braceThe themed issue of the Fibreculture journal on Trolls and the negative space of the internet has been released, with a raft of amazing articles, including my piece ‘Olympic Trolls: Mainstream Memes and Digital Discord?’ looking at the mainstreaming of some techniques associated with trolling, using a case study of a Facebook group lamenting the quality of Channel 9’s coverage of the 2012 Olympics.

The abstract:

While the mainstream press have often used the accusation of trolling to cover almost any form of online abuse, the term itself has a long and changing history. In scholarly work, trolling has morphed from a description of newsgroup and discussion board commentators who appeared genuine but were actually just provocateurs, through to contemporary analyses which focus on the anonymity, memes and abusive comments most clearly represented by users of the iconic online image board 4chan, and, at times, the related Anonymous political movement. To explore more mainstream examples of what might appear to be trolling at first glance, this paper analyses the Channel Nine Fail (Ch9Fail) Facebook group which formed in protest against the quality of the publicly broadcast Olympic Games coverage in Australia in 2012. While utilising many tools of trolling, such as the use of memes, deliberately provocative humour and language, targeting celebrities, and attempting to provoke media attention, this paper argues that the Ch9Fail group actually demonstrates the increasingly mainstream nature of many online communication strategies once associated with trolls. The mainstreaming of certain activities which have typified trolling highlight these techniques as part of a more banal everyday digital discourse; despite mainstream media presenting trolls are extremist provocateurs, many who partake in trolling techniques are simply ordinary citizens expressing themselves online.

The full paper is freely available online, and as a PDF.

I’m at MediaCityUK in Salford for the annual Association of Internet Researchers conference (IR13) and today gave the first of three papers I’m involved with. Today’s was part of a great pre-conference session organised by Holly Kruse. My talk was called “News and Trolls: Olympic Games Coverage in the Twenty-First Century”; it’s very much a work in progress, but the slides are embedded below in case anyone’s interested.

Sadly I didn’t record the audio, so the slides may lack contextualisation.

Interesting links for August 1st 2008:

  • Malwebolence – The World of Web Trolling [NYTimes.com] – A really fascinating article from Mattathias Schwartz trying to take a serious look at the more extreme edge of trolling culture, searching for meaning behind what at first glance are random acts of online cruelty. Schwartz paints the biggest trolls as quite complicated people, who have their own rationale for what they do, albeit often quite a hard to comprehend one. [Via Christy Dena]
  • Rebooting America (Book) [Personal Democracy Forum] – The blurb: “The Personal Democracy Forum presents an anthology of forty-four essays brimming with the hopes of reenergizing, reorganizing, and reorienting our government for the Internet Age. How would completely reorganizing our system of representation work? Is it possible to redesign our government with open doors and see-through walls? How can we leverage the exponential power of many-to-many deliberation for the common good?” The entire collection is available online, for free, as pdfs and features lots of people you know, or should know, like Yochai Benkler, danah boyd, Howard Rheingold and Clay Shirky. The whole thing is released under a Creative Commons license, too! [Via danah]
  • Beijing lifts some internet restrictions: IOC [ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)] – “The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Chinese organisers have agreed to lift all internet restrictions for the Beijing Games, IOC vice-president Gunilla Lindberg says. “The issue has been solved,” Ms Lindberg said. “The IOC Coordination Commission and the Beijing Olympics Organising Committee (BOCOG) met last night and agreed. “Internet use will be just like in any Olympics.” ABC journalists in Beijing said they could access internet content about Tiananmen Square and other previously banned websites. But it was not immediately clear if the restrictions had been lifted outside hubs for foreign media.”
  • Oh happy day — the new Delicious is here [delicious blog] – No longer del.icio,us, Delicious had an overhaul, a facelift, and now resides at delicious.com. To see what’s different, check out the video or read What’s New.For readers of this blog, the biggest difference will be that I can now use 1000 characters in teh notes section, so my annotated links posts will often have considerably more annotation! :)
  • Scrabulous Returns As Wordscraper [All Facebook] – “One of the big news stories this morning is that the Argarwalla brothers who founded Scrabulous have launched a similar application called “Wordscraper”. The application, which is similar in style to Scrabulous, has attracted over 8,000 people so far. It also appears that the brother no longer have an announcement message on Scrabulous and have instead completely pulled down the application.” (That said, using Facebook in Australia I still have perfect access to Scrabulous today!)
  • Blocked websites ‘not Olympics related’ [ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)] – “Internet censorship in China is now being allowed during the Olympic period on the basis that the blocked websites are not related to the Games. The stance is a backdown on earlier promises made by the International Olympic Committee (IOC)…”