Monday, May 16, 2005
You folks were a great class and I hope you all got something useful out of our collective labors, both in discussion and online.
(Anyone desperately in need of a blog fix can check out my own humble venture, Uncovering Information Labor.)
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
Can we relate this to the quickening rise of the American south in population terms? Southern states are picking up population more quickly than northern ones -- the reason why John Kerry couldn't have won the election by holding Gore's states and adding New Hampshire is that states like ours lost electoral votes following the 2000 census, while states like Florida added votes. Is there reason to believe that southerners are breeding more? That erstwhile northerners are choosing to leave for some economic reason? Cultural? That they hate those damn northern winters?
I haven't seen any data to indicate that ex-northerners are leaving because they're in search of a more politically conservative climate, because the states themselves, over time, don't indicate drastic changes in voting results. So are these people apolitical, or at least apathetic enough that they don't really care if they candidate loses? Is what's pulling people south also responsible for pulling Confederate flag bumper stickers north?
On an ideological level, Friedman's new book is the worst, most boring kind of middlebrow horseshit. If its literary peculiarities could somehow be removed from the equation, The World Is Flat would appear as no more than an unusually long pamphlet replete with the kind of plug-filled, free-trader leg-humping that passes for thought in this country. It is a tale of a man who walks 10 feet in front of his house armed with a late-model Blackberry and comes back home five minutes later to gush to his wife that hospitals now use the internet to outsource the reading of CAT scans. Man flies on planes, observes the wonders of capitalism, says we're not in Kansas anymore. (He actually says we're not in Kansas anymore.) That's the whole plot right there. If the underlying message is all that interests you, read no further, because that's all there is.
It's impossible to divorce The World Is Flat from its rhetorical approach. It's not for nothing that Thomas Friedman is called "the most important columnist in America today." That it's Friedman's own colleague at the New York Times (Walter Russell Mead) calling him this, on the back of Friedman's own book, is immaterial. Friedman is an important American. He is the perfect symbol of our culture of emboldened stupidity. Like George Bush, he's in the reality-making business. In the new flat world, argument is no longer a two-way street for people like the president and the country's most important columnist. You no longer have to worry about actually convincing anyone; the process ends when you make the case.
For what it's worth, Taibbi's reference to the "culture of emboldened stupidity" is just how I've thought of Friedman for a while now, but haven't been able to devise the proper phrase to describe.
During last week's discussion of how the increased communication formats have changed the way we live our lives, I kept thinking back on a phone interview I'd had the previous afternoon.
First of all, there's the fact of the phone interview itself - I'm graduating in a week in a half, and all of my interviews thus far have taken place over the phone. I have an in-person interview later this week that only comes after four, yes, four telephone interviews. I think this is a fairly recent change in the use of telephone technology; it certainly wasn't the case three years ago when I graduated from undergrad.
Second, there was something about this phone interview that resonated in particular with our discussion: the interviewer asked me how I would communicate with my clients in the other, geographically disparate offices, and using the telephone didn't even cross my mind. Email, I said, is usefully for articulating initial requests and responses, and instant messenger is great when you need real time response. The interviewer agreed with me, and then he said something I find really interesting in the context of our discussion; he said that he uses IM all the time, even to contact colleagues down the hall.
It seems to me that we tend to discard old technologies when we adopt new ones, and that we tend to replace in-person interaction with interaction over a number of electronic means. Which leads right into what interested me in this week's readings...a running theme within both articles was the increasing popularity of remote communication as opposed to in-person, physical communication. I have to wonder if as a society we will eventually rebel against this trend.
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
From their conclusion, I think that they imply that communication constitutes community. All sorts of different communications may determine our community. What kind of communication are we involving in cyberspace and real place?
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Sunday, April 24, 2005
New Britain student disciplined for profanities on Web site
April 23, 2005
NEW BRITAIN, Conn. --A New Britain High School drum major has enlisted the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut after he was disciplined for posting a profanity-laced entry in an online journal.
Daniel Gostin, 18, a senior, was stripped of his drum major position, given an in-school suspension and barred from participating in music-related extracurricular activities and performances for the remainder of the year.
Lori Rifkin, an ACLU lawyer who represents Gostin, says the school's actions violate his free-speech rights. In a letter to schools Superintendent Doris Kurtz on Wednesday, she asked that Gostin be reinstated as drum major, his disciplinary record be expunged and that he resume participating in musical activities.
The posting "contained no threats nor did it contain any other statements which would interfere with the ability of school administrators to maintain order and discipline at the school," Rifkin wrote.
Kurtz, Assistant Superintendent of Schools Ron Jakubowski and New Britain High School Principal Thomas Reale could not be reached for comment, The Hartford Courant reported Saturday.
Gostin posted his entry on a Web site that allows users to create their own pages and record thoughts as in a diary. Rifkin said the posting was apparently brought to the
attention of school officials by another individual without Gostin's
At Gostin's request, she said she would not release a copy of the March 9 posting, which was largely directed at the band director. Rifkin characterized it as a "typical teenage rant" over the director's cancelation of several band activities.
New Britain police have launched an investigation following an earlier, more threatening entry on the Web site that promises a "homicidal spree" and "long, torturous death," presumably targeting fellow members of the band.
