Thursday, March 05, 2009

"What Makes a Digital Nomad?"

An intriguing whitepaper whose crowdsourcing was orchestrated by Bruce Eric Anderson at Dell. Looks fascinating, but I'll have to print it out to read it properly.

Monday, March 02, 2009

CCCC2009 theming contest: Congratulations and certificate

Some of you may remember that I ran a theming contest for CCCC2009 last year. CCCC's call for papers was about to come out, and I had found previous years' themes ("Making Waves"; "Taking it to the Streets") to be maddeningly vague and insufficiently creative. So I called for people to tweet their suggestions for CCCC2009 conference themes.

The results were creative and outrageous. I had trouble picking a winner, but in the end my committee (which had a total of one member) selected what we thought best epitomized a conference theme. James Ford, a grad student at UC-Santa Barbara (and, coincidentally, one of my former MA students at Texas Tech) came up with the winning entry.

I plan to present him with a certificate. But I also wanted to share it with the world. So here it is. Brilliant work, James. I foresee a bright future for you as a conference committee member.

"This is exactly how an ideologically-oriented newsgathering operation / noise machine / echo chamber should work."

Manuel Castells argues in The Power of Identity that since democracy is now mediated through electronic media, to gain a groundswell of the vote, parties veer toward the political center. In the absence of sharp policy differences, scandal becomes the mode of differentiation.

We've seen our share of scandal in the last several electoral cycles, and certainly in the last one, in which thinly-sourced charges of racism, sexism, and even false pregnancy were leveled. Writing for The Next Right, Patrick Ruffini argues that Republicans have fallen behind in the muckraking as left-leaning bloggers work on "taking out" rising Republican stars before they can aspire to national office. And lest we misunderstand him, he sets us straight:

In case you're expecting me to bemoan this as the birth of left-wing hack journalism, that's where I part company. This is exactly how an ideologically-oriented newsgathering operation / noise machine / echo chamber should work. The real threat here is not what all of you were booing in Tucker Carlson's speech at CPAC. The New York Times is merely marketing refined gasoline at the pump. The place where it's being drilled, refined, and transported is in the blogosphere, where the likes of Daily Kos and TPM [Talking Points Memo] tease out initial leads that are too hot for the NYT.

The joke here is that the right is supposed to have an apparatus that does exactly what TPM does on the left.
The problem with legitimizing scandal as a tactic for decapitating political parties, of course, is that it discourages normal, well-adjusted personalities from running for national office.