Monday, December 31, 2007

new reviews in cyberculture studies (january 2008)

a new year, new book reviews!

each month, the resource center for cyberculture studies (RCCS) publishes a set of book reviews and author responses. books of the month for january 2008 include:

META/DATA: A Digital Poetics
Author: Mark Amerika
Publisher: MIT Press, 2007
Review 1: Vika Zafrin
Author Response: Mark Amerika

The Body and the Screen: Theories of Internet Spectatorship
Author: Michele White
Publisher: MIT Press, 2006
Review 1: Jessica Brophy
Review 2: Gabriel Jones
Review 3: Adi Kuntsman
Review 4: Kelly McWilliam
Review 5: Alison Miller
Author Response: Michele White

Youth Online: Identity and Literacy in the Digital Age
Author: Angela Thomas
Publisher: Peter Lang Publishers, 2007
Review 1: Alison Harvey

authors and publishers: if you would like RCCS to consider reviewing your book, please send us a review copy. if you think your book would benefit from the ideas and perspectives of multiple reviewers, please send us multiple review copies. we are especially eager to receive and review books written in languages other than english and books published in countries other than the US and UK. send books to:

David Silver/RCCS
Department of Media Studies
University of San Francisco
2130 Fulton Street
San Francisco, CA 94117

enjoy. there's more where that came from.

Friday, December 28, 2007

gardening 101

my dad taught me how to garden when i was eight and when we lived in north hollywood. in the backyard we dug up a big patch, made rows, and planted corn, tomatoes, lettuce, radishes, and other assorted goodness. once everything was planted, we'd water, we'd weed, we'd hoe. sometimes we'd get up really early, like at five or six in the morning, run outside, and search for snails. it was fun to learn how to grow veggies and it was fun hanging out with dad.

this spring i'm going back to school to learn how to garden better. sarah and i are going to take garden practice 101. the course meets saturday mornings from mid-january to late-may at city college of san francisco. the course is taught by pam peirce, author of golden gate gardening (highly recommended!), weekly gardening columnist for the san francisco chronicle, and blogger.

hopefully, by spring, our garden on the deck, as well as the garden-to-be on the cement sidewalk that meets our first step outside, will be in full swing.


gone gallery

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


gone gallery

a trip to maastricht

on friday, i attended "creating new perspectives for academic libraries," a farewell symposium for maastricht university librarian john gilbert. speakers from the netherlands, the UK, and the US were invited and asked to give presentations on "change, innovation, creativity, new solutions and concepts." it took place in a room that looked like this:

gerard mols, a maastricht university rector (or what we in the states would call provost), began the symposium. he welcomed attendees, spoke about john gilbert's contributions to the library and to the university, and then stayed through the whole symposium.

the first speaker was anne bell (presentation title: "convivial spaces, convivial services: space re-design and its potential impact on the future of academic libraries"), head librarian at the university of warwick. anne shared many projects but focused on the learning grid, a physical building - a learning center - that is affiliated with but separate from the campus library. as anne revealed, the design of the learning grid's space encourages and facilitates different kinds of collaborative learning - individual, silo-like seats are replaced with moveable, changeable, group desks and seating arrangements that invite students to learn collectively. further, the learning grid is home to library, technological, and university services, with highly trained and well paid students assistants, hired on the basis of social skills, not technical skills, roaming the learning grid looking to help other students. space and services that encourage students teaching students situations. plus, there's no no's in the learning grid: students are allowed to eat, drink, talk, and use their cell phones at will. also: since the learning grid's launch in 2004, student use of the university library has increased thirty percent. brilliant.

next up was rein de wilde ("can universities survive without a library?"), dean of the faculty of arts and social sciences at maastricht university. using a single example, rein highlighted a key problem and a key possibility of library/university resources. rein focused on one entry for one book (someone help me: immanuel kant was the author; what was the book?) within the university library's online catalog. he read out loud all of the information contained on that entry and noted how most of it was relevant to librarians, not general library users. he then began to imagine an open catalog, and asked what catalog entries would look like if they contained user reviews, user tags, and user suggestions. what, in other words, would the library catalog look like if library users could contribute to it? (two examples of open catalogs can be seen with the PennTags project and ann arbor public library's catalog.)

the next speaker was the oddest speaker - "dr howard becker," from cambridge, who apparently is in charge of google's western european operations. "dr becker," it turns out, is a professional comedian. being american, and therefore a little slow, i did not realize what was happening until five or six minutes into his routine. he was hilarious. i have never witnessed so much laughter at an academic conference. it was wonderful. more academic events should feature comedy.

