[parts of a story]

The train's hynotic rumbling took me too far. I was past my stop and in new unexpected surroundings. The weathered platform slick with recent dewy drops. I gazed out the window. "If leaving the train here mind the step down to the platform." The beginnings of my reverie interrupted. I gathered my worn bag which loyally hugged the shiny laptop inside. There was no need to rush, people were still slowly and tentatively making the jump from train to slippery platform. I edged down the carriage, running my hands over the smooth velour interior, raising my eyes to meet his gaze.

[inanimate alice and edu in the news!]

"An interactive novel created by a writer and artist who work at De Montfort University has been nominated for a national education award, and is being showcased by the EU as well used by teachers in classrooms around the world.

'Inanimate Alice' (see www.inanimatealice.com ) tells the adventures of a girl who becomes a games artist and it has been nominated in the Interactive Productions category of the 2008 Learning On Screen awards given by BUFVC, the British Universities Film and Video Council.

Winners will be announced in York on 18 March. For more information on The Learning on Screen Awards which celebrate excellence in the use of moving image and related media in learning, teaching and research, go to: http://www.bufvc.ac.uk/learningonscreen/.

Author Kate Pullinger said: "Inanimate Alice has proven to be popular across a broad range of ages as well as with a broad range of viewers, including both book-lovers and gamers. Because the level of interactivity starts out low in episode one, increasing with each subsequent episode in order to reflect Alice's own growing abilities, we've found that we can take an audience unfamiliar with multimedia fiction with us. Educators like Inanimate Alice because of this; students from primary to post-graduate level find the work engaging."

Chris Joseph said: "It's fantastic that the BUFVC have recognised Inanimate Alice for its use within educational environments, and the nomination is confirmation of De Montfort University's growing status as a centre for cutting edge digital arts and education within the UK. It is particularly satisfying to be sharing the platform with the high budget productions from the BBC and CBBC."

Jess Laccetti said [woo hoo! that's me!]: "Students from primary to post-graduate level find Inanimate Alice engaging and it can help teachers successfully integrate new media literacies into the classroom. Because of its multimodality (images, sounds, text, interaction) students see storytelling in a new light and this can them develop and refine the multiple literacies (literary, cinematic, artistic, participatory etc.) required today for successful navigation of the online environment."

Download the education pack that goes with Inanimate Alice episodes 1-3 from here. Any comments, add them to the iteach blog or send me an e-mail.

A press release at MCV: Market for Home Computing and Video Games.


[kate pullinger: digital writers resist!]

In her article in today's Guardian, Kate Pullinger shares her ideas on the move from publishing print to publishing digitally. She raises some interesting points including how it is actually much cheaper to publish digitally (especially after fees have already been worked into a paper copy which is being converted into a digital edition) but authors are still expected to accept their *usual* 10-20% cut. Hrm...doesn't seem quite right.

"At the end of the day, the writer herself is a more valuable brand than the publishing house and it's time for writers to wake up to this fact: why should we sign contracts giving us a paltry 15% royalty in an industry where actual costs are being massively reduced overnight? Why aren't writers jumping up and down over this?"

Check out the whole article here.

[wikipedia bans .gov edits]

"Isn't it interesting what you can find in Hansard when you do a little searching. All manner of amusing things, such as the fact that the Department of Health has had its outbound IP address banned by Wikipedia because of constant editing. Back in January, Ben Bradshaw admitted that between August 2005 and August 2007, people at the DoH had made almost 1500 edits, page creations and/or entries on Wikipedia. This then resulted in Wikipedia banning the DoH's address from the site according to Bradshaw a few weeks later.*

No doubt there were many disgruntled civil servants editing Patricia Hewitt's page constantly and leaving scurrilous slurs against her. The DoH is not alone in being a department to have fun with Wikipedia though. According to Gerry Sutcliffe at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, people in the department have created or amended 103 entires on Wikipedia. No doubt all the edits were necessary because of the constantly changing budget for the 2012 Olympics!**

Most of the other departments are now facing similar questions too, so time will tell if they are found to be hiding something, or perhaps just fibbing. For example, the Chancellor of the Exechequer says that because anyone with an internet connection could do it, it would cost too much to answer.... doesn't look good when the DoH manages it though."

