Sunday, December 31, 2006

new reviews in cyberculture studies (january 2007)

[via RCCS] a new set of book reviews for january 2007:
  1. From 9/11 to Terror War: The Dangers of the Bush Legacy
    Author: Douglas Kellner
    Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2003
    Review 1: Robert Tynes

  2. Media Access: Social and Psychological Dimensions of New Technology Use
    Editors: Erik Bucy & John Newhagen
    Publisher: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004
    Review 1: Cheryl Brown
    Editors response: Erik Bucy & John Newhagen

  3. Media Debates: Great Issues for the Digital Age
    Editors: Everett E. Dennis & John C. Merrill
    Publisher: Thomson Wadsworth, 2006
    Review 1: Tim Dwyer

  4. No Safety in Numbers: How the Computer Quantified Everything and Made People Risk Aversive
    Author: Henry J. Perkinson
    Publisher: Hampton Press Inc, 1996
    Review 1: Robert Whitbred
coming very soon:
    Sean Cubitt, The Cinema Effect

    Christina Garsten & Helena Wulff, New Technologies at Work: People, Screens and Social Virtuality

    Andreas Kitzmann, Saved from Oblivion: Documenting the Daily from Diaries to Web Cams

    Lev Manovich & Andreas Kratky, Soft Cinema: Navigating the Database

    Bradley Quinn, Techno Fashion

    Richard Rogers, Information Politics on the Web

    T. L. Taylor, Play Between Worlds: Exploring Online Game Culture

    Joseph Turow & Andrea Kavanaugh, The Wired Homestead: A Sourcebook on the Internet and the Family
also coming very soon: a massive list of new and exciting books looking for reviewers. stay tuned.

Friday, December 29, 2006

happy birthday sarah!

looking for some bob dylan

yesterday, sarah's parents and i drove over to st. paul to see the minnesota historical society. the place was packed, with little kids all over the place. the crowds were there, we were told, to see "baseball as america," a travelling exhibition of over 500 artifacts from the baseball hall of fame cooperstown.

but i wasn't there for baseball. i was looking for some bob dylan.

dylan's from minnesota - from hibbing to be more precise. in 1960, a nineteen year old dylan left hibbing for minneapolis, where he enrolled at the university of minnesota but, um, never had much time for classes. instead, he hung out in the cafes in dinkytown, learned and played folk music, and eventually got hold of some records by woody guthrie. shortly thereafter, he set out for new york city. although dylan spent much of his career trying to escape his minnesotan roots, he seemed to return to the north country - physically and musically - over and over again.

before coming to minnesota, sarah did some online research and found me some dylan at the minnesota historical society's library. i filled out a request slip, turned it in, and five minute later found myself sitting at a desk staring at dylan's original pen-on-paper lyrics for "temporary like achilles." this is what i came to see.

the bob dylan scrapbook, 1956-1966, published in 2005, first introduced me visually to dylan's writing process. seeing some lyrics handwritten on a hotel napkin - written, rewritten; scrambled, rescrambled - intrigued me. songs seemed to stream from dylan nearly complete, but, as i learned from this book and this book, he would edit them meticulously into shape.

it was the editing process that drew me to the minnesota historical society, to the library within it, and to these two sheets of paper that contained two different drafts of what would become "temporary like achilles."


i've been thinking a lot lately about drafts and the abhorance of drafts many of my students seem to have. too many of my students think that writing is the collection of words and sentences that first gush out of their heads. editing? what's that? second draft? why? multiple drafts? please.

a beautiful lesson plan grew and unfurled in my head and i nearly ran from my desk to the librarian to ask permission to take pictures of dylan's drafts with my digital camera.


i asked if i could, um, at least make xerox copies of dylan's drafts.


i'm sure there's some reason behind this - copyright; potential damage to primary sources - but still. it seems so boneheaded. if a library holds the original, shouldn't reproductions be encouraged, thereby increasing the value of - and, more importantly, curiosity in - the original? wouldn't a jpeg distributed via the web serve to further promote the library's holdings?


it surely wasn't the librarian's fault, so i smiled, said thanks, and left the library to meet up again with sarah's parents.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

in which we leave the warm, heated home in search of some art and culture

today, four of us bravely crept out of the warm, heated home and went to the walker art center, the recently reopened contemporary art museum in minneapolis. the building itself, unfortunately, was quite underwhelming - too much aluminum! not enough windows! but fortunately the art and work within was quite the opposite.

there was:
  • a beautiful piece by yoko ono called a painting to hammer a nail in. the hammer was made of glass and the painting was made of a mirror, thereby making the viewer - you - part of the work. yoko ono rules, and i'll be sure to see her retrospective, grapefruit, at the berkeley art museum.
  • an inspired collection of postwar abstraction, called the shape of time. the work ranged from robert rauschenberg and jasper johns (including two works by johns from the collection of my brother-in-law, jean castelli) to pop artists like roy lichtenstein and andy warhol.
  • a massive walk-through installation by thomas hirschhorn called cavemanman. made primarily of cardboard and tape, with posters of pop and porn stars, cans of soda pop, and a library of left-leaning books on philosophy, oppression, and revolution, the piece is a series of caves, a labyrinth of tunnels, serving as a metaphor, hirschhorn tells us, for our minds - littered, distracted, and filled with garbage. curious? the village voice has more.
unfortunately, "my complement, my enemy, my oppressor, my love," the first full-scale american retrospective of the work of kara walker, wasn't yet opened and won't be until february 17. also filed under unfortunate: walker's screening of zidane: a 21st century portrait ("using 17 synchronized cameras, the film tracks the world-class athlete from the first kick until he leaves the field") takes place well after we leave minneapolis, between february 9-11.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

a day in the city with a friend from another country

from 1985-1986, veit gerlach lived in san luis obispo, california. he was a high school exchange student from stuttgart, germany. we met my senior year at san luis obispo high school.

