes to curb disruptive behavior, then ban disruptive behavior instead of banning all the little things that could be disruptive. Read more

distributed cognition

The Work of Sustaining Order in Wikipedia: The Banning of a Vandal

1 minute read

Published:

With the help of my advisor, Dr. David Ribes, I recently got a chapter of my master’s thesis accepted to the ACM conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, to be held in February 2010 in Savannah, Georgia. It is titled “The Work of Sustaining Order in Wikipedia: The Banning of a Vandal” and focuses on the roles of automated ‘bots’ and assisted editing tools in Wikipedia’s ‘vandal fighting’ network. Read more

domination

Notions of Identity Liberation in Virtual Gaming Communities

18 minute read

Published:

The vast worlds of MMORPGs seem close to postmodern theories of identity, as a player is able to radically constitute their on-line self at will. Despite this, these virtual gaming communities should not be seen as safe spaces in which a subject can realize their true (or ideal) self. Read more

dual power

Wikimania 2008: Wikipedia as Real Utopia with Edo Navot

5 minute read

Published:

Wikipedia as Real Utopia: Governance, knowledge production, and the institutional structure of Wikipedia – Edo Navot, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Sociology. Here follows my rough transcription of his speech, followed by my comments.  The fact that his is the only presentation I have so far commented on should be taken as a sign of respect, not of disparagement.  I rather enjoyed his presentation, pledge to read Wikipedia as Real Utopia: Governance, knowledge production, and the institutional structure of Wikipedia – Edo Navot, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Sociology. Here follows my rough transcription of his speech, followed by my comments.  The fact that his is the only presentation I have so far commented on should be taken as a sign of respect, not of disparagement.  I rather enjoyed his presentation, pledge to read in depth as soon as possible (I have skimmed it), and admire him for being one of the few academics out there studying social and political thought on Wikipedia. Read more

e government

Wikimania 2008: Opening Keynote with Egyptian Minister Ahmed Darwish

3 minute read

Published:

The official theme or slogan for this year’s Wikimania is “the knowledge revolution that is changing wisdom.” I think this phrase – especially the difference between knowledge and wisdom – was chosen very carefully and I think it is an excellent distinction to make. This morning’s opening ceremony began with a speech from the Egyptian Minister of State for Administrative Development, Dr. Ahmed Darwish. I will relay his comments here, without much analysis – that will come later, when I have the time. Read more

education

Closed-source papers on open source communities: a problem and a partial solution

13 minute read

Published:

In the Wikipedia research community — that is, the group of academics and Wikipedians who are interested in studying Wikipedia — there has been a pretty substantial and longstanding problem with how research is published. Academics, from graduate students to tenured faculty, are deeply invested and entrenched in an system that rewards the publication of research. Publish or perish, as we’ve all heard.   The problem is that the overwhelming majority of publications which are recognized as ‘academic’ require us to assign copyright to the publication, so that the publisher can then charge for access to the article.  This is in direct contradiction with the goals of Wikipedia, as well as many other open source and open content creation communities — communities which are the subject of a substantial amount of academic research. Read more

Do you support Wikipedia? News from the Trenches of the Science Wars 2.0

43 minute read

Published:

I show that asking whether Wikipedia is a reliable academic source enframes Wikipedia into an objectless standing-reserve of potential citations, foreclosing many other possibilities for its use. Instead of asking what Wikipedia has done to reality, I ask: what have we done to Wikipedia in the name of reality? Read more

Response: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn

7 minute read

Published:

A response to Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, in which his work is applied to a personal vignette of experimentation practices in a High School Physics class. When in the course of scientific education should students be allowed to modify scientific theories to fit experimental data instead of modifying experiments to fit the theories? Read more

Technology in the Classroom: A Response to Arthur Bochner

5 minute read

Published:

An outright ban on technology in the classroom - which may or may not include the pen and paper - is not the right answer. If one wishes to curb disruptive behavior, then ban disruptive behavior instead of banning all the little things that could be disruptive. Read more

Wikimania 2008: Collaborative research on Wikiversity with Cormac Lawler

1 minute read

Published:

Collaborative research on Wikiversity by Cormac Lawler (user Cormaggio on Wikimedia projects) at the University of Manchester.  Wikiversity is a relatively young project in the Wikimedia umbrella, but I think it is a natural development and a great space to realize the potential of all the educators currently on Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Wikibooks, and all the other projects. Read more

education management

egalitarianism

Wikimania 2008: Wikipedia as Real Utopia with Edo Navot

5 minute read

Published:

Wikipedia as Real Utopia: Governance, knowledge production, and the institutional structure of Wikipedia – Edo Navot, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Sociology. Here follows my rough transcription of his speech, followed by my comments.  The fact that his is the only presentation I have so far commented on should be taken as a sign of respect, not of disparagement.  I rather enjoyed his presentation, pledge to read Wikipedia as Real Utopia: Governance, knowledge production, and the institutional structure of Wikipedia – Edo Navot, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Sociology. Here follows my rough transcription of his speech, followed by my comments.  The fact that his is the only presentation I have so far commented on should be taken as a sign of respect, not of disparagement.  I rather enjoyed his presentation, pledge to read in depth as soon as possible (I have skimmed it), and admire him for being one of the few academics out there studying social and political thought on Wikipedia. Read more

egypt

Wikimania 2008: New Paradigms for New Tomorrows with Ismail Serageldin

5 minute read

Published:

Director of the Library of Alexandria, Dr. Ismail Serageldin gave a keynote speech on the first day of Wikimania 2008 titled, New Paradigms for New Tomorrows.  It was quite thoughtful and inspiring – the man is one of the most amazing individuals I have heard.  He is learned in so many different areas of academic and cultural knowledge, as well as incredibly wise.  I would recommend watching the video of his speech, but if you are pressed for time you can read my notes. Read more

Wikimania 2008: Content and the Internet in the (Globalized) Middle East

7 minute read

Published:

Content and the Internet in the (Globalized) Middle East, Dr. Ahmed Tantawi, Technical Director, IBM Middle East and North Africa.  Another copy of my notes from Wikimania 2008 – this was the keynote speech on the second day of the conference.  He began by warning us that, “I’ve changed this presentation, and I’ll change it during.  That is open content, yes?”  Everyone laughed. Read more

Wikimania 2008: Opening Keynote with Egyptian Minister Ahmed Darwish

3 minute read

Published:

The official theme or slogan for this year’s Wikimania is “the knowledge revolution that is changing wisdom.” I think this phrase – especially the difference between knowledge and wisdom – was chosen very carefully and I think it is an excellent distinction to make. This morning’s opening ceremony began with a speech from the Egyptian Minister of State for Administrative Development, Dr. Ahmed Darwish. I will relay his comments here, without much analysis – that will come later, when I have the time. Read more

electronic space

Response: Patchwork Girl by Shelly Jackson

5 minute read

Published:

This is a response to they hypertext fiction work Patchwork Girl by Shelley Jackson.  It is comprised in part of ‘patches’ of other works, most notably Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  I have made this essay entirely out of parts from the novel. Read more

empirical data

Response: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn

7 minute read

Published:

A response to Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, in which his work is applied to a personal vignette of experimentation practices in a High School Physics class. When in the course of scientific education should students be allowed to modify scientific theories to fit experimental data instead of modifying experiments to fit the theories? Read more

encyclopedia dramatica

epistemology

Researching Wikipedia Holistically: A Tentative Approach

29 minute read

Published:

This is a tentative article-length introduction to my thesis on Wikipedia. It is an attempt to analyze Wikipedia from an interdisciplinary perspective that tries to make problematic various assumptions, concepts, and relations that function quite well in the “real world” but are not well-suited to studying Wikipedia. I begin by talking about the nature of academic disciplines, then proceed to a detailed but sparse review of certain prior research on Wikipedia. By examining the problems in previous research within the context of disciplines, I establish a tentative methodology for a holistic study of Wikipedia. Read more

ethical demands

User-Generated Content as an Ethical Relation

4 minute read

Published:

I feel bad that I have not written a new entry in so long. I feel like I should apologize - not to the readers, but to the software, to the site itself. I ought to write a new post; I ought to update my status. How did I get into a situation whereby these collections of code could make ethical demands upon me? And is this bad? Read more

ethical framework

User-Generated Content as an Ethical Relation

4 minute read

Published:

I feel bad that I have not written a new entry in so long. I feel like I should apologize - not to the readers, but to the software, to the site itself. I ought to write a new post; I ought to update my status. How did I get into a situation whereby these collections of code could make ethical demands upon me? And is this bad? Read more

ethnography

About a bot: reflections on building software agents

less than 1 minute read

Published:

This post for Ethnography Matters is a very personal, reflective musing about the first bot I ever developed for Wikipedia. It makes the argument that while it is certainly important to think about software code and algorithms behind bots and other AI agents, they are not immaterial. In fact, the physical locations and social contexts in which they are run are often critical to understanding how they both ‘live’ and ‘die’. Read more

The ethnography of robots: interview at Ethnography Matters

11 minute read

Published:

This was an interview I did with the wonderful Heather Fordoriginally posted at Ethnography Matters (a really cool group blog) way back in January. No idea why I didn’t post a copy of this here back then, but now that I’m moving towards my dissertation I’m thinking about this kind of stuff more and more.  In short, I argue for a non-anthropocentric yet still phenomenological ethnography of technology, studying not the culture of the people who build and program robots, but the culture of those the robots themselves. Read more

Helvetica: A Documentary, A History, An Anthropology

13 minute read

Published:

I recently saw Helvetica, a documentary directed by Gary Hustwit about the typeface of the same name — it is available streaming and on DVD from Netflix, for those of you who have a subscription.  As someone who studies ubiquitous socio-technological infrastructures (and Helvetica is certainly one), I know how hard it is to seriously pay attention to something  that which we see every day.  It may seem counter-intuitive, but as Susan Leigh Star reminds us, the more widespread an infrastructure is, the more we use it and depend on it, the more invisible it becomes — that is, until it breaks or generates controversy, in which case it is far too easy.  But to actually say something about what well-oiled, hidden-in-plain-sight infrastructures are, how they came to have such a place in our society, and why they won out over their competitors is a notoriously difficult task.  But I came to realize that the film is less of a history of fonts, and more of an anthropology of design. Read more

Trace Ethnography: Following Coordination through Documentary Practices

1 minute read

Published:

This is a paper I co-authored with David Ribes and recently presented at HICSS, the Hawaii International Conference on Systems Sciences.  It’s a qualitative methodology based on analyzing logging data that we developed through my research on Wikipedia, but has some pretty broad applications for studying highly-distributed groups.  It’s an inversion of the previous paper we presented at CSCW, showing in detail how we traced how Wikipedian vandal fighters as they collectively work to identify and ban malicious contributors. Read more

Capital ‘I’ for Internet?

4 minute read

Published:

Do you capitalize “Internet?” Some scholars from the emerging field of ‘Internet studies’ say no. I say yes. Read more

The Work of Sustaining Order in Wikipedia: The Banning of a Vandal

1 minute read

Published:

With the help of my advisor, Dr. David Ribes, I recently got a chapter of my master’s thesis accepted to the ACM conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, to be held in February 2010 in Savannah, Georgia. It is titled “The Work of Sustaining Order in Wikipedia: The Banning of a Vandal” and focuses on the roles of automated ‘bots’ and assisted editing tools in Wikipedia’s ‘vandal fighting’ network. Read more

Review: Talking About Machines by Julian Orr

6 minute read

Published:

This is a review of Julian Orr’s Talking About Machines, an ethnography of Xerox photocopier technicians. Blurring the line between ethnomethodology, organizational communication, infrastructure studies, human-computer/machine interaction, business administration, and traditional ethnography of work, his study reveals more than just the daily practices of what may initially seem like a boring job. Read more

Conceptions and Misconceptions Academics Hold About Wikipedia

4 minute read

Published:

As an ethnographer, I enter into communities, learn their customs, beliefs, and practices, then report back to the academy to share what I have discovered. In this presentation, I wish to do the opposite, presenting to the Wikipedian community an ethnography of academics as they relate to Wikipedia. Read more

A Communicative Ethnography of Argumentative Strategies in a Wikipedian Content Dispute

less than 1 minute read

Published:

This presentation was adapted from a chapter in my Senior thesis on Wikipedia’s legal system that focused on a dispute over the inclusion of images of the Islamic prophet Muhammad in an article about him, using a methodology of communicative ethnography. Most who opposed the image were not familiar with Wikipedia’s unique method of content regulation and dispute resolution, as well as its editorial standards and principles. However, most who argued in favor of keeping the image knew these and initially used them to their advantage. This ethnographic study of the communicative strategies used by the parties involved in the dispute shows how new editors to the user-written encyclopedia first emerged in a hostile communicative environment and subsequently adapted their argumentative strategies. This conflict is an excellent example of how disputes are resolved in Wikipedia, showing how this new media space regulates its own content. Read more

ethnography of work

Review: Talking About Machines by Julian Orr

6 minute read

Published:

This is a review of Julian Orr’s Talking About Machines, an ethnography of Xerox photocopier technicians. Blurring the line between ethnomethodology, organizational communication, infrastructure studies, human-computer/machine interaction, business administration, and traditional ethnography of work, his study reveals more than just the daily practices of what may initially seem like a boring job. Read more

ethnomethodology

Review: Talking About Machines by Julian Orr

6 minute read

Published:

This is a review of Julian Orr’s Talking About Machines, an ethnography of Xerox photocopier technicians. Blurring the line between ethnomethodology, organizational communication, infrastructure studies, human-computer/machine interaction, business administration, and traditional ethnography of work, his study reveals more than just the daily practices of what may initially seem like a boring job. Read more

evolution of education

experimentation

Response: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn

7 minute read

Published:

A response to Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, in which his work is applied to a personal vignette of experimentation practices in a High School Physics class. When in the course of scientific education should students be allowed to modify scientific theories to fit experimental data instead of modifying experiments to fit the theories? Read more

facebook

An apologia for instagram photos of pumpkin spice lattes and other serious things

13 minute read

Published:

I don’t normally pick on people whose work I really admire, but I recently saw a tweet from Mark Sample that struck a nerve: “Look, if you don’t instagram your first pumpkin spice latte of the season, humanity’s historical record will be dangerously impoverished.”  While it got quite a number of retweets and equally snarky responses, he is far from the first to make such a flippant critique of the vapid nature of social media.  It also seriously upset me for reasons that I’ve been trying to work out, which is why I found myself doing one of those shifts that researchers of knowledge production tend to do far too often with critics: don’t get mad, get reflexive.  What is it that makes such a sentiment resonate with us, particularly when it is issued over Twitter, a platform that is the target of this kind of critique?  The reasons have to do with a fundamental disagreement over what it means to interact in a mediated space: do we understand our posts, status updates, and shared photos as representations of how we exist in the world which collectively constitute a certain persistent performance of the self, or do we understand them a form of communication in which we subjectively and interactionally relate our experience of the world to others? Read more

falsificationism

Response: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn

7 minute read

Published:

A response to Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, in which his work is applied to a personal vignette of experimentation practices in a High School Physics class. When in the course of scientific education should students be allowed to modify scientific theories to fit experimental data instead of modifying experiments to fit the theories? Read more

film

Helvetica: A Documentary, A History, An Anthropology

13 minute read

Published:

I recently saw Helvetica, a documentary directed by Gary Hustwit about the typeface of the same name — it is available streaming and on DVD from Netflix, for those of you who have a subscription.  As someone who studies ubiquitous socio-technological infrastructures (and Helvetica is certainly one), I know how hard it is to seriously pay attention to something  that which we see every day.  It may seem counter-intuitive, but as Susan Leigh Star reminds us, the more widespread an infrastructure is, the more we use it and depend on it, the more invisible it becomes — that is, until it breaks or generates controversy, in which case it is far too easy.  But to actually say something about what well-oiled, hidden-in-plain-sight infrastructures are, how they came to have such a place in our society, and why they won out over their competitors is a notoriously difficult task.  But I came to realize that the film is less of a history of fonts, and more of an anthropology of design. Read more

flagged revisions

Wikimania 2008: Flagged Revisions with Philipp Birken

5 minute read

Published:

From “Flagged Revisions,” a presentation at Wikimania 2008 by Philip Birken. In my opinion, flagged revisions realize the concept of stable versions without making the article actually stable.  It is not a system of voting to approve new revisions – a new revision is approved when only one autoconfirmed user says it is vandalism-free.  Yes, it won’t solve everything, but it will make things much better.  We can get rid of protecting articles that are experiencing heavy vandalism if we do this, because an edit only updates to the public when it is flagged as not-vandalism by a trusted user. However, vandals (or any other user) immediately sees the results of their edit for an hour, which is just ingenious.  Also, you can choose whether the most recent revision is shown by default, or make it so that certain users (like anonymous users) only see the most recent reviewed revision.  For those who feel that it threatens “the wiki way,” I suggest making the most recent version appear by default and giving people the option to see the latest reviewed version. Read more

foucault

Wikimania 2008: Wikipedia as Real Utopia with Edo Navot

5 minute read

Published:

Wikipedia as Real Utopia: Governance, knowledge production, and the institutional structure of Wikipedia – Edo Navot, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Sociology. Here follows my rough transcription of his speech, followed by my comments.  The fact that his is the only presentation I have so far commented on should be taken as a sign of respect, not of disparagement.  I rather enjoyed his presentation, pledge to read Wikipedia as Real Utopia: Governance, knowledge production, and the institutional structure of Wikipedia – Edo Navot, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Sociology. Here follows my rough transcription of his speech, followed by my comments.  The fact that his is the only presentation I have so far commented on should be taken as a sign of respect, not of disparagement.  I rather enjoyed his presentation, pledge to read in depth as soon as possible (I have skimmed it), and admire him for being one of the few academics out there studying social and political thought on Wikipedia. Read more

Notions of Identity Liberation in Virtual Gaming Communities

18 minute read

Published:

The vast worlds of MMORPGs seem close to postmodern theories of identity, as a player is able to radically constitute their on-line self at will. Despite this, these virtual gaming communities should not be seen as safe spaces in which a subject can realize their true (or ideal) self. Read more

free culture

Memetic Inkblots

7 minute read

Published:

I explore the memetic inkblot, which refers to units of cultural information that have effectively no singular semiotic value and therefore serve as a psychosocial indicator. In other words, they are so vague and open to interpretation that you can learn a lot about someone by asking someone to give a simple definition of them. Read more

Why aren’t the GPL and the GFDL freely licensed?

4 minute read

Published:

Works licensed under the GPL and the GFDL can be modified and then freely redistributed, as long as the modified versions are released under the same conditions. Why are we not allowed to modify these licenses and redistribute them? Read more

free software

Why aren’t the GPL and the GFDL freely licensed?

4 minute read

Published:

Works licensed under the GPL and the GFDL can be modified and then freely redistributed, as long as the modified versions are released under the same conditions. Why are we not allowed to modify these licenses and redistribute them? Read more

Open Source Software: The Newest Specter?

15 minute read

Published:

Corporate adoption of open source software should not be viewed as antithetical to capitalism; rather, it is an example of corporations co-opting Communism to become more capitalist. Read more

free software foundation

Why aren’t the GPL and the GFDL freely licensed?

4 minute read

Published:

Works licensed under the GPL and the GFDL can be modified and then freely redistributed, as long as the modified versions are released under the same conditions. Why are we not allowed to modify these licenses and redistribute them? Read more

free software movement

Why aren’t the GPL and the GFDL freely licensed?

