Wednesday, January 31, 2007

occupying campus to encourage students to become soldiers

today, USF's ROTC was in full-force on campus. their presence included a climbing mountain, a tricked out hummer, and a table of free stuff like ROTC water bottles, pens, and pins. the theme of the campus spectacle was ... fun!

strapping on a harness and climbing up simulated mountains? fun!

spray-painted hummers (which we began to see in black neighborhoods in 2003)? fun!

a hummer with a booming bass and filled with sports video games? fun!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

harvard comes to san francisco

yesterday, harvard came to san francisco in the form of a mobile identity workshop - an unconference organized by the berkman center and held at CNet headquarters. the workshop's host was doc searls. i attended the morning sessions and the evening reception.

the topic of the workshop was user-centric identity within mobile spaces. in a nutshell, as digitial environments become more common in our everyday lives, we create more and more digital identities - our credit identities, our consumer identities, our civic identities, our alternative identities - to help us navigate through such environments. workshop questions included is it possible to have a single digital identity to save time? is it advantageous? who creates those identities? who manages them and who mines them? who controls the identities? and who controls access to those identities' information trails?

the unique mode of the unconference - or open space technology - allows participants to actually meet other participants. i met stacy bond, of audioluxe, who is also teaching audio production (including podcasting) this semester for media studies. i met leslie rule, of KQED's digital storytelling initiative, who also is involved in a cool sounding digital storytelling undergraduate class at sf state. i remet brad fitzpatrick, creator of livejournal, who also took an independent study with me years ago when he was an undergraduate studying computer science at UW. and best of all i saw beth kolko - professor, colleague, and one of my favorite humans i know - who told me about the mobile indentity workshop in the first place.

the workshop was far from perfect. for me, too often participants referred to users as consumers rather than citizens. was this a business workshop or an activist workshop? the makeup of the participants, like so many other technology-related events i've attended, was embarassingly male and embarassingly white. i can't imagine how it must have felt to be a female in an 80-90% male-filled room - when will this nonsense stop? and, at times, there seemed to be too much talking and not enough listening.

that said, i thoroughly enjoyed the event. doc kepts us on pace, folks shared ideas with respect and curiosity, and there was no shortage of smart minds in the room. i am a convert of the unconference format and believe academic conferences should implement similar modes of interaction immediately. and i think it was smart of the berkman center to take their show on the road and come to the bay area where mobile identities and other forms of digital culture seem to be invented and reinvented on a monthly basis.

i had plans that afternoon so i was unable to attend the later sessions but i gladly returned downtown for the evening reception. free drinks! smart people! free food! more free drinks! ordinarily, these kinds of schmooze and booze things aren't my thing; i usually take my partying elsewhere, away from fancy hotels that serve rich people. but this was different. the berkman center has brought together some really smart people, both as staff and fellows, smart people who also build remarkable things like creative commons, global voices, and the center for citizen media. plus, during the reception i got to meet the insanely smart seth young.

at some point during the unconference, beth introduced me to colin maclay, managing director of the berkman center, who told me about beyond broadcast: from participatory culture to participatory democracy. this. looks. wicked. cool. a collaboration between academic units from MIT, harvard, and yale, the conference will feature a keynote from henry jenkins and panel discussions from media makers and policy commentators. the second half, it appears, follows a more unconference mode and will include working groups that attendees will help organize. beyond broadcast takes place at MIT on feb 24. it costs fifty bucks to register, but that includes lunch and an evening reception. with a little luck i'll be there.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

from brock read at the wired campus, i learned that the cia now has a facebook group (registration required).

here's what it looks like today:

it currently has 2,949 facebook members. it has sponsored ads on the right that hyperlink facebookers directly to the cia's careers page. and it has a share button which allows users to post the group on their profiles or send it to their facebook friends.

the cia's facebook features this embedded youtube video (27 seconds). if you watch the whole thing, all the way to the last few frames, you'll see this woman:

who's she?

the cia needs to parse their content better.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Monday, January 22, 2007


last year, a few USF students thought it would be interesting to have a campus tv station. they brainstormed a plan, brought it to melinda stone, and USFtv was born. this year, because melinda is on sabbatical, kate haug and i are USFtv's faculty co-advisors.

