Monthly Archives: June 2007

Thesis done!

My thesis, based on my anthropological fieldwork in the Ubuntu community, is finally done, and I turned it in yesterday.

Since I began writing my thesis, I’ve had this as my background screen on my computer:

Don't go native!

Going Native‘ is losing your reflexive anthropological distance by becoming to closely involved with the field. It is taking on some of the cultural traits of the people you study, eventually reaching the point where you can’t even tell yourself apart from your informants.

Naturally, this is a bad point of departure for writing serious anthropological analysis, and I needed that daily reminder not to jump back in to the digital conversation flow on IRC and mailing lists and continue my direct involvement with Ubuntu, which would make writing this thesis so much harder (and most likely make the end result even worse that it has turned out..)

So I left the Ubuntu community for a while, longer than anticipated, actually, as it seems that Parkinson’s Law (stating that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”) remains in effect.

Thus, I won’t be able to defend my thesis until late August because the University of Copenhagen summer break in July. And similarly, I won’t have time to make my thesis available on-line until then, partly because the people I quote in the thesis need to have a chance to read and approve of the data I make public, partly because I will be on summer holidays almost continuously until the 27th of July, and partly because my computer died recently, leaving me with little means of working on the go.

But as a little (tiny) appetizer, here’s the front page:

Thesis front page

Later on, I hope to sum up some of my experiences writing this thesis. I haven’t really been very good at posting updates on how my writing has progressed, but I suppose that is in part due to the thesis tunnel vision that sort of blocks out everything else.

Until then, enjoy the summer!

A computer dies with a whimper

Unfortunately, this time it was my computer. Dear Rosinante served me well for more than 2 and half years, and is quite unlikely to resume service, as it is no longer covered by the warranty and changing its motherboard and CPU is likely to be just as if not more expensive than buying a whole new machine.

It started this morning when I turned the laptop on in order to work on my almost-completed-yet-not-entirely-polished thesis. But after flashing the BIOS, nothing happened. After having turned the machine off and on a few times, only to see the eerie lack of the familiar booting sequence repeated every time.

Long story short, I managed to salvage the hard drive from the poor, not even very old thing, and get at the latest version of my thesis (since I hadn’t taken any backup since Friday and was looking at losing a week of work). I have also been so lucky as to have been able to borrow an old Apple iBook from the department of anthropology, thus making it possible for me to continue working with a minimum of delay.

In that way, this is definitely a happy hardware failure story, if there are any such (well, apart from the fact that I need to buy a new computer!). But I must say that this underlines both the fragility of computer hardware and the dependence we come to have upon it. And it can be somewhat scary to realize how easy it is to lose your work.

Meanwhile, Rosinante is now set to join my old computer, Toadstool, on the ever-growing electronics junk heap. And that despite that all its organs, bar its most vital, still functions just fine – yet since its whole body is built around that piece, it cannot be revived in another form.

… So, do anybody know any charities interested in laptop parts?

Rosinante

4/11-2004 – 14-6-2007

Rosinante pictured - on the table, obviously.

Good Copy Bad Copy

As the awareness of the issues surrounding copyright and copyleft increases, filmmakers have begun to take notice and make films which focus on these matters.

Recently, Danish state television aired two such films which are now available for streaming off their website. Simply paste the following link

rtsp://streamer-01.dr.nordija.dk:554/DR2Tema1700.mp4

into a movie player such as VLC (go to “Open Network Stream” and paste the link in the rtsp line) to see the films. The first film starts around 5:10 in the stream, so you can safely skip past the first few minutes.

That first film is a Danish documentary called “Good Copy, Bad Copy” which explores how copyright is interpreted differently in different parts of the world with regards to music and movies. A fascinating example is how Gnarl’s Barkley’s smash hit “Crazy” is reinterpreted by Brazilian remixers as a Tecno Brega song to be played at the Sound System parties of Northern Brazil. It’s well worth the watch. Be warned, though: Subtitles are only available in Danish.

The second film, Alternative Freedom, has much more of a manifesto-like quality which is sure to turn some people (including me) off. Yet it is interesting if you haven’t seen or heard much of the Free Software movement yet (I, for my part, may be a bit overexposed to that rhetoric…)

Oh! Update: I just found a shorter, all-English version of Good Copy, Bad Copy here. I suspect you might be able to download the full version from the Pirate Bay – legally, even.