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Check your Facebook privacy settings

Thanks to @SurindRaj I just heard about the most recent Facebook attempt to use your data to make money
Facebook occasionally pairs advertisements with relevant social actions

From what I understand, this means that they want to use your pictures (e.g. your profile picture) in conjunction with ads to - for example - say 'Hey Julian loves ChokkyNutz why don't you try them?'. Actually I guess they wouldn't be allowed to say that, but in any case they clearly want to make their ads more appealing by using pictures of you. An example of this being misused by a third-party application was when a man saw his wife's picture used by a dating site
Cheryl Smith Facebook dating advertisement

Being Americans, I'm surprised they didn't try to make zillions by instigating a law suit, but the story sped around the web, and Facebook responded, basically saying it wasn't their fault and the picture shouldn't have been used in that way.

Anyway - the best thing to do is to stop them by changing your settings in Facebook: Settings > Privacy > News Feed and Wall > Facebook Ads > Drop box: select 'No One' > Save changes.

While you're at it, have a look at some of the other Privacy settings. What do you want people who search for you (and this includes spammers and identity thieves) to see (Privacy > Search)?
Facebook search privacy settings

And how about this one (Privacy > Applications > Settings)?
"Facebook Beacon is a way for you to bring actions you take online into Facebook. Beacon works by allowing affiliate websites to send stories about actions you take to Facebook… If you click "No, Thanks", no stories or information will be published anywhere on Facebook. Any information that was sent to Facebook's servers will be deleted…
[if you don't click 'No thanks'] The next time you visit your home page, you'll see a message remind you that this story is being sent. There are three things you can do with this story: approve the story by clicking Okay, remove the story by clicking "Remove", or ignore the entire message by doing nothing." (How does Beacon work?)

Facebook Beacon settings privacy

Basically - have fun with Facebook, but don't forget that it's there to make money off you, not to help you make friends.

You can also check out a previous related post too - Facebook owns YOU!

Publish or perish - at a price?

I'm a relativey recent arrival in academia, and the more I learn about it, the scarier the pressure to publish becomes. I recently submitted a paper to a journal and got rejected :-( But there was some useful feedback, and I was encouraged by some positive comments too - I think that I may have chosen the wrong journal. But it ain't easy to get it right.

Another thing I've noticed is how the pressure to have conferences and papers on one's resume creates something of an industry which works a bit like this: you pay to go to a conference, and the conference organisers arrange the venue and gather everyone together who've paid in order to present to each other. The organisers pocket the difference, and you get a paper 'published' in the proceedings, or at least you get to say you've presented at a conference.

This institutional pressure has the effect of encouraging certain practices such as recycling papers in different conferences (not forgetting to change the title); the setting up of ever more specialised conferences or journals - usually online ones; universities self-publishing books; and so on. One unfortunate practice a post-graduate student from a Malaysian university told me about was when a senior faculty member agrees to get the faculty to pay for a paper to be published, as long as his/her name was included as co-author.

Which takes me to one example, that spurred me to write this post
Fees and Charges: Authors are required to pay a $550 handling fee. Publication of an article in the International Journal of Sociology and Anthropology is not contingent upon the author's ability to pay the charges. Neither is acceptance to pay the handling fee a guarantee that the paper will be accepted for publication. Authors may still request (in advance) that the editorial office waive some of the handling fee under special circumstances. (IJSA)

Would you want to pay them? It strikes me that being paid to 'handle' submissions is a perfect way to set up conflicts of interest that will undermine the academic credibility of a journal.

I'm not arguing that we should restrict the proliferation of journals and conferences - especially regional ones that can hopefully bring more balance to the dominance of the richer countries in terms of framing academic discourse, and of course it takes money to maintain a journal or organise a conference. But perhaps, at least, there could be some kind of upfront declaration of monetary requirements in journals - the example above was buried at the bottom of the 'Instructions for Authors' and certainly is not mentioned in the 'About' section.

District 9 - sci-fi film coming soon

District 9 is a new movie coming out soon that seems right up my alley - it's about aliens and with an interesting storyline: the aliens seem to have arrived on earth like refugees or something, and are living in different areas - such as 'District 9'. I saw the trailer in Brisbane recently, and at first it looked like a documentary about refugees in a big shanty town or something. But then you see the huge spaceship and alien beings.
District 9 human non-human

They have a pretty cool website - it's that new kind of marketing, called cross-media marketing, I think. The principle is that you generate interest in the content of one medium (e.g. a movie) in another medium (e.g. websites). The first time I remember noticing this was in relation to 'Heroes' - if you type 'Primatech' into Google, you came to an actual site of a company doing what Primatech was meant to be doing, and there's even some “Information Concerning Noah Bennet”, who has left the company, apparently :-)

Anyway, the District 9 website is set up with 'user contributed' videos, links to services from Multinational United (MNU), which I guess is the big evil corporation in the film, games, and even a blog - MNU SPREADS LIES
District 9 MNU spreads lies blogs

that has (amongst other things) a YouTube video of an anti-MNU protest
District 9 MNU YouTube protest video

So, check it out! I'm going to go, with any luck with a ticket to a Nuffnang screening, but anyway it seems like the kind of film I can't miss.

Authenticity and self-interest

Some thoughts after reading this: Quiggin, J. & Potts, J., 2008. Economics of non-market innovation and digital literacy. Media International Australia, (128), 144-50.

The article is a debate about the significance of the non-market productive interactions - with Open Source as the main example.

