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After a Lengthy Silence...

Never go on holidays... Looks like a few days into my holiday on the Sunshine Coast, one of the electrical storms sweeping through Brisbane these days knocked out the server, even in spite of various forms of surge protection. Ah well - a motherboard replacement and some serious fiddling with Linux later (massive thanks to Nic Suzor for pointing me to the tip that enabled my successful necromancy), here we are again.

And while we're here, I might as well note that the audio and Powerpoint from my Interactive Minds presentation on 27 November are now online. I'm afraid the audio quality is, shall we say, 'for collectors only', but here it is, for what it's worth. This end-of-year IM event aimed to highlight trends in 2008 and predictions for 2009, and regular readers of this blog will recognise a few of my recurring obsessions. Many thanks to Jen Storey for the invite.

2008: The Year of Produsage

Happy new year, everyone - I'm glad we've made it. In this first post for 2008, I'm delighted to announce the launch of a new Website to accompany my forthcoming book and track further research: will be a central space for anything that relates to the concept of produsage - for now, I've already posted up some introductory definitions and background information about produsage, excerpted from the book, a few articles about the concept, and some more details about Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life, and Beyond: From Production to Produsage itself. This doesn't mean I'll discontinue this site, of course - but is now the key site for all produsage information, and I'll cross-post material here as appropriate.

Trying to Remain Faceless on Facebook

So I joined Facebook this week - not because I had a deep and burning desire to do so, but because we've created a youdecide2007 Facebook group as part of the support network for our citizen journalism Website for the upcoming Australian federal election. Since joining, I've received a good dozen of friends requests from friends and colleagues; people have left messages on my wall; I've been invited to events - all of which are pretty regular occurrences on the site, I guess. (The same keeps happening with my LinkedIn account, which I haven't even logged on to for months - apologies for those who've sent me messages wanting to make contact on that site.)

The thing is, though - I still feel deeply ambivalent about Facebook. I need to be on there for research reasons, which means I need to create an account for myself, but at the same time, frankly, I'm just not that interested in actively using that account for my own professional and personal networking. I'm already embedded in what I think are pretty good online and offline social networks (online using a variety of other technologies from email to blogs), and I don't feel a particularly strong urge to recreate them in yet another sociotechnical environment. Other friends and colleagues may feel differently about this, and that's fine, of course; at the same time, this may easily lead to a fragmentation rather than strengthening of social ties in my circle of personal relationships, and I assume that's true more broadly, too.

Trackback as a Casualty in the Spam Wars

Regular visitors to this blog may have noticed that for a few weeks now, there no longer is a trackback facility here. I'm a strong believer in trackbacks; they're an important tool for better connecting the distributed conversations which take place across different sites in the blogosphere. Unfortunately, however, trackback as it exists today remains a highly vulnerable technology; because of its extremely lightweight protocol, there's no reliable way to protect against spammers trying to game the Google PageRank of their Websites by posting thousands of trackbacks with links to their sites all over the Web.

Yes, there are trackback spam filters or general pre-publication approval functions which will at least ensure that such spam trackbacks are never visibly posted to my site; all that's left for me to do is to delete the spam from my trackback queue and to publish the small number of legitimate trackbacks buried in all the spam. But as I found out the hard way, by the time the spam has arrived, the damage is already done.

Resuming Our Regular Service

So, I'm back in Brisbane and I've finally had a chance to post those remaining blog entries from ICA and CATaC. I've also uploaded my photos from the trip to Flickr, and I'll add them and some other materials to blog posts soon. Unfortunately, while I was away there were some problems with my Web and mailserver, so if anyone's emails to me bounced over the last couple of weeks, please resend them.

As I understand it now, the problem may have been caused by the Windows w3wp.exe service, which is part of the Internet Information Services (IIS) suite. This service handles Web server requests and can max out the CPU if too many requests come in at the same time (and at peak time, we sometimes get up to 1000 spam trackbacks per hour - none of which you see because they're usually all caught by the spam filter on the Website). I've now tweaked IIS by setting the 'worker process recycling' values to far lower limits - this means that the server will consume less system memory and CPU time before it starts to clean out old server processes. Hopefully this fixes the problem - and if anyone has useful suggestions for how to set the server limits, please let me know.

After a Lengthy Silence...

I realise I haven't posted here for a while - but that doesn't mean that things haven't been busy on this site. I spent some time upgrading the site to the latest version of Drupal recently, and that's meant some fairly tricky code fixes because some of the Drupal modules I'm running here haven't been fully upgraded to version 4.7.x yet - but at least trackback.module is now out in a new version which incorporates some of my contributions. Good to contribute to an open source project for once, instead of just doing research on them... The new version of Drupal has also switched to a new templating system, so while the look of this site may not have changed much overall, I've had to do some fairly serious reworking of the code underneath. Anyway, that's the reason for the four days' gap in the site statistics which you can see on the front page (and happily the changeover over those days also wiped out four days of trackback spam...).

Where Are All the WYSIWYG Blog Clients?

I made the move to Firefox over the last few days, and as a result I've been exploring the wealth of Firefox extensions which is also available. One of them is Performancing, which adds a basic WYSIWYG offline editor for blog posts to Firefox - and this in turn brought me to look more widely at the current state of blog clients: software which enables the offline writing and editing of blog posts for later submission to a blog, using a standard XML-RPC interface. Unfortunately - especially as far as real WYSIWYG editing is concerned (as opposed to editing plain text with a few HTML tags thrown in) -, there still isn't that much out there. I did find at least a couple of promising options, though.

'Anyone Can Edit' Audio Recording

It's been a busy week - partly also because I'm going on holidays in the middle of next week and wanted to finish a few things before then. So, I spent most of last night working on one of the audio recordings from my recent trip to the U.S.: I've now added a recording from my guest lecture 'Anyone Can Edit': Understanding the Produser - Guest Lecture at SUNY, Buffalo / New School, NYC / Brown Univ. / Temple Univ. to this site. As I said back then, my favourite version of that lecture was the one I gave at Temple University in Philadelphia, and so I worked mainly with that recording; however, I also noticed that for some reason the last few minutes of it were missing from the recording, and so I've spliced in the ending from the Brown University recording a few days earlier. In addition, I also made some minor updates to my list of recent publications, splitting this up into publications, recorded talks, and creative work, and added a box with the most recent stuff in the upper right corner of this blog. Hope that's useful. I'm hoping to add recordings from my Wikinews paper at AoIR 2005, and the Northeastern University New Media Panel, soon.

That Was Interesting...

A few unexpected twists and turns to the day today... Looks like my server IP address changed during the night and that change wasn't detected and reported to the DNS service - sorry if the site seemed down and email didn't work for a while. It should be fixed now (spam's coming in again, yay), and while looking for the cause of the problem I also noticed some very interesting stats over at ZoneEdit, who are my DNS host: turns out that DNS lookups of the domains for M/C - Media and Culture have grown almost exponentially over the last years!

Comments Gone

Bugger. So I was cleaning out some trackback spam from the spam filter, and managed to delete all comments on the site. Apologies to everyone who left a comment - nothing personal... Feel free to add them again.


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