Weblog on the Internet and public policy, journalism, virtual community, and more from David Brake, a Canadian academic, consultant and journalist

Archive forSeptember, 2004 | back to home

18 September 2004
Filed under:About the Internet,Academia,Personal at10:00 pm

I’m off tomorrow to Internet Research 5.0: Ubiquity? the “Association of Internet Researchers”:http://www.aoir.org/’ 5th annual conference – my first major academic conference, in fact. I won’t be delivering a paper there, alas, but I look forward to meeting many of my fellow Internet-studing academics over the next four days.

I may even take some pictures, but don’t expect instant blogging as there is no wireless access.

P.S. A reminder – please if you read this and are British and have a home page or weblog go “take my survey”:https://blog.org/archives/cat_best_of_blogorg.html#001250!

17 September 2004


Originally uploaded by derb.

A once in a lifetime opportunity came up for me – well-known academic publishers Routledge moved from central London yesterday and rather than pack up all their books they selected some and left the rest for hungry scholars to grab (charities didn’t want most of them for some reason). This was my haul. But they aren’t exactly free – given a bookshelf six shelves high I figure the space they take up in our flat would still be worth about 55 pounds given the cost of London real estate these days.

Still I’m not nearly as much of a book hoarder as some friends of mine – and with easy access to ‘one of the largest libraries in the world devoted to the economic and social sciences‘ I don’t really need to be.

Hmm… I seem to be turning into a book stack photoblogger – something of a dull niche! I promise if I put up more pictures they will be a little more interesting. Meanwhile take a look the few pictures I “have made public so far”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/derb/…

P.S. On the whole ‘buy vs sign out from library’ issue, I just came across a terrific little (free) tool described and linked to on the “43 folders”:http://merlin.blogs.com/43folders/2004/09/request_a_libra.html weblog. It lets you look up a book on Amazon then check to see if it is available at your local librar(ies) before buying. Mind you if your library has the book but with a different ISBN it won’t turn up. Definitely worth trying though – particularly if you prefer Amazon’s search to your library’s search.

16 September 2004

The world’s second largest ISP, Savvis (who?) has at length agreed to kick 148 of the worst spammers off its network. It was initially reluctant to do so (one source claimed it earned $2m a month from hosting them) but a whistleblower went to the “Spamhaus”:http://www.spamhaus.org/ anti-spam organization who threatened to block access to all email from Savvis for everyone using their spam blocking software. Frankly I find this kind of quasi-blackmail morally dubious at best, but it does seem to have worked.

The BBC report ends, ‘as they are thrown off one service provider, there is always another one ready to take them on for the lucrative business they bring,’ but I am more sanguine. If spammers could be thrown off all the large, reputable ISPs and driven onto fringe players, they would be easier to find and their cost base would rise.

P.S. Interestingly (to me, anyway) Savvis inherited many of these offenders from its purchase of Cable and Wireless, a UK company I used to work for (on the digital TV not the ISP side).

15 September 2004

It always seemed a shame to me that the commercial nature of documentaries like “Fahrenheit 9/11”:http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0361596/ and “Outfoxed”:http://www.outfoxed.org/ meant that they would not also be available free – at least not officially – but Robert Greenwald who made Outfoxed found a clever way around this.

Rather than releasing his whole film he has simply released the raw interview material from it, allowing independent filmmakers or the curious to make their own use of it. An excellent use of “Lessig”:http://www.lessig.org/’s “Creative Commons”:http://creativecommons.org/ license – I hope more journalists and their organizations start to adopt this practice.

Robert Greenwald’s comments and the interviews in a variety of formats are available on “archive.org”:http://www.archive.org/movies/movies-details-db.php?collection=election_2004&collectionid=outfoxed_interviews&from=thisJustIn

Thanks to “BoingBoing”:http://www.boingboing.net/2004/09/15/outfoxed_interviews_.html who led me to Lawrence Lessig who led me to “Torrentocracy”:http://www.torrentocracy.com/blog/archives/2004/09/outfoxed_torren.shtml and “Demand Media”:http://demandmedia.net//?op=displaystory;sid=2004/9/15/1612/10512

14 September 2004

If you are based in the UK and have a personal home page (this includes weblogs and journals), please visit this home page creation survey and fill it in – it should only take you ten minutes.

