Monday, March 31, 2008

Taking things too in context

If a tree falls on Twitter, is there still a forest to be seen?

The rise of contemporary technology journalism has been principally a celebration of rapid innovation. Rapid innovation is worth celebrating, worth sharing, and worth discussing, but should these be done so rapidly?

The core problem lies in the way we process and synthesize information. There is a belief that the more information one has, the better a decision will be. Knows more = smarter = better decisions. Unfortunately, it's not that simple.

Unfortunately, when you don't know specific information, you don't know how much you don't know. However, the more information you have, the more confident you are in the assertion that your decision or position is correct. When you don't have the knowledge, you can't make the prediction and you know you can't make the prediction, however, when you have some information, you think you can make the prediction, even if you can't. It's this hubris, this overconfidence in believing one is right because they already know so much, that lends itself to bad decision making because of this overconfidence of precision (this is all straight of Nassim Nicholas Taleb's masterwork The Black Swan). In other words, information overload not only makes it harder for us to process more information, it makes us bad decisionmakers.

Now what does this have to do with the internet? Take a look at my Twitter feed - these are the conversations I'm supposed to be following as they're going on. There are about 100 people who are all talking in short snippets on what they're thinking about. It's incredible for what it is, and in the communities it's become ubiquitous in, it's really been transformative as a conversation tool for understanding what's going on now.

Twitter has also been incredibly transformative as a tool in less free environments, but that's the subject of a different, more optimistic, post.

There are some people who approach tools like Twitter with the expectation that they should follow every conversation and posting in real time. All day, every day, short "tweets" pop up on their desktops, their phones, and they have to be a part of the conversation 24/7. They get lost in the sea of messages, and their real-life relationships suffer. Take this to the next level. Lets not track conversations, lets track people, and lets see what they're doing online. Social network service aggregators make it easy to see all your friends online activities in one place. Tools like FriendFeed and SocialThing make it simple to see what everyone's doing, but it quickly scales into chaos. Take a look at Robert Scoble's FriendFeed. Scoble follows 16,000 people this way, somehow managing to see what's new and cool before everyone else as a result. But Scoble's the exception. Information overload removes context, making it harder to derive meaning.

Ultimately, getting lost in the sea of irrelevant information makes it more difficult for the rapid innovation that much of the discussion is supposed to be celebrating in the first place.

Yahoo's new site for women

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Juicy Campus

We discussed this briefly in class at one point...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Yahoo and MySpace join with Google

Yahoo, MySpace, and Google come together to create the OpenSocial Foundation so their programs can be used with a variety of social networking sites.

Obama and the coming of the digital presidency?

Justice approves Sirius-XM merger

I hope merger happens soon, so I can get NFL games next fall.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Survivor technologies

Hopes for Wireless Cities Fade as Internet Providers Pull Out

Companies such as Earthlink are stopping their efforts to make entire cities wireless, such as Philadelphia.

China orders video Web sites to close

The poor Chinese are missing out on the "Don't Tase Me Bro" videos as well as many more!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Obama speech dominates youtube

Lessig's reform movement.

Newsweek - 1995: The Internet? Bah!

Money quotes:

Then there's cyberbusiness. We're promised instant catalog shopping--just point and click for great deals. We'll order airline tickets over the network, make restaurant reservations and negotiate sales contracts. Stores will become obselete. So how come my local mall does more business in an afternoon than the entire Internet handles in a month? Even if there were a trustworthy way to send money over the Internet--which there isn't--the network is missing a most essential ingredient of capitalism: salespeople.

and of course

Do our computer pundits lack all common sense? The truth is no online database will replace your daily newspaper...

Guess we've been wrong all these years.  Someone tell the New York Times that they don't have to worry about their business model.  Oh and Amazon, don't you think it's time you've thrown in the towel.

(via Waxy)

Truthiness in a post-fact society?

Interesting new book.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Facebook and viral marketing of news

Reinventing Security

Eric Chiappinelli from the Seattle University school of law wrote an incredible piece back in 1992 on redefining the notions of "security" to form a genuine public interest.

Here's the abstract:
The traditional test for evaluating whether a particular investment vehicle is covered under the securities law is in dire need of reform. Under the traditional test, coverage turns entirely on the private needs of private investors rather than on the public needs of the national securities markets. Considerations of the American capital formation and secondary trading markets or those markets' ability to compete in foreign markets remain untouched. The introduction of more sophisticated investment vehicles provides an opportunity to amend the traditional analysis to better address the broader public interest. Considerations of the national markets can be integrated harmoniously into the traditional analysis for the purposes of making securities coverage determinations. Adding a public interest component to the test would provide a useful supplement to the traditional approach. This article analyzes the current approach; moving through a discussion of how the Supreme Court determines what is and what is not a security before delving into the deficiencies of the current approach. An expanded calculus that includes a public interest test is needed so that capital formation, secondary trading markets, and issues of market regulation are explicitly considered. A public interest test is entirely consonant with the traditional touchstones of congressional intention and prior case law. On multiple occasions Congress has acted by amendment to bring a portion of the financial markets under greater regulation in order to protect the public interest. This article illustrates that in the absence of the public interest calculus the traditional test is insufficient. It is therefore important that the courts consider the larger, national implications of securities coverage through the application of a public interest test.
I'd be interested in hearing Bruce Schneider's take on this.

(via Lawrence Solum)

RFID Security - A Guide to Telling Campus Safety That You're The President of Hamilton College

RFID is inherently insecure, yet we're putting so much data into Passive RFID systems, including such innocuous things as clothing product (like Wal-Mart is trying to do), physical access technologies and credit card data.

What's interesting is that some of the most virulent opposition to RFID has been from religious groups, asserting RFID is the mark of the beast.

Apple mulls unlimited music bundle

Where is Wikipedia Headed for in the Future?

As Wikipedia grows how, or will it limit the type of content that is posted on it in order to increase its legitimacy. There are two camps in this struggle, described by The Economist as " “inclusionists”, who believe that applying strict editorial criteria will dampen contributors' enthusiasm for the project, and “deletionists” who argue that Wikipedia should be more cautious and selective about its entries." The question is who will win out, and more importantly who should?

Facebook Update

Facebook looks to update its site, users will have new privacy settings allowing the "ability to preserve social distinctions between friends, family and co-workers online." according to the site. This will allow users to make different levels of access based on distinctions they make as to who fits in what group. This is a pivotal step for Facebook in allowing its users to control their privacy settings to an even greater extent.

