Category: dissertation

Cultural Studies Association 2011 Presentation

On Friday I will be delivering part of my dissertation chapter on whiteness and lan parties. Unfortunately I won’t be able to really take in the conference because I have to be back in town for more research at a LAN party starting Saturday.

I’m delivering another portion of the chapter next month at another conference. I’ll post those slides then but until then here’s the slides I’m going to use at the cultural studies conference:

First LAN party and first LAN game?

I’m working on the intro to my dissertation on LAN parties and I realized that it might be good to talk a bit about the origins of LAN parties. So I’m wondering when the term “LAN party” first came into use. Can anyone remember hearing or using the actual term “lan party” pre-Doom?

I’m also interested in tracking down early PC lan games. I’ve tracked it back as far as games like 1990-91’s Spectre which sold a special “lan pack” but I’m wondering about games before that. I’m looking for games that functioned like traditional lan parties do where people use their own computer in the same room. I’m interested in games on personal computers and not earlier games that ran on mainframes so I don’t think things like Spacewar or even early MUDs are really what I’m looking for. I’m also not interested in games where two people would play side-by-side on the same computer.

If anyone can help me find the origin of the term “lan party” or early pc lan games I would greatly appreciate it!

New Year’s Resolutions 2011

I usually don’t bother making New Year’s resolutions but this year I’m making a couple.

The most important one is to finish my dissertation. I think that one’s pretty doable since I’m nearly finished with the first draft of my last chapter (I should finish it this week). I need to write the intro and conclusion too but I’m pretty sure I should be able to defend my dissertation in the fall.

The second one is related to the first: get a job. I’m sick of being a poor college student!

The third resolution is to get a couple real articles published. This will, of course, help me to get the second resolution accomplished.

The final resolutions are to learn some web programming and video editing. I’ve got the basics of both. I’ve edited some home movies, messed around with html, and I took an intro to programming course a couple years ago but I’m not well enough versed in either of those. In the New Media academic world a lot of the openings also want people to be able to teach either programming or video production and I’m not really qualified to do either.

The Pirate Academic in the Digital Age

Or maybe it should be the Digital Academic in the Pirate Age?

Anyway, I’m backing up my data including stuff I have on dvds since I’ve heard burned dvds might not last very long. I see that I have around 500 gigs of stuff including various videogame documentaries, news coverage, websites, interviews, youtube videos, and newspaper and magazine articles. Some of the stuff is pretty rare so I would hate to lose any of it. I bought two extra drives and my plan is to back up everything on both of them and take one to my parent’s house so I have off site backup (I’d love to set up something like a pogo plug at my parent’s house but I’m still a poor grad student.). I have the idea that this stuff will be useful as research one day but the truth is that I’m something of a low level hoarder (I don’t have a pet so there’s no danger of finding its dessicated remains under a pile of junk and there’s not much chance I’ll be burried alive by bits and bytes).

The problem with all of this is that, as you may have guessed from the title, is that while a large amount of that data has been obtained by using my dvd recorder to record stuff off of television probably just as much if not more of it has been downloaded from bittorent sites. So I’m a pirate. MPAA you can come and get me. There might be some illegally downloaded music on my computer so RIAA you can come and get me too.

I don’t deny the legality of it. What I do question is the morality. Let’s face it, the odds of my getting sued are pretty slim. Moreover, academia has a pretty long record of infringing on copyright anyway by making copies of articles for students without paying for them. Heck, I’ve even done it with a book that one of my advisers edited.

On the other hand, most people in the media are helpful to academics and I’ve actually gotten a free copy of an episode of a show from a cable network when I emailed them about it and I have had a couple indie documentary makers send me stuff when I inquired about it. So maybe I could get copies of some of this stuff through legal means. Does getting it through piracy make it less moral? I think so since I don’t have permission even though I doubt they would care since nearly all the stuff I’ve downloaded hasn’t been available for purchase (which is kind of weird since there is a demand for this stuff since I still get hits on the post I made about the video game documentary Tony Hawk hosted so there must be some people out there who want to see that stuff (although I guess in that instance they did make that available for purchase since it is listed on Amazon). Moreover, I haven’t uploaded the stuff that I was given by the cable channel or the documentary maker so I must feel like it is somehow a bad thing and a breach of trust (the cable company did make me sign a form promising I wouldn’t share the tape).

