My name is Geof Glass. I recently completed my Ph.D. in Communication at Simon Fraser University, about online reader comment discussions. My background is in software: I have been a professional software developer since 1991. My open source Marginalia annotation software is used in online education.
My interest in communication arises from my experience with computers. I had high hopes that personal computers and computer networking would improve people's lives; that they would help build connections that have been lost. Our society is fragmented: people wash across cities spread thin by the dominance of the automobile. We live much of our lives isolated, each in our own house, cubicle, our own car. The connections we do build are often short-lived as we are pulled from place to place by the demands of work in a globalized world.
I had hoped that the Internet might help reconnect our physical communities. Equally important, that it would give people the power to express themselves and to share - what I believe are two fundamental human drives. Increasingly, I am concerned that for all its failings we need it to fight against catastrophes like climate change, economic crisis and the democratic decline. Against this stands the entrenched logic of industrial hierarchies and the mass media fighting to control this new vector of change. They are rewriting laws - such as copyright, trademark, and patent law - and redefining norms in order to transform ideas into property. Their successes defeat not only the potential of the Internet, but the freedoms we have fought for since the Enlightenment. The defence of community and democracy requires technology, but it also requires understanding and politics. It must go beyond these to build a positive space for sharing and expression - a commons. These views motivated my M.A. research into the online commons, and my Ph.D. studiy of reader comments.