April 30, 2010

Baby Panda wants YOU to submit to DEBCONF

Category: Uncategorized — Biella @ 9:06 am

bad mood destroyer, originally uploaded by the biella.

People’s the deadline is fast approaching. Don’t worry though, the best ideas come under deadlines and your proposal need not be lengthy. So get those typing hands out and submit a proposal (a few sentences suffices) for a presentation!


April 26, 2010

Progress Island!

Category: Humor,Puerto Rico — Biella @ 3:20 pm

For like the millionth time, I am back in Puerto Rico, AKA Progress Island, at least according to MST 3000. My mom came down with severe pneumonia and I am waiting it out until she is more stable. Today, my friend forwarded the MST 3000 video as she suspected it would cheer me up and she was right. I have not seen anything so fine in a long time. If you know nothing of PR-America relations, it won’t be (that) funny but if you do, it is sharp as a nail. Oh and the 70s’ music adds a real nice–almost porn-like—touch. Make sure to watch part two “so you can sugar frost your damn corn flakes, you filfthy American pigs!”

April 20, 2010

On Internet Punditry and Engendering Change

Category: Academic,Digital Media,Gender — Biella @ 7:22 am

One day a very well known Internet theorist writes a rant on women. The rant generates controversy, controversy lands theorist on WYNC on the media , despite the fact the he does not really work on the politics of gender. If this is so, why then give him more air time and focus on the NPR show? There are three lessons that precipitate from this social fact that are worth highlighting:

1.The fact that NPR chose him to pontificate and not… a woman nullifies Shirky’s thesis that behavior is one of the most important factors in keeping women behind, unless of course NPR asked a bunch of women but they were too meek to be on the air (not likely). If they wanted to keep the star power that is Shirky, the very least they could have done is had a woman respond. The solutions to get more women in the limelight are so easy to implement but they do require some thoughtfulness and foresight.

2.So what I am saying, it is about networks and Shirky, isn’t he a theorist of networks and behavior? It seems to be to more controversial, he really did not address how important networks are for the politics of visibility, instead he focused on individual behavior. If famous highly networked folks, most of them men, don’t highlight women in their blog posts, their twitter feeds, and don’t invite them to conferences, it is going to make very little difffernce whether a woman is meek or confident. So if there are more guys that are visible, which is certainly the case, it is as much their job to help engender change, not so much by pontificating but acting.

3. I realized that though I first thought his rant was a reflection of his personality (at least his public persona, I am sure he is a nice guy), in fact the rant is valuable to an anthropologist interested in digital media because it is an auto-ethnographic snapshot of web 2.0 punditry culture. It often comes across as smarmy and snarky, which is due in part, to how difficult it is to get your message heard in the sea of many voices. Just like there is an aesthetic of audaciousness in a lot of Internet memeology, for example, the pundits too must often act in extreme ways to get attention–which might inf fact be one of the reasons why they are reluctant to share the stage once they have worked hard to get there.

April 15, 2010

Cultural Cornucopia

Category: Debconf10,Debian,New York City — Biella @ 5:05 am

Today all across America, many are experiencing a soft form of hell, anxiety, and constant cursing for it is tax day. Thankfully last night I squared those away (more or less). Today is also the last day to register forDebconf sponsored registration. Even if there is a chance you can’t make it, it is worth filling out the form just in case.

For those spending a little extra time in NYC or planning on sneaking out to take a whirl in the city, here are some more fun options. NYC is known to be a cultural cornucopia of sorts and one reason are the many museums. I just found a twitter list listing those museums with a feed. Probably one of my favorite museums is located in the far north of Manhattan, the Cloisters. It is a haven, an oasis with small beautiful gardens, as well large stone rooms and buildings filled with medieval art, tapestry, and manuscripts. If you need to get away from people, chatter, and computers, this might be a good place to visit.

Museums are easy enough to find but there are other spots in NYC that may be a little harder to spot. If you want to hit Chinatown for dim sum, I would recommend Jing Fong, which is mind blowing largely because of its LARGE (like there are escalators that take you up) room, which gets pretty darn packed on the weekend.

If you want something that involves not just food but involves sweat, water, food, sun, hot rocks, body scrubs, funny looking pink, orange and blue uniforms and all in a cross-cultural context, then Spa Castle is the place to go to. Just check out the website and you will see what I am talking about. It’s family friendly, has a cornucopia of saunas (filled with jade, gold, ice, Tibetan bricks), some decent Korean food, among many other attractions. In general is one of the best deals in NY.

April 7, 2010

Nameless, Freak, Phreak

Category: Academic,Phreaking — Biella @ 4:11 am

So I tend to focus on the cultural present but during grad school it was hammered into my brain that to understand the contemporary moment, history matters, a lot.. The problem with hacking and related activities is that the history is a bit sparse and fragmented. Recently I have been working on a piece that examines some of the aesthetics similarities between phrakers, underground hackers, and trollers and it sort of hit me that I had no idea when the term “phreak” or “freak” came into being.

So I dropped a note to Phil Lapsely who is writing (finally) a proper history of phreaking and he was thoughtful enough to pen down a genealogy of the term.

April 4, 2010

Advice Dawg: what to do in NYC #1

Category: Advice,Conferences,Debconf10,Debian,New York City — Biella @ 11:12 am

So since a lot of folks are coming to NYC for Debconf I thought I would post some material on fun stuff to do in the city. I recently found out about this blog Walking Off the Big Apple, which looks great. I posted a recent entry that shows the trees in bloom and I am lucky enough to have one of those trees smack in front of my window.

If you are into walking and radical politics, this book might be for you.

Finally (for today, more to come), a nice guide for keeping it cheap in NYC