Search Results for: neutrality
Ars Technica reports on the latest Net Neutrality news:
“The US Federal Communications Commission voted 2-1 today to start the process of eliminating net neutrality rules and the classification of home and mobile Internet service providers as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act.
The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) proposes eliminating the Title II classification and seeks comment on what, if anything, should replace the current net neutrality rules. But Chairman Ajit Pai is making no promises about reinstating the two-year-old net neutrality rules that forbid ISPs from blocking or throttling lawful Internet content or prioritizing content in exchange for payment. Pai’s proposal argues that throttling websites and applications might somehow help Internet users.”
You can find the docket and add a filing against it here.
Really, this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.
A recently conducted survey found:
“…while politics may be as divided as ever in our country, consumers share a strong bipartisan consensus that the government should let the internet flourish without imposing burdensome regulations.”
You can read more about it here.
Or, at least several major sites wanted you to know what it might feel like if it were to slow down permanently due to what they say may result in Internet “fast lanes” where companies would be able to purchase the ability to have their sites served faster than others (ala, the Comcast/Netflix agreement made earlier this year). This would potentially disrupt what we’ve all come to know and love as the digital economy of the Internet.
Meaning, if another movie / tv streaming content provider tried to enter the market today without the ability to sign a similar agreement (if only because they were new) they would be unable to even attempt to compete and thus their service would fail before users ever had a chance to try something that may be better or more innovative than the current big kid on the block. While even without net neutrality, enforcing payments like this (rather than the two companies voluntarily entering an agreement) would be legally hard to do today due to current antitrust laws, that doesn’t mean the little guy still wouldn’t find itself in a precarious situation – but perhaps that’s as it should be given the ups and downs of the digital economy.
What is the purpose behind this? Well, the telecom infrastructure in America is largely owned and maintained by private businesses including but not limited to Level 3 Communications, TeliaSonera International Carrier, CenturyLink, Vodafone, Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T. You might recognize the last three as companies from which you purchase your Internet connectivity. It is in their interest to make a profit. But, from what they tell us, it is hard to do that while maintaining and innovating on the infrastructure at the same time.
To my understanding (which could be wrong, I am not a networking expert – feel free to correct me), companies are fighting against the need to use a standard which treats all data the same regardless of what is being carried (i.e. TCP/IP). As an alternative, each company would able to create their own innovations that would help their own networks move data along without that technology necessarily being shared with everyone else. Without chiming in on one side of the debate or the other, this could be very good for consumers in the long run as competition in this area would drive innovation further and further.
The fear is that while competition has somewhat driven the cost to connect down on the consumer side, these companies must find another way to make profits and are looking toward the providers of digital goods as a potential revenue option. To that end, many see these infrastructure companies’ waves against net neutrality as an attempt to charge content providers money to ensure their data reaches their customers as fast as possible. This idea is comparable to a tollway company claiming their roads need maintenance and thus charging stores along the tollway, that have no other way to access them, extra fares to make sure consumers can access the offramps to those stores without delay, while also collecting money from the consumers themselves in order for them to gain access to the tollway in the first place. However, as I said above, this would be difficult to do given the antitrust laws currently in place.
I hope I’ve been able to some what enlighten people as to what the big deal is and I hope I have shed some light on the topic that is not as black and white as most of us have been lead to believe. The lesson to be learned, as with most things on the Internet, is issues such as these aren’t always necessarily as they first appear and a little research goes a long way. This is especially so where government and technology intertwine.
I do not have many words to add to the multiple that are already out there. What I do have to say is that about a year ago I was protesting SOPA with the rest of you. It was one of those things those of us who care so deeply about freedom and the Internet did in hopes that it would actually bring about change.
Internet and Information freedom are near and dear to my heart. My entire Masters research was on FOSS / Fedora. I’ve posted on this blog about many of the things that are threats to this freedom including cyber bullying, censorship, and net neutrality.
Though I have a few papers floating around on the Internet, you will not find any of them in a journal much to the dismay of many of you who have contacted me for copies and citations. Why? Because I refuse to have my research (especially that which I do of my own free will and with no outside funding) published in a journal that cannot be accessed by the public, even if this hurts me academically.
I am not the only one that has a problem with the journal system and there are a few journals out there that have risen up against the status quo. There are also a few people who have taken a stand against the privatization of publicly funded information. Aaron Swartz was one such person. While he should be remembered for the many awesome things he did for Internet and Information Freedom, it is the ending of his life over the weekend that is being talked about today.
