remembering preliminary exams

To some extent this exam was very important, and I think the questions that I was asked are indicative of why I think this is.  It is 12 years after I took this exam, and well being able to answer these questions today are just as important as them.  I only have the questions that I wrote and the answers, each question was answered offline over a 3 hour writing period in a morning or afternoon, over a 4 day period.  There was an oral exam afterwards.

The topics were:

Internet Studies

Philosophy of Technology

Politics of Technology

Cultures of Technology

1. You are to write about security issues on networks – from electrical networks, to telegraph and telephone, and then to the Internet and wireless networking.  Discuss the engineering and design considerations, such as Vannevar Bush’s work on electrical networks (and as expressed in more recent work like Networks of Power).  Relate the earlier work to contemporary issues in Internet and network security.  How were the concerns expressed in the earliest days of networking similar and different than the ones expressed now?  Is there something fundamental about the concept of a network that demands considerations of security (i.e., is security an element of network infrastructure), or is the consideration of security external to networks, a social, cultural, economic, political (etc.) “overlay,” or do those intertwine, and with what consequences?

2. You have just agreed to write a review essay on Internet Studies for the journal of Science, Technology, and Human Values.  Produce a first draft of your essay, taking care to draw extensively from your reading list while clearly identifying, describing, and comparing the main approaches in this field.  Also be sure to identify questions that merit greater attention but have not yet been pursued sufficiently?
3. What are the differences of approach between philosophy of science as it is practiced in American-Anglo traditions and continental traditions of philosophy?

4. Who are some of the contemporary philosophers of science and technology and what are their primary differences and similarities?  Where do you place my work in relation to their wok in the philosophy of science and technology, especially given the problems for philosophy posed by an age of autonomous technologies?

5.Where are the relations of power in science and technology?  How do power and knowledge interplay in technoscience systems? What is the role of the state and other actors in science and technology policy?

6.Discuss various approaches to the relation of technology and politics.  In what sense are technologies political?  Do artifacts have politics, does politics use artifacts, or should we invoke a seamless techno-politics?

7. Identify three central problems or issues in the STS literature that a focus on Internet studies helps clarify, extend, or otherwise exemplify.  What gaps or omissions in the STS literature can Internet studies help resolve or fill in?  In other words, what does Internet studies contribute to the knowledge of STS more broadly?  Here the focus should be upon the STS literature per se.

8. Connection metaphors abound in STS, critical theory, and on the Internet – networks, rhizomes, webs, links, social worlds, communities, etc.  Compare and contrast various such metaphors, discussing their strengths and weaknesses for the type of theorizing you hope to do.

scos presentation proposal

I proposed this for the annual standing conference on organizational symbolism conference “serious fun”… and it was accepted. it is a spin off the darknets research i’ve been pursuing on the side for a year… so now there are two papers in development on this topic… I’m sharing it so people can see more clearly some of the topics that i engage with for ‘fun’.

Toying with governance: darknets, surveillance, and resistance
By jeremy hunsinger

This paper argues that ethics of playful hacking as a mode of resistance that operate within and through internet systems counteracts government control of the darknets. Specifically, I argue that as governments seek more surveillance and control over the internet, they will have less control of technical elites, who in a mode of playful jouissance construct oppositional technologies.

Darknets are securitized internet networks that operate either over existing networks through encrypted traffic on those networks, or increasingly they are mixes of those networks and either planned or ad-hoc mesh networks. Mesh networks are computer to computer networks that route date across, by routing it through the computers themselves sans intermediation by the internet. While these darknets exist within and through the commercial internet, their traffic can be governed by the commercial providers and the governments that govern those providers, mesh routing bypasses even that control and forces a different strategy to address the governance of content and its distribution. This new strategy for surveillance and control of media is device based monitoring, but even that might be bypassed by using non-standard operating environments.

Thus I conclude that given the socio-technical parameters of future darknets, that the governments who seek to regulate and control content on the internet are forced into position of either hypersurveillance of individual devices or to abdicate monitoring and content provision to the communities themselves.

However, no matter how the government constructs the system of governance, the playful mode of resistance will enable the creative re-creation of darknets and other securitizing technics that will allow darknet technologies.

