Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Another Blogger Fired

Yet another blogger fired for blog-related cause. Check it out: MacDailyNews - Microsoft fires employee over 'Even Microsoft wants G5s' blog.

Manager asks if the blog is on MS servers, and the blogger answes in the negative. The followup?
"Good. That means that as it's your site on your own server, you have the right to say anything you want. Unfortunately, Microsoft has the right to decide that because of what you said, you're no longer welcome on the Microsoft campus."

And what was said that makes this blogger unwelcome at Redmond? Go see for yourself. Unbelievable.

Add another reason to my "why I don't like Microsoft" list.

- posted by laurie @ 10/29/2003 08:29:00 PM (0) comments

I Must Share My Pain . . .

We have relatively new neighbors upstairs. They have a child. The child has a healthy pair of lungs. The child also has educational toys and videos. Further, the child has a video game. I swear it sounds like an old-school Atari or something. Anyway, point is, all of these make lots of distinctive noises. And that the floors/ceilings in this building are especially good sound conductors. I don't even know if my next-door neighbors are home, but if we spoke the same language, I could understand the parental conversation going on upstairs right now - even with the vaguely carousel-like music of the video game beeping cheerily along. I'm going to need earplugs to get through the rest of the semester.

- posted by laurie @ 10/29/2003 08:09:00 PM (0) comments


I have been following the coverage of the fires in California, as has much of the country. After all, my father lives on a street that backs on a canyon, and the last time that canyon burned was before I was born - according to long-time residents, the area is overdue.

This evening, I was half paying attention to the nine o'clock news while reading for class, when I heard an apalling figure: 90% of Lake Arrowhead is, well, gone. That's shocking, and it really brings things home for me: I skied in that area when I was a kid. My dad had good friends there, and we spent weekends up at the lake.

That figure alone made me sit up and watch the rest of the report, paying more attention to the situation. In part because I've been busy with school and conferences for the last week or so, I haven't really seen a report that made it clear how bad the fires are. My thoughts go out to all of the people who have lost loved ones, homes, and valuable posessions (tangible or sentimental).

- posted by laurie @ 10/29/2003 07:12:00 PM (0) comments

Cyberpiracy north of the border

This is an article I had intended to post about yesterday. This article by Declan McCullagh takes a peek at Canadian copyright laws and how the differences between American and Canadian laws have resulted in very different approaches to p2p.

Filesharing isn't the issue in Canada that it is here in the USA. Why? Because blank media is taxed, and these taxes subsidize artists. Originally created to deal with small-scale personal copying, this is a very different approach to copying media. Note, though, that while copying for personal, noncommercial purposes is legal, distribution isn't. So, theoretically, downloading and copying isn't a crime, but sharing MP3s with others would be.

The interview points out that, with regard to p2p, this understanding is at the theoretical level, because there haven't been any cases brought against Canadian filesharers. Why not? No DMCA power of subpoena.

Two questions from McCullagh and Michael Geist's responses:

And the DMCA's anticircumvention section, which SunComm recently used to threaten a Princeton University graduate student?
We don't have anything like that, either. Digital rights management and circumvention issues are not part of our copyright law.

Is Canada a freer country when it comes to the Internet, as a result?
Based on an innovation perspective, we haven't run into the same problems the United States has, with lawsuits brought against researchers, garage door manufacturers and printing companies. Most Canadians look at those cases and are rather puzzled.

- posted by laurie @ 10/29/2003 06:27:00 AM (0) comments

DMCA Challenges Dealt a Blow

From PCWorld: DMCA Challenges Dealt a Blow covers the Library of Congress decisions regrding copyright exepmtions. Generally, exemptions requested, especially those dealing with fair use, were rejected. PCWorld does report, though, that some exemptions were approved:

The Librarian did allow exceptions in four cases: for decoding lists of Web pages or directories blocked by Internet filtering software, accessing e-books for which the publisher has disabled the read-aloud function, circumventing obsolete digital rights management devices that prevent access due to malfunction, and accessing computer programs and video games distributed in an obsolete format.

In a statement, the Librarian of Congress said that the decision "is not a broad evaluation of the successes or failures of the DMCA. The purpose of the proceeding is to determine whether current technologies that control access to copyrighted works are diminishing the ability of individuals to use works in lawful, noninfringing ways."

The approved exemptions expire after three years, and then proponents must argue and win their case again with the Office of the Librarian of Congress.

Why, oh why, can't Congress revisit the DMCA?

- posted by laurie @ 10/29/2003 06:09:00 AM (0) comments

Monday, October 27, 2003

Back - and zonked

Well, I returned safe and sound from Columbus last night, but was absolutely too zonked to blog, or actually do much in the way of productive activity. I watched a little TV and finished reading Wicked. Then bed.

Feminisms and Rhetorics was a fun conference. Next time I attend, I plan to go for the whole three days. Flying in at the end of the second day this time was kind of unavoidable, but I missed out on a lot. I didn't get to see the presentations of any of my friends, had little opportunity to see the panels that included big-name scholars in the field of feminist rhetorical studies, and honestly got to see very little of the conference - and the program looked great! Well, at least I got to take a scenic walk through Columbus (sarcasm, by the way). The scenic walk did result in a fabulous late lunch at a really good restaurant: middle-eastern, and I had this beautiful, delicious lentil dish. And then there were movies. Pay-per-view at the hotel provided two evening's worth of entertainment: Friday night a mixed Penn State and Minnesota crew indulged in the intellectually devoid Alex and Emma, which was just perfect for the group: a bunch of mentally fatigued women in need of romantic comedy. Saturday night, with only two of us left, my roommate and I settled in for a bit more serious entertainment in the form of The Life of David Gale. While this was a good movie, I ended up feeling almost betrayed by the ending.

Well, I had a weekend of conferencing, pay-per-view, premium cable channels, and airports (I had forgotten how much I HATE flying through Chicago: I barely made my connections coming and going, and had to run between concourses to make the flight back to Minnesoplis yesterday). Now it's back to real life! And considering that there's more sleeping in real life, that's just fine with me.

As to the things I was "pondering" over the weekend (see list two posts back), I found out:

- an email server went down. I hae email access again, but all emails sent prior to Thursday afternoon have now been deleted from my inbox. Apparently, they're working on the problem.

- still no idea on the template. Is there an open tag, maybe?

- business cards came in on Thursday. Eric took the call and didn't give me the message.

- the last three: who knows?

- posted by laurie @ 10/27/2003 08:19:00 AM (0) comments

Friday, October 24, 2003

Pay Pal and Philosophy

JULIAN DIBBELL's post, On the Nature of the Intangible: A Dialogue, is funny, sad, and thought-proviking all at the same time.

Link from the wonderful blog of Alex Halavais

Must catch plane. See ya Sunday!

- posted by laurie @ 10/24/2003 09:33:00 AM (0) comments


to ponder while I am away this weekend . . .

Have I been unable to check my UMN mail, whether through webmail, POP protocol, or IMAP protocol, since yesterday afternoon?

Is my template for ONLY ONE archive page messed up, while all the others look fine?

Haven't my business cards arrived at Office Depot yet, when I was told they'd be ready this morning at the latest, and should really have arrived yesterday?

Did I throw away my travel sizes last week after the AoIR conference, when I knew I would need them for this weekend's conference (and I now have to stop at Target on the way to the airport to pick up new ones)?

