Tuesday, October 31, 2006

san francisco art institute

yesterday for lunch i made my way to north beach, to the san francisco art institute, to meet meredith tromble - an artist, writer, editor, professor, and co-founder of stretcher. i initially met meredith online, through RCCS - first, when she reviewed karen riggs' granny @ work: aging and new technology on the job in america and later when she reviewed steven shaviro's book connected, or what it means to live in the network society. it was great to meet her offline.

sfai rules! it's a dramatic hill-top campus surrounded by alcatraz and coit tower. there's 600 students, nearly all artists, and a ton of activity in every direction. while on campus, meredith gave me quick tour of the beautiful library and introduced me to the staff of leonardo, which enjoys sfai as its institutional home.

after saying goodbye to meredith, i strolled around and found the diego rivera gallery, a student-run exhibition space featuring a diego rivera fresco from 1931 titled the making of a fresco showing the building of a city. stunning.

somewhere along the way meredith mentioned hidden ecologies, a project i need to learn more about.

usf event: media studies colloquium featuring yours truly

please join us for the second talk in our media studies colloquium! the title of my talk is "Web 2.0: Beyond the Hype." the talk will discuss what is meant by web 2.0, critique the hype around web 2.0, and offer what i believe to be progressive and exciting about web 2.0. time permitting, i will offer some brief notes regarding my newest project (top secret code name: interfacing golden gate park) that incorporates some of the key concepts of web 2.0.

    who: david silver, media studies
    what: web 2.0: beyond the hype
    when: wednesday, november 1, 3-4 pm
    where: UC 400
the colloquia continues on november 15th with jeremaiah opiniano, yuchengco media fellow at USF's center for the pacific rim, who will present on "the outgrowth of a journalism for a distributed philippine economy."

hope to see you there!

new reviews in cyberculture studies (november 2006)

a new batch of kindness ...

[via RCCS] a new set of book reviews for november 2006:
  1. Computer Mediated Communication: Social Interaction and the Internet
    Authors: Crispin Thurlow, Laura Lengel, & Alice Tomic
    Publisher: Sage, 2004
    Review 1: Antonina Bambina
    Review 2: Mark D. Johns
    Review 3: Michele Willson
    Review 4: Monica Whitty
    Review 5: Gerhard Fuchs

  2. Culture + Technology: A Primer
    Authors: Jennifer Daryl Slack & J. MacGregor Wise
    Publisher: Peter Lang Publishing, 2005
    Review 1: Glen Fuller
    Review 2: Louise Woodstock
    Author Response: Jennifer Daryl Slack and Greg Wise

  3. Figurski at Findhorn on Acid
    Author: Richard Holeton
    Publisher: Eastgate Systems, 2001
    Review 1: Jessica M. Laccetti
    Author Response: Richard Holeton

  4. Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games
    Author: Edward Castranova
    Publisher: University of Chicago Press, 2005
    Review 1: Leif Schumacher

  5. The Mirror and the Veil: An Overview of American Online Diaries and Blogs
    Author: Viviane Serfaty
    Publisher: Rodopi, 2004
    Review 1: Laurie N. Taylor
    Review 2: Sarah Michele Ford
    Review 3: Natalie Bennett
    Review 4: Tama Leaver
    Author Response: Viviane Serfaty

  6. Understanding Me: Lectures and Interviews
    Editors: Marshall McLuhan, Stephanie McLuhan, & David Staines
    Publisher: MIT Press, 2003
    Review 1: Christy Dena
enjoy. there's lots more for december.

Monday, October 30, 2006

film screening: DEMOCRACY ON DEADLINE: The Global Struggle for an Independent Press

with oaxaca and brad will on my mind, i'm disappointed that i'll be teaching during wednesday night's free and public screening of democracy on deadline at the oakland museum of california.

following the film will be a panel discussion featuring:
  • Raul Ramirez, News and Public Affairs Director, Executive Producer of KQED Public Radio;
  • Chauncey Bailey, Travel Writer, Oakland Post
  • Dorothy Kidd, Chair of the Department of Media Studies, University of San Francisco; and
  • Bob Egelko, Staff writer San Francisco Chronicle

Saturday, October 28, 2006

proud to be a union member

faculty at USF are unionized. the university of san francisco faculty association is local 4269 of the AFL-CIO. i have a lot to learn about what this means and i look forward to learning more.

last night, the union hosted a dinner for all new faculty and their partners. the dinner was at savanna jazz, in the mission district, and was followed by live jazz.

