October 27, 2009

Pragmatism vs Ethics

Category: Uncategorized — Biella @ 6:34 pm

Pragmatism vs Ethics, originally uploaded by the biella.

On Thursday I will be helping to kick start a debate about some of the possible differences (or not) between free and open source software at Eyebeam, which will be hosted by Upgrade. If you are interested but are not in NYC, there will be a live stream and chat.

October 25, 2009

Branding Politics, Branding Change

Category: Academic,Events,New York City,Politics — Biella @ 6:42 am

Brands are most often associated with the world of crass consumerism but they can play a key role in fomenting political change. Or so claim some pretty clever thinkers and activists and they will be giving talk about the importance of branding for democratic politics, this Monday at 7 PM, at the Change You Want to See

Please join us this Monday, October 26th as we continue our series on Symbols, Branding and Persuasion with an exploration of branding in the context of electoral and legislative politics. We’ll start with a presentation by media theorist Stephen Duncombe, author of Dream: Reimagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy and the forthcoming Branding the New Deal. Afterward Jessica Teal, design manager for the Obama 2008 presidential campaign will join Duncombe for a conversation via video skype.

Like it or not, propaganda and mass persuasion are part of modern democratic politics. Many progressives today have an adverse reaction to propaganda: ours is a politics based in reason and rationality, not symbols and fantasy. Given our last administration’s fondness for selling fantasies as reality, this aversion to branding, marketing and propaganda is understandable. But it is also naïve. Mass persuasion is a necessary part of democratic politics, the real issue is what ethics it embodies and which values it expresses.

Looking critically at how the Roosevelt Administration tried to “brand” the New Deal and how the Obama campaign leveraged principles of marketing and advertising gives us an opportunity to think about different models of political persuasion.

October 19, 2009

Improving Code: a moral tale

Category: Geek,Gender,Politics — Biella @ 5:00 pm

Sweet and Clever. Almost makes the existence of Mike USA worth it.

October 12, 2009

Digital Anthropology, the Anthropology of the Digital

Category: Academic,Anthropology,Digital Media,Hackers,My Work — Biella @ 4:17 am

I have not been a frequent fixture on my own blog as I am writing what is called an “Annual Review of Anthropology” on digital media and ethnography. Truth be told it is killing me as there is a 6000 word limit and 100-150 works one must mention and entertain (usually by throwing in some categorical statement that makes sense for 10+ works). One thing is clear: the literature on digital media by anthropologists is switching from trickle to steady and very interesting stream. Even if I Epically Fail, I have already learned a lot, which is what I keep telling myself as I struggle through the writing stage of the article.

But if you want a taste of some recent work, there are some blog entries you can check out: Daniel Miller who was one of the first anthropologists to venture in this area (and kick-started the first program in digital anthro) at UCL has written a nice review of various books recently published. And for the same blog, I wrote an overview
of my work on hacking, liberalism, and pleasure. So if you want a short introduction to the books being published by anthropologists on digital media, I highly recommend checking Daniel Miller’s post.

October 9, 2009

Taking Down Internet Pundits

Category: Academic,Computers,Humor — Biella @ 8:06 am

So I love biting irony as a way to make A Point and one of my favorite essays in this regard is If Men Could Menstruate. For a while now, I have been waiting for some biting irony, really mockery, to be launched at the free wheeling Internet punditry that is so common today…. Well, here is one amazing video morsel directed at the social media guru (pictured below). Since the social media guru is just one class of Internet pundit, I hope more mockery will follow.

October 1, 2009

Memefactory @ NYU

Category: Events,Memes — Biella @ 5:36 pm

Memefactory @ NYU, originally uploaded by the biella.

At this point in my career, I can’t really see myself organizing much of anything as it is time I don’t seem to have. But after I saw Memefactory, I decided that it was well worth my time to get these guys and their computers to NYU. With help from a string of organizations at NYU, Memefactory will be performing a souped up, updated version of their masterful performance tour of Internet memes on October 9th. It is SO worth checking out. (ps, we remixed this poster though we did not get much of the bling)


If one were to assume there might be any kind of end to the meaningless drivel on the web, one would be wrong. For this very reason, we present MemeFactory NYU. We’re lucky enough to have been invited by NYU to present our second, full-length MemeFactory during which we wax philosorapsophical about the state of popular (and some unpopular… and some überpopular) internet media.

That means about one and one half of one hours of 3 projectors, 3 gentlemen, more pictures of cats, videos of fails and power ratings over 9000 than any previous MemeFactory. We’d call it bang-for-your-buck, but damn… this shindig is $Free! So don your pancake hat – or your furry suit, we wont judge – and get ready to Get Down, get WeeGee’d and of course… Crank That.


To recap:

WHEN: October 9 7:30-9:00.

WHERE: Warren Weaver Hall RM 109, http://cs.nyu.edu/web/Location/directions.html (Free and Open to the Public)

WHO: What We Know So Far http://www.whatweknowsofar.com/NYU

WHY: Because it is not another academic lecture but lively performance filled with nothing but insight and humor for die-hard Internet memeologists and newbies alike. Take the plunge with the memefactory!

SPONSORED: NYU @ Free Culture, Council on Culture and Media, Center for Religion and Media, NYU ACM’s Chapter