March 31, 2007

Symposium: Intellectual Property and Social Justice, UC Davis Law Review

Category: Academic,IP Law,Politics,Tech — Biella @ 12:05 pm

Lately a lot of what gets published on intellectual property seems to cover well-covered ground and so there is a lot of reinventing the wheel (and I find this especially so in Law Journal Articles, which are a very special breed of writing in that they usually make one point but it takes a seventy to a hundred pages to do so).

But this collection Symposium: Intellectual Property and Social Justice caught my interest and while I cannot vouch for even one of the articles (I just came across this five minutes ago), the titles at least seem original and interesting. And best, is that they are available for free download.

March 29, 2007

Soweto Gospel Choir

Category: Canada,Wholesome — Biella @ 6:48 am

Two nights ago I saw the Soweto Gospel Choir and they were pretty much on fire. You get the suspicion that they spend a lot of their time singing, dancing, performing, and practicing and well, a quick gloss of their performance schedule confirms this suspicion. They are on the road non-stop going from Edmonton, CA to Tyler, Texas. If they pass through your town, do check them out.

March 20, 2007


Category: Tech — Biella @ 5:29 am

Recently I was reading a website (can’t remember which) that listed right brain v. left brain characteristics. Well I never saw a list that I so identified with, ever. The problem was I only could see myself in the “right-brain” side (with a few exception) and I was left wondering if my left brain was non-existent, or if still there, shriveled up like a pea.

Now I am looking for exercises to strengthen the left side of my brain and have found a few of them but they all cost money so I am still looking around for some freebies.

In the process of searching I also found this list Hacking Knowledge: 77 Ways to Learn Faster, Deeper, and Better which really has some great, great tips in there for general learning and lots of good links to tool that can help you out.

March 19, 2007

Soft Core, Hard Core, or something else

Category: Academic,Politics,Tech,Virtual Worlds — Biella @ 6:27 pm

Awhile back, one of my favorite bloggers, Philip Dawdy of Furious Seasons, deviated from his usual posts that place a big fat critical magnifying glass under the marketing (and other shady) tactics of Big Pharma and wrote a very thoughtful, (also furious) account of Web 2.0 claiming:

this whole Web 2.0, social networking, virtual community business is essentially a pornography of the self—a projected, fictionalized self that is then worshipped by the slightly less-perfect self.

It is a little off the top at times but makes some really good points that I agree with (and generated a really interesting discussion).

It merits reading alongside Danah Boyd’s recent rumination on the very same topic, fame, narcissism and MySpace, where she seeks to address narcissism but she deflects blame the suite of technologies and places it instead on the broader set of cultural practices that sustain this accentuated inward focus:

My view is that we have trained our children to be narcissistic and that this is having all sorts of terrifying repercussions; to deal with this, we’re blaming the manifestations instead of addressing the root causes and the mythmaking that we do to maintain social hierarchies. Let’s unpack that for a moment.

These two read nicely with an older piece in Harpers Attack of the superzeroes: why Washington, Einstein, and Madonna can’t compete with you . The author, Thomas de Zengotita claims “Being famous isn’t what it used to be” because new technologies of mediation and reflexivity (and by new, he means a lot more than web 2.0, it includes reality shows, focus groups, karaoke, the hyper-representation of the real stars, alongside the usual suspects) and concludes that we life as if we were always on stage, concluding somewhat disparagingly “We are all method actors now.”

Of course, this is an important part of the story but not the whole story. There are times, for example, these social technologies help to patch up what is arguably as common in North America as is this narcissistic self, which is the fragmented self, that comes into being, for example because many of us, migrate here and the, for example, for work.

So a social networking site like Facebook, provides somewhat of a stable point of reference, where there are individuals collected, in the same place, even though the people are no longer really in the same place. It is at least a recognition of certain relationships whose “local” face has now passed but instead of completely completely fading into the realm of memory, the past lives on, albeit in transformed ways, within a virtual space. This facet of social networking is not particularly narcissistic, but is building new technologies of memory that I think works somewhat against the conditions that fragment the self. And while the patching up of the person may make an individual “whole” and “individuated” it seems it is a form that is much more mundane than the “pornography” or “narcissism,” explored above, though of course, they do abound–but karaoke, that is always pornography of the self. But… porn can be fun.

March 17, 2007

Technolgy Quarterly

Category: Academic,Books/Articles,Humor,Politics,Tech — Biella @ 2:51 pm

Here is an odd technological image (to make you smile I hope) and here is the not-so-odd Technolgy Quarterly published by the Economist.

March 10, 2007

Big Patents India

Category: Academic,IP Law,Politics,Tech — Biella @ 7:01 am

For those that believe patents in theory are good idea but who are critical of the actual implementation of system, this project, Big Patents India is a novel and important project to include some checks and balances in the patent-application and granting system. It is described as the “first (and only) site with all post-TRIPs Indian patent applications online, searchable, and free” and thus adds a much-needed and important dose of transparency… I look forward to seeing how this new technology refigures the politics of drug patents in India.

