August 24, 2005

Go Debian Women

Category: Politics,Tech — @ 3:21 pm

I have been following Debian for years. For most of them, female presence has been uncomfortably sparse. But thanks to a recent effort ,led by some great ladies, to bring awareness to the existence of women and to encourage more to apply, there indeed has been an upsurge of developers and developers to be. Shows that some organization and visibility can go a far ways.

August 19, 2005

Really done

Category: Anthropology,Personal,Research — @ 6:05 pm

Today I got this email:

Dear Ms. Coleman,

We have received final copies of your dissertation entitled The Social Construction of Freedom in Free and Open Source Software: Hackers, Ethics, and the Liberal Tradition which you are submitting to fulfill the requirements for the Ph.D. in the area of Anthropology.

Our staff has reviewed your dissertation and the revisions you recently submitted. Your dissertation is now complete. Congratulations on completing the University-wide formatting requirements!

Phew. Even though I defended a couple months ago, this means I will graduate in less than a week. The dissertation formatting brought me great distress, to say the least. For example, earlier in the week since I had not heard from the office, and I knew that graduation was looming, my fears were playing out, as they usually do, in my dreams. This week’s winner was one in which I had razor sharp wooden spikes in my feet, about 15 in each one, that had to be pulled by a doctor with no anaesthesia. It was pleasant and I knew it was one grotesque metaphor of what it would feel like if I had not made the deadline for summer graduation because of some formatting mishap.

So, today I also wrote this email to the Debian project, giving them a little background on the nature of dissertations and pointing them to my chapter on ethical enculturation on Debian.

August 16, 2005

On Farting: Bodily Wind in the Middle Ages

Category: Books/Articles — @ 9:33 am

On Farting
Bodily Wind in the Middle Ages

By Valerie Allen and John Thompson
Due/Published September 2005, 256 pages, cloth
ISBN 0312234937
The study of the fart in medieval culture participates in the widespread and
productive contemporary study of the body, its practices and its
hermeneutics. As a consequence of the cultural materialist interest in the
quotidian, recent criticism has moved away from an abstracted conception of
selfhood toward an appreciation of how the concrete daily regimens of bodily
“habitus, generally taken for granted, shape the horizon of our cultural and
individual consciousness. The fart, in its parodying of language and its
logic of affinity, leads us ultimately to the problem of hermeneutics, of
the art of interpretation itself. Although much of the medieval
preoccupation with flatulence originates from the aesthetic of comic
inversion, whereby farts “sing” or parody human language or are mistaken for
departed souls, it also reflects a more serious interest in bodily health. A
multifarious typology of the fart will permit a better understanding of the
phenomenon’s protean wealth of meaning.

August 10, 2005

I’m 40ish male, same as above with one mellow cat and one fun boat out front.

Category: Humor — @ 7:58 pm

I am in the “tri-state” area looking for a new place to live. I have been looking at ads, lots of them but I tell you, nothing has come as close to this ad in terms of… well I don’t know how to classify this odd-ball of an ad but I can say that just laughed my pants off for at least 10 minutes.

August 6, 2005

What the Hack, report 1

Category: Anthropology,Personal,Travel — @ 7:54 am

Even if you tried, it is difficult to spend much time alone at a hacker conference/festival (or any such similar event). The whole point is to immerse yourself fully in the string of events and happenings, and more so, with others—friends who you finally see after much too long time apart and with those friends who have just recently entered you life.

So when you finally leave, as I just have, things feel strangely silent, even on a train brimming with conversation.

My trip began with a flight to Amsterdam and an immediate train ride to Eindohoven where I met up with two of my steadfast IRC buddies, one of them who now lives in the South of .nl, the other who has been traveling through Europe for over a month.

After an urgently-needed night of sleep and a trip to the market and store (where I made the very wise choice of buying a waterproof rain jacket given the torrential rain that became part of the environmental woodwork ), we ignored the dark clouds, and made our way via train to Boxtel, the town adjacent to the festival grounds where the volunteer-run What the Hack crew had built, over the course of week, an infrastructure of tents, programs, radio station, party areas, bathrooms, hot showers, av equipment, and naturally, a sturdy and fast net connection, so that on top of this basic infrastructure, human presence could bring the campground to life. Already palpable was the excited buzz among the 200 + folks there with pitched tents, enjoying the beer, and relative calm that was soon to end. The CCC folks had erected a dispersed but fantastic altar of lights, the glow and twinkle of the blue, red, and white, a condensed display of the energy building up.

I was quite relieved that Mako had been guaranteed a speakers tent, which was less tent and more semi-permanent bungalow with wooden floor, beds, table, chairs, and thick white canvas forming a protective layer against the storms that came to visit, quite dramatically and perhaps too frequently, over the course of the event. I had lugged a tent with me only to discover missing poles, which in the end was a blessing. I would have been soaked staying if I had relied on it.

The first night there time started to accelerate. Arriving at 4 pm, the next thing I knew, it was 4 am and I was finally getting to bed, physically cold but emotionally glowing.

After one day of relative dryness, Wed morning greeted the day with a slow steady rain that was an ideal excuse to stay in bed, late, and get some needed sleep after a long night. As every hour passed, the trickle of folks arriving increased and soon there was a torrent of bodies. Tents accompanied by a healthy dose of electronics equipment were erected in what seemed to be like no time. There were some elaborate structures like semi-transparent buckie balls, rainbow tents, rugged army tent-barracks, right along the standard 2-4 person tents.

