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Anthropology of Digital Media
ANTH 378
Section: 02
Instructor: Jennifer Wolowic
Office: ANTH 2213
Office Hours: THURS 5:30-6:30
Class Schedule: TUES/THURS 4-5:30
Classroom: ANSO205
Important Course Pages
Lecture Notes
Course Discussion


Course Information:

What does “community” mean in an era where it is increasingly difficult to escape cyberspace? How do we think and communicate through our engagement with the digital network? How do we make sense of a globally connected society filled with unique cultures? How does the digital environment affect individuals and collective movements? This course is an over an overview of anthropology’s approach to community and networks as well as the social discussions around technology and media. With this background students will explore particular digital sites of community formation and reflect on their own participation in the Internet. As a special ethnographic area, the class explores what classic anthropological ideas apply to sites such as youtube, Facebook, and games as well as what questions digital interactions raise for society.

Course Structure: Our course will be broken down into two units. The first half of the course outlines the history of the World Wide Web and theories relating to how anthropologists address these new technologies. We will explore theoretical concepts surrounding media, technology, community and networks, as well as the methods anthropologists use to approach doing digital and/or virtual ethnographies. The first unit provides students with the foundation for their exploration of current sites of digital communities. The second unit explores particular digital sites such as wikipedia, blogs, youtube, and social network sites in particular cultural contexts to explore the following questions. How are traditions both maintained and transformed by the Internet? How do digital connections affect social movements, human organizing, and political change? Students will also be responsible for reading one full length Digital Ethnography. Students will lead discussions based on these ethnographies, present the books main ideas to class and share their findings with the larger world.

Course Outcomes: Students will learn how anthropology explores culture in digital platforms as well as how different cultures adopt new digital technology. Students will be able to critically engage with their own use of digital media as well as understand its implications for larger society. Students will learn to find and critically analyze blogs and youtube posts that apply to the course as well as add their own perspectives to the ‘digital cloud.

Wiki Assignments

Class Survey

Digital Anthropologists and Researchers

Below is a list of Digital Anthropologists and Researchers recommended by ANTH 378.

Philipp Budka:, is a social and cultural anthropologist from Vienna Austria, his blog is focused on media and technology. specifically on the topics of Indigenous internet practices and media, as well as technology enhanced learning. Budka is a lecturer at the University of Vienna, his ethnographic field work is concerned with internet practices of First Nations people in northern Ontario {Jaime Pollock}

Heather Horst: & Heather is a 'socio-cultural anthropologist' and her research focuses upon new media, material culture, and transnational migration. An interesting book she has published investigates the anthropological evolution through the use of mobile phones. She is Co-Director of the Digital Ethnography Research Centre at UCL and works closely with Danny Miller (see below) [Sam Scott]

Ed Chi: Ed Chi is one of the lead UX researchers at Google. His focus is in social interaction research relating to social search, and analytics. Presently he is working on research related to G+ and user's varying interpretations of social circles. Here is a link to his personal page, which also contains many of his recent and past publications. [Sammy Krieger]

Stefana Broadbent is a Digital Anthropologist is a cognate scientist that has spent the last few decades focusing on the relationships between people and technology. Using a mix of traditional and new ethnographic techniques, Broadbent explores how people interact with these new technologies, and how these interactions are changing and evolving. (Kim Pringle)

Danah Boyd is a Senior Researcher at Microsoft, but is most known for her work with teens and their technological lives (how they use and function with technology). She has helped write and publish a book on the topic and is well-known for her constant blog updates. Below is a link to her bio, where you will also find a link to her blog, twitter feed, popular essays and some of her published articles. - Georgia

"The Digital Anthropologist" - This unnamed blogger represents the new age way of communication, through his tweets and blog. He remains anonymous, yet offers valid information and opinions on the ways in which technology is changing the face of anthropological research. His blogspot picture is of an avatar, and he is described as a digital anthropology masters graduate from University College London. His tweets and blog posts center around the influence of social and digital media inventions, and he contributes to a group blog called "Savage Minds," which consists of anthropology professors from around the world. The fact that he remains unnamed only adds to the influence of "internet identities" and how easy it is in today's culture, to say what you need to say without attaching a name. Here is his blog: - Kate Ryan

Mike Whitmore has observed the effect of anonymity and the amount of interactions that occur between other users on instagram versus users who expose their lives by including personalized posts. (no wiki) [Lauren Schofield]

Domagoj Babic is a research scientist at Facebook. Before Babic made the move to Facebook he was a research scientist at UC Berkley. Babic’s research focus is inference of system models and security, testing, and verification of software systems. Here is a link to Babic’s website, where he posts updates as well as his recent publications. – Shawn Kang

Spotlght on Digital Media and Learning Multiple Authors Posted by Max Bailey This blog has lots of interesting articles, such as what is to come after blogging, how the internet works (how convenient for class), about digital literacy in different communities, and a lot more. This blog also takes a more localized approach at looking at what smaller groups of people in cities are doing, and looks at the interactivity that certain classrooms of today have, and how they use them for learning.

Dr. Michael Wesch is an associate professor of cultural anthropology at Kansas State University. He studies the effects of social media and digital technology on human interaction. Below is a link to his profile at Kansas State University website. It includes links to his YouTube channel, publications and podcasts. [Carlos Tello]

Francine Barone is a social anthropologist and blogger based in New York. She blogs in support of her thoughts on the human nature of technology and how humans are innately technological. Her blog entitled Analog/Digital incorporates opinions from anthropologists and informed thinkers with awareness of the significant impact that digital media / technology has on the way we conduct our day to day lives. - Stephanie Henriksen

Wale Azeez - - Wale is a freelance journalist who is so interested in the digital age and asking questions about it that he is training to become a digital anthropologist. His blog is a mix of opinions, news and musings on Facebook, smart phones and all things digital. He's particularly interested in how Facebook is affecting social life. - Jordy Tait

Krystal D'Costa is an anthropologist in digital media who blogs for Scientific American as well as her twitter feed. ( and ). Her job didn't exist five years ago, as a digital media anthropology blogger for a major science magazine/journal, she talks about her experience here - <Andrew Davidson>

Danny Miller is a professor of material culture at UCL. Publications by Miller include Tales From Facebook which is based on his fieldwork in Trinidad and details the implications of the popular social networking site on social and cultural life. Miller's current research includes exploring the impact of social media in a variety of cross-cultural contexts, and the its intersections with identity, class, and transnationalism. [Candace Massey]

Joseph Dumit is the Director of Science & Technology Studies and a Professor of Anthropology at UC Davis. His research into experimental futures brings together theoretically innovative and ethnographically rich interdisciplinary work. His work is a response to the uneven networks and differentiating cultures brought about by globally extended information technologies and digital communities. Experimental Futures is home to scholarship produced at the intersection of anthropology, science and technology studies, medicine, political economy, and studies of new media and arts. Link to Dumit's Digital Humanities project: (Edit by Kai Lydgate)

Mirca Madianou is a Newton Trust Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Cambridge. She is the author of the book “Mediating the Nation” and her current research examines the role of new communication technologies in the context of migration and transnational families. Her interests include the social and political impact of mediated communication, media and nationalism, and new communication technologies. She has also worked with Danny Miller (listed above). [Jeremy Tan]

Gabriella Coleman: Coleman is an anthropologist whose research focuses on hackers and digital activism. She is the Wolfe Chair in Scientific and Technological Literacy at McGill University. She is also the author of Coding Freedom: the Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking, and is currently writing a book on Anonymous, a "hacktivist" group. Wiki: Twitter: [Armileen Naypes]

Ariel Waldman is out of this world. In 2008, she was ranked 30th in a Top 50 List of the most influential people in the Silicone Valley. Founder of & Science Hack Day, she spends her free time on the Committee for Human Spaceflight for the National Academy of Sciences. Among other pursuits, Waldman is also a digital anthropologist for VML (full-service digital marketing agency that operates on 5 continents). BLOG: TWITTER: @arielwaldman WEBSITE:

Tom Warren is the Senior Editor at The Verge and the founder of WinRumors. He primarily focuses on Microsoft related news/rumors and reviews of the newest technological products. Tom Warren is extremely active on twitter and interacts with his followers on a regular basis. Here is a link to his twitter feed. [Rodrigo Valdes]

James Gleick is an author and journalist who has written extensively on science and technology. As a reporter for the New York Times, Gleick profiled leading scientists such as Stephen Jay Gould and Douglas Hofstadter. In his first book Chaos: Making a New Science, Gleick chronicled the development of Chaos theory and popularized the term Butterfly Effect. His latest book, The Information: a History, a Theory, a Flood, received wide acclaim. Gleick, through his writing and reporting, is a leading figure and voice on the information age and its history, complexities and implications. Here is a link to his Twitter: {Jacob (Izzy) Rosen}

Haidy Geismar is a social anthropologist who focuses her research in intellectual and cultural property, indigenous rights, new forms of cultural representation, the anthropology of art, and critical museology of the South Pacific. She has taught digital culture in New York University and engaged in projects using digital tools and experimenting with Museum technologies to create interactive archives. She now teaches at UCL, where she is developing digital methods and practices to explore in which ways can anthropology contribute to the experience of global digital technologies. This is her website: And here is a link to the Center for Digital Anthropology, from UCL: [Paula Berner Magalhães]

Genevieve Bell is director of Intel's Ineraction and Experience Research Lab. She was also inducted into the Science and Technology Hall of fame in 2012. She is an anthropologist who graduated from Stanford who has lead the charge transforming the internet and computers from devices judged on their speed and abilities to technology focused on users needs and experiences. She has several youtube talks and always finds creative ways to change the question. [Jennifer Wolowic]

David Graeber is an American anthropologist and anarchist who is currently employed as a social anthropologist at Goldsmiths, University of London. He was previously an assistant professor at Yale until he was controversially terminated, and has gone on to write several books revolving around his involvement in such political activism campaigns as Occupy Wall Street and protests against the World Economic Forum. He has been credited by Rolling Stone to have created the Occupy Wall Street theme "We are the 99%". Wiki: Twitter: He also has done an AMA on reddit, listed here: [Matt Hanna]

Jennifer A. Rode is an assistant professor at Drexel's School of Information, as well as a digital anthropologist at University College London. SHe has twenty-seven published papers and has been cited over 250 times. Her most relevant work is entitled, "Reflexivity in Digital Anthropology. Here is her portfolio --> [Geoffrey Morrow}

David Hesmondhalgh: & David Hesmondhalgh is Head of the Institute of Communication Studies as well as Director of the Media Industries Research Centre at the University of Leeds in England. He writes about the sociological and economical changes in the creative industries, especially regarding music digitalization. The Cultural Industries is his most famous writing and an enriching approach of the media and cultural production across time. He recently published Creative Labour (2011, co-written with Sarah Baker) where he analyses the quality of working life in the creative industries. [Leopoldine Leblanc]

Grant McCracken: Grant McCracken is an anthropologist who has been studying and teaching American culture for more then 25 years. He has taught at the University of Cambridge, MIT, and the Harvard Business School.In addition he has authored several books on American culture focusing on how contemporary culture interacts with business and organizations. He has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show and worked for many organizations including Timberland, New York Historical Society, Diageo, IKEA, Sesame Street, Nike, and Kimberly Clark. [Ashley Canavan]

Sean Lawson is an assistant professor in the University of Utah, who received his Ph.D from the Department of Science and Technology Studies in Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute. His research focuses on the relationships between science, technology, and military theory. He is particularly interested in how national security and military thought can intersect with new media and other communication methods and technology. In November 2, 2012, Sean Lawson wrote an article on titled "Is the United States Militarizing Cyberspace," which has since then been viewed 2,100 times. [Maria Orillaneda]

John Postill: John Potsill is an anthropologist who has studied media in a long and global career including stints at the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute, Japan, Spain and currently as a senior research fellow at the School of Media and Communication in Melbourne. Recently he has focused on the uses of media for activism and protest in contemporary contexts such as in the Spanish Indignado movement as well as the Occupy Movement, and his approach to media involves analyzing it not in isolation but in its wider connections with people, technology and historical processes. [Alan Marx] Brian Rotman is a British-born professor working at Ohio State University. He is a mathematician, theatre director and philosopher. His work includes such books as 'Ad Infinitum... the Ghost in Turing's Machine' and 'Becoming Beside Ourselves.' This is a page from his personal website. [Daniel Siracusa]

Michael Strangelove: He is a digital ethnographer who has been teaching at the University of Ottawa since 2001. He has written two books, "Watching YouTube" and "The Empire of mind". He also has his own YouTube channel.Here is the link to Dr.Strangelove's blog where you could read about his research and stories. (An Qi Angela Feng)

Joseph Reagle: Author of "Good Faith Collaboration: The Culture of Wikipedia" and associate professor at Northeastern, Joseph Reagle has craft for unpacking the complexities of media, most notably the myriad of abstract policies that govern the freespace that is Wikipedia. His work is uplifting and quirky and if that doesn't grab you, take a gander at his extensive CV! Joseph also keeps a research blog which can be accessed here: [Laura Turner]

Edward Castronova: When he plays and studies an online game he provides more an insider's insight. He is writing to insider audiences (on his blog at least) instead of an outsider anthropologist writing about a first time experience to readers who are also learning about it for the first time. If you are not familiar with MMORPGs you may have some trouble reading through the contents. [Brian Tsui]

Recommended TED TALKS

Below is a list of TED talks recommended by the students of ANTH 378 Anthony Campbell: Ze Frank has two talks, and I'm listing this one first, because it's funnier: This one might relate a bit more closely to this class. It is still Ze:

This talk by Jonathan Harris gives a glimpse into how an individual using an algorithm can access all known data on the web, organize it and present it in palatable form. He created a program that is free to use and may come in handy for a research project / essay.<Andrew Davidson>

Paolo Cardini is talking about mono-tasking in a world where we are always trying to multi-task. He introduces several inventions that help reduce smart-phones into mono-tasking technologies. Also, he has a sweet moustache so that counts for something. (Mikhail Elsay)

Dimitri Christakis "Media and Children" link: This ted talk looks at the brain growth and development of a child, and how things affect this. How content on tv is important, and how much media our children are seeing. The fast paced media is maybe too much, and could be overstimulating our children's minds.

Edward Castronova - "Be A Gamer" Link: Edward Castronova is a professor of Telecommunications and Cognitive Science, Indiana University. "Reality is broken", a rather Marxist notion, Castronova explains why online games are worth studying, not by reducing it to a mere entertainment nor an "escape", but through understanding its therapeutic function to the gamers. Castronova extensively analyze the social effects of online game in his many other studies. ------- Brian Tsui

Andrew Blum - "What is the Internet Really?" Following on discussions we've had in class about the Internet as a physical thing this TED talk traces the cables that make up the Internet and shows how the world is connected across the oceans and along coastlines. Blum believes it is important that we understand the infrastructure that enables the Internet and tells a surprising story about the connection of a new cable on a beach. - Jordy Tait

Adam Ostrow: After Your Final Status Update In “After Your Final Status Update” Adam Ostrow discusses the pending problem of what happens to a person’s social media sites when they die. He points out that the digital archive we each are building may create interesting opportunities for technologists. For instance, there are websites appearing that help to deal with this issue of social media after death., for example, allows you to create a message or video that will be uploaded to Facebook after your death. - Emily

John Maeda - “How art, technology and design inform creative leaders.” John Maeda is a programmer and an artist. In this TED talk, he explores how design and technology intersect. He develops a playful and artistic approach in order to question technology (following Heidegger's piece of advice). By choosing a design perspective, he focuses on how we experience a message through the changes of its form and content. As the President of the Rhode Island School of Design, he is also interested in the notion of leadership, especially what he calls “creative leadership”. [Leopoldine Leblanc]

Jan Chipchase - Jan Chipchase is a researcher at Nokia and spends most of his time travelling the world discovering how technology influences our lives. He talks about the 3 billion people who (given that the talk was in 2007) have cellular access. This number has obviously increased in recent years, and from his base in Tokyo, Jan finds ways to better our relationship with technology. He discusses the importance that a cellular phone has come to have to an individual, and how worldwide, it is something that people cannot leave their houses without. - Kate Ryan

Clay Shirky-How the Internet will (one day) transform government: -- Clay Shirk is a social media theorist who talks about how new innovations of open source programming could lead to the philosophy of "cooperation without coordination"--a new way of constructing extremely large and complex communities that can work together with no boundaries. He argues that internet and social media could generate a culture that acquires a new style of arguing that could eventually fulfills the wish of true democracy especially in the political sense. This piece of talk is relevant to numerous topics we have covered in class including the invention of the internet, communities and networks, and the expansion of technology and new media. [An Qi Angela Feng]

Stefana Broadbent - How the Internet enables intimacy Stefana Broadbent is a honorary visiting researcher at the Department of Anthropology at University College London. She has spent the last 20 years investigating people's daily use of technology. In this TED talk she argues that Internet is causing a "democratization of intimacy", which means that people are breaking an imposed isolation that institutions like schools or workplaces are imposing on them. The TED talk makes an argument on the discussion about if Internet is really isolating people or bringing them closer; a discussion we have talked about in class. [Carlos Tello]

Malte Spitz – “Your Phone Company is Watching” Link: Malte Spitz is a Green politician who resides in Berlin, Germany. His TED Talk titled “Your Phone Company is Watching” discusses how phone companies such as T-Mobile are able to track movement, location, and phone activity of their customers. Spitz discovered that his phone company had tracked his phone activity 35,000 times in a span of 6 months. This TED talk brings up issues such as privacy, storing information and how companies would like to track our lives. – Shawn Kang

Jeff Hancock: "The future of lying" Link: Jeff Hancock is interested in how human communication is being changed/influenced by digital media (texts/twitter/fb/phone..etc). He investigates texting lies.."I'm on my way...", dating profiles and how perhaps technology is forcing us to become more truthful. Linguistic anthropologists agree that Humans started speaking 50000-100000 years ago. Since writing (permanent record of speech)only emerged 5000 years ago we have spent the majority of our time evolving with speech that disappears as fast as it is spoken. Even with the printing press, literacy has only been mainstream since WW11! In a world were everything is virtually being recorded, the different types of lies can now (possibly) be decoded. [Gabrielle Desfosses]

Paolo Cardini: "Forget Multitasking, try monotasking" This is a Ted Talk under 6 minutes, by Paolo Cardini. We have discussed the endless possibilities of technological advances in class, and, more importantly, how these advances have changed our lives as technology users. Here Paolo Cardini, a product designer, questions our ability to live with limited technology, and has created whimsical IPhone covers to help us 'mono-task' and enjoy the world without as many technological interferences.

Mitch Resnick: "Let's teach kids to code" In this Ted talk Resnick talks about the importance of teaching our children how to do coding so that they can take an active part in their technological future as opposed to accepting it as young people spend the majority of their time with technology anyways. They are the most technologically advanced generation ever and for them not being able to code is akin to being able to not read or write in previous generations. [Ashley Canavan]

Paul Conneally: "Digital humanitarianism" Link: Conneally discusses the disaster in Haiti and how aid agencies were unprepared. He states discusses how people were sending SMS messages regarding their whereabouts and were essentially shaping the aid effort. "Digital volunteers" converted texts, tweets, and messages with the intention on mapping the victims. The event gave rise to Trilogy Emergency Response Application (TERA), an application that is used to help communities prepare for weather related disasters and health awareness. This video sheds light on the potential direction that humanitarianism may be heading towards; from analog to digital. The video also ties in the past week discussions about media and technology use and how it can facilitate discussions between groups of people who share common goals (humanitarianism) and how they can create a useful application accordingly. [Armileen Naypes]

Nicholas Christakis: "The Hidden influence of Social Networks" Link: This talk discusses the impact that social networks have on the individual. Social networks represents the vast fabric of human society in that we are constantly expanding or changing our social networks. Christakis links the relationships we have with members of our social network and how they influence behaviour. For example, in studying obesity, it was found that the chances of becoming overweight is linked to the people you surround yourselves with - your social network. If someone is always around a certain type of person (an obese person) they will almost certainly adopt their habits and visa versa. [Stephanie Henriksen]

Bandi Mbubi discusses the idea of a fair trade cell phone, or more specifically a conflict free cell phone, in the context of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. His talk looks further into the social ramifications of the sourcing of cell phone materials, and how new technology is very useful and welcomed internationally, but that there are also negative effects that stem from this flourishing industry. Mbubi's speech allows for both sides of the argument to be heard, and leaves you with a new idea that is worth spreading, which is what TED is all about. [Jaime Pollock]

Google Ngrams Viewer: Have you played with Google Labs' NGram Viewer? It's an addicting tool that lets you search for words and ideas in a database of 5 million books from across centuries. Harvard guys Erez Lieberman Aiden and Jean-Baptiste Michel show us how it works, and a few of the surprising things we can learn from 500 billion words. [Daniel Siracusa]

Vancouver's "Silicon Umbrella"

Below is a list of Vancouver start ups and digital companies that may be sites of future employment or research.

A list of Vancouver gaming companies, from big names like EA to lesser known: This gaming company creates quite original games, especially when compared to the many gaming start ups that make "miniclip" or "addictinggames" type rip offs. They consider themselves a "tight-knit group of passionate developers" and require 5+ years of professional C++ experience as well as having shipped 2 commercial titles. Its clear by the art and quality of their games that you need a lot of experience prior to working with a group like this. [Andrew Davidson] Started by Sarah Bancroft, this idea began at a dinner party in the mid 2000's. It is a blog that looks at street style in Vancouver, as well as recommending neat events, stores and products in the city. At first, it was something she did on the side of her day job. Due to word of mouth it bagan very popular, and in 2007 Sarah started dedicating all of her time to this website. Fans of the website invested in her so she could launch in other major Canadian cities. This individual pet project now has 18 full time staff members. In order to generate revenue they opt for sponsorship over ads, and hire local editors who will bring their own social media following to the website with them. [Kim Pringle] Riptours is a Start up created in 2012 which proposes blog articles and informative guides so that travellers can search and compare tours more easily. This Start up embraces diverse jobs possible such as web designer, tour operator, writer, web engineer... An experience in tourism is required as well as believing in a responsible tourism. [Leopoldine Leblanc] A.C.R.O.N.Y.M. Games Inc. is an independent game development studio that started in October 2004. A.C.R.O.N.Y.M.'s experience covers the entire spectrum of game development disciplines including architecture, network/online, rendering, animation, gameplay, AI and user interface. [Carlos Tello] Game company that also builds game engine. The CEO and CTO worked at EA for years, and decided to start their own company with their vision of gaming's future. I've talked to some of them, cool people. [Brian Tsui] was formed by Jonathan Hanley in 2002. Its main features involve web services and project managements. The project team takes on the role of a consultant and provide technical, marketing, creative direction, and designing services to their clients. The company looks for passionate and talented individuals in various fields including artists, photographers, internet developers, programmers, and other multi-media professionals. The key characteristic to getting hired in this company is creativity as they emphasize the importance of creating innovative work. [An Qi Angela Feng] Tangoo is a Vancouver startup by former UBC students that is trying to make the 'No fun city' fun again by hosting unique bar/restaurant hops in Gastown and other areas of the city. They take the hassle out of having a great night by taking care of all the planning and allowing guests to experience hot/new locations with a group of young professionals. You can book on their website and its a great way to get together with friends and meet new people. This is the company's first year in business and it has already gained quite a lot of media attention and support. [Jordy Tait]

AppNeta is a company which develops network performance management solutions for companies with large IT sectors or important network performance demands. Situated in Gas Town, its a great place to work and now has expanded to have their management base in Boston, MA, with their technical branch maintained in Vancouver. [Sammy Krieger] A Thinking Ape is a company dedicated to software development that focuses on creating mobile applications and free-to-play games. This company supports passionate software engineers and game developers. ATA promotes an open “hacker-friendly” culture and a very sociable work environment. [Rodrigo Valdes] MetroLyrics is a Vancouver start up by Milun Tesovic which was created in 2002. MetroLyrics is a website that provides accurate song lyrics. It is one of the largest music websites in the world and has a database that includes 16,000 artists and over 1 million songs. Through collaboration with Gracenote, MetroLyrics is able to ensure that all of their content is licensed. MetroLyrics now has 18 employees. [Shawn Kang] Blast Radius is a global digital agency that was founded in Vancouver in 1996. They now have offices in NYC, Seattle, Toronto, Portland, London, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Paris and Shanghai. They use a "Networked Brand" approach which focuses on connecting brands with clients from the ground up. Their innovative, progressive, and adaptive formula has landed them clients which include: Starbucks, Lululemon, Land Rover, Nike Golf, and Bacaradi. They have amazing benefits, including a 4 week paid sabbatical every 4 years (who does those anymore!!). Here is a link to a current job listing for their vancouver office: No experience? They accept applications for interns... [Gabrielle Desfosses] EA is a massive game developer that has a large campus located in Burnaby. EA makes almost every popular sports video game among many other games. They offer internships and co-ops for people interested in game design as well other jobs in marketing and public relations. While it might be hard for a BA of Anthropology to get into game designing, there are other opportunities like PR that could be useful. As a huge fan of the EA games it has always been a wish of mine to work for this company in some shape or form. [Mikhail Elsay] Xomo Digital Inc. is a app developing company that specializes in event apps. The company updates their database with event info in the area and helps to promote attendance and awareness at global, and local scales. The main office is in Yaletown, though they have other offices in London and Germany. They are currently hiring a couple of app developer positions as well as HR and analyst positions. [Lauren Schofield] SunFarm Software Inc. is a software development company based in Vancouver, British Columbia. SunFarm Software focuses on creating software applications for businesses as well as apps for iPhone, Android, and other mobile platforms. SunFarm Software uses an innovative approach to ensure quality throughout the production of all of our products and services. This Vancouver based software company is on the forefront of mobile app development in Canada and the world. 'Be My Amigo' was started by Jorge Amigo with a goal to increase meaningful connections within Vancouver and to probe more hugging of strangers. He creates events that encourage strangers to meet up and simply converse. The organization holds regular events (like the bi-weekly dinner at the Union), as well as special theme events, such as a 'Valentine's for Strangers'. I first saw Jorge speak at a local Pecha Kecha event when he was just beginning, but I see his vision going BIG! Hootsuite is a social media management dashboard that allows individuals to post to, and view on one screen, multiple social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube simultaniously. Corporations can effectively use it for marketing and branding, which is exploding online and specifically on social media sites. Hootsuite is also used for group conversations on multiple platforms, its able to track social media traffic and trends, and track mentions of specific brands. There are over 5 million users, and the company is based in Vancouver BC. (Jaime Pollock) MetroLyrics is a song lyrics dedicated website, providing users with the largest database of licensed, complete and accurate song lyrics through a partnership with Gracenote. The company’s lyrics licensing agreement ensures artists, songwriters and music publishers are properly compensated for the use of their copyrighted lyrics. (Ashley Canavan) This start up is for people who want to share ideas, experiences and opinions through text online. It is a creative foundation that attracts people who want to talk about things. Talking about those things would then make them more likely to act on them; therefore in a sense it is a start up to facilitate starting up on any number of subjects. The base is made up of these ambitious idealists, and that is how the community is defined, but on the website they basically discuss in a forum type setting whatever they want. : PlentyofFish is a Vancouver based online dating website that is mostly used in Canada with some use in the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States. This online dating company was founded in 2003 and attempts to match individuals with the use of “chemistry tests” and “relationship needs”. PlentyofFish currently employs 66 people and has an estimated 40 million registered users as of February 2012. [Jeremy Tan]

