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Tag: Mark Poster


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Women and Web

// Posted by on 04/21/2014 (9:09 PM)

Ever since we read Poster, I’ve been chomping at the bit to talk about women and the internet.  ”The world has turned upside down, with many of our assumptions about time and space, body and mind, subject and object, gender,Read more

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Ever since we read Poster, I’ve been chomping at the bit to talk about women and the internet.  ”The world has turned upside down, with many of our assumptions about time and space, body and mind, subject and object, gender, race, and class” (51).  Yes, I used that quote in an earlier blog post.  No, I don’t feel bad using it again.  Because when I read that quote, and, I hope, when some of you read that quote, I asked myself if Mark Poster and I could possibly be talking about the same internet.  Because I look at the internet, and I see a place that can make it pretty difficult to be a woman, and I think Quinn Norton and Amanda Hess’s articles can back that up, though they look at the issue entirely differently.

Phase 1 of the project, the idea of which I expect to continue into Phase 2, has largely been case study driven.  Some posts are longer, exploring questions of feminist theory or articles from class, and tying them into things I personally have come across on the internet.  Some are short, almost serving like a pinboard for snapshots of the larger picture.

The theoretical framework of my project is largely based in feminist theory — questions about rape culture and patriarchy — and especially how these things can become magnified in a simultaneously hyperconnected and yet more anonymous medium.  However, underlying this whole discussion is a reliance on Turner’s work in Counterculture to Cyberculture, because, like he rejects idea that the New Communalist communes really reflected a change in gender roles or cultural ideals, so it seems that the digital culture has not provided the escape from those things either.

Phase 2 aims to look more at solutions than Phase 1′s case studies do — we know there are problems with the way women on some sites are treated some times, but are there safe spaces on the internet?  Are there moves being made to open the community up?  There are women in Anonymous and on 4chan and Reddit: how do they navigate the system, and can we learn something from that?

Phase 2 will also look at intersectionality, because as Flavia Dzodan so eloquently put it: “My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit.”  It’s all well and fine to talk about women on the internet, but without talking about how all those other dimensions Poster mentions at the end of his quote change the way women experience online communities, it will be wholly incomplete.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it [I don't actually know if it's optional, you'd have to ask the professor about that one], is to answer the following questions either in the comments or in an email (rachel.hall@richmond.edu), if you’re uncomfortable posting them in public.

  1. When you get on the internet, what are the first five things you do or sites you go to?
  2. On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being incredibly unsafe/uncomfortable and 10 being very safe/comfortable), how do you feel on those sites?
  3. Have you ever been on a website that made you feel unsafe or uncomfortable?  What content drove that reaction, if so?
  4. Do you regularly go on Reddit, 4chan, or online forums?

Bonus round — Not at the same level as the previous questions [so don't feel obligated], but more for funzies, because they’re more exploratory/interactive.

  1. Go to Reddit.com and click through the front page or any of the sub-reddits or threads.  What’s the first thing you see that makes you uncomfortable?  If your answer to this is “nothing,” congratulations, you are now a Redditor.
  2. Check out my project blog, womenandweb.wordpress.com!

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A World Without Internet

// Posted by on 02/10/2014 (9:06 PM)

After reading Mark Poster’s Information Please and watching Frontline’s “Secret State of North Korea” I found myself trying to examine the ways in which the internet has shaped the world as we know it, and what I would do if… Read more

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After reading Mark Poster’s Information Please and watching Frontline’s “Secret State of North Korea” I found myself trying to examine the ways in which the internet has shaped the world as we know it, and what I would do if there was no internet at all. Certain people, in countries like North Korea, only see the information that the government wants them to see. I recently read an article in which the author referred to these countries as “black holes” of the Internet, in which the people have no access to what we now know is one of the strongest tools for social and political change.

We’ve talked a lot in class this week about revolts inspired by social media and how easy it is to begin these riots via Twitter, BBM, Facebook, etc. Now it has become clear that there is a disturbingly stark contrast between our power as citizens and people who live in places like North Korea. In his book Information Please, Poster states that “the speed, the rhetorical traits, and the connectivity of the Net can be used to organize social movements…the Net affords the possibility of new forms of political mobilization” (Poster, 80). Our ability to share information and communicate so quickly with one another has given us tremendous power to change conditions of society that we disagree with, even for those of us who think we have no real political power other than voting in elections. Seeing the Frontline video about North Korea was troubling because it shows us what we take for granted and gives us insight into how different our lives might be without internet access (which allows us to see information about almost anything we desire). The people of North Korea are desperate for exposure to other cultures and even simple information about their own country and its ruler.

Many of us complain that social media and the internet are lessening our social skills or creating a reliance on technology. Seeing one alternative, though, puts into perspective how lucky we are to live in the US, a place where we can spread information freely about whatever we choose. Although some parts of the internet are regulated, we can certainly begin to appreciate the freedom and ease with which we gain access to information and communicate with each other. In seeing the conditions in North Korea, it is clear  how horrible it would be if the rest of the world was evolving and getting access to the internet and social media while we were left behind. Looking at the map of the “black holes” of the internet, I thought of how strange it would be to live in one of those places. While I do agree that many of us rely on technology too much, I appreciate it for what it is: a tool to spread information without which I would be lost.



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It’s Hard Being a Girl on the Internet

// Posted by on 02/09/2014 (10:51 AM)

One thing that really struck me about Mark Poster’s Information Please was a quote from his chapter on the “Information Empire.”  In it, he argued that

The world has turned upside down, with many of our assumptions about time and space,

Read more

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One thing that really struck me about Mark Poster’s Information Please was a quote from his chapter on the “Information Empire.”  In it, he argued that

The world has turned upside down, with many of our assumptions about time and space, body and mind, subject and object, gender, race, and class (51).

This idea seemed to hold up to the ideas that the New Communalists had about many of their communes: that these structures could exist outside of current cultural norms and create a safe and welcome space.  But, like Turner noted that many of these communes returned to existing social hierarchies and gender roles, I have to wonder if Poster might be falsely over-idealizing the neutralizing power of information technologies.

Particularly, I wonder if networked computing has done all that much in terms of subverting our ideas about gender.  Certainly, it provides a space to bring about discussions of gender, but the internet is rampant with a “Tits or GTFO” mentality when it comes to women in what is largely considered a male’s playground.

Digital America actually just ran a piece about women in gaming, and I can attest to the fact that YouTube is not particularly welcoming to female content creators outside of certain realms (beauty and lifestyle videos).  Emily, the host of the Brain Scoop on YouTube, actually made a video about the lack of women with science and math based YouTube channels, and about how she is treated as a female content creator.  You can watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRNt7ZLY0Kc

So what do you all think?  In particular, I’d be interested to hear Kevin’s point of view, since he’s the only non-female in our class.  Is it really that hard being a girl on the internet?  Or is Poster more right than I’m giving him credit for?


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Is Identity Changing?

// Posted by on 02/18/2013 (12:26 AM)

Can ones identity truly be stolen? It seems comical to say that someone can steal your identity, no one can take your features, your personality, your network of friends and family away from you. Someone  can however steal information about you  that is online,… Read more

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Can ones identity truly be stolen? It seems comical to say that someone can steal your identity, no one can take your features, your personality, your network of friends and family away from you. Someone  can however steal information about you  that is online, such as pictures, government documents, credit card info, and more.  Mark Poster brings up an interesting point in his book “Information Please” when he states, “Since the crime of identity theft is quite real, we need to account for a change in the nature of its identity,  its exteriorization and materialization, its becoming vulnerable to theft, its emergence as insecure-within the ideology of individualism” The increasing rates of identity theft are proof that the nature of an online identity is changing.  Where no one can steal away your identity as represented in relationships, actions, and personality.  Your online identity that is made out of documents, credit card info, and pictures is subject to theft from online criminals and hackers.

Identity theft is a growing issue in the modern world. As the internet expands so does the opportunity for criminals to access others information and use it to their advantage. An article published by ABC speaks of rising identity theft rates and the difficulty of stopping them. “The problem is there’s way too much information about us floating around out there,” says Adam Levin, CEO of the security firm Identity Theft 9-1-1.” The amount of information about a person continuously  accumulates as they use the internet more and more. As the internet expands and advances as does the information that can be stolen. So when companies like twitter, Facebook, youtube, and Skype grow so does the information that users supply in the process.  The rising rates of cyber crime are due to businesses and government agencies not being able to monitor such mass amounts of data in time to stop cyber crimes from happening.