4 minute read

Published:

Works licensed under the GPL and the GFDL can be modified and then freely redistributed, as long as the modified versions are released under the same conditions. Why are we not allowed to modify these licenses and redistribute them? Read more

games

Notions of Identity Liberation in Virtual Gaming Communities

18 minute read

Published:

The vast worlds of MMORPGs seem close to postmodern theories of identity, as a player is able to radically constitute their on-line self at will. Despite this, these virtual gaming communities should not be seen as safe spaces in which a subject can realize their true (or ideal) self. Read more

gaming

Notions of Identity Liberation in Virtual Gaming Communities

18 minute read

Published:

The vast worlds of MMORPGs seem close to postmodern theories of identity, as a player is able to radically constitute their on-line self at will. Despite this, these virtual gaming communities should not be seen as safe spaces in which a subject can realize their true (or ideal) self. Read more

gaming communities

Notions of Identity Liberation in Virtual Gaming Communities

18 minute read

Published:

The vast worlds of MMORPGs seem close to postmodern theories of identity, as a player is able to radically constitute their on-line self at will. Despite this, these virtual gaming communities should not be seen as safe spaces in which a subject can realize their true (or ideal) self. Read more

gender

Structural Transformation was Habermas’s first of thirty books

9 minute read

Published:

So given what’s going on* in Egypt and the Middle East, we in the West are fascinated by not so much revolutions and popular uprisings against dictatorial regimes, but an efficacious use of social media. Even Clinton is talking about the Internet as “the world’s town square”, and it seems that the old conversation about the Internet and the public sphere is going to flare up for the third time (1993-5 and 2001-3 are the other two times). Since Habermas is generally credited for bringing this notion of the public sphere to the forefront of popular, political, and academic discourse, it is natural to cite him.  Then critique him to death, talking about how we need to get beyond an old white guy’s theories.  And it feels good, I know. Read more

Notions of Identity Liberation in Virtual Gaming Communities

18 minute read

Published:

The vast worlds of MMORPGs seem close to postmodern theories of identity, as a player is able to radically constitute their on-line self at will. Despite this, these virtual gaming communities should not be seen as safe spaces in which a subject can realize their true (or ideal) self. Read more

gfdl

Why aren’t the GPL and the GFDL freely licensed?

4 minute read

Published:

Works licensed under the GPL and the GFDL can be modified and then freely redistributed, as long as the modified versions are released under the same conditions. Why are we not allowed to modify these licenses and redistribute them? Read more

globalization

Wikimania 2008: Content and the Internet in the (Globalized) Middle East

7 minute read

Published:

Content and the Internet in the (Globalized) Middle East, Dr. Ahmed Tantawi, Technical Director, IBM Middle East and North Africa.  Another copy of my notes from Wikimania 2008 – this was the keynote speech on the second day of the conference.  He began by warning us that, “I’ve changed this presentation, and I’ll change it during.  That is open content, yes?”  Everyone laughed. Read more

Wikimania 2008: Opening Keynote with Egyptian Minister Ahmed Darwish

3 minute read

Published:

The official theme or slogan for this year’s Wikimania is “the knowledge revolution that is changing wisdom.” I think this phrase – especially the difference between knowledge and wisdom – was chosen very carefully and I think it is an excellent distinction to make. This morning’s opening ceremony began with a speech from the Egyptian Minister of State for Administrative Development, Dr. Ahmed Darwish. I will relay his comments here, without much analysis – that will come later, when I have the time. Read more

Notions of Identity Liberation in Virtual Gaming Communities

18 minute read

Published:

The vast worlds of MMORPGs seem close to postmodern theories of identity, as a player is able to radically constitute their on-line self at will. Despite this, these virtual gaming communities should not be seen as safe spaces in which a subject can realize their true (or ideal) self. Read more

Open Source Software: The Newest Specter?

15 minute read

Published:

Corporate adoption of open source software should not be viewed as antithetical to capitalism; rather, it is an example of corporations co-opting Communism to become more capitalist. Read more

gnovis

Does Habermas Understand the Internet? The Algorithmic Construction of the Blogo/Public Sphere

1 minute read

Published:

This is a paper that I recently got published in gnovis, which is a peer-reviewed journal run entirely by graduate students at Georgetown’s Communication, Culture, and Technology program.  It is a sneakishly Latourian intervention into the debate between Habermasians and post-Habermasians regarding the Internet as a (part of the) public sphere.   They have been arguing for some time about whether the Internet (and specifically blogging) leads to political fragmentation or real collective action.  However, they have all taken for granted the highly-automated software infrastructures that mediate our knowledge of the blogosphere.  The article is up in HTML on the gnovis site, but I’ve also made a full-text, metadata friendly PDF simply because Google Scholar likes those.   The abstract is after the jump. Read more

gnu

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Attribution-ShareAlike

3 minute read

Published:

Content on my website and my Flickr account has been licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives license for a while.  I was pretty proud of myself.  But then I got to thinking: why don’t I choose Attribution-ShareAlike?  Obviously, it was product of two kneejerk reactions: I don’t want someone else to make money off my stuff, and I don’t want someone messing with my stuff. Read more

google

Does Habermas Understand the Internet? The Algorithmic Construction of the Blogo/Public Sphere

1 minute read

Published:

This is a paper that I recently got published in gnovis, which is a peer-reviewed journal run entirely by graduate students at Georgetown’s Communication, Culture, and Technology program.  It is a sneakishly Latourian intervention into the debate between Habermasians and post-Habermasians regarding the Internet as a (part of the) public sphere.   They have been arguing for some time about whether the Internet (and specifically blogging) leads to political fragmentation or real collective action.  However, they have all taken for granted the highly-automated software infrastructures that mediate our knowledge of the blogosphere.  The article is up in HTML on the gnovis site, but I’ve also made a full-text, metadata friendly PDF simply because Google Scholar likes those.   The abstract is after the jump. Read more

Google Search for “Phenomenology of Spirit” Suggests “Nebraska State Flower”

less than 1 minute read

Published:

As you may know, Google often thinks it knows what you are looking for better than you do.  It will suggest different search queries and display them underneath the top three results for your original query.  So I did a simple Google search for “Phenomenology of Spirit,” an 1807 book written by German philosopher G.W.F. Hegel today and found a very interesting suggestion. Read more

governance

Bots, bespoke code, and the materiality of software platforms

1 minute read

Published:

This is a new article published in Information, Communication, and Society as part of their annual special issue for the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) conference. This year’s special issue was edited by Lee Humphreys and Tarleton Gillespie, who did a great job throughout the whole process. Read more

When the Levee Breaks: Without Bots, What Happens to Wikipedia’s Quality Control Processes?

less than 1 minute read

Published:

I’ve written a number of papers about the role that automated software agents (or bots) play in Wikipedia, claiming that they are critical to the continued operation of Wikipedia. This paper tests this hypothesis and introduces a metric visualizing the speed at which fully-automated bots, tool-assisted cyborgs, and unassisted humans review edits in Wikipedia. In the first half of 2011, ClueBot NG – one of the most prolific counter-vandalism bots in the English-language Wikipedia – went down for four distinct periods, each period of downtime lasting from days to weeks. Aaron Halfaker and I use these periods of breakdown as naturalistic experiments to study Wikipedia’s quality control network. Our analysis showed that the overall time-to-revert damaging edits was almost doubled when this software agent was down. Yet while a significantly fewer proportion of edits made during the bot’s downtime were reverted, we found that those edits were later eventually reverted. This suggests that human agents in Wikipedia took over this quality control work, but performed it at a far slower rate. Read more

Bots and Cyborgs: Wikipedia’s Immune System

less than 1 minute read

Published:

My frequent collaborator Aaron Halfaker has written up a fantastic article with John Riedl in Computer reviewing a lot of the work we’ve done on algorithmic agents in Wikipedia, casting them as Wikipedia’s immune system. Choice quote:  “These bots and cyborgs are more than tools to better manage content quality on Wikipedia—through their interaction with humans, they’re fundamentally changing its culture.” Read more

Trace Ethnography: Following Coordination through Documentary Practices

1 minute read

Published:

This is a paper I co-authored with David Ribes and recently presented at HICSS, the Hawaii International Conference on Systems Sciences.  It’s a qualitative methodology based on analyzing logging data that we developed through my research on Wikipedia, but has some pretty broad applications for studying highly-distributed groups.  It’s an inversion of the previous paper we presented at CSCW, showing in detail how we traced how Wikipedian vandal fighters as they collectively work to identify and ban malicious contributors. Read more

Wikimania 2008: New Paradigms for New Tomorrows with Ismail Serageldin

5 minute read

Published:

Director of the Library of Alexandria, Dr. Ismail Serageldin gave a keynote speech on the first day of Wikimania 2008 titled, New Paradigms for New Tomorrows.  It was quite thoughtful and inspiring – the man is one of the most amazing individuals I have heard.  He is learned in so many different areas of academic and cultural knowledge, as well as incredibly wise.  I would recommend watching the video of his speech, but if you are pressed for time you can read my notes. Read more

Wikimania 2008: Wikipedia as Real Utopia with Edo Navot

5 minute read

Published:

Wikipedia as Real Utopia: Governance, knowledge production, and the institutional structure of Wikipedia – Edo Navot, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Sociology. Here follows my rough transcription of his speech, followed by my comments.  The fact that his is the only presentation I have so far commented on should be taken as a sign of respect, not of disparagement.  I rather enjoyed his presentation, pledge to read Wikipedia as Real Utopia: Governance, knowledge production, and the institutional structure of Wikipedia – Edo Navot, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Sociology. Here follows my rough transcription of his speech, followed by my comments.  The fact that his is the only presentation I have so far commented on should be taken as a sign of respect, not of disparagement.  I rather enjoyed his presentation, pledge to read in depth as soon as possible (I have skimmed it), and admire him for being one of the few academics out there studying social and political thought on Wikipedia. Read more

Wikimania 2008: Wikipedia Administrators / Arbcom Panel

5 minute read

Published:

This panel was at Wikimania 2008, and featured James Forrester, Andrew Lih, Kat Walsh, and Charles Matthews. Everyone except for Lih is or has been on the Arbitration Committee, and this turned into a discussion about admins. Read more

gpl

Why aren’t the GPL and the GFDL freely licensed?

4 minute read

Published:

Works licensed under the GPL and the GFDL can be modified and then freely redistributed, as long as the modified versions are released under the same conditions. Why are we not allowed to modify these licenses and redistribute them? Read more

graphical chat

growth markets

Wikimania 2008: Content and the Internet in the (Globalized) Middle East

7 minute read

Published:

Content and the Internet in the (Globalized) Middle East, Dr. Ahmed Tantawi, Technical Director, IBM Middle East and North Africa.  Another copy of my notes from Wikimania 2008 – this was the keynote speech on the second day of the conference.  He began by warning us that, “I’ve changed this presentation, and I’ll change it during.  That is open content, yes?”  Everyone laughed. Read more

heidegger

Do you support Wikipedia? News from the Trenches of the Science Wars 2.0

43 minute read

Published:

I show that asking whether Wikipedia is a reliable academic source enframes Wikipedia into an objectless standing-reserve of potential citations, foreclosing many other possibilities for its use. Instead of asking what Wikipedia has done to reality, I ask: what have we done to Wikipedia in the name of reality? Read more

Response: Neuromancer by William Gibson

5 minute read

Published:

William Gibson’s novel Neuromancer tells the story of a team of radically different technologically-savvy individuals who are recruited by a young artificial intelligence named Wintermute, who desires to bypass the limitations placed on it by its owners and the authorities. Read more

Notions of Identity Liberation in Virtual Gaming Communities

18 minute read

Published:

The vast worlds of MMORPGs seem close to postmodern theories of identity, as a player is able to radically constitute their on-line self at will. Despite this, these virtual gaming communities should not be seen as safe spaces in which a subject can realize their true (or ideal) self. Read more

hermeneutics

Memetic Inkblots

7 minute read

Published:

I explore the memetic inkblot, which refers to units of cultural information that have effectively no singular semiotic value and therefore serve as a psychosocial indicator. In other words, they are so vague and open to interpretation that you can learn a lot about someone by asking someone to give a simple definition of them. Read more

history

Helvetica: A Documentary, A History, An Anthropology

13 minute read

Published:

I recently saw Helvetica, a documentary directed by Gary Hustwit about the typeface of the same name — it is available streaming and on DVD from Netflix, for those of you who have a subscription.  As someone who studies ubiquitous socio-technological infrastructures (and Helvetica is certainly one), I know how hard it is to seriously pay attention to something  that which we see every day.  It may seem counter-intuitive, but as Susan Leigh Star reminds us, the more widespread an infrastructure is, the more we use it and depend on it, the more invisible it becomes — that is, until it breaks or generates controversy, in which case it is far too easy.  But to actually say something about what well-oiled, hidden-in-plain-sight infrastructures are, how they came to have such a place in our society, and why they won out over their competitors is a notoriously difficult task.  But I came to realize that the film is less of a history of fonts, and more of an anthropology of design. Read more

Perils of Keyword-Based Bibliometrics: ISI’s ‘1990 Effect’

11 minute read

Published:

Have you done historical bibliometric analysis of a scientific field or topic area and found that there is a massive increase in research articles after 1990?  Are you using ISI’s Web of Science and searching by topic or keyword?  If so, don’t make the same mistake I did: these results aren’t because of some sea change or paradigm shift, but rather result from a poorly-documented shift in how ISI began indexing articles after 1990. Read more

html

WebCite: An On-Demand Internet Archive

1 minute read

Published:

As someone who studies Internet culture, one of my biggest problems is “link rot,” or broken links.  I’m a big fan of the Internet Archive, but they are usually six to eight months behind on even the most popular sites.  I also applaud sites like Wikipedia for providing stable version histories so that I can point to a specific revision of a page.  However, for all other websites, the only option is self-archiving, which is technically difficult and fraught with problems.  What I have found incredibly useful is WebCite, a free webpage archiving service that fills in this gap. Read more

Why aren’t the GPL and the GFDL freely licensed?

4 minute read

Published:

Works licensed under the GPL and the GFDL can be modified and then freely redistributed, as long as the modified versions are released under the same conditions. Why are we not allowed to modify these licenses and redistribute them? Read more

The Facticity of Art

less than 1 minute read

Published:

This is a piece of web art or net art, with an included work of art criticism about the piece. The work makes the argument that while interactive digital art can be considered user-centered, this new style and medium is only centered around those possibilities that the creator wishes to make available to the user. You can see The Facticity of Art at http://stuartgeiger.com/art/art-intro.shtml. Read more

Web Design: Blueprints on the CSS Zen Garden

less than 1 minute read

Published:

This was a CSS stylesheet I wrote for the CSS Zen Garden, which is a really cool concept in web design. There is a standard HTML page in which all the content is wrapped up in div tags, and the idea is to write a CSS stylesheet that makes it pretty. Mine was based on blueprints, and can be accessed here. It turns out that I didn’t make into the accepted designs, but I did get on the list of those that didn’t make the cut. I can see why – it needs some cleaning up around the lines which I might do if I have some time. But I’ll take being top of that list. Read more

Open Source Software: The Newest Specter?

15 minute read

Published:

Corporate adoption of open source software should not be viewed as antithetical to capitalism; rather, it is an example of corporations co-opting Communism to become more capitalist. Read more

humanism

User-Generated Content as an Ethical Relation

4 minute read

Published:

I feel bad that I have not written a new entry in so long. I feel like I should apologize - not to the readers, but to the software, to the site itself. I ought to write a new post; I ought to update my status. How did I get into a situation whereby these collections of code could make ethical demands upon me? And is this bad? Read more

humanistic ethics

User-Generated Content as an Ethical Relation

4 minute read

Published:

I feel bad that I have not written a new entry in so long. I feel like I should apologize - not to the readers, but to the software, to the site itself. I ought to write a new post; I ought to update my status. How did I get into a situation whereby these collections of code could make ethical demands upon me? And is this bad? Read more

hutchins

The Work of Sustaining Order in Wikipedia: The Banning of a Vandal

1 minute read

Published:

With the help of my advisor, Dr. David Ribes, I recently got a chapter of my master’s thesis accepted to the ACM conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, to be held in February 2010 in Savannah, Georgia. It is titled “The Work of Sustaining Order in Wikipedia: The Banning of a Vandal” and focuses on the roles of automated ‘bots’ and assisted editing tools in Wikipedia’s ‘vandal fighting’ network. Read more

hypertext

Response: Patchwork Girl by Shelly Jackson

5 minute read

Published:

This is a response to they hypertext fiction work Patchwork Girl by Shelley Jackson.  It is comprised in part of ‘patches’ of other works, most notably Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  I have made this essay entirely out of parts from the novel. Read more

hypertext novel

Response: Patchwork Girl by Shelly Jackson

5 minute read

Published:

This is a response to they hypertext fiction work Patchwork Girl by Shelley Jackson.  It is comprised in part of ‘patches’ of other works, most notably Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  I have made this essay entirely out of parts from the novel. Read more

identity

Response: Patchwork Girl by Shelly Jackson

5 minute read

Published:

This is a response to they hypertext fiction work Patchwork Girl by Shelley Jackson.  It is comprised in part of ‘patches’ of other works, most notably Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  I have made this essay entirely out of parts from the novel. Read more

Notions of Identity Liberation in Virtual Gaming Communities

18 minute read

Published:

The vast worlds of MMORPGs seem close to postmodern theories of identity, as a player is able to radically constitute their on-line self at will. Despite this, these virtual gaming communities should not be seen as safe spaces in which a subject can realize their true (or ideal) self. Read more

information

Bots and Cyborgs: Wikipedia’s Immune System

less than 1 minute read

Published:

My frequent collaborator Aaron Halfaker has written up a fantastic article with John Riedl in Computer reviewing a lot of the work we’ve done on algorithmic agents in Wikipedia, casting them as Wikipedia’s immune system. Choice quote:  “These bots and cyborgs are more than tools to better manage content quality on Wikipedia—through their interaction with humans, they’re fundamentally changing its culture.” Read more

Do you support Wikipedia? News from the Trenches of the Science Wars 2.0

43 minute read

Published:

I show that asking whether Wikipedia is a reliable academic source enframes Wikipedia into an objectless standing-reserve of potential citations, foreclosing many other possibilities for its use. Instead of asking what Wikipedia has done to reality, I ask: what have we done to Wikipedia in the name of reality? Read more

Researching Wikipedia Holistically: A Tentative Approach

29 minute read

Published:

This is a tentative article-length introduction to my thesis on Wikipedia. It is an attempt to analyze Wikipedia from an interdisciplinary perspective that tries to make problematic various assumptions, concepts, and relations that function quite well in the “real world” but are not well-suited to studying Wikipedia. I begin by talking about the nature of academic disciplines, then proceed to a detailed but sparse review of certain prior research on Wikipedia. By examining the problems in previous research within the context of disciplines, I establish a tentative methodology for a holistic study of Wikipedia. Read more

Words and Things: A De-Re-Sub-Post-Construction of Rhizomatic and Non-Arborescent Stratum in Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus

less than 1 minute read

Published:

This was my final project for an Information Studies class I took back in 2006, when I was an undergraduate at the University of Texas.  Our assignment was to transform information from one form to another, and I chose to perform this analysis of Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus.  I scanned and OCRed the entire book and did a visual frequency representation of certain words.  I analyzed by chapter and comprehensively with certain core themes in the work.  I also did a comprehensive analysis with more general or common words. It is intended to look the way it does, as I am going for a “1960s IBM goes to the academy” look. Take what you will from it: it is about 35% art, 25% snarky pastiche, 15% pretending to be linguistics, and -5% serious intellectual critique.  Here is a sample: Read more

Wikimania 2008: Content and the Internet in the (Globalized) Middle East

7 minute read

Published:

Content and the Internet in the (Globalized) Middle East, Dr. Ahmed Tantawi, Technical Director, IBM Middle East and North Africa.  Another copy of my notes from Wikimania 2008 – this was the keynote speech on the second day of the conference.  He began by warning us that, “I’ve changed this presentation, and I’ll change it during.  That is open content, yes?”  Everyone laughed. Read more

Memetic Inkblots

7 minute read

Published:

I explore the memetic inkblot, which refers to units of cultural information that have effectively no singular semiotic value and therefore serve as a psychosocial indicator. In other words, they are so vague and open to interpretation that you can learn a lot about someone by asking someone to give a simple definition of them. Read more

Response: Neuromancer by William Gibson

5 minute read

Published:

William Gibson’s novel Neuromancer tells the story of a team of radically different technologically-savvy individuals who are recruited by a young artificial intelligence named Wintermute, who desires to bypass the limitations placed on it by its owners and the authorities. Read more

Response: Me++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City by William Mitchell

4 minute read

Published:

In his book Me++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City, William Mitchell describes how information technology – specifically digital, wireless networks which are accessed primarily through portable devices – fundamentally changes how we interact with others. More than anything else, “[c]onnectivity had become the defining characteristic of our twenty-first-century urban condition” (11). For Mitchell, we have given up the virtual reality fantasy that dominated predictions made in previous decades in lieu of subtler revolution: that of the networked self, the Me++. Read more

Open Source Software: The Newest Specter?

