Thursday, October 18, 2007

Technology - d'oh

So, I've been having Internet trouble since I got here. In my room when I arrived in the wee hours last night, I had to huddle by the door of my room to get a signal on this laptop, which belongs to the department. Then, all day today, I was unable to detect a signal at all the conference. Thus my agonizing use of the Dell lab all day. It made no sense, everything seemed to be fine, everyone else was connecting properly. I even got some tech support folks to look at it. I felt like the biggest loser at the Internet conference. So, back in my room now. I learned how to remove the keyboard and take out the wireless card. Guess what, the antennae wasn't connected properly. It needed to be pushed in a bit more. Now, everything is fine. I have a good strong signal and I can roam around my room. Geesh. I guess it was connected just enough to pick up the signal if I was very, very close to the access point, but nothing else. It could have come loose during travels or I know that the card was just installed recently...

The rest of the day was fine. I went to some paper presentations on Space and Place. They all had to do with the ways that technology is changing our ideas of physical space. A researcher from Denmark did a paper on Virtual Tourism, how it doesn't replace travel, just enhances it when you do, giving you information, representation through sharing photos and memories of trips, networking with new people about their travels, keeping in touch with people you meet during travels, identity building, or the ways that people use travel to define themselves, and global awareness or how much people use virtual travel to learn about the world.

The next had to do with the shifting nature of the ideas of public and private on blogs and in other social spaces. The interesting points contrasted our traditional view of public/private as dichotomous and that social interaction was based on some level of co-presence. But, the 21st century model is based on complex negotiations of privacy (should I make this available to everyone, no one, just friends, etc) and social interaction is now based on interest more so than place.

The third paper was given by Homer Gil de Zuniga. He is a new professor at UT, and he now teaches the Web Design class that I taught there. This was the first time I was able to meet him in person, although we have had some email exchanges. His paper had to do with developing a model for political participation based on what he termed geo-identity and media use, with a specific focus on implications in the European Union.

Tomorrow, Henry Jenkins is the keynote. I started reading his book on the plane, and there are some good ideas in it about social networking and popular culture, how it generates strong participation and companies would love a piece of that.

I should be better connected tomorrow.

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