Archive for the ‘Internet’ Category

This is going to be a bit different from what I usually post on here, but, having stumbled across this, I gotta say something about it in public.

I’ve been a regular, small-time ebay user since 2000. I mainly trade in collectibles: action figures, comics, punk and hardcore records, and other geeky stuff like that. The other day I was doing a broad search to identify an item (toy) that came into my possession. The search terms were “vintage” and “hulk,” which yielded a lot of results to wade through. As I’m scanning through comics and toys and pins and pictures of the wrong Hulk (ie, Hogan) and the like, two adjacent listings’ images stuck out as out of place . . . really out of place. See if you can guess which ones I mean:

Screencap of completed listings since I didn't cap the original search before the auction ended.

Screencap is of completed listings since I didn’t cap the original search before the auction ended.

Yes, the pictures of a kid opening Christmas presents seem more than a bit weird here. Nothing super insidious at first glance, but then out of curiosity I clicked one open to figure out what the hell this was someone was selling. The item for sale was a candid family photograph (as was the other one) listed under “other contemporary images”  and “Trading Cards>Comic>Incredible Hulk.” Yeah, that’s a trading card, right.

Here’s a cap of the auction (as above, as a completed listing rather than the live one I saw at first):

Screen Shot 2013-01-28 at 2.21.03 PM

Here’s a link to the original listing, while it lasts.

If the problem with this listing isn’t apparent enough from the title, here’s an excerpt from the seller’s item description (seller is gydfe55ney, who joined ebay June of last year):

I AM LISTING DOZENS OF ORIGINAL, VINTAGE, COLOR PHOTOS AND COLOR CHRISTMAS PHOTOS OF CUTE HANDSOME YOUNG TEEN BOYS, YOUNG GIRLS AND BABY BOYS.

 
THIS IS A GUARANTEED ORIGINAL AND VINTAGE COLOR SNAPSHOT PHOTOGRAPH SHOWING CUTE HANDSOME YOUNG BOYS.
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I’m not the right person to comment on Aaron Swartz’s death. Plenty of others who are better informed than I have done so already. A few of the more insightful articles I’ve read are:

Lawrence Lessig: “Prosecutor as Bully”

Glenn Greenwald: “The inspiring heroism of Aaron Swartz”

Alex Stamos: “Aaron Swartz Died Innocent”

What I do want to do is reprint Swartz’s “Guerilla Open Access Manifesto” in its entirety and invite some discussion about how academic publishing works and how those who participate in this type of publishing view the prosecution against Swartz (especially in light of pushes for increasingly open access).

My general take is pretty in line with Aaron’s: traditional academic publishing is a dinosaur living on borrowed time that young scholars are pretty much forced to feed. If you don’t publish in respected, old-timey, usually paywall-protected journals, you are reducing your already slim hope of a tenure-track job. The publishers’ commoditization of your work does nothing to compensate you; it merely stands on tradition that you work for pennies while they make a good sum of money off of you and others like you (which you actually indirectly fund, at least as a grad student, through journal subscriptions at the campus libraries paid for by your tuition). Meanwhile, you get backpatted for being such a successful author as to publish in one of these prestigious journals and add that line to your CV. It is a shit system, but, at least for young scholars, there’s very little one can do about it. You aren’t in a position of power at all. And the pushback for flouting the system (what MIT and the prosecutor did to Swartz) reinforces the reality that we aren’t all going to they aren’t about to let us publicly rebel and just toss everything out there for the public to find (though a lot of people have over the years have been doing just this).

Anyway, the text of the manifesto is below the cut. And thank you for everything, Aaron.

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Like a number of people I know, I’ve been reluctant to write online in light of what happened last Friday. Anything I could write, including a bunch of things I’ve got backlogged, seemed so trivial, and the last thing the internet needed was another opinion on the tragedy, so I wasn’t about to write that even if it would have been healthy to purge all the things running around in my head in something beyond a sad or angry twitter post.

Additionally, most of what I did read (and I was indeed reading and retweeting a bit of what others were all-too-willing to post) was shit . . . ideological, reactionary, narrow, disrespectful, etc., and all that despite of intent. More often than not, people need to shut up and think first instead of blurting things out online.

I’m ready to–not sure it is the right phrasing because the effect of events like this doesn’t just go away–move on; and that last sentence in the above paragraph brings me around to a more broad topic that a friend recently published an article on and I’d like to briefly chime in on.

Over at The Awl, my friend Whitney Phillips co-authored (with Kate Miltner) a piece called “The Internet’s Vigilante Shame Army.” The article deals with a lot of what has happened this past year with relation to individual online misdeeds/mistakes/creepiness and the subsequent retribution via doxxing/public shaming/IRL fallout carried out by groups of angry users. It is a long read, and covers a large number of subsets of behavior, but is quite excellent in analyzing one important aspect of where our online discourse is right now.  I strongly recommend anyone who finds this post reading it in its entirety before he or she bothers with the rest of my post.

A declaration of topic from the opening section by Phillips:

If recent high-profile controversies surrounding Violentacrez, Comfortably Smug, racist teens on Twitter, Lindsey Stone and Hunter Moore are any indication, it would seem that many people, members of the media very much included, are increasingly willing to take online justice into their own hands. Because these behaviors attempt to route around the existing chain of command (within mainstream media circles, the legal system, even on-site moderation policies), I’ve taken to describing them as a broad kind of online vigilantism. It might not be vigilantism in the Dog the Bounty Hunter sense, but it does—at least, it is meant to—call attention to and push back against some real or perceived offense.

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