Hello!

Posted August 21, 2008 by meaningfulconnections
Categories: anthropology, Internet, Internet in the Middle East, online social life, socialnets

Welcome to Meaningful Connections, which will become a semantic web of studies, articles about and examples of things that interest me about the social life of information technologies, particularly Read the rest of this post »

Cyperspace Generation Gap – Google is So Yesterday, Everybody is on Facebook

Posted July 11, 2009 by meaningfulconnections
Categories: anthropology, online social life, social software, socialnets, wiredworld

I don’t twitter.  The concept does not grab me like it does my students.  Some brag about, more just aver to, micro-blogging their activities and observations 140 characters at a time.  Being constantly “in touch” seems to occupy for them some of the functional space that punctuality does for earlier generations, those of a “certain age” older than some of their parents.  When I tell them that part of the invisible curriculum in college is to learn to make appointments and to be on time, they just shrug,  say “whatever,” and ask why, if they’re constantly available (with those who matter to them) instead.  Instead of points of contact, they seem to think in terms of degrees or modulations of contact.[1]

I can see Read the rest of this post »

Cyberspace, Civil Society & Internet Biographies in the Middle East

Posted March 16, 2009 by meaningfulconnections
Categories: Internet, Internet in the Middle East, online social life, social software

Tags: ,

From a talk delivered at ‘Focus Asia: Media Cultures and Politics in Asia and Beyond’ at Lund University (26-27 February 2009)

We all seem to be grappling with the new millennium through lists. So, for this part of the conference on Democracy, Civil Society, and the Public Sphere in Old and New Media, I want to add Cyberspace and Internet Biographies in the Middle East. My goal is to tie tie these topics to what kind of social contract is emerging with networked communications. Since all of these concepts, and the data assembled around them, are problematic, let me begin with Read the rest of this post »

The Internet’s Two Histories in the Middle East: Narratives & Networks of IT Implantation in Four Arab Countries

Posted August 30, 2008 by meaningfulconnections
Categories: anthropology, Internet in the Middle East

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The Internet is a strong attractor of other stories, almost from its beginnings and almost everywhere it spreads.  For engineers seeking support to develop the Internet (Hart et al., 1992; Abbate 1999), it was democratic access to information; for politicians, the information superhighway.  This is also true in the Middle East, a late comer and slow Read the rest of this post »

What to read about the Internet today, and how

Posted August 27, 2008 by meaningfulconnections
Categories: anthropology, social software, socialnets, wiredworld

Tags: , , , , , ,

Sometimes people ask me what to read about the Internet, about IT & Society, maybe about my own research area on the Internet in the Middle East. I usually recommend books not on the Internet but on Silicon Valley. Not for the usual reasons that it’s Everest, Mecca or Ground Zero for the Internet or IT, or for hero stories, but for  Read the rest of this post »

Cybernauts of the South Pacific

Posted August 26, 2008 by meaningfulconnections
Categories: anthropology, Internet, Internet in the Middle East, wiredworld

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Some anthropologists tell students that the most famous ethnography to have unraveled a whole society, Bronislaw Malinowski’s Argonauts of the Western Pacific (1922), starts at the beach. It doesn’t actually, but that’s too good a story not to be part of professional socialization. The book describes a vast scheme of relationships, activities and meanings that are gathered up in a system of interisland trading at the pinnacle of which is exchange (known as kula) of mystical ritual objects, each laden with a history of previous holders that become part of the identities of new recipients. “I kula, therefore I am” could be their Cartesian rule that gives meaning to all other exchanges there – kind of like email for today’s cybernauts? Is the Internet cafe the new beach? This one’s in Fare, on Huahine,

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Connected 2

Posted August 23, 2008 by meaningfulconnections
Categories: Internet in the Middle East, satellite tv, wiredworld

Tags: , ,

What connection looks like on…

Quay Branly, Paris

Quay Branly, Paris

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“Social Software” as Institutions in On-Line Life?

Posted August 23, 2008 by meaningfulconnections
Categories: online social life, social software

Tags: , , , , ,

Debate once flourished over whether ‘cyberspace’ – and more particularly social life on-line – was embedded within, an extension of, or apart from surrounding social, political, economic, cultural organization. Part of the argument was girdled by technological determinism, a strong form of ‘medium theory’, so called in a bow to the media studies guru Marshall McLuhan. Behind his quip that the medium is the message was a serious theory of communication built on the observation that Read the rest of this post »