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The Personal Home Page as an Object of Research

I found an interesting paper about this topic from Nicola Döring, Ilmenau Technological University, Germany. The abstract says: "The paper presents the personal home page as a new object of sociological, psychological, linguistic, and communication studies research. It shows how theories of identity, self-presentation and computer-mediated communication are being applied to personal home pages. The paper is the first systematic review of about thirty personal home page studies. (...) The paper ends by suggesting some possible directions for future research." Via, a interesting weblog from a Volkskunde/folklore-student

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A Dark Web Besides Google?

In our course "e-thnology" at our institute we sometimes talk about the future of the internet, and last week someone asked, if there isn't the danger, that the very popular search engine Google is going to have the monopoly to decide which knowledge is found. Imagine, the web would be only one company, which decides what to publish on the web. Google exactly does that, some could say. Because, what isn't found, practically does'nt exist. In the last month this has been discussed also in the internet: Does search engine's power threaten Web's independence? It's natural, that there is some concern. A lot of formerly powerful search engines disappeared in the last years (The Search Engine Graveyard). A website called Google-Watch is already online only to complain about Googles Monopoly. Not very serious, to add. My thoughts: I don't believe this hype of a "danger". The dangerous things of monopolies is not that they rule the market by perfection of their product. The trouble is always, if they rule the market by blocking alternatives, like Microsoft in the "Browser War". If they rule the market once, they can lower the quality of the product without having commercial loss. But if there are alternatives, any lowering of quality would be the end. We had that with IBM more than ten years ago. Working in the search engine segment for four years now as a side job, I can clearly say: There are A LOT of alternatives, just waiting for Google to implode by its own weight. This is maybe the good thing of the net: As its most important ressource is the idea, things can change very fast. Look at this little search engine called Gigablast: Only people in the scene know it. It's a one-man-project. It's not commercial. Don't you think, that if Google will abuse its monopoly, search engines like this are already waiting to serve the masses, to get in the buisiness? Related reading:Telepolis and Washington Post wrote about the fact, that students forget about other possbilities of information research besides Google - libraries for example.

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The Weird New Field of Object Sexuality in the Technological World

The term "cybersex" is far away from us, it really is bound to the 90's. But at Telepolis (german) they have an interesting new thought, which sheds new light on phenomenons we may have called "cybersex" or - less upbeat - "internet love". They write, that at least some sexual relationships on the web are in fact "objectum sexuality" to the computer. This means, instead of loving Linda with ICQ #xyz from the Chatroom abc, it's rather a love with the computer itself, standing at the desk in front of you, and maybe the webcam you installed on top of it. Well, an intersting thought, an amusing article, lots of links, but I think it's also a little bit overdone. In english you can read a story at Wired which inspired the one of telepolis.

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The finest stuff from ethnology social/cultural anthropology and cyberanthropology. Collected with ceaseless endeavour by students and staff of the Institut für Ethnologie in München/Germany and countless others.
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