[digital technologies and identity]

Digital Technologies of the Self - Yasmine Abbas and Fred Dervin (eds.).
Cambridge Scholars (2009).

- Information available at:
- Introduction and table of contents:

Inspired by the “technologies of the self” theorized by Michel Foucault in the early 1980s, this volume investigates how contemporary individuals fashion their identity/identities using digital technologies such as ambient intelligent devices, social networking platforms and online communities (Facebook, CouchSurfing and craigslist), online gaming (SilkRoad Online, Oblivion and World of Warcraft), podcasts, etc. With high-speed internet access, ubiquitous computing and generous storage capacity, the opportunities for staging and transforming the self/selves have become nearly limitless.
This book explores how technologies contribute to the expression, (co-)construction and enactment of identities. It examines these issues from various perspectives as it brings together insights from different disciplines — design, discourse analysis, philosophy and sociology.


[inanimate alice in my undergrad. English class]

x-posted at iTeach Inanimate Alice

On Thursday (19th of November) I started the final unit of the term with my English 102s at Grant MacEwan University (Edmonton, Alberta). After essays and other academic texts, our final study would focus on the multimodal narrative, Inanimate Alice.

Before I began the lesson I recalled what I had done with other classes (mostly media or creative technologies while at De Montfort University in Leicester, England). But this time, it would be a little different. I could incorporate more of a "literary" analysis as this was for an English class...right?

Interestingly out of about 30 students, only one admitted to having read something similar to Inanimate Alice (but when he was "younger"). I gave a background to Inanimate Alice. I introduced the students to Alice, to Brad. I also explained what Alice's parents do. We talked about setting and character development, noting that Inanimate Alice can be read as a bildungsroman.

We agreed to spend the remainder of the lesson reading Episodes 1 and 2. Students were also given time at the end of the lesson to reflect on their first-time reading a multimodal narrative. Some of the questions I asked them to think about included:
  • How reading this online fiction is different from reading the essays in the course books or reading the texts for your research assignment
  • What can readers infer about the identity of Alice? What traits does Alice seem to possess?
  • 1 instance of foreshadowing
  • Complete this sentence: “I think the author is trying to say....”


[snow in #yeg]


For those of you not using Twitter, #yeg is a synonym for Edmonton (it's the airport code btw).


[religious humour]

Now this makes me want to go to church...

Spotted on the north-western corner of 50th Street and Ellerslie Road in Edmonton.


[employment: assistant or associate prof. of info graphics]


*Working title/rank:*  Assistant or Associate Professor in Information
Graphics and Data Visualization

*Type of appointment:* Tenure-track faculty

*Position category:* Tenure-track faculty

*Department or school:* Journalism/Mass Communication

*Application deadline:* Open until filled (Applications will begin to be
reviewed on January 15, 2010)

*Proposed start date:* July 1, 2010

*Position summary*

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is searching for an outstanding assistant or associate professor specializing in information graphics and data visualization.  The successful applicant will teach courses in information graphics and visualization, which includes cartography and statistical representation, 3D design, animated graphic storytelling and other appropriate courses over time. All of the school’s graphic design courses are taught in our state-of-the-art Macintosh labs.  The successful candidate will teach a 2/2 course load and perform other customary duties of a faculty member in the school’s research tenure track: research, advising, service and teaching/advising students at the graduate and undergraduate levels.

*Education requirements*

A Ph.D. in journalism/mass communication or a relevant related field is required.  ABD will be considered with a firm anticipated completion date.

*Experience and qualifications*

   - Preferred 7 years of full-time professional experience as an informational graphic artist/specialist.
   - Entrepreneurial and/or freelance work experience.
   - An outstanding, international award-winning professional portfolio that includes print and online journalistic work.
   - Proficiency in appropriate software including Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and a 3D software program such as Maya or Lightwave.  Working knowledge of Flash and Dreamweaver. Proficiency in programming languages such as ActionScript and R.
   - A well-defined research agenda that addresses pertinent issues in information visualization and new technologies.
   - Ability to be an outstanding teacher.

