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Yes u may - Sony has spoken!


Trading magic rings, blazing swords, enchanted breastplates and even the mighty hero itself is a major booming business on the internet generating short to a billion dollars sales volume - and countless criminals. Since the valuable commodities are in fact bits and bytes, elements of multiplayer online computergames, they are by contemporary law declared as property of the game's developer and hence every unlicensed trade is considered as theft. For years cyberanthropologists emphazise the "real" cultural and social value of game items for players and shake their heads in disbelieve about ignorant behavior shown by marketleader gamedevelopers. But now change became apparent! Sony Online Entertainment made up its mind and launched Station Exchange, the first platform for legal trade with Everquest game-items. By doing so SOE not only explores a very promising emerging market but also acknowledges the substantial value so called virtual items do have. Being excluded from legal protection and carrying powerful cultural and social relevance, virtual property does affect meatspace and abuse (like theft among players) lead to very real and concerning consequences.
The question now is how "virtual" items will be integrated into legislation.
Read more: german Spiegel


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Actor Network Theory: Zugänge I


Felix Stalder - Actor Network Theory and Communication Networks: Toward Convergence(Toronto 1997)
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Felix Stalders Zugang zu ANT besteht im Wesentlichen aus drei Schritten: Kontextualisierung seines Zugangs zum Gegenstand (warum ANT?), (Er-)Klärung seines Gegenstandes (was ist ANT?) und schließlich Reflektion des Gegenstandes im Kontext benachbarter Theorien - hier erstens Systemtheorie und Abgrenzungsbegriff, zweitens Entstehung und Dynamik von Systemen und drittens Komplexität und Entstehung von Ordnung.

Im Folgenden werden kurz Stalders Auswahl zentraler Begriffe der Actor Network Theory und drei in Stalders Zugang relevante Differenzierungen von Netzwerkdynamik vorgestellt.

Die Actor Network Theory, in der Hauptsache zurückgehend auf Bruno Latour, John Law und Michel Callon, ist als Instrument entwickelt worden, Prozesse gesellschaftlichen Wandels verstehbar zu machen, ohne einerseits dem soziozentrischen oder andererseits dem technozentrischen Irrtum zu verfallen. Dieser besteht darin, technologische und gesellschaftliche Veränderungen ausschließlich entweder durch die eine oder die andere Brille zu betrachten: entweder Technik als gesellschaftliches Produkt zu begreifen, das determiniert sei durch „soziale Akteure“ oder `wiederum dem technischen Determinismus zu verfallen, der postuliert, gesellschaftlicher Wandel sei Folge technologischer Entwicklung.

„For Bruno Latour the Actor-Network-Theory attempts to overcome what he sees as the major shortfall of Modernism and Postmodernism: the slicing of a continious, ´hybridreality into analytical domains. The epistemology of Modernism divided nature and society into two incommensurable poles. Nature was only observed, never man-made; whereas society was only made by humans. The two poles were indirectly connected by language, which allowed us to make stable references to either one of them. Postmodernism separated the middle ground, language, from both poles by declaring it autonomous. This autonomous domain has been described as free-floating signs (Baudrillard) or as self-referential texts and language games (Derrida). It is Latour´s goal to show that the separation introduced by Modernism and extended by Postmodernism is artificial. Because (technological) reality is ´simultaneously real, like nature, narrated, like discourse, and collective, like society he does not follow the clean divisions envisioned by Modernism and ( ... ) claimed that Modernity never happened, that ´We Have Never Been Modern`.“ (Stalder 1997)

Der Reintegration der separierten Sphären von Technik, Gesellschaft und Sprache, dem Lösen des „Gordischen Knotens“ dienen folgende zentrale Begriffe der Actor Network Theory: actor, black box, network, prescribtion, intermediary.

