Posts by Diana Harrelson:
Are you attending the conventions this year? Reuters is looking for a few good bloggers to participate in their mobile blogging project at the Dem/Repub conventions in an attempt to “capture an unseen side of the conventions, from those most involved — delegates, donors, convention volunteers and others”.
I would be most interested in talking to the participants after it is all over. I’d love to see what they thought of the experience!
This past weekend I attended Portus a Harry Potter literary conference. Part of the reason I attended was indeed my love for the series, but another part was the fact that Henry Jenkins was a guest speaker. For anyone interested in cyber anthropology (especially the flavor I promote here), I highly suggest that you take note of this sociologist and read his books ‘Fans, Bloggers, and Gamers‘, ‘Convergence Culture‘, ‘Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture‘, and ‘From Barbie® to Mortal Kombat: Gender and Computer Games‘. He’s as fascinating to listen to in person as he is to read on paper and I enjoyed his panels immensely.
Please continue reading.More
Rather than considering ourselves beautiful because we ‘feel’ beautiful (internal), we require external validation of our beauty. This usually consists of seeing ourselves in a mirror, a photograph, or hearing that we are beautiful as stated by someone external from us. In fact, the closer a person is to us the less weight this statement carries. This not because it is not as true as a more external person’s statement, but because we tend to meld the ideas of those closest to us into our internal dialog and thus they fail to pass the external requirement for validity.
This is the same for possessions, and ideas. All your friends may possess an item or hold to an idea, but the item or idea is only validated when it is also possessed or held to by someone external from your circle.
In contrast are the non-conformist who only hold to feelings, possessions, and ideas when others do not. What they fail to realize though is that external non-validation caries as much weight for them as external validation does for everyone else. Unfortunately, as is usually the case, many non-conformist ideals are eventually conformed to through such external validation. This is not necessarily because these people want to conform to these non-conformist ideals, but that they have to due to the simple fact that these ideals exist. This is turn causes the non-conformist to seek out new ideals even though they are in fact dooming their non-conformity to conformity by this very act.
The ad works for the possessors more than for those that do not yet possess the product as it is an external validation of their purchase. It does the same for those who purposely do NOT possess the product (not those who do not possess it ‘yet’ but those who never want to possess it) as it externally validates their reasons to not possess it. Think of the ‘Mac’ ads for example.
The trick to all of this is that it is entirely turned upside down in the online world. If you can think of it, there is a site for it (rule 34) – thus everything is externally validated in one way or another however it is all done so anonymously now requiring us consider whether that is a true external validation or just an internal one as we sought it out ourselves by the act of being online where it exists for everyone instead of it being voluntarily given to us in the real world where it may or may not exist for us.
Everyone is simultaneous beautiful and ugly as the continuity of the world is displayed before us electronically. And, even though we are alone behind our computer we seek out companionship online in one form or another. The to/with continuum determines whether or not you’ve found an audience or a cohort and in some cases the same people travel up and down this line without a second thought of whether they are being pandered to or communicated with.
Often times we find we are our own audience as we reveal things about ourselves that even we did not know thus becoming our own external validators, something that could not be done in context of the real world. Adding to this is the public external validation of an internal validator online that, because it is public, makes it external where it were private it would be internal. So then we take the word of someone close to us as truer were it spoken in an online environment where other external validators can validate it than we would the same utterance in an internal and personal context even tough it is the same person saying it.
What the online world has done is cause us all require an audience now, if only to validate ourselves in ways we cannot be validated offline. This is why we share things online we would never share in public or even in some cases in private.
I may pick this up again later…
In the meantime – read what oversharing means for a blogger who was paid to blog.
“To the young today, however, the dream experience is its own reality, a separate reality: it doesn’t need to be validated by translation into the historical world of sensory experience. It validates itself.
Similarly, they regard media as self-contained environments, having little correspondence with other realities or environments. TV is its own reality, radio its reality, film still another reality.
The young in particular regard media environments as designs, patterns – what William Blake called “sculptures” – states that have no separate physical existence. We pass temporarily into one or another & when in any one, it seems overpoweringly real & all other states shadowy. We imagine, of course, that any state we are in is physically real. This makes it splendidly attractive. It doesn’t occur to us that only our spirits can enter these realms, and that events experienced there can never be tested against observed reality.
I think this is one reason the young find nothing incongruous about conflicting reports in the press, radio, TV, etc. ” – Edmund Carpenter 1972
So nice when you read something that falls inline with your current thought (hah! external validation!).
Interesting though how the Internet provides a place where this self-contained environment can be observed by an outsider as it is a participatory form of media rather than a passive one such as radio, tv, or film.