two decades later, veit returned to california! using nothing more than our feet, we went from north beach to chinatown to downtown to lower haight to the castro to the mission. good, good times.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

grading is over and winter break is here

today, i finished grading my fall courses and independent studies. it takes a lot to teach college students for an entire semester, so turning in grades is like crossing the finish line. i submitted my grades online and it actually worked.

that means winter break is here. on christmas day, sarah and i fly to minneapolis to join jini, don, pat, and jewlee. we'll be back in the city by the new year and classes don't start until january 22. i wanna chill. i wanna eat fresh food. i wanna explore the city. i wanna read books.

but before that, here's a few big things that i learned this semester:
  • my students' knowledge of digital media and culture varies greatly. i think the department needs a more general course, a prerequisite to classes like digital democracy, that would be something like "introduction to digital media and culture." some usf media studies students are insanely wired; some are not.

  • my students' research skills need significant improvement. they need to stop relying on google and wikipedia. they need to stop fearing books and libraries. and they need to start asking questions that take days - or maybe a week, or a few weeks, or even a year - to answer.

  • in the old days, it took multiple class sessions to teach stuff like unix, html, dreamweaver, and - ack! - ftp. today, powerful applications like blogs, flickr, and youtube are fairly easy to learn and afford us tools for massive creativity and collaboration. this semester, my students reminded me that we just might be living in interesting times.
and now ... winter break!

technorati tag:

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

organic information design

papers and projects are in; i'm grading.

riffing off something irina suggested when i was silver in seattle, i've been building a slideshow on flickr:

it's not as nicely designed as the white male president graphic below, but it sure is interesting to watch it grow and grow and grow.

back to grading; graduation is this friday!

Monday, December 11, 2006

good information design

good information design communicates deep and deeply-rooted problems quickly and effectively:

(from "The Pattern May Change, if ..." by adam nagourney and jeff zeleny.)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Saturday, December 09, 2006

usf award: this is cool

the carnegie foundation for the advancement of teaching has selected 76 community engaged colleges and universities in the country and the university of san francisco is one of them.


USF's press release has a lot more information and includes a great quote from gerardo marin, associate provost of USF:
    "Our faculty are engaged with our community doing research that improves people's lives and promotes social justice. Our students are engaged in and out of the classroom finding the truth as they become change agents. This designation clearly shows that we are indeed committed to educating minds and hearts to change the world."
USF should design some kind of web site that brings together our many community engagements. that way, students, faculty, and staff would have a better idea about the projects going on and they would have a better sense of how they can participate. considering departmental internship opportunities and the university-wide service learning requirement, a site like this would be, i think, quite useful for students. the key of course is a web site that students don't just visit - they help build it, annotate it, tag it.

the carnegie recognition is the kind of award that a campus community can feel proud about. congratulations to all those - students, faculty, and staff - whose work the award recognizes.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

holiday party on the fifth floor

the fifth floor of USF's university center building is an interesting mix of professors' and departmental offices. instead of putting professors in the same department next to each other, the offices are, more or less, on shuffle: a communication studies prof's office is next to one in media studies which is next to one in sociology which is next to one in peace and justice studies. it's awesome.

yesterday, the middle row of offices on the fifth floor had their annual holiday party. through the grace of teresa moore, i - a non-middle row office person - was invited to join the festivities. good lights, good snacks (mmm, pomegranate guacamole; mmm, homemade perogies - thanks lydia!), good drinks, and good people make for good times.

earlier that day, i attended the department of computer science's SLS/CS speaker series. the speakers were students - seng konglertviboon and yiting wu presented "extensions to," a project sponsored by professor dave wolber, and tony ngo presented "rjax: a web-based gui for river," a project sponsored by professor greg benson. i believe the presentations were the culminations of large research projects and the students presented to a nearly packed lab of students and faculty. impressive.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

a trip down market street

on september 24, 1905, filmmaker jack kuttner attached a hand-crank camera to a san francisco streetcar and filmed a few miles down market street. kuttner's 9-minute footage is vintage - you see old, grand san francisco, you see very busy downtown traffic with death-wish buggies darting in and out, and you see a few humans running in and around the frame who seem to know, and relish, that the whole scene was being filmed. six months later, in april, the 1906 earthquake and fire devastated the city.

100 years later, filmmakers melinda stone and liz keim decided to recreate the historic event. on september 24, 2005, they hosted a free and public film screening in a park across from the ferry building. they screened the original 1905 film as well as new 2005 trips down market street. by all accounts, the evening was magical. fortunately, a lot of it is captured on a dvd called a trip down market street 1905/2005.

personal context: melinda stone and i teach media studies at the university of san francisco. she's on sabbatical, building and living on stonelake farm, where sarah and i visited and met emily chapman and chris "my blog is a typewriter" fettin. emily was melinda's research assistant, a contributor to the film, and an integral part of the project; chris was an actor on one of the 2005 clips ("w.w. stone and the lincoln monument league of 1914"). on saturday night, emily and chris joined sarah and me and we ate, drank, and watched a trip down market street 1905/2005.