and then ... lunch!

after lunch (mmm, dutch cheese), maarten van roosen ("digital information paradise"), professor of history at utrecht university, got things rolling. with no notes, maarteen gave a stunning talk about one professor's history with different kinds of libraries: first, an experience at columbia university's library that changed his dissertation topic; second, his home library of walls of books built largely with the help of; and third, the library that is the internet. a professor of contemporary american history, especially recent presidential history, maarten said his primary library is the internet. who needs a library, he asked, when american newspapers, CNN, and presidential candidates are all online? a rousing, challenging, and, especially when considering maarten is a professor of history, unpredictable talk. i loved it.

next up was me ("to give and to get: libraries, web 2.0, and collective intelligence"), and i gave an extended version of the talk i delivered a day earlier. i began with bad news regarding my students' (from 1996-present) literacy. each year, my students read less and less books, which means they are less interested and/or less able to work with complex ideas that take 200-300 pages to explore. each year, my students' traditional research skills become more and more abysmal; many of today's students believe that research begins and ends with google. and each year, my students' ability to reflect - to log off; to exist without cellphone, without facebook, without ipods, without IM, without music, without television; to just be for extended amounts of time - appears to be evaporating. i added that this particular american generation is a confused generation. my 18 year old first year students were 10 when bush took office, 11 on 9-11, 12 when we began war on afghanistan, 13 when we began war on iraq, 13 1/2 when bush, in a very silly flight suit, announced the war in iraq was over, 14 when pictures of US torture at abu ghraib were released, and 16 when katrina revealed that the US could no longer take care of its citizens, especially those who are poor and black. further, most of our first year students arrived to campus with cellphones surgically attached to their ears. call me crazy but i'll say it and i'll say it in five simple words: american attention spans are shrinking.

and then i changed gears and talked about eliteracy, and went off on how creative our students are. this is the remix generation. our students believe - correctly - that knowledge is a process, that information is negotiated: distributed freely, commented on, debated over, laughed at, compromised over, and collectively constructed. our students make stuff. they make media, distribute media, and comment on other media. when it comes to things digital, this generation is extremely creative.

it took me about forty minutes but somehow i went from literacy to e-literacy to me-literacy to we-literacy, and finished by introducing GarageBand, a site patrick goodwin, a USF student enrolled in my fall semester intro to media studies course, shared with class and wrote about in his final paper. with GarageBand, you can upload your own music and people can listen and comment on it. but before you get reviews, you are required to give reviews - fifteen of them. i tried to explain that whether my students are giving to wikipedia, or giving to yelp, or giving to GarageBand, they are giving - and giving, especially within a country all too accustomed to getting, is a good thing. i said that the best web 2.0 tools allow users - us - to give and to get. i ended with the same question i asked the librarians in tulsa, oklahoma: what happens when students give to the library?

john gilbert finished the symposium with a farewell speech. he highlighted past achievements of the library (especially in the area of digital resources and digital journals) and looked forward to new developments in the library and in librarianship. he stressed customer-based services and customers' ability to comment on the resources they find.

later, at the reception (more cheese! huge slabs of beautifully multicolored cheese!), john was given and then told to release a big batch of balloons, a symbol of letting go of the library.

over breakfast at the charming hotel les charmes, anne bell remarked how nice it was to devote a retirement ceremony to a symposium about the future. i totally agree - instead of looking backwards, we were encouraged to look forward. i enjoyed speaking and i enjoyed listening. all of the talks were stimulating and each of them overlapped and conversed with portions of the other talks. it was easily one of the finest symposium i have attended in my career. my only wish would have been a larger room so that more librarians could have attended.

many people helped to organize the event, including peter niesten and coen van laer. getting to know these two was one of the highlights of the trip. peter is a fellow dylanologist and we shared dylan stories the whole time, including one night over delicious deer steak. i very much enjoyed talking with coen and hearing his ideas about libraries, technology, and space. at one point during my visit, coen gave me a tour of the library, ending with the top floor - a fascinating mixed-use space that includes a computer lab, a group work space, a language lab, and a silent study hall.

i snapped a picture of the top floor and later was quite upset to learn that my picture was blurry. but then, after spending some time looking at the image, i realized, no - that's what collaborative learning looks like.