All I can say is the world, especially those of us who feel the same way he did, lost a great mind and advocate. He has been an inspiration to many of us, and he will only continue to do so. It will be interesting now to see how he has changed the world through the ending of his own. I am just an academic and a wanna-be hacker, but I will always do what I can to fight many of the same fights he did.
In the words of famed anthropologist Margaret Mead:
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
How are you changing the world today?
P.S. If you are reading this through an RSS feed – thank Aaron…
Wow, it’s been a while I know!
On August 12 I presented my practicum / thesis to my anthropology department on the Fedora Project titled: An Exploration of the Fedora Project’s Online Open Source Development Community.
The unique part of my project was that I used virtual methods for almost the entirety of my research. The methods entailed the following:
- Participant Observation In Person / Online
- In Person
- FUDCon Toronto
- Blogs / Fedora Planet
- Email / Mailing Lists
- In Person
- Qualitative Research
- In-depth Semi-Structured Interviews based on data gathered during participant observation
- Conducted via Email and IRC
- In-depth Semi-Structured Interviews based on data gathered during participant observation
- Quantitative Research
- Online Survey based on analysis of the Qualitative Data
- Conducted using LimeSurvey
- Online Survey based on analysis of the Qualitative Data
Based on the data gathered during this research I was able to structure my findings into five themes.
- Getting Started
In the final report each of these themes had key points that surfaced to support them and recommendations that were made based on analysis of the data gathered throughout the entire research project. You can find the community version of this report here. If you would like the full thesis / practicum paper (a bit more academic than the community report), please email me: diana [@] cyber-anthro.com. If you would like me to give the presentation again, just let me know. I am more than happy to share this data with anyone in the Fedora / FLOSS / Anthropology or Academic communities.
My committee was very pleased with my work and the results of my research, which culminated in the previously mentioned final report and presentation. With that, they signed off on the last of my graduation requirements and on August 13th I graduated with my Master of Science in Applied Anthropology!
Virtual Methods Report
I am hoping to find time in the coming months to write up a report on how I approached my research from a virtual methods perspective and did everything virtually from taking down and organizing field notes to daily interactions within the community. Not to mention the trials and tribulations of doing a study like this and lessons learned for those who wish to embark on a similar path. If you think you’d find this useful, please email me and nudge me to get it done!
Onward to PhD!
Last year I applied and was accepted into the Interdisciplinary Information Science PhD (IIS PhD) program at UNT where I started this fall. I will be focusing my studies on Human Computer Interaction and Information Policy. Due to my academic record I was nominated for and subsequently awarded a fellowship that covers my full tuition for the next four years. I can’t tell you how excited I am to be continuing on with my PhD studies, daunting though they may seem right now!
While my PhD is not in anthropology, the program is heavily centered around research, which is where my anthropology background will be a huge benefit. I will be utilizing all of my anthropologist skills in each of my research projects and final dissertation. Being interdisciplinary, I am able to blend all of my previous education as well as my skills in information architecture, usability, interaction design, and user experience together into a combined subject of study.
I am very excited to start down this new path and my goal is to aim my studies on the same subjects I did for my undergraduate and masters degrees. Those being, gaming, social networking, blogging, online communities, and open source. My hope is to also extend this into the realms of the digital divide, digital property rights, net neutrality, information accessibility, and more!
Thank you Fedora & Red Hat
Thank you to each and every single one of you who worked with me on my Fedora research. Every single one of you made a difference and I hope we get the chance to work with each other again!
Blogging hiatus is now over and what better way to get back in the saddle again than to start with a Webtwitch Wednesday post!
Big news today:
Good question posed by FastCompany:
And there’s also the issue that Google’s pull-out of China might make the overall human rights situation slightly worse. Because whether or not you approve of Google, while it was operating in China it was pushing for relaxations of censorship–using its size as a global giant to try to lever open some cracks in the censorship wall. And if it leaves the country, then what’s to stop the Chinese government running roughshod over any other players in the Internet tech game–likely far smaller ones than mighty Google–and forcing them to comply?
Rockstar San Diego Wive’s do as the EA Spouse did and post a letter to the Internet calling for better working conditions.
The WSJ reports that the US Court of Appeals reinstated an antitrust lawsuit against the major record labels over alleged price-fixing of Internet music downloads.