the dvd is incredible. there's multiple ways of watching it but we began with the source: kuttner's "a trip down market street 1905" (9 minutes, originally shot on 35 mm) with an amazing musical accompaniment composed by beth custer and performed by the beth custer ensemble. then we watched "market street after the fire 1906," filmmaker unknown (4 minutes, 35 mm), courtesy of rick prelinger (a portion is available at the film records a stunned population walking towards and away from the heart of the city, a ghost town, a city that has been destroyed by an earthquake and fire. accompanying the footage is dave cerf's sounds, sound clouds, and sound storms. the first film is silent and vibrant; the second film is scathing and haunting.

after refilling our glasses, we moved to the 2005 films! the dvd features commissioned films by kerry laitala, rachel manera, katherin mcinnis, tomonari nishikawa, and ken paul rosenthal. it also has short/shorter films by christian bruno, emily chapman (who's fantastic short, "honey," is "inspired by the 1970s spirit of Sylvester and the Cockettes"), and melinda stone. there's also some documentary footage of old market street including "vj day celebration," by c. r. skinner, narration by dick bartel (4 minutes, 16 mm) which captures spontaneous celebrations on market street on august 14, 1945, when world war two ended. in color. incredible. may we live in such times. and finally, there were a few historical re-enactments, filmic representations of days gone past. my favorite was "w.w. stone and the lincoln monument league of 1914," directed by melinda stone, which explains:
    "When Melinda Stone could not find original footage of this organization and their attempts to change the name of Market Street to Lincoln Boulevard, she decided to make the footage herself. More information on the LML can be located in the San Francisco Room at the SF Public Library."

what fun it is to watch a film while sitting in the same room as the lead actor!

the pathway we took with the dvd ended with "a trip down market street 2005" by melinda stone and sprague anderson, with a score by - again - beth custer and performed by the beth custer ensemble. as far as i can tell, melinda and sprague were able to convince MUNI to let them attach two cameras - a 35mm hand-crank camera and an HDV camera - to a street car and film market street 100 years after the original. just like kuttner's trip down market street, this one is full of the city, full of buildings and cars and streets and bicycles and traffic, full of people (including marina, zane, milo, and sirrus, not to mention a smiling sam green in a nice green shirt). but most of all, it's full of perspectives - perspectives of a city so many of us can't get enough of.

what fun it was to watch the films with emily, chris, and sarah. emily was a cookie jar of sweet stories - project stories, stories about the original trip down market street (look closely and you might just see - six times - the same car driving by the camera), and stories about san francisco. what fun it was to hear chris' stories about the film, his role in it, and the night of the public screenings. and what fun it was - or rather is - to find myself in a working and living environment where inspired ideas come to fruition.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


homemade hovercrafts + shuffleboard + nighttime in seattle + beth freakin' kolko + the insanely creative bre pettis =

Friday, December 01, 2006

teaching carnival #17

ah, the first of december, the time of the year when we teachers grow two brains - one to cover all the grading that will soon appear and one to dream about all the vacations waiting to be taken.

and with that, we bring you teaching carnival #17!
wanna get involved? if you blog about higher education teaching, consider tagging your entry or contact xoom who will fearlessly lead the next teaching carnival.

guest lecture: anil dash

digital democracy meets in a classroom on the third floor of lone mountain. throughout the semester, we have experimented with the best way to configure the room. i'm starting to think that this shape, a u-shape, is the best for class discussions. in this configuration, all of the students are able to see and hear the speaker and see and hear each other.

a few days ago, veanne, a student in digital democracy, introduced me to anil dash and he agreed to be yesterday's guest lecturer. anil is vp of six apart, the folks behind typepad, moveable type, livejournal, and now vox. anil has been blogging since 1999.

if this whole blogging thing doesn't work out, anil should consider becoming a teacher. he gave an hour lecture and then took Q and A's for another 45 minutes. he had all of our attention.

anil described his passion as helping people make media, and later described his job as "building tools so people can make media." he began his talk by taking us back to 1999, the year he began observing what we now call the read/write web or web 2.0. he described the company he works for, shared what it felt like when they went from 3 to 145 employees, and noted that there are 15 million people using the tools they developed.

anil had a ton to say about online community - although i don't recall him using that term. he said: know your readers; know what your goal is; and understand what your space is. anil shared his findings that suggested when a community - community here being a readership around a blog, a group of people on craig's list, or a community of writers/editors on wikipedia - becomes too large, it becomes unruly - at one point he said, "people are bad in mobs." he gave numbers when trolls can be expected and he gave numbers when nasty or simply unproductive blog comments come into play. knowing a good number, anil seemed to suggest, is related to knowing what your goal is. if your goal with a blog is to become big and famous, go for it - and good luck. but if your goal is to, say, keep in touch with family members, maintain friendships online, or share ideas on a specific, shared interest, then a smaller readership is most desired. finally, to explain the last point - understand what your space is - he referred to the classroom and said that within the class we had a common goal: to learn. understanding what the goal is and how to configure an online space (or offline, as in the case of the u-shaped desks) to make that goal thrive is key. he ended this point by mentioning the dunbar number and, like a good professor, told us all to go home and learn more about what that means.

he talked about blogging in iran. he talked about what it means to develop tools that store things most precious to people - like their baby pictures (anil: "there's things you just don't want to disappear"). and he talked about vox and the next step of blogging - a kind of blogging that brings together our multiple online identities and communities. (last night, while talking with sarah, i noted that if microsoft's passport attempts to bring together our multiple consumer identities, an application like vox tries to bring together our multiple creative identities.)

