Blog wrapup: Competition, Technological Pragmatics, and Personal Politics

at gnovis, competition!

"Resistance has here become a game." Brad considers the what friendly competition might look like when it comes to capitalism. In this post he reviews the book "Hacking Capitalism: The Free and Open Source Software Movement" (Routledge, 2008) by Johan Soderberg, calling it a "must read for anyone doing research on hacktivism, the commons, the information economy, the future of technology, and any topic that starts with ‘free,’ ‘open,’ or ‘hack.’"

 

around cct, the pragmatics of synthetic worlds

 

Let’s start at the interface, and move towards the nuts and bolts.

Castranova visited CCT-505 this last week, and so the lounge has been abuzz with "the virtual". Gina lauds Castranova’s work on the similarities between the virtual and real world: "All too much, research talks about the virtual world as something separate from the real world with almost an impassible boundary between the two that is only crossed through a log-in and password. Castranova is presenting ideas that this boundary is more permeable, allowing a transfer of currency, information and emotion to pass from one to the other."

Hannah, however, is more skeptical. "Castronova [in his book Synthetic Worlds] defines fun as ‘a balance between heightened intensity that comes with more strenuous, more activating situations, and the requirement that nothing is really serious” (105)… I’m the first to admit that I think a lot of serious and very real things can happen in online communities and virtual worlds… but most likely no one is going to go broke or end up literally homeless because of something that happens in a forum… and I would suspect that if the stakes were that high, it would stop being ‘fun’ very quickly."

But what even makes the virtual world exist in the first place? Brad considers the rhetoric of programming laungages, the world of programmers, and (by extension) how the languages they use structure the ways in which our virtual worlds emerge. "…programming languages, particularly those that become successful, are typically very flexible in the sorts of programs they can be used to create… [but] they do structure some of the processes that are used in software development, and this is precisely where procedural rhetoric comes into play."

It is worth noting that PHP, a popular programming language with the CCT webinistas, is dealing with a a rhetorical issue of its own. As a language, PHP is trying to decide how to impliment what is called "namespacing." I will admit that this entire story is about a backslash ( \ ), but it reaffirms how important the tools and systems that programmers use when building the software we love.

 

around the blogosphere, politics gets personal

 

With the election around the corner, we would be amiss to not mention the political blogosphere. It appears that political blogs are taking on a more personally oriented tone.

Truthdig reports that personal beliefs are alive and well in this election. "Some three dozen workers at a telemarketing call center in Indiana walked off the job rather than read an incendiary McCain campaign script attacking Barack Obama, according to two workers at the center and one of their parents. "

Anil Dash writes about California’s Proposition #8, defending marriage, but not in the way you might expect. "I believe in this institution, and I do believe it makes society better, if only for the simple reason that it tends to make guys like me act much less like assholes than we’re inclined to be when we’re single… Naturally, my wife and I have donated to support No on Prop 8 in California… I’d be remiss if I didn’t take the time to point out that denying the right of marriage to any of us attacks and disrespects the institution of marriage for all of us. As it turns out, marriage is worth defending, no matter what you might see on TV."

danah boyd, shares Anil’s view on Prop 8, but has decided to share what her ballot will look like next Tuesday. "While voting is a personal act, many people choose to vote based on what those around them are voting. For this reason, I think that it’s important to share your opinions and, as appropriate, research."

Jed Brubaker

Jed Brubaker's background involves professional and academic work in the social sciences, marketing, technology, and the arts. He received a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Utah, and is a former master's candidate in the interdisciplinary Communication, Culture and Technology (CCT) program at Georgetown University. His current research interests included digital identity and anonymity, Internet culture, and computer mediated communication. Read more on his blog at www.whatknows.com.