March 4, 2007

This Little Piggy

Category: Humor,Tech,Uncategorized — Biella @ 7:37 pm

This little piggy was given the bottle and rocket-launched to space.

Zotero rocks like my morning cup of cafe

Category: Academic,Tech — Biella @ 11:13 am

Back in October I mentioned that I may soon try out Zotero, “The Next Generation Research Tool” that they claim is “easy-to-use.” Well after various upgrades, it has been installed and I am up and running with it. And I have to say it made me as happy as my morning cup of coffee, which is basically ecstatic. The software was not only a snap to install, but so amazingly smooth in terms of user interface and functionality.

While I wish this existed years ago, well, I am just happy it does now. I know it will make my life dealing with the infolanche of books, articles, and blog entries so much much less overwhelming. So thanks to all the people and organizations that have made Zotero happen. I love you all.

March 2, 2007

Taint a bad thing to fail so much

Category: Academic,Books/Articles,F/OSS,Politics,Tech — Biella @ 5:09 pm

Mr Chopra, at Decoding Liberation has made some very fine points concerning why so-called high-failure in open source is nothing to fear. He is responding to a piece by Chris Holt who is responding to a piece by Clay Shirky recently published in the Harvard Business Review. I tried today and faild miserably to getthe Shirky piece. Can anyone get access to the HBR? If yes, please do send me a copy!

On Edmonton, Place, and State of Mind

Category: Academic,Canada,Edmonton,Tech,Travel — Biella @ 8:10 am

Recently, I got a comment on an older blog post on Edmonton that basically agreed with another comment that Edmonton was so not the cat’s meow. Despite the winter and many months later, I guess I still do think it is, although in saying so, it is not I think their assessments are wrong, I think my take has as much to do as what has come before (like NJ, which was not the high point o my life), my experiences here, and what is to come in the future.

I tend to like Edmonton because there is enough stuff to do but not too much to do. It is that whole freedom from choice that I like because I often shut down in the face of too much choice. What also colors my experience in a positive light is that generally, Canadian politics, social policy, and way of life, are a step up or two (or maybe three) than that of the United States. So the worst of Canada (if you are even to call Edmonton that, which I would not), in this regard, beats out the best of the United States. And I have lived most of my life in the US so that is my point of comparison. Even if you are living in a fantastic American city, you always face the possibility of struggling in ways that will *never* happen in Canada. It makes for a calmer, less aggressive society. For example, I recently learned that Edmonton has the highest murder rate in Canada, at a whopping …. 36 people per year (population of Edmonton = 1 million). I grew up in a place, Puerto Rico where the yearly murder rate hovers at about 700-800 per year (population = 4 million). And yet people here are freaking out over the high rate of murder, which is a good thing because hopefully they can bring it down but this fact should make the US pause and think about what they are doing up north to keep the murder rate so darn low (and the answer I think is pretty easy to find).

But perhaps a lot of my love of the place has as much to do or more with my state of mind. After a grueling year of finishing a dissertation under pressure as I had deadline, and then living in NJ where I was on the job market (which meant spending so much time churning out application after application and then flying around interviews), in addition to flying 7 times in one year to visit my mom, my life here just feels so much more sane than it has been in years. What sealed it all was that right before I moved here in August I was lucky enough to be offered a permanent job (which means this summer I will be moving to NYC to join this department and I will be back to the land of overwhelming choice), so that for the first time in 5 years I did not have to apply for anything in the fall that would guarantee my livelihood for the next academic year. I was not faced with a year of lots of travel (and actually traveling in out out Edmonton is really one of my least favorite things). With that firmly in place, I could just concentrate on things like my work, my friends, brewing kombucha and do things routinely, like exercise, which I had not consistently done for years.

There are things about Edmonton that I find totally obnoxious like the cities inability to plow roads leaving a thick glaze of black ice on the roads so that when you drive in the city, you basically are at real risk for an accident (and this is despite a 6.6 BILLION government surplus). There are a tad too many strip malls in the outlaying areas, and of course there is the infamous winter. We are still deep in it. The cold temperatures have been with us steadily for months now and according to folks, there are still two more months to “look forward to.” The cold and the constant layering of clothes are getting to me a little, although I do appreciate that the cold is just not as cold as one would think with the actual temperatures. The lack of wind, the dry conditions, the cute as chubby-as-anything- bunnies that run through the snow, and the overpowering sun all help to make -6 F much more mild, so it is not as bad as you would or I would think it was.

So while I am thrilled to join the department where I am moving too, I will be sad when I leave, though perhaps not as sad as Edmontons “darling” hockey player, Ryan Smith, who was just traded by the Oilers to the NY Islanders. The day he left, he literally was shedding tears at the airport. And I have to say, even though I have no attachment to hockey, I found the pictures endearing because there is nothing like seeing a grown Canadian man cry over hockey! : )