[literate cities]

Six key elements are analysed in this study to dechipher which city is the most literate (American cities only) in 2008. These include: newspaper circulation, number of bookstores, library resources, periodical publishing resources, educational attainment and Internet resources and are then compared to the population rate (but only in cities greater than 250,000).

Somewhat oddly, the study does NOT include "
reading test scores or how often people read, but what kinds of literary resources are available and used."

Cities that ranked higher for having more bookstores also have a higher proportion of people buying books online, the analysis found, and cities with newspapers that have high per-capita circulation rates also have more people reading newspapers online. Likewise, cities that ranked higher for having well-used libraries also have more booksellers."

The author of the study, Dr. John Miller, makes a very interesting observation:

"While it is too early in this study to draw conclusions, it is nevertheless striking that newspaper readership rates in the US’s global economic competitors are significantly higher than in the US. Since literacy is generally regarded as a barometer of a nation’s social, cultural, and economic health, perhaps these findings are cause for national concern."

According to the USA Today report, "Preliminary results of a related study examining international literacy paint a less optimistic outlook for the USA. It notes that in per-capita paid newspaper circulation, the USA ranks only 31st in the world, far behind other countries, including Aruba, Liechtenstein and Japan."


[haptics and hypertext]

"Reading is a multi-sensory activity, entailing perceptual, cognitive and motor interactions with whatever is being read."

Anne Mangen at the National Centre for Reading Education and Research, University of Stavanger published a paper in October on haptics and immersion in hypertexts such as M.D. Coverley's Califia (2000), C. Guyer and M. Joyce's Lasting Image (2000) and there is reference to afternoon.

Mangen's article is interesting in it's approach, taking a phenomenological one. She explains: "If we take the main purpose and motivation for our reading to be that of becoming immersed in a fictional world, then the text will have to provide the necessary setting for such a phenomenological sense of presence – by way of whatever modality telling the story."

Though people do seem to equate turning the pages of print books with clicking a mouse Mangen notes that these two activities are quite different: there is an "ontological" difference.
"The feeling of literally being in touch with the text is lost when your actions – clicking with the mouse, pointing on touch screens or scrolling with keys or on touch pads – take place at a distance from the digital text, which is, somehow, somewhere inside the computer, the e-book or the mobile phone."
Mangen goes on to explain that the demand to click/interact in certain hypertext stories actually undoes any possible sense of immersion (a la Marie-Laure Ryan).

"The links in a hypertext fiction present themselves as an experiential potential, a latently accessible actualisation of something currently unavailable, which becomes readily accessible with the click of a mouse. The sensory–motor affordances of the computer make it very easy to rekindle our attention, getting access to something beyond our present experience. As such, text or icons that yield (i.e., hot spots) afford haptic interaction with the computer. We experience these as links to be clicked on, and such
affordance is necessarily incompatible with phenomenological immersion."

Though I agree with a large part of what Mangen and others argue, I do wonder whether there is a different kind of reader, perhaps emerging in line with this turned-on, 21st century, tech world, a reader who actually becomes more immersed the more physical the demand of reading becomes? I know reading some narratives like Donna Leishman's Red Riding Hood (mentioned in this blog before) which requires a greater degree of haptics (compared with afternoon et al), I found myself more "in" the story, actually moving my own way around. Perhaps gamer-readers won't find this cross-modal situation distracting, though Mangen notes that as a "psychobiological rule" we tend to allow motor senses to overpower cognitive ones.

Read the full article here (if you have access):
Hypertext fiction reading: haptics and immersion, by Anne Mangen in the
Journal of Research in Reading, Volume 31, Issue 4 (p 404-419).

See also this article that is freely available: Storybooks On Paper Better For Children Than Reading Fiction On Computer Screen, According to Expert in ScienceDaily (Dec. 22, 2008).


[cfp: interdisciplinary perspectives on e-learning]

Special Issue of E-Learning on globally networked learning in higher education

E-Learning, a peer-reviewed international journal directed towards the study of e-learning in its diverse aspects, invites submissions for a special issue on “Globalizing Higher Education Across the Disciplines: Innovative Partnerships, Policies, and Pedagogies for Globally Networked Learning Environments,” guest edited by Doreen Starke-Meyerring.