* 5 Feb 2008 : Column 1068W Hansard** 19 Feb 2008 : Column 620W Hansard

Dizzy Thinks via digg.

From the House of Commons Debates (Answers):

"19 Feb 2008 : Column 620W

Departmental Internet
Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many Wikipedia entries have been (a) created and (b) amended (i) by (A) special advisers, (B) Ministers and (C) communications officials and (ii) from IP addresses of (1) special advisers, (2) Ministers and (3) communications officials in his Department since August 2005. [185530]

Mr. Sutcliffe: 103 Wikipedia entries have been created or amended by people in my Department. We do not hold the information as to how many of these changes were made by (A) special advisers, (B) Ministers and (C) communications officials.

All staff in the Department are required to sign an acceptable use policy before they are given access to the internet. Occasional and reasonable personal use is permitted provided it does not interfere with the performance of duties. Any activity that would bring the Department into disrepute is prohibited."



Simpleology has this deal: blog about their multi-media course on blogging and in exchange bloggers get the course for free....it's about:

  • The best blogging techniques.
  • How to get traffic to your blog.
  • How to turn your blog into money.

You can grab yours while it's free.



[harpercollins publishing online]

HarperCollins Publishers recently announced a variety of online promotions to allow consumers exclusive sampling of its books. The “Full Access” program will feature a select number of titles that can be seen in their entirety for a month: current freebies include Paulo Coelho’s The Witch of Portobello*, Mark Halperin’s The Undecided Voter's Guide to the Next President, and Erin Hunter's Warriors: Into the Wild.
The “Sneak Peek” Program will enable readers to view 20% of many new titles two weeks before they're on sale. The remaining titles in the digital warehouse are now available for 20% viewing after the release date in the “Browse Inside” program.

* Coelho has actually been encouraging his readers to download pirated versions of his books since 2005 ;-)

from trendwatching.


[cnn fires blogger]

"As far as CNN knew, I was a valued employee, albeit one with almost no say in the day-to-day editorial decisions on American Morning. This held true even as I began contributing columns to the Huffington Post, giving my writing more exposure than ever before.

Then, last Monday afternoon, I got a call from my boss, Ed Litvak.

Ed, seeming to channel Bill Lumburgh from Office Space, informed me of that which I was already very well aware: that my name was "attached to some, uh, 'opinionated' blog posts" circulating around the internet. I casually admitted as much and was then informed of something I didn't know: that I could be fired outright for this offense. 24 hours later, I was. During my final conversation with Ed Litvak and a representative from HR, they hammered home a single line in the CNN employee handbook which states that any writing done for a "non-CNN outlet" must be run through the network's standards and practices department. They asked if I had seen this decree. As a matter of fact I had, but only about a month previously, when I stumbled across a copy of that handbook on someone's desk and thumbed through it. I let them know exactly what I had thought when I read the rule, namely that it was staggeringly vague and couldn't possibly apply to something as innocuous as a blog. (I didn't realize until later that CNN had canned a 29-year-old intern for having the temerity to write about her work experiences -- her positive work experiences -- in a password-protected online journal a year earlier.) I told both my boss and HR representative that a network which prides itself on being so internet savvy -- or promotes itself as such, ad nauseam -- should probably specify blogging and online networking restrictions in its handbook. I said that they can't possibly expect CNN employees, en masse, to not engage in something as popular and timely as blogging if they don't make themselves perfectly clear."


"When I asked, just out of curiosity, who came across my blog and/or the columns in the Huffington Post, the woman from HR answered, "We have people within the company whose job is specifically to research this kind of thing in regard to employees."

Jesus, we have a Gestapo?

A few minutes later, I was off the phone and out of a job. No severance. No warning (which would've been a much smarter proposition for CNN as it would've put the ball effectively in my court and forced me to decide between my job or the blog). No nothing. Just, go away.