Fellowship and Conference

Since Tuesday I have been in Milwaukee visiting SOIS and CIPR as part of my Information Ethics fellowship. I attended a discussion about a possible future conference on translating intercultural information ethics across the situated understandings that term implies across a plurality of contexts. That seems like a great project, I’m happy to help out there. For the rest of the time, I attended the conference Thinking Critically:Alternative Perspectives and Methods in Information Studies. It was an excellent conference and I met many interesting people in the field of information studies, most of which are leaders in their field or soon to be so. I also attended the 2008 Samore Lecture: “Interpreting the Digital Human,” by Professor Rafael Capurro, at the Allis Museum, which provided an excellent end to the conference. I had excellent dinners and conversation with colleagues that I’ve not seen for some time, and with new friends and colleagues. I suspect that I’ll be seeing many of these people again over the years. It was a great experience all around, though I did not get enough writing done on a promised paper that is overdue. It really looks like the CIPR and SOIS are up to some great things and I’m happy to be affiliated with them as an Ethics Fellow for another year.

Unrelated to the conference and my fellowship, I had the opportunity to meet and talk with Thomas Malaby who has a book forthcoming on Linden Lab. We spoke at length about problems of research, computer game studies, his work with Linden Lab and his related work. It was a fantastic conversation and I hope to have similar conversations in relation to my work in Second Life in the future.

All in all the problem of alternative methods and the communities that support them is an important issue in my career. I have been affiliated with many groups on this topic from Phil Graham’s old NewMediaResearch, heterodox economics, and the political science perestroika movement list, to my current work with InterpretationandMethods and Theory, Policy and Society, not to mention my work with the Association of Internet Researchers. The work that I perform is primarily interpretive methods, from ethnography to textual analysis, though I’ve been known to use quantitative when it adds to the argument. The key to me though is to come to notion of understanding and being able to communicate what actually leads to certain understandings of the world. It concerns me that there are so many people with so many of the same issues across so many different disciplines and there is so little conversations amongst them. Though there are broad interdisciplinary efforts and efforts toward inclusion.

Cultural Ethnography: A Brief Report

Cultural Ethnography: A Brief Report:
A user in the usability lab is like a tiger in the cage, helpless!
Study him in his natural habitat!

this is a short report from an hci practitioner who has moved into the realm of ethnography. i think it captures one of the main failures of much of hci lab centricity, though… it could be states more broadly as. behavior in lab environments is not normal behavior, that includes the mental process and mode of preparedness of the individual, thus lab based hci does not map onto everyday use of computers in homes, businesses, etc. except in the most general senses of interaction’

WSIS Golden Book Publication

WSIS Golden Book Publication:
More than 375 submissions were made to the Golden Book by governments, international organizations, NGOs, companies and individuals, describing their work towards promoting ICT activities. ITU estimates that the activities announced during the Tunis Phase to promote WSIS goals represented a total value of at least € 3.2 billion (US$ 3.9 billion). Governments committed to implement projects for some € 1.9 billion, representing nearly two-thirds of estimated total value of all commitments, while international organizations pledged to carry out activities for around half that amount, i.e. 0.83 billion Euros. Business entities announced plans to realize projects for around 0.35 billion Euros and civil society projects amount to least 0.13 billion Euros.


a handy reference.

The Best and Worst Internet Laws

The Best and Worst Internet Laws
Date: Apr 20, 2007 By Eric Goldman.
Over the past dozen years, the lure of regulating the Internet has proven irresistible to legislators. For example, in the 109th Congress, almost 1,100 introduced bills referenced the word Internet, and hundreds of Internet laws have been passed by Congress and the states. This legislative activity is now large enough to identify some winners and losers. In the spirit of good fun, Eric Goldman offers an opinionated list of personal votes for the best and worst Internet statutes in the United States.


this is a good read… it covers in a U.S.-centric way some of the most important internet issues of our day.

from Doc: The Living Edge

The Living Edge:
David Sifry has just put up The State of the Live Web, April 2007. To explain the Live Web, he points to a pair of pieces I wrote in 2005. If you’d like a more visual explanation, follow the slides from this talk I gave at OSCON last summer, starting here.


Doc points toward Dave’s use of some of his work in the live web and more important the communal or collective web as compared to what might be thought of as the individualistic web. Of course, in my view, the www is a policy regime, a device that constrains and constructs relationships, not merely among data, but primarily among humans. The current transformation of the web into user-generation and user-integration is fascinating because it is making possible a much broader mode of awareness, communication, and community construction.

UNESCO Survey on Infoethics Released

UNESCO Survey on Infoethics Released:

“Ethical Implications of Emerging Technologies”
A UNESCO survey on INFOethics

Cover of the publication, copyright UNESCO

The survey was prepared by Mary Rundle and Chris Conely of the NGO Geneva Net Dialogue at UNESCO’s request.