Do I always seem to be able to wash something that I really shouldn't have (lip balm on this occasion), even after carefully checking all of my pockets?

Was there no hot water, and I really do mean none at all, this morning when I was showering?

- posted by laurie @ 10/24/2003 09:29:00 AM (0) comments

the friday five

the friday five: "No Friday Five this week! Busy time of year, blah blah blah. Have a good weekend! "

Too bad. I was looking forward to doing this while waiting for the last-minute load of laundry to get done. I leave at 2:00 this afternoon for Feminism(s) and Rhetoric(s) 2003 at Ohio State University. I'll only be gone three days, including today, so packing will be lighter this time, yay! I certainly learned my lesson about packing light for conferences last weekend. My briefcase was stupidly heavy, and I brought what seemed like half of my personal library, plus bought books while there. This conference, I am taking only two bags, my briefcase and my suitcase, and will only bring two or three books: reading for class and one 'fun' book, because I find that reading dense texts on the plane is not the greatest of ideas.

Ok, time to go throw laundry into the dryer, and then myself into the shower.

- posted by laurie @ 10/24/2003 07:26:00 AM (0) comments

Thursday, October 23, 2003

IM and Education

When I was at AoIR last weekend, there were any number of people wondering where the Instant Messaging panels were. Apparently, they're out there, though.

A paper by Robert Farmer prepared for the NAWeb Conference addresses IM technologies in higher education. The paper, Instant Messaging - Collaborative Tool or Educator's nightmare!, is pretty informative. There's a nice integration ostatisticscs and research from a variety of sources. And then there's this section, toward the end:

The Potential Faculty Nightmare!

Growing expectation of ubiquitous instructor access
Adds more time to faculty workload
Time Online!
Time Consuming!
Time Commitment!

Yeah, that's the problem with teaching with technology, is it not? Link from Ray Schroeder's Online Learning Update, which, even though it's on my blogroll, I haven't browsed in a while - and there are always such great links on that blog!

- posted by laurie @ 10/23/2003 08:39:00 AM (0) comments

So Cute

The cutest sight in this apartment is actually one of the more frequent, as well. Right now Eric's working second shift, so he tends to sleep in later than me. Every morning, I get up, bubmle around and caffeinate, shower, etc. And I re-enter the bedroom to the cutest sight, which is . . . Eric, tangled in blankets, sleeping soundly on his side of the bed, and Tybalt, one of our kitties, all snuggled up and sleeping (usually belly-up, forepaws extended over head) on my side of the bed. Ah, my boys. Had to write about it because they are doing it now, and it's just adorable.

- posted by laurie @ 10/23/2003 07:55:00 AM (0) comments

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

I want to go . . .

. . . to this conference:Battling for Ownership: Who Controls Music, Film, Publishing, and Visual Communications?

Not only is it my area of interest exactly, and a very good motivator to work further on my prospective dissertation topic, but the list of participants looks wonderful. It looks as if there will be people representing a variety of viewpoints, which should make conversations quite lively. I am sure there will be a number of good presentations. Besides, it's in Florida in April!

I am adding this to my "conference wish list," which right now includes CCCC in San Antonio and ICA in New Orleans.

Take into consideration that I went to a conference in Toronto this past week, that I am going to Columbus this weekend, that we're trying to go to Southern California for Spring Break to meet my brother-in-law's fiancee, that Eric has to attend the bachelor party in D.C. sometime in the spring, and that the actual wedding will require travel to Southern California again in July (not to mention purchase of appropriate clothing) and, well, we need a bigger travel budget. And, as that's not highly likely, I guess that the elimination of conferences will be in the offing (of course, I'd have to get accepted to conferences to justify going . . . )

- posted by laurie @ 10/22/2003 06:23:00 PM (0) comments

So Disappointed . . .

I was totally convinced the O.C. was back on the air as of tonight, but no, not until next Wednesday. Yeah, I know, it's a cheesy Fox show about people that are, at least in the fictional world of the series, about half my age (minus a few - I'm not quite there yet!).But, we all have our guilty pleasures, our dirty secrets, so to speak. And mine happens to be this series, at the moment. And no, I don't follow baseball, so I didn't know any better than to expect that TV would be back to normal tonight.

Well, it's for the best, anyway. I need to go get a new toner cartridge for my printer and then take up my usual weeknight position: cup of tea, highlighter, and pen on the coffee table, me sprawled across the couch, and a book open in my lap. This evening's selection: Aristotle's On Rhetoric, for my classical rhetoric seminar for tomorrow.

Tomorrow, I've got office hours, then teach, then have class, then have to come home and pack/revise paper for the second conference in as many weeks. While many of my friends are already at Feminism(s) and Rhetoric(s) 2003, I don't take off until Friday afternoon. Which reminds me - I have double reservations, and need to cancel one of them.

All right, off to run errands. Perhaps there'll be a more interesting post later on!

- posted by laurie @ 10/22/2003 05:24:00 PM (0) comments

Another Law Blog

I'll have to check out the Legal Theory Blog when I have a bit more time - it looks pretty interesting, though.

At the moment, I'm off to shower, throw on clothes (wearing a union t-shirt in support of the striking clericals because I'm a geek like that), and head to Social Cognition to discuss intuition.

Will . . . not . . . be . . . late . . .
(the class is at 10, so I am actually in good shape)

- posted by laurie @ 10/22/2003 06:40:00 AM (0) comments

UMN AFSCME Strike Update

Workday Minnesota: Clericals picket in first strike at U of M in 50 years

Sounds like the first day went relatively well. Scroll down or click link for photos of striking workers and picket lines at various campuses. One of those pictured works in the dept. of rhetoric with me.

- posted by laurie @ 10/22/2003 06:35:00 AM (0) comments

Apple PC iTunes hits 1 million downloads

This article says that Apple has had 1 million downloads of its iTunes for Windows software since the product launched Thursday, and that 1 million songs have been downloaded form iTunes, as well (but this is Mac and PC). Apple is on a campaign to hit 100 million downloaded songs by April 28, 2004, one year from the opening of the iTunes store.

I think Apple's got a pretty slick package put together here, and that the options offered (an allowance account for kids so they don't mommy and daddy's credit cards, for example) and the $0.99 price on songs, well, this is just the kind of thing that, had the RIAA-affiliated labels done something like this earlier, p2p wouldn't be the giant monster they're trying to battle now.

On the other hand, I think Apple's got some real image ambivalence going on: is this causing corporate or consumer cognitive dissonance beyond the tintinabulation between my ears?" 'Rip, Mix, Burn,' and oh yeah, buy iTunes songs for a buck each, but be sure and adhere to (c) on these - but rip, mix burn the others, wait . . . something doesn't make sense." Anyone who hasn't read Neal Stepehnson's In the beginning . . . was the command line, I'd highly recommend it, especially the bit about the car dealerships. If you know what I'm talking about, you know what I'm talking about. Apple's business practices are, historically, geared toward keeping their information pretty protected, too, so maybe the "Rip, Mix, Burn" campaign was a weird blip on the marketing radar.

- posted by laurie @ 10/22/2003 06:26:00 AM (0) comments

The RIAA Prank: Do They Really Care About Kazaa, Grokster, and Napster?

How did I miss this Prank? Or the associated parody song, to be circulated, appropriately, in the form of an MP3?


well i recollect the days when music was free
you could tape from the radio, burn a CD
now the RIAA wants to know about me
my address, my number, my ISP
yo, bitches, ain't we still got privacy?
why the president be lettin' you spy on me
how many tricks they gonna be lettin you try on me?
trying to be spying on my MP3s
but you protect YOUR corporate privacy
keep your phone number hidden from the bourgeoisie
your customers have to play hide and seek
so here's the number to call if you disagree


why's the RIAA starting litigations
the cops should be looking for the real perpetrations
the killers, the racists, the rapists
'stead of fucking with us for saving to our hard disk
raise your middle finger if you feel me loc
these fucking subpoenas are a fucking joke
leave us alone, throw us a bone
like i did with your mom that time at your home

there's NO SUCH THING as bad publicity
even if you giving it out for free
so join us in the twenty-first century
where we find our new songs on MP3s
embrace the new technologies
Grokster, Kazaa, and P2Ps
so call this number now, and help them see
and if you call from work, your call is free!


202 is the area code and we're dialin'
775 and then we be smilin'
0101-1-cary sherman
well isn't this fun it's

you know, they've never been fair to the bands.
now the riaa takes a stand?
can't believe we're getting preached to by the man
so what's the plan, stan? i've got a short attention span.

they've gotta change up the music industry
make it all available on MP3
listen to people like you and me
and make us wanna pay a monthly fee

this song is now my lyrical catastrophe
go ahead and grab it, it's completely free
ain't gotta pay a dime to listen to me
so share this song and fuck the industry

MP3 & lyrics from and by colorblind and Kevin A Crider. The song is licensed under a creative commons license (right on!): please see the site for specifics.

As near as I can tell, this has been floating around since the second week of September. At least, I can't find blogs linking to it before then. Anyone know if this is right?

- posted by laurie @ 10/22/2003 06:05:00 AM (0) comments

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Chock-full of goodness ;)

My blog is 65% good and 35% evil, according to the Gematriculator, which analyzes patterns in an analyzed site/passage. The description of how the analysis, itself, is conducted is pretty interesting . . . Definitely check it out!

Snagged this link from Weblog Wannabe.

- posted by laurie @ 10/21/2003 07:51:00 AM (0) comments

Clerical workers to strike U today

The PPioneer Press reports that Clerical workers to strike U today. The 1,900 clerical workers will picket 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the Twin Cities, Morris, Duluth, and Crookston campuses. Talks broke off yesterday evening after the university and the union failed to reach agreement, mainly on wages and health insurance costs. The article also mentions that a smaller AFSCME local at the U has just authorized a strike.

The University plans to use student workers, temporary employees, and other solutions to keep the U running smoothly. We'll see how that goes.

For more coverage of the strike, from both sides of the issue. I recommend the following:
Minnesota Public Radio
The AFSCME Local 3800 homepage and strike support site
The University of Minnesota Strike Information page

and while I certainly recommend following the news and considering all sides of the situation, I'm sure most of you can guess where my sympathies are.

- posted by laurie @ 10/21/2003 07:00:00 AM (0) comments

Monday, October 20, 2003

P2P battle brews in D.C.

One more relevant p2p/copyright link for the night - ZDNet News: P2P battle brews in D.C.

Basically, a draft of a bill would, if passed, would require warnings regarding security and privacy risks, and ot just for peer-to-peer or oter subset of programs: for virtually all software offered for download (if it sends data to your computer, it's covered). Penalties are steep. This type of move could potentially restrict the circulation of a huge number of programs. Going overboard? McCullagh fingers the MPAA as the potential impetus behind this legislation.

I've got other things to do and not as much time as I would like for more analysis, but this really concerns me. The article's areally good, as well: definitely wirth the read.

- posted by laurie @ 10/20/2003 07:55:00 PM (0) comments

A New Tool To Prohibit Illegal Movies And Music On Networks

This Internet Week article describes a new appliance for blocking shared content by checking against a database of copyrighted materials (also sets up rules for up/downloads, etc). While I understand why companies are concerned about p2p filesharing activity (bandwidth and possible liability issues), there are still some concerns: privacy and non-infringing uses are a few that instantly come to mind. Plus, the cost of this appliance is pretty hefty. Is this the solution to the filesharing "problem"? Any thoughts?

- posted by laurie @ 10/20/2003 07:27:00 PM (0) comments

Oh gracious, when will people learn to be more cautious about saying stupid things in public forums?

I know I was at a conference this weekend, but how on earth did I miss this? Writer Greg Easterbrook makes anti-semitic comments on his blog, then tries to duck some of the blame by pinning that blame on blogging itself: the medium is at fault, apparently. For a good analysis and links to relevant articles, please seeSiva Vaidhyanathan's Weblog.

For my part, I'd like to know why someone who writes - and publishes in highly-read, very public spaces - for a living is incapable of self-monitoring and self-editing.

American freedoms protect our rights to think and speak the way we want, true. But saying stupid, biased, hurtful things, while perhaps your right, are not responsible, especially when you're a public figure, a role model, or someone in a position of power and authority. Can we hold out hope that public figures will, at some point, learn how to refrain from saying stupid things, perhaps exercise some self-restraint?

- posted by laurie @ 10/20/2003 10:48:00 AM (0) comments

More RIAA Action, and a Scary Look at the FTAA

According to this AP article,Targets Warned of Music Download Suits, the RIAA is at it again. Another 204 people are now being targeted for lawsuits, but this time the RIAA is kindly giving them warning first.

A snippet from the story:

"In light of the comments we have heard, we want to go the extra mile and offer illegal file sharers an additional chance to work this out, short of legal action," said RIAA president Cary Sherman.

The letters give the recipients 10 days to contact the RIAA to discuss a settlement and avoid a formal lawsuit. The RIAA declined to identify the individuals, but said they were sharing an average of more than 1,000 songs on their computers.

The advanced notice also could help the RIAA avoid embarrassment.

You know, I just delivered a paper on ethos in the filesharing community on Friday, and I only hinted that the RIAA had been engaged in the process of undermining their own ethos. I think that, in future talks/presentations/discussions, I'm going to call them out a little more directly: the RIAA was doing pretty well with ethos, character, se of authority, using their artists almost as character witnesses, but I think they've really gone and done it now.

Wendy Seltzer of the EFF is quoted in this story, saying the RIAA should stop the legal actions and start offering a reasonable pay service. I wholeheartedly agree, though I happen to think this should have occurred years ago, and that it may just be too late at this point for the RIAA to make this type of option a viable alternative to infringing downloads. P2p is pretty firnly established, and surveys keep on showing that users really just don't know or care that their actions are at ll problematic or illegal. I don't see an easy fix here, at all.

Especially in light of this article at Infoshop News regarding the IP sections of the FTAA. Scary snippet below:

According to the IP Justice report, "unless the second proposed clause to Article 4.1 is deleted from the FTAA Treaty, Internet music swapping will be a felony throughout the Western Hemisphere in 2005."

The proposed agreement forbids consumers from bypassing technical restrictions on their own CDs, DVDs and other property, similar to the controversial US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Even though bills are pending in the US Congress to repeal the DMCA, FTAA proposes to outlaw even more speech and legitimate conduct.

Mislabeled as a "free trade" agreement, the FTAA Agreement would actually make it illegal to bypass trade barriers such as DVD region code restrictions and it would enable price discrimination against consumers in the Americas.

The draft treaty also imposes new definitions for "fair use" and "personal use," curtailing traditional fair use and personal use rights to a single copy and only under limited circumstances. This prevents consumers from backing-up their media collections, using their media in new and innovative ways, and accessing media for educational and non-commercial purposes.

So, in addition to redefining fair use and personal use and further criminalizing p2p filesharing, the clause will also take the terms of the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act and impose them on all member nations: life + 70 for all works produced in the 33 other countries covered by the treaty.

Peachy. Wonderful. This is just grand. A great confluence of IP nastiness, all swirling around bad law and corporate pressure: for some reason "cultural pollution" is stuck in my head, almost as if the DMCA, the RIAA, the MPAA, and the FTAA are releasing gross toxins into our common waters (the pool of cultural materials and ideas from which we draw inspiration) and leaving them foul-smelling, hazardous sites.

- posted by laurie @ 10/20/2003 10:23:00 AM (0) comments

A Coffee Crisp Petition: Bring the Candy Bar to the U.S.!

The first time I went to Canada, my dear friend Lindsay (who is Canadian) introduced me to the wonders of Canadian candy. In particular, I fell in love with Coffee Crisp, and have been fantasizing about these delicious candy bars ever since. Well, having just returned from Toronto with a half-dozen Coffee Crisps (purchased with the last little bit of my Canadian cash before leaving for the airport), I am ok for a little bit - stocked up for a few days. But, given the wonders of the internet, I decided to do a little search and see if I could find Coffee Crisp in the States or perhaps if I could order them online. What I found was the Coffee Crisp Petition, a site completely devoted to praising Coffee Crisp and petitioning Nestle to bring the yummy candy here to the U.S. A lot of people love Coffee Crisp more than me, it seems: check out the stories section!

The links section of the Coffee Crisp site will point you in the direction of places to buy the candy bar, including, where one can purchase not only Coffee Crisp bars, but also Caramilk bars, Cadbury Burnt Almond bars, Smarties, all kinds of treats. Also, if you're a fan of the Lay's ketchup chips (or the smoky bacon, perhaps), you can get them here, as well! Another site that has a few different products is Panhandle Premium, though they don't have as wide an overall selection.

Mmmm, I think I'm going to go break into my Coffee Crisps stash!

- posted by laurie @ 10/20/2003 09:14:00 AM (0) comments

Sunday, October 19, 2003

the friday five, except on Sunday.

I was at a conference, so cut me some slack. This one's a bit on the lame side, anyway, in my opinion.

the friday five:

1. Name five things in your refrigerator.
Spinach, cottage cheese, hot dogs, cranberry juice, soy milk.

2. Name five things in your freezer.
Ice cubes, succotash, coffee beans, veggie burger patties, ground turkey.

3. Name five things under your kitchen sink.
Rubber gloves, extra sponges, comet, carpet cleaner, stiff-bristle scrub brusk.

4. Name five things around your computer.
Dinner plate, old coffee mug, yellow duck stuffed animal, Foucault's Power/Knowledge, pop-up post-it note holder.

5. Name five things in your medicine cabinet.
Tweezers, q-tips, allergy medications, dental floss, Ricola orange cough drops.

- posted by laurie @ 10/19/2003 08:13:00 PM (0) comments

If you head to Canada . . .

. . . remember to bring your birth certificate. I arrived at the airport via the Eric taxi with friend Jessica relatively early on Thursday morning. Our plane left at 10:30, and we allowed the proper extra time for international travel, arriving somewhere around 8:15. We waited in the wrong line a few times, finally found the right "print your e-boarding-pass and check-your-bags" line, and things seemed wonderful, fine, a-problematic. Then the ticket agent, in the process of checking my bag, asked for a photo I.D. and proof of citizenship.

Oh, shit, I think to myself in a panicky little interior-monologue-voiceover tone. This is not the normal domestic travel question. Seeing the panicked, deer-in-the-headlights look on my face, the woman clarifies: "Your passport. You have that, right? Or your birth certificate?"

Well, inevitably, the answer to her almost-rhetorical question was, "No." Nope, I did not have either a birth certificate or a passport. I hadn't even thought of such a document being necessary for travel to Canada. I don't think I needed one last time I was there, but then again, that was in 1994, and we entered the country on a train, not a plane. Different circumstances entirely. And then, after my bag was handed back to me and I was told to either get an original or faxed copy of my birth certificate before checking in, I began to feel like a heel. Here I was, traveling with another person, and I was going to totally screw up our travel plans. I also presented the next morning at 8:30, and began to be concerned about not making it to the panel. I hadn't read my Hotwire confirmation email closely before leaving home. Had it said something about needing a birth certificate, and I totally overlooked it?

Nope. Hotwire says a government-issued I.D. is needed. Same message as for domestic travel. So, it wasn't that I had overlooked the information - and I wasn't the only one to have forgotten a passport or birth certificate, either. Other people on the later flight we ended up taking had done the same thing.

Anyway, we took a 1:45 flight, and got into Toronto three hours later than planned, but we made it. I managed to get my paper together, crash, and make my appearance at my 8:30 panel the next morning.

I had a blast at AoIR - I think this is one of the best conferences I have been to. Then again, Feminisms and Rhetorics is this coming week, and I haven't been to that one before, either.

Anyway, I had a jam-packed-full four days, and I am going to go be braindead and non-functional in front of the TV for a few hours (Eric bought Reloaded this weekend) and then go to sleep. For more than six hours, for the first time in four nights. Oh, how I look forward to my own bed!

I'll post more conference details tomorrow!

- posted by laurie @ 10/19/2003 07:56:00 PM (0) comments

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Kinda on hiatus again - but just for the weekend

I'm going here tomorrow to present this (scroll down) at that. For the moment, I am busily trying to balance finishing touches on the paper, last-minute shopping (new dress socks and some travel sizes), laundry, and getting a few things done for my students.

Will return Sunday evening. Then it's of to here to present this (session J2) at that.

Back-to-back conferencing. Not a brilliant idea. But it should be fun, and I know I will learn a lot at both conferences. Anwyay, there's a strong possbility I won't be blogging too much again until I return from Columbus next Sunday.

- posted by laurie @ 10/15/2003 05:16:00 PM (0) comments

Do you know what time it is?

I do - at least in my time zone. One of my favorite functional sites. Helps when your computer's clock is completely out of sync with the world (and so does the little application you can download from here to keep the computer clock up-to-date).

If you're not in tthe Central time zone, try here.

- posted by laurie @ 10/15/2003 05:13:00 AM (0) comments

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

"Shadows and Blog": more about business/political blogs

Penny de Haviland over at Tech Central Station on where/why business and political party/candidate blogs will - and won't work. The important thing in maintaining one of these types of blogs is an authentic voice - without one, the blogosphere will slam you in a distributed, emergent way - and that hurts! Also: archives and google caches make blogging by politicians a potential danger: make one misstep in your blog, and between google's cache and the network of bloggers, your words will be recorded for posterity, eve if you delete that ill-advised post. Smart article, good insights!

Forward-looking companies realize that credibility and immediacy have considerable value and it makes sense to say it the way it is. That said, any company turning its blog over to an old-fashioned PR department and filling it with corporate-speak is in for a rude awakening when it sees what that rolling peer review called the Blogosphere has in store for it. The same applies to blogs set up by politicians: it is not enough to have a blog, you must write credibly and authentically, because not only will other blogs see through you, they will tell the world about it. Contrary to what Hollywood agents say, there is indeed such a thing as bad publicity. Bad blogging is worse than no blogging at all.

For this reason, although I am a blog evangelist, it is clear to me that a blog is not for everyone. For example, although some professional politicians have set up blogs, I suspect the first high-profile self-impalement due to some injudicious remark will see blogs by elected officials quietly fade away as the party whips and hierarchy realize the potential for archived blogged remarks coming back to haunt the author (and remember, Google caches do not care that you took the article down later). To be blunt, any business such as democratic politics which requires grave economy with the truth and promising the unobtainable is not going to find blogging a happy experience in the long run. Politicians are not the natural friends of commentary bloggers, they are their natural prey. Similarly, some companies will never have the necessary corporate culture to actually let their employees talk to the public without surrounding them with a deadening phalanx of PR consultants and lawyers who sanitize every word they type. Just having a blog is not enoughÂ… you must allow the writers to blog correctly.

- posted by laurie @ 10/14/2003 07:32:00 AM (0) comments

Catching up with the "Drafts"

Below are a handful of links I marked as drafts and never actually finished posting, mostly because of family visits and such. There's some linky goodness in this assortment: hope you find something that you enjoy!

from the "way too much free time" files:
An ascii movie of the rooftop fight scene from the Matrix

Memex links
The O'Reilly network published a short piece, "Back to the Memex," on Septeber 25. It's brief, but makes the case that, for as much progress as we have made with the Internet, we still fall short of Vannevar Bush's ideas.

Found a feminst news blog, feminews // the broadcast for broads. Updated fairly regularly, pretty good coverage. Check it out.

. . . and finally, a bit more about blogging
In this post, Tony Perkins of AlwaysOn , reflects on blogging, super-blogs, co-optation and business models in the blogosphere, and the definition of a "blog."

- posted by laurie @ 10/14/2003 07:06:00 AM (0) comments

Dems Kick Ass, GWB Responds in Kind

So, political candidates have been using the blog to communicate to voters for some time now. But since September 9, the DNC has been keeping supporters informed with "Kicking Ass: Daily Dispatches from the DNC," a party-supported blog. October 6 saw the launch of the Official Bush-Cheney '04 Blog. Media coverage of the events, at least that I have seen up to this point, has been right-leaning praise pf the Bush blog and slamming of the DNC blog - because of the name of the site (hey, conservative media, think about it: donkey = ass: it's not a "bad" word, and appears in both a standard dictionary and the Bible), and because the DNC blog is critical of Bush. Huh. Imagine that.

This, I think, shows a few things: first of all, more and more people, especially those in decision-making positions, are aware of the Internet and blogs - and the power that online communications tools have. Blogs, especially, are an alternative to traditional sources of news and information. (the question, though, becomes: how much of an "alternative" is a blog hosted by a political party or a candidate for office?) It also shows that the DNC and its assorted lot of candidates are out in front as far as the innovation curve goes: blog early, blog often, and let the Republicans play catch-up with sites started much later and apparently created as a response. Seems to me that action is much better than reaction. Additionally, check out the media ocerage of the Bush blog, and you'll get a nice case study of spin: how and where to apply in covering political developments.

- posted by laurie @ 10/14/2003 06:50:00 AM (0) comments

Sunday, October 12, 2003

In Labor News . . . Top California grocers hobbled by strike, lockout. What's happening in CA is not exactly the same as the situation here at the University of Minnesota, where clerical workers may strike as soon as October 21, but it is worthy of note that both grocery store employees in CA and University clerical workers in MN cite insurance concerns as the major issue employers have failed to adequately address in contract negotiations. This is generally true of the graduate student unionization movement and graduate student unionism , as well: when employers treat people with respect and dignity, things are pretty peaceful. When, on the other hand, the bottom line becomes more important than the health and welfare of workers, things turn sour. Now, for state and university employees, making any kind of demand is difficult: budget problems are a real concern for university administrations and state governments,and I don't think that any unionized employee is unaware of those circumstances. BUT budget deficits shouldn't be excuses to turn around and stick it to workers. As for me, I support the labor movement, and I support the supermarket employees and the clerical workers in their efforts to gain adequate health coverage and other benefits for themsleves and their families. Solidarity!

- posted by laurie @ 10/12/2003 01:38:00 PM (0) comments

Friday, October 10, 2003

On Family Visits

Well, Eric's parents have headed off for a family reunion in Iowa, and we have our bed and apartment back - for a few days. We hadn't realized that they are returning Sunday evening, and will stay until Tuesday morning, at which point they hop a plane back to the Bahamas.

We've had a great time with Mom and Dad Johnson. We went to the MOA with them, and had an excellent dinner at Barley John's Brew Pub last night. Each of us had a delectable entree (I had bacon-wrapped venison with rosemary mashed potatoes and zucchini), a variety of Barley John’s microbrewed beer, and dessert: chocolate caramel pecan um, I think it was a tort. Anyway, it was delicious, and the server said it was a rarity for them to actually have it - the woman who does the desserts for them apparently doesn’t make it a whole lot.

I'm super-excited about the duckie bathroom stuff I received this week: a new bath mat, a hand towel, a waste basket, and a toilet brush/holder in matching Target duckie theme awaited me when I got home from school one day during their visit. Eric gets annoyed when I bring duckie stuff into the house anymore (and I'll admit, the bathroom is pretty saturated with things yellow and duckie), so this was great: I got new ducks, and since I wasn’t the one to buy them and bring them into the apartment, there wasn’t much he could say. :) Have I mentioned before how great Eric’s parents are??

The best part of their visit is really just getting to spend a bit of quality time with them. They, like the rest of our family, are so far away right now. It's wonderful to have a bit of time to just sit and talk, and not have to worry about long-distance phone bills. I am looking forward to spending the day with them on Monday, when we will have more or less the whole day to sightsee in the Twin Cities. It will be fun to show them around - there is a lot more here to do and see than in State College, PA, where we lived before the Twin Cities.

In order to hang out with them on Monday, though, I need to do some serious working over the weekend: two conferences coming up this month, and I've got to be ready to go! This semester is speeding by unbelievably quickly.

- posted by laurie @ 10/10/2003 06:55:00 PM (0) comments

MediaDailyNews Shares Some Blogging Demographics

Suppose You Hosted A Blog And Nobody Came asks Paul J. Gough. Well, apparently, this is not at all a rare occurrence. This article gives come blogger demographics, as prepared for BloggerCon 2003 (which I wish I'd been at). Here's an interesting nugget:

" Perseus estimates there are 4.12 million blogs on eight hosting services. But the research company estimated that 66% - 2.72 million - haven't been updated in two months and that 1.09 million haven't been updated since the first day. The average duration for an abandoned blog was 126 days, according to the survey of 3,634 blogs."

I knew there was a high abandonment rate, and I myself have been guilty of serious blog neglect, but I had no idea that the numbers were this high. I wonder how many active, frequently-updated blogs there are out there? I'm also really curious to know what the stats are on the longevity of blogs: how long has the average blog been around for? how long does the average (ex-)blogger blog before throwing in the towel?

