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So, for the last week there has been a huge debate about Apple and their iOS 4 software’s ‘tracking’ ability. For those who don’t know, Apple’s iPhone’s since iOS 4 have been tracking their owners – keeping a file on the phone and on any computer the deveice has been synced with that records the whereabouts of the phones owner.

Clearly the clandestine nature of this applicaiton indicates Apple’s own stance; that this is fundamentally unethical and that they are doing something that their customers would strongly disagree with.

That’s all fine, its all fairly cut and dry. The sooner an open source iOS reaches the same level of proficiency of say, Linux on computers, I’ll make the switch. The big question that I want to consider, and I would hope others with an interest in technology and society would consider it too, is ‘What is Apple doing when it stores the information of younger users?’

Essentially, for kids and younger teenagers who own iPhones, Apple has been tracking them. Apple has in fact been surveilling children and legal minors. While some older users or parents may not have an issue with their own whereabouts being tracked, I’m sure they would take issue with someone, anyone, compiling a list of their kids’ whereabouts.

So, thoughts?

If you are interested, here’s an app that will allow you see your own whereabouts, you’ll be able to see the information that Apple have captured represented on a map. Its interesting;


Fantastic concept – taking the Denial of Service attack that is often used against web sites (by bombarding the site with more traffic than it is allowed for example) in the UK census. Essentially, a paper version, and here’s how it works …

Protesters have spotted that the census may be vulnerable, through its legacy paper support, says Peter Judge 

The government is going all-out to put services online,  to save money. But while we are in a transitional state, the services are vulnerable to protests that could be called a paper-based denial of service (DoS) attack.

David Cameron has given Martha Lane Fox the job of getting poor and technophobic people to use online services, with the obvious benefit that online services are much cheaper to administer and big savings could be made if the government could “switch off” the paper versions.

However, despite the offer of cheap PCs, there are approximately 9.2 million people offline, and for some of them poor broadband coverage makes it unlikely they will get on any time soon.

Unfortunately, this introduces uncertainty into the cost of any web-based government service, and at least one protest movement is trying to exploit that. Welcome to the age of the paper DOS attack.

Census objectors – stand up and be counted!

Several different groups have objected to the census, on grounds of privacy and state intrusion, but peace activists have a different problem. The census is being processed by Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest defence contractor, whose other business includes making  Trident nuclear missiles, cluster bombs and fighter jets.

As well as innocently probing the activities of UK citizens for the census, the company apparently limbered up by providing “private contract interrogators” for Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay.

All of which makes Peace News angry, but put it in a quandary.

The actual census itself is innocuous, and even a good thing. The information about housing and jobs is used as a basis for distributing public services, so no census forms could mean no services. London has a particularly poor rate of Census returns, and Mayor Boris Johnson has said that every form not filled in means £600 less for him to spend on Londoners’ needs.

Boycotting the census wouldn’t hurt Lockheed Martin, would result in fewer benefits in your particular area, and would get you a £1,000 fine.

So Peace News suggests – in an anonymous article – that citizens should hit the company’s profits, by complying with the census, but making it as expensive as possible to process the forms.

The sums are interesting. Lockheed Martin is getting about £150 million for doing the census, which works out (over 39 million households) at about £4 per form. The Peace News article reckons a well-filled in form can be processed in five minutes if the automation process works – but any extra time taken will cost the company an extra £1 per minute.

Making it awkward

The article is rather beautiful, and has plenty of suggestions to make the forms harder to deal with.

First, and most obviously, it advises people not to use the online version of the form: “an on-line return is the cheapest and easiest option for Lockheed Martin to process.”

Instead, protesters should use the paper form, and be sure not to give the census organisation any easy way to contact them.

“Do not provide convenient contact details when filling in your census form or on any other piece of paper relating to the census,” the article suggests. “After all, nobody can force you to possess a telephone or email. Paper correspondence is much more expensive.”

Any correspondence should be addressed by post to the Census organisation, it says, and indeed, could also go to the head of the census operation – whose postal address the article helpfully gives.

The census forms include bar codes to speed the processing, and Peace News thinks it would be a shame, but quite understandable, if these sometimes became unreadable because of marmalade smears or ink blots.

Similarly, Blu-tak or sellotape on the forms might make it hard for Lockheed’s automatic scanners to handle them.

“If (God forbid!) you wrote something down all wrong, you could either cross it out firmly, and write the information somewhere else with a helpful arrow to the place where it should have been written, or you could glue, sellotape or staple another piece of paper in the approximate place on top of the erroneous entry and write the correct information on it,” suggests the article. “In either case, the computers scanner will not be able to read the information and will refer it back to a human being to deal with.”

And the same goes for box-ticking.  “There will many boxes to tick.” says the article. “It is so easy to tick the wrong boxes in all the excitement. It is best to firmly cross it all out and write in the margin, or wherever there is some space, something like: ‘Sorry, it should have been this one’, with an arrow pointing in the approximate direction.”