thank you maastricht.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

to give and to get: a talk at the university of maastricht

as part of tomorrow's symposium honoring the work and contributions of university of maastricht librarian john gilbert, i am giving a talk called "to give and to get: libraries, web 2.0, and collective intelligence." today, i am giving a preconference talk for librarians who are unable to attend tomorrow's events. my hope is that the discussion during today's preconference talk will inform portions of tomorrow's conference talk.

i plan to begin by briefly discussing four kinds of literacy: literacy (reading, research, reflection), e-literacy (digital literacy), me-literacy (facebook), and we-literacy (web 2.0 with a quick tour through the gones).

next, i'll explain we-literacy in terms of collective intelligence. with help from wikipedia, yelp, and GarageBand, i'll argue that the best of web 2.0 is when users give and get in meaningful ways.

finally, i'll ask a question for all of us to answer: what happens when students give to the library? in supplying a few of my own answers, i'm sure i'll discuss "yes, i read comic books."

Friday, December 07, 2007

Monday, December 03, 2007

a solid, well-written college paper

last week, the professor of pop blogged "On Writing A Grown-Up Paper." if you're in college, majoring in media studies or not, you should read it.

the timing of andrew's blog post was perfect. tomorrow, my seventy intro to media studies students turn in their final papers. that means last week's class periods were spent brainstorming good paper topics, discussing what makes sources credible, and talking about the basic ingredients that go into a solid, well-written college paper. my students' paper topics are really interesting; i look forward to reading their papers.

(i also look forward to finishing them. as soon as my grades are in, my winter break begins. spring classes don't start until january 22. do the math.)

so, last week, for both my morning and afternoon sections of intro to media studies i shared goodwin's "On Writing A Grown-Up Paper" with my students. to do this, i fired up the computer that is in our "smart classroom," launched mozilla, and typed in then i dragged the browser's bottom-right corner so that we could only read one paragraph at a time. from the students' perspective, the overhead screen looked something like this:

we read together, to ourselves, one paragraph at a time. i'd give us 30-60 seconds to read a paragraph and then i'd scroll down another paragraph within our shrunken mozilla browser. when we reached the third paragraph, i highlighted the last sentence with the mouse: "Learning how to find mental stamina in the last days & weeks of a project, and what a huge difference this can make to the final outcome, is one of the most important (but least heralded?) tasks that can be learned in college." i jumped up and down a few times and said: "read this sentence twice! this is very important!"

and it is. receiving a mediocre or bad final paper or project, especially from a student who has spent the semester being neither mediocre nor bad, is the worst. i told my students it was like seeing a great show only to have the band's encore suck. or like watching your favorite team play three inspired quarters only to collapse in the fourth. or like reading a novel that begins and mids like a flame only to not. quite. have. enough. steam to end.

i think they got my point. tomorrow i get their papers.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

we got married

sarah and i got married last weekend in santa cruz. our families were there and it was beautiful.

jini, sarah's mom, designed and made the rings. at some point during the wedding ceremony, sarah and i were surrounded by a circle of family. the rings were passed around the circle and moms, dads, sisters, brothers, and nephews touched and held and examined and admired them. by the time the rings reached sarah and me, they were full of love.

november 24, 2007, santa cruz, california

Friday, November 30, 2007

new reviews in cyberculture studies (december 2007)

each month, the resource center for cyberculture studies (RCCS) publishes a set of book reviews and author responses. books of the month for december 2007 include:

Color Monitors: The Black Face of Technology in America
Author: Martin Kevorkian
Publisher: Cornell University Press, 2006
Review 1: Cristina Lopez
Review 2: Paul Khalil Saucier
Author Response: Martin Kevorkian

Social Consequences of Internet Use: Access, Involvement, and Interaction
Authors: James E. Katz & Ronald E. Rice
Publisher: MIT Press, 2002
Review 1: Curtis Fogel
Review 2: Mara Hobler
Review 3: Asa Rosenberg
Author Response: Ronald E. Rice and James E. Katz

The Metaphysics of Capital
Author: Nicholas Ruiz III
Publisher: Intertheory Press, 2006
Review 1: David Christopher Jackson
Review 2: Kevin Douglas Kuswa

Web Campaigning
Authors: Kirsten A. Foot & Steven M. Schneider
Publisher: MIT Press, 2006
Review 1: Scott Dunn
Review 2: Gerhard Fuchs
Review 3: Lydia Perovic
Author Response: Kirsten Foot & Steven Schneider

enjoy. there's more where that came from.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

town hall meeting at gleeson library

today was gleeson library's "town hall meeting," an all-hands-on-deck meeting for USF librarians and library staff, and i was invited to be the speaker. the title and topic of my talk was "blogging."

