Software, Culture, and Political Economy in New Media Capitalism

Here’s a link to the book of the title of this post – a book about social media, the software that it uses, and the uses of that software.

there’s a free chapter to download at the site, so perhaps worth taking a look.

for purposes of future comprehension re the provision of this link, here is an excerpt from the blurb page:


Gehl adeptly uses a mix of software studies, science and technology studies, and political economy to reveal the histories and contexts of these social media sites. Looking backward at divisions of labor and the process of user labor, he provides case studies that illustrate how binary “Like” consumer choices hide surveillance systems that rely on users to build content for site owners who make money selling user data, and that promote a culture of anxiety and immediacy over depth.

Reverse Engineering Social Media also presents ways out of this paradox, illustrating how activists, academics, and users change social media for the better by building alternatives to the dominant social media sites.



online trust: that old chestnut?

every new generation needs to reinvent the wheel in some way.
below is an excerpt from an article in the WSJ on the old chestnut (for us cranky old netdynammers) of “How to tell if someone is lying to you in an email”.
you’ll note that the expert quoted on this is working for the military, and thank goodness us language experts can still get a job paid for out of tax dollars spent on defence.
but wait – why is this so old hat and ho-humifying to the likes of us over 50s?
a cursory search of the netdynam archives using, say, the term ‘trust’, will reveal that the topic was indeed thrashed almost to death back in 1996.. if my memory serves me well…

meanwhile, here’s a bit of what the article has to say on the topic:

It is possible to catch people lying because they often are bad at it, says Tyler Cohen Wood, an intelligence officer and cyber branch chief at the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Science and Technology Directorate, and author of a 2014 book titled “Catching the Catfishers: Disarm the Online Pretenders, Predators and Perpetrators Who Are Out to Ruin Your Life.” (Her views on the subject are her own and not those of her employer, she emphasizes.)

“The majority of people prefer to tell the truth,” says Ms. Cohen Wood. “That’s why when they are lying, the truth is going to leak out.”

There will be clues. To identify them, Ms. Cohen Woods suggests using a modified version of a law-enforcement technique known as statement analysis, which is a way to look for deception by analyzing a person’s words.

To begin with, pay attention to a person’s use of emphatic language. It doesn’t necessarily mean he or she is lying, but rather that he or she really wants you to believe what is being said. This is also the case when a person keeps saying the same thing over and over in slightly different ways. “They wouldn’t repeat it if it wasn’t important to them,” Ms. Cohen Wood says.

Look for language that distances the writer from the intended reader. In person, someone may unconsciously distance himself by crossing his arms in front of him. In writing, he can achieve this same effect by omitting personal pronouns and references to himself from a story.

Say he receives a text that says, “Hey I had a great time last night, did you?” He might reply, “Last night was fun.”

Another technique to watch out for is the unanswered question. You ask, and the other person hedges or changes the subject. Most likely, the person doesn’t like saying no, or doesn’t want to hurt your feelings. But he or she also may also be keeping something from you.

link to CSIRO’s computational informatics page

well worth a visit and a browse.

several projects using data-mining to gather intel on a range of natural and man-made phenomena:

lead there by an article on one of their latest projects using emotion semantic categories (very rough to a linguist) to map reactions on twitter from tweets around the world. (see

too busy to post

well, just checking in before i go…
off to europe for 6 weeks come monday.
mainly to follow him indoors about the UK as he squeezes as many conferences into a month as he can. as for me, i have one in sweden next week, then spend time with fellow appraisaler who lives in the same town (vaxjo) before heading to the UK to meet up with P there.

colleague in sweden and i did a co-analysis of 20 wine tasting notes by the same critic, and using the appraisal framework. she was doing her phd on this wine critic, and wanted to see whether her idea that wine tasting notes needed to have further semantic categories used in order to fully analyse the texts would be borne out. i thought it would, so volunteered to undertake this small research project.

last year i presented the results at a local conference, but this time, i will be presenting it again in lisbon, where the annual SFL gabfest is taking place at the end of july. my colleague can’t come, as she is still on leave after being treated for cancer, but it would be good to refresh memory of the work, and also to discuss potential publications arising from it.

meantime, i have not completed the presentation for next week’s iconicity and intermediality conference there, but i’m almost done. i have all the ppt slides i think, but i need to organise them better, add a bit here and there.
and, for lisbon, i have also to complete the analysis and ppt for the 2nd paper i’ll be presenting there as well as the one of the wine appreciation… but i will have some time between conferences to get that into shape.

apart from the wine language presentation, the other two are based on my earlier netdynam list analyses. oh yes, we live on in conference papers and the occasional publication i manage to get together.

and then there’s NEXT year’s SFL conference. being held in sydney. so i am part of the gang helping to prepare for that. for example, the organisers should make some sort of presentation at the previous year’s conference to advertise the next year’s… so there has been some mad flyer designing happening so that we can all take some with us to distribute at conferences.

what i have done is to make a basic blog for the conference organisers to use for announcements and updates. all but one of organisers do not work at the designated university. so, getting stuff onto the official uni-run website (which we need for registration and payment purposes) will entail going through a middle man. hence i thought best to have one where we can all contribute various items that do not need to go past the scrutineers etc.

and i have blogs to mark as well – i mean posts to the media industry contexts blog site. this is their final assignment for the course, so a lot of reading for me.
anyway, please see my relative silence as sign of need to be distracted by other matters.
will try to post updates of my progress during my travels.
[taking the dslr too!]

the evolution will be social…

some sort of conference later this year in New York with wide ideas about how social networking can be conceived as ‘not just a marketing opportunity’. check out the blurbs and blogs at the CONTACT site.

patterns of interaction recorded

this guy, deb roy, is working in visualising interaction, and trying to create machines that will interact in a “human-like” way. well, good luck with that, but the graphic visualisation of language and group dynamic interactions has me thinking maybe i should give up… although there’s always room for the micro as well as the macro patterning….

‘visualising the new arab mind’

someone has used graphic representational techniques to show how twitter was activated in the recent egyptian uprisings – it’s meant to show ‘influence networks’.

there are a couple of comments interrogating how it is to be read, and how it was compiled, etc, so the whole thing is interesting as an applied exercise in using different modalities to represent data..

an excerpt (via susanna on email CITASA list):

Wael Ghonim, a pivotal figure in this self-organzing system who instigated the initial protests on January 25th, is prominently located near the bottom of the network, straddling two factions as well as two languages. The size of his node reflects his influence on the entire network.

The lump on the left is dominated by journalists, NGO and foreign policy types; it seems nearly gafted on, and goes through an intermediary buffer layer before making contact with the true Egyptian activists on the ground. However, this process of translation and aggregation is key; it is how those in Egypt are finally getting a voice in Western society, and an insurance policy against regime violence. Many of the prominent nodes in this network were at some point arrested, but their deep connectivity help ensure they were not “dissapeared”.

and now of course, there is much related matter in discussion mode everywhere… variously termed “the great debate”, ” the arab spring”, and so-on, one of the common debating points (you could check out abc q&a’s program last week but one, for an example if you could get it online out of australia) is whether social media/twitter/wikileaks ’caused’ the uprisings, or merely enabled/helped/provided extra fuel to the spring/fire/activities.
here is a link to one of them by philip n howard, who is apparently an author elsewhere on topics political.

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