Nice – seems a test I came up with the last semester for an ongoing social program is playing out as Microsoft is now teaming up with the OLPC group.
— One of the tests I purposed to see if the US release would work:
Lastly, one of the things mentioned in the article that I am interested in is whether or not with this US release the laptops will get more support in the development company through new useful software. This would be a longitudinal study where I would assess the current amount of programs available for the platform then after the US release takes off keep track of new program releases over two years. If it holds up to Moore’s law, it will be successful if the amount of programs available doubles over those two years.
It’s exciting to see things like this even if I just came up with the idea for a class paper.
At the end of my quantitative methods class this semester my professor listed out these points as what we are now capable of doing from an anthropological perspective. I found it helpful and think others would to!
Selling what you’ve just learned :
(What you can do with this course- my own list)
- community/ organizational needs assessment
- “intervention” evaluation/ assessment with case-control studies
- product / program evaluation
- survey construction, evaluation, and implementation
- behavioral data analysis/ discover meaningful patterns within data
- construct culturally appropriate sampling frames
- exploratory, descriptive, and explanatory research design
- apply cultural knowledge to enhance study validity and reliability
- integrate quantitative-qualitative methods
- analysis of culture as an element of problem solving/ decision-making
- apply a “holistic” perspective to system-wide detail
- construct exploratory, explanatory, and descriptive research designs
- approximate longitudinal studies in cross-sectional design
- community empowerment/ advocacy/ action research
- apply methodological and theoretical toolkits to discover and explain behavior
After sleeping on it and waking up to some good points made by a reader, I have reevaluated my proposal (which is due as a part of my midterm today) to narrow down the focus and make it more doable within the amount of time I have both in the semester as well as in real life to get it done.
Write on your proposal for a term project utilizing theories and experience.
Theoretically I intend to take a structuralism approach to symbolic/interpretative anthropology to uncover the underlying structure of how people view the Internet in politically symbolic terms. Also, to understand how people give meaning to the cyber-political world around them as well as how they then express this meaning through their own cultural symbols within online communities. To do this I propose to do a short quantitative and qualitative study investigating how people view the Internet in politically symbolic terms, what meaning they give those terms, and how they use those terms within the online communities they participate in.
This is my proposal for my final presentation of Thought and Praxis II in my Applied Anthropology Masters program at University of North Texas:
I propose to find out whether or not the Internet has an influence on voters through access to information on new sites such as CNN, Fox News, BBC, NYTimes Online, Salon etc as well as access to other voters in public communities such as YouTube, Twitter, Digg, Livejournal, MySpace and Facebook etc. I will also seek to establish a demographic and socioeconomic status of those that feel the Internet is an influencer versus those who do not find it to be so. For those that do not find it to be so, I will seek to find what predominate media forms influence them and why they do not utilize the Internet for this information. Theoretically I intend to take a structuralism approach to symbolic/interpretative anthropology to uncover the underlying structure of how people view the Internet in politically symbolic terms. Also, to understand how people give meaning to the cyber-political world around them as well as how they then express this meaning through their own cultural symbols within these online communities.
Now let’s see if I can pull it off! No better day to start than today – being the Texas Primaries!
A webtwitch is defined as: Our new-found need to immediately look something up online the moment it comes up in the context of our daily lives. (Source: Wired Geekipedia)
Because there is so much going on and I’m super busy these days this will be just a quick rundown of the top three things on my list of interesting happenings.
- First is the really neat mashup between Google and Twitter for Super Tuesday, go check it out.
- Second is the Microsoft, Yahoo!, Google exchange going on.
- Third are the Internet outages affecting India and the toll it’s taking on business there.
Here are two articles I’ve read recently that I found to be very interesting. First is Wired’s Students On How Social Networking Is Transforming Politics, second is a post that was made to Tera Nova on the governance of cyber worlds.
If you’ve seen anything else interesting as of late please pass it my way!
The following is part of a report on the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of the general public on seasonal, avian, and pandemic flu. This report is based on 24 interviews and 12 focus groups held across the united states by students of University of North Texas. I personally conducted 2 interviews and 1 focus group for this project.
My particular portion of the report featured below focuses on the research question:
What are the reasons why and ways in which the general population seeks out health information regarding seasonal, avian, and a possible pandemic flu, and which sources are considered most trusted?
In order to determine why and how people sought information concerning the flu, we asked participants whether or not they sought information and how they did so for each flu type. We then probed further by asking why or why not. The percentage of responses decreased from 100% for seasonal flu to 92% for bird flu to 75% for pandemic flu. In those cases where people did not respond, it was because they had absolutely no knowledge of the flu in question and thus were not questioned further, or because they failed to respond with a direct answer due to their lack of knowledge.
