28.8.07

[choking china]

Read This:
"But just as the speed and scale of China’s rise as an economic power have no clear parallel in history, so its pollution problem has shattered all precedents. Environmental degradation is now so severe, with such stark domestic and international repercussions, that pollution poses not only a major long-term burden on the Chinese public but also an acute political challenge to the ruling Communist Party. And it is not clear that China can rein in its own economic juggernaut.

Public health is reeling. Pollution has made cancer China’s leading cause of death, the Ministry of Health says. Ambient air pollution alone is blamed for hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. Nearly 500 million people lack access to safe drinking water."


And what about this:

"The government rarely uses market-oriented incentives to reduce pollution. Officials have rejected proposals to introduce surcharges on electricity and coal to reflect the true cost to the environment. The state still controls the price of fuel oil, including gasoline, subsidizing the cost of driving.

Energy and environmental officials have little influence in the bureaucracy. The environmental agency still has only about 200 full-time employees, compared with 18,000 at the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States.

China has no Energy Ministry. The Energy Bureau of the National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s central planning agency, has 100 full-time staff members. The Energy Department of the United States has 110,000 employees.

China does have an army of amateur regulators. Environmentalists expose pollution and press local government officials to enforce environmental laws. But private individuals and nongovernment organizations cannot cross the line between advocacy and political agitation without risking arrest.

At least two leading environmental organizers have been prosecuted in recent weeks, and several others have received sharp warnings to tone down their criticism of local officials. One reason the authorities have cited: the need for social stability before the 2008 Olympics, once viewed as an opportunity for China to improve the environment."

23.8.07

[south african president fires deputy health minister who actually made a difference]

Former deputy health minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, an amazing, genuine, and driven person seems to be (or actually, was) one of the few forward-thinking and proactive people in politics in S.A. right now (certainly neither the the health minister nor Thabo Mbeki fall into either of these categories).

Madlala-Routledge put into place and fully supported a radical aids/hiv treatment plan in S.A. which enabled sick people (free!) access to treatment. Now, with the "health" minister in charge (known as "Dr. Beetroot" because she champions beetroot in the fight against aids) numbers of suffers will surely rise beyond the already epidemic proportions and not only because she sees antiretroviral medicine as poison. I'm stunned and dismayed that the South African president would cut off his and the country's line of hope and positive action in the aids fight.


Read the excellent Independent article A President in Denial, a Ravaged Nation Denied Hope which features Madlala-Routledge's own response.



For an idea of the idiocy that Madlala-Routledge has been up against take a look at this crazy response which supports Mbeki's move (if only because the former deputy health minister has an "unnecessarily complicated name" and that she's a woman!)







NB I met Nozizwe on a trip to South Africa a couple of years ago but knowing her only makes it more explicit for me how wrong Mbeki's move is.




20.8.07

[be socially networked or die]

Ok...not that exactly but for businesses to succeed they need to be socially networked: "Get interactive or get out, says analyst"

"Traditional marketing campaigns are proving unsuccessful on social networking sites, according to a recently published report.

The
Forrester Research study suggests that most marketers still use traditional tactics like run-of-site advertising and static microsites to push messages into these networks.

However, the return on investment in these campaigns is very low, and marketers should be prepared to engage in a personal relationship with users by providing something of value.

Promotions are good in this context, according to Forrester, but information or brand elements that users can pass on to their friends are even better.

"It is clear that successful social networking site campaigns do not follow traditional marketing rules," said Charlene Li, a principal analyst at Forrester and co-author of the report.

"Social networking sites cannot be treated as channels because their members are not passive web pages."

The report suggests that marketers should mimic how music acts promote themselves on sites like MySpace by engaging their fans with frequent backstage gossip and answering their questions.

"During the past 10 years, the evolution of the internet has dramatically changed how organisations interact with customers," said Gurval Caer, president and chief executive at marketing agency Blast Radius.

"Companies are recognising that traditional marketing approaches like advertising are less effective today, and marketers are struggling to deliver value.

"People no longer want 'interruptive' brand communications; they want interactions with their peers and true value from companies through Facebook applications or communities for sharing ideas and experiences."

Caer added that marketing needs to "turn itself on its head" with a much greater focus on building relationships that will make people's lives "easier, better and richer".

The report concluded that companies that want to advertise on social networks should embrace the interactive aspect of the sites in order to gain the full benefit of these campaigns."

Forrester Report: Marketing on Social Networking Sites
By Ian Willams at
VnuNet.

18.8.07

[pas de calais: day 4]

After day 3's excitement, on the final day we were content to finish some sampling and enjoy the sunset:




[pas de calais: day 3 = murder]

On the third day of the geological study-trip we found ourselves in the middle of a crime scene. A body had been found on the beach early that morning and the police were trying to discern whether it was an accident (the tide does come in VERY quickly there) or foul play. I surreptitiously spied:










[pas de calais: day 2]






16.8.07

[pas de calais: day 1]

I've just arrived back from assisting with a geological mission: luminescence dating (a good explanation is here) in the Pas de Calais region to discover *when* the land bridge linking France to England existed (stage 6 or stage 7....the great debate...apparently).

While the geologist scurried about digging, measuring, sampling, and cleaning sections I took in the views:




10.8.07

[google allows news comments]

So now we can comment on news articles appearing through google news:




note the disclaimer:





9.8.07

[inanimate alice education portal]

For the past few months I've been quietly beavering away on a sample resource pack with lessons, handouts, and links to sources to be used alongside the teaching of Inanimate Alice. I finished it a little while ago and have sent it out to a group of willing educators who are going to give I.A. a test-run (some educators have already used Alice!) in the class room/lecture room/educational environment. The aim of this project is to develop an educational portal alongside the main Inanimate Alice site. Hopefully this will mark an important step in bringing web-based multimodal texts into learning environments. I realise there are new media courses being taught out there (I'm involved with one at DMU) but it would be so handy to have some resources available online so teachers/parents/students/readers can help themselves to ready-made ideas. Plus Inanimate Alice seems to be a perfect building block in the multimodal landscape as the development of Alice and the story probably parallels the experience we've had (well, at least some of us) with new media (we get better with it as time goes on).


I'm hoping to add some case-studies and student comments to the site too, so that we get a feel for what's *really* happening when students access and participate with these kinds of works. I'm also wondering how the reader/author dynamic will shift and develop with the new tool called iStories coming out soon. (Peter Brantley has blogged about iStories here.) With students able to easily make their own multimodal stories I wonder how their perception of what they *read* will change.



Of course, any lesson ideas that you have are welcome.


I can't wait to get some feedback from the educators participating at this early stage. If you'd like to get involved send me an e-mail.


[putting the "I" in business models]

AmieStreet.com Announces Series A Financing Led By Amazon.com

NEW YORK, Aug. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- AmieStreet.com, a fast-growing digital music store with a unique demand-based pricing system, announced today the completion of its Series A financing led by Amazon.com, Inc. . The amount of Amazon's investment and the terms are not disclosed.

"Amie Street has a very smart and innovative team," said Jeff Blackburn, Senior Vice President for Business Development, Amazon.com. "The idea of having customers directly influence the price of songs is an interesting and novel approach to selling digital music."

AmieStreet.com is the first digital music store propelled by social networking, where members of the community drive the discovery, promotion and pricing of music. All songs on AmieStreet.com start at a price of zero cents. As more people download a song the price rises, capping at $0.98.

For recommending their favorite songs to their friends, members are rewarded by receiving credit for the purchase of additional music on AmieStreet.com. The more popular a song becomes after a member has recommended it, the more credit he or she receives to spend on music.

The recommendation system brings the music discovery process and the dynamic of social networking full circle, giving members the incentive and the means to continually discover and share new music. AmieStreet.com is a music network where people's passion for music, and their desire to share it with one another, generates commerce that benefits the entire community.

"AmieStreet.com grew from the idea that we needed to make buying music social and fun," said AmieStreet.com's co-founder and CEO Elliott Breece. "The Amie Street community took over from there, driving a shift toward a music marketplace where consumers decide what is popular and what music is worth. We're thrilled to have Amazon.com's support in empowering music consumers."

Anyone can upload their music to AmieStreet.com, and all songs are downloadable in DRM-free mp3 format.

In conjunction with the announcement of its Series A, AmieStreet.com is debuting releases from Audio Bee, Daptone Records, Nettwerk Music Group, United For Opportunity (UFO), Dualtone Music Group, RoyaltyShare and INgrooves. As always, all songs start free!

About AmieStreet.com

AmieStreet.com is an online music destination that is changing the way people discover and buy music. Founded in the Spring of 2006 by then Brown University seniors -- Josh Boltuch, Elliott Breece and Elias Roman -- AmieStreet.com is a site where the members of the community determine the price of songs, which start out free and rise in price the more they are purchased. The site also rewards its members with downloads when they recognize and recommend tracks that rise in price, giving users an incentive to find and recommend good music first, while giving artists the platform to promote and sell their music.

Amazon.com Forward-Looking Statements

This announcement contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Actual results may differ significantly from management's expectations. These forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that include, among others, risks related to competition, management of growth, new products, services and technologies, potential fluctuations in operating results, international expansion, outcomes of legal proceedings and claims, fulfillment center optimization, seasonality, commercial agreements, acquisitions and strategic transactions, foreign exchange rates, system interruption, significant amount of indebtedness, inventory, government regulation and taxation, payments and fraud. More information about factors that potentially could affect Amazon.com's financial results is included in Amazon.com's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including its Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2006, and all subsequent filings.


Contact:
press@amiestreet.com

http://amiestreet.com/page/for-press

7.8.07

[kristeva: the woman question]

As I begin to write (or at least think about writing!) my thesis introduction I'm reflecting on the double-bind I find apparent in certain web fictions: a desire to multi-mimetically represent combined with a simultaneous recognition of its inadequacy. In her text on Colette, Kristeva sees representation (or creation) as incommensurable with any singular identity. For any identity must constantly be questioned, reworked, and repositioned:


"Is there a feminine genius, then? The genius of women from the last century has invited us not to elude the question and to consider this: concerns about the feminine have been the communitarian path that has allowed our civilization to reveal, in a new way, the incommensurability of the singular. Although it took root in sexual experience, that incommensurability of genius is realized in the risks that each person is capable of taking, by calling into question thought, language, one's time, and any identity that finds shelter in them." (Kristeva, Colette 426-427).



An interview with Kristeva (which I found thanks to the Continental Philosophy Blog)



She explains that the epistemological tradition underpinning modern linguistics presuppose a split between subject and object. This "soliditiy of consciousness" (Descartes anyone?) becomes contentious during periods of social flux which Kristeva suggests are times of creation and innovation. And this is her theory, that the subject is dynamic and its constitution (signifiance) is dynamic. An example of this dynamism in language is found in Joyce (for Kristeva) as he wants readers to "hear the rhythm of his sentences." I wonder how this might transform in the online environment. How might the rhythm of image come to bear on the signifiance of
Red in Donna Leishman's fiction or on the autodiegetic narrator of Dene Grigar's Fallow Field?




3.8.07

[matricide in leishman's red riding hood]

I'm tidying up my final thesis chapter (omg!); making things a bit clearer, rephrasing, adding some quotations, and deleting what is repetitive or unneccessary. I'm finding this last bit (deleting) the most difficult as there seem to be so many things I want to say about the works I'm researching. While going over Donna Leishman's Red Riding Hood in terms of the multiple worlds that are available to the reader I've been stuck on the penultimate scene (of the linear reading). Red is in bed at her grandmother's house, with what looks to be a bag of knitting paraphernalia at her feet. As she sleeps the suspicious boy-wolf draws back a curtain and enters. He reaches over, seemingly to brush the hair off Red's face but then, suddenly and wholely unexpectedly (at least on my part) he reveals a gun which he holds to Red's head. Ok. So maybe this is *straight-forward* murder, boy kills girl. But, before the wolf entered the room the reader also had a chance to *violate* Red, though not as violently. The reader can touch Red's distended stomach to reveal a pregnancy; Red is carrying a girl. This is really a double murder, a murder of mother and daughter. But how might we interpret this? If Showalter demands the killing of "the Angel in the house, that phantom of female perfection who stands in the way of freedom" and who turns out to be Woolf herself [Showalter 265], then does the killing of Red signify the death of a blockade to Red's freedom? Is it with death that Red can escape that double-bind: the inadequacy of representation and the concomittant desire to represent her becoming subjectivity? Kristeva argues that we are always negotiating the other within as subjects in process, so here is this an overt inability to negotiate (or at least a challenge) the pivot between self and other? Also, if Red is unaware of either the wolf or of the reader touching her stomach, does this suggest a Cartesian split between mind and body, the two for Red here are seemingly disconnected? Or is this simply the death of the woman as "body"? (I'm thinking here of Robyn Longhurst who writes about pregnant woman as "containers"). Then in death that bind and that split dissolve? But, because it is the wolf who facilitates this, does that intimate that a man is necessary to bring a woman *together*, to resolve her identities? And what about choice...and, the most important question: does Red really die?

1.8.07

[10 reasons why i hate moving]

  • i have to pack
  • i have to pack loads
  • i have to hire a moving van
  • van hire places around here are only open week days and don't let me drop off the keys on a sunday...
  • i lose my internet connection (!!!)
  • i have to change all my addresses/details but interestingly places like banks won't take my new address unless i give them proof of my new address which i don't yet have seeing as i've *just* moved...
  • i have to unpack
  • i have to unpack loads
  • i lose my internet connection
  • it takes so much time.....and i lose my internet!!!!