between multiple orientations, numerous new faculty lunches, and last night, new profs at USF have had many opportunities to get to know each other - as colleagues and as friends. i cannot imagine a more interesting, engaged, and fun cohort of new professors.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

USF exhibition: dia de los muertos / day of the dead

dia de los muertos, or day of the dead, is just around the corner and USF's latin american student organization, or LASO, has created a beautiful community alter to mark the occasion.

the alter is beautiful - vibrant colors, dancing skeletons, treats the living have left for the dead - and livens up the normally drab hallway located directly outside crossroads cafe. each day i visit the alter and each day it grows - collecting food, belongings, and poems that people leave behind.

the community alter is informative and educates the USF community about the history of dia de los muertos and explains how the tradition is honored in mexico, the philippines, china, guatemala, and brazil.

on a table next to the alter there are materials about related events taking place in san francisco - like the day of the dead procession in the mission district and a series of events sponsored by mission cultural center for latino arts.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

off the grid

saturday, sunday, and early monday morning were spent high in the hills of humboldt, at the ranch of a friend and colleague. no electricity but lots of solar panels. no stores but plenty of food. no neighbors nearby but plenty of friends. no phones, no radio, no television, no newspaper, no internet.

time travels in different ways at the ranch and i'm nowhere near figuring out what i and we (sarah, our hosts melinda and francis, and around twenty others) experienced. in the meantime, pictures of some of the things i remember experiencing.

update: more pics from sarah.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

usf event: media studies colloquium featuring dorothy kidd and john kim

this year, john kim (USF dissertation fellow and PhD candidate in communication at stanford university) and i have been working hard to launch the media studies colloquium. actually, to be more accurate, john has been working hard on the colloquium and i've tried my best to lend a helping hand.

the project has three goals:
  1. to foster community among media studies scholars and students;
  2. to share our work with one another; and
  3. to distribute media studies work to the larger USF community.
tomorrow, the colloquium begins with dorothy kidd and john kim presenting their current work on how new free trade and intellectual property regimes are shaping culture around the world. the talks take place from 3:00 - 4:00 pm in UC 419.

fall talks include:
    david silver, "web 2.0: beyond the hype"
    november 1, 3-4 pm, UC 400

    jeremaiah opiniano, yuchengco media fellow at USF's center for the pacific rim, "the outgrowth of a journalism for a distributed philippine economy"
    november 15, 3-4 pm, UC 419
spring speakers include bernadette barker-plummer, andrew goodwin, and susana kasier. for more information, visit our wiki. see you there!

aids, act up, and angels in america

last week and this week digital democracy is all about sexualities. on tuesday, we read and discussed "ACTing UP against AIDS: The (Very) Graphic Arts in a Moment of Crisis" from tv reed's the art of protest.

reed's chapter is about AIDS and ACT UP. reed focuses on ACT UP's cultural tactics to break the silence about a disease that, by 1988, had already killed over 40,000 human beings. the tactics (or events or spectacles) were brilliant - always public, always attention grabbing, always critical of corporate capitalism, always smart. and often hilarious.

in class we discussed ACT UP as a social movement - decentered, autonomous nodes, relatively diverse, exceedingly well-trained in visual and soundbite cultures, and largely but not entirely queer. we also discussed four or five cultural tactics enacted by members and allies of ACT UP.

on thursday, peter novak, associate professor and chair of USF's performing arts and social justice, rocked the class. he began by asking us questions about AIDS. basic questions. few of us knew much. so he gave mini-lectures on the history of AIDS, some myths about AIDS, and some stark numbers that helped us understand the urgency of AIDS.

then, he offered a brief history of the role of theater and performing arts within jesuit education. the day before i requested this topic - partially out of my own curiousity and partially because i thought my students should be aware of the many historical and contemporary bridges between culture and social justice. peter also told us to find out more about ratio studiorum.

and then we read a play. not a play but two scenes. and not just any play but angels in america. USF's angels in america, directed by professor novak, opens on november 1 so i am sure the play is fresh on peter's mind. noelle read the part of harper while nick read joe - and they were fantastic. peter read a perfect rabbi isidor chemelwitz and i stumbled through louis.

for me - and, judging for the looks on students' faces - it was magic. with the lines spoken out loud everything we had read in a book came alive in a classroom. words spoken out loud can create something that wasn't there before and suddenly we were asking questions and talking about huac, homophobism, homosexuality, and heterosexuality. after the two scenes, i had a hundred questions about angels in america. luckily, i'll have some of them answered when i see part one at the NEW studio theater on lone mountain (tickets are eight bucks with USF id and twelve without).

i am impressed with my students' willingness to share ideas about sexuality and social justice. i think they'll be blown away this afternoon when we watch in class the times of harvey milk.

