Don’t Hate the Phone Call, Hate the Phone

Our telephone habits have changed, but so have the infrastructure and design of the handset.

One of the ironies of modern life is that everyone is glued to their phones, but nobody uses them as phones anymore. Not by choice, anyway. Phone calls—you know, where you put the thing up to your ear and speak to someone in real time—are becoming relics of a bygone era, the “phone” part of a smartphone turning vestigial as… read more


The Cathedral of Computation

We’re not living in an algorithmic culture so much as a computational theocracy.

Algorithms are everywhere, supposedly. We are living in an “algorithmic culture,” to use the author and communication scholar Ted Striphas’s name for it. Google’s search algorithms determine how we access information. Facebook’s News Feed algorithms determine how we socialize. Netflix’s and Amazon’s collaborative filtering algorithms choose products and media for us. You hear it everywhere. “Google announced a change to… read more

Ian became a fan of Marshall McLuhan on Facebook and suggested you become a fan too.

In Facebook and Philosophy: What's on Your Mind?, edited by D.E. Wittkower

In Facebook and Philosophy I received two degrees from the University of California, Los Angeles, but Facebook won’t let me join the UCLA network. A Facebook network is an organizational category that allows my profile to come up when someone searches or browses in a particular group. At different stages in the life of the service, networks have been organized… read more

Objects and Videogames

Why I Am Interested in Both

Like every sane person who does anything in public, I egosearch to see how people are reacting to things I’m doing. I use a few tools, but mostly Icerocket, which offers a condensed view of blog, Twitter, news, and Facebook reactions to search terms. The latter results are new, thanks to Facebook’s recent privacy “upgrades” that allow wall posts to… read more

Dropping Out to Enroll

A Question About Academia.edu

I’ve been noticing a lot more activity via Academia.edu (it’s a social network for academics, for those of you fortunate enough not to be one and who might not be familiar). I wonder if folks are creating new accounts or reanimating old ones partly because of recent dissatisfaction with Facebook’s ongoing privacy woes. Though ironically, Academia.edu’s account landing page currently… read more

The Sanitary Handheld

Public Rhetoric and the iPad

I swore I wasn’t going to write anything about Apple’s newly announced iPad, but I suppose it’s unavoidable. Instead of its benefits or flaws, however, what’s interested me the most about the gadget is the public reaction to its name. It seems that back in 2007, MadTV wrote a spoof of Apple’s raging devicitude, in the form of a parodic… read more

Cascading Failure

The Unseen Power of Google's Malware Detection

I often worry about the consequences of what Siva Vaidhyanathan calls Googlization, the way Google is changing and disrupting the creation and dissemination of ideas. I’ve resisted using Google services like Gmail and Google Docs, despite their popularity and, in some cases, their convenience. I’ve mostly been disinterested in allowing Google to mine and profit from my information, but this… read more

Learning from Amazon Associates

Referral reports and privacy, insight, surprise

Like many, I use the Amazon Associates affiliate marketing program when linking to books and some other products from my websites. It’s a simple referal service. Users can create links and when readers on their websites follow those links and make purchases, Amazon pays a referral fee. There are lots of ways to use the Associates service, but I mostly… read more

CNN Headline T-Shirts


I woke up this morning and went through my usual rounds of news. I was surprised to see little t-shirt icons next to some headlines on CNN.com It turns out CNN has a new service (a “beta” one, for effective Web 2.0 cred), CNN T-Shirts. You can order a t-shirt with the headline of choice, along with the date it… read more

Finally, Smart Web 2.0 Critique

A special issue of the journal First Monday

The open-access online journal First Monday has just published a special issue devoted to critiques of Web 2.0. There have been few such attempts heretofore, the most well-known being fellow Colbert Report guest Andrew Keen’s naive and poorly-argued book The Cult of the Amateur. Thankfully, the articles in First Monday’s special issue are top-notch, and everyone should go read them,… read more