here in between puffs

salvation from this salvaged self-
i did alright, you did enough,
disembodied gestures yet garner pulchritude.
tis i who refuse the sooth
-sayer, i flay her!
dice her finely and saute her.
oh, so it goes,
add in a handful of toes.

This Space is a Place Within Space

I am constantly reworking the whole. Truth be told, things have never been so gooey. I recommend clicking.

Emergence for an Update

The past six weeks have been spent throwing myself into the writing of my thesis. Currently, I have 53 pages of solid writing, and in the process have discovered an emergent structure that belies that which I’d previously been naively imposing on myself. It has become clear to me that I am able to provide a kind of phenomenological perspective that is notably absent from much of the preexisting literature on computer-mediated communication, generally, and online social networks, particularly. 

I have found a lot of journalism, a lot of psychology, a lot of sociology, and various intersections of the three. Don’t get me wrong, there is some great research out there, but the vast majority is either biased to some degree (not that there is such a thing as being unbiased, but that’s a whole other post) or somewhat dehumanizing, Anthropology, in contrast, is the analysis of individual voices and perspectives that make up webs of meaning and power. Humanism and science spring forth and coalesce! But I digress: in tandem with the written thesis, I am also creating a website. A website that is both a blog (this blog) as well as a wiki, so as to better articulate a) my personal ethnographic and research process, and b) the various media sources involved in the construction of my knowledge (images, blogs, videos, online articles, public forums, the sites themselves, etc;). 

By the way, if anyone reading this has any career advice, throw me a bone!

the rage is all the rage the machine

sing: i will swallow your sadness and eat your cold clay
just to lift your long face
-joanna newsom

buoyant abeyance of disbelief,
blend me beautiful!
a ferocity to be fortified
in the quietude of the lonely night,
all trembling and fear are less now than sweet solace.

oh, call it off!
call it caw-cacophony!
it shall be ended.
stripped, strung and suspended,
marrow from the bone.
sucked out like poison from the wound,
emergence from the wilting womb.

Facebook is a weapon of mass construction

For those of you who think “Facebook Activism” is only good for whining about the company’s latest invasions of your privacy, or expressing support for Stephen Colbert’s “presidential race,” check it:

Over 270,000 Facebook members, mostly Central American youths, have joined a group called “One Million Voices Against FARC,” which was established one month ago. The group leaders organized a rally, using Facebook as a means to gather support both within Columbia as well as globally. This past Monday, between 500,000 and 2 million Columbians marched in the streets, with thousands joining them in over 133 countries worldwide.

FARC, which in English stands for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia-People’s Army, considers itself to be a guerilla movement for Columbian communism. Most of the rest of the world, including Columbia, prefers the term “terrorist organization”. The movement is specifically geared toward halting the ubiquitous kidnapping tactics employed by FARC, claiming that thousands have been wrongly imprisoned by the group for over a decade.

Nevertheless, some Columbians feel that the movement may serve only to polarize the country. Though they acknowledge the importance of standing up to unethical practices such as kidnapping, protesting FARC itself is a bit more nuanced. From The Christian Science Monitor:

“While few Colombians support the Marxist insurgent army that has been fighting the Colombian state for more than 40 years, many people are uncomfortable with the message of Monday’s rally. They would prefer a broader slogan against kidnapping and in favor of peace and of negotiations between the government and the rebels to exchange hostages for jailed rebels. The leftist Polo Democratico Party said it will hold a rally in Bogotá in favor of a negotiation but would not march. Some senators say they will march against Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, and other participants say they will be marching in favor of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.”

The group’s discussion board is probably the best insight into the myriad issues and sentiments the struggle evokes amongst Central and South American youth, reflecting struggles against racism, classism, and corrupt governments. Thanks to Claire-bear for keeping her finger on the pulse of Free Speech Radio!

The 2008 Presidential Election and Online Social Networking

Both MySpace and Facebook have become important sites for political campaigning. In 2006, Facebook launched a feature called Election Pulse, enabling members to indicate which candidates they support, learn about and discuss political issues, and gauge how candidates are faring among Facebookers through polls organized by state. MySpace, in turn, recently launched Impact Channel, fulfilling essentially the same functions as its Facebook counterpart but reaching an even greater audience. Furthermore, the Channel is heavily video-oriented, featuring a series of dialogues with the candidates in collaboration with MTV Networks. Visitors to the site are able to submit videos of themselves asking questions of the candidates, promoting a sense of being directly involved in political democracy. Similar collaborative endeavors between network television and online social networks include the YouTube/CNN presidential debate in June of 2007 and the Facebook/ABC presidential debate in January of 2008.

As the 2008 presidential election approaches, candidates have been rushing to capture the elusive yet desirable youth vote. Unsurprisingly, the Democratic party has been considerably more effective with its use of new social media to drive campaigns. In a recent CNN article, a Republican pollster is quoted as saying: “Our party is really behind in learning how to maximize this and use it to our best benefit. We were very proactive in learning how to use talk radio. When it comes to the Internet, especially social networking sites, we’re really behind.” On MySpace, Barack Obama leads the popularity contest with over 240,000 Friends- not counting the thousands of friends who link to alternate Obama profiles created to represent each individual state in the U.S. His profile consists of a regularly-updated blog, YouTube videos of his past speeches, links to further information, photographs, podcasts, and various buttons linking to his other “online habitats” on sites such as YouTube, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Such practices serve to humanize politicians and breach the disconnect felt by voters, and are particularly oriented toward the purportedly politically apathetic youth generation of the United States today. Members of online social networks, in turn, have begun utilizing the sites to display their support for particular candidates on their profiles (much like bumper stickers), research and discuss political issues, and run local campaigns in the form of Groups. For the record, I support Obama. And Kucinich.