Monthly Archives: September 2007

Defense Day

Today is the day.

Defense is at 19:00 here in Barcelona.

Overcast. People seem relaxed. Way more of my Catalan fmaily than I expected will be in attendance. GULP.

The calmness of the moment in which all has passed out of my control is upon me.

Thanks for the multitude of well-wishing and crossed fingers.

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Filed under life, PhD


In Watts’ Six Degees there is a description of the great tulip craze of 1634 in the Netherlands.    One bulb fetches an extraordinary amount of value: armor, a complete bed, a ton of beer and a last of wheat and a last of rye, among other things.

It has been bugging me.  A last, acccoridng to the OED is:

2. A commercial denomination of weight, capacity, or quantity, varying for different kinds of goods and in different localities. Cf. G. last.
Originally the ‘last’ must have been the quantity carried at one time by the vehicle (boat, wagon, etc.) ordinarily used for the particular kind of merchandise. As a weight, it is often stated to be (like the Ger. weight of the same name) nominally equivalent either to 2 tons or to 4,000 lbs. In wool weight it is 4368 lbs. (= 12 sacks). A last of gunpowder is said to be 2,400 lbs. (= 24 barrels), and of feathers or flax 1,700 lbs.

The equivalence of the last of wool with 12 sacks seems to have led to an association of the word with the
number twelve. Thus a last of hides was formerly 12 dozen (also 20 dickers of 10 hides each); of beer 12 barrels; of pitch 12 (sometimes 14) barrels; of cod and herrings 12 barrels (but of red herrings and pilchards 10,000 to 13,200 fish).
As a measure for grain and malt, the last was in the 16th c. 12 quarters, but is now 10 quarters = 80 bushels.

That is one hell of a financial bubble!

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Filed under economic sociology, Network Dynamics, words

Persuasive Games

Persuasive Games – We design, build, and distribute electronic games for persuasion, instruction, and activism.
Our games influence players to take action through gameplay. Games communicate differently than other media; they not only deliver messages, but also simulate experiences. While often thought to be just a leisure activity, games can also become rhetorical tools.

Virginia told me about seeing the founder, Dr. Eric Bogost, on the Daily show.  Seems like it will be a good resource for Second Life/Synthetic Worlds project.   I’ll need to explore more when I get the chance.


Filed under Gaming, pedagogy

Law and Letters: Comparing Organizational Theory Courses

Law and Letters: Comparing Organizational Theory Courses

A comparison of different OT classes in different departments.  More later…

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Filed under higher education

Roosevelt Institute: Very Cool Idea

This caught my eye form the Chronicle of Higher Education.( Sorr, it’s behind a firewall.  Fools.)

The Roosevelt Institute.

Its a student think tank that takes student good ideas from papers and projects and tries to bring the best to fruition.  There are local chapters.  I want Bucknell to have one!

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Filed under Uncategorized

Social Network Analysis and Thought Crime

SOCNET, the list serv of INSNA, sent me this blog post about how the tools of SNA could be used as a tool of the state and therefore of oppression.

United States of Consciousness: Social Network Analysis and Thought Crime

I am sympathetic to abuses of power of the state.  And I can imagine the kinds of uses of SNA that raise troubling questions.  The whole discourse around terror suspects is, well suspect.  “Is a known associate of Mr. Evil.”  What does it mean to be a known associate?  What if I am two degrees away from a terrorist?  Or what if he is my brother and all the airtime recorded on the phone is me trying to talk him out of his ways.  The author recommends disconnecting from the system.

In other words state control will be absolute. Thought crime will be predicted and corrected without the subject even knowing about it. If you are an activist or campaigner working against the state and the corporations that support it then you need to consider getting yourself off the records as much as possible – although, due to the insidious power of social network analysis you will never be entirely out of their gaze.

Two issues: first, this is relational analysis, not social network analysis per se.  This is not a big argument for m.  But it does suggest the next.  Secondly, and more importantly, the fundamental complexity of the social interactions the author imagines being able to be targeted in such a focused way is very high.  This complexity may mitigate against the kind of dystopia author imagines.  Even if I am right about the fundamental complexity, it doesn’t mean emboldened state agencies won’t try to exert total subtle control over dissent using the tools of SNA.


Filed under Government, Information and Communication Technology, Social Networks, Terrorism