Early national and global policy discourses around the role of the internet in higher education advanced utopian and dystopian understandings of the internet as a new global market for existing industrial-model, locally produced higher education courses and programs to be repackaged for global delivery and global trade online. As a result, hundreds of millions of public and private dollars have been spent on global internet-based higher education marketing consortia, many of which have since failed. As initial responses to digital technologies, these initiatives had largely tried to reproduce established institutionally bounded practices in digital environments, disregarding the networked nature and peer production potential of digital technologies, and therefore lacking pedagogical innovation to re-envision learning in a globally networked world.

At the same time, however, many faculty across the disciplines in higher education have begun to develop alternative pedagogies and learning environments that take advantage of the globally networked nature of digital technologies. These globally networked learning environments (GNLEs) connect students with peers, instructors, professionals, experts, and communities from diverse contexts to help students develop new ways of knowledge making and learn how to build shared learning and knowledge cultures across traditional boundaries, especially with peers and communities that have been the most marginalized and disadvantaged in the emerging global social and economic order. However, such GNLEs are difficult to develop because they require robust partnerships, must negotiate a multitude of divergent national and institutional local policies, and as innovations, face challenges of institutional support infrastructures and policies designed around traditional local classrooms.

The purpose of this special issue is to understand the current state of globally networked learning environments across disciplines in higher education and to advance insights into their development and sustainability. The special issue therefore invites both conceptual contributions that address larger questions surrounding GNLEs as well as research studies of GNLE development across disciplines, addressing questions such as these (among others):

- What is the current state of globally networked learning in higher education?
- How have GNLEs addressed issues of global and local social justice?
- What kind of disciplinary and interdisciplinary knowledge making do GNLEs enable that would be difficult to achieve in traditional institutionally bounded classrooms? How?
- What challenges do educators face in designing, implementing, and sustaining such partnered learning environments? How do they overcome them?
- How do national and global policies regulating higher education as well as those regulating digital technologies (e.g. privacy, intellectual property, and censorship policies) enable or constrain the development of GNLEs?
- How do local institutional policies, including policies regulating digital technologies, enable or constrain the development of GNLEs?
- What institutional initiatives (e.g., task forces, innovator networks, centres for research and faculty support, integrated support networks) have emerged to support the work of faculty innovators?
- What research is needed to advance globally networked learning environments in higher education? Schedule:
  • Proposals indicating the purpose, rationale, and possible approach of contributions (250-500 words): January 31, 2009
  • Submissions (full manuscripts): May 31, 2009
  • Accepted manuscripts revised for publication: September 1, 2009
  • Scheduled publication of issue: Winter 2010

Please direct inquiries and proposals to the guest editor: Doreen Starke-Meyerring doreen.starke-meyerring@mcgill.ca

Please also contact the editor if you are interested in serving as a reviewer for this special issue. *****************************************************


[ether pad]

According to the creators, EtherPad is "the perfect way to collaborate on a text document and keep everyone literally on the same page."

So I had a little play around with it and my first question was "how is etherpad different from google docs?" After a bit more research and reading of the faqs it seems a few other beta users have wondered this very question and the creators are quick to point out that "No." EtherPad is different from googledocs:

"Google Docs is a suite of products that do many things, from word processing to spreadsheets to document management. One thing that Google Docs does not do is real-time collaborative text editing. We think this is an important use case, so we built EtherPad with real-time collaboration as the focus.

For example, with Google Docs it takes about 5 to 15 seconds for a change to make its way from your keyboard to other people's screens. Imagine if whiteboards or telephones had this kind of delay! In contrast, the EtherPad infrastructure is built to carry your every keystroke at the speed of light, limited only by the time it takes electrons to travel over a wire (such as an "ethernet" cable)."

The aspect of real-time updates is something I've noticed first-hand when working with people on google docs (hi Sue! hi Kate!) and EtherPad lets you see changes/revisions/additions as they happen. This has interesting possibilities for classroom use too.
Thanks to
my brother for the tip.

[infusing semantic web into operational data systems]

Patrick West, Peter Fox, Deborah McGuiness and Stephan Zednik from the High Altitude Observatory present their project on integrating data and the semantic web.

