Daily Archives: November 11, 2009

Week 7 Summary – Lost in #Torchwood

This will be a super brief summary of the week as I have spent the week quite massively absorbed in my mini ethnography. However I have also been looking at a few different things that are of interest:

  • Video Search – I’ve been looking at different video search engines for work but something I find really interesting is how much I immediately warm/shy away from sites based on how they present results. The profusion of inappropriate video on the net can make those that autoplay results (like Bing and Blinkx) really quite alarming. It is also interesting what version of the world you get when the audio of a video clip is also indexed. Although it helps find useful content there is such a gap in what is possible in visual interpretation that what you might really want to search by – ambiance, creative quality is just not an option in any automated system (yet?). The level of repetition across video sites is also interesting as a reflection on the culture of copying and or modifying even copyrighted content. Which leads neatly on to a Boing Boing story I caught via Twitter…
  • Heavy illegal downloaders buy more music – This is not a huge surprise in some ways but goes against the music industry publicity machines branding of piracy as socially unacceptable and driven by organised crime rather than a culture of bootleggers who love music of all varieties. It’s potentially a really challenging piece of research for those trying to maintain some of the pre-net and control-based financial model for copyrighted works.
  • Geo data, location based services, mobile apps - I’ve been poking around this area recently as the more I delve into mobile devices and mashups, the more fascinated I become by the usefulness of geo-enabling all sorts of data and the ethical/privacy issues that challenge the benefits of this.
  • Web 2.0 for eScience – I was lucky enough to attend a two day workshop at the National eScience Centre this week and two of the most fascinating presentations were by Austin Tate (talking about smart virtual rooms) and Sara de Freitas (talking about serious games and showing a demonstrator of serious games to teach young people and trainee medics about diseases and emergencies respectively). I was also interested that the group of 30 or so attendees were, as part of their networking, promising to see each other on Facebook. This stood out as recently all the social media and tech events I’ve been to involve exchanging Twitter details. I wondered if this was culturally driven (this was a very academic researcher group rather than the more start up focused groups I normally meet) or just coincidence…
  • Alyssa Milano is #5 most influential twitterer - At first I thought this was a joke. Alyssa was a child star of Who’s the Boss (now mostly forgotten save for the lead actress who can currently be seen playing Claire Meade in Ugly Betty) and then became a somewhat cult internet phenomenon thanks to some scantily clad photo shoots (she still has a cult fanbase if comments on her TwitPics are anything to go by). She’s moved on now to a role of sort of playing herself from what I can see but part of that persona involves being an absolutely addicted Twitter fan – her stream is full of replies to followers and fans and the link that flagged up this news item was from one of Twitter’s founders with a note saying how well deserved the ranking was. Quite interesting.
  • Perhaps the news story with the least fanfare but most interesting digital culture vibe this week was the announcement that the Guardian is changing it’s commenting system on the website. I think that if I had been doing my ethnography a few weeks later this would be a fascinating field site. The regular commentators seemed increadibly strongly invested in the commenting system. Objections seem to be strong even though the changes are relatively minor and intended primarily (according to the journalist who alerted me to the story via Twitter) aimed at ensuring all content on the site is picked up by search engines (which has it’s own interesting implications for the impact of the community on the stories they contribute opinions on). Watch this space re: the backlash I think…

Since most of the week was spent immersed in #Torchwood (and an attendant hike in music/podcast listens as I worked into the night) I think that is about all of relevance this week. Over the coming days I will be looking at and commenting on others’ ethnographies (those I’ve seen so far have been really interesting and the range of subjects is great). I also may look at my inital evaluation criteria for my ethnography and may see how the finished work compares to the criteria I was aiming at.