The FCC Conducts the Most Lucrative Government Auction in History

Wireless companies recently bid more than $19 Billion dollars in an effort to buy valuable rights to radio spectrum licenses, yielding twice the amount that experts had estimated. This is seen as a crucial step in opening the tightly held market on wireless devices.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

NYT Blog, The Caucus

The Caucus is the NYT blog on politics. It works a little differently than most blogs in that the author of the article is a professional journalist. I feel the NYT Blog works a little better than most traditional blogs because it brings a greater number of informed people into the discussion (the NYT probably gets more hits than most blogs on politics - also, we can assume that those posting read the news on somewhat of a regular basis).

Techno thrillers

John Twelve Hawks' novels, The Traveler and The Dark River, are part of a trilogy about the surveillance society. The Tabula, an ancient secret group, is trying to use technology to establish a "virtual panopticon," where everything we do is monitored. Only the mystical Travelers, protected by Harlequins, can save the world.

State of the Media 2008

Emphasizes the disconnect between news and advertising.

Net tracking

Sunday, March 16, 2008

An Interesting Website...

I typed in "politics digital" into Google and found an interesting website run by a "semi-professional" journalist [refer to article link posted below], Colin Delany. He introduces himself towards the end of the about page in a manner which exposes the ease with which semi-professionals can launch successful ventures : " The great thing about running a website is that you get to appoint yourself an expert. So, poof! I’m an expert." But does this "poof" mindset translate into universal success for the masses? Delany would disagree. According to him, many people host pages on the internet devoted to political discursion, but very few use this information to bring about tangible changes in politics.

The other interesting part of his website:
The other interesting part of this website is what Delany thinks are the five ways to use the internet effectively in campaigning. I thought his point about relentlessly morphing political stratagems was original. It is true that many candidates running for office launch websites, but for many, the wonders of the internet fail to manifest monetarily. Perhaps these candidates need to go the extra mile - it is not only about having a website up there somewhere, but about creating one that is engaging, effective and informative.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

IT in 2008

Interesting post about which technologies have had the biggest effect in campaigns.

Will video cause internet taffic jam?

An argument against net neutrality?

Going for the gold

The gold mouse report is certainly an interesting article. In rating the different web sites of various elected officials such as senators and congressmen they have several criteria that are used that I think do truly matter for freedom of information reasons. The people are supposed to be able to access how their elected officials have voted and what they have voted and not voted on. If a website is not kept up to date and has information from a year ago (as some of them apparently do) this process is blocked. Another huge factor that is a necessity is a search engine for their webpages. How else is the average citizen supposed to be able to navigate through a website and find bills or resolutions that have been associated with their representatives. I found it interesting that senate web pages did much better than congressional ones. Another interesting fact was that Democrats web sites got higher grades in 2007 after getting majorities in both houses, (as slim as it is) than when republicans got the majority in the legislature in in the 90s. The book points out that this might have happened because of the websites being already established previously and the only work that was done was simple modernization revisions installing some web tools like search engines. A lot of what scores highly seems to be aesthetic value such as looking professional with high definition pictures for a background homepage. Some of the other categories are more necessary such as ease of navigation, access to representative's activities, press clippings, press releases etc. The article says that the results overall are disappointing but i see this again simply as a product of the different generations in power. Many staffers are not web experts and that job has to be outsourced to consultants which can increase the time needed to update web pages (having an overall negative affect) Many generations are now growing up with the internet, (most of generation y) and when or if they decide to go into public service this problem will most likely be solved to a much greater extent as they will have invaluable knowledge as to the most efficient ways to use the internet. Government websites should continue to work towards Golden mouse awards as that will truly ensure that citizens will be connected to the political process and further motivate participation in elections.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Google Maps finally hits a roadblock

The pentagon has stopped google maps from mapping the insides of military bases in the US after images on google maps of the inside of Fort Sam Houston army base were discovered. They claim that it presents serious security concerns. To be honest im surprised it took them this long to try and stop google maps.

Tracking your surfing

People vs. advertising tracking winner: the people (currently)

nanobots + Mind control > Disease?

This is just crazy

Are newspapers doomed?

Steiger's article seemed to be a very straight forward Journalism piece about how profits have been dropping away from the major newspapers for years. He seems to be nostalgic for an age of journalism that was booming and ruthless. The journalists that uncovered major scandals in Washington, and not some sex fling with an intern. Again, this is difficult for me because I feel that I hear about the ages of yore and how amazing everything was. I don't know how vigorous the news used to be in making sure the Presidential administration was keeping their noses clean, but it doesn't seem to be that way anymore.

Though the big new corps aren't reeling in the profits like they once were, many of them are more profitable but on more realistic scales. I think that the internet will prove to be a boon to Journalism once the news corporations realize/discover how to use it to its maximum benefit. In fact I feel the same way about the TV corporations in this regard. They have been fighting tooth and nail with the internet to prevent their content from being downloaded. As we have seen with the music industry, that isn't a battle that can be won. No matter how many politicians and computer programers they have in the battle, every kid with a laptop becomes their enemy. This seems to be Kessler's point in way. These corporations have to be capable of changing or they won't last in the new internet market. Why should I watch a show on NBC at whatever time they feel like I should, when I could watch it anytime I want online? Why not instead post these shows online along with ads (which is a technique that NBC is using).

Both of the articles we read seem to be dealing with the fact that corporations need to embrace this new technology instead of fighting it. Not look at it as something that will eat into their profits but as a way of expanding their market and thus increasing their profits.

Blogs Are To Fast-Food Joints Like Newspapers Are To 5-Star Restaurants

Compromising Fact and Fiction: The Threat Blogs Pose to Journalism

Sergei Dovlatov was a Russian novelist and journalist who practiced under the Soviet Regime until he moved himself and his family to New York City when he was 38. His book The Compromise, published the year of his death (1990), gave great insight to the artistry of journalism, and the lack thereof when producing for a communist nation. The book is structured around eleven brief articles for which each piece Dovlatov tells the story behind the story, exposing censorship. This raises the question, how much of journalism is "real"? Even in non authoritarian regimes, survival of media giants depends on, as Rosentiel puts it, the "vibrancy of the journalism that newsroom leaders create for the business side to sell." News is a selling commodity, and journalists have the responsibility to write news that sells. In doing so, the truth can sometimes be cloudy. Blogs (which are free) pose a great threat to journalism because they have the potential to inadverdently push journalists to compromise fact for fiction.

Outing, who is yet to see journalists make such a sacrafice, points out that "bloggers can learn a thing or two about accuracy from traditional journalists." Sadly, I don't think bloggers ever will. They don't want to. Their craft would die; inaccuracies keep threads alive.

