Monday, June 30, 2008

writing my research narrative

sarah's out of town, in anaheim, attending the american library association conference. mom's in des moines, iowa, attending (and helping to organize) WILPF'S 30th triennial congress, and then off to minneapolis to hang with jini and don - my in-laws and sarah's parents.

carefully considering the circumstances, nene and i decided to head south to spend a few days at mom's home in santa cruz. nene likes mom's place because she can climb up to the shelving unit high above the refrigerator and safely scheme and sleep all day and all night.

i like the place because it's two blocks away from the mighty pacific ocean, which always reminds me of home.

this summer most of my academic attention is focused on my tenure packet which is due in september. for the last week and throughout my stay in santa cruz, i have focused on my research narrative, tracing my ideas and writings and projects from an undergraduate majoring in english at UCLA to an assistant professor of media studies at USF, with a few stops in between.

my writing process has been as follows: i walk and think for hours and days and then suddenly - splat! - an outline hurls itself out of me. once the outline exists, the sentences are self-evident and my pen records them on paper. then i place my paper journal next to my plastic laptop and tip tap type the words into a document. finally, i save it to a folder on my desktop labeled "tenure."


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new reviews in cyberculture studies (july 2008)

each month, the resource center for cyberculture studies (RCCS) publishes a set of book reviews and author responses.

books of the month for july 2008 include:

Digital Contagions: A Media Archaeology of Computer Viruses
Author: Jussi Parikka
Publisher: Peter Lang Publishing, 2007
Review 1: Joseph Nechvatal
Author Response: Jussi Parikka

Ruling the Root: Internet Governance and the Taming of Cyberspace
Author: Milton L. Mueller
Publisher: MIT Press, 2002
Review 1: Pramod K. Nayar

Unit Operations: An Approach to Videogame Criticism
Author: Ian Bogost
Publisher: MIT Press, 2006
Review 1: Terry Schenold

enjoy. there's more where that came from.

oh! coming so so soon: a very large list of new and exciting books waiting to be reviewed, perhaps by you.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

garden to table: growing greens

nearly a year ago, USF professors melinda stone (media studies) and seth wachtel (art + architecture) and eleven first-year female farmers set out to plan and plant an organic garden on campus. the organic garden was (and is) part of a USF living-learning community called, fittingly, the garden project.

the organic garden is on the lone mountain campus. it's a quarter-acre plot, located on the south-east side, sweetly sandwiched between the education and ROTC buildings.

when they began, the land looked like this:

and then like this:

by spring (after a semester of testing the soil, treating the soil, cover crops, and a thousand other things to do and consider and research and learn and examine and experiment), it looked like this:

by spring, the garden was a garden. but it was also a lab. for garden project students, it was a green lab to grow food and community. for art + architecture students, it was a public space lab to design and build a beautiful toolshed, benches, and a community board. for my digital journalism students, it was a green media lab to investigate, interview, photograph, videotape, and blog garden stories.

(see jacob marx's "More than Plants," brigid moore's "Garden Vs. Garden," laura plantholt's "Freshmen Female Farmers," and miles simcox's "USF Organic Garden Project.")

the "problem" with the campus garden is that by the time the plants have soaked in enough california sunlight and drunk enough water and taken in enough nourishment from the soil to produce food, the eleven first-year farmers and their profs have bolted for the summer. who will water?! who will weed?! who will harvest all the delicious food?!

enter the summer garden crew.

a group of between 25-30 USF staff, students, librarians, and faculty has been tending the garden seven days a week and have been, by all accounts, learning a lot and having a blast. with organizational help from christin anderson at wellness, we've established a daily watering and weeding schedule, have cleared off new plots, and have planted new crops.

in return for labor, we get to harvest food. good food. real food. earlier this week, i brought home a bag full of green goodness.

last night, with a little help from mollie katzen's moosewood cookbook, i stir fried a good portion of it, laid it over some soba noodles, and had a delicious dinner with sarah.

coming soon: zukes! please, please share your favorite zucchini recipes!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

we now know more than we did before

one of the advantages to growing up with three older sisters is having a built-in recommendation system for teachers. by the time i got to junior high (or what they now call middle school), my sisters would advise me on what to take with whom. when i was ready for high school, my sisters were unanimous about one thing: "no matter what, david, take any class that mr. aiello teaches."

for thirty-seven years, mr. aiello taught science at san luis obispo high school. among the courses he taught were chemistry (which i took as a sophomore in 1984) and physics (which i took the next year as a junior). but the main topic he taught was curiosity - to observe closely, to question constantly, and to be curious about the world around us.

he taught us curiosity, i think, by sharing with us his own. sometimes in class, a student would ask mr. aiello a question that would stump him. he'd stand in front of us - finger on his lips, eyes looking to the sky, silent - walk to his desk, write a note to himself, and say: "i don't know but i'll try to find out." a few days later, perhaps a week, we'd be back in class and he'd share with us the answer.