Police say the investigation will not likely result in criminal charges. Because of a nearly two-month lapse between the time school officials learned of the earlier posting and when police heard about it, electronic evidence was destroyed or deleted, police say.
Gostin and his parents have declined to discuss the case, The Courant reported.
I don't think I'm alone in this. I've talked to people here who've expressed similar feelings about coming to Madison, have friends in my old towns who'd like to be elsewhere, and know people who've left here for places like Wichita and are learning to make due with the lesser communities that they can find. Indeed, I seem to recall reading last year that American cities are becoming generally more politically homogenous and polarized; people like me are finding ways to co-locate with other liberals, and the conservative children of Madison are finding their way over to Waukesha County.
But I've been seeing a peculiar sentiment expressed on blogs lately -- "red state" liberals are finding their communities of affinity online, and are taking the strength of those communities back to their offline lives. Rather than wishing aloud that they could move to Madison or Berkeley or even Austin, rather than threatening to bolt for Canada, they are trying to use what they get from the online community -- be it knowledge, moral support or even financial and in-kind donations -- to effect change in and from their conservative locales.
I'm not sure what we might be able to gather from this, but the one thing that pops out at me is that these people are probably seeing online organizing as a viable alternative to traditional democratic activism. But also, I suspect that the in-group trust level is extremely high. Other implications?
Thursday, April 21, 2005
I published this in TV Technology a couple of months ago, for those interested in a folo to the Madison article Chris posted:
Why WiMax has Maxed Out
By Will Workman
I’ll admit it; I fell for the hype.
You’d think as one of those former hard-bitten, nihilistic reporter-types I would have asked tougher questions about all the WiMax window dressing popping up over the past year. Last August, when I wrote about the new technology in the wake of significant backing by Intel, I heralded it as a hopeful competitor to DSL and cable broadband solutions. (I also plugged into powerline broadband, but that’s another story).
Now it’s time to fess up: this tech is nowhere near ready for primetime consumer solutions, its business applications are limited, and its long-term ability to provide mobility is questionable.
WiMax, short for worldwide interoperability for microwave access, is essentially radio technology that uses fixed antennae to provide two-way broadband connections (up to 75 megabits per second) to users up to 30-miles distant (though half that is optimal).
It’s got some killer advantages. First, it’s actually here; providers have been popping up in several metro areas. Second is price: for about $500 a month one of these early WiMax providers, TowerStream, offers a 1.54 megabits-per-second connection. That’s nearly half the price of a standard T1 line. And WiMax providers can do this because they don’t have to lease lines from big telcos. Any customer within a 15-mile radius of a WiMax antenna can pick up the signal, even using it to power WiFi hotspots within their premises.
Though there’s a narrow but profitable market for this technology with small businesses, it’s hard to see how it can break out of that niche.
Big companies need security and reliability. Though WiMax providers can offer QOS guarantees and encrypted service, they can’t match secure landlines and backup power supplies of T1 service providers. That makes WiMax little more than a backup.
And WiMax may never attain widespread home user adoption. Installing a receiving antenna can cost hundreds of dollars. Meanwhile, DSL and cable broadband providers have been upping speeds and lowering prices.
There are also larger issues holding back WiMax that combine to serve as an illustration of the bugaboos that can derail a promising technology.
The litany runs a familiar gamut: WiMax signals use public airwaves rather than licensed spectrum, so interference can result, particularly if multiple players saturate a market; patents and legal issues could at least delay rollouts; and the ever-present standards issue remains a pressing concern.
Last June the IEEE approved the 802.16-2004 standard, promising equipment interoperability as tested by the industry group WiMax Forum. But some reports indicate developers looking at the standard are reeling from its complexity, which could bode further delays from ongoing modifications.
Additionally, a Yankee Group report projects WiMax CPE (consumer premises equipment) costs to drop from the current $250-to-$600 range, but not until 2006.
The report goes on to anticipate the most significant impact on WiMax coming from new silicon embedded in laptop and other mobile devices after 2007, based on the 802.16e standard, eliminating CPE. Intel’s support will be critical; it has announced it will release chips for WiMax elements such as relay stations and towers in the coming months, and add WiMax support to its notebook PC processors by next year. But skeptics say 2006 or 2007 is far too optimistic a timeline to have effective equipment.
The mobility cloud remains the gloomiest on the WiMax horizon. Users want to take their broadband with them, and with notebook adoption expected to double in the next few years, and cell phone use exploding, there are too many competing technologies that promise broadband-on-the-go. Cell phone companies are building third-generation (3G) networks, but several, including Nextel late last year, have announced they will not opt for WiMax
The WiMax 802.20 mobile wireless standard is still a pipe dream in the works, say critics, who estimate it may be four or five years before true deployment. Meanwhile, other wireless solutions on tap, such as Flash OFDM and UMTS TDD, offer mobility and could deliver on their promise earlier.
Why did WiMax get so hot last year, only to fizzle?
This is largely a product of its primary backer, Intel, overstating its case to overcompensate for previous misfires in the broadband arena.
If you go back to recent, but dim, history, Intel backed its favorite wireless standard, HomeRF, over WiFi, only to get steamrollered by the latter. Now it’s getting hammered for its WiMax braggadocio.
The chipmaker behemoth has been productive in promoting municipal wireless, calling on state and local officials to spurn lobbying by phone and cable broadband providers seeking to block municipalities and other public agencies from setting up public networks.
