Writing & Projects
Your Online Participation As Commodity
There exists a rhetoric of participatory culture that fosters the concept that, through globally networked computers, cultural production is now in the hands of more individuals than ever before. That we will be free to participate in producing software and culture–the two becoming increasingly intertwined–in non-market collaborative modes constructing a new ownership model structured around distribution rather than exclusion. Law Professor Yochai Benkler’s The Wealth of Networks offers a sophisticated analysis exemplifying this cultural shift. Benkler contends that we currently are “in the midst of a technological, economic, and organizational transformation that allows us to renegotiate the terms of freedom, justice, and productivity in the information society.”
Yet we see this idea ever more challenged in practice. Commercial incentives have seen the emergence of massive corporations out of the supposedly egalitarian Internet. With very real monopolies like Google now looming large we must ask hard questions about the nature of our digitally mediated economy and society. Are the most recent digital monopolies flukes, or are monopolies still an overall feature of the networked world? Despite early proclamations that the Internet could resist monopoly, is there some broader systemic reason why monopoly has re-emerged at this juncture of the Internet?
In this paper, I explore Yochai Benkler's discussion of new non-commercial forms of cultural production by juxtaposing these conceptions with excerpts from Tobias Schäfer's Bastard Culture. This analysis is framed through the lens of David Singh Grewal’s Network Power: The Social Dynamics of Globalization and guided by the long perspective provided by Fernand Braudel's seminal analysis of the emergence of Capitalism in Capitalism and Material Life, 1400-1800...
Capturing, Tracing, and Visualizing the Spread of Technology-Enhanced Instructional Strategies
Disarming the Patent Wars
Intellectual property law in the US has noble intentions, "to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.” Patent in particular was designed to protect and incentivize the inventor to innovate. However, through decades of evidence, particularly as observed in software and digital technology, it is becoming clear that patent protection serves more to protect entrenched monopolies than incentivize innovation. Patent is not a particularly powerful incentive to innovate; in fact over time it increasingly functions inversely to this goal. More deeply, patent is intrinsically incompatible with the nature of technology. The modular nature of technology sees patent gridlock becoming an inevitable fixture of any sufficiently advanced technological landscape...
Synthetic Biology & Newness
On May 20, 2010, the J. Craig Venter Institute announced it had created the world’s first self-replicating synthetic (human–made from chemical parts) genome in a bacterial cell of a different species. In response, President Obama tasked the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues to explore and review the developing field of synthetic biology, with an eye toward ethical boundaries and risk mitigation. They published “New Directions: The Ethics of Synthetic Biology and Emerging Technologies” in December of 2010. Aside from ethical and efficacy explorations the report takes time to explicitly discuss the newness of synthetic biology, and the Commission takes a decidedly pragmatic stance on said newness...
Hidden Metric Spaces Underlie Network Topology - Surveying New Theories
Some years ago I began to wonder: how does information propagate inside of networks? Does it have general dynamics that hold true across all networks? I wanted to know beyond the symptom level, I wanted to know what flowing “looks like” at the level of node-to-node communication. How does a given node “see" the inside of a network?
University of California San Diego
Political Science/International Relations B.a.
2008 - 2012
Can Modern Drone War Be Just?
In its current usage as a targeted killing platform, the Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) or ‘drone’ represents a fundamental challenge to the idea of proportionality as discussed in just war theory. In combining surveillance and strike into a singular package devoid of risk to its operators, RPA have become a destabilizing force to the ideas of justice in war–jus in bello–and justice of war–jus ad bellum–due to the shift in risk calculation that their unique capabilities allow. The concept of proportionality is understood as managing the use of force such that it does not become a greater evil than the one it is fighting. In removing any threat to operators’ lives, the drone critically unbalances the notion of proportionality and risks making the choice to deploy lethal force seductively easy...