„Actors are entities that do things“.(Latour 1993)
Stalder hebt den Unterschied zwischen Latours und einer soziologischen Definition von Aktoren hervor:
„Even in this most minimal definition, the main difference from the more conventional sociological definition of actors as ´social entities` is stressed: what actors are, whether social or technological entities, is less important, whereas the aspect of action, doing things is emphasized.“

„The distinction between humans and non-humans, embodied or disembodied skills, impersonation or ´machination`, are less interesting than the complete chain along which competences and actions are distributed.“ (Latour 1992)

´Aktorund im Unterschied dazu ´Aktant wird weiterhin definiert als „whatever acts or shifts action, action itself being defined by a list of performances through trials; from these performances are deduced a set of competences with which the actant is endowed. ( ... ) An actor is an actant endowed with a charakter.“ (Madeleine Akrich 1992)

„While actant is the thing itself in its unspecified ´nature`, actor comprises the thing and competences which are attached to it. The competences are negotiated in processes of trial (and error). For example, a coin as a piece of metal is an actant. Within the context of money-based economy, a valid coin has an attributed competence, it serves as a standart measure of value and mechanism for exchange, it becomes an actor. It is important to stress that actors have an independant reality outside the settings that turn them into actors that do particular things. In this sense they are simultaniously real like nature and collective like society.“ (Stalder 1997)

Eine weiterer Hinweis auf den Begriff actor findet sich in Latours Studie Science in Action, deren Gegenstand der Untersuchung die Entstehung naturwissenschaftlicher Texte und die darin enthaltenen Repräsentationen sind: „whoever and whatever is represented is an actant." (Latour 1987)

Latours Textanalyse hebt sich hierbei entscheident von der des frz. Poststrukturalismus ab:
„Actor indicates that the elements represented in the text act, that they do particular things. Outside the text, the elements are actants, entities that have an independant reality. Inside the text, they become actors, entities that do things, hopefully those things the texts were written for. They act precisely because they are represented in the text. A text can be understood as a network of aligning heterogenous elements (people, other texts, equipment, procedures, institutions and more) to achieve a particular goal, which can be proving a scientific discovery, manufacturing a product, or introducing a new procedure. Each of these aligned elements has a reality outside the text. This reality outside the text allows enforcement of the meaning and of the strength of the text. For example, if microbes wouldn´t exist independantly of a scientific text, then representing them in such a text would be meaningless. ( ...) The more heterogenous elements a text or object is implicitly or explicitly able to allign, the more it becomes.
A coin, for example, is able to mobilize the reputation of a whole national economy to simplify mundane transactions, such as buying a pack of cigarettes. If the coin cannot mobilize those elements because it is forged, or if the mobilized elements are weak, because the government is in discredit, the coin looses some or all its power, which resides its unquestioned value. A coin is an actor because it can mobilize a network of heterogenous allies to do things, to store and exchange value. In a valid coin this network of allies is tightly sealed and it is almost impossible to question the connections of those networks for an individual using the coins (and thus becoming a part of the network of the coins). A coin is in this sense a black box. “ (Stalder 1997)

Die Bezeichnung black box stammt ursprünglich aus der Kybernetik, wo sie einen Zusammenhang von Bauteilen in einer Maschine bezeichnet oder aber auch ein Bündel von Steuerungsbefehlen, die sehr komplex sein können, aber aufgrund ihrer Stabilität in eine geschlossene Einheit (Box) substituiert werden können. (Wiener, 1948)

„A black box contains that which no longer needs to be considered, those things whose contents have become a matter of indifference.“ (Michel Callon 1981)

Black boxes können physikalische Dinge als auch Abstrakta sein, Automaten wie Diskurse. Am Beispiel des Computers wird das black box Prinzip deutlich, am Beispiel der Objektivität liegt es ein wenig tiefer unter der Oberfläche – es geht um das Operieren mit geschlossenen Einheiten komplexer Zusammenhänge: „a black box, therefore, is any setting, that no matter how complex it is or how contested its history has been, is now so stable and certain that it can be treated as a fact where only the input and output counts.“ (Stalder 1997)