he also scared the bejeezus out of many of my students by saying something that i've been trying to say for years: that when employers like six apart receive applications the first thing they do is google / facebook / technorati them. (at this point, the collective anxiety of my students, perhaps recalling some of the pictures they uploaded to facebook, raised to the roof.) he explained that our private identities are as public as they get, but he also said that this can be an opportunity: he encouraged the students to be aware of their online identity and to make sure it reflects their full selves. (for the record, this is an issue i am working on with multiple colleagues and students as part of USF's campus-wide digital literacy task force - more on that someday soon.)

there was so much more that happened within the hour and forty five minutes. one of the best parts was when we opened up the session for questions. there was a particularly fascinating exchange, prompted mostly by hilary's excellent questions, about whether we are becoming too mediated - whether there might be something very unhealthy about the mediated spaces are lives increasingly occupy. there were questions about the future and questions about the past. and there were questions about digital democracies and digital divides.

anil said two things that i hope, hope, hope my students heard. first, he said that the best job is one you feel passionate about, one you actually enjoy doing. second, he said that computer scientists are not the only kind of person firms like six apart are hiring - they need media scholars, media makers, anthropologists, people who study human behavior.

all in all, an excellent class - a perfect class to get the students' and my mind racing as we head into the last week before finals.

update: a quick pic of what the class normally looks like, sans the u-shape configuration:

Thursday, November 30, 2006

new reviews in cyberculture studies (december 2006)

[via RCCS] a new set of book reviews for december 2006:
  1. Allegories of Communication: Intermedial Concerns from Cinema to the Digital
    Editors: John Fullerton & Jan Olsson
    Publisher: John Libbey Publishing, 2004
    Review 1: Kristen Daly

  2. Close Reading New Media: Analyzing Electronic Literature
    Editors: Jan Van Looy & Jan Baetens
    Publisher: Leuven University Press, 2003
    Review 1: Mary Leonard

  3. Eloquent Images: Word and Image in the Age of New Media
    Editors: Mary E. Hocks & Michelle R. Kendrick
    Publisher: MIT Press, 2003
    Review 1: Vika Zafrin
    Review 2: Alan Razee
    Author Response: Mary Hocks

  4. Half-Real: Video Games between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds
    Author: Jesper Juul
    Publisher: MIT Press, 2005
    Review 1: Curt Carbonell
    Review 2: Randy Nichols
    Author Response: Jesper Juul

  5. How Images Think
    Author: Ron Burnett
    Publisher: MIT Press, 2004
    Review 1: Leanne Stuart Pupchek
    Author Response: Ron Burnett

  6. Internet Politics: States, Citizens and New Communication Technologies
    Author: Andrew Chadwick
    Publisher: Oxford University Press, 2006
    Review 1: Viviane Serfaty
    Author Response: Andrew Chadwick

  7. Literate Lives in the Information Age: Narratives of Literacy from the United States
    Authors: Cynthia L. Selfe & Gail E. Hawisher
    Publisher: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2004
    Review 1: Lisa A. Kirby
    Author Response: Cynthia L. Selfe & Gail E. Hawisher

  8. Mobile Cultures: New Media in Queer Asia
    Editors: Chris Berry, Fran Martin, Audrey Yue
    Publisher: Duke University Press, 2003
    Review 1: Terri He
    Author Response: Chris Berry, Fran Martin, & Audrey Yue

  9. My First Recession: Critical Internet Culture in Transition
    Author: Geert Lovink
    Publisher: V2/NAi Publishers, 2003
    Review 1: Michel Bauwens

  10. Rhetorical Democracy: Discursive Practices of Civic Engagement
    Editor: Gerard Hauser, Amy Grim
    Publisher: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004
    Review 1: David Schulz

  11. The Deepening Divide: Inequality in the Information Society
    Author: Jan A. G. M. van Dijk
    Publisher: Sage, 2005
    Review 1: Alan Zaremba

  12. The Digital Sublime: Myth, Power, and Cyberspace
    Author: Vincent Mosco
    Publisher: MIT Press, 2004
    Review 1: Dale Bradley
    Author Response: Vincent Mosco

  13. The Souls of Cyberfolk: Posthumanism as Vernacular Theory
    Author: Thomas Foster
    Publisher: University of Minnesota Press, 2005
    Review 1: Michele Braun
    Review 2: Kim Toffoletti
    Author Response: Thomas Foster

  14. Twisty Little Passages: An Approach to Interactive Fiction
    Author: Nick Montfort
    Publisher: MIT Press, 2003
    Review 1: Russell Mills
    Review 2: T. Michael Roberts
    Author Response: Nick Montfort

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

usf event: citizen josh: a performance and Q & A session with josh kornbluth

i first learned about josh kornbluth via his interview show on KQED (i especially liked his recent interview with annie leibovitz). yesterday, josh was on campus, as part of a multiple-campus tour as he searches for the meaning of democracy! yesterday, josh visited us in digital democracy.

this friday, he'll be putting it all together:
"Citizen Josh:" A Performance and Q&A Session with Josh Kornbluth
Friday, December 1st, 2006
The Studio Theater on Lone Mountain

Bay Area writer, director, and public television host Josh Kornbluth will perform an improvised piece focused on the central question of democratic involvement and possibilities for democracy in today's world. This performance will be a culmination of Kornbluth's week-long visit to the USF campus and various Politics department classes.