If you are an academic I would also be interested to know what you think of it as a survey and how I might improve it (bearing in mind it is only a very rough pilot at the moment!), and if you have a weblog or home pages (anywhere but particularly one that might be seen by Brits) please publicise this survey on your site. The survey will only be up for a month (or less, if I get enough respondents before then).

I don’t expect to publish anything from it as the sample size will be too small and it is very open-ended at the moment so I can get some idea of the kinds of answers people give, but if anything interesting comes out you will hear about it here.

P.S. I am using “QuestionPro”:http://www.questionpro.com/ to do this survey, which from what I have found appears to be one of the best options around for serious surveys (I did some earlier “investigation of survey software options”:https://blog.org/archives/001183.html). If you want to try it out too, please “contact me”:http://davidbrake.org/contact.htm so I can invite you (I would get $10 if you end up using it).

13 September 2004

The International Herald Tribune writes up “the poll results”:http://www.iht.com/articles/537982.html and I agree entirely with the comment of Ghost in the Machine – “Undecided voters out there, you know how you can “Ask the Audience” on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire when you’re stumped? Consider it like that.”

Filed under:Humour & Entertainment,Personal at8:21 am

I am 30% geek according to “this online quiz”:http://www.thudfactor.com/geekquiz.php. ‘You are a geek liaison, which means you go both ways. You can hang out with normal people or you can hang out with geeks which means you often have geeks as friends and/or have a job where you have to mediate between geeks and normal people. This is an important role and one of which you should be proud. In fact, you can make a good deal of money as a translator.’

Normal: Tell our geek we need him to work this weekend.
You [to Geek]: We need more than that, Scotty. You’ll have to stay until you can squeeze more outta them engines!
Geek [to You]: I’m givin’ her all she’s got, Captain, but we need more dilithium crystals!
You [to Normal]: He wants to know if he gets overtime.

Take the Polygeek Quiz at Thudfactor.com

Thanks to Lois for the link

I haven’t really found ways to earn a lot of money being a geek liason – I think I would earn more if I knew enough programming to be a ‘pure geek’ but I just don’t swing that way 😉

12 September 2004
Filed under:Academia,Weblogs at10:44 pm

R. A. Stebbins “Serious Leisure: A Conceptual Statement”:http://playlab.uconn.edu/stebbins2.htm has devised a separate category for ‘fun’ things that are or can be also ‘hard work’. He suggests amateurism, hobbyist pursuits, and volunteering are the three forms of serious leisure and that these kinds of leisure are ‘better for us’ than others. Certainly there are many weblogs and personal home pages that contain elements of all three. As to whether we are better off blogging than we would be reading a good book I am not at all clear. But the idea is an interesting tool to think with.

Thanks to Kylie at The Internet Genealogy Community Study for the link.

10 September 2004

For Canadians who want to be annoyed by what they read

Originally uploaded by derb.

A great store display I came across about a year ago in a major chain bookstore in Victoria BC.

Incidentally, Flickr (which I used to add this picture to my blog) now supports drag and drop uploading of files from Windows XP, 2000, ME and 98 as well as MacOS and someone has hacked together a Linux uploader for Gnome as well.

I now have qualified to have a free Flickr Pro account (only for three months though I discovered!) so I don’t need you to ask me for invites any more – just sign up on the site or find someone who already uses Flickr and ask them to invite you. More info on Flickr and why you might be interested is here.

A study reported in New Scientist “found”:http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99996374 regular diarists were more likely than non-diarists to suffer from headaches, sleeplessness, digestive problems and social awkwardness.

It’s worth noting however that, ‘the authors acknowledge that the experiment could not demonstrate which came first – the diary writing or the health problems’. It seems not unlikely that ‘the worst affected of all were those who had written about trauma’ because on average most people did not have serious traumas! Unfortunately I have been unable to find the original paper on the web.

Danah “wondered”:http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/archives/2004/09/09/diarying_bad_for_your_health.html whether this has implications for bloggers, too. The ‘side effects’ of personal web publishing – intended and unintended – are something I plan to look at in my own research. One of the things I am curious about is how often people who publish online find that they “lose their jobs”:http://news.com.com/Friendster+fires+developer+for+blog/2100-1038_3-5331835.html or are “embarrassed in other ways”:http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/archives/2003/11/13/mom_finds_out_about_blog.html .

Thanks Danah for the link

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