Welcome to the Digital CrossRhodes — the intersection of Vincent Rhodes' academic, artistic & professional lives.

Chasing Windmills

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

NOTE: These images were posted as a course exercise using Flickr. These aren’t great samples of my ability to take photographs.

As the lyric from the Toad the Wet Sprocket song goes: “I spend too much time chasing windmills…” On the way home from Thanksgiving festivities, we decided to take Route 30 — a more scenic journey than our normal route. Last year, we unexpectedly encountered some windmills climbing above the tree line. I was fascinated. Here was a cluster of giants rearing before us. The blades were hardly moving. I was taken by their size and the unxpectedness. All I had was my iPhone (not the best camera) to document the sighting.

As we drove home this year, we purposely chose Route 30. We had a small camera with us this time and thought we’d try to snap a few shots. We were amazed again. The windmills had multiplied. And, this time, their blades were turning in enormous graceful arcs. I probably should have attempted to capture some video, but forgot. The day was overcast and cold and the landscape blanketed in snow. The contrast of the white spires wasn’t as sharp as last year when we had blue skies and plenty of sunshine. At some point, I’d like to travel Route 30 in the spring to have a better shot at capturing them against a blue sky and green fields.

You can see a few more photos on my Flickr page.

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SNS: Definition, History, & Scholarship

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Since Chvonne will have presented some background on danah boyd, I’ll focus on Nicole Ellison in this entry. Ellison is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies and Media at Michigan State University. He primary interest is how new information and  technologies shape social processes. She has published extensively and you can see an incomplete list of those works on her research page. Ellison has a blog and she also recently won a grant to study the role of social network sites in facilitating collaborative processes.

Ellison and boyd define social network sites as “web-based services that allow individuals to: (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system” (211). The authors choose the term “network” over “networking” because they choose to place emphasis on the network itself as opposed to the ability to meet strangers. According to boyd and Ellison, the rise of social network sites reflect a shift in the organization of online communities. Rather than communities organized along topical hierarchies, social networks are orgnized on personal or “egocentric” networks.

In their historical review of the development of social network sites, the authors note a few key observations:

  1. Research suggests SNS tend to support pre-existing social networks.
  2. There is sometimes a disconnect between privacy concerns and actual online behavior with participants expressing varying levels of trust for different sites.

[NOTE: This summary/post is incomplete.]

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Peering into Disaster with Liza Potts

Sunday, November 8th, 2009
Liza Potts, Old Dominion Uniersity

Liza Potts, Old Dominion Uniersity

Okay, so this is a little odd. We’ve been doing brief bios for the authors we’ve been reading throughout the semester. But, in this case, you all know the author. She’s our professor. In any event, here are some of the usual details: She’s clearly on Twitter, we’ve seen her Academia.edu page, and we’ve visited her LinkedIn account. You can see a link of selected publications on her ODU faculty page. Potts earned her undergraduate degree from Florida Atlantic University and her Masters and PhD from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

In Peering into Disaster: Social Softawre Use from the Indian Ocean Earthquake to the Mumbai Bombings, Potts defines social software as “any Internet-based networked system that provides a space for people to come together, share and exchange information, and build community, however temporary it may be.” She notes that interactions studied occurred across a variety of platforms/services including LiveJournal, BBC News, Craigslist, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and blogs.

Potts uses Actor-Network Theory (ANT) as a critical framework for evaluating interactions via these social networks. In her 2008 article Diagramming with actor network theory: A method for modeling holistic experience, she explains:

ANT suggests that we examine human and non-human actors equally, giving neither priority [7]. Thus people and technology are regarded as equal agents of action. According to ANT, actors are constantly in motion, creating and leaving networks and associations with other actors. Rather than pigeonhole these associations, ANT seeks to observe these traces and let the actors instruct the designer as to what the connections might mean (np).

You can review more about ANT on Wikipedia. Bruno Latour’s Reassembling the Social is an excellent resource for more in-depth study of ANT.

(more…)

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