Beyond that, it has plenty of other fun suggestions. Fill the form in upside down, or tick multiple boxes: “Tick both boxes ‘Male’ and ‘Female’ (adding, if you wish, words like ‘undecided’ or ‘it all depends’, etc. wherever you find space to write, to show that you are taking the question seriously and don’t just tick any old boxes).”

As Lockheed says in its internal documents, “coding is a difficult and expensive process”.

Peace News doesn’t want to cause too much trouble, or actually derail the census. “Life is short and there are more rewarding things to do with your time.” it says. “You only need to choose a few of all those suggestions above to make your intervention an effective one.” And the fact that “prepared” forms will be distributed at random should make them very effective.

No doubt, only a small minority of census forms will be “prepared” using the methods suggested above, but those forms will be randomly distributed amongst all the others (if the outer envelope carries no signs). Such randomness increases their effectiveness, for they unexpectedly interrupt the flow of the operation in its various stages.

A blueprint for paper-based protests

What we have here is a blueprint for future protests that could exploit the mismatch between online and paper-based services. It isn’t really a denial of service (DoS) attack, of course, as the aim is not to deny anyone access to the service.

The authorities should be worried about this sort of thing, as the current situation, with incomplete computer penetration and a mismatch between the costs of online and paper, make the danger almost unavoidable.

There may be an indication of worry from Lockheed or the authorities: amongst the comments to Peace News’ article there is one supposedly from someone employed by Lockheed to process forms, saying “census workers earn a flat rate no matter how much work we have to do. So all that extra processing work? It doesn’t cost the arms manufacturer guy a penny while I have a shitload more work to do for nothing.”

However, census workers’ terms of employment are published and they are on an hourly rate – other commenters see this as a “Lockheed plant”.

If so, then it could be that people are starting to worry about this mode of protest.

from by Peter Judge

And here is the Peace News article;

How to Fill In Your Census Form Without Lockheed Martin Profiting (short version)

By admin2, March 20th, 2011

Lots of people are angry that the UK Census has, once again, been awarded to blood-soaked arms dealer Lockheed Martin. The following anonymous article sent to PN explains how you can fill in your Census form without benefiting Lockheed Martin or creating funding problems for local authorities.

US Arms Manufacturer Lockheed Martin has the contracy for the 2011 UK Census in March this year.

The US arms manufacturer Lockheed Martin makes Trident nuclear missiles, cluster bombs and fighter jets and is involved in data processing for the CIA and FBI. It has provided private contract interrogators for the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay. Lockheed Martin has the UK Government contract to process the data for the 2011 census in March. (Observer, 20 February 2011)


Lockheed Martin is in it for the money. A principled stance by you to boycott the census will not hurt them, could provide the British Government with a £1000 fine of your money and will make life harder for local authorities. Don’t let them make a profit from your census return but do help to provide the data your council needs for its Government grants. If you don’t send in your form, Lockheed Martin will still get its money and just make a higher profit for less work.

This year, for the first time, you can make your census return on line. Do not do this, for an on-line return is the cheapest and easiest option for Lockheed Martin to process.

PRIORITIES, to make processing your census form VERY EXPENSIVE for Lockheed Martin:

1. Obliterate completely ALL bar codes, serial numbers and other codes on your form. Don’t miss any!

2. Obstruct fast and cheap computer scanning of your form so that its information must be keyed in by hand, which is a vastly more expensive process. Do this by e.g. writing text upside down (i.e. turn the form upside down when you write); making corrections to written text and ticked boxes by crossing it all out, writing the information elsewhere on the page and then use arrows to point to the places where the information was meant to be. The computer cannot read upside down text and corrected entries of this type.

For more details see here.

I thought I’d passed the final boss of the internet as it had been a while since I had seen something really interesting, something that was fundamentally NEW.

First, the bad.

In Ireland, as we have approached the General Election the various political parties have been desperately trying to one up each other. Fine Gael of seen off all competition in the ‘who’s the most incompetent at the internet’ category. First their website gets hacked and then yesterday their facebook page becomes a case study in how-not-to-manage-your-brand-online. Whoever is managing their web presence, their social media and the ‘conversation’ they claim to be having with the electorate should keep their job, they should not be fired for incompetence as this person perfectly represents the inept politicians of Fine Gael. *Clap … Clap* If you do get a chance to check out Fine Gael’s website please do. Its laugh out loud bad!

Now the Good,

A Series of Angry Letters is a blog that straddles internet ambiguity and gallops off into the real world with a vengeance. Myrtle is an elderly lady who is fed up with the state of Ireland and writes angry letters to various entities. So far, she has addressed the leader of Fine Gael (see above), Mr Enda Kenny and a politician who is suing a fellow pensioner after he fell through her roof. Having spoken to Mrytle, we can expect letters every Monday ranging from politics to social philosophy, nihilism and humanity. All packaged neatly into a well constructed letter that commits to nothing but tearing asunder assumptions about various people, parties and phenomena and how society accepts them.

