Saturday, October 30, 2004

The new realities studies

The current US government appears to be taking its policy cues from sci-fi novels.... or they are taking the 'death of grand narratives' seriously and applying it directly to their own take on truth and practice. Chris Bigum drew our attention to the following New York Times Magazine article by Ron Suskind (17 Oct., 2004) [requires registration, otherwise read a copy of it here], reporting on an exchange he had in 2002 with a senior adviser to Bush. Suskind writes,

"In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that
the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications
director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to
Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told
me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which
I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

"The aide said that guys like me were 'in what we call the
reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe
that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible
reality.' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment
principles and empiricism. He cut me off. 'That's ! not the way the
world really works anymore,' he continued. 'We're an empire now, and
when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying
that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating
other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things
will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you,
will be left to just study what we do.'"

iPod goes graphical

Apple's iPod just keeps getting better and better! Colin has been experimenting recently with a voice recording peripheral released for the iPod and is really pleased with the results. The iPod extended-life battery and large storage cache means he can record hours of talk at a time (compared with our other purpose-built digital voice recorder which hold an hour of talk at best). Now Apple has announced their latest iPod--which stores and displays your digital photos in full colour! And just in time for Christmas, too! But I'm going to hold off on getting this model (Colin and I have just acquired new 40gig iPods which are just lovely!)--because what I really, really want is an iPod that interfaces directly with my mobile phone and digital camera so that I can download and store multiple image and sound files in the field. I see the iPod emerging as a key must-have qualitative researcher data collection, storage and management tool.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Jim Gee's latest book is out

Jim's latest book, Situated Language and Learning: A Critique of Traditional Schooling, is another good read. My current favourite bit in the book is his gentle but nonetheless keen-edged critique of "community of learners" approaches to learning and classroom practice. In its place he develops an earlier concept of his, "affinity groups" into "affinity spaces" which is proving to be really useful in our current work on weblogs for explaining different purposes served by blogs.

The rise of audblogs

Not brand-spanking new news in the sense that "audblogs"--blogs that include, or even comprise, audio commentary files--have been around since early 2003, but an interesting development in the blogosphere nonetheless. Blogs are already relatively intimate media--audio files makes tham even more so. Often startlingly so.

If you're interested in reading more about them and listening to a range of audblogs, click and go:

  • US National Public Radio story (2003)

  • Audblog, a hosting and publishing service "that provides bloggers with the ability to post audio to their blogs from any phone".

  • RL and LJ worlds collide...

    A blogger, Anniesj, reports how a satirical commentary on the current US president in her LiveJournal (LJ) blog brought the Secret Service knocking at her door. Amazing. Just amazing what gets construed as a threat to national security. You'd think the SS would be more worried about helping find, oh, I don't know, say, 380 tons of missing explosives....

    Annie writes:

    A couple of weeks ago, following the last presidential debate, I said some rather inflammatory things about George W. Bush in a public post in my LJ, done in a satirical style. We laughed, we ranted, we all said some things. I thought it was a fairly harmless (and rather obvious) attempt at humor in the face of annoyance, and while a couple of people were offended, as is typical behavior from me, I saw something shiny and forgot about it, thinking that the whole thing was over and done and nothing else would come of what I said.

    I was wrong.

    At 9:45 last night, the Secret Service showed up on my mother's front door to talk to me about what I said about the President, as what I said could apparently be misconstrued as a threat to his life. After about ten minutes of talking to me and my family, they quickly came to the conclusion that I was not a threat to national security (mostly because we are the least threatening people in the entire world) and told me that they would not recommend that any further action be taken with my case. However, I do now have a file with the FBI that includes my photograph, my e-mail address, and the location of my LJ. This will follow me around for the rest of my life, regardless of the fact that the Secret Service knows that I am not a threat.

    Sunday, October 24, 2004

    And I've poached this from Guy Merchant's blog on the rise of blogs as credible sources of news stories and pertinent challenges to mainstream reporting.

    US newspaper readers use blogs cautiously

    Newspaper readers in the US who follow weblogs say challenging
    traditional journalists is a vital new tool that weblogs posess.
    Newspaper readers who follow blogs remain cautious as they judge
    bloggers' credibility, but they say a willingness to challenge
    traditional journalists makes the network of personal sites a vital
    newcomer to the media scene. This is the outcome of an online survey by
    the Associated Press Managing Editor's National Credibility Roundtables Project. About 1 out of 5 newspaper readers said they also read the
    weblogs, according to the survey. Readers who find blogs important, say
    the online writers discuss stories mainstream journalists ignore, and
    are eager to question the decisions news networks make.

    Saturday, October 23, 2004

    Just came across this fantastic photo documentary of mobile phones by Michael Parr on Dr Joolz' new blog.

    Sunday, October 17, 2004

    Into the Blogosphere: A blog about blogs and blogging

    Hosted by the University of Minnesota, Into the Blogosphere is a useful archive of position papers, analyses and essays on the cultures and practices of blogging.

    Friday, October 15, 2004

    Trust and community on the internet

    Here's a link to a 2003 international conference on trust and online communities. key conference papers are archived on the site.

    Thursday, October 14, 2004

    Chip Bruce's weblog

    Chip Bruce was the person who first alerted us to the blogging phenomenon, and his own blog is a veritable cornucopia of tech news, active citizenship projects and activities, and wise social commentary.

    Wednesday, October 13, 2004

    Could this be the start of a clampdown on alternative media reporting?

    Indymedia UK reports that two servers operated by its hosting service, Rackmedia, were seized by the FBI agents acting in England acting on behalf of U.S. authorities. Indymedia is an internationally famous, multilingual, alternative press forum for reporting and critiquing media events. Seizure of the two servers directly affected 20 websites operated by Indymedia in different countries around the world. the seizure happened two days ago and Indymedia has still not been given any reason

    Rackspace issued the following press release a day after the subpoena (8 October): "In the present matter regarding Indymedia, Rackspace Managed Hosting, a U.S. based company with offices in London, is acting in compliance with a court order pursuant to a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), which establishes procedures for countries to assist each other in investigations such as international terrorism, kidnapping and money laundering. Rackspace responded to a Commissioner’s subpoena, duly issued under Title 28, United States Code, Section 1782 in an investigation that did not arise in the United States. Rackspace is acting as a good corporate citizen and is cooperating with international law enforcement authorities. The court prohibits Rackspace from commenting further on this matter."

    Indymedia's press release dated 11 October (when they were finally provided with some reasons for the seizure)is a must-read: Swiss authorities claim they have "opened a criminal investigation into Indymedia coverage of the 2003 G8 Summit", while Italian authorities are investigating Italy Indymedia for possible "terrorist activities". The ramifications of this clampdown on alternative, leftist news reporting and commentary are enormous... and frightening.

    More from the AoIR list: James Howison's 2003 review of the literature on online reputation systems--soemthing that Colin and I have long been interested in. This particular review focusses on the technical side of establishing and maintaining trust between people online.

    Miraj Khaled has posted news about a Canadian university project that explores "...loyalty and trust in online environments". The project website is titled, Managing e-Loyalty Through Experience Design, and focusses on establishing trust in e-Business relationships, with a particular focus on relationships that cross cultural differences. Much of their response appears to focus on designing culturally fluid interfaces for internet exchanges and and for mobile communication.

    Tuesday, October 12, 2004

    Alla Genkina from Indiana University, USA, recently posted news on the AoIR discussion list concerning a new paper put out by the Center for the Digital Future: "10 Major Trends Emerging in the Internet’s First Decade of Public Use". The paper reports data from the fourth year of an ongoing study of the "impact of the Internet on Americans". Despite its claims concerning "Americans" the project has only surveyed 2,000 families living in the USA.

    Gender and ICT

    A recently released report of an investigation into women and their involvement in the use and design of information and communication technology that a "gap" between males and females still exists. This particular report is the third in a series, and summarises findings from 48 case studies of interventions designed to enhance women's participation in ICT. The cases are drawn from Ireland, Italy, Norway, and Scotland. Details for the report are:

    Strategies of Inclusion: Gender and the Information Society. Final Report (Public Version) by W.Faulkner, K.Sørensen, H Gansmø, E. Rommes, L.Pitt, V. Lagesen Berg, C.McKeogh P. Preston R.Williams, and J.Stewart.

    Saturday, October 09, 2004


    The inaugural issue of Innovate, a peer-reviewed bimonthly e-journal featuring research and practice in using information technology to enhance education is now available.

    The journal is designed to be highly interactive and the editors "invite you to do more than simply read. Use our one-button features to comment on articles, share material with colleagues and friends, and participate in webcasts with authors in our Innovate-Live forums. Join us in exploring the best uses of this technology to improve the ways we think, learn, and live."

    Methodologies for researching online

    Julie Coiro just sent us through a link to an interesting resource. It's the archive for the New Research for New Media symposium convened at the University of Minnesota in September, 2003.

    Documenting the first decade of web design

    This is an interesting collaborative timeline project that asks netizens to post brief descriptions of their first encounters with or memories of a range of internet-related expereinces (e.g., first online experience, first experience with HTML coding, first expereince with graphical interface internet browsers, etc.). One particularly ncioe feature of this database is that it's multilingual.

    Here's what the promoters of the project have to say about it:

    Open History Timeline is an 'open research' website/database into the first
    decade of web design. The online forum is a visual and textual timeline
    generated out of a self-customizable questionnaire. Using a custom content
    management system the site will allows:

  • Users to add images, comments and links, making a collective history of
    webdesign as it developed. Such elements might include histories of their
    own first homepage; the first use of a technology; original html code;
    reminiscences of key designers, innovators, critics and technologists.

  • Using a question-based interface users can write their own questions and
    respond to those of others. All questions entered are available, ensuring
    that no one set of views or way of writing predominates.

  • Multi-lingual use.

  • Friday, October 08, 2004

    Blog searching

    Globe of Blogs has a nice search feature for locating special interest blogs. They have almost 16,000 blogs registered with their search service, although it looks like most of these might be English-language only blogs.

    Tuesday, October 05, 2004

    Resource Center for Cyberculture Studies

    A useful clearinghouse on cyberculture studies. The book reviews page is particularly interesting.

    Journal of Community Informatics

    Here's a new refereed journal that might be of interest--it doesn't focus on ltieracies per se, but does emphasise community oriented publications. The inaugral issue is available free online.

    Sunday, October 03, 2004

    Bye Bye Johnny

    Knowing it was coming -- see the post for 15 June -- didn't help at all. And the time had to be right for saying goodbye. Today's flight from Melbourne to Cairns was the right time for me. I took the (empty) miniatures saved from the Newfoundland 'screech-in' and the latest flight across the Pacific and refilled them with good stuff before leaving this morning for the airport. With the Blitzkrieg Bop at full revs on the iPod and tequila and kahlua chasers on the tray, it was finally time to say a proper 'bye bye' to Johnny Ramone (died September 16).

    It hurts like hell, even if Ronald Reagan was his favourite President. We are all allowed a few mistakes, I guess.

    Saturday, October 02, 2004


    Angela Thomas' ethnographic studies of children and young people and their online/offline identities is a must read! Keep an eye out for her book that's coming out in our series with Peter Lang Publishers.

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