Bloggers seem to lie to readers more willingly than journalists, but in this day and age journalists are under even greater pressure to produce provocative, enticing material --which is nervewrecking. Bloggers, many of which lack the skill of good writing, cater to a dumbing down of the audience base with ill-written prose wrought with fallacies. Not to mention, as Outing points out, bloggers have no real code of ethics. Bloggers have an inherently easier job than journalists --they get away with more by doing less.

I realize that there are some "full time bloggers" out there who invest a lot of time in what they do. But aren't these types journalists and not bloggers? Ironically, Choire Sicha, editoral director of Gawker Media, points this out: "Here's a little peek behind the curtain over here at Gawker HQ: I just had a two-hour meeting with a blogger who edits one of our sites. We discussed new staffing assignments and rotataions, some feature ideas, and six-month goals." Well developed blogs don't really seem to me like blogs at all. Perhaps "blog" is a term that is too obsessivly and loosely used. The "bloggers" I bear to read are more digital journalists than they are bloggers. And yes, I do think there is a difference.

I think journalism is a wonderful craft. Proper journalism is entertaining but more often compelling to read, and I respect that. That said, Rosensteil points out that "part of journalism is creating the concept of a community, part myth, part hope part tough love. This is the notion that journalists create a forum for public disccusion." This is, in fairness, what blogs aim to do. Blogs aren't all bad. They can potentially fill gaps that journalists can't always take care of, like covering stories that can't seem to be found anywhere else. So why do blogs have to threaten classic journalism? Blogging, with the ability to constantly edit and re-think material, is an engaging activity and can be a practice of good writing, but all too often, it's not. I just wish that blogs didn't have to come at such a high cost to the journalism they ironically thrive off of.

Lastly, Steiger's article, his disenchanted-shocked-and-awed-farewell, concludes with a plug for his nonprofit ProPublica. I wish him and the Sandlers the best of luck with their attempt to "in some modest way make up for some of the loss in investigative-reporting." Very classy.

The Battle Between the Blogger and Journalist Community

Are bloggers capable of performing on a journalist level? Are journalists capable of performing on a blogger level? While these two categories present different titles and perhaps different methods of arriving at their works, the fact of the matter remains that both continue to write about the same news and thoughts. Yes, a blogger may be a little more care free or quick to report, but a journalist may not be opinionated enough or quick enough. Who is to say that the "careless" publishing and the "I publish anything because I can" mentalities of bloggers does not create something effective and maybe even better than some journalist works? Today's world is moving faster than ever, and people gain information and produce opinions on their feet. With such technological advances as the Blackberry on the iPhone, people can afford to constantly be on the move even while staying up to date with the current issues of the world. Similarly, the blogging sites of the interent allow people to remain 'with it' in regards to news. Not only are these blogs fast paced, but they more easiliy create something which some journalists are just not capable of; conversation. More or less, blogs are an extended conversation of some sort with people from all around the world. Once a blogger has posted something, anyone, anywhere is capable of commenting or disputing whatever that statement may be. Furthermore, these blogs demonstrate the true opinions of their writers, creating a better understanding of their personal views for their readers. In short, the story-like telling of bloggers and their works allow for people to become more involved in what they are reading about.

By no means do these blogging 'advantages' rule out the success of journalists. Many argue that due to the 'quick to publish' mentalities of bloggers, their works are not as well edited or written or informative. Journalists focus on capturing the best story and the best pieces from that particular story. While bloggers may produce more works: is it edited correctly? is the information valid? is it written well? Ethics. Do bloggers think before they act, or do they simply write down any sort of story that arises. Because of their obsessive behavior of rapid production, many of their works may be riding on the line between acceptable and unethical. Furthermore, a blogger lacks in depth reporting. Credibility is critical to the journalist world. Without credibility, no one will believe your story and some may just not read it at all. A journalist has the great ability to produce an article, as short or as long as it may be, which somehow grasps the attention of the reader on line 1 and is able to maintain that interest throughout the article.

All in all, does anyone truly have the upper hand? Is it simply just preference?

Welcome to Hulu

...As predicted by our sage colleauge Mr. Rirodan...

Can Hulu bring sites like alluc and peekvid to their demise?

Facebook: A Cheating Tool

Valleywag: No Punitive Damages in Viacom v. Google

The Tangible vs. The Virtual

When the success of newspapers came around fifty years ago, no one expected the threatening abilities of the internet. The so-called "Web industry" of Steiger began to attack the older newspaper business models. With the internet today, it is hard to think that people would prefer to sit down and read printed articles rather than click on random links and instantly read about exactly their interest. Are newspapers simply too slow? For decades and decades people would buy their local newspaper and catch up on the current issues. Newspapers reached a point where no cost could hinder their search for the next top story. However, even before the presence of the internet came certain television series which slowly began to take away from the newspaper. Such "video journalism" like '60 Minutes' brought to the world a virtual newspaper. Furthermore, online journalism came into the scene in the early 1990's, slowly damaging the success of the hardcopy newspapers. Newspapers could only learn and produce so quickly, while the internet was able to rapidly produce any amount of information at any given time. Even when the newspapers tried to dabble on the web, corporations found that their online information was too similar to their real newspaper. No new products or clever additions were seen. Other non-newspaper websites used the vast abilities of the internet to their advantage. By offering more, free information faster than any other news source, these non-newspaper websites began to flourish. With such later internet innovations as Yahoo or Google or any other prosperous search engine, the internet seriously hindered the success of newspaper.

While I personally still continue to catch up on news through actual newspapers and the internet, there is no doubt that the internet maintains several attractions that newspapers simply can not offer. When there is time in the day, looking over a newspaper is not a problem but when people are busy and on the move (like most are today) some source of digital news is just more feasbile and efficient.

Newspapers vs. Blogs

A D.I.Y. Approach to Making a Web Commercial

The Online Classroom: Pro's and Con's

As Universities increasing turn to online courses increasing opportunities for students to take classes, as well as increasing the ability of the schools to make revenue. This has provided a boost to the already booming education industry and at the same time has enabled professors, as well as students, to reach each other at a level they were previously unable to. Although this accessibility has come at a cost as a variety of problems are being displayed by this new trend, such as the quality of the course's, actual interaction with students, and commonly unthought of the lack of pay to the teaching professors.

The Price of the Pop-Up

Internet users across the United States were targeted by over a trillion emails in December 2007, according to Louise Story of the New York Times. Microsoft has itself positioned as the fifth most advertising venue, Yahoo! had eight times the amount of visitors that Microsoft did in the month of December 2007 with a total of 400 billion different advertisements. This lack of ground on Yahoo! would explain the reason for Microsoft's $41 billion dollar bid for Yahoo!, as the competition for this new venue for advertising increases so does the race control the market.

An Update on Hulu

Monday, March 10, 2008

Blogging > Quizing

The articles for today's reading were certainly interesting in how they laid out the different problems for newspapers continued existence.

