Pornography, Space, and the Internet: The Politics of the Seattle Public Library System as documented by readers of Vice Magazine

By Matthew Yasuoka, Berglund Student Fellow 

The petition entitled, “Seattle Public Library: Stop allowing pornography to be watched on public library computers,” claims that it stands “for everyone who does not want to participate in viewing the disenfranchisement of others.” [1] The petition represents only a recent development in the Seattle Public Library’s ongoing interactions with pornography. In 2012, “A Seattle librarian refused to force a man watching hardcore porn on a computer to move to a more discreet location, even after a woman with two children complained.” [2] This was even after in 2010 the Washington Supreme Court in a six to three decision held that the library can block porn if it chooses. [3]

However, the Seattle Public Library has chosen not to block porn, much to the chagrin of certain patrons. Earlier this year, Julie Vanderburg asked a man at the Beacon Hill Library to stop watching porn, which led the librarians to ask her to “stop approaching patrons.” [4] The conflict facing the Seattle Public Library system stems from the divergent perceptions of what role libraries play in society. Todd Anten writes in the Texas Journal on Civil Liberties and Rights, “While some view libraries as public spaces with a duty to be ‘family-friendly,’ others view libraries as research centers obligated to provide constitutionally protected information.” [5] The conflict between public and private spaces lies at the core of the Internet.

In this article, I intend to analyze the interactions of individuals in the comments section of Vice magazine. I have chosen to study Vice because the magazine is both a part of “counterculture” and “’trendsetting metropolitans,” resulting in its position as “the number-one tastemaker” for the 21- to 34-year-old demographic. [6] Further, the Alexa Rankings, a leading monitor of web traffic, shows that “people who went to college are over-represented” in Vice’s readership, there is also an overrepresentation of males and an underrepresentation of females.[7] With Vice’s readership in mind, I had a few research questions. First, does the readership of Vice support bourgeois views of sexuality? Second, how do its readers interact with distinctions of class? Third, what does Vice reveal about the relationship between the Internet and special politics?

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The Digital Frontier of Manga Part II

By Nicole Nowlin

In my previous article, I discussed the state of the manga industry and the various planned, successful, or failed avenues of digital publishing of manga as they can be seen today. The question remains, though, as to whether digital manga is truly the next generation as seen by those who read it. A blog post highlights an interesting story about just that topic, following a moderated panel at the Asia Arts Festival at the University of Kentucky:

I chatted a bit more with the panelists (one a soon-to-graduate senior, the other a freshman) and the topic somehow swerved to the manga industry, its travails, and its push to make a market for more esoteric, alternative manga (which for all intents and purposes mostly means “not BESM-standard”).

After hearing this, the freshman subsequently asked “So, like, are they trying to make it cool to read print manga?” at which both I and the graduating senior goggled for a moment before going “what the hell are you on about?”

Apparently, in his high school, it was seen as uncool to read print manga. I didn’t find out then why it was particularly considered uncool, although the perpetual-behindness of licensed releases may have been a factor, as well as a certain sense borrowed from underground aesthetics that licensed titles may have “sold out” or were otherwise “too mainstream”. It’s also interesting to note that the act of “reading manga” itself apparently wasn’t considered uncool. Just reading print manga. [1]

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The Digital Frontier of Manga Part I

By Nicole Nowlin

“I’m a believer in digital,” said Kuo-Yu Liang of Diamond Distributors in an article published by Publisher’s Weekly. “I’ve preferred reading an e-book over a ‘real’ book for over 10 years, so I’m excited about every new thing… But, it doesn’t matter what I believe. Look at what’s happening to music, movies, newspapers, magazines, and gaming. The future of reading is in the digital format, get used to it.” [1] The Japanese digital market was estimated at $654.5 million in 2009 and expected to reach $797.3 million in 2010. The 2011 estimate was even higher at $904.4 million. Growth of downloads was expected in multiple formats, with a decreasing growth trend expected, but a steady overall download rate. The industry also estimates that 89% of digital publishing in Japan is manga. [2]

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The End of Sound Slavery

By Jake Fischer

The Internet has had a huge effect on music, completely changing its typical patterns and paths of circulation. It has given much more power to the artist, and taken power away from record labels. Artists speak their true voice on recordings they make themselves (“mixtapes”) over which the record labels have no say, and the Internet allows them to spread these to anyone in the world who has access to a computer. Social networking websites, such as Myspace, have given artists the ability to promote themselves without having to pay for CDs and radio play. Listeners are able to download albums faster than they could have listened to them, making digital sales more and more popular. This has led to artists selling their own music online, and finding more ways to challenge major labels. In short, the integration of the Internet into the music business has taken controlling power away from record company executives, and given it to the artists who make the music.

