[o'reilly on open access publishing]

Working on a report for the IOCT which suggests our next steps in terms of our transdisciplinary journal and future publishing efforts, I've been researching ideas of open access and new models/methods of publishing. Looking beyond academic (which seems to be moving slowly...) to business and there are loads of innovative ideas and changes in publishing practise.

Our "fundamental mission" as O'Reilly says, it to pass on information...so "why would we want to lock it up?" Good question.

Tim O'Reilly makes the argument for Open Publishing @ TOC 2009 from Open Publishing Lab @ RIT on Vimeo.

Read Danah Boyd's interesting post on boycotting locked-down journals.


[storytelling 2.0]

It's children's stories which are pushing the boundaries of *traditional* publishing and going multimodal and mobile. Read the article on a few recent projects here (there's a snippet below) which are interesting but...I don't agree with gaming elements as synonymous with "boy friendly" (paragraph 6)! ARG! There are girl gamers out there and look at how Inanimate Alice weaves gaming alongside story development...and I know girls read that story too.

"In late January Lev Grossman, writing about the future of the book in Time, said the novel is on the verge of evolving “into something cheaper, wilder, trashier, more democratic and more deliriously fertile than ever.” Although Grossman wasn't speaking to what is happening in children's publishing per se, there seems to be something in his description that taps into this brave new world.

It's clear that children's publishing is embracing the spirit of the book while finding more and more ways to tell a story outside the book. The challenge, as almost all who commented for this story said, will be figuring out how to create these non-book books cheaper, faster and better. As Katz put it,“This isn't landing in the new world, this is on the road to the new world.


[ghosts in the machines]

Tracking GhostNet: Investigating a Cyber Espionage Network.

The report has now been covered in an exclusive story by the New York
Times' John Markoff. Download the New York Times story here http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/29/technology/29spy.html

Researchers at the Information Warfare Monitor uncovered a suspected
cyber espionage network of over 1,295 infected hosts in 103 countries. This finding comes at the close of a 10-month investigation of alleged Chinese cyber spying against Tibetan institutions that consisted of fieldwork, technical scouting, and laboratory analysis.

Close to 30% of the infected hosts are considered high-value and
include computers located at ministries of foreign affairs, embassies, international organizations, news media, and NGOs. The investigation was able to conclude that Tibetan computer systems were compromised by multiple infections that gave attackers unprecedented access to potentially sensitive information, including documents from the private office of the Dalai Lama.

Who is ultimately in control of the GhostNet system? While our
analysis reveals that numerous politically sensitive and high value computer systems were compromised in ways that circumstantially point to China as the culprit, we do not know the exact motivation or the identity of the attacker(s), or how to accurately characterize this network of infections as a whole. One of the characteristics of cyber- attacks of the sort we document here is the ease by which attribution can be obscured.

Regardless of who or what is ultimately in control of GhostNet, it is
the capabilities of exploitation, and the strategic intelligence that can be harvested from it, which matters most. Indeed, although the Achilles' heel of the GhostNet system allowed us to monitor and document its far-reaching network of infiltration, we can safely hypothesize that it is neither the first nor the only one of its kind.

As Information Warfare Monitor principal investigators Ron Deibert and
Rafal Rohozinski say in the foreword to the report, "This report serves as a wake-up call. At the very least, a large percentage of high-value targets compromised by this network demonstrate the relative ease with which a technically unsophisticated approach can quickly be harnessed to create a very effective spynet.These are major disruptive capabilities that the professional information security community, as well as policymakers, need to come to terms with rapidly."

Download the full report on 29 March 2009 at

[the future of curriculum]

I read this article in the guardian with great interest...On the surface some curriculum reforms seem positive: promoting critical digital literacy...but focusing on certain applications per se (like Twitter and Wikipedia) might be a bit too constraining...Twitter is hot now, but in 5 years? Another app. will have come along with which our students (and teachers) should be au fait. Interestingly the new curriculum notes that children need more time to acquire these kinds of skills (ok) and that it's up to each teacher how and when to use these technological tools (of course)...but where is the time to help the teachers themselves come to terms with each new device? Plus, as always it seems, shifting the focus to technology raises more fears about the death of the book: "Computer skills and keyboard skills seem to be as important as handwriting in this. Traditional books and written texts are downplayed in response to web-based learning." I mean, surely digital literacy is not nearly as important as cursive writing...