For this effort, Intel merits kudos.
But turning its PR gang loose to wax on WiMax deserves opprobrium.
While all the hoopla dust settles, small businesses can turn to WiMax as a low-price alternative, or backup, to T1 service. Larger broadband providers are also looking at WiMax as an effective last-mile backhaul solution. And there are plenty of rural areas that could use WiMax by putting the antennas on transmission towers.
But none of that restores the glitter to WiMax as a near-term solution for providing ubiquitous, mobile, low-cost broadband.
In the future I’ll try to save my waxing for something more productive – perhaps a snowboard or skis while it’s still winter.
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
City Dickering Over Wireless Net Access
The Capital Times :: METRO :: 2C
Monday, February 28, 2005
The city of Madison has started negotiations with SkyCable/AOL to provide the city's "Wi-Fi" wireless Internet access network, which will begin serving the Dane County Regional Airport and downtown later this year and may be expanded in the future.
SkyCable/AOL was selected as the preferred vendor over SBC and InSite Wireless. SBC and InSite still could become the provider if the city and SkyCable/AOL can't make a deal.
No tax dollars will be involved in building or operating the service. The provider will pay the county, city and state for the right to run the network. Access to some Web sites will be free, with full Web access available for a fee on a daily, monthly or long-term basis.
"This initiative continues the city's tradition of being at the leading edge of emerging technologies and is a major step forward for my Healthy City initiative," Mayor Dave Cieslewicz said.
As I understand it, free access on the network will be limited to city-produced websites. General Internet access to the Web and to email will be on a fee basis only.
What do you think about what the city is planning to do?
Early on in the Ellis, Oldridge, and Vasconcelos piece, they ask the question: can a virtual community be a real community? But I think that before that can be answered, we have to ask ourselves another, possibly more difficult question.
Just what is a real community? I think that the word community has become so shrouded in fable and illusion that most people are hard-pressed to say what it is - I know I am. So what is community? Or at least, what are some attributes that community should possess in order to be considered such.
Monday, April 18, 2005
"I would have expected that some of the louder, more strident voices on the Internet would have risen up in a frenzy over this. But that didn't happen." Why not, do you think?
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
In the Potluck Action Network, we hold potlucks. A lot of them. And we do things-- political actions-- before, during, and after those potlucks. We read up on issues, commit to doing one thing about some issue per month, meet up with friends at potlucks to tell what we've done, and strategize about the future. Through the network we share stories of our work and fun, and connect with other like-minded people working on the same topics across the country. [...]
Why a 'Network'? The internet has now developed to a point where nearly everyone has web access, so a web-driven network makes sense to link potluck groups across geographic borders and interest. Much more powerful than a phone tree or a set of index cards, the web allows us to retrieve the stored wisdom of thousands of like-minded people. We can connect to people who we'd never have known of just a few years ago. It's amazing, really. Yet at the same time, we all still have that basic human need of face-to-face communication. So we have potlucks, actions, and a network.
What are the goals of the Potluck Action Network? There are short-term, medium-term, and long-term goals of the Potluck Action Network. In the short term, we will unite progressive individuals from around the country within their communities. In the medium term, we want our members to gain contacts, confidence, and experience that will lead them to make increasingly effective impacts within their communities and beyond. In the long term, we want to provide a steady structure with a deep memory where the next generations of progressive leaders can learn, through personal experience, how to organize within a community, how to harness political energies to make things happen, and how to have fun while making a real, positive impact. How long is the long term? We envision that each potluck group may last 10 years or longer. During this time, members may come and go. New groups may spin off, and that's a great success. We have tried hard to develop a structure and approach that makes people want to keep coming back, for many years. [...]
Will the Potluck Action Network drown me with emails? No. The network does not plan to send emergency action alerts. Many other organizations do this quite well, and we do encourage our members to stay active in those more centralized groups. Our focus is slow, steady, and widespread effort and progress. [...]
Can anyone join? Frankly, no. Members of the vast right-wing conspiracy are not welcome. Don't they have enough outlets? However, recovering members of the right wing are strongly encouraged to join!
Even though Wellman’s explanation of social shift to person-to-person networked individualism is very appealing, it sounds like another technology-deterministic explanation. Also, he relies on the network theory assumption which takes it granted that human beings are strategic in networking (structuralist instrumentalism) in terms of Mustafa Emirbayer’s analysis (1994) in the last week reading. At this point, I wonder whether we have to admit the fact that such informational networked society that is technologically determined is unavoidable or not. Or is this social change is desirable? I know that accepting this social change is not matter of choice. However, I think that at least we need to figure out how to employ this new social phenomenon for leading to a democratic public life. That is why this issue relates to quality of life.
On the other hand, Castelles is talking about electronic democracy. He seems to have a strong belief of potential that electronic media can provide for grass-root democracy. Even though he is too optimistic, his analysis gives us a normative approach to the Internet. How can we use this virtual space for increasing public life?
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
On a side note, I also don't buy all the assumptions that the nature of networked worlds could create male- and female-segregated society given cultural elements that may shift how this plays out a bit differently.