Another blog that is blowing my mind is New York Prisoner 63906054. This blog is also ambiguous as many people have called into question the status of the author’s incarceration. The blog does read very well, its finely crafted, perhaps too finely, and how does a prisoner post on a blog and a facebook page anyway?

There’s little clues scattered amongst the posts as to where this plot is going, he reveals back-story and other characters, his writing is emotive and hilarious. All the while he reveals fascinating, funny and fun information about prison in New York.

It raises further questions about how ‘locked-up’ a prisoner is when he can find a way to communicate so successfully with so many. I’m glad he’s doing it. I’m glad of the questions it throws up for prisons. This isn’t a simple letter from an inmate to a friend, family or even gang newsletter, no this really is mass communication. Granted at the time of writing he only has 614 followers on facebook. Anthropologically this is interesting as a piece of creative ethnography from within the prison walls but also as a ‘media-scape’ that is transcending prison walls in a very blunt and honest way. In fact, it is so honest that I worry about what will happen to Prisoner 63906054 if the authorities find out. So keep this one under your hats!

I’ve been contacted with queries as to why this blog has been so quite of late. Well, I’m traveling and working on two documentaries. Watch this space for updates.


According to the Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros. is being sued by Medien Patent Verwaltung for pirating their anti-pirating software.

“We disclosed our anti-piracy technology to Warner Bros. in 2003 at their request, under strict confidentiality, expecting to be treated fairly,” MPV says in a statement. “Instead, they started using our technology extensively without our permission and without any accounting to us. However, we had taken care to obtain patents to protect MPV’s technology, and we are now in a position where we must assert our rights.”

The complaint:

Here are some interesting infographics on porn.

The first, curtesy of

The Stats on Internet Pornography

And courtesy of

The Numbers Behind Pornography

I like that these two graphics come from education websites, because after all, porn IS education. Well it is to some these days.

Sorry I’m a little late with this.

Once again I’m going to attach the British Government and the Digital Economy Bill. I am enjoying the fact that Google, essentially the main man in the digital economy as attacked the bill, saying;

“The proposals to introduce website blocking – now included in Clause 8 – have escaped proper scrutiny,” said an official statement from Google.

“They were introduced 24 hours before a crucial vote in the House of Lords, without a full debate over whether such a policy is right in principle.

“We absolutely believe in the importance of copyright, but blocking through injunction creates a high risk that legal content gets mistakenly blocked, or that people abuse the system.”

Gary Marshall of puts it best

It brought together writers and readers, bands and fans, designers and developers and creatives of every kind. And then, slowly and deliberately, it dropped its digital trousers and waved its digital arse at the lot of them.

But I would go along with Gary Marshall, wouldn’t I…

If we’ve learnt one thing from the Digital Economy Bill fiasco, it’s that you should never underestimate the idiocy and venality of politicians. With a few honourable exceptions our MPs ignored tens of thousands of letters from thousands of constituents and didn’t bother to turn up for the debates.

It’d be funny if it weren’t so serious, because if you really wanted to fight piracy the last thing you’d do is wind up thousands of geeks who understand things like encryption.

If you were serious about protecting creativity you’d pay attention to the howls of horror from authors and analysts alike. If you wanted a balanced debate you wouldn’t just rubber-stamp paragraphs written by the BPI, and trot out statistics that have long been discredited.

If you really cared about the digital economy you wouldn’t introduce legislation that could kill public Wi-Fi, smother high-tech start-ups and get home businesses knocked off the net should the owner’s kids download the odd file.

And if you wanted to be re-elected, you wouldn’t alienate your most vocal potential voters.

Yeah, it’d be funny … if it wasn’t so serious.

For us guardians of the web that work on the fringes of the internet, Pedobear is a regular protagonist. (see the encyclopedia dramatica entry here)

Here he is stenciled onto an advertisement in Malta. 21st Centuray journalism proves itself once again with “It is not clear why the “artist” in question juxtaposed the bears with the Pope.”

Original article:

When reality falls to virtual peices it may happen just like this …

by Patrick Jean

Just when we thought governments couldn’t get EVEN more stupid (okay, so maybe we never saw an end to their stupidity) the UK surpass even the ignorance of Australia and push the ‘Digital Economy Bill’ through parliment.

Busy news day? Check. Late night session? Check. Idiotic, ill-conceived and impractical notion that takes away yet more of our pesky freedoms and will be unenforceable? CHECK!