It is a very interesting idea that someones identity can actually be stolen. It opens up new meanings behind the world identity that can only exist in cyber space. This change in identity is more evidence of the internets increasingly dominant in the role of our daily lives. It is an interesting topic that leaves many questions dealing with an increasingly digital age that has deep roots in our non digital culture and identities. While answers to those questions may be hard to achieve, there are somethings that are true. One truth is that as the internet continues to expand so will the need for increased security in your digital life. Agencies such as the IRS will be hard pressed to stop the criminals in an infinitely big internet world, this leaves the big question whether they can evolve to deal with issues or let cybercrime rates expand with the internet?


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The Evolution of the Public Sphere

// Posted by on 02/17/2012 (2:49 AM)

The public sphere is the community in a society where individuals can come together to freely discuss and identify societal problems, and through that discussion influence political action.(Compliments of Wikipedia) This sphere extends back to the beginnings of ancient Greece… Read more

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The public sphere is the community in a society where individuals can come together to freely discuss and identify societal problems, and through that discussion influence political action.(Compliments of Wikipedia) This sphere extends back to the beginnings of ancient Greece in 8th century BC, it was called the agora, Greek for ‘gathering place’. The agora was the center of town and is where the culture of the city existed. Displays of arts, athleticism, spiritual activities and politics were all taking place here. However, in the political realm only free-born male land-owners were allowed to participate. As the agora formed into a marketplace rather than a place solely for free men, others were certainly apt to hear the discussions and rulings of the king or council but they could do nothing about it.

The town hall is the place in which the governing of a city takes place. These buildings often house a more formal sphere of elected officials but it is still a gathering place for the community equipped with libraries and space for entertainment. In colonial America this was the center of democracy. Once more, land-owning, white men came together to discuss and ideally solve the political problems of their community.

-Coffee shops and taverns in cities and towns of all time periods have been a place to gather and discuss politics and town issues. Before technology was around this was the only way to gather information outside of one’s personal bubble, if you will. Travelers could be key parts of this by bringing in news from other places.

 

Even something as cliche as a barbershop has been a source of political information and influence. And for most of history it was the free, rich, white men with the ability to inform himself and others as well as the ability to take action if they saw fit. However, we have seen throughout the 20th century the expansion of the political sphere to include the apparent spheres of all races, religions, and genders. And here we are, with a growing sphere of voices and with it, a new and constantly adapting medium with which to influence politics, the internet.

The internet is the agora of today’s political influences, or influencers I should say. It started with the counterculture movement, we saw the first blog space in the Well, throw in a decade of hacker innovation, and some dorm room ideas that spawn into things like facebook and you get the feedback systems of today that can organize things like the Arab spring, some truly volatile riots, or an occupy wall street movement. It can completely revamp the way political polls are taken, instead of cold calling and letters through good ole’ snail mail, we have access to numerous surveys online that take in the same information in virtually no time at all!

 

 

In his book Information Please author Mark Poster argues that this age’s public sphere really isn’t like the public sphere’s of old because of the personalities one creates online in what Poster calls the digital public sphere. “My argument is not that the digital public sphere destabilizes the full presence of face-to-face meetings but that it constructs the subject though the specificity of its medium in a way different from oral or written or broadcast models of self constitution…The digital self that participates in the Internet public spheres is different from the individual speaking in the agora or the coffee shop, as well as from the representative of individuals speaking in democratic institutions like parliaments.”(41)

In essence, Poster is saying that the person we create on the net is different from who we are in reality but, the digital public sphere still has the capability to influence political actions on the part of our representatives. Case and point being the outcry against PIPA and SOPA only weeks ago. Ultimately, the public sphere has been a highly influential space for those who were allowed to participate and eventually for those who chose to participate in it. The digital public sphere allows this generation to take that influence to an entirely new level that I don’t think we fully understand. It is very easy to express our opinions and to share them on a large scale with our friends and with our representatives. How far we take that ability I think will be revealed in the coming presidential election as we weed out the Republican candidates and take stock of how influential the internet is at publicizing where our candidates stand and why we should vote for them.


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Anonymous

// Posted by on 02/13/2012 (8:05 PM)

For class last week, we read the first few chapters of Mark Poster’s book, Information Please. As he began, he wrote about how in online networks, the authors of information are anonymous. While he used to be able… Read more

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For class last week, we read the first few chapters of Mark Poster’s book, Information Please. As he began, he wrote about how in online networks, the authors of information are anonymous. While he used to be able to know who was writing information; however, this is no longer the case with information on digital networks. As I was reading this, I began to think about a recent experience of mine.

A few weeks prior, as a part of one of my on campus jobs, I was charged with creating a Wiki page for the Office of the Chaplaincy. I had used Wikipedia hundreds of times to investigate a wide variety of topics, but had never created a page, or even edited one for that matter, so this was a new adventure.

As I began on this project, my boss told me that I was welcome to use the information on the Chaplaincy’s website; however, while copying this information was acceptable for my boss, it was not for the Wiki community. Before I knew it, someone known in that community as WildCowboy had flagged my post for violating Wikipedia’s copyright rules. As I continued to work on this issue, and eventually fixed it, I encountered a number of other characters within the Wikipedia community who amended parts of this page.

This time lapse video displays where edits of Wikipedia pages were made over an eight year span.

Through this experience, I learned much more about the community on Wikipedia and how it works, but I also learned more about what Poster was writing. Although you can search back through the history and see who made specific changes to any Wiki page, you cannot know their real identity. So while I know that WildCowboy has since made minor edits on my pages, I have no clue about his identity. This experience has taught me much about the digital community and how anonymous authors truly are.

Is the anonymity of authorship on the Internet a benefit or a liability? If it is a benefit, then should authors of information in non-digital realms be anonymous too or only those on the Internet? If it is a liability, can we fix it and require people to input their identity and hold them accountable?


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The Internet’s Role in Developing Countries

// Posted by on 02/11/2012 (12:14 PM)

One of Mark Poster’s arguments in Information Please is that the net provides a forum for political resistance and promotes growth of the individual. In some aspects he goes onto say that this happened by accident:

“The culture… Read more

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One of Mark Poster’s arguments in Information Please is that the net provides a forum for political resistance and promotes growth of the individual. In some aspects he goes onto say that this happened by accident:

“The culture of computer programming developed consequently with no attention at all to such basic questions as who is authorized to speak, when, to whom and what may be said on these occasions” (51)

He continues on to say that while this aspect of the internet leads to the serendipitous evolution of human communication and personal liberties it has also created a tool for capitalism. Several people have found a way to harness this as a tool to make money and profit off of others use of the internet. This has adds a new dimension to the power of empires and their imperialistic tendencies, because now we can work in markets in a digital space.

What is most unusual about this new digital market is that anyone can hypothetically join into it. Poster emphasizes throughout his book that “to speak on the Internet there are no age limits, no gender limits, and no religious , ethnic or national requirements” (42). In this new world, where power is becoming decentralized and there is a new “planetary democracy” (47) how does it pan out that certain empires continue to dominate this new digital space? Sure we can all blog about our feelings and share videos for fun, but only a select few in the online world are profiting from the various business opportunities available.

I began to think about how these principles applied to developing nations and poor, rural areas without connections to this new digital, world. First I will say that I was naive in assuming that third, world countries were isolated from these opportunities. I was taken aback after I found two different blogs in which travelers discussed how widespread internet access is in these developing areas. One of the blogs I read even claimed that in terms of cell phone access, mobile providers are more prevalent in these countries than we believe. He contends that Canada has less access to mobile servers than Rwanda. Then I began to ask myself the level of access to computers and phones. If there is such a high level of wifi access in these countries, do they have computers and phones to physically log-on to this world?

I have always known about Kiva; however, I realized that this organization is an excellent example of how these developing nations are using the internet to access business opportunities online. According to the website there are over a 1, ooo,ooo Kiva users and over $284,000,000 dollars that have been lent to help individuals in poorer nations start businesses and share their commodities through the web.

I realize that there are a lot of people who have still not have been able to tap into these types of opportunities, but I think that this does provide proof that Poster’s claims are true to a certain extent. The internet is fast, digital way for people to communicate and share and it is not just for the first world nations. The internet truly is opening a planetary democracy. While it is in its beginnings we should look more into these issues to see that the access is evenly spread to everyone. I have seen several commercials for the project for “One Laptop per Child” which provide computers to children in developing nations to promote education. This is one solution that is helping to provide access and diminish the digital gap.

After doing a brief search about this topic online I realized that there are various opinions on this matter. Some people contend that there is a high level of access in these developing nations, while others argue that we are advancing to fast for them to keep up with us. Is the internet helping these nations meet us or is it helping us to outcompete them at an even faster rate? Do Poster’s theories on planetary democracy translate to these developing areas or are they only applicable to the empires of yesterday?

 


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