USFtv is a campus-wide cablecast created by and for USF students. USFtv produces around five cablecasts a semester. cablecasts are between one and two hours and include student films and videos, USF news, interviews with bay area residents, artists, musicians, and media makers, documentaries about USF social justice organizations, and other assorted media goodies. USFtv is an opportunity for USF students to work in teams to make engaged, provocative, and creative media - and distribute it across campus. working with USFtv has been one of the highlights of my first year here at USF.

working with kate is great. she's a filmmaker, a screenwriter, an author, and an academic, so she offers all kinds of perspectives to the students. plus, this year, she's the department's film studies minor coordinator which means she knows more about the filmic skills of our current students than anyone. in addition to providing advice and support, our main contribution is watching the cablecasts and offering feedback prior to their distribution. the process is time-consuming (our feedback often runs three to four single-spaced pages) but when the cablecasts improve each time we know our feedback is being heard which makes the process well worth it.

the best part is watching the students grow USFtv. they designed it all - content, format, distribution, branding, outreach, fundraising - and so far it more or less works. with each episode, USF news gets better, more diverse, and more interesting. the student films are getting edgier and finally we're starting to see some weird stuff. the production is getting slicker (USFtv has an excellent team of editors). now, at mid-year, the key is to not get lazy. spring semester is not for relaxation. it is for creation.

last thursday and friday, the core team of USFtv organized a retreat. i was there for most of friday and it was extremely productive. the students hammered out a production schedule for the entire semester, discussed their collaboration with baykids, and brainstormed identity issues. we spent a lot of time talking about the web, which was pure fun for me. we talked about blogs, we talked about flickr, we talked about youtube. jessica dragotto is taking a directed study with me in spring to launch the USFtv web site. (i'll link to that when it happens.)

judging from the retreat, the students this semester are much more organized, much more focused. they know what it takes to make one hour of good content every two to three weeks. they know how to work in teams - camera person, sound person, interviewer, editor - an invaluable skill in today's media world. and they are beginning to know that it's not about a good show or a bad show - it's about your newest show being better than your last show which was better than the one before. i'm excited for what spring will bring.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

this is so cool; this is so sad

via david weinberger, i learned about the very interesting "goodbye gutenberg" - volume 60, number 4 of nieman reports. from the introduction: "Journalism is on a fast-paced, transformative journey, its destination still unknown. That the Web and other media technologies are affecting mightily the practice of journalism is beyond dispute. Less clear is any shared vision of what the future holds. Newsrooms are being hollowed out, and editors who resist such cutbacks are losing their jobs. Digital video cameras and tape recorders replace reporters' notebooks as newspapers—and other news organizations—train staff in multimedia storytelling. In this issue, words about journalists' experiences in the digital era transport our vision forward, while our eye takes us on a visual voyage back to a time when newspapers wove communities together." all online. all for free.

"goodbye gutenberg" will be the last thing we read in digital journalism. later in the semester, after assessing the students' individual and collective interests, i'll assign various portions of the report to different students. then, in class, we'll share what we learned. while typing "goodbye gutenberg" into my word-based syllabus, i realized that this was the most up-to-date reading i've ever assigned in an undergraduate class. very cool.

via jessamyn, i learned that all fifteen branches of jackson county (oregon) library system are closing in early april. imagine that: an entire county-wide library system closing. imagine that: an entire county without a library. imagine that: jackson county citizens have to go to another county to get free and public knowledge and resources. and imagine that: a new generation of children who will not have the experience of going to a public library.

jackson county library system has set up a blog, which is so sad to read. no doubt decisions like this are complex and involve many factors including city and county politics, city and county taxes, city and county initiatives, state taxes, state funding, federal taxes, federal funding, etc etc etc. but it is hard not to view closings like this as signs of the times for a country that cuts taxes on the rich, cuts social services for the people, and increases, by billions, our continued military slaughter. unless we change fast, closed libraries - not to mention closed schools - is our future. very sad.