Monday, October 16, 2006

militainment, inc

brought to us by roger stahl, an assistant professor of speech communication at the university of georgia, militainment, inc is
a nine-part critical investigation of the militarization of popular culture. The pieces of the puzzle - from toys to reality TV - combine to form a larger picture of the integration of entertainment and military affairs. The film asks: How has war taken its place as an entertainment spectacle? and What does this mean for the ability of our democracy to consider this most destructive of human activities?
this morning i watched episode eight, "sports," and almost lost my breakfast. good, smart stuff - i'll be using this in both my teaching and research. i hope projects like this will encourage more professors to experiment with new modes for academic distribution.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

happy national coming out day!

a rainbow painted closet with the door open. floating overhead is a rainbow of balloons. and all this in the middle of campus with the sun shining fiercely. what a perfect way to get things started on national coming out day. brilliant and beautiful.

USF event: talk by marc smith, senior research sociologist, microsoft research

while in seattle, i spent some time over the years getting to know marc smith and his many, many ideas. tomorrow, from 12:20 - 1:20 in harney 235, he'll be speaking at USF.
    Pictures of Traces of Places, People, and Groups: Recent Work from the Microsoft Research Community Technologies Group

    Abstract: The Microsoft Research Community Technologies group focuses on the study and enhancement of computer mediated collective action systems. In this talk I will present recent developments in projects that highlight and attempt to enhance computer mediated collective action: Netscan, SNARF and AURA.

    Netscan is a set of tools and services for online communities. Netscan manufactures "social accounting metadata" about Usenet newsgroups and web boards.

    SNARF applies the concepts explored in the Netscan project to personal collections of email. SNARF provides tools to implement "social sorting."

    AURA is a platform for Pocket PCs, Smartphones, and mobile PCs that have various kinds of sensors such as barcode readers, cameras, WiFi detectors, RFID tag readers, and GPS. Using AURA, users can scan the barcodes on everyday objects in the home, office, or store and gain access to related information and services such as competitive pricing and product reviews.
this talk is co-sponsored by the departments of computer science and media studies.

update: a few pics!

(marc and USF professor benjamin wells)

Monday, October 09, 2006

they no longer hide their fear machines

from tomorrow's washington post:
    GOP officials are urging lawmakers to focus exclusively on local issues and leave it to party leaders to mitigate the Foley controversy by accusing Democrats of trying to politicize it. At the same time, the White House plans to amplify national security issues, especially the threat of terrorism, after North Korea's reported nuclear test, in hopes of shifting the debate away from casualties and controversy during the final month of the campaign.

USF event: the weather underground (film screening and discussion with director)

the weather underground is an academy award-nominated documentary film about a group of young, mostly white americans who grew weary of america's violence (both domestic and overseas in vietnam) and began organizing to overthrow the government. a fascinating film about a fascinating chapter of american history. the film's director - and USF media studies professor - sam green will be there for a discussion.

    tuesday, october 10
    mclaren 252
this event is sponsored by the USF politics society, the peace & justice studies program, the politics department, the history department, and the philosophy department.

refreshments will be served.

an office poster

when i was small, we moved to LA for three years where, among other things, my mom began work with another mother for peace, who were responsible for, among other things, this famous poster. i've carried around this poster for years but never found an office worthy of it. a few days ago, i posted it on my office wall loudly and proudly.

Friday, October 06, 2006

this travesty called guantanamo

yesterday morning in the terrace room of USF's law school i learned more about the travesty called guantanamo. the program was the university of san francisco's contribution to Guantanamo: How Should We Respond?, a national teach-in originating from seton hall law school (some background). between office hours, a new faculty luncheon, and class, yesterday was a busy day but i was able to catch the morning event featuring two lawyers - bernard j. casey and james p. walsh - who represent guantanamo bay detainees.

jeffrey brand, dean of the law school, welcomed a packed room of between 80-100 people, mostly (i think) USF law students. dean brand's welcome was great. paraphrased: it is truly heartening to see so many people here and to see so many law students here. this is a teach-in on the travesty that is guantanamo bay. these kinds of events reflect the mission of our university and its pursuit of excellence in social justice. it is possible that once i am here at USF for a few years, i will get used to, or grow tired of, stuff like this. but for now, having a dean equate a teach in on the horrors of guantanamo bay to the mission of the university is nothing short of inspiring.