From The Guardian;

Digital economy bill rushed through wash-up in late night session

Government drops clause on orphan works but inserts amendment criticised as over-broad which could block sites based on ‘intent’

Highlights include:
[The government] was forced to drop clause 43 of the bill, a proposal on orphan works which had been opposed by photographers ( They welcomed the news: “The UK government wanted to introduce a law to allow anyone to use your photographs commercially, or in ways you might not like, without asking you first. They have failed,” said the site set up to oppose the proposals.
Stephen Timms for the government said that it would not want to see the clause used to restrict freedom of speech – but gave no assurance that sites like Wikileaks would not be blocked. is of course the website that just last week released the ‘Collateral Murder’ video which shows United States Troops killing innocent Iraqis and Reuters reporters, and wounding two children. Then we have;
Don Foster, the Liberal Democrats’ spokesman for culture, media and sport, protested that the clause was too wide-ranging: “it could apply to Google,” he complained, adding that its inclusion of the phrase about “likely to be used” meant that a site could be blocked on its assumed intentions rather than its actions.
Sad days indeed.

Yeah, you read that correctly. So we already know Facebook can get you arrested, but the horror continues with Facebook ‘linked with rise in syphilis’ cases.


Facebook has contributed to a resurgence in the sexually-transmitted disease syphilis, a health expert has claimed.

Case have increased fourfold in Sunderland, Durham and Teesside, the areas of Britain where Facebook is most popular.

Professor Peter Kelly, director of public health in Teesside, claimed staff had found a link between social networking sites and the spread of the bacteria, especially among young women.

He said: “Syphilis is a devastating disease. Anyone who has unprotected sex with casual partners is at high risk.

“There has been a fourfold increase in the number of syphilis cases detected with more young women being affected.

“I don’t get the names of people affected, just figures, and I saw that several of the people had met sexual partners through these sites.

“Social networking sites are making it easier for people to meet up for casual sex.”

In Teesside there were 30 recorded cases of syphilis last year, but the true figures are expected to be much higher.

Research has shown that young people in Sunderland, Durham and Teesside were 25 per cent more likely to log onto social networking sites than those in the rest of Britain.

A Facebook spokesman said: “The assertion that Facebook is responsible for the transmission of syphilis is ridiculous. Facebook is no more responsible for STD transmission than newspapers responsible for bad vision. Today’s reports exaggerate the comments made by the professor, and ignore the difference between correlation and causation.

“As Facebook’s more than 400 million users know, our website is not a place to meet people for casual sex – it’s a place for friends, family and co-workers to connect and share.”

Yes, I’m calling for ‘a cyberepidemiology’ to be performed on Facebook. Good luck.

Here is’s top 100 blogs for Anthropology Students. Pay close attention to number 16! (its this blog) haha.

As anyone with ears or a head is aware, Australia has been implimenting a series of ‘filters’ and ‘legislates’ to censor Australian ISPs.

For people interested in cyber-anthropology, internet social research or media studies this serves as a fantastic flair up of information. First, there is the discourse of regulation, the thinly vailed political motivations, and the inept enforcement. Second, there is the back-lash.

First we need to introduce some key actors in this story.
Main protagonist 1:

‘Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy was appointed Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy in December 2007’ and in that time, rather than make the internet a more pleasurable, cost effective and safe expereince for Australians he has reduced connection speeds and squandered millions of Australian Dollars, all while having no effect whatsoever on internet safety.

From Wikipedia:

Conroy has faced severe criticism over his Internet censorship policies from various groups. While initially promoted as a way to block child pornography, the censorship policy has been extended to include a much broader range of material, including sites depicting drug use, crime, sex, cruelty, violence or “revolting and abhorrent phenomena” that “offend against the standards of morality”.[7]

On 19 March 2009 it was reported that ACMA’s blacklist of banned sites had been leaked online, and had been published by Wikileaks. Conroy described the leak and publication of the blacklist as “grossly irresponsible” and that it undermined efforts to improve “cyber safety”.[8]

Stephen Conroy had not faced an interview about the issue for at least six months,[9] before appearing on the ABC show ‘Q&A’ on March 26 2009, and the SBS show ‘Insight’ on March 31 2009, where he defended the policy in front of critics and supporters of the policy.

In June 2009 he was named “Internet villain of the year” at the 11th annual Internet industry awards in the UK, for “individuals or organisations that have upset the Internet industry and hampered its development – those whom the industry loves to hate.”[10]

In December 2009 “Internet pranksters” registered the domain name[11] which was swiftly removed by auDA[12] raising concerns[13] about auDA’s political neutrality and the further potential for suppression of political speech after the proposed mandatory Internet filter is legislated.

Key Protagonist 2: ‘Anonymous’ or ‘Anon’, which is effectively a collection that is so broad and chaotic that it is an organic and singlular entity. Specifically, it is a loose collective of internet mischeivists, people with above average computer expertise, a strong dislike of authority and any form of regulation. Historically, ‘Anon’ comes from ebaumsworld and then /b/ (the famous section of 4chan). Like all communities that were once website based, ‘Anon’ is now networked socially. First, acheiving wide recognistion as a politically motivated group, ‘Anon’ fought against The Church of Scientology because the church was attempting to censor the internet. What is most interesting from an academic point of view is that still, this top-down, paternal form of censorship (which has been proven not to work time and again) is still being banged about by conservative would be censors.

