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First Berkeley, and now Stanford is cracking down on "illegal use of file-sharing technology." Sounds like they're leaving it up to the RIAA/MPAA to determine violations and to establish a definition of "legal" -- a bit dangerous, if you ask me, given how liberally they're flinging about takedown notices (and how difficult it is to challenge one). Also, both letters have the usual misuse of DMCA, implying that it applies to file-sharing generally rather than to just reverse-engineering or otherwise circumventing copy protection technologies (e.g. DeCSS). Also, there's no mention of fair use in either letter. Anyway, thought some of you might be interested in seeing both of these.

The Stanford letter (5/15/2007) )

The Berkeley letter (4/3/2007) )
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Nancy at the Ahwahnee webcam

I got a call from my Berkeley advisor this afternoon. She was in front of one of the Yosemite webcams and wanted me to take a screenshot! She's in the bottom of the frame, waving.

Originally uploaded by morganya.


May. 15th, 2006 03:39 pm
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I was thinking of joining the California Alumni Association, primarily for the library privileges. Stanford's library is good too, but smaller, and it's not connected to eight other campus libraries like Berkeley's is.

A CAA "recent graduate" lifetime membership would cost me $375 (going up to $500 June 1), and I could add [ profile] dag29580863 for $175.

Is anyone else a member? Anything to say about it? (If I give them money, will they stop with the incessant junk-mailing? :~))
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Anyone (in the Bay Area, anyway) interested in being an audience for my final project presentation practice talk sometime Wednesday evening? I'm pretty flexible as to when and where. I want to do a dry-dry run and get feedback from some folks who haven't been hearing all about the project for years, like [ profile] dag29580863 has. :~) Let me know via comment, and we can coordinate.
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If you're in the Bay Area and interested in the social uses of technology (or are interested in finding out just what I've been researching the last couple of years), I encourage you to attend my track (track 3, "The Social Life of Information") of the SIMS project presentations this Friday. I'm presenting my research on the social life of snapshots at 9 -- yes, it's early, but I'll promise pastries of some sort for everyone who comes. I've also been hearing a lot of interesting stuff about the Social Uses of Backchannels project, which will be presented at 10. And all of the people in my track are awesome, really. So you should come. We'll be in 205 South Hall, the red brick Mary Poppins building just west of the Campanile. The whole event runs from 9 to 1. See the schedule online for more information.


Apr. 14th, 2006 03:39 pm
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I've decided to move to the Stanford Department of Communication next year. The decision was difficult and involved, but I think it's for the best. I am planning on keeping my Berkeley contacts alive, especially that with my current advisor, and I'll probably be back to sit in on a class or two as well (especially the one Jean Lave and Peter Lyman, though both retired, are planning for next spring). I've been doing lots of research on what classes are offered, who teaches them, and what professors and peers I could work with at both places. Danah and David helped me focus in by suggested a few pointed questions to ask myself: where can I find a community I want to work with? who will help me with the inevitable bureaucracy? where can I learn the skills I want to have? whose job would I love to have, and how do I get there? Ultimately, I know that I can't make a fully-informed decision since I haven't attended Stanford and can't possibly learn everything about it and can't know what will come up at Berkeley that I don't yet know about. Both schools have their strengths and weaknesses, and I'd very likely follow different paths at each. But all things considered, Stanford's resources in various areas put it ahead of Berkeley.
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I finished a second reading of Beamtimes and Lifetimes: The World of High-Energy Physicists and discussed it in Jean Lave's ethnography class today. When I have more time, I really want to write about this class. But for now, I'll just share a quote I heard years ago that the book helped me recall. It says a lot about physicists and the culture of physics, as I have experienced it and as Traweek wrote about it. :~)

"All science is either physics or stamp collecting."
- Ernest Rutherford

Utah Quicksilver, Park City and Salt Lake City's best transportation service
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Wednesday was an inspiring day, though it was marred slightly by a friend's mysterious snub and yet another bout of late-afternoon lethargy and headachiness. (Damn sleep problems.) Martin Wattenberg, an artist and a researcher at IBM Watson, gave not one, not two, but three talks at SIMS: first for my information visualization class, then for a small group of students, then for the SIMS Distinguished Lecture Series.

