When I was on the job market last year, by far the toughest hurdle was convincing interviewing eyes and ears that my hacker and survivor project were connected in some fundamental ways. I think in the end, I was successful at times but it was difficult for some folks to see the connection in part because most professors knew little or zilch about survivor politics so I had to lay that ground work and then toss out the connections, which included free speech, the politics of freedom and self-determination, attacks on corporate/closed science. Now with the Zyprexa scandal and the support coming from Free Culture, these two worlds have indeed moved even closer together than before. (Thanks Jonah for pointing out).
I am about 2/3 over with my haul from Edmonton to San Juan, PR (laying over in the beautiful JFK) and am too tired to blog anything much of substance but do check out Furious Season’s impassioned and excellent commentary on the recent NYTimes article (and this one )that reveal how Eli Lily knowingly downplayed the risks of Zyprexa. And if you read the second article, you will find out what Viva Zyprexa means.
Here is Eli Lily’s press release, which I have included on the next page as these things tend to vanish…
So one of the darling drugs for bipolar disorder (and I believe schizophrenia) has been Zyprexa.. Marked by the pharmaceutical company as a wonder drug, for being safe and effective, it has just come out that Eli Lilly, maker of the drug, hid and downlplayed the severity of side-effects.
I am frantically getting ready to go to PR, so that is I can say but more later…
So I have had the same credit card for many many many years. About 2 years ago I realized that I was collecting points with it and that I would be able to redeem them via the Thank You Network. So I ordered various things for xmas gifts and when I went to my site for an odd visit, found out that none had been delivered because, well they don’t have them.
While being out of stock is somewhat understandable, what is not is that they did not even send an email. Nor is the information updated on the site. I have already complained but I want to add my own testimonial to their fake testimonial site:
“Thank you for such unprompt service and unpersonalized attention to my Your Wish Fulfilled order. A customer service representative never contacted me, letting me know they had NOT located my products, and I was not happy to see their web site does not even reflect this! Thanks again for such a unwonderful first experience redeeming my points. I can’t wait to change my credit card”
Formally excluding anyone from the larger community prompts questions of: is this fair?, is this discriminatory?, shouldn’t we ensure the common space is accessible rather than spinning off groups?
Of course, much of liberal theory since it hones in on “formal” dimensions of equality, does not do so well with accounting for or accomodating those forms of biases and exlcusions that are either informal (i.e. cultural) or often structural (i.e. economic).
So I am back to le study of le hackers, trying to write a super-secret paper that I will present in January and then of course I am back with and to my beloved book (which for now has the following title: “Freedom’s Pleasures: Hacker Practice And The Limits of Liberalism” but I am sure it will morph, endlessly).
As part of my transition I just finished re-reading one of my favorite articles on the history of Usenet: If I want it, itís OK: Usenet and the (outer) limits of free speech by B. Pfaffenberger (available here for download.
When I released one of my dissertation chapters where I addressed the phenomenon of the Cabal, Bryan was nice enough to write me and point me to his article, which also examines the existence of Backbone Usenet Cabal.
The artile, which provides just the right mix of history and commentary, analyzes how a free speech ethic came to be valued on Usenet and the ways in which technological and social factors co-mingled to facilitate and dampen the free flow of expression.
You are provided with classic Usenet quotes like:
Usenet is like a herd of performing elephants with diarrhea–massive, diffi-
cult to redirect, awe-inspiring, entertaining, and a source of mind-boggling
amounts of excrement when you least expect it. (Spafford, 1993b)
You learn about the early attempts to control spam by the likes of “CancelMoose:”
In 1995, a secret, shadowy figure known as the CancelMoose
devised a spam-canceling program called a cancelbot.”
And then in the end, he provides his challeng to one of the dominant STS theories of the time, SCOT:
“It should be noted that this picture is at odds with the predictions of the social construc-
tion of technology (SCOT) theory (Pinch & Bijker, 1987), in which the outcome of a period
of technical controversy is ascribed solely to social factors. Underlying SCOTís dogmatism
is a justifiable aversion to technological determinism, the doctrine that a technologyís con-
tent leads irresistably to predictable social consequences– a doctrine that is simply the re-
verse of SCOTís insistence on social causation. Two wrongs, as we were taught in kinder-
garten, do not make a right. What we see in the history of Usenet is a contingent outcome
that is shaped neither exclusively by social nor by technical factors, but rather is best under-
stood as a long process in which contesting groups attempt to mold and shape the technol-
ogy to suit their ends–sometimes successfully, and sometimes not. They are as likely to be
blindsided by technological developments as they were to succeed in changing the system
to meet their ends. As this article attests, it is one thing to create new technologies with a
coherent social vision, and it is quite another to control the way it grows and develops.”
I could not agree with him more. I think what he is highlighting is that if we dip into the historical record, we have instances in which technology can trump the social and vice-versa (and often instead it is a co-mixture), so in the end, understanding the impact of technologies is less about theories of technology and more of a historical question…
Because the web 2.0 “crowd” is so “smart” the intelligence agencies are thinking of tapping into this so-called collective wisdom and you can read about new efforts designed to create open source spying in the NYTimes. And make sure to check out Chris Kelty (who was on my dissertation committee) excellent commentary
At the University of Chicago, the Department of Economics was right across from my home-stomping ground, the Anthropology Department. Less than 30 seconds away, the world views and methodologies packaged for students were actually much much further apart not do to physical space but mind space.
Though “there” (not physically the whole time) for 8 years and now gone for two, it only today, this morning before the sun has arisen, when I have had more concerte exposure to what econ undergraduate students get taught during an introductory course thanks to a very well-written article, What We Learn When We Learn Economics.
The article’s author is clearly biased in certain respects but what is nice is that he demonstrates well that the articulation of a largely free-trade, market-heavy theory of economics made famous by a group of Chicagoans, which is given in the name of neutrality, is also, like any sort of model, not free entirely from bias and blinders. And whatever your take on free trade economics is, the article is quite well-written so take a dip!
Who knew that youtube could be so darn educational!… that is, you can learn how to identify if your son is a computer hacker.