In presenting the results, an introductory story is first provided of how the technologies covered relate to one another. Infoethics goals are then presented. Subsequently, for each technological trend surveyed, the report contains a short chapter drafted in lay terms to provide an overview of the relevant technology and to highlight ramifications and concerns. The infoethics analysis is then summarized and the story of the emerging technologies revisited. Finally, the report offers recommendations on ways to advance infoethics goals in anticipation of these oncoming technologies.

The ethical, legal and societal implications of ICTs are one of the three main priorities of UNESCO’s Information for All Programme and UNESCO was recently designated as the Facilitator for the implementation of Action Line C10 “Ethical Dimensions of the Information Society” of the Geneva Action Plan adopted by the World Summit on the Information Society.

International Journal of Internet Research Ethics

Announcing the release of the International Journal of Internet Research Ethics

Call for Papers for the Premier Issue of IJIRE

Description and Scope:
The IJIRE is the first peer-reviewed online journal, dedicated specifically to cross-disciplinary, cross-cultural research on Internet Research Ethics. All disciplinary perspectives, from those in the arts and humanities, to the social, behavioral, and biomedical sciences, are reflected in the journal.

With the emergence of Internet use as a research locale and tool throughout the 1990s, researchers from disparate disciplines, ranging from the social sciences to humanities to the sciences, have found a new fertile ground for research opportunities that differ greatly from their traditional biomedical counterparts. As such, “populations,” locales, and spaces that had no corresponding physical environment became a focal point, or site of research activity. Human subjects protections questions then began to arise, across disciplines and over time: What about privacy? How is informed consent obtained? What about research on minors? What are “harms” in an online environment? Is this really human subjects work? More broadly, are the ethical obligations of researchers conducting research online somehow different from other forms of research ethics practices?

As Internet Research Ethics has developed as its own field and discipline, additional questions have emerged: How do diverse methodological approaches result in distinctive ethical conflicts – and, possibly, distinctive ethical resolutions? How do diverse cultural and legal traditions shape what are perceived as ethical conflicts and permissible resolutions? How do researchers collaborating across diverse ethical and legal domains recognize and resolve ethical issues in ways that recognize and incorporate often markedly different ethical understandings?

Finally, as “the Internet” continues to transform and diffuse, new research ethics questions arise – e.g., in the areas of blogging, social network spaces, etc. Such questions are at the heart of IRE scholarship, and such general areas as anonymity, privacy, ownership, authorial ethics, legal issues, research ethics principles (justice, beneficence, respect for persons), and consent are appropriate areas for consideration.

The IJIRE will publish articles of both theoretical and practical nature to scholars from all disciplines who are pursuing—or reviewing—IRE work. Case studies of online research, theoretical analyses, and practitioner-oriented scholarship that promote understanding of IRE at ethics and institutional review boards, for instance, are encouraged. Methodological differences are embraced.

Publication Schedule:
The IJIRE is published twice annually, March 1, and October 15.
Submissions are accepted on a rolling basis, and are subject to
Editorial and Peer Review.

Editors- in- Chief:
Elizabeth A. Buchanan, Ph.D.
Director, Center for Information Policy Research
School of Information Studies
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Charles M. Ess, Ph.D.
Distinguished Research Professor
Drury University

Editorial Board:
Andrea Baker, Ohio University, USA
Heidi Campbell, Texas A&M University, USA
Radhika Gajjala, Bowling Green State University, USA
Jeremy Hunsinger, Virginia Tech, USA
Mark Johns, Luther College, USA
Leslie M. Tkach-Kawasaki, University of Tsukuba, Japan
Tomas Lipinski, JD, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, USA
Ulf-Dietrich Reips, Universität Zürich, Switzerland
Susannah Stern, San Diego State University, USA
Malin Sveningsson, Ph.D., Karlstad University, Sweden

Style Guidelines:
Manuscripts should be submitted to; articles should be double-spaced, and in the range of 5000-15,000 words, though announcements of IRE scholarship, case studies, and book reviews of any length can be submitted for review. Please ensure that your manuscript is received in good format (proper English language usage, grammatical structure, spelling, punctuation, and compliance with APA reference style). The IJIRE follows the American Psychological Association’s 5th edition. Articles should include an abstract no longer than 100 words, full names and contact information of all authors, and an author’s biography of 100 words or less.

In the spirit of open access, IJIRE authors maintain copyright control
of their work. Any subsequent publications related to the IJIRE work
must reference the IJIRE and the original publication date and url.

Web site: