July 30, 2010

Holy Debconf10 is awesome

Category: Debconf10,Debian — Biella @ 11:40 am

nycsubway-heart, originally uploaded by the biella.

So an email went out to Debconf-announce with all this and MORE information but it is worth highlighting the talks/events as they are great. We look forward to having you in New York City!


exciting schedule highlights

Have a look at the DebConf10 schedule,
there are a lot of really interesting things planned, both during Debian Day and DebConf
itself. We have a great line-up of speakers, and other events that are
sure to make this DebConf one to remember! A couple notable events that we wanted to highlight:

Be sure to come to the DebConf Welcoming Plenary in the evening of Debian Day. This opening plenary will be the first thing that kicks
off DebConf and will be brief, important, and fun. General information
about DebConf, important logistical bits, and prizes(!) will be
had. Also, this gives you a chance to ask some questions before we get
started. Be there at 7:30pm in Davis Auditorium on August 1st!

The much anticipated Cheese and Wine party will be happening in the
evening on the 2nd. This will be your chance to see what mixture of
fermented, cultured and alcoholic things your stomach can handle!

Also exciting to mention is Eben Moglen who will be speaking on the
3rd during DebConf at 9:30am about Freedom and Privacy in the Cloud
and how we (yes us!) here at DebConf, can be the silver lining. If you
don’t already know Eben Moglen
he is Professor of Law at Columbia Law School and founding Director of the Software Freedom Law
Center. Since 1993 he has served pro bono publico as General
Counsel of the Free Software Foundation. Moglen was part of Philip
Zimmermann’s defense team when Zimmermann was being investigated over
the export of PGP. As counsel to the FSF, Moglen was charged with
enforcing the GNU General Public License (GPL) and later became
heavily involved with drafting version 3 of the GPL.

Also in the evening of the 3rd at 7:30pm we will be treated to not
only a screening of the brilliant and beautiful and (award winning!)
film “Sita Sings the Blues” in
Pupin 301, but also a Q&A afterwards with the acclaimed animator Nina
Paley! She will describe how the process of making this film caused
her to question the wisdom of copyright monopolies in the arts. The
film is under a Creative Commons ShareAlike license, and her
distribution mechanism is unique as Paley consciously adopted the
methods of the free software movement to distribute the film. The
discussion with the artist after the screening will explain in depth
how and why, and discuss what Paley and QuestionCopyright.org are
doing next to encourage more artists to try the Free route.

After the film, at 9:00PM the Columbia University Astronomy
Department will host a guided stargazing event, which includes use
of several different optical telescopes on their roof. There will be
astronomers on hand to answer any questions about the stars,
telescopes, or any other topics of scientific interest.

There are many talks that are going to be exciting at Debian Day, even
for Debian Developers! One track will be showcasing general Free
Software themes and issues, and many of these talks will be really
interesting to Debian Developers, so be sure to check out the schedule and come

On Debian Day we are excited to have the Honorable Gale Brewer speak at 4pm. She is part of the New York City Council and was the
former Chair of the Committee on Technology in Government, current
Chair on Committee on Governmental Operations and will discuss the
ways that government can foster freedom in technology. Its both
exciting and a privilege to have her speak at DebConf!

day trip

This year, the day trip is going to be a blast, a crazy adventure at
the bizarre and fun Coney Island! Explore the historic RussianBrighton Beach! Ride the Cyclone rollercoaster, 82-years old this
year! Swim in the ocean! See the circus sideshow! Eat delicious food
or if unlucky, not so good food. Or do none of the above and just hang
out with your friends outside and have a good time.

At the end of the day we are going to go to a unique cultural event:
the Brooklyn Cyclones baseball game where we will have the chance to
watch our beloved DPL humiliate himself as he throws out the first
pitch, in his Debian kilt!

Don’t like baseball, or sports? Don’t worry, neither do we, but the point really isn’t the baseball game,
the point is hanging out with all your closest Debian friends and
having a good laugh as Zack tries really hard not to trip, also a good
chance to experience some local culture and to relax after a hard day at the beach.

free things in the city

There are an amazing number of free events happening in New York City during the summer! If you are looking for something to do, we’ve
compiled a list of various events from a number of different locations
for you to easily view in one spot.

July 26, 2010

New Publications

Category: Academic,Books/Articles,Research — Biella @ 1:22 pm

I have a few new (academic) publications out and most are on my website. Hope to get a copy of the Annual Review of Anthropology up there in the fall!

July 24, 2010

Silent Cry for Help: Debconf Volunteers

Category: Uncategorized — Biella @ 8:33 am

silent-cry-for-help, originally uploaded by the biella.

Hi Debcamper’s and Debconfer’s.

I am currently coordinating volunteers and can use your help! Here is a list of our current and most pressing volunteer needs.

If you are interested in volunteering and know what you would like to do, drop me a line with details. If you are interested in volunteering and are up for anything, drop me a line. If you want to volunteer but can only spare a couple of hours, drop me a line! You can reach me at biella(at)nyu.edu

We are most in need of finding help for the front desk and for assisting with the talks (starting/ending on time and fielding questions). This year if you are a coordinator for a track you will be in charge of doing this, so we only need volunteers for non-track talks.