i'm not sure where mr. aiello got all of his answers but he certainly got some of them from nearby cal poly. i remember my father, at the time a professor of physics at cal poly, coming home and recounting stories about how he saw mr. aiello roaming the halls of the physics department, stopping by the offices of his friends, and, together, deriving plausible answers to share with students. mr. aiello had a thirst for knowledge that my dad revered and that my sisters and i admired and sought to emulate.

from slonow, an informal listserv that connects 1986 graduates of SLO high school, i learned that michael aiello is retiring this week. what a shame - it's difficult to find teachers like mr. aiello, especially in a state (california) and country that has done so much to devalue the occupation of teacher. but it's also well-deserved - for nearly four decades, he's taught physics, chemistry, and curiosity to thousands of young SLO minds.

by my senior year, i had taken all of mr. aiello's classes, but i still wanted more. i asked him if i could work with him on something, anything, for course credit or no credit. he thought for a while - finger on lips, eyes to the skies, silent - dashed into his back room of oddities, and returned with a big, technological thingy with dozens of knobs and switches.

"what's that?" i asked.

"a laser," he answered.

"how does it work?"

"i'm not sure."

my task was to figure out the functions of the thirty-something knobs and switches. mr. aiello had already identified two or three and labeled them with sticky tabs that read "brightness" and "focus." my job was to discover the function of the rest of the knobs. i took on the task with relish.

i worked hard, really hard, and even got dad involved. in the end, however, i was able to determine the function of only four or five knobs. i wasn't pleased with my progress, and when i reported back to mr. aiello, i told him that i discovered four of five functions and failed to figure out the rest.

"failed?" he responded, looking confused, "you learned what these four knobs do. we now know more than we did before."

thanks, michael aiello, for teaching so many of us more than we knew before.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

being a student in new york city

yesterday was day two of our week-long seminar on food. the day was excellent.

in the morning we discussed michael pollan's the omnivore's dilemma and used it as a launch pad to discussions about organic farming, industrial organic farming, going green, and the privilege (or elitism) that accompanies the current US green movement. on the first day, too few people dominated the discussion; today, many more got involved and it was provocative, interesting, and engaged.

for lunch, all of the classes come together in the kimmel center to have a big collective meal. together, we're probably around three hundred people. the food is decent and plentiful - salad (with cherry tomatoes; the other tomatoes cause panic these days), roast beef and tuna sandwiches, beans and rice, pickles. lots of cookies, lots of brownies, and coffee and tea. and enough bottled water and soda to nullify any green-leaning act any of us had done that day.

during lunch, i decided it would be a good idea to take photographs of all the people at all the tables. after using my table as the test-table, i got up and approached each table, one at a time, and asked, "may i take a picture of all of you? it may or may not go on my blog." no one said no.

(if you click the picture above, or simply click here, you will be magically transported to a flickr set that contains many more photographs of tabled lunchers.)

after lunch, we had an excellent guest lecture from jennifer black - doctor black - who just earned her PhD from NYU's department of nutrition, food studies, and public health. jennifer presented findings from her dissertation, a fascinating, map-inspired analysis about the existence, or lack thereof, of things like supermarkets, restaurants, fast food joints, fitness centers, walking trails, and tennis courts in various new york city neighborhoods and the ways their existence, or lack thereof, serve as predictors for obesity among the various neighborhoods.

after jennifer's talk, some of us got a brief tour through NYU's campus kitchen. USF needs something like this, a place where students, staff, and faculty can come together to cook delicious meals.

jennifer's talk was followed by a film screening of the documentary the real dirt on farmer john. the film traces john's life and his relationship to the family farm. brilliantly and sadly, john's life becomes of living timeline of recent american farming: farming with his parents and extended family in the 1950s, opening up the farm as a countercultural commune/art space during the late 1960s, losing the farm during reagan's 1980s, going organic around the turn of the century, and, currently, transitioning into a CSA farm. the plight of american farms and farmers makes the documentary gripping; john peterson - farmer, artist, seeker - makes the film entertaining. this film, coupled with a conversation with daryl white about how he uses film in the class, gave me a lot of ideas for future classes.

but i ain't gonna lie - despite an excellent day of being a student in new york city, the best part of the day was the evening, when i walked from the west village to the east village and popped in to see these two blobs of unbelievable cuteness, my nephews a. and p.

today = foodie field trips across the lower east side!

Monday, June 09, 2008

a class about food

i'm in new york for a week attending the faculty resource network at NYU. along with twenty other professors, i'm enrolled in the landscape of american food in the twenty-first century, taught by amy bentley, a faculty member in NYU's department of nutrition, food studies and public health.

we're spending five days reading about food (including warren belasco's meals to come: a history of the future of food and michael pollan's the omnivore's dilemma: a natural history of four meals), talking about food, and, later in the week, talking about teaching about food. plus, we'll be taking two, maybe three field trips across new york city.

the disciplinary diversity of my fellow classmates is awesome. there are faculty from agricultural technology, anthropology, business, chemistry, communication, criminal justice, english, food service, french, health and human performance, history, math, media studies, natural sciences, physical sciences, psychology, and sociology. although the majority of participants are from US community colleges, colleges, and universities, there are three professors from puerto rico.

like last year, i'm staying in hayden hall, an NYU dorm located directly next to washington square park. suh-weet.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

blogging 101 workshop

today, with help from two recently graduated seniors, i conducted a blogging 101 workshop for USF staff, librarians, and faculty. the workshop took place at the center for instruction and technology and was part of CIT's june tech-intensive workshop series.

we began at 10 am and i immediately made three promises:

1. you will walk out of here with a blog.

