30.4.06

[blogging and academia]

After the very interesting NLab Seminar on Blogging and Social Software (which generated a nice amount of chatter in the blogosphere) I found it very timely to receive an e-mail advising me on how to add blog citations. At our NLab seminar we were wondering whether blogs could really be considered as academic writings or theoretical posts. I guess this is an answer: yes. Why else would the online community be interested in being able to academically reference blog posts? It's really wonderful to see a group of people out there who aren't so wary of new technologies/software that they remain closed to possibilities. I find this development quite encouraging. Now, to create a blog citation application which works on blogs other than Word Press ones....

(I would also like to note that one half of the team who created this great plugin is a woman: Julie Meloni, who worked with Jeremy Douglass)

27.4.06

[bleary-eyed]

Some might say 12:09 pm is just when they start waking up...I'm, instead thinking about (finally) crashing into a nice, laundry-fresh smelling, bed. Ahhhhh. We have just dropped off Steve's thesis at the printers (Gartree Press in Leicester) of pulling an all-nighter. Not the *fun* kind of all-nighter involving tasty drinks, music, friends, (nothing suspicious of course), but the all-nighter involving me writing 40 pages of references with sources who have paragraph-long titles! And the kind of sources who then write 20 different papers each year so by the end of it I've got 2002a, 2002b, 2002c, 2002d, 2002e, etc...that is enough to make one's eyes weary. I'm a bit nervous and hoping the printing all goes to plan. London colleges do make some strange requirements inluding adding the specific size of the gold lettering which must be exactly .25inches high....hrm...Steve has already crashed. I think no sleep, too much coffee, and having nothing to do now that his thesis is complete has left him a bit...discombobulated. Kitty is bugging me to go out for a walk so I think I'll do that first...let thoughts settle before sleeping, otherwise I'll be found gardening or doing some such strange sleep-walking thing...

[happy birthday to my lil'brother]

Happy Birthday to my little bro. who was born many moons ago!buon compleannobonne fete a toiparty hearty dude!how are you feeling old man? obviously I have too much time on my hands as I'm adding all the alt messages...maybe i should get some sleep...?nah, this is much more funSi. Allora, state tutti bene oggi.Enjoy your birthday 'CheleHappyBirthdayTo YouHowOld' AreYouNow?!!

25.4.06

[nlab seminar 2: blogs, communities, and social software]

Josie Fraser giving her presentation on blogging in educationToday was the second seminar in the Narrative Laboratory series (the next one is in May, and then June). Although our day ended at 4, I'm still mulling over the day's events. Although the theme for today's seminar was (as you can see from the title of this post) about blogs, communities, and social software, it seemed most of the questions revolved around "why blog?" I guess I hadn't really thought about it. When Dave e-mailed our NLab Yahoo Group this question (which had been asked at the seminar), I guess seeing it in "print" made it all the more serious, like I should have a really good, academic, worthwhile answer. Like I should have spent time, lots of it, pondering the possibilities and settling on one focused and finely argued point. But I didn't, and I guess I still don't. I remembered when I first met Sue, her first question was "do you have a blog?" I felt very sheepish at the time and remember staring guiltily at my feet while I mumbled no....I rushed home to begin blogging. It was very easy and I can see why so many people want to do it, but then, as with anything that becomes possible for the masses, the elitists have to question it's merit: why blog? Do we (as surfers of cyberspace) really want to hear about someone's dog (if it is an aibo I do of course! - Sue!). Mark says he likes his blog because it means he's *there*. He has a reference point (except at his work which is a long story about pornography!). I like the idea of blogging as a way of keeping in touch with family and friends who seem to spread out further and further. The internet then becomes a very fluid and super stretchy tie that does bind us together. Of course, as Sue showed us with bloglines, we are all connected in other ways (including by the blogs we read). After Sue walked us through the basics of blog aggregators (say that ten times after a few drinks!) we had a thoughtful discussion on communities, collaboration, and links/linking. During the plenary as the day came to a close, Kate made a really interesting comment: seeing Sue's collection of blogs was like stepping inside Sue's brain. I really liked that. I found myself, during Sue's presentation, wishing that she'd have left her bloglines on the screen, only for me to take note of everything she's reading...what does she find interesting enough to bookmark (is it some kind of elite club?). I wonder if it's a bit like driving past people's homes and peeking in their windows...wondering what goes on "in" there and what stories are they experiencing...I guess peeking at someone's blog roll is kinda like that...what are their stories? That would be a great ph.d - the narratives of blog rolls and their connections... Enough of Suw Charman giving her presentationthat aside, back to the NLab seminar. Of note were the two invited speakers: Josie Fraser and Suw Charman. Both women gave great presentations and I found it very optimistic that two women were so pro technology and also very savvy with it. With my experience in teaching and my (personal ?) goal to get more blogs/technology in the classroom, I was really intereted to hear what Josie had to say. She told us about teachers who are just learning to use e-mail and then are being taught to blog. We saw great ideas about ph.d bloggers and learner bloggers...all great stuff. Both women are certainly excellent (blog)role models. They are def. two bloggers who have been added to my own bloglines and should be added to yours.

