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Internet Studies/Information/Communication

Internet Studies/Information/Communication

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A User’s Guide for Privacy and Protest

With Obfuscation, Finn Brunton and Helen Nissenbaum mean to start a revolution. They are calling us not to the barricades but to our computers, offering us ways to fight today’s pervasive digital surveillance—the collection of our data by governments, corporations, advertisers, and hackers. To the toolkit of privacy protecting techniques and projects, they propose adding obfuscation: the deliberate use of ambiguous, confusing, or misleading information to interfere with surveillance and data collection projects.

In the era of “big data,” science is increasingly information driven, and the potential for computers to store, manage, and integrate massive amounts of data has given rise to such new disciplinary fields as biomedical informatics. Applied ontology offers a strategy for the organization of scientific information in computer-tractable form, drawing on concepts not only from computer and information science but also from linguistics, logic, and philosophy.

In Digital Methods, Richard Rogers proposes a methodological outlook for social and cultural scholarly research on the Web that seeks to move Internet research beyond the study of online culture. It is not a toolkit for Internet research, or operating instructions for a software package; it deals with broader questions. How can we study social media to learn something about society rather than about social media use? Rogers proposes repurposing Web-native techniques for research into cultural change and societal conditions.

Policy for Computing Infrastructure

The emergence of cloud computing marks the moment when computing has become, materially and symbolically, infrastructure—a sociotechnical system that is ubiquitous, essential, and foundational. Increasingly integral to the operation of other critical infrastructures, such as transportation, energy, and finance, it functions, in effect, as a meta-infrastructure. As such, the cloud raises a variety of policy and governance issues, among them market regulation, fairness, access, reliability, privacy, national security, and copyright.

When the Information Preferences of the Media and the Public Diverge

The websites of major media organizations—CNN, USA Today, the Guardian, and others—provide the public with much of the online news they consume. But although a large proportion of the top stories these sites disseminate cover politics, international relations, and economics, users of these sites show a preference (as evidenced by the most viewed stories) for news about sports, crime, entertainment, and weather.

We may imagine the digital cloud as placeless, mute, ethereal, and unmediated. Yet the reality of the cloud is embodied in thousands of massive data centers, any one of which can use as much electricity as a midsized town. Even all these data centers are only one small part of the cloud. Behind that cloud-shaped icon on our screens is a whole universe of technologies and cultural norms, all working to keep us from noticing their existence. In this book, Tung-Hui Hu examines the gap between the real and the virtual in our understanding of the cloud.

Diversifying Participation in the Network Society

Shared public access to computers and the Internet in developing countries is often hailed as an effective, low-cost way to share the benefits of digital technology. Yet research on the economic and social effects of public access to computers is lacking. This volume offers the first systematic assessment of the impact of shared public access in the developing world, with findings from ten countries in South America, Asia, and Africa. It provides evidence that the benefits of diversified participation in digital society go beyond providing access to technology.

Between Humanities and the Digital offers an expansive vision of how the humanities engage with digital and information technology, providing a range of perspectives on a quickly evolving, contested, and exciting field. It documents the multiplicity of ways that humanities scholars have turned increasingly to digital and information technology as both a scholarly tool and a cultural object in need of analysis.

Likers, Haters, and Manipulators at the Bottom of the Web

Online comment can be informative or misleading, entertaining or maddening. Haters and manipulators often seem to monopolize the conversation. Some comments are off-topic, or even topic-less. In this book, Joseph Reagle urges us to read the comments. Conversations “on the bottom half of the Internet,” he argues, can tell us much about human nature and social behavior.

Scholarship in the Networked World

“Big Data” is on the covers of Science, Nature, the Economist, and Wired magazines, on the front pages of the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. But despite the media hyperbole, as Christine Borgman points out in this examination of data and scholarly research, having the right data is usually better than having more data; little data can be just as valuable as big data. In many cases, there are no data—because relevant data don’t exist, cannot be found, or are not available.

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