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.