‘You’ve got to share. You’ve got to care’: Emotional and Creative Exchange in the My Little Pony Fandom

  Referring to themselves largely (but not uniformly) as Bronies, members of the Internet-enabled MLP (My Little Pony) fandom span multiple platforms and generate a prolific amount of artwork and an intense sense of community. The most prominent fan fiction website, FiMFiction.net, hosts over a billion words from over thirty thousand authors.[1] Reddit boasts over 50 separate subreddits (forums) dedicated to fostering community and content, from /r/MLPdrawingschool to /r/TheoryOfPony. I’ve spent the last month immersed in ethnographic study of online MLP communities, looking at ways that they share and care for one another. This blog looks briefly at some of […]

#Celebgate: Searching for Illicit Content During the 2014 Celebrity Photo Leaks

On August 31st, 2014, nearly 500 sensitive images captured from the mobile phones of various celebrities were released onto 4chan.com. With alarming alacrity, these stolen personal photographs made their way to slightly more mainstream content sites, including Reddit, Tumblr and Twitter. Internet users and media respondents have termed the phenomenon “Celebgate” or, more popularly and vulgarly, “The Fappening” (a portmanteau between happening and slang for masturbation). The leak raised numerous questions about privacy rights online, iCloud security, and the responsibilities of host sites. With the takedown of these photos as an exemplar, how do we search for information that makes […]

Orwell, Huxley, Banksy

Last month two new Banksy installations emerged, and they have something important to say about what we choose to fear in the age of the Internet. In the first piece, a stone-wall mural near the headquarters of GCHQ (Britain’s equivalent of the NSA), three special agents in trench coats and fedoras attempt to surveil a derelict phone booth. In the second, on a wood panel screwed into a stone wall in Bristol, a man and woman embrace in darkness, each halfway breaking their hug to check a glowing smartphone held behind the other’s head. Neither piece was, in itself, very notable. In fact, there was […]

The Dance of Twitter-plomacy

UPDATE: One day after this post was published, Michael McFaul announced his resignation from the post. The New York Times wrote a frank article about him, where his  Twitter skills took front and center. It is good to see mainstream publications are recognizing government talent in digital skills!   Contemporary communication brings a need for diplomacy to even seemingly trivial channels. Case in point: a few days ago, the US Ambassador to Moscow Michael McFaul posted the following tweet about the upcoming Olympics in Sochi: McFaul is in an interesting position on this. On the one hand, the Olympics are an inherently […]

The New ‘Power of Now’ and the Perils of the Hyper-Present

With modern technology, living life ‘in the moment’ has never been easier. But this new nowness is far from what earlier advocates had in mind, and might only be distracting us from the planet’s ever more pressing challenges. Last week’s annual meeting of the World Economic Forum at Davos saw a host of political and business leaders facing up to an ever-growing roster of pressing global problems. But a new article from Douglas Rushkoff suggests that one of the primary challenges these pioneers face relates to the very process of getting things done in the modern age, the result of […]

YouTube Still Appreciates User-Generated Content (For Now)

  “YouTube is popular.” There it is, folks. The safest sentence I have written on this blog. With 60 hours of content uploaded every minute and 4 billion page views every day, the pre-eminent video sharing site has found monumental success. But since 2007, what can be less confidently asserted is that YouTube is a champion of user-generated content, a bastion of hope for the layman with a camera or video file. Of course, a statement like this was tautological when YouTube was created. The only content on YouTube was of the user-generated variety, and so the site fostered the […]

CNN, Some Consistency Please?

CNN recently suspended political contributor Roland Martin after he posted controversial tweets during the Super Bowl. If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about David Beckham’s H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of him! #superbowl — rolandsmartin (@rolandsmartin) February 6, 2012   The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) asked CNN to fire Martin for advocating “violence against gay people.” CNN issued the following statement to the Washington Post: “Roland Martin’s tweets were regrettable and offensive. Language that demeans is inconsistent with the values and culture of our organization, and is not tolerated. We have […]

Is Linkbait the new Classifieds?

The news has always been subsidized; it has never been a money maker. Print newspapers were mechanisms that bundled content and the lucrative parts – automotive, home and garden, classifieds – subsidized the difficult to monetize but incredibly socially valuable national and international news sections. According to a 2010 presentation by Hal Varian, classified ads once accounted for about 32% of total newspaper revenue. Craigslist, monster.com, and other online venues have removed this revenue source for newspapers – even in their online manifestations. Total classified ad revenue declined over 70% between 2000 and 2010 industry-wide, from a robust $19.6 billion […]