[new river journal is ba-ack]

After a period of dormancy (in the eloquent ELO's words) the New River Journal is back and kicking. The first issue includes work by Jason Nelson, David Herrstrom, and Dan Waber. Waber's piece is most interesting as it deals with the temporal dimension of writing.

[travel scrabble - how serendipitous]

travel scrabble
Today London transport was oddly quiet and I made it from Waterloo station to Kings Cross in about 22 minutes. With a couple of sprints I managed to catch an earlier train from St. Pancras to Leicester - woo hoo! That leaves me plenty of time to prepare for this afternoon's discussion on The Future of Language at the IoCT with Nadine Fleischer - editor/designer, Wordrobe
Simon Perril, Poet and Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing and English at De Montfort University, Hugo Worthy, Writer and Archivist, Chris Joseph, Chair, and yours truly. As I settled into my train seat, adjusted my earphones to the melodious bonobo, and gazed out at the whizzing scenery, I prepared to (mentally) go over my thoughts on txt spk. Rather than concentrate on facts and figures (did you know in Dec. 06 Brits sent 4.4 BILLION txts), a reflection in the window caught my eye. A man at the table across the aisle had brought out a travel scrabble pack and was lovingly adjusting the bag of letters and getting ready for a solo game. I couldn't help but squeak: "scrabble?" (I'm never quite sure how much talking to strangers is too much on public transport in this country). He smiled knowingly and invited me for a game. Turns out he was pretty damn good and he's French so we enjoyed a bilingual game. How's that for practising my presentation...ho hum.....


[she blogs ergo book deal cometh...]

IT’S the blog that captures the mood of the
moment for thousands of middle-class families — and could make its author’s fortune. Less than six weeks after starting to write about downshifting from London to rural Northumberland, a mother of three young children has landed a £70,000 publishing deal.
Early last month Judith O’Reilly launched Wife in the North, an online chronicle of her battles with three children, two elderly parents and an absentee husband while living in a northern hamlet, with the nearest town half an hour’s drive away.
Last week, after whirlwind approaches from an agent and a publisher, she signed a deal to turn the blog, which has become a surprise hit in Britain and America, into a book to be published by Viking Penguin.

Read the rest of The Times article here and see the Wife in the North in action here.


[line breaks and flow]

I came across this poem today over at Cassis's blog at Frontline Books. In her post, Cassis talks about flow: "Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi uses the term 'flow' to describe the state of absorption in the creative process. He defines flow as "an automatic, effortless, yet highly focused state of consciousness." Ah...where is my flow? With flow rustling in my mind, I read the remainder of Cassis's post which contained this poem:

Woman Writing

A woman writes at a desk in a study. Furiously
at five a new theorem buzzing, she constructs it
with her pen-
Thermodynamics and the Heartbeats of Tree-
Frogs in Sarawak. Her hair is
why brush it, it is white thought. Behind her a model:
molecules, a tree of them, primaries, red, yellow.

Today is blue.
She allows it to happen. This is not
a woman writing her memoirs . She is
writing off the edge
of the planet. What mirror? What toothpaste?

She is newly painted vibrant criss-cross dashes:
her sweater,
glasses, the lines on her face.
This hour could have been a century blasting
away a stockade of men in white coats.
Today she is eighty-five. So much
to do. So far to go.

["pureangel," Images of Women, eds. Dilys
Wood and Myra Schneider, Arrowhead Press]

Rather interestingly, instead of flow, I found myself very aware of the line-breaks. Perhaps I was more aware of them simply because the idea of flow preemtped feelings of continuity, effusion, succession. What especially made an impression on me are these two enjambments:

"she constructs it
with her pen..."


"She is writing off the edge
of the planet."

The way the lines seem to break the flow of thought startled me as I was reading. As if each line contains (at least) two possibilities, constructing something, and constructing something with an aid...as if the flow then attains a clarification or a (re)focus. Re-reading these lines now also seem strangely metafictive; the poet describing the creation of her poem. For the reader too, my eye-movements mimicking the break, falling to the subsequent line. I especially enjoy how "edge" switches from noun to adjective - but this is only clear to me when my eye makes the leap from one line to the next.

[web 2.0: new social software tool]

More social software! This time it's a tool that lets you create and then embedd videos. All done online. Thanks to a link from Angela's blog I see that Sue has already made and embedded her first av presentation. Check out her video here.