Rosensteel looking for sense-making news: this is somewhat of a fallacy since even traditional media sources can be biased and thus sense making news really cannot exist rather a person has to make the decision themselves about which news sources they trust. Rosensteel says that one has to sift through various sources to find a type of sense-making news but i would argue that this already exists because of the different cable and network news outlets. Additionally on further reflection wouldnt it make more sense if there were more more sources for news or else harmful knowledge about a company might not come to light if that company also owns the primary news networks. I also see that blogs can cover things that "no one else covers" because of the ability of anyone to make one. If there was not a blog devoted to the subject someone could simply create one. There are also an immense number of blogs available. To say that something is not covered means that you might not have searched enough.

Blogs have also uncovered many different things and can be used for investigative reporting. A recent example was an article discussing Hillary Clinton's chances of becoming president. One person used a delegate calculator and blogged that even if she won the next 12 contests (this was before Wyoming) she would not have enough delegates to pull ahead of Senator Obama. This story was then later put onto the evening news. Clearly investigative work can be done online. I also fail to see how it can be better done by newspapers that are controlled by some of these "powerful interests" that the media has to keep honest.

The outing piece represents more of what i would recommend for bloggers. Tools to allow them to access more information is certainly a tool that is worth investigating. I am also not terribly opposed to having someone else look at your piece before you post it. There is a lot of flexibility and laxness on the web for grammatical errors but another person editing the piece might not be such a bad idea for readability concerns. Outing brings up a good point about a limit of blogging, the ability to access credentials to important events. I feel that this is a problem that will slowly dissolve over time as blogs are made into more of the "4th estate" that outing among others claims them to be.

Kessler has an interesting article to be sure. Part of it shows that he thinks newspapers aernt dead rather they have an advantage when it comes to advertising since they already have a base that reads their product. He also says that there is still time for newspapers as paid blog subscriptions are still experimental and newspapers have always been a product that has to be paid for. Perhaps if blogs are a subscription service they might not be as prominent. He also goes into detail about how media rights seem to be eroding as the ability to stream media on p2p networks is becoming so widespread. He redirects the fear for the future to tv and cable rather than newspapers in the end of this article. A point to which i somewhat agree.

Steiger's article seems to be pretty dismal in terms of forecasting any hope for newspapers. He sees that the ease of publishing has been dropped to a level now where anyone can be part of the process. He does bring up some idea for a future of newspapers however, it is not in the way that traditional newspapers would prefer it. Near the end of his article Steiger speaks about how companies like Blomberg's data network could merge with the New York Times in order to keep the investigative reporting quality and also compete on different media levels. This is an interesting concept that merits some thought. It would allow for newspapers to continue but they would be one in a variety of sources that people would look at. I still fail to see how the costs of production would be solved by mergers like this however. It seems that newspapers will continue to see diminishing returns as their viewership shrinks and since many more people can get news for free online it doesnt seem like it will take too much longer until newspapers are considered somewhat obsolete. The investigative reporting will continue except it will be for webpapers and other media.

Clips: Sarah Lacy's "Lesley Stahl moment"

Mark "Faceberg" Zuckerberg was yesterday's keynote at SXSW.i, probably the best interactive media conference for entrepreneurs, media types, creatives, coders, and, of course, thought leaders.

Zuck (lacking his trademark Adidas flip-flops), was interviewed by Buisiness Week reporter Sarah Lacy, who wrote the cover story on Facebook several months back, and previously the magazine's Digg cover story, which proclaimed Digg and Kevin Rose had made 60 million in 18 months (not true then, though the rumors for its current asking price are about 200 million).  When attendees showed up, they expected a conversation with Zuckerberg, not a Sarah Lacy showcase, who was clearly unprepared for the interview, and wasn't asking questions that interested anyone in the audience.  The crowd turned against her.  Together, in the backchannels of Twitter, SMS, and IM windows they rose up against her.

This is exactly the problem when technology journalists aren't geeks themselves.  Lacy is widely considered to be a part of this new web culture, however, as she demonstrated yesterday, she's far removed from the components which make it great.

Wikileaks and the future or law

Wikileaks has been a topic with a couple posts on it as of late because of its interesting precedent that it sets for the future of free speech in this country on the internet. This article by Alex Altman reviews the situation and asks whether or not the outcome is right. He makes an interesting point because the final situation was that the people behind wikileaks got the order to seal the web address overturned but this in itself he calls "unsettling." Why? because it is an example of technology being such a force that it can battle the law and win.
I find a couple problems with his argument. First it has been said countless times that tech is moving at a rate that our law cannot keep up so this isnt terribly surprising that tech beat back the law. Second, the internet has been ruled on previously in cases and it is supposed to be regulated as if it were cable television (mostly unregulated) this was simply a protection of speech under the first amendment and it was an attack from a traditional source, a corporation that was threatened by the effects of the free speech becasue it could hurt their chances in an upcoming court case. I do not find this "unsettling" rather refreshing.

An Old Story

I thought this was interesting, considering our discussion of Siegel's ideas about video-blog hoaxes and hiding behind the internet. Is the internet responsible for this increase in phoniness? Or are the traditional means of communication (books) more susceptible to hoaxes than we (or Siegel) would like to believe? Is it easier to expose web hoaxes or memoir hoaxes?

Facebook Is Extending Its Network to Blood Donations

Lessig on Congress and campaign finance

Your searches are being watched

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Better late than never...

Last week I attended a Q & A session with Professor Nadine Strossen, President of the ACLU. At the time (actually that same day) we were discussing the Chadwick article in class and talking about "hybrid" organizations and debating whether or not the internet has enabled traditional organizations to adopt the repertoires of social movements. At one point during the session, Professor Strossen mentioned that although people tend to think of lobbying and litigation when they think of the ACLU, much of what the ACLU does today is based out of small offices. She noted that grassroots have become increasingly important and explained that it is the staff and many dedicated volunteers in the local offices who decide which cases the ACLU will take on. Apparently, ACLU membership has more than doubled since 9/11 and many of these new members participate by sending e-mails to mobilize people in certain districts to put pressure on their members of Congress. Like Chadwick said, the online environment provides many opportunities for organizations like the ACLU.

