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.



new apps for the new generation

the full implications of this latest app and its claims re anonymity are somewhat lost on me, but the full horrors of the video sales-pitch are not…

a pre-history of social networking

here’s a several part article on the “pre-history” of social media: from email through the WELL to… well, facebook and twitter i spose….on the ars technica site
strangely, it seems we lived though it and now it’s being written about as historical narrative. certainly an interesting way to check on the discourses of history and how historical facts and beliefs get to be constructed. and of course, if we put ourselves back in the 60’s as young people, we’d also be reading about the 2nd world war, which occurred in the 40’s, before we were born, at a time when many people were alive who’d lived through the era.
of course, wait just a minute, we are not so old yet are we?
i mean, all that email list, newsgroup, and BBS stuff only really got going in the mid-90s, and so we are only 15 years or so down the track, and it’s now history for the younger generation – who by the way, at 18-20 years old are not net-savvy at all by my surveys. the only thing they do regularly is consult their facebook page, and that limited to posts among their ‘friends’ – the wider world and its concerns do not yet impinge… all those facebook ‘groups’ – they are looked on with a slight disdain even by my informants.

WikiLeaks. Which Level, or, Levelling?

The Evolution of FCC Lobbying Coalitions

Pierre de Vries, “The Evolution of FCC Lobbying Coalitions”

source: The Journal of Social Structure | DeVries

This is from Volume 10. Its contents are not yet posted to the JOSS web site, but the directory for the issue is wide-open. Go figure.

At the bottom is Peer Review Comment No. 1.

This visualization captures the formal connections between lobbying organizations in the fight over telephone transfer fees. This representation suggests that the companies lobbying the most, or the most well connected, are not necessarily the most structurally important, or the most influential. Smaller companies can play important lobbying roles if they connect particular lobbying subgroups to each other. This visualization offers a clean picture of the lobbying network but provides little information about the companies: perhaps a different color scheme, combinations of shapes, or more exaggerated node sizes could have told a clearer story about the kinds of companies playing different roles.

Suggested point; discussions about WikiLeaks, and about other internet-centered phenomena, inhabit the various levels discussants are able to utilize.

There are, aside from discussions themselves, all the mediums and modalities that serve to capture the language of descriptions and explanations and operating mechanics, etc..

So, how do we wish to speak of, for example, WikiLeaks, today? In effect from what system of awareness do we wish to view those other systems of awareness, each of which is not necessarily discrete from one another?

(Yup, been revisiting Gregory for the last three months.)

Very crudely put, how do we locate diverse effects of a document dump into the public domain within the means for consideration of those effects? For example, how would one bring to bear on this, social psychology, sociology, anthropology, linguistics, and, to clump together more fuzzy social science, political-economics?

I would extend this thought problem (posing as an invitation,) to studying the internet itself. Which is to suggest how do we choose to wrap are head around the unfolding social-political-economic development discoverable in the mash up of communicative and performative modalities given by cyberspace?

And, we understand the development and articulation of individual perspectives happens within the particularities of the context our individual awareness gives up.

Then there are all those spun discourses which obtain some gravity in ‘one scheme of things’ yet are, so-to-speak, the part objects of much more complex schemes and meta-schemes. For example, we can learn that Assange is a horny meglomaniacal anarchist with a messianic mission to embarrass the powers-that-be in the U.S. and West. Maybe he’s a hero depending how one contextualizes and defines heroism.

However, my suggestion here is: meanwhile sophisticated networks such as the one depicted in the above social network map, are working 24-7 to obtain goals likely more complex and with weighty ‘effects’ which are more–how shall I put it–subtle than ’embarrassment.’

one thing i learned today via twitter..

…is about a book online, aka an “open book” called 20 things i learned about browsers and the web”.
the review says that it has something for everyone in it, e.g. newbies and CMC luddites as well as old hands alike… and i am just starting to enjoy it myself. so, at this point, i cannot actually recommend it as such, but i can merely point to it as an example of something interesting that i found today…

[rather than disperse myself too fully about the place – like putting it on digg for example (is that still going?), or stumble upon (i did not ‘stumble upon’ this after all, it came via one of my twitter followings) or facebook which i do not frequent much due to the blue and white atmosphere which i can only stand for two minutes at a time)]

but it is an example of what you can now get these days with online readers i’m supposing – where the open book idea is taken somewhat literally in the iconic sense, and the textual parts that constitute the content of ‘book’ – i.e. what has come down to us as a material object in which the paper leaves of the book on which this content was printed is bound together in a 3D form – is now rendered online, or, more precisely in this case perhaps, in a webpage format. Here you can “interact” with the “book” in a way which simulates the original pleasure of the material, via a different materiality (or ‘mode’): a mouse/touchpad in order to visually ‘turn’ the pages of the formatted-as-book, with this formatting now functioning as a frame for the text/content on the web-page.

apparently some words of wisdom included are built on expertise gained from google employees of one type or another, and one might even suspect they may be toting or promoting their own wagon to some degree…
i mean, how does WordPress make any money?

time-wasting site for language types

colleague posted this site to a linguistics list – the linguists involved in the site are into computational linguistics, which i am not able to commend or diss, however, they have also put up some amusing games involving language and quick-thinking and certain strange ideas… wouldn’t mind if anyone tried any of them and came back with responses… i am in the middle of marking and so had to stop after i’d reached the first stage of enlightenment, ahem, on one of the games.

there’s a pattern there somewhere, but my brain has obviously been addled by student blogs….

theorising web dynamics

one of the lectures i’ve been watching recently on the video lectures site (see blogroll for link to their homepage) features a young eastern european guy who’s been working in conceptualising the dynamics of the web, the evolution of networks/ links, and how ideas or topics spread through networks.
it’s one of several on the topic of social media and theorising or graphically representing social networks, sentiment analysis, and so on. they are not as professional as those on TED, featuring presentations from conferences all over the world, and so to some extent you need to check out the ratings given by other viewers to determine whether the lecture is going to be rivetting or not…
a good resource anyway.

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