cfp: integration of technology to daily lives and labor

By on Aug 31, 2005 in conferences/events |

Teknokultura Revista On-line – Convocatoria /Call for submisions 2005-2006 Teknokultura , on-line journal of the University of Puerto Rico’s Social Sciences Faculty (Río Piedras Campus), announces its opening for contributions to evaluate articles and electronic art relevant to the integration of technology to daily lives and labor. Book and website reviews, literary work, and cartoons associated to these themes will also be evaluated. For this issue will be given special consideration to works related to wireless technology. Contributions could be summited in Spanish, English or Portuguesse. For specific details (format, etc) contact Heidi J. Figueroa Sarriera, Editor:

20,000 chatting naked in China

By on Aug 30, 2005 in online dating |

Liu Gang, China Youth Association researcher, reckons that up to 20,000 Chinese Internet users sit naked whilst using chatrooms each night. Gang explained to Shanghai Daily that the "problem" is much larger than they’d originally thought: "At first, we thought if was merely a game for a few mentally abnormal people… but as our research continued, we found the problem was much larger than expected." (Source: Associated Press via The Boston Globe)

online anonymity – threat or under threat?

By on Aug 25, 2005 in internet libel, law, online community | 2 comments

The St. Petersburg Times (Florida, USA) reports that "a judge has handed Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee a victory in his quest to quell what he says are inflammatory postings to an Internet message board used by law enforcement. Gee now has the authority to serve subpoenas to the Web site,, take depositions and try to identify anonymous posters who might work for the Sheriff’s Office." This is one of several recent cases (see Applica/Yahoo case or the Apple bloggers) in the US where ISPs and websites have been compelled by the courts to release the names or IP addresses of users. In the UK, the Motley Fool was ordered to hand over the IP address of a user who was then successfully sued for libel. I’m always torn between whether anonymity is a good or a bad thing. On the one hand, it allows people, for example members of a police force who are troubled by what they see behind closed doors, to anonymously discuss and hopefully resolve the situation. They might not be able to do this without the protection that anonymity affords. Similarly, when I was conducting research of cybersex participants in 1995, I came across quite a few people who reported that the anonymity of their sexual encounters online gave them the ability to have positive sexual experiences. On the other hand, over the years I’ve seen so much bad behaviour by anonymous users of internet chat rooms and message boards that I realise anonymity comes with it’s fair share of problems. So how do we get the balance right or is this a bit more like finding the right screw for the hole – what fits in one instance won’t necessarily fit elsewhere? (Image of policemen used under creative commons attribution license: photo by EXB-WDC on...

for sale – The Well

By on Aug 24, 2005 in activism, online community | 9 comments

According to BBC News Online Salon Magazine has hung a for sale sign on The Well , the 4000 member community it bought in 1999 for $5 million (£2.75 m). [note: the following comment is my own] In it’s filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (see page 14 ), Salon says that the community is expected to generate around $500,000 in revenue in the year to March 2006. Current membership fees at the Well are $120 a year for an “essential” membership and $180 for a “complete membership”. If all the users of the Well were on the lesser membership, that would equal $480,000 per year in revenue. But surely a lot of members, enticed by some additional functionality and a prestigious email address (the well offers complete members the use of a address), have taken out the complete membership. There’s also advertising on The Well and, with it’s good demographics (wealthy, educated, well connected), I’d imagine that it’s charged at a premium. I find myself wondering how many of the reported 4000 current users, down from 6000 when Salon purchased the Well in 1999, are free accounts given to influential oldtimers to try to keep them as users. Surely if all, or even a high percentage of, accounts were paid then The Well would have higher revenues than reported in the SEC filing. So who will buy this once influential 20 year old community? The Well could be sold to a commercial concern like several other community websites, including Craigslist (to ebay), MySpace (to Fox), and Flickr (to Yahoo) have been sold in recent months. What would the reaction of Well users be if they were swallowed up by Amazon or Google? How about Newsweek? What if it was Shell Oil or the Republican National Committee? And that’s part of the problem. The Well’s members aren’t likely to go along with it’s sale to just anyone. The best hope for the future of the Well, at least if it is to retain it’s current membership and feel, seems to be for the current members to band together and each stump up the cash they’d need for a one year membership and purchase The Well themselves. That way The Well can become a non-profit community owned and run by it’s members – a somewhat novel situation these...

libel in Korea for assuming identity, suit in US against message board john doe’s

By on Aug 17, 2005 in internet libel, law |

Korean prosecutors have charged a man with libel for posting indecent writings on the Internet using another person’s identity. From the Korea Herald — Appliance manufacturer Applica is seeking to stop five anonymous users, which Applica believes are current or past employees, from posting on a message board at Yahoo Finance. The suit, filed in Broward Circuit Court, claims the posters violated company policy prohibiting employees from participating on Internet message boards and chat rooms relating to the company. (One of the "John Doe’s" in the case has since posted saying he’s cancelling his Yahoo account and denying allegations that he’s an employee. Article originally published by The Miami Herald (registration req’d): re-posted on the Yahoo Finance APN message board (no registration req’d): (I was originally alerted to these articles by BNA’s Electronic Commerce & Law...