Reasons why respondents chose to seek out information on all three flus was not clear, as no single pattern emerged from the data collected. The responses we received ranged from family members being sick, causing participants to seek out information to self-born curiosity to information gained through participants’ work environments. The most common reasons why people did not seek out information was either lack of concern, particularly on seasonal flu, or not having enough knowledge about the flus, in this case avian and pandemic, to perceive a need to seek out information. However, several participants reported that they were curious after having been interviewed and though they had not previously sought out information, they would do so now.
Respondents who sought out information shared with us the sources they used and those who did not told us what sources they would use while seeking out health-related information in the future. We saw trends across the many ways people had or would seek out information and condensed them down to 5 types: Mass Media (TV, newspapers, radio, magazines), Internet (searching/google, news, medical, government), Medical Professionals (doctors, medical facilities), Textual (pamphlets, fliers, medical books), and Work.
When analyzing these trends we found some interesting numbers. These numbers were measured against all responses given on where people would seek information. In some cases people responded with multiple sources and not everyone who responded to whether or not they would seek information responded to where they had or would seek it. For those seeking information on seasonal flu, 47% look to the Internet, 24% look to the Media, and 14% look to Medical Professionals. For bird flu information, Mass Media and Internet tied at 30%, followed by Medical Professionals, Work, and Textual information all tying at 3%. Pandemic flu ranked highest on use of the Internet at 54% followed by Mass Media, Work and Textual Information at 15%.
Figure 12: Where Do Participants Get Their Information About Influenza?
View Chart Here
When participants were asked what sources they would trust most, they did not always answer with the same places they would seek out information. Those who responded to what sources they would trust sometimes listed more than one source, and not all those who responded to where they would seek out information responded with what sources they would trust.
Of those who responded on sources trusted for flu information, the Internet and Medical Professionals both came in at 36% followed by Mass Media at 16%. For sources trusted on bird flu, Mass Media was highest with 38% followed by the Internet at 33%, and Medical Professionals at 16%. Sources trusted for pandemic flu were the Internet at 38%, Media and Work at 25%, followed by Medical Professional at 13%. Overall, the Internet is the most trusted source followed by medical professionals, and then mass media.
Figure 13: Which Sources of Information Do Participants Trust?
View Chart Here
Though many said they would seek information from the Internet and that they trusted the Internet as a source of information, it usually came with a caveat. Of sites that were mentioned, the most mentioned were news sites, then government sites, followed by internet portals and professional medical journals. The most mentioned news sites were the New York Times, BBC, and CNN. Government sites were the Center for Disease Control (CDC), FDA and World Health Organization. Portal sites included MSN and Yahoo, and the journals mentioned were the American Medial Association and Lancet. Most people mentioned they would search for information as well (instead of or in addition to going to these sites). The only mentioned search engine was Google. Other sites mentioned were Wikipedia, Web-MD, and in a joking sense MySpace and YouTube. Concerning whether or not sites were trust worthy, one person had an interesting response: “If the site has some kind of seal of approval…that makes me feel more comfortable than one that doesn’t.”
Information Needs and Distribution
One of our focus group questions focused on information needs, specifically what information people were looking for when it came to the three flus. A few themes emerged across all of the groups. Participants were concerned with causes, symptoms, cures, length of contagion, prevention techniques and how to control the spread, as well as vaccine information for the three flus. Among those concerning the avian and pandemic flus in particular were the differences between the flu statistics and facts – specifically concerning death rate, infected populations and the percent of people affected, as well as threat level, travel alerts, and community game plans for outbreak, particularly where to go and what to do. Overall, most people want straight information sans the media hype.
Within our focus groups, we also asked what participants thought the best methods of distributing information on the three flus from the local, state, and federal governments. There were a few things that came up in the focus groups that did not come up in the interviews as places people would seek information. Specifically, schools for those with children, insurance benefits information (in one context this was mentioned, the benefit was getting a break on medical expenses for getting a flu shot and/or seeking out health information), mail (though some said they would never read information that came to them this way), billboards, and an alert system similar to the Amber Alert.
Though respondents came up with many ways to distribute the information, they were also quick to come up with barriers, or reasons why it would be difficult to for people in the general population to receive the information. Literacy, language, and money were perhaps the three biggest barriers for anyone having access to information and being in a position to receive information, as well as just being aware of information no matter how it was made available.