Right before I hung up, I asked for the "official grounds" for my dismissal, figuring the information might be important later. At first they repeated the line about not writing anything outside of CNN without permission, but HR then made a surprising comment: "It's also, you know, the nature of what you've been writing."

And right there I knew that CNN's concern wasn't so much that I had been writing as what I'd been writing."


[web 2.0 + storytelling = education]

Creating Lifelong Learners has an interesting post on a "Digital Storytelling Blog Carnival" featuring links to everything educators might like to know about digital storytelling. A link from his (Matthew Needleman's) post leads to an EduCause Connect conversation featuring Bryan Alexander, Director for Research at the National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education (NITLE) and Gail Matthews-DeNatale, Associate Director for Academic Technology at Simmons College.

A blurb about the discussion:

"Digital storytelling merges leading-edge technology with age-old storytelling processes. Digital stories are typically in video format but can also include Web pages, digital maps, and other emerging technology mashups. With the addition of a Web 2.0 focus, audience also becomes co-author. How do these concepts apply to pedagogy and how can instructors evaluate and assess the process and final product?"

The discussion begins with the question: "What is Web 2.0 storytelling and how is it different from multi-media?" Bryn responds: "Web 2.0 storytelling is the combination of web 2.0 platforms and practises with storytelling, the desire to tell a story and narrative structure." He also add that web 2.0 is based on the social and micro content, both these ideas have a big impact on how students can use the web.

Gail: "With the 2.0 experience there is a much lower barrier to use..."

Bryn also makes the point that educators shouldn't try to stop students from using wikipedia or googling for answers but should encourage students how to "search more broadly."

"How do you access digital story telling production?"

Gail: "I'm a very big fan of the process...the power of story as this kind of conversational iterative process is the power of assessment (formative assessment)...I give them a rubric and they give feedback according to the rubric."

Bryan: "This is the problem with the audio, you can't tell if I'm agreeing or disagreeing...it's important to recognise that we've been composing in multimedia for a long time...it's hard for us to recognise the history of technology, we tend to define tech. as the most recent thing. We can draw on how people were asssessing hypertext in the 80s and how people were assessing web pages in the 90s. You have to select evidence and materials and assess them and that process (of selection) can be assessed."

Gail: "I would add to this that there is a context, what I'd have a first year, first semester student do would be very different for a final year communication student...Sometimes it's useful to have two rubrics, one for the subject matter and one for the media literacies."

I like Gail's idea of having two rubrics...that would certainly make it clear to students exactly how their work was being assessed...but, for transliteracy or digital literacy or new media literacy etc...should we be working towards rubrics (and other strategies) that can more fully *intertwingle* form (process) and content?

Listen to the entire podcast here but I've tried to embed it below:

This discussion took place at the ELI 2008 Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas where Gail Matthews-DeNatale presented a session at ELI 2008 called "Digital Story Making: Understanding the Learner's Perspective" and Bryan Alexander presented a workship at ELI 2008 on "Web 2.0 Storytelling".


[taxonomy of social network services]

Recently Christophe Prieur shared with the AoIR list this interesting take on a taxonomy of social network services. According to him, he's tried to "map" the various services along two trajectories. Going left to right is the notion of action, being (etre) to doing (faire). The top to bottom axis seems to reflect the kind of identity construction, is it more "real" (reel) or virtual (projete)?

More precisely:

"L’extériorisation de soi caractérise la tension entre les signes qui se réfèrent à ce que la personne est dans son être (sexe, âge, statut matrimonial, etc.), de façon durable et incorporée, et ceux qui renvoient à ce que fait la personne (ses œuvres, ses projets, ses productions). Ce processus d’extériorisation du soi dans les activités et les oeuvres renvoie à ce que la sociologie qualifie de subjectivation.
La simulation de soi caractérise la tension entre les traits qui se réfèrent à la personne dans sa vie réelle (quotidienne, professionnelle, amicale) et ceux qui renvoient à une projection ou à une simulation de soi, virtuelle au sens premier du terme, qui permet aux personnes d’exprimer une partie ou une potentialité d’elles-mêmes."