[transliteracy: the beginning]

Bruce posted "Introducing the Book" over at the PaRT blog and I had to post it here.

It really makes you feel for those who work the IT helpdesk, doesn't it.


[site stats]

Just checking my blog stats as usual (hey, I'm down to once a day now!) and scrolling through my list of visitors....and guess who came a'callin':


[presidential computing?]

"Hillary Clinton is a PC, Barack Obama is a Mac."

- Michael Gove (he is conservative mp for Surrey Heath after all....)

I know there are some hard-core pc (as in ibm-type) vs mac debates out there and certainly, macs are goregeous (not too sure about Obama though!) but dells are catching up quickly in the style stakes.
Here is a fun pro-pc blog
post by Mike Rundle citing some things that pcs do better (yes, better) than macs:

  • Window Resizing (I also have a mac book pro and the auto window sizing can be a pain)
  • Menubar Interaction
    • Microsoft Office
    Now, what is Gove trying to suggest, that looks are more important the performance? Hrm....


    [art experiments in new york]

    image from rhizomeFrom Rhizome:

    "New York-based organization Location One's International Residency Program was initiated in 2001 to foster artistic experimentation. Each year a group of artists develop a body of new work?often involving technology?during a period of four to ten months, which is then presented in a group show at Location One's Soho gallery. The first of two exhibitions showcasing the projects of eight of the 2006-2007 artists-in-residence runs from February 14 to March 17. Reflecting the multiple practices of their creators, the pieces on view represent multiple media and aesthetics, from sound, sculpture, and performance, to political readings of the urban space or explorations of perception. Bewernitz and Goldowski's installation, 'Unveiled Presence (secret sounds 2)' (2007), constitutes one of the highlights of the exhibition. The artists were inspired by the rooftop water towers found all over New York, as well as Duchamp's 'Bruit Secret' (1916), an assisted ready-made consisting o! f a ball of twine between two brass plates containing a small, unknown object revealed only when shaken. Using a complex topographical approach, they recorded the city?s sounds in specific locations, creating a psychologically engaging vision of the secret dimensions of this otherwise well-known metropolis. Other works are also worth mentioning, including Teresa Henriques's drawing/sculpture, created with the open-source animation software Blender, or Alessandro Nassiri's video of a fictional demonstration in which the participants wear white t-shirts exposing a scarlet letter, so that, together, the participants?s shirts spell-out the expression 'coming soon.' Presenting innovative artists and works to New York?s audience, this promising group show thus continues Location One's custom of contributing to the dynamics of its art scene." - Miguel Amado


    [literacy 2.0: born digital?]

    This was originally posted over at Frontline Books.

    I have spent the past week mulling over the thought-provoking comments to last week’s blog post. I’ve also been pondering the various responses (online and e-mail) to the “Web 2.0: The Machine is Us/ing Us” video. Ranging from a tangible enthusiasm, to a general malaise towards all things with the suffix two point oh, to wary placations that “we still have day jobs,” I’m left wondering why there are such divided reactions. The “us” and the “them?” Marc Prensky says “digital natives” are born into technology and thus are “’native speakers’ of the digital language of computers, video games and the Internet.” Prensky also has a term for those of the Luddite persuasion; “digital immigrants” might adopt “most aspects” of the techy environment but will always retain their “accent.” So, no matter how fluent one might get in technospeak, it’ll never sound like its “natural.” Hrm…I would have to disagree with both the idea and the terminology employed (are we back in the dark ages?!). As an aside, to what conclusions might one leap when noticing that Prensky’s blog hasn’t been updated since early Sept. 2006.

    bloom_taxonomy2Previously, my ideological position has been that literacy *must* be taught. The idea that there is a graspable notion of what literacy is and armed with plenty of teaching supplies, even the most reticent student will *learn* to appreciate the pleasure of the printed page. Not to sound too dogmatic... What about transliteracy? How can it be taught, explained, fathomed, when we’re still attempting to understand it as it unfolds?

    literacy_blossomsBut times and technologies change and so must we. And so, this week I’ve relived my own first forays into the technologically designed world. I remember the curiosity the glowing green screen provoked and the initial one-to-one sessions (between the computer and I) I experienced as more of a devoir rather than a pleasure. How times, and I, have changed. I now adoringly caress the slight indentations I’ve created on my oft’ used keys. I smile at the thought of the measureless hours I’ve spent at the computer, the smudged stickers and worn sheen as evidence. The computer now is much more than a device that allows me to follow academic guidelines (no handwritten essays accepted) but has become a mode of communication.

    look out for the blackberry about 3mins in - yay Canada!