Thursday, April 07, 2005
Fandom, for those who aren't quite as geeky as I am, refers broadly to all fans of a particular subject - but more specifically, it refers to those fans who are passionate enough to participate in some kind of forum dedicated to their favorite subject, and perhaps read or write fanfiction, or create or enjoy fanart. Early fandoms like Star Trek often were manifested in fanzines dedicated to the show, but these days a lot of the activity occurs online, in communities, forums, blogs, and websites.
I've been involved in online fandom in one way or another since about halfway through my undergraduate degree, and my experience indicates that it is definitely a network - and a very large one, if you consider Fandom an entity then made up of different and disparate fandoms, which are again networks in their own right.
I guess I'm wondering how the rest of you think fandom would fit into a network such as the t.v. example we discussed in class. I can see several possibilities, all of which are very messy.
Can we use ZIP code data to approximate social networks? I think the answer hinges on whether the statistical minority from traditional demographic research tends to cluster together, i.e., do "unpredictable" people live near each other and act in predictable ways relative to those around them?
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
Something I'd like to try to get at today (which I suspect is something we couldn't help but get at, whether I posted this or not) is not just the use or prevalence of networks over time, but the changing focus of networks over time, and the changing perception of networks. I suspect that the nature of the Internet relating to physical space -- that is, virtually "connecting" disparate physical points via physical terminals at those points -- makes the presence and use of networks obvious to the average person in a way that they never were before, even in pre-Internet satellite age (global telephone, television, shortwave, etc.). Internet applications are designed, sometimes explicitly, to show us those networks and allow us to take advantage of them in the most efficient way possible -- this was the whole point of Friendster, IIRC.
So is this all that's changed about our perception of networks in the last 10, 20, 50, 100 years? Is "network" just a new symbol for what we called "community" in the 1950's?
"Online search engine leader Google has unveiled a new feature that will enable its users to zoom in on homes and businesses using satellite images, an advance that may raise privacy concerns as well as intensify the competitive pressures on its rivals.
The satellite technology, which Google began offering late Monday at , is part of the package that the Mountain View-based company acquired when it bought digital map maker Keyhole Corp. for an undisclosed amount nearly six months ago.
This marks the first time since the deal closed that Google has offered free access to Keyhole's high-tech maps through its search engine. Users previously had to pay $29.95 to download a version of Keyhole's basic software package.
A more traditional map will continue to be the first choice served up by Google's search engine. Users will have the option of retrieving a satellite picture by clicking on a button.
The satellite maps could unnerve some people, even as the technology impresses others. That's because the Keyhole technology is designed to provide close-up perspective of specific addresses.
Keyhole's previous government ties also have raised anxieties.
Founded in 2001, Keyhole raised some money in 2003 from In-Q-Tel, a venture capital firm backed by the Central Intelligence Agency. Leading up to the Google sale, Keyhole's roughly 10,000 customers included a cross-section of government agencies.
There is little reason for people to be paranoid about the satellite maps because the images generally are six to 12 months old, said John Hanke, Keyhole's general manager. "And it's not like you are going to be able to read a license plate on a car or see what an individual was doing when a particular image was taken," he said.
Google believes most people will like the convenience of generating a satellite image with a few clicks of a computer mouse. The company envisions people using the service as a way to scout a hotel's proximity to the beach for a possible vacation or size up the neighborhood where an apartment is for rent.
Google's free satellite maps initially will be limited to North America, with images covering roughly half the United States, Hanke said.
Although Google is offering the satellite maps on a test basis, the feature will probably force its other online rivals to upgrade their technology, predicted search industry analyst Greg Sterling of the Kelsey Group. "To play in this space, you are going to need some robust mapping capabilities."
Sterling said Google's satellite maps pose the biggest threat to Mapquest, a service owned by Time Warner Corp. that has long operated the most popular Web site for finding directions.
The satellite maps also up the ante for the many challengers chipping away at Google's share of the lucrative Internet search engine market by adding more bells and whistles. For instance, Amazon.com Inc.'s A9 search engine earlier this year introduced a feature that includes an index containing 20 million street-level photographs of building exteriors in 10 major U.S. cities."
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Although I understand his basic premise and the need for a merger of culture, social structure and agency, I'm still not sure I really grasp his underlying rationale. Although it appears network theorists need to constantly battles the gap between macro and micro sociological theory, i.e., Do we analyze the superstructure of society – the social groups and organizations – or examine the micro level of interconnectivity of individuals? Doesn't the answer to this debate depend on the research questions?
Maybe I'm simply missing the fact that Emirbayer suggests you can't look at one without consideration of the other, and I'm fine with that assertion. I guess my question is - Does Emirbayer propose that network theorists must frame all research questions to examine culture, structure, and agency or is it OK to examine one specifically with consideration of how the others might influence the phenomenon/social network you're examining?
I don't know if this makes any sense but I struggled with what he was proposing a bit.
Saturday, April 02, 2005
Friday, April 01, 2005
Thursday, March 31, 2005
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Nowadays, the concept of community is ubiquitous; people frequently prefer to use the term “community”rather than employ“neighborhood,”“organization,”“school,”“city,” “state”or even "the world.” This tendency demonstrates that “community” is a value-laden concept because it implies a perspective of human group life, in which a certain group of people share interdependency, mutual trust, and participation. This normative definition of human group life also reflects an orientation or a desire of many social scientists who pursue to discover potential of democratic society in a certain type of human group life while the concept of community is defined and employed for a variety of scopes and purposes. This assertion is supported by Shepherd and Rothenbuhler (2001); they found that many scholars tend to assume community to be good for having such values as tolerance and diversity.
