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The Telecom Digest for June 22, 2010
Volume 29 : Issue 168 : "text" Format

Messages in this Issue:
  One nation, online                                         (Monty Solomon)
  Inside the mind of the anonymous online poster             (Monty Solomon)
  Re: Inside the mind of the anonymous online poster       (Garrett Wollman)
  Yes, People Still Read, but Now It's Social                (Monty Solomon)

====== 28 years of TELECOM Digest -- Founded August 21, 1981 ====== Telecom and VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) Digest for the Internet. All contents here are copyrighted by Patrick Townson and the individual writers/correspondents. Articles may be used in other journals or newsgroups, provided the writer's name and the Digest are included in the fair use quote. By using -any name or email address- included herein for -any- reason other than responding to an article herein, you agree to pay a hundred dollars to the recipients of the email. =========================== Addresses herein are not to be added to any mailing list, nor to be sold or given away without explicit written consent. Chain letters, viruses, porn, spam, and miscellaneous junk are definitely unwelcome. We must fight spam for the same reason we fight crime: not because we are naive enough to believe that we will ever stamp it out, but because we do not want the kind of world that results when no one stands against crime. Geoffrey Welsh =========================== See the bottom of this issue for subscription and archive details and the name of our lawyer, and other stuff of interest.
Date: Sun, 20 Jun 2010 21:07:45 -0400 From: Monty Solomon <monty@roscom.com> To: telecomdigestmoderator.remove-this@and-this-too.telecom-digest.org. Subject: One nation, online Message-ID: <p0624084bc8446891e352@[]> One nation, online The push to make broadband access a civil right By Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow | June 20, 2010 If you're one of the millions of Americans who use broadband Internet at home, you probably take for granted how deeply it's woven into your life. It has transformed the way we pay our bills, seek romance, procrastinate, and keep abreast of politics and the lives of friends. The pre-Google era has become a distant, hazy memory. If anything, many of us often half-wish we could escape the Internet's clutches. The constant connectivity can be a shackle as much as a convenience. Our habits have even triggered a serious debate about whether all that clicking and toggling is warping our brains. But as the Internet grows more and more important to modern life, some are now asking a different kind of question: Should broadband access be a civil right? It may seem strange to put the technology that brought us Facebook in the august category where we place voting, or trial by jury. But increasingly, activists, analysts, and government officials are arguing that Internet access has become so essential to participation in society - to finding jobs and housing, to civic engagement, even to health - that it should be seen as a right, a basic prerogative of all citizens. And in cases where people don't have access, whether because they can't afford it or the infrastructure is not in place, the government should have the power - and perhaps the duty - to fix that. The idea is already gaining traction both overseas and in the United States. In 2009, Finland passed a law requiring telecom companies, as of next month, to make broadband available to all citizens, even in remote areas. UN conferences have featured discussion of an international "Internet Bill of Rights" that would include the right to affordable access; a Pew survey of attendees at the 2007 UN Internet Governance Forum in Rio found that a majority of the respondents supported the idea of such a bill. And the notion is not confined to the progressive spheres of Europe and the UN: In Washington, at least two of the five commissioners at the Federal Communications Commission, Michael Copps and Mignon Clyburn, have said that broadband needs to be seen as a civil right. As Internet use becomes ever more widespread, advocates say, it becomes an indispensable venue for activities like speech and political participation. More and more government functions are gravitating online; a vast and growing segment of social and cultural life now unfolds on the Web. The Internet, these advocates argue, has not only created a new world, its prevalence has also made it a prerequisite for full membership in the old one. ... http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2010/06/20/one_nation_online/