Volunteers get a free, volunteer tee-shirt and a huge huge thanks from the orga team who simply cannot do this without you!

July 15, 2010

A User’s Guide to Lulzy Media, the Pleasure of Trickery, and the Politics of Spectacle: From the Luddities to Anonymous

Category: Academic,Conferences,HOPE — Biella @ 6:23 am

One of my favorite conferences is HOPE, which I have missed the last 2 times as I was away from NYC, so I am glad I am around this year. I find it especially valuable when there is some controversy brewing in the air, as there is with Wikileaks, Adrian Lamo, and Manning.

I am also giving a talk, description below, with a fabulous postdoctoral researcher, Finn Brunton, who works on spam! But we will be talking about pleasure, trickery, and exploitable media for activists. Our talk is late, like really late: 11:00 PM on Saturday night. At first I was a bit annoyed at the scheduling but then I figured, when will i ever give a talk at 11:00 PM?

Following a brief lecture on Project Chanology, the question will be posed: how can we harness the power of lulzy virality, of pleasure, of trickery, of spectacular trolling for purposes above and beyond sharing the wisdom of Advice Dog? Itíll start with a brief look at great activist media in the past, from Guernica and the picture of the whole Earth to projects by the Yes Men – how they spread ideas and helped people get informed, organize, and act. What makes the creation of lulzy memes different? Learn about how to create exploitable forms and rapid variations, and mechanisms for bringing the best stuff forward. Can we make media memes with goals beyond lulz, and teach activists who’ve never heard of 4chan to make them too? Part lecture, part workshop, this will feature cameos by Rageguy, Pablo Picasso, V, alt.pave.the.earth, Kathe Kollwitz, Courage Wolf, Stewart Brand, Sarah Palin, Batman, Goya, Philosoraptor, Adolf Hitler, Trollface, Shepard Fairey, Joseph Ducreux, David Cameron, lots of Spartan warriors, and lots and lots of (trollish) cats.

July 14, 2010

Annual Review of Anthropology on Digital Media

I don’t remember how but I remember when I first stumbled on an “Annual Review of Anthropology.” Reading the first one was like stumbling accidentally into a pirate chest of gold doubloons. I was simultaneously flabbergasted, elated, and somewhat annoyed. I could not believe how helpful of a resource the articles were, how interesting it was to learn about the state of the field (since each review covers one topic) and what a time saver it was in terms of research. I was annoyed only because no one had really properly clued me into its existence and felt like it was one of the things that every graduate student should know about like before they even entered their program.

When I got asked to write one a few years ago, a mix of conflicting emotions welled up. I was honored and horrified at the same time for I knew that it would require some of the heaviest lifting I have ever engaged in, which turned out to be the case. I almost quit twice but managed to turn in the first draft on time, before the deadline (thanks to a scheduled trip to NZ).

After a parade of months of reading, drafting, and rethinking, the uncorrected proofs are now online on the ARA wesbite (you need library access to fetch it and the link is tiny and on the right hand corner). The corrected proofs will be there in a few months but all the mistakes at this point are typos, although I would check back to get the final copy for the purposes of citation.

There is a lot more I want to say about the piece and the process of writing it but I will leave such ruminations for future posts. For now, it suffices to say that with a piece like this, you become a dart board, as my friend cleverly put it the other night. I am sure I have overlooked folks (I was working within very thrifty parameters, 6000 words, 150 citations though I managed to get a bit more) and I could have pushed everything further than I did, though this again was very hard to do given the constraints. I decided in the end to be as inclusive as I could, which meant sacrificing a few lines of thought, which I hope to pick up in the future. The part I like the most is the last bit, where I conclude by with the help of systems administrators and spam.

July 8, 2010

Debian in the World: Buidling an Institution vs Managing a Crowd

Category: Academic,Debian,Ethics,F/OSS,My Work — Biella @ 8:10 am

So there are times that I think “of course anyone remotely interested in Free Software, virtual projects, and similar endeavors” knows about Debian and its “strange” rituals. I am pretty mistaken, actually. Recently I have attended various events where it has been made clear to me that there are hordes of folks interested in the politics of openness, access, and free software who have heard about Debian but don’t really know what it takes, socially and politically, to manage such a project. Luckily I had the chance to spread some of the ‘esoteric knowledge’ during a talk at MIT for the Knight News Challenge winners and I have received many emails, excited and some surprised about the governance structures of Debian.

If interested, here is a video of my talk, which is quite short, so I don’t go into as much detail as I would like. There is a great audio quote from a Debian developer, taken from this class visit for which there is a podcast and which I recommend as well. If you can’t play flash, you can download the a video of the talk here (look at the right hand side of the page for download link).

update: Interesting blog post on Why the open source way trumps the crowdsourcing way that explores some of the issues I raise in the panel talk. I don’t think it always trumps open source but it is certainly a niche form of production that is useful in some cases but all too often confused with expert peer production in quite unproductive and empirically wrong ways.