Monthly Archives: March 2008


Points of interest:

= the divide between the interface and the machinations of technology. I am preoccupied with ideas of artifice and representations. The idea of windows/desktops/folders (hyperreal models of metaphors?) or point-and-click OS is an interesting instance of my preoccupations. I understand, to some degree, the nature of how the personal computer functions (code, circuitry, data, etc) yet have largely avoided considering my usage of OS as a type of artifice. This “reading” of the user experience questions other “hidden” aspects of my usage, such as the packet-sniffing Chun brings up in her introduction, the fact “that your computer constantly wander without you” (3). Again, these are consequences that I’ve known to be true for some time, to an increasing extent, but have dismissed (or perhaps accepted) out of hand, as I didn’t consider myself to be an individual target of surveillance. This is the result of a panoptic reasoning and of believing that those who might be surveilling are not perfect observers, nor are they able to decipher the unimaginable glut of information to be sifted. Thus, my choice (necessity?) to use was part of

= the utility of paradoxes, which Chun refers to through the fiber optics (26). In my specific case as participant in technology, I think I accept the possibility of surveillance as a matter of practicality – it can make my life more convenient sometimes, while admittedly more complex at others; still, the attraction is there. And, I know I’m talking a lot about surveillance and that is supposedly the hallmark of a discipline society. I’m still looking for a better definition of control – or maybe a more complete one that has an analog for surveillance. Chun’s articulation of the difference does make some sense to me, in that I gather that control incorporates the manipulation of freedom (and liberty, I s’pose) in order for the institutional power structures to achieve an ends that they desire (such as undermining labor unions, in Chun’s example). 

Back to paradoxes: one thing that excites me about Chun’s notion of “the theoretical necessity of using, rather than resolving, paradoxes” is the discarding of Enlightenment notions of objectivity (26). Is it ironic or paradoxical that Chun employs technology, the fruit of science’s labor, to destabilize the foundations of science? It is appropriate, given her clearly stated goal of considering technology and all its imperfections, rather than eliding technology as the pure product of an ideology. Chun’s fiber optics example reminded me of Foucault’s essay “Of Other Spaces” and his discussion of heterotopias. (I felt pleasantly justified by the later usage of heterotopia, as well as an indirect shout out to Foucault’s “What is Enlightenment?” by way of flâneur. Which is also a tidy connection to my statement on objectivity.) 

Another possible avenue I could enjoy exploring, wrt paradoxes and Chun, is Authorship. My entry point is a briefer comment within a brief comment on Benjamin: the computer’s “reading [of the user] as writing elsewhere” on the network (4). My question in response to this is to what degree is the user an “author”, if she doesn’t know what “writing” is being recorded and if the recorder does not know what might be being read and by what audience?

Onwards; maybe backwards and sideways later.

Midwest Storms Kill At Least 13

Floods Block Highways, Force Hundreds To Flee

POSTED: 1:30 am CDT March 19, 2008
UPDATED: 8:39 am CDT March 20, 2008

At least 13 people have died and three others are missing due to severe weather that’s caused heavy flooding in the nation’s midsection.Residents in the nation’s midsection have stacked sandbags or fled from their homes amid overflowing rivers and creeks.Record or near-record flood crests are forecast for several towns in Missouri. And the National Weather Service has posted flood warnings from Texas to Pennsylvania, with flooding reported in parts of Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. A foot of rain had fallen by Wednesday afternoon in sections of southern Illinois, where two bodies were found hours after floodwaters swept a pickup truck off a rural road. Five deaths were being linked to the flooding in Missouri and five people were killed in a highway wreck in heavy rain in Kentucky. The flooding was also blamed for a death in Ohio. Rain finally stopped falling in much of Missouri and Arkansas Wednesday afternoon as the weather system started crawling toward the Northeast. Evacuations also were under way in parts of Arkansas and Ohio.The National Weather Service posted flood and flash flood warnings from Texas to Pennsylvania, with tornado watches in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.In Texas, authorities near Dallas were searching Wednesday for a 14-year-old who they believe was swept down a creek drainage pipe by floodwaters during Tuesday’s heavy storms.Authorities in Mesquite, Texas, said the teenager was playing with a friend near the creek when he was carried away by the rising waters. The weather service said more than six inches of rain fell on parts of Dallas on Tuesday. In Missouri, about 300 of the 900 homes in Piedmont were evacuated. Dozens of people were rescued by boats. Two people in Arkansas were missing Tuesday after their vehicles were swept away by rushing water.President George W. Bush has approved a major disaster declaration for parts of Missouri hit by flooding following days of heavy rain. The move means 70 counties and the city of St. Louis are now eligible for federal emergency relief funding. The cleanup bill for the soggy mess is expected to run into the millions. One woman outside St. Louis spent Wednesday moving her family’s belongings to the second floor of their home. She called it “A lot of work, but it’s worth it to save your stuff.”WLWT-TV in Cincinnati reported that a woman in Whitewater Township, Ohio, was found dead during the storm.The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office said the 66-year-old woman in Whitewater Township who was attempting to work on her sump pump was found under a heavy grate covering the pump.Officials aren’t sure whether she drowned, had a heart attack or was crushed by the grate. An autopsy is planned for Wednesday.High water closed roads and stranded people in their homes across the region on Wednesday morning, and it was expected to get worse throughout the day, WLWT reported.The weather service issued flood warnings Wednesday for the Great Miami and Little Miami rivers.The Great Miami was expected to crest 12 feet above flood level at Miamitown, 8 feet at Milford and 6 feet over flood stage south of Miamisburg, while the Little Miami will crest 10 feet over flood stage at South Lebanon and Morrow.Homes and businesses in Miamitown and areas along the Great Miami in Franklin, Milford and Carlisle may flood by afternoon.Meanwhile, several counties, including Hamilton, Dearborn, Warren and Butler, were under a flash flood warning.The NWS said another 1 to 3 inches of additional rain was expected Wednesday on top of the 3 to 4 inches that fell Tuesday.