i began by showing the NSUBA Library Blog, a blog for northeastern state university's broken arrow library (that i learned about via linda summers' poster session at last week's OK-ACRL). wordpress + images of the library and people in the library + brief posts that educate readers about the library's offerings = a smart library blog. i mentioned the magic of comments, the importance of tags, and the possibilities of group blogs.

then i temporarily moved away from libraries and talked about blogs across USF. i talked about father privett's blog, USF 2028, and encouraged more people to comment on it. i mentioned the USF journalism blog, an online forum to bring together past and present USF journalism students to discuss the morphing landscape of the beast we call journalism. i mentioned what a pleasure it is to read the blogs of my colleagues and friends - michael robertson and andrew goodwin. i think i turned to the librarians and said something like, "i don't know if you all want to know more about what your colleagues think and do but i get a real kick out of keeping up with michael and andrew through their blogs." i said this because a) it's true and b) i wanted them to imagine the ways that a gleeson group blog could be good not only for USF students and faculty but also, and i think more importantly, for USF librarians.

then i returned to the library, to get graphic, a past gleeson library book display that i have used countless times to illustrate the concept of harnessing collective intelligence. it was a treat to talk about a library book display to an audience that included the two librarians who designed it - kathy woo and debbie benrubi. i concluded the talk by saying that a display like get graphic requires real work, real time, and real resources. blogging about it, however, is sort of easy. snap some digital photographs of the display, snag some of the words used in the display's handouts, and include some hyperlinks to display-related library resources, and viola: a blog post.

excellent refreshments and conversations followed. thank you gleeson library.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


gone gallery

mystery jets on USFtv

USFtv, USF's campus television station run for and by students, gets better and better each week. this week's episode features, among other things, an exclusive interview with two of the members of the band mystery jets. enjoy.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

talk in tulsa

today i'm in tulsa, oklahoma, where tomorrow i am a speaker at the ACRL-OK conference. my talk is called "where books meet facebook and other web 2.0 tales."

if things go as planned, i'll begin by using my old home page as an example of web 1.0 and my blog as an example of web 2.0.

i'll move on to discuss how the relative ease of use of web 2.0 applications has lowered the barriers for mass contributions to the web, highlighting the give and take nature of contemporary media with examples like yelp and wikipedia.

at this point, i'll stress that library conversations do not require web 2.0.

and i can't imagine not talking about what happens when librarians comment on student blogs.

update: here are some pics from this morning's talk.

update two: here is a flickr set from the conference and tulsa.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

how to make a chicken dinner

how do you make dinner out of a live chicken?

how do you kill it? does it really run around post-dead? how do you get all those feathers off? what kinds of spices do you add when cooking the chicken? and can you do this at home?

here's what you do:

1. right now, go to and check out the video;

2. this saturday night, november 3, from 10-12 pm, go to bernal bubbles and join others to talk about this video and the video series that it is part of. chicken paté will be served.

"making chicken dinner" is episode one of the How to Homestead Serial, a project "dedicated to cinematically distilling and disseminating rich folk wisdom and new fangled experiments in 21st century homesteading." the serial is written and directed by melinda stone, usf media studies professor, filmmaker, homesteader, and all around freak of nature.

see you there.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


gone gallery


gone gallery

new reviews in cyberculture studies (november 2007)

each month, the resource center for cyberculture studies (RCCS) publishes a set of book reviews and author responses. books of the month for november 2007 include:

Residual Media
Editor: Charles R. Acland
Publisher: University of Minnesota Press, 2007
Review 1: Daniel Gilfillan
Review 2: D. Travers Scott
Author Response: Charles R. Acland

GameScenes: Art in the Age of Videogames
Editors: Matteo Bittanti & Domenico Quaranta
Publisher: Johan & Levi, 2006
Review 1: Claudia Costa Pederson
Author Response: Domenico Quaranta

Mobile Communication and Society: A Global Perspective
Authors: Manuel Castells, Mireia Fernández-Ardèvol, Jack Linchuan Qiu, and Araba Sey
Publisher: MIT Press, 2006
Review 1: Hill Taylor
Authors Response: Mireia Fernandez-Ardevol, Jack Linchuan Qiu, and Araba Sey

Electric Dreams: Computers in American Culture
Author: Ted Friedman
Publisher: NYU Press, 2005
Review 1: Suzanne Damarin

enjoy. there's more where that came from.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

barry wellman, that ain't right

in response to a recent thread about james watson, race, and racism on aoir-l, barry wellman, famous internet sociologist, wrote:

1. I think this list always needs to make a choice about whether to stay on topic (Internet Research -- both words are germane) or wander way off topic. (Dr. Watson). I value it for the former, and don't think this is the place for a general bull session. If others persist, I know that I will not want to read or participate, as many others have decided not to do before. (Step back and analyze who are the active published scholars in journals such as JCMC, ICS, NM&S, Info Sty, etc -- and who contributes here.)

