Friday, November 03, 2006

Friday Slashdot Linksponge

Hum. As so often occurs, the frenzy of real life has intervened in the good intentions of a new blog. Curse you, limited waking hours and overdue bureaucracy! Anyway.

Back to the themes I wanted to elaborate upon from my last post in the near future. In the meantime, here are some links via Slashdot with appropriate commentary, to keep the RSS Ping monster satisfied...
  • A Business Week article on "Digital Mudslinging" and politics on the Internet reminds me of McLuhan's notion that "the medium is the message". These days, it seems more likely that elections are decided by the impulse of the electorate - whoever manages to lodge themselves in the goldfish-like memories of the fickle masses wins. One can imagine quite easily this leading to an eBay-style "attention sniping" race, to see who can "inject" the final, viral piece of mockery into the population at the latest moment. Maybe Flashverts can help here...

  • An interview with Berners-Lee regarding a new initiative called "Web Science". This is, in effect, an attempt to define a new field of study - an attempt which is intriguing, as I can't work out if this is either an attempt to construct a new space, or just the naming of an emergent space - I would guess the latter, though. Anyway, there are some very interesting ideas in here that I need to return to - the idea of fractal society (or, rather, a fractal technosociety - society itself has always been fractal).

    Particularly thought-provoking for me is the distinction between "web" sociality and "non-web" sociality. Defining disciplines is always problematic in terms of ignoring the links between a discipline and its surroundings. The article mentions that "they want to bring together lots of different disciplines", but it makes it sound like this is just as a way of understanding, or modelling web sociality.

  • Finally, while I don't particularly wish to focus here so much on electronic voting, an article on Diebold attacking an HBO programme is kind of interesting. I'm not in America, obviously, but I get the impression that public discussion over the transparency, security and reliability of electronic voting really hasn't taken place as much as it could have done. (Same with, for example, postal voting in the UK...)

    The question here, then, is whether TV programmes that bring more of said discussion to the table should be encouraged - even if potentially subject to the hype that TV often entails - in order to get the issue raised more, or whether the issue should be treated with censorship and legal pressures.

    Personally, I suspect it's currently a no-win situation. Neither clamping down nor hyped TV programmes particularly encourage further, non-"celebritised" debate. Diebold, following business interests, would probably prefer a quieter scene as, just like everyone else, they're ultimately acting in their own (financial) interest.
That'll do for today. Hopefully some time next week I'll get back to the effects of Web 2.0 and the death of a "public" Internet, etc. Enjoy your weekend :)

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