Posts Tagged ‘internet’

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The Promise of a New Internet. It’s not too late to rebuild this thing for the people.

July 14, 2014

People tend to talk about the Internet the way they talk about democracy—optimistically, and in terms that describe how it ought to be rather than how it actually is.

This idealism is what buoys much of the network neutrality debate, and yet many of what are considered to be the core issues at stake—like payment for tiered access, for instance—have already been decided. For years, Internet advocates have been asking what regulatory measures might help save the open, innovation-friendly Internet.

But increasingly, another question comes up: What if there were a technical solution instead of a regulatory one? What if the core architecture of how people connect could make an end run on the centralization of services that has come to define the modern net?

It’s a question that reflects some of the Internet’s deepest cultural values, and the idea that this network—this place where you are right now—should distribute power to people. In the post-NSA, post-Internet-access-oligopoly world, more and more people are thinking this way, and many of them are actually doing something about it.

Among them, there is a technology that’s become a kind of shorthand code for a whole set of beliefs about the future of the Internet: “mesh networking.” These words have become a way to say that you believe in a different, freer Internet.

Read full article at The Atlantic

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What Happens When Digital Cities Are Abandoned? Exploring the pristine ruins of Second Life and other online spaces

July 13, 2014

I stand at the junction of several dusty, well-traveled roads. Passersby hurry through, chattering and laughing as they make their way from the city looming in the distance to the north, along the paths to the southeast, which branch out as the land grows less dense, winding through lakes and forests.

I haven’t been here in years, but it’s as familiar to me as if I’d been away only a few weeks. There are no familiar faces, and no one recognizes me. By memory, I make my way along the winding road and soon end up in a clearing by a lake. Trees bend over the water, dragging their tendrils across its mirrored surface. Birds chirp contentedly.

This is it; I’m home.

Sort of.

That’s because, in this case, “home” is actually “grove,” as in “a small wood.” It’s a term used in the text-adventure game I am currently playing, a Multi-User Dungeon (MUD) set in a vaguely Tolkien-esque world with touches of Greek mythology. I spent the better part of five years playing this game, all through high school and into college. It’s still running today, and it remains immersive to an astonishing degree, even compared with contemporary games—it has its own social mores, cultural life, history and folklore. Its political systems are complicated and well-developed, and to this day I still use some of the slang terms that were common. And it’s all presented via simple text on a screen.

Read full article at The Atlantic

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The Secret History of Life-Hacking

May 14, 2014

We live in the age of life-hacking. The concept, which denotes a kind of upbeat, engineer-like approach to maximizing one’s personal productivity, first entered the mainstream lexicon in the mid-2000s, via tech journalists, the blogosphere, and trendspotting articles with headlines like “Meet the Life Hackers.” Since then the term has become ubiquitous in popular culture—just part of the atmosphere, humming with buzzwords, of the Internet age.

Variations on a blog post called “50 Life Hacks to Simplify Your World” have become endlessly, recursively viral, turning up on Facebook feeds again and again like ghost ships. Lifehacker.com, one of the many horses in Gawker Media’s stable of workplace procrastination sites, furnishes office workers with an endless array of ideas on how to live fitter, happier, and more productively: Track your sleep habits with motion-sensing apps and calculate your perfect personal bed-time; learn how to “supercharge your Gmail filters”; oh, and read novels, because it turns out that “reduces anxiety.” The tribune of life hackers, the author and sometime tech investor Timothy Ferriss, drums up recipes for a life of ease with an indefatigable frenzy, and enumerates the advantages in bestselling books and a reality TV show; outsource your bill payments to a man in India, he advises, and you can enjoy 15 more minutes of “orgasmic meditation.”

Read Full Article at PSMAG

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AirChat: Free Communications for Everyone

May 14, 2014

Airchat is a free communication tool, free as in ‘free beer’ and free as in ‘Jeremy Hammond must be freed’. It doesn’t need the internet infrastructure, nor does it need a cellphone network, instead it relies on any available radio link (or any device capable of transmitting audio – we even made a prototype working with light/laser based transmissions).