A Q&A session will follow the performance. All USF students, faculty, and staff are welcome to attend.

About the artist: Josh Kornbluth was raised in New York City and moved to San Francisco in 1987. He has been writing and performing monologues - including "Haiku Tunnel" (which was made into a feature film in 2001), "Red Diaper Baby," and "Ben Franklin: Unplugged") - throughout the Bay Area and beyond for several years. He is currently hosting an interview program on KQED-TV titled "The Josh Kornbluth Show." More information can be found at his website (also: check out his blog).

"Citizen Josh" is being co-sponsored by the USF Politics, History, and Philosophy Departments, as well as the Honors Program in the Humanities.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

final project for digital democracy

for students enrolled in media studies 390:
1. Answer a question with support from outside readings
  • Formulate an interesting question you have regarding new media.
  • In no more than 4 double-spaced pages, answer your question.
  • Your answer must include at least one use of Dan Gillmor's We the Media. If you do not know how to integrate readings into your writing, see me immediately.
  • Your answer must integrate ideas and/or evidence from at least 3 outside readings beyond Gillmor. Any reading in any medium is acceptable as long as it is credible.
  • Zero typos. Zero grammatical mistakes.
  • Include a bibliography. Alphabetize your bibliography. If you don't know how to make a bibliography, ask a librarian in Gleeson Library.
  • Blog at least 3 times about your project and its development.
  • Hint 1: Before turning in your paper, consider swapping drafts with another student or students in class. Give and receive edits, suggestions, and questions with that student or students.
  • Hint 2: Select a question that makes you genuinely curious.
2. Read/Write the Web
  • From the reading and class discussion, we've discussed 12 read/write technologies: mailing lists and forums; blogs; wikis; sms; mobile-connected cameras; internet broadcast; peer-to-peer; RSS; online photo-sharing; online video-sharing; social bookmarking; and social networking sites. Select one of these that you wish to learn more about.
  • Spend time with the software and the community around it. Explore. Experiment.
  • Be sure to read and write – to download and upload – and pay attention to what happens.
  • Blog at least 3 times about your project and its development.
  • In no more than 3 double-spaced pages write about your experiences.
  • Write about both what you download (learned) and uploaded (contributed), but mostly write about what you uploaded.
  • Zero typos. Zero grammatical mistakes.
  • Hint 1: Consider selecting an application you have zero familiarity with.
  • Hint 2: If you are not having fun with your read/write technology, you probably have not selected the correct one.
Your papers are due in class on Tuesday, December 12. No late papers accepted. Be ready to informally introduce your findings during our last class. Pizza will be served.

technorati tag:

Monday, November 27, 2006

dinner in oakland

last week, sarah and i drove over to oakland to share dinner with colleague, friend, and fellow blogger michael robertson, his wife eydie, and their friends carla, virg, and caroline. it was a feast.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

ACRL conference

in late march and early april, i'll be in baltimore, attending the association of college and research libraries (ACRL) conference. i attended ACRL last year, in minneapolis, and it was awesome. the conference is a dynamic blend of academic and research librarians, information technologists, and educators. this year's theme is "sailing into the future - charting our destiny." i am one of the invited speakers.

here's my abstract:
Digital Media, Learning, and Libraries: Web 2.0, Learning 2.0, and Libraries 2.0

Let's be clear about it: The term Web 2.0 is, first and foremost, a marketing gimmick. Its purpose is to create a sense of new, foster a buzz about new media, and generate new investment. So far, it's working.

At the same time, for those of us with access to recent developments on the web, it is difficult to deny that something new is indeed afloat. New social software coupled with new social interactions seem to be generating new forms of collective intelligence. Although these forms manifest in different ways, they most often share an important similarity: They encourage users to contribute - to add and annotate, as well as to read and reflect - to the collective intelligence.

With help from sites like,, intellipedia, and librarything, this talk seeks to open discussions around the intersections among social software, student learning, and academic libraries.

David Silver
Department of Media Studies
University of San Francisco
there's over 250 panels to attend, a conference wiki to collectively build, and the very, very cool cyber zed shed. plus, one of the keynote speakers is baltimore's very own john waters!

Saturday, November 25, 2006


for me, thanksgiving = food + family. on thursday, both food and family were well represented.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

a prequel

this morning, sarah and i drove down to santa cruz to meet up with mom and get ready for tomorrow's thanksgiving feast. this, my mom's famous beef pot pie, was tonight's dinner.

tomorrow, at my sister cara's home in palo alto, we'll enjoy sarah's famous sweet potato pie.


Monday, November 20, 2006


job at usf: tenure-track position in international politics (assistant professor)

new job at usf - this one in the excellent department of politics.
    The Department of Politics at the University of San Francisco invites applications for a tenure-track position in International Politics at the Assistant Professor level, to begin in Fall 2007. In addition to broad training in international relations, the candidate should have a regional specialization in East Asia or Europe. Of particular interest are candidates whose expertise extends to one or more of the following fields: critical international political economy, development, international law and organizations, nationalism and migration.

    Teaching responsibilities: The successful candidate must be prepared to teach the Introduction to International Politics (for Politics and International Studies majors) as well as to support the growing International Studies major. Candidates are expected to teach upper division courses in their area of expertise. The teaching load consists of two courses per semester, plus one additional course over two years (2-2-2-3 over two years).

    Qualifications: Candidates must have university teaching experience, a strong commitment to undergraduate teaching, evidence of scholarship (or substantial promise for research and publications), dedication to service, and an earned doctorate by Fall 2007. The candidate will be expected to develop an independent and ongoing research program.