And graphically:

The five highlighted areas signify types of visibility. There is the "partition" or "folding screen" (my translation so perhaps not 100% reliable...) which allows users to "hide" behind categories, eventually revealing themselves only to those of their choosing. There is also "clair-obscur" which sounds like the Italian "chiaro-scuro", a technique which allows users to "rendent visibles leur intimité, leur quotidien et leur vie sociale, mais ils s’adressent principalement à un réseau social de proches et sont difficilement accessibles pour les autres." Other categories include the lighthouse (Le phare), the post-it and the magical lantern (think avatar identities in Second Life).

Take a look
here for more.


[social media solves the rupert holmes paradox]

Was directed to this post thanks to ourfounder's tweet:

"The other night, a budding lawyer lamented that she needed to watch what she put on her MySpace page because future employers might see it. A few months ago, Sue Thomas told me she was sometimes taken aback by what people would type into Twitter - entries that could damage their reputation.
I've heard this a lot: there is a fear of transparency.
Historically, communication technologies (books, radio, television) have broken down barriers. Usually these were cultural barriers. Helping people of different groups interact, become more tolerant, and calm society.
But there are little truths about ourselves that may be damaging, may seem irrelevant that social media seems to rapidly be bringing to the forefront and dispelling as either damaging or irrelevant.
Let's take the Rupert Holmes Paradox as a case in point.
Rupert Holmes Paradox goes something like this:
Two people meet and fall in love. They get married. Over time, they start to take each other for granted, fall into specific patterns of relating, and grow bored with each other. They have institutionalized their communication patterns which has, in effect, put the spark out.
Unbeknownst to either, these two people (this is a pre-Internet story) then start checking out the personal ads sections of the local paper. They don't know what they need, but they need more. Neither are really happy about it, but they need vital communication aren't getting in their marriage.
So one takes out an ad. He gets a great response. In the ad, he talks about all these great romantic notions. His respondent shares and amplifies those notions. She's so much more interesting than his wife, and she's only been in text!
And when they meet at the pub, husband and wife are face to face. They were both more interesting and relevant than they thought.
So the Rupert Holmes Paradox is: if you use one means of communicating with someone all the time, you end up not communicating at all.
Imagine if the husband and wife were on Facebook.
Rupert Holmes threw a Pina Colada at you!
Liza Holmes left a message on your wall:
I never knew you liked Pina Coladas! What do you think of walks in the rain?
This is true for many things. People have often tended to partition their lives. Their work persona, their home persona, their "not-in-front-of-the-kids" persona, their church persona.
Transparency through social media is wearing these boundaries away. Is that good or bad? No. It's both or neither. It's merely an outgrowth of this new communications technology.
In a very real way, social media and social networking are breaking down not external barriers for communication - but internal ones. And that's rather exciting to watch."


["don't be efficient"]

ah...a computer...David Eaves has a great post on gen y-ers using (or attempting to use) social networking tools to be "more productive" but ending up shot down...

"Take for example my friend who wanted to use survey monkey to send out a questionnaire asking 10 public servants across their department about potential dates and times when they would be free to meet. The survey took 5 seconds to complete and would quickly identify the optimal date for such a meeting. However, her manager let her know very quickly that this was unacceptable. It was more important that each person be emailed - or better, called - individually, a process that gobbled up hours if not days. Time after time I hear stories of young people who, after doing what they do at home, quickly feel the full weight of the department descending on their cubicle. I won’t even mention an acquaintance who related a story of trying to set up a wiki (not even on accessible to the public!)."

I've read quite a bit about bringing these kinds of technologies into educational environments or at least educating people about their possibilities and there are certainly a lot of people out there working on it...I just assumed that businesses etc... would have already sunk their teeth (mostly) into these kinds of tools that allow sharing of information so easily and quickly. I guess not...