TechVibes: Techvibes is Canada's leading technology media property. Originally founded in 2002, Techvibes is dedicated to covering social, mobile, and startup news that impacts Canadians. Our editors and nationwide network of reporters combine breaking hyperlocal news with international coverage to deliver a unique balance of insight and information. New in 2012, Techvibes is also the host of the annual Canada Startup Awards. [Geoffrey Morrow]

Crowdsway This is a very unique company, started February 1st, 2012. The idea behind the CEO and Founder, Mohamed Albohrno, was to create an online community where filmmakers can present their work and collaborate. To get your face onto the companies website, your only task is to be creative and have knowledge of the film industry, knowing your way around a camera is a bonus, but not a necessity, as you can team up with online filmakers from the site and create something new. The ultimate goal is to make sure these filmakers get paid, and pay is waged by participation on the site: the more you contribute, the more benefits you reap. - Georgia Filippopoulos

OpenRoad and ThoughtFarmer OpenRoad offers strategy, user experience design, custom development, and web analytics services in order to build websites, intranets, custom web applications, and mobile apps. ThoughtFarmer is their social intranet software for companies and clients who need employees to collaborate. They have clients such as the city of Vancouver, BC Hydro, MEC and EA. This is a small Vancouver based company employing a miniscule 5 employees. The objectives of their company is to provide tools for online marketing for small businesses and startup companies whose goals are also to keep their companies to less than 5 employees. Since they arise from the same nature of these small businesses, they have expertise in this field and seek a vision that will keep the online marketing process effective and enjoyable. [Armileen Naypes] "Axiom Zen is an idea catalyst and software development consultancy. A collective of entrepreneurs, hackers, hustlers, and designers. We create, advise, and develop technology for iconic companies building the future of digital life," says their website. [Daniel Siracusa]

Anthropologist Blog or Twitter

I stumbled upon this really cool blog created by Anthropology and communications students and professors. There are 5 Cheif editors and numerous editors at large. The blgo is called 'Material World' and it really could be a world ethnography on a page - unfortunatley, it is only focused on the western world. The blog mainly focuses on materialistic and visual aspects of culture. They created the site as a 'world hub' where great thinkers can come and debate about any topic they choose. From book reviews to politics, art, campaigns and even fashion, this blog really has it all. The posts are well thought out, well written and cited, and often accompanied by pictures. - Georgia Filippopoulos

Grant McCracken is an anthropologist and author who has written numerous books. McCracken’s most recent book is titled “Culturematic”. McCracken has a significant impact as he has worked as a consultant for companies such as Kraft and Coca-Cola Company. I believe McCracken is a good follow on twitter because he tweets out interesting anthropological articles and blog posts written by him and others. These articles also seem relevant to popular culture which I like. For instance I really enjoyed an article that McCracken tweeted that looked at the rise of Macklemore. Macklemore is a Seattle rapper who is known for his song “Thrift Shop”. - Shawn Kang

Dina Mehta is an sociologist/anthropologist who is known to be one of India's first bloggers. She has a Master's Degree in Sociology and a background in anthropology and psychology. She has her own online research company Mosoci and Convo and has developed numerous projects in regards to collaboration, communication and the usage of advance technologies. What I find intriguing about her is that she is very much interested in how social media space has impacted this generation and had led numerous researches in rural areas in India. Her blog is very versatile and involves some of her qualitative works, poems, short writings, etc. Here's the link to her blog called "Conversations with Dina" -[An Qi Angela Feng]

Check out It is a group blog compiled by Ph.D. students and professors interested in bringing anthropology to a wider audience. The blog covers all topics related to anthropology and often addresses contemporary issues in anthropology. The blog utilizes guest bloggers as well as a few regulars to fill out their expansive page. The site has been running since 2005 and the most recent post was from today, March 11th so it is still current. What I like about this blog is how expansive it is. Quickly perusing the recent posts I came across several articles that I would like to read when I have a little bit more free time. If you are an anthropology student, I'd highly recommend checking out the page. [Mikhail Elsay]

Tricia Wang is an ethnographer who "researches how technology makes us human." She has worked for both Nokia and Microsoft, mostly with a sociological background. She is a contributing editor to the blog "Ethnography Matters," which offers insights into what it means to be an ethnographer today. She also has her own website, which details her ethnographic work in China and the social change that is occurring there. She is also studying the youth culture and how China's youth find their identities online. Check out her website here: as well as her Twitter: - Kate Ryan

While not an individual, Alltop is very interesting in that it scans the internet constantly for anything related to anthropology and displays it all in an easy to follow format. Not only is it covering an exceptionally diverse amount of material including all the popular anthropology blogs but, due to covering all aspects of anthropology there is at least one link that interests someone and coming back the next day will give all new links. I highly recommend for finding all the latest anthropology updates you could possibly want in one easy location. -Ashley Canavan

John Postill is the man behind the site His blog discusses anthropology, technology, productivity, innovation, among other things related to the broad study of humanity. He is the author of a number of books related to his interests, and according to his twitter bio (@JohnPostill), is currently writing about "new media protests". His posts seem to cover a wide range of topics, some of which include activism and net freedom (which I find most interesting). He also has a number of articles related to new media, some of which are written by him, some of which he recommends. [Maria Orillaneda] is the "MEME for us Anthro Freaks". This blog accepts content from anyone who wants to post about anthropology related material, events and even jokes. The posts bounce all over the place which makes it difficult to find particular information but if you've got some time to kill and want to find out about some interesting topics in a short time then this is an alright blog. It doesn't seem to be updated that often so maybe its not very popular but there seems to be a couple of intelligent writers mixed in amongst the randoms. [Jordy Tait]

John Hawks Blog: and Twitter: John Hawks is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, primarily focusing on paleoanthropology. His blog is widely read as it is constantly updated with his fieldwork experiences exploring fossils remains regarding human evolution as well as the trends in genetics of both alive and extinct hominids. His blog and twitter are definitely worth following if one is interested in paleoanthropology, human evolution, and biological anthropology. He also tweets daily if one is interested in a daily dose of anthropological jargon and witty humor. [Armileen Naypes]

Barry Joseph is the Associate Director for Digital Learning at the American Museum of Natural History, his blog is about his work an initiatives, and is concentrated on how digital media is changing museum based learning. You can follow him on Twitter as well @mmmooshme, Barry updates his blog evry few days with interviews,along with what he is doing at the Museum, recently there has been a concentration on game based learning. [Jaime Pollock]

Ted Striphas is a professor of media and cultural studies at the Indiana University. I highly recommend to read his blogs ("Differences and Repetitions" and "The Late Age of Print" where he discusses the politics of culture and the history of technology. You can follow him on twitter, he posts really good articles about the relationship between art and technology and the impact of technology in our everyday life: [Leopoldine Leblanc]

Steve Clayton is a digital anthropologist and the editor of He can be found in twitter as @stevecla ( He tweets mainly about Microsoft technology and new developments. He interacts often with his almost 7,000 followers and post links with information about how technology - and Microsoft - will shape the future. [Carlos Tello]

Yanis Varoufakis of the University of Athens, the University of Texas, and former economist-in-residence at Valve Software. His recent blog post talks about the unique business structure of Valve, determining Valve's success. Valve is one of the top giants in the industry, but not many would align Valve with EA or Blizzard. The chances are you'd find many negative opinion on other giants within the North America gaming community, but rarely would any disrespect Valve. They not only succeed in sales, but also in developing a positive public image. In terms of management model, aka workplace culture, Valve, like Google, also make their employees spend a certain % of time on the projects of their own choosing. But instead of 10%-20%, Valve goes 100%. When Google today is backing down on the freedom model, Valve remains in good business with what it has been. [Brian Tsui] URL:

Anthropology Youtube Videos

Below is a list of anthropology related youtube videos.

Michael Wesch - From Knowledgeable to Knowledge-Able I realise this is another TED Talk but I came across when watching some Genevieve Bell videos. I also realise now that the lecture tomorrow is based on Michael Wesch's book. In the video he questions the learning environments that have become outdated with the invention of new media and the subsequent cultures they create. I thought it was also useful as he specifically addresses the implications and changes since the introduction of the television. He talks about the one way conversations that this type of media encouraged and how the development of easily accessible knowledge has changed this traditional scenario. [Sam Scott]

An Anthropological Introduction to Youtube I came across this video on a class last year and just remembered it is really linked to what we have been discussing in class. I see someone already posted a link to this professor's page on Kansas University (his name is Michael Wesch), but I though this would be a good space to post this video. He talks about media as 'mediating' human relationships through youtube and how our role as agents within this global communication is taking shape through our webcams: [Paula Magalhães]

Social Secretaries [Max Bailey] This short video discusses the use of technology and social networking in UK The woman in the video talks about how she uses her black berry constantly and how she has converted her day to day tasks, duties, messages, etc all onto her blackberry. There are 3.4 million social secrataties (A person who arranges the social activities of a person or organization) in the UK which account for 19% of the adult population. I think many people have converted their lives to this way, and don't yet realize just how much its engrained in their lives. Maybe the unplugging for a day excercise could help more people than we know.... national unplug day??


What can you do with an Anthropology degree? This video presents a light-hearted song about what a degree in Anthropology is useful for. It highlights the skills and characteristics of an anthropologist. Compared to content you would find on TV the video clip is short, specific and displays an assortment of entertaining images. This question should be answered in every first year course but it is generally assumed that students will figure it out when they get older. [Jordy Tait]

Interview of anthropology PhD candidate "Stephen Campbell Rea" - Regarding Korean E-sport culture Quoting him, "There is a Global audience for Korean E-sports", the statement inspires rhetoric about the border of online communities - E-sports relate people of different ethnic backgrounds, at the same time establishes a "core" and "periphery" structure among Korea (players) and the Globe(audiences). Further, it is unclear whom this Youtube video's target audience be: insiders or outsiders. If it was a TV documentary or interview, it would be plain informative to audiences unfamiliar to the culture. However, as a Youtube video, it could be both a report to outsiders, and serving the insiders the purpose of being a social asset or cultural artifact. [Brian Tsui] URL:

Henry Markram says the mysteries of the mind can be solved; Mental illness, memory, perception: he plans to simulate the neurons of the human brain using a supercomputer that models all the brain's 100,000,000,000,000 synapses. (Kai Lyd)

'TEDWomen: Amber Case on Cyborg Anthropology' Though the clipis just over 3 minutes I think it fits very well with what we're doing in class, Case defines a 'Cyborg Anthropologist' as someone who studies the future of humans and technology. She very quickly explains that technology is changing our culture and they way we interact with each other, as well as how technology has changed our everyday life. [Jaime Pollock]

"Doing Anthropology" Fieldwork, consists of observing and connecting directly with communities and their culture. The video shows different scenarios of real fieldwork, the methodology and research questions they bring forth. [Rodrigo Valdes]

Do you like Community the TV show? Do you like anthropology? Well if you watch the show you have probably seen this clip of Troy, Abed and Betty White rapping about our favourite discipline. If you haven't seen it, check it out. I've provided the link here

"Life Off the Grid in Slab City" explores the lives of people living in the California desert in a city dubbed "Slab City." This YouTube video exemplifies this community as something similar to Burning Man, but these residents live year round. One of the residents describes his favourite aspect of the community as the freedom to be there without the permission of anyone else. This video, which I found by searching "cultural anthropology" was put together by a conglomerate called Thrash Lab, which "explores and defines culture for this generation of creatives." By creating a YouTube channel to explore these issues, these young men and women are creating an accessible place for people to find anthropological explanations of culture on YouTube. Check out the video showcasing Slab City:

In this video interview with Dan Small, Vancouver's (and Canada's only) Safe Injection Facility is discussed. The introduction of the SIF was, essentially, a medical anthropological marvel. This video is important in introducing the many pockets and corners of society that anthropology reaches, even when it may not be apparent! And guess what. Dan Small is also a guest professor at UBC! Ayo! [Laura Turner]

This short educational video on anthropology, "What is anthropology and why should we teach it" was uploaded on YouTube in 2009 by Laren W Hasten. The video is fairly short and focuses on covering the topics of anthropology in a broad sense rather than in depth. Hasten is an educator/anthropologist herself who is interested in spreading how studying and teaching anthropology could expand people's perspectives of the world. I recommend this video as a good introduction piece not only for its concise words but also for its combination of assorted pictures and videos that makes it very interesting. Here's Laren Haten's website and here's the YouTube video [An Qi Angela Feng]

These videos are by a video game enthusiast who is answering questions from an anthropology student. In he describes the spectrum of games which include competitive and social aspects. In he talks about the similarities betweeen "hardcore gamers" and Farmville players. Youtube allows this expert on games to answer questions. Previously we would have seen this on the nightly news or a talk show where he would be interviewed for his answer. [Andrew Davidson]

Paul Farmer, one of the world's leading experts in global healthcare, is also an anthropologist. His community based approach to healthcare is run through his organization Partners in Health and has hospitals set up in several countries. Farmer spends most of his time in Haiti and Rwanda. But his work is vital and the reason for its success is its cultural sensitivity. His efforts to understand the communities and people he treats is inspiring and a central tenet of medical anthropology. The video is a piece from 60 Minutes in 2008 and while part of it is available on Youtube, the video can be viewed in its entirety at the following link: [Jacob (Izzy) Rosen]

As part of the Mapping and Unmapping conference, Quebecois anthropologist Pierre Maranda uses new media and techniques learned from the neurosciences to catalogue cultural key words in Oceania. 'Ancestor' instead of traditional religion and 'House' instead of architecture form two important categories in his analysis. There was immense interest among those he studied, Maranda affirms, "to know who they were to know still better who they could be and how they could call themselves proudly Oceanians." These Oceanians told him, Maranda reports, "we have lots of things to teach the white people." The conference focused on such potential lessons, as well as on the new digitally-inspired anthropological tools available to scholars. [Daniel Siracusa]

Michael Wesche - Rethinking Education This six-minute video shows how technology has changed education in the past and how it's still changing it. Internet has allowed the exponential growing of information and the creation of new ways to bring it closer to users. I liked this video because it made me think about what the future will bring and how will information be created and shared in some years from now. I think YouTube videos differ from TV because the former gives people more creative freedom than the latter. YouTube allow its users to produce content that is not thought for broader audiences, something that TV doesn't. [Carlos Tello]

Dawn Ades - Surrealism in Mexico A cool talk on surrealism in Mexico at the University of Essex. [Geoffrey Morrow]

Here’s a short video on the potential opportunities that await a cultural anthropology major as described by career counselor Karen Chopra. [Jeremy Tan] Above is a song composed by a student that one of my first year Anthropology professor taught back in the University of Toronto (I think...). I was first shown this video in my first year at UBC and I still think the chorus is catchy. It goes over some main concepts of anthropology such as fieldwork, and even goes over really briefly over how anthropology might be different from archaeology. It also goes over several different types of anthropology, although unfortunately, she doesn't include digital anthro anywhere. I highly recommend listening to it while reading the lyrics! [Maria Orilaneda]

Michael Strangelove is an anthropologist and author of “Watching YouTube: Extraordinary Videos by Ordinary People”. I found this video titled “Dr. Strangelove on Propaganda” interesting as Strangelove discusses propaganda and argues that propaganda is now called public relations. He states that the purpose of public relations is getting people to think and believe what you want them to think and believe. I was surprised when he reveals that public relations employ ten times as many people as journalism does. [Shawn Kang]

"Why do companies need anthropologist?" This video is an interbiew of Genevieve Bell in order to explain the importance of anthropologist in companies, and especially in technology companies. Anthropology and design can be seen as a way to bridge the gap between technology development and human behaviors in order to constantly question technology for a positive innovation. [Leopoldine Leblanc]

"The Anthropology of Innovation" is the latest episode from REVOLUTIONARIES (co-production of the Computer History Museum & KQED television,major sponsorship by Intel). I actually watched the whole thing! Talks about how "SILOS" are a can become a huge problem (re: financial crises) and how innovation can now be derived from "silo busting" or findings ways to expand a silo... Group discussion (feat. Genevieve Bell) Enjoy [Gabrielle Desfosses]

"The Body Farm- Study of Human Decomposition" Disclosure: Disturbing scenes. This is for anyone who is interested in forensic anthropology or the forensics sciences in general. I find that Youtube is different than television because you can pause between the scenes and look up one of the places, techniques, and anthropologists featured in the video. It is kind of like a learning base where you are one click away from recommended videos and you could expand your knowledge on a topic you are interested in. Whereas on television, perhaps it is only a one hour documentary of which you would still seek Youtube to learn more. There is also a British fiction drama called "The Body Farm" which is somewhat reminiscent of the actual facilities in the United States. [Armileen Naypes]

What is Anthropology and why do we teach it?- I found this video when I first looking into what major I wanted to specialize it. This video gives a look at what anthropology is, and why it is important. The reason I liked this video was for two reasons in particular: it dispelled a lot of myths I had about anthropology, and lead me to a perspective that I did not even know existed four years ago. Although I had read about anthropology before, watching it in video is different. It was a visually stimulating experience, and the passive nature of video makes it easier to simply sit back and absorb. Since I was watching it on the computer, the internet was right there in order to further research the topic. [Kim Pringle] an ethnography of social network use in South Africa. The music is cheesy, but the content is interesting. half of the individuals interview were unemployed and the others were students or sales people. How accurate is this sample set for an ethnography in South Africa? [Lauren Schofield] Hunted Hunters-The Awa indigenous people in the Brazilian rainforest. Youtube differs from TV in several striking ways. First of all being able to show something on TV requires the economic support and connections to the major TV networks for there to be any possibility of an international distribution of a piece, and so youtube allows pretty much anyone with filming equipment to share content with the whole world and circumventing several economic barriers such as cable providers. Youtube videos are also easy to access permanently and at any time and so a video like this one that is sending a political and ecological message it can be seen and distributed again and again, while if it was on CNN it might get watched by millions more but would be showed only a few times and easily forgotten. What I like about this video is that it gives indigenous people themselves the power to represent the situation as they view it, and thus utilizes the free subjective expression encouraged by youtube. At the same time the video preserves the visual element found in TV whereby a much stronger and vivid connection and understanding can be made between the audience and this remote tribe of Amazonian Indians. It has very little views but the fact that youtube links similar videos means that anyone interested in the subject would probably find their way to it via links. This is a song played on the famous childrens television show My Little Pony. In the song Lyra is singing about why she loves anthropology so much, and what it has to offer to the world. It does a half decent job at explaining what Anthropology is to children, but it really fails to grasp and key concepts. Ultimatley it is a fun way to grasp the attention of young children and introduce them into the world of anthropology, but not a very good one. - Georgia Filippopoulos A very interesting anthropology on a man named Sienide who tells a truly inspirational story of his hobby and love fore graffiti, which he has developed in spite of his difficult living situation. It is different from TV because of its discoverability, and its ability to be rewatched, both of which aspects differ from TV and apply to an even more narrow demographic that that of TV show demographics. It is a unique ethnography that is relevant to todays worldwide setting, and has broader implications to the economy on the subject of projects. - Anthony Campbell

Code Academy Lesson or Additional Digital Anthropology Sources

Below is a list and annotation of relevant Digital Anthropology articles and books. Some students have chosen to try out computer coding and have posted about their experience.

Digital Anthropology by Heather Horst and Daniel Miller (2012). This book provides an overview of the subject of digital anthropology, with discussions about mass media, social networking, communication and more. It is a collection of essays by digital anthropologists, including some of the authors we have read in this class, such as Tom Boellstorff and John Postill. It is an excellent starting point for anyone who wants to explore further the topics we have examined in this class. [Jordy Tait]

"The Internet and Civil Society in China: A preliminary assessment" by Guobin Yang. This article provides some background information of the contemporary social movement(s) in China. The political tension between the PRC and the internet civil organizations have been intense. PRC recognizes the potential of the internet media, hence the internet censorship. Will China civil activists follow the steps of Arab Spring revolutionists? Or will PRC's censorship save China from breaking out a civil conflict? The study of China's social media and social movement opens up to many speculations. [Brian Tsui] source:

“Is Twitter a useful tool for journalists?” by Ali Nobil Ahmad. This article looks at Twitter and if it is actually a beneficial tool for journalists and news outlets. The article specifically focuses on The Guardian which is a British newspaper. Ahmad looks at the coverage of the 2009 G20 protests. Ahmad states that the purpose of this article is to raise questions and to advance problems for additional research (Ahmad: 147). At the end of the article Ahmad states that it is possible that in the future, journalism will be reduced to being just a tool for twitter. [Shawn Kang]

[Jaime Pollock]

[Armileen Naypes]

[An Qi Angela Feng]

[Maria Orillaneda]

Coding Project.png {KIm Pringle}

[Laura Turner]

[Jeremy Tan]

[Carlos Tello] (never mind, i fixed it) Lauren Schofield


Chapter Review Assignment

As a group students will divide the books by chapters or page number and each student is responsible for a 10-15 minute presentation on their section to the group on either FEBRUARY 12 or 26. On the day of their presentation students will post a 500-600 word review of their chapter on the class wiki. To give you the ability incorporate the thoughts of your classmates your review must be posted on the wiki by class time on the day of your presentation but you may revise this post up to 24 hours after your presentation. At which time I will print them so I can offer my feedback to you.

The review must address:

  1. 1) The review must express the student’s opinion about the chapter through a discussion of the ideas presented in the chapter and in the book overall in relation to the ideas of the course. This review should be more than a summary of what the author wrote but rather statement about why or why not what they write is valuable.
  2. 2) This will include a discussion of the main points of the chapter and how the chapter relates to the over all book. Does the chapter help prove the author’s point? Why or why not?
  3. 3) How the book relates to the themes covered in the course. For example, how does the author use information, media or communities? Do they offer another important idea to consider?
  4. 4) Do they successfully prove their point using their methods?

For an excellent guide on how to write a chapter review look here:

You will be graded on your ability to express the ideas presented in the chapter and your opinions (thesis argument) about the chapter.

The assignment is an exercise in writing with brevity. No one has an attention span on the internet anymore. Often it is harder to write something that is shorter so make sure you give yourself time to review your draft and make edits. Think about "showing" instead of "telling" the reader to help strengthen your writing. For example, instead of “The author makes statements about the power of the hacker community.” Try, “Hackers are in constant communication, which allows them to organize and influence policy.” The second version implies they are powerful but also says how and why they are powerful with only 2 additional words. If you need help try the UBC Learning Commons and your fellow classmates.

Make sure you are citing the author and any other works you reference. While it not required that you cite other readings they may help you discuss how your chapter related to the course.

Be sure to double check the format of your piece on the wiki. Please make sure there are breaks between your paragraphs.

Final Paper Topic

Papers are due April 15 at 11:59pm. Papers will only be accepted by email as a double spaced, 12pt font, pdf attachment. Please label the file as follows: Lastname_Final_anth378.pdf. Students will use the resources from the course and at least one other peer reviewed article they have found to answer the question in 6-8 pages.

Chose and answer 1 of the following:

1) All of our ethnographers are using particular online communities to explore general notions about culture and society. The next step is to compare across communities to create an ethnology around certain traits that exists across these communities. Compare and contrast the qualities of two of the online communities we’ve explored. Based on this comparison what conclusions can you make about human culture in general?

2) Youtube is a community where bullies are many, supporters are sometimes few, success rates low, and vloggers occasionally meet face to face. What do you believe contributes to the mass appeal of Youtube? Use the ideas of anthropology and media to support your claims.

3) Coleman spends a lot of time in her book talking about how hackers tend to have for the sheer joy of it. They feel they are giving back to their community by creating helpful code. Thousands of collective hours are poured into creating free programs, such as Linux, without any intention of making money. How does Coleman and others argue hacker ideals differ from a typical neoliberal ideas regarding production and proprietary software in general? How are hackers helping to influence the widespread adoption of new systems of exchange?

4) Reagal’s book about Wikipedia embodies a discussion on the competing notions of tradition and evolution. How is the information-sharing site using these competing notions to create a community? As Wikipedia becomes a “first stop” for finding information, how does the website influence the maintenance of social traditions and evolving social practices beyond its webpages?

5) Some people spend much of their spare time devoted to games such as World of Warcraft and the distinction between virtual and real world activities is sometimes only a theoretical one. How do you think MMOGs have shaped a cultural “aesthetic of play,” as well as general social expectations that peoples’ experiences (both online and in the real world) should provide a sense of completion and success?

6) Second Life and other MMOGs attempt to recreate real-world social organizations like clubs and communities to socialize? Why does this occur? What social need do these game fulfill that must be missing elsewhere? Use Boellstoff’s discussion of real and virtual to support your claims.

ANTH 378 Course Concepts

Hi Everyone, I thought we could use the wiki to create a resource for everyone about what we talk about in class. Here's a list of the concepts so far and a few of the ideas I could remember. Did I miss anything?

  • 'Internet:
  • World Wide Web:
  • Packet Switching:
  • Time Sharing:
  • Internet Protocol (IP address):
  • email
  • http
  • Media:
  • Marshal McLuhan:
  • "The medium is the message"
  • 7 key concepts of media:
  • media ideologies
  • idioms of practice
  • second order information
  • Information:
  • Bits
  • Technology:
  • Heiddeger:
  • "The essence of technology is that it enframes"
  • The relationship between technology, information and media?
  • Symbols
  • Community

A possible explanation for the interconnected nature of Media, Technology and Information:

The nature of media, technology and information is fundamentally linked by the way we interact with each component. Our group came to the conclusion that "technology" and "information" can be exclusive groups that exist on their own. For example, we decided that information, in the form of speech or maybe facial expressions can be conveyed independently of media and technology. When someone speaks to you or maybe smiles, information is transmitted independently of media and technology. Information is also the short cut to describe a collection of detailed ideas. People say "I'll send you the information" because they want to refer to additional messages or ideas without taking the time to explain what they are. With regards to technology, we decided that a TV in an unoccupied room represents technology, it is an object that on its own is just a TV. It is something man made but may not always be used by man. Media, our group decided, exists because of the technology to make information more availble. Media is something that exists between people. It is intended to translate ideas between people. Without a message to convey and the technology to convey it, media cannot exist. Nor does it exist without the people to encode a message into it and decode a message from it. Ultimately, all three components are fundamentally intertwined by the fact that us (humans)use all three in a social way that could be explained as cultural.

Beyond the Classroom Assignment

For the final week of class you will present an activity you did outside the classroom at either applies, or teaches someone else something you learned in the course. This is NOT a research project. You've already demonstrated in your other classes and education that you are good researchers and reporters of information; this project encourages you to apply what you learn. You could create a discussion night with friends and talk about concepts, engage strangers in conversation about the course, attend meet ups, create videos that circulate on the web, create forums on the internet. The key component is that you are trying to spread what you learned in class to those outside of the class. You can investigate something or interview someone but you should also talk about what you found with people outside the class and not just present to our class. I have confidence you now know more about particular online communities and concepts around media and networks than most people. Go and share what you know.

You can do this assignment as a group or an individual. During the last week of class you will have 4 minutes/person to present. Thus the bigger the group the bigger the project should be.

On the day of your presentation you will post a 300-400 word Wiki post below covering: What did you do? How does it relate to the themes of the course? A critique of the project’s success/failure.

April 2nd we will have presentations by those in groups: 1. Laura Turner 2. Paula 3. Lauren and Maria 4. Gaby 5. Carlos 6. Daniel 7. Jeremy 8. Sam 9. Brian 10. Jaime 11. Alan Marx 12. Andrew

9. [Brian] Brotherhood of Slaughter is an online gaming community with about 70~80 active members. The group is relatively exclusive as you would need to spend time in game completing specific competitive and social tasks in order to join the group. The tie among members grow rather strong over time, and sometimes hold gathering in real life. The majority age around 18~30 year old, with some young as 14 and old as 40, including both male and female. I conducted my inquiry on this online community about online community. I asked them their opinion on ten aspects: social skills, intellectuality, knowledgeability, social ties, open-mindedness, problem solving ability, creativity, violence tendency, introversion, and negativity. Rather than asking them directly their own situation which would put them on defense, I asked them what they think as a parent about a child’s long term development under the influence of the internet. I expected answers that contrast what we learned in class so that I can contribute my knowledge, but turned out that most of them by default agree to the theories in our readings. They brought up keywords such as “social cues” that makes online communication different from face-to-face, and “context” in most answers they replied as “it depends”. In general, they argue that the ugly and bad side on the internet is not caused by the internet itself, but bad parenting which is part of the education system, a long term problem in America’s culture. Overall my project was a success, it provided rich, valuable data, and opened up a lot of possible fields for further study. [Brian Tsui] source:


I taught my “gamer” friends the concept of “idioms of practice” (Gershon 2010) during a Skype hangout so that we could start coming up with examples our gaming idioms. We brainstormed over a few hangouts and came up with tons of examples such as: Do we play for fun or competitively? Our experience of gaming is competitive. Do we play with friends or strangers? We play with friends, but some of my gaming friends have never met my other gaming friends in real life. We research guides and item guides, which is essentially the math involved in what is best, otherwise known as theorycrafting. Another idiom of ours and many gamers is that we watch gaming streams the same way other people watch traditional sports. We use these streams as another form of leisure in addition to the game itself. As well, we treat it as a learning opportunity. However, a few of my friends rarely watch streams but they do watch the “big” tournaments. The main connection to the course, I think, is how our idioms of practice are shaped by and dictated by global, regional, and individual factors. Theorists such as Cohen(1985) have argued that technology is adopted under local conditions. In our case, where we game is constrained by the poor quality of internet we have in North America. This forces us to game from our own houses, because multiple people on the same wifi makes the game unplayable. In China, for instance, people are constrained by the fact that not everyone has a personal computer at home, therefore gaming is done primarily in internet cafes. An individual factor that shapes our idiom of gaming from home is busy lives, one of my friends works 7-10 days at a time and lives a two hour commute from us, therefore he hangs out with us in the game much more than in person. The assignment was a great success, my friends and I brainstormed tons of our idioms of practice. The challenge was to figure out why we game the way we do, as well as compare our idioms to those of the greater gaming community. For the most part, as “competitive” gamers we share idioms with the community of competitive gamers. However, factors such as our personal lives form our groups “unique” idioms of practice. < Andrew Davidson >

April 4th we will have presentations by those in groups:

1. Mikhail Elsay 2. Jacob Rosen 3. Leopoldine Leblanc and Samantha Kreiger 4. Anthony Campbell 5. Kate Ryan 6. Armileen, Angela, Sean 7. Jordy 8. Matt, Geoffrey and Candace, Kim, Rodrigo, Ashley 9. Steph and Georgia 10. Max 11. Kai 10. Emily

1. Laura Turner: In my search to reach beyond the classroom, I began with what I think is awesome about media. In the reflective assignments of ANTH378 (Media Diary, 24h Unplug), I became aware of my personal tendency, through media use, toward memory preservation. As an individual who basks in sentiment, I was keen at the idea of archiving memories with brevity. Through the mobile app ‘One Second Everyday’ (, I created a project that strung one-second videos together to represent a moment from each of 43 days, in chronological order. At its outset, the project was cumbersome. I found myself forgetting to record a clip and was left filming a mediocre shot in attempt to produce some memory of that day. As the clips began to string together however, I realized that this was the exact purpose of the project. Each moment captured would not, nor should it be, the most significant of my day. Often I captured the tail end of an audacious moment, or would hit stop just before that moment occurred. However, the video accurately conveys the swings of energy in my life, juxtaposing a moment of raging dance party with the stillness of an exam-season library. This made me realize that these moments were a statement about the way my life is predominantly undocumented, bereft of media, and more of an authentic experience. I included this observation in my description of the project to an audience beyond the classroom and encouraged viewers to be reflective of the messages it held about how we use media and its presence or absence in the moments of our day. I circulated the video through Facebook to friends and family, requesting feedback. Despite their supportive comments and ‘thumbs-up’ likes, I realized this project evokes more of a reflective effect for the creator than the audience. A ripple effect did occur however, as people were encouraged to take on the project themselves due to the captivating ‘memory-save-and-share’ format it provides. Unanticipated, sharing the project also presented an incredible element of community fostering. In 43 seconds my parents and friends were able to engage with a snapshot of almost 2 months of my life. In reaching beyond the classroom, I have really reached back towards myself to realize this one-second format of video sequence presents an innovative use of media through the means of rapid-share, community building, and self-reflection. [Laura Turner]

I decided to take the unplugged experience outside of the classroom and had an experiment with ‘disconnection’ from technology and time along with 9 friends at Qualicum beach this Eastern long weekend. The project’s success started off with my surprise to the unanimous consent to try going 2 days and 2 nights without cellphones, computers, tv and watches. I felt like I was conducting ethnography while observing my friends reactions to the idea of turning off their technologies as we stored them all in one of the rooms. Some called home to let them know they would disappear, and complained about the idea of not having means to play music or watch movies at night, while some went along as if it wasn’t anything unusual at all. The fact that we were sharing this experience by engaging together in a different routine from home and we had a new place and landscape to explore made the experience both easier and more intense. It was easier to be ‘distracted’, since without technology something would be missing or we would fall under the risk of being ‘bored’ (as Genevieve Bell shared in her TED talk). But obviously while sharing a small cabin in front of the beach with 9 friends it was hard to be bored at all. Still, I couldn’t help but notice that ‘technology’ was always present in conversations. It was also an intense experience because the fact that it was shared made us ‘control’ each other’s “addiction” to our technologies but also made us experience each other’s relationships to them. One of my friends works in the movie industry and had to withdraw from working completely, for he realized he is completely dependent on machines to do so. Another friend decided to go for a run far from the cabin and had to take a break from the experiment in order to use google maps, because she was scarred to get lost. A few of us broke the rule by taking pictures with our phones to share them with friends and family at home, which triggered one of our conversations on how we got ‘spoiled’ with the immediacy facility of social networks. At the end of the two days and two nights I was curious to watch different reactions: some went immediately to check messages, while some got so used to the experiment that they left their phones off for the whole weekend. Music went back to playing 24 hours a day and we suddenly had the urge to check the time again, even though we had no need for it. One of my friends, who is from Lebanon, had many missed calls from family and from a friend in Vancouver who had been contacted by his worried parents because of his disconnections from facebook and skype. This triggered our conversation on how social media became so present and taken for granted in our lives that it becomes an extension of us, we are expected to be present, and the fact that we don’t use it often may cause more concern than the excess use of it. [Paula Magalhaes]

I chose to discuss Bonnie Nardi’s chapter about gender in her book My Life as a Night Elf Priest with my interviewee who has absolutely no experience with gaming, and little knowledge of computers in general. I explained the basics of the game such as, the goal, the format and who plays. My interviewee had many preconceived ideas of what boys/men enjoyed playing, what games are like, and who plays them. I expanded her philosophy as I explained how a wide range of ages, and both sexes play WoW. I explained how WoW is not designed to be exclusively appealing to a single demographic. The developers incorporated art into the game making it an aesthetically appealing universe. My interviewee was curious about why boys/men would want to play a game that was not designed entirely for them. I went on to explain that in spite of having no targeted demographic, mostly males play while a mere 20% of players are female. I explained the boy’s treehouse metaphor and how the treatment of each other can be too brutal for some people. Mature players are tolerant or exclusive in their play and can handle the vulgarity of the game’s co-players. In the end, my interviewee struggled to imagine people her age (40s) playing WoW, but I assured her, she simply wasn’t friends with them. My interviewee still had a tough time believing that boys/men could enjoy art in a game. She asked about the drug use that could explain the appeal to the art of the game. I told her I had no answer. I found it interesting how my interviewee has such strong preconceived notions of who play games and what games are composed of. I got her thinking, but she needs more information about the lifestyles and mental stability of people who enjoy games like WoW before she can accept that WoW can be enjoyed by any regular person. [Lauren Schofield]

My beyond the classroom assignment may in fact take me beyond the country. The project involves a massive online competition, a homemade travel video and the mobilization of my entire social network. By emphasizing independent means of video/text publishing and emboldening the connected power of grassroots communities, my assignment epitomizes the digital age., a travel website whose tagline reads “locally informed, globally inspired,” is holding a contest called The Biggest Baddest Bucket List. The contestant’s main task is to shoot and edit a three-minute travel profile of a destination of his or her choosing and upload it to the website via a YouTube url. Along with the video, contestants are required to post a 200-500 word story of a memorable travel experience with three original photos to match the story. Brevity, like free agency, is a central theme of the experiment. Another crucial theme is social media. Once an entry is made public on, the entrant’s tasks then become dissemination and promotion. There are five share icons on the entry page. Each icon represents a different social medium: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Stumbleupon, and Google+. Clicking any icon, and thus sharing over any of these sites equates to voting. Voting is one criterion for advancement in the competition. Therefore, I sought creative and effective ways to set my network to action. I implored my family to help. I then sent private Facebook messages to my best friends, telling them too to give wings to my message. Some strategic places where I promoted my video include the UBC commerce Facebook group page that I belong to only for purposes like this one; the UBC ski and board Facebook page; importantly, the Aquabus Facebook page; and the sub Reddit, r/Vancouver. As for the project’s progress it’s hard to say as of yet. The top ten are announced April 15, five chosen by voting, the other five by the judges. I received 31 votes by the time the polls closed. The early closing of the polls was a surprise to me because the site only advised that applications closed March 31. I didn’t realize that meant voting too. So I was disappointed about that, but my hopes are still high that I’ll have a chance to crack the top ten. Please check out my video and spread the word by linking my entry in a tweet with the tag #MyBBB.

Check it out: [Daniel Siracusa]

For my out of the classroom assignment I decided to use ‘media’ to advertise the fact that I wanted to talk to anyone about media and how it affected their lives. As I was going to Tofino with friends on the proposed weekend I decided to use the social setting of a beach to try and implement my plan of using a banner on a stake to advertise my intentions. This, although not a conventional study site, I thought the ‘surf community’ would embrace the proposed discussion as many previous encounters I have had, have led me to believe they are an easy going and sociable group. I had two signs, the first read: “Is Facebook ruining your life? Come talk to me about media……PLEASE” and the second read: “Tweet me about Twitter (or media/life/anything) #anthroassignment @samscott20”. I stood at the entrance to Long Beach holding the first sign with the hope of people willingly coming to talk to me. The other sign I placed in the back of the window of the car so as to facilitate a conversation about media using media. Although I thought this would prove fruitful, the results did not reflect my efforts. Whilst spending intermittent periods holding the sign, no one approached me to talk about media or its implications, instead looked at me with amusement and a puzzled expression. The twitter avenue was just as fruitless, as no serious discussion went on, instead I was trolled by my friends and was forced to take the tweet down. I thought the idea was one that may have been flawed in the urban environment but the outdoor sea setting of the beach might have overcome these barriers. I was proved wrong, but in hindsight the people that may have spoken to me might have been in the water away from my sign. I was also forced to leave earlier than I would have liked due to my driver’s prior engagement. As a result, I ended up talking with my friends in the car about what they thought community was and what their perceptions of media were. I talked them through some of the basics that I had covered in class and it was also interesting that none of them knew how an email was sent, something that I was quick to change. [Sam Scott]

[Gabrielle] I had a Skype date with a friend in New York in order to share knowledge about YouTube. I changed my idea after we had the guest speaker Tetsuro Shigematsu. I taught my friend because he has a background in marketing, currently developing apps, has a video on YouTube with 1000 views. My intention was to start a dialogue in order to see what I knew, what he knew, and how we could brainstorm from there. I covered topics such as: Why YouTube; 2nd biggest search engine; PR and marketing strategies; how to do Viral video; inch-wide-mile-deep; do something awesome and bit scary. I wouldn’t have been having that conversation with him about networks, nodes, and silos, without having had taken this course. First, I related how it’s important to understand and be literate in all forms of social media because it is the nodes in the networks that have all the power. Second, I was able to stress why it’s important to have subscribers to follow you across all mediums because the consumer has become the advertiser, for free. I could give relevant examples of “likes” on Facebook, to re-tweets, advantage of having big time bloggers post links to your material. Third, I was also able to introduce the concept of silos, and how the future power lies in being able to expand silos, or to be able to join different silos. My project was a success as I was able to stress the importance of being able to carry yourself across different mediums by influencing my friend to open a Twitter account (he only had a YouTube and Facebook account.) Now because of my “lesson”, he is convinced of the efficacy strategizing across all forms of media, as I was able to show him that the power lies in the nodes. He wants to put our discussion into action and now is excited to try to make a YouTube video “go viral”, this when I’m in town! He also is keen to keep the dialogue going via Skype until I arrive in June.

My beyond the classroom project consisted of three steps: first, I asked 10 journalism students from UBC to do one drawing of their communities and another of their networks. Second, I shared with them the definitions we came up in class with for community and network. Third, I asked them if they wanted to redo their drawings, considering the definitions.

My goal was to expose journalism students to the two concepts, communities and networks. The definitions of these two terms have changed because of the increasing influence of the Internet over the last two decades. The Internet has also changed the way journalists create, share and receive feedback on their work. In an era where journalists have to be extremely aware of the importance social media and social network sites have in their careers, I wanted to explore how journalism students conceptualize their communities and their networks, and then I wanted to share an outside definition and see if it could change the way they engage with both terms.

The 10 students that agreed to do the drawings were all in the first year of their master´s degree. Analyzing their drawings, it’s fair to say that all of them had similar concepts of community and network. They all included their families and friends in their communities drawing, and a lot of them used location as a category to delimit communities. For their networks, most of them included their actual and past workplaces, the schools they have attended and the social network sites they are engaged in. It is important to notice this last detail, because it reflects how important social media sites are for future journalists.

Overall, I believe the project was successful. It allowed the people involved to get a new definition of community and network and to analyze if those new definitions help them broaden their understanding of both concepts. Most of them told me the definition I shared with them was close to the one they had before, and some also told me that the new definitions made them rethink their drawings. The only letdown I had was that no one decided to do a new drawing, even though some verbally acknowledged that they thought about doing it. I believe the reason for that was the time it took them to go over the first two steps of the project (around 15 minutes). [Carlos Tello]

For the out-of-class assignment, I decided to attempt a tumblr blog that summarized Bonni Nardi's "My Life As a Night Elf Priest: An Anthropological Account of World of Warcraft". What I did was create a blog, dedicate an entire post to summarizing a chapter of the book, and enable "asks" and "submissions" so that people could message the blog with questions or comments that they may have if they wanted to. The layout of the blog is almost similar to the wiki page in the way that there is a separate place for each chapter. Each chapter of the book was summarized in about 2-4 paragraphs, also similar to the UBC ANTH 378 wiki page. To begin, I basically just went on tumblr and began a secondary account that was hooked up onto my primary one, and then started looking for a decent-looking theme. I then began to do the write-ups for each chapter of the book. Apart from that, I also 'advertised' the blog very briefly on my primary tumblr account (about 300 followers) and on facebook (about 300 friends). One aim that I had with the blog was to make people realize that WoW is not merely a game, but rather an entirely different digital culture and that because of this, it can be studied in-depth with an academic mindset (specifically, one can view WoW with 'anthropological' lenses). Discussing ethnography and ethnographic methods briefly was also something I wanted to do with the blog. I also wanted to disprove some people's misconceptions that WoW is for 'antisocial boys'.

In all, although I linked to the blog in my own personal account as well as on facebok, the blog didn't get any feedback (as of this time, anyway). One of the reasons for this could be that I only had the blog up for two/three days before the project was due and so it didn't have enough time to really pick up some people who might have been interested. Another reason could be that my follower and/or friends on facebook aren't really interested in WoW and so they might have seen my posts as merely 'spam'. The game is also quite old, and WoW's peak years seem to have passed in 2008. If I were to do this project all over again, I would have started it a week before it was due and have 'advertised' it to a more specialized crowd to see if the blog would have gotten a different response. An additional post talking about my own experiences on WoW and how I felt about the accuracy of some of Nardi's findings would also have been interesting.

Link here: [Maria Orillaneda]

For my beyond the classroom assignment I attended the Ladies Learning Code: introduction to app design workshop. This was a semi-interactive lecture on design principles, and an intro to app design where we interacted with Photoshop and wireframing apps. An important design concept we talked about was skeuomorphism, which is a principle that relates digital design to something users are familiar with, ie Apple’s design for ibooks. This allows you to understand how to use the technology without being familiar with the digital format. Another trend in app design is the concept of ‘less is more’, by reducing the amount of tool bars or other options to navigate off screen you allow the user to concentrate on one thing at a time. We discussed the lack of open source wireframing software and this lead me to question why is it that in design there is not much of a market or demand for free tools as there are in other sectors of technology? Another important discussion we had was about branding, how you can make connections with something as simple as colors or symbols that can project your companies’ principles. Branding mistakes can have dire consequences, when Nokia produced a new app the symbols were offensive to Hindus so many Nokia stores in India were vandalized or even burned down, cultural context is important in app design. Apps are still a new medium, and the most important thing for designers to consider is how the users will interact with this media, and what kinds of information it can enframe. The technology for developing these apps in expanding and changing the way we can use and interact with new media. Apps are an important medium due to the fact that technology, and specifically the Internet, is becoming more and more mobile. Screen sizes and ways we interact with them are changing, becoming smaller, and the shift to touch screen navigations are changing the way designers have to conceptualize user interface, in this case new technology is leading to new media. The user interface is one of the most important aspects of your design, you need to understand who you are designing for, what context it will be used in, and you need to be able to capture users within 30 seconds or you will loose them. The workshop wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, as it is Ladies Learning Code I was under the assumption that we would be discussing coding for apps and more of the developmental process and how this is done. Though this was not the case, I wasn’t disappointed because I felt I gained much more insight into the design and technology sector and this workshop gave me a better understanding of a previously unknown process. [Jaime Pollock]

7. For my “beyond the classroom” activity, I decided that I wanted to learn more about coding and how people who work in this field view the various aspects of coding in relation to the world and everyday use. I interviewed my friend Ken who is a web developer and works a lot with coding. Our conversation was based around the notion of understanding that coding is basically logic. This is an important concept to recognize because it allows you to begin to understand why things on your computer or the Internet work a certain way and how it functions as a system of commands implemented by the coder . He used an analogy of looking at set of codes the way a mechanic looks under the hood of a car and knows exactly what everything does. The earlier we understand that coding is logic based, the better it will be for us in the future because we’ll be able to do more if we wanted to move on in this field or if coding eventually becomes an essential tool or skill that we all need. Furthermore, in terms of the future, he agrees with our guest speaker Neil that most people looking for a professional career will have some skills in coding or at least some basic knowledge because of the fact that online media and technology have become essential in many most fields of work. He also thinks that its inevitable that more people in the future will know how to code and create different types of media because our current generation is already so absorbed in the use of computers and online media and this will most likely continue to grow for future generations as new technologies are innovated. I agree with most of the things he said because, from what I’ve gathered over the past couple weeks, coding is probably an essential part of our everyday lives and yet, most people don’t even realize its constant function and application in the various technological devices that we use. We could see how our lives changed when we all disconnected for a day, yet many people don’t even think about the fact that codes make our devices function. If I were to do anything different, I would have liked to have gotten multiple perspectives from different people working in this field and compare them to those who aren’t or know very little about coding in order to investigate the differences. [Jeremy Tan]

My project consisted of me having a discussion with my three younger brothers (a 17 year-old, a 13 year-old and a 7 year-old) about the media ideologies and idioms of practice surrounding SNS and video games in our family and in their own peer groups. One of my goals was to make my younger brothers, who have never known a world without the internet and console gaming, aware of the extreme novelty these technologies have and how they belong to the generations that will produce common idioms of practice through their own interactions and opinions on these. Consequently I brought to our conversation topics we covered in class such as enframement and Mcluhan's ideas about media. I quickly found that my brothers were in fact very aware of critiques of media such as these and associated it with a distant adult world which was largely negative in what it had to say about things they and their friends greatly cherished. These proved to be a productive challenge as I offered them a critique not based on simplistic moral directives such as "video games are violent and addicting" but one that highlighted the social context and relevance that video games should be analyzed with. Furthermore together we noticed how video game use changed between us as we got older and had different social needs, as the older siblings had left video games largely behind and mainly were engaged in the wider social networks offered by social networking sites like Facebook while the younger brothers played video games with their class mates or in the family. I was successful in showing how video games were intensely social, especially for my younger brothers as internet now plays a much larger role in gaming that extends the social world of the school into online multiplayer platforms like Call of Duty where a community of 13 year olds can congregate and have fun outside the constrained environment of school. Another fruitful discussion was the one about how Facebook and Skype had eased the social adaptation my family frequently underwent in our global travels. Facebook proved to be a social anchor that stayed largely the same from country to country and provided continuity and easy access to new people, as well as an English environment with familiar western cultural features in often exotic locations. A big challenge was that my younger brothers lacked the perspective our experience to think outside life without video games and the internet, and this really highlighted how easily and naturally changes in technology are taken for granted. Overall our discussion was successful as it made us realize the history of technology in our family and how video games had proved to be a key bonding experience for all of us, allowing a 19 year-old and a 7 year-old to share time together in a mutually enjoyable activity. [Alan Marx]

For our beyond the classroom assignment we discussed YouTube and YouTube celebrities with our friends. Each member of our group also made a vlog which was uploaded to YouTube. In these vlogs we presented what we had talked about with our friends and what we were able to take away from the experience. The YouTube celebrity that I discussed with my friends was Antoine Dodson. Dodson became an internet celebrity in 2010 when a video was posted on YouTube of his interview with a local news television station. We emphasized three main points when chatting with our friends. These three points were the capitalization of YouTube (how amateurs are able to generate income from the success of their videos), response from viewers and the short term and long term effects of these videos. One of the concepts that we looked at in class was community.

During our conversation it was brought up that there was a formation of a community around Dodson’s video. This community consisted of people who made video responses, created parody videos, posted comments as well as made songs out of Dodson’s video. During our talk Manny made me aware that Antoine had actually made his own YouTube channel. This allows Dodson to stay in touch with his YouTube community.

We also got into chatting about labels that are assigned to YouTube celebrities like Antoine Dodson. Michael Strangelove’s book “Watching YouTube: Extraordinary Videos by Ordinary People” goes into detail about how viral videos lead to people carrying unwanted labels. We discussed how Dodson has been labeled as the “Hide your kids, hide your wife” guy.

This project was a success because I was able to help familiarize some of my friends with how internet celebrities are able to generate income as well as made them aware of the short and long term effects of these videos. I also gained knowledge from this experience as I was not aware of Dodson’s personal YouTube page before Manny informed me. This project was successful because it allowed me to experience vlogging. Although I view this project as a success there are some things that I would have done differently. It would have been interesting to have posted a vlog earlier about Dodson and had some of my friends give their response in vlog form. This would have allowed my friends to also experience vlogging and posting YouTube videos. It is worth mentioning that making a vlog had it challenges. I did not realize how intimidating it was to get in front of a webcam and record. Wesch discusses how some people feel intimidated when making vlogs in his text “YouTube and You: Experiences of Self-Awareness in the Context Collapse of the Recording Webcam”. [Shawn Kang]

3. For our beyond the classroom assignment we decided to immerse ourselves in the hacker community, reflect on our experiences, and present different viewpoints with respect to this experience. To do this, we attended a UBC sponsored event called “Think Global Hack Local', a hackathon hosted by the computer science department.