I spoke to Professor Strossen after the session was over to ask her specific questions about the influence the internet has had on the ACLU. Her responses supported many of the ideas that Chadwick presented in his article. Professor Strossen stressed the importance of the internet for groups like the ACLU since grassroots have become extremely important in organizing different groups of people (especially young people). The adoption of this new grassroots mobilization technique mirrors Chadwick's argument that traditional organizations are now using the methods of social movements. Professor Strossen explained that the ACLU was the first organization of its kind to develop a website and that the number of members has significantly increased as the website has grown. She described these as affiliate members as opposed to traditional members, reiterating the distinction Chadwick makes in the article. In addition to using the website and e-mail for advertising and publicizing events, the ACLU has also established a presence on Second Life, where it held a virtual protest against Guantanamo. Professor Strossen was very enthusiastic about the opportunities that the internet provides for organizations like hers. She believed that the internet will continue to influence the way that organizations like the ACLU operate.

Looking back at the Chadwick article, Professor Strossen's enthusiasm makes sense. The ACLU seems like the perfect candidate for "hybridization." For example, the section called "Fostering Distributed Trust Across Horizontally Linked Citizen Groups" supports the idea that using the internet will be beneficial for organizations like the ACLU. Chadwick notes that "The globalization of public policy concerns...has opened up new spaces for nongovernmental actors to press for change in an increasingly fluid spacial and temporal environment. In this kind of context, collaboration among disparate networks of groups and social movements has necessitated a syncretic strategy: Loose alliances of groups are often able to use the Internet to link up and simultaneously mobilize and focus their efforts on different levels of politics" (289). Furthermore, Chadwick explains that "ideological coherence is not always as important for mobilization as networks that provide basic 'linkage to external recipients'" (290, quoting Gerhards & Rucht, 1992, p. 583). Professor Strossen stressed that the ACLU is not aligned with any particular political party nor is it "ideologically coherent." In addition, the events that are planned and publicized online, such as concerts or protests (she described a "wear an orange shirt to protest Guantanamo" day) can fall under the umbrella of "organized spontaneity" that Chadwick describes. It could be argued that these ACLU events blend coordination and decentralization.

Although I already agreed with many of the ideas that Chadwick presented in his article, and thought that the trend he describes will continue to spread, I wasn't sure if I believed that this change was positive or negative. Talking to Professor Strossen, who has witnessed these changes in her own organization (and who seemed extremely excited about them) inspired me to be more positive about what is happening to organizations like the ACLU.

I dream of Hillary, I dream of Barack

HRC is hot on internet

Friday, March 7, 2008

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Blogging to mainstream at work

Bloggers speak and the media moves

Teen Kills Father Over Internet Use

In order to protect father's safety everywhere, we should get rid of the Internet!

Speaking of blogs

For those of you who want to look at a blog other than Hamtech, here's one that I think is entertaining.

Minority Report aka N-DEx

N-DEx is a new system that is going to be used by police agencies and federal agencies and basically many different authorities across the US. This new system is supposed to help these various agencies to figure out a suspects record in other states. The system goes beyond this though and finds random bits of information about a person. An example being about a man whose truck has had a flat tire outside of 5 nuclear power plants. Although one might think that this is useful information ( and it might actually be) the program will use random scraps of information like this to make "educated guesses" using a service that is being developed by "predictor" about what a person might do. This seems eerily familiar to minority report except we don't have someone predicting the future through a vision rather a computer is being relied upon to "guess" at human actions. This just seems wrong for the glaring reason that free will exists and human actions are hard to predict especially because split second decisions or random events might change someone's mindset. Some say in the article that this also raises fear that the police are getting too much information and it poses a threat to civil liberties. I just hope that preemptive arrests don't start to become a topic of discussion or else minority report might become a reality.

'In the Blogosphere, The rich get richer and the poor remain poor'

In the Drezner article he explains that the best way to become popular or to get more hits on ones blog is to get a link on someone else's more popular blog. This system basically weeds out the more 'mundane' blogs as he says and makes it difficult for a blogger to reach mass popularity without assistance. I completely agree with his assessment. I also don't think its a bad thing. There has to be some way of weeding out bad blogs so that a person can find the ones that interest them. Without a system like that a person would be left in the flood of blogs about sally's new boyfriend who's already in the 7th grade. I don't look at the system as unfair, instead it is simply realistic. Also, it is possible to reach popularity regardless of how unknown a person is. Though the internet may not be perfect in getting people's voices heard it is vastly better than any other system that we have.

Blogging + Business = Sucess?

Alboher's article "Bloggings a low cost High Return Marketing Tool" points out some of the advantages to using blogs as a complement to ones business. He comments that some companies might not be interested in using blogs and it requires time and devotion to post on the blog constantly. Additionally he says some businesses such as clothes makers would not be interested in creating a blog rather their biggest concern would be to make good clothes. I think that this is somewhat wrong. As he later points out an ice cream maker that doesn't have a huge budget for advertising simply starts a blog not on the topic of ice cream and uses it as a place to put ads for their product. Simply by putting views out on the web the blogger can gain a place to advertise at a cost of time commitment. I also like and would encourage more businesses to have blogs that would tell how certain processes in their businesses are performed such as the woman who sold organic chocolate snacks. By telling the online viewership how she runs her business and her mission statement it gets the reader more involved because they now know how the process works and as a result they might be more motivated to try one of her products. Perhaps some businesses might not be interested in blogging but it allows for a place to advertise and at the same time grow a customer base who wouldn't want that?

The Web of Influence

Drezner's article about blogging raises some old concerns that i had about blogging but it also puts them in a new light. Previously i had and still do to some degree question the use of blogs in mainstream media to such a degree that they are relied on for factual information. My concern is that information that is put onto blogs will inevitably be influenced by ones own political views. Drezner comments on this but seems to dismiss it a bit too hastily. The only defense that i now see for blogs and factual correctness is that there seems to be an online community like that which governs wikipedia that does a lot of fact checking and thus does not allow very slanted views to be completely put fourth as the truth. Additionally on further reflection the mainstream media also puts out news that has some sort of slant look at fox news vs. cnn. The only difference is that the slant put out by these big media outlets follow the slant of one person who owns the company such as Rupert Murdoch. And that these opinions are put fourth with a greater microphone, blogging seems to have leveled the playing field because the internet is the David that can stand up to the Goliath of huge built up media conglomerates. Blogs are like Drezner says are useful for firsthand accounts of events but one still has to consider the slant behind the posts or who might be making the posts. Regardless i see blogs as a good place for opinion pieces but I still remain skeptical as to their use as news sites.

Cyber-rebels in Cuba

The Newest Facebook Friend: Rock the Vote!

How does New York City connect with the world?

Ever Wonder Whose Listening?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

How Dangerous Is the Internet for Children?

New Patentable Idea: A Way to Invalidate Vague Patents

Americans Love Mobile Phones more than Internet, Pew Study Says

Appeals Court Weighs Teen's Web Speech

How Ron Paul won the GOP netroots

Facebook raids Google

Self Powering Energy

So currently batteries are the primary source for energy in a lot of electronic products such as ipods. The batteries eventually break however and are thrown away. This article talks about how this can be changed simply by walking around. By attaching some wires to your knee straps (also part of it) you can use the motion of your leg going up and down to turn a lever which in turn powers a generator. Imagine if this was integrated into many other products, energy needs would be met and america might not as obese anymore.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Freedom of Speech?

In light of Nadine Strossen, how far does freedom of speech actually take us? The First Ammendment of the Constitution states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. " The internet has become an integral part to our present culture. With its vast abilities, the internet can literally be used by anyone and allows people to use it in any sort of manner they wish. Several areas of the internet may have reached a point of 'questionable material', but who is to say that certain material is not educational or reasonable for the public eye? Depending on who you ask, certain words and phrases can be interpreted in several different ways. Personally, whatever material interesting or thought provoking to one should be recognized as freedom of speech. There are of course certain boundaries which I feel that everyone understands not to cross, but the majority of the internet (however questionable certain sites may be) pertains to some group of people. So really... Who determines what is recognized as crossing the boundaries? How can a one person or group tell another that their material is simply not acceptable?

How many of you can take a "virtual break"?

Hillary Makes a Funny

You go girl.

Hillary's cameo on SNL is the most recent of current campaigners making their mark on the infamous Saturday night comedy sketch show. To see the appearances made by other presidential candidates in the past few months, in addition to the recent mock debates, visit the Saturday Night Live homepage. Watch Gov. Huckabee on the Weekend Update and Sen. Obama at a Halloween Party.

The videos are all pretty good, in my opinion. It's interesting to see how each candidate presents him/herself on the show, which of their imperfections they make fun of themselves for, etc. Huckabee makes fun of himself as a guy who doesn't know when to quit; Hillary pinpoints her laugh, her lagging campaign, and her inability to avoid politics; Obama seems to make fun of himself for being so perfect (granted it's a joke, it comes across to me as a bit smug and arrogant); McCain, well he hasn't made an appearance yet...the Straight Talk Express must not stop at 30 Rock. All in all, the candidates shrewdly point out imperfections that are really traits to in many ways be proud of. They are having fun and exposing themselves.

Comedy (or attempts at comedy) seems to be a reoccurring theme of present campaigns, perhaps due to all the talk of this being the year of the youth vote. Comedy and entertainment, especially when consumed online, is indisputably a part of youth culture, but it's important to give youth credit where it is due; some of us are concerned with issues as well. And in the same respect, our parents like to laugh too; SNL sketches especially, because they are initially aired on television, are geared in some ways to an older audience more accustomed to "older" forms of media.

As an additional aside, NBC shows like SNL now have this necessary?

Civil Liberties is dealt another blow

The breathalyser was a device created to tell if people were driving under the influence of alcohol. This new breathalyser can do that but it will do so using a "frequency comb". A big difference between the new and old version of this tech is that alchohol is not the only thing that this new breathilizer will be picking up. Apparnetly by picking up excess methylamine the device will be able to tell if someone has kidney or liver disease. Although this would be useful for hospitals i fail to see why an officer woiuld need to know this personal medical information. This seems to be another area were peoples' personal information is not so personal anymore except unlike facebook or myspace this public display of private life isnt voluntary so is it right?

Solar energy Pushing forward

New Mexico's governor Richardson is getting his wish. During his run for the presidency he talked a lot about energy independence and it seems that now he is making good on that policy. New Mexico has been picked for a large plant for solar energy tech. This is great because it draws on a lot of what New Mexico has, sun, desert and a lot of empty space. If this plant is successful and maybe if they use some of the blackest black it can serve as an example for other states that need a new boost in their economy, simply invest in a new alternative energy source industry.

The Internets Dangers

After having read Lee Siegel's book " Against the Machine" one must automatically consider the social aspects that are brought up. Siegel dives into the variety of ways in which human life is becoming effected by the digital age, and the convenience that we all strive for with such. This idea of convenience is an underlying theme throughout the book.
Prior to the Internets proliferation society was much more based around community, and the interactions of people on a very personal and physical level. Prior to ten years ago if someone wanted to contact another person they would simply go visit them, and if that was unavailable they would then call them. With the interaction previously described people would actually interacting in a social manner much the same as they have for decades. With the Digital age of convenience there has become a loss of community, instead of going out people now rent movies from netflix. Going out on a dinner date has become something that needs a online chat as an almost prerequisite. Gone are the days in which one would go to the local coffee shop or deli and discuss the latest gossip or have talks regarding the politics of the day, to replace them we have bloggers who connect anonymously delving deeper into the individual world created by the Internet. Siegel describes this trend as a human choice for the instant gratification that the web allows rather than the extended of other sources.
The question that he ultimately poses is at what price are we allowing for society to become more convenient. What has this desire for it already cost us as a citizenry. Ultimately is they way that we live today worth that which we have to give up tomorrow.

