28.12.07

[i want one of those...]

the dell xps one....nice....


The Wall Street Journal says this:
"Something interesting is going on at Dell. The Texas personal-computer behemoth, long associated with boxy, boring machines, has started emphasizing industrial design. And the company, which in recent years seemed to care only about corporate customers, techies and hard-core gamers, appears once again interested in average, mainstream consumers who value simplicity.

The most tangible example of this new approach is Dell's XPS One desktop -- an elegant, handsome, cleverly designed one-piece computer. If it didn't have the Dell logo on it, the XPS One might be mistaken for a product of the PC industry's design leaders, Apple or Sony.

Like Apple's iconic iMac, the XPS One looks like it's simply a sleek, flat-panel monitor. The guts of the computer have been stuffed into the back of the screen.

But this new Dell is no mere iMac clone. It makes its own style statement, even though it shares the same 20-inch widescreen display and a similar Intel dual-core processor with the base-model iMac. Where the iMac is squarish and silver, the XPS One is all black and rectangular, with speakers attached to the sides and a wide glass base. It looks more like a small TV set than a computer and, in fact, comes with a built-in TV tuner.

In my tests, I found the XPS One to be much better designed and equipped than Gateway's iMac competitor, also called the One. In fact, the Dell XPS One is the first Windows all-in-one desktop I've tested that I believe matches or exceeds the iMac in hardware design. That's no small feat, especially coming from Dell."



19.12.07

[gesturing towards transliteracy]

For some time the PaRT group (Production and Research in Transliteracy) has been considering, musing upon and developing the concept of transliteracy. We had an interesting Transliteracy Colloquium where all participants shared their relationship to transliteracy and how/why it might be useful.

Rather excitingly the PaRT group has had their first communal effort on transliteracy published. Check out this month's
First Monday issue for what Sue would call our flag in the sand.




Here is the abstract:

Transliteracy might provide a unifying perspective on what it means to be literate in the twenty-first century. It is not a new behavior but has only been identified as a working concept since the internet generated new ways of thinking about human communication. This article defines transliteracy as “the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks” and opens the debate with examples from history, orality, philosophy, literature, and ethnography. We invite responses, expansion, and development.


As the Asheninka tribe say:

"Everything we use has a story; each drawing has a long and comprehensive story. Each drawing which is passed from one generation to another is our writing; each little symbol has an immense story. As one learns a drawing, one learns its origin, who taught it, who brought it to us."


18.12.07

[gawd...]

I'm
*actually*


printing out my entire thesis.

to submit.



eek.


gulp.




17.12.07

[woo hoo: i'm *kinda* mentioned in the news...]

On Sunday Katie Haegele wrote an article for the Philladelphia Enquirer about Inanimate Alice and there's a wee bit on the education pack I've designed for the pilot project (which is now available to anyone as a free download).

"There's a question that sometimes comes up in conversations about interactive fiction: Is it literature, or a game?
I've wondered myself, as I've joined animated characters on their journeys and tried to fit their narratives into a preexisting slot in my mind. But recently, as I watched Inanimate Alice - an adventure story told through a series of 10 Flash-animated films - I began to think there might be a better way to look at it.

Alice's story begins when she is 8 years old and living in a remote part of China with her parents (and her imaginary friend Brad). The second and third episodes are set in a villa in Italy and an apartment in Moscow, and in each place Alice finds herself alone, thinking her way out of a scary situation or just keeping herself company. It's a sophisticated piece of storytelling that makes use of digital imagery and sound, haunting electronic music composed by cocreator Chris Joseph, and of course interactivity. The viewer is also a user, who participates by making the stories move forward and by solving puzzles as Alice introduces them. The third chapter gives users the option to only watch and read the story, or to "play" it.

As the story progresses Alice will grow up to be an artist who, in a nice bit of self-reference, designs characters for a computer game company. The series is still in creation by Kate Pullinger and Joseph, who both teach in the area of digital media arts at De Montfort University in Leicester, England. The fourth episode is due out this month.

[...]

Pullinger, who has published novels and collections of short fiction in addition to creating other digital pieces, said she and Joseph did not set out to make Alice a children's story. But the first several episodes take place during the character's childhood and adolescence, and the series' producer, Ian Harper of the Bradfield Co., saw the potential for Alice to be used as an educational tool.

He hired Jessica Laccetti, who did the story's Italian translation, to create supplemental educational materials, which are available on the site (
http://www.inanimatealice.com/education/) as a free download. The idea is that pieces like Alice could both engage reluctant readers and acclimate students to "reading" within digital formats - as well as help teachers and parents get a feel for the kinds of technologies their kids are using.