What is a hackathon? A hackathon is generally a weekend event where those with an interest in technology and software development meet to work on a specific project or technical problem. Usually hackathons are sponsored by industry leaders or specific companies with the intention of scouting potential employees, giving students an opportunity to showcase their talents. The point of a hackathon is produce tangible results by the end of the weekend. This often means that participants sleep little, stay on site, and are completely devoted to the project for the duration of the weekend. Food and support are often available at all points in time throughout the course of the event. Despite the often competitive feeling at these events, the whole experience creates an exciting atmosphere of personal and collective involvement.

Unlike a industry lead hackathon, “Think Global Hack Local” was a unique take on the classical hackathon. The goal of this event was to pair different non-profit organizations with technology needs, such as app creation or website improvement, with willing students knowledgeable and capable of achieving these technical needs.

The event began on Friday March 15th, where community partners presented their project requests to all 35 student participants. These included for example, an app for a drug treatment schedule manager (for the B.C. Cancer foundation), an iPad app for autistic children, improvement of website for the Delta Youth Orchestra, among others. After hearing the initial proposals, students self organized into groups, choosing a project which reflected their interests and technical skills. By 9pm Friday evening students started project planning and implementation, after which the coding could begin. Many students brought sleeping bags, change of clothes, and shower supplies. (These were encouraged on the Think Global Hack Local website). Although community partners were present for many of the daylight hours, students generally remained on campus for most of the event in order to produce the best result by the end of the weekend. After few hours of sleep and many lines of code, student presented their final projects by sunday afternoon. Many of the project were relatively complete, giving the partners the opportunity to take home a finished product at the end of the weekend. All of the community partners were thankful for the projects completed, the time spent, and the energy devoted by students for their cause.

We contributed to the event in different ways, and from different perspectives. As both hackers, coding and contributing technical aspects, and as community peers contributing to community building. Although Sammy's contribution to the actual code base was less than other participants, she was able to provide some technical advice and participated on the level of other hackers as well. Leo brought a unique perspective from the non-technical community, diversifying the participant group and contributing a fresh viewpoint of the non-hacker community. In this way we found the experience rewarding and felt it was a success in the way that we were able to engage in community from a number of different angles. We felt both internally a part of the hacker community, involving ourselves in the projects on the details level and participating and interacting with other students. At the same time keeping in mind the overall goals of the greater community of Vancouver, and maintaining the unique perspective we both harbours as individuals within this space. This was undoubtedly a positive experience, especially in that it exposed, immersed and demanded from us a way of contributing to different communities. [Sammy Krieger and Leopoldine Leblanc]

With the rise of the internet, and the exponential growth in its accessibility, the flow of information evolved from being a one-directional, privileged type of exchange, to the massive, user generate, medium we all use every day. Before the Internet, information used to stream only from corporate producers to the public, currently the internet brings forth a new type of medium in which everyone can choose to upload or download whatever they please from an infinitely large source of information and media. The facility for spreading information instantly and with anonymity, allowed the internet to become a powerful tool used by “Hackers” for diverse and sometimes even morally opposing purposes. The word “hacker” in the mainstream usually refers to a virtual criminal or a cyber threat, but the term actually refers to someone very competent in coding and software development. Those who support the F/OSS (Free and Open Source Software) movement are also considered hackers; they on the contrary, code legally for the community and do it for free. Their main incentive consists of defending the idea that freedom of speech encloses code and that therefore software should be free. My beyond the classroom project consisted of disseminating information about the hacker community and their ideologies. In doing so, I first attempted to transmit such information during an open party where I invited students from Emily Carr University, UBC, and FDU. The conversations I had during this “hacker party” usually turned around the ideas of freedom of information, and the definition of what a hacker truly is. I interviewed most of them and learned that for the most part they had the same preconceived ideas of hackers presented by the mainstream. Afterwards, I made a more creative effort to provide free information about the course by taping a USB to a wall at Robsons Square. Along with the USB, I taped a sign that read “Free P2P Sharing”. The USB contained some information related to the course content, the book we read in class and some additional content I wanted to share. Even though the USB remained there for a complete weekend, I wasn’t able to conclude anything from this social experiment because by the time I wanted to verify the contents of the USB, It wasn’t there anymore. [Rodrigo Valdes]

8. For my part of our look at what hacking means to the public I posted on craigslist in the global discussions forum under “comp” and also in the software jobs section for Vancouver and Toronto. Since I was required to put a compensation field in, for the job portion I said “a big smile and a high five”. I chose craigslist to post specifically because it caters to a more open segmentation of people than just those who would normally be found in an online social community. This nicely combined the topics we discussed throughout the term such as hackers, technology and community and networks very nicely. The message I posted was as follows: First off, sorry for this being in the wrong place but I didn’t know where to put it. I am doing research for my anthropology course in uses of digital media. I am studying what the public’s perception and interpretation of the word “hacker” is. So I come to you people of Craigslist, if you could just send me a couple of lines of what the word “hacker” means to you I would be very grateful. Thanks so much!

I received eighteen responses which ranged wildly including exceptionally detailed multi paragraph answers, an insightful couple of sentences, full cover letters and resumes of people who didn’t read the post, complaints that I asking for their time and not paying. Open hostility and aggression, sarcastic answers, a google map picture of my house and IP address, accusations that I being lazy and trying to have others do my research and that real academic research is looking up already done surveys and using that as my data. Youtube clips of hacking movies from the 1980’s and finally my post on the discussion board eventually turned to the fact that I was actually doing a government funded research program in order to break into the world of hacker by getting a better understanding of them which would lead into government infiltration, regulation and persecution. Eventually all of my postings were flagged and removed.

I would say though that this project was a success because the replies which people put thought or time into all agreed with Gabriella Coleman’s definition of a hacker as found in her “Coding Freedom: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking”. The vast majority of them felt that hacking was using code or software to either create or modify an existing program to meet your individual needs. Others said it was to provide something that was originally missing, to show off skill or my personal favourite “hackers can manipulate a universe that many people do not understand properly.” It was interesting to see that not a single person said a hacker was a malicious individual and anyone that referenced that said it is what the media portrays hackers as. In the true nature of hacking though, the most thoughtful response I got was a full page letter along with a P.S. at the bottom saying that the writer and his roommate were both hackers who work in the IT field to pay the bills and if I had any questions at all about the world of hacking or would like to venture into it they would happily introduce it all to me at no cost and volunteering their time. This just proves Coleman’s point that hackers hack not for personal gain but to help the community as a whole.[Ashley Canavan]

Before I even started this class, back in December, my musician friend Trevor and I were discussing the free software he used to record music on. Neither of us could come up with a reasonable answer as to who made the free software, and how this software made money. When I began to read the book “Coding Freedom: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking”, I knew that I wanted that Trevor would be really interested in learning what we learnt in class about hacking and free software. So, a couple weeks ago, we met up over Skype in order to do a module on the Coding Academy website, and then to discuss what I had learnt over the course of the semester about coding, free software, and hackers. Trevor had never actually heard what hacking or free software actually was (media stereotype aside), let alone the history of where it came from. When he was doing the Coding Academy work, he was amazed at how coding was actually a language of its own. While he was doing this, I talked to him about some of the concepts that we discussed in class such as the hacking community (and the importance of free software in that), how the hacking community can exist and influence other places such as the music scene or burning man, the history of hacking, and where we are now in the history of coding and free software (such as the blackout against SOPA). Most if not all of this was stuff that he had never heard of before. After we talked about this for about an hour, and Trevor had finished the first level of Python, we started to discuss how the work of hackers relates to both him and other computer users around the world. Although he agreed that free software was important the hacking community and allowing people access to otherwise expensive programs, he was not convinced that the work of free software is necessarily as good as professional software. I think that this was a really fun and interesting Beyond the Classroom project which my interviewee really enjoyed. I think it would have been even better if we did it with two more people in person, who did the Coding Academy before hand. [Kim Pringle]

For my ‘Beyond the Classroom’ presentation I decided to interview three different generations, and explore how their different media ideologies compared and contrasted each other. Not surprisingly, they were hilariously different and each generation represented more cliches than the prior. My roommate, encompassing the youngest generation, represented a familiar ideology surrounding social media. As we chatted about her usage of Facebook, text messaging and Twitter, she acknowledged that her text message use was well above the other two. We agreed that our cell phones were fundamental extensions of ourselves (sadly) and that Twitter and Facebook were more so addictions than extensions. My mother, representing the baby boomer generation was most arrogant about her media usage. Perhaps this was to impress me with her knowledge of how to “do a Tweet” or “how to appear cool on Instagram” (direct quotes). As we discussed her limited knowledge of Facebook and Twitter, I was enlightened by her comments on how pervasive social media is. I did not give her enough credit for her understanding of the ways we communicate via Facebook, what is appropriate it and what it not etc. Finally, I chatted with my father, who is a solid two generations older than me and perhaps the most entertaining of the three. As I asked him to comment on the pervasiveness of social media, he replied with “Well, it certainly is pervasive, but I wish I could figure out how to use the bloody stuff.” This, being a typical response from my father, left me questioning whether or not I should give him an hour lesson on Facebook. This being said, my father does own an iPhone, an iMac and an iPad; for what purpose I will never know. Throughout the conversations I had about media ideologies, I noticed stark differences but also similarities. In terms of a successful attempt at discovering ideologies, I would say that all generations were willing to share, while some maintained a more egotistical perspective. All generations agreed that social media is one of the most pervasive and influentials tools out society has. The negative image painted by parents about the addictive nature of Facebook is one facet of an ultimately fundamental device our society has created. As the realm of social media expands, now encompassing multiple SNSs as well as somewhat contradictory apps such as Tinder, so does our interaction and ability to decipher the purpose of it. Ultimately, we use social media to maintain relationships (or to stalk people) as well as to extend images of our lives and personas out into cyberspace. These personas are carefully crafted, yet still extensions of ourselves, fundamentally contributing to the way we interact and view other individuals. - Kate Ryan

For the Beyond the Classroom Assignment, I partnered with Geoff in the creation of a Facebook page entitled “Facebook and Communities: Open Discussion”. The project was designed with the central question: “Do you consider your Facebook interactions in terms of a ‘community’ or a ‘network’? We provided several prompter questions which ranged from “When and why did you start using Facebook?” to “Why do you post status updates?” The page was created on March 28th with the end-date posted as April 5th. In total, 131 people were invited and of which 17 people responded. We gave potential participants the option of responding either on the public Facebook ‘wall’ of the event, or through private messaging. The majority of the responses we received were posted directly on the public domain of the wall, and most those who did respond were mainly close friends and family members. The responses ranged from a few brief sentences to long prosaic accounts, and covered a diverse range of topics and loci of interests. We used the tool of the ‘Like’ to let participants who had responded know that we read their posts, and I also tried to write a short thank-you comment to those who replied. We engaged in dialogue with a few of the participants and asked follow-up questions such as, “What other online sites would you then consider as a community?” In the spirit of a social network, we also had a number of individuals respond who were not formally invited to the event; these were mostly friends of those who had responded who either ‘Liked’ the post or posted short comments expressing interest or agreement with it.

Using key-word analysis, we identified several themes that relate to some of the key concepts we have learned in class: 1) Information-Seeking and Information-Sharing Behaviours 3) Global and Local Connectivity, 4) Privacy Concerns, 5) Routinization/Social Pressure, 6) Hypermediacy, 7) Asynchronous Communication, and 8) Voyeurism/Social Monitoring. To touch on each briefly, we observed that many people talked about information sharing in the form of online links and social information learned through status updates and pictures; a majority of those who responded discussed the ability to remain in contact with friends and family who live far away; most of the participants expressed concerns about having a lack of control over the changing privacy laws of Facebook; most participants stated that their membership to the site was due to social pressure, and that they continue to use the site because it is the dominant mode of communication for most people; a few participants made reference to the multitude of mediums that can be used in the meta-medium of Facebook; many participants expressed an interest in the option of private messaging, and a smaller percentage of participants alluded to either being aware of, or engaging in the act of online voyeurism in the ability to ‘check-up’ on people who are not necessarily their Facebook ‘friends’. In the end, the consensus was that it was rare for communities to exist in Facebook, and a few participants provided links to specific Twitter and reddit forums that they considered as examples of a community. [Candace Massey]

For the beyond the classroom exercise, Candice and I created a Facebook page explaining material from class as well as asking our friends questions like: “What do you use Facebook for?; Do you consider Facebook a community?; What’s your favourite aspect of Facebook? Your least favourite?; and Aside from Facebook, do you use any other social network sites (SNS)?” We invited 131 people to the page and gave our friends the option to post on the page or send either of us private messages if they were uncomfortable publically posting their responses. Out of the 131 invitees, 23 said they were going and 14 (maybe more as of now) gave responses. I wasn’t very optimistic that our project would be a success. I didn’t think we would receive many responses and Candace and I worried that our questions were too ambiguous. Fortunately, the responses we received were well stated and obviously thought about including my brother’s response even though he was inebriated when writing. The responses illustrated that most people “joined” Facebook because it was the only/most efficient available medium to keep in contact with friends and family around the globe: “I started to use FB because everyone else switched from MySpace. I use FB to keep in touch with old friends mainly (like you Mr. I’m in Canada now) but a lot more of my family has been making accounts recently so it's also to talk to relatives that live far away” Response from Ally Gory While most people responded that they enjoyed the immediacy Facebook allows you, not everyone understood this as a positive thing. One of those comments came from Blackjack Bob who cryptically stated, “tons of my pals on the rez (up north and out east and down south) only use Facebook.” This causes Facebook to became a part of Blackjack Bob’s daily routine, which Blackjack Bob doesn’t like. What surprised me the most about the project was that after friends would comment, their friends commented too. We have a post with comments in both French and English, posts with links to other SNSs like Twitter and Reddit, and even a post with cats. Keeping in mind the aspects of immediacy and the open forum where friends and friends of friends can instantaneously talk and share ideas and other SNSs, I would say that this project was a success in demonstrating that while there will continue to be room to improvement, SNSs are very efficient in sharing information and connecting people. [Geoffrey Morrow]

Beyond the Class Project:Kai Lydgate - On one hand we enjoy our privacy, but on the other we try to maintain some degree of transparency regarding our online activities. For the most part, we are able to control what information about us becomes public and what stays private. When we post a Youtube or social networking sites we decide what aspects of our private life we would like to share with the public. Not only do we intentionally expose our private lives to the public sphere, we also transmit information about ourselves through our actions and in-actions. That is to say that we leave behind a trail of activity that can be traced to an IP address registered to our name. Most likely no one will be interested in your daily activities, but if someone were interested they could learn a lot about your patterns of online behavior.Part of my “out of the class room project” involved me filming myself asking people whether we have a right to privacy in the online world. Part of the purpose of the video-log or “Vlog” was to experience the reactions that people had to being filmed, and how the camera’s presence affects my persona during filming. The experience of watching myself on film provided me with a different kind of self-awareness, and a better understanding of how I am perceived by the “generalized other”. However, I can imagine for each viewer of the video there could be a different reaction or understanding of who I am privately. The majority of people will quickly lose interest in a video if they cannot establish the context and purpose of it. Because of this I think that so many Youtube videos do poorly or are not given a chance, because their content and context is not clearly stated. Also part of what came out of the discussion in the video was an agreement that there was an aspect of narcissism in posting Youtube Vlogs and other videos centered around an individual, especially when in excess. Others agreed that the persona that most people display on Youtube does not mirror their true selves. We got a general sense that successful Youtube Vloggers and other posters developed unique Youtube personas targeted at specific interest groups or for specific ends. That’s when I began to wonder; how seriously can we take people on Youtube? Do our words and actions on the digital landscape have real life implications? This is why rights of privacy are so important I find, there needs to be a certain degree of transparency associated with online avatars and social media profiles. Although a lot can be inferred about someone through Facebook posts or Youtube Vlogs, we must always question the nature or context of that post. It can be very easy to skew information and context in a medium where we are communicating via text and 2D video In conclusion, I find that the only way for us to protect our privacy rights is for us to reveal our private lives to the public. This sounds contradictory, but I believe that collectively the act of revealing the private life on Youtube has done a lot to teach other people about themselves humanity as a whole. Perhaps you might post a video of yourself being yourself, doing whatever it is that you do no matter how frowned upon. {Kai Lydgate : Posted April 4th}

7. For my project I wanted to educate my friends on the concept of media ideologies because that is the topic that has particularly stuck with me through the course. The purpose of my project was to explore how and why different different forms of media lead to different types of conversation. Ultimately, I was interested in learning how the communication medium shapes the response. To accomplish this I sent a message with the same content over a variety of types of communication mediums in order to highlight how my friends’ reactions differed. I used a fairly common message: “Hey what’s up? Want to grab a beer later?” I sent this to six friends through six types of media: text, phone call, Facebook message, Email, Twitter, and Skype. The responses were essentially what I expected them to be based on the idioms of practice my network of friends and I share. Response times and length of the conversation were the main differences between the interactions. The phone call, text message and Facebook message were all standard conversations because these are the primary methods of communication I use. The interesting reactions came from the Email, Tweet and Skype call because these types of media are usually reserved for different types of communication (ie more formal or less frequent). The friends I contacted through these mediums were a bit confused and asked why I didn’t just text them, which highlights their media ideologies. Overall I think the project was successful because out of 6 friends I contacted 5 came out to the bar. Once we were at the bar I was able to clarify why I had contacted some friends by Skype, Twitter and Email. This provided me with the perfect opportunity to educate them on the concepts of media ideologies, second-order information and idioms of practice. I explained Marshall McLuhan’s famous concept that “the medium is the message,” and I also discussed the seven comparisons of media outlined by Nancy Baym. None of my friends had heard about media ideologies before and they were quite interested in it because it made them reflect on their media usage and consider how they behaved with each type of media. [Jordy Tait]

I worked in a team with Shawn and Armileen for the beyond the classroom project. We had discussions with our friends and made a vlog on Youtube based on our discussion. Our topics surround the social medium of YouTube and how it has shaped our understanding human interactions. The first name that popped into my head when I think of viral/popular videos on Youtube is Michelle Phan-a girl who makes make up tutorials. She started off like any YouTube member, uploading from her webcam. She has gone so popular that she made enough money through YouTube views that she started of her first beauty company. (There’s even a YouTube video called “How Much Money Does MichellePhan Make on YouTube 2012” and generated 221,629 views- I asked my friend if she thought Phan’s success was legit. My friend Kelly who is a make-up artist herself told me that Michelle is a special case because she is the first one in the cosmetics industry to make it big on YouTube; no one with unprofessional training has ever gone famous like how she did and you don’t see a lot of the professional make up artists on YouTube teaching tutorials. I thought about what Strangelove said about YouTube being a unique place especially for the amateurs and told her maybe that’s why professionals don’t receive as much popularity because YouTube is more welcoming to those who are making amateur videos. (Like Strangelove mentions in his book “Watching YouTube”, Oprah had more negative comments when she first appeared on YouTue- people were complaining, “you’re already famous, get off of YouTube!”) The other two points we talked about were the responses of the community and the short term and long term effect of the vidoes. Kelly told me that Michelle Phan has inspired a new group of community composed of teenage girls who refer themselves as “beauty gurus” who purchase the recommended make ups by Michelle and videotape themselves using these products. I believe this project was a success because not only did I get to teach my friend something I learned in class but also got insightful feedback from her which helped me to understand that even a medium like YouTube is alive in a sense because of the people who are engaged in it. On top of that, making a vlog was a new experience for me. Michael Wesch(2009) described how an individual could possibly reach an epiphany by speaking to a little dot; for me, I did not reach any epiphany but did discover new things about myself like the way I carry myself, the way my hand gestures move so much while talking etc. [Angela Feng]

What my group members and I decided to do was to have a discussion with people outside of the classroom about YouTube. Shawn, Angela, and I each chose a video genre in which we would facilitate discussion on. The genre of YouTube video that I focused on was How-To/Tutorial videos. This was a recurring theme that was brought up with the three people I interviewed so I decided to focus the discussion on those. Our group decided to focus on three points which were the capitalization of YouTube, the feedback and responses from the viewers and community, as well as any short term or long term effects of these videos on the “celebrity.” When talking about the capitalization of YouTube with the people I interviewed, I brought up AdSense as explained by guest speaker, Tetsuro Shigematsu, and they were all unaware of this YouTube feature. Likewise to Angela, Michelle Phan was a recurring personality in our discussion as she is considered to be one of the most successful YouTube makeup gurus on the site. Their response to the capital that is being created off of these videos was not ubiquitous. Two of the people agreed that Michelle had “sold out” to large companies who are sponsoring her videos such as Lancome, and had migrated from her organic roots. Conversely, the other person I spoke with was a “Michelle Fan” and would stick with her through her increasing triumphs. The short and long-term effects of Michelle’s success somewhat overlap; she will forever be branded as “the girl who made it big on YouTube” and not just an everyday makeup artist. Simultaneously, she will be branded as a “sell out” which may stick with her during her career. The overall discussions were successful because both the people I had a discussion with, as well as myself acquired new knowledge and opinions on YouTube. The actual recording process was brutal and exhausting; as explained in Wesch’s article, recording one’s self can be awkward (2009). What was even worse was editing the takes and watching my own reflection, knowing that I was essentially talking to no one. It was also intentional that we each record ourselves using different quality cameras to see if there was a difference in our reactions to each video. Similar to how Wesch explains, webcam quality videos are oftentimes successful because of the nuances of homeliness that are attached to them, which is one of the beauties of YouTube (2009). [Armileen Naypes]

      For my assignment of bringing what I’ve learned from the class out to the community I at first tried bringing up hacking at a party to see the type of reaction I would get from people I knew. A few people stayed silent and one of my buddies told me to shut up about it so I figured I needed to change up my approach to get the opinions of some people either more interested or better informed on the subject.
      So I made a post on an online blogging site asking opinions on open source as a free speech movement and got a much better response. The general consensus is that people are pretty content calling it a movement for free speech and believe that products stemming from the open source movement are just as if not more high quality than those being put out by corporations. Although these opinions need to be taken with a grain of salt as users online could be a little biased but regardless, these are active citizens in the online community. We got into a discussion of capitalism and how the infatuation with individual career advancement is degrading the quality of institutions across a number of different mediums including journalism. Putting individual career advancement aside and having everyone work to the best of their ability cooperatively to achieve the best results for the greater good is a much better model when it can be done correctly. Individual accountability and practicality of earning profit is not a concern for hackers, as they believe they have become a part of something more important. 
      What copyright law does in the name of capitalism is infringe upon a persons ability to put the building blocks of language together in a certain way just because someone else did it first. To reference an argument I got into over what free product might do to an industry like journalism there are a lot of people confused; journalism is a labor industry that requires x amount of reporters to cover x number of current events in order to provide a well informed, quality product. What copy-right law is doing to open source would be equivocal to IBM saying reporters can no longer use the word ‘ridiculous’, or they can’t use the word ‘fat’ in the same sentence as the word ‘tomato’ because one of their guys thought of it first and slapped a patent on it. Now multiply these restrictions by hundreds and then try and write a coherent essay on tomatoes, your description won’t be nearly as sufficient as it would be if these restrictions didn’t exist. This is what is happening to the free software movement, corporations are trying to keep them from coding in a certain manner because it might be detrimental to their share prices but it is coming at the expense of a social movement that will improve society as a whole. [Matt Hanna]

Beyond the Classroom by Mikhail Elsay:

It all started with a text… a mass text to 10 of my friends to come over for dinner. My plan was to lure them over with offer of dinner and proceed to grill them on how and why they use the internet the way they do. Unfortunately only 6 showed up, two of which were not on my invite list but that is beside the point, I had enough food to keep them around to complete my questioning. Once I had assembled my friends and softened them up with food I began my discussion about the internet and social media. My sample was slightly biased with regards to gender (1 female to 5 males) but ranged in occupation from unemployed, working, to students at varying institutions. My goal was to figure out how my different friends interacted with sites like Twitter, Youtube and Facebook, unoriginal I know, but I was still curious. What I discovered in my discussion was that there is varied use of media on the internet among my friends. While the sample was small I’ll still provide my findings: - Facebook Use: 6 - Twitter Use: 4 - Youtube: 6 - Tumblr: 1 Of interest to me was how different demographics interacted with the internet and social media. The biggest users of the internet were students, not for productive things but for interacting with social media. Twitter was a distant third in usage behind Youtube and Facebook, mostly because it seemed “useless” for many of my friends. The one girl in the group admitted to using Tumblr the most, in concert with Facebook and Pintrest. I learned several things from the dinner. For one, my community of friends use social media for different uses. Students tend to use social media as a form of distraction while those in the workforce and unemployed tend to use it to keep up with friends and stay in tune with what is happening. Another interesting fact was that everyone admitted to falling into ‘holes’ where hours would pass on either Youtube or Wikipedia and that it was easy to be distracted by these sites. During this discussion, the conversation jumped across several topics quite quickly, much like what happens when surfing Wikipedia or Youtube which makes me wonder, does internet use shape how we interact in the real world?