For more about ‘Anonymous’ see wikipedia first and encyclopedia dramatica second.

While the entire debacle has been well documented on most major news websites including the BBC, the most thorough going over is at (again) encyclopedia dramatica 1 2 including the rebranding of ‘Operation Titstorm’ into ‘Project Freeweb‘ with a resource center available for would be ‘Anons’ to use in the fight against censorship.

So, the question is; who is regulating the internet? In some sense, the web is akin to ‘the wild west’ – a place where people with the power to impose their will ruled. This happens for a number of reasons; technology and the ability to use it (the best guns and the fastest gun slingers) and the reordering of a society of people with essentially no social regulation. The top down regulation that governments attempt to impose is about as useful as if 17th Century Europe sent decrees to Wild West Saloons telling outlaws how to behave – they have neither the technology or the force to implement such a plan and any attempt serves only to undermine their ‘rule’. It is not this paternal form of regulation that we need but a blunt-base, social regulation. As long as common people neglect this (through their elected representatives) we are placing the world wide web firmly in the hands of the gun-slingers, the hackers… Anonymous.

I find Australia’s attempt to regulate the internet baffling. The internet was developed precisely so that it could not be ‘regulated’ (or attacked from outside sources). This type of regulation has proven to be ineffective time and time and time and time and time again. This type of regulation undermines the rule of law and unites groups who have greater numbers, technology and technical expertise and motivation than the regulators. In essence, Senator Conroy’s behavior demonstrates either complete ignorance and incompetence or contempt for his electorate.

Here is Senator Conroy prior to his website shutting down and the mass spamming that ‘crippled’ the Australian Government’s communications.

I’m gonna go out on a limb and suggest that this summer South Africa is going to become the next big influential node in youth culture.

As the relevance of the pastiche and glitz of American and European music and film moves further and further away from the everyday lives of the recently economically disaffected youth, South Africa’s realness, its harshness and honesty will resonate more closely with many young people.

Furthermore, South Africa represents a sort of ‘Spirit of ’69’ skinhead style counter culture. That is; us (all of us) against them. That is to say, much like 1960’s British youth culture, it is the young (from all ethnicities) against the old (establishment). Of course, the skinhead movement was usurped by British Nationalist movements later on and divided and therefore undermined.

The irony continues, as the most prominent example of South Africa’s realness is Die Antwoord which could be called ‘post-ironic’ and is completely fabricated. None the less, it is my bet that Die Antwoord become the big influence in music and youth culture in the summer of 2010.

Here’s a some what humorous illustration relating to the problem of ‘respondent’ identity, validity, etc when we perform internet related social research.

This whole problem was one of my main motivations for using Actor Network Theory and a conception of a flow of cultural identity for my research – by exploring this flow as my chief respondent.

Do you have a face book

Do you have a face book

Okay, not strictly true but Barb Dybwad informs us;

So apparently it actually works both ways: careless Facebook use can both get you robbed and get you arrested for burglary.

According to The Journal, a 19-year-old Pennsylvania man was arraigned earlier this week on a charge of felony daytime robbery. How did police catch him? Simple: the burglar left a trail, by way of checking his Facebook account before leaving the house with two diamond rings and forgetting to log out.

Jonathan Parker remains in custody on $10,000 bail, facing a maximum 10 year prison sentence if convicted. A friend of the defendant said Parker had asked him for help breaking into the victim’s house the previous night, so things are not looking too good for the perp.

What do you think: is this a case of Facebook addiction, or just a very dim burglar? If robbery weren’t such a serious matter we might consider this story pretty much hilarious. As Homer Simpson would say, “doh!”


Cyber Anthropologists absolutely eradicate the fun of researching the internet…. so here’s some back.

This was going to be a kind of nice relaxed call to action. But the truth is, this is urgent. Right now there is something bad, something evil going on in the United States, in the Anthropology community… and in wider academia too. The evidence is found in the Case of Janice Harper and it should make us all quake in our Orwellian boots.

The Case of Janice Harper.
Read about it here:

And sign the petition here:

While you are at it join the facebook group of the Counter-Counterinsurgency Manual cocoin-cover

Its Monday and I am getting back to work after a few days spent in Barcelona attending the The Second International Conference on Children, Youth & Families in Universitat AutÒnoma de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.

First off, I want to say thank you to the organizers, who did an amazing job. The conference ran smoothly, was planned in a very innovative way and had a very diverse and fascinating topic base.