Ars Technica reports that Comcast wants clarity from the FCC even if it means Net Neutrality.
This was the first podcast I have ever recorded and I did it all in one take!
Transcript is below!
Have you ever wondered what the staying power of your favorite social networking site was? Or, perhaps why over 9 million people play World of Warcraft? What about Twitter and why 140 characters just seems to work? Ever been curious about the explosion of webcomics, blogs, or podcasts? Or, perhaps considered what impact the Internet has had on your daily life? The lives of your children and their education? The lives of people all over the world? Ever given thought to how law or politics influences the web or how the web may influence them? What about intellectual property, digital property rights, or the viability of open source software? How about hot topics such as net neutrality, censorship, or the digital divide?
It is exploring these questions and more that motivates me, my name is Diana Martin, and I am a Cyber Anthropologist.
Just what is a cyber anthropologist you may be asking? Well, before we get that far, I’d like to ask you to take a moment to simply consider the question – what is an anthropologist?
Images may come to mind of the fictional characters of Indiana Jones (who was an archaeologist by the way), or Dr. Temperance “Bones” Brennan the pretty and smart, though a little socially inept, forensic anthropologist on the popular TV show Bones. You may even think of Margaret Mead, a widely known cultural anthropologist, and her controversial studies in Samoa. Well, stick with that train of thought as for each of these anthropologists, fictional or not, it is their curiosity of people that draws them to their line of work. Anthropology literally means the study of man. A simple way of looking at it is that never-ending quest to answer the question – why do people do what they do? In order to answer this question cultural anthropologists, myself included, do what they do best – study culture.
In earlier years, cultural studies have focused on the ‘other’ or those that do not necessarily share the same beliefs, artifacts, language, attitudes, and behaviors as ourselves. This resulted from the colonization of lands that forced people from different cultures to interact with one another, which of course spurred that burning curiosity of wanting to know more about each other for reasons both good and bad.
More recently, anthropology has shifted from studying the other to studying ourselves, taking a more scientific look at what we do in our sub cultures, communities, societies, organizations, businesses, or bureaucracies and asking why do what we do? As the Internet has grown more popular, many anthropologists have focused their studies online to ask this same question as it relates to online culture. And, yes! There is such a thing as online culture. Technically, there are several, each with their own language, beliefs, artifacts, attitudes, and behaviors. Just try explaining all of the abbreviations you use while talking online to someone who has never used email or instant messengers. Imagine showing a cat macro to someone who has never seen one and expecting them to ‘get it’. My personal favorite is to watch the eyes of my friends who do not play World of Warcraft glaze over as the rest of us start talking about raiding strategies or epic loot.
So now you may be asking yourself, how does one study online culture? Central to the anthropological approach of studying any culture is participant observation, immersion, and holism. Immersion being the way in which we immerse ourselves in the cultures we study so that we may be able to get a true sense of what it is to be a part of that culture and holism being a totalizing perspective where we take into consideration the context of the situation in order to reveal as much about it and everything that surrounds it as possible. Both of which are key to participant observation, where not only do we observe the culture we are studying, but also participate in it as well.
In addition to this we use several tools, both qualitative and quantitative, throughout our research including direct observation, surveys, interviews, and focus groups. Moreover, it is the emphasis of the anthropologist as the primary research tool, and the training we go through to refine our eyes and ears as research instruments, that is an important aspect of our methodological approach. Anthropological methods are scientific and we take great measures to be objective in order to avoid bias and to ensure the accuracy of the data collected. The strength of our approach lies more in the exploratory stage rather than in the later confirming stages of research. It is the discovery, finding the unexpected, being open to surprises, and learning the natives’ point of view that makes anthropological research worthwhile and unique. It is this entire process as well as the written culmination of these efforts that is known as ethnography.
Now there’s a word you might recognize – ethnography. Ethnographies have taken the social media world by storm, especially in terms of marketing and public relations. However, this has not had quite the positive effect on my field as one would hope. You see, the problem begins with the fact that many people conducting ethnographic research today have a lack of training in theories and methods with which to collect and analyze the data. You are likely to find these resulting ethnographies to be incomplete at best, completely unsuccessful at worst.
While yes, not all ethnographers need be anthropologists, and not all anthropologists consider themselves ethnographers, it is important to make a distinction between ethnographers that have an anthropological background with a specific set of skills focused on creating a holistic picture based on empirical studies versus those who do not and fail to be able to provide true and unbiased insights as a result.
Now, don’t get me wrong – there are anthropologists doing just this. However, they tend to be few and far between.
Beyond marketing and public relations anthropology has also become a useful tool in areas such as human computer interaction, interface and interaction design, usability and accessibility. Imagine the possibilities when you marry anthropology to user experience. Many people, myself included, are doing this today. However, for all those that are making strides to bridge these two together, it seems to still be a widely unknown or at least unused practice! On the subject of design and development, cultural differences have begun to play a much larger part when it comes to digital domains especially in terms of our growing global economy. Those of us in application design are no longer developing just for an American audience and this is becoming more evident than ever particularly when it comes to things such as games, social networking sites, and software as a service. It is in these fields that anthropologists, if given the opportunity to use their skills, have a chance to really shine.
Another question that may have occurred to you is why? Excellent – you are already a budding anthropologist. Why would someone want to study online culture?
To reiterate, let’s consider the following: building and sustaining digital communities, privacy issues, censorship, cyber law (especially concerning copyrights, intellectual property and the buying and selling of pixels), politics, the digital divide (particularly how this will effect the education of our children as well as the work force in the very near future), practical business uses such as defining and mitigating the risk of introducing new applications, venues, or services to the digital world, user experience, accessibility, as well as several global applications both in terms of development (with respect to languages and customs) and availability.
This list could continue on and on with unlimited ways anthropology can be useful in terms of studying online culture. Now let me shift gears for just a moment and introduce a slightly different idea – that of studying culture online. What I mean by this is giving particular attention to the way one’s culture affects their view of the online world. Remember the concept of holism we talked about before? This is one of the ways it comes into play.
When it comes to studying culture online, it is important to note that there are in fact online communities embedded in specific national cultures. Questions we may consider are how are these the same? How are they different? What can we learn from them and how does this play out in an offline context? There is also the way communities online tend to be comprised of people who come together across class, sex, age, education, and cultural barriers. Many online communities form based solely on a common interest. How do people deal with these differences and overcome these barriers to successfully participate in these communities? What implications does this have in terms of communities goals and collaborations? How does the ability for people to come together online despite these differences affect their worldly outlook and their daily lives beyond the Internet?
With that in mind, it is important to make another point. A key contribution anthropologists have made to the study of online communities is in fact our holistic approach in relating the activities of both a persons digital and analog lives. These lives are not separate! Too often researchers look at isolated instances instead of taking in the bigger picture. We are not only our Second Life avatars, our level 80s in WoW, our Twitter or blog feeds, users of internet applications, or digital consumers. No, these are simply the digital parts of our lives as parents, employees, students, friends, families, and neighbors so on and so forth. This total picture reveals participants in cyber cultures as a combination of organic and technological – or, cyborg in nature if we take a chapter from Donna Haraway. While we are indeed creatures of social reality, this combination of us and the machine it is not so much fiction anymore. And, if we are to take into account Michael Wesch’s ‘The machines is using/us’ then in some respects the Internet is a cyborg too, as it wouldn’t be the Internet as we know it if we as contributors, programmers, designers, and users were not a part of it.
My hope with this podcast is to introduce, or maybe even reintroduce anthropology to today’s internet innovators and to provide several ways in which anthropology can be put to use to explore questions in terms of online culture and culture online. I would also like to reemphasize that I am one of several attempting to research technology and the people who use it from an anthropological point of view. Many of us, myself included, have backgrounds in programming or design in addition to our anthropology training, and have been involved in various Internet communities since their conception. Speaking personally, I simply love technology and everything about it. It is my goal to find ways to combine this love of technology, my understanding of it from a development perspective, and my curiosity of people into a truly holistic form of cyber anthropology.
If you would like to find out more, I invite you to visit my blog Cyber-Anthro.com or to email me at Diana [@] cyber-anthro.com. And of course, you can find me on Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, Livejournal, Last.fm and many more. Just email me for details!
Wesch, Michael – The Machine is Using/Us
‘Manifesto for cyborgs: science, technology, and socialist feminism in the 1980s’, Socialist Review 80 (1985): 65-108.
For all those interested in studying culture online I suggest that if you aren’t keeping up with current internet law, you are doing yourself and those you hope to study a large disservice. I encourage you to check out savetheinternet.com and familiarize yourself with net neutrality. You can read my story here.