23.4.06

[fun words i've found while editing a geology ph.d thesis]

clast gravelly diamicton calcareous carboniferous sandy-silt silty-sand upwards thrust outsize pebbles lateral accretion processes periglacial lithology ice-proximal sheet bar deposition palynomorph Glaciolacustrine irregularly shaped horizon of flint bulbous morphology braidplain polymodal fabric basaltic porphyry lamination ice lobe lattisepic fabric


19.4.06

[somnambulism]

I have just been rescued from energetically attempting to close the high kitchen windows and knocking various recyclable items, washing up liquid, and a kettle from the counter top. Apparently I've been downstairs for almost half an hour - unbeknownst to me. Sleep does work in mysterious ways. I had been dreaming that someone was trying to break in through the kitchen window so I guess my more astute unconscious self decided to take matters into her own hands, while the other, sleepier Jess, continued dreaming. The only problem, in the dream, is I'm never EVER quick enough to close the window on the thief; he is always able to get his hand in. As I see it creep over the metal window frame I scream and the dream ends...

Apparently, sleepwalking "runs in families and is likely genetically based. Contrary to the common belief that sleepwalkers are acting out their dreams, sleepwalking does not occur during REM sleep, which is when we typically dream. It actually occurs when we are in the deepest stages of sleep, stages 3 and 4. The behavior occurs in a state between deep sleep and wakefulness and the disorder has been classified as a 'disorder of arousal.' The subject seems to have been aroused and then stuck in an in-between state."

Well, I guess trying to close kitchen windows isn't too bad (helpful even?) but something like last night's dream does make me wonder if I inhaled too much second-hand smoke (if you know what I mean...). In my dream I had been recruited by an army marine biology research unit (they even hadAndromeda and the sea monster an acronymn: a.m.b.r.u. - officers and other important people in my dream said "ambru"). I didn't know why I had been recruited (seeing as my academic background is in new media, English lit., psych.) but apparently I had something to offer the team. And so I was briefed. I was told that there was a new but dangerous sea monster which I would have to pursue and then tranqualize. At the time of the briefing this seemed to be no problem. I remember holding a special rifle-shaped machine that upon shooting would put the sea being to sleep (not permanent, just a nap). I readily signed documents (and even noted the small print - I used a magnifying glass to read it - that absolved the army of blame in the case of my death). Most of the rest of the dream involved me swimming around underwater with no mask or oxygen tank but deep enough so it hurt to breathe. I finally caught up with this "sea monster" who was actually awfully cute. It told me its name; Zoe. I couldn't tranquilize it at the point and realised this had all been some crafty army plot to capture a wild and new species. Of course I couldn't do that to Zoe (we'd bonded over Second Cup white hot chocolate in her underwater cafe...). I proceeded to help her to escape, escorting her through the murky waters. Now, in real life I was sitting in bed pretending to swim. As I, in dream land, found the edge of the sea (like a pool, there was a great big silver ladder and blue steps) and clambered out, I stood up in bed and fell off it! That woke me up.

Shrinks and psych. students alike may suggest that remembering the dream is a way of showing ourselves that we can cope with seemingly insoluable personal dilemmas...hrm, should I be a marine biologist for the army or not....perhaps that will be tomorrow's dream?

