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Friday update

Heather’s out of town for the weekend. Expect nacho consumption in five, four, three . . .

  • Reading: Cyberactivism: Online Activism in Theory and Practice, an edited volume of work on online social movement activity. Alex Havalais, who has done some interesting work on measuring networks of activists (among other things) has a piece (with Maria Garrido) in the volume. Looking at the volume’s introduction, it appears that the editors make some arguments quite in line with the research agenda that Jennifer Earl and I have pursued—specifically, that while online activism productively can be studied using some of our previous conceptions of offline social movement activity, it nonetheless presents some important departures in terms of commitment, collective identity, and organization. Poking through Cyberactivism this weekend may give me more to think about on that subject—and perhaps on lending a social movement-oriented focus to some thinking about open source software projects, an idea I have been kicking around as a potential dissertation topic. With Kieran attending an OSS conference this weekend, spreading around a paper on open source development, the extent and nature of political and economic challenges of such software is on my mind again.
  • An out-of-control wildfire is burning high on Mt. Lemmon this week, and tore through the town of Summerhaven yesterday after jumping fire breaks. Early estimates are that half of the town burned. Summerhaven, recall, was the focus of firefighting concern last year, when the Bullock fire burned tens of thousands of acres in the Catalinas. Heather and I worry that high-profile fires like this are fodder for weird science claims about forest management. The administration’s “Healthy Forests Initiative” offers relatively unregulated cutting as the key solution to big fires, but that approach seems rather short-sighted; small, overcrowded trees, not big trees, aren the hazard when it comes to fires, but it’s big trees that make money for timber companies. When those trees are gone, there’s little economic incentive*** to continue clearing the genuinely hazardous areas. Want an enduring and free-market friendly solution? Implement a genuinely long-term program of controlled burns.
  • Everybody seems to be loving up Not Geniuses lately. Okay, me too. I used to enjoy Matt Singer’s “Left in the West” weblog—political commentary from Montana. He’s teamed up with a couple of other sharpies and put together a nice site. Bringing this little post full circle, they’ve been discussing the MoveOn virtual primary as an example of online political mobilization tools.
  • Check that: little environmentally-acceptable economic incentive; the administration’s plan would allow timber companies to log big timber in non-fire-prone, already-healthy areas.

Update: Fixed wildfire link and added Maria Garrido as author to paper with Alex Havalais.

Update II: I’ve added a second entry dealing with fire and fire ecology.