*Special instructions*

Go to *http://jobs.unc.edu/1002162* <http://jobs.unc.edu/1002162> to apply.
Please submit a letter, vitae, names and contact information of least three references and a link to online portfolio materials. Supporting documents including course syllabi and other materials will be helpful in selecting finalists and should be submitted as electronic attachments to the application when possible.  Any other materials may be mailed to: 

Jo Bass
Assistant to the Dean
School of Journalism and Mass Communication
UNC-Chapel Hill

Campus Box 3365
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3365

Note: The amazing image is from Aaron Koblin who has compiled flight pattern data from the FAA for the United States and most of North America. He calls the work "Flight Curves."


[open education]

Anna Batchelder, Founder of Bon Education, has an interesting post on open education at Literacy is Priceless:

"'The advent of the Web brings the ability to disseminate high-quality materials at almost no cost, leveling the playing field…We’re changing the culture of how we think about knowledge and how it should be shared and who are the owners of knowledge.' - Cathy Casserly, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
With an increasing number of educators putting their lessons, curricula and learning objects online for others to use, customize and share, the open education movement is at a tipping point. That said, with so many educational resources available on the Internet, how does one go about finding the “perfect resource for class tomorrow” without losing too much time, money or sleep?
Before we get to the answer of this question, it is important to take a quick step back and understand “the anatomy of open education”…
What is Open Education?
Open education is a term that refers to education in which knowledge, best practices and learning objects (lessons, units, etc.) are shared freely via the Internet for others to use and under many licenses to modify and re-share.
Why Open Education?
The benefits of open education are many (customization, cost-savings, freedom to innovate, etc.), but one of the primary advantages of the open education movement is that of access. Anyone who has an Internet connection via computer or mobile phone can access millions of readings, videos, simulations, lesson plans, interactive courses and more… all for free!
Open Education and Teacher Effectiveness…
Research shows time and time again that teachers have the greatest potential to influence student achievement (North Central Regional Education LaboratoryMcKinsey 2007, Darling-Hammond 1997). Furthermore, the literature indicates that effective teachers tend to exhibit—commitment (to help every child succeed), information-seeking (intellectual curiosity), flexibilitypassion for learning (drive to support student learning) amongst several other traits (UNESCO International Institute for Educational Planning 2004, Kemp & Hall, 1992). 2009, (willingness to differentiate), and
Luckily, the ethos of open education goes hand-in-hand with these findings, enabling educators endless opportunities to improve their craft. Thanks to the millions of people actively engaged in sharing their ideas and content online, teachers today have 24-7 access to continued learning opportunities, professional development, lesson planning guides and resources for differentiation. Take one look at sites like Edutopia, Discover Ed, and Connexions and you will be blown away by the number of free resources available to help educators continuously improve the content area knowledge, skills and expertise they bring to the classroom.

Where to Start—Finding the Perfect Open Education Resources for your Classroom

The following is a curated list of open education resources targeted at helping K-12 teachers find classroom and professional development resources quickly, easily and for free:
  • Curriki.org—“Curriki is a social entrepreneurship organization that supports the development and free distribution of open source educational materials to improve education worldwide.  The online community gives teachers, students and parents universal access to a wealth of peer-reviewed K-12 curricula, and powerful online collaboration tools”.
  • FreeReading.net—“FreeReading is a high-quality, open-source, free reading intervention program addressing literacy development for grades K-3. Schools and teachers everywhere can use the complete, research-based 40-week program for K-1 students, or use the library of lessons to supplement existing curricula in phonological awareness, phonics, vocabulary, comprehension, and writing. The site is also filled with free, downloadable supplemental materials including flashcards, graphical organizers, illustrated readers, decodable texts, audio files, videos and more”.
  • OERCommons.org—“OER Commons has forged alliances with over 120 major content partners to provide a single point of access through which educators and learners can search across collections to access over 24,000 items, find and provide descriptive information about each resource, and retrieve the ones they need. By being ‘open,’ these resources are publicly available for all to use, and principally through Creative Commons licensing, many thousands are legally available for repurposing, modifying and improving”.
To find additional open education resources of note, visit Bon Education.