Want to interpret your dreams? Here are some ideas:
Bird: an image of the soul, that part of man that is free.
Climbing: encouragement to persevere and solve a problem.
Crossing a river: a fundamental change of attitude.
Death: fundamentally, death is a transformation; the wish to be born again; to start over clean. Old things are dying, new things are being born. An urge to make a change in life.
Exams: fear of failure; fear of being tested.
Exhibitionism: a need to find psychological balance.
Falling: as an archetype falling represents primal fear. It can also be an experience from early childhood; or it can symbolize loosing self-worth; or a moral depression; or falling back to an earlier situation.
Flying: freedom and the escaping the common and worldly life.
House: a house is usually the self. The rooms can be different aspects of the personality. The basement is the unconscious or the lower energies in the personality; the attic is the higher part of the self.
Missing a bus, train, ship or airplane connection: the fear of missing a change; or a sign that the dreamer has to change his attitude if he wants to make progress.
Sexual dreams: Erotic dreams are not always expressions of sexual desires. They can point to problems with the partner, or they liberate certain inhibitions in our contact with other people. Sexual dreams can mirror the fear of the loss of something, or point to a falling apart of something.

Snake: from a traditional point the snake can mean evil things, or conflicts between instincts and conscious choices. The snake as an archetype is about transformation and a big change in one’s life, especially when a snake has bitten.
Spider: the psychic world which is not easily accessible to the conscious. In the east Maya, the veil of illusion, is called the spinner.
Stairs: as stairs are used to go from one level to another, they symbolize the passing from one phase of life to another.
Teeth, losing: growing up.
Water: can be prenatal memories of floating in the amniotic fluid, the desire to go back to this state of protection, or the desire to be born again. Water also relates to the unconscious. Clear water is like clear life energy. Water often symbolizes emotions that one is going through.

[Rupture, Verge, and Precipice]

You say there will be no readers in the future, that there are hardly any readers now. You count your measly 15,000—but you have always underestimated everything.
You say language will lose its charms, its ability to charm, its power to mesmerize.
You say the world turns, spins away, or that we turn from it. You're pretty desolate.
You mutter a number of the usual things: You say, ".... are rust," "...are void"'... are torn."
You think you know what a book is, what reading is, what constitutes a literary experience. In fact you've been happy all these years to legislate the literary experience. All too happy to write the rules.

You think you know what the writer does, what the reader does. You're pretty smug about it.
You think you know what the reader wants: a good old-fashioned story.
You think you know what a woman wants: a good old-fashioned—
You find me obnoxious, uppity. You try to dismiss me as hysterical or reactionary or out of touch because I won't enter that cozy little pact with you anymore.
Happy little subservient typing "my" novel, the one you've been dictating all these years.
You rely on me to be dependent on you for favors, publication, $$$$$$$$, canonization.
You are afraid. Too smug in your middle ground with your middlebrow. Everything threatens you.

You say music was better then: the Rolling Stones, the Who, the Beatles, Fleetwood Mac. You're boring me.
You say hypertext will kill print fiction. You pit one against the other in the most cynical and transparent ways in hopes we'll tear each other to bits
while you watch. You like to watch. Hold us all in your
gaze.
Just as you try to pit writing against theory, prose against poetry, film against video, etc., as you try to hold on to your little piece of the disappearing world.
But I, for one, am on to you. Your taste for blood, your love of competition, your need to feel endangered, beleaguered, superior.
Your need to reiterate, to reassert your power, your privilege, because it erodes.
Let's face it, you're panicked.

18.4.06

[honour's degrees in 2 years]

The front page of The Times decrees: "Degrees in two years to ease student debt burden." So, now that British students have to pay for their undergraduate degrees, they're incurring higher debt. Ummm. What about in Canada (and the States) where we've always had to pay our undergrad. fees and our honour's degrees are FOUR years long? I think it's a good idea to have the option of "compressing" the undergrad. degree (cutting out the summer breaks) but is it really worth it? I raise my eyebrows when I hear (like on bbc radio 4) that it is a disadvantage to have a degree because employers don't want to pay employees extra for education. I myself was told to take my master's degree off my CV because "no one will employ you" - and that was in London. Will young people really be willing to get themselves into debt (whether 2 years or 3) if there isn't a distinct possibility that they will be hired because of their degree? The Times explains that by 2012 HALF of new (what about the old ones?) British jobs will require a graduate qualification...what about the other half of new jobs or the old jobs?

