May 31, 2005

My Mom’s political song

Category: Politics — Biella @ 12:38 pm

So my mom composed this song about a year ago and unfortunately I don’t have a digital recorder to record it but she is demanding that I publish it before someone else claims that they authored it. She is *very excited* that this song will exist, out there on that nebulous Internet which she has never really had the chance to see.

She sings this song to about every person she meets so perhaps it will become a popular folk song. If you know anything about Puerto Rican politics, this song is pretty funny, although somewhat inflammatory (which makes it all that much better), because she is dising, hard, the current political status quo, which is commenwealth, a sort of semi-colonial state.

Puertorriquenos toma conciencia
en estas eleciones, usa tu inteligencia

Puertorriquenos tu dignidad esta en la independencia
o en la Estadidad
Y NADA MAS, nada mas ….

Puertorriquenos toma conciencia

(sound maracas, move to dancing)

by Vera Coleman

May 29, 2005

What Next?

Category: Personal — Biella @ 10:00 pm

A few folks people have been asking, so “what next?” The immediate next is that I am here in Puerto Rico, visitng my mom, and nursing my sinuses which of course got mucus-blasted with an infection due to the pressure and stress of finishing up. I have not been here since December and not much has changed although the temperature is characteristicaly HOT and actually my mom is doing better which is relief. The sinuses are recovering thanks to the salty ocean water and thick humid air. There was something remarakbly different about swimming in the ocean without a looming dissertation. Really… different. I am also lowering the caffeine intake which always seems easier to do here because there are less demands made on brain (although I have to do a lot of word catching for my mom) and I really think there is something about the sun and ocean water that makes the withdrawl effects much less severe. I think when I return in July I will go off of it entirely at least for a few weeks.

Back in Chicago, I am going to edit the diss before depositing, figure out how to format it (hell hell and more hell) and start reading because I basically stopped doing so in the last 2 months. I will also start catching up on emails that are starting to pile high here in my inbox. I will answer a number of those on the plane flight home now that I have a computer with a battery worth something.

I plan to take most of July off-off. Go back to PR for a number of weeks and then I hope attend and give a paper at What the Hack. But they are having a heck of a time getting a permit so that is somewhat up in the netherworld of government administration (it would seem smarter to grant the permit to what has been a very orderly hacker festival that to deny the permit to some very bright hackers…. but then again that is just my prespective).

Then I am moving to the Garden State for a postdoc fellowship at the CCAC at Rutgers. I am psyched.

Along with that I hope to perhaps learn how to windsurf?? The life of the mind now needs some body life to keep going…

Thanks for everyone who has passed along a congratulations!

May 25, 2005

Mad Libs, the B now is _____

Category: Personal — Biella @ 3:41 am

In 1997 I moved to _________ to start ________. Little did I know that it would ______ my life. I started on one ________ which took me to the far away country of _______. But then someone introduced me to this wacky world of ________. These people, mostly _________ would spend hours on the _______ and then they would ______ away what they ______ for _______.

I was so struck by this world of _______ that I dropped my old _________ and started to work on _________ instead.

Entering this ______ was more than what I ever could have ________. It was ________ and ________. I could barely stop __________. Finally I finished with the __________ and returned to ___________ where I began the torturous process of writing a __________. Years ______, I finally __________ and then found myself in a __________ with a ________ people ______________ at me. But when the people left the _______ they had a _______ on their _______ and at that point I knew it was all ____.

Now I have a ______ and more than anything it feels just _________.

May 24, 2005

Publishing in the Digital Age

Category: Anthropology — Biella @ 12:02 pm

I posted this over at DGI but I think it is worth mentioning over here since I write plently on IP law.


Chris Ketly over at Savage Minds has written an excellent roundup of the ironies that plague academic publishing today. These ironies, however, are not all that humorous.

It is distressing to see the AAA abide by a closed publishing model, even while in public they are supposedly committed to “public anthropology.”

I think however the tide is shifting among academics. The recent resolution made by the Cornell Faculty Senate is a move in the right direction.

The Senate strongly encourages all faculty, and especially tenured faculty, to consider publishing in open access, rather than restricted access, journals or in reasonably priced journals that make their contents openly accessible shortly after publication.3

The Senate strongly urges all faculty to negotiate with the journals in which they publish either to retain copyright rights and transfer only the right of first print and electronic publication, or to retain at a minimum the right of postprint archiving.4

May 22, 2005

The politics of IP, heating up

Category: Politics — Biella @ 5:42 pm

In my dissertation’s conclusion I examine how the arena of FOSS has functioned as a form of cultural critique. I argue through its notoriety, it works to lay bare the normative assertions that economic incentives are a necessary catalyst to intellectual production.

Now there are a panoply of endeavors, from the Creative Commons to MIT’s Open Course Ware following suit.

The mere existence of a material practice such as FOSS and these others examples, however, cannot obviate normative argumentation that appeals to universal principles or theories of human nature. Under threat, these principles may clamor for more attention. And I would say in the last year alone, the attacks made against the reformulated legal principles encoded by FOSS and similar endeavors, have become more visible and voracious than before. The tide is shifting and the battle over the direction, importance, and scope of IP is now starting to boil.