The Future Cost of Education
A recent post on Mashable, titled, “In the Future, the Cost of Education will be Zero,” author Josh Catone shares a recent statement by VC and “Hacking Education” organizer Brad Burnham. He writes:
Knowledge is, as the economists say, a non-rival good… If I eat an apple, you cannot also eat that same apple; but if I learn something, there is no reason you cannot also learn that thing. Information goods lend themselves to being created, distributed and consumed on the web. It is not so different from music, or classified advertising, or news.

A nice notion indeed!
To the sharing of knowledge!"


[kitty antics]

I know, I know... a post about my cat. But...she's exploring her new home and has found a window ledge about 24 feet up....


Don't worry, we've put plenty of landing mats should she miss her landing when she leaps ever so gracefully...

Update: she jumped and landed unscathed.


UNESCO World Report, "Investing in Cultural Diversity and Intercultural
Dialogue" available online.

Cultural diversity has emerged as a key concern at the turn of a new century. Yet the meanings attached to this catch-all term are as varied as they are shifting. Some see cultural diversity as inherently positive, insofar as it points to a sharing of the wealth embodied in each of the world’s cultures and, accordingly, to the links uniting us all in processes of exchange and dialogue. For others, cultural differences are what cause us to lose sight of our common humanity and are therefore at the root of numerous conflicts. This second diagnosis is today all the more plausible since globalization has increased the points of interaction and friction between cultures, giving rise to identity-linked tensions, withdrawals and claims, particularly of a religious nature, which can become potential sources of dispute. The essential challenge, therefore, would be to propose a coherent vision of cultural diversity and thereby to clarify how, far from being a threat, it can become beneficial to the action of the international community.


[stuffed crab shells, potato gratin and carciofi]

You know the feeling. It's Tuesday evening. You're hungry but tired too. What can you rustle up that's tasty and doesn't take too long to prepare? How about stuffed crab shells, easy potato gratin and carciofi (artichokes)?

Stuffed Crab Shells
tin of crab meat (I certainly cheated here, it is a week night after all)
white wine
garlic (I used 3 cloves)
shallots (I used one)
olive oil
panko bread crumbs
smoked cheddar (or whatever cheese you like, you just need a bit for crumbling)

While your oil is heating in the pan (you want a medium heat, not high), finely slice your shallots and garlic. Add them to the pan to soften and lightly brown. Once browned, add in your white wine. Bring to a soft boil and then lower. Add freshly ground sea salt and pink pepper (or whatever pepper you have to hand) to taste. 

Take your juice off the heat and delicately stir in your crab meat. Add your fresh tarragon now (or dried). I used a good tablespoon.

Now, take your crab mixture and fill your shells (or ramekins). Lightly top with panko break crumbs and sprinkle on a bit of cheese. I used smoked cheddar because that's what I had in the fridge and it worked well with the sweetness of the crab.

Put the shells in the oven (350) for 20 minutes. The breadcrumbs will crisp and the cheese will melt. When still warm, sprinkle over some chopped cilantro or parsely.

Easy-Peasy Potato Gratin

Three large potatoes (this will serve four people)
Shallots (2)
1/2 cup of cream
1/2 cup of milk
dob of butter
salt and pepper

Have a pot on the stove with your milk and cream warming with the finely sliced shallots. As it warms, thinly slice your potatoes and add directly to the cream. Once all your potatoes are added, bring the cream to a light boil and then lower. Simmer for about 20 minutes. If you find your liquid is evaporating, your heat is probably too high. You can also add a bit of chicken stock or white wine if you need a bit more liquid.

After simmering for 20 minutes, transfer your slivers of potato to any oven dish. Make sure you pour on any of the creamy sauce, filling each dish about two thirds of the way up. Bake in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes. If you time it right, your crab and potatoes will both be in the oven at the same time, and ready in 20 minutes.


While your crab and potatoes are in the oven you can make your artichokes. I had four baby artichokes from the local farmers' market so they were perfect for a quick cook-up.