bud casey and james walsh were terrific speakers. mr casey (pictured above) is representing at least three detainees at guantanamo bay and he recounted how it has taken him more than ten months of filing papers with the government to reach national security clearance. he is now preparing to go to guantanamo (i believe shortly, like within weeks) to meet and represent his clients. at one point, bud casey projectd to a large screen the names of his clients - as well as the numbers the US government assigns them - and sort of just let them speak for themselves:
    Ghanim Abdulrahman al-Harbi (#516)

    Zainulabiden Merozhev (#1095)

    Ravil Mingazov (#702)
later, he showed a slide that said:
    habeas corpus: "the only effective means for the vast majority of detainees to challenge the lawfulness of the captivity is through habeas corpus"
it was odd to read that slide, to really soak in its meaning, especially in a room full of law students. mr casey concluded by saying that last week's torture bill gives the bush administration the right to suspend habeas corpus for anyone they say is a bad guy. i think it was casey, or perhaps peter honigsberg, who said to the students something like: this bill created a lot of work for tomorrow's attorneys.

james walsh followed with an excellent overview of what we, as thinking people, face with guantanamo. he spoke - with elegance and humor - of the legal process of the detainees. he spoke on a range of legal issues that i believe were quite relevant to the law students. that was one of the best things about this event: the speakers completely understood who their audience was and spoke accordingly. near the beginning of walsh's talk, the president of the university, stephen privett, SJ, arrived - not as a speaker but as a partipant. a university president concerned with violations of human rights: excellent.

later in the day, i received an email from john gregorek, a law student at seton hall law school, titled "Thoughts on the Seton Hall Guantanamo Teach In." with john's permission, here are his insights of the event that took place at his school:
Today, at the National Teach-in hosted by my law school, Seton Hall, I listened to attorney Julia Tarver Mason share stories from her client, a detainee at Guantánamo, regarding force feeding. She pointed out that at first, when she heard that he was being force fed, she was partly relieved. After all, she did not want her client, detainee Abdul-Rahman Shalabi, to die. Yet upon hearing Shalabi's recount of exactly what occurred during his force feeding session, she was not exactly comforted of the news of his nutrition. The irony is hard to ignore.

Shalabi described tubes bigger than his fingers forced into his nose until he passed out, a Navy doctor who inserted a tube with such violence that he started throwing up blood, and the sharing of tubes covered in blood and stomach bile for use with different detainees.

According to Ms. Mason, Shalabi said in an interview at Guantánamo that "These [detainees] are young. They are innocent. The United States thought they had information. These people don't have information. Now the situation is more severe. It has been four years now. . . . There is no law here, only injustice."

Another panelist described that Guantánamo Bay has actually held 2 children- aged 10 and 12. After listening to the teach in, and questioning whether we even have the right people (terrorists), I am very troubled by stories of force feeding and abuse. I have never proclaimed that all the men of Guantánamo are innocent, but surely some of them are. It's bad enough that many captured are the wrong people, it's laughable that we captured children (according to the panelists).

And now we are going to remove Habeas access for these people? What exactly are we doing?
(wait: "Guantánamo Bay has actually held 2 children- aged 10 and 12." what?)

it was difficult to hear yesterday's talks. it was difficult to hear about such sad, torturous, and inhumane treatment of human beings. it was difficult to hear what our american leaders are doing in the name of freedom, democracy, and national insecurity. it was difficult to hear about the masssive illegality that is my country.

at the same time, it felt good to be there. it felt good to meet peter honigsberg, the organizer of this extraordinary event and a professor of law at USF. it felt good to see so many engaged law students - if half of the future lawyers in the terrace room work for human rights not military might the world will be a better place. and it felt good to meet, via email, people like john gregorek (above), mark denbeaux (a law professor at seton hall and one of the main organizers of the national teach-in), and ann bartow (who blogged about the teach-in at feminist law professors and sivacracy). and it felt good, again, to be reminded that college campuses can be powerful spheres of debate and dissent.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

show and tell

yesterday in digital democracy we discussed chapter six of tv reed's the art of protest. the chapter is called "we are [not] the world": famine, apartheid, and the politics of rock music." among other things, reed examines four rock events/spectacles: do they know it's christmas?, we are the world, sun city, and the nelson mandela concert.