From their
"As part of our semantic data framework activities across disciplines from solid-earth, lower, middle and upper terrestrial atmosphere and solar atmosphere to integrative subjects such as climate response and space weather, we have collected a set of experiences: technical, collaboration and social that relate to how easy or hard the infusion process has been. We cover both the semantic web and knowledge infusion as well as underlying service infusion such as catalogs and OPeNDAP data servers."

Interesting points:
  • It's easy to identify experts in each field and goo idea to get groups together to provide community support and external buy-in

  • Tricky to conduct face-to-face meetings which are imperative to share expert knowledge between disciplines/fields
  • Require a general ontology too cross data from one "data catalogue" to another
  • tricky to gain access to data holdings etc...which are external to group


[pulitzer prize clarifications]

The other day I blogged about changes to the Pulitzer prize terms; now included are online-only news organisations (rather than demanding that online-content only be accepted from organisations that also had a print version). Since then Simon Owens has drawn my attention to some developments . Simon was able to interview Pulitzer administrator Sig Gissler for a PBS article and then speak with Salon, Slate and ProPublica to gauge their reaction to the news.

From the PBS article:

"I spoke to Pulitzer administrator Sig Gissler to find out what kind of entrants the Pulitzer Board is looking for. He told me that a special committee had made recommendations for the changes earlier this year and in November the board adopted them.

"We're not about the business of looking around the country to identify specific organizations," Gissler said. "We leave it up to the entrants to meet our criteria."

In other words, the burden of proof lies on the news organization to provide ample evidence that it meets all the qualifications for the award. Each entrant must submit a detailed cover letter with each entry, and Gissler said that the organization would have to make the case that it adheres to strict journalistic standards and engages in original reporting.

Pressing further, I asked whether sites like Salon, Slate and the Huffington Post would qualify.

"I'm not sure if they all qualify," he replied. "I think you have to determine if they're primarily original news reporting. We're really trying to push the burden on the entrants and not try to sit here and speculate about an entry that may or may not be let in."

He did, however, confirm that a blog could hypothetically qualify. If one or two people call their website a text-based newspaper, would it be eligible?" he said. "Blogs tend to fall into three categories. There are news reporting blogs, there are commentary blogs, and there's a hybrid version of the two. If they're text-based and meet our criteria, then they probably could compete. But it would be up to them to satisfy the criteria."


"NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen showed similar skepticism in a series of posts on his Twitter account. In a message to me he asked if a blogger known for insightful opinion could win the award for commentary even though she doesn't engage in original reporting. When I responded that she probably wouldn't qualify, he replied, "Oh, I see. If it's commentary at a reporting based news organization, [you're] golden. [It's] the derivation that counts."

Read the entire article here where Simon develops the conversation and presents some interesting responses from other key people involved in journalism. You can also join the conversation by answering some of Simon's questions:

"What do you think about the new eligibility for Pulitzer Prizes in journalism? Are they open enough or should they include more entrants? How would you define who should be eligible for Pulitzers?"


[google earth and beyond]

At the AGU conference this evening Michael Jones (Google) is talking about "The Spread of Scientific Knowledge From the Royal Society to Google Earth and Beyond."

Some notes (live blogged)

  • implicit role of communication within technologies (telephone, television etc...)
  • Roger Bacon
  • Knowledge was lost with the Greek and Egyptan civilizations, kept alive by Syrians, Moors, Jews and other then advance and diffused by Arabic-speakng peoples
  • spreading of scientific knowledge "by people on camels" is why we know what we know
  • the rise of the university - efficacy of printing, the compuass as aid to navigation, the royal society (1645, England, Newton, shared knowledge in a very collegial way)
  • This conference is like the Royal Society but only for a week, the next step in knowledge sharing is regular, informal meetings, R.S was more like a chat room rather than like a structured oratory
  • it's not just about getting data together but organising it
  • three great means for spreading knowledge: printing, the compass as aid to navigation, the royal society - says Joseph Glanvil (1630-1680). A Defence of the Royal Society, 1678
  • radio was a wasted opportunity, could have been used to reach people who weren't able to go to schools etc...
  • with computers you can do 100 times more than what newton did in the pub!
  • in the last 10 years, 1.4 billion people went online
  • there are 1.530,000,000 google searches daily... "and probably 100 other kinds"
  • 400,000,000 google earth activations, everyone has to find grandma's house
  • says communication online via social networks is very important, so are e-mails and IM's
  • 10 billion YouTube videos streamed monthing in the USA, closest things used to be grandparents showing home videos so YouTube is changing how we communicate
  • the point of google earth is allowing people to access information about their own world
  • you have to care about knowledge in order for it to really make a logical understandng
  • google earth is the equivalent of the blank web page or static on the radio, google earth is the empty graph paper for you to plot your graph - that's like the academics when they used to meet in the bar