2. you will have a better understanding of how to use a blog and how to sustain a blog.

3. you will have lunch.

we then followed, sorta, this eleven step process.

1. introductions: who are we?

2. discussion: what do you want from a blog? what are your goals?

3. start a blog! (we used blogger)

a. sign up
b. name your blog
c. choose a template
d. done

4. write and publish one blog post.

5. then, lunch! offline! away from computers!

6. settings (with special attention paid to comments setting)

7. everyone comment on two or three other blogs ("blogging is 51% writing blog posts," i declared, offering zero evidence for my statistics, "and 49% commenting on other people's blog posts.")

8. tags and tagging

9. importing images to your blog

10. basic page elements (with a show-and-tell example of creating a blog roll)

11. strategies for sustainability (aeiou)

lis and sara, the two recently graduated USF seniors (and davies scholars) who helped me teach the workshop, were excellent. anytime a workshop participant had a question or showed some techno-frustration, lis or sara would be there with a tip or a suggestion. my thing is students teaching students but students teaching professors is pretty cool too.

something to remember - good learning environments require good food! having lunch was not only a delicious way to divide the three-hour workshop, it was also a welcomed opportunity to log off, walk away from our computers, and interact directly with our food and colleagues.

to keep a blog, you need to feed the blog. i hope the following get fed:

Stan Buller's The End of Government??
Ellen Kelly Daley's Expecting Seamus J
Life Transitions
Tom Lucas' A Jesuit's Garden by the Golden Gate
marcella's Global Sense: Youth Network Resource
My Dog is Better Than Your Dog!!!
Greg Pabst's fishlanguage
Renate's ResearchIdeaForum


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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

community technology meet-up: digital storytelling

interested in digital storytelling? live in the bay area? attend the community technology meet-up on digital storytelling.

when: wednesday, june 18, 5 pm

where: TechSoup, 525 brannan street #300, san francisco

what: "Calling all Bay Area Digital Storytelling organizations, advocates and facilitators! Join the Center for Digital Storytelling, Streetside Productions, and Community Technology Network to exchange digital storytelling curriculum ideas, share stories, and engage in meaningful dialogue around using media and technology to create engaging stories. Digital Storytelling has become a powerful tool for community organization to not only foster community and raise voices, but improve technology and literacy skills as well. Don't miss this chance to network with others involved with digital storytelling in the Bay Area!"

for more information, contact the event's organizer, kami griffiths. see you there.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

a trip to seattle

sarah had a work-related meeting in seattle. i tagged along.

my main priority was to meet j. and j., who, overnight, made crispin and jurg's house a home.

then, i headed south to lacey, to saint martin's university, to be part of an exciting faculty development workshop organized by irina gendelman, nathalie kuroiwa-lewis, and olivia archibald and held in o'grady library.

after the workshop, irina and i spent the night on a walkabout through funky olympia, wandering and pondering, walking and talking about everything, including her nearly completed dissertation.

(update: irina gendelman blogged about the workshop and included notes regarding the speakers of the second day.)

back to seattle, sarah and i headed to lee and sachi's (of common craft) to join jay and anastasia (of juxtaprose) for good food, good drink, good talks, and good times.

saturday was spent with beth in ballard, frowning on the new condos and recent developments, walking and talking about new ideas, and smiling at the beautiful puget sound.

sunday brunch with nancy pearl, joe pearl, and sarah was, as always, delightful.

and then a ferry ride to vashon for a delicious meal with lynne and chris and peyton and an after-dinner stroll along the sound.

good to see you seattle.

Monday, June 02, 2008

new reviews in cyberculture studies (june 2008)

each month, the resource center for cyberculture studies (RCCS) publishes a set of book reviews and author responses.

books of the month for june 2008 include:

Disability and Contemporary Performance: Bodies on Edge
Author: Petra Kuppers
Publisher: Routledge, 2003
Review 1: Adi Kuntsman
Author Response: Petra Kuppers

My Mother Was a Computer: Digital Subjects and Literary Texts
Author: N. Katherine Hayles
Publisher: University of Chicago Press, 2005
Review 1: Michael Filas
Author Response: N. Katherine Hayles

Technically Together: Rethinking Community within Techno-Society
Author: Michele A. Willson
Publisher: Peter Lang Publishing, 2006
Review 1: Lisa Justine Hernández
Review 2: Barbara Iverson
Author Response: Michele Willson

enjoy. there's more where that came from. plus, coming soon (like in late june): a very large list of new and exciting books waiting to be reviewed, perhaps by you.