From September 2005 to June 2006 a team of thirteen scholars at the The University of Southern California's Annenberg Center for Communication explored how new and maturing networking technologies are transforming the way in which we interact with content, media sources, other individuals and groups, and the world that surrounds us.
This site documents the process and the results.
Alternative media generate news and information aimed at expanding and/or challenging mainstream media-generated debate. Some typical characteristics (as identified by John Downing in his book Radical Media) include: they are independently owned and managed; they articulate viewpoints that are in some sense dissonant from those of the wider media; and they foster vertical relations among producers/users/audiences.
Click Read More for the Culture Essay from the upcoming Networked Publics book and... leave your comments!
The future mashups were produced by netpublics. More info soon...
Slashdot carries a story today about a project by UC-Irvine's Beatriz da Costa in which cellphone and GPS bearing pigeons (...just how much cargo can a pigeon haul into the sky?...) will report back about the pollution they encounter.
2006 marks the start of the second half of the decade and just an hour ago, Apple announced Macbooks with dual-core Intel processors as well as dual-core Intel powered iMacs . Assuming there are no unpleasant surprises, these machines should be able to run Windows, Mac OS X, and various flavors of Linux. In this brave, new world, the OS, becomes nothing more than a form of media. Meanwhile, Google is rumored to be providing an alternative vision of an OS that can run through your web browser. Certainly they have to do something with all that iron they own and those minds they employ.
Google gets the New Year off right... According to the Wall Street Journal, Google plans to sell content from CBS and the NBA. What will Edward Whitacre say about that? May you live in interesting times... An ancient Chinese curse (ok, not really, but still).
The first few days of February I'll be at Lift, a content on the near future of technology, people and communication. Nicolas Nova and others have organized this conference, together with a workshop on Blogjects — a not particularly clever neologism I came up with for objects that blog. This topic ties into the idea of proximity-based interaction and usage scenarios for mobile contexts, the main theme of the NetMagnet research project I'm working on through the Netpublics seminar. An informed speculation I have is that the future of content creation and dissemination won't just come from people. It will also come from the social world of objects — things that have histories and experiences. A different kind of witness upon the world, and a witness to events that are of interest to the other blogging species — people. Micro local content is one area in which this may be of practical concern. Just this afternoon I had a nice long meeting with Elizabeth Osder at Yahoo Media in Santa Monica. We discussed many things, including how to reward local communities for disseminating news about local sports events. I mean..really local sports events — the little league team scores, for instance. Now, this fits into a larger conversation about the news content ecology, but just taking this particular problem in hand in the context of the Blogject: why don't scoreboards blog?. Sure, it's not a question deserving any measure of brilliance for the asking, but it suggests a (super simple) example of the Blogject. Why are blogging objects interesting? The idea bubbled up as I was reading Bruce Sterling's "Shaping Things". The [w:Spime] — the "thing" in the world that knows itself and is able to tell things around it about itself. RFID is the Paleostine era for Spimes. Blogjects are Spimes that are fluent and legible, so that anyone can read them. Blogjects are meant for humans to read, in human code, not encrypted Arphid data. Blogjects are the prototype framework to experiment, DIY style, with what Spimes can become. The current, upgraded brain of the Aibo blogs, for instance. The motivation here is not just to create objects that blog, as we now understand blogging. But to use the framework of the complete blog social formation as one in which objects participate — first-class — in the entire multipath culture circulation network. That means syndication, layering meaning on content, trackback, etc. There are several Blogject prototype projects on the front burner. One is a Sakura riff called flavonoid, turned around into a U.S. idiolect, focusing on the present day craze with Pedometers. Another is a way to turn device logs into material that's legible to humans. I've already gone on and on about FlightAware, but there are other idioms — for instance, Motion Based, a community-based mobile social software framework that slurps up device track logs and translates them into fitness goals and regimens.
In Saving the Net: How to Keep the Carriers from Flushing the Net Down the Tubes, at Linuxworld.com Doc Searl comments on the threats the Internet faces from. In this lengthy piece, Searl suggests that the combination of mergers among broadband carriers and the continued hatred of the Internet by the same entities poses tremendous danger to the future of networked publics. Searl's position is something that I've mentioned before in my response to Chris Anderson's talk on the Long Tail. For in the rapidly elongating Long Tail of microcontent and—as Mimi Ito underscored for us—the even more quickly proliferating cultural sphere of amateur cultural production, we are perversely reversing the undoing of big media that marked the last forty years. If my concern in that post was with what might happen to, say, Indy labels if artists can just go directly to iTunes, or what power entities like Google or even Flickr begin to have over us, Doc Searl reminds us that the much-vaunted free access that we have to the Internet is an illusion, not reality. In an earlier article for Cabinet Magazine, I explored the highly-centralized structure of the Internet itself and, in particular, the peering arrangements and physical structures created by the Tier 1 carriers. This article turns our attention to the last mile. Read on for more.
One of the interesting developments discussed at last week's IDATE conference is the recent rise of cheap broadband in France (current penetration is about 30%). For example, for 30 euros per month, free.fr offers 20Mb/s internet access (ADSL 2+), unlimited VoIP calls within France, and 75 channels of digital television (including the obvious suspects, plus some eclectic offerings such as Russia's RTR-Planeta and Al Jazeera Children's Channel). An additional 125 digital channels can be had for an extra fee. This also makes video on demand viable. One interesting example is vodeo.tv which distributes about 8000 francophone documentaries for a fee roughly equivalent to what you'll pay to watch "Desperate Housewives" on your iPod.
Happy Thanksgiving, but perhaps not for old journalism. News sources such as the San Francisco Chronicle and Editor and Publisher are covering Craigslist founder Craig Newmark's announcement that he will be working on new technology "to help people find the most trusted versions of the more important stories." This does not mean that Craigslist will itself host the service, Newmark later clarified on his own blog.