chimerically: (Default)
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) )
chimerically: (Default)
I'm very excited about my work at Yahoo! this summer. I'll be doing research on Yahoo! Groups, following up on some of the quantitative surveys being conducted by a few others in Yahoo! Research with more in-depth, mostly qualitative investigations. Though I strongly disapprove of some of their policies (and I wish I had my TV-B-Gone for the two very annoying TVs in the cafeteria!), nowhere else would I have this kind of opportunity to do open-ended research on such a large, diverse, active, and long-lived online community. There are millions of groups, and the archives go back ten years! Some Yahoo! groups are incredibly active ... even Craigslist was a Yahoo! group way back when. Where else could I get something like that?

Such opportunity is at once exhilarating and completely overwhelming. With a data set that big, where should I start? What should I focus in on? I spent a week just reading about other community research my boss threw my way and brainstorming long lists of ideas. Finally we decided that it would make sense to start with an investigation of how various groups form, grow, and, in some cases, die -- in itself a complicated question, of course, but still something around which we can focus investigations. I imagine that once we start playing around with the data, other research directions will become apparent. This seems to be the way I like to work anyway, whether in research or programming or usability: I assume that it's impossible to anticipate everything that I'll want to do, so I just jump in early, get my hands dirty, and iterate. I'll do my best to write periodic updates on what I'm learning.

Oh, and the title above is my working moniker for the project. Tipped hat to the late Jane Jacobs (one of the main inspirations for my undergrad research project on "healthy cities").
chimerically: (Default)
I've been told often enough throughout my life that I need to "get out there" more -- be more assertive, be more aggressive, be more social, or just plain talk more (dammit!). However, when it comes to teaching, presenting, hosting a party, or interacting in other social situations, I can do just fine, and I even enjoy public speaking (as evinced by my years teaching planetarium shows at Holt Planetarium and dance lessons for UCBD). But being "out there," especially for long periods of time, and especially in unstructured social situations such as parties, sure does wear me out. I've never been a partier: I often get to know more of the books on my party host's bookcase than strangers at the party. In high-school psychology I realized I was just introverted, and throughout my life I've learned to "cope" with my "impairment." Well, a couple of years ago, an introverted writer decided to speak out. Nothing's wrong with being introverted, he said, and there's a lot that's right. And further, introverts are rather inconvenienced by the smalltalk and sociality that is expected of them. "Remember, someone you know, respect, and interact with every day is an introvert, and you are probably driving this person nuts." And from a later interview: "Extroverts should understand that if someone is being quiet it doesn't mean they're having a bad time; it doesn't mean they're depressed; it doesn't mean they're lonely or need psychiatric help or medication. A lot of the battle is making the extrovert world more aware."

In the article and follow-up interview, the author stated that we live in a world that favors extroverts. I would agree completely for the physical world. (I've been lucky in that pretty much all the people I've been close to have been introverts. As an aside, a high-school classmate of [ profile] dag29580863's once said that he'd only ever heard D say three words in all of high school. D, in his usual inimitable style, retorted, "Make that six.") But I would argue that the virtual world can be as well suited to introverts as extroverts. Online I can take my time responding, walk away, or sequester myself completely (... at least with most of my friends). It lets me stay connected to friends, but on terms I am more comfortable with -- less intense and more ambient, like the occasional connection one has when working independently but with someone else in the same room.

Are you introverted too? Do you also like the affordances of online communication? Does it also help you extroverts out there feel more connected?
chimerically: (Default)
A prof in my department sent this article to one of the department mailing lists. I don't know if this guy objects to the way "academics" have been doing Internet research for the last 15+ years or if he just has his head lodged deep in some pre-Internet hole, but he obviously hasn't even tried to find or acknowledge the many studies on exactly what he says is lacking.


Nov. 2nd, 2005 08:23 pm
chimerically: (Default)
Halloween is an interesting holiday in that it lets people experiment with their identity in ways they normally cannot. (However, many only "experiment" in stereotypical ways. For instance, women's prepackaged costumes are almost universally sexy.) What I really don't like - a sentiment I adopted from my dad - is how people use it as an excuse to abdicate restraint and responsibility. The usual social controls are absent or lessened. As I thought about this yesterday, I was reminded of all the research done on online identities. Online, people can "try on" different personalities different from the ones they usually have. In fact, they're even less constrained than they are on Halloween (or many other historical and current holidays, such as Mardi Gras, Robynne reminds me): though people's traces may be recorded permanently, they can interact anonymously (or pseudonymously). Somehow, while Halloween bothers me, this doesn't, though I suppose there are aspects of online interactions that I do find particularly odious.


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