Burroughs Adding Machine

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

Cyberbullying and Gay Suicide

Students at Rutgers protest after Clementi's suicide

Roommate issues, gay attitudes, and technology: a recipe for disaster?

The news earlier this week that Tyler Clementi committed suicide is a tragic one. Not only for Clementi’s wrangling with his sexuality, but because the Rutgers’ freshman’s thoughts leading up to his death were so readily accessible to the public: insensitive taunts on Twitter,  questioning of actions on a gay website, and, ultimately, Clementi’s final status update on Facebook.

According to the New York Times, both Clementi and his roommate Dharun Ravi expressed their thoughts about Clementi’s sexuality in various places on the internet:

On Sept. 19, Mr. Ravi messaged his Twitter followers that he had set up a webcam in his room and then watched from Ms. Wei’s room, adding that he saw Mr. Clementi “making out with a dude.”

The postings on the gay chat site last week, reported Wednesday on the Web site Gawker, appear to show Mr. Clementi’s reactions as he read Mr. Ravi’s posts about the camera, and the apparent disdain for his homosexuality.

“And so I feel like it was ‘look at what a fag my roommate is,’ ” he wrote on Sept. 21. “Other people have commented on his profile with things like ‘how did you manage to go back in there?’ and ‘are you ok?’ and the fact that the people he was with saw my making out with a guy as the scandal whereas I mean come on … he was SPYING ON ME … do they see something wrong with this?”

Is cyberbullying the root of this tragedy? Not enough education in respecting diversity? Or a combination of both?


Filed under: education, gay rights, technology, web 2.0, , , , , , , ,

Voice of a Chinese Dissident

Chinese activist and artist Ai Weiwei reminds us how we often take our civil liberties for granted. Interviewed on Christiane Amanpour’s new show, he speaks eloquently about government oppression in his native China. A reminder that whether you’re sharing a quick 140-character Tweet, an innocuous blog post (like this one), or Googling your name on the Internet, folks in highly-censored nations like China don’t share this same freedom.

In fact, Google recently announced that it was moving its Chinese headquarters to Hong Kong in the face of continuing government censorship. Even corporations are choosing free expression over profit.

How exactly does the nation’s Communist government interfere in private lives?

“On one hand, the Prime Minister will recite my father’s poetry,” Weiwei says. “On the other hand, the police will follow me.”

Though he designed the iconic Bird’s Nest stadium for the 2008 Olympics, he still suffered brutality and physical injury for his outspoken beliefs. According to CNN:

Ai has paid a heavy price for his dissent. He says he was beaten in a hotel room by Chinese police and later needed emergency brain surgery for injuries he suffered in the assault.

In this clip from Amanpour’s interview, Weiwei appears fearless in his public statements. There’s not a hint of trepidation or anger in his voice. Makes me wonder: If faced with the same oppression, would I be able to calmly defy the government’s wishes and speak truth to power?

Filed under: censorship, technology, , , , , , , , , , ,

Best Job Ever, or Obama’s Twitter Lackey?

Okay, the official title is Social Networks Manager. But for those of us who are illiterate in Corporatespeak, the more straightforward job title would be: Obama’s Twitterer.

Who holds such a position? And why would s/he ever quit?

Seems that Mia Cambronero is the person of interest, and her reasons for leaving are to pursue international work. I’m assuming that getting inside Barack Obama’s head in 140 characters prepares you for serious diplomatic relations. Or it at least gets you some really good connections.

The full job description is posted; get your best twit clips together for the interview.


Filed under: obama, technology, , , , ,

Hatemongers @Twitter HQ

Why Fred Phelps’ fear-mongering church is doing at Twitter headquarters in San Francisco, no one knows.

No matter what they’re protesting (are all Twitter users gay?), the event provided some fodder for absurdist pranksters like EDW Lynch.

Man, his sign is classic.


Filed under: Uncategorized, , , ,

Twittering at G-20 Can Land You in Jail

G20 Summit Protests

Or so it seems for Elliot Madison. The 41 year-old social worker sent tweets to his pals during the G-20 protests in Pittsburgh. Apparently, Madison was a part of grassroots group called the Tin Can Comms Collective. Madison’s tweets described protests and related events. As reported by the NYT:

Many of those messages tracked police movements. One read: “SWAT teams rolling down 5th Ave.” Another read: “Report received that police are ‘nabbing’ anyone that looks like a protester / Black Bloc. Stay alert watch your friends!”

Now, F.B.I. agents have arrested him for “hindering apprehension or prosecution, criminal use of a communication facility and possession of instruments of crime.” The federal authorities raided Madison’s home and confiscated equipment.

As Gawker reports:

Investigators are taking this thing super seriously: they raided Madison’s Queens apartment and removed antiquated items, like “newspapers,” an “address book,” whatever that is, and a picture of Lenin. Anarchists are so predictable.

A frightening proposition: Big Brother may be monitoring those 140-character messages you mindlessly send while waiting in line at the RMV. I’ve blogged in the past about the dangers of public life on the Internet. Ever wondered who’s following your Tweets and tracking your public information, and for what purpose?


Filed under: government, technology, , , , , ,



» "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)
March 2018
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About Me

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

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