Against the Internet

Against the Internet

Lee Siegel’s book “Against the Machine” is a very interesting analysis of how the Internet has been allowed to change the way that humans live. Siegel goes into many different aspects of human life that have been made more “convenient” by the Internet such as dating, entertainment and others. He brings up an important question in his book, which is very pertinent to the whole idea of the Internet though, at what cost does this convenience come?
Before the Internet was invented people had much more face-to-face interaction, whereas now the growing way to interact can be over an instant messaging service or email so instead the norm has become face to screen interaction. Siegel uses a good example of the coffee shop atmosphere to exemplify this point. Previously coffee shops were used to escape from the world and discuss matters more personal to oneself and others. Now, a coffee shop experience consists of going into a Starbucks, buying you Internet code and flipping open your laptop to go online. Instead of talking to the other mocha lovers one is expected to simply enter into the online world. Siegel also makes a good counterpoint to this argument however, since the online world that each person delves into actually does satisfy their interest in the topics that they would be talking about in the coffee shop. The difference is that the Internet allows them to access that information and more giving the user the opportunity to be completely submerged into his or her world of interest. I personally have to disagree with Siegel a bit on this point for a couple reasons. He says that the reasons we look to the Internet rather than a person is because it allows for instant gratification. He also says that it can fulfill needs that people have. I would have two arguments against these points. The first would be that although instant gratification is certainly sought after the old saying that “the harder you work for something the more satisfied you will be when you get it” still holds true. Sure one could use the Internet to find out where to buy a nice car for a cheap price, perhaps from ebay, but actually getting the money needed to buy that car is not an instant process and requires time to assemble the monetary support. Against his argument that people have needs that only the Internet can fulfill I would argue that some needs include other people such as the need for community or conversation with other people face to face. As long as humanity still stays human there will always be a need for personal interaction; to suggest the opposite goes against decades of study about human behavior and wants and need.
I do disagree with much of what Siegel says but he also raises an interesting point in his writings, why is it that anyone who criticizes the Internet is looked down upon? Currently anyone technology related cannot wait to sing the praises of the Internet, and there are many, but like all things it should be able to stand up to basic criticism. Part of this reaction I believe is due in part to how quickly the Internet has become a normal routine tool that many people depend on. Additionally, I believe that it symbolizes something of a mindset difference between the generations that did not grow up with the Internet and those that have. Although the Internet was not fast when I was growing up eventually it became quick and I relied more and more on it for daily tasks. Even in high school I along with many others started to change from going to the library to simply turning on a computer and surfing the web. After using a tool successfully and for so many years to hear it called a problem simply goes against a lot of personal perspective that I, along with others, have gained.
Siegel makes some interesting points about social networking sites and how they have become a place where private and public spheres of life seem to collide. Sites such as facebook and myspace have allowed for people to interact with one another across vast distances and come into contact with people that they might have never met otherwise. However, to achieve this personal information about oneself must be put out into the network. This results in a public display of ones own private information. Siegel brings up lasch’s book about this topic and points out that this whole process is simply the inner narcissist in people “ whose sense of self depends on the validation of others whom he nevertheless degrades.” (50) Although it is true that this information does not need to be true to be displayed the fact still rings true that part of the reason such information is put up is with the intention that others will see it. I believe that such networking sites have been a boon to society however, as they have allowed for more interaction among people even if it is not face-to-face. They have also acted as ways to create real world face-to-face interactions and keep in touch with other relationships made in the real world.
Lee Siegel’s “Against the Machine” brings up some interesting points about the Internet and how it has made its way into normal human processes but he fails to see a lot of the value that it has produced. It is true that the Internet may contribute to the decrease some face-to-face interaction but it allows for interaction on a much bigger scale with many more people that would not have met if not for the Internet. One could find their true love with sites like whereas, without it they might have never even seen the person. I also think that part of this resistance to embrace the Internet is because of the generational gap that is starting to show more and more. Rather than reject the Internet because of its lack of human face-to-face interaction, newer generations are accepting that, as more of a norm to be balanced with real time interaction with people.

When 'WELLs' Run Dry...

…we’ll have nothing left to drink. Profitable "connections" will be no more and we will have nothing left of ourseflves to package and sell. We will have lost our appreciation for human spirit and the pleasantry of taking a stroll in a park, or having a drink at a bar with a friend. But we will have our MySpace friends and mash-ups.

The internet is a marvelous, powerful invention and tool that humankind can and does benefit from. Siegel doesn’t disagree. In an interview with Jon Stewart last month, he clarified that Against the Machine is not so much an attack on the internet as it is the commercial forces that have moved the internet in a direction away from what it could be. It is a critique of authors, theorists, and bloggers (eek, to tout bloggers with such esteem) who constantly defend the internet using only internet based jargon and who manipulate and misuse the ideologies of great philosophers to fit their defense.

Siegel constructs his argument with bricks of research that seem to include every book and blog he has read (granted, he believes blogs aren’t read and that the words are “watched” onscreen), every website he has visited, Youtube video he has watched, all the culture he has encountered, and media that he has consumed in his lifetime. But the framework of his argument, that is, a yearning for human nature to coexist with technology, is more impressive than the masonry of his research. A critic with values as rigid as Siegel’s seems rare in our day and age of digital-democracy that runs on misconstrued rhetoric and erodes the leisure of human spirit and true originality.

The core argument, which defends what it means to be human in the information age, rests on the notion that “the internet creates a vast illusion that the physical, social, world of interacting minds and hearts does not exist” (17). The book begins with a hypothetical trip to a Starbucks that is devoid of the nuances of human nature that cafĂ©’s once had, that society and communities thrived on for so many years. Everyone around him is “bent into their screens and toward their self-interest” (16). Throughout the book, Spiegel makes quips about himself for seeming prehistoric, but only because he knows how progressive a thinker he actually is and how willingly many of his critics will look past this fact. Regardless, at the books end, Siegel recounts that “a real social situation, even when people are not talking to one another, is full of faces and objects caught sight of, gestures seen, sounds heard that keep communication going” (172). On the internet, identities are lost (some stolen!) and formed at the expense of true personality. I don’t think we need to fear the end of interpersonal communication, but if we do not pay mind to Siegel’s ideals and we continue to “breath life into the ghosts” in the machines in front of us, it won’t be long before we all turn without question to our computers for console, when all we really might need is a pat on the back.

After denouncing Stewart Brand’s idea of the WELL (a fluid boundary between public and private), Alvin Toffler’s “crude and simplistic” definition of the modern economy (prosumerisim), and the stock that the internet has invested in the “producing as we consume” mentality, Spiegel criticizes Malcolm Gladwell’s concept of the “Connector.” Spiegel acknowledges that “connectors” are legitimate and successful in winning audiences and selling ideas, attitudes and products, but brings to light the “malleable and servile” nature of such a person or institution, which would “bend without principle to satisfy the interests of the powerfully placed” (94). Too much faith is stored in morally lacking connectors, but I guess that is just one of the burdens of capitalism. In the viewpoint of many of the thinkers Siegel discredits, “human existence is wholly driven by commercial concerns…life is divided into manipulating winners and manipulatable losers” (95). This furthers the dehumanizing spirit of not the internet, but the individuals who cause the internet to flourish. Spiegel’s belief is not naive, but it is unique; few who are willing to recognize this flaw of consumerist nature also keep the faith that this should and can change. Siegel does, and with this book he attempts to start the dialogue.

Of all things, I will conclude with a quote from the aptly named Anton Ego of the Oscar winning animated film Ratatouille: “There are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new.” Sorry, Mr. Ego, but it would seem here that the contrary holds true as well. By warning us against the maladies of a grand technology, Siegel is defending something new of his own –a movement toward human nature and technology co-existing in a way in which neither is exploited.

Here Comes Everybody

Atlantic Magazine Lite

What would Siegel say?

The Internet: A Double Edged Sword?