2. But, as long as you got me going, to give my .02 re Watson, the world is filled with scientists (and politicians) making ex cathedra pronouncements about the things they don't know much about. Just like some professors I know ;-)

wow! fascinating for at least four reasons:

1. professor wellman has a long history of calling into question various topics on aoir-l, one of the largest and most interdisciplinary listservs for academics studying the internet. many of the topics he calls into question revolve around discussions of race. not cool.

2. professor wellman also has a long history of threatening to leave, or hinting that he may threaten to leave, aoir-l and aoir. interestingly, such threats often occur directly before or directly after aoir conferences. it's weird like that.

3. barry wellman equates internet research with being published in JCMC, ICS, NM&S, Info Sty. ok, first, some translation. JCMC = the journal of computer-mediated communication. ICS = information, communication and society. NM&S = new media and society. and Info Sty = um, i'm not sure what that is. second, what a limited perspective of a field that is growing all over the place.

4. barry says, "stop this discussion!" then barry says, "wait, wait - here's my opinion on this discussion!" that's called sending mixed messages. that's also just weird.

famous internet sociologist or not, such behavior just ain't right.

update: saturday afternoon, barry wellman attempted to comment on my blog but was unable to. instead, he emailed me the following message with the request to post his response. i grant his request.


I have written a response to your blog. However, an adblock of Captcha is weirdly stopping my posting it. So I would appreciate it if you would post it. Thanks.

Barry Wellman

It would have been nice if David Silver had copied his blog post to me, rather than leave it for someone else to alert me to it.

He's right. I do wish the AoIR list would stay on topic, and I point it out when it's off topic. I mentioned some journals, but it was obviously a "for example" list. I don't think I should have mentioned 100s more.

David's also right: I have said "stay on topic" before to the Association of Internet Researchers list and will again. And I will probably again point out how few experienced Internet Researchers contribute to this list. Some have told me it is because of the relative absence of discussion of Internet Research. I am sad that David Silver wants this to be an unfocused bull session, or is he just continuing a long series of upsets with me?

David's "many of the topics he calls into question revolve around discussions of race. not cool" is an uncalled for innuendo and factually untrue. (Do I have to point out I have paid my "race" dues since the 1950s.) The Watson discussion had nothing to do with Internet Research, and I said so. Just as when David wanted to make political manifestos early in the days of AoIR, I wondered if that was the right locale for it.

However, David is right that as long as I had the floor re Watson, I did give my very brief .02. As I think David would agree, making political pronouncements is seductive and easy; it's certainly easier than doing systematic research.

I find this a sad post from David. I won't continue. Back to Internet Research.

Barry Wellman

Thursday, October 25, 2007

a new blog on campus

earlier this week, USF students, staff, and faculty received an interesting email. it said that the president of the university, father stephen privett, decided to start a blog.

here's what we know. the blog is called USF 2028. it is hosted by blogger. it is moderated (which means reader comments are approved prior to being posted to the blog). the blog was set up "to facilitate the exchange of ideas about USF's future" and will be available for approximately one month. prior to commenting, readers are encouraged to a) read "USF 2028" (pdf, 4 pages) and b) watch "shift happens" (video, 6:06 minutes - feels like twenty). the blog was launched on monday and by today, thursday, there are seven comments.

there are many unknowns. will the blog have multiple entries or is this a one-post blog? will the blog's topics change over time? so far, the comments are constructive and the conversation is civil - will it remain this way? currently, the majority of comments come from USF professors (more detailed profile: white male profs, with and without tenure, who also blog) - when will that change? when will more students like sara contribute their ideas and questions to the conversation?

in theory, USF 2028 establishes an open, public, and archived conversation between campus leadership and the campus community. that is cool. also, multiple stakeholders - students, staff, faculty - are invited to participate in the conversation. that is very cool. as long as the blog remains transparent and the comments remain constructive, USF 2028 could be an interesting experiment for healthy campus conversation. but first: more peeps gotta get involved.