I am thinking that community is a psychological term. It is a kind of mental boundary; it works as potential to live interdependent life. Therefore, it is normative. But, I am still not sure about my idea. Is there anyone to make it clear?
Reference: Shepherd, G. J., & Rothenbuhler, E. W. (2001). Communication and community. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
I believe we've discussed the phenomenon of "reverse commuting" before in class, and this situation directly reflects that. In light of the desire of young professionals to live in the busier, perhaps more vibrant social atmosphere of the city, elected officials such as Richard Daley of Chicago have been trying to clean up their cities, to make them even more attractive. Cabrini Green, a rather famous section of the projects in Chicago, has long been sandwiched by the affluent neighborhoods of the Gold Coast and Lincoln Park...and in the endless quest for more housing, young professionals have been creeping closer.
The solution, according to Daley, is to outsource the projects, send them out to the suburbs - like Park Forest. If this plan should succeed, what the suburbs were meant to be and what they have become will be at opposing poles.
What do we think about the changing roles of the suburbs in America? Is this a cycle - will the suburbs again become a place of escape - or will Americans tired of the urban life try to find another kind of place?
I have three questions stemming from this line of thought.
1) Does this trend in television content, partnered with Spigel's argument that people spend more time with TV postwar, continue to make "cocooning" a more prevalent trend. "Why go out when I can watch other people engage in activities I'd like to, or not like to, do?"
2) What neighborhood ideal do shows like Big Brother and The Real World convey considering that the participants in these shows have extremely limited (Real World) or no contact (Big Brother) with their neighbors?
3) What group norm do these shows convey and how does that norm influence our desire or need to conform? And if so, how do we conform?
Thursday, March 24, 2005
CA950: Transnational Media Histories Fall 2005
Professor Michele Hilmes email@example.com
Monday 1:00-3:30 3155 Vilas
Too often histories of media, particularly broadcasting, are written from a narrowly national perspective. This is not surprising, since radio and television have been structured and controlled as national enterprises since the 1920s. Even for media (usually) less centrally guided by individual nation-states -- such as film, publishing, and the Internet -- state intervention, subsidy, and regulation have been common, often centrally concerned with preserving elements of national cultures and creating defenses against the cultural incursions of other nations.
This seminar will attempt to overcome the nationalist bias in media historiography by taking a transnational approach: recognizing media, particularly broadcasting, as engines of national cultural production that are nevertheless centrally concerned with transnational negotiations of culture, power and identity. Starting with the assumption that cultures define themselves relationally, often in specific opposition to or alliance with aspects of other cultures (both external and internal), we will examine the ways that the media of the twentieth and twenty-first century have gone about this enormous project of nation-building and culture-definition, not in a vacuum but in close contention with other, competing nations and cultures. We will focus on histories of transnational influence, resistance, hybridity, opposition, and cooperation. We will ask question such as: what can a transnational approach add to our understanding of media? Of national and diasporic cultures? What historiographical problems do transnational histories pose, and how can we solve them? Of particular interest will be the problem of Americanization,since the impact of US media and culture around the globe has often played a formative role in the cultural production of other nations.
Tentative/partial reading list/selections from:
The Television History Book, ed. Michele Hilmes (British Film Institute, 2003)
Jeffrey Miller, Something Completely Different: British Television and American Culture (Minnesota 2000)
The Media of Diaspora, ed. Karim H. Karim (Routledge 2003)
Jane Stokes, On Screen Rivals: Cinema and Television in the United States and Britain (Macmillan 1999)
Global Repertoires: popular music within and beyond the transnational music industry ed. Andreas Gebesmair and A. Smudits (Ashgate 2002)
Rob Kroes, If Youve Seen One Youve Seen the Mall: Europeans and American Mass Culture
At Full Speed: Hong Kong Cinema in a Borderless World, ed. Esther Yau
Hollywood and Europe: Economics, Culture, National Identity 1945-1995 ed. Geoffrey Nowell-Smith and Steven Ricci (BFI 1998)
Jostein Gripsrud, The Dynasty Years: Hollywood Television and Critical Media Studies (Routledge 1995)
Professor of Media and Cultural Studies
Director, Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research
Department of Communication Arts
University of Wisconsin-Madison
6040 Vilas Hall
821 University Ave.
Madison, WI 53706
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
Short but fascinating news analysis in the NYT today which cites a few think tanks over the question of language in the Bush administration social security "reform" proposal:
"'To most people 'privatization' means you're going to take the program out of the federal government and put it in the hands of private individuals totally,' said Representative Jim McCrery, the Louisiana Republican who is chairman of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security. 'That's not what I'm proposing, and it's not what the president is proposing.
'Accounts are not private in the sense that that individual has complete control over those accounts. He doesn't. His investment choices are very limited. He can't take the money out for any reason other than retirement. And he must annuitize a certain portion of it upon retirement.'
In short, a frustrated Mr. McCrery said: 'They are not private accounts. They are personal accounts.'
The Republican National Committee distributed to reporters a definition of 'privatize' and why it should not apply to the proposal.
