ALCStudies Journal

Advanced Labor & Cultural Studies Web Site & Blog

Monthly Archives: September 2012

Thanks to the Carnegie Library of Homestead

— and Emily Salsberry, Library Services Coordinator, for hosting our September 12th opening of From the ‘Burgh, Abroad and Back Again (Photographs by Dave Schafer). The Carnegie Library of Homestead, built in 1898, operates independently of the Carnegie Library system in Pittsburgh, and provides a wonderful resource to the communities of Homestead, Munhall and the Steel Valley in Southwestern Pennsylvania. The ALCStudies-sponsored show runs at the library through October. See the library’s web site for more information on their hours and location. – CDL

If You Build a Better Mousetrap —

(or website, or blog), will  the world really beat a path to your door? There is some doubt as to whether Mr. R.W. Emerson actually said or wrote this. Still the phrase has become a meme, an element of received wisdom circling our collective psyche. Is it true?

Since essentially being forced to move our site host, we have been very happy with our new home. We receive insightful and interesting comments on the ALCStudies Journal (our blog) from visitors from around the world. If the English is sometimes challenged, it’s all in the cause of diversity and discourse. (N.B. Advanced Labor & Cultural Studies has neither the staff or the multilingual expertise to branch out into other languages for now). So far so good. Some comments challenge our own received wisdom and assumptions. So far so better.

The thing about building a better mousetrap is that, if successful, it invites mice (along with people to catch them), sometimes along with other little critters. In the case of ALCStudies Journal the intended mice are the ideas and the discourse the site encourages and facilitates. But the web being the indiscriminate place it is, other species come to our door as well. Perhaps this is the price of exposure, if not celebrity.  Automatically-generated comments (AKA Spam) now show up in an increasing number of sites. These virtual pests outnumber the desired quarry (i.e., insightful comments and questions posted by real individuals) about 10 to 1). Some mindful person on our staff must take the time and attention to sort through these. The alternative would be to delete them en masse, which we don’t want to do.

Many of what appear the first time to be legitimate comments turn out to be automatically-generated duplicates, such as:

  • I have a blog too. Are you getting spam? (How ironic.)
  • I am a web hosting administrator. We can guarantee you more traffic through SEO [or other named technology]. (Assuming that our main or only goal is to make money by getting more get hits — a spurious assumption anyway)
  • Have you ever thought of translating this site into [Spanish] [French] [Esperanto] [Urdu]? (Yes. See above.)
  • Your blog appears a little bit strange on [Firefox] [Opera] [Safari] on my [laptop] [desktop] [cell phone] [tablet] using [Linux] [WAP] [Android]. (That’s the price of choice in the free market.)

The duplicate comments originate from entities with a fascinating range of real or fictitious names:

  • Skin Care
  • Painters Brisbane Review
  • Purchase the Best Electric Chain Saw
  • Papaya Farm

And my favorite:

  • The Guide to Minimally Invasive Laser Spine Surgery (Which I hope they’re not doing while reading our blog)

Perhaps we should hold a convention. What is the motivation behind making Advanced Labor & Cultural Studies a target for these disparate duplicate comments?  Are the authors hoping we will respond, so they can hijack our e-mail address? Many of the return addresses and URLs appear to be commercial. Is the hope just to get free publicity and get more hits? Are they being generated just because it can be done?

The spambot-generated comments perhaps multiply more like cockroaches than mice. Cockroaches have a long and venerable history of survival on earth. What is a cockroach’s purpose for existing? Perhaps for humans to study and gain perspective from.  So a minor annoyance gives us another subject. Advanced Labor & Cultural Studies examines how technology interacts with culture — including its unintended consequences and abuse.  Thanks.

— DA

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