Read the entire article here and the comments here.


[scholarly publishing 2.0: mit goes open access]

MIT is asking its staff to contribute their articles to DSpace (a digital repository managed by MIT and HP) which will make them freely available. However, the choice remains with each staff member to grant open access to their contribution. So not sure really how well this will take off in light of several studies which suggest tenured professors prefer to publish in subscription-based publications. Also, DSpace does not contain "all MIT's research and is limited to digital research products."

From the Wall Street Journal:

"With academic journals charging libraries increasingly high subscription rates, Massachusetts Institute of Technology passed a resolution to make it easier for faculty authors to share and distribute their work for free.

MIT said faculty members will grant open access to all journal articles through DSpace, an open-source digital repository created by MIT and Hewlett Packard.

Professors usually strike up agreements to publish their works with individual journals, but once the copyright for a scholarly work belongs to that publisher, it can be difficult or impossible to reuse it for another publication or even as course material. University libraries are having a tough time keeping up with rising subscription costs.

“Scholarly publishing has so far been based purely on contracts between publishers and individual faculty authors,” says Hal Abelson, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science and chair of MIT’s committee on open-access publishing. “In that system, faculty members and their institutions are powerless. This resolution changes that by creating a role in the publishing process for the faculty as a whole, not just as isolated individuals.”

Read more


[credit crunch craft]

I've heard of re-purposing record album covers as wall art. I suppose you could also use the smaller cardboard covers that come with cassettes (if anyone still has these kicking around). But what do with the actual tapes that remain?

Well, Mary over at the Audiobooker Blog links to an interesting idea by iri5. iri5 has a set of "ghost in the machine" flickr photos which show some excellent examples of eco-craft. I feel some creativity coming on....


[call for artists: £5.4m project for cultural olympiad]

Artists of all kinds from across the UK are being challenged to use the nation as a blank canvas for twelve inspirational commissions that will showcase our creativity to the world, as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

Artists of all kinds from across the UK are being challenged to use the nation as a blank canvas for twelve inspirational commissions that will showcase our creativity to the world, as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

‘Artists taking the lead’ is the most ambitious and wide ranging art prize in the UK and is being developed by Arts Council England, in partnership with London 2012 and the arts councils of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

12 commissions of up to £500,000* will be awarded to create 12 new works of art across the country; one in each of the nine English regions, and in the nations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. (*See Notes to Editors for the value of commissions offered in each Nation and Region)

‘Artists taking the lead’ is the first of ten major projects of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad to be launched. It provides artists across the country with an unparalleled opportunity to create work that celebrates the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and reflects the rich cultural diversity of the UK.

Moira Sinclair, Executive Director of Arts Council England, London, said on behalf of the UK arts councils: “The London 2012 bid was always about more than England’s capital city and about more than sport. Artists taking the lead illustrates that bigger, bolder vision – of art inspiring people up and down the UK to celebrate the Olympic Games, of nurturing and developing our artistic talent, and of culture and creativity at the heart of our national life.

We’re excited to be laying down such a unique challenge to artists. We want them to look at their region and their connections with fresh eyes, to mark a moment in our histories in unexpected ways and places across the country, to surprise and delight the world with their extraordinary artistic vision.”

From today,19 March, until Friday 29 May 2009, artists can submit their ideas for the commissions online at www.artiststakingthelead.org.uk

Read more here: http://www.london2012.com/news/media-releases/2009-03/artists-take-the-lead-in-5-4m-project-for-cultural-olymp.php


[web 2.0 tools and education]

I've been reading the JISC report on Web 2.0 for Content for Learning and Teaching in
Higher Education
and on pa
ge 8 the authors have this useful list of ideas on how to use certain web 2.0 tools to facilitate learning. None of them are new to me but still good ideas. I'd be interested to hear what innovative uses other educators are coming up with.
Podcasts can be used to provide introductory material before lectures, or, more commonly, to record lectures and allow students to listen to the lectures again, either because they were unable to attend, or to reinforce their learning. Podcasts can be used to make lectures redundant while still supplying (possibly didactic) presentations of learning material by lecturers.
· Vidcasts can be used to supply to supply videos of experimental procedures in advance of lab sessions
· Podcasts can be used to supply audio tutorial material and/or exemplar recordings of native speakers to foreign language learners.
· Distribution and sharing of educational media and resources. For example, an art history class could have access to a set of art works via a photo sharing system.
· The ability to comment on and critique each others work; including by people on other courses or at other institutions.
· Flickr allows for annotations to be associated with different areas of an image and for comments to be made on the image as a whole, thereby facilitating teacher explanations, class discussion, and collaborative comment. It could be used for the example above.
· For Flickr, FlickrCC18 is a particularly useful ancillary service that allows users to find Creative Commons licensed images that are freely reusable as educational resources.
· Instructional videos and seminar records can be hosted on video sharing systems. Google Video allows for longer higher quality videos than YouTube, and contains a specific genre of educational video
"Education in every country and in every epoch has always been social in nature. Indeed, by its very essence it could hardly exist as anti-social in anyway. Both in the seminary and in the old high school, in the military schools and in the schools for the daughters of the nobility [...] it was never the teacher or the tutor who did the teaching, but the particular social environment in the school which was created for each individual instance" ~~Vygotsky


[web 2.0 apps for education]

As always, I've been browsing the web looking for handy tools which let me (easily) link social media and web 2.0 with life-long learning.

Here are a few keepers:

Top photo of a computer lab by Amber Coggin and found on classroom 2.0.


[cognitive leadership for transdisciplinary research]

Reading "Enhancing Transdisciplinary Research Through Collaborative Leadership" by Barbara Grey.

Some interesting points:

  • Groupthink refers to the suppression of differences within a team and its inability to bridge power differences
  • the absence of process skills (e.g., decision making, problem solving, conflict resolution, information exchange, coordination, and boundary management) has also been noted as a crucial detriment to collaboration
  • Viewing the leadership of transdisciplinary initiatives as a cognitive task means that leadership involves the management of meaning
  • Transformational leaders high on charisma,
    for example, are seen as powerful shapers of their followers’ aspirations which positively affects team performance
  • In transdisciplinary research, the cognitive tasks of leadership largely consist of visioning and framing
  • Transdisciplinary leaders need to be able to envision how various disciplines may overlap in constructive ways that could generate scientific breakthroughs and new understanding
    in a specific problem area
  • Structural-leadership tasks address the team’s need for coordination and information exchange— both within the team and between the team and external actors
  • Research on brokers (who occupy key positions between others) in transdisciplinary networks reveals they are high on the Big Five Personality factor of openness, displayed an ability to imagine and propose potential collaborations among researchers, and engaged in active transdisciplinary mentoring of junior faculty
  • Among the boundary-spanning tasks identified as key for transdisciplinary teams are
    gaining and maintaining sound institutional commitment and support,17 acquiring funds to manage emerging areas of research and training, devoting adequate attention to and securing funds for infrastructure, and building bridges to other centers and new disciplines
  • Attending to the process dynamics of a transdisciplinary team demands an especially important set of interpersonal skills that are critical to successful team collaboration


[lecture MEDS2009: new media, new identities]

Following on from today's lecture, please feel free to answer the following questions here or within blackboard.

How similar is the “you” of the blog to the “you” in various real-life contexts?

What happens when people who know the “you” from one context suddenly encounter the “you” from another?

Two videos to watch.

One from a DMU student:


Another famous one from Professor Michael Wesch:



[employment: ioct digital research fellow]

An amazing position just advertised now. Work for the IOCT and Phoenix Square.