Date: Sun, 20 Jun 2010 21:07:45 -0400 From: Monty Solomon <monty@roscom.com> To: telecomdigestmoderator.remove-this@and-this-too.telecom-digest.org. Subject: Inside the mind of the anonymous online poster Message-ID: <p0624084dc8446b4b86f6@[]> Inside the mind of the anonymous online poster These users comment on everything from today's news to hotel rooms. Many are harmless. But some are ruthless. Who are they exactly, and why do they do what they do? By Neil Swidey | June 20, 2010 On Monday, May 17, at 2 p.m., a breaking news article headlined "Obama's aunt given OK to stay in United States" hits the home page of Boston.com. In a matter of seconds, the first anonymous online comment appears. A reader with the handle of Peregrinite writes, "of course she can . . . can someone appeal." Certain topics never fail to generate a flood of impassioned reactions online: immigration, President Obama, federal taxes, "birthers," and race. This story about Obama's Kenyan aunt, who had been exposed as an illegal immigrant living in public housing in Boston and who was now seeking asylum, manages to pull strands from all five of those contentious subjects. In the next few minutes, several equally innocuous posts follow, including a rare comment in favor of the judge's decision. Then the name-calling begins. At 2:03 p.m., a commenter with the pseudonym of Craptulous calls the aunt, Zeituni Onyango, a "foreign free-loader." Seconds later comes the lament from Redzone 300: "Just another reason to hate are [sic] corrupt government." News websites from across the country struggle to maintain civility in their online comments forums. But given their anonymous nature and anything-goes ethos, these forums can sometimes feel as ungovernable as the tribal lands of Pakistan. At Boston.com, the website of The Boston Globe, a team of moderators - or "mods" - monitor the comments. Actually, with just one or two mods on per shift, and an average of more than 6,000 comments posted every day, on every corner of the site, the mods could never hope to monitor all the simultaneous chatter. Instead, they focus on evaluating the "abuse reports" that commenters file against one another. For Steve Morgan, a veteran editor who coordinates the monitoring, the color of trouble is red. The crimson message at the top of his computer screen keeps a running total of the abuse reports that are awaiting action. Some complaints don't ultimately turn up abuse - coarse language, ad hominem attacks, and the like - but rather just a political stance that the person doing the complaining doesn't care for. So a mod needs to evaluate each complaint and decide either to remove the comment or let it stand. Over the next two hours, the comments about Obama's aunt keep flying, the abuse reports continue to climb, and the mods scramble to remove the many posts - both conservative and liberal - that they determine have crossed the line. Some comments are enlightening, on both sides of the issue. (Madriver1 offers statistics showing that, of nearly 40,000 asylum requests filed last year, more than one-quarter were granted.) Some are unintentionally funny. (GLOBEREADER83 chastises another commenter for having written "good grammar" instead of "proper grammar," but in both cases misspells it as grammer.) And many are not just mean, but make-you-want-to-shower nasty. There are references to Muslim bombers, Somalian pirates, "teabaggers and xenophobes," America becoming "a 3rd world socialist hellhole," and crude comparisons between Aunt Zeituni and James Brown, and between the first family and farm animals. At 3:41 p.m., when the commentary has degenerated into all-out combat, hummlarry writes, "Obama is Kenyan and he is illegal and president. We have been invaded by non-americans and the liberals are to blame. I hope that one of the liberals feels the pain by being broken into by a needy illegal and then maybe they will get it. Deport them all." Not long after that, Boston.com staffers take the drastic and relatively rare step of turning off the comments function on that particular article. (For certain types of stories, such as those involving personal tragedies, the comments section is turned off from the start.) Poof - hundreds of comments about Obama's aunt disappear. Too many abuse reports had been pouring in; by day's end, the total number would be 1,330 - twice the daily average for the previous month. More than that, the commentary had reached its tipping point. The pros of hosting a robust, freewheeling conversation had become outweighed by the cons of all the venom and nastiness, by people who are allowed to name-call without any obligation to reveal their own names. ... http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/magazine/articles/2010/06/20/inside_the_mind_of_the_anonymous_online_poster/
Date: Mon, 21 Jun 2010 16:11:05 +0000 (UTC) From: wollman@bimajority.org (Garrett Wollman) To: telecomdigestmoderator.remove-this@and-this-too.telecom-digest.org. Subject: Re: Inside the mind of the anonymous online poster Message-ID: <hvo2up$rju$1@grapevine.csail.mit.edu> In article <p0624084dc8446b4b86f6@[]>, Monty Solomon <monty@roscom.com> cut-and-pasted a Boston Globe article which said in part: >Not long after that, Boston.com staffers take the drastic and >relatively rare step of turning off the comments function on that >particular article. (For certain types of stories, such as those >involving personal tragedies, the comments section is turned off from >the start.) Poof - hundreds of comments about Obama's aunt disappear. I don't understand why any serious news organization would allow anonymous comments on its Web site (with the exception, perhaps, of its editorials). -GAWollman -- Garrett A. Wollman | What intellectual phenomenon can be older, or more oft wollman@bimajority.org| repeated, than the story of a large research program Opinions not shared by| that impaled itself upon a false central assumption my employers. | accepted by all practitioners? - S.J. Gould, 1993
Date: Sun, 20 Jun 2010 21:40:41 -0400 From: Monty Solomon <monty@roscom.com> To: telecomdigestmoderator.remove-this@and-this-too.telecom-digest.org. Subject: Yes, People Still Read, but Now It's Social Message-ID: <p06240855c844727133e7@[]> Yes, People Still Read, but Now It's Social By STEVEN JOHNSON June 18, 2010 "THE point of books is to combat loneliness," David Foster Wallace observes near the beginning of "Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself," David Lipsky's recently published, book-length interview with him. If you happen to be reading the book on the Kindle from Amazon, Mr. Wallace's observation has an extra emphasis: a dotted underline running below the phrase. Not because Mr. Wallace or Mr. Lipsky felt that the point was worth stressing, but because a dozen or so other readers have highlighted the passage on their Kindles, making it one of the more "popular" passages in the book. Amazon calls this new feature "popular highlights." It may sound innocuous enough, but it augurs even bigger changes to come. Though the feature can be disabled by the user, "popular highlights" will no doubt alarm Nicholas Carr, whose new book, "The Shallows," argues that the compulsive skimming, linking and multitasking of our screen reading is undermining the deep, immersive focus that has defined book culture for centuries. With "popular highlights," even when we manage to turn off Twitter and the television and sit down to read a good book, there will a chorus of readers turning the pages along with us, pointing out the good bits. Before long, we'll probably be able to meet those fellow readers, share stories with them. Combating loneliness? David Foster Wallace saw only the half of it. Mr. Carr's argument is that these distractions come with a heavy cost, and his book's publication coincides with articles in various publications - including The New York Times - that report on scientific studies showing how multitasking harms our concentration. Thus far, the neuroscience of multitasking has tended to follow a predictable pattern. Scientists take a handful of test subjects out of their offices and make them watch colored squares dance on a screen in a lab somewhere. Then they determine that multitasking makes you slightly less able to focus. A study reported on early this month found that heavy multitaskers performed about 10 to 20 percent worse on most tests than light multitaskers. These studies are undoubtedly onto something - no one honestly believes he is better at focusing when he switches back and forth between multiple activities - but they are meaningless as a cultural indicator without measuring what we gain from multitasking. ... http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/20/business/20unbox.html
TELECOM Digest is an electronic journal devoted mostly to telecom- munications topics. It is circulated anywhere there is email, in addition to Usenet, where it appears as the moderated newsgroup 'comp.dcom.telecom'. TELECOM Digest is a not-for-profit, mostly non-commercial educational service offered to the Internet by Bill Horne. All the contents of the Digest are compilation-copyrighted. You may reprint articles in some other media on an occasional basis, but please attribute my work and that of the original author. The Telecom Digest is moderated by Bill Horne. Contact information: Bill Horne Telecom Digest 43 Deerfield Road Sharon MA 02067-2301 781-784-7287 bill at horne dot net Subscribe: telecom-request@telecom-digest.org?body=subscribe telecom Unsubscribe: telecom-request@telecom-digest.org?body=unsubscribe telecom This Digest is the oldest continuing e-journal about telecomm- unications on the Internet, having been founded in August, 1981 and published continuously since then. Our archives are available for your review/research. We believe we are the oldest e-zine/mailing list on the internet in any category! URL information: http://telecom-digest.org Copyright (C) 2009 TELECOM Digest. All rights reserved. Our attorney is Bill Levant, of Blue Bell, PA. --------------------------------------------------------------- Finally, the Digest is funded by gifts from generous readers such as yourself who provide funding in amounts deemed appropriate. Your help is important and appreciated. A suggested donation of fifty dollars per year per reader is considered appropriate. See our address above. Please make at least a single donation to cover the cost of processing your name to the mailing list. All opinions expressed herein are deemed to be those of the author. Any organizations listed are for identification purposes only and messages should not be considered any official expression by the organization.
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