15 minute read

Published:

Corporate adoption of open source software should not be viewed as antithetical to capitalism; rather, it is an example of corporations co-opting Communism to become more capitalist. Read more

information network

Response: Neuromancer by William Gibson

5 minute read

Published:

William Gibson’s novel Neuromancer tells the story of a team of radically different technologically-savvy individuals who are recruited by a young artificial intelligence named Wintermute, who desires to bypass the limitations placed on it by its owners and the authorities. Read more

Response: Me++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City by William Mitchell

4 minute read

Published:

In his book Me++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City, William Mitchell describes how information technology – specifically digital, wireless networks which are accessed primarily through portable devices – fundamentally changes how we interact with others. More than anything else, “[c]onnectivity had become the defining characteristic of our twenty-first-century urban condition” (11). For Mitchell, we have given up the virtual reality fantasy that dominated predictions made in previous decades in lieu of subtler revolution: that of the networked self, the Me++. Read more

infrastructure

A dynamically-generated robots.txt: will search engine bots recognize themselves?

7 minute read

Published:

I built a script that dynamically generates a robots.txt file for search engine bots, who download the file when they seek direction on what parts of a website they are allowed to index. By default, it directs all bots to stay away from the entire site, but then presents an exception: only the bot that requests the robots.txt file is allowed full reign over the site. Read more

Bots, bespoke code, and the materiality of software platforms

1 minute read

Published:

This is a new article published in Information, Communication, and Society as part of their annual special issue for the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) conference. This year’s special issue was edited by Lee Humphreys and Tarleton Gillespie, who did a great job throughout the whole process. Read more

When the Levee Breaks: Without Bots, What Happens to Wikipedia’s Quality Control Processes?

less than 1 minute read

Published:

I’ve written a number of papers about the role that automated software agents (or bots) play in Wikipedia, claiming that they are critical to the continued operation of Wikipedia. This paper tests this hypothesis and introduces a metric visualizing the speed at which fully-automated bots, tool-assisted cyborgs, and unassisted humans review edits in Wikipedia. In the first half of 2011, ClueBot NG – one of the most prolific counter-vandalism bots in the English-language Wikipedia – went down for four distinct periods, each period of downtime lasting from days to weeks. Aaron Halfaker and I use these periods of breakdown as naturalistic experiments to study Wikipedia’s quality control network. Our analysis showed that the overall time-to-revert damaging edits was almost doubled when this software agent was down. Yet while a significantly fewer proportion of edits made during the bot’s downtime were reverted, we found that those edits were later eventually reverted. This suggests that human agents in Wikipedia took over this quality control work, but performed it at a far slower rate. Read more

About a bot: reflections on building software agents

less than 1 minute read

Published:

This post for Ethnography Matters is a very personal, reflective musing about the first bot I ever developed for Wikipedia. It makes the argument that while it is certainly important to think about software code and algorithms behind bots and other AI agents, they are not immaterial. In fact, the physical locations and social contexts in which they are run are often critical to understanding how they both ‘live’ and ‘die’. Read more

Bots and Cyborgs: Wikipedia’s Immune System

less than 1 minute read

Published:

My frequent collaborator Aaron Halfaker has written up a fantastic article with John Riedl in Computer reviewing a lot of the work we’ve done on algorithmic agents in Wikipedia, casting them as Wikipedia’s immune system. Choice quote:  “These bots and cyborgs are more than tools to better manage content quality on Wikipedia—through their interaction with humans, they’re fundamentally changing its culture.” Read more

Helvetica: A Documentary, A History, An Anthropology

13 minute read

Published:

I recently saw Helvetica, a documentary directed by Gary Hustwit about the typeface of the same name — it is available streaming and on DVD from Netflix, for those of you who have a subscription.  As someone who studies ubiquitous socio-technological infrastructures (and Helvetica is certainly one), I know how hard it is to seriously pay attention to something  that which we see every day.  It may seem counter-intuitive, but as Susan Leigh Star reminds us, the more widespread an infrastructure is, the more we use it and depend on it, the more invisible it becomes — that is, until it breaks or generates controversy, in which case it is far too easy.  But to actually say something about what well-oiled, hidden-in-plain-sight infrastructures are, how they came to have such a place in our society, and why they won out over their competitors is a notoriously difficult task.  But I came to realize that the film is less of a history of fonts, and more of an anthropology of design. Read more

Does Habermas Understand the Internet? The Algorithmic Construction of the Blogo/Public Sphere

1 minute read

Published:

This is a paper that I recently got published in gnovis, which is a peer-reviewed journal run entirely by graduate students at Georgetown’s Communication, Culture, and Technology program.  It is a sneakishly Latourian intervention into the debate between Habermasians and post-Habermasians regarding the Internet as a (part of the) public sphere.   They have been arguing for some time about whether the Internet (and specifically blogging) leads to political fragmentation or real collective action.  However, they have all taken for granted the highly-automated software infrastructures that mediate our knowledge of the blogosphere.  The article is up in HTML on the gnovis site, but I’ve also made a full-text, metadata friendly PDF simply because Google Scholar likes those.   The abstract is after the jump. Read more

Capital ‘I’ for Internet?

4 minute read

Published:

Do you capitalize “Internet?” Some scholars from the emerging field of ‘Internet studies’ say no. I say yes. Read more

Review: Talking About Machines by Julian Orr

6 minute read

Published:

This is a review of Julian Orr’s Talking About Machines, an ethnography of Xerox photocopier technicians. Blurring the line between ethnomethodology, organizational communication, infrastructure studies, human-computer/machine interaction, business administration, and traditional ethnography of work, his study reveals more than just the daily practices of what may initially seem like a boring job. Read more

Researching Wikipedia Holistically: A Tentative Approach

29 minute read

Published:

This is a tentative article-length introduction to my thesis on Wikipedia. It is an attempt to analyze Wikipedia from an interdisciplinary perspective that tries to make problematic various assumptions, concepts, and relations that function quite well in the “real world” but are not well-suited to studying Wikipedia. I begin by talking about the nature of academic disciplines, then proceed to a detailed but sparse review of certain prior research on Wikipedia. By examining the problems in previous research within the context of disciplines, I establish a tentative methodology for a holistic study of Wikipedia. Read more

inkblot

Memetic Inkblots

7 minute read

Published:

I explore the memetic inkblot, which refers to units of cultural information that have effectively no singular semiotic value and therefore serve as a psychosocial indicator. In other words, they are so vague and open to interpretation that you can learn a lot about someone by asking someone to give a simple definition of them. Read more

innovation

Wikimania 2008: Content and the Internet in the (Globalized) Middle East

7 minute read

Published:

Content and the Internet in the (Globalized) Middle East, Dr. Ahmed Tantawi, Technical Director, IBM Middle East and North Africa.  Another copy of my notes from Wikimania 2008 – this was the keynote speech on the second day of the conference.  He began by warning us that, “I’ve changed this presentation, and I’ll change it during.  That is open content, yes?”  Everyone laughed. Read more

instagram

An apologia for instagram photos of pumpkin spice lattes and other serious things

13 minute read

Published:

I don’t normally pick on people whose work I really admire, but I recently saw a tweet from Mark Sample that struck a nerve: “Look, if you don’t instagram your first pumpkin spice latte of the season, humanity’s historical record will be dangerously impoverished.”  While it got quite a number of retweets and equally snarky responses, he is far from the first to make such a flippant critique of the vapid nature of social media.  It also seriously upset me for reasons that I’ve been trying to work out, which is why I found myself doing one of those shifts that researchers of knowledge production tend to do far too often with critics: don’t get mad, get reflexive.  What is it that makes such a sentiment resonate with us, particularly when it is issued over Twitter, a platform that is the target of this kind of critique?  The reasons have to do with a fundamental disagreement over what it means to interact in a mediated space: do we understand our posts, status updates, and shared photos as representations of how we exist in the world which collectively constitute a certain persistent performance of the self, or do we understand them a form of communication in which we subjectively and interactionally relate our experience of the world to others? Read more

intellectual property

Closed-source papers on open source communities: a problem and a partial solution

13 minute read

Published:

In the Wikipedia research community — that is, the group of academics and Wikipedians who are interested in studying Wikipedia — there has been a pretty substantial and longstanding problem with how research is published. Academics, from graduate students to tenured faculty, are deeply invested and entrenched in an system that rewards the publication of research. Publish or perish, as we’ve all heard.   The problem is that the overwhelming majority of publications which are recognized as ‘academic’ require us to assign copyright to the publication, so that the publisher can then charge for access to the article.  This is in direct contradiction with the goals of Wikipedia, as well as many other open source and open content creation communities — communities which are the subject of a substantial amount of academic research. Read more

Why aren’t the GPL and the GFDL freely licensed?

4 minute read

Published:

Works licensed under the GPL and the GFDL can be modified and then freely redistributed, as long as the modified versions are released under the same conditions. Why are we not allowed to modify these licenses and redistribute them? Read more

Open Source Software: The Newest Specter?

15 minute read

Published:

Corporate adoption of open source software should not be viewed as antithetical to capitalism; rather, it is an example of corporations co-opting Communism to become more capitalist. Read more

interdisciplinarity

Researching Wikipedia Holistically: A Tentative Approach

29 minute read

Published:

This is a tentative article-length introduction to my thesis on Wikipedia. It is an attempt to analyze Wikipedia from an interdisciplinary perspective that tries to make problematic various assumptions, concepts, and relations that function quite well in the “real world” but are not well-suited to studying Wikipedia. I begin by talking about the nature of academic disciplines, then proceed to a detailed but sparse review of certain prior research on Wikipedia. By examining the problems in previous research within the context of disciplines, I establish a tentative methodology for a holistic study of Wikipedia. Read more

internet

A dynamically-generated robots.txt: will search engine bots recognize themselves?

7 minute read

Published:

I built a script that dynamically generates a robots.txt file for search engine bots, who download the file when they seek direction on what parts of a website they are allowed to index. By default, it directs all bots to stay away from the entire site, but then presents an exception: only the bot that requests the robots.txt file is allowed full reign over the site. Read more

Bots, bespoke code, and the materiality of software platforms

1 minute read

Published:

This is a new article published in Information, Communication, and Society as part of their annual special issue for the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) conference. This year’s special issue was edited by Lee Humphreys and Tarleton Gillespie, who did a great job throughout the whole process. Read more

An apologia for instagram photos of pumpkin spice lattes and other serious things

13 minute read

Published:

I don’t normally pick on people whose work I really admire, but I recently saw a tweet from Mark Sample that struck a nerve: “Look, if you don’t instagram your first pumpkin spice latte of the season, humanity’s historical record will be dangerously impoverished.”  While it got quite a number of retweets and equally snarky responses, he is far from the first to make such a flippant critique of the vapid nature of social media.  It also seriously upset me for reasons that I’ve been trying to work out, which is why I found myself doing one of those shifts that researchers of knowledge production tend to do far too often with critics: don’t get mad, get reflexive.  What is it that makes such a sentiment resonate with us, particularly when it is issued over Twitter, a platform that is the target of this kind of critique?  The reasons have to do with a fundamental disagreement over what it means to interact in a mediated space: do we understand our posts, status updates, and shared photos as representations of how we exist in the world which collectively constitute a certain persistent performance of the self, or do we understand them a form of communication in which we subjectively and interactionally relate our experience of the world to others? Read more

The Lives of Bots

less than 1 minute read

Published:

I’m part of a Wikipedia research group called “Critical Point of View” centered around the Institute for Network Cultures in Amsterdam and the Centre for Internet and Society in Bangalore.  (Just a disclaimer, the term ‘critical’ is more like critical theory as opposed to Wikipedia bashing for its own sake.)  We’ve had some great conferences and are putting out an edited book on Wikipedia quite soon.  My chapter is on bots, and the abstract and link to the full PDF is below: Read more

Structural Transformation was Habermas’s first of thirty books

9 minute read

Published:

So given what’s going on* in Egypt and the Middle East, we in the West are fascinated by not so much revolutions and popular uprisings against dictatorial regimes, but an efficacious use of social media. Even Clinton is talking about the Internet as “the world’s town square”, and it seems that the old conversation about the Internet and the public sphere is going to flare up for the third time (1993-5 and 2001-3 are the other two times). Since Habermas is generally credited for bringing this notion of the public sphere to the forefront of popular, political, and academic discourse, it is natural to cite him.  Then critique him to death, talking about how we need to get beyond an old white guy’s theories.  And it feels good, I know. Read more

Does Habermas Understand the Internet? The Algorithmic Construction of the Blogo/Public Sphere

1 minute read

Published:

This is a paper that I recently got published in gnovis, which is a peer-reviewed journal run entirely by graduate students at Georgetown’s Communication, Culture, and Technology program.  It is a sneakishly Latourian intervention into the debate between Habermasians and post-Habermasians regarding the Internet as a (part of the) public sphere.   They have been arguing for some time about whether the Internet (and specifically blogging) leads to political fragmentation or real collective action.  However, they have all taken for granted the highly-automated software infrastructures that mediate our knowledge of the blogosphere.  The article is up in HTML on the gnovis site, but I’ve also made a full-text, metadata friendly PDF simply because Google Scholar likes those.   The abstract is after the jump. Read more

Capital ‘I’ for Internet?

4 minute read

Published:

Do you capitalize “Internet?” Some scholars from the emerging field of ‘Internet studies’ say no. I say yes. Read more

Do you support Wikipedia? News from the Trenches of the Science Wars 2.0

43 minute read

Published:

I show that asking whether Wikipedia is a reliable academic source enframes Wikipedia into an objectless standing-reserve of potential citations, foreclosing many other possibilities for its use. Instead of asking what Wikipedia has done to reality, I ask: what have we done to Wikipedia in the name of reality? Read more

WebCite: An On-Demand Internet Archive

1 minute read

Published:

As someone who studies Internet culture, one of my biggest problems is “link rot,” or broken links.  I’m a big fan of the Internet Archive, but they are usually six to eight months behind on even the most popular sites.  I also applaud sites like Wikipedia for providing stable version histories so that I can point to a specific revision of a page.  However, for all other websites, the only option is self-archiving, which is technically difficult and fraught with problems.  What I have found incredibly useful is WebCite, a free webpage archiving service that fills in this gap. Read more

Wikimania 2008: New Paradigms for New Tomorrows with Ismail Serageldin

5 minute read

Published:

Director of the Library of Alexandria, Dr. Ismail Serageldin gave a keynote speech on the first day of Wikimania 2008 titled, New Paradigms for New Tomorrows.  It was quite thoughtful and inspiring – the man is one of the most amazing individuals I have heard.  He is learned in so many different areas of academic and cultural knowledge, as well as incredibly wise.  I would recommend watching the video of his speech, but if you are pressed for time you can read my notes. Read more

Conceptions and Misconceptions Academics Hold About Wikipedia

4 minute read

Published:

As an ethnographer, I enter into communities, learn their customs, beliefs, and practices, then report back to the academy to share what I have discovered. In this presentation, I wish to do the opposite, presenting to the Wikipedian community an ethnography of academics as they relate to Wikipedia. Read more

Wikimania 2008: Content and the Internet in the (Globalized) Middle East

7 minute read

Published:

Content and the Internet in the (Globalized) Middle East, Dr. Ahmed Tantawi, Technical Director, IBM Middle East and North Africa.  Another copy of my notes from Wikimania 2008 – this was the keynote speech on the second day of the conference.  He began by warning us that, “I’ve changed this presentation, and I’ll change it during.  That is open content, yes?”  Everyone laughed. Read more

Wikimania 2008: Opening Keynote with Egyptian Minister Ahmed Darwish

3 minute read

Published:

The official theme or slogan for this year’s Wikimania is “the knowledge revolution that is changing wisdom.” I think this phrase – especially the difference between knowledge and wisdom – was chosen very carefully and I think it is an excellent distinction to make. This morning’s opening ceremony began with a speech from the Egyptian Minister of State for Administrative Development, Dr. Ahmed Darwish. I will relay his comments here, without much analysis – that will come later, when I have the time. Read more

Real, Virtual Communities: A Response to Brian Williams

5 minute read

Published:

Brian Williams talked about how this year’s primary season has shown that even in the age of the Internet, we still have a longing for real communities. I take issue with his use of “virtual community” and claim that most political communities are virtual. Read more

Memetic Inkblots

7 minute read

Published:

I explore the memetic inkblot, which refers to units of cultural information that have effectively no singular semiotic value and therefore serve as a psychosocial indicator. In other words, they are so vague and open to interpretation that you can learn a lot about someone by asking someone to give a simple definition of them. Read more

A Communicative Ethnography of Argumentative Strategies in a Wikipedian Content Dispute

less than 1 minute read

Published:

This presentation was adapted from a chapter in my Senior thesis on Wikipedia’s legal system that focused on a dispute over the inclusion of images of the Islamic prophet Muhammad in an article about him, using a methodology of communicative ethnography. Most who opposed the image were not familiar with Wikipedia’s unique method of content regulation and dispute resolution, as well as its editorial standards and principles. However, most who argued in favor of keeping the image knew these and initially used them to their advantage. This ethnographic study of the communicative strategies used by the parties involved in the dispute shows how new editors to the user-written encyclopedia first emerged in a hostile communicative environment and subsequently adapted their argumentative strategies. This conflict is an excellent example of how disputes are resolved in Wikipedia, showing how this new media space regulates its own content. Read more

Senior Thesis: Democracy in Wikipedia

1 minute read

Published:

My thesis studied the legal culture of Wikipedia to examine the law through stories and histories, giving the reader a sense of not only what the Wikipedian legal system is, but also what fundamental assumptions the community makes in utilizing such a system. Read more

Response: Me++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City by William Mitchell

4 minute read

Published:

In his book Me++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City, William Mitchell describes how information technology – specifically digital, wireless networks which are accessed primarily through portable devices – fundamentally changes how we interact with others. More than anything else, “[c]onnectivity had become the defining characteristic of our twenty-first-century urban condition” (11). For Mitchell, we have given up the virtual reality fantasy that dominated predictions made in previous decades in lieu of subtler revolution: that of the networked self, the Me++. Read more

Web Design: Blueprints on the CSS Zen Garden

less than 1 minute read

Published:

This was a CSS stylesheet I wrote for the CSS Zen Garden, which is a really cool concept in web design. There is a standard HTML page in which all the content is wrapped up in div tags, and the idea is to write a CSS stylesheet that makes it pretty. Mine was based on blueprints, and can be accessed here. It turns out that I didn’t make into the accepted designs, but I did get on the list of those that didn’t make the cut. I can see why – it needs some cleaning up around the lines which I might do if I have some time. But I’ll take being top of that list. Read more

Notions of Identity Liberation in Virtual Gaming Communities

18 minute read

Published:

The vast worlds of MMORPGs seem close to postmodern theories of identity, as a player is able to radically constitute their on-line self at will. Despite this, these virtual gaming communities should not be seen as safe spaces in which a subject can realize their true (or ideal) self. Read more

Open Source Software: The Newest Specter?

