Thursday, April 29, 2004

I also got the email from the universtiy Provost and from the email I wasn't sure that the strke was even going to happen. That bothered me because they kept saying they were negotiating and I didn't know if I was going to have class or not and that was annoying. I ended up having 1 of my 4 classes that I ususally have on Tuesday and Thursday. The break was nice, but now I feel even more behind.

I checked out the school website and there is a link on the front page that takes you to articles about the strike. This surprised me, but I was happy to see that they weren't ignoring the event. I also looked at local news sites and they were all covering the strike, it was interesting to read the stories they were writing as they all were of course the same information just differently written.

I, like Josh and everyone else, found a vast amount of articles on the strike coming from local newspapers. I agree with Josh in that they should've had a blog to share concerns an ask questions, I know that I have questions I'd love to post

On a side note, its also been really interesting to see what schools are and aren't involved. The business school is not a part of the strike at all. From what my friend in the nursing school tells me, the nursing school TAs are not involved. I searched a bit to find out why certain schools weren't participating and I couldn't find any information. This is interesting to me, I heard that some schools pay their TAs more money, so those TAs are not part of the union. But all the information I read seemed to dramatize the situation making it sound like ALL of the UW-Madison TAs are on strike. Just an observation.

Here's what I found out:

First off, I got an email from the University Provost that I assume everybody got. I think it was on Monday, probably because they wanted to make sure the strike was going to happen before they alerted the students.

Second, I went on the UW web site and they had a link called "The TAA situation." I found it interesting that they called it a situation rather than a strike - always trying to put a positive spin on things.

Third, I went to the TAA site. They had a lot of info about why they were striking, and what they wanted to get out of it, but very little info about the strike itself. No info was given on what buildings they were picketing or anything. I figure this is because they didn't want people to know which buildings they were picketing. They probably assumed everyone who cared enough to picket would come to their meetings and get the secret information there.

I googled the strike and found, as everyone else did, a ton of article from all Madison papers. There were few reports outside of Wisconsin, but news did get out on the AP wire, because newspapers as far away as Hawaii picked it up. I talked to friends at UW-Stevens Point and UW-Oshkosh, and they hadn't heard about it. I have to admit, though, they aren't the most politically conscious people I know.

I think the TAA missed out big-time on how they could garner support by not creating some kind of online forum to fuel the fire. The site wasn't particularly engaging, and I bet a big blog would have done the trick. Anyway, that's all.


So, I don't know how many other people did what I did...I googled "TAA Stike", and of course, there were links to the Badger Herald and Daily Cardinal articles on the subject. Then I found a blog called College Chaos. It belongs to Alison Pesche, who I would assume is a student here, who had a post about the TAA strike, with a link to how students could get involved.
I also found on the TAA homepage, the organization's reasoning for the strike, as well as a list of all of the departments that support them. The TAA lists off-campus sites for professors to hold their classes, as well as fact sheets for the press to use. The university also put out news releases. Overall, there seems to be a lot of information, both opinion and factual.

One interesting thing I found, a Badger Herald story about the strike appeared in U-wire and was on a site in Hawaii, called Ka Leo O Hawaii.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Here are my two cents on the Internet and
the TAA strike.

One important feature/advantage we've
discussed this semester is the ability to
divulge information as quickly and easily
as possible. On Monday night, I sat
at home debating whether if it would be
a good idea to not attend the only class
I had the following day due to the picketing
I was going to encounter. I was also waiting
for an email from one of my history profs
letting us know if we would be required to
show up for class today. Well, I didn't need
to read that email once it came (I received it
@ 8:41 AM yesterday), because the State
Journal had an article on the TAA's decision
to strike by 11 PM on Monday, a couple of
hours after the course of action was decided
upon. This is an example of how the Internet
can facilitate the flow of information in society.

Of course, the Internet is also a source of
discourse. Since late last week, the Herald
and the Cardinal had their say on the
impending strike. As soon as it was known
that the strike would happen, the State Journal
chimed in on the situation. The key point here is
that people can access others' opinion without
having a newspaper at hand. This is something
supporters of the digital revolution would be
pleased about, and with good reason.

