Something interesting is happening on reddit that has the potential to impact the net neutrality debate. A California Congresswoman, Anna Eshoo, is running a contest on reddit to rebrand net neutrality. Here’s the video in which Congresswoman Eshoo outlines the task at hand, and here’s the primary thread where the contest is going on.
So let’s jump in. I have some preliminary thoughts. I spent some time writing about the pros and cons of using reddit for this sort of endeavor, but I worry that’s burying the lede (the writeup is tucked away at the close of this blog post). I’d like to focus instead on questioning Congresswoman Eshoo’s underlying assumption that net neutrality is the concept that needs rebranding.
When I’m not writing about the Internet here or writing about the Internet for school, I’m working on creative projects and coming up with ideas for ads. Here’s a bit on two things I’ve been working on lately, with links to check them out.
I’ve come up with a bunch of ideas for brands that fit on the back of a napkin. Each has a blurb and strategic breakdown provided in the caption, but I held myself to the requirement that the meat of the concept needed to fit in the napkin-allotted space. You can check out the collection here: http://napkinbacks.tumblr.com/
Connected Life 2014
I’m on the Marketing, PR and Web team for Connected Life 2014, the first iteration of a student-run conference for emerging Internet research. It’s being held at the University of Oxford on June 12th, 2014. Registration is open, and we’re still accepting submissions for student presenters. Learn more here: http://connectedlife.oii.ox.ac.uk/
Haven’t posted in a while (don’t worry; there’s quite a lot of interesting stuff in the works). In the meantime, here’s a quick (well, not so quick) take on the evolving nature of working relationships in advertising and how digital connectivity is transforming their orientation and direction:
A side effect of my swimming in literature surrounding certainty, verifiability, and credibility is my increasing fixation on the epistemically shaky terrain we occupy, whether we like it or not. So many reassurances, platitudes, and dog-eared truisms boil down to some type of formal or informal fallacy. As long as I resist miring myself in philosophical texts (at least until I’m through writing my thesis), I’m left cradling a humdrum, freshman year humanities student conclusion: there’s no way to be certain about anything, anyway.
I’ll resist diving into the series of arguments that place “truth” in the realm of social facts (though, in my opinion, this might be where the money’s at) and will spare you a relativistic rant. Instead, a different question: Is uncertainty so bad?
In revising for exams, I keep on stumbling up against what seems like a relatively minor inconsistency: the capitalization of the word “Internet.” Some scholars do, some scholars don’t. After pouring over enough articles, the voice in the back of my head piped up loud enough and yelled, “Which one is right!?”
Now, if you’re a writer who’s friends with a sufficient number of grammar snobs, these things become hardwired into your internal style guide. I’ve been rapped on the knuckles enough to default to “Internet” with a capital “I”. A quick visit to the Wikipedia page on this issue reveals, however, that there’s actually a bit of a debate (yes, yes, I know, I’m citing Wikipedia. I’m aware this isn’t really legitimate, but aren’t you surprised that there’s a page on this? So leave me alone). The New York Times, Chicago Manual of Style, and AP swear by the capital letter. The Guardian, the Economist, and Wired do not.
You could argue that this is trivial. Since I’m writing about it, I clearly believe the contrary. Don’t worry–there is, in fact, a reason why. Wired put out an explanation of their decision to de-capitalize “internet” in 2004 (along with “web” and “net”). The logic put forth by Tony Long, copyeditor of Wired, is this: Continue reading
This isn’t bonafide theory. It’s just a little thought exercise I’ve been tossing around for the last twenty minutes. Barreling on:
A few decades ago, Alvin Goldman proposed a set of secondary epistemic criteria–what he terms “veritistic” or truth-linked standards–which one can use to appraise the epistemic value of a particular social institution. I’d written out a definition for each, but Paul Thagard has done it much better. Roughly paraphrasing, then, these criteria are:
- Reliability, or the ratio of truths to total number of beliefs fostered;
- Power, or the ability to help cognizers find true answers (a sort of “how much knowledge can I acquire”; think of exponents, if that’s useful);
- Fecundity, or the ability to lead to large numbers of true beliefs for many people;
- Speed, or how quickly knowledge is acquired; and
- Efficiency, or how well a source or practice limits the cost of getting true answers.
This is a nice sort of way to evaluate the epistemic worth of Wikipedia, which is the context within which I first came across Goldman’s neat little set. Here, compared to a traditional encyclopedia, we trade off reduced reliability for increased, power, fecundity, speed, and efficiency. Don Fallis argues, in fact, that Wikipedia might not be so unreliable at all, detailing the sort of verification processes that articles are subject to and that contributors could be subject to, should someone causally perusing an article desire.
These five criteria also create an interesting prism through which to view the participatory memetic culture of the web as a whole. Taking each as being important for reasons other than epistemic, we can imagine a sort of sorting system that the web applies to symbols and goods, or alternatively a handy dandy guide to web content creation.
I wrote an essay on search engines and gatekeeping last night. It’s a little more dense than what I’d typically post, but if you’ve got a few minutes and want to learn about just one of the ways that things on the Internet are not as they seem give it a gander.