- posted by laurie @ 10/10/2003 10:31:00 AM (0) comments

Silly Quiz

Doing a little blog reading and found another color quiz on someone's blog. I took a different one of these a while ago, and apparently, I'm just a blue kind of person. I really wanted to be purple, or perhaps yellow (one of my favorite colors), but it is not to be.

You are blue!

What colour are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

- posted by laurie @ 10/10/2003 10:17:00 AM (0) comments

Is email dead?

I occasionally check out Ray Ozzie's blog, mainly because of an old interest in Groove as a collaborative space for writing courses (see this article I wrote a few years ago: it was edited down from 25 pages in a hurry, so it's not the best). Anyway, Ozzie has a post from October 1 discussing the death of email, especially in business settings.

I'd say that, in general, the arguments here make sense. As a student and educator working within the context of an academic institution, though, I can't even imagine living without email. Email is a primary mode of communication with my students and professors, at least outside of the f2f classroom environment. IF WebCT were a better application (or if we had an application that worked better, like Groove, maybe), perhaps more communication would take place there, but there's also the push-pull dilemma: WebCT makes users go to it, specifically, while email comes to users.

Email is dead. Long live email. Or something like that.

- posted by laurie @ 10/10/2003 08:55:00 AM (0) comments

Friday Five

The relatives just left, and of course the first thing I sat down to do upon their departure is check the referrer logs and write a post. This week's FF is all about sports - not my favorite topic, but here goes:

1. Do you watch sports? If so, which ones?
Hmm, not really a big sports person. When the University of Maryland does well in basketball and makes it to the NCAA tournament, though, I turn into a rabid fan. I've even been known to head to a sports bar to watch the Terrapins on a big screen TV. I also watched football at Penn State while I was in graduate school there, mainly because ALL my students were into football, and I had at least one football player in my class every semester I taught freshman composition.

2. What/who are your favorite sports teams and/or favorite athletes?
Other than the MD Terrapins, I really have no favorite sports teams. Growing up in the D.C. area, I had to, at some level, be a Redskins and Orioles fan, but that was more of a passive acceptance of popular local teams than anything else. Cal Ripkin, of course, during his prime, was just about everyone's favorite baseball figure, but again, more of a passive acceptance on my part than anything else. As a general rule, I like watching women athletes kick butt.

3. Are there any sports you hate?
I don't actively hate any sport. I think golf and baseball are tedious to watch on TV, but I like watching baseball games live. I've never been to a live golf event and I've never played golf, so I can't say whether I dislike golf generally or just on TV. I think pro sports in general are over-hyped, especially basketball, and so I don't get into them much.

4. Have you ever been to a sports event?
I have: on the pro level, I think the only event I've ever been to (as far as I can remember) is a hockey game. Oh, and I did see Real Madrid play while I was in Spain. I went to an Army-Navy game once, when I was really young. I lived in Annapolis, and my parents took me, though I was too little to really remember much of the game. I went to a diving competition at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, and I've been to a variety of high-school and college intramural softball, baseball, basketball and field hockey games.

5. Do/did you play any sports (in school or other)? How long did you play?
I'm not an athletically inclined individual. I like playing softball and volleyball, but I'm not very good at either, though I played on a softball team in elementary school. I did gymnastics for about a year in elementary school, and track for a very brief period in junior high. That's about it.

- posted by laurie @ 10/10/2003 08:15:00 AM (0) comments

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Bit o' rnadomness, plea for help, and a prediction of silence . . .

Clancy's post from Sunday is great. The Weight Watchers recipe cards from 1974 are either hysterical or frightening, and I'm not sure which sentiment actually wins out here!

As for Mr. Randy Constan, I think Clancy's totally right. More people like this and the world would be a lot more fun, a lot more interesting, and a lot more full of people willing to embrace the varied and contradictory aspects of contemporary life.

Totally apart from that, I'm taking a blogging hiatus until at least Friday: I've got family in town midweek, I'm feeling a bit under the weather, and I am busy as all get-out with school. All at the same time. Joy.

final thing: I'm very seriously considering changing this blog back to the original, focused research site it was intended to be when I started it up. If that were to be the case, I'd split this blog in two, and use one of my other (now-dormant) blogs for non-research stuff. Is it time to wake up a snoozing blog, or are things good the way they are here at the Memex, with the totally random research-personal-news jumble? Really, I want to know, so e-mail or weigh in down below. I'll take appropriate (in)action when I emerge from the other side of this week.

- posted by laurie @ 10/07/2003 04:18:00 PM (0) comments

For CA, today is the day of . . . well, it depends on how it turns out.

Today is the day Californians vote to recall Davis and potentially elect someone else to run the state. Please, just don't let it be Arnold! As a former Californian, I'm watching things with much interest. Is the three-ring-circus almost over?

I'm following the latest on Google News throughout the day.

And I'm just waiting to see what kind of legal challenges come post-election day. Any guesses?

Here are a few snippets from a London Free Press News article:

Schwarzenegger did not address the allegations during his march and rally at the state capitol, his only scheduled public appearance yesterday, but said Davis "has terminated opportunities and now it's time to terminate him.

"Please bring me the broom," the Republican told a rally crowd of nearly 5,000. "We are here to clean house."

Schwarzenegger's opponents and supporters alike held signs referring to the harassment allegations, from "No groper for governor" and "Say no to Predators" to "Gray groped government" and "Gray groped our assets."

Now, come on. Can a guy with lines like that, never mind the 'groping' allegations, really get elected in a state like California? One Arnold line above is about as old as they come (and the broom/housecleaning bit is also featured in O Brother, Where art Thou), while the other is a cheesy Terminator reference - and not even a good one.


- posted by laurie @ 10/07/2003 07:06:00 AM (0) comments

Oh, the things you find [out] when you clean

(written last night, but I forgot to post it - whoops!)
We're in the final stages of cleaning for the parental visit. Tonight, while tucking away a few more things in the den, I found a green composition book with yellowed pages. Scrawled on a handful of these pages were some journal entries, and a few poems. I couldn't resist pausing for a moment (though I have way more stuff to do right now than I want to think about). A brief check of the entries told me that they were all written at a very, very transitional point of my young life: Winter Vacation 1995/96. I was 19, was on the way to visit friends and family in CA, where I had lived six months previous to the trip, I had recently broken up with a boy I'd really liked, and I was in the process of transferring between community college and University of Maryland.

There's some bad love poetry in there, details of a plane trip from the deepest depths of hell (complete with rescheduled flight times and nightmarish layovers), and a few "we went here, these people were there, it was cool" kind of entries. Perhaps most interesting, though, is the entry describing the afternoon I got my fourth, and largest, tattoo: an angel on my left shoulder. There are little things in that entry I had totally forgotten: how important it was that the angel not be blond, the price negotiations that went on, the level of pain that comes only after sitting for three hours getting tattooed (and the rush that goes along with that, as well).

Wow, was I angsty. Simultaneously insecure and arrogant. You know, I think I was a pretty cool person at 19, even if I was totally confused (and utterly unaware of the direction my life would eventually take). At the same time, I am ever so glad to be over and done with that period of my life. I don't think there is anything that anyone could do to make me return to that time.

- posted by laurie @ 10/07/2003 06:50:00 AM (0) comments

Monday, October 06, 2003

India's first flash mob hits Mumbai

Here's an interesting tidbit from yesterday: India's first flash mob hits Mumbai.