"Teachers have responded incredibly well to Alice, but as with any new form, it's difficult to find and expand the audience - [though] this is changing already," Pullinger said.

If readers continue to enjoy these kinds of stories, the question may change from what they are, to where."


Read the whole article here.



12.12.07

[delayed canadian copyright reform]

A few weeks ago I wrote about the Canadian government's highly contentious plan to introduce copyright reforms...looks like the Canadian public has spoken out and managed to delay the bill:

"A controversial bill that seeks to reform Canadian copyright laws, expected to be introduced early this week, may be quashed after a groundswell of opposition erupted over the past week.

The government last week filed a notice indicating the bill would be introduced this week, leading industry experts to expect it to happen on Tuesday. But a spokesperson for Industry Minister Jim Prentice, who was to introduce the bill, said it would not happen on Tuesday and could not say if it would happen this week."


This delay seems to be in a large part thanks to Michael Geist's debate of the issue (on his blog, YouTube and through the Facebook group he started):

"Michael Geist, the Canada research chair of internet and e-commerce law at the University of Ottawa, has led the charge against the bill and has accused Prentice of caving in to lobbying from U.S. entertainment companies, who are seeking to curtail digital copying in all its forms. He has also accused the minister of ignoring the wishes of regular Canadians and for not including the public in his consultations.

Geist started a Facebook group to protest the bill a week ago, which more than 12,000 people have so far joined. On his blog Monday, Geist wrote that the group has resulted in hundreds of letters and phone calls to Prentice and other MPs from every political party.

"Something exceptional happened this past week. Fair copyright in Canada found its voice," Geist wrote. "It will be silent no more."



Here is an interesting comment from one of Geist's readers (Written by Dale Bolton on 2007-12-11 11:30:46):
"[...] The copyright cartels will not stop until we have to pay for every instance of anything that is used. EG, I am at work right now and we are listening to a radio. The RIAA would love to charge us for every instance of us singing along with the songs, and labeling it as an unauthorized performance/duplication.

In the states, those that have the money make the laws...I thought things were different here in Canada. Apparently the Conservatives are starting to show just how American they are by accepting all these bribes..er lobbying dollars and passing whatever legislation their American Masters tell them to.

Write your MP, let them know how you feel about this. SPELL IT OUT! Tell them that copy songs to their ipods, converting videos, making copies for your car, using your PVR/VCR to record tv shows, will ALL become illegal with the new legislation they are trying to push on us. The average person breaks copyright law 90+ times a day..think about it.

Canadian laws for Canadians..no American influence needed."







"The only people who like this bill are American companies who basically see this as an opportunity to overrule Parliament,” Cory Doctorow, former director of the San Francisco-based Electronic Freedom Foundation group and co-editor of tech blog Boing Boing, said. “If Parliament passes a law that says you’re allowed to copy a video to watch it later, that law goes away the minute there’s some technology that prevents you from doing it. So, it’s not surprising that American companies would support something that allows them to have this business model without all that pesky intervention from Canada’s government."





10.12.07

[the naked scientist]


Driving back home from a family gathering in the sticks we could only pick up local radio stations...but The Naked Scientist came on. What an excellent show. We heard about how glue works and breakthroughs in stem cell research. Interestingly there was a segment on technology and Amazon's Kindle and Sony's e-book reader came up but instead of dismissing them because "one cannot read them in the bath"...it was the $400 price tag and the idea that users would have to pay extra to read content that appears free on the internet (blogs and newspapers). [see the techcrunch interview with Bezos about kindle]

5.12.07

[canadian students = above average]

The other day I wrote about international literacy rates: "The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) is an international comparative study of the reading literacy of young students."

However, there is another study that seems to be more in depth (it actually includes the whole of Canada and not just a synecdoche, using Ontario and Quebec to stand for the whole), plus that earlier study included 40 countries while this one looked at 57 and works out to 400,000 15-year old students.



"Canadian 15-year-olds students placed third on the science test, behind Finland and Hong Kong-China. In the sub-categories of "identifying scientific issues" and "using scientific evidence," Canada placed second behind Finland.
In reading, Canadian teens came fourth, behind South Korea, Finland and Hong Kong-China. Taiwan, Finland and Hong Kong-China led the top scores in math, with Canada placing seventh.
Overall, Canada was among the top performers, scoring well above average, along with Finland, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong-China, Taiwan and Estonia. The United States fell in the middle of the pack in science and reading, and slightly lower in math. The lowest-scoring countries for all subjects were Brazil, Mexico and Luxembourg."



