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Internet Histories

· Read 2/18/2021

  • Useful to look down/away as we listen
  • Direct focused attention can often produce exhaustion
  • Why start with histories?
  • Disrupt easy, linear, always-forward-unfolding narrative of technology; tech as train: "get on or get run over"
  • BBSes give us alternative ways of thinking about localities, governance, infrastructure
  • Acknowledge that this course is very US-centric
  • Tyranny of the now: we don't remember histories in ways that are generative
  • Push yourself to find scholarship that's older than a few years, often very relevant
  • Hobbes Internet Timeline

    • Tech- and US-centric; institution-heavy (reflects academic culture)
    • Milestones like "number hosts breaks 1000"
    • The way they include existing social/cultural institutions is noting when they "go online": Korea, UN, Japan PM, NZ PM, shopping malls.
    • (What about "I went online"?)
    • "Flash mobs, organized over the Net, start in New York and quickly form in cities worlwide"
    • Interesting that they mention so many TLDs
    • "If you don't hear from me in a week (typical turn around is < 1 hour), check your header and email again. BTW, don't forget to tell me who you are, your affiliation and how you plans to use the Timeline; anonymous copyright requests will not be granted."
  • Driscoll alternative net history timeline project: Driscoll's birth is listed as "private funding, public access"
  • Leigh Star great scholarship for STS, systems of standards
  • UseNet got bought and suddenly became searchable, in a way that people who posted on it never anticipated
  • Some year: when students went off to college, they wiped everything on social media
  • Is ephemerality a right? For communities?
  • What should we archive?

    • I assumed we should archive pretty much everything. Perhaps a vestige of how the tech industry makes storage limits, costs, and infra invisible. It's so easy to get huge amounts of storage, practically unlimited.
  • LoC stopped archiving all tweets in 2017
  • Both this and Leigh Star talk about master narratives, but with different approaches for countering it. Driscoll: user
  • What would we do / what would things look like if we take their calls to heart?

    • Form validation on online forms: what's an appropriate name? Hyphens, non-Latin characters, family structures, etc.
    • We post something and then the system decides what headline, photo, etc. gets displayed with it
  • AU, FB: News orgs have to pay to be at top of news feed?
  • SEO -> fight to get the actual result because everything (e.g. on Amazon) has a bunch of keywords; feels polluted
  • If the system will favor/privilege certain things, people are going to create content like that
  • YouTube/Twitch/Instagram hustle sits in a precarious market, people are trying to make a living, gig economy

    • There's also a generation of kids growing up with this as their aspiration and as their pervasive media ecosystem
  • Companies aren't legally allowed to discriminate along certain lines, but they can do anything else

Time passed pretty quickly during discussion. There were several things I wanted to say but didn't speak up about. (I only spoke up about the name validation example.) I sent some things into the chat but people didn't engage with them the way they did with other comments.

The level of the discussion here is lower than STS.044 — like in STS.044 there were implicit right interpretations (Sherry's) that we had to get to (and I rarely got to by myself), whereas today people brought up points that I thought were too obvious to mention.

For Tuesday: prioritize Latour and Fischer