Thursday, 2 October 2008
Victor Keegan reminded me in the Guardian article that I shouldn't give up so soon. Referencing Kzero, he talks about more than 30 virtual worlds out there.
I've tried to log on to Twinity, but no success - it keeps denying my registration. Obviously I am just not wanted there - online virtual world thus yet again resembles offline world - with migration policy and customs breathing down your neck, trying hard to keep the unwanted out.
But I will keep on tryin'.
Corretion: I got in!
??? So what now?
Wednesday, 27 August 2008
Reading through articles that analyze online conversations I found that next to well known social network analysis there are also several other ways to visualize and through visualisation analyse online conversations.Turner, Smith, Fisher and Welsher (2005) is a good example article where they use several different methods to visualize Usenet conversations (in time period from 2000 to 2004).
First is a method called Treemaps developed by Shneiderman.
Basically (if I understood it correctly) it transposes large trees into a smaller visualization - a box containing large numbers of boxes. Turner et al. (2005) used this method to depict hierarchies in Usenet according to two variables (thus two different sets of boxes):
-number of posts within a hierarchy (and within it newsgroups, threads),
-number of replies within a hierarchy
Similarly this method could be applied to visualization of conversations on globalism or similar issues on YouTube (the only problem is, that I have no idea how to employ it).
An interesting employment of Treemaps is Veskamp's Newsmap where he creates a program that instantly visualizes current Google news according to type of news (e.g world, national, sports etc.) and for 11 different nations.
Tuesday, 26 August 2008
2. This case also shows (yet again) that states are not powerless in the globalized internet world.
3 On a bit more optimistic side, however, this case shows that there is a chance for civic actors to mobilize enough supporters and organize online protest tactics which seem to be working against online censorship of the state.
Tuesday, 15 July 2008
I started to read Dryzek's Deliberative Democracy and Beyond today. Up to the page 30 it is excellent!
I especially liked his critique of Habermas (1996) on the account of defending status quo and forgetting his roots in critical theory (pages 24 - 27). Go John! :)
But the problem is present also in Slovenia, although in different form.
About two weeks ago I watched one of the commercial television programs: A kanal (owned together with other Slovene commercial TV program POP TV by an American company: Central European Media Enterprises Group) and they introduced a new show: TV TUBA (or TV Tube in English).
In this show they publish short movies that users provide on the online video sharing portal owned by the same channel owner: Frendi in flirt. I was shocked to see that next to personal and originally produced videos, the first show aired mostly videos produced by other (mostly foreign) television channels which circle around emails and are available also on YouTube. I remember the signing lady from Bulgaria for instance. So I mailed the postmaster of Frendi and Flirt an official email regarding their copy rights and complaining also about the fact that they do not inform video sharers that their videos could be published also on the TV show. I did not receive any answer, but the next time I watched the show I did not see any copyrighted material anymore (but I admit that I did not watch the whole show).
I am not really sure on how to decide on copyrights regarding YouTube, where the users are those who publish copyrighted material. But I am sure that such material should not be used for an entertaining local TV show which brings money to the TV station.
Monday, 16 June 2008
The Reporters Without Borders list of nine things the Chinese authorities must do before the Beijing Olympic Games:
1. Release all journalists and Internet users detained in China for exercising their right to information.
2. Abolish for ever the restrictive articles in the Foreign Correspondents Guide that limit the media’s freedom of movement and work.
3. Disband the Publicity Department (the former Propaganda Department), which exercises daily control over content in the Chinese press.
4. End the jamming of foreign radio stations.
5. End the blocking of thousands of news and information websites based abroad.
6. Suspend the “11 Commandments of the Internet,” which lead to content censorship and self-censorship on websites.
7. End the blacklisting of journalists and human rights activists, which prevents them from visiting China.
8. Lift the ban on Chinese media using foreign news agency video footage and news reports without permission.
9. Legalize independent organisations of journalists and human rights activists.
The study is interesting both because of the results and the methodology.
First, methodologically they used content analysis of media published incidents of arrested bloggers:
"Using Google and LexisNexis as search engines, we found 64 blogger arrest incidents discussed in various news articles, blogs, scholarly articles and informational Web sites. We organized the incidents by blogger name, country, date of arrest, reason for arrest and time in jail. " (http://www.wiareport.org/index.php/56/blogger-arrests, 16. 6. 2008).
Of course they recognized the fact, that there are many incidents that go unpublished, so that these results can not be held representative of what is actually happening and where, but still the results can be of informative nature.
Another thing that is interesting about their methodology is the fact that they openly published their data set - allowing other researcher to analyze the data or/and to continue adding their own data. I know this is quite common for publicly funded research in the field of surveys, but it is still very rare in cases of content analysis.
The most significant result of the research are the stated reasons for arrest: exposing corruption or human rights violation, posting comments about political figures, posting comments about public policies, using blogs to organize or report on social protests, violating cultural norms and other (other is what is not of a political nature).
The numbers are not so important though - since the method relies only on incidents reported by the media - the increase in year 2007 for example could be due to the actual increase in arrests, it could be due to the heightened media attention to these incidents (media starting to view blogs as important means for public speech), it could be due to the rise in online media reporting (the fact that in some localities the media started to report extensively online only recently), due to the archival lost in previous years or due to other unknown factors hidden in the Google search engine and LexisNexis search engines (it still amazes me, with how much ease researchers use word search engines, without knowing how exactly and from where did these search engines provide the outputs. Does Lexis Nexis cover Slovene media for example? I don't know - I don't have access. But even if it would - what did they do regarding the language? Did they search only in English? If so - where is this stated and what possible implications for the whole results can this have?).
Anyway, this was one of the rare social scientific reports that are published by the media as "sheer gold" (see BBC), and are available for public scrutiny. For this, and their simple, but informative and publicly accessible coding scheme, I have to give them credit.
It would be good if they continued the research with a much larger basis of local researchers - perhaps bloggers who would do it voluntarily - who can follow their local media and update the data regularly. But of course, this is an enormous project (nevertheless, it is not impossible - why do we have the internet for?).
Tuesday, 3 June 2008
What have I been up to? Mostly working. On my PhD proposal, on the Civicweb interviews with the producers, before that on the paper with Nick on methods for researching YouTube for the Web2.0 conference.
1. PhD proposal - I finally sent in the the "damn thing" (as my dear friend Janne would say). I am not sure wheater I am pleased with it or not, but I suppose it is a base to start working on. I discovered that I became overwhlemed with literture on globalisation - at the begining it all seemed much too much, but now I can't stop reading. Especially I suggest:
Hay (2007). Why we hate politics? Really, really excelent book.
2. Civicweb interviews with producers of sites - not quite finished yet.
3. Paper with Nick on how to research content on YouTube at Politics Web 2.0 Conference - it opened a Pandora's box of questions I have to find answers to in the next couple of months: How to sample - which topic to choose? What's up with videos - are pictures for ex. rational argumentation? What about the language - if I am already studying international or global publics, is English really enough? And all great participation numbers! Number of visits, number of posts, number of ratings and most importantly number of hits from other online sources? Are they really an indicator of "publicness" in terms of public consequences? Loads of work still awaits!
Saturday, 5 April 2008
We had a discussion on Web2.0 at the Digital Studies online seminar this week and one of the consensus was that there is something on Web2.0 but that it is not defined at all and has become a hype, a buzz word. Especially Igor Vobič was quite critical of the concept - and I quite liked his comparison that web2.0 has replaced the "e"- hype (e-democracy, e-particpation etc.).
Well - according to the author of UTube blog (which is quite revealing) Edward Lee, we are heading to the era of Web3.0 - it is supposed to be characterized by "umbundlness" and "embedeness" - with total flow from one information and mode to another.
Wednesday, 27 February 2008
Hargittai. E. 2007. Whose Space?
And since I am in the process of analyzing what kind of research has been done on web.20 for a proposed article for Web2.o conference in London, I will share my notes in the form as I have made them.
1. Research: Hargittai. E. 2007. Whose Space? Differences among users and Non-Users of Social Network Sites. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. Vol. 13 (1). Article 14.
2. Application: SNS
3. Aim: To see whether there are any systematic differences among users and non-users of sites despite a familiarity with them
4. research design: causal (but no hypotheses posed)
5. Theory: Some aspects of identity formation online versus offline (Turkle, 1975, Herring, 1993, Boyd 2001, Smith & Kollock, 1999) are mentioned. Mostly the author builds upon the notion of the digital divide, where not the question of access to the internet is addressed, but the question of what kind of uses are dividing different internet users on the basis of their socioeconomic status and social contexts of use.
6. Sample: mostly 18-19 year old college students of the
7. Method: “Paper” survey
8. Main results: Ethnicity is not a causal factor for overall SNS use, but it is for disaggregated uses of specific SNS services. Women are more likely to use SNS than men. Those living at home are less likely to use SNS than those living with roommates or alone.
Conclusions the author makes: 1. Students with varying background select different services, potentially limiting the extent to which they will interact with a diverse set of users. 2. Students who have more resources (soc. Context of use and experience) are spending more time on these sites and have more opportunities to benefit from them.
9. Ethical considerations: anonymity of respondents was assured, but no ethical considerations were provided by the author
10. Positive aspects:
This is certainly a well-needed research – to investigate the demographics of SNS users.
The author used regression analysis with which she checked whether the analyzed differences were statistically significant.
11. Negative aspects
Although the data on demographics of SNS users were needed for an overall descriptive knowledge of who uses these sites, there are some problems that have come to my mind with this research. The first of the problems considers methodology, others are conserned with theoretical foundations of the research and conclusions the author draws from the research.
First is the problem of sample – although students of a specific university are a valuable ofline and especially easy to collect sample with great response rate the problem I see is that students are a special category – as the author suggests – most of which do use SNS and any substantial conclusions regarding the overall demographics of SNS sites are to be avoided. This could be seen from the fact that overall SNS use id not determined by ethnicity, since all of the units in the sample are students (also suggesting the lack of explanative power of ethnicity). Furthermore, taking the sample of students resulted into a too small number of non-users of SNS, therefore failing to answer the question of differences among users and non-users.
Second, although the aim of the author is to specifically analyze demographics of users, there are no specific theoretical variables that would really explain why users with different ethnic background use different SNS services and why there are no differences among SNS uses overall. The author suggest that the reason may be that offline connections influence which SNS services a user will use, but there are no variables included in the survey that would test this implicit hypothesis. Overall, having only demographic variables does not really explain any causal relations, it is just a first step in research and more often than not it leaves us with questions and speculations that should necessarily be researched more into depth in the future research.
Third, just as the author did not include any variables about the offline network, she did not include any questions of motivation for participation or reasons for non-participation at the sites. The author thus fails to answer the main question she poses – how do users differentiate from non-users – although this is due mostly to the sample, it is highly unlikely that the answer would be found in “rough” variables such as ethnicity or how many hours per day and where an individual uses the internet. Furthermore, no theoretical discussion is present on possible reasons of assumed differences among users and non-users. The aim of the research thus lacks in ambition: the author only wants to see whether there are any differences which will be left to explain in future research.
Fourth, main conclusions made on use of SNS, are based on the pre-dispositions that SNS sites have positive benefits and that people interact with other ethnical groups when they are on the same SNS service. As far as I know, none of these predispositions have been tested, nor does the author provide any literature review of previous research on these presupposed benefits.
I conclude that this research is extremely needed step in analyzing demographics of SNS users, nevertheless it is helpful only as an informative case – the question of why are there differences in SNS services use has not been researched and should be explored more in depth in the future. The same is true for the question of who are the non-users and why?
Tuesday, 26 February 2008
If at the YouTube they have baned it for younger than 18 - it could be full seen from our commercial TV:
Svet na Kanalu A
During the time of riots in Belgrade against the independence of Kosovo two young girls went to a shopping spree - robbing from stores that have been assaulted by rioters. Little did they know (ok they've figured it out in between) that there was an unknown individual filming their adventure. And the video ended up on YouTube where it got extreme attention. They got arrested thanks to the video.
This reminded me of a conversation we had the last Wednesday with Sašo and Igor at the pub after the New Media and Society lecture :). Sašo was just telling how internet is an extremely well suited tool for a peer-to-peer surveillance - just as in the time of Hitler Germany "normal" people were the ones doing the surveillance and not the Gestapo. This is a prime example of Sašo's point. Ironically - I am doing it right now :).
I am not shure, but I think that the phenomena is termed little brother effect. Does anyone know more on this?
Blogging down the dictator by Kuliova and Perlmutter - they describe what role did only one blog had in the recent Kyrgyzstan revolution and compare it to samizdat publishing back in USSR. The main reason for the blog being successful was the fact that authorities could not hack into it - they claim it was because it was on an USA based server. Well, this recent incident once again shows that authorities are getting a lot smarter - getting even better results than they wanted.
The other main point that should be taken from this is the fact that even though states are struggling hard to border the internet, it just doesn't work that easily.
Tuesday, 12 February 2008
Eupean Commission funds the Insafe campaign. Today they have a global blogathon, opened by Commissioner Reding, where they aim for posts from different countries, starting in Australia and going West. I will wait for Slovenia to comment.
Although I agree with the ideals of promoting safer internet, I am a bit worried that it can unleash a sort of moral panic and moralistic discourse on internet, causing parents to interpret the main message of the campaign into "the safest internet use is no use at all". At least the video advertisement made for safe internet use is a "bit" exaggerated.
Monday, 11 February 2008
This brings me back to the net - I realized that it is still extremely embedded into offline reality - cutting two cables and everything goes crazy in India and Middle East! It made me wondering about the fragility of our real world which depends on the net so much.