    Applicants should submit a letter of application, curriculum vitae, graduate transcripts, brief description of research plans, evidence of teaching ability (including two sample syllabi, student evaluations, and a statement of teaching philosophy), a sample of scholarly work, and three letters of recommendation to:

    International Politics Search Committee
    c/o Professor Robert Elias
    Department of Politics
    University of San Francisco
    2130 Fulton Street
    San Francisco, CA. 94117-1080

    Applications must be received by January 26, 2007 in order to ensure full consideration.

    We particularly encourage minority and women applicants to apply. USF is an Equal Opportunity Employer dedicated to affirmative action and to excellence through diversity. The University provides reasonable accommodations to qualified applicants with disabilities upon request.

    The University of San Francisco is a Jesuit Catholic university founded in 1855 to educate leaders who will fashion a more humane and just world. Candidates should demonstrate a commitment to work in a culturally diverse environment and to contribute to the mission of the University.

it's about time, eh?

omg! i got a haircut! just in time for thanksgiving family gatherings!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

LaborTech 2006 at USF

yesterday, i attended and presented at labortech, a conference that brings together labor movements and media activism. the chair of media studies at USF, dorothy kidd, is also a member of labortech's program committee; through dorothy, i learned about labortech and was able to share ideas.

the conference, which began on thursday and runs through today, was a combination of plenary talks, presentations, and workshops. in the morning, i attended a panel titled "community media, public television, max-fi and internet neutrality," featuring seeta gangadharan (phd student in communications at stanford, adjunct professor in media studies at USF, and member of CIMA and media alliance) and chris witteman (telecommunications attorney who focuses on communication democracy and who represented the california public utilities commission in a successful suit against cingular wireless), with dorothy serving as moderator.

i don't know much about media policy so i'm always eager to learn more. seeta's overview of google's attempt to provide "free" wireless for the city of san francisco was extremely interesting and thought provoking.

here, chris witteman (standing on the right) provides some context of bay area media policy history. and, if you look closely, you will see shinjoung yeo and james jacobs (of, among other things, free government information).

later in the afternoon, i was part of a panel titled "video/audio blogging, social networks and labor." the panel was comprised of jay dedman (an educator of web blogging and broadcasting and the person responsible for the excellent site freevlog), john parulis (media democracy activist and labortech program committee member), colette washington (web site coordinator of the california nurses association and genius behind About Time for 89, arguably the first rap music video to be written about a proposition), and myself.

our panel was well attended and the audience ranged from savvy media producers to labor activists curious about using blogs, video blogs, and audio blogs for organizing.

in general, i highlighted strategies that involved collective blogging and already existing information for time-strapped labor organizations. my brief notes focused on five tips:
  1. blog the daily work you do. give readers (and potential interns, staffers, collaborators, and funders) a sense of what you do on a daily basis. you think we know; we don't.
  2. blog about articles and media coverage that relate to the work you do. the articles should come from both mainstream and alternative outlets and can be used to help explain to readers why the work you do is so important. hint: always include the full name of the journalist who wrote the article.
  3. blog your staff meetings. blogging staff meetings helps readers understand the complex decisions you and your organization deal with and it provides an opportunity for collectively writing (and negotiating) your institutional history.
  4. blog about your allies; blog about your enemies. give link love to your allies and collaobators! provide a counter discourse for people searching on technorati about your enemies!
  5. blog your sucessess - big and small. celebrate all victories. blog about the people who benefit from your victories. and blog about the future victories that will be built upon present victories.
this was my first year to attend labortech yet it certainly won't be my last. congratulations to the organizers and attendees and may we continue to imagine and build strong and creative bridges between labor and media.

update: breaking ranks has additional notes (including nasty stuff about samsung) about labortech. plus pics.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

job at usf: Digital Collections Librarian (Assistant Librarian Rank)

do you have your MLS? do you enjoy working with digital collections? wanna work and live in san francisco?

this looks like an exciting position in USF's gleeson library. for more information regarding this job, visit the USF web site and select the quick link marked employment.
    Position Title: Digital Collections Librarian (Assistant Librarian Rank)

    Job Description: This position will have an important role in a team-oriented environment to develop and manage the Library's digital collections under the direction of the Head of Library Systems.

    Position duties include: Working with faculty and librarians in the identification of print materials to be transferred to digital media; coordination of workflow for digitizing and cataloging digital collections; cataloging and assignment of metadata to digital materials; identification of external funding sources and grant writing; coordination of marketing for digital collections; consultation with campus legal office on copyright, licensing and rights management issues related to digital collections; consultation with faculty and other producers of digital media in the creation of an anticipated institutional repository. The position will also include some bibliographic liaison and cataloging responsibilities and serve as back-up in some areas of library system administration. The position will support the teaching, learning and research needs of the University of San Francisco faculty and students.

    Requirements: MLS from ALA-accredited program. One to two years of professional experience preferred with demonstrated aptitude for and interest in project planning and management, digitization standards, technical services, electronic resource management, or related areas. Preference will be given to candidates with experience using bibliographic utilities, such as OCLC; integrated Library systems, particularly Innovative Interfaces; content management systems such as CONTENTdm or DSpace; and metadata protocols. Knowledge of current trends in digital library development, digitization standards, long-term management and preservation, and rights management issues relating to digital materials. Demonstrated ability to work effectively in a team environment, working both independently and collaboratively, strong commitment to customer service, effective written and oral communication skills, demonstrated organizational ability and problem-solving skills. Interest in and potential for establishing a record of professional achievement and service is required.

ucla's powell library + campus cops with tasers + a middle eastern-looking student + other students (some with video recording devices) + youtube =

update: rock on to the daily bruin, ucla's student newspaper, for providing some of the best coverage of the incident and subsequent developments. their most recent coverage includes this online exclusive which covers friday's campus protest. interesting points include:
    More than 50 student organizations sponsored the rally, during which students demanded that an independent investigation be conducted into the officers' actions.