The internet … a recent technological innovation that has changed the world forever. Never before has information been so vast, as if almost endless, or so easily accessible. The internet makes things possible today that were not even thought of 15-20 years ago. Even with such a great technology, questions still exist on whether or not the internet is a good or a bad thing. How could something so helpful be thought of as a destructive tool? In Lee Siegel’s Against the Machine, we observed Siegel’s introduction into the internet world. Perhaps some criticism of Siegel’s original works caused him to write a book in the demise of the internet? While some may say that it is ridiculous to think that the internet does more harm than good, does Siegel have a point?
Siegel defines the success of the internet behind the idea of its “convenience”, and who can blame him. The ability to log on to an internet site to search for any sort of information or pictures gives people the everlasting ability to constantly expand their knowledge. The internet has undoubtedly made certain procedures much easier and quick than in the past, these procedures would still have occurred regardless of whether the internet was around or not. While I am an avid fan of the internet and all that it has to offer, I can not deny that I can see some disadvantages to it as well. Such advances in the world of technology as the internet and cell phones have taken away from some essential parts of life. The people of today live a much more inward life. Interactions with people have turned into Instant Messaging or E-Mails or any other sort of internet communication, rather than face to face conversation. Of course, this makes things easier, but is that necessarily better?
No one can deny that the internet is an integral part of our present culture. Without it, some people may not even be able to function. One flaw I see with the naysayers of the internet lies in the internet itself. This application is simply a tool. No one is making anyone use it or do certain things on the internet. I agree when Siegel states that ‘we can either passively allow it to abstract our lives or guide it toward the fulfillment of its human promise.” Furthermore, “the choice is ours.” Today’s society carries an enormous privilege by having the internet. The internet itself is not harming society; it is the people who let the internet take their personal lives over.
For some people, the internet allows them to live more ‘freely’ because it essentially masks the individual’s self. All that people see on the internet are pictures and words, not the actual face of the person. Some people simply can not carry themselves normally on an interpersonal level and more or less depend on such tools as the internet to function. These people truly benefit from the internet, but on the other side they are almost ‘giving up’ at a part of their life. Without the help of the internet, they can not express their true feelings. Regardless, these people have forfeited to the internet and in some way forfeited to being in the public eye.
Quite simply, the internet has changed the way that we live and will continue to change it in the future. The opportunities created by the internet are endless, but we can not let the internet take over our lives. Even has E-mailing and other internet communications continue to grow, people still need to be able to function when standing face to face with another individual.

On Criticism

Like all major innovations, the internet is a tool, in this case, a power tool. It can be used to build shelter. But it can also be used to kill a spouse and make it look like a horrific accident.

The internet has enabled lots of positive changes with finance. It's enabled average people to trade in stocks and bonds, something most Americans have never had access to in the past. Whether or not giving average Americans the ability to lose all their income in the stock market thanks to internet trading isn't really in the scope this discussion.

However, the internet has also made it easier for malicious traders to engage in so-called "pump and dump" schemes. A nefarious trader purchases many shares of a security with low value, then goes online to promote the security, promising news of a major announcement in an effort to drive the stock price up. They go online to investor chat rooms, often the same type of chat rooms that are used by pedophiles to prey on children, or message boards, and under a false persona give unwarranted praise and credit to the stock. When the readers are conned into purchasing the phony stock and raise its value, the nefarious trader sells all his shares for a profit.

I'm not comparing Lee Siegel to a pump and dump trader, having promoted his own writings under a false identity on The New Republic's Talkback section of its website. Resorting to ad hominem attacks and rhetorical tricks to persuade isn't what this post is about.

It should be pretty clear by now that I'm not a huge fan of Siegel's, though I've been reading him since before he was banned (and later reinstated) from writing at The New Republic. His sensational writing is extremely entertaining and provides interesting commentary, though his portrayal of the implications of democratic social media as portrayed in Against the Machine is fatally flawed.

It seems to be a hot trend to rail against the internet, but not in the neo-luddite sense that Ted Kaczynski would, but in a rather hip way centered around the idea that technology isn't just dangerous to what makes people fundamentally human, but that it devalues "art". Like Cult of the Amateur author Andrew Keen, Siegel makes a rather perverse and often baffling argument which centers on the antidemocratic notion that all people should not be given access to the same empowering forms of expression as the present social elite.

Leaving aside Siegel's flawed notions such as that the principal interactions of the internet are driven by commerce, it is architected in such a way that there are no longer social barriers (and thus cues), etc., the continuous undercurrent is that allowing individuals to amplify their interactions is harmful.

As the vilified Doug Rushkoff has asserted, the rise of the internet and the simultaneous cultural changes are tantamount to a rennisance in that it has brought about a shift in the way we think about perspective. The printing press was revolutionary because it empowered the broad dissemination of knowledge in an inexpensive way. It then empowered more individuals to disseminate knowledge. The internet empowers us all to be writers, publishers, creators. We don't realize that what we do as humans is disseminate information, even when engaging in physical trade. In the essence of every object is an idea, the Platonic form, which, when manifested is the physical good. We've always lived in a world where the survival of ideas was paramount. Only now the spread of ideas is democratized, and those who can get their ideas to spread best are the ones who will thrive. Only now, it's not physical force, but the ideas spreading largely by their own merits. We've created a way for ideas to spread semi-organically. It also happens to empower social relations. It also happens to enhance education. It also happens to aid in bringing a higher standard of living.

Now note that throughout this criticism, I've done little more than criticize based upon my own assertions and prior knowledge. I do little to take some of Siegel's assertions and spin them my own way. Granted, some of these are exaggerated to bring light to some of Siegel's techniques, but fundamentally, I've engaged in a similar practice to his writing. Sometimes it's just too easy.

Lee, if this sets off your Google Alert, I just want you to know that I don't hate you.

Splanwiki going viral?

Splanwiki had almost 500 visits in its first day! Now we need more content and repeat vistors.

Lee Siegel got hurt by a mean blogger and has decided to attack the Internet as a result

In Lee Siegel’s Against The Machine, he has an irreverent approach to the new technologies of the Internet. It is obvious that he was hurt by the “mean” blogs posted about some of his previous works, and has decided to attack the foundations of the Internet in general so he could be like Ralph Nadar in his attack on the automobile industry. Cars were the cause of death of tens of thousands of Americans every year and the car manufacturers were covering up their ability to decrease these numbers. There is no such conspiracy behind the Internet, and although it may be true that the new technologies are creating more individuals, it is not causing mass death covered up by the moguls in the field.

Siegel is also incorrect in his analysis of the “mega-democracy.” He defined mega-democracy as “democracy about to tip through perversion of its principles into its opposite” (Siegel 79). The increased number of active participants of democracy on the Internet will not turn the United States away from a democracy. If it does anything, it will make more people interested in the democratic workings of our country and make The US even more so a government run by the people.

His attacks on Web 2.0 are also inaccurate in that he believes the new social interactions of people on the Internet are problems. Even if people are communicating in person less and less, they are making up for it by communicating with each other online. It is true that the Internet is a permanent technology, and if we stop its social networking progress, the social interactions will be greatly reduced, both in person and online.

Reaction to Lee Siegel's Against the Machine