it appears that the department of sociology and the college of humanities and social sciences at cal state fullterton is hosting a new and exciting exploration of mundane human behavior:

“All around us are ordinary phenomena that can astound us if only we attend to them with the seriousness they do not typically receive: letters and letter-writing, street scenes, routine family life, artistic and cinematic depictions of how we live our lives, everyday work and commercial situations, sociable occasions, nonprofessional sports activities, transportation contexts, venues of legal and political action, viewing televised entertainment, consuming information from various media, and so on. The study of the extreme, outlandish, and “profane” aspects of late 20th century existence has been well-developed and has given rise to many useful theoretical and research tools. Here, we want to turn these analytic tools to the level of everyday life, to examine in microscopic and graphic detail the more mundane, habitual, and quotidian aspects of our existence – including how we define what is “mundane”. These unnoticed, unmarked aspects of our lives are often the most political and yet depoliticized, and it is one of the goals of this journal to expose these processes.”

run – don’t walk – to the inaugural issue and explore such pressing issues as “The Cultural Implications of “Male” Facial Presentation”:

“This paper analyses the cultural significance of male facial grooming, the arts of shaving, clipping and trimming, and the meanings of full beard growth. It draws upon a semiotic interpretation, and reconfigures the overlooked and personalised ritual of daily facial preparation and presentation. The analysis sees
facial hair as a signifier of masculinity, but one which does not remain fixedly within the masculine realm. The radical politicisation of facial hair has been effected through both the gay and the feminist movements, so that the figures of the “bearded fairy”, the “goateed club bunny”, and the “drag king” are their assigned subcultures, but bleed via the mass media into dominant culture.”

sometimes it feels like it’s all-amazon-all-the-time around here. or at least all-intellectual-property-issues- all-the-time. hi. ho. i guess it’s what’s on my mind. anyway, amazon’s ceo, jeff bezos, has weighed in on the protest with a modest proposal that doesn’t really change anything, while cleverly shifting the burden on the patent and trademark office:

“Despite the call from many thoughtful folks for us to give up our patents unilaterally, I don’t believe it would be right for us to do so. This is my belief even though the vast majority of our competitive advantage will continue to come not from patents, but from raising the bar on things like service, price, and selection — and we will continue to raise that bar. We will also continue to be careful in how we use our patents. Unlike with trademark law, where you must continuously enforce your trademark or risk losing it, patent law allows you to enforce a patent on a case-by-case basis, only when there are important business reasons for doing so.

I also strongly doubt whether our giving up our patents would really, in the end, provide much of a stepping stone to solving the bigger problem.

But I do think we can help. As a company with some high-profile software patents, we’re in a credible position to call for meaningful (perhaps even radical) patent reform. In fact, we may be uniquely positioned to do this. ”

it is amusing that bezos shoots for ‘coolness points’ by plugging the manifesto:

“On an important meta-level, one thing to note is that this episode is a fascinating example of the new world, where companies can have conversations with their customers, and customers can have conversations with their companies. I’ve been saying for 4 years now that, online, the balance of power shifts away from the merchant and toward the customer. This is a good thing. If you haven’t already, read the cluetrain manifesto. If you want the book, well…you can get it at several places online…”

tim o’reilly provides a measured response, commending bezos for his direct engagement of customers. i’m sure newbie dot-com ceo’s everywhere will be happy to know that this is now a rule of the new economy:

“I do want to commend Jeff for listening to his customers. He didn’t just hide behind his lawyers, or a PR spokesperson, but engaged directly, demonstrating that he does understand the new rules of the Internet

while admirable – this is technically incorrect – jeff has mostly talked with tim.

editor and publisher examines the corporatization ‘ of weblogs:

“Weblogging by nature has been a solitary pursuit, and its practitioners are mostly independents. But as Gillmor and Cooper are showing us, the model can work on a corporate level — if news organizations are willing to be more free with their notion of what is acceptable content for their Web site.”

apparently, smart media companies will realize that ‘blogging’ will allow companies to more closely approximate the human voice and establish conversations with readers – if they don’t try to sterilize the effort:

Gillmor says eJournal is an experiment in what the Web experience can be. “We’re still trying to figure out what it is,” he says. “That’s part of the fun.” While the columnist is (obviously) at the center of the Weblog with what he writes, Gillmor sees it as facilitating a multi-way conversation between he and his readers, and readers and other readers.

Hosting a Weblog is a way to add a personal voice to the corporate face, says Jim Romensesko, one of the most widely recognized Webloggers.”

i’d have to agree with the the manifesto – this type of phenomenon is not going to stay contained within the news industry – soon enough, companies everywhere will be selecting poor saps from corporate communications to post up pres…er stories that evangelize the party line in an attempt to establish a conversation with the market.

first monday has published a lengthy article on the ‘linux phenomenon’:

“This paper establishes a context for the work of Eric Raymond and his description of the Linux phenomenon, by examining the emerging science of complex adaptive systems pioneered by John Holland, Christopher Langton, Robert Axelrod, among others. Raymond’s evolutionary view is given an extended and more formal treatment under the terms of chaos and complexity, and chaos and complexity under the terms of sociology. In addition, this paper presents an ethnographic account of Linux, amassed from a series of electronic mail interviews with kernel developers. These interviews examine Linux as a social phenomena, which has prompted wide interest and become a subject of heated discussion. Comments and feedback of this paper can be found at”

great. if this study is to be believed, benedryl affects my driving more more than if i were legally drunk. now, somebody is going to really ruin my life by proving that my propensity to bang out e.mails while driving is worse than my habit of breaking open thermometers and playing with mercury.

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