I do feel like being an academic does make a difference. I’m not downloading this stuff just because I want it. I like videogames and all but I’m not that fanatical that I would download every video I find related to computers or videogames. But is “it’s for research!” a valid reason? I’m sure that the judge wouldn’t think so but I’m not so sure what an ethicist would think.

So until I hear from an ethicist or the MPAA or RIAA brake down my door I’ll just wear my pirate hat with shame.

…And no I won’t send you a copy of my stuff.

2010 the year we try to finish writing dissertations?

Last semester I was teaching 5 classes so I didn’t get much writing done. This semester I’m back to teaching only 2 classes so I am going to try to bang out drafts of the rest of this dissertation thing.
Of course that means I would have to look for a job and there aren’t many of those around at the moment…

For the next chapter I really want to get into what I’m calling “mixed-mode” communication. I’m interested in looking at how people will communicate both through computers (including things like phones even though I’m only focusing on gaming) as well as through non-computer mediated ways. How do people sitting near one another chose to talk over ventrillo or something and when do they talk directly to one another. Or when they might talk directly to one another but they are referring to something in the game like telling a teammate to go somewhere and using their in game character to point in the direction or something like that.

Dissertation Chapter Bibliography

I’m finishing up the first draft of the first chapter of my dissertation (it isn’t actually chapter 1 which will be the lit review and such but just the first chapter I’ve written) and so I decided I would post the bibliography from the draft to give folks an idea of what I’m writing about.

This is a straight cut and paste from my paper so no nice formatting or turning urls into links.

Accardo, Sal “Sluggo”. “Team Fortress 2.” Gamespy 10 Oct 2007. 13 Jun 2009 .

Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. Verso, 1991.

boyd, danah. “Why Youth ? Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life.” The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning – (2007): 119-142.

Clark, Michael, and Olaf Thyen. “gemütlich.” The Concise Oxford German Dictionary. Oxford University Press, 2004. 8 Jun 2009 .

Critical Arts Ensemble. “Utopian Promises – Net Realities.” Howard Rheingold’s Brainstorms 14 Nov 1995. .

Ducheneaut, Nicolas, Robert J. Moore, and Eric Nickell. “Virtual “third places”: A case study of sociability in massively multiplayer games.” Computer Supported Cooperative Work: The Journal of Collaborative Computing 16.1 (2007): 129-166.

Fine, Gary Alan, and Sherryl Kleinman. “Rethinking Subculture: An Interactionist Analysis.” The American Journal of Sociology 85.1 (1979): 1-20.

Goffman, Erving. Behavior in Public Places. New York: Free Press, 1966.

—. Encounters: Two studies in the sociology of interaction. Macmillan Pub Co, 1961.

Granovetter, Mark. “The Strength of Weak Ties: A Network Theory Revisited.” Sociological Theory 1 (1983): 201-233.

Haythornthwaite, Caroline. “Introduction: The Internet in everyday life.” American Behavioral Scientist 45.3 (2001): 363.

Haythornthwaite, Caroline, and Barry Wellman. “The Internet in everyday life.” Ed. Barry Wellman & Caroline Haythornthwaite. The Internet in everyday life (2002): 3-41.

Hendricks, Thomas S. “Simmel: On Sociability as the Play-Form of Human Association.” Play and Educational Theory and Practice. Ed. Donald E. Lytle. Praeger Publishers, 2003. 19-32.

Komito, Lee. “The Net as a Foraging Society: Flexible Communities.” The Information Society 14.2 (1998): 97-106.