The flash mob phenomenon seems very cool, wacky, performative. This one, in particular, sounds like it would have been a blast to participate in and totally baffling to watch. More of may fascination with network theory and distributed systems showing through, I suppose. I should learn more about flash mobs. So far, I've read only a few articles, and nothing too in-depth.

- posted by laurie @ 10/06/2003 07:14:00 PM (0) comments

U need us :) Clinic helps switch off text addicts [07oct03]

From the Herald Sun: U need us :) Clinic helps switch off text addicts [07oct03]: "Once viewed as a habit that at worst irritates teenagers' parents, the mobile phone phenomenon has been officially deemed a full-blown addiction, with dozens being treated for compulsive communicating."

An upscale clinic in London usually tapped for helping celebs with drug and alcohol problems is now treating people addicted to texting. One doctor quoted in the story says one patient at the clinic had developed a repetitive stress injury from too much texting.

Well, not something we have to be overly worried about in the US, from what I understand. Maybe IM addiction, but text not being as common in the US as elsewhere, maybe this is one excessive habit we can steer clear of.

- posted by laurie @ 10/06/2003 09:32:00 AM (0) comments

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Listen, It Isn't the Labels. It's the Law (

Jeff Howe, a contributing editor for Wired, offers a sound analysis of the p2p scene in his contribution to today's Washington Post Outlook section, Listen, It Isn't the Labels. It's the Law (

He's been covering the music industry throughout the p2p controversy, from Napster to the present. He was origninally with the filesharers, but has since had some opinion reversals. He points out that "The Labels" as such are almost without exception owned by large media conglomerates, and that they in turn include smaller labels, where the fat-cat industry exec figure just doesn't exist. The little guys at the little labels, he notes, bear more in common with the filesharing aficionados, and they also happen to be the ones losing their jobs right now.

No, the problem isn't with the labels, or with the "pirates," but with the laws themselves, especially the DMCA. While a lot of us out here in the blogosphere, in technology/internet-related fields (be they of the techie, the social scientific, or the humanistic variety) are aware of the problems with IP laws (and good for Howe, he explicitly singles out fair use), and may even be actively striving for change, lots of people out there simply aren't aware of the laws.

So, what do we do? Well, Howe offers a vision for the future, which he then turns around and critiques. I think I'm with him on both:

"What I'd like to see is a community of technology users -- and this includes just about all of us now -- who respect the laws that are on the books, and therefore restrain themselves from sharing copyrighted material, while agitating for the repeal of laws that threaten our protections and liberties. I'm hardly reassured by those two-thirds of American downloaders who -- according to a recent poll by Pew Internet and American Life Project -- don't know or care whether what they download is protected by copyright. If they can't be bothered to respect the perfectly reasonable provisions of copyright law, I'm hardly confident they can be relied on to fight against the unreasonable ones. "

The long and short of these types of hopes for agitation: copyright law is dry, confusing, and inconsistent. Filesharing is free and easy. The path of least resistance is not self-education on copyright followed by informed advocacy. The path of least resistance is to keep doin' what you're doin' until a compelling reason or a newer technology encourages change. Inertia.

- posted by laurie @ 10/05/2003 04:21:00 PM (0) comments

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Google Search Stats

One more wacky/weird thing, then I am unplugging for good for the night: check out the results on the Google Search for Laurie Johnson. As of this post, I'm the #1 Laurie Johnson. That's quite odd: there are a lot of us out there, and at least one (the British composer) has achieved a lot more than me in a lifetime. The dancer who owns also seems to be a pretty accomplished individual.

So much for anonymity.

- posted by laurie @ 10/04/2003 09:08:00 PM (0) comments

Referrer log weirdness, again

So, the day I choose to mess with my template file, I get like double or triple the traffic I normally do. This means 2-3 times as many people got to see my site in a sad, transitional, tryin'-to-figure-out-which-tag-isn't-closed period which, I'll candidly admit, got very ugly at a few points today.

So why would someone spend 41 minutes and 10 seconds looking at the mess that was my relatively ho-hum blog? I don't know. Can't figure it out. Not going to worry about it too awfully much.

- posted by laurie @ 10/04/2003 09:02:00 PM (0) comments

Changing Templates . . .

is always so much more trouble than it's worth. The template generator I found earlier is very cool, but the three-column layout has some apparent issues when used with blogger: the right column just won't, won't go where it belongs, preferring to settle at the bottom of the left column instead of up at the top in its own column, than you very much. The problem exists ONLY when blogger tags are inserted into the template, and, believe me, I've tried putting them in just about all concievable places in the template file.

This one'll do for now, anyway. I kind of like the red and hmm, mustard? Khaki? Whatever, the yellowy-brown color. And the picture up in the left corner, by the way, is indeed the Memex machine, or at least a drawing of what it may have looked like, had it ever been produced.

- posted by laurie @ 10/04/2003 08:46:00 PM (0) comments

P2P: Internet Speakeasies for the Digital Age -- Internet evolves underground in wake of music-swapping lawsuits: "The decentralized peer-to-peer technology that enables a computer user to share his or her music collection with strangers remains an unbottled genie – and is now likely to evolve so ever more traffic becomes invisible not just to the entertainment industry's copyright cops but also to repressive governments, inquisitive employers and snooping relatives. "

Encryption, security, and privacy (in addition to already-implemented decentralized network architectures) may be helping P2P users to traffic incopyrightedd materials completely underneath the radar of the RIAA, MPAA, etc.Accordingg to this article. The Prohibition comparisons are interesting, to be sure. The article does point out, however, that some of the people already prosecuted by the RIAA were using applications that were supposedly "more secure": didn't keep the RIAA from nailing them.

This isn't actually a new argument, at all. Experts have been saying that encryption and other security/anonymity features would be built into next-gen applications for some time. Some are of the opinion that there will simply be a constant attempt to one-up the security and privacy features in successive releases or new applications. Applications become more secure and anonymous, the RIAA/MPAA types find workarounds, applications become even more secure and anonymous, and so on.

What I actually find most interesting in this article is the social-network aspect of "underground" traders:

"These high-tech Cotton Clubs usually require users to be trusted or at least know someone inside. The files being traded, instead of out in the open, are encrypted – the 21st century equivalent of hiding bathtub gin under a fake floorboard."

Decentralized cells of trusted or familiar individuals connecting to one another. Classic underground network organization. Based upon what? The ideological position that media/software should be free? Oh, this just gets more and more fascinating!

- posted by laurie @ 10/04/2003 03:16:00 PM (0) comments

What's up with file downloads

In | news | Coleman RIAA hearing - 'an autumn sprinkle' I finally see an analysis of the p2p situation that actually acknowledges what a grand mess this whole situation is. The RIAA is targeting innocent people, as well as children and seniors, in their efforts to stomp out illegal downloads. Meanwhile, p2p developers aren't in a very good position, either. The article quotes a Reuters article:

"Some Capitol Hill veterans say that Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., who called the hearing, is now part of a growing group of lawmakers that sees no easy way to solve the conflict between the record industry and peer-to-peer services," it says.

" 'After studying the issue, I think Coleman now recognizes that the Kazaas are inherently conflicted,' says lobbyist Manus Cooney, formerly chief of staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee. 'So there's no real incentive for the recording industry to license them. At the same time, the Kazaas have no real incentive to develop the technology solution to identify illegal downloaders because they'd be liable'."