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Gaydar Culture. Gay Men, Technology and Embodiment in the Digital Age

By Sharif Mowlabocus

View online at:

Review by Jeffrey Barlow

Dr. Sharif Mowlabocus’ work Gaydar Culture shows us the transformative impact of the Internet upon a very particular minority culture, and in doing so teaches us a great deal, not only about that culture, but about the Internet itself. The Internet has enabled many minority communities to come together in a context in which they are, often for the first time, in a majority.

The culture the author discusses is gay urban male culture, largely, though not entirely, as represented in England. This topic, of course, might alienate some potential readers. If such readers turn away, however, they will fail to understand a unique and substantial impact of the Internet which empowers many minority groups, not only gays.

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The Anthropology of Fear: Learning About Japan Through Horror Games

By Chris Pruett


Japan is the source of almost every major horror game franchise in existence. Whether they are attempting to mimic Western horror or create experiences rooted in the country’s long tradition of scary stories, Japanese game developers seem to be uniquely adept at building scary games. It would surely be worthwhile to study the Japanese culture to learn why they happen to be such prolific creators of horror games, but this paper attempts to address the question from the other direction: what can we learn about Japanese culture directly from the games that they produce? Using horror games as a lens, this research finds that many common themes in Japanese horror games can be traced back to non-game cultural origins. In some cases these motifs come from traditional folklore or ideas; in others they are a reflection of anxiety related to recent events. A number of Japanese horror games—including games attempting to mimic a foreign format—draw directly from Japanese culture. By studying these games we can therefore learn about the culture of Japan.

Author Keywords: Genre; Japanese culture; emotion.

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Scanlations: Copyright Infringement for Literature and Art Fans Brought to You by the Internet Part III

By Nicole Nowlin

Student Fellow, Berglund Center for Internet Studies

This is the last article of a three part series on scanlations. The project as a whole was fascinating and enjoyable, part of my Berglund Student Fellowship project. Part I provided an overview of scanlations and the copyright issues related to them. Part II covered the users of scanlations, and the authors, artists, and publishers harmed by scanlations. Part III reviews the current issues affecting scanlations in 2010 and offers suggestions to publishers.
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For Better or for Worse: How the Internet Benefits and Harms Men and Women

By Valerie Horres

As an increasingly integral and influential part of international culture, the Internet largely affects men and women. It both influences how each gender is perceived through online portrayals, and the Internet can also benefit and harm men and women through its content and functions.

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Google Enters the Web Video Fray with WebM

By Michael Geraci

In May of 2005, a little video sharing web site known as YouTube was released to the public. Within a year, 100 million videos were being watched every day on the service. Google purchased YouTube in October of 2006 and as of this writing, 2 billion videos are being watched daily [1]. So it seems unnecessary, even trite, to claim that Google has made video a mainstay on our computer screens. Yet, Google’s February 2010 acquisition of On2 Technologies and its subsequent announcement of the WebM Project have transitioned the company’s role and influence on web video from the equivalent of a TV channel to a movie studio with worldwide reach.

What’s most interesting about this latest move by the Googlenaut is that the WebM Project seeks to make video on the web free of any licensing requirements, plug-in demands, and corporate control. It is the boldest move to date to make video creation and playback on the Internet freely accessible to producers and consumers, a move that, according to one source “…has thrown the video world into turmoil.” [2].

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Online and Enabled: Ways the Internet Benefits and Empowers Women

By Valerie Horres

This piece is by one of our Berglund Student Fellow Valerie Horres, who has brought a strong feminist voice to the Berglund Center for this year. We regret that she is resigning to give more attention to other endeavors and will not be back for next year.

In December 2009, I wrote about how the Internet degrades women. I concluded that it is normally not the Internet itself, but rather the content of media available online which can be debasing toward women. The Internet serves as a convenient tool for accessing material, but, of course, does not create itself demeaning content. [1]

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