The University itself has a very interseting history…

The Autonomous University of Barcelona was officially created by legislative decree on June 6, 1968. Previously, during the Second Spanish Republic, there had been plans for constituting a second university in Barcelona, but due to the Civil War and the following years of poverty under the early dictatorship did not allow these plans to become a reality until that year. On July 27, a disposition to the decree is added, stating the creation of the Faculty of Letters, the Faculty of Medicine, the Faculty of Science, and the Faculty of Economical Sciences. Around ten weeks later, on October 6, the first course of the Faculty of Letters is inaugurated at Sant Cugat del Vallès Monastery. During the same month, the Faculty of Medicine is set at the Hospital de Sant Pau in Barcelona. In 1969, an agreement is signed for the acquisition of the terrains where the University Campus is nowadays. During that year too, the Faculty of Sciences and the Faculty of Economical Sciences start running. During the following three years, several Faculties and Professional Schools are created, and the construction works at the Campus terrains take place. At the end of this period, most existing Faculties and Schools are settled in the campus. At the end of the dictatorship in 1976, the University introduces a plan to create a model of democratic, independent university, described in a document known as Bellaterra Manifesto, which includes a declaration of principles. Two years later, after the approval of the Catalan Statute, the University Council agrees to recourse to the Generalitat de Catalunya.

Furthermore, the architecture of the campus reflects the dissident past, with a protective design, which meant that if the police attacked the campus there were escape routes and barricadable locations. Unfortunately, most universities I have visited are effectively attacked by other, more covert, means.

The conference was organized into 8 workshops a day, which ran in 4 pairs. In each workshop there were 4 speakers who delivered their pieces and when everyone was finished a discussion took place. Particularly in the workshop I was involved in this proved highly effective and a good discussion involving the whole panel (who all came from as diverse positions as possible) and most of the attendees got involved.

The conference was also refreshing because people had differing ideas about what was important in research, method and scope, but everyone came from the position that children were important and should be protected regardless of what we were researching. In effect the whole conference was grounded in an attitude of care, rather than of academic correctness. Interestingly, men were vastly under represented.

Barcelona is a beautiful city. A living city. I look forward to visiting again!

Navi Radjou of calls for ‘Fewer Engineers, More Anthropologists‘.

Thanks to Liam Berriman for the link!

It took a while, but I’m glad to say, I finally finished the internet.

Never before has it been so crucial that our brands are managed carefully and comprehensively. Irish firms need to implement marketing strategies that do more than look and sound good – we need strategies that are good. That means marketing that boosts the bottom line, creates or maintains a loyal consumer base, and in no way has a negative effect on our relationship with our market or its relationship with our brand. The current economic climate requires us to bring our ‘A’ game. Read on

I’ll be presenting ‘Order from Disorder: Locating the site of the Pro-Eating Disorder phenomena’ at the 2009 RGS and IBG Annual Conference in Manchester on 26-28 August 2009.

I’ll be speaking at the 3 session paper number 3. I hope to see you there.  A full outline of the presentations is available here:

PJG Stokes

The internet has changed politics – changed it utterly and forever. Twenty-four hours ago, I made a three-minute speech in the European Parliament, aimed at Gordon Brown. I tipped off the BBC and some of the newspaper correspondents but, unsurprisingly, they ignored me: I am, after all, simply a backbench MEP.

Just 24 hours after Daniel Hannan (conservative MEP for SE England) posted a video in which he chastised Gordon Brown the video had received 36,000 views. 76 hours later it has received 1,116,258.

In just 3 days Hannan is “internet famous”. All over message boards, blogs, social networking profiles, and in email messages and micro-blogs links to his video and to his own blog are appearing. Hannan claims “My speech to Gordon Brown goes viral”.

Since Barack Obama’s successful internet campaign most people are aware of how the web has changed politics. Never before could so many people be connected to, and informed by, so few, so quickly.

There are countless blogs and discussion about this topic. What I want to mention is this conundrum for politics;

Regardless of whether or not I support Hannan’s politics, in order to be informed about the topic, in order to watch the video, I inadvertently support him. I push his video up the ranking lists, I increase the videos “viralness” – its “velocity”. I am both consuming and producing his politic.

I am becoming part of the network. Basically, “watching” on-line is not passive – it is active.

Perhaps there is nothing different here – cultural capital and savvy use of the web are the investments made by today’s politicians, replacing traditional and monetarily expensive advertising campaigns and party political broadcasts.

More on this later….

(Consciously I’ve avoided posting the video or links to blogs etc – until I am sure of the implications to politics in general)

Riana Kelley metions Facebook and Social Anthropology in the same sentence, in NewsWeek Magazine no less.


Check out the current issue of Business Plus Magazine to see my latest business orientated article on Web 2.0.


So this article is more for my own personal recording of this turn of events than a proper ‘blog’ article. As such, it is less than coherent. None the less, read it if you like.

PJG Stokes

Should we hate facebook like so many scholars tell us to?

Well there’s a buzz about facebook hate at the moment so lets take a look.

Here’s a nice video, starts slow but drops a couple of bombshells later on. Worth watching.
Read on

This paper represents the culmination of this blog’s previous entries (and a great deal more).


“The shape of the internet is changing and calls into question traditional research and regulatory methods. This project develops a new geography for the self in the age of web 2.0. Specifically looking at the ‘Pro-Anorexia’ phenomena (social networking, forums, etc) this research presents an empirically and theoretically grounded proposal for internet research that is applicable to much wider tracts of the ‘web’. A combination of ten months ethnographic fieldwork and semiological techniques exploring the ‘Pro-Ana’ movement was performed. The results of which make up a rich account of how the ‘self’ is realised, for many young girls. By working through the ethnographic data the shape of the web and how we may research this using multi-sited ethnographic techniques becomes clear. Given the results of this research, it is crucial that we explore how the vulnerable and the young live out their lives on-line in a new light, where intimacy does not necessarily equate to proximity and where the most private of places, the bedroom, has become the most public of arenas.”

Due to a conflict of interests I can no longer present this paper here. For a copy please email

© 2009 Pearse Stokes

Authors Note: As always, this is a work in progress and I would love to hear any feed back, comments and especially discussion or criticism of the points raised here, if you loved it or hated it.

The pdf of this article is available here.

P.J.G. Stokes 28 November 2008

The Internet way of Dying

Originally this paper was to be called, To Living and Dying on the internets, using a grammar common among my site of research. However, “living” online is too large a subject for me at the moment. Dying online, massive as it is, can be shrunk to a number of examples for fruitful discussion. What can we safely say about dying online if we haven’t figured out how we live online. Well, it is my intention that through looking at the process and finality of death online will reveal much about how we live online. That is to say, precisely because death has no “finality”, that it is a process, a rite of passage even, that we can explore how one lives online – with out the corresponding “real” or “flesh” life – it becomes apparent how the online dimension “lives” – it reveals the Zeitgeist.

To clarify; this paper looks at the process of dying, being dead and how morning creates a social presence online (just like in the off-line dimensions). As we work through this we will find a precise site of research, we isolate the created, generated, ubiquitously interconnected (aetheral?1) self that we are interested in right now. Albeit a “dead” one. With this in mind we can look at “life” online with more clarity. Read on

This article begins to focus on the online pathologies that my research over the last year has focused on. That said, this article is also a current affair. Suicide and eating disorders are the primary concern of my dissertation and over the next month more articles relating to those will surface. So check back soon.

In the meantime, this article is current so please engage the event, engage the techno/media/self scape, broaden it and report back to me anything interesting you find! As always, this is a work in progress and I would love to hear any feedback, comments or criticisms you may have.

The pdf of this article is available here. If you find it useful please let me know.


Last night CandieJunkie committed suicide. Earlier in the day he announced his intention to overdose live on web cam. Many people replied, were involved, contacted officials and myspace friends in an effort to save him. Still we all watched his channel for almost 8 hours before we saw police enter his room, quickly check him, then cover the web cam. I hope this article in no way trivializes what it discusses; the apparent suicide of a young man or the cry for help and attention that it may be. When we know more about the topic we can more accurately address the sadness and seriousness of the event. For the moment this article just discusses the mechanisms that worked, how they worked and illustrates how important it is for social researchers, anthropologists, sociologist, culturologists, etc, to get to grips with what is happening out there.

Read More

This article is available as a pdf here. I would love to hear feedback, comments and especially criticisms!

Michael Wesch, Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Kansas State University produced this video;

Wesch makes many points in this famous video, the one I am concerned with right now is that the Machine is Us/ing Us. And he’s quite right. The world wide web, in its so called second generation “2.0”, uses our navigation of the internet to organise, rank and filter web pages, connections, links, networks, etc. The Machine is Us. And it works very well. This means that as we consume the web we are also producing it. The Machine is Using us.

Given the perspective I decided to take for my current research (outlined here) I am going to explore how consumption and production have changed in the “digital age”, and argue that there is a false dichotomy at work, all be it a useful convenience.

For this research it has been necessary to conceive “The Web” as a techno/media/self scape. That is to say, the symbolic order, social imaginary or the webs of significance we are concerned with are positioned across a techno/media/self scape.

The techno/media/self scape is a production and consumption of signs and symbols as they flow through technological spaces (the web, phones, laptops, fibre optic cables, soft networks arranged, produced/consumed by users), media (producers, consumers, producer/consumers, ubiquitous) and selves (aspects of self, produced and reproduced through [and producing and reproducing] technology and media).

Read on

I’d love to hear comments and criticisims! PDF is available here.