    "Let's stay nonviolent, because we are marching against violence," said Sabiha Ameen, president of the Muslim Students Association and a rally organizer.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

deb kaplan

deb kaplan, assistant professor of communication, former community journalist, and all around lovable human being, died the night before last in her sleep. i met deb about three years ago when she became a professor at university of washington in the department of communication. she was engaged: engaged about teaching, engaged with the world, engaged about suffering. she was also a bundle of fun to be around.

before going to grad school, deb worked as a journalist for nearly twenty years. she was a reporter for the detroit free press and an editor of the metro times (an alternative weekly in detroit). at some point, she went to grad school at the university of north carolina and studied mass communication and cultural studies. i know that she was heavily influenced by larry grossberg, one of key scholars of cultural studies.

in general, deb studied social inequalities and social change; in particular, she studied homelessness. for deb, studying something and making that something better were inseparable. as a journalist, a researcher, and a teacher, deb presented inequalities not as something to merely recognize and assess but also to fight and eradicate.

deb was one of the few UW professors i kept up with. the last time we spoke, she was excited about her books - the book that was almost finished and the book that she was currently researching. and she was excited about her graduate class; deb loved working with and learning from graduate students.

over the years, over coffees, over dinners, and over cigarettes, we complained about the fools who stood in our way and the fools who didn't believe in themselves. but most of all, we talked about making a difference, we talked about affecting change, we talked about believing in what you do, and we talked about teaching.

and then we would end our conversations the same way we'd begin them: with a huge bear hug. i miss you deb kaplan.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

usf event: film screening of the peace patriots

from robbie leppzer, director of the documentary film the peace patriots:
In the months leading up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, I watched as the protests grew from thousands of people to millions of people across the United States and around the world. This grassroots movement against the Iraq war grew at a larger and faster rate than the Vietnam anti-war movement of the 1960s. And yet, it received very little coverage in the mainstream media. As an independent documentary filmmaker, I felt compelled to make a film about this important grassroots movement that would show in a very personal way some of the people who are protesting this war.
today on campus there will be a free screening of this film. the event is sponsored by the USF Politics Society, Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service & the Common Good, Peace and Justice Studies Program, Politics Department, and Media Studies Department.

    tuesday, november 14th
    McLaren 251
more info:
    THE PEACE PATRIOTS is an intimate portrait of American dissenters reflecting on their personal participation as engaged citizens in a time of war.

    Narrated by actress and Air America Radio host Janeane Garofalo, this feature-length documentary film follows a diverse group of individuals, ranging in age from 14 to 75, including middle and high school students, college students, teachers, clergy, and war veterans from Korea, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf, as they take part in vigils, marches, theater performances, and civil disobedience sit-ins to protest the U.S. invasion and on-going military occupation of Iraq.

    The film features contemporary music by 2005 Grammy Award winner Steve Earle, Pete Seeger, Ani DiFranco, Billy Bragg, Jonatha Brooke, Stephan Smith, Saul Williams, DJ Spooky, Jami Sieber, Shelley Doty and original music by John Sheldon.

Monday, November 13, 2006

a reading in the castro

last night, sarah and i made our way to books inc, in the castro, to hear readings by authors matty lee (35 cents) and d travers scott (one of these things is not like the other).

we know trav from seattle. three (four?) years ago, he enrolled in UW's master's program in digital media (established by my friend and colleague ty lau). trav is my kind of media scholar: a sharp media critic and a sharp media creator.

in other news - unfortunately, i wasn't able to see USF visual arts professor richard kamler's veteran's day installation on campus on saturday but judging from local coverage in the paper it appears quite powerful.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

faculty positions: digital media studies at the university of denver

my friend and colleague, lynn schofield clark, notified me of two great looking assistant professor positions at the university of denver's forwarding thinking digital media studies program:
    The Digital Media Studies program and the Department of Mass Communications and Journalism Studies at the University of Denver invite applications for two 9-month, tenure-track assistant professor positions to begin September 1, 2007.

    1. Digital Media Theory
    The successful applicant will demonstrate a substantial commitment to innovative research and scholarship in emerging digital media forms and the cultures that surround them. The successful candidate should combine analytic and creative strengths across several areas, which might include the following: mobile, tactical, social, personal media, media convergence, physical computing, global media and international communication. The successful applicant will be responsible for teaching courses that take critical approaches to digital media while at the same time fostering the applied theory and practical components of the DMS program and the Dept. of Mass Communications, as well as teaching courses for the University's general education requirements.

    1. Digital Media Technology
    Applicants for this position should have a developed background in digital media arts and technology. Along with outstanding applied skills, candidates should demonstrate their potential for research and scholarship in emerging digital media forms. The primary instructional responsibilities of the successful applicant may include teaching courses in interactive multimedia production, computer games, multimedia performance, electronic literature, virtual environments, and related areas. Instructional opportunities also include developing courses taking innovative, critical approaches to digital media and technologies, both for the DMS program and the University's general education requirements.