Die Stabilität einer black box ist beeinflußt durch den Aufwand oder auch die Kosten, die von ihrer Wiederöffnung verursacht werden: „This is not only determined by the social groups and procedures sealed into the black box, but also by the materials which are included. The media into which such a setting is sealed are a crucial element for understanding its overall dynamics. Turned into a black box, hardware tends to be very closed. It took, for example, an earthquake to open (literally and metaphorically) the black box of Interstate 880 in Oakland, CA and uncover the corruption and construction errors which it had enclosed. (...) Software, on the other hand, is constantly reopened and sealed again because of its fluidity and low production costs. This is the process of constantly questioning some elements in the black box (finding bugs) and trying to seal it again in a new up-grande.“ (Stalder 1997)

Umso geschlossener eine black box erscheint, desto stabiler sind die Netzwerke in ihr: „The more automatic and the blacker the box, the more it has to be accompanied by people.“ „To isolate a black box and conceptualize it with a trajectory of its own right means to presuppose as a given all the conditions that keep that box closed.“ (Latour 1987)

Stalder faßt mit einem Satz zusammen: eine black box enthält ein versiegeltes Netzwerk aus Personen und Dingen.

Der Begriff Netzwerk ist definiert als „Gruppe unspezifizierter Verhältnisse zwischen Wesenheiten, deren Natur unbestimmt ist.“ Ein Netzwerk verbindet zwei Systeme von Verbündeten miteinander: Menschen (jeder, der an der Entwicklung, Konstruktion, Distribution und Benutzung eines Artefaktes beteiligt ist; die Beschreibung eines solchen Systems führt zu einem „Soziogramm“) und Dinge (alle Gegenstände, die bereits involviert sind oder in das Netzwerk eingebracht werden, um Verbindungen zwischen Menschen zu schaffen. Die Beschreibung dieses Systems führt zu einem „Technogramm“).
Beide Systeme sind in einem Netzwerk hochgradig miteinander verbunden und voneinander abhängig, es ist daher nicht sinnvoll und führte zu verfälschenden Ergebnissen, analysierte man sie getrennt voneinander. Eine Veränderung in dem einen System zieht zwangsläufig Veränderungen in dem anderen System nach sich.

´Aktorund ´Netzwerk existieren nicht unabhängig voneinander: Ein Aktor kann ohne Netzwerk nicht handeln, ein Netzwerk ist kein Netzwerk ohne Aktoren. Sie beinflussen sich laufend wechselseitig. Michel Callon definiert das Verhältnis Aktor – Netzwerk wie folgt:
„The actor network is reducible neither to an actor alone nor to a network. Like a network it is composed of a series of heterogeneous elements, animate and inanimate, that have been linked to one another for certain period of time. ... An actor network is simultaneously an actor whose activity is networking heterogeneous elements and a network that is able to redefine and transform what it is made of.“

Die Größe oder Wichtigkeit eines Aktors ist abhängig von der Größe des Netzwerkes, das sie/er/es steuert und die Größe eines Netzwerkes ist abhängig von der Anzahl der Aktoren, die es miteinander verbindet. Es gibt keinen strukturellen Unterschied zwischen großen oder kleinen Aktoren, zwischen einer Institution oder einem Individuum oder einem profanen Gegenstand wie einem Türöffner. Die Macht eines Aktors ist abhängig von der Position, die sie/er/es im Netzwerk einnimmt:
„This simply means that the main differences between micro and macro actors is the size of the network they can bring into place for a particular goal,
that is the number of actors they can arrange according to their objectives. These objectives can be a strategic choice of options, adaptive necessities or built-in properties of a certain piece of equipment. Properties of a setting, the fact that it makes certain things possible and others impossible, are called prescriptions.“ (Stalder 1997)