This post is designed to initiate, supervise and promote IOCT-related digital work and research in Leicester's Phoenix Square. The postholder will advise on an annual programme of activities in the ‘cube’ and elsewhere in Phoenix Square that allows for a wide range of user experiences and reflects the best in digital work in the IOCT as well as in a national and international context. The postholder will have knowledge of venue programming and exhibiting digital art in the public realm, and will show an awareness of the latest developments and significant work in the field of digital media. He/she will undertake original transdisciplinary research in this area and will show an appreciation of the wider objectives of the development of Leicester’s Cultural Quarter.

For more info have a look here.


[assessment in the 21st century]

Along with helping students learn and develop skills suitable for the 21st century, our assessment techniques should also correspondingly change.

"In too many schools, too many students suffer an education of drill and memorization but are deprived of high-level thinking activities, of intellectual discussions, of opportunities to synthesize information and respond creatively—elements that form the basis of education for other students in other schools."


[rim competes with apple's app store]

Copied from Larry Dignan's article on zdnet:

"Research in Motion launched its BlackBerry application store—dubbed App World—and the pricing model will immediately draw comparison’s to Apple’s App Store set-up. That comparison, however, only goes so far.

For starters, RIM’s App World pricing model has raised a bit of a ruckus since it veers a bit from Apple’s scheme (Techmeme). But a business audience isn’t going to sweat a $2.99 application compared to a 99 cent minimum priced app. And RIM’s audience is likely to even pay higher prices if the App World can actually deliver software with a real business use. And there are so many tiers to the App World model that RIM could have said “charge what you want.”

But the biggest takeaway from the App World pricing model is that higher prices mean more for developers (see FAQ). RIM needs more developers on its bandwagon since the iPhone is the shiny object in the mobile world. Simply put, money talks and RIM plans to use it. Matthew Miller notes that RIM’s pricing model shouldn’t be that big of a deal.

Sure RIM does offer free apps, but developers aren’t likely to offer them. Given developers pay an upfront fee why would you pay RIM to distribute a free app? RIM’s message with App World appears to be: Frivolous and fun apps need not apply.

Will RIM’s App World work?

My hunch is that RIM’s App World will do well, but isn’t going to a success as measured by Apple’s store. RIM’s store is likely to be more BlackBerry-ish—the applications will be more business focused, tool oriented and won’t feature hot games.

RIM also has an app management issue on its hands. Apple’s App Store has to support just the iPhone and iPod touch. RIM’s applications will work on these models:

  • BlackBerry Bold 9000 smartphone
  • BlackBerry Storm smartphone
  • BlackBerry Pearl Flip Series
  • BlackBerry Curve 8300 Series
  • Black Berry Curve 8900 smartphone
  • BlackBerry 8800 Series
  • BlackBerry Pearl Series

The experience on all of those models will vary. For instance, a game on the Storm will be different than the Bold and Curve. How will RIM navigate that conundrum? As a developer those models mean more complications.

Other takeaways from the RIM App World effort:

  • A PayPal account is required with App World for customers and developers;
  • Developers from around the world can contribute except for those from Belarus, Myanmar/Burma, China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.
  • To submit an application there’s a $200 fee, which will be refunded if the software is rejected."


[employment: lecturer in digital anthropology]

I just love seeing employment opportunities that are focused on the digital (especially within humanities).

Applications are invited for a permanent lectureship in Digital Anthropology to begin 1 August 2009. The successful applicant will be responsible for, and will teach within, our new MA programme in Digital Anthropology and contribute to general teaching in Material and Visual Culture. They will carry out research in Digital Anthropology and contribute to normal administrative duties within the UCL Department of Anthropology.

Applicants should have a PhD and begun researching in the field of Digital Anthropology.

Applications from qualified candidates specialised in any area of the world are welcome.

Further particulars are available here. This appointment is available from 1 August 2009 on the UCL salary scale Grade 7 in the range £ 32,458 per annum to £35,469 per annum plus £2,781 per annum London Allowance. A UCL application form may be downloaded from the UCL website. Applications consisting of the application form, a CV, the names and contact details (particularly e-mail) of three referees and a cover letter describing the candidate's research interests and teaching expertise should all be sent electronically to the Departmental Administrator, Mrs Alena Kocourek

UCL Taking Action for Equality
The closing date for applications is Wednesday, 1st April 2009.


[texting = mental "brownout"]

My initial reaction when reading claims such as "Life's issues are not always settled in sound bites" and "if a teenager is reading Shakespeare when a text message comes, 'Hamlet's going to fade in and out in a ghostly fog'" is...but seriously? Though, the ghostly fog might well signify Hamlet's own state of mind and his visions... (and yes, I have talked about this before). The first quote is from a "worried parent" the second from a psychology prof. at an American University. Follow these quotes with the suggestion that "addiction to the Internet and text messaging be included in the diagnostic manual for mental illnesses."

Reading the American Journal of Psychiatry article which suggests that too much texting is appears as a
compulsive-impulsive spectrum disorder, I wonder if these kinds of reactions (seemingly research-backed or not) are similar to those which emerged alongside other technologies such as the book (remember Socrates' worry that writing destroys memory and weakens the mind) , tv, computer games or rap music - the latter now seen as actually "a forum that addresses the political and economic disfranchisement." It seems that these kind of (visceral) reactions to young (because it's usually the teenagers isn't it?) people's use of new modes of technology reduce hci (human computer interaction) from a complicated interaction with (surely) many different levels at work to something *flat.*

There are some "experts" who suggest that sms-ing is synonymous with "declines in spelling, word choice and writing complexity. Some indicate that too much texting is linked to an inability to focus." But, there are also studies which show that students learn when actively involved. Having students txt answers to the teacher would be just one example of how sms-ing can be used in the classroom to promote reflection and synthesis. I've used twitter as a (free) way of checking student progress during lectures and as a way of encouraging reflection and interaction.

I see these kinds of technologies as having positive uses, as
Carla Meskill notes, they can be a "spring-board and catalyst for active hands-on...learning."

If we sway too much in the direction of worry and anxiety, we'll lose our chance of harnessing the positive, pedagogical and empowering opportunities that come with technological developments. Especially when other research points to increases in learning, language aquisition, maths and other development. Additionally, studies have shown gender differences in txt messaging including one that shows "Females are more skillful in writing complex, long and lexically dense messages than males."

Here are some gender examples from a Norwegian study:

"Where men offer comments such as:

I think that there is something with SMS [= text messaging] . . . I can’t really do it. It is such short things (Bjørn, aged 40)

Buy a hard disk (Male, aged 23) kjøp en hardisk

The pub doesn’t open today (Male, aged 32) Pubben åpner ikke idag

[Women write:]

super! Now we have landed at Steilende and the hot dogs are on the grill. The first landing from our own boat. M&MandT greetings. We are looking forward to saturday. :) (Female, aged 29) supert! Nå ha vi lagt til på og pølsene ligger på grillen. Første ilandstigning fra egen båt. M&MogT hilser. Gleder oss til lørdag. :)

Hi! Are we still going to meet today? I don’t have more $ on my mobile after this msg. Just say when and where we should meet! (Female 19 years) Hey! Skal vi fortsatt møtes i dag? Har ik mer $ på mob etr denne mld! Bare si fra når og hvor når u vil møtes!"

The conclusions noted from this study seem to parallel those reached in studies of written and CMC and gender:
"Young adult women seem to be to the chattiest. Females under the age of 34 have the highest median number of words per text message. Women over age 35 use about 10 fewer letters per message than their younger counterparts. By contrast, males of all ages – aside from those over age 55 – are relatively stable at about 15 – 20 letters per message."
There are also case studies which illustrate how "
group-based text messaging enables continuous social awareness, group coordination and smart convergence on social events." In fact, mobile 'phones, rather than encourage disassociation or lack of "presentness, " can engender "intimacy and a feeling of being permanently tethered." There are lots of levels/areas to take into account.

Sure, doing something "too" much might have negative implications but there just isn't enough research to justify sweeping claims. We could also ask questions about why certain teenagers might put more energy into texting rather than, say, family game night (because there might not be family or game night etc...). It's a complicated matter and I vote for focusing on the potential.

Top image is a cartoon by Chris Madden, the bottom image is by scion_cho on flickr.