Koster, Ralph. “The Laws of Online World Design.” Ralph Koster’s Home Page 13 Nov 2005. 3 Jun 2009 .

Kraut, Robert et al. “Internet paradox. A social technology that reduces social involvement and psychological well-being?.” The American Psychologist 53.9 (1998): 1017.

Licklider, J. C. R., and Robert Taylor. “The Computer as a Communication Device.” Science and technology 76.21 (1968): 621-626.

Monsef, Kiyash J. Gamers: A Documentary. 2003. .

Muuss, Mike. “The Story of the PING Program.” 19 May 2009. 19 May 2009 .

Nohria, Nitin, and Robert Eccles. “Face-to-Face: Making Network Organizations Work.” Technology, Organizations and Innovation: Critical Perspectives on Business and Management (2000): 1659.

Noyes, Dorothy. “Group.” The Journal of American Folklore 108.430 (1995): 449-478.

Oldenburg, Ray. Great Good Place. second. Marlowe & Company, 1999.

—. “Third Places.” Encyclopedia of community: from the village to the virtual world. Ed. K. Christensen & D. Levinson. Sage Publications Inc, 2003. 1373-1375.

Putnam, Robert. Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community. Simon & Schuster, 2000.

Rheingold, Howard. The Virtual Community: Finding Commection in a Computerized World. Addison-Wesley Longman Publishing Co., Inc. Boston, MA, USA, 1993.

Shah, Dhavan, Nojin Kwak, and R. Lance Holbert. “”Connecting” and” Disconnecting” With Civic Life: Patterns of Internet Use and the Production of Social Capital.” Political Communication 18.2 (2001): 141-162.

Simmel, Georg. “The sociology of Georg Simmel.” Trans. Kurt H Wolff. Glencoe, IL: The Free Press.(Original work published 1908) (1950). .

—. “The Sociology of Sociability.” Trans. Everett C. Hughes. The American Journal of Sociology 55.3 (1949): 254-261.

Steinkuehler, Constance A., and Dmitri Williams. “Where Everybody Knows Your (Screen) Name: Online Games as “Third Places”.” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 11.4 (2006): 885-909.

Stewart, Kym, and Hyewon Choi. “PC-Bang (Room) Culture: A Study of Korean College Students’ Private and Public Use of Computers and the Internet.” Trends in Communication 11.1 (2003): 63-79.

Turkle, Sherry. Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet. Simon & Schuster, 1995.

Van Gelder, Lindsy. “The strange case of the electronic lover.” Computerization and controversy: Value conflicts and social choices (1991): 364-378.

Weinreich, Frank. “Establishing a Point of View Toward Virtual Communities.” CMC Magazine 4.2 (1997). .

Wellman, Barry, and Milena Gulia. “Net-Surfers Don’t Ride Alone: Virtual Communities as Communities.” Ed. Barry Wellman. Networks in the global village: Life in contemporary communities (1999): 331-66.

I’ve been using Zotero to manage my citations and it is pretty nice. It is miles better than endnote in that it isn’t a baffling program that is cryptic, non-intuitive, and doesn’t tell you if something doesn’t work. It has some rough spots such as the fact that firefox has to be open when you are writing in word for it to actually input the citations or the fact that I crashed it once when I tried to cut and paste a page number into its page number form.

Dissertation writing

The summer is here and that means one thing: lots of writing.
I’m starting to write the dissertation and I’m 15 pages in on my first chapter. I’m starting to get burned out from writing so much but I’m going to go see the new Terminator tomorrow. I know it isn’t getting very good reviews but big deal, right?
I’m writing about the community of LAN parties and coming up a bunch of question without answers. Is it a community? if so, in what way? Is it a thrid place? Oldenburg explicitly says that a room full of people playing videogames isn’t a third place but he was writing that back before multiplayer games were common. However, he also makes a big deal about talking as being very important but there isn’t much talking going on at the LAN parties….
So many questions!
And the new Team Fortress 2 update is out!