Quiggin argues that the non-monetary sector will begin to direct the monetary sector, reversing previous pattern of monetisation of non-commercial practices etc. Potts argues that the sectors always interact, and non-market innovations lead into the market.

Quiggin sees a shift back to household production: "innovation is coming from the collective contributions of individuals and households driven by a range of non-economic motives." (146); he also pronounces on forms of rationality - "It is difficult to be both a profit maximiser and a charity. They are indeed competing versions of rationality." (147)

Later Potts kicks in with: "altruistic or otherwise community-minded behaviours are entirely consistent with individual rationality once we account for the existence of the implicit other (mostly future) markets in which the agent perceives themselves to be potentially engaged." (147)

--> Are they arguing about whether or not it's rational to do something altruistically? I'm not sure... but it's a different argument to the one about whether or not the monetary and non-monetary markets are linked. Potts argument ultimately depends on speculating about the motives of the actors, and implying that - whatever they say - the actors are rational and self-interested.

Potts later makes a good point: "it is not the case that there is a domain of markets and market activity on one side, and a domain of non-market activity on the other, but rather an ever-shifting process where behaviours in markets fnd non-market contexts, and this in turn creates new market contexts, and so on." (149)

--> But this does not relate directly to the intentions or motivations of the actor. Motivation is often relative to the beholder, and frequently a post-hoc rationalisation. The assumption of intrinsic self-directed and self-aware action is fundamental to the construction of the authentic self. In contrast to the modernist self-interested rational individual, this authentic self can be marked out symbolically by her ability to deny self-interestedness; the lack of agency implicit in the rational self-interested argument is in opposition to the post-modern paradoxical search for authenticity.

Australia - 'England-upon-Mediterranean'?

One thing I often say when I am describing my impressions of Australia, is that it's kind of like 'England-upon-Mediterranean'. By that I mean that it feels kind of like England - the buildings, the language, the shops, the queues, and so on - but it's sunny! And there's good food and wine :-) The state assembly building is classic 'Empire English' architecture, but there are palm trees in front of it. You can do barbecues in the middle of 'Winter'. And they celebrate Christmas on the beach :-)

It's more than that though: other things happen that remind me I'm on a different continent altogether - I see a black and white bird and I think it's a magpie, but it let's out a melodious squawk and fans its tail feathers and it's most definitely not a magpie! The trees and plants are nearly all different, even an ant I saw yesterday at the bus stop looked different to any I've seen before. The sky is blue, the night sky is full of stars and you can see the clouds drifting off over a large land mass inland.

Talking of bus stops, another difference here (though this is somewhat like UK), is that the bus drivers are friendly. They say good morning to you, or 'G'day mate', when you get on the bus, and of course people respond; many people getting off the bus will call out "Thank you driver!", or some variety of that. People in shops, or wherever, are helpful and friendly, and will try to help you out.

OK it ain't perfect, no doubt if I lived here I would meet grumpy Aussies, and encounter dense bureaucrats as there are anywhere. But generally Australians do a good job of making a nice social environment to spend time in.

One thing that was not so nice was the Friday-night-when-everyone-is-pissed experience in town. That also reminded me of the UK but not in a good way. Anyone who has lived in the UK will surely know that feeling when you are going home late at night and there are loads of noisy drunk people around; of course most of them are just having a good time, but I've seen too many fights and problems happen in those situations to ever feel at ease - unless I'm drunk enough myself of course! :-P

Anyway, generally it's very nice here and, as they say 'No worries!' :-)

Brisbane, Internet studies, malls

I’m feeling a bit lost without my camera, which is interesting as it says something about how important pictures have become for my blogging. For most of my posts, the process is like this: I load pictures (of a blogmeet, a place I’ve been, food I’ve eaten...) onto my computer, delete the ones that are no good, then do a simultaneous process of choosing which ones to use for a blog post and how I will tie them together with words... So now, without pictures, I have change my way of writing posts.

Anyway, I’m still very busy so I’ll just do little stream-of-consciousness thing :-)

I’m in Brisbane right now - attending the OII Summer Doctoral Programme, hosted by the Creative Industries Faculty at Queensland University of Technology (QUT): basically, 30 PhD students from various disciplines who study the internet have been brought together, we are given seminars by luminaries from Internet Studies and explain our PhDs to each other. In other words, it’s perfect for me and I am thanking my lucky stars (maybe the Southern Cross? :-P) for being here. It’s tiring, but good.

Talking about lucky stars, the reason I don’t have a camera is that WW’s car was broken into and her bag stolen; and then I was loaned a camera to come here, but the card decided to die on me...

Brisbane is very nice! The public transport is great (the buses have their own roads!), people are friendly and helpful (though the Australians tend to mumble/swallow their words a bit - which I find difficult to follow), food is good, and you can even get a decent curry laksa! Another thing that struck me is that there are many local public libraries, and there was even one in a mall that I went to yesterday. Now that strikes me as a useful function for a mall! There was also a Post Office in the mall. I don’t think that happens in Malaysia: I think that every mall should be required to fund some public services too - they could have a post office, a health clinic, a police station (may be more complicated), a library, a children’s crèche, an arts centre... Not all of these necessarily, but at least a couple. When you think of it - all that money is spent on malls and for what? So people can spend money and give profits to (mostly) big shop owners and property developers. Not to say there isn’t a social benefit in that too, but malls have become such an important focus of life that is almost completely dedicated to one narrow realm of our social life - the buying of material goods.

I’m here for one more week and will try to update more frequently.