  • context brings knowledge to life
  • Google Earth is most popular in countries where knowledge is restricted
  • jones says he won't have a slide on this, talks of Obama and says how he has a preference to put money into technical advice
  • Jones says academic research is about always needing more money to find out more, publish cursory results then ask for more money. instead, find rocks, glaciers etc... then publish the data, on your website etc. so other researchers can see it. then you can play a game of how smart you are, who can interpret the data and how, bring your notebook to the bar
  • who is going to start doing this, scientists - the tone of increased funding should come with increased visability
  • transparency of communication avaiable on the internet - don't apply for a grant to put your information on google earth, if things are intrically productive you would just do it, you wouldn't need funding for it


[calgary airport staff enjoy some sledding]

As I enjoyed a lovely double-double from Tim Hortons I gazed out the window at Calgary airport and saw this; two airport employees enjoying the snow:

[canada & snow]

Leaving Friday morning from Heathrow on the way to California for a conference I was mentally preparing myself for sun and warmer weather. Instead, my flight was overbooked and I ended up going via Calgary to San Francisco. Part of the (still going) adventure was the massive snow storm last night in Calgary which successfully grounded pretty much all flights! Airport staff told us the airport was shutting down and sure enough, after a few hours there really weren't many people around (especially if you don't count those like us in the queue to find out what to do while in Calgary). Though it's not snowing now in Calgary it is -34 degrees C (with the wind chill) and yes, I do count that because the wind is fierce now, blowing snow around making for pretty poor visibility. People's cars are not starting (and these are rugged big jeeps and pickups) and the hotel doors have frozen open.


[pulitzer prize now includes online writings]

Pulitzer Prizes Broadened to Include Online-Only Publications Primarily Devoted to Original News Reporting

Via Netwurker Mez on Facebook.


[social media in education - cfp]

Special Issue:
Communication Pedagogy in the Age of Social Media

Over the course of the last few years, social media technologies such as blogs, microblogs, digital videos, podcasts, wikis, and social networks, have seen a dramatic increase in adoption rates. To date, Internet users have uploaded roughly 80 million videos to YouTube and launched approximately 133 million blogs worldwide. Because of their ability to connect people and to facilitate the exchange of information and web content, social media technologies not only provide a powerful new way to interact with one another, but they also present exciting new pedagogical opportunities.

Earlier this year, the New Media Consortium and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative released the 2008 Horizon Report, which seeks to identify new technologies capable of affecting the way we teach and learn. Among the critical challenges outlined by this year’s report is the need for universities to equip students with new media literacy skills and to develop curricula that “address not only traditional capabilities like developing an argument over the course of a long paper”, but also “how to create meaningful content with today’s tools.” (The New Media Consortium, 2008, p. 6).

Considering that these tools center around the ideas of collaboration, participation, and conversation, they should hold special interest to communication researchers and educators alike. As a result, this special issue seeks to examine the pedagogical applications of social media technologies, especially with regard to the communication classroom. Examples of best practices in social media adoption in all areas of communication education are welcome, as are case studies or empirical research analyzing the effectiveness and/or effects of incorporating social media technologies into the communication classroom. Research examining the role these technologies play in the social construction of a collective knowledge pool would also fit within the scope of this special issue.

The special issue is scheduled for publication in the first half of 2010. Deadline for completed manuscripts is April 1, 2009. Submissions should be electronic (.doc or .rtf format) and must conform to the specifications of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 5th ed. Place author’s contact information in an email to the editor only, not on the title page of the submission.

Issue Editors:
Corinne Weisgerber, Ph.D. and Shannan H. Butler, Ph.D.
St. Edward’s University

Send inquiries and submissions to: corinnew AT stedwards DOT edu

via: Social Media for PR Class.


[17 year old drives web app development]

How amazing is this? A 17 year old student was faced with a problem: how to keep track of school work? Well, Andrew Shaper just went and created an amazing free online resource that allows students (it is geared toward secondary school and undergrad. students) to add assignments, classes and, the best bit (it's also the best bit for Christopher Dawson at ZDNet) is the ability to upload assignments via e-mail or text message to the site. Very well connected. I can imagine asking my own students to read Chapter 5 "Encoding and Retrieval from Long-Term Memory" in Cognitive Phsychology: Mind and Brain, and then they'd text this assignment to Soshiku. A really excellent example of filling a gap and being creative.

From the site:
What is Soshiku?

Soshiku is a simple but powerful tool that manages your high school or college assignments. Soshiku keeps track of when your assignments are due and can even notify you via email or SMS.

And it's totally free."


[collective indigenous memory and digital archiving]

Gail Maurice says "Every step I take is with my ancestors; my memory in my bones..."

With this quote echoing in my head I'm wondering how this kind of cultural valuing of memory appears in a world where technology can ensure a kind of *archiving* of memory. Is taking a step with ancestors the same or even possible if new generations have access to digital memories? How does the passing on of stories, ideas, warnings, histories change if elders can include recourse to multimodal or hyperlinked creations?

This musing led me to "Designing digital knowledge management tools with Aboriginal Australians" by Helen Verran, Michael Christie, Bryce Anbins-King, Trevor van Weeren and Wulumdhuna Yunupingu. The article can be found in Digital Creativity, 2007, Vol. 18, No. 3, pp. 129–142.

In the article, the authors explain that "A significant number of indigenous and
non-indigenous people respond with horror to the idea of using digital technologies to do collective memory in indigenous communities." This "horror" seems to stem from a belief that computers are anathema to a collective memory that is created together, in person, alongside nature/land. "Computers are actually more harm than good." There is a worry (understandably) that technology (or at least the way it is used) can help inculcate notions that indigenous knowledge is a commodity.

Verran et al call on feminist discourse to help negotiate the role of technology; there is an emphasis on the always-already provisional and partial view of knowledge (via mechanical means or otherwise):
"Located accountability is built on what Haraway (1991, p.191) terms “partial, locatable critical knowledges”. As she makes clear, the fact that our knowing is relative to and limited by our locations does not in any sense relieve us of responsibility for it. On the contrary, it is precisely the fact that our vision of the world is a vision from somewhere, that it is inextricably based in an embodied and therefore partial perspective, which makes us personally responsible for it. The only possible route to objectivity on this view is through collective knowledge of the specific locations of our respective visions." (Suchman 2002, p. 96)

The article goes on to flesh out some ways of combining technology with the need to archive cultural memories. There are some interesting projects which, I think, can be quite appealing to students - especially aboriginal.
Take for instance the TAMI database: "a fluid file management and database system which carries no Western assumptions about knowledge, and which maximises the possibility for the user to creatively relate and annotate assemblages of resources for their own purposes." This means that there are no hiearchies built into the system, no author, then subject etc... but rather: "The only a priori ontological distinction at work in the database is the distinction between texts, audios, movies and images. Apart from that there are no pre-existing categories (as there are in other database where metadata are sequestered into fields such as ‘author, ‘title’, ‘subject’). This provides a certain ontological flatness so indigenous knowledge traditions are not pre-empted by Western assumptions." Image cited in journal article. A project in a classroom might include students using google pages or delicious (though the latter might seem more "western" with the emphasis on text) to craft their own database of memories or experiences - perhaps focused on an emotion, story or single memory and from their build a multimodal archive. Also, rather than searching TAMI with a text string, as we do in google and delicious, users can scan thumbnails of each resource. Sounds a bit like some visual search engines. What the authors note at the end of the article is the ever-necessary importance of "digitally-canny outsiders" who know how to use the technology and are culturally sensitive.

See a map of UK memories here: http://www.nationsmemorybank.com/memorymap/

The image at the top of this post is of Cliff Island,
Institute for Northern Studies fonds, University of Saskatchewan Archives, Institute for Northern Studies (INS) fonds – F2100. Binder 10. II. Slides – 4501 to 5000. Database ID: 20263