Interview in Buzzfeed

I spoke with Charlie Warzel at Buzzfeed tech about structural racism and the recent problems at Reddit:

Stamping out hate on Reddit is roughly as easy as stamping out hate anywhere, which is to say it’s nearly impossible. “You can’t treat this kind of hate or structural violence as a bug — it’s a feature in the system,” David Banks, a social scientist who has written extensively about Reddit’s ability to foster hate, told BuzzFeed News. “Structural violence exists in the site because it exists in society, and so it will keep showing up. So relying on reporting and flagging and tagging to get rid of this will never fix the issue for good.”

Read the full story here.

The Brilliance of Silver Spring #f2c

It’s as if a TED conference smashed headfirst into a hackathon and then fell into an NGO strategy summit. CEOs sit next to non-profit employees and eat boxed lunches as a dominatrix(@MClarissa) presents a slide on teledilonics followed up by a garage hacker-turned-million dollar project director quoting Alexis de Tocqueville. It is a supremely uncanny experience that all happens within the confines of a movie theater (and, later, a sushi bar). This is what one can expect when they attend the Freedom to Connect conference (#f2c) held in Silver Spring, Maryland. The conference is meant to bring “under-represented people and issues into the Washington, DC based federal policy discussion…” I left the conference feeling generally good that there are people out there working to preserve and protect open infrastructures. I just wish that team were more diverse.

Read more on Cyborgology.

Our Emotional Attachment to Interfaces

Windows 8's Metro Interface is a radical departure from previous Windows releases.

My first PC was a frankenstein PC running Windows 3.1. I played Sim City and argued with people in AOL chat rooms. My first mac was a bondi blue iMac that ran OS 9, more AOL, and an awfulStar Trek: Voyager-themed first-person shooter.  I was 13. In the intervening years, I’ve had several macs and  PCs, all of which have seen their fair share of upgrades and OS updates. Even my current computer, which is less than a year old, has seen a full OS upgrade. I am one of those people that like radical changes to graphic user interfaces (GUIs). These changes are a guilty pleasure of mine. Some people watch trashy television, I sign up for a Facebook developer account so I can get timeline before my friends. I know I’m fetishizing the new: it goes against my politics and my professional decorum. I have considered switching to Linux for no other reason than the limitless possibilities of tweaking the GUI. It is no surprise then, that I have already downloaded the Windows 8 release candidate and I am installing it on a virtual machine as I write this paragraph. What is it about GUIs that evoke such strong emotions? While I practically revel in a new icon set, others are dragged into the future kicking and screaming. What is it about GUIs that arouse such strong feelings?

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.

Gender, Culture, and Cooking on the Internet

Since you are probably going to spend today arguing about Occupy Wall Street with your conservative family members and helping your parents with computer questions we figured you would appreciate some slightly ligher fare: internet cooking shows. But because we are social scientists, we can't be satisfied with uncritical review. Therefore, I want to discuss how these cooking shows interact with, perform, reify, and probelmitize constructions of gender and nationality. The three shows I want to cover (I'm gonna have to pass on this and this. There's a great article at dailydot.com that lists most internet cooking shows.) are Epic Meal Time, Regular Ordinary Swedish Meal Time, and My Drunk Kitchen. Full disclosure: I have a profound weakness for all of these shows, with increasing affinity in the order I just presented them. In case you're unfamiliar with these shows, I'll briefly introduce them and then get into the theory. [Images after the break might be considered NSFW.]

Read more at Cyborgology.

A Very Belated Reply to The Debate Over Internet Anti-Intellectualism

Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society seems a little light on "society."I was hoping that Jonathan Zittrain’s The Future of the Internet: And How to Stop It would provide a clear rejoinder to a four-way debate between Larry Sanger, Evengy Morozov, Jeff Jarvis, and Nathan Jurgenson about “The Rise of the Internet Anti-Intellectual”. Sanger is concerned that online communities have a history of hostility toward the experts and intellectuals. Sanger Recalls:

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