Other findings of the OECD study include:

In science, there is little variation in performance according to gender, but there remains a gender gap in reading and math, with girls significantly outperforming boys in the former, and boys doing slightly better than girls in the latter.

Students in minority-language school systems do not do as well in science and reading as pupils in majority-language schools. The gap is less pronounced with math.

In the 30 OECD countries, an average 25 per cent of students reported that they expect to have a science-related career by
age 30.

Between 35 and 40 per cent of students in Canada, the U.S. and Portugal said they expected a science-related career.

A minority of students reported that they engaged regularly in science-related activities, with television programs and articles leading the way as the most popular activities, with 21 and 20 per cent.

Most students were pessimistic about environmental problems being resolved in the future, with fewer than one in six saying that problems such as air pollution and nuclear waste disposal would improve in the next 20 years.

93 per cent of students agreed that science is important for understanding the natural world

3.12.07

[new media demands new literacies]

Today we seem to face a quandary. On the one hand there are anxieties about the reliability of internet sites and concerns of how to educate students to make informed online decisions. On the other hand we have the National Curriculum in England and Media Literacy outcomes in Canada as evidence of the important role technological skills play in all sorts of learning environments. But how can teachers successfully integrate new media literacies into classrooms? I have found Inanimate Alice as an exemplar new media fiction that is easily assimilated into learning environments. With its use of multimodality (images, sounds, text, interaction) students have the opportunity to see storytelling in a new, multisensory light. Being able to interact with the fiction and explore and critique how all the modes interact has given students an opportunity to develop their new literacy skills. As one of my students said after reading Episode 1 for the first time: "Inanimate Alice is a very innovative way of telling as story." In my teaching experience Inanimate Alice has proven to be an excellent new media fiction which allows students to develop multiple literacies (literary, cinematic, artistic, etc...) in combination with the highly collaborative and participatory nature of the online environment.




Check out the brand-spanking new Inanimate Alice Education Portal! Live from 4th December 11:20am GMT.

Fancy adding the catchy iTeach Inanimate Alice button to your course site or blog? Just copy this code into your template:

iTeach Inanimate Alice





<a href="http://www.inanimatealice.com/education">
<img src="http://www.inanimatealice.com/education/images/iteach.png"
alt="iTeach Inanimate Alice" title="iTeach Inanimate Alice" border="0">
</a>


Keep up to date with lesson plans, interviews, tips, suggestions, etc... at the newly launched iTeach Inanimate Alice blog.

[new book: video: the reflexive medium]

NEW from The Leonardo Book Series and MIT Press


VIDEO: THE REFLEXIVE MEDIUM by Yvonne Spielmann

Video is an electronic medium, dependent on the transfer of electronic signals. Video signals are in constant movement, circulating between camera and monitor. This process of simultaneous production and reproduction makes video the most reflexive of media, distinct from both photography and film (in which the image or a sequence of images is central). Because it is processual and not bound to recording and the appearance of a "frame," video shares properties with the computer. In this book, Yvonne Spielmann argues that video is not merely an intermediate stage between analog and digital but a medium in its own right. Video has metamorphosed from technology to medium, with a set of aesthetic languages that are specific to it, and current critical debates on new media still need to recognize this.

Spielmann considers video as "transformation imagery," acknowledging the centrality in video of the transitions between images--and the fact that these transitions are explicitly reflected in new processes. After situating video in a genealogical model that demonstrates both its continuities and discontinuities with other media, Spielmann considers three strands of video praxis--documentary, experimental art, and experimental image-making (which is concerned primarily with signal processing). She then discusses selected works by such artists as Vito Acconci, Ulrike Rosenbach, Joan Jonas, Nam June Paik, Peter Campus, Dara Birnbaum, Nan Hoover, Lynn Hershman, Gary Hill, Steina and Woody Vasulka, Bill Seaman, and others. These works serve to demonstrate the spectrum of possibilities in video as medium and point to connections with other forms of media. Finally, Spielmann discusses the potential of interactivity, complexity, and hybridization in the future of video as a medium.

Professor Yvonne Spielmann is Chair of New Media in the School of Media, Languages and Music, University of Paisley, Glasgow. She lives in Glasgow and Berlin.

Video: The Reflexive Medium
MIT Press/Leonardo Book Series
ISBN:0-262-19566-6
452 pp., 136 illus.

To order this book and to learn more about other titles in the Leonardo Book Series visit the Leonardo Book Series website at: http://www.leonardo.info/isast/leobooks.html