Anthony Campbell's Assignment: Beyond the classroom I conducted an experiment with the purpose of discovering what the idioms of practice are behind social networking, but I learned much more. I logged on to Facebook and added a bunch of random people at which point I waited for their acceptance or denial of the request, not because I’m conceded, obnoxious, and lonely, but because I was slightly bored, and curious about whether, or not people are particular over who they add on Facebook. They are not. Frighteningly, that relaxed attitude could potentially have drastic ramifications. I predicted they would add a total stranger, me, and I happened to be correct. Noteworthy, Facebook shot me a message after roughly one hundred requests sent that warned me to stop adding random people, but I did not stop at this point. I added about twenty more before becoming too nervous to proceed due to the constantly flowing warnings that became exceedingly prominent with my failure to cooperate. Not every random Facebook user accepted, but roughly eighty did. The majority of people sent me messages asking about who I was. I disclosed all of this information willingly. When I informed them of the warning message I got from Facebook they agreed with me that it was antithetical to a key aspect of Facebook, but Facebook was only ensuring other users safety. A possible reason for those people agreeing with my opinion on Facebook’s protocol dealing with potential threats is that they recognized Facebook as a community, and that is interesting, but my concern had arisen in spite of that. A disconcerting documentary exists, Titled Catfish, about a man, Nev, tricked by a middle-aged woman, Angela, who lies to him about her identity through Facebook. Angela created an entire network of family members, and friends, for Nev to interact with, even an intimate partner, and they were all secretly Angela’s own pseudonyms. Eventually Nev and Angela meet. The truth is revealed, but it illustrates perfectly the trickery that is possible with current forms of social media. The conclusion I draw from these findings is the importance of pursuing social interactions over the Internet. We need to get better at interacting with people, but eliminating these networking sites would be undesirable because of the potential within them. Visionary Ze Frank pursues in his Ted talks the creativity aspect via online networks rather that the judgmental profiling that Facebook currently encourages. Word Count: 400.

Emily Wood For my beyond the classroom assignment I opted to delve a little deeper into the world of social media. In class we discussed how society is beginning to want information such as news, status updates and even jokes to be as concise as possible. This, I believe, has led to an increased popularity in Twitter, which demands its users to communicate their thoughts in 140 characters or less. Thus, i chose to focus my social media attention on Twitter - since I previously knew very little about it - and create an anonymous page (@blind_girl). This project had a few main goals; 1, gather as many followers as I can; 2, tweet frequent, funny things; and finally, test the theories this class has been discussing all semester. Michael Wesch suggested that social media is used as a way of expressing ourselves but also of reflecting on who we are (21), and after completing this project I completely agree with him. I did not expect to fall into the “self-realization” social media phenomena; but it is safe to say that I did learn something about myself through this process - that my “blind girl problems” are more frequent and ridiculous than I previously thought. In regards to obtaining followers, I was met with some challenges. Besides my friends how many people would follow a twitter page called “Blind Girl Problems”? To try and gain more followers I searched #blindgirlprobs on Twitter and followed people who had used that hashtag in their tweets - there are more than you might expect. Although I did not obtain as many followers as I had hoped, I did pick up a few, and am confident I can gain more should I choose to continue the Twitter page.

Digital Ethnographies

Each student of Anth 378 was assigned a Digital Ethnography or Internet Ethnography To Read. As groups they reviewed chapters individually and created summaries to share with their classmates.

Coding Freedom: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking, Gabriella Coleman

Group Members: Geoffrey Morrow, Kim Pringle, Elyssa Grief, Ashley Canavan, Rodrigo Valder and Matt Hanna

Intro & Chapter 1

Introduction: The General Public License is a warranty that developers, hackers, and system administrators use to transform their source code (the skeleton of a web page) into free software. The GPL is in direct conflict with traditional copyright law, which is used by proprietary software developers as a means to prioritize access, distribution, and circulation by market exclusion and control. Proprietary software is often marketed as more "fit" than free software the same way a twenty-dollar basketball is marketed as more “fit” than a free basketball. Productive freedom is a term used by software producers who are committed to an ethical version of the freedom to information. Free software emphasizes the right to learn and access knowledge and information. Supporters of this belief are often labeled as hackers and this ethnography outlines, “how hackers have built a dense ethical and technical practice to sustain productive freedom” in the ever-expanding universe of the Internet.

Ch.1 The life of a free software hacker: Most hackers are born the types who take their toys apart to see how they work. They tend to become computer “aficionados” who teach themselves to write in code at a young age. In the adolescent years, most hackers are introduced to the "wider" networked world where for the first time they have free access to information and chat rooms with like-minded people. The hacker’s excitement of finding this networked world is often observed by parents as negative behaviors like "preteen angst" until the hacker is in high school or college where they are introduced to departments of like-minded peers. After high school or college, most hackers find jobs writing code for private companies as a “freelancer.” When the hacker becomes an adult (financially independent), they tend to become active in the free software movement. This movement “embodies” the shared experiences of hackers around the world who through these experiences have come to understand that access to the software's source code is not simply “handy,” but online community is dependent on the freedom to share software because the freedom to information is the basis by which technology grows and improves. A hacker’s success relies on their ability to write in and understand code. Code should not be mistaken for arbitrary rules that create a web page and the the following chapters highlights the ethical value of open source code. Open source means anyone can improve and share that software (like Firefox and Twitter). Programmers who write open source (hackers) are in an ethical conflict with proprietary software developers whose industry created the framework for copyright law. These few but powerful companies are attempting to control the language (code) used to write software because like language, code regulates behavior and if they can regulate behaviour, then they control the market.

Reviewed by: Geoffrey Morrow

Chapter 2

Chapter 2 has the important job of outlining two key historical sagas in the history of free software and hackers: A) global access to intellectual property (aka software) and B) the global nature of the technological movement as a whole. Although two separate histories, they are intrinsically linked. These events prompted the rise of intellectual property laws, which in turn were the catalyst for the strong legal consciousness and community that todays hackers share (Coleman 62). Without the sense of community and the networked nature of programmers, the rise of open source would not have been possible.

The few computer hobbyists of the 1960-70’s lived and worked in the same geographic area, meeting in person and trading information. It was through this linked network of people that Bill Gates and Paul Allen got wind that their program, BASIC, was being distributed among hackers for free. This move to copyright BASIC was the beginning of a storm of copyright laws protecting corporate software (Coleman 65)

1977 saw the small community of computer enthusiasts turn into a larger, networked group. Driven by a fear of being overtaken by foreign markets, the U.S. began heavily investing in the high tech sector. This, along with copyright-pro companies like Microsoft becoming business heavyweights and the globalization of technology, led to the strengthening of copyright laws surrounding software. By 1980 all software as well as all ‘new’ objects, from genes to technology, became eligible for copyright (Coleman 67).

Even by 1970 university students were denied access to corporate software codes even if they were only being used for personal reasons, hobbling hacking ability. Stallman, a programmer at MIT, was infuriated with these developments and accused corporations of killing the hacking culture. In retaliation he quite MIT, recruiting from his hacking community those that shared his vision for free software, and fighting back (Coleman 69). Like in Cohen’s article, even though those in the hacker network share common symbols, what those mean to individuals (like Stallman) differ from person to person.

In 1991 a programmer by the name of Torvald picked up on what Stallman was doing. Driven by his love of technology, he created a “small” free software OS called Linux that was melded with some of Stallmans free OS, and by proxy also the GPL copyright law. This meant that Linux legally had to be open source (Coleman 77). Linux ultimately became one of the most popular and influential open source programs. Stallman represented the ideological side of free software, while Torvald represented more of the business potential side. Without these separate visions within the hacker network, open software would of been unable to grow into niches and become as foundational as it did.

Between 1998-2004 free software moved from a hobby arena of an elite few and into an larger, more accesible, economically viable field. In a bid to make free software even more business friendly the name was changed from ‘free software’ to ‘open source’, eliminating the political connotations (Coleman 79). As the network of hackers gets larger, we start to see different communities of hackers develop based on ideological and personal differences. Although all these people program and share a common technological language, their motives are very different.

There was fear that the co-opting of open source by big business had killed the ideological side of open source. However, like minded internet communities of 2-5 people began grassroot F/OSS movements, made possible by the global effects of the internet, and helped to keep the hacker culture alive (Coleman 83). The continued assault of new copyright laws and strict punishments made the possibility of being legally prosecuted very real for these hackers. As a result, a collective consciousness of the legal issues around programming and open source began to flourish (Coleman 87). In the current era, hackers often have a strong sense legality, with the more ideological ones purposefully using this knowledge to throw wrenches into the cogs of intellectual copyright law. This rise of free software and the legal battle enframing it is often called the ‘Second Enclosure Movement’ and forms an important basis for Hacker culture, community and history (Coleman 89). Reviewed by: Kim Pringle

Chapter 3

Reviewed by: Elyssa Grief

Chapter 4

Reviewed by: Ashley Canavan

Chapter 4 deals with two ethical moments in Debian. As Coleman says “the main purpose of this chapter is to explicate how different instances of ethical labor define the cohesive yet nonunitary moral commitments that developers hold toward Debian and its philosophy of freedom.” (Coleman 125) But what is Debian? It is a project started informally with a two dozen people which has evolved into over a thousand volunteers who create, write, code and distribute a Linux based OS made up of thousands of individual software applications. The two ethical moments the chapter discusses is enculturation and punctuated crisis. Enculturation refers to the mostly conflict free social order that exists within Debian and how it is regulated. Prospective members submit to the New Maintainer Process (NMP) which involves finding “ a sponsor and advocate, learn(ing) the complicated workings of Debian policy and its technical infrastructure, successfully packag(ing) a piece of software that satisfies a set of technical standards, and meet(ing) at least one other Debian developer in person for identity verification” (Coleman 124). This is done to maintain the ethics and values of Debian so that each prospective member knows full well what is expected of them and the operating procedures before they are fully accepted as a trusted member. Punctuated crisis occurs when there are contested issues around transparency, membership and its size, communication, authority and software licenses. The debate occurs on several medium at once including message boards, mailing lists and blogs. While sometimes the debate can be vicious, it is mostly passionate, friendly and peppered with jokes the most prevailing about the denial of a cabal. This is all done to prove how open the organization of Debian is and that everyone truly is an equal member.

As Debian has grown obviously its need for more formal organization has also grown. It now boasts a political system, formalized membership, detailed policy and technical manuals, a constitution and perhaps most importantly the Social Contract and Debian Free Software Guidelines (DFSG). The Social Contract could more accurately be called vow as it sets the guidelines for what is to be done. It includes powerful statements such as “We Won’t Hide Problems”, “Our priorities Are Our Users and Free Software” and “Debian Will Remain 100% Free Software” (Coleman 131-132). Whereas the DFSG is more the legal guidelines and the guidelines to create a new license outlines in its nine points mostly dealing with distribution and discrimination.

It is interesting that while the chapter title leads one to believe that there are just two main ethical moments, the entire chapter is essentially discussing numerous instances and examples of ethics thesed within these two main areas as well as the operation of Debian and hacking in general. Hierarchy in Debian as with most hacking circles is established as an earned privilege, meaning that only those who work the hardest and contribute the most reach the most powerful positions. The person who develops the work does not own it however, it is considered unacceptable to modify someone else’s work although suggestions can be left for how to improve it. This chapter fits very well into the overall theme of the book because it shows how all of the topics covered actually apply in a real life model and proves that they work in the real world and not just as theory. Picking Debian as the case study is a very interesting choice because while it is not the oldest F/OSS it is one of the largest in terms of both membership and work output. It also by adhering to its implemented ethical values has not been plagued by many tensions and power issues that other F/OSS or hacking groups have been susceptible to. The book relates to course discussions in numerous ways as hacking is essentially what created the internet. Internet development was done by people experimenting and openly sharing information with one another for the betterment of everyone. This is exactly what hacking is. Hackers use the tools available to them in order to improve existing technology or create their own which is then publically available for anyone else to use and learn from. Without hackers there would not be the internet as it exists today.

Chapter 5

Reviewed by: Rodrigo Valdes

Chapter 5: “code is speech”

Introduction: Gabriella Coleman’s ethnography focuses on the duality of the legal characteristics embedded in software development. This duality is explained by the lack of a concrete definition of what source code really is in its most basic form. On the one hand software is protected by the law in the form of licenses that represent a lock for users to copy, edit or redistribute software. In this case software is almost seen as a material good and therefore considered a private property. On the other hand hackers and many others refuse to consider software as simple “goods”; they believe that software should be free like speech and therefore accessible to everybody. This chapter demonstrates the ideas supporting why source code, which composes the underlying structure of software, can and should be redefined as a complex dialect and therefore making it become as free as speech.

These regulations represent a threat to hackers’ ideals of liberal freedom and the development of F/OSS (Free and open source software). But because the law is subjected to malleability, hackers were smart enough to use their skills and expertise to learn all about the law regarding this subject and use it in their favor when stepping into legal battle. F/OSS developers learned naturally to use the basic legal knowledge to produce under a legal structure. “Coders are people who write in subtle, rule-oriented, specialized, and remarkably complicated dialects” (Coleman 219). This mental skill is noted to be essential in the understanding of the law, which would explain this logical integration of the law into F/OSS developers’ practices.

On October 6, 1999, a sixteen-year-old developer by the name of Johansen published, under a free software license, a program called DeCSS. This program allowed Linux users to unlock their DVD’s and be able to play movies, which previously was only possible on Windows or Apple OS. The DVD CCA (DVD copy control association) responded by taking Johansen to court under the statement that his software promoted DVD piracy. This event was followed by protests of hackers and developers who saw this as an attack to their freedom of producing F/OSS. One clear example of a type protest that demonstrated how source code is analogous to speech was the proliferation and distribution of DeCSS re-written in different types of codes or dialects. This form of “remediation” as a protest reflected how software is mouldable and at the same time served as a mean to send a strong political message. Schoen poem “How to Decrypt a DVD: In Haiku Form” is a perfect illustration, this poem is a re-creation of the original DeCSS program that shows how coding is text and in the same way text is speech.

“The protest, poetry, and debate demonstrate how programmers and hackers quickly became active participants in the drama of law and free software in the digital age.” (238) Even though the court cases never declared source code as First Amendment speech, the wave of protests created knowledge about the issue and provided a guide for hackers, programmers, developers and lawyers on how to fight for F/OSS development. The debate on whether source code should be considered as speech or intellectual property is still open, and it still remains in a grey area.

Chapter 6

Reviewed by: Matt Hanna

This conclusion sums up the way in which the culture of hackers and free software movement began as a battle for defending their freedom to use the language they have worked hard to learn in whatever manner they deem appropriate. The muzzle of intellectual property law was an unintended adversary in the battle for free speech, but in taking it on they have brought to light a number of important issues with how these regulations are constructed. They have manipulated loopholes to obtain flexibility within which to work, and provided a spotlight with which society has been able to critically assess the current legislative rhetoric. Beyond this, hackers have supplied something people aren’t used to seeing in a capitalist society and almost refuse to acknowledge its value or existence even when they do: free high-quality products. The prevalent cynical perspective in America of “nothing is ever free” seems to have poisoned this idea of Free Software in some people’s eyes. For a free product must not be as good as the purchased one, or someone isn’t getting due diligence, otherwise what is this, communism!? Hackers have shown in a variety of ways that the monetary incentive deemed so crucial for quality output in any other medium is not an essential aspect of motivation for this industry. They would rather have open source where they are free to say and do what they please, building off each other’s intellectual prowess and creativity to make greater gains for society and technology as a whole. The Free Software movement has provided a vessel for numerous protest groups to attack the neoliberal capitalist rhetoric that opposes a flourishing industry of ideas in which large corporations can’t maintain the control.

Coleman uses numerous quotes of hackers in the business to show that the Free Software movement is not one with a particular political affiliation. They do not rest on the right or left, they are fighting for freedom of speech and don’t necessarily have to agree on any other issues. The movement has become a beacon of defending the coveted American ideal of freedom, and with that label has come an elasticity and immense support from all political affiliations that associate themselves with individual expression. In my opinion this was the best thing they could’ve hoped for, to get picked up as a human rights movement is one thing but nothing carries quite as much weight as the word “freedom” when seeking social change in America.

Coleman describes how IBM has learned to try and utilize this social change in their business model and developed marketing campaigns equating computing to freedom and individual expression. They heavily associate themselves with Linux and advertise as such, even going as far as to hire people to spray paint the Linux sign around communities as a method of guerilla advertising. This was well played by IBM, to get a piece of that rogue anti-establishment dollar like Apple did while consumers look past the glaring irony of it stemming from a massive corporation is the best move they could’ve made in dealing with this movement. IMC’s on the other hand run quite opposite to the corporate nature of IBM and attempt to provide an unbiased alternative to the corporate media, which is fueled by potential profits. They insist on the value of open source and defend the usefulness of transparency in identifying issues within social structures and coming together as a group to fix them instead of addressing them as individuals. The liberal commons is often referred to as “a pool of shared resources that then acts as the fertilizer for further vibrant cultural production and at times a healthy democracy.” (196) These ideas tie into that of a growing network society as discussed in class, except it goes even further to implicate a healthy political discourse and opportunities for cultural and economic growth.

In it's final pages Coleman looks to reiterate the interplay between the growing movement for Free Open Source Software and it’s relation to the movement for free speech and what that means for intellectual property regulations. I think Coleman did a decent job conveying the current state of the political movement and what the culture of hackers are seeking to accomplish in their war against copyright although she gets caught up in excessive terminology at times. I came away with a much greater knowledge base of where the movement has stemmed from and the potential for it's further growth from here.

Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human- Tom Boellstorff

Group Members:

Chapter 1

Reviewed by: Anthony Campbell (Presenting Feb 12)

Second Life Chapter One Summary

Tom Boellstorff begins the first chapter his book Coming of Age in Second Life an Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human (2008 Boelstorff) with a passage from Bronislaw Malinowski’s Agronauts of the Western Pacific (ends the book with another passage from the same book). The chapter basically introduces the book and the thesis, which I summarize and critique in the third paragraph. He establishes his ethnographic method introducing Second Life gradually; he depicts issues people could have with that ethnographic method.

Culture is virtually (literally meaning: almost) human, and virtual humans fall between what is real and what is purely cyber. Then Boellstorff depicts what kind of people will read his book and whether those people will disagree or agree with him, which I do not; after which, he explains an average day in Second Life while featuring all of the features of gameplay for people who have never played the game. The next things written in the first chapter are the terms of discussion.

A virtual dictation, argument emerges, the culture behind Second Life is more real than cyberspace because it is “virtual” which he explains means between cyber and real, but not simply almost, which twists Second life into a setting instead of a game. On the contrary I argue that Second life is a game (a bad one in fact) with strictly limited boundaries falling within the cyber realm, and the game does not try to be anything more than a game. Yes the people playing can manipulate it to a certain extent, but there is nothing to suggest importance of the people playing anymore than there is to any other game. The culture in fact that he explains for second life is evident in all games; people meet in virtual world all the time. My brother is one of them.

His ethnography was initiated at a time when Second Life was just coming into the public’s eye. Since then it has diminished, and only 800,000 log in per month, conversely 9 million people play World of Warcraft.

Then he describes the post human as it pertains to virtual worlds. A basic explanation of his post human, or virtual human is best explained with his example of a woman in the game named Dara, who Tom forgot, but she immediately thought his avatar had switched users, and Tom’s character was being used by a completely different person. Why he chose book format is his final subsection to the first chapter, which he explains in detail, but basically it is this: He understood his ethnography was dated from the moment he finished it, and Second life’s cultures would keep progressing, but that was not the point. In the past when people discovered writing to immortalize their thoughts, which would inevitably become dated was the point of him writing the novel.

The introductory chapter basically establishes what kind of book you will be reading, the main points for his argument that reflects ethnographic methods in synchronicity with his argument that compels the reader to sympathize with Second Life players, and; moreover, idolize them for their ability to found new cultures and idioms of practice that are one day going to evolve, probably, and be used for pragmatic, or even astounding feats. The reality is he studied a very monotone, bland, possibly even boring subject with respect to the depth of his exploration into something that is not very deep.

Works cited Boellstorff, Tom (2008). "Subject and Scope", In Coming of Age in Second Life. UK: Princeton University Press. Malinowski, Bronislaw (1932). Agronaughts of the Western Pacific. London: George Routledge and Sons.

Chapter 2

Reviewed by: Leopoldine Leblanc (Presenting Feb 12)

Oddly, in this chapter entitled "History", Tom Boellstorff only briefly addresses the history of Second Life created by Linden Lab. The main aim is to situate Second Life in a longer history of virtual worlds in order to determine its distinctive feature. Hopefully, he avoids the meaningless chronological approach in this case, and focuses on a plurality of histories intertwined with the one of virtual worlds : such as the history of the virtual, of virtual technologies, of cybersociality and of his own of gaming. All of these histories are intermingled in order to answer two questions: how virtual worlds have come into being and what can they tell us about human condition?

The first claim of Boellstorff is that virtuality is an inherent part of human being. “Humans have always been virtual.” They have the ability to project oneself in other world – in “virtual worlds” in the sense that they are non-physical and imaginary. For instance: symbols, dreams, rituals and even language itself can be all seen as virtual worlds.

Having said that, it does not seem odd to conceive that virtual worlds are indeed actual. From Plato to Descartes, the notion of the virtual has always presume a gap between virtual and actual, as two separated worlds. The main debate being to argue which one is more true than another. This conception of virtual worlds apart from the actual world appears reductive. Virtual world are actual in the sense that we always experience virtual world in relationship to ours. And above all, it turns out that social components from the physical world apply equally in virtual worlds.

A striking example is the experience of Myron Krueger in 1970 when he invented “Videoplace”, the first virtual world along the lines of Second Life. He managed to combine into one monitor images of his hand and of his colleague's hand although they were situated in a different place. They could both watch their hand at the same time, and when Krueger's hand's image overlapped his friend's by mistake, the first reaction of his friend was to remove his hand from the image of Krueger's touching the image of his. This illustrates how the same social implicit rule of personal space and avoidance of touching applied as well in this virtual space.

Virtual worlds are actual not only because they create a third place, but also because this cyberspace is persistent. Telecommunications also create a third place, but where people can interact simultaneously and, thus, only exist while people are connected. Persistence of virtual worlds, however, allows them to exist even when participants log off. There is no “Game over” in virtual worlds.

It is technology that makes virtual worlds actual. Techne “refers to art or craft, to human action that engages with the world and thereby results in a different world”. Boellstorff argues that this ability for technology to create a new human environment, modifies man's very essence. He coins Homo cyber to define “the virtual human”, to reference both the forms of human social life emerging online, and the way that human being has always been constituted through techne.

What's new with virtual worlds is that “techne can take place inside them”. Second Life allows techne to become recursive, an end as well as a means. Thus, Second Life can be seen as a virtual world where you can create another virtual world. Entering this online virtual field is as valid for an ethnographer as any real (physical) field in order to understand the actual experience of the overlap of virtual and real worlds.

Chapter 3

Reviewed by: Candace Massey (Presenting Feb 12)

In the section entitled “Methods” of Coming of Age in Second Life, Boellstorff (2008) outlines the methodological and theoretical underpinnings of his fieldwork in the virtual-world of Second Life. The title, Coming of Age in Second Life, is a direct reference to the anthropologist Margaret Mead and her infamous work entitled Coming of Age in Samoa (1928). In this regard, Boellstorff (2008) draws upon what he terms as ‘classical’ or ‘traditional’ ethnographic methods which emphasize the significance of participant-observation, intensive field-work, and holism. Drawing upon a Boasian framework, Boellstorff’s (2008) work “seeks equality and complicity rather than hierarchy and distance” (69), and in which culture is understood as the product of particular historical, social, and political conditions that must be studied in its own terms. In the study of the context of new media use, Mackay (2005) and Postill (2008) argue that the binaries which exist between the ‘real’/virtual world and online/offline interactivity must be deconstructed. In this manner, Boellstorff (2008) also challenges the differential values attached to researching a ‘real’ versus a virtual world, and claims that the virtual-world must be considered as a context that exists in and of itself.

As Boelstorff (2008) challenges the assumption that the context of online cultures is predicated upon that of actual-world cultures, he argues that virtual-worlds are legitimate sites for culture in that “…people find virtual worlds meaningful sites for social action” and thus “cultures in virtual worlds exist whether we like it or not; our task as ethnographers is to study them” (62). In practice of what he terms as “digital anthropology”, Boellstorff (2008) explains “…as virtual worlds grow in size, ethnographic research in them becomes more spatial and situated, much like ethnographic research in the actual world” (63), and draws comparisons with his ‘actual-world’ fieldwork in Indonesia. In the virtual-world of Second Life, Boellstorff (2008) argues that culture, like that of actual-world communities, is to be understood as a “complex whole” that is embedded with “grounding assumptions”, or, overarching cultural norms which represent a way of being in the world (64-65; 75). At the time of Boellstorff’s (2008) research, there were 5,000 accounts registered on Second Life, and as of 2008 it is estimated to be at 10 million (83). As Cohen (1985) describes community as a symbolically bounded, heterogenous collective of individuals connected by a shared commonality, Boellstorff (2008) presents Second Life as a network that fosters not just a large-scale online community, but intra-site communities. This is expressed in what Boellstorff (2008) understands as ‘subcultures’ within Second Life, or, communities that arise in the form of various ‘focus groups’ in which members share common interests and beliefs, and engage in particular meaning-bound practices and activities.

In this manner, Boellstorff (2008) claims that ethnography, as the study of “the banal, unassuming aspects of everyday life” (83), reflects notions of culture that are situated in time and space. In the course of his two-year field-work on Second Life, Boellstorff (2008) created the avatar Tom Bukowski to explore the landscape of Second Life and interact with other residents, engaging in other activities such as the purchase of land and the creation of a home, the holding of ‘events’, and the consuming of medias that exist in the virtual-world (furniture, textiles, art, etc.) (69-70). Boellstorff (2008) conducted thirty formal interviews and thirty informal interviews, but most of his research is based in the notes taken during his direct participant observation. As discussed in his description of ethnographic methods (Boellstorff 2012), Boellstorff (2008) argues that participant observation is not anecdotal, and allows for a methodological flexibility that the ‘scientific’ deductive approach does not in its production of positivist data.

Works Cited

Boellstorff, Tom (2012). Ethnography and Virtual Worlds: A Handbook of Method. UK: Princeton University Press.

Boellstorff, Tom (2008). "Methods", In Coming of Age in Second Life. UK: Princeton University Press.

Cohen, Anthony P. (1985). The Symbolic Construction of Community. UK: Ellis Hardwood Ltd.

Mackay, Hugh (2005). "New Connections, Familiar Settings: Issues in the Ethnographic Study of New Media Use at Home". eds, Hine, Christine. Virtual Methods: Issues in Social Research on the Internet, p. 129-140. US: Berg Publishers.

Postill, John (2008). Localizing the Internet Beyond Communities and Networks. New Media Society 10(3): 413-430.

Chapter 4

Reviewed by: Jordy Tait (Presenting Feb 12)

Chapter 4 of Tom Boellstorff’s Coming of Age in Second Life analyzes the concepts of place and time in order to skillfully reveal the boundaries between the virtual world and the actual world. This is valuable to the overall theme of the ethnography because Boellstorff is interested in examining the interconnections and overlaps between the virtual and actual instead of simply separating them. Second Life provides a strong example of why this separation is not as clear as we may think and how virtual worlds are important locations of culture and community. By engaging with a wide range of research, theories, and personal experiences, Boellstorff presents a thorough discussion of the intricate ways that place and time affect sociality in virtual worlds.

The beginning of the chapter is focused on the fundamental role of place and visuality in making virtual worlds what they are: places that you can look around in. Boellstorff establishes the value of his research on this idea by asserting that because virtual worlds are places they can also be fieldsites for ethnographic research. He supports this claim by demonstrating that virtual worlds are sites of ‘real’ social connections and culture in shared virtual spaces, which users become mentally and emotionally immersed in. In addition to place he examines the concepts of land and landscape and their integral role in the social and economic function of Second Life. Just like in the real world, residents take pride in the buildings/objects they create and are upset if the aesthetic of the landscape in their virtual neighborhood is disrupted by ugly construction or when a new user fails to follow the acceptable idioms of practice that have been established (Gershon). This is a result of both the shared virtual space and the actual time spent online.

The rest of the chapter considers the more complex concept of time by analyzing the virtual notions of ‘Lag’ and ‘AFK’, as well as theories of immersion and presence. Boellstorff develops a very nuanced understanding of these ideas to highlight the effects of time on virtual worlds and online sociality. His main argument is that although virtual worlds are based in shared virtual places they are still subject to actual time, which allows the real world to intrude in the virtual world. According to Boellstorff, it is primarily synchronic sociality that enables people to feel immersed in virtual worlds and when the synchronicity of time is disrupted it interferes with the ability to communicate. He explores this through the concept of lag, which is “a sense of disjuncture between actual-world time and virtual world time” due to slower processing speeds.

Another disruption to synchronous communication is caused by a person going ‘AFK’(away from keyboard), which occurs when a user is absent from the virtual world but their avatar remains present. Critically, Boellstorff notes that there is a gradation of ‘AFKness’ and presence, between fully absent and fully present in the virtual world. Based on this concept Boellstorff provides an interesting test to identify virtual worlds, stating “If you can go AFK from something that something is a virtual world.” This represents a clear boundary between the sociality of the virtual and real worlds.

Ultimately, the central theme of this chapter is that time resists virtualization in a way that space does not. Space can be constructed and compressed in the virtual world, while time remains a real world structure that can fall out of synch with the virtual world. This chapter does as excellent job of demonstrating this difference and explaining the intricacies of space and time in the virtual.

Chapter 5

Reviewed by: Sammy K. (Presenting Feb 26)

In this chapter, titled 'Personhood', Boelstorff attempts to address various issues related to 'everyday senses of virtual personhood'. The chapter is divided into thematic aspects of personhood which Boelstorff successively attempts to address; namely “The self”, “The life course”, “Avatars and alts”, “Embodiment”, “Gender and race” and finally “Agency”. Although the topic at hand is seemingly cohesive, Boelstorff takes an anecdotal and referential style, which I would argue greatly weakens both the strength and the clarity of the ideas he purports to discuss. The result being a disorganized exploration of the relationship between personhood and what it means to be virtually human.

The first section, focuses on the idea of a virtual 'self' and what this entails. This section introduces the idea of 'role' as the primary element shaping conceptions of identity online. Simply from adopting a screen name, and existing in SL in the form of avatars, individuals are framed in one sense by a kind of multifaceted persona they adopt. Although members of Second Life argue that the platform can be used to explore their inner selves, the author argues that a foundational element of the virtual world is that it allows people to have distinct identities in these online spaces.

A central point to this discussion seems to be the element of anonymity that virtual spaces allow. While the author doesn't come down on one side of the debate, he recognizes that the issue of anonymity is in some way linked to the process of self-fashioning online. Although no conclusive idea is presented with respect to how self is (either uniquely or indistinctly) manifest virtually, there is an underlying implicit assumption to the chapter that there is a kind of process by which in individual has and presents a virtual self. Whether that may extend or obscure ones 'real' or 'non-virtual self' is a question repeatedly reposed and left unanswered throughout.

One tactic Boelstorff uses to address the complex issue of virtual personhood is by drawing parallels between the salient aspects that are present in both virtual and real life personhood. In real life the idea of a 'life course' seems to emerge as an invariant pattern across cultures. Unsurprisingly, this process permeates the culture of this online space, and inextricably effects the process of self-creation/self-exploration that occurs within SL. Specifically, the process of embodiment, a part and parcel of the 'life course', it was argued, transcends both virtual and real spaces. This issue of embodiment is both variously referenced, but never directly fully fleshed out. It is by virtue of this absence, I would argue, that the crux of the discussion on personhood leaves much to be desired. Although specific points of interest and elements of virtual personhood are furthered when discussing avatars, alts, gender, and race, relating these to a more comprehensive thesis pertaining to virtual personhood remains absent. The lack of a careful delineation of the meaning of embodiment in this virtual space might help to unify these diverse topics to a more coherent theory of virtual personhood.

Lastly however, in addressing gender and race issues, Boelsorff manages to redeem some of the focus of the chapter. In addressing these topics and their permeance in virtual worlds, he is able to bring in some of the complex issues in which the experience of virtual personhood may diverge distinctly and significantly from real life experience. It is only here that I would argue the author successfully tackles the issue of virtual personhood. Rather than enumerating similarities, it is the differences that virtual and real worlds exhibit, that I would argue, are the departure points for a discussion on what constitutes a sense of virtual personhood.

Chapter 6

Reviewed by: Kate Ryan (Presenting Feb 26)

“Saying that Second Life is addictive is like saying real life is addictive” (Boellstorff 177). This quote, taken from chapter six of Tom Boellstorff’s Coming of Age in Second Life, insinuates that this online world and the real world are essentially the same. Boellstorff explains and exemplifies that virtual relationships hold just as much validity as real life relationships. In his chapter on intimacy, he discusses everything from virtual lingo to virtual sexual relationships. Inevitably, a reader will question whether or not online relationships can truly be justified as ‘real’, but Boellstorff makes a convincing argument that emotional intimacy, be it through platonic or romantic relationships, is entirely plausible and often rewarding.

Through categorizing his chapters with subheadings, the reader builds knowledge of each category (ex. family, friendships) and applies that knowledge to the next section. Boellstorff begins with ‘Language’ and how an instant message versus a group message can carry different rapport. The predominant language of Second Life is English, therefore limiting non speakers from fully engaging in the game. It is still possible, with the use of instant translation software, to participate, but there is inevitably a delay in communication time. There is undoubtedly an “America centric sociality of Second Life” and perhaps through the expansion of language software, this centrality could subside (156).

Despite language barriers, friendships and sexual intimacy are well established on Second Life. With the barrier of a screen, people are capable of being whatever or whoever they want to be. Heterosexual men could act out lesbian relationships while homosexual women could be men or even children. “Age play,” where real life individuals act as children in sexual situations, became a difficult subject to address given that sex with minors is illegal. Boellstorff began to discover that the term ‘play,’ “referred to transgressive forms of online sexuality” (160). Other types of ‘play’ could include domination, hinting at a type of online BDSM, where avatars could become submissive or dominant to other avatars. The sexual atmosphere in an online community obviously differs from real world sexual activity, but Second Life seems to provide an interesting escape from real life relationships. Online affairs, which real life partners often do consider to be real, often involve more emotional connection and commitment due to the lack of physical contact (167). Sexual relationships aside, online friendships emerge without any basis on gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation (166). Many Second Life users argue that without any judgement of physical appearance, “you can only go based on someone’s heart” (165). The ‘heart’ that you may be basing your relationship on may not be the person’s ‘real’ heart, but if one enjoys the virtual relationship and common interests, does the virtual nature really matter? Ultimately, Boellstorff exemplifies that virtual relationships can be entirely different but provide the legitimate rewards that real life relationships do.

In today’s society, the Internet is often viewed as an addictive tool used to seduce teenagers into not doing their homework. Therefore, an online game such as Second Life could be considered the height of Internet distractions. This online community has allowed people to discover aspects of themselves they might not feel comfortable with in real life (rl). If this really is someone’s “second life,” encompassing whatever they want it to, intimacy will no doubt be an aspect of that life. By dedicating a chapter to intimacy, Boellstorff has acknowledged the legitimacy of virtual relationships. The intimacy shared between two individuals, or a group of individuals is ultimately their function, and if Second Life provides an environment where this is possible, then the possibilities should be taken advantage of.

Works Cited

Boellstorff, Tom. Coming of Age In Second Life: an anthropologist explores the virtually human. Princeton University Press, 2009. Print.

Chapter 7

Reviewed by: Jacob Rosen (Presenting Feb 26)

In chapter 7 of Tom Boellstorff’s book Coming of Age in Second Life addresses how Second Life is realized as more than an “atomistic” collection of individuals but a diverse space centered on the connections people create. This chapter focuses on community and its different manifestations in Second Life while reinforcing a central theme of the book: That ethnography is a vital method for understanding virtual worlds.

Boellstorff breaks down community into several sections. He begins by looking at events. He describes attending fashion shows, discussion groups and religious meetings, among others. What is central about events is that they are based on a core tenet of what makes a virtual world open to ethnographic study: Interaction. Boellstorff cites Pavel Curtis, who termed the phrase “social gravity.” He quotes Curtis as writing that “if more than a couple of players are in the same room, the presumption is that an interesting conversation may be in progress there; players are thus more attracted to more populated areas” (p.182). Events in Second Life show that like in real life people gather and interact based on a common “place, time and sociality” (p. 182).

Boellstorff then transitions to groups. What I found fascinating was Boellstorff’s observation that the term “groups” was used to in two primary ways: First to denote formal associations such as clubs and support groups but also in an informal sense to denote subcultures (p. 184). As Benedict Anderson describes, communities are an imagined, yet deeply felt connection. In addition, what makes a community is the fact that it is a collection of people who belong to their own subcultures but also identify with Second Life as a whole.

Another point that Boellstorff mentions is kindness. On Second Life and generally in virtual worlds altruism is prevalent. He gives several examples of classes given to help with others with aspects of Second Life, whether it be learning the virtual real estate marker or how to host a party. Boellstorff writes how altruism “could shade off into friendship” (p. 187). He also quotes a resident who says that in real life we simply have too much to do and thus aren’t as generous (p. 187). This suggests that the considerate nature on Second Life stems from our simple desire to connect in Virtual Worlds.

Boellstorff then moves to griefing, which is essentially pranking. It is defined as an intentional act that the griefer enjoys and causes others to enjoy the virtual world less. (p.188). This could be getting someone’s password and taking their money or putting structures with provocative images on their property. While this seems like simple immaturity, Boellstorff examines it with no judgements. He concludes that griefing is in fact a social phenomenon, linked to a “griefer community” (p.193). While griefing certainly represents problems in virtual communities it is also tied in many respects to simply playing, which is a major motivation for participation in virtual worlds (p. 194)

Boellstorff then examines communities that exist between virtual worlds. This occurs typically through a moment of mutual recognition from another world. Moving between worlds made the users themselves anthropologists by examining new virtual worlds and “challenging their own beliefs about selfhood and community online” (p.198).

The final theme is the communities beyond virtual worlds. Although this challenges the taboo of meeting someone outside the game, it does occur, with Second Life conventions held and those meetings in real life even leading to marriages. The fact that the communities and connections created in the Second Life transcend any supposed boundaries between real and actual worlds demonstrates its value and proves that the interactions of real life and virtual life are fluid and dynamic and thus deserves to be viewed ethnographically.

Chapter 8

Reviewed by: Mikhail Elsay (Presenting Feb 26)

Chapter Eight of Tom Boellstorff’s ethnography, Coming of Age in Second Life is focused on political economy. This chapter is the first chapter of his third section of the book titled “The Age of Techne” and makes up the analysis aspect of his ethnography. This section moves away from the ethnographic material of the first sections and begins to make hypotheses based on virtual worlds themselves. For Boellstorff, politics and economy in the virtual world are important markers of culture and this is why he saved his discussion of these topics for the end of his book.

Boellstorff opens his chapter talking about “creationist capitalism” and its importance to Second Life. Basically, creationist capitalism is a mode of production that is based on the creation of things and the labour is based on creativity. In this type of capitalism, the individual is understood by the ways they construct the social (Boellstorff 2008). Linden Labs, the company that created Second Life, does not actually create the in-world “stuff.” Instead, the members of Second Life provide up to 99% of the material created in Second Life (Boellstoff 2008) this is “creationist capitalism” at its finest.

The chapter then shifts its focus to money and labour within Second Life and how these two concepts shape both the economy and the culture of Second Life. Second Life is one of the only games with a free currency exchange, intellectual property rights and the ability to work for real world wages in game (Boellstorff 2008: 212). It is mentioned that one way that virtual worlds are considered ‘real’ is when goods and services in the virtual world have real world value. Boellstorff explains how an economy develops within Second Life with Linden Dollars (L$) that can be obtained through credit card. This allows for goods and services to be purchased with real money creating an economy.

While wage labour is a part of Second Life, a larger aspect of Second Life economy is based in property and Boellstorff moves on to address it. Most money exchanges have to do with property, both with regards to land and material property. Not only can land be purchased from Linden Labs, residents can purchase land from each other. On top of this, commodities created by citizens like clothing and practically anything created in Second Life can be bought and sold using L$. This is where creation capitalism and the economy intersect. Residents create the goods that are sold and circulated in the Second Life economy.

The final section of the chapter is where Boellstorff discusses government and social form. He explains how Linden Labs can be seen as the government, with the power to restrict residents who do not follow the terms of service but also how Linden Labs and the platform of Second Life shape the sociality within the game. It is in this section that he sums up how culture is shaped and formed through the actions of Linden Labs and how Second Life can function like a society.

This chapter covers a broad category of human culture. Boellstorff highlights how real world cultural traits like an economy and modes of production are created in a virtual world. The author acknowledges that the cultural tendencies are based in a “Californian Ideology” (Boellstroff 2008), a way of explaining that some of the societal traits of Second Life are specific to a Western, Christian society. However, the examples that are explained in the chapter demonstrate that aspects of Second Life culture are very similar or the same as the features of societies today.

Chapter 9

Reviewed by: Armileen Naypes (Presenting Feb 26)

(I have the E-book version so my page numbers don't match up, I still have to take a look at the hard copy to fix them)

Tom Boellstorff's final chapter of the book Coming of Age in Second Life attempts to dispel the clear distinctions between the artificial and the natural, or the virtual and the actual and argues that these terms are indeed interchangeable. He defines the virtual worlds as being linked to the real world in that they also exhibit an economic system, inequality, community, and selfhood (p.2). He understands that culture in virtual worlds are dynamic and perhaps there are faults in writing a book on this phenomena instead of editable blog posts. However, he argues that his ideas embodied in book form are advantageous in that he cannot update the text and that "it will stand as an analysis of the early years of Second Life and a set of theoretical and methodological frameworks for understanding culture in virtual worlds" (p.3-4).

Boellstorff suggests that virtual worlds are reminiscent of the mundane. One resident stated, "that's the dirty secret of virtual worlds; all people end up doing is replicating their real lives" (p.4). He also explores Ray Kurzweil's arguement regarding "technological singularity," which is essentially a fusion of human and machine, and how some residents see how they can "download" themselves into Second Life (p.4).

Perhaps they are downloading themselves to Second Life, but only certain aspects of themselves. Regardless of an individual expressing their best attributes or their worst, everything that one posts online is going to be filtered. It is an edited version of themselves as each individual has an infinite amount of idiosyncrasies, it is simply impossible to contain it to a single character online. In the case of Facebook, it is essentially an edited autobiography, one will likely post the best moments of their life, and not the depressing ones (ideally, it depends what kind of attention one is seeking, perhaps facilitating say, jealousy or sympathy).

He emphasizes that "ethnography" is not the same thing as any qualitative method, including interviewing in isolation. He treats Second Life as a culture in that, consistent among all cultures, that there are many subcultures within it (p.6-7). Boellstorff also explains that anthropologists are now critical of their perhaps expired notions of culture being a contained and a distinct whole. These notions need to be dissipated even though they are evident in educational institutions which oftentimes facilitate functionalism and structuralism (p.8)

Perhaps through this virtual world, one may learn more about the people who designed it. There is of sense of "Anthro-ception" where one may learn about the people who crafted Second Life, but one may also learn about the users who have crafted how it would be used. Similar to ethnographic film maker David MacDougall's point in his article Whose Story is It?, how an individual would learn more about the film maker or the photographer than the actual subjects being filmed or photographed. Second Life is crafted in a way that there are limits to it and has been filtered and edited for users to explore and users would interpret it and play accordingly. The limits and freedoms that have been crafted and designed by the producers reveal something about them. Perhaps the limits and freedoms of the virtual world are simply parallel to the limits and freedoms of the real world.

He argues that the virtual is actual and the actual is virtual which is indeed a sound argument. Conceivably it is the platforms of which they are used that individuals have decided to use different words to define the two worlds. It could be a possibility that there is a sense of disconnection to a keyboard and how its tangible, that one may feel that they can turn off the online world. However, one can also turn off the real world, just intangibly. (Ex. relaxing on a beach, getting away from hectic work schedules, life is still occurring, but one has disconnected themselves from responsibilities). He concludes that he could not do justice to what he has observed and experienced with Second Life and how this virtual world could not be contained in a book, reminiscent of any other world.

My Life as a Night Elf Priest: An Anthropological Account of World of Warcraft - Bonnie Nardi

This might be of interest to your group: A unlicensed WoW theme park exists in China. Group Members:

Chapter 1

Reviewed by: Carlos Tello (Feb 12)

In chapter 1 of My life as a night elf priest: an anthropological account of World of Warcraft, Bonnie Nardi presents an overview about what exactly is World of Warcraft (WoW) and shows some characteristics of the people that play the role play game. Nardi explains game-related concepts like raid, guild, ganking and MMORPG; how the game engages people by giving users the possibility to create human-like characters; and how the game enhances the gaming experience by presenting an add-free environment for players.

The main idea from chapter 1 is that WoW is a social world as much as a game. Nardi argues that the environment in WoW can be described as a “virtual world”. In a virtual world, “participants create an animated character, move the character in a three-dimensional space, have means for communicating with others, and access a rich array of digital objects.” Nardi explains that “the culture of a virtual world is enacted through human conversation and designed objects that mediate activity.” Another example of a digital world is Second Life.

Raids and guilds are examples of how WoW works as a social world. According to Nardi, “raiding is one of the most complex activities in World of Warcraft, involving 10 to 40 people who join together to defeat difficult monsters.” In order for a raid to be successful, players have to know beforehand how raids work, they need leaders that come up and review strategies to defeat monsters and needs players consensus about how to distribute the treasures obtained from monsters.

A guild is a club of players that play together and socialize. Each player can only belong to one guild. A lot of guilds go well beyond gaming; “some [of them] have websites with forums and player profiles, some with photos and personal information, so players may get to know quite a bit about each other,” says Nardi. People can chat with fellow guild members privately through “whispers.”

The social aspects of WoW go well beyond the game. Nardi says that “many players played with friends and/or family members. The game was an extension of their existing social lifes.” She even found one person that told her that he played in order to have something to talk about with his kids. Nardi also presents cases of married couples that met through the game and entire families playing the game together.

The author explains that “not only do people draw on existing social connections to explore virtual worlds, the virtual world itself is a stimulus to real world interaction.” She notices that people who come to the game on their own “have ways of meeting new people in an open environment in which players expect to be approached by strangers.” She also notices that some guilds are built around shared characteristics such as religion or sexual orientation.

Nardi, after analyzing all those social aspects of the game, concludes that “many WoW players are “active people looking for intense, engaging, online experiences that complement similarly engaging offline activities.””

This first chapter helps explaining basic terms about the game and giving context to non-gamers, so they can familiarize themselves with WoW and better understand the contents of the rest of the book. Capter 1 also argues that WoW -- and, by extension, other Internet-based games and applications -- helps building relationships and creating communities, instead of isolating users.

Chapter 2

Reviewed by: Maria Orillaneda (Feb 12)

Chapter two of Bonnie Nardi's "My Life As A Night Elf Priest" illustrates the approach and method that she uses to take in order to compile the ethnographic account of her experiences in the massive multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), World of Warcraft. The chapter addresses the degrees to which she participated in WoW culture (she describes the style of work she does as 'participant-engagement', as she was deeply immersed into the culture), the advantages of studying a virtual culture as opposed to traveling out to work on standard anthropological fieldwork (traveling costs, language barriers, diseases, etc.), the assistance she received from fellow researchers and students, her research methods (interviews, observations, participant-observation, informal conversations, and document analysis), the limitations of her research (her lack of knowledge regarding Blizzard Entertainment culture), as well as several guilds she was involved with in WoW and how the problems and experiences between them were unique.

Because the chapter is so rife with details about ethnography in general as well as Nardi's personal experiences and methods with this particular study, it can be seen as essentially taking on the purposes of what would be the 'introduction', or the 'methods' section of a scientific report. Nardi identifies a problem (or rather, she states that she formulated a question after collecting an abundance of data and analyzing them), its importance (to study and understand a fresh new culture and view them with an anthropological mindset), and then proposes the steps that she has taken in order to collect data with which she can prepare a question and answer with evidence. In sum, the chapter provides readers with a few key things; one, an overview of the importance and purpose of ethnographic research; two, information on how she conducts her research (mentioned previously); three, the differences between the three guilds she was involved with (Scarlet Raven, Terror Nova, The Derelict), in terms of guild demographics, size, playing style, and "drama"; four, the much contended myth of 'the ethnographer contaminating the field site', which she debunks by stating that “she looked like any other player”, and by pointing out that her fellow guild members were “incurious” about her research. The contents of this chapter of the book provides an outline of the way Nardi’s research was carried out, and is thus detrimental to both the legitimacy of her study and the kinds of data that she is able to collect during the course of her research and discuss for the rest of the book.

There are many overlaps in terms of topics in the chapter that intersect with previous course discussion. The first good example of this is evident when comparing Boelstorff’s “Ten Myths About Ethnography” to a few topics mentioned by Nardi. Many of Nardi’s comments and analysis reinforce Boelstorff’s arguments against these myths, particularly when she states outright that “[she] has caused virtually no perturbations in World of Warcraft apart from stimulating players into reflecting...on their play experiences”. This notion emphasizes Boelstorff’s point against the myth that “ethnographers contaminate fieldsites by their very presence”.

Many of Nardi’s differing experiences between her WoW Guilds also echo Hugh Mackay’s experiences with different families in his ethnographic research of media use. Similar to how each family had several different kinds of structure (eg: childless adults, single parents, unemployed, etc.) and used media differently from each other, Nardi’s experiences with guilds also involved different types of players and various playing styles. Nardi’s first guild was large and had a roughly 20% female membership. Her second guild composed of members with connections to games research, and enabled her to play ‘just for fun’ and to keep up with research. Her third guild was small and was composed of mostly students and working-class members. Playing style and levels also differed between guilds. Nardi’s first two guilds were “raiding guilds” and tended to play to explore higher level contents of the game, while her third guild was smaller and thus had “limited raiding.” However, given the diversity of people accessing the internet and their different attitudes towards its usage—“media ideologies” as Nancy Baym would call it--I don’t find it surprising that both researchers found their experiences to be different depending on the context they were in.

Overall, I find the chapter to be very descriptive, especially in regards to the methods and approaches taken to tackle on ethnographic research in WoW’s virtual world. It also does a good job in admitting its’ limitations, as well as arguing against misconceptions that people may have about ethnography. One thing I would have liked to have seen expanded on is the usage of WoW in China, as she mentions that the game is prominent in the gaming culture there and yet mentions it in passing in the chapter.

Chapter 5

Reviewed by: Jaime Pollock (Feb.26)

      In chapter five, 'Work, Play, and The Magic Circle', of Bonnie Nardi's 'My Life as a Night Elf Priest' the work-play dichotomy is discussed in relation to the online game World Of Warcraft. Work and play are generally viewed as polar opposites, we explores the blurred line that surround the two in the context of the World of Warcraft. During play, as in the game, you can perform work like activities, and in the workplace you can find your work fun and enjoyable, but does that mean that work becomes play if it is enjoyable? This blending of work and play is another result of new medias, which blur the lines between producers and consumers. 

In activities such as gold farming the integration of work and play can be seen. People can make a living from collecting gold within the online game, and sell it for real world money. In some cases these people continue to play the game even after their shift is over, which leads to the question are they players or workers? In Korea professional gamers exists and are paid very well, so players who spend large amounts of time playing the game in pursuit of becoming a professional are generally viewed as working, as they have the intension to be paid for playing. One requirement of play is that it takes place in a separate realm, known as the magic circle. The virtual game world of WOW is considered the magic circle in this example, where people enter the game and live a separate life from the outside world, and interact mainly with other players within the circle. There is a separate culture within the game, with its own language and rewards that are only meaningful to those within the magic circle. Nardi argues that the lines are blurred here as well, as play cannot exists in an impenetrable arena as there are always outside tensions and dynamics to be dealt with. Within WOW these outside dynamics are ‘aggros’ and ‘bios’, aggros are entities that inhibit your ability to play, or are displeased with your play, while bios are biological functions that inhibit your ability to play, like sleep and hunger. This chapter fulfills Nardi’s main objectives of the ethnography, to understand play in a contemporary context. By using online gaming as an arena for play we are able to see how new technologies transform old theories, such as activity theory. This chapter also explores the peculiarities of human play, and how digital technology has allowed us to further our experiences within this realm. The chapter also helps us to understand the game itself, and other aspects, such as gold farming, which have been created because of this new medium of MMORPG. All of Nardi’s main objectives for her work have been fulfilled within this chapter; it is also able to stand alone as an exploration of contemporary play in the online world. We are able to see how games, play, and work, have migrated into the online world, and intertwined, within one online community.

Chapter 6

Reviewed by: Jeremy (Feb 26)

This chapter relates to Bonnie Nardi’s third goal of the book, which is to interpret experiences of playing World of Warcraft for those who will never experience it but want to understand the role of video games in our modern culture. She makes several points in this chapter in relation to the use of the word addiction and the scenarios in which individuals declare their behaviors in relation to WoW.

Nardi uses the term “problematic use” rather than addiction to avoid the negative light, which is associated with that word. She describes the term problematic use as “the use of gameplay to displace important activities such as school work, maintaining friendship, family activities” (125). There many different examples of individuals who have problematic use of video games, some of which monitored their behavior and corrected it and others who did not. Nardi uses Seay and Kraut’s three component model of self regulation as a key to managing problematic use. The model consists of: Self monitoring, evaluation of perceived standards, and self consequation.

It was also argued that the term addiction could be used with positive connotation in its use within the WoW community. Declaring your “addiction” to the game would be stating that you have developed a deep connection to the game and have a shared understanding with other players of the pleasures of the game. This shared interest and mindset allows for their “community” within the game to have a strong bond and for them to continue growing as those who declare their “addiction” become part of the community and/or network (guild). The online social group could provide social support in the network of your guild. An example of social support was given when one member of a guild announced that he would be temporarily quitting WoW in order to boost his low grades in school. His guild members supported him emotionally and shared similar moralities in stating that schoolwork is more important than video games. This relates to how communities and networks can have influences on an individual on many levels.

Furthermore, she discusses how popular media has created a “moral panic” in relation to video game addiction. The portrayal of certain examples of addiction in the media have led to some of the public to label video games as a threat to the society. However, the American Medical Associations has yet to identify video game addiction as a diagnosis. This relates to our class discussion on The Media and its abilities to convey messages in certain manners.

In order to understand video game addiction, people need to know the background information of the addicted individuals. People may be using video games to escape reality but at the same time, could be receiving redeeming social values in the social support from other players online. Finally, she relates video games to how people watch television or read books everyday and asks “What should people be doing instead of playing video games?” I think this could exemplify how videos games can be no more dangerously addictive than other forms of media and entertainment such as the Internet (Facebook, Reddit, Twitter) or watching television because it all depends on individual cases and their ability to self-regulate while taking into account what they are giving up to play these games. [Jeremy Tan]

Chapter 7

Reviewed by: Andrew (Feb 26)

World of Warcraft (WoW) for Nardi, is a form of play. In using WoW she is simultaneously applying activity theory, ethnographic data, and how this “new” environment acts as a playground for human activity. WoW is exemplary- but nowhere near unique- in that it is a game environment that is taken seriously by the players. Interaction and the formation of communities happens within the game where players interact with each other as well as official or unofficial forums where topic unrelated to the game are discussed. Theoretically, WoW can be seen as an activity that aggregates people on the basis of leisure time, but leisure time does not necessitate a lack of innovation and productivity. This chapter uses the examples of “theorycrafting” and “mods” to show the productive activities of the WoW community as a whole. She uses these examples in part because they reflect specialized skills, as theorycrafting requires arithmetic and modding requires coding. Principally, theorycrafting and modding in WoW show the effects and pedagogical possibilities of extra-community participation, that is: contributions to WoW that are not officially promoted by Blizzard (which owns WoW) that have teaching or educational benefits. This participation, Nardi points out, is part of a larger movement of user-generated content.

Theorycrafting is math that is not given to players, users figure out what the best moves or best gear is for instance. In terms of function, theorycrafting is a (scientific) method driven activity with goals and a "peer review" in the form of community knowledge sharing and counterarguments. The majority of WoW players don't concern themselves with theorycrafting however. On the one hand, theorycrafting comes about through a sub community in WoW with their own media ideology about the game. In the case of WoW, ideologies can revolve around seeing it as a casual game- only leisure- or as a form of competition- as in a sport. For theorycrafters, WoW is more of a sport, the fruits of theorycrafting lead to discoveries about unbalanced mechanics. On the other hand, those who don’t participate in theorycrafting are benefiting from the activity. As Blizzard doesn't do many of these calculations themselves they are forced to update the game reflecting the discoveries of theorycrafters.

Modding on the other hand, changes the "face" of the game. Mods or add ons are codes written by players to change the interface of WoW. The codes don't change the physics of the game- they enhance it by showing you information mid battle- which saves you time and gives you helpful information that normally isn't available mid fight. A mods main function is to change the interface that you play your character through. With a change of medium there is a change of experience and because of this, creators of mods are effectively changing the game. In fact, when mods become widespread enough they are incorporated into the game script by Blizzard through updates. Nardi points out that many mods are effective “awareness mechanisms” (p148) which some theorists argue is integral to “effective collaboration”. Awareness mechanisms can take the form of the “Gatherer” mod which tracks worldwide resources on a map that all players with the mod can see. Awareness mechanisms are integral because they are a form of mass synchronous communication.

WoW is a game that heavily encourages collaboration, certain goals and objectives are impossible without others. Even then, many players benefit because other players have “done the math” or killed a boss and have posted a step by step guide. Peoples differing ideologies about the game- as well as the broad demographic- situate WoW as an interesting human activity. In addition, the making of a mod was a first coding experience for many and theorycrafting is an excuse to use math learned in school.

Chapter 8

Reviewed by: Lauren (Feb 12)

In chapter 8 of My Life as a Night Elf Priest, Bonnie Nardi exemplifies how the massive multi role play game World of Warcraft (WoW) is both inclusive and exclusive to different genders.

WoW has an inclusive virtual world composed of beautiful landscapes, striking colours, and an unbiased set of daily duties. This aspect of the game is appealing to everyone because it does not tailor to the masculine audience with excessive dungeon scenery in various shades of gray, but is attractive to every gender (167). The daily tasks that have once been considered women’s duties, such as cleaning and cooking, are assigned to all players, much like real life (171). This creates a gender neutral world.

Surprisingly, many male players play as female characters (159). This is not a secret desire, exposing itself in the form of an avatar. The men who choose to play as females state that they want to look at an attractive character while they play (159). Nardi noted how there was an assumption that only men were playing (160) despite the female avatars. This indicates how rare it is to play with women. The “tree house” (157) mentality of the men playing WoW brings them to call on any females playing to identify themselves to assert the male dominant presence (155). This shows the exclusivity of the male dominated guild and could explain the mere 20% of female players (166).

When women are accepted in guilds there are social expectancies like joining the men’s banter. Nardi’s observations indicated that word choice, specifically profanities, between players differs between men and women. The male lexicon consists largely of homophobic slurs like “faggot” (153) and calling the other male players “little girls” (156). While female players are equally vulgar, they have their own lexicon containing trash words associated with women such as “bitch” and “hooker” (156). Neither gender appears to be particularly reserved. Males tended to use rape analogies while females did not. This exemplified different gendered ideologies of what is acceptable banter (153). The aggressive language separates the players from other family friendly communities. Nardi interviewed a woman whose daughter had previously played WoW but stopped because she felt that the players were too rude (155). Other women are tolerant, and participants in the language which brings them into the WoW community.

While the game is designed to be inclusive, the players make WoW exclusive. The WoW guild studied by Nardi and her colleagues were primarily composed of male players with a small percentage of females who could maintain respect within the metaphorical boys’ tree house.

Chapter 9

Reviewed by: Brian (Feb 26)

This chapter reports about the WoW culture in China. One of the two major findings is the internet cafe wang ba. We can understand the significance of it with Heidigger’s concept of “essence of technology”. The meanings of the space wang ba developed beyond its original functional purpose - a business of providing quality computers for gaming. The business flourished because of the high demand caused by the general WoW players’ environmental and economical conditions, which is vastly different from American WoW players’. The space became more meaningful when it start to blend virtual into physical reality. The cultural practices in the space include rich social interaction (casual idea exchanges and guild activities), and the atmosphere makes appropriate of playing WoW which household and elsewhere do not. The essence in WoW is changing players' feeling towards a mixing space of real and virtual into a natural communal environment.

Another major finding is the contextual studies of the cultural differences. Fraud and scam in trading is generally accepted as common. The players developed their own way of responding to the issue, and also have their interpretation of the cause of it, which ties to the rapid development of China at large. There are also social stigma from external that influences the game. Part of WoW has been modded in China because the original element conflicts with traditions such as the value of life, death, and reincarnation. Gender roles with the expectations of proper behavior also restrains players’ options in how to play the game. Postill’s concept of localization can be implied in this chapter. The same game (a technology) in two different countries has the users developed a different culture. The creation of guilds with unique history and sub-culture are examples of breaking society into smaller communities.

The ethnography opens to more potential research topics, such as 1)structural stratification of long term players that may be especially influential to the overall mass public culture. 2) The changes in WoW’s system that shifted the target market; adding "time" and "history" context. 3) The “harmony” political movement which concerns a much bigger power struggle between internet activists and the PRC government. The movement extends to the fact that by law all internet services and personal computers do not have access to many foreign websites including Facebook and Google. 4) Comparative studies of other MMORPG available in the market that was not as popular as WoW to verify the aesthetics in WoW is really the means to its success. What if other games also offer the same aesthetics, then why did the players choose WoW over others?

In response to the three aims of the book, this chapter reveals how Chinese players find the aesthetics of play from breaking the barrier between "real" and "virtual". It also performs an ethnographic reportage.

Good Faith Collaboration: The Culture of Wikipedia- Joseph Reagal

In the spirit of Wikipedia Reagal has made his book freely available online at:

An interesting response from another article to a paper written by Joseph Reagal about these open source communities:

Group Members: Laura Turner, Daniel Siracusa, Sam Scott, Alan Marx, Gabrielle Desfosses, Paula Magal

Chapter 1

Reviewed by: Laura Turner (February 12th)

As the first large-scale knowledge hub of its kind, Wikipedia is the product of an enduring history. In the foremost chapter of his novel, Good Faith Collaboration, Joseph Reagle tracks the progression of Wikipedia from its almost unrecognizable origins to the strikingly unique culture it constitutes today. This distinguishing of culture is crucial as it provides the foundation for all subsequent chapters. Wikipedia was founded in pursuit of creating universal access to a knowledge-sharing platform built with social congruency. Since its inception, this vision has been carried out through the generosity of contribution and the continually keen and engaged conversation of the community.

Laced with impossibilities, the vision of Wikipedia as a freely edited, sovereign collection of information, has found success against the odds. In an aim to create a “world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge” (Reagle 3), Wikipedia faced a myriad of technological and logistical barriers. Although it has been argued that there must be some sort of hegemonic overthrow in order to achieve any sort of consensus of truth among a mass population, Wikipedia has managed to coordinate the assemblage of neutral knowledge share and “wed increased access to information with greater human accord” (Reagle 1). The harmonizing effect of Wikipedia is seen at both the instance of contribution as well as in its continuance as a reference. Similar to H.G. Wells’ foreshadowing of such a mechanism in his 1937 book World Brian, Wikipedia continues to bring together the “‘mental wealth of our world into something like a common understanding’” (Reagle 4) in order to create unified solutions to global issues.

Through the transfer of responsibilities of contribution to the public, Wikipedia exists as a process rather than a completed work. Intermittent editing and reshaping proposes that “at any moment in time, [Wikipedia is] simply a snapshot of the community’s continuing conversation” (Reagle 1). Although unforeseen, the public has reacted humbly and maturely to this opportunity of collaborative knowledge sharing with “surprisingly sophisticated content…[of] asynchronous, incremental, and transparent contributions” (Reagle 6). This sophistication of community involvement is instrumental to the site’s efficiency and relevance as a reference.

The coordination involved in such a project has simultaneously evolved into a self-sustaining community based on principles which constitute a unique culture. The community causes the culture of Wikipedia to evolve as much as wiki has caused the creation of community. In line with Cohen’s conception of communities, Wikipedieans take part in an active effort to “make sense” (Cohen 17) of their experience through the defining of values and policies to guide the successful behaviours of collaboration. Similar to offline communities, Wikipedia presents the hallmarks of communal culture “including a history of events, sets of norms, constellation of values, and common lingo” (Reagle 10). In an aim to heighten efficiency and reduce confrontation “Wikipedia culture encourages contributors to treat and think of others well” and reconceptualize disagreements as an opportunity for a “positive exploration of deeper issues” (Reagle 3). Wikipedia presents a harmonizing core among its members, grounded in a “particular sensibility, including a love of knowledge and a geeky sense of humour” (Reagle 10) that unites their efforts and aligns their active participation with the founder’s initial vision.

The initial concept of a collaborative and inclusive knowledge based web application has created a community of users and participants that drive the site’s growth and direction. By embracing the importance of respectful collaboration, Wikipedia has triumphed among user friendly and user driven applications.

Chapter 2

Reviewed by: Paula Magal (Feb. 26th)

On Chapter 2, Joseph Reagle describes ideas that were crucial for the development of the notion of a universal encyclopedia. Starting from the index card and the microfilm, two inventions that mark the beginning of the possibility of having an ‘external memory’, as well as the development of documentation. Following up on the idea of organizing, storage and use knowledge with efficiency, the author describes projects developed by Paul Otlet and his notion of “The Universal Bibliographic Repertory”, and H.G. Wells and his notion of “The World Brain”. Otlet’s work was initially focused around extracting and organizing knowledge, but through time he saw in technology a possibility for that knowledge to be dissembled, synthesized and distributed in an international scale. Reagle gives particular attention to Otler’s mot lasting contribution, the Universal Decimal Classification (UDC), a means to specify a subset of a catalog through a language of numerical codes. This idea of organizing information, as being part of a ‘repertory’, is what Reagle considers to have foreshadowed Wikipedia. Wells, on the other hand, saw institutions (such as museum) and artifacts (such as books) as a kind of “human super memory”, and criticized the misuse of all information and skill that we have available around the world. Seeing information and knowledge as a key to common understanding and a possible movement toward unification (of human kind), this notion of memory and knowledge lead to the concept of what Wells called as the “World Brain”, or world encyclopedia. In Wells intention of using knowledge as a unifier I see both a “good faith” philosophy, similar to Wikipedia’s, but also a dangerous ethnocentric way of dealing with information, such as in the beginning of anthropology, when assuming that certain knowledge must be shared and accepted worldwide as the ‘truth’. It is clear so far that the urge for a universal database has been around and developing side by side with technology itself. An intriguing point of the notion of “world knowledge” that is prevailing for me is the fact that “knowledge” seems to have been limited to a western ‘educational’ or even ‘academic’ profile. Following up on the history line, Reagle mentions the ‘Project Xanadu’, which had as a goal to “save the world from stupidity” by “saving” knowledge and making it available worldwide. Even though the statement is also arguably ethnocentric, Project Xanadu was one of the pioneers on shading light to the importance of creating innovative ways of interacting with information instead of imposing it, a possible inspiration for Wikipedia’s dynamic system. Another project that accomplished the task of becoming an interactive multimedia system focused on sharing information publicly was the Project Gutenberg. Besides being one of the first publicly accessible cultural resources on the Internet, it allowed many contributors to correct and add material to the web. With the advance of the Internet new projects were arising, such as the Interpedia, with which came the question of legitimacy of the material available publicly. Two projects that followed, the Distributed Encyclopedia and the Nupedia, shared the sense of making available and acquiring knowledge through a number of volunteers and contributors, but shared the problem of complexity and centralized power, which caused frustrations over their productivity. To solve the problem of centralization and productivity, the idea of Wikipedia arose. On this sense, Wikipedia turned out to have been an “accident”: it was merely an experiment when it was launched, in 2001. Reagle ends the Chapter by posing the question of “why did it take so long for the vision of the universal encyclopedia to be realized?”. I would say it was because it took us just as long to realize the benefits of decentralizing the control of information.

Chapter 3

Reviewed by: Laura Turner (February 12th)

The information accumulated in the unique encyclopedia, Wikipedia, is dependent on co-operation and a co-ordination of efforts in producing a true collection of knowledge from anonymous contributors worldwide. In an analysis of how this accord can exist, Joseph Reagle, in the third chapter of his book Good Faith Collaboration, examines Wikipedia’s values of practice that enable the system to be efficient. Characterized by the many qualities of its distinct culture, as discussed throughout the book, the encyclopedia has developed resilience through its solidarity of virtue. Wikipedia’s standards of “Neutral Point of View and good faith” (Reagle 45) make up the foundation of its successful harmony of accessible, collaborative knowledge sharing and social congruity among users.

Wikipedia has a number of policies and guidelines set by the creators in order to establish a quasi-cultural undertone of the expectations involved in their vision. The “policy trifecta” of responsibilities are as follows: “as a collaborator on an encyclopedia, use a neutral point of view; as a member of a community, ‘don’t be a dick’; and as a user of a fast and flexible wiki, ‘ignore all rules’”(Reagle 52).

The first of these responsibilities exists as a standard of contributed knowledge. Wikipedia is grounded in a value of neutrality in order to produce a non-biased information collection. Users are urged to neutrally present “what is commonly understood about that topic” (Reagle 53) and “to describe the controversy rather than to partake in it” (Reagle 54). The benchmark of neutrality is an important one to dissect, as it is a large marker of Wikipedia’s online resource credibility. Reagle’s citing of an apologetic exchange between two contributors (Reagle 54) stands as an instance of the reconciliation that is made possible by agreement of a neutral stance. Wikipedia has effectively created a space of non-judgment and increased receptivity by requesting that all content stem from this neutral point of view.

In the second standard, of relative kindness, a distinct value-based community is unearthed alongside the more formal guidelines. In alignment with Cohen’s conception of community as symbol of unity among human associations (Cohen 13) and the site of cultural acquisition (Cohen 15), Wikipedia maintains a unique culture established in collaboration and respect that influences members to act in accord with other contributors. The term “collaborative culture”, as coined by Reagle, is successful in encapsulating the particulars of a less familiar conception of community. Wikipedia presents a uniquely active culture as within their “community of practice…people are understood to pursue a shared enterprise over time yielding a common identity and understanding of their environment” (Reagle 47-8). It is through active participation that people become a part of the Wikipedia community, therefore culture precedes and members follow.

The most inspiring facet of the culture of Wikipedia is the series of unspoken forces that guide its positive composition. Reagle identifies four virtues of the community, which prove crucial to the harmonious workings of Wikipedia. The virtue to “assume good faith” ensures contributors’ approach of non-judgment, and aids in the coordinated efforts to “love our work and to love each other, even when we disagree” (Reagle 62). The next virtues, of “act[ing] with patience” (Reagle 64) and with “civility” (Reagle 66), are pivotal in resisting hostility as well as in welcoming new contributors respectfully. Finally, and most intriguingly, is the Wikipediaean commitment to a sense of humour. Although “not a policy or guideline of Wikipedia, [humour] suffuses the culture” (Reagle 68).

Through the discussion of the vibrant and humanistic culture of a predominantly online community, Wikipedia’s secret to success becomes clear. Driven by a “universal vision” (Reagle 45) of neutral information sharing, contributors willingly act in accordance with Wikipedia’s cornerstone to assume good faith, indefinitely.

Chapter 4

Reviewed by: Gabrielle (Feb. 12)

Chapter 4 of Good Faiths Collaboration: The Culture of Wikipedia by Joseph Reagal provides strong evidence of how Wikipedia successfully maintains one of it’s core values, openness, by measuring it against 5 core elements (Openness, Transparency, Integrity, Non-discrimination and Non-Interfering) of what he calls an “open content community”. Evidence that Wikipedia is an open community is necessary for evaluating if its emergent culture is efficacious because, as seen in Wikipedia’s motto: “Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit” makes bold claims of accessibility and inclusivity.

Wikipedia structurally qualifies for Reagal’s first of 5 core elements as an “Open” community with an open source license that enables others to “fork” content legally. One of Wikipedia’s co-founders, Jimmy Wales is quoted by Reagal asserting that “[Wikipedia’s] success to date is entirely a function of our open community” as evidence that openness is not only inherent in Wikipedia, but also indispensible.

The nature of Wikipedia demonstrates transparency, as there are records to see all the edits and changes made by Stewards. Maintaining one’s integrity is imperative as the records are there for all to see; Jill Coffin expands how transparency “allows participants to understand the reasoning behind decisions, contributing to trust in the Wikipedia process” (as cited in Reagal).

The infamous case of John Seigenthaler, former administrative assistant to Robert Kennedy, wherein an anonymous user changed his bio page to include unfounded claims that he participated in the Kennedy assassination, prompted Seigenthaler to publically defame Wikipedia by attacking the core value of the site (openness, re: “anyone can edit”) in his statement that the site “invites irresponsible vandals to write anything they want about anybody.” (Reagal). Using true Wikipedian humor, Wales rebuked, “to equate openness with defamation is like equating a restaurant’s steak knives with stabbings” (Reagal).

Moderators of Wikipedia have the ability to revert pages and subsequently suppress the changes made leaving no trace (Reagal). Changes made on the site without transparency are sometimes necessary in order to avoid serious copyright infringements. This can be crucial because the online world can have potentially very real world consequences such as the case with the NY Times Reporter who was kidnapped by the Taliban. Wikipedia had to work hard to suppress that information from appearing on the reporter’s bio in order to avert jeopardizing his life.

Reagal touches on issues of non-discrimination with the examples of “WikiChix”, a closed group for women-only that prompted outrage among many Wikipedians. In the end, to preserve the value of “openness” WikiChix was removed from the umbrella of WikiMedia and forked onto it’s own platform. Reagal infers that perhaps the reasons for this closed group was due to the unfortunate sexist bullying these women were encountering, and is a group truly “open” if participants are feeling unheard and unsafe. The balancing act of “openness” is difficult, and as Wikipedia continues to expand time will tell if there is a limit to this experiment.

Chapter 5

Reviewed by: Alan Marx (February 26)

In Chapter 5 of his book on Wikipedia, Reagle discusses how decisions in Wikipedia are made and the limits and solutions to the many disagreements one would expect to find in an open and supposedly non-autocratic community of diverse users/editors. Wikipedians make decisions based on consensus backed up by the “benevolent dictator” ideal as enforced by entities such as the Arbitration Committee as a last resort to guarantee that decisions are made so as to continue the guiding project of encyclopedia building. This last resort is anti-ethical to Wikipedians principles however, and even though consensus sounds like an unlikely technology in the social creation of millions of articles it nevertheless manages to do so requiring an in depth look at how it works and how it is reached.

Reagle’s description and conclusions on consensus are not very surprising, and they shouldn’t be. Reagle spends a considerable amount of time describing consensus, and “The Consensus Building Handbook” has 1,176 pages devoted to the subject, but in the end consensus just a matter of common sense and reason-backed human intuition, a general agreement not requiring unanimity but meant to as humanly possible address everyone’s concerns. Reagle presents what seem to be never-ending back-and-forth snippets of Wikipedians arguing about consensus and how to recognize it, but the humorous entry “Give the Fuck up, you lost” seems to best portray its subjective yet common sense nature. A feature of consensus decision-making is that it is subject to change. This is possibly complicating when we realize that consensus is not an end in itself, it is a method for achieving decisions, always subordinate in Wikipedia’s case to the goal of producing an online encyclopedia. However in practice this feature does not stop a decision being made at an agreed upon stage in deliberations and the Wikipedia community acknowledges this change and sees it as good thing as it not only allows flexibility but also guards against admittedly often controversial consensus from becoming monolithic decisions that alienate members.

Reagle compares consensus in Wikipedia to that of the Quakers, an appropriate analogy as both groups operate on egalitarian values promoted by good faith. Consensus is simply never a fact, especially as the scale of a group increases. Furthermore wiki user Ned Scott perceptively states that, “The situations this is supposed to be helpful in are usually too unclear to actually use this”. Yet the constant possibility and reality of trolling or skewed consensus based on who’s speaking at the time or genuine discontent is mitigated by the good faith and the collaborative inclination of participants who attempt to build consensus. As Reagle notes, consensus has been the primary form of decision-making in the Internet as a whole, such as with the W3C, so that there seems to be ample evidence that human communities that find themselves in new online environments seem to take the feeling of interconnectedness to heart. Earlier in the book Reagle mentions the essential procedure of forking, and it again offers people that are so outraged at a perceived faulty consensus an avenue where they can refuse to be subject to it while continuing their work on their own.

A reasonable question to ask is why this insistence on consensus, why not voting? Reagle answers by pointing to “the potential benefits of deliberation rather than the speed of the decision” brought about by consensus and its better fit into the constellation of Wikipedia policies and principles. “Consensus presumes good faith and sometimes sustains it; voting can operate without good faith and sometimes depletes it” and most Wikipedians agree, “Voting is evil”. This is because it does not contain the emphasis on deliberation that Wikipedia operates under and so when in further chapters Jimmy Wales rejects claims that Wikipedia is a blind hive-mind he is referring to the fact that Wikipedia decisions are not made by democratic voting where the herd simply stampedes past minority positions but in fact tries as hard as possible to accommodate these views.

As with all things Wikipedia, it seems to never work in theory but it does in practice, and this is also true about consensus decision-making. Reagle succeeds in arguing “that the Wikipedia community is relatively tolerant of the ambiguities inherent to collaboration on a world encyclopedia and rather trusting of human judgment over the long run”.

Chapter 6

Reviewed by: Sam Scott (Feb 12th)

'“Wikipedia is not an anarchy, though it has anarchistic features. Wikipedia is not a democracy, though it has democratic features. Wikipedia is not an aristocracy, though it has aristocratic features. Wikipedia is not a monarchy, though it has monarchical features.” (Wales, 2007)'

Reagel offers a critique of the management and leadership skills required for the continual development of Wikipedia. As the quote at the beginning of this review suggests, the amalgamation of several techniques has proved efficient in the evolution of the open source encyclopedia. With Wikipedia’s growing success and ‘historical significance’ (Reagel, 2011:6) the project has shifted dramatically from the original design. Having being conceived by two primary founders, Wales and Sagner, the project of an open, civil, egalitarian and deliberative encyclopedia has been blurred by human nature and the forcing of a previously unrecognized online community.

The unique attribute of Wikipedia is its, seemingly, structural administrative equality. Unlike ‘real-life’ communities, there is an emphasis on even responsibility within the community as shown by equal editing powers. This results in a ‘background type’ leadership, a distinctive trait of Jimmy Wales, encouraging community interaction and discussion rather than a dictorial style leadership. Wales’s founding vision, early activity, which was as restrained as possible, and his contributions to the ‘social norms’ of this community shaped the relationships between Wikipedians, ultimately creating a self regulating society within an online community. The idea of one person, or a style of leadership, goes against the make up of ‘real-life’ communities as the social norm or culture is defined by natural interactions between people and their locations. The wiki-community is placeless, therefore the inbuilt social standards have been formulated by a singular cause, in this case the vision of Jimmy Wales.

Reagel certainly uses the term community in the sense that members feel they are in solidarity with each other and share common responsibilities, albeit different opinions. This can be argued to be intellectual community, empowered through ongoing interactions, as members strive to add and correct information via the medium of written text. However, Reagel argues this utopian view of a perfect community, whereby members police themselves, is farcical. Human nature, within online and real life communities, requires some kind of authoritative power, whether it be by elected official or, in the case of Wikipedia, a “respected author” (Reagel, 2011:1). Despite the efforts for equal responsibility, its openness and its collaborative culture, Wikipedia has been shaped by the authorial leadership of Wales. This somewhat undoes the egalitarian principles of the community but as long as this approach remains discreet and does not intrude on the collective nature of the media, the community will not be compromised.

Reagel relies heavily upon the notion of a community within the regulatory body of Wikipedia yet clearly identifies the juxtaposition between an authorial leader and an open source, egalitarian organization. Wikipedia’s continual success relies upon the relationship between the two and the constitutional importance of collaboration, something Reagel sees very little potential in.

Chapter 7

Reviewed by: Daniel (Feb. 26)

“…it is easier to see ‘what is going away than what is struggling to be born.’”

The seventh chapter of Reagle’s Good Faith Collaboration, entitled “Encyclopedic Anxiety,” focuses on the “heated debate” surrounding Wikipedia and its famously collaborative construction. To address the ample criticism/praise Wikipedia has incurred/garnered, Reagle’s evenhanded examination pits potent quotations from one recurring set of authors against those of another. The upshot is an informative back-and-forth unearthing the fears and fervor for which Wikipedia has been responsible.

Before embarking on the contemporary debate, Reagle stresses the stature of reference works within our Western culture of learning. Like a grammar (as he also cites similar dictionary-related disquiet), encyclopedic efforts often uphold or upheave normativity, or walk its precarious tightrope. These depositories of knowledge have always been exemplary proxies for the changing societies from which they’re wrought; Wikipedia likewise echoes its cusp-situated epoch. That isn’t to say an encyclopedia will always be radical (though Wales agrees with Britannica’s Van Doren that it ought to be), but rather that, for it’s implicit claim to knowledge and ergo power, an encyclopedia is a vital and earnest reflection of a people and is thus inherently exposed to their polarized passion, a “trigger [of] larger social anxieties about technological and social change.”

Collaboration, as the book’s title reminds, is the first big theme. Hermits cannot write reference works; the results are necessarily informed by the society to which it refers. Plus, thanks to sheer magnitude, Reagle’s second rule is: “the production of a reference work eventually exceed[s] the capability of any one person.” Whereas Kelly and Surowiecki witness the boon of the ‘hive mind,’ as 1) a means of deriving order from chaos, like cell biology, and 2) a way to unite a group’s “diversity, independence and decentralization” toward a feat of collective cognition or coordination; Gorman, conversely, rails that this “mentality is a direct assault on the tradition of individualism in scholarship that has been paramount in Western societies… the sleep of reason.”

The combatting notions of individualism/tradition and cooperation/evolution permeate the chapter. Those revering the former attack Wikipedia for its assumed collective structure, perceived as promoting a biased, uninformed allied agenda, and also for its “anarchic” cohorts, who are seen as “lacking expertise and credentials”— Keen whines, “Internet is killing our culture.”

I would retort that Wikipedia does drink at the web’s well (pun-intended, see the WELL) of open, free and interactive communication. But it’s beneficial, if unavoidable. Doesn’t incessant discourse and curation beget improvement? Archaic expeditions to erect absolute truths would be awkward elephants in the rooms of Wikipedians. Fixity and elitism are relics online. Wales maintains that the online encyclopedia does not claim absolute truth, “never did.” Its ever-mutable consensus, results only, as Shirky notes, from “unending argumentation; the corpus grows…from constant scrutiny and emendation.” Reagle explains that the people composing its authority, as past encyclopedic authors, are meticulous, exhaustive and efficient compilers, editors and fact-checkers. (Importantly, Reagle’s equitable approach mirrors Wikipedia’s practice). And they are inspired by Castell’s grand technological shift. Corrections when needed are rapid, as the Internet allows; contribution is distributed, as the Internet encourages; change is relentless, as the Internet champions. ranks Wikipedia sixth in web popularity— a major node in the digital environment, our class’s field of study. Just as Facebook transforms notions of privacy/selfhood and YouTube changes entertainment/fame, so Wikipedia evolves the ideas of liberty and authority, knowledge and truth.

Taking notes, Pliny the Elder saw no purpose to prescriptive chastisement if it impeded the flow of information— Why damn it now.

Chapter 8

Reviewed by: Chantelle (Feb. 26)

' "Born almost as a happy accident, growing far beyond anyone’s expectations, and applauded not because it is perfect but because it is confoundingly good, I expect Wikipedia will continue to surprise us." ' (Reagal, Good Faith Collaboration)

In Chapter 8 of Regal's Good Faith Collaboration, Reagal uses the metaphor of a jigsaw puzzle to discuss the culture and future of Wikipedia as a universal encyclopedia. Neutral point of view and good faith both playing crucial and critical roles in this impressive global collaboration, Reagal emphasizes the element of community that many often forget to associate with Wikipedia. The inability to understand Wikipedia as a community often leads us to miss out on the true essence and driving force behind Wikipedia, disabling us from truly enjoying and appreciating the value and commodity this universal encyclopedia possesses.

Although there are many factors at work which led Wikipedia to today's success--including our amazing technology--Reagal accentuates the importance of the rather "utopian" vision behind the creation of Wikipedia along with the mentioned NPOV and good faith. Reagal, however, also points out the danger of mistaking such harmonious vision and good will as the only force behind this global project. Reagal emphasizes the importance of correctly understanding the true nature of Wikipedia as the product of collaboration of men, bringing in the concept of human-nature which suggests the possible fallibility and inconsistency. Despite Wikipedia's original and main strive to maintain neutral point of view and good faith, there are inherent tensions and practical difficulties within an open content community. Correctly understanding Wikipedia as a community and culture built by, being shared among, and being evolved according to our global participants is extremely important.

Journalist Stacy Schiff stated that “it[Wikipedia] is also no more immune to human nature than any other utopian project. Pettiness, idiocy, and vulgarity are regular features of the site. Nothing about high-minded collaboration guarantees accuracy, and open editing invites abuse.”Just like any other man-made project, the nature of this global encyclopedia project and the most natural human nature go hand in hand at times, but can also have conflicting and controversial interests at others.

It is almost natural to expect perfection and unchanging consistency when we think of encyclopedias or any other reliable source of information. Hence, it is easy to question the integrity and be quick to criticize Wikipedia, knowing the possibility of abuse or inconsistency in ideas and interests underlying this universal encyclopedia. However, reading this chapter by Reagal has completely altered my perspective on Wikipedia. Although I've used Wikipedia more than a hundered times, I've always stopped at viewing it as merely a useful and accountable source of diverse information, rather than looking at it as a community where our global citizens work together despite the differences, in order to take a step closer to the true globalization. Realizing this rather simple, but eye-opening, piece of information, my criteria when evaluating Wikipedia has also changed completely. Instead of being skeptical and criticizing the possibly fallible and possibly inconsistent pace at and future in which Wikipedia lies, I acquired a sense of understanding that Wikipedia will evolve as we, ourselves, evolve culturally, politically, and socially as individuals, cities, nations, and as one huge global community. Knowing this ironically makes Wikipedia seem much more appealing as a colorful edge of humanity and its nature to evolve are added to Wikipedia; it seems like a lively representation of where we stand as a global community, rather than a merely frozen, unchanging account of hard facts and information.

Watching Youtube: Extraordinary Videos by Ordinary People Michael Strangelove


Chapter 1

Reviewed by: Kai (posted Feb 12)

Chapter one of ‘Watching Youtube: Extraordinary videos by ordinary people’ by Michael Strangelove focuses on both the technological and social evolution of home movies. From a technological standpoint, the transition from analog film to digital video has greatly altered the way people produce, distribute, and consume the moving image. Prior to the digital era, amateur film production required substantially more resources than it does today. Even access to the simplest film cameras (8mm, 16mm) was once largely restricted to the economically privileged. Standard 35mm and 70mm film cameras were almost exclusively operated by “Hollywood”, allowing little opportunity for amateur filmmakers to produce professional films. The consumer grade cameras of the time (8mm, 16mm) were almost exclusively used to document private family events, while the larger and more expensive cameras were reserved for professional use. Not only was difficult and expensive to edit analog film, but consumers of the time were not interested in distributing their films (home movies were intended for private viewing, not for the “big screen”). With the advent of VHS and cheap video (tape) cameras we see a larger variety of home movies, and more opportunity for amateur filmmakers to share their material. But it wasn’t until access to digital cameras and the Internet became widespread that we are introduced to the notion of the viral video.

Moving away from the technological constraints of analog film, Strangelove goes on to emphasize the institutional constraints imposed by society on the amateur film makers ability to express him/her self. Before the digital Internet era, home movies were much more homogeneous in nature and much less idiosyncratic. There was a much stricter set of guidelines associated with the “elite” nature of analog film. The introduction of cheap low quality digital cameras seems to have eroded that formality once associated with analogue filmmaking. In today’s digital era anyone can produce and distribute a video via Youtube or the Internet, without any form of quality control. However, to say that amateur filmmakers no longer conform to dominate modes of representation is false. Anthropologists see home movies as expressions of social norms, especially movies of things like weddings or other ritualized events. It is almost impossible to escape some sort of conformity when it comes to aesthetic preference. There are sights and sounds that are inherently distressing, and others, which are almost universally pleasant. But now that Youtube is a global phenomenon, videos are often taken out of context and misinterpreted by viewers.

Taken out of context, Youtube videos lend themselves to increased criticism and “trolling” as many would say. Strangelove gives a few examples of viral Youtube videos which have received nasty comments, notably the Redneck Wedding. Because this wedding video was not in the context of a traditional wedding it seems to have been received very negatively. His other example is that of a 1960s film of a family visiting Disney World. In this video the comments are generally enthusiastic and positive. The main point here is that amateur videos can ignite intolerance from viewers because of aesthetic and cultural biases. These biases are directly related to the understanding of a movies context and what is should or shouldn’t be.

Chapter 2

Reviewed by: Shawn (Feb. 26)

The second chapter of Michael Strangelove’s book “Watching YouTube: Extraordinary Videos by Ordinary People” discusses the significance and consequences of incorporating the home setting and family in YouTube videos. Strangelove is able to show just how prevalent the home and family setting is in YouTube videos when he states, “Of amateur videos that appeared in YouTube’s category of ‘Most Viewed (All Time)’ 67 per cent featured the home or the family as the location or focus of the video” (Strangelove 43). Strangelove discusses how the audience of amateur home videos has changed due to YouTube and the Internet. Home videos that were once limited to just family and close friends are now accessible by a more global audience at any time. This chapter relates to the course in general as concepts such as community and networks that we have discussed in class are brought up. One aspect of community is that there are boundaries. Because home videos are being posted on YouTube, different communities and networks that we are a part of now have access to different parts of our lives. These communities are able to see us in a different environment than they are used to. They did not have access to these home and family videos in the past.

Strangelove states that because of technological and economic factors video cameras have now become more accessible. Because of this we witness a change as more private and intimate home and family moments are being recorded. We also see a transition, as people are now more willing to post embarrassing home and family videos. Prior to this change home and family videos were mainly reserved to show an idealized domestic representation. Strangelove argues that this change can be attributed to children taking over the role of videographers, which used to be reserved for adults. It can also be attributed to people becoming less self conscious of what they post on YouTube as access and exposure to video cameras has increased significantly. Another factor that leads to embarrassing and intimate home and family videos being posted is the desire for attention. Strangelove expands on this when he states, “Youths post videos online as a way to expand their social network and increase their self-esteem by garnering viewer hits” (Strangelove 51).

What some people, especially children are not realizing is the long lasting consequences of posting embarrassing home and family videos on YouTube. Strangelove argues that these videos are not only shaming family members but they are also ruining their reputations. The consequences of posting these private videos are that they are permanently reshaping the identities of family members and forcing them to carry unwanted labels. Private and intimate family moments are being aired to a global audience that they were not intended for. Videographers who post these videos also have to face possible consequences. Strangelove goes on to discuss the impact of these videos on the videographer’s life as it can jeopardize future opportunities. Strangelove writes, “He risks his future career in the new job environment where human resource personnel regularly use Internet applications such as YouTube, Facebook, Myspace, and Google to learn more about potential hires” (Strangelove 54). It is important to note that once we post videos online it can potentially be extremely difficult to remove them if they go viral or garner many views.

Strangelove, Michael. "The Home and Family on YouTube." Watching YouTube: Extraordinary Videos by Ordinary People. Toronto: University of Toronto, 2010. 41-63. Print.

Chapter 3

Reviewed by: Emily

Chapter three of Watching Youtube: Extraordinary Videos by Ordinary People by Michael Stranvelove focuses on video diaries on Youtube, and how they are shaping both media, and the people using them. He says that “the self is both represented in the diary form and constructed through it” (Strangelove 2010:69) Strangelove suggests that what separates Youtube from television is it’s high level of authenticity, and that it is about real people (Strangelove 2010:65). There has recently been a shift amongst all media towards a more direct imitation of everyday life (Strangelove 2010:73). Yet despite the believed levels of authenticity it appears that many videographers find sometimes they feel less than authentic in their videos. One blogger says “Youtube is all about being yourself... but sometimes I feel like instead of sharing myself with the world I am hiding behind the camera and only letting people see the parts of myself that I want them to see” (Strangelove 2010:67). This feeling of needing to be almost overly authentic is a part of a larger social problem. It is suggested that “the massive outpouring of self-reflection and video confessions on the Internet is an indication of a contemporary crisis of the real, the self, and the authentic” (Strangelove 2010:68. Strangelove explains that “contemporary culture seems to mock the very idea that there is anything solid or true about the self” (Strangelove 2010:68).

Though autobiographies and diary keeping have existed for hundreds of years it seems that Youtube has created a new form of each, making their definitions highly unclear Strangelove 2010:69). Although diaries were once considered to be very private and personal Strangelove considers any Youtube video with confessional or self-representational qualities to be classified as both autobiographical and as a diary (Strangelove 2010:69). One question we may ask is why people are so comfortable with sharing so much about themselves with complete strangers. Strangelove suggests that this need for confessing has been deeply embedded into our culture over thousands of years through institutions such as the church (Strangelove 2010:71). He also believes that the video camera is a sort of “psychoanalytical stimulant which lets people do things they wouldn’t otherwise do” (Strangelove 2010:72).

One thing that distinguishes online diaries from other forms of media is their high levels of reflexivity (Strangelove 2010:73). Reflexivity is “a state of higher self-awareness or mutual awareness that involves two or more people” (Strangelove 2010:74). Stragnelove notes that the reflexive nature of digital media changing the division between the private and public spheres. In fact, the public realm is quickly invading the private (Strangelove, 2010:75). This shift is causing us to change from a world in which we constantly monitor ourselves to one where we constantly monitor the way others are monitoring themselves through media (Strangelove 2010:75). This further adds to our class discussion of how the relationship between media producer and consumer is changing.

It seems that the self is shaped by context and can change in different contexts. The video diaries are just a new context in which self can be formed (Strangelove 2010:76). Youtube users feel that “online amateur videos brings them closer to each other’s experiences and presents reality different than television” (Strangelove 2010:79). Furthermore, diary keeping has also been proven to have many psychological benefits, including controlling emotional experience and allowing repressed material to surface. However, it is still unclear if the public, online versions of diaries will have the same positive effects (Strangelove 2010:80). Regardless of any evidence in either direction, many Youtube diarists do feel that their online diaries change them (Strangelove 2010:81).

Chapter 4 "Women of the 'Tube"

Reviewed by: Angela Feng

The fourth chapter of Strangelove’s book “Watching YouTube” illustrates how “women of the ‘Tube” along with other YouTube users utilize the concepts of new media by switching away from the traditional one-way media. New media as mentioned in class, is a multiple-way form of medium which allows passive consumers to become active producers by gaining control of how they would like to be represented through their own recordings. Strangelove (2010) goes on in this chapter to distinguish the uniqueness of YouTube from traditional media and provides numerous examples from different categories of women and their experiences within the YouTube community. In terms of the question whether YouTube encourages or discourages the progressive power of women, Strangelove(2010) takes an neutral stance and provides evidences for both cases. I agree with Strangelove that YouTube is too complex for any single view to dominate; YouTube has shown to be a versatile medium that brings representative power to the women but at the same time does not eliminate the patriarchal nature of the content it displays.

Strangelove (2010) categorizes the women of the ‘Tube from teenagers that make vlogs , black women, indigenous women, Barbie girls, fat girls, and thin girls to show the dynamics of how YouTube has shaped these women in their way of self-expression. Strangelove uses “community” to describe the women of the ‘Tube because through the ongoing interaction between the producer and the commenters, it fosters a closely tied relationship. An example such a personalized community could be seen in the “five awesome girls”; these girls posted vlogs for one another to watch and across time, have developed a deep meaningful friendship that is supportive, healthy and contradicts the theories that suggest online consumers are “basement-dwelling loners” (2010). This again, ties back to the theme of the book of how YouTube has raised an era of new media that contradicts with a lot of the old assumptions about online communities. Furthermore, this finding that YouTube actually can create and maintain meaningful relationships is also supported by “How Canadians' Use of the Internet Affects Social Life and Civic Participation” (2008)-the first article read in class.

The essence of the book proposes that YouTube is “a cultural field where we participate in ideologies and also express our resistance to domination” (Strangelove, 2010, p.16). The above statement is written in the introduction of the book and Strangelove has fully proven this statement in the following examples. For instance, when thinking about women participating in patriarchal ideologies, we still see Barbie girls who follow the traditional norm of femininity along with the girls in lingerie teaching how to lap dance are stereotypes of pleasing the male gaze that is perpetuated by the women themselves through their amateur videos. On the other end, we also see evidence of women like Jenna from Canada who is tired of people misunderstanding what feminism is and took on the active role of expressing her own ideas through YouTube. In addition, black women making videos expressing how hard it is to be positioned as female who is also black pushes the viewers to acknowledge the biases in modern society; in these scenarios, the women are seen as the powerful because the ability to create stories is the power of the strong (Strangelove, 2010).

In conclusion, on an open ended platform like YouTube, there are bound to be individuals who follow the ideologies and those who express resistance, in either case, Strangelove has proven with his analysis that these women videographers all indulge themselves with pleasure in the experience of new media.

[1] Strangelove, M. (2010). Women of the 'tube. In Watching YouTube: Extraordinary videos by ordinary people (pp. 84-102). Toronto: University Of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division.

Veenhof, B., Quell, C., Hogan, B., & Wellman, B. (2008). How Canadians' Use of the Internet Affects Social Life and Civic Participation. Science, Innovation and Electronic Information Division, 1-29.

Chapter 5

Reviewed by: Georgia

The concept of ‘community’ is quite elusive. Most people associate this term with face-to-face interactions and intimate or personal relations while some transfer the term to a broader category, which consequently spans the terms usage across a multitude of peoples and relations, personal and other. This is the world of YouTube. In fact, Strangelove posits that the community of YouTube not only mimics the community of the offline world, but is also simply an extension of that community and vice versa. People care deeply about YouTube, they debate, negotiate, connect and form intimate personal bonds over a seemingly mechanical medium: the computer. It is difficult to conceptualize an online community, as the online world was once seen as a ‘lazy’ experience, fit for those who did not feel the need to go outside and experience the world. Yet, YouTube, along with many other media outlets, provide a great insight into the world around you and along with this a truly interactive medium to play and become familiar with.

However, Youtube is not all fun and games, and while there are many things to experience and take part in, Youtube, like any other community, tends to undergo change that is viewed negatively by its inhabitants and at times enforces rules in order to maintain its ‘user-friendliness’. The concept of regulating what should be posted online and what should be left unseen is a large one, and although YouTube has taken great steps to try and regulate pornographic, racist and violent videos, they can still be found in abundance. Copyright is also a large issue in the YouTube Community; many videos peak on copyright infringement and are taken down, which draws negative attention from its users as they post videos on ‘free speech’ and the copyright act.

While these debates and passionate frustrations within YouTube allude to the essence of an interactive community, Cohen states that in order for a community to form, boundaries must be drawn. Strangelove does an excellent job of showing YouTube’s diverging and often-conflicting communities. Celebrities that make their debut offline are not overtly welcomed on the ‘Tube, as it is viewed as an amateur space for those who don’t already have fame; ‘haters’ on YouTube (the fascist, sexist, racist and violent users) are excluded from many communities and thus create and reinforce their own; and fandom communities (the communities that evolve based on one specific video that peaks a familiar interest in all of the active viewers) are formed regularly.

So, in YouTube, you find a community of the good the bad and the ugly, alongside communities of the humorous, dangerous and just plain stupid. But why YouTube? Strangelove makes an excellent point in stating that asking people why the use YouTube is like asking them why they communicate. In the end, communication is what this media outlet dwindles down to: YouTube is an interconnected community that allows for an extremely interactive experience. Personal bonds are formed, debates are fostered, expressions are encouraged and thus, communities are formed.

So, in this chapter, we see a reflexive idea of the YouTube community: there are regulators, rule enforcers, criminals, celebrities, fans, trash-talkers, assholes and a plethora of other users waiting to become integrated into large interconnected community. This chapter reflects on many course themes, the main ones being Cohen and Anderson and their outlooks on online communities, how they are formed and participated upon. Also, Illiana Gershons concept of differing media ideologies are too apparent, as different communities distinguish themselves by their usage and navigation of YouTube; content that some deem appropriate and form communities around, others do not. In the context of this book, I believe the chapter encompasses the true meaning of YouTube, in the sense that its main function, a source of entertainment through community interaction and play, is addressed thoroughly and well.

Chapter 6

Reviewed by: Max Bailey

The focus of Chapter 6 in Michael Strangelove’s book, ‘Watching YouTube’ is conflict and controversy as seen on YouTube. In today’s age it has become very easy for someone to get their hands on something that records video, and then access to the Internet. In turn, nearly everyone has become a producer along with tendencies to be larger consumers of information.

This technological change has begun to influence our society further than common knowledge of new dances through viral videos such as ‘Gangnam Style.’ It has expanded the memory of the citizenry and re-opened closed things from politician’s lives. This effect has amplified so much that the 2008 American Presidential election was accompanied by 35% of adult Americans who watched an online political video. In 2006, 11% of American users posted their own political commentary, created a political video, or circulated someone else’s political video” (Strangelove 138). This number is only increasing today as our technology becomes more abundant, and social networking is more common and often at our fingertips wherever we may be.

This has tremendously changed the way people absorb their politic information, so much so that the 2008 National Election is known as the ‘YouTube Election’ or the ‘Digital Election’. Peoples views of politics are now shaped much more quickly than when they relied only on television, newspapers, and radios for their information. An example is when Florida republican congressional candidate Tramm Hudson lost his bid in an election when some amateur videographers caught him making racial slurs on camera and uploaded it to YouTube. This applies to other national topics such as war. It is, “also the first pocket (where our cell phones are) war, the first laptop war, the first iPhone war, and the first Blackberry war. Since people have web browsers embedded in the door of their refrigerator, it is the first refrigerator war. The new media environment is the total environment” (Strangelove 154). It’s everywhere and anywhere we are, and our war comes to us.’

With so much content at everyone’s fingertips, its often spurs discussion in comments sections of videos, or when people make and post video-responses themselves. Barriers to video broadcast are now gone, and YouTube is home to some of the largest religious debates and controversies. There is a large on-going battle between atheists and Christians. Much like in the real world, the videos that have attractive women tend to receive more views in general, but also on the highest watched religious videos.

Today’s abundance of connected electronics, social networking sites, and video sharing platforms like YouTube is changing the way we as society consume, share, and produce information. It changes our view on politicians, opens up a new space for arguments and discussion on war and religion, and ultimately lets people have discussions they would otherwise not be having.

Chapter 7

Reviewed by: Stephanie

The post - television audience represents a generation of people who have been exposed to multiple forms of consuming and interpreting visual material. Not so long ago we were limited to the programming of television, sitting as families watching sitcoms like Friends, knowing that most other families would be watching the same show, thus able to talk about it. Today the categories dividing produces and consumers of video are increasingly blurred. Media studies is essentially the analysis of how the content we consume effects us, and with the birth of youtube there came an emergence of a new type of content, and new types of effects in reaction to that content. Youtube is filled with millions of acts of appropriation in that “the domain of commercial cultural production is coming under the influence of amateur cultural production.” (162) This amateur online culture changes the way in which we experience imperial forms of colonizing media. In other words amateur video depicts the decolonization of a mass audience. Although advertisement is still pushed upon those who watch most of their video content on youtube, the ability for us to skip an advertisement, or look at another website while an advertisement is playing exemplifies the huge amount of control audiences now have in comparison to the television audience. Audiences are now extremely fragmented “with their attention scattered among video games, Facebook, youtube, the rest of the internet, and a 500 channel universe of national and international TV programing - University students share so little common ground in their viewing habits that attempts use TV shows to make a point often turn into a frustrating exercise in futility.” (167) With the transformation of audience members into producers we are given more power over the media we are influenced by and how we interpret it. The audiences of the TV era are called ‘weak’ - in so far as the dominance that production and distribution would have over what the masses could view. Now we have a choice to watch whatever we want, or make something ourselves. “Amateurs play a very special role in Capitalist social orders that are structured by the dominant forces of professional, commercial modes of cultural production. Amateurs provide an alternative.” (174) In the post TV era we have a huge multiplication of alternatives - the effect this fact has on society and culture is significant.

Chapter 8

Reviewed by:

Chapter 9

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