    The point of this interlude into my consciousness is to highlight the necessity of time and collaboration inherent in most learning. I do not think that transliteracy can simply be *taught.* From the comments and responses to the web 2.0 video that are flowing online, I’m beginning to see transliteracy as more of an evolution between collaborators (person-to-person, person-to-computer, person-mode), a testimony to the level of comfort one might have with the various modes available. Perhaps certain examples can be given (Chris Joseph and I are currently working on this) to help elaborate the different modes at work (as mentioned in last week’s post: visual, aural, kinaesthetic, textual) but like any literacy, transliteracy will come with time, experience, and comfort. Additionally, transliteracy suggests a sense of a wider world. While you might only see your reflection in the screen, there are millions of others online with you. In this sense, transliteracy engenders a collaborative and participatory ethos (such as commenting on a blog post or folksonomy). We can read across modes, but we can also interact and communicate in various ways and in/at different times. Literacy might have an “i”, emphasising the subjective process, however, the “i” is not solitary.

    Perhaps one point of agreement: transliteracy is distributed and participatory. How do you, born digital or not, read, write, and think across networks and modes? What are you earliest memories of digitalis? Have your initial feelings given way to others? Do you have an accent?



    I suppose he's worth keeping then....


    [della and julian]

    can come over anytime! Della and Julian brought home-made marmalade made with Seville oranges (sooo good) and gorgeous lillies from their garden.

    lillies from della and julian's gardenlillies from della and julian's garden


    [snow day]

    Woke up this morning to see more than three flakes!






    Update: the Southern Counties section of BBC online has added one of my snowy images to their gallery.


    [ojos de brujo at the roundhouse]

    Lastnight we went to the Roundhouse in London. What an amazing space. The structure, the architecture, the chilled out vibe, and the abso*&$#inglutely fantabulastic performance by the Spanish group Ojos de Brujo (Eyes of the Wizard). A fitting name for a magical group. They are light years beyond Flamenco music. The group had an energetic dj scratching (DJ Panko) who would also periodically run around the stage. The flamenco guitarist Ramón Giménez (a gypsy by birth) did some amazing breakdancing which really wowed and bewildered the crowd (at least those who hadn't ever seen Ojos live). The lead singer, Marina Abad, had a husky, soulful voice that didn't quite fit with her jubilant political repartee which she shared between each song. The video the group had streaming on the screen in the background (you can see this in the you tube video) highlighted their political thinking and seemed to suggest that music does have the power to change and educate. It was brilliant.

    They're playing next in Edinburgh and then Barcelona, now that would be an experience. If you want to keep up to date with the band's journey, check out their

    YAY for you tube! I didn't have any recording device on me but loads of other people did.


    [whow to speek good]

    If teachers approached English language lessons like this...


    [overheard in the farm shop]

    "...oh I say, where do you have your cranberry preserve. I can't see it...where is it...it is so common, everyone has cranberry preserve...am I just being stupid...." (we were tempted to answer)

    at the checkout of said farm shop:
    "...can you believe he wants me to go riding...I mean, five hours in the saddle...one just can't do that anymore..."

    elderly guy leans over me in farm shop to reach for clotted cream "...do you sail dear? it's one of life's last real pleasures..." (sure I sail...doesn't everyone?!!...and yes, his use of "dear" was responded to)

    locals congregated in the carpark of farm shop
    "...and how was yesterday's hunt...."

    ahhhhh....surrey. :)


    [hen weekend]

    The Seminar by the Sea for Female Artists, Writers and Curators

    Hen Weekend is a new format networking event set-up by artist Ellie Harrison. It aims to facilitate discussion and encourage collaboration between its participants - who (at each event) will be a mix of 16 high-profile and emerging artists from around the UK and abroad.

    Hen Weekend has just received funding from Arts Council England and the pilot event will take place at De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill on Sea over the weekend 30 March - 1 April 2007. Over the course of the next two years, further Hen Weekend events will take place at a number of seaside arts venues around the country.

    Hen Weekend is funded by The National Lottery through Arts Council England, with support from De La Warr Pavilion, ARC and the Networking Artists' Networks initiative (NAN) through a-n The Artist Information Company.

    For more information visit the