Interesting facts from the 2001 Statistics Canada Census (they're working on 2006 now):

The main variation between the provinces, with respect to universities, is the amount of funding they receive. Universities in Quebec receive the most funding and have the lowest tuitions. Universities in Atlantic Canada generally receive the least funding and some, like Acadia University, are almost wholly reliant on private funding. When Ontario had five years of high school, a three-year bachelor's degree was common, but these degrees are being phased out in favour of the four-year degree.

Now, look at these images, compare the percentage of Canadians employed with a degree and the percentage of British with a degree....why the difference? The first two illustrate Canadian census stats while the bottom image shows the U.K. info: (click on images to see a larger more legible version)












16.4.06

[buona pasqua/happy easter]

Con la Pasqua si celebra la passione, morte e resurrezione di Gesù Cristo. Ma la Pasqua è anche la festa della primavera. L'evento ha risonanze agresti e nasce come motivo di ringraziamento e d'offerta sacrale delle primizie del campo e dell'orto. Nel nostro Paese, dove esistono ancora legami forti e autentici con il significato di questa celebrazione, i festeggiamenti variano da regione a regione, pur restando legati alla liturgia cristiana.

Per ancora clicca
qui.



A Chieti, sempre il venerdi' santo, si svolge la via crucis più antica d’Italia con il Miserere cantato da sole voci maschili e accompagnato da cento violini.

13.4.06

[back to england]

Today I'm flying back to England. Hopefully will bring the warm sun and budding flowers with me...have heard it's been raining since I left...Leicester must be missing me. :)

10.4.06

[canada owns arctic]

One year of planning and $1 million later, the Canadian Rangers completed their 15 day patrol of the Canadian North. Apparently this patrol is set to become an annual operation due to the heightened interest in the Northwest Passage between Baffin Bay and the Beaufort Sea. I think it stems more more U.S. Amabassador David Wilkins saying that more other countries don't recognise Canada's claim to northern waters.
Interestingly, the creation of the Canadian Rangers also means job creation especially for the Inuit; the team of 31 people is primarily Inuit. Also amazing is that while cutting-edge technology was employed by the team (satellite communication, food drops, satellite imagery etc...) they still used "komatiks," (Inuit-designed wooden sleds). Some things were just made right eh? These sleds were able to traverse jagged sea ice up to 3 meters high! Go Operation Nunalivut (the land is ours).

7.4.06

[is it a bird...a plane?]

Nope, it's just a 6 foot by 6 foot piece of wall falling into the street! That was the news lastnight when bricks from a block of flats started tumbling down into the street. Police had to close the road. Pure crazyness. Interesting that the articles and news stories don't mention anything about the proprietor...makes me think the city owns it...See what you think.

6.4.06

[apple and microsoft]

Wow. The other day I heard that Microsoft continues to battle with RIM's Blackberry with its "push e-mail" options but analysts say "that while they expect Microsoft to rapidly gain market share in the mobile e-mail sector, they don't necessarily expect it to catch up with RIM's BlackBerry offerings anytime soon." Its also been explained that wherever we see the Intel Centrino sticker it really means Microsoft XP and a little while ago the tv ads were screaming that the centrino is now in apple computers. Hrm...today's headline in the business section read: Apple shifts big, goes for XP users. I wonder what apple users will say...their computers might just start crashing now. The apple site hasn't yet updated their tag line saying "Want a crash course on the Mac? Lesson 1: It doesn’t crash. Built by the same folks who designed its rock-solid operating system and its award-winning applications, the Mac always starts up and never lets you down." It seems share holders are most optimistic as stock prices have soared almost 10%.

5.4.06

[the toronto star and the times: use of technology]

As I'm in Toronto I've been reading the paper edition of the Toronto Star every morning. I've been struck by the amount of technology related articles and reports which are peppered throughout all sections of the paper. In yesterday's paper I learnt about audio stiles, a business run by two men who promise to give you an audio makeover (they do ipods, cd collections, mp3 devices etc...). I suppose this made me wonder how a national canadian newspaper might employ technology differently from a u.k. paper. I've take a quick glance at the star and the times. The times front page, interestingly (I thought), has a search option powered by msn. It also advertises podcasts of the news as "audio digests" giving readers a "newspaper that speaks" (as an ad. at the right side of the page) and a weblog section (almost hidden at the bottom of the screen). The toronto star on the other hand has a search operated by google. At the top of the page, easy for newcomers to spot, are tabs linking to podcasts and weblogs. While both papers use images and links the toronto star seems to offer something which the times does not: each article can be bookmarked with del.icio.us. Why has the star chosen to partner with del.icio.us in this way? Hrm...does the star see their online readership as significantly different (and more technologically minded) than their print audience? Perhaps the times is grouping both their audiences together? I think both these papers offer an excellent example of how technology can be enabling.