Eine Präskribtion, eine Vorschrift, eine Vorgabe ist die Definierung dessen, was den Aktoren erlaubt bzw. verboten ist – eine Eingrenzung des Handlungsspielraumes. Stalder nennt dies „the morality of a setting both negative (what is prescribed) and positive (what it permits). ( ... ) Several related concepts have been developed so far to ´read` a setting, to understand the constraints and forces which come to bear through a technological artifact, a procedure or a scientific discovery. The activity of the analyst is called describtion, which is the analysis of what the various actors in a setting are doing to one another. The opposite movement, inscribtion, is the activity of the engineer, inventor or manufacturer who make others do certain things. In the process of inscribtion, the properties of a setting are assembled bearing the mark of the actors aligned in the network which produces that setting. For the process of describtion one type of inscribtions are particularly helpful, texts. Texts which explain the object, be it in form of a manual, of critical reviews or others. The actor-network can be read in its texts not because it is made up of texts (in the Postmodern sense). It can be read as text because texts are often the preferred way in which actors align themselves into the network. The activity of inscribtions materializes in the prescribtions of any given object. ( ... ) For the aims of this paper it is not necessary to go into further details to define the different aspects of the scribting activities. It is more important to note that they are activities, the result of actors doing things, be it assembling a setting, be it using the setting or the analyst deconstructing the setting, e.g. opening the black box. All these activities shape the form and content of the product.“ (Stalder 1997)
„The social can be read in the inscribtions that mark the intermediaries.“ (Michel Callon 1991)

Vermittler / Vermittlungen sind die Elemente, die die Aktoren mit dem Netzwerk verbinden und das Netzwerk selbst definieren: „ Actors form networks by circulating intermediaries among themselves, thus defining the respective position of the actors within the networks and in doing so constituting the actors and the networks themselves.“ (Stalder 1997)
„An intermediary is anything that passes between actors in the course of relatively stable transactions. It can be a text, a product, a service, or money.“ (Wiebe Bijker 1992)
„ Intermediaries are the language of the network. Through intermediaries actors communicate with one another and that is the way actors translate their intentions into other actors. Considering the definition of actors as any element which makes other elements dependent upon itself and translates their will into a language of its own, the possibility to command intermediaries lies at the heart of action itself, which is translating an actor's will into other actors.“ (Stalder 1997)

Die Dynamik von Aktor-Netzwerken differenziert Stalder in drei Phasen: Entstehung, Entwicklung und Stabilisierung. ´Dynamikund ´Phasen bezieht sich hierbei auf das Verhalten von Netzwerken. „While it is not necessarily any need that they be separated, it is useful to construct them as analytical idealtypes (Max Weber) of the stages a network may undergo during his lifetime.“ [Hervorhebung von mir]

Entstehung
Netzwerke werden durch Aktoren geschaffen – es gibt keine Aktoren ohne Netzwerke und keine Netzwerke ohne Aktoren, deshalb entstehen neue Netzwerke immer aus bereits existenten Netzwerken. Dies impliziert die Schwierigkeit, den „Anfang“ eines Netzwerkes zu bestimmen. Stalder verweist - wieder getreu Weber und die Notwendigkeit dieses Arbeitsschrittes innerhalb der Netzwerkanalyse keineswegs negierend – auf das Forschungsinteresse des Wissenschaftlers: „If the interest is in a product, then the beginning might be found in some form of perceived need or possibility. This could be based on, for example, a new invention, which would then be one of the old networks out of which a new network emerges. Other things could serve as a mark for the beginning as well. John Law and Michel Callon (1992) trace the beginning of a failed project for a British military aircraft industry back to a policy decision for rationalization of the aircraft industry. This decision, however, in itself contested, functioned only as an intermediary, (re)connecting existing networks of industry, labour and government to begin aligning themselves for the development and production of a new aircraft.
At the beginning, therefore, stands an intermediary, which is brought into circulation by a network in order to align more/different actors for the network´s own interest. In other words, the attempt of an existing actor to grow and include new domains can be a good starting point to observe the emergence of a network. Networks emerge and are shaped by aligning more and more actors. In this way an actor can grow. The importance of an actor depends therefore on the number of actor within his/her/its networks which he/she/it can employ to a particular purpose.“ (Stalder 1997)