This project was conceived not only from our lessons learned in the Egyptian, Libyan and Syrian revolutions, but also from the experience of OccupyWallStreet and Plaza del Sol. We have considered the availability of extremely cheap modern radio devices (like those handhelds produced in China), to start thinking about new ways in which people can free themselves from expensive, commercial, government controlled and highly surveilled infrastructure.

AirChat is not only our modest draft or proposal for such a dream, but it is a working PoC you can use today. we hope you will enjoy it and we also hope that you too will be able to feel the beauty of free communications, free communications as in ‘free beer’ and free communications as in ‘free yourself and your people forever’.

All text and images via Airchat.

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Protocol: How Control Exists after Decentralization

May 13, 2013

Is the Internet a vast arena of unrestricted communication and freely exchanged information or a regulated, highly structured virtual bureaucracy? In Protocol, Alexander Galloway argues that the founding principle of the Net is control, not freedom, and that the controlling power lies in the technical protocols that make network connections (and disconnections) possible. He does this by treating the computer as a textual medium that is based on a technological language, code. Code, he argues, can be subject to the same kind of cultural and literary analysis as any natural language; computer languages have their own syntax, grammar, communities, and cultures. Instead of relying on established theoretical approaches, Galloway finds a new way to write about digital media, drawing on his backgrounds in computer programming and critical theory. “Discipline-hopping is a necessity when it comes to complicated socio-technical topics like protocol,” he writes in the preface.

Galloway begins by examining the types of protocols that exist, including TCP/IP, DNS, and HTML. He then looks at examples of resistance and subversion—hackers, viruses, cyberfeminism, Internet art—which he views as emblematic of the larger transformations now taking place within digital culture. Written for a nontechnical audience, Protocol serves as a necessary counterpoint to the wildly utopian visions of the Net that were so widespread in earlier days.

Text and Image via MIT PRESS

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Gender in Twitter: Styles, stances, and social networks

February 14, 2013

We present a study of the relationship between gender, linguistic style, and social networks, using a novel corpus of 14,000 users of Twitter. Prior quantitative work on gender often treats this social variable as a binary; we argue for a more nuanced approach. By clustering Twitter feeds, we find a range of styles and interests that reflects the multifaceted interaction between gender and language. Some styles mirror the aggregated language-gender statistics, while others contradict them. Next, we investigate individuals whose language better matches the other gender. We find that such individuals have social networks that include significantly more individuals from the other gender, and that in general, social network homophily is correlated with the use of same-gender language markers. Pairing computational methods and social theory thus offers a new perspective on how gender emerges as individuals position themselves relative to audiences, topics, and mainstream gender norms.

Study by a trio of linguists and computer scientists (David Bamman, Jacob Eisenstein, Tyler Schnoebelen) that looks at the gendered expression of language online. PDF HERE
Image above via

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Social Science Information journal – Special issue: Diasporas on the Web (2012)

November 21, 2012

“One of the major changes affecting diasporas the world over since the 1980s has been the increasing number of communities scattered throughout physical space, along with new forms of presence, regrouping, interaction and mobilization within digital territories.

This change calls for a renewal in epistemological approaches. The topics under study, as well as the conceptual and methodological tools used to analyse them, need to be reconsidered in the face of this evolution of diasporas. The articles published in this issue of SSI1 bear witness to such an effort: researchers and engineers involved in the e-Diasporas Atlas project have sought to find the most appropriate concepts, tools and methods to explore the Web of diasporas, based on a number of case studies. This work represents a vast new area of investigation, which is still under way.

In this introduction, we examine the different conceptual tools used during the research, analyse their relevance for the different diasporic communities on the Web and present the methodological chain developed within the e-Diasporas Atlas project as well as the most important findings.” (from the Introduction)

With contributions by Dana Diminescu, Anat Ben-David, Yann Scioldo-Zürcher, Houda Asal, Marta Severo and Eleonora Zuolo, Teresa Graziano, Ingrid Therwath, Priya Kumar, Tristan Bruslé, Kristina Balalovska, Francesco Mazzucchelli.

e-Diasporas Atlas project page (includes working papers and interactive graph)