Alll the ways that I've been receiving information about the TAA strikes through cyberspace:

email (from individual departments, the school, students)
the university main website
the TAA site
newspapers online

There are even pictures of the strike online at the TAA site. One thing that is missing though is a webcam --- I wanted to see what things looked like on campus this morning from home and a webcam of key points on campus would have been interesting (if, of course, my stolen wireless signal would have let me watch the video...).

I thought it was interesting to see the difference in stories at the university's official site and the TAA site, and I particularly wondered why there is no direct link to the TAA site from the university FAQ pages.

Paul's point about undermining the effect of the TAA picketing buildings by moving class to cyberspace leads to the questions:
-was the point of the TAA picketing buildings specifically to stop classes, or was it more generally to disrupt things enough to draw attention to the situation
-if it was just to disrupt business as usual at the university, is moving class to cyberspace a disruption? I'd say yeah, it is, because we had presentations scheduled that have to be rescheduled, and the topic of our "cyberclass" is now the strike.

Like Katrina, I googled TAA Strike as well. The first 2 websites that appeared were the Daily Cardnial and Badger Herald. I'm really surprised at how much attention the whole ordeal got. I too am surprised that so many other people have heard about it too. In fact my friend from a different UW school was searching around our hom website and found it that way. She was curious and checked it out. This amazed me. When I as seraching I found some personal weblogs for and against the strike. Each one was very interesting. Something that also caught my fancy was that I was talking to my parents (we live about 30 min East of Milwuakee) and they didn't hear a thing about it. I thought the whole point of this strike was to get attention? Obviously the news didn't reach Milwaukee!

Like Derek, the first time I looked online for TAA strike news, it was to find a list of targeted buildings last week. I, too, first went to the TAA website, where I was actually surprised at the lack of attention being paid to the strike. Now, of course that's a relative judgement, because there was talk of it on the front page of the site. But I was thinking that if I were the TAA, I'd want a whole site, or at least a page devoted JUST to the strike issue. I mean, can you seriously tell me that membership dues or who's president is a bigger thing going on with the TAA right now than the strike? I was complaining about that lack of attention lately, and a guy commented to me that the strike was definitely an event that 'deserves to be blogged.' I thought that would've been an interesting way to record the strike...a communal blog which any member of the TAA could contribute to and share their insights about how the strike was going, the support they got, etc. Alas, I don't think it happened, but it would've been cool.


I googled (there's the verb for you Kirstin!) "TAA Strike" and found a blog called "college chaos" talking about the strike and is written by a UW student. I was surprised at how widespread the coverage's in every newspaper online (Badger Herald, Cardinal, WSJ, Cap Times, Also, there is coverage in my hometown, which surprised me (I am from Wisconsin) and my boyfriend who goes to another UW school knew about it as well, which I also found surprising. TV stations also had coverage on their websites of the strike and radio stations interviewed people on campus live. I couldn't believe overall that there were almost 8500 hits on Google... There were also references to the strike on other university websites (U of Mich, for example)...perhaps this is to fire up their unions? Or just provide news?

Either way, I was absolutely AMAZED at the coverage, not so much here in Madison, as that is to be expected, but state and nation-wide.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

I'm sitting in Helen C and I can hear a TA banging a drum outside... three floors up. The whole strike is much more coordinated than I thought it’d be. As a side note, I think keeping out students and faculty draws attention to their "raw deal," anything else wouldn't have been as effective. And, I guess they said if you're showing support w/ a black armband/bandanna or TAA sticker they won't bug you. My roommate is a george w. republican, and it sure pissed him off ... and I think that was the point. Anyway, the site I looked at, accidentally, is here. It's a google html translation of a word doc and part of the Web site. I say accidentally because the author of the article and I were at the library and checking out which of our DC articles came up in a google search (we were really bored...). Surprisingly, one of hers came up on the TAA Web site. I just thought it was weird that a DC or Herald writer -- who may not care about the strike, or be against it -- can be used by the TAA to secure a better contract. It's weird how the print world can unwittingly become part of the Web world -- and used for totally different purposes. Here, her article is used in a list of news stories on the TAA. Another use of the TAA Web site I’ve seen are posters up around campus before the strike, with those tabs you rip off, for TA’s who’ve yet to sign up w/ the TAA. They urge TA’s to go to the TAA web site to sign up with the TAA. This mobilization is sort of interesting: using physical space to urge people to go into virtual space so they then can impact physical space. Many of these tabs were ripped off, so it seemed to have been working.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

I visited the TAA's Official Website particularly to try and find a list of buildings which are going to be surrounded by picket lines. Much to my disappointment, I could not find such a list. I fully sympathize with the TAA and their "raw deal", yet I do not feel obligated to not cross their picket lines. I personally feel that the TAA has no right to discourage students from entering the school's facilities on the grounds that the from what I understand of the matter, most of the students and faculty of the University are on the side of the TAA, so I am not quite sure that the way the TAA is expressing its frustration is justified. The state of Wisconsin is refusing to meet their needs, not the faculty and students. I am just wondering if anyone has any logical explinations as to why this walk-out is really more of a "keep-out". I guess I am not very confident that the State really cares if the students to go class or not. I can't complain about a day off, especially this time of year when the weather is nice, it's just too bad it has to happen this way.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

A thought about the TA strike and our discussion yesterday:

When the TAA pickets around the physical area of Vilas, undermining the ability of faculty and students alike to physically attend to their business (as Prof. Downey said), don't we then undermine the effectiveness of those actions by shifting our work from a physical task (attending class) to a virtual one (checking out the TAA strike online). Don't we, as observers of cyberspace focusing on the strike, create a presence in cyberspace that wouldn't be there had we attended class? I'm not, like, trying to get out of doing the assingment, but I am saying that, if we're "theorists" of cyberspace, don't we have to acknowledge our influence on the space we're theorizing?

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

My comments on Neuromancer:

How is Case like/dislike the hackers we saw in Hackers and War Games? Has he stepped it up a notch in terms of hacking?

Gibson, according to some, coined the phrase "cyberspace." How does his view of "cyberspace" differ from others we've discussed or read about?

Part of Neuromancer are similar in ideas to the new(er) Matrix films? Do you see any similarities? Do you think they're completely diff?

Monday, April 12, 2004

Hey all.....

I was just looking at postings and noticed mine from last week didn't get posted so I'm reposting it (good thing I always write them in word first). I'm sure you all were chomping at the bit for my comments!

1. Chapter 3 talks about the interactive television and web based television. Web TV was touted to be revolutionary as the world wide web expanded and grew. However, Web TV never really took off as more homes chose to purchase personal computers instead. Now, I notice MSN is showcasing its Web TV again. Do you think it will work this time? Were we just not ready for combination media then? If Web TV becomes mainstream, where will the line be drawn between television and cyberspace? How will this affect the corporate controlling of the Internet influencing cyberspace further? What could be the ramifications of Web TV?

2. Chapter 1 discusses the evolution of corporate networking and specifically, the proliferation of automatic teller machines. As these ATM’s evolved, they handled more transactions than human tellers did according to the text (1.2 million every hour!). Will the new Internet based capabilities of banks further decrease the number of transactions for human tellers? Will human tellers be phased out? Eventually, will all banking be done online and ATM’s become obscolete for transaction purposes? How does this affect the separation effect and isolation we discussed earlier in the semester (people won’t have to leave their house—they will live in “virtual” worlds)?

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Speaking of a company with the deep pockets, reputation, and know-how to do real innovation, check this out about Google.

Google is the new MultiVac.

"Google is a company that has built a single very large, custom computer. It's running their own cluster operating system. They make their big computer even bigger and faster each month, while lowering the cost of CPU cycles. It's looking more like a general purpose platform than a cluster optimized for a single application.

While competitors are targeting the individual applications Google has deployed, Google is building a massive, general purpose computing platform for web-scale programming.

This computer is running the world's top search engine, a social networking service, a shopping price comparison engine, a new email service, and a local search/yellow pages engine. What will they do next with the world's biggest computer and most advanced operating system?"

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

with all this talk about linux, i started wondering what the thing actually looks like. check out here if you were too...

Some thoughts:

(1) While I agree with a lot of what Schiller says, doesn't it seem at times like he's getting a little too radical and conspiratorial? For example, when he says that the U.S. Postal Service was "pressured" to scrap their own email system for a commercial one.

(2) I skimmed through Chapter 4, and Schiller had some really interesting things to say about universities. He says their adopting a corporate model based on efficiency, wherein the max amount of customers (students) are taught by the min amount of employees (faculty) at the lowest cost for the institution, but the hightest possible cost for the consumer (students). I thought this was very interesting, and just looking at UW, I see it happening. Our tuition constantly goes up, faculty is constantly cut, and it seems that the grad students who can perform a type of research that yields more $$ for the university have a much better chance of getting in and staying in than others. Universities are becoming more business-like every day, and this is quite a dangerous thing.

(3) I think that this book came out before some of the hugest media mergers in history (For example, AOL-Time Warner). I wonder what Schiller would have to say about that, and if it would be enough for him to abandon his last scrap of hope for a future that isn't dominated by this pervasive international conglomerates.


Here we go...

1) Are Schiller & Reid correct in their beliefs that because "no one owned the network. Virtually nobody made money from it directly. And almost every piece of software that governed or accessed it was free" The Internet thus resulted "as much from the free availability of from anything else." Schiller continues to argue that "had proprietary ethic been applied, there can be little doubt that the Net would have been stunted during infancy."

With that in mind, and considering how Operating Systems (primarily Windows) were purely proprietarian efforts, is this argument valid?

2) In reference to the satellite difficulties which occurred in April '98 (among many other similar incidents), are consumers in a digital capitalist marketplace too comfortable and too trusting of technologies they do not understand? Why/Why not?

3) I couldn't help but notice the Microsoft/Compaq 20% ownership of Road Runner Hi-Speed Online, the venture of Time Warner and Media One. Consider that someone who owns a Compaq computer, runs Microsoft Windows OS, Microsoft's Internet Explorer Browser, and subscribes to Road Runner (through Time Warner Cable) is unknowingly consuming a bundle of products from one company, simply masked under names of subsidiaries and joint-ventures. Is this "mono-oligopoly" that has integrated itself throughout Media good or bad for consumers? Please explain, (particularly if you think this is good.)

The GNU manifesto briefly mentions the idea that existing copyright laws are based on an older form of media (i.e. the printed book), which bears similarities to what Andrea said about DC Ch. 3: "I feel there is no way of getting around tying the Internet to the existing media systems." This really is something societies have struggles with (see Cory Docortow's interview here, he's from the Electronic Freedom Foundation who fight for things like P2P). But is this really valid to use the old media paradigms to regulate new media? Perhaps a more germane question is: What is the alternative?

The GNU guy gives a race analogy for copyright: By rewarding the winner, we encourage everyone to run faster. He says that copyright laws should encourage creativity not limit use, which in new media (such as software), he says, the opposite is true. I find that arguement compelling. It seems throughout new media, all the laws are designed to limit uses. In fact, I can't think of a single situation designed to encourage me to use new media in a different way (such as sampling). Can anyone else?

Finally, in a partial response to Chris, who said: "but artists don’t just paint for fun – they also have to sell their works to make a living." The GNU guy disagrees, as do I. Most artists do paint for fun. The same way most basketball players, musicians, or woodworkers do their things for fun. I see no reason programming can't be the same way. Furthermore, think of all the people who volunteer their time to do things like rip songs from their CD's/Tapes/records and convert them to MP3's just to share that music. They've got no monetary incentive to do something like that, they've already got the music. Is there an opportunity for profit here? Maybe, maybe not, but nevertheless, something that might be considered work (the translation of data from one language to another) is being done for free. Might this be a part of the solution to the New Media/copyright issue?

Paul Medenwaldt

1. One fact that I found very interesting in Schiller's book was on p. 12: "During the early 1980s, for example, the U.S. Postal Service was pressured by would-be private rivals to withdraw its proposal for a nationwide electronic messaging service called ECOM (Electronic Comupter-Originated Mail)." How would the Internet and e-mail be different as we know it today if the USPS did have control over electronic messaging? Would "snail mail" be different as well? Would USPS involvement in ECOM somehow change some of the digital divides that exist today?

2. In the introduction, Schiller clearly disagrees with the utopian ideals of a "kinder, gentler" Internet. Is digital capitalism really as bad as Schiller says it is?

3. Chapter 3 looks at advertising's role in digital capitalism. Companies are now airing "Webisodes," mini-movie ads on the Internet that are different from those they air on tv. The chapter discusses (p. 115) Seinfeld's involvement in this. What is of the first companies to air a webisode is American Express, and the ads star Jerry Seinfeld, in a throw back to the television show. Watch "Seinfeld and Superman". How has advertising on the Internet changed since this book was published, and what is the potential impact on the public?

1. In the Introduction to Digital Capitalism, Schiller asks “what motivated this increasingly widespread decision to interoperate computer systems?” I don’t tend to think of interoperating as a choice anymore – it seems to be the given ideal, but if this really was a “revolution,” there could be a backlash – is it possible that significant groups of people could opt out of the Internet in the future and still be “successful”?

2. In Chapter 3, p 98, Schiller asks how “formerly disparate media products [will] retain their discrete revenue streams?” This book was published in 2000 – what has changed since then in regards to this question?

3. Several of our readings, including the GNU Manifesto, advocate a view of the Internet as "free," but the Internet that Schiller describes is apparently not free from manipulation by a few agents. Can both “sides” of this debate continue indefinitely, or will one view win out? Do you think open source is really a viable business model (how could it be or why not)? Would open source solve the problem of "inequality and domination" that Schiller describes, or just lead to other forms of these problems?

whew... it's late. here they are.

1. The past three main direct communication sources were e-mail, phone and the letter. The Postal Service is still free, going anywhere to deliver a letter because it's a public utility. The telephone used to be regulated by the government, but not so much anymore. The Internet was formed around neoliberal, hands-off policies. What does this say for future forms of communication? Is the public service ideal of citizen-to-citizen communication dead, at least to policy makers? It seems like we worry about divides after the fact, when they’re a symptom of U.S. telecomm policies. And without much oversight, what happens if a satellite goes down, as described in Chapter 1? They seem awfully similar to last year’s electrical blackouts – why the difference in the government’s approach? What about the possibility of Internet blackouts resulting from Internet backbones preventing others’ traffic as a strategic business move?

2. Some of Digital Capitalism reads like the Internet was a grand conspiracy between “government agencies, corporate military contractors and allied educational institutions … housed within the secretive netherworld of the garrison state.” It seems like the author, especially in the conclusion, is worried now that there are no socialist markets, causing supranational entities to run amok. Are alternative forms of government now futile in the face of capitalism’s vast networking and information capabilities?

3. I also like GNU, but I had a hard time buying into his point regarding payment. He compares programmers to artists, but artists don’t just paint for fun – they also have to sell their works to make a living. Happiness/friendship among programmers, what he thinks is more important than payment, doesn’t really mean much when you’re scraping to get by. Paying for bundled software or “helping hand” services doesn’t seem to be enough to support all the software needed by the public, businesses and the government. Or… would the savings from freely editing source code for a constantly-crashing program, or freeing companies from competing for the newest software, make the social benefits of GNU greater than its individual benefits to a programmer?

also ch. 3 of dc talks about ad guys influencing content. reminded me of donahue's show being cancelled...

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

3 questions/statements about this weeks readings:

1. I like what the GNU is saying, but what happens if there is a glitch. Since this program is for free, is there going to be a support network one can call incase of an emergency? For me, if something goes wrong, I need someone right away to help me out. And if not everyone has my problem and I can't figure it out myself I might be out of luck.

2. I believe the idea "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" is essentialy the way of the world. It's been shown, especially in telephone services. Many smaller companies that specialized in one niche markets are eventually snatched up by a major supplier. I think it was a great attempt to try to diversify things with other companies in the loop, but in reality they didn't stand a chance.

3. In chapter 3 of Digital Capitalism, I feel there is no way of getting around tying the Internet to the existing media systems. Companies will take any type of advertising as long as it brings them business. Internet sites and companies are becoming common place among the physical stores also advertising. So their money is as good as the others. Product placement is another huge area that Internet sites can bank on. So many movies and TV shows now incorporate the use of technology, it would be a waste not to advertise on TV shows or radio for internet companies. It's a great way to get their name out there.