Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

Redefining Etiquette on the Web

Who gets to determine what’s appropriate–or inappropriate–on the Web?

Brianna Snyder writes in The New Haven Advocate a quick, thoughtful study of the state of anonymous commenting. How to protect free speech while limiting bullying (which has prompted new anti-bullying laws in my home state of Massachusetts)? When is a comment contributing to dialogue, rather than simply inflaming it? What’s the difference between internet terrorism and really strong emotion?

Many of the major news outlets like The New York Times and powerful internet conglomerates like Gawker Media have begun to establish gatekeeping systems: through tiers of commentors, or moderator-approved posts. On my own blog, I’ve debated whether to delete hateful comments or to allow them to further the conversation. No clear-cut decisions.

Complicating the issue is the dichotomy of the “Us versus Them” mentality. If, as a commenter, your opinion falls in the minority, you are often faced (or facing off) with a mob. As Snyder writes:

Chances are very good that you are already familiar with this unfortunate aspect of Internet culture, the Lord of the Flies-ness of it, the maddening, sometimes frightening, and impossible-to-read nature of online comment and message boards.

Is it bad business to regulate or discontinue anonymous posting? Or does it cut to the heart of a liberal democracy?

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Filed under: censorship, media, web 2.0, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Dizzying Virtual World of Chatroulette

Here’s one way Chatroulette has been described: “It’s like speed-dating the entire Internet.”

If you’ve got a camera and a microphone, then you too can participate in ChatRoulette–a kind of chat room with audio and video connecting, on average, 20,000 users around the world.

I only read about it today; when I gave it a test-whirl, I was both fascinated and repelled. It’s even got the attention of the family-values commentators at Good Morning America.

What exactly is it? It’s a bit of an amalgam of everything: Talking in a completely virtual environment in real time. Savoring the ability to boot your chat partner off with the click of a button (or have that person boot you). ChatRoulette is definitely a dizzying experience. I ended up chatting with a bloke in the U.K. until I was unceremoniously booted; then I, in turn, kicked off someone who was boring me.

If we lamented the short attention span of kids before, ChatRoulette is going to push Luddites over the edge.

Filed under: innovation, technology, , , , ,

Back on the Grid

Lake Kivu, Rwanda. Likely one of the most astounding settings I've ever encountered (and a strong counterpoint to our usual imagery of Rwanda)

What does two weeks offline do to you?

Well, for one thing, you slowly lose a sense of the urgency and the false sense of connection that comes with ever-updated information. While I was travelling in Uganda and Rwanda over the past two weeks, I itched–at first–to check my email or to browse Towleroad and The Huffington Post every couple of minutes, as I would back in Boston.

However, after a day or so, the lack of access sinks in. You note how AT&T still sends texts to your iPhone while in Kampala, conveniently tempting you with its corporate marketing, its offers of roaming data usage for $19.95 a minute. Jesus. Who needs unlimited internet access at twenty dollars a minute?

You consider the fact that instantaneous access removes us from human interactions. Over the past couple weeks, we met with a lot of Ugandans, many of whom had lost parents or entire families to HIV/Aids. We listened to stories, we talked about common interests (who doesn’t take joy every once in a while in skipping class?) And after a few days off the grid, you begin to find meaning in cliches like “living in the moment.”

I had 256 emails in my Inbox after one week. Still trying to catch up, to wrap my brain around my virtual task list. Slowly, steadily. Slow but steady.

Filed under: africa, technology, travel, , , , ,

Publications

BIOGRAPHY

RECENT PUBLICATIONS
» "Pinays," AGNI, Spring 2016
» "Dandy," Post Road, Spring 2015
» "Wrestlers," Fifth Wednesday, Spring 2014
» "Babies," Joyland, August 2011
» "Nicolette and Maribel," BostonNow, May 2007
» "The Rice Bowl," Memorious, March 2005
» "The Rules of the Game," Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images (Coffee House Press, June 2003)
» "Deaf Mute," Growing Up Filipino (Philippine American Literary House, April 2003)
» "Good Men ," Genre, April 2003
» "The Foley Artist," Drunken Boat, April 2002
» "Squatters," Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America (Asian Am. Writers' Workshop, 2001)
» "Deaf Mute," The North American Review, Jan 2001
» "The First Lady of Our Filipino Nation," The Boston Phoenix, 1999
» "Paper Route," Flyway Literary Review, 1996
» "Brainy Smurf and the Council Bluffs Pride Parade," Generation Q (Alyson, 1996)
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Pics from Africa 2010

About Me

https://rsiasoco.wordpress.com/about/

About Me

Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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