Democrats and their allies counter that such individual investment accounts have been described as a form of 'privatization' for many years - by the very people advocating them. The Cato Institute, the research center that has long pushed for the accounts, called its effort the Project on Social Security Privatization until a few years ago.
Michael Tanner, an expert on the issue at Cato, said the organization decided to change the name independently of the Republican Party, but added, 'We were all probably reading the same polls.'
Peter Orszag of the Brookings Institution, a critic of Mr. Bush's approach to private accounts, said: 'I do find this a bit Orwellian. It's taking a term and saying you're not allowed to use this, even though it was widely used for years.'
The two sides agree that the language struggle is fueled by polls and pollsters, who say public opinion can swing significantly when the word 'privatize' is used."
Notice how the NYT identifies the think tanks not as "conservative" or "liberal," but with respect to their particular position on this single issue.
Monday, March 21, 2005
Friday, March 18, 2005
This piece is most likely just what the conservative movement needed. These ideas came from a well-respected figure who supposedly did not identify himself with the conservative party. Therefore, my question is, would these ideas have had much of an impact if they came from a staunch conservative? I don't think they would have. Also, I think the fact that he was appointed to the Supreme Court, a position which, in theory, is non-partisan (although we all know this isn't the case), shortly after writing this piece, added weight to his arguments. Maybe Nixon had this in mind when he appointed him to the bench
So, it could be that liberals need someone of similar stature to Powell to disseminate progressive ideas. This may be the only way for them to regain power.
Thursday, March 17, 2005
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
With all these articles we've read this week on how conservatism gained its foothold in the American political landscape, and how they manage to keep it, very few of them actually touched on what I think of as being the real crux of the matter; conservatives are in power because of a fervent, goal-oriented, ruthless desire to be. Liberalism certainly desires a return to power - this is obvious after the last presidential election - but there's seems to be a widespread fear of ruthlessness, of playing the game the way the opposition does.
It's my opinion that a political "coup" in Washington is unlikely to occur until liberals become more willing to treat it as the war conservatives have long considered national politics and culture to be.
Anyway, here's his framework which I found beneficial, although not extremely enlightening, when I was doing some internet ethnography on punk-themes message boards.
Kozinets, R. V. (2002). The Field Behind the Screen: Using Netnography for Marketing Research in Online Communities. Journal of Marketing Research, 39, 61-72.
I couldn't get at it through Proquest but if anyone is interested I have a printed copy they could copy.
What if we're completely wrong about the impact of think tanks and the right-wing policy process over the last 30+ years? What if the success of the right-wing is more about political geography than anything else?
Our discussion seemed to be premised on the idea that the Democratic Party is on the wane, and that conservative Republican dominance is due in large part to the think tanks' strategies. However, I'm not sure the numbers really bear this out. We tend to use party control of government as a proxy for public opinion. However:
- As noted, George Bush got only 51% of the vote in 2004 (on less than 60% turnout), and only 49% in 2000 (on roughly 50% turnout).
- While Republicans hold 55 Senate seats, the Democratic caucus actually represents more people than the Republican caucus does.
- In either the Senate or House elections of 2004 (I can't find the data now, so I'm not sure which), the Democratic candidates drew 3,000,000 more votes than their Republican opponents.
- Democrats lost four seats (net) in the House, the same number they lost in Texas after redistricting.
- The power of incumbency is at an all-time high.
I see two outcomes from this data. First, the nature of the Senate -- two popularly elected Senators from each state -- gives more per-voter representation to less populous states, which are trending conservative. Second, the redistricting following the 2000 census (and subsequent re-redistricting) has produced districts so safe for incumbents, that challengers -- who are more likely than not Democrat, given the make-up of the House in the 107th Congress -- have less chance than ever of winning. Democrats who are already in the House are relatively safe; those who are not face electorates which tend to be staunchly conservative, and not very susceptible to any kind of ideological marketing from the left.
This sets up a situation in which conservatives' primary objective is simply not to screw up (see Delay, Tom, blatant and public ethical problems of). The think tank aristocracy is still an important part of policy-making in this model, but they don't really have to do much to sell anything to the public; their publics have already been bought.
The question I hope to start this discussion with is this: What is the place of network theory in geography, human or otherwise? I'm thinking specifically about the traditional kind of social network analysis of, e.g., Wasserman, but other sorts of analyses would be looking at as well. Del Casino, et al., seem to approach this question in their introductory discussion of organizational and institutional relationships, but I'm more curious about how these approaches can be integrated in practice. So, that's one thing.
Secondly, I'd like to talk about the way place might influence the behavior of non-governmental actors such as think tanks. For all the (relatively legitimate) talk about "liberal enclaves," it doesn't appear that tight geographical cohesion is in any way helpful to the cause of disseminating liberal ideas through the pundit class, the media, Democratic legislators, etc. How might the dispersal of conservative authors factor in, when coupled with the high tendency of the think tanks themselves to congregate in places such as New York and Washington? How is someone like New Canaan, CT-native Ann Coulter able to be taken seriously when vilifying urban America and lionizing a "heartland" that, for her, has never been a reality? (And I should note that I absolutely disagree with Alterman's assessment of Coulter and Gary Aldrich as non-influential, fringe elements of the right-wing media machine. I think he focuses far too much on the paradigm-shifting nature of the Big Tomes of the movement, and doesn't look closely enough as the dissemination of talking points on a day-to-day basis.)