This situation seems to be going from bad to worse. No one comes out looking good. Meanwhile, according to these articles, there is congressional concern about the subpoena powers granted under the DMCA - a piece of legislation which congress will, apparently, not be revisiting.

Adding to the whole confused, difficult mess, filesharing activity is down, either because of the RIAA lawsuits or because of usual "seasonal" fluctuations; at the same time, polls show a vast majority of teens see nothing wrong with downloading files (see this previous post).

I've been wondering for the last several months exactly how this situation would be resolved. It now appears that it simply might not be, at all. At least in the foreseeable future. At the heart of it all, perhaps this is a problem of stasis: there is no common starting point, no point of stasis from which all involved parties can even begin to converse with one another. Congress, the RIAA, Kazaa and other p2p app people, and United States filesharers - let's not even get into the international dimensions involved in this question. Definitional issues, evaluative issues certainly can't be agreed upon, and without those, proposing potential solutions is a fruitless waste of time.

Hmm, stasis-theory analysis of the current p2p scene? Might be an interesting topic to pursue further.

- posted by laurie @ 10/04/2003 02:51:00 PM (0) comments

Friday, October 03, 2003

Cool template, no hassle

Firdamatic: the Design Tool for the Uninspired Webloggers rocks. Check it out! Heh, maybe I won't have to spend a whole lot of time updating my template after all. No need to reinvent the wheel, now, is there?

A cool tool from Firda Beka, also of Book of Styles (currently undergoing renovation :) ), and whose Weblog Wannabe I peruse on occasion.

- posted by laurie @ 10/03/2003 03:08:00 PM (0) comments

TrackBack: Where Blogs Learn Their Places

A interesting article in this week's edition of Syllabus takes on TrackBack, discussing the way it works, what it accomplishes, and what potential academic uses TrackBack may have. Pretty good stuff. Here's a quote fromTrackBack: Where Blogs Learn Their Places: Syllabus: "Tools like TrackBack extend the blogs by providing markers between sites that can facilitate the creation of community. Retaining community in the electronic fog is a pretty good goal."

- posted by laurie @ 10/03/2003 02:52:00 PM (0) comments

the friday five for October 3

the friday five:

1. What vehicle do you drive?
I have a silver hatchback 1999 Hyundai Accent named Petunia. A former coworker helped me name the car by insisting that the car looks like a pig - so I named her after Porky Pig's girlfriend.

2. How long have you had it?
I got the car brand-spankin' new on October 4, 1999. End of the model-year sale. Not one of the most intelligent choices I've ever made, given that I was in my last year as an undergraduate and knew that I was headed to grad school for the entire loan repayment period, but oh, well.

3. What is the coolest feature on your vehicle?
It's a very basic car - manual transmission with, like, no added goodies. I'd have to say its best features are its fuel efficiency and its dependability. Oh, and having a hatchback is sometimes quite handy.

4. What is the most annoying thing about your vehicle?
It's teeeeeeeny. While the car's name may be Petunia, it's more frequently referred to as the "clown car." Seeing Eric trying to fold all of his 6'4" self into the car is generally amusing.

5. If money were no object, what vehicle would you be driving right now?
If money were absolutely no object, I'd trade in the Accent for two vehicles: a motorcycle (probably a Harley), and either an electric or (more likely) a gas/electric hybrid like the Toyota Prius, the Honda Insight, or the Honda Civic Hybrid.

- posted by laurie @ 10/03/2003 02:22:00 PM (0) comments

Birthday Wishes . . .

(cue the music . . . )

Happy birthday to you . . . happy birthday to you! Happy birthday, dear Clancy . . . happy birthday to you!

Have a great day!

- posted by laurie @ 10/03/2003 01:33:00 PM (0) comments

Censorship, Blogs and the Classroom

Kaye Trammell has an interesting post about blogs and censorship in the classroom.

She argues that there is always censorship in the classroom, but that blogs highlight this censorship. Here's a quote:

"Yet, with blogs instructors are forced to explain what is appropriate & what is not. Therefore, for the first time in decades, professors who use Internet-based discussion tools must emphasize the code of professionalism that has long been upheld in traditional classroom."

This is a provocative post, to be sure. I take issue with it for a few reasons, though: I don't think that enforcement of norms or standards within the classroom constitutes censorship: understanding the conventions of academic, professional, and public discourse is an important part of education. Secondly, these issues are not new, and I think "for the first time in decades" is a bit of a stretch: a decade ago, computer-mediated communication was an entirely different, and less pervasive, beast than today. Learning the conventions and standards of accetability for e-mail, chat, web pages (personal, academic, professional), and so on was, and to some extent still is, a challenging and ongoing project. The code of professionalism was strained by these other communications tools, and blogs are straining it again. Certainly the blog brings up questions of public vs. private, professional vs. personal, etc. but I'm just not convinced that censorship is at the center of this discussion.

- posted by laurie @ 10/03/2003 01:29:00 PM (0) comments

New Couch

How happy am I? It's here, the new couch! Yay! It's bigger than I thought: our living room was a teensy bit overcrowded before, and now, well, the rocking chair that used to sit beside the futon will have to be moved into a different room. There just isn't room for it without blocking the walkway between the kitchen and the living room (you can kinda see what I'm talking about in the second picture).

Thankfully the sage color does blend better than I thought with our existing furniture. The couch is so comfy! Hopefully the mattress is as comfortable as the couch. We'll find out about this on Tuesday night, though: soon enough!

- posted by laurie @ 10/03/2003 01:02:00 PM (0) comments

Thursday, October 02, 2003

"As easy as falling off a blog"

Andy Goldberg of the Independent is assigned to explore the blogosphere and report his findings, which can be found in this article. Pretty good overview of blogworld and the software that makes it possible, along with some of the history of blogging. At the end of the assignment, Goldberg decides to abandon his blogspot site in favor of less time at a keyboard and more personal privacy. Too bad, but alsong the way he certainly collects good info and presents it in a pleasantly concise manner. Good newbie reading.

- posted by laurie @ 10/02/2003 08:19:00 AM (0) comments

Professor's university `blog' attracts controversy

Blogging and academic freedom gets some treatment in this article. The issue is more or less the same one encountered by folks (especially staff and faculty) who keep personal pages in general on university servers - freedom of speech can run up against university policies in interesting ways. The end result in this case: the homophobe professor blogger gets to keep his blog on the univeristy server because he's not violated policies or laws. As the article points out, however, a number of people are still hurt that the statements were made in the first place.

It's an interesting scenario, for sure, but does anyone besides me think this article is lacking? It certainly reads like an outside perspective on blogging. Maybe it's the tone?

- posted by laurie @ 10/02/2003 08:02:00 AM (0) comments

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

New Scientist

Following up on yesterday's post, it appears that New Scientist also fearsInnocent File Sharers Could Appear Guilty. The article cites the same anonymouns pdf file posted on an Australian web site, and claims that, after examination by New Scientist experts, the document is indeed credile. This story goes a bit more into the technicalities of the Gnutella network. P2P network weaknesses and poor quality evidence being used by the RIAA are, again, counted as the major problems with industry lawsuits against alleged infringers.

- posted by laurie @ 10/01/2003 10:18:00 AM (0) comments