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July 14, 2009

Filed under: random»linky

The Link That Ate Chicago

It was hungry.

  • Two interesting commentaries from danah boyd: in the first, she presented a paper at the Personal Democracy Forum on the politics of class online, specifically across MySpace and Facebook. Her fellow Berkman Center scholar Eszter Hargittai has also done a lot of research on this, if you're interested.
  • Second, boyd wrote a post on generational use of "backchannel"--how younger people use Twitter/blogging/IRC/Wikipedia/etc. during public presentations and lectures to augment the experience. I do wonder, though, if surprise at this is strictly limited to academic settings. After all, every meeting I've been in for the last five years has often been populated by Blackberry users acting in the same fashion. One could, in fact, argue that this is the real curse of the Blackberry: by giving managers and knowledge workers the ability to work during otherwise unproductive meetings via the backchannel, it eliminates part of the valid case against those meetings in the first place.
  • Patrick Meier continues a fine series of posts on digital activism by noting the primacy of content over channel. A great series of resources, especially centered on the many studies of nonviolence available online.
  • These ten guidelines for building low bandwidth pages are meant to benefit audiences in developing countries, and that's a great thing to keep in mind. But it's also important for mobile development: 2G networks suffer from exactly the same problems. And even fancy new smartphones can find themselves operating on 2G networks once you leave the major metro areas of the US (or worse, as I was reminded while driving through West Virginia last month). All of this is a major reason why, despite the temptation, I've never added Javascript or multiple CSS files to Mile Zero. Also, because I am lazy.
  • Cultivating a decent network on Delicious has been yielding all kinds of great stuff lately: Justin Pickard found Venkatesh Rao's "The Rhetoric of the Hyperlink", looking at how the link has changed writing and voice. The examples are fantastic.
  • Odd Delicious coincidence: I find new link feeds by looking at the people who bookmark the same kinds of things I do, but unless you use something personal (like your name) there's nothing to really identify who a given user is in real life. Today I realized that one of the people in my network is Aleks Krotoski of The Guardian's gaming blog. Weird. So now I've got that going for me.
  • If you read enough futurists for long enough, you start to notice something: at the extremes of the political left and right, they start to blend together. I had always assumed that was one of those political aphorisms used by moderates to denigrate activists, but in this case it seems to be true--when it comes to discussion of "resilient" communities and local production, you may start to see a lot of similarity between (on the Left) Rob Hopkins' Transition Towns and (on the Right, I think) John Robb's new world order of global guerrillas. Case in point: this Make post on Backwoods Home magazine, a rural libertarian journal for DIY types that's nonetheless reviewed as "useful, regardless of your political persuasion, [due to] the wealth of information written by practitioners in the arts of self-reliance"--and compared directly to the granola-crunching Mother Earth News.
  • Me, I'm more with Bruce Sterling from the talk posted below: I'm a city kid, and I believe there's a lot of good to be derived from urban humanity. But its savings are going to come more from addressing the systemic and cultural wastefulness of global capitalism than learning how to grow my own radishes. In this, I'm encouraged by this speech by the WWF's Jason Clay (transcribed loosely by Ethan Zuckerman) on approaching sustainability from the perspective of massive, multinational corporations and their supply chains. It's full of fascinating facts on where the real costs of production occur (Mars buys more fish than Wal-mart each year, just to make cat food).

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