Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Early Internet - Usenet

It would be an understatement to say that communication on the internet has come a long way in that last 30 years. Going back to the early days of the Usenet, internet communication has gone from a privilege to some, to a norm for all. With that inevitable change of guard due to digital convergence and massive technological expansion over the last 2 decades, there is no doubt that as internet communication expands and changes, so do the actions, values, and tendencies of the net users. MUD’s IRC’s Usenet Emails and other forms of pre-web internet communication faced problematic endeavors for the users often when some of them would engage in their own personal geared discussions. However, today, with the limitless amount of volume that’s persistent on the web, and the freedom to surf it so widely on almost any topic imaginable, it is my belief that the Free Rider issue is no longer the problem it was for Pre Web users.

The Usenet, born in 1979, is one of the original communication systems mediated through the internet. The Usenet was an online bulletin board consisting of a few hundred discussion groups, or newsgroups. A few hundred groups would become a few thousand. Today, it’s hard to monitor how many discussion groups available not only through the Usenet, but all across the web. The Free riding issue faced by early Usenet users was much more of an inconvenience to the internet community. Kullock and Smith(1996) explain in their article ‘Managing the virtual commons’ that Boundary and bandwidth restrictions would have a direct effect on each user of the group, by the Free Riders of the group (Pg. 116). Meaning they would be argumentative and opinionated in their retorts, ask unrelated questions or post unrelated news and information, and pretty much have a problem staying on the topics of conversation. Today, although the ever growing population of web users and web pages creates more nonsensical material on the net, it also becomes easier to ignore and neglect all the bull.

Taking for instance the Usenet group I monitored and observed this past week, Alt.movies.Kubrick, part of the Google groups chat forum, available through Usenet. A discussion group dedicated to the fans of film director Stanley Kubrick. I chose this thinking it would be hard to be off topic in this group. I mean it’s one man, his life, and the movies he made. As it turns out people can get way off topic with just about anything anywhere. About 50 percent of the messages that had been posted within the last 2 months dealt mainly with the political campaigns going on at this time. For every Kubrick based discussion post that was put up, there were 2 or 3 posts that were nothing more than links to news clips about Barrack Obama with a heading saying, “Check this out”, or “Obama for President”. Some take the Free Riding a step further from non-related political posts to straight spam. One that sticks out is a string of Photo-shopped pictures of John McCain. One with a funny mustache, one with lipstick and mascara, and my personal favorite, a monkey standing on his shoulders excreting onto the presidential candidates bald head.

The reoccurring messages of nonrelated topics were inconveniencing, sometimes ridiculous, but most of all, made the group seem non-legitamate and unprofessional. The catch to all of this is that all of the posts that aren’t related were ignored by all other consistent users. Nobody commented on the John McCain photos, or on ‘Bill Reid’ and his biweekly broker’s column he leaves, or on the rest of the non-Kubrick related conversation. Then, you can look and see a string of 14 messages on the post about a possible Spartacus remake, or a string of 10 messages on the discussion post about the death of film-maker, Michelangelo Antonioni.

One Free Rider, aka ‘StalePie’ proved my theory just this evening. StalePie has been leaving garbage on this site for over a month. The earliest I found was an uncommented on August 29 post ripping on Colonel Pat White. Another was a September 2nd message where he or she wrote a big paragraph consisting of one sentence, “The body of your message must contain some text”, over and over again. Trying to make a humorous reference to The Shining’s “All work and no play makes Jack a full boy”, which nobody else found funny either. Another September 18th post has the message heading, “Bad time to fart”, with a You-tube link underneath, which got no responses. Finally today, the 23rd, StalePie left a post saying “Don’t want to post here anymore..Bye..”

Even with the persisting junk that this Free Rider, and others will leave on the site, this didn’t stop ‘DC’, ‘Harry Bailey’, ‘Ichorwhip’, ‘Wordsmith’, and others from engaging in educated message strings that were informative on the topic of Stanley Kubrick and other events going on in the world of cinema. Sometimes the junk just can’t be avoided but it can always be discarded. A Free Rider is easy to spot and easily ignorable. It says a lot about somebody’s personality to be so off base all the time. A free rider by being so rebellious is to me, trying to show their versatility and their ability to be resourceful in multiple fields of discussion, when in truth it has the opposite effect of seeming lazy, uneducated, and unwilling to participate and coordinate with the community at hand. Internet is supposed to be, a cyber community where those who wish to participate accordingly and properly can and will. If you don’t wish to do so, talk to the mouse.

Kullock and Smith (1996) Managing the virtual commons: Cooperation and conflict in computer communities pg. 109-128


Sept 23 journal post

Interesting events transpired today on Alt.movies.kubrick. One of the groups leading spammers chose to resign from their free riding position within this branch of the google groups network due to lack of feedback from fellow net users. Translation: Nobody responded to all the ridiculous material that this fool was leaving on the discussion board and they have chose to bother somebody else. This user by the name of 'StalePie' would leave constant links to funny YouTube videos, post photoshopped images of Presidental candidates, or just consatntly try to start a discussion about something off base that nobody wanted any part of. After about 10 posts with no message strings, StalePie left he or she's last post today saying "Dont want to post here anymore..Bye..." In loving memory of StalePie (August 13th - September 23) Thank you for confirming my thesis, its greatly appreciated.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

September 21 journal entry

Okay. So i wasnt able to even get onto my google group chat that i was observing for about 2 days. I would type in alt.movies.kubrick like normal, but all i would get were old post from august about possible moderation to the chat group. I couldnt tell if this was a sign or something that the group was under construction, or if it was terminated altogether. Now, its sunday, and im able to get back into the group. Their are discussions posted from even today. But now, i cant find the old discussion that i wrote about on my first day of journal entries. Very weird stuff. Anyhow, their is some tension picking up between people within one conversation. Its dealing with the ideas of wheather or not Stanley Kubrick was a post-modern filmmaker and wheather or not he negleted to relate with humanity in his films. You may not know what im talking about, but to me it all makes sense. What i find interesting about the chat is that this person MP, who spends alot of time on this chat and who i beleive to be a female, seems to be a persistant antagonist to whatever anybody says about anything. To the point where i want to chime in and tell this person that they dont know EVERYTHING, and that its not nessecary to negate and critisize every single comment or opinion somebody offers to the discussion.
Another interesting post was somebody leaving a little tid-bit of information on the death of Michaelangelo Antoinini and how he elegedly starved himself to death. This opened up the floodgates to a highly morally geared convo about wheather or not death at a late age is even a sad thing. I personally know one thing from this site, and its that i would not get along with any of the people who take such an active part in this group. It not only bothers me, the amount of care and searching they do for topics non-related to Stanley Kubrick, but they all have a reall smug sense of arogance for being able to show off what they know about ohhhh Antoinini's suicide. Get a pet to take care of....

Sept 22 Democratizing Democracy

Professor Galleys, reading Democratizing Democracy : Strong democracy, US Political Campaigns and the Internet, outlines the feature characteristics of the Internet which aid in political campaining. Cost, volume, directionality, speed, targeting, and convergence, are the six characteristics that directly contribute to democratizing throught the World Wide Web. The cheap cost of internet campaigning favors the candidates, creating an equal opportunity for both parties to offer quality websites and news sites to get information to the voters. The net does away with distance issues that have or could arise among coordinating campaign offices. The net convergences the forums of TV, Radio, and Print, to get the nessacary info to the voters at a rapid speed at a limitless volume. This means candidates can get there messages to the public in a timeless manner with no limit to how much can be expressed. That is a freedom for the campaigner which cannot be granted through the forums of tv, radio, or print alone.

So why does the Internet aid in the political democratic process? Its simple. Convenience. Besides those who act as political elites and are directly interested in searching the internet for political gargin, naturally the net increases the amouint of people who will be intrugied by political issues. Professor Galley states on the first page of this reading that the average person does not behave politically in daily life, but rather only when moves to do so for self-interest. To me that means that political campaigning forces politics to become self-interests when done so on the internet. You become part of the process when the process is brought to your self interest of browsing the web. The issues of politics of very much forced upon the cyber community. However, as stated in the reasing, “Community grows out of participation and at the same time makes paticipation possible.”(37). As long as the process of political campaigning on the net is equally favorable to both candidates, as well as the voters, then it surely holds the essence of democracy. Only time will tell if internet campaining will prove to show netusers resolving political conflict, and transending the idea of ‘Stong Democracy’.

Friday, September 19, 2008

September 19 Journal Post

The free riding problem exist heavily on this website. Mostly information on political campaigning, due to the election being so close. Theo only thing is that people are buying intot he conversations and issues being brought up. People have even gove so far as to send hyperlinks within their blogs to suscribe to other different political blogs. So I ask, if everybody contributes to free riding at once, is free riding an issue, or is it even free riding at all? I thought this websight was a mistake at first because there had only been one post in the last week when I started observing it. But since it has picked up and there have been 5 in the last 48 hours. The ones that arent political deal with recent movie news about what is out in theatres now. I wonder if by nature of the movies, this sight is bussier at the end of the week and on the weekends. I shall see….

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

New Media and Web Production

Our reading on new media and web production offers a great deal of explanation to the various components that make up digital production and digital convergence. The technological process of digitizing, text, sound, and still and moving images is process that brought the state of the World Wide Web to where it is today. There is a great deal of explaining and teaching going on in this reading than there is in our previous ones from the coarse packet. Here, we are walked through all the different components of digitizing technology on the web, from early photography, to digital imaging. From initial webcasting and broadcasting of video and audio, to completely fluent and streaming media, the breakthrough and up-rise of DVD’s and MPS’s in the late 90’s, and a brief but confusing lesson in Web design, XML, and other textual language.

So what is there intellectually and philosophically to take away from this reading? I feel that any and all theory to come out of Jason Whitakers chapter 3 of The Internet: The basics lies in the first few pages. On page 61, referencing Roland Barthes argument that “The author is dead”, is an idea that can apply to much more than just the world of hypertext, and inter-textuality. The quote is a thesis to the idea that the internet had decentred the book if two readers will never end up in the same place. But the author being dead works for many of the themes of this reading

For instance, when they talk about how photography, the alchemical process of capturing images which transformed the way we look at art and society in the last century. Now, through digital imaging, the process of photo retouching is standard, corrupting truly re-creating time and space. The breakthroughs of DVD’s and MP3’s were quickly matched by copyright infringement digital programs such as Napster and WinDVD. The author is dead, The musician is dead, The film-maker is deal, The Studio or Label is dead, When there are so many different unwanted sources for obtaining their work and creations.

However, this is the very nature of digital convergence, and the WEB. The linking of all the different forums of media into one larger mega-median creates the most important thing for the web-user, convenience. The Web user does not take into consideration other factors, like the fact that the whole world has not yet broken itself from the classical 20th century from of commerce, going to the store and paying for something.

September 16 Blog Journal 1

Today was my first day monitoring the chat forum in which i am doing my essay on. The forum is alt.movies.Kubrick and is dedicated to the film-making of Stanley Kubrick(one of my personal favorites). The first thing i came to notice was just how many posts and discussion there were which had nothing to do with Kubrick himself. Most of them were dealing with McCain and Oboma, and other politically geared discussions. I figured i would pick something like movies, or a director, assuming there was a better chance the the discussions would stay on topic. I was wrong. There were good discussion posts and arguments nevertheless. One that caught my eye immediately was an August 12 post tittle THE SHINING: FROM THE PLAYFUL TO THE OMINOUS. It dealt with the violent and sexual connotations of the movie, and how most of them revolved around the elements of 'playing'. Its not very important, but i choose to look at it closely because the talk was of a sexual nature and i was looking to see if there were any aspects of gender bias in the conversation. In 9 long posts between 4 people, there was one woman. I don't know that for sure but i have a very strong feeling it was a female. In any case, assuming she was, her opinions were retorted by somebody else, and she later agreed. And i found no elements of gender bias, although the conversation they were have was very fun. One post i found was a set of photos of John McCain that were photo-shopped to make him look ridiculous. This must be a mature discussion group because absolutely nobody commented.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Managing the Virtual Commons

Kullock and Smith’s article and the cooperation and conflict in computer communities dealt mainly with the advantages, and the problematic issues that came with increased communication through cyber networking. The Usenet, an early 80’s alternate for the Arpanet linked together thousands of discussion groups together to create an information exchanging world. One interconnected with several hosts, leaving no central authority, no commercial funding, and limited control.

I find the Usenet to be so interesting because it had an existing element that nobody had ever seen before. That is the responsibility of the user or member, to stay true to the purpose of this forum of networking, to share and gather information without overstepping ones boundaries. No free riding, no biting information, and no uninformative voicing of one’s opinion. I look at it as nobody can be a leader or a follower in this kind of community. Everybody must be a player, no more, no less.

I find the Usenet to be very ahead of its time in the negative sense. That is, for its time and place I don’t see much use for the common person to have a hand in it. With the responsibility to respond to others needs, stay on topic, and post responses with an educational and professional tone, I find it’s an engine that would have run better if left strictly for the scholarly or journalistic. It would have left groups smaller with more common interests, and the need for ‘kill files’ wouldn’t even be necessary. I’m taking into consideration that this was nearly 10 -20 years ago that the Usenet was prominent. Fast forwarding to my generation, the WEB is so WORLD-WIDE, that social forums for voicing personal opinion is more acceptable.

This article relies heavily on the introduction where they talk about how computer mediated communication systems are believed to have such powerful affects on social relationships. How networked communication dissolves social hierarchies, candor and merit are of higher encouragement. That diffidently holds water on the professional level. But on personal and social grounds, i can’t say I fully agree. Even Professor Galley talked about somebody she interviewed, and there limited respect from fellow discussion members due to her being a woman. I know that when I look at my generation, face-book, AIM, and text messaging has diluted our ability to communicate to each other openly and honestly, without checking up on their social profiles to know where they stand on a social level of acceptability. Anybody agree?