– PJG Stokes

Locating the Site; Virtual becomes Mixed and realities become dimensions

Perhaps the greatest challenge for those researching “the internet” are the issues around locating the site. Locating the site, making it somehow tangible, deciding on boundaries of inclusion and exclusion, performing methods that are ethical but also lucrative, while facing the almost impossible task of making it all valid make internet research very difficult. This is part of what attracts researchers.
This chapter looks to locate the site. It does so not be making a geographic analogy (cyber space), not by producing a false dichotomy (the virtual and the real), rather this chapter works through those conceptions of “the internet” and arrives somewhere that is perhaps only slightly closer to a clean definition of where this research is taking place, than we are at now.
Read on

So, as the “cyber” or “virtual” merges to become one with the “real” or “meat” or hyper real enviornment art tries to illustrate the gap, the last remaining few cognative and conceptual shreds of riggle room (perhaps we’re not quite there yet). Check out the work of Aram Bartholl.

Project entitiled Map by Aram Bartholl

Project entitiled "Map" by Aram Bartholl


© 2009 Pearse Stokes

So, I’ve had personal life trauma, blunt trauma as well as chronic fatigue, over the last few months.

That is why this blog died a death pretty soon after its re-emergence. Apologies.

Now is the time to get down to it, I have my office space, I have my motivation. Unfortunately I have the most intangible misch mash topic that seems to expand and contract like the rib cage of some panting, giant animal.

In any event I have given myself 3 weeks to create something worthwhile.

Watch this space.


Cyber Anthropology Image

This blog has a number of functions;

  • To act as the virtual element of my dissertation research
  • To store data/links/news/reviews/memes/links[ages]/etc.
  • To web log information relating to cyber “Studies”

If you find this useful or if you want to add to this please just email me!
Cyber Anthropology on Facebook

If your on Facebook, join us now!

“The Future or Reputation: Gossip, Rumour and Privacy on the Internet” by Daniel J. Solove is available here. Post your comments if you like.


Okay, lets begin with software that is useful for Cyberanthropologists.

Firstly, we have Zotero, which I is amazingly handy and useful (yes there’s a difference). This Firefox add-on allows you to manage, store and bookmark your online experience. I say “experience” because it does a lot more than just store references. It opens a horizontal window at the bottom of the Firefox window and through this allows you to capture web content, store it, link it, reference it, and so on.

NetworkX is another useful tool that can be used in conjunction with Zotero to visually represent the shape of the network. This is useful for non-cyber-anthropologists (haha, look at me go!) intersted in actor-network theory, etc.

FreeMind is a “mind-mapping” tool (if you believe in such science fiction) that is useful for the not so graphically gifted. Allowing you to make mind maps with all kinds of handy functionality.

Ideas on how to represent networks visual can be found here.

A free qualitative data analysis tool is Weft QDA. This allows you to import documents (including pdfs) and run analyses similar to those found in NVivo.

Before using these tools in the field we can use the following articles to help locate what we are trying to do, or not.

Combining ethnographic and clickstream data to identify user Web browsing strategies
by Lillian Clark, I-Hsien Ting, Chris Kimble, Peter Wright, Daniel Kudenko at the Department of Computer Science, University of York.

Virtual Ethnography by Christine Hine.

The Web of Insights by Anjali Puri.


The Association of Internet Researchers is an academic association dedicated to the advancement of the cross-disciplinary field of Internet studies. It is a member-based support network promoting critical and scholarly Internet research independent from traditional disciplines and existing across academic borders. The association is international in scope.”

“The Hypermedia Research Centre is a research group composed of academics, artists, artisans, designers and writers. We are based in the School of Media, Art and Design at the University of Westminster University in London, UK.”

Here is another Cyber Anthropology blog, and a good one too.

Here is a link to what it/they think cyber anthropology is;

and the live journal;

Andreas Wittel writes “Ethnography on the Move: From Field to Net to Internet”

html and pdf formats are available here

Philipp Budka and Mansfred Kremser’s paper on CyberCulture is available online at

Why not check out the interesting and informative work of danah boyd?

by Steve Mizrach (aka Seeker1)

Active participation and involvement with GEN, Tapped In and Webheads
Ethnographic methods in cyber anthropology online.
by Susanne Nyrop

All credit for this amazing video goes to
Michael Wesch
Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology
Kansas State University

This is the first indication I received that someone was really getting a hold of whats going on out there, in cyberspace.

“By Jay Mallin

Soon, grad students will be turning to a new field of study called “cyberanthropology.” Rather than dig through the rusting metal of a municipal dump, anthropologists of the future will be able to confine their work to their computers. Financial records, marketing data, political mailing lists, even Quicken backup disks – all of it will provide fodder for scholarly articles in 3109, as researchers try to understand what life was like in the 20th century.
Jay Mallin ( is a photographer in Washington, DC.”


This is the first post of *The new “other”*, the idea behind this web log is to highlight and archive developments, reports, articles, etc. from around the web relating to the field of cyber anthropology. Please feel free to contact us. PS