15 minute read

Published:

Corporate adoption of open source software should not be viewed as antithetical to capitalism; rather, it is an example of corporations co-opting Communism to become more capitalist. Read more

internet archive

WebCite: An On-Demand Internet Archive

1 minute read

Published:

As someone who studies Internet culture, one of my biggest problems is “link rot,” or broken links.  I’m a big fan of the Internet Archive, but they are usually six to eight months behind on even the most popular sites.  I also applaud sites like Wikipedia for providing stable version histories so that I can point to a specific revision of a page.  However, for all other websites, the only option is self-archiving, which is technically difficult and fraught with problems.  What I have found incredibly useful is WebCite, a free webpage archiving service that fills in this gap. Read more

internet communities

Real, Virtual Communities: A Response to Brian Williams

5 minute read

Published:

Brian Williams talked about how this year’s primary season has shown that even in the age of the Internet, we still have a longing for real communities. I take issue with his use of “virtual community” and claim that most political communities are virtual. Read more

internet inquiry

Capital ‘I’ for Internet?

4 minute read

Published:

Do you capitalize “Internet?” Some scholars from the emerging field of ‘Internet studies’ say no. I say yes. Read more

internet studies

Capital ‘I’ for Internet?

4 minute read

Published:

Do you capitalize “Internet?” Some scholars from the emerging field of ‘Internet studies’ say no. I say yes. Read more

ip

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Attribution-ShareAlike

3 minute read

Published:

Content on my website and my Flickr account has been licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives license for a while.  I was pretty proud of myself.  But then I got to thinking: why don’t I choose Attribution-ShareAlike?  Obviously, it was product of two kneejerk reactions: I don’t want someone else to make money off my stuff, and I don’t want someone messing with my stuff. Read more

Why aren’t the GPL and the GFDL freely licensed?

4 minute read

Published:

Works licensed under the GPL and the GFDL can be modified and then freely redistributed, as long as the modified versions are released under the same conditions. Why are we not allowed to modify these licenses and redistribute them? Read more

isi

Perils of Keyword-Based Bibliometrics: ISI’s ‘1990 Effect’

11 minute read

Published:

Have you done historical bibliometric analysis of a scientific field or topic area and found that there is a massive increase in research articles after 1990?  Are you using ISI’s Web of Science and searching by topic or keyword?  If so, don’t make the same mistake I did: these results aren’t because of some sea change or paradigm shift, but rather result from a poorly-documented shift in how ISI began indexing articles after 1990. Read more

kant

User-Generated Content as an Ethical Relation

4 minute read

Published:

I feel bad that I have not written a new entry in so long. I feel like I should apologize - not to the readers, but to the software, to the site itself. I ought to write a new post; I ought to update my status. How did I get into a situation whereby these collections of code could make ethical demands upon me? And is this bad? Read more

knowledge

Does Habermas Understand the Internet? The Algorithmic Construction of the Blogo/Public Sphere

1 minute read

Published:

This is a paper that I recently got published in gnovis, which is a peer-reviewed journal run entirely by graduate students at Georgetown’s Communication, Culture, and Technology program.  It is a sneakishly Latourian intervention into the debate between Habermasians and post-Habermasians regarding the Internet as a (part of the) public sphere.   They have been arguing for some time about whether the Internet (and specifically blogging) leads to political fragmentation or real collective action.  However, they have all taken for granted the highly-automated software infrastructures that mediate our knowledge of the blogosphere.  The article is up in HTML on the gnovis site, but I’ve also made a full-text, metadata friendly PDF simply because Google Scholar likes those.   The abstract is after the jump. Read more

Do you support Wikipedia? News from the Trenches of the Science Wars 2.0

43 minute read

Published:

I show that asking whether Wikipedia is a reliable academic source enframes Wikipedia into an objectless standing-reserve of potential citations, foreclosing many other possibilities for its use. Instead of asking what Wikipedia has done to reality, I ask: what have we done to Wikipedia in the name of reality? Read more

Response: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn

7 minute read

Published:

A response to Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, in which his work is applied to a personal vignette of experimentation practices in a High School Physics class. When in the course of scientific education should students be allowed to modify scientific theories to fit experimental data instead of modifying experiments to fit the theories? Read more

Researching Wikipedia Holistically: A Tentative Approach

29 minute read

Published:

This is a tentative article-length introduction to my thesis on Wikipedia. It is an attempt to analyze Wikipedia from an interdisciplinary perspective that tries to make problematic various assumptions, concepts, and relations that function quite well in the “real world” but are not well-suited to studying Wikipedia. I begin by talking about the nature of academic disciplines, then proceed to a detailed but sparse review of certain prior research on Wikipedia. By examining the problems in previous research within the context of disciplines, I establish a tentative methodology for a holistic study of Wikipedia. Read more

knowledge production

Does Habermas Understand the Internet? The Algorithmic Construction of the Blogo/Public Sphere

1 minute read

Published:

This is a paper that I recently got published in gnovis, which is a peer-reviewed journal run entirely by graduate students at Georgetown’s Communication, Culture, and Technology program.  It is a sneakishly Latourian intervention into the debate between Habermasians and post-Habermasians regarding the Internet as a (part of the) public sphere.   They have been arguing for some time about whether the Internet (and specifically blogging) leads to political fragmentation or real collective action.  However, they have all taken for granted the highly-automated software infrastructures that mediate our knowledge of the blogosphere.  The article is up in HTML on the gnovis site, but I’ve also made a full-text, metadata friendly PDF simply because Google Scholar likes those.   The abstract is after the jump. Read more

Do you support Wikipedia? News from the Trenches of the Science Wars 2.0

43 minute read

Published:

I show that asking whether Wikipedia is a reliable academic source enframes Wikipedia into an objectless standing-reserve of potential citations, foreclosing many other possibilities for its use. Instead of asking what Wikipedia has done to reality, I ask: what have we done to Wikipedia in the name of reality? Read more

Wikimania 2008: Wikipedia as Real Utopia with Edo Navot

5 minute read

Published:

Wikipedia as Real Utopia: Governance, knowledge production, and the institutional structure of Wikipedia – Edo Navot, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Sociology. Here follows my rough transcription of his speech, followed by my comments.  The fact that his is the only presentation I have so far commented on should be taken as a sign of respect, not of disparagement.  I rather enjoyed his presentation, pledge to read Wikipedia as Real Utopia: Governance, knowledge production, and the institutional structure of Wikipedia – Edo Navot, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Sociology. Here follows my rough transcription of his speech, followed by my comments.  The fact that his is the only presentation I have so far commented on should be taken as a sign of respect, not of disparagement.  I rather enjoyed his presentation, pledge to read in depth as soon as possible (I have skimmed it), and admire him for being one of the few academics out there studying social and political thought on Wikipedia. Read more

Conceptions and Misconceptions Academics Hold About Wikipedia

4 minute read

Published:

As an ethnographer, I enter into communities, learn their customs, beliefs, and practices, then report back to the academy to share what I have discovered. In this presentation, I wish to do the opposite, presenting to the Wikipedian community an ethnography of academics as they relate to Wikipedia. Read more

latour

The ethnography of robots: interview at Ethnography Matters

11 minute read

Published:

This was an interview I did with the wonderful Heather Fordoriginally posted at Ethnography Matters (a really cool group blog) way back in January. No idea why I didn’t post a copy of this here back then, but now that I’m moving towards my dissertation I’m thinking about this kind of stuff more and more.  In short, I argue for a non-anthropocentric yet still phenomenological ethnography of technology, studying not the culture of the people who build and program robots, but the culture of those the robots themselves. Read more

The Lives of Bots

less than 1 minute read

Published:

I’m part of a Wikipedia research group called “Critical Point of View” centered around the Institute for Network Cultures in Amsterdam and the Centre for Internet and Society in Bangalore.  (Just a disclaimer, the term ‘critical’ is more like critical theory as opposed to Wikipedia bashing for its own sake.)  We’ve had some great conferences and are putting out an edited book on Wikipedia quite soon.  My chapter is on bots, and the abstract and link to the full PDF is below: Read more

Does Habermas Understand the Internet? The Algorithmic Construction of the Blogo/Public Sphere

1 minute read

Published:

This is a paper that I recently got published in gnovis, which is a peer-reviewed journal run entirely by graduate students at Georgetown’s Communication, Culture, and Technology program.  It is a sneakishly Latourian intervention into the debate between Habermasians and post-Habermasians regarding the Internet as a (part of the) public sphere.   They have been arguing for some time about whether the Internet (and specifically blogging) leads to political fragmentation or real collective action.  However, they have all taken for granted the highly-automated software infrastructures that mediate our knowledge of the blogosphere.  The article is up in HTML on the gnovis site, but I’ve also made a full-text, metadata friendly PDF simply because Google Scholar likes those.   The abstract is after the jump. Read more

The Work of Sustaining Order in Wikipedia: The Banning of a Vandal

1 minute read

Published:

With the help of my advisor, Dr. David Ribes, I recently got a chapter of my master’s thesis accepted to the ACM conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, to be held in February 2010 in Savannah, Georgia. It is titled “The Work of Sustaining Order in Wikipedia: The Banning of a Vandal” and focuses on the roles of automated ‘bots’ and assisted editing tools in Wikipedia’s ‘vandal fighting’ network. Read more

Do you support Wikipedia? News from the Trenches of the Science Wars 2.0

43 minute read

Published:

I show that asking whether Wikipedia is a reliable academic source enframes Wikipedia into an objectless standing-reserve of potential citations, foreclosing many other possibilities for its use. Instead of asking what Wikipedia has done to reality, I ask: what have we done to Wikipedia in the name of reality? Read more

law

Wikimania 2008: Wikipedia as Real Utopia with Edo Navot

5 minute read

Published:

Wikipedia as Real Utopia: Governance, knowledge production, and the institutional structure of Wikipedia – Edo Navot, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Sociology. Here follows my rough transcription of his speech, followed by my comments.  The fact that his is the only presentation I have so far commented on should be taken as a sign of respect, not of disparagement.  I rather enjoyed his presentation, pledge to read Wikipedia as Real Utopia: Governance, knowledge production, and the institutional structure of Wikipedia – Edo Navot, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Sociology. Here follows my rough transcription of his speech, followed by my comments.  The fact that his is the only presentation I have so far commented on should be taken as a sign of respect, not of disparagement.  I rather enjoyed his presentation, pledge to read in depth as soon as possible (I have skimmed it), and admire him for being one of the few academics out there studying social and political thought on Wikipedia. Read more

Why aren’t the GPL and the GFDL freely licensed?

4 minute read

Published:

Works licensed under the GPL and the GFDL can be modified and then freely redistributed, as long as the modified versions are released under the same conditions. Why are we not allowed to modify these licenses and redistribute them? Read more

Senior Thesis: Democracy in Wikipedia

1 minute read

Published:

My thesis studied the legal culture of Wikipedia to examine the law through stories and histories, giving the reader a sense of not only what the Wikipedian legal system is, but also what fundamental assumptions the community makes in utilizing such a system. Read more

Notions of Identity Liberation in Virtual Gaming Communities

18 minute read

Published:

The vast worlds of MMORPGs seem close to postmodern theories of identity, as a player is able to radically constitute their on-line self at will. Despite this, these virtual gaming communities should not be seen as safe spaces in which a subject can realize their true (or ideal) self. Read more

Open Source Software: The Newest Specter?

15 minute read

Published:

Corporate adoption of open source software should not be viewed as antithetical to capitalism; rather, it is an example of corporations co-opting Communism to become more capitalist. Read more

Senior Thesis: Democracy in Wikipedia

1 minute read

Published:

My thesis studied the legal culture of Wikipedia to examine the law through stories and histories, giving the reader a sense of not only what the Wikipedian legal system is, but also what fundamental assumptions the community makes in utilizing such a system. Read more

Senior Thesis: Democracy in Wikipedia

1 minute read

Published:

My thesis studied the legal culture of Wikipedia to examine the law through stories and histories, giving the reader a sense of not only what the Wikipedian legal system is, but also what fundamental assumptions the community makes in utilizing such a system. Read more

Why aren’t the GPL and the GFDL freely licensed?

4 minute read

Published:

Works licensed under the GPL and the GFDL can be modified and then freely redistributed, as long as the modified versions are released under the same conditions. Why are we not allowed to modify these licenses and redistribute them? Read more

Senior Thesis: Democracy in Wikipedia

1 minute read

Published:

My thesis studied the legal culture of Wikipedia to examine the law through stories and histories, giving the reader a sense of not only what the Wikipedian legal system is, but also what fundamental assumptions the community makes in utilizing such a system. Read more

liberal

Memetic Inkblots

7 minute read

Published:

I explore the memetic inkblot, which refers to units of cultural information that have effectively no singular semiotic value and therefore serve as a psychosocial indicator. In other words, they are so vague and open to interpretation that you can learn a lot about someone by asking someone to give a simple definition of them. Read more

Notions of Identity Liberation in Virtual Gaming Communities

18 minute read

Published:

The vast worlds of MMORPGs seem close to postmodern theories of identity, as a player is able to radically constitute their on-line self at will. Despite this, these virtual gaming communities should not be seen as safe spaces in which a subject can realize their true (or ideal) self. Read more

linguistics

Words and Things: A De-Re-Sub-Post-Construction of Rhizomatic and Non-Arborescent Stratum in Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus

less than 1 minute read

Published:

This was my final project for an Information Studies class I took back in 2006, when I was an undergraduate at the University of Texas.  Our assignment was to transform information from one form to another, and I chose to perform this analysis of Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus.  I scanned and OCRed the entire book and did a visual frequency representation of certain words.  I analyzed by chapter and comprehensively with certain core themes in the work.  I also did a comprehensive analysis with more general or common words. It is intended to look the way it does, as I am going for a “1960s IBM goes to the academy” look. Take what you will from it: it is about 35% art, 25% snarky pastiche, 15% pretending to be linguistics, and -5% serious intellectual critique.  Here is a sample: Read more

logs

Trace Ethnography: Following Coordination through Documentary Practices

1 minute read

Published:

This is a paper I co-authored with David Ribes and recently presented at HICSS, the Hawaii International Conference on Systems Sciences.  It’s a qualitative methodology based on analyzing logging data that we developed through my research on Wikipedia, but has some pretty broad applications for studying highly-distributed groups.  It’s an inversion of the previous paper we presented at CSCW, showing in detail how we traced how Wikipedian vandal fighters as they collectively work to identify and ban malicious contributors. Read more

machiavelli

malinowski

Helvetica: A Documentary, A History, An Anthropology

13 minute read

Published:

I recently saw Helvetica, a documentary directed by Gary Hustwit about the typeface of the same name — it is available streaming and on DVD from Netflix, for those of you who have a subscription.  As someone who studies ubiquitous socio-technological infrastructures (and Helvetica is certainly one), I know how hard it is to seriously pay attention to something  that which we see every day.  It may seem counter-intuitive, but as Susan Leigh Star reminds us, the more widespread an infrastructure is, the more we use it and depend on it, the more invisible it becomes — that is, until it breaks or generates controversy, in which case it is far too easy.  But to actually say something about what well-oiled, hidden-in-plain-sight infrastructures are, how they came to have such a place in our society, and why they won out over their competitors is a notoriously difficult task.  But I came to realize that the film is less of a history of fonts, and more of an anthropology of design. Read more

marx and engels

mary shelly

Response: Patchwork Girl by Shelly Jackson

5 minute read

Published:

This is a response to they hypertext fiction work Patchwork Girl by Shelley Jackson.  It is comprised in part of ‘patches’ of other works, most notably Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  I have made this essay entirely out of parts from the novel. Read more

materiality

About a bot: reflections on building software agents

less than 1 minute read

Published:

This post for Ethnography Matters is a very personal, reflective musing about the first bot I ever developed for Wikipedia. It makes the argument that while it is certainly important to think about software code and algorithms behind bots and other AI agents, they are not immaterial. In fact, the physical locations and social contexts in which they are run are often critical to understanding how they both ‘live’ and ‘die’. Read more

media

Helvetica: A Documentary, A History, An Anthropology

13 minute read

Published:

I recently saw Helvetica, a documentary directed by Gary Hustwit about the typeface of the same name — it is available streaming and on DVD from Netflix, for those of you who have a subscription.  As someone who studies ubiquitous socio-technological infrastructures (and Helvetica is certainly one), I know how hard it is to seriously pay attention to something  that which we see every day.  It may seem counter-intuitive, but as Susan Leigh Star reminds us, the more widespread an infrastructure is, the more we use it and depend on it, the more invisible it becomes — that is, until it breaks or generates controversy, in which case it is far too easy.  But to actually say something about what well-oiled, hidden-in-plain-sight infrastructures are, how they came to have such a place in our society, and why they won out over their competitors is a notoriously difficult task.  But I came to realize that the film is less of a history of fonts, and more of an anthropology of design. Read more

Capital ‘I’ for Internet?

4 minute read

Published:

Do you capitalize “Internet?” Some scholars from the emerging field of ‘Internet studies’ say no. I say yes. Read more

media environment

mediawiki

meme

Memetic Inkblots

7 minute read

Published:

I explore the memetic inkblot, which refers to units of cultural information that have effectively no singular semiotic value and therefore serve as a psychosocial indicator. In other words, they are so vague and open to interpretation that you can learn a lot about someone by asking someone to give a simple definition of them. Read more

metadata

WebCite: An On-Demand Internet Archive

1 minute read

Published:

As someone who studies Internet culture, one of my biggest problems is “link rot,” or broken links.  I’m a big fan of the Internet Archive, but they are usually six to eight months behind on even the most popular sites.  I also applaud sites like Wikipedia for providing stable version histories so that I can point to a specific revision of a page.  However, for all other websites, the only option is self-archiving, which is technically difficult and fraught with problems.  What I have found incredibly useful is WebCite, a free webpage archiving service that fills in this gap. Read more

methodology

Trace Ethnography: Following Coordination through Documentary Practices

1 minute read

Published:

This is a paper I co-authored with David Ribes and recently presented at HICSS, the Hawaii International Conference on Systems Sciences.  It’s a qualitative methodology based on analyzing logging data that we developed through my research on Wikipedia, but has some pretty broad applications for studying highly-distributed groups.  It’s an inversion of the previous paper we presented at CSCW, showing in detail how we traced how Wikipedian vandal fighters as they collectively work to identify and ban malicious contributors. Read more

Researching Wikipedia Holistically: A Tentative Approach

29 minute read

Published:

This is a tentative article-length introduction to my thesis on Wikipedia. It is an attempt to analyze Wikipedia from an interdisciplinary perspective that tries to make problematic various assumptions, concepts, and relations that function quite well in the “real world” but are not well-suited to studying Wikipedia. I begin by talking about the nature of academic disciplines, then proceed to a detailed but sparse review of certain prior research on Wikipedia. By examining the problems in previous research within the context of disciplines, I establish a tentative methodology for a holistic study of Wikipedia. Read more

Wikimania 2008: Collaborative research on Wikiversity with Cormac Lawler

1 minute read

Published:

Collaborative research on Wikiversity by Cormac Lawler (user Cormaggio on Wikimedia projects) at the University of Manchester.  Wikiversity is a relatively young project in the Wikimedia umbrella, but I think it is a natural development and a great space to realize the potential of all the educators currently on Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Wikibooks, and all the other projects. Read more

middle east

Wikimania 2008: Content and the Internet in the (Globalized) Middle East

7 minute read

Published:

Content and the Internet in the (Globalized) Middle East, Dr. Ahmed Tantawi, Technical Director, IBM Middle East and North Africa.  Another copy of my notes from Wikimania 2008 – this was the keynote speech on the second day of the conference.  He began by warning us that, “I’ve changed this presentation, and I’ll change it during.  That is open content, yes?”  Everyone laughed. Read more

militarism

Notions of Identity Liberation in Virtual Gaming Communities

18 minute read

Published:

The vast worlds of MMORPGs seem close to postmodern theories of identity, as a player is able to radically constitute their on-line self at will. Despite this, these virtual gaming communities should not be seen as safe spaces in which a subject can realize their true (or ideal) self. Read more

mind and body

Response: Neuromancer by William Gibson

5 minute read

Published:

William Gibson’s novel Neuromancer tells the story of a team of radically different technologically-savvy individuals who are recruited by a young artificial intelligence named Wintermute, who desires to bypass the limitations placed on it by its owners and the authorities. Read more

modernism

Helvetica: A Documentary, A History, An Anthropology

13 minute read

Published:

I recently saw Helvetica, a documentary directed by Gary Hustwit about the typeface of the same name — it is available streaming and on DVD from Netflix, for those of you who have a subscription.  As someone who studies ubiquitous socio-technological infrastructures (and Helvetica is certainly one), I know how hard it is to seriously pay attention to something  that which we see every day.  It may seem counter-intuitive, but as Susan Leigh Star reminds us, the more widespread an infrastructure is, the more we use it and depend on it, the more invisible it becomes — that is, until it breaks or generates controversy, in which case it is far too easy.  But to actually say something about what well-oiled, hidden-in-plain-sight infrastructures are, how they came to have such a place in our society, and why they won out over their competitors is a notoriously difficult task.  But I came to realize that the film is less of a history of fonts, and more of an anthropology of design. Read more

Response: Patchwork Girl by Shelly Jackson

5 minute read

Published:

This is a response to they hypertext fiction work Patchwork Girl by Shelley Jackson.  It is comprised in part of ‘patches’ of other works, most notably Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  I have made this essay entirely out of parts from the novel. Read more

Notions of Identity Liberation in Virtual Gaming Communities

18 minute read

Published:

The vast worlds of MMORPGs seem close to postmodern theories of identity, as a player is able to radically constitute their on-line self at will. Despite this, these virtual gaming communities should not be seen as safe spaces in which a subject can realize their true (or ideal) self. Read more

multiplicity

Response: Patchwork Girl by Shelly Jackson

5 minute read

Published:

This is a response to they hypertext fiction work Patchwork Girl by Shelley Jackson.  It is comprised in part of ‘patches’ of other works, most notably Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  I have made this essay entirely out of parts from the novel. Read more

myth

Helvetica: A Documentary, A History, An Anthropology

13 minute read

Published:

I recently saw Helvetica, a documentary directed by Gary Hustwit about the typeface of the same name — it is available streaming and on DVD from Netflix, for those of you who have a subscription.  As someone who studies ubiquitous socio-technological infrastructures (and Helvetica is certainly one), I know how hard it is to seriously pay attention to something  that which we see every day.  It may seem counter-intuitive, but as Susan Leigh Star reminds us, the more widespread an infrastructure is, the more we use it and depend on it, the more invisible it becomes — that is, until it breaks or generates controversy, in which case it is far too easy.  But to actually say something about what well-oiled, hidden-in-plain-sight infrastructures are, how they came to have such a place in our society, and why they won out over their competitors is a notoriously difficult task.  But I came to realize that the film is less of a history of fonts, and more of an anthropology of design. Read more

nancy baym

Capital ‘I’ for Internet?

4 minute read

Published:

Do you capitalize “Internet?” Some scholars from the emerging field of ‘Internet studies’ say no. I say yes. Read more

nebraska state flower

Google Search for “Phenomenology of Spirit” Suggests “Nebraska State Flower”

less than 1 minute read

Published:

As you may know, Google often thinks it knows what you are looking for better than you do.  It will suggest different search queries and display them underneath the top three results for your original query.  So I did a simple Google search for “Phenomenology of Spirit,” an 1807 book written by German philosopher G.W.F. Hegel today and found a very interesting suggestion. Read more

net art

The Facticity of Art

less than 1 minute read

Published:

This is a piece of web art or net art, with an included work of art criticism about the piece. The work makes the argument that while interactive digital art can be considered user-centered, this new style and medium is only centered around those possibilities that the creator wishes to make available to the user. You can see The Facticity of Art at http://stuartgeiger.com/art/art-intro.shtml. Read more

network

The ethnography of robots: interview at Ethnography Matters

11 minute read

Published:

This was an interview I did with the wonderful Heather Fordoriginally posted at Ethnography Matters (a really cool group blog) way back in January. No idea why I didn’t post a copy of this here back then, but now that I’m moving towards my dissertation I’m thinking about this kind of stuff more and more.  In short, I argue for a non-anthropocentric yet still phenomenological ethnography of technology, studying not the culture of the people who build and program robots, but the culture of those the robots themselves. Read more

The Work of Sustaining Order in Wikipedia: The Banning of a Vandal

1 minute read

Published:

With the help of my advisor, Dr. David Ribes, I recently got a chapter of my master’s thesis accepted to the ACM conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, to be held in February 2010 in Savannah, Georgia. It is titled “The Work of Sustaining Order in Wikipedia: The Banning of a Vandal” and focuses on the roles of automated ‘bots’ and assisted editing tools in Wikipedia’s ‘vandal fighting’ network. Read more

Memetic Inkblots

7 minute read

Published:

I explore the memetic inkblot, which refers to units of cultural information that have effectively no singular semiotic value and therefore serve as a psychosocial indicator. In other words, they are so vague and open to interpretation that you can learn a lot about someone by asking someone to give a simple definition of them. Read more

Response: Neuromancer by William Gibson

5 minute read

Published:

William Gibson’s novel Neuromancer tells the story of a team of radically different technologically-savvy individuals who are recruited by a young artificial intelligence named Wintermute, who desires to bypass the limitations placed on it by its owners and the authorities. Read more

Response: Me++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City by William Mitchell

4 minute read

Published:

In his book Me++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City, William Mitchell describes how information technology – specifically digital, wireless networks which are accessed primarily through portable devices – fundamentally changes how we interact with others. More than anything else, “[c]onnectivity had become the defining characteristic of our twenty-first-century urban condition” (11). For Mitchell, we have given up the virtual reality fantasy that dominated predictions made in previous decades in lieu of subtler revolution: that of the networked self, the Me++. Read more

Notions of Identity Liberation in Virtual Gaming Communities

18 minute read

Published:

The vast worlds of MMORPGs seem close to postmodern theories of identity, as a player is able to radically constitute their on-line self at will. Despite this, these virtual gaming communities should not be seen as safe spaces in which a subject can realize their true (or ideal) self. Read more

networked public sphere

Does Habermas Understand the Internet? The Algorithmic Construction of the Blogo/Public Sphere

1 minute read

Published:

This is a paper that I recently got published in gnovis, which is a peer-reviewed journal run entirely by graduate students at Georgetown’s Communication, Culture, and Technology program.  It is a sneakishly Latourian intervention into the debate between Habermasians and post-Habermasians regarding the Internet as a (part of the) public sphere.   They have been arguing for some time about whether the Internet (and specifically blogging) leads to political fragmentation or real collective action.  However, they have all taken for granted the highly-automated software infrastructures that mediate our knowledge of the blogosphere.  The article is up in HTML on the gnovis site, but I’ve also made a full-text, metadata friendly PDF simply because Google Scholar likes those.   The abstract is after the jump. Read more

normativity

User-Generated Content as an Ethical Relation

4 minute read

Published:

I feel bad that I have not written a new entry in so long. I feel like I should apologize - not to the readers, but to the software, to the site itself. I ought to write a new post; I ought to update my status. How did I get into a situation whereby these collections of code could make ethical demands upon me? And is this bad? Read more

norms

The Work of Sustaining Order in Wikipedia: The Banning of a Vandal

1 minute read

Published:

With the help of my advisor, Dr. David Ribes, I recently got a chapter of my master’s thesis accepted to the ACM conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, to be held in February 2010 in Savannah, Georgia. It is titled “The Work of Sustaining Order in Wikipedia: The Banning of a Vandal” and focuses on the roles of automated ‘bots’ and assisted editing tools in Wikipedia’s ‘vandal fighting’ network. Read more

north africa

Wikimania 2008: Content and the Internet in the (Globalized) Middle East

7 minute read

Published:

Content and the Internet in the (Globalized) Middle East, Dr. Ahmed Tantawi, Technical Director, IBM Middle East and North Africa.  Another copy of my notes from Wikimania 2008 – this was the keynote speech on the second day of the conference.  He began by warning us that, “I’ve changed this presentation, and I’ll change it during.  That is open content, yes?”  Everyone laughed. Read more

objectivity

Do you support Wikipedia? News from the Trenches of the Science Wars 2.0

43 minute read

Published:

I show that asking whether Wikipedia is a reliable academic source enframes Wikipedia into an objectless standing-reserve of potential citations, foreclosing many other possibilities for its use. Instead of asking what Wikipedia has done to reality, I ask: what have we done to Wikipedia in the name of reality? Read more

obligation

User-Generated Content as an Ethical Relation

4 minute read

Published:

I feel bad that I have not written a new entry in so long. I feel like I should apologize - not to the readers, but to the software, to the site itself. I ought to write a new post; I ought to update my status. How did I get into a situation whereby these collections of code could make ethical demands upon me? And is this bad? Read more

oligopticons

Does Habermas Understand the Internet? The Algorithmic Construction of the Blogo/Public Sphere

1 minute read

Published:

This is a paper that I recently got published in gnovis, which is a peer-reviewed journal run entirely by graduate students at Georgetown’s Communication, Culture, and Technology program.  It is a sneakishly Latourian intervention into the debate between Habermasians and post-Habermasians regarding the Internet as a (part of the) public sphere.   They have been arguing for some time about whether the Internet (and specifically blogging) leads to political fragmentation or real collective action.  However, they have all taken for granted the highly-automated software infrastructures that mediate our knowledge of the blogosphere.  The article is up in HTML on the gnovis site, but I’ve also made a full-text, metadata friendly PDF simply because Google Scholar likes those.   The abstract is after the jump. Read more

online role playing games

Notions of Identity Liberation in Virtual Gaming Communities

18 minute read

Published:

The vast worlds of MMORPGs seem close to postmodern theories of identity, as a player is able to radically constitute their on-line self at will. Despite this, these virtual gaming communities should not be seen as safe spaces in which a subject can realize their true (or ideal) self. Read more

ontology

Do you support Wikipedia? News from the Trenches of the Science Wars 2.0

43 minute read

Published:

I show that asking whether Wikipedia is a reliable academic source enframes Wikipedia into an objectless standing-reserve of potential citations, foreclosing many other possibilities for its use. Instead of asking what Wikipedia has done to reality, I ask: what have we done to Wikipedia in the name of reality? Read more

Researching Wikipedia Holistically: A Tentative Approach

29 minute read

Published:

This is a tentative article-length introduction to my thesis on Wikipedia. It is an attempt to analyze Wikipedia from an interdisciplinary perspective that tries to make problematic various assumptions, concepts, and relations that function quite well in the “real world” but are not well-suited to studying Wikipedia. I begin by talking about the nature of academic disciplines, then proceed to a detailed but sparse review of certain prior research on Wikipedia. By examining the problems in previous research within the context of disciplines, I establish a tentative methodology for a holistic study of Wikipedia. Read more

open access

Closed-source papers on open source communities: a problem and a partial solution

13 minute read

Published:

In the Wikipedia research community — that is, the group of academics and Wikipedians who are interested in studying Wikipedia — there has been a pretty substantial and longstanding problem with how research is published. Academics, from graduate students to tenured faculty, are deeply invested and entrenched in an system that rewards the publication of research. Publish or perish, as we’ve all heard.   The problem is that the overwhelming majority of publications which are recognized as ‘academic’ require us to assign copyright to the publication, so that the publisher can then charge for access to the article.  This is in direct contradiction with the goals of Wikipedia, as well as many other open source and open content creation communities — communities which are the subject of a substantial amount of academic research. Read more

open conference

open source

Memetic Inkblots

7 minute read

Published:

I explore the memetic inkblot, which refers to units of cultural information that have effectively no singular semiotic value and therefore serve as a psychosocial indicator. In other words, they are so vague and open to interpretation that you can learn a lot about someone by asking someone to give a simple definition of them. Read more

Why aren’t the GPL and the GFDL freely licensed?

4 minute read

Published:

Works licensed under the GPL and the GFDL can be modified and then freely redistributed, as long as the modified versions are released under the same conditions. Why are we not allowed to modify these licenses and redistribute them? Read more

Open Source Software: The Newest Specter?

15 minute read

Published:

Corporate adoption of open source software should not be viewed as antithetical to capitalism; rather, it is an example of corporations co-opting Communism to become more capitalist. Read more

open source software

Memetic Inkblots

7 minute read

Published:

I explore the memetic inkblot, which refers to units of cultural information that have effectively no singular semiotic value and therefore serve as a psychosocial indicator. In other words, they are so vague and open to interpretation that you can learn a lot about someone by asking someone to give a simple definition of them. Read more

Why aren’t the GPL and the GFDL freely licensed?

4 minute read

Published:

Works licensed under the GPL and the GFDL can be modified and then freely redistributed, as long as the modified versions are released under the same conditions. Why are we not allowed to modify these licenses and redistribute them? Read more

Open Source Software: The Newest Specter?

15 minute read

Published:

Corporate adoption of open source software should not be viewed as antithetical to capitalism; rather, it is an example of corporations co-opting Communism to become more capitalist. Read more

open to interpretation

Memetic Inkblots

7 minute read

Published:

I explore the memetic inkblot, which refers to units of cultural information that have effectively no singular semiotic value and therefore serve as a psychosocial indicator. In other words, they are so vague and open to interpretation that you can learn a lot about someone by asking someone to give a simple definition of them. Read more

order

The Lives of Bots

less than 1 minute read

Published:

I’m part of a Wikipedia research group called “Critical Point of View” centered around the Institute for Network Cultures in Amsterdam and the Centre for Internet and Society in Bangalore.  (Just a disclaimer, the term ‘critical’ is more like critical theory as opposed to Wikipedia bashing for its own sake.)  We’ve had some great conferences and are putting out an edited book on Wikipedia quite soon.  My chapter is on bots, and the abstract and link to the full PDF is below: Read more

organization

Trace Ethnography: Following Coordination through Documentary Practices

1 minute read

Published:

This is a paper I co-authored with David Ribes and recently presented at HICSS, the Hawaii International Conference on Systems Sciences.  It’s a qualitative methodology based on analyzing logging data that we developed through my research on Wikipedia, but has some pretty broad applications for studying highly-distributed groups.  It’s an inversion of the previous paper we presented at CSCW, showing in detail how we traced how Wikipedian vandal fighters as they collectively work to identify and ban malicious contributors. Read more

organizational communication

Review: Talking About Machines by Julian Orr

6 minute read

Published:

This is a review of Julian Orr’s Talking About Machines, an ethnography of Xerox photocopier technicians. Blurring the line between ethnomethodology, organizational communication, infrastructure studies, human-computer/machine interaction, business administration, and traditional ethnography of work, his study reveals more than just the daily practices of what may initially seem like a boring job. Read more

organizational theory

paradigm

Response: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn

7 minute read

Published:

A response to Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, in which his work is applied to a personal vignette of experimentation practices in a High School Physics class. When in the course of scientific education should students be allowed to modify scientific theories to fit experimental data instead of modifying experiments to fit the theories? Read more

participant observation

Trace Ethnography: Following Coordination through Documentary Practices

1 minute read

Published:

This is a paper I co-authored with David Ribes and recently presented at HICSS, the Hawaii International Conference on Systems Sciences.  It’s a qualitative methodology based on analyzing logging data that we developed through my research on Wikipedia, but has some pretty broad applications for studying highly-distributed groups.  It’s an inversion of the previous paper we presented at CSCW, showing in detail how we traced how Wikipedian vandal fighters as they collectively work to identify and ban malicious contributors. Read more

participatory democracy

Wikimania 2008: Wikipedia as Real Utopia with Edo Navot

5 minute read

Published:

Wikipedia as Real Utopia: Governance, knowledge production, and the institutional structure of Wikipedia – Edo Navot, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Sociology. Here follows my rough transcription of his speech, followed by my comments.  The fact that his is the only presentation I have so far commented on should be taken as a sign of respect, not of disparagement.  I rather enjoyed his presentation, pledge to read Wikipedia as Real Utopia: Governance, knowledge production, and the institutional structure of Wikipedia – Edo Navot, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Sociology. Here follows my rough transcription of his speech, followed by my comments.  The fact that his is the only presentation I have so far commented on should be taken as a sign of respect, not of disparagement.  I rather enjoyed his presentation, pledge to read in depth as soon as possible (I have skimmed it), and admire him for being one of the few academics out there studying social and political thought on Wikipedia. Read more

patchwork girl

Response: Patchwork Girl by Shelly Jackson

5 minute read

Published:

This is a response to they hypertext fiction work Patchwork Girl by Shelley Jackson.  It is comprised in part of ‘patches’ of other works, most notably Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  I have made this essay entirely out of parts from the novel. Read more

phenomenology of spirit

Google Search for “Phenomenology of Spirit” Suggests “Nebraska State Flower”

less than 1 minute read

Published:

As you may know, Google often thinks it knows what you are looking for better than you do.  It will suggest different search queries and display them underneath the top three results for your original query.  So I did a simple Google search for “Phenomenology of Spirit,” an 1807 book written by German philosopher G.W.F. Hegel today and found a very interesting suggestion. Read more

philosophy

A dynamically-generated robots.txt: will search engine bots recognize themselves?

7 minute read

Published:

I built a script that dynamically generates a robots.txt file for search engine bots, who download the file when they seek direction on what parts of a website they are allowed to index. By default, it directs all bots to stay away from the entire site, but then presents an exception: only the bot that requests the robots.txt file is allowed full reign over the site. Read more

About a bot: reflections on building software agents

less than 1 minute read

Published:

This post for Ethnography Matters is a very personal, reflective musing about the first bot I ever developed for Wikipedia. It makes the argument that while it is certainly important to think about software code and algorithms behind bots and other AI agents, they are not immaterial. In fact, the physical locations and social contexts in which they are run are often critical to understanding how they both ‘live’ and ‘die’. Read more

Structural Transformation was Habermas’s first of thirty books

9 minute read

Published:

So given what’s going on* in Egypt and the Middle East, we in the West are fascinated by not so much revolutions and popular uprisings against dictatorial regimes, but an efficacious use of social media. Even Clinton is talking about the Internet as “the world’s town square”, and it seems that the old conversation about the Internet and the public sphere is going to flare up for the third time (1993-5 and 2001-3 are the other two times). Since Habermas is generally credited for bringing this notion of the public sphere to the forefront of popular, political, and academic discourse, it is natural to cite him.  Then critique him to death, talking about how we need to get beyond an old white guy’s theories.  And it feels good, I know. Read more

User-Generated Content as an Ethical Relation

4 minute read

Published:

I feel bad that I have not written a new entry in so long. I feel like I should apologize - not to the readers, but to the software, to the site itself. I ought to write a new post; I ought to update my status. How did I get into a situation whereby these collections of code could make ethical demands upon me? And is this bad? Read more

Senior Thesis: Democracy in Wikipedia

1 minute read

Published:

My thesis studied the legal culture of Wikipedia to examine the law through stories and histories, giving the reader a sense of not only what the Wikipedian legal system is, but also what fundamental assumptions the community makes in utilizing such a system. Read more

Open Source Software: The Newest Specter?