For example, the silent weapon of the right, think tanks, have started to attack these emergent principles that modify the traditional principles of IP law. There is the the infamous Alexis de Tocqueville Institution that attacked Linux directly and more recently the Progress Freedom Foundation has attacked open source on the grounds that IP law as it stands is necessary for freedom and a vital economy.

The media are front runners in this war. Recently the NYT ran an editorial When David Steals Goliath’s Music that uses a language of doom and gloom and tactics of naturalization to argue for stringent IP protections:

May 19, 2005

Life is a perpetual state of partial death

Category: Personal — Biella @ 5:58 pm

I am on the verge of finishing a large project. The defense date has been set and receiving the announcement on the anthropology mailing list was nothing short of strange. I could process my name and abstract. After all, I wrote it. But for the past eight years I have received these announcements never really believing that I would finally reach the end. My time in Chicago will soon be archived in the vaults of my memory, brought to bear probably when I am done with another project.

Whenever I finish off a largish project, I experience something akin to what seems like death. I mourn. And as part of this mourning, a flood of memories start to populate my mind. I enter into this revved up nostalgic mode where I travel into the past, unwillingly. Memories that I thought were lost start to cascade down from the mind and into the body, striking every sense of mine. The memories are a truly random assortment. The image may be a small detail, like the pink and purple wild flowers on the side of the road in West Virginia that were remarkably stunning as they waved in the wind. Or something more enveloping like the thunderstorms in Guyana South America that inspired fear and awe and left the capital under brown water. The list goes on and on. They are my fondest, most vibrant memories and I can’t, even if I tried, stop them from coming to me every time I am done with something that I will now consider as

Savage Minds, Welcome

Category: Anthropology — Biella @ 4:10 pm

A new anthro blog has arrived Savage Minds. Initiated by Rex and Kerim it boasts a number of other young, cyber-blog-savvy anthropolgists. I like the content, a lot. I can’t say I like the look, at all. Perhaps they were unconsciously thinking of themselves as “budding” anthro-pods and hence the Martha Stewart-like flowers. But despite the aesthetics, the conversation is vibrant, do check it out.

May 18, 2005


Category: Anthropology — Biella @ 9:23 pm

Just when I was catching up with the ol’ email and errands, a cold came my way so I am parked at the couch doing the minimal amount of work I need to do so that I recover, I hope, before the defense on the 25th. But I wanted to let folks know that DGI is now running on word press and may require a resubscribe if you read on a feeder (it did for me).

The most recent entry is on a seemingly very interesting disseration out of UPenn by Maurice Black on the Art of Code. Can’t wait to check it out.

May 12, 2005

Cracking the IMC

Category: Politics — Biella @ 9:02 pm

So so so, this article is on a blackhat, right-winged hacker by the name of Colorx who hacked into the Boulder IMC site (among others) only to find ou that there are many savvy a-hacker among IMC-istas, who hacked back, found out his identity and this eventually got him in trouble with the FBI
(and though the exact mechanism is unknown, there is something a little ironic in having the IMC work lead to FBI investigation not on them, as is usually the case, but on some other hackers).

There is a section in the article that was eerily resonant with one of the all time great books on hackers, The Hacker Crackdown by Bruce Sterling.

So compare:

On the bright side, says Clorox, his run-in with the feds reinforced his idea of a dream job: working for the FBI.

“There were a few times during the conversation I was like, wow, this has to be the coolest job. I would probably get the same thrill out of that that I do out of the black-hat stuff,” he says. “How ironic is that. I’ve always wanted to be the one who catches the bad guy, even if sometimes I am the bad guy.” Mahon, however, has some bad news for clorox.

“He’s deluding himself into thinking that we would hire him,” he says. “There’s a lot of good things a person like that can do that make them stand out that doesn’t involve criminal activity.”

With this section from the Hacker Crackdown:

“In my opinion, any teenager enthralled by computers, fascinated by the ins and outs of computer security, and attracted to the lure of specialized forms of knowledge and power would do well to forget all about hacking and set his (or her) sights on becoming a fed. Feds can trump hackers at almost every single thing hackers do, including gathering intelligence, undercover disguise, trashing, phone-tapping,building dossiers, networking, and infiltrating computer systems” (1993: 207).

I’m Back

Category: Personal — Biella @ 5:30 pm


Familiar? How many of us spend hours a day just like that ( + skin)? If you are a blog reader, I imagine you spend even more time in front of the blue screen than your mythological “average” computer user.

Well since my defense is on May 25th, which is a strange to contemplate, I am no longer in front of the computer for 16 hours a day, otherwise the norm during much of the winter and especially the spring. Hunched over, I sacrificied the self to one document. Part of the process was brutal but in other ways, it was entirely liberating and quite enjoyable. I always had a great exuse for why I had to say no to what was asked of me, and I never ever felt guilt about it.

I felt a little like I was living as an island castaway (minus the island and plus an internet connection), lodged entirely in my own world. I hope to get back to that place soon although there are many non-biella worldly affairs to deal with before I can retreat again, hunched over bathed by the hue of computer blue…