Archive for the 'control & power' Category

A Human Rights Web Difference


This is an interesting story on CNN right now. A UC Berkeley grad student was arrested while attending an anti-government rally in Cairo and used a Twitter message to to tell his friends. They then posted the message (and others that followed) on their blogs, and eventually UC Berkeley sent a lawyer to get him out of jail.

Can PR Save the Beijing 2008 Olympics?


“Can PR Save the Beijing 2008 Olympics?”

This blog usually covers a number of the topics that came up during our class discussion with DW on Astroturfing and Marketing “Conversations” and this whole entry, including the comments, relates to the conversation with Ethan Zuckerman about Western Media Bias and the Chinese Olympics.


More blocking than we thought?


This report says it’s not just Comcast blocking Bittorrent. Of course, it comes from Vuze, a company that makes a Bittorrent client…

National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force


The FBI has established a cyber-security division focused on protecting the United States against cyber-security threats to fundamental networks. The details are incredibly fuzzy – all we know is that it involves inter-agency cooperation and “dozens” of people. The FBI has requested funding to cover 70 additional agents and 100 support personnel for the task force. It’s good to know the government is concerned, but annoying that all we can say is that it is doing something to protect us from something.

More on Internet Campaigning


Some of our discussion in class last week reminded me of this article in Rolling Stone.  The article discusses some of the techniques that Obama’s campaign is using, including novel uses of the web.  It discusses the social networking site “MyBo,” includes an approving quote from Joe Trippi, and explains how Obama has generally built and improved upon the basic internet framework that Howard Dean developed in 03-04.

However, I think one of the most interesting parts of the article is a brief discussion (on page 2) of how the Obama campaign has intentionally played down its internet involvement in order to avoid being labeled “the next Howard Dean” and treated merely as a flash in the pan.  Unfortunately, the article does not really elaborate on this point.  Would playing up his internet credentials really cause Barack Obama to be taken less seriously?  Would some voters be turned off by social networking sites dedicated to him?  Would Howard Dean comparisons be fatal?  I believe that the answer to all these questions is probably “no,” but clearly at least one media director in the Obama camp felt otherwise…

Is the Web different? And should teaching be objective?


I’m in the slightly awkward position of having blogged some thoughts about the overall question of whether the Web is different, and about how we might talk about this during the last class. It’s awkward because I haven’t talked about this with JP and he may have a very different (and, inevitably, better) idea. As might you. Plus, I’ve tipped my hand about where I stand on the issue, in case you hadn’t guessed already.

At the meta level, this is reminiscent of the debate about journalistic neutrality, balance, and objectivity (which are, of course, three different things). Would it be best for a teacher to keep her personal views on such topics hidden from the class? Or is transparency the right approach?

For journalism, I personally tend to think transparency is usually best, although that may take the form of maximally neutral reporting along with a blog (or something else) that makes the reporter’s background, values, and biases apparent. That way, we can check out the biases we may suspect are at play.

But it’s different with teaching. For one thing, teachers and students are in a power relationship. This is formalized in the grading system (stupid, stupid grading system … a rant for another time) but is likely to exist even outside of that system because the teacher is the one who sits at the front of the classroom. Obviously, the student-teacher relationship isn’t only about power, but it seems to me to be an almost inevitable component of that relationship. (Exceptions exist, modalities and degrees exist.)  So, there’s less at risk if you disagree with a reporter’s stances and values than if you disagree with your teacher’s.

I’m not saying that that power imbalance can’t be overcome. Every (?) teacher hopes that her students feel genuinely free to disagree, even and especially fundamentally. But when students enter a classroom, they take the measure of the teacher and quickly gauge the extent to which they are free to argue back, to reason differently, to engage outside the day’s topic. Don’t you? That’s different with our relationship to reporters.

I apparently have taken a stand on this meta issue as well, by posting about the Web difference (the topic and the class) on my personal blog. I did so on the grounds of transparency, because you could always google me and get a pretty good idea of where I stand anyway, and to get pushback from my readers. I’m just not 100% comfortable with having done so.

Politics and open source


One of the readings for today talked of the great potential of applying the Linux open source model to political campaigning. Is the open source model really different? Here’s an article describing the rapid increase in open source acquisitions by wealthy investors. Is open source going “corporate”? What type of effect will the outside money have? Is this symbolic of other trends of web differences?

Live Blogging Lessig on Change Congress


6:31 More Questions.

Why not a pledge for lobbyist? Pledge to give information but not money. This is a good idea and Larry seems to like it as well.

How do you protect this organization from abuse and give it trust? Ummm… Larry doesn’t know. I think the key is to try and keep it bipartisan and out of the ugly political trenches. Is that doable, I don’t know, but it should be a goal.

What is the future? What about gerrymandering? Who knows.

What is the real problem with PACs? They aggregate small donors into real donations. But the problem is the lack of transparency that ends with one entity have amplified power.

6:12 Questions.

Why don’t incumbents support public financing? I think that equal dollars being spent would make incumbents even harder to out.

What do we need? Some victories. That is true. But which issues should be first?

6:10 Congressman Cooper:

The system is hopelessly broken. We have to make change happen. (and he is done, wow that was quick).

6:07 – Is this destined to fail? Can we Change Congress? Perhaps, but nonetheless we need to try. </end>

__(‘Read the rest of this entry »’)

Has the Web Increased Corporate Responsiveness?


Adobe has vowed to modify its new Photoshop terms of service in response to user complaints regarding a particular term that gave Adobe a non-exclusive license to each user photograph uploaded to the system. The story sounds somewhat similar to Facebook’s responses to users’ privacy complaints regarding news feed and beacon. Hopefully this increased responsiveness on the part of corporate entities signals a web difference.

Comcast cutting deal with BitTorrent


Comcast announced today that it will work with BitTorrent to treat the P2P traffic equally. (See here for the announcement)

However, though Comcast said it will no longer (by the end of the year) discriminate based on traffic using the BitTorrent protocol, it’s unclear what this means for other types of traffic.