I just used ingredients similar to above. I sauteed a couple of thinly sliced shallots in olive oil. When soft and translucent I added some finely chopped fresh chili (I used a whole red chili). I added a couple of good glugs of white wine and about a third of a cup of chicken stock and pepper, not too much salt because of the stock. Essentially I had a bit of a broth. When that started bubbling I chucked in my baby artichokes (which had been washed and trimmed). I let that go over a medium heat for about 20 minutes (that's when the crab and potato gratin were ready).

This meal was ready in about 30 minutes. We added a green salad (romaine and fennel) for a bit of freshness to cut through our decadent crab and potato main.

And now it's almost time to sample the left-overs....


[little italy in edmonton]

One of the many highlights of moving to Edmonton is our proximity to Little (though very little) Italy and the delights this area brings. One of our favourites is the Italian Centre Shop. Visiting this supermarket is like a little taste of home (my Vasto home). Upon entering, all your senses are bombarded by a plethora of culinary treats. The sound of prosciutto slices falling onto waxed brown paper and the salty buttered taste that employees let one try before buying. Then there are the shelves, each bursting with hundreds of types of olive oils, balsamic vinegars, passata, Crodino, and anything one might need. A shopping trip here is like a little trip to Italy.   


[new model for narrative: electric literature]

The founders of Electric Literature, a new quarterly literary magazine, seek nothing less than to revitalize the short story in the age of the short attention span. To do so, they allow readers to enjoy the magazine any way they like: on paper, Kindle, e-book, iPhone and, starting next month, as an audiobook. YouTube videos feature collaborations among their writers and visual artists and musicians. Starting next month, Rick Moody will tweet a story over three days. 

In its first two issues, this year, the magazine showcased some of the country’s best writers — Michael Cunningham, Colson Whitehead, Lydia Davis, Jim Shepard — and created the kind of buzz that is a marketer’s dream. With a debut issue in June and an autumn issue out last week, each consisting of five stories, the magazine has racked up complimentary reviews everywhere from The Washington Post to a blogger on Destructive Anachronism, who wrote, “High quality content + innovative marketing + multimedia could just equal the new model for literature, post-print.”


As for Mr. Moody, he said he came up with the idea of Twitter fiction after he fell in love with the new form. “It’s like trying to write in haiku continuously,” he said in an e-mail message.
“I like that E.L. seems as though it will try just about anything, and I think it’s important for literature that it’s always pushing the envelope, colliding with other forms, trying to find new envelopes for its message, and generally renewing itself,” Mr. Moody’s message continued. He called it a method that was partly pioneered by magazines like McSweeny’s and Ninth Letter.
Stephen O’Connor, whose story “Love” is in the second Electric Literature issue, said, “They approached me after a story came out in The New Yorker.” At about 12,000 words, he added, “Love” is a bit long for a conventional literary magazine.
“I’m hoping it will be a younger audience, all those kids like my students at Columbia and Sarah Lawrence who are always on Facebook and iPhone,” Mr. O’Connor said.


“We have an optimistic message at a time of pessimism,” Mr. Hunter said. “As writers, we got tired of the doom and gloom. The future is not something you acquiesce to, it’s something you create.”

From the NY Times

Image from Electric Literature. Follow Electric Literature on Twitter.

[google and your "social circle"]

Via George Siemens:

"Google just announced Social Search. The services helps you "to find publicly available content from your social circle". Google extracts information on your social circle from three sources: Google Reader subscriptions, Google Profiles, and Google chat (GMail). They use the term "surfacing" connections to describe not only adding your friends, but one additional degree: your friend's friends.
This move by Google is a direct assault on Facebook. Facebook has emphasized social connections over content. Google has, to date, primarily emphasized information sorting, filtering, and ranking. Facebook's model of emphasizing social rather than information connections is a problem for Google. What is unique in Social Search is the focus on aggregation rather than place-based interaction. In theory, Google emphasizes pulling together various pieces of online interactions through aggregation, whereas Facebook emphasizes housing interactions in their environment."