So, how do you bring together groups of like minded individuals in to create a mini social network within a larger one? Easy, you get someone like Jeremiah Owyang to make a post on twitter linking back to his blog on how conversations have moved to twitter then asking for a microblog roll via comments. This results in an explosion of twitter friendings going back and forth across the microblog-o-sphere giving everyone the ability to tap into and expand the social networking community that has developed within the twitter social network.
To see how one person could trigger such a movement and that so many different individuals with interests that range from academics to PR to social media can find each other because they all have 1 particular friend in common is astounding. Since about 10 this morning I have gained 24 followers and promptly followed them all back. I will continue to track the resulting friendings from this one action as well as anything new I learn from these new fritters and see how far out this reverberates. If there are others interested in doing the same or sharing some of the results of this new wave of friendings, please comment! I love doing collaborative work, especially online.
p.s. you can find me on twitter here!
I have been participating in Nablopomo all month through this blog and I have to say, while it was a huge motivator, I am grateful this month has now come to a close. It was an interesting experience to keep up with a non-personal blog on a daily basis and quite a change of pace as I’ve kept up with my personal blog for almost 7 years now. I got nothing for doing this, other than the personal satisfaction that I was able to keep up with something for 30 straight days through starting a new job, the hardest month yet of grad school, and having had started the month behind because of my honeymoon in the middle of October.
I learned a few things along the way:
- My blackberry won’t post to word press and this makes me sad.
- I’m never satisfied with just posting about a single news story, I have found that my curiosity tends to get the best of me and thus I end up researching it for at least half an hour to an hour before I even begin my post, which caused my time I had to devote to this to be up to 2 hours a night.
- My friends who have kept up with my Livejournal for years did not keep up with this one at all. Tells me I should continue to keep this topic separate from my regular LJ postings!
- I posted a lot less to LJ this month as a result of this and everything else going on.
- I posted a lot less to Twitter as well.
- I was excited to learn that at least two people read this blog as that is exactly how many comments I got on it.
- Unlike LJ, it did not bother me one bit that I didn’t have a lot of comments or that perhaps no one read it as I was doing this for me. Sadly this brought to me the realization that in my personal blog (LJ), while it is focused on me, I am much more focused on the sociability of my posts and perhaps sensor myself more than I should for something that is supposed to be for me not the people reading it.
- Doing a Google search on Cyber Anthro does not yet bring up this blog (oh wow it does now! rank 5!), but it does bring up my LJ community as rank 3. I will continue to repost some of the stuff from this blog to that blog with posts linking back as that one seems to be gaining something of an audience (even if as a community no one posts in it).
- The cyber world, just like the real world, is full of social problems that can be analyzed through an anthropological lens.
- I like this subject enough that I am willing to fill up my free time even on nights where I’m up late doing homework and weekends where I have social matters to attend to to make posts here. This makes me happy and brings a bit of satisfaction to my life, especially concerning the choice I made to continue with my education to get my Masters.
To end this month and this post I give you a look back to Wired for November 1995.
By Jay Mallin
Soon, grad students will be turning to a new field of study called “cyberanthropology.” Rather than dig through the rusting metal of a municipal dump, anthropologists of the future will be able to confine their work to their computers. Financial records, marketing data, political mailing lists, even Quicken backup disks – all of it will provide fodder for scholarly articles in 3109, as researchers try to understand what life was like in the 20th century.
Well, it’s only been 12 years since that post and here I am, a grad school student who is self focused on cyber anthropology. While he put more of an archeological bent on it (a sub field, but not what all anthropology is about), it still amuses me. I hadn’t even graduated high school yet when this statement was made. I didn’t even have my own computer until 1997 and I bought my powerbook duo with its 256 grays screen, track ball, and dock just because it also had a 14.4 modem which would let me connect to this world I had only just discovered not even a full year before.
It was the social aspects that attracted me back then, and they continue to do so now as I sit here posting from a PC laptop at work where I am employed as an information architect whose sole purpose is to organize digital information to make it easy for people to use and access it online. Just think, even this job didn’t even exist until a few years ago!
I hope to be able to participate in Nablopomo again next year, if only to mark the changes that will have occurred in the interim. Don’t worry, I’ll continue to post here throughout the year (if there are actually people out there who DO read this), I just doubt it will be on as such a constant basis as it has been for this month!
Seems ABC has picked up the story focusing on the lady behind the hoax in the case. The Smoking Gun has the police report Lori Drew filed. There has also been a blog or two that has popped up since the case first broke national headlines. The first titled, “Megan Meier had it coming” assumes to tell the tale of someone who personally knew Megan as she tries to “set the record straight“. It now has 881 comments and counting. Slate has a pretty good rendition of what has gone down so far. And, to borrow a bit from them (since they posted exactly what I was going to post) – “Last week Dardenne Prairie aldermen passed a resolution making cyberstalking a misdemeanor within the city limits.”