I knew him for the baby name visualizer which he originally designed to help publicize his wife's baby names book, though its audience grew far beyond what he originally imagined. He tracked its uses by Googling for it and reading all of the blog entries and other references on it, and found that bloggers were treating it like a game, setting data-mining challenges for themselves. They roughly fell into the same categories that MUD users did: achievers, who were actually looking for baby names; explorers, who looked for quirks in the data such as I, O, ETH, LAT; socializers, who related the visualization to their own lives and used it as a conversation piece; and killers, who used it to make fun of names they thought were stupid. Because the system was interactive and playful and discoveries could be replicated easily, people could easily be drawn deeply into the data. Also, everyone had a fairly distinctive starting point - often their own name - which meant that the data set got a lot of coverage.

But his visualizations are far more numerous than just that one. Treemaps, timelines, and thought patterns, oh my! )... and some advice ) Of course, many of us wanted to know how he had gotten into doing visualizations like these (and by extension, how we could too). He got a math degree at Berkeley, though he had been doing design in high school. He worked for a financial company and did artistic designs on the side, sandwiched between his work and his home life. Even now, he has to make time to do the artistic installations outside of work, which makes for a stressful existence at times. He told us to take advantage of the time we had now in school and experiment, though he admits that when he was in school, he probably would have scoffed at such at suggestion. (At least when you have a job, you generally have your evenings and weekends free!) Between his talk and Mirrormask, I feel freshly inspired to continue my dabblings in art and design - it makes me feel so alive.

Utah Quicksilver, Park City and Salt Lake City's best transportation service

"So what?"

Oct. 15th, 2005 12:12 am
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I got my project proposal for my social psychology class back today with less-than-glowing comments. I was hoping to carve off a piece of my ongoing research on photography and cameraphones, and proposed studying the ways in which people create identities (e.g. through constructed memories and self-representation) with photographs, narrowing my scope to those online for the purposes of a semester project. The professor responded with, "I don't think I buy 'online photo-sharing identities' as something of sociological interest. I'd encourage you not to do this project. If, however, you are really sold on it, come to my office hours and try to sell it to me." At first, I felt devastated. Why wasn't it interesting? I thought it was interesting ... I was even thinking of expand it into a master's thesis next semester. The fact that I'm getting some "so what" responses from both sides - technological and social - worries me and eats away at my self-esteem. And I just don't know enough about the fields of social psychology or science and technology studies to effectively justify my work to those audiences. But then I thought about the readings of the course, many of whose themes focused on various forms of racial and gender discrimination. Is that what he's expecting? What does he mean by "something of sociological interest?" So it's my plan to review the readings this weekend and try to formulate a rejoinder for office hours next week, and a few questions for him. We'll see how it goes.

In the late afternoon I practiced ballroom for a couple of hours. Practices the last couple of weeks have been really good - we have some new choreography and I feel like we're making headway on some technique issues our coaches have been mentioning for a while now. Tomorrow night we're competing in the Autumn Classic at the Cathedral Hill Hotel in SF, if anyone's interested. :~)
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I was invited, in stead of my advisor who is on sabbatical, to give a lecture in Mass Communications 10 today about the cameraphone project. Luckily, I didn't have to do it alone: I recruited mroth to help, and we traded off speaking throughout the hour. And we also had slides my advisor had presented a month or two earlier to work from. All things considered, it went well. You can see our slides here (be patient: it's 105 slides in a 5MB pdf file). I'm sure we made a few fans by ending 10 minutes before the class was scheduled to end, too, after 1 hour of lecture and 10 minutes of questions. Afterwards, the professor thanked us several times for a "wonderful lecture," and the two students who I knew from ballroom said that grad students should talk about their research more often. :~) Two other undergrads expressed interest in getting involved with the project. Overall, I was happy with how it went.

Students coming in - probably the biggest crowd I've ever presented to (except for my silly 5 minute talk at graduation)

After we finished, I rushed back for the last part of my second identity and storytelling class. I took a gamble signing up for it at the beginning of the semester without knowing anything about it, but so far it has been fabulous. I regretted that I missed most of it today, especially since one of the guest panelists was the creator of Flickr (though the topic was gaming, not photography). I would summarize the class content, but the class blog is doing a better job of that than I could do with limited time. I'm hoping to write about narratives in photo-sharing of various kinds for my paper for this class, perhaps extending it into my social psychology final project on identity and self-representation in photography.

I stayed on for Howard Rheingold's participatory media class, 7-9 on Tuesdays (so late!). I loved the lecture he gave as part of SIMS' Distinguished Lecture Series, but I haven't been as crazy about the course - it seems disorganized and nothing in it has really grabbed my interest. Summary of talk )

On the topic of the cameraphone project, there are plans afoot for three joural publications, and I'll be going with my advisor to 4S next week to see her present the work (and to see a friend and get to know the community). Stress! Excitement! I'm going to have to make this a short update, alas - I have two papers to work on, both due Friday. My dad's website is coming along, though more slowly than I (or he) would like. So much to do! I'll post more later when I have a bit less on my plate.
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I learned today that my Healthy Cities poster got into UbiComp, and got great reviews besides! *cheers*

Yesterday my car did not pass smog. What kind of environmentalist am I? (Answer: a broke one. I'd buy a Civic hybrid if I could ... or use public transit if it were more reliable! Speaking of which, the bus was 18 minutes late yesterday, and the driver was a prick. Good thing I'm finally close enough to campus to rollerblade - and maybe my neck is better enough to bike again.)

Today I started yoga, databases, and compilers, and talked again with A.J., my research advisor at U. Washington. Today was also the first class of Political and Economic Development in the Third World. The professor is an incisive, expressive fellow from Guyana, full of stories and anecdotes and seditious comments. Each student has to lead a panel discussion this semester, and I asked him if he could add a panel on information technology in developing countries. I also volunteered to make a website for the class, of course. Here are a few anecdotes from class:

The US economy depends on continuous expansion of demand. If the mean income in the US drops, the very basis of our economy - spending as much as possible, the sale of luxury goods, etc. - starts to erode, investments drop, people spend even less, fees go up, and we spiral into depression. Your interests are vested in the system, even though the system is unsustainable; in this way, we are all exploiters, just by living in this country.

What about Cuba? The income range in Cuba is $15-$25/month, but they don't have to worry about education, health care, or housing (10% of your income covers housing). They have trouble imagining a system where you have to worry about having a high income to cover housing, transportation, and health care - just as we have trouble imagining a system where there is no clean water, sewage, or access to food and other goods.

How do you get out of an unsustainable system, like the US? How much would nationalized health-care make a difference? How would nationalized health-care be paid for, and how would it affect the current economic situation?

Overseas work is cheap - more in the range of $1/day, rather than the US $20/hour (for comparable work with benefits etc.) - and transportation is cheap also, so it's no wonder companies export labor.

What convinces people that they have to pay $120 for Nike shoes? The shoe is produced for $9 - labor is cheap since conditions are poor, there are no benefits, and factories employ women - and the rest is marketing, plus maybe pumps, lights, etc., changing every three months. The differences go to the shareholders; it accumulates wealth, generates taxes, and creates the conditions for infrastructures and public education.

How does the system justify exploitation? There are concepts of "deserving", along income, racial, gender, etc. lines. Presumption of innocence goes to the wealthy, and excuses emerge. Why does A. Shwartzenegger deserve to run California? He's from Europe, white, wealthy, and male. Say a qualified woman originally from Rwanda was to run - people would presume that because she's from Africa, black, female, she couldn't possibly be in a position of power. A.S. claims the Horatio Algiers story - his family in Austria was poor, and he came to California with little - and since he made it when others didn't, he's obviously more deserving. We all believe we deserve what we have, or more ... and all it takes is more effort, morality, or to get more.


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