On Facebook, Hating CNN

I “Like” CNN on Facebook. Not because I enjoy getting the news on my Facebook feed (my friends do that) but because I love watching a bunch of people hate on CNN. As the above photo demonstrates, CNN tends to show its ass a lot. Asking your readers about the Royal Family’s baby on the 4th of July, will undoubtedly piss off a dozen different demographics. It is constantly being called out for doing all of the things we know are wrong with American cable news. There are dozens, in some cases even hundreds, of comments about calling a revolution a coup, ignoring the important parts of stories, and generally missing the mark when it comes to stewarding and curating these weird things we generally call “national conversations.” I just want to know why CNN chooses to subject their brand to such public, naked criticism on a daily basis.

Read more on Cyborgology.

Sherry Turkle's Chronic Digital Dualism Problem

Reason #15,926 I love the Internet: it allows us to bypass our insane leaders israelovesiran.com

— allisonkilkenny (@allisonkilkenny) April 22, 2012

Sherry Turkle, Author of Alone Together and a New York Times opinion piece on our unhealthy relationship to technology.

Sherry Turkle, Author of Alone Together and a New York Times opinion piece on our unhealthy relationship to technology.

Sherry Turkle published an op-ed in the Opinion Pages of the New York Times’ Sunday Review that decries our collective move from “conversation” to “connection.” Its the same argument she made in her latest book Alone Together, and has roots in her previous books Life on the Screen and Second Self. Her argument is straightforward and can be summarized in a few bullet points:

  • Our world has more “technology” in it than ever before and it is taking up more and more hours of our day.
  • We use this technology to structure/control/select the kinds of conversations we have with certain people.
  • These communication technologies compete with “the world around us” in a zero-sum game for our attention.
  • We are substituting “real conversations” with shallower, “dumbed-down” connections that give us a false sense of security. Similarly, we are capable of presenting ourselves in a very particular way that hides our faults and exaggerates our better qualities.

Turkle is probably the longest-standing, most outspoken proponent of what we at Cyborgology call digital dualism. The separation of physical and virtual selves and the privileging of one over the other is not only theoretically contradictory, but also empirically unsubstantiated.  

Read more on Cyborgology

CISPA, The New SOPA

Michael Rogers, Republican Congressional Representative of Michigan's 8th district and sponsor of CISPAHouse representative Mike Rogers (R-MI) introduced a bill back in November called the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (H.R. 3523) or CISPA. It has since been referred to and reported by the appropriate committees. Since then, according to Representative Rogers' own web site, over 100 members of congress have already announced their support for the bill:

The 105 co-sponsors of the bill include 10 committee chairmen.  Additionally, a wide range of major industry and cyber associations, such as Facebook, Microsoft, the US Chamber Commerce, the Business Roundtable, the Internet Security Alliance, TechAmerica, and many others have sent letters of support for the bill.  A list of major industry and association supporters can be found at http://intelligence.house.gov/bill/cyber-intelligence-sharing-and-protection-act-2011

Unlike SOPA and PIPA, CISPA is all about collecting and sharing "cyber threat intelligence" and has less to do with copyright infringement concerns. This bill does not directly threaten the business interests of web companies, which means we should not expect their help in fighting the bill. In fact Facebook, IBM, Intel, Oracle, and Microsoft (among others) have already sent letters in support.

Read more on Cyborgology (and the Occupy Albany Blog on the Times Union)

Is Facebook a Feminist Technology?

Last Friday, Rachel Maddow reported (video clip above, full transcript here) that hundreds of citizens had suddenly started posting questions on the Facebook pages of Virginia Governor Ryan McDougle and Kansas Governor Sam Brownback. Their pages were full of questions on women’s health issues and usually included some kind of statement about why they were going to the Facebook page for this information...

Read more on Cyborgology

Limbaugh's Social Media Problem

It’s the kind of story that writes itself. A popular media entity, on one of the oldest forms of electronic mass media, bears the brunt of activists’ Facebook wrath. It combines two old rivalries: liberals and conservatives and new media versus old media. In case you missed it, here’s the brief synopsis of events from ABC news:

Rush Limbaugh remains in big trouble. Advertisers – 11 at last count – are pulling spots off his radio talk show because of the reaction to his calling Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute.” Opponents are mobilizing on social media for a long campaign to try to convince even more sponsors to drop his program. Ms. Fluke herself has rejected as insufficient Mr. Limbaugh’s attempts at apology

Fluke had testified before congress about the importance of “the pill” for medical uses beyond birth control. Rush concluded that she was having so much sex that she needed the American tax payer to help defer the cost of her contraceptives. (This has led to some speculation that conservatives don’t know how hormonal birth control works.) Thousands of people are organizing to get advertisers to pull their money out of Rush Limbaugh’s show, and many of them are organizing via Twitter and Facebook. Will we be subjected to another round of technologically deterministic news stories about “cyber revolution,” or are we going to have a more nuanced conversation? More precisely, does Rush have a social media problem or has he -all things being equal- just gone too far this time?The headlines almost write themselves. The rivals are polar opposites and very well known. In one corner, the old heavyweight champion: syndicated AM radio. In the other corner, the young and nimble contender: social media. The Washington Post is already covering the story from a social media angle: “Limbaugh backlash on Facebook, Twitter put pressure on advertisers.”

Read more on Cyborgology.

On the Flow of Tweets: Private Interests and Public Speech

Over a week ago, Twitter announced a new censorship policy, stating that it would comply with any "valid and applicable legal request" to take down tweets. The announcement came just as we were still digesting Google's unified privacy policy and were still debating the (now confirmed) rumors that Facebook was releasing an IPO. Twitter has since been applauded, denounced, and dissected by a variety of scholars, media critics, and business leaders. In this post I will give a brief summary of the controversy, briefly weigh in with a commentary of my own, and conclude with a discussion of what all this means for theorizing online social activity.

Read more on Cyborgology.

Alternate Realities in the Developing World

A computer store in Kumasi, Ghana

 

I have a long post in Cyborgology coming up this week, about the social construction of cell phone use in the developing world. Until then, take a loot at what I was up to what I was in Ghana.

UPDATE [07/25/11] The "Alternate Realities" post has been syndicated (with sexier pictures than my own) over at the fantastic site OWNI.eu

Theorizing the Web Conference

I'll be attending the Theorizing the Web Conference 2011 at the University of Maryland on April 9th. I'll be on the titular "Cyborgology" panel with some really awesome people. Its going to be a really great panel. If you have some time that weekend, and live within a $30 trip to the DC area, you should totally come. 

The abstracts for the four panelists are currently up on the Cyborgology blog. But if you're feeling a little "tl;dr" then let me just give you an elevator pitch. Have you ever felt unfulfilled by the media's portrayal of twitter, facebook, and mobile computing platforms? Does the phrase, "facebook revolution," in the context of the recent populist revolts, make your cringe? If you have always yearned for an intelligent conversation about what Facebook is doing to our world, this is it. 

While we're on the subject of conferences, I also wrote a short reaction to the national GK-12 conference that was held in early March. You can read it here.