I spent most of Wed doing the final preparations for my talk. I had decided, a bit last minute, to enlarge the scope of my talk to include a summary of a report that included one of my contributions. I guess I have been so used to the paltry 20 minute academic conference talk that when I realized that I had 50 minutes, I knew that I could cover a few more topics. I spent most of the day re-reading the report, taking some notes, and finally making my aesthetically boring slides that consist of black text on a white background. I spent a good 5 hours in the cafeteria area, mostly by myself except when a few friends came to visit, a small volunteer effort putting WTF stickers on condoms, and finally taking a break when my good friend Niels finally showed up. With slides under my belt, and at 2:30 am, it was ostensibly tent time. The problem is that when there are more than 2 people sleeping in very close proximity to each other, there is a very good chance that getting to sleep will not be priority number one. And indeed, the main topic of conversation that night, happened to be a little odd, though it generated over 2 hours of intense, perhaps too descriptive, conversation: the merits and visceral consequences of various toilet designs (I will leave it at that).

Thursday, the first official day of the WTH, opened with a morning keynote with Hack-Tics/HFH Rop and 2600′s Goldstein, who used the hour to reflect on cons-past as well as the current political state of US/EU.

Soon after, or really right after their talk was mine. There were a handful more folks than expected (being the first talk after an hour long keynote and during lunch time) and of course my computer did not work with the A/V equipment (thankfully Mako was around to lend me his computer). I started off feeling more nervous than I should because I usually settle into my comfort zone. If you are interested in the topic, instead of seeing me talk, I recommend the report…

The best thing about WTH talks is that all they are taped within within 1.5 days are put online. There was an amazing media, audio group, Rehash who were taping the event and being really smart about how to proceed one’s the tapes arrived at their headquarters: encode immediately and put online…. (TBC)

What the Hack Photos

Category: Personal,Travel — @ 7:37 am


What the Hack Photos

August 5, 2005

Funny and not so funny

Category: Humor,Not Wholesome!!!,Wholesome — @ 8:00 am

Funny, one may say hilarious and not so funny, one may say downright disturbing

August 4, 2005

Stuff to watch and read

Category: Politics,Research,Tech — @ 7:19 am

So it looks like I SUMBITTED instead of SUBMITTED a dissertation. Darn, I better change that today and I will make sure that I update it online.

So I missed a number of talks and events the last day from WTH. But one of the truly astounding elements of this con is that they basically but everything online,–videos, slides, commentary–within a day or two.

There was a nice-looking talk on the History of Unix and a more controversial discussion on the place of “free speech ideology” among hackers, organized by Toni Prug. Given that my dissertation covers the rise of expressive rights among hackers, I am especially interested in this discusison. I will refrain from commenting until I see the video (available at the link above).

August 3, 2005

Back and on the frikken couch

Category: Anthropology,Research,Wholesome — @ 4:00 pm

I am pretty exhausted. Immediately following my return from .nl, I managed to stay up through the “lag” and the next day starting at 7 a.m., I continued with my month long formatting sprint and today I delivered the goods. I had some nightmarish moments. For example, yesterday I discovered that nearly every last footnote subscript was formatted with some quacked-out “www-221111” format, making them too small. When I discovered this, my heart stopped but, I along with some help, converted them to some normal style and all is good again.

Today, when I printed my dissertation on the uber-expensive, U of C watermarked, paper, the ink dared to flaked off. And I was printing it on the best of our departments’ printers. We switched printers and alas, the printing resumed as normal. I am so relieved this is almost over. I say almost because I will hear back in one week if they accept or if I need to tweak something (or turn in a whole other copy, which at 2 volumes and 2 copies, won’t be pleasant).

Yesterday I spent a good chunk of my day writing the acknowledgments. I am actually quite fond of these “outpouring of thanks” and am known to read them before anything else with every single book I have. I just love to see the different ways in which people pay their gratitude and respect to others. It is also the only section we academics can openly admit to our deep boundedness to others in the production of knowledge. I am afraid I did not thank everyone I wanted to and some of my descriptions are actually a little terse. There is a lot more I could have said but it will have to wait for another time or in person. And really thanks to everyone who helped me get through this.

You can read the first 30 pages of the dissertation which includes title, copyright notice, table of contents, figures, acknowledgments, abstract, and prologue. Soon I will have a sample chapter up and for those who want the whole document, email me. I will post the whole thing soon but actually want to change the formatting. For example, I could not, for the life of me, get quoted source code to fit within the margins with courier font 10, which was the smallest size they would accet. But I will change the margins for the online version and have courier for all the technical material.

I learned some interesting information through this whole formatting ordeal. For example, you can embargo dissertation at UMI for up to two years. Perhaps this is because you think that your dissertation is part of the axis of evil, or just too sucky for public view, or perhaps you don’t want others to take your ideas?? I am not sure but I have placed no embargo although I may not include one section of my dissertation online when I post it. It is just too ranty and feels a bit like a conversation with self.

But for now, all I can do is melt on the couch, relieved this last sprint is ovah!

August 1, 2005

Back from what the hack

Category: Wholesome — @ 8:59 am

I made it back from What the Hack but it will be a few days before I will post anything here. I have some largish document due in 2.5 days that is taking all my attention, forcing me to ignore jetlag that would normally leave me lounging at the lake during the day and passing out at 8 PM.

But here is one of my favorite pictures taken by Colin Daniels from South Africa who has a real nice collection of photos from the con.