[terrorist attack or suicide?]

On Sunday a local Tim Hortons (excellent coffee shop for those of you who have never, sadly, experienced it's delish donughts!) exploded with very loud bangs and flashes of fire. People rushed out onto the street screaming "terrorism" and "bobm." Today, the police investigation reveals that, no, it wasn't a terroritst attack, but a man who poured gasoline on himself and then set himself alight. They're still trying to figure out whether this man (he remains unnamed until dental records are definitive) did try to kill himself or whether it was an accident? Like, oops, I just poured a whole can of gas on me and now the match has slipped and has set me alight...? Huh? Apparently the guy, was depressed. So, in media studies we've learnt in order to avert a "moral panic" the legislators or people in charge must make changes to ease the public. Tim Hortons has decided to offer all its employees counselling services. Would you like a donught with that?

4.4.06

[video games and narrative?]

I blogged about this over at Writing and the Digital Life. I think it's great that this kind of "new media" exhibition is coming to Toronto!! Gotta go see it.

Tomorrow, a new kind of art exhibition is going to open in Toronto: Artcade. This will mark the culmination of years of activisim on the part of people like Toby Grindley (owner of Microplay) and 12 other Greater Toronto artists. Together, this group has strived to represent video games as not "inferior to film and literature." The arts on show is inspired by the world of video games. Objects like the "1 UP" mushroom in Super Mario Brothers that spits spores and lights up are said to be the main attractions. While Grindley and the other artists agree that video games have not been around as long as other art (their examples are "literature" and film) they still have "credibility" in their own way. While those involved with this exhibition (taking place at Grindley's store in Toronto) maintain, on the one hand, that video games offer a new kind of window on the art world, while on the other hand explain that games are just "a different way to experience a story." For more on this story go here and here.


3.4.06

[2006 Ontario Budget ups Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit to 30% to 2010]

The Ontario Trillium - Ontario's Flower
The Ontario Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit (OIDMTC) is a 20 per cent refundable tax credit for eligible expenditures incurred by qualifying corporations, with annual gross revenues of up to $20 million and total assets of up to $10 million, to develop eligible interactive digital media products in Ontario. This refundable tax credit is targeted at smaller, multimedia companies that develop and market their own interactive digital media products, such as educational CD-ROMs or games.
The Budget proposes to raise the tax credit rate from 20 per cent to 30 per cent for corporations qualifying under the existing OIDMTC provisions. This would provide greater support for Ontario's smaller interactive digital media companies while creating more opportunities for Ontario's highly skilled talent pool.


For more on this story see here.

2.4.06

[iPod crazy?]

I'm in Toronto at the moment and it seems that the local area is going "new media" crazy. In the Arts & Life section of the Toronto Star Sunday newspaper there is a full page spread dedicated to the "iPod age," offering a myriad of ways to use your iPod. For the more traditional types you can still use it to listen to music but the trick is to trade iPods with someone else so that you listen to their music...fantabulastic eh? If that doesn't work feel free to e-mail the "iPodiatrist" who "cheerfully offers replacement songs to provide new (improved) music for tired ears. Instead of Norah Jones one might listen to Corrinne Bailey Rae, instead of Elvis why not try Campell Brothers. Also, for those rebels who want to use their iPod for fuctions other than listening to music why not "pimp my iPod?" This article lists ten (possibly risky) uses for your iPod. Some of the most interesting ideas include adding 300 gigs of memory (risking an entire reformat of course is things go wrong) to create the "all-in-one dream device." You can also log in to ipodwizard.net to change fonts, graphics, and text so that you can personlise the display. If you're (hrm...what's the technical term, ah yes), silly, you can also turn your iPod into an (admittedly very pricey) ashtray or create your very own amp. Is this the "new wave" in digital life?