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Might be a good idea for discussion tomorrow to start with the [Del Casino V et al 2000] piece on "Methodological frameworks for the geography of organizations" and then use the question of right-wing and left-wing organizational/institutional networks as a case study: do our readings on these "knowledge production" networks deal with geography? Should they? How might they?
By the way: Those of you in the class working on the J-School Qualitative Studies Group project dealing with the ongoing Madison school board districting, budgeting, and building questions -- figuring out who are the organizational players in this debate, how they attempt to mobilize various forms of media, and how much if any of this "elite" debate registers with the voting citizenry -- might think through how the three "geography of organizations" theories from this week might apply to this case study...
Sunday, March 13, 2005
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
I left discussion today with a reminder to always be skeptical of what I read. I finished the Fry piece accepting the idea that local news organizations provided little more than sensationalistic coverage during the floods. I really had no basis to doubt her -- I had a difficult time trying to recall how bad the situation was. Fortunately, however, we had Linda and Amanda who experienced the flooding first-hand and were able to refute some of Fry's contentions. This helped restore my faith in news organizations operating under these circumstances.
One thing that did strike me as odd, however, and this was brought up in discussion, is the lack of attention given to cable news coverage of the floods. Even if the local networks weren't providing the kind of historical perspective Fry was looking for, it is very possible that the cable news networks were. To me, the most important news in these types of crises is a straightforward description of what's happening at the moment. The larger picture perspective, at least initially, is just filler. Cable news networks would have more of an opportunity, in terms of time, to touch on broader areas.
Some other thoughts ...
We didn't discuss much of the May article, so I would like to address one aspect here. May contends that journalists are constrained by their "news net," which refers to the amount of sources journalists have for information. The news net is determined, as May states, by time constraints, but he doesn't mention the possibility that this is largely due to competition in the news industry, which is further driven by advancements in communication technology. News organizations are now able to get stories out to the public almost instantaneously, so it seems like there's more of a tendency for journalists to keep going to the same well, so to speak, for their information, so they can be the first to break a story.
Also, another issue I had with the May piece is his contention that news media try to paint a uniform picture of the world for their audiences. For example, he cites a Hall et al. (1978) article which states that newspaper coverage often attempts "to secure a consensual picture of the world where no such consensus exists" (p. 25). I think, however, that this is merely a product of the "news values" that May talks about, which are largely determined by the desires of the public. For instance, May writes that the homeless are often characterized in a way that will "reassure readers of their own normalcy" (p. 32). More specifically, urban homeless are classified as "animals" (p. 32) who live on the fringes of the city, and rural homeless are romanticized as friendly and harmless so as not to ruin the pristine image of the English countryside. This really made me think about the "us versus them" mentality that was brought up in discussion last week. Homeless people are often depicted in the way Fry contends they are because that's the way the audience wants to perceive the homeless situation. Therefore, I'm not so sure the media can take most of the blame for these inaccurate depictions. A great deal of the problem may lie in what the public is willing to accept as "accurate."
On to Aaron's comments . . .
Great ideas. I don't think meaningful discussion can be achieved if we are all scrambling to get our questions/comments to the blog by a certain time. Also, I think some of us, namely me, are still getting used to the whole blogging thing. I've never done this sort of thing before, so I'm still trying to get comfortable with the whole concept.
Oh, by the way, I tried posting this Wednesday after class, but the page kept quitting on me. Is this common with Blogger?
That's it -- have a great weekend.
Something I kept hearing in regards to the tsunami disaster was "viewer fatigue" - when viewers reach a point where they can't care anymore. I was wondering if this phenomenon was a product of our time, with the influx of constant information, be it from internet, 24-hour news, network news and PBS - even weblogs. Is the evidential need to bombard viewers with all angles of a story merely serving to exhaust us?
For Wikipedia, click here for the main page, or here for Wikipedia's own entry on what a "wiki" is. You may note an "edit this page" button, which allows you to do just that.
The whole blog aspect of this seminar has been eating at me this we started using it. Despite feeling comfortable discussing the material in class (and I should that this is probably the best seminar I've been in here, discussion-wise), posting about it to the blog has me travelling sideways on a two-way street. My perceptions of blogging (or of "informal, online discussion," whatever) and of academic discourse are operating at cross purposes. My primary intent when posting to the blog is to further understanding (either my own or that of others) in an academic sense. This brings to bear all sorts of Postmanian issues of the nature of the written word and of information processing, etc., which don't connect with my notions of how blogging is produced.
As an example, I just wrote a post to my own blog comparing Jeb Bush's Presidential prospects in 2008 with the portrayal of Ted Kennedy in Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72. It's relatively well written, I think, but was certainly not labored over, rigorously edited or researched in any way more than cursory. (And a sidenote, I didn't type out the full title of the book in my original post, but felt compelled to do so here.) It's full of snarky language, partisan broadsides and a bit of profanity; it is representative of the kind of language I find on blogs writ large, but not the kind of writing I would feel good about posting here.