Lastly for those who are as intrigued as I am with cyber-law, within the Resolution PDF they mention a US Department of Justice report on Cyber Stalking from 1999 which makes for an interesting read. I shall have to make it my hobby during the holiday break to look up more federal reports and articles on cyber issues. If I wasn’t already enamored with my major I might think about becoming a cyber law expert and possibly even going to law school because I truly enjoying learning about it all. If only I didn’t have to work! Then perhaps I’d have enough time in my life to educate myself and seek higher education in all the things that interest me!
As I have stated before, I am in an online Masters in Applied Anthropology program. These past two days I’ve been collaborating with my partner over Basecamp which has been a very interesting experience. We are only using the free version at the moment so we are limited to 2 writeboards and can’t upload files. But working around those obstacles we deleted our last project out and created a new one for our analysis then we separated the two parts of our project between the two writeboards. Within 8 hours we had 7 different iterations and 9 comments on one write board, plus 32 emails, 2 slide presentations, and two written reports.
Though there actually came a point though were we had to use the phone in order to clear up some questions we each had, I’m amazed at how well Basecamp worked for us. At first I thought it was a bit of overkill for just two people working on a single project, but with the ability to do different versions as well as compare differences was pretty awesome. I think the best part of it all for us poor college students is the fact that there is a free version! It is likely that as my college career continues I’ll go ahead and spring for one of the paid versions, especially if I ever end up in a group with more than 2 people and/or really need the upload capabilities.
I think I’ll seek out other online collaboration sites to do more of a compare and contrast. Anyone have any suggestions?
I wish I had known about this survey on cyber forensics done by Sydney Liles is a PhD student at Purdue University with the College of Technology and Marianne Hoebich is a MS student . They are both with Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security (CERIAS) program at Purdue. I am not involved in cyber forensics, but I would have least liked to have seen what was on the survey, especially since it will be used to assist in the development of global standards on cyber law. I’ll have to see if I can find a way to keep up with this (it was hard to find in the first place) so that I can read the research when it comes out.
I got this in my email today:
“We need your help. We are researching how UNT students think and use computer games and every opinion is important. Consider that your next class could use games as a method of teaching.
Please take a few minutes and complete the secure survey at
(removed as it is for UNT students only)
Dr. Jones in the Dept of Learning Technologies is conducting research on Computer Gaming Habits and Attitudes of UNT Students.
Dept of Learning Technologies
I will definitely be taking this survey and I may even see if I can work myself into some of this research if they’ll have me!
I am currently pouring over about 60+ pages or so of interviews and focus group questions for my qualitative methods class on my relevant codes alone (4 very broad ones out of over 50 that go from broad to very specific). I am doing this so that I can then recode all of this information with more detailed and specific codes to make it easier to spot trends within the data my classmates and I have collected all semester long. This semester we are working with the Denton County Health Department to assess the general populations knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes concerning the seasonal, avian, and pandemic flu. My particular part of the assessment is on one of our major research questions, “What are the reasons why and ways in which the general population seeks out health information regarding seasonal, avian, and a possible pandemic flu, and which sources are considered most trusted?”. Though this doesn’t really sound like it has anything to do with cyber anthro, one interesting trend I see cropping up is how people view the Internet in terms of accessibility, health information, and trustworthiness.
I have to have my first round of analysis done by Wednesday night at midnight. I can imagine that the next three days I’ll be totally consumed with this research and will be posting anything relevant or interesting here. It’s hard to believe the end of the semester is only three weeks away, almost a disheartening revelation with the amount of work I have to get done!
I worked on a long eloquent post on the way to my father’s (where I am now) via my Blackberry. Apparently Opera Mini has no idea how to post to a Word Press blog, or Word Press was upset with Opera Mini and much to my irritation my post was eaten in transmission. So, here I am on my father’s eMac making a quick to post say as much. Perhaps I’ll try again tomorrow on the topic I was so very eloquent with. However, I am afraid it will not come out quite so eloquently the second time.
Even though I spend a lot of time online, it has been fun today to spend most of it away from the computer for a change. I reccomned that everyone do themselves a favor and separate themselves from the connection addiction every now and then. I actually spent the day doing the one thing I never do, watch TV! Of course, this was after a Black Friday run where I scored my very own Nintendo DS. I am most interested in it’s wireless capabilities of course!