Monday, September 8, 2008

4 important innovations for the Net

It’s an extremely difficult task to narrow down the 4 most important innovations that lead to what we now know as the internet. Not only is the Internet a technological breakthrough in the making over the last century, but it’s an always changing systematic network that continues to expand on a day to day basis. Things change so quickly, that it’s nearly impossible to keep up on the next breakthrough in nano-technology and convergence, so it’s interesting to take a step back and look at the historical time-line of innovations that make up the tool that I’m using to write this here essay.

Dating back to the earliest innovations for the computer, or computing, the vacuum tube might be the most important creation since the abacus. The science behind it was the amplification of an electronic signal, and the controlling of electrons in a low pressure space. This was the critical theory behind the development of electronics technology. The earliest vacuum tubes were of course bulky room sized enormities, which made up the earliest ‘colossus’ computers. But its technologies would eventually lead to transistor based electronics. Those transistor electronics would lead to what we now know as the microprocessor, making size and cost of computers moderate, while increasing their speed and reliability. This is what made it possible for home computers to now be standard in the household. Cathode Ray tubes are only this decade being replaced by LCD and other flat panel displays as the standard device in television sets.

If the Vacuum tube was the beginning stage of what we now know as the home computer, then the same can be said for the Arpanet from what we now know as the internet, for its being the first Internetworking computer system. As early as 1950’s memos were being passed around in the scientific world with the ideas and concepts for an Intergalactic Computer network. In 1968, America launched its effort in a computer mediated communication infrastructure. The Arpanet originally only linked the first 5 across the west coast, RAND UCLA Stanford, UCSB, and Utah. It’s goals were originally dedicated to the advancement of military technology. However, the Arpanet made such crucial steps in furthering interpersonal communication between researchers. Soon the military financed project of the Arpanet found itself transmitting almost all personal e-mail, making it a social forum, than a research network

1991 would make way for the next beg step in Internetworking as we know it today. Tim Berners Lee development of the World Wide Web brought the sharing of textual and visual document accessing to a universal level. Using Lee’s Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), and Mosiac, the first web browser designed by students at the University of Illinois, instantaneous access to documents all over the internet was now available to the home user. This would go from simple documents, to spreadsheets, pictures, and audio and visual files.

After Microsoft’s Windows 95 was launched, and home computers had full standard access to the World Wide Web through Internet explorer and AOL, the net has yet to stop growing at a rapid pace. Although the next contribution to the web can’t be labeled or categorized to a time or level in which it took full affect. However most would have to agree that the most important concept to today’s growth is due to media convergence. The different digital products which we each use on a daily basis are now all, by the doing of media conglomerates and manufacturers, attempting to become one and the same.

Our text/Instant messenger, Phone call maker, music listener, movie watcher, web browser, and picture taker, can be purchased all in the same product, and fit snuggly in our pocket. For consumers, the convergence race of different companies with their different products is all about convenience. More features, less space, equals happy consumer. While for the companies, it’s become a continuous competitive struggle for market dominance. In our phones, in our cars, in our game consoles, if you can’t WEB IT, you’re not with it.

The craziest part about this essay, is that 5 years from now, the list of innovative contributions that will have lead to that days internet might be completely different. Nobody knows what the future can bring us how fast technologies will come, and if we the common people can even keep up. But in my future, I see LCD screens on my cell phone, and access to the web through my car stereo. Maybe even my computer and Television set can be one in the same thing, please.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Sept 3 response

A big part of this reading was trying to put a name or identity to the kind of communication medium that the internet is, flipping between being an interpersonal medium or a mass medium. I really like the term that was used, Meta-medium, or a medium for media. The convergence that has taken place over the last few years has linked everything now to the World Wide Web. It’s almost as if you, or your business is not part of the phenomenon, you have ultimately limited your relevance in our society. It’s a hard concept to put a label on because of its constant change and growth. I can sum up the innovations throughout the years to the internet’s reliability, speed, and distribution in one short timeline.

When I first experienced the internet, dial up status like in class, I was glued to my oversized desktop computer in my basement, now with no phone-line to communicate through. It was almost as if you had to disconnect yourself from the world even further in order to have the world ironically at your fingertips. 5 years after that, I had to sit at my laptop on the phone with a linksys support technician trying the figure out what the hell is wrong with my wireless router. Now, I sit next to my friend in class. And through his ipod, he goes online, and has full conversations with me on my laptop via instant message. This is a prime example of not only the convergence we discussed, but the digitalization of our technology as well

I can’t even begin to say how telling I found the initial cartoon to this reading to be. In essence, the growth of the internet has both increased and decreased human interaction. While communication to mass audience has become a worldwide phenomenon, interpersonal communication has become damn near extinct. Only time will tell with this theory, but I truly do believe that my generation is slowly loosing its ability to interact with each other on a one on one basis. It’s becoming an uncomfortable form a self disclosure, the whole face to face thing. When now a days you can simply break your thoughts down to a text or instant message, why sugar coat things with truly in-depth conversation and sincere reciprocity? That’s just silly.