Well... I have to chase off my apocalyptic nightmares and have faith in the system. Back to the PhD! ( Still, will it do me any good in case of cables being shut down permanently? Probably not, but in that case neither will most of my education or anything else for that matter - raising goats sounds a much better solution).
Friday, 8 February 2008
2. Monday, 4th of February: CIVICWEB practitioners meeting: small group discussion
After first presentations we had small groups discussion. In the group I participated in, there was a discussion among two practitioners:
- Matija Hiti,
- Carlijn Wiebenga,
& four academics:
- Dr. Fredrik Miegel, Sweden
- Dr. Victor Bohm, Hungary
- Francesco Fabro,
- and me,
(And surprisingly most of the talking was done by the practitioners :)
We had a discussion among two ways of starting politics, one is bottom up political talk within everyday conversations, but most of the time not going anywhere (Vijavaja.com), the other is a sort of top-down mobilizing effort (Coolpolitics).
Matija was working in a company that produced websites and in the meanwhile started one of the first online communities in
Carlijn from Coolpolitics thought that the social effect of their website would be a lot more difficult to benchmark than for advertising. At vijavaja.com they organize not only online, but offline meetings also, after a while the online spilled into offline. Vijavaja.com functions mostly as an interactive space, the producers do provide their own content, but is in in a traditional form, it is for example in form of funny tests or tests how two people match.
At vijavaja.com they organize not only online, but offline meetings also, after a while the online spilled into offline. Vijavaja.com functions mostly as an interactive space, the producers do provide their own content, but is in in a traditional form, it is for example in form of funny tests or tests how two people match.
Friderik steped into the discussion with a note that probably the most popular site is file sharing site, it has actually no civic intent at all, but as sharing became an important political topic it too was transformed. With the new law a new political party was established: the Pirate party – an offspring of Pirate site. This is the fast growing party in
Matija presented his view on how, why and where to use different interactive tools. It foremost depends on the goals of the site and on the teams that will be working on the sites. According to him there are four stages of website/community development:
- pure text
- trying to engage user to engage, but not user to user, but to the content, for example questionnaires, tests etc.
- forums, blogs, which allow some kind of asynchronous communication
- real life: chat rooms.
He stressed that producers too often try to jump over the first or the second level and the lack of the first two levels actually determines that the forum will never work out well. You need a critical mass to come to your website, to know the content first. He stated it rather poetically: you have to live with the website to know when the proper time for what is. According to him the users are usually the ones who give you the signal to start with something new. It is not necessary, of course, that the website goes through this process, Matija finger pointed to YouTube as an example, but added that this is one case in a million.
Similarly Carlijn pointed out that in Coolpolitics they decided they could only do forums close to elections when there is really close to something to talk about.
Vijavaja.com is a peculiar site, since it closed its doors for new users bacuse the number of users got too large, to handle. Matija expressed this as “Sweet problems” – having too much users. On the other side Coolpolitics reaches for as large number as possible, using offline postcards that are disseminated around bars and places for youth. Next to that they use mass media.
Matija advised that the best thing in mobilizing is not to try to build your own community, but to go and reach the existing online communities. He presented an example when there was a call for bone marrow volunteering and the response from the community was tremendous.
Monday, 4th of February: CIVICWEB practitioners meeting: presentations by producers of civic websites
It was extremely interesting to hear practitioners’ points of view on youth and how to mobilize them, since most of them are doing this for their living. All three presenters at the first discussion were girls, talking on the content and efforts made by their organisations’ websites.
- Carlijn Wiebenga
- Mireia Sabartes
- Jessica Wright Youth Voice, UNICEF
Since Jessica’s presentation was the most thorough, I am publishing only on Youth Voice.
Most of the ways of participation at Youth Voice are offline. They do, however have some interactive “stuff”: quizzes, videos, you can download banners to put on Facebook or similar. They have a mailing list of 1700 people who have joined for newsletter. What was of special interest to me was that they also have a Myspace page: they partnered with Myspace when it created Myspace Impact – for NGOs to get involved with Myspace community. They have a Bebo profile and Facebook as well. Furthermore, they did a blog with a young person in
The discussion following the presentations was quite interesting, I managed to note down some of the questions from the audience and answers by all three participants (I want to explicitly state, that this is not a direct speech from the participants, some things may have been left out, others overheard, so please take the conversations of informative nature, but not as suitable for quotations.)
Q: When young people give you an opinion, do you do something with it - get it to authorities?
Catalan National Youth Council: In National Youth Council you can not put any comments, but in xerxia you can put comments. National youth council is on organisations, if you are only an individual, it doesn't really count, it is only through organisations. The main point is that young people talk and work together.
Youth Voice, UNICEF: We have online actions, we created friendly versions of e-democracy initiatives, to send a mail to MP.
Cool politics: Cool politics is not a single issues movement; we try to promote citizenship, so we don't do that. We are not a lobby at all. We think politics is just a small part of citizenship. But we would like young people to discuss online.
Q: How were your projects set of?
Youth Voice, UNICEF: In UNICEF we had an education team. People realised there was a gap there, intially they had just one person which became a team.
Coolpolitics: Coolpolitics was organised by the director, he studied political science, his way of thinking is that young people are interested it is just not presented in a right way.
Q: How are you funded?
Coolpolitics: First four years we applied for different projects. For example, if you do a debate on environment, you go to environmental clubs. Also to
Youth Voice, UNICEF: We are partly financed by prime minister the rest from other organisations.
Catalan National Youth Council: From Catalan parliament. But you can't decide how many money you can put in each project.
Q: I think you (presenter from
Catalan National Youth Council: I myself have never been in one. What happens is that people push for a forum and I tried to do it, but it just doesn’t work.
Youth Voice, UNICEF: The international UNICEF has a youth forum which works brilliantly so we tend to send people there.
Q: I would be interested to know how your funding evaluates the outcome, does it stress for outcomes, do you need to adjust your goals?
Coolpolitics: If we get too influenced, young people will not believe us anymore, so we demand total freedom.
Q: Have you got any mechanisms for taking decisions from young people about your websites?
Coolpolitics: Every year we have one or two students who do a research.
Youth Voice, UNICEF: We try to involve young people all the time. Users can consult at the website youth advisors directly. I personally have been travelling through schools and ask them what the want from the site.
Catalan National Youth Council: We have a really good webmaster and you can send him your requests and he will do it.
I agreed to blog on the seminar I attended as the researcher in Civicweb: CIVICWEB, from 4th to 5th of February in
More on Civicweb project and the seminar:
Thoughts on blogging a conference
This definitely was not my conference. Don’t get me wrong, this has nothing to do with the content of the conference, I just had an overspill of logistic problems. I somehow managed to delete/corrupt my wireless days before, but of course remembered that I will need it only on Sunday – a day before the departure. (Then I tried to fix it and ruined my cable connection also, which took me couple of hours to fix.) Publishing a blog from the conference thus was out of the question since they only had wireless for public use. To make the long story short, my hand-bag was stolen with my passport, credit cards, telephone and money with it the night before my plane left. I have learned that for every foul act of one person there is an effort of much more good people needed to correct it. So, thanks to Tadej, my friend, the Slovene embassy, and people from Travel Care of Gatwick Airport I got home on the same day I had it planned, it just took me a lot longer, was much more expensive, and almost gave me a heart attack or a nervous breakdown (the last two are exaggerations, but you probably can imagine, how it feels to be without a penny in a foreign country depending only on the kindness of others).
I am not sure I would publish the blog simultaneously even if I had the wireless – it really took me a lot of time to edit and multitask the text with all the links to other information. But probably with experience it gets a lot easier.
- Make sure you have your internet connections all sorted before you go anywhere.
- Take good care of your personal belongings!
- Blogging on conferences is a difficult and at least at the begging time-consuming task, but an extremely useful way for making notes with links on presenters and presentations.
First, I like the ring the words leaves in my ears – it sounds like a gentle triangle sound.
Second, it reminds me of Trinity and the Matrix, one of my favourite movies.
Third, I like the concept in research – there are no proofs of validity beyond theoretical thought and deliberative consensus among researchers. Having a blog on my own research and my thoughts may contribute to its validity.
I am a young researcher at the Faculty of Social Sciences,
I am writing (or trying to write) a PhD on internet, globalisation, public participation...
I work as one of the researchers at the 6th framework project: CIVICWEB on young people, internet and civic engagement.
After my first trials in blogging: Subpolitical and exercise in collecting mails: E-mail Watch, I start once again with a blog. This time I decided it will be more on me, the interesting findings I stumble across when surfing around the net and the problems I encounter when thinking about globalisation, internet, the public, civic, political…
I have to thank for this second as well as the first blog to my co-supervisor professor Nick Jankowski who leads the New Media and Society seminar at the
I do have a life beyond academia. Most evenings I dance tango at our Tango Bar and help with teaching at 100% Tango dance school. I’ve met Peter there. My plans for life are to get married, write a PhD, dance tango and live happily ever after. Sounds simple.