Die Größe und Gestalt eines Aktors aber ist nicht zwangläufig abhängig von einer langen Entwicklung. Es gibt keinen grundsätzlichen Unterschied zwischen einer ausgedehnten Struktur und einem kleinen Aktoren, der relevante Unterschied besteht in der Anzahl der vernetzten Aktoren: „It is a mistake to take differences in size of a network for differences in level, because
networks always connect at the same time what conventional sociology differentiates into micro and macro levels. This interconnection renders such a distinction less significant, because ´that which is large is that which has successfully translated others and has therefore grown. Since size is nothing more than the end-product of translation, the need for two analytical vocabularies is thus avoided.` Networks are made up of what they network-actors which are always localized - yet these networks can extend around the globe. Networks can be so large and stable that they appear to be independent from the actors. This, however, is a misconception.“ (Stalder 1997)

Netzwerke sind immer abhängig von Aktoren. Jeder Aktor mag ersetzbar sein, aber nur durch einen anderen Aktor.
Es gibt in ANT keine separierende Trennung von ´StrukturundIndividuum`.
„The two extremes, local and global are much less interesting than the intermediary arrangements that we are calling networks.“ (Latour 1993)

Entwicklung
Netzwerke können sich in zwei verschiedene Richtungen entwickeln: in Richtung von Konvergenz oder in Richtung von Divergenz der Aktoren. Das Hinzukommen neuer Aktoren zu einem bestehenden Netzwerk steigert beispielsweise zunächst die Divergenz. Übersetzungsprozesse sind erschwert, weil jeder (neue) Aktor bereits Teil anderer Netzwerke ist und in deren jeweiligen Interessen handelt, indem er/sie/es andere dazu bringt, Dinge zu tun. „There is a process of mutual shaping between a new actor and an existing network. In the end neither the network nor the actor now included remains the same. The changes can be so subtle that they are negligible or they might be massive for either one or for both of them.“ (Stalder 1997)

Um erfolgreich zu funktionieren, muß innerhalb eines Netzwerkes die Zirkulation der Mediationen koordiniert sein, d.h., daß für die Aktoren innerhalb eines Netzwerkes der Interpretationsspielraum beim Übersetzungsprozess nicht unbegrenzt ist (siehe vorangegangener Begriff ´prescribtions`). Aktoren streben einem internen Konsens zu, der eine optimale Zirkulation von Mediationen erlaubt, denn ihre eigene Stärke ist von der Koordination innerhalb des Netzwerkes abhängig: „In networks where the actors have successfully converged, i.e. are strongly coordinated, the network as a whole stands behind any one of the actors who make it up.“ (Stalder 1997)

Die Art und Weise, zu Übereinstimmung zu gelangen, die Skala der möglichen Interpretationen beim Übersetzungsprozess ist das, was einem Netzwerk seine Gestalt verleiht. Umso stärker die Koordination der Zirkulation von Mediationen ist, desto stabiler wird ein Netzwerk. Umso stabiler ein Netzwerk ist, desto differenzierter sind die Definitionen seiner Komponenten, desto kleiner wird die Möglichkeit für andere Netzwerke, existente Vernetzungen zu lösen, um einen involvierten Aktor für die eigenen Ziele neu zu definieren - das Netzwerk wird zur black box.
Aktoren müssen jedoch nicht zwangsläufig erfolgreich sein in ihrem Bestreben nach optimaler Zirkulation: „The translation process can be denied. People might not want to become users and not buy a product, or they might stop being willful citizens and overthrow their government. A machine can fall apart because of a construction error, new invention may render old solutions obsolete and channel money and other resources into new directions. The circulation of intermediaries within a network, then, becomes more and more difficult and the alignment of actors becomes weaker and weaker, the actors begin to diverge and the setting to disintegrate. The black box loses its integrity, the edges become fuzzy.“ (Stalder 1997)

Konvergenz und Divergenz charakterisieren die beiden Pole, zu welchen hin ein Netzwerk sich entwickeln kann, entweder tendiert es zur Stabilisierung oder zur Auflösung. Konvergenz in einem Netzwerk meint nicht, daß alle Elemente gleich werden, sondern daß die Aktivitäten eines Aktors mit denen anderer Aktoren korrespondieren.

An dieser Stelle resümiert Stalder: „We have now arrived at the classic problem of any deconstructivist theory. We have encounted for the openness of any development (within certain „existantialist“ restrictions) and for the multiple determination and interpretative flexibility of every element within a network, as well as the network itself. However, our society of humans and non-humans works quite well in a surprisingly stable fashion. We flip a switch and the light turns on. Our planes take off and land precisely enough to plan a trip around the world in a couple of minutes. Strategic plans can be set out years ahead. How do we encount for such an incredible success of networks?“

Stabilisation
Ein Aktor-Netzwerk strebt nach Stabilisierung, weil die Wesenheiten, aus denen es besteht, in ihrer netzwerkspezifischen Form ohne es nicht existieren würden. Es ist das Interesse aller partizipierenden Aktoren, eine höchstmögliche Stabilität zu erreichen. „The stability of a network depends on the "impossibility it creates of returning to a situation in which its current form was only one possible option among others. In other words, stabilization, or closure means that the interpretive flexibility diminishes. Consensus among the different relevant social groups - or more broadly, actors - about the dominant meaning of an artifact merges and the 'pluralism of artifacts' decreases. Once forged into an artifact, embedded social relations remain stable as long as the artifact it used.“ (Stalder 1997)

Heterogenität ist ein weiterer zentraler Aspekt eines stabilen Netzwerkes. Umso mehr verschiedene Elemente miteinander verbunden sind, desto komplexer und stabiler wird das Netzwerk.
Größe und Stabilität eines Netzwerkes stehen in Zusammenhang. Umso größer es wird, desto heterogener wird es, weil es neue Elemente entwickelt, um die wachsende Zahl an bestehenden Elementen zu koordinieren. In der systemtheoretischen Terminologie nennt man diesen Prozess Differenzierung: „The network starts to develop its own trajectory, supported by its elements which themselves depend on the network as environment. A network therefore starts to become heavy with norms of all sorts in the course of stabilization. This means, of course, nothing else than that more actors are integrated or created.“ (Stalder 1997)

Ein sich stabilisierendes Netzwerk widersetzt sich nicht nur gegenläufigen Übersetzungen, es schränkt auch die Summe potenzieller zukünftiger Übersetzungen ein: „This means in order to establish other links and set-up new translations, you would first have to undo those which already exist, and change the equivalence in operation, which would in turn mean mobilizing and enrolling new alliances. ( ... ) Thus non-linearity and path-dependance can be seen to be integral to the dynamics of a network.“ (Stalder 1997)

Die (Er-)Klärung der Grundbegriffe der Actor Network Theory läßt jedoch die Frage nach Kriterien der Abgrenzung unbeantwortet: Wo endet ein Netzwerk und wo beginnt das nächste ?
„Michel Callon simply refers back to empirical studies in concluding a ´network´s boundary can be related to its degree of convergence. We will say that element Y is outside of a network if locating the links between it and the actors (A,B,C,...) significantly decreases the network´s degree of convergence. Not of much more help are Wiebe Bijkers and John Law stating that ´in effect it rests on a bet that for certain purposes some phenomena are more important than others. It simplifies down to what it takes to be essential. For Bruno Latour, the description of a network is simply finished, when it is ´saturated` and an explanation emerges. In other words, the question of how to limit the analysis can only be addressed on an empirical level.“ (Stalder 1997)

Stalders Erweiterung der Actor Network Theory hier besteht in der Zuhilfenahme des Abgrenzungsbegriffes aus der Systemtheorie, der aufgrund der Ähnlichkeit von autopoietischen Systemen mit Aktor-Netzwerken auf ANT anwendbar wird.


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Swahili Open Office


wikinews reports: "On Monday, February 28, 2005, Jambo OpenOffice.org, the first Swahili office suite, was released at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. The office suite was translated from the English version of OpenOffice.org, an open source suite based on Sun Microsystems' StarOffice. Jambo OpenOffice.org was translated by a multinational team including Swedish and Spanish programmers, as well as linguists from the University of Dar es Salaam. Monday's release included builds for Linux and Windows. [...]"
via anthropologi.info


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online fieldwork ...


just for those you are interested i uploaded my
hausarbeit - online feldforschung (application/msword, 89 KB) .
"zur methodik im internet und vorstellung der online comunity 'collective detective' " - i wrote it in ws 2004 and maybe someone who deals with this topic wants to read a little bit about it...
i don't know if it is common or desired to upload a "hausarbeit", but i think for those who are interested there is not too much material to provide just a small insight into this.
if it is against any rule, just kick it... ;)


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Cyberidentities at War


Liebe Kollegen, liebe Freunde,
Dear colleagues, dear friends,
Ich freue mich Ihnen/Euch die Publikation meiner Dissertation "Cyberidentities at War: Der Molukkenkonflikt im Internet" mitteilen zu können. In der Anlage übersende ich Ihnen/Euch den Flyer zum Buch (transcript Verlag) flyer - cyberidentities at war 0105 - s (application/pdf, 133 KB) . Sollten Sie/Solltet Ihr jemanden kennen, der Interesse am Thema hat, möchte ich Sie/Euch bitten, den Flyer entsprechend weiterzuleiten. Vielen Dank! Ende Januar/Anfang Februar werden weitere Infos plus Beispielkapitel auf der Webseite des Verlags erscheinen.

I am glad to announce the publication of my PhD thesis "Cyberidentities at War: Der Molukkenkonflikt im Internet". Enclosed please find the book flyer (transcript Verlag) flyer - cyberidentities at war 0105 - s (application/pdf, 133 KB) . In case you know any people interested in the topic I would like to ask you to forward this flyer. Thank you! End of January/beginning of February some more information will be available on the publisher's website.

Mit den besten Grüßen,
With best regards,

Birgit Bräuchler
Institute of Social Anthropology
University of Munich


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Jill Walker. Fiction and Interaction (phd thesis, pdf)


jill/txt » phd thesis online: "Jill Walker. Fiction and Interaction: How Clicking a Mouse Can Make You Part of a Fictional World. Dr. art. thesis, Dept of Humanistics, University of Bergen, 2003."

"Walker’s study goes much beyond the well-studied genres of digital texts..."
"The issue of whether digital interactive texts are or are not narratives has been one of the most controversial in new media studies. Walker finds an elegant alternative to the dilemma by regarding these texts as fictions—as invitations to the user to become part of an imaginary world..."


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Bookmark, Classify and Share


A mini-ethnography of social practices in a distributed classification community.

Abstract:

Working within the constraints of a very limited data sample, this study attempts to identify some of the information management and meaning construction practices of an online distributed classification (a.k.a. free tagging or ethnoclassification) community. Specifically, this study seeks to investigate the social and communicative practices that emerge when users are encouraged to share web links with one another by using a metadata keyword, or tag, to demark a social group, apart from using other tags to classify links according to an emergent taxonomy.

not really an ethnography in our term, but interesting for those, that are interested in social classification. the author talks a bit about del.icio.us and flickr, that allow totally free tagging of links or images

btw, a happy new year to all of you celebrating this event.


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William Gibson's blog's back!



Ladies and Gentlemen, please rise from your seats and stand for a moment: William Gibson's blog is back on air ... erh ... on the net, I meant. And guys ... if you chose to listen to Bruce Sterling live, you have to check out his buddy's blog. Cyberculture expects every geek to do his duty! (Forgive me Lord Nelson, Sir!)
via William Gibson aleph


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Hyperlinkage visualization


Ain't she a beauty? The above picture is a screen-capture of a threedimensional visualization of our faculty's domain's website-structure. The program used was WebTracer2. The spheres represent webpages -- the larger the sphere, the heavier the linkage to and from this page. The red and blue edges represent links between the pages. The big yellow sphere in the foreground represents our institute's homepage, which I chose as a starting point for the WebTracer's spider. All the big white spheres arranged in a semi-circle are subpages of our institute's website. The enormous beam receding far back 'is' the structure of our online-project ethnology@internet. It's quite obvious that we dominate the faculty's domain in terms of structured hyperlinkage. All of this is not mere playing around and producing aesthetic pictures, but is one way of visualizing a chosen part of the internet in one of the many, many possible ways. Visualizations like that carry certain kinds of information which immediately can be grabbed that way. Currently I am testing quite some of this possibilities to evaluate them -- what is helpful and makes sense in cyberanthropology -- for my research-project.


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maxmod::a cyberanthropologist online among the gamemodders


Finally the website of my 'cyberanthropological' research-project "maxmod" has seen the light of day ( URI: xirdal.lmu.de )-- its twin, the accompanying weblog will follow soon. Since 2002 when I started to develope this project I am doing 'thick participation' in an online-community. The core-interest and shared practice of the community's members is the modification of professional computergame software -- "Max Payne" and "Max Payne 2" in particular. Have a look at the abstract and the description of the project (work in progress) if you want to learn more about it -- how it's done, what are the goals, what is the relevance, etc. For everybody interested in doing research on 'cyberculture' my commented, enhanced, and ever growing list of literature may be especially worthwhile -- prey on it!


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Games without frontiers


"I respect many kinds of approaches to the study of games and players, just as long as the researchers play games themselves." -- Aki Järvinen ... a man to my taste. His weblog games without frontiers accompanies the Ph.D.-thesis he is working on: Games without frontiers: Theories and methods for game studies. Aki Järvinen's gaming diary, the table of contents (includes thesis background), and chapters in progress of his thesis are online.


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Living a Virtual Life::Social Dynamics of Online Gaming


'Cyberanthropology' first was brought to the Institute of Sociocultural Anthropology at the Ludwig-Maximilians University, Munich by Castulus Kolo. His work again bears fruit: The article Living a Virtual Life: Social Dynamics of Online Gaming (which he wrote together with Timo Baur, a former student of our institute) was published recently. Excerpt from the Introduction:

"Interactive online games for more than two players or multiplayer online games have become a popular object of investigation ever since social and cultural sciences began studying the Internet. Whilst initial studies on online games mainly focused on text-based virtual realities (e.g. Bartle, 1990; Bartle, 1996; Bruckman, 1992; Curtis, 1996), over the course of the last few years there has been an increasing number of publications dedicated to games with a graphical user interface and several thousands of users playing simultaneously. This development has been accompanied by a series of related conferences and the establishment of specific publication platforms as well as research associations (for example, Aarseth, 2001). In the US, game research, or game studies, has even become a topic covered by the general interest news media (for example, Erard, 2004). However, in Germany apart from being covered as a business issue, this new field is only addressed by sporadic research, of which hardly any is based on rich empirical data (Goetzenbrucker, 2001 being one of the few exceptions)."

KOLO, CASTULUS AND TIMO BAUR. 2004. Living a Virtual Life: Social Dynamics of Online Gaming. Game Studies 4(1). Electronic Document. Available online:
www.gamestudies.org


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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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