Links of the Day #16

Today's links span a few intriguing areas of digital culture, from comedic consumer reviews and defining geeks/nerds to the annoyances of public cell phone chatter. Then there are a couple of links about erasing and forgetting in the digital age (one theoretical and the other a practical implementation), followed by an article about how ethnographic research was put to use during Obama's presidential campaign. And finally, a looming question for anthropology.

Posted: 12 Mar 2013 01:44 PM PDT
Never a truer word spoken in jest? This is a great example of the power and nuance behind consumer reviews: "Last August, the Internet exploded with product reviews for a newly marketed set of ball-point pens, the lavender and pink BIC for Her. The pens were marketed as slim and gently colourful, in an attempt to hit the multi-trillion dollar women's market of female buyers for American household products. And the public appreciated this. A lot. The pens garnered over 800 sardonic reviews on the American website, and over 500 reviews on its sister website,"
Posted: 30 Mar 2013 07:47 PM PDT
I posted this over at the OAC: It used to be easier to conceptualize "geeks" and "nerds". Now it seems you can "geek out" on almost any specialist topic, from movies to fountain pens. My foremost association for geeks has always been computing/programming and electronics. The Geek Anthropologist highlights gaming culture, Comicon and even steampunk as the height of geekiness. Most of these have also become trendy hobbies for rich celebs and pretty girls, a fact that exploded into some contentious redrawing of the lines of real and fake fandom. Fandom is, IMO, a better word for a lot of this than geekery. The same with "nerds". Nerdiness today seems above all to be a fashion statement, not a predilection for studying and introversion to the point of social awkwardness, which is what it always meant when I was growing up. Follow the link to read more and join the conversation ...
Posted: 14 Mar 2013 12:08 PM PDT
Why is overhearing someone's cell phone conversation so universally irritating?: "It's an everyday intuition shared by millions, perhaps billions of people, now validated by research: Overheard cellphone conversations are very distracting. According to a new study, listeners notice those conversations more than dialogue between two people. It's a seemingly involuntary response. There's just something attention-demanding about hearing one person on a phone."

Right To Internet Erasure Protects People’s Freedom To Forget The Past
Posted: 05 Apr 2013 07:49 PM PDT
Viktor Mayer-Schönberger says the ability to forget our past, both on and offline, is an essential part of what makes us human. "The more I've worked on data protection over the past 20 years, the more I've realised that at the heart of this, what matters as much as the privacy aspect is the issue of human decision-making," said Mayer-Schönberger, professor of internet governance at the Oxford Internet Institute. "Humans need to make decisions about the present and the future. The beauty of the human brain is that we forget, which enables us to think in the present. That is necessary to help us make decisions."
Posted: 02 Jul 2013 03:31 PM PDT
Taking on web privacy with self-destructing messages. "The idea behind NoteShred is simple. You create a note, assign it a password and then select how and when you would like the note to "shred" itself. The note has a unique URL that you can send to a recipient along with a password for them to open the note. You decide when the note will destroy or "shred" itself."
Posted: 05 Jul 2013 03:34 PM PDT
On how politicians implement ethnography: "In 2012, he succeeded, largely because the depth of his research was so extraordinary. Benenson says his goal as a pollster is "to understand the hidden architecture of opinion" and to "probe deeply into the underlying values and attitudes that shape how people are viewing the issues of the day and the content of their lives." One way that Benenson set the Obama campaign apart was through the ethnography project. It was designed as a deep dive into the world of everyday Americans not only to clarify their views on politics but to find insights into their "daily lives,"".
Posted: 30 Jun 2013 09:41 AM PDT
Suffice to say, 2012 was a tough year for anthropology... so what do to about it?


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