    Additional responsibilities for both positions will include supervising graduate theses and projects, as well as undergraduate and graduate student advising. Successful applicants are expected to take an active role in shaping this innovative, interdisciplinary program among the School of Art and Art History, the Department of Computer Science, and the Department of Mass Communications. Applicants should be ABD in an appropriate field of media studies, arts, production, or related areas. Preferred candidates will have the terminal degree (Ph.D. or M.F.A.) in an appropriate discipline.

    All applicants must submit online applications for these positions by going to Please submit a letter of application and c.v. as part of this online application process. Teaching evaluations and three letters of recommendation should be mailed separately to Professor Trace Reddell, Search Committee Chair, Digital Media Studies Program, Sturm Hall 216B, 2000 E. Asbury Ave., Denver, CO 80208 (303-871-3874). DU is an EEO/AA Employer and is committed to enhancing its faculty and staff diversity. Applications are particularly encouraged from women, minorities, people with disabilities, and veterans. For full consideration, applications should be received by January 5, 2007.

Friday, November 10, 2006

ISLMA keynote: consumed young minds, creative young minds

this morning, i gave a breakfast keynote at the illinois school library media association's (or ISLMA) annual conference. the title of the talk was "consumed young minds, creative young minds."

my talk covered nasty stuff (consumer culture, militarized culture) and exciting stuff (participatory culture, creative culture).

to introduce these two concepts, i began by describing election night at USF. i told a brief story (better heard than read) that recounted how many of the students in attendance were in middle school in 2001 and how i tried to imagine what they thought when president bush followed september 11 by encouraging us to go shopping. next, i discussed how students used multiple media - laptops, cell phones, television - to follow the election, how they talked and debated about their findings, and how they created media (in the form of posters on walls) to update and share their findings. i think i may have mentioned that in a society which too often educates youth to be consumers, it sure feels inspiring to watch them become citizens.

having established the two themes - youth as consumers, youth as creators - i continued by discussing the immersive consumer cultures within which today's youth swim. i began with (what else?) america's next top model, a reality show that takes cross-media promotion and product placement to a whole new level. warning the audience that things would get worse before they got better, i introduced america's army, a computer game ("the official US army game") that serves as a recruitment tool. i then showed do something amazing, a youtube-like archive of "reality" video clips of everyday life (without the blood) of the US air force. (i didn't have time to talk about the US air force's profile on myspace, nor was i able to talk about intellipedia, but i was able to say that for the communities that lack access to technology, the US army was more than willing to bring the tech to the community: in the form of a graffiti-clad, dj-riding, computer game-stacked hummer visiting a black or latino neighborhood near you.)

as a transition from consumer culture to participatory culture, i showed a mashup of america's next top model. it was a nice way to introduce what henry jenkins calls participatory culture. like yesterday's workshop, i discussed the five elements of participatory culture:
  1. relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement;
  2. strong support for creating and sharing one's creations with others'
  3. some type of informal mentorship whereby what is known by the most experienced is passed along to novices;
  4. members believe that their contributions matter; and
  5. members feel some degree of social connection with one another (at the least they care what other people think about what they have created).
reading over these five elements to a ballroom full of librarians was an experience unlike anything i have witnessed: it was as if a huge collective bubble of BIG IDEAS AND BIG CONNECTIONS surfaced and it was at this point that i was reminded that no group understands collective intelligence better than librarians.

i finished the talk by tracing some possible intersections between participatory culture, school libraries, and ISLMA. i introduced a number of projects and ideas that are waiting to be projects, including student-annotated library catalogs and student reading mentorship programs. next, i called up wikipedia (which was met with a few groans!) and searched for the entry on ISLMA. nothing. i returned to jenkins' elements of participatory culture and asked the audience what would happen if ISMLA members collectively wrote the wikipedia entry for ISLMA? what kinds of negotiated knowledge would arise? what elements would be highlighted or glossed over? in short, what happens when you collectively and publicly construct and negotiated knowledge?

i finished with dvds. i acknowledged how frustrating it must be for librarians to see students walk in the library, walk past the stacks, and head straight for the dvds. at the same time, i remarked how interesting it is to note that many youth go beyond the main movie and watch the extras - the making of, director's commentary - which, to me, suggests a kind of research, a willingness to pursue secondary sources, and, most importantly, evidence of a sense that seems to be evaporating among too many of our students - curiosity. i ended with an idea i heard from a librarian at a one-day conference for jesuit university librarians (convened about two weeks ago at USF by librarian locke morrisey) - wouldn't it be great to set up a web 2.0 site that essentially says, if you liked this dvd, you're gonna love these books.

it's a gamble. as new media becomes more and more integrated into the lives of our students, many of us are worried that basic literacy may suffer. at the same time, as scholars like jenkins argue (in "confronting the challenges of participatory culture: media education for the 21st century"), reading and writing literacy is often the cornerstone of participatory cultures. regarding this last point, i am still uncertain, but i am certain that curiosity is something our students - not to mention ourselves - could use a lot more of, and fast. and i am certain that curious minds belong, grow, and thrive in libraries.

like always, my time management was lacking but as the talk ended and people began to file out of the ballroom i managed to remember to snap a few photos:

update: i've learned of two new ISLMA-related wiki projects! the first is the 2006 ISLMA conference wiki which features, among other things, slides and notes from over two dozen conference presentations. the second is bookbattle, a wiki set up by erin wyatt at highland middle school in libertyville and katie kirsch at lake bluff middle school.