reed uses these four events - two famine related; two anti-apartheid - to explore the relationship between rock music and social justice. through reed's lens, song/video/anthem thingies like do they know it's christmas? and we are the world are sort of noble efforts that are extremely problematic - racially, culturally, politically, economically. at the same time, through tv's lens, song/video/organizational thingies like sun city and the concert for nelson mandela are genuinely subversive and oppositional messages made and distributed through genuinely unsubversive and hegemonic structures of mass/consumer media. it's an excellent chapter.

when class began at 1:30, there were eight students, which means that nine ere missing. lame. so i gave a quiz - three questions, totally easy (Q: what was sun city opposed to? A: apartheid). within the next two to three minutes, eight students arrived - some as i barked out quiz question number one, some in the middle of the quiz, and some near the end of the quiz. by the time i finished the quiz, sixteen out of seventeen students were in class. when the quizzes were passed to me, i counted eight. the late students never even asked if they could take the quiz. i consider that a sign of integrity; i was impressed. i hope that cures the lateness problem.

speaking of timing, i was way off and we only covered about three-fourths of the chapter. we ran out of time for two reasons. first, we may have spent too much time in the first hour talking about the field trip, discussing an opportunity to serve as student representatives on a USF task force on online communities (facebook, myspace, blogs), and talking about the recent activities of former congressman mark foley. second, we had so much to say. this was easily the loudest, most participatory class period we've had. suddenly, it's 3:12, and we have three minutes left before class is dismissed.

i divided the class into four groups of four. each of them was assigned an event: do they know it's christmas?, we are the world, etc. i told them: "for thursday, bring to class as much as you can find - video, song, concert, lyrics. download anything you can and bring it to class. and one thing: in addition to bringing videos, etc, bring something that is really weird and interesting." so tomorrow, after a brief discussion of some of the things in the chapter we missed on tuesday, students will present in groups what they have found.

in the past, it would be me - as the TA, the graduate instructor, the professor - who would supply the media. now - if all goes well - it's the students. in the past, i'd cart in a tv + vcr and show them my videotapes of brazil or bladerunner or total recall. now, they search youtube, google video, and the prelinger archives. the students will find stuff and store it on their laptops or ipods. then, in class (a room that supports wireless) they'll share their findings.

i haven't ditched my old beat up copy of total recall but i'll take student show and tells over professor show and tells any day.

Monday, October 02, 2006

blogging as scholarly activity

each year, USF faculty are required to submit an academic career prospectus, or ACP. the meat of the document is in part two, which asks faculty to discuss their teaching, research, and service plans and goals for the next year. the guidelines for research are forward-thinking:
a. Area(s) of primary interest and relationship to longer-term goals,
b. Publication and paper development goals, and
c. Planned research and creative work not reflected through publications or papers.
having c) in the guidelines is so cool and allows me to discuss - in addition to publications, presentations, and grants - projects like RCCS, the september project, and academic blogging.

today, the ACP is due and i made sure to include the following under research:
Academic Blogging – My blog affords me academic connections to colleagues, students, and scholarly, artistic, and activist communities. Sometimes, the connections produce professional opportunities such as presentations, publications, and collaborations. Sometimes, the connections produce intellectual opportunities like multi-authored comment threads that further nuance an issue, idea, or interpretation. I enjoy and benefit academically from such connections, and look forward to expanding such activities. Further, I will continue to use my blog to share my research with my students and to share my students’ work with my colleagues.

bush as bono

sunday bloody sunday 2.0.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

new reviews in cyberculture studies (october 2006)

it's been a long time coming, but finally - a new batch of book reviews in cyberculture studies.

[via RCCS] a new set of book reviews for october 2006:
  1. Communication Researchers and Policy-Making
    Editor: Sandra Braman
    Publisher: MIT Press, 2003
    Review: Amin Alhassan
    Author Response: Sandra Braman

  2. Material Virtualities: Approaching Online Textual Embodiment
    Author: Jenny Sundén
    Publisher: Peter Lang Publishing, 2003
    Review: Clarissa Lee
    Author Response: Jenny Sundén

  3. Star Trek: Technologies of Disappearance
    Author: Alan N. Shapiro
    Publisher: Avinus Verlag, 2004
    Review: Radim Hladik
    Author Response: Alan N. Shapiro

  4. Technology and the Dream: Reflections on the Black Experience at MIT, 1941-1999
    Author: Clarence G. Williams
    Publisher: MIT Press, 2003
    Review: Elizabeth F. Desnoyers-Colas
there's plenty more where that came from.