15 minute read

Published:

Corporate adoption of open source software should not be viewed as antithetical to capitalism; rather, it is an example of corporations co-opting Communism to become more capitalist. Read more

photocopiers

Review: Talking About Machines by Julian Orr

6 minute read

Published:

This is a review of Julian Orr’s Talking About Machines, an ethnography of Xerox photocopier technicians. Blurring the line between ethnomethodology, organizational communication, infrastructure studies, human-computer/machine interaction, business administration, and traditional ethnography of work, his study reveals more than just the daily practices of what may initially seem like a boring job. Read more

photography

An apologia for instagram photos of pumpkin spice lattes and other serious things

13 minute read

Published:

I don’t normally pick on people whose work I really admire, but I recently saw a tweet from Mark Sample that struck a nerve: “Look, if you don’t instagram your first pumpkin spice latte of the season, humanity’s historical record will be dangerously impoverished.”  While it got quite a number of retweets and equally snarky responses, he is far from the first to make such a flippant critique of the vapid nature of social media.  It also seriously upset me for reasons that I’ve been trying to work out, which is why I found myself doing one of those shifts that researchers of knowledge production tend to do far too often with critics: don’t get mad, get reflexive.  What is it that makes such a sentiment resonate with us, particularly when it is issued over Twitter, a platform that is the target of this kind of critique?  The reasons have to do with a fundamental disagreement over what it means to interact in a mediated space: do we understand our posts, status updates, and shared photos as representations of how we exist in the world which collectively constitute a certain persistent performance of the self, or do we understand them a form of communication in which we subjectively and interactionally relate our experience of the world to others? Read more

play

Google Search for “Phenomenology of Spirit” Suggests “Nebraska State Flower”

less than 1 minute read

Published:

As you may know, Google often thinks it knows what you are looking for better than you do.  It will suggest different search queries and display them underneath the top three results for your original query.  So I did a simple Google search for “Phenomenology of Spirit,” an 1807 book written by German philosopher G.W.F. Hegel today and found a very interesting suggestion. Read more

Notions of Identity Liberation in Virtual Gaming Communities

18 minute read

Published:

The vast worlds of MMORPGs seem close to postmodern theories of identity, as a player is able to radically constitute their on-line self at will. Despite this, these virtual gaming communities should not be seen as safe spaces in which a subject can realize their true (or ideal) self. Read more

political theories

Structural Transformation was Habermas’s first of thirty books

9 minute read

Published:

So given what’s going on* in Egypt and the Middle East, we in the West are fascinated by not so much revolutions and popular uprisings against dictatorial regimes, but an efficacious use of social media. Even Clinton is talking about the Internet as “the world’s town square”, and it seems that the old conversation about the Internet and the public sphere is going to flare up for the third time (1993-5 and 2001-3 are the other two times). Since Habermas is generally credited for bringing this notion of the public sphere to the forefront of popular, political, and academic discourse, it is natural to cite him.  Then critique him to death, talking about how we need to get beyond an old white guy’s theories.  And it feels good, I know. Read more

politics

Structural Transformation was Habermas’s first of thirty books

9 minute read

Published:

So given what’s going on* in Egypt and the Middle East, we in the West are fascinated by not so much revolutions and popular uprisings against dictatorial regimes, but an efficacious use of social media. Even Clinton is talking about the Internet as “the world’s town square”, and it seems that the old conversation about the Internet and the public sphere is going to flare up for the third time (1993-5 and 2001-3 are the other two times). Since Habermas is generally credited for bringing this notion of the public sphere to the forefront of popular, political, and academic discourse, it is natural to cite him.  Then critique him to death, talking about how we need to get beyond an old white guy’s theories.  And it feels good, I know. Read more

Wikimania 2008: Wikipedia Administrators / Arbcom Panel

5 minute read

Published:

This panel was at Wikimania 2008, and featured James Forrester, Andrew Lih, Kat Walsh, and Charles Matthews. Everyone except for Lih is or has been on the Arbitration Committee, and this turned into a discussion about admins. Read more

Real, Virtual Communities: A Response to Brian Williams

5 minute read

Published:

Brian Williams talked about how this year’s primary season has shown that even in the age of the Internet, we still have a longing for real communities. I take issue with his use of “virtual community” and claim that most political communities are virtual. Read more

postmodern

Wikimania 2008

less than 1 minute read

Published:

I am currently in Egypt for Wikimania 2008, which is being held this year at the Library of Alexandria. On Sunday, I will be presenting my ethnographic analysis of conceptions and misconceptions academics hold about Wikipedia. This presentation was going to be about old, computer-illiterate professors but has turned into something much more interesting: a commentary on Wikipedia’s status in the so-called postmodern digital humanities. I will update the post on this site as I finalize my presentation. Read more

postmodernism

Words and Things: A De-Re-Sub-Post-Construction of Rhizomatic and Non-Arborescent Stratum in Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus

less than 1 minute read

Published:

This was my final project for an Information Studies class I took back in 2006, when I was an undergraduate at the University of Texas.  Our assignment was to transform information from one form to another, and I chose to perform this analysis of Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus.  I scanned and OCRed the entire book and did a visual frequency representation of certain words.  I analyzed by chapter and comprehensively with certain core themes in the work.  I also did a comprehensive analysis with more general or common words. It is intended to look the way it does, as I am going for a “1960s IBM goes to the academy” look. Take what you will from it: it is about 35% art, 25% snarky pastiche, 15% pretending to be linguistics, and -5% serious intellectual critique.  Here is a sample: Read more

poststructuralism

Words and Things: A De-Re-Sub-Post-Construction of Rhizomatic and Non-Arborescent Stratum in Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus

less than 1 minute read

Published:

This was my final project for an Information Studies class I took back in 2006, when I was an undergraduate at the University of Texas.  Our assignment was to transform information from one form to another, and I chose to perform this analysis of Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus.  I scanned and OCRed the entire book and did a visual frequency representation of certain words.  I analyzed by chapter and comprehensively with certain core themes in the work.  I also did a comprehensive analysis with more general or common words. It is intended to look the way it does, as I am going for a “1960s IBM goes to the academy” look. Take what you will from it: it is about 35% art, 25% snarky pastiche, 15% pretending to be linguistics, and -5% serious intellectual critique.  Here is a sample: Read more

power

Bots, bespoke code, and the materiality of software platforms

1 minute read

Published:

This is a new article published in Information, Communication, and Society as part of their annual special issue for the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) conference. This year’s special issue was edited by Lee Humphreys and Tarleton Gillespie, who did a great job throughout the whole process. Read more

Bots and Cyborgs: Wikipedia’s Immune System

less than 1 minute read

Published:

My frequent collaborator Aaron Halfaker has written up a fantastic article with John Riedl in Computer reviewing a lot of the work we’ve done on algorithmic agents in Wikipedia, casting them as Wikipedia’s immune system. Choice quote:  “These bots and cyborgs are more than tools to better manage content quality on Wikipedia—through their interaction with humans, they’re fundamentally changing its culture.” Read more

Structural Transformation was Habermas’s first of thirty books

9 minute read

Published:

So given what’s going on* in Egypt and the Middle East, we in the West are fascinated by not so much revolutions and popular uprisings against dictatorial regimes, but an efficacious use of social media. Even Clinton is talking about the Internet as “the world’s town square”, and it seems that the old conversation about the Internet and the public sphere is going to flare up for the third time (1993-5 and 2001-3 are the other two times). Since Habermas is generally credited for bringing this notion of the public sphere to the forefront of popular, political, and academic discourse, it is natural to cite him.  Then critique him to death, talking about how we need to get beyond an old white guy’s theories.  And it feels good, I know. Read more

Researching Wikipedia Holistically: A Tentative Approach

29 minute read

Published:

This is a tentative article-length introduction to my thesis on Wikipedia. It is an attempt to analyze Wikipedia from an interdisciplinary perspective that tries to make problematic various assumptions, concepts, and relations that function quite well in the “real world” but are not well-suited to studying Wikipedia. I begin by talking about the nature of academic disciplines, then proceed to a detailed but sparse review of certain prior research on Wikipedia. By examining the problems in previous research within the context of disciplines, I establish a tentative methodology for a holistic study of Wikipedia. Read more

Wikimania 2008: Wikipedia Administrators / Arbcom Panel

5 minute read

Published:

This panel was at Wikimania 2008, and featured James Forrester, Andrew Lih, Kat Walsh, and Charles Matthews. Everyone except for Lih is or has been on the Arbitration Committee, and this turned into a discussion about admins. Read more

Memetic Inkblots

7 minute read

Published:

I explore the memetic inkblot, which refers to units of cultural information that have effectively no singular semiotic value and therefore serve as a psychosocial indicator. In other words, they are so vague and open to interpretation that you can learn a lot about someone by asking someone to give a simple definition of them. Read more

Senior Thesis: Democracy in Wikipedia

1 minute read

Published:

My thesis studied the legal culture of Wikipedia to examine the law through stories and histories, giving the reader a sense of not only what the Wikipedian legal system is, but also what fundamental assumptions the community makes in utilizing such a system. Read more

Response: Me++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City by William Mitchell

4 minute read

Published:

In his book Me++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City, William Mitchell describes how information technology – specifically digital, wireless networks which are accessed primarily through portable devices – fundamentally changes how we interact with others. More than anything else, “[c]onnectivity had become the defining characteristic of our twenty-first-century urban condition” (11). For Mitchell, we have given up the virtual reality fantasy that dominated predictions made in previous decades in lieu of subtler revolution: that of the networked self, the Me++. Read more

Notions of Identity Liberation in Virtual Gaming Communities

18 minute read

Published:

The vast worlds of MMORPGs seem close to postmodern theories of identity, as a player is able to radically constitute their on-line self at will. Despite this, these virtual gaming communities should not be seen as safe spaces in which a subject can realize their true (or ideal) self. Read more

propaganda

psychology

Memetic Inkblots

7 minute read

Published:

I explore the memetic inkblot, which refers to units of cultural information that have effectively no singular semiotic value and therefore serve as a psychosocial indicator. In other words, they are so vague and open to interpretation that you can learn a lot about someone by asking someone to give a simple definition of them. Read more

psychosocial

Memetic Inkblots

7 minute read

Published:

I explore the memetic inkblot, which refers to units of cultural information that have effectively no singular semiotic value and therefore serve as a psychosocial indicator. In other words, they are so vague and open to interpretation that you can learn a lot about someone by asking someone to give a simple definition of them. Read more

public sphere

Structural Transformation was Habermas’s first of thirty books

9 minute read

Published:

So given what’s going on* in Egypt and the Middle East, we in the West are fascinated by not so much revolutions and popular uprisings against dictatorial regimes, but an efficacious use of social media. Even Clinton is talking about the Internet as “the world’s town square”, and it seems that the old conversation about the Internet and the public sphere is going to flare up for the third time (1993-5 and 2001-3 are the other two times). Since Habermas is generally credited for bringing this notion of the public sphere to the forefront of popular, political, and academic discourse, it is natural to cite him.  Then critique him to death, talking about how we need to get beyond an old white guy’s theories.  And it feels good, I know. Read more

Does Habermas Understand the Internet? The Algorithmic Construction of the Blogo/Public Sphere

1 minute read

Published:

This is a paper that I recently got published in gnovis, which is a peer-reviewed journal run entirely by graduate students at Georgetown’s Communication, Culture, and Technology program.  It is a sneakishly Latourian intervention into the debate between Habermasians and post-Habermasians regarding the Internet as a (part of the) public sphere.   They have been arguing for some time about whether the Internet (and specifically blogging) leads to political fragmentation or real collective action.  However, they have all taken for granted the highly-automated software infrastructures that mediate our knowledge of the blogosphere.  The article is up in HTML on the gnovis site, but I’ve also made a full-text, metadata friendly PDF simply because Google Scholar likes those.   The abstract is after the jump. Read more

pumpkin spice lattes

An apologia for instagram photos of pumpkin spice lattes and other serious things

13 minute read

Published:

I don’t normally pick on people whose work I really admire, but I recently saw a tweet from Mark Sample that struck a nerve: “Look, if you don’t instagram your first pumpkin spice latte of the season, humanity’s historical record will be dangerously impoverished.”  While it got quite a number of retweets and equally snarky responses, he is far from the first to make such a flippant critique of the vapid nature of social media.  It also seriously upset me for reasons that I’ve been trying to work out, which is why I found myself doing one of those shifts that researchers of knowledge production tend to do far too often with critics: don’t get mad, get reflexive.  What is it that makes such a sentiment resonate with us, particularly when it is issued over Twitter, a platform that is the target of this kind of critique?  The reasons have to do with a fundamental disagreement over what it means to interact in a mediated space: do we understand our posts, status updates, and shared photos as representations of how we exist in the world which collectively constitute a certain persistent performance of the self, or do we understand them a form of communication in which we subjectively and interactionally relate our experience of the world to others? Read more

pundits

Real, Virtual Communities: A Response to Brian Williams

5 minute read

Published:

Brian Williams talked about how this year’s primary season has shown that even in the age of the Internet, we still have a longing for real communities. I take issue with his use of “virtual community” and claim that most political communities are virtual. Read more

qualitative

qualitative research

The Work of Sustaining Order in Wikipedia: The Banning of a Vandal

1 minute read

Published:

With the help of my advisor, Dr. David Ribes, I recently got a chapter of my master’s thesis accepted to the ACM conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, to be held in February 2010 in Savannah, Georgia. It is titled “The Work of Sustaining Order in Wikipedia: The Banning of a Vandal” and focuses on the roles of automated ‘bots’ and assisted editing tools in Wikipedia’s ‘vandal fighting’ network. Read more

quality

Wikimania 2008: Flagged Revisions with Philipp Birken

5 minute read

Published:

From “Flagged Revisions,” a presentation at Wikimania 2008 by Philip Birken. In my opinion, flagged revisions realize the concept of stable versions without making the article actually stable.  It is not a system of voting to approve new revisions – a new revision is approved when only one autoconfirmed user says it is vandalism-free.  Yes, it won’t solve everything, but it will make things much better.  We can get rid of protecting articles that are experiencing heavy vandalism if we do this, because an edit only updates to the public when it is flagged as not-vandalism by a trusted user. However, vandals (or any other user) immediately sees the results of their edit for an hour, which is just ingenious.  Also, you can choose whether the most recent revision is shown by default, or make it so that certain users (like anonymous users) only see the most recent reviewed revision.  For those who feel that it threatens “the wiki way,” I suggest making the most recent version appear by default and giving people the option to see the latest reviewed version. Read more

quantative research

Perils of Keyword-Based Bibliometrics: ISI’s ‘1990 Effect’

11 minute read

Published:

Have you done historical bibliometric analysis of a scientific field or topic area and found that there is a massive increase in research articles after 1990?  Are you using ISI’s Web of Science and searching by topic or keyword?  If so, don’t make the same mistake I did: these results aren’t because of some sea change or paradigm shift, but rather result from a poorly-documented shift in how ISI began indexing articles after 1990. Read more

quantitative

When the Levee Breaks: Without Bots, What Happens to Wikipedia’s Quality Control Processes?

less than 1 minute read

Published:

I’ve written a number of papers about the role that automated software agents (or bots) play in Wikipedia, claiming that they are critical to the continued operation of Wikipedia. This paper tests this hypothesis and introduces a metric visualizing the speed at which fully-automated bots, tool-assisted cyborgs, and unassisted humans review edits in Wikipedia. In the first half of 2011, ClueBot NG – one of the most prolific counter-vandalism bots in the English-language Wikipedia – went down for four distinct periods, each period of downtime lasting from days to weeks. Aaron Halfaker and I use these periods of breakdown as naturalistic experiments to study Wikipedia’s quality control network. Our analysis showed that the overall time-to-revert damaging edits was almost doubled when this software agent was down. Yet while a significantly fewer proportion of edits made during the bot’s downtime were reverted, we found that those edits were later eventually reverted. This suggests that human agents in Wikipedia took over this quality control work, but performed it at a far slower rate. Read more

racism

racism and colonialism

real utopia

Wikimania 2008: Wikipedia as Real Utopia with Edo Navot

5 minute read

Published:

Wikipedia as Real Utopia: Governance, knowledge production, and the institutional structure of Wikipedia – Edo Navot, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Sociology. Here follows my rough transcription of his speech, followed by my comments.  The fact that his is the only presentation I have so far commented on should be taken as a sign of respect, not of disparagement.  I rather enjoyed his presentation, pledge to read Wikipedia as Real Utopia: Governance, knowledge production, and the institutional structure of Wikipedia – Edo Navot, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Sociology. Here follows my rough transcription of his speech, followed by my comments.  The fact that his is the only presentation I have so far commented on should be taken as a sign of respect, not of disparagement.  I rather enjoyed his presentation, pledge to read in depth as soon as possible (I have skimmed it), and admire him for being one of the few academics out there studying social and political thought on Wikipedia. Read more

reference

WebCite: An On-Demand Internet Archive

1 minute read

Published:

As someone who studies Internet culture, one of my biggest problems is “link rot,” or broken links.  I’m a big fan of the Internet Archive, but they are usually six to eight months behind on even the most popular sites.  I also applaud sites like Wikipedia for providing stable version histories so that I can point to a specific revision of a page.  However, for all other websites, the only option is self-archiving, which is technically difficult and fraught with problems.  What I have found incredibly useful is WebCite, a free webpage archiving service that fills in this gap. Read more

reification

representation

Words and Things: A De-Re-Sub-Post-Construction of Rhizomatic and Non-Arborescent Stratum in Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus

less than 1 minute read

Published:

This was my final project for an Information Studies class I took back in 2006, when I was an undergraduate at the University of Texas.  Our assignment was to transform information from one form to another, and I chose to perform this analysis of Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus.  I scanned and OCRed the entire book and did a visual frequency representation of certain words.  I analyzed by chapter and comprehensively with certain core themes in the work.  I also did a comprehensive analysis with more general or common words. It is intended to look the way it does, as I am going for a “1960s IBM goes to the academy” look. Take what you will from it: it is about 35% art, 25% snarky pastiche, 15% pretending to be linguistics, and -5% serious intellectual critique.  Here is a sample: Read more

research

Closed-source papers on open source communities: a problem and a partial solution

13 minute read

Published:

In the Wikipedia research community — that is, the group of academics and Wikipedians who are interested in studying Wikipedia — there has been a pretty substantial and longstanding problem with how research is published. Academics, from graduate students to tenured faculty, are deeply invested and entrenched in an system that rewards the publication of research. Publish or perish, as we’ve all heard.   The problem is that the overwhelming majority of publications which are recognized as ‘academic’ require us to assign copyright to the publication, so that the publisher can then charge for access to the article.  This is in direct contradiction with the goals of Wikipedia, as well as many other open source and open content creation communities — communities which are the subject of a substantial amount of academic research. Read more

The Lives of Bots

less than 1 minute read

Published:

I’m part of a Wikipedia research group called “Critical Point of View” centered around the Institute for Network Cultures in Amsterdam and the Centre for Internet and Society in Bangalore.  (Just a disclaimer, the term ‘critical’ is more like critical theory as opposed to Wikipedia bashing for its own sake.)  We’ve had some great conferences and are putting out an edited book on Wikipedia quite soon.  My chapter is on bots, and the abstract and link to the full PDF is below: Read more

Perils of Keyword-Based Bibliometrics: ISI’s ‘1990 Effect’

11 minute read

Published:

Have you done historical bibliometric analysis of a scientific field or topic area and found that there is a massive increase in research articles after 1990?  Are you using ISI’s Web of Science and searching by topic or keyword?  If so, don’t make the same mistake I did: these results aren’t because of some sea change or paradigm shift, but rather result from a poorly-documented shift in how ISI began indexing articles after 1990. Read more

Researching Wikipedia Holistically: A Tentative Approach

29 minute read

Published:

This is a tentative article-length introduction to my thesis on Wikipedia. It is an attempt to analyze Wikipedia from an interdisciplinary perspective that tries to make problematic various assumptions, concepts, and relations that function quite well in the “real world” but are not well-suited to studying Wikipedia. I begin by talking about the nature of academic disciplines, then proceed to a detailed but sparse review of certain prior research on Wikipedia. By examining the problems in previous research within the context of disciplines, I establish a tentative methodology for a holistic study of Wikipedia. Read more

Wikimania 2008: Collaborative research on Wikiversity with Cormac Lawler

1 minute read

Published:

Collaborative research on Wikiversity by Cormac Lawler (user Cormaggio on Wikimedia projects) at the University of Manchester.  Wikiversity is a relatively young project in the Wikimedia umbrella, but I think it is a natural development and a great space to realize the potential of all the educators currently on Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Wikibooks, and all the other projects. Read more

rhetoric

Researching Wikipedia Holistically: A Tentative Approach

29 minute read

Published:

This is a tentative article-length introduction to my thesis on Wikipedia. It is an attempt to analyze Wikipedia from an interdisciplinary perspective that tries to make problematic various assumptions, concepts, and relations that function quite well in the “real world” but are not well-suited to studying Wikipedia. I begin by talking about the nature of academic disciplines, then proceed to a detailed but sparse review of certain prior research on Wikipedia. By examining the problems in previous research within the context of disciplines, I establish a tentative methodology for a holistic study of Wikipedia. Read more

rhizomatic

Words and Things: A De-Re-Sub-Post-Construction of Rhizomatic and Non-Arborescent Stratum in Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus

less than 1 minute read

Published:

This was my final project for an Information Studies class I took back in 2006, when I was an undergraduate at the University of Texas.  Our assignment was to transform information from one form to another, and I chose to perform this analysis of Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus.  I scanned and OCRed the entire book and did a visual frequency representation of certain words.  I analyzed by chapter and comprehensively with certain core themes in the work.  I also did a comprehensive analysis with more general or common words. It is intended to look the way it does, as I am going for a “1960s IBM goes to the academy” look. Take what you will from it: it is about 35% art, 25% snarky pastiche, 15% pretending to be linguistics, and -5% serious intellectual critique.  Here is a sample: Read more

sartre

The Facticity of Art

less than 1 minute read

Published:

This is a piece of web art or net art, with an included work of art criticism about the piece. The work makes the argument that while interactive digital art can be considered user-centered, this new style and medium is only centered around those possibilities that the creator wishes to make available to the user. You can see The Facticity of Art at http://stuartgeiger.com/art/art-intro.shtml. Read more

science

Perils of Keyword-Based Bibliometrics: ISI’s ‘1990 Effect’

11 minute read

Published:

Have you done historical bibliometric analysis of a scientific field or topic area and found that there is a massive increase in research articles after 1990?  Are you using ISI’s Web of Science and searching by topic or keyword?  If so, don’t make the same mistake I did: these results aren’t because of some sea change or paradigm shift, but rather result from a poorly-documented shift in how ISI began indexing articles after 1990. Read more

Response: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn

7 minute read

Published:

A response to Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, in which his work is applied to a personal vignette of experimentation practices in a High School Physics class. When in the course of scientific education should students be allowed to modify scientific theories to fit experimental data instead of modifying experiments to fit the theories? Read more

science wars

Do you support Wikipedia? News from the Trenches of the Science Wars 2.0

43 minute read

Published:

I show that asking whether Wikipedia is a reliable academic source enframes Wikipedia into an objectless standing-reserve of potential citations, foreclosing many other possibilities for its use. Instead of asking what Wikipedia has done to reality, I ask: what have we done to Wikipedia in the name of reality? Read more

scientific education

Response: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn

7 minute read

Published:

A response to Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, in which his work is applied to a personal vignette of experimentation practices in a High School Physics class. When in the course of scientific education should students be allowed to modify scientific theories to fit experimental data instead of modifying experiments to fit the theories? Read more

semiotic

Memetic Inkblots

7 minute read

Published:

I explore the memetic inkblot, which refers to units of cultural information that have effectively no singular semiotic value and therefore serve as a psychosocial indicator. In other words, they are so vague and open to interpretation that you can learn a lot about someone by asking someone to give a simple definition of them. Read more

semiotics

Memetic Inkblots

7 minute read

Published:

I explore the memetic inkblot, which refers to units of cultural information that have effectively no singular semiotic value and therefore serve as a psychosocial indicator. In other words, they are so vague and open to interpretation that you can learn a lot about someone by asking someone to give a simple definition of them. Read more

shelly jackson

Response: Patchwork Girl by Shelly Jackson

5 minute read

Published:

This is a response to they hypertext fiction work Patchwork Girl by Shelley Jackson.  It is comprised in part of ‘patches’ of other works, most notably Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  I have made this essay entirely out of parts from the novel. Read more

signifier

Memetic Inkblots

7 minute read

Published:

I explore the memetic inkblot, which refers to units of cultural information that have effectively no singular semiotic value and therefore serve as a psychosocial indicator. In other words, they are so vague and open to interpretation that you can learn a lot about someone by asking someone to give a simple definition of them. Read more

social actors

social aggregation

Does Habermas Understand the Internet? The Algorithmic Construction of the Blogo/Public Sphere

1 minute read

Published:

This is a paper that I recently got published in gnovis, which is a peer-reviewed journal run entirely by graduate students at Georgetown’s Communication, Culture, and Technology program.  It is a sneakishly Latourian intervention into the debate between Habermasians and post-Habermasians regarding the Internet as a (part of the) public sphere.   They have been arguing for some time about whether the Internet (and specifically blogging) leads to political fragmentation or real collective action.  However, they have all taken for granted the highly-automated software infrastructures that mediate our knowledge of the blogosphere.  The article is up in HTML on the gnovis site, but I’ve also made a full-text, metadata friendly PDF simply because Google Scholar likes those.   The abstract is after the jump. Read more

social construction

Do you support Wikipedia? News from the Trenches of the Science Wars 2.0

43 minute read

Published:

I show that asking whether Wikipedia is a reliable academic source enframes Wikipedia into an objectless standing-reserve of potential citations, foreclosing many other possibilities for its use. Instead of asking what Wikipedia has done to reality, I ask: what have we done to Wikipedia in the name of reality? Read more

Memetic Inkblots

7 minute read

Published:

I explore the memetic inkblot, which refers to units of cultural information that have effectively no singular semiotic value and therefore serve as a psychosocial indicator. In other words, they are so vague and open to interpretation that you can learn a lot about someone by asking someone to give a simple definition of them. Read more

social constructionism

Capital ‘I’ for Internet?

4 minute read

Published:

Do you capitalize “Internet?” Some scholars from the emerging field of ‘Internet studies’ say no. I say yes. Read more

social media

An apologia for instagram photos of pumpkin spice lattes and other serious things

13 minute read

Published:

I don’t normally pick on people whose work I really admire, but I recently saw a tweet from Mark Sample that struck a nerve: “Look, if you don’t instagram your first pumpkin spice latte of the season, humanity’s historical record will be dangerously impoverished.”  While it got quite a number of retweets and equally snarky responses, he is far from the first to make such a flippant critique of the vapid nature of social media.  It also seriously upset me for reasons that I’ve been trying to work out, which is why I found myself doing one of those shifts that researchers of knowledge production tend to do far too often with critics: don’t get mad, get reflexive.  What is it that makes such a sentiment resonate with us, particularly when it is issued over Twitter, a platform that is the target of this kind of critique?  The reasons have to do with a fundamental disagreement over what it means to interact in a mediated space: do we understand our posts, status updates, and shared photos as representations of how we exist in the world which collectively constitute a certain persistent performance of the self, or do we understand them a form of communication in which we subjectively and interactionally relate our experience of the world to others? Read more

Does Habermas Understand the Internet? The Algorithmic Construction of the Blogo/Public Sphere

1 minute read

Published:

This is a paper that I recently got published in gnovis, which is a peer-reviewed journal run entirely by graduate students at Georgetown’s Communication, Culture, and Technology program.  It is a sneakishly Latourian intervention into the debate between Habermasians and post-Habermasians regarding the Internet as a (part of the) public sphere.   They have been arguing for some time about whether the Internet (and specifically blogging) leads to political fragmentation or real collective action.  However, they have all taken for granted the highly-automated software infrastructures that mediate our knowledge of the blogosphere.  The article is up in HTML on the gnovis site, but I’ve also made a full-text, metadata friendly PDF simply because Google Scholar likes those.   The abstract is after the jump. Read more

social networks

Response: Me++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City by William Mitchell

4 minute read

Published:

In his book Me++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City, William Mitchell describes how information technology – specifically digital, wireless networks which are accessed primarily through portable devices – fundamentally changes how we interact with others. More than anything else, “[c]onnectivity had become the defining characteristic of our twenty-first-century urban condition” (11). For Mitchell, we have given up the virtual reality fantasy that dominated predictions made in previous decades in lieu of subtler revolution: that of the networked self, the Me++. Read more

social order

The Lives of Bots

less than 1 minute read

Published:

I’m part of a Wikipedia research group called “Critical Point of View” centered around the Institute for Network Cultures in Amsterdam and the Centre for Internet and Society in Bangalore.  (Just a disclaimer, the term ‘critical’ is more like critical theory as opposed to Wikipedia bashing for its own sake.)  We’ve had some great conferences and are putting out an edited book on Wikipedia quite soon.  My chapter is on bots, and the abstract and link to the full PDF is below: Read more

social power structures

social software

The Lives of Bots

less than 1 minute read

Published:

I’m part of a Wikipedia research group called “Critical Point of View” centered around the Institute for Network Cultures in Amsterdam and the Centre for Internet and Society in Bangalore.  (Just a disclaimer, the term ‘critical’ is more like critical theory as opposed to Wikipedia bashing for its own sake.)  We’ve had some great conferences and are putting out an edited book on Wikipedia quite soon.  My chapter is on bots, and the abstract and link to the full PDF is below: Read more

social structures

Structural Transformation was Habermas’s first of thirty books

9 minute read

Published:

So given what’s going on* in Egypt and the Middle East, we in the West are fascinated by not so much revolutions and popular uprisings against dictatorial regimes, but an efficacious use of social media. Even Clinton is talking about the Internet as “the world’s town square”, and it seems that the old conversation about the Internet and the public sphere is going to flare up for the third time (1993-5 and 2001-3 are the other two times). Since Habermas is generally credited for bringing this notion of the public sphere to the forefront of popular, political, and academic discourse, it is natural to cite him.  Then critique him to death, talking about how we need to get beyond an old white guy’s theories.  And it feels good, I know. Read more

sociology

Researching Wikipedia Holistically: A Tentative Approach

29 minute read

Published:

This is a tentative article-length introduction to my thesis on Wikipedia. It is an attempt to analyze Wikipedia from an interdisciplinary perspective that tries to make problematic various assumptions, concepts, and relations that function quite well in the “real world” but are not well-suited to studying Wikipedia. I begin by talking about the nature of academic disciplines, then proceed to a detailed but sparse review of certain prior research on Wikipedia. By examining the problems in previous research within the context of disciplines, I establish a tentative methodology for a holistic study of Wikipedia. Read more

software

Bots, bespoke code, and the materiality of software platforms

1 minute read

Published:

This is a new article published in Information, Communication, and Society as part of their annual special issue for the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) conference. This year’s special issue was edited by Lee Humphreys and Tarleton Gillespie, who did a great job throughout the whole process. Read more

When the Levee Breaks: Without Bots, What Happens to Wikipedia’s Quality Control Processes?

less than 1 minute read

Published:

I’ve written a number of papers about the role that automated software agents (or bots) play in Wikipedia, claiming that they are critical to the continued operation of Wikipedia. This paper tests this hypothesis and introduces a metric visualizing the speed at which fully-automated bots, tool-assisted cyborgs, and unassisted humans review edits in Wikipedia. In the first half of 2011, ClueBot NG – one of the most prolific counter-vandalism bots in the English-language Wikipedia – went down for four distinct periods, each period of downtime lasting from days to weeks. Aaron Halfaker and I use these periods of breakdown as naturalistic experiments to study Wikipedia’s quality control network. Our analysis showed that the overall time-to-revert damaging edits was almost doubled when this software agent was down. Yet while a significantly fewer proportion of edits made during the bot’s downtime were reverted, we found that those edits were later eventually reverted. This suggests that human agents in Wikipedia took over this quality control work, but performed it at a far slower rate. Read more

About a bot: reflections on building software agents

less than 1 minute read

Published:

This post for Ethnography Matters is a very personal, reflective musing about the first bot I ever developed for Wikipedia. It makes the argument that while it is certainly important to think about software code and algorithms behind bots and other AI agents, they are not immaterial. In fact, the physical locations and social contexts in which they are run are often critical to understanding how they both ‘live’ and ‘die’. Read more

The Lives of Bots

less than 1 minute read

Published:

I’m part of a Wikipedia research group called “Critical Point of View” centered around the Institute for Network Cultures in Amsterdam and the Centre for Internet and Society in Bangalore.  (Just a disclaimer, the term ‘critical’ is more like critical theory as opposed to Wikipedia bashing for its own sake.)  We’ve had some great conferences and are putting out an edited book on Wikipedia quite soon.  My chapter is on bots, and the abstract and link to the full PDF is below: Read more

Perils of Keyword-Based Bibliometrics: ISI’s ‘1990 Effect’

11 minute read

Published:

Have you done historical bibliometric analysis of a scientific field or topic area and found that there is a massive increase in research articles after 1990?  Are you using ISI’s Web of Science and searching by topic or keyword?  If so, don’t make the same mistake I did: these results aren’t because of some sea change or paradigm shift, but rather result from a poorly-documented shift in how ISI began indexing articles after 1990. Read more

The Work of Sustaining Order in Wikipedia: The Banning of a Vandal

1 minute read

Published:

With the help of my advisor, Dr. David Ribes, I recently got a chapter of my master’s thesis accepted to the ACM conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, to be held in February 2010 in Savannah, Georgia. It is titled “The Work of Sustaining Order in Wikipedia: The Banning of a Vandal” and focuses on the roles of automated ‘bots’ and assisted editing tools in Wikipedia’s ‘vandal fighting’ network. Read more

Researching Wikipedia Holistically: A Tentative Approach

29 minute read

Published:

This is a tentative article-length introduction to my thesis on Wikipedia. It is an attempt to analyze Wikipedia from an interdisciplinary perspective that tries to make problematic various assumptions, concepts, and relations that function quite well in the “real world” but are not well-suited to studying Wikipedia. I begin by talking about the nature of academic disciplines, then proceed to a detailed but sparse review of certain prior research on Wikipedia. By examining the problems in previous research within the context of disciplines, I establish a tentative methodology for a holistic study of Wikipedia. Read more

software agent

The Lives of Bots

less than 1 minute read

Published:

I’m part of a Wikipedia research group called “Critical Point of View” centered around the Institute for Network Cultures in Amsterdam and the Centre for Internet and Society in Bangalore.  (Just a disclaimer, the term ‘critical’ is more like critical theory as opposed to Wikipedia bashing for its own sake.)  We’ve had some great conferences and are putting out an edited book on Wikipedia quite soon.  My chapter is on bots, and the abstract and link to the full PDF is below: Read more

software programs

soverignty

stable versions

Wikimania 2008: Flagged Revisions with Philipp Birken

5 minute read

Published:

From “Flagged Revisions,” a presentation at Wikimania 2008 by Philip Birken. In my opinion, flagged revisions realize the concept of stable versions without making the article actually stable.  It is not a system of voting to approve new revisions – a new revision is approved when only one autoconfirmed user says it is vandalism-free.  Yes, it won’t solve everything, but it will make things much better.  We can get rid of protecting articles that are experiencing heavy vandalism if we do this, because an edit only updates to the public when it is flagged as not-vandalism by a trusted user. However, vandals (or any other user) immediately sees the results of their edit for an hour, which is just ingenious.  Also, you can choose whether the most recent revision is shown by default, or make it so that certain users (like anonymous users) only see the most recent reviewed revision.  For those who feel that it threatens “the wiki way,” I suggest making the most recent version appear by default and giving people the option to see the latest reviewed version. Read more

standardization

Wikimania 2008: Content and the Internet in the (Globalized) Middle East

7 minute read

Published:

Content and the Internet in the (Globalized) Middle East, Dr. Ahmed Tantawi, Technical Director, IBM Middle East and North Africa.  Another copy of my notes from Wikimania 2008 – this was the keynote speech on the second day of the conference.  He began by warning us that, “I’ve changed this presentation, and I’ll change it during.  That is open content, yes?”  Everyone laughed. Read more

stratum

Words and Things: A De-Re-Sub-Post-Construction of Rhizomatic and Non-Arborescent Stratum in Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus

less than 1 minute read

Published:

This was my final project for an Information Studies class I took back in 2006, when I was an undergraduate at the University of Texas.  Our assignment was to transform information from one form to another, and I chose to perform this analysis of Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus.  I scanned and OCRed the entire book and did a visual frequency representation of certain words.  I analyzed by chapter and comprehensively with certain core themes in the work.  I also did a comprehensive analysis with more general or common words. It is intended to look the way it does, as I am going for a “1960s IBM goes to the academy” look. Take what you will from it: it is about 35% art, 25% snarky pastiche, 15% pretending to be linguistics, and -5% serious intellectual critique.  Here is a sample: Read more

structure of scientific revolutions

Response: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn

7 minute read

Published:

A response to Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, in which his work is applied to a personal vignette of experimentation practices in a High School Physics class. When in the course of scientific education should students be allowed to modify scientific theories to fit experimental data instead of modifying experiments to fit the theories? Read more

student behavior

Technology in the Classroom: A Response to Arthur Bochner

5 minute read

Published:

An outright ban on technology in the classroom - which may or may not include the pen and paper - is not the right answer. If one wishes to curb disruptive behavior, then ban disruptive behavior instead of banning all the little things that could be disruptive. Read more

subculture

surveillance

Response: Me++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City by William Mitchell

4 minute read

Published:

In his book Me++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City, William Mitchell describes how information technology – specifically digital, wireless networks which are accessed primarily through portable devices – fundamentally changes how we interact with others. More than anything else, “[c]onnectivity had become the defining characteristic of our twenty-first-century urban condition” (11). For Mitchell, we have given up the virtual reality fantasy that dominated predictions made in previous decades in lieu of subtler revolution: that of the networked self, the Me++. Read more

technician

Review: Talking About Machines by Julian Orr

6 minute read

Published:

This is a review of Julian Orr’s Talking About Machines, an ethnography of Xerox photocopier technicians. Blurring the line between ethnomethodology, organizational communication, infrastructure studies, human-computer/machine interaction, business administration, and traditional ethnography of work, his study reveals more than just the daily practices of what may initially seem like a boring job. Read more

technicians

Review: Talking About Machines by Julian Orr

6 minute read

Published:

This is a review of Julian Orr’s Talking About Machines, an ethnography of Xerox photocopier technicians. Blurring the line between ethnomethodology, organizational communication, infrastructure studies, human-computer/machine interaction, business administration, and traditional ethnography of work, his study reveals more than just the daily practices of what may initially seem like a boring job. Read more

technoepistemics

Does Habermas Understand the Internet? The Algorithmic Construction of the Blogo/Public Sphere

1 minute read

Published:

This is a paper that I recently got published in gnovis, which is a peer-reviewed journal run entirely by graduate students at Georgetown’s Communication, Culture, and Technology program.  It is a sneakishly Latourian intervention into the debate between Habermasians and post-Habermasians regarding the Internet as a (part of the) public sphere.   They have been arguing for some time about whether the Internet (and specifically blogging) leads to political fragmentation or real collective action.  However, they have all taken for granted the highly-automated software infrastructures that mediate our knowledge of the blogosphere.  The article is up in HTML on the gnovis site, but I’ve also made a full-text, metadata friendly PDF simply because Google Scholar likes those.   The abstract is after the jump. Read more

The Work of Sustaining Order in Wikipedia: The Banning of a Vandal

1 minute read

Published:

With the help of my advisor, Dr. David Ribes, I recently got a chapter of my master’s thesis accepted to the ACM conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, to be held in February 2010 in Savannah, Georgia. It is titled “The Work of Sustaining Order in Wikipedia: The Banning of a Vandal” and focuses on the roles of automated ‘bots’ and assisted editing tools in Wikipedia’s ‘vandal fighting’ network. Read more

technological determinism

Capital ‘I’ for Internet?