I think that, for me, this is exacerbated by the fact that I'm very unfamiliar with the material being covered in this course. (I wonder, actually, if this unfamiliarity contributes to the liveliness of our discussions.) I'm much less able to make explicit connections to my existing knowledge with this type of new terrain than I am with, say, the material from the party system seminar I took last fall. This is partly due, I suspect, to the quasi-academic nature of the setting -- we all know "there are no stupid questions," etc., but let's be honest, none of us want to post something we think is brilliant, only to realize it's based entirely on a misreading of what "GIS" stands for. I seeing the connections more and more as the semester moves forward, but generally speaking, there's a negative correlation between the extent to which a piece focuses on geography and how much I think I can do with it before we discuss it in class.
Finally, I think that we, as a group, are not really sure what to do with this blog as of yet -- there's a code to it that we haven't cracked. Each week, we see a flurry of activity on Tuesday and Wednesday, a handful of comments, maybe a follow-up, and then five days of nothing much. Because we're mostly new to this method of discussion, we don't know how to most optimally use it. (This is kind of a deja vu thing for me -- back when I was taking Intro to Graphic Design about 10 years ago, we did an online class discussion experiment with something called Daedelus, which was a complete disaster.) I think that we should really think about better ways to utilize the blog, especially since our class discussions are so fruitful and give us so much to build on.
My proposal is a two-parter, one short-term and one long. First, I think we might be well served to focus some of our weekly posting energy on post-class discussion, rather than pre-class point-raising. I think that we take the ideas raised in class, which will already have undergone an organic discussion and extension, and spend some time afterwards applying our existing knowledge, we will come up with some interesting things that we can discuss further on the blog, but which would get short shrift if brought up in the next class session. Our Tues/Weds posts are good, but given the thorough intros by Greg and the week's presenter(s), it seems a little unwieldly to have a partial agenda laid out by the blog, which we don't always wind up addressing completely.
The long-term is a switch away from Blogger. I suspect one reason blog activity is so temporally limited is that Blogger can be kind of a pain to deal with. The dashboard site decides not to load, posts and comments sometimes disappear, we lack features like post truncation on the first page (which would be really nice for this post), and so on. Given that class-oriented blogs are probably on the wax, rather than the wane, maybe we ought to talk to Brian about setting up a server with Movable Type somewhere in the department. MT is only one option, but it's one that's easy to install, configure and maintain, and version 2.661 (not the latest, but still quite effective) is 100% free. I use it to run my site, and my wife just launched a site for her business that's run through MT as well. However, any locally operated option would take care of Blogger's major problems.
If blogging's major defining characteristic is self-reference (and I tend to think it is), this is probably as good a time and place as any to discuss this stuff. Comments?
These are topics that are routinely covered when the press there is not in crisis mode, as they were in 97. Fargo has two universities (NDSU and MSU-M) and a college (Concordia,) Grand Forks has a big university (UND,) and all have departments that study flood control. Their researchers appear regularly on news programs discussing this chronic problem. Every year as spring approaches and anxiety levels start to rise along with the water, these issues get covered, though they've never been solved.
As an icon of the Earth, 22727 would largely replace the cartographers globe with its delineation of lands and seas on a graticule of latitude and longitude.
It's an interesting observation, and one that seems true in my experience - every single geography textbook I had had as its cover image 22727. I have to wonder what the effect of this changing respresentation was on the academic study of geography; did the advent of a more "realistic" representation hurry along the growing attitude of geography being a pure science?
In May's article we gain insight into how reporters frame the rural/urban debate in regards to homelessness - i.e., emphasizing the urban plight and minimizing, or romanticizing, the rural struggles. I agree that often reporters, while serving as gate keepers, do significantly limit the debate surrounding a topic I'm extremely curious about why academics spend so much time studying the extremes?
Of course the underlying hope, I believe, is that through a more detailed understanding of society's outcasts we might be better able to gain insight into our own lives. Yet, I'm struck by the need for a detailed analysis of the "Normals." Following a similar format to that employed by May, a critical analysis of how normal human existence is portrayed in the media would add a wealth of knowledge to any field of inquiry - how does the media craft and frame the "normal" human experience and how does that then cloud, or enlighten, our expectations, experiences, and dreams? Why are we so afraid to study "ourselves?"
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
Here is a 2005 forecast for Chief Marketing Officers, which directly builds on many issues raised in our readings this week with security, direct targeting of ad messages, global ad consolidation and Internet influence. There's been tons of ad agency consolidation - and integration with PR and interactive media agencies - in recent years:
For fun if you’d like further venture to the darkside, you can take this quick VALS survey Goss references. Of note: your results will change if you alter your income. Hmmm…
The first question that came to my mind while I was reading this, and the one that stuck there as I continued to read her Singer case study, was this: how much influence did ads like these have not only in the creation of the United States' image in the nineteenth century, but also in the proliferation of this imperialist, "civilized" image even into the twenty-first? It's an image that has clear ramifications for our relationships with the other countries of the world, perhaps most obviously those in the Middle East, particularly Iran.
Tuesday, March 01, 2005
My question arises from analysis of the current generation of consumers who have grown up in a society inundated by malls. Malls have been the substitute for civic spaces for as long as people my age and younger have been alive. As a result, I wonder whether this age cohort truly experiences the nostalgia Goss proposes. Or possibly more interesting, how can we feel nostalgia for something we've never truly experienced? If we do feel nostalgia is it generated by social conceptions, possibly through the use of the trappings of the old town square, and media representations of this previous time period? Or has this age cohort confused civic space with commercial space to the point that the two are one in the same?