A point I'd like to make explicit though...as one of David's
commenters explained "A vast majority of young people are entirely clueless about the technology they’re using - they see it as magic as much as the older generation does." Too true! But, I don't think it's just a case of Gen Y-ers being able to do it better than others...I strongly feel it isn't a generational thing and certainly not a "digital native vs immigrant" thing either...(maybe it does have a lot to do with access though)


[google: sounds like a dream job]

I've just been reading (Analytics Evangelist) Avinash Kaushik's latest *introspective* post on why it rocks to work for google.

Wow. Besides the amazing looking food and collaborative spirit there are "zen" rooms, happy and helpful tech-support and green initiatives.

(image from
Avinash Kaushik)

I wonder if the
IOCT will consider creating a zen room....hrm....

nb. I'm sure Kaushik's post is a personal reflection but I bet that post is doing some (positive) marketing wonders (it worked on me anyway!).

[politics 2.0]

via Wired.


[web 2.0 resources]

I recently came across this excellent compendium of web 2.0 resources via Dawn Hogue's own useful "Blogs, Wikis, & Web 2.0 in the Classroom" site.

Some of the more interesting ones:

  • pimp my news: "scours the web 24/7 for text news and blogs you love and instantly converts them to MP3s that you listen to on your iPod, iPhone or your computer, anytime, anywhere."
  • trackr: "Use trackr! to let people know where you are and where you have been. All you need is the Internet, a GPS receiver and your mobile phone (or a mobile phone with an internal GPS receiver). Download the application to your mobile phone, create a friendslist and let your friends know where you are."

  • arenAsia: "a good way to get ahead in Asia. Professionals use ArenAsia to cultivate business relationships, promote their skills or services, and share insights, opinions and information through discussion groups, event listings, marketplace and knowledge base."

  • trutap: "allows you to take your online social life where you go. You can send group messages, SMS and email from your mobile phone for free. You can also chat with your friends on IM (e.g. MSN) and post to blogs, photo-sharing accounts and social networks - all from your mobile phone."

  • ecolet: "a web–based company that provides the design community timely, accurate information and news about sustainable materials for product design, architecture, furniture design, graphic design, and more. With headquarters in both Providence and San Francisco, Ecolect LLC aims to be the place for individuals and businesses to learn, connect, share and discover the best in eco–materials."

  • guru del vino!!!: "a place for people passionate about wine where they can learn more, share their knowledge and meet with other people who share their passion. It relies on intuitive drag & drop functionality, behaving just like a normal desktop. It is especially easy to use for elderly persons, who form a great part of the wine business target group."

  • songza: "allows you to find songs, share them with your friends, and even create playlists."

  • wise mapping: "the web mind mapping tool that leverages the power of Mind Maps using new technologies like vectorial languages (SVG and VML)."


[3 cheers!]

woo hoo!

to those of you who know, i'm offering myself hearty congrats!


[transliteracy and digital art]

In the recently published
Digital Artists' handbook, Kristina Anderson talks about making and modding technology. At the end of her chapter she makes an interesting point:

"Maybe we can say, we are making technology in order to understand it, and understanding technology in order to make our own."

This resonates (for me) with the concept of transliteracy. We've named transliteracy in order to understand it and in beginning to understand (conceptualise, interpret etc...) transliteracy perhaps we are making it our own, as a symbol of a 21st century literacy?



On the train to Leicester:

The apostrophe has three uses:

1) to form possessives of nouns
2) to show the omission of letters
3) to indicate certain plurals of lowercase letters.

"Knowing that the printed word is always edited, typeset and proof-read before it reaches us, we appreciate its literary authority."

Not always the case...so I must disagree with Lynn Truss who sets the printed word in opposition to online writing. According to Truss, our punctuation system "is all now threatened by instant messaging, email shortcuts, and do-it-yourself Web pages; all of which come at a juncture when "a period of abysmal undereducating in literacy has coincided with this unexpected explosion of global self-publishing. Thus people who don't know their apostrophe from their elbow are positively invited to disseminate their writings to anyone on the planet stupid enough to double-click and scroll."

Maybe punctuation is also threatened by print?

Funnily, google spots the error: