Tuesday, May 30, 2006

News comparison service

Just got this link off the AIR-L discussion list. It's a web-based service that compares the politics-related headlines of four different, mostly U.S. news services: The Village Voice, The New York Times, The BBC, and Fox News. The service also compares a range of other reporting arenas and perspective (e.g., Christian, Muslim, etc.) which is really interesting, too.

By the way, I'm blogging this from the Canadaian Association of Technical Writers' annual conference, in Toronto, where global warming is checking in big time! It is scorching hot here!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Here's to my fabulously notorious colleagues!

I knew that the AERA session organised by Jennifer Stone, and including in person, Rebecca Black, Wan Shun Eva Lam and Dongping Zheng was a winner the moment I saw it and was thrilled to be invited to be a discussant. The symposium was very well-received and lots of very well-deserved kudos were showered down on all four presenters. Now their fame is spreading even wider! An ultra-conservative publication, The National Review Online has publicly denounced the symposium, and accused it of promoting "cyber jargon" (which the authors seem to think is a "field of research" which strikes me as rather nonsensical, but then, hey, I'm not claiming to be an expert on this stuff). Now, I'm not sure if the authors actually attended the symposium itself--there's certainly no evidence whatsoever that they did (e.g., they talk about people emerging from "hushed sessions" but I know for a fact that this particular symposium was as rowdy as all get-out!)--but their listing of the presentation titles makes their accusations regarding "cyber-jargon" muddier than the Murray River in full-flood. Let's see, they list:

They don't list Eva's presentation (with Enid Rosario), "Digital literacy and transnationalism among adolescent immigrants in the U.S." which suggests they didn't find it cyber-jargonic. Maybe the reference to "nationalism" saved this particular paper.

Anyway, I am honoured to be able to say proudly "I was there!" and that the symposium collectively worked to advocate strongly for young people's digital savviness and their effective DIY approaches to learning--a much needed role in current high-stakes testing school contexts and narrow conceptions of what it means to be literate. I know exactly whose side I'm on in this particular debate!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Better for Beta#2

Here is the draft for Chapter 3 of the draft of the new edition of New Literacies.

Any comments welcome.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Sage advice

This today from Steven Johnson with regard to the continuing significance of the book as a medium for influencign opinion.

"[If] you're trying to change the way people think about a complicated issue, the advice is the same as it was two hundred years ago: write a book."

As with a lot that Johnson writes, I am in full agreement.

I would go even further so far as academics, especially early career academics are concerned. Taking liberties with Johnson I would say: 'If you are wanting to build an academic career in which you can get opportunities to influence the way people think about a complicated issue, the advice is the same as it was 30 years ago: write a book".

One of the things that eats me up more than just about anything else so far as contemporary careers in universities are concerned has been the way the institutions can chew early career academics up having them chase refereed articles in top tier journals and highly competitive externally funded research grants as sine qua nons for tenure and promotion. I am not saying these things aren't important, or even necessary, because they are. By the same token, they can and do burn up a lot of people who are spent before they get to influence people widely on complicated issues.

By contrast, a book can reach diverse people very quickly and open up a LOT of opportunities, notwithstanding the relatively low status accorded books in the currently faddish bean counts that masquerade as measures of Research Quality. Moreover, getting ideas out there in books can be a pretty nifty way of making oneself competitive for the very things universities want to push early career academics into before they even finish their higher degrees.

Put it this way. Right here and now, can you name 10 books that impacted way you think about complicated issues?

I thought so.

Now, can you name 10 research reports funded by competitive research granting bodies that impacted way you think about complicated issues?


Now, can you name 10 journal articles in top tier journals?

Uh, huh.

This is not to say that one's writing a book will have that change effect. (Sadly, I know.) But my guess is that it puts folk in with a better chance than most of the other options going, including the options we are often most intensely pressured as academics to take (and it can certainly open up great possibilities for expansive and rewarding careers).

Strange that.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A well-deserved recognition

Just a quiet note of congratulations to Michele (who will doubtless be embarrassed by a public post), who has just learned she has been promoted to full prof. This is a well-deserved recognition of her work at Montclair, and it is wonderful that the Montclair community have recognised her efforts and the way she has worked selflessly, long and hard to help build the research and learning culture there. Congratulations, Michele, and all the best for your ongoing work.

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