My avatar across the web: a photo of my feet in grey-white socks and brown sandals.

Ben Babcock

3 Articles in February 2011

  1. Stage-managing the most popular one-person show

    The Facebook image for those with no profiles, modified to wear Groucho Marx glasses

    Each time I try to compose a post for my philosophy class, I resolve not to discuss Facebook or Google this time. I keep mentioning them, using them as examples, to the point where one might think I spend all my time using one or both of those services. Not so. Not even close.

    Wait, sorry, need to check Gmail on my Android phone….

    Well, I will succeed in not mentioning Facebook and Google eventually. Not today. No, because for my second critical response, I am discussing "Friend Me if You Facebook: Generation Y and Performative Surveillance," by E.J. Westlake. This article is in volume 52 of TDR: The Drama Review, available through Project MUSE (couldn't find an openly-available copy, sorry). We will be discussing this during week eight of class.

    This is an article that is exactly what it says on the tin (or title, as the case may be). Westlake discusses how Generation Y uses Facebook, arguing that members of older generations tend to be dismissive of Generation Y's proactive use of Facebook, focusing on it only as a tool that promotes exhibitionism and apathy. At the same time, she examines how one's activities on Facebook is…

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  2. Your Internet may be monitored for quality control purposes

    Poster advertising the surveillance of London Metro stations by CCTV

    This is a critical response to David Lyon's "The World Wide Web of Surveillance: The Internet and off-world power-flows," published in the Spring 1998 issue of Information, Communication & Society. Those of you lucky enough to have a university account that has access to such things can find it there; those of you following along at home can read the earlier version presented at a Canadian Association for Information Science meeting in 1997.

    That was the single most difficult aspect when considering my response to this reading: it was written in 1997. True, that's only 13 years ago--but the World Wide Web itself is only 20 years old. That is pre-Google, the entity that has, perhaps more than any other Internet-based company, single-handedly changed the way we use the Web--not to mention introduced a suite of privacy and surveillance concerns that weren't around in 1997. So as a technophile upstart who came to the Web in 2004 and writes in HTML5, I had to keep my reservations regarding the article's age in check. After all, despite the changes since Lyon wrote this, most of the article is still valid. There are parts that read as outdated, and I'll…

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  3. Android Rocks My World, Part 1: Gmail, Twitter, and social networking

    Back in December, I mentioned that I got a new phone, my first smartphone. This is the first in a hopefully lengthy series of blog posts chronicling my passionated love affair with my Android phone and how it is changing my behaviour and habits. Previously, in a sort of prelude, I discussed Swype and how I'm attempting to get used to it as a superior form of text input on a mobile device. Today I'll cover the basics: email, social networking, and instant messaging.

    Being able to read and send emails on the go was my primary reason for getting a smartphone. I do not phone many people, but I do send a lot of email; it's the primary way I communicate with my dad, when he's at work, with my profs, and with some of my friends. Although Lakehead is finally beginning to roll out WiFi around the campus, it's nice to have a phone with a data plan that lets me check my email wherever I want. Plus, I find it makes me slightly more productive.

    I have trouble switching off, in that it makes me tempted to check if I have new email every five minutes.…

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About Me

I’m a 26-year-old math and English teacher back in Canada after two years teaching in England. In my free time, I read books! When I’m not reading, I’m writing, coding, or knitting.

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About this site

I started coding websites, in bad HTML on Geocities, in 2004 in a fit of whimsy. Since then I’ve learned PHP/MySQL, coded my own blog software, and rebuilt this site several times. With the exception of the blog, it’s currently running on the exquisite Symphony CMS. This website is hosted by HawkHost

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