Showers Linger In Arkansas

Showers lingered in parts of Arkansas a day after heavy rain and storms caused damage throughout the region.In the Fort Smith area, a 10-year-old skateboarder was rescued after being sucked into a drainage ditch, KHBS-TV in Ft. Smith reported.Further north in Madison County, flash floods hit St. Paul, Ark., residents.About noon, the White River flooded several homes and a baseball field in the area, the television station reported.Authorities said nobody was hurt, but the damage was extensive.”It tore my foundation out, busted my water lines, busted the gas lines. It came in the back door. … You can see where all the mud is. The carpet is all wet,” said Linda Shackelford.Creeks and rivers in Madison County were still high Wednesday after a water line washed away overnight.

:Live: Blogging Benkler

Ok, reading a online text poses unique challenges to my note taking methodology.  So, I’m going to try something like a command-c-v style…Thesechanges haveincreasedtheroleof nonmarket andnonproprietaryproduc-tion, bothbyindividuals aloneandbycooperativeefforts inawiderangeof looselyor tightlywovencollaborations. Thesenewlyemergingpracticeshaveseenremarkablesuccessinareasasdiverseassoftwaredevelopmentandinvestigativereporting, avant-gardevideoandmultiplayeronlinegames. To-gether, theyhint at theemergenceof anewinformationenvironment, oneinwhichindividuals arefreetotakeamoreactiverolethanwaspossibleintheindustrial informationeconomyofthetwentiethcentury.(ok, this copy/paste from pdf is screwy: creative commons control?)Have these changes increased the role, or have they increased the exposure? Are those different? I’m trying to imagine what the previous nonmarket information production might look like… zines? underground press?Thus, I think it’s fair that Benkler characterizes this as a new environment – not necessarily a new phenomenon.(note: if this gets real screwy, it’s due to my writing in html. Thanks, wordpress!)The first move, inthe makingfor morethanacentury, istoaneconomycenteredoninformation(financialservices,accounting, software, science) andcultural (films, music) production, andthemanipulationof symbols (frommakingsneakers tobrandingthemandmanufacturingthecultural significanceof theSwoosh). Thesecondis themovetoacommunicationsenvironmentbuiltoncheapprocessorswithhighcomputationcapabilities, interconnectedinapervasivenetwork—thephe-nomenonweassociatewiththeInternet.Good for the intellectual class, but when are the machines taking over? But seriously, if we’re all selling each other advertisements, where is the money coming from?Oneneedsonly to runa Google searchonany subject of interest tosee howthe“informationgood”that is theresponsetoone’s queryis producedbythecoordinateeffects of theuncoordinatedactions of awideanddiverserangeof individuals andorganizations actingona wide range of motivations—bothmarket andnonmarket, state-basedandnonstate. Ignoring any warning of author intent, I think that Benkler hits on one of the most important arguments for a positive (sometimes utopian) take on the interweb’s potential of democratization. The wide range of motivations that one can find as a result of a Google search would seem to imply a less-biased method of obtaining information–or a more cancelled-out bias, due to the several biases found in each result. This, however, is predicated on the organizational tool (Google, in this case) not having a bias in reporting results. 

Heorshealreadyhasthecapital capacitynecessary
todoso; if not alone, thenat least incooperationwithother individuals
actingfor complementaryreasons.

Vinge, anyone? And SETI@Home? Guilty as charged, though not since 2000.

Also, I can’t decide if Benkler’s definition of community is better than mine, or just different. I wonder if the former is eliding the problematics/complexities of disembodied voices – or if the latter is making a reactionary distinction b/w “online” and “in-person” communities and how different (or ultimately similar) they might be.