4 minute read

Published:

Do you capitalize “Internet?” Some scholars from the emerging field of ‘Internet studies’ say no. I say yes. Read more

technology

A dynamically-generated robots.txt: will search engine bots recognize themselves?

7 minute read

Published:

I built a script that dynamically generates a robots.txt file for search engine bots, who download the file when they seek direction on what parts of a website they are allowed to index. By default, it directs all bots to stay away from the entire site, but then presents an exception: only the bot that requests the robots.txt file is allowed full reign over the site. Read more

Bots, bespoke code, and the materiality of software platforms

1 minute read

Published:

This is a new article published in Information, Communication, and Society as part of their annual special issue for the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) conference. This year’s special issue was edited by Lee Humphreys and Tarleton Gillespie, who did a great job throughout the whole process. Read more

When the Levee Breaks: Without Bots, What Happens to Wikipedia’s Quality Control Processes?

less than 1 minute read

Published:

I’ve written a number of papers about the role that automated software agents (or bots) play in Wikipedia, claiming that they are critical to the continued operation of Wikipedia. This paper tests this hypothesis and introduces a metric visualizing the speed at which fully-automated bots, tool-assisted cyborgs, and unassisted humans review edits in Wikipedia. In the first half of 2011, ClueBot NG – one of the most prolific counter-vandalism bots in the English-language Wikipedia – went down for four distinct periods, each period of downtime lasting from days to weeks. Aaron Halfaker and I use these periods of breakdown as naturalistic experiments to study Wikipedia’s quality control network. Our analysis showed that the overall time-to-revert damaging edits was almost doubled when this software agent was down. Yet while a significantly fewer proportion of edits made during the bot’s downtime were reverted, we found that those edits were later eventually reverted. This suggests that human agents in Wikipedia took over this quality control work, but performed it at a far slower rate. Read more

About a bot: reflections on building software agents

less than 1 minute read

Published:

This post for Ethnography Matters is a very personal, reflective musing about the first bot I ever developed for Wikipedia. It makes the argument that while it is certainly important to think about software code and algorithms behind bots and other AI agents, they are not immaterial. In fact, the physical locations and social contexts in which they are run are often critical to understanding how they both ‘live’ and ‘die’. Read more

The ethnography of robots: interview at Ethnography Matters

11 minute read

Published:

This was an interview I did with the wonderful Heather Fordoriginally posted at Ethnography Matters (a really cool group blog) way back in January. No idea why I didn’t post a copy of this here back then, but now that I’m moving towards my dissertation I’m thinking about this kind of stuff more and more.  In short, I argue for a non-anthropocentric yet still phenomenological ethnography of technology, studying not the culture of the people who build and program robots, but the culture of those the robots themselves. Read more

Helvetica: A Documentary, A History, An Anthropology

13 minute read

Published:

I recently saw Helvetica, a documentary directed by Gary Hustwit about the typeface of the same name — it is available streaming and on DVD from Netflix, for those of you who have a subscription.  As someone who studies ubiquitous socio-technological infrastructures (and Helvetica is certainly one), I know how hard it is to seriously pay attention to something  that which we see every day.  It may seem counter-intuitive, but as Susan Leigh Star reminds us, the more widespread an infrastructure is, the more we use it and depend on it, the more invisible it becomes — that is, until it breaks or generates controversy, in which case it is far too easy.  But to actually say something about what well-oiled, hidden-in-plain-sight infrastructures are, how they came to have such a place in our society, and why they won out over their competitors is a notoriously difficult task.  But I came to realize that the film is less of a history of fonts, and more of an anthropology of design. Read more

Capital ‘I’ for Internet?

4 minute read

Published:

Do you capitalize “Internet?” Some scholars from the emerging field of ‘Internet studies’ say no. I say yes. Read more

Technology in the Classroom: A Response to Arthur Bochner

5 minute read

Published:

An outright ban on technology in the classroom - which may or may not include the pen and paper - is not the right answer. If one wishes to curb disruptive behavior, then ban disruptive behavior instead of banning all the little things that could be disruptive. Read more

Wikimania 2008: Wikipedia as Real Utopia with Edo Navot

5 minute read

Published:

Wikipedia as Real Utopia: Governance, knowledge production, and the institutional structure of Wikipedia – Edo Navot, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Sociology. Here follows my rough transcription of his speech, followed by my comments.  The fact that his is the only presentation I have so far commented on should be taken as a sign of respect, not of disparagement.  I rather enjoyed his presentation, pledge to read Wikipedia as Real Utopia: Governance, knowledge production, and the institutional structure of Wikipedia – Edo Navot, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Sociology. Here follows my rough transcription of his speech, followed by my comments.  The fact that his is the only presentation I have so far commented on should be taken as a sign of respect, not of disparagement.  I rather enjoyed his presentation, pledge to read in depth as soon as possible (I have skimmed it), and admire him for being one of the few academics out there studying social and political thought on Wikipedia. Read more

Wikimania 2008: Content and the Internet in the (Globalized) Middle East

7 minute read

Published:

Content and the Internet in the (Globalized) Middle East, Dr. Ahmed Tantawi, Technical Director, IBM Middle East and North Africa.  Another copy of my notes from Wikimania 2008 – this was the keynote speech on the second day of the conference.  He began by warning us that, “I’ve changed this presentation, and I’ll change it during.  That is open content, yes?”  Everyone laughed. Read more

Wikimania 2008: Opening Keynote with Egyptian Minister Ahmed Darwish

3 minute read

Published:

The official theme or slogan for this year’s Wikimania is “the knowledge revolution that is changing wisdom.” I think this phrase – especially the difference between knowledge and wisdom – was chosen very carefully and I think it is an excellent distinction to make. This morning’s opening ceremony began with a speech from the Egyptian Minister of State for Administrative Development, Dr. Ahmed Darwish. I will relay his comments here, without much analysis – that will come later, when I have the time. Read more

Response: Neuromancer by William Gibson

5 minute read

Published:

William Gibson’s novel Neuromancer tells the story of a team of radically different technologically-savvy individuals who are recruited by a young artificial intelligence named Wintermute, who desires to bypass the limitations placed on it by its owners and the authorities. Read more

Response: Me++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City by William Mitchell

4 minute read

Published:

In his book Me++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City, William Mitchell describes how information technology – specifically digital, wireless networks which are accessed primarily through portable devices – fundamentally changes how we interact with others. More than anything else, “[c]onnectivity had become the defining characteristic of our twenty-first-century urban condition” (11). For Mitchell, we have given up the virtual reality fantasy that dominated predictions made in previous decades in lieu of subtler revolution: that of the networked self, the Me++. Read more

Open Source Software: The Newest Specter?

15 minute read

Published:

Corporate adoption of open source software should not be viewed as antithetical to capitalism; rather, it is an example of corporations co-opting Communism to become more capitalist. Read more

technology in schools

Wikimania 2008: Opening Keynote with Egyptian Minister Ahmed Darwish

3 minute read

Published:

The official theme or slogan for this year’s Wikimania is “the knowledge revolution that is changing wisdom.” I think this phrase – especially the difference between knowledge and wisdom – was chosen very carefully and I think it is an excellent distinction to make. This morning’s opening ceremony began with a speech from the Egyptian Minister of State for Administrative Development, Dr. Ahmed Darwish. I will relay his comments here, without much analysis – that will come later, when I have the time. Read more

technology in the classroom

Technology in the Classroom: A Response to Arthur Bochner

5 minute read

Published:

An outright ban on technology in the classroom - which may or may not include the pen and paper - is not the right answer. If one wishes to curb disruptive behavior, then ban disruptive behavior instead of banning all the little things that could be disruptive. Read more

technology standards

Wikimania 2008: Content and the Internet in the (Globalized) Middle East

7 minute read

Published:

Content and the Internet in the (Globalized) Middle East, Dr. Ahmed Tantawi, Technical Director, IBM Middle East and North Africa.  Another copy of my notes from Wikimania 2008 – this was the keynote speech on the second day of the conference.  He began by warning us that, “I’ve changed this presentation, and I’ll change it during.  That is open content, yes?”  Everyone laughed. Read more

technology studies

Do you support Wikipedia? News from the Trenches of the Science Wars 2.0

43 minute read

Published:

I show that asking whether Wikipedia is a reliable academic source enframes Wikipedia into an objectless standing-reserve of potential citations, foreclosing many other possibilities for its use. Instead of asking what Wikipedia has done to reality, I ask: what have we done to Wikipedia in the name of reality? Read more

text

Why aren’t the GPL and the GFDL freely licensed?

4 minute read

Published:

Works licensed under the GPL and the GFDL can be modified and then freely redistributed, as long as the modified versions are released under the same conditions. Why are we not allowed to modify these licenses and redistribute them? Read more

Response: Patchwork Girl by Shelly Jackson

5 minute read

Published:

This is a response to they hypertext fiction work Patchwork Girl by Shelley Jackson.  It is comprised in part of ‘patches’ of other works, most notably Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  I have made this essay entirely out of parts from the novel. Read more

Response: Me++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City by William Mitchell

4 minute read

Published:

In his book Me++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City, William Mitchell describes how information technology – specifically digital, wireless networks which are accessed primarily through portable devices – fundamentally changes how we interact with others. More than anything else, “[c]onnectivity had become the defining characteristic of our twenty-first-century urban condition” (11). For Mitchell, we have given up the virtual reality fantasy that dominated predictions made in previous decades in lieu of subtler revolution: that of the networked self, the Me++. Read more

timeline

An apologia for instagram photos of pumpkin spice lattes and other serious things

13 minute read

Published:

I don’t normally pick on people whose work I really admire, but I recently saw a tweet from Mark Sample that struck a nerve: “Look, if you don’t instagram your first pumpkin spice latte of the season, humanity’s historical record will be dangerously impoverished.”  While it got quite a number of retweets and equally snarky responses, he is far from the first to make such a flippant critique of the vapid nature of social media.  It also seriously upset me for reasons that I’ve been trying to work out, which is why I found myself doing one of those shifts that researchers of knowledge production tend to do far too often with critics: don’t get mad, get reflexive.  What is it that makes such a sentiment resonate with us, particularly when it is issued over Twitter, a platform that is the target of this kind of critique?  The reasons have to do with a fundamental disagreement over what it means to interact in a mediated space: do we understand our posts, status updates, and shared photos as representations of how we exist in the world which collectively constitute a certain persistent performance of the self, or do we understand them a form of communication in which we subjectively and interactionally relate our experience of the world to others? Read more

trace data

Trace Ethnography: Following Coordination through Documentary Practices

1 minute read

Published:

This is a paper I co-authored with David Ribes and recently presented at HICSS, the Hawaii International Conference on Systems Sciences.  It’s a qualitative methodology based on analyzing logging data that we developed through my research on Wikipedia, but has some pretty broad applications for studying highly-distributed groups.  It’s an inversion of the previous paper we presented at CSCW, showing in detail how we traced how Wikipedian vandal fighters as they collectively work to identify and ban malicious contributors. Read more

trace ethnography

Trace Ethnography: Following Coordination through Documentary Practices

1 minute read

Published:

This is a paper I co-authored with David Ribes and recently presented at HICSS, the Hawaii International Conference on Systems Sciences.  It’s a qualitative methodology based on analyzing logging data that we developed through my research on Wikipedia, but has some pretty broad applications for studying highly-distributed groups.  It’s an inversion of the previous paper we presented at CSCW, showing in detail how we traced how Wikipedian vandal fighters as they collectively work to identify and ban malicious contributors. Read more

truth

Do you support Wikipedia? News from the Trenches of the Science Wars 2.0

43 minute read

Published:

I show that asking whether Wikipedia is a reliable academic source enframes Wikipedia into an objectless standing-reserve of potential citations, foreclosing many other possibilities for its use. Instead of asking what Wikipedia has done to reality, I ask: what have we done to Wikipedia in the name of reality? Read more

unconference

user-generated content

Do you support Wikipedia? News from the Trenches of the Science Wars 2.0

43 minute read

Published:

I show that asking whether Wikipedia is a reliable academic source enframes Wikipedia into an objectless standing-reserve of potential citations, foreclosing many other possibilities for its use. Instead of asking what Wikipedia has done to reality, I ask: what have we done to Wikipedia in the name of reality? Read more

User-Generated Content as an Ethical Relation

4 minute read

Published:

I feel bad that I have not written a new entry in so long. I feel like I should apologize - not to the readers, but to the software, to the site itself. I ought to write a new post; I ought to update my status. How did I get into a situation whereby these collections of code could make ethical demands upon me? And is this bad? Read more

vandalism

The Work of Sustaining Order in Wikipedia: The Banning of a Vandal

1 minute read

Published:

With the help of my advisor, Dr. David Ribes, I recently got a chapter of my master’s thesis accepted to the ACM conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, to be held in February 2010 in Savannah, Georgia. It is titled “The Work of Sustaining Order in Wikipedia: The Banning of a Vandal” and focuses on the roles of automated ‘bots’ and assisted editing tools in Wikipedia’s ‘vandal fighting’ network. Read more

Wikimania 2008: Flagged Revisions with Philipp Birken

5 minute read

Published:

From “Flagged Revisions,” a presentation at Wikimania 2008 by Philip Birken. In my opinion, flagged revisions realize the concept of stable versions without making the article actually stable.  It is not a system of voting to approve new revisions – a new revision is approved when only one autoconfirmed user says it is vandalism-free.  Yes, it won’t solve everything, but it will make things much better.  We can get rid of protecting articles that are experiencing heavy vandalism if we do this, because an edit only updates to the public when it is flagged as not-vandalism by a trusted user. However, vandals (or any other user) immediately sees the results of their edit for an hour, which is just ingenious.  Also, you can choose whether the most recent revision is shown by default, or make it so that certain users (like anonymous users) only see the most recent reviewed revision.  For those who feel that it threatens “the wiki way,” I suggest making the most recent version appear by default and giving people the option to see the latest reviewed version. Read more

virtual

Response: Neuromancer by William Gibson

5 minute read

Published:

William Gibson’s novel Neuromancer tells the story of a team of radically different technologically-savvy individuals who are recruited by a young artificial intelligence named Wintermute, who desires to bypass the limitations placed on it by its owners and the authorities. Read more

Response: Me++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City by William Mitchell

4 minute read

Published:

In his book Me++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City, William Mitchell describes how information technology – specifically digital, wireless networks which are accessed primarily through portable devices – fundamentally changes how we interact with others. More than anything else, “[c]onnectivity had become the defining characteristic of our twenty-first-century urban condition” (11). For Mitchell, we have given up the virtual reality fantasy that dominated predictions made in previous decades in lieu of subtler revolution: that of the networked self, the Me++. Read more

Notions of Identity Liberation in Virtual Gaming Communities

18 minute read

Published:

The vast worlds of MMORPGs seem close to postmodern theories of identity, as a player is able to radically constitute their on-line self at will. Despite this, these virtual gaming communities should not be seen as safe spaces in which a subject can realize their true (or ideal) self. Read more

virtual communities

Real, Virtual Communities: A Response to Brian Williams

5 minute read

Published:

Brian Williams talked about how this year’s primary season has shown that even in the age of the Internet, we still have a longing for real communities. I take issue with his use of “virtual community” and claim that most political communities are virtual. Read more

Notions of Identity Liberation in Virtual Gaming Communities

18 minute read

Published:

The vast worlds of MMORPGs seem close to postmodern theories of identity, as a player is able to radically constitute their on-line self at will. Despite this, these virtual gaming communities should not be seen as safe spaces in which a subject can realize their true (or ideal) self. Read more

virtual community

Real, Virtual Communities: A Response to Brian Williams

5 minute read

Published:

Brian Williams talked about how this year’s primary season has shown that even in the age of the Internet, we still have a longing for real communities. I take issue with his use of “virtual community” and claim that most political communities are virtual. Read more

virtual ethnography

Capital ‘I’ for Internet?

4 minute read

Published:

Do you capitalize “Internet?” Some scholars from the emerging field of ‘Internet studies’ say no. I say yes. Read more

virtual reality

Response: Me++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City by William Mitchell

4 minute read

Published:

In his book Me++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City, William Mitchell describes how information technology – specifically digital, wireless networks which are accessed primarily through portable devices – fundamentally changes how we interact with others. More than anything else, “[c]onnectivity had become the defining characteristic of our twenty-first-century urban condition” (11). For Mitchell, we have given up the virtual reality fantasy that dominated predictions made in previous decades in lieu of subtler revolution: that of the networked self, the Me++. Read more

Notions of Identity Liberation in Virtual Gaming Communities

18 minute read

Published:

The vast worlds of MMORPGs seem close to postmodern theories of identity, as a player is able to radically constitute their on-line self at will. Despite this, these virtual gaming communities should not be seen as safe spaces in which a subject can realize their true (or ideal) self. Read more

virtual world

Notions of Identity Liberation in Virtual Gaming Communities

18 minute read

Published:

The vast worlds of MMORPGs seem close to postmodern theories of identity, as a player is able to radically constitute their on-line self at will. Despite this, these virtual gaming communities should not be seen as safe spaces in which a subject can realize their true (or ideal) self. Read more

web 2.0

Memetic Inkblots

7 minute read

Published:

I explore the memetic inkblot, which refers to units of cultural information that have effectively no singular semiotic value and therefore serve as a psychosocial indicator. In other words, they are so vague and open to interpretation that you can learn a lot about someone by asking someone to give a simple definition of them. Read more

web art

The Facticity of Art

less than 1 minute read

Published:

This is a piece of web art or net art, with an included work of art criticism about the piece. The work makes the argument that while interactive digital art can be considered user-centered, this new style and medium is only centered around those possibilities that the creator wishes to make available to the user. You can see The Facticity of Art at http://stuartgeiger.com/art/art-intro.shtml. Read more

web design

Web Design: Blueprints on the CSS Zen Garden

less than 1 minute read

Published:

This was a CSS stylesheet I wrote for the CSS Zen Garden, which is a really cool concept in web design. There is a standard HTML page in which all the content is wrapped up in div tags, and the idea is to write a CSS stylesheet that makes it pretty. Mine was based on blueprints, and can be accessed here. It turns out that I didn’t make into the accepted designs, but I did get on the list of those that didn’t make the cut. I can see why – it needs some cleaning up around the lines which I might do if I have some time. But I’ll take being top of that list. Read more

web of science

Perils of Keyword-Based Bibliometrics: ISI’s ‘1990 Effect’

11 minute read

Published:

Have you done historical bibliometric analysis of a scientific field or topic area and found that there is a massive increase in research articles after 1990?  Are you using ISI’s Web of Science and searching by topic or keyword?  If so, don’t make the same mistake I did: these results aren’t because of some sea change or paradigm shift, but rather result from a poorly-documented shift in how ISI began indexing articles after 1990. Read more

wiki

The Work of Sustaining Order in Wikipedia: The Banning of a Vandal

1 minute read

Published:

With the help of my advisor, Dr. David Ribes, I recently got a chapter of my master’s thesis accepted to the ACM conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, to be held in February 2010 in Savannah, Georgia. It is titled “The Work of Sustaining Order in Wikipedia: The Banning of a Vandal” and focuses on the roles of automated ‘bots’ and assisted editing tools in Wikipedia’s ‘vandal fighting’ network. Read more

Conceptions and Misconceptions Academics Hold About Wikipedia

4 minute read

Published:

As an ethnographer, I enter into communities, learn their customs, beliefs, and practices, then report back to the academy to share what I have discovered. In this presentation, I wish to do the opposite, presenting to the Wikipedian community an ethnography of academics as they relate to Wikipedia. Read more

Why aren’t the GPL and the GFDL freely licensed?

4 minute read

Published:

Works licensed under the GPL and the GFDL can be modified and then freely redistributed, as long as the modified versions are released under the same conditions. Why are we not allowed to modify these licenses and redistribute them? Read more