April 30, 2005

Nearing the end, to start all over again

Category: Anthropology — Biella @ 8:21 pm

So so so, I am nearing the deadline… It looks like the dissertation will be around 450 pages, minus appendix and works cited. It is a little monstrous so I am glad that I am finishing even if it feels like a premature birth. Better to give birth to a smaller dissertation than a tub-oh-lard. Right?

Speaking of anthropology, Kerimreports on all the anthroblogs and has updated them on a wiki magic

April 27, 2005

Times Past, the ROlm Phone

Category: Wholesome — Biella @ 7:09 pm

So Boing Boing is reporting on what is being dramatically designated as Greatest Phone Message in the World. I too was there and did spill a laugh or two over that mermaid message. It made me really miss, however, the rolm phone which was our local internet, connecting the entire campus together.

There was nothing like coming home to a good audio message mixed in with all these friendly reminders and questions that are now passed on over email. Now I barely touch the phone and it has decidedly become about the worst way to reach me. I check the messages about every 10 days, the eluisve robotic man-voice saying “you have 53 messages….”

April 21, 2005

Playful code..

Category: Research — Biella @ 9:37 am

Alexander Knorr has pointed out, that even those on the “other side” also play and diz with their code.

I have also been meaning to link to his post which has some nice thought on fieldwork and its changing nature

Thanks Alex! :-)

April 18, 2005


Category: Research — Biella @ 10:29 pm

Today my advisor told me that I need more examples of hackers being playful and witty especially in the very acts of coding. Thanks to the efforts of my online IRC buddies we are starting to dig some good examples up.

Thanks Karl! :=)

;; if you look at this next function from far away, it resembles a
;; gun. But only with this comment above…
(defun bookmark-bmenu-check-position ()
;; Returns t if on a line with a bookmark.
;; Otherwise, repositions and returns t.
;; written by David Hughes
;; Mucho thanks, David! -karl
(cond ((< (count-lines (point-min) (point)) 2)
(goto-char (point-min))
(forward-line 2)
((and (bolp) (eobp))
(beginning-of-line 0)

April 17, 2005

Crisis and Ethics

Category: Ethics — Biella @ 10:05 pm

Now that the dissertation is almost done, I realize that a lot of it focuses on the experience of crisis and its relationship to the otherwise mundane processes of everyday life through which values are erected and solidified. My first chapter, for example looks at the DeCSS protests, examining how they allow for a moment of acute reflexivity in which incipient norms are solidified. Crisis is a moment in which certain cultural trends are sealed, a done deal, well at least until another crisis hits. Now I am on my last full chapter, which examines three ethical moments/forms of labor that unfold on the Debian project


Category: Tech — Biella @ 10:03 am

I don’t consider myself overly interested in the politics, gender, and ethics of blogging but I do keep my eyes and ears perked for interesting happenings. Since I am going to be in CA this summer for a values in design workshop, I decided to register for the Blogher conference being held in San Jose July 30th. One aspect that I immediately liked about the conference is that there are very reasonable student rates…

April 15, 2005

Non-commerical Linux on the rise

Category: Tech — Biella @ 9:43 am

Non-commerical Linux use on the rise:

New data released this week from research firm Evans Data shows that non-commercial Linux distribution use has passed the inflection point and is now more widely used by developers than commercial Linux distributions.

April 11, 2005


Category: Anthropology — Biella @ 2:29 pm

I saw this remarkable photo spread on Purselipsquarejaw and can not but help passing it along here.

These are the most striking photos I have seen about how bodies are literally made. A certain vision of self, physique, right, and wrong, culturally scuplted across time and space in the US through a dizzing range of everyday practices. This is visual ethnography at its finest, driving home how text, taken alone can be a medium of extreme poverty. While it is powerful and concise, and can be poetic and evocative, text alone is sometimes hard to capture the actual force and depth of what you are trying to capture.

Zonezero nicely theorizes the nature of digital photos and its implications for capturing a sense of reality in the making, a new type of the real.

I guess I am struggling with that right now with my dissertation, wrapping up two chapters that mean a lot to me for they touch upon many personal experiences. And by virtue of experiencing them, I know my representation is just a mere shadow of the actual events I witnessed.

Anyway, I better get back to that, shadow or not, its needs to be done, soon.:-)

April 6, 2005

Bitkepper dropped

Category: Research — Biella @ 2:53 pm

In the Free and Open Source Software world there are “events” and then there are Events, the capital meaning they are likely to be of interest cross-project. Although this concerns the Linux kernel specifically, I am sure it is of interest to many. Reported on Kernel Trap, Larry McVoy is dropping “free’ (as in beer) support of Bitkepper, the versioning system used by the kernel project and reportedly it helped to pump the kernel developement to an all time high.

Also worth reading is Linus Torvald’s statement, sarcasm and irony nicely pepppered in the text:

It’s not like my choice of BK has been entirely conflict-free (“No,
really? Do tell! Oh, you mean the gigabytes upon gigabytes of flames we
had?”), so in some sense this was inevitable, but I sure had hoped that it
would have happened only once there was a reasonable open-source
alternative. As it is, we’ll have to scramble for a while.

The politics and collaborative possibilities of version control systems and how the play out along the lines of free vs open, individualism vs collaboration, centralization vs distributed, etc are worthy of an entire dissertation. I don’t have enough of a love of the technology to do such a project but it is ripe, waiting to happen.

April 5, 2005


Category: Research — Biella @ 8:15 pm

So so so I bought a watch for the first time in years. I guess it is because am feeling the pressure of time which is not that typical for a grad student since we can more or less make our schedules post ABD (All But Dissertation). And I am ABD, but also almost at ABDBAADD (All But Dissertation But Almost At Dissertation Defense) and I am feeling the effects of this BAADD.

My defense date is prolly going to be the last week of May which is exciting but unreal. 8 years of work reflected upon in 1.5 hours. I guess that is the nature of rituals: condensation, reflection, and (and hopefully though not so sure right now) celebration.

Recently, another anthropologist of the ether-world, Alexander Knorr wrote a blog entry about my work that I posted on DGI, his post entitled
biella in the maelstrom of complexity and confusion
and he is right, that is pretty much where I am right now even though the original maelstrom was about hacker pragamtics, i.e. what they deal with in a prosaic sense with technology.

It was nice to disover his blog which is just one slice of an amazing research website the content and aesthetics in a complementary relationship. I look forward to reading his project on maxmod

But for now I guess I will make myself known here only when I can’t take the final sprint anymore…