Friday, January 19, 2007

spring semester around the corner

spring semester begins on monday and i'll be teaching two classes: digital journalism and media internship. i hope to blog about both courses throughout spring semester. i spent a lot of winter break thinking, brainstorming, and reading books and blogs about digital journalism and the syllabus is nearly finished!

students enrolled in digital journalism can expect to learn about web-based tools for gathering and assessing news and stories (like blogs, RSS, and wikis). students can also expect to learn about web-based tools for creating and distributing news and stories (like blogs, flickr, facebook, and youtube).

we'll be reading two books (plus a packet with all kinds of goodies). the first is dan gillmor's we the media: grassroots journalism by the people, for the people (o'reilly media, 2006; but also here for free). the second is kevin howley's community media: people, places, and communication technologies (cambridge university press, 2005).

at this point, the class has seven students, the perfect number, i think, for a group blog. one of my teaching goals this semester is to learn more about how to encourage students to both blog and comment on fellow students' blogs. i know i can assign this, but i'm hoping it will happen organically instead. i want them to post because they want to, not because they have to.

students will be required to learn - in class, out of class, alone, and in groups - many web-based tools including atlas, blogs, facebook, flickr, RSS, wikipedia, and youtube. some of these tools i know well; some less so; some none. i hope it will be a real each one, teach one learning environment.

i'm excited about using atlas and spent a portion of yesterday taking pictures of campus so that i could test the new atlas feature ... multiple pin colors! in the map below, red pins represent photographs of USF buildings (and a bench); green pins signify green spaces. (please note: last night, when i put together the map, the images and hyperlinks were working; this morning, strangely, everything is broken; i'll fix later.)

one of the many things i like about working with digital maps is the ease of scaling. i like, for example, how you can mouseclick the "-" button (on the left side of the map) to get a view of USF campus, the panhandle, golden gate park, the city, the bay area, etc. i like how you can continue to click to see california, the west coast, north america, earth. the very process is, i believe, pedagogical; it teaches.

i hope other classes with other students will map other campuses. on tuesday, i drove down to palo alto to meet with my friends and stanford university librarians, shinjoung yeo and james jacobs (of, among many things, and radical reference), and howard rheingold, who, in addition to being author of this and this and this, is also teaching digital journalism this year at stanford. i hope we'll do something jointly in the near future. i think it would be great to have teams of students from all over san francisco and the bay area annotating their campuses, their neighborhoods, their city.

but first things first - i still need to finish my syllabus.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

and then there were six

late, late last night, in a hospital in new york city, my sister lisa and her husband jean had twins boys - august gordon and prosper luc.

three sisters with two boys each equals six nephews.

congratulations and mazel tov lisa and jean.

august and prosper - may this thing called life constantly amaze you.

Monday, January 15, 2007

going it alone

david horsey has it right.

the democrats should propose a reduction of 21,500 US troops in iraq. if after one month, less human beings are killed in iraq than the month before, we should reduce our troops by another 21,500 the following month, and then another 21,500 the month after that, and the one after that, until the united states military is completely out of iraq.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

panel = accepted

mary madden (pew internet & american life project), d. travers scott (communication, university of southern california), chuck tryon (film and media studies, fayetteville state university), and my panel proposal for MIT's media in transition conference got accepted.


here's our proposal:

Digital technologies that engage media creators through social networks of distribution and collaboration suggest a state of cultural production often referred to as "2.0." The term implies improvement and progress, but also indicates a revision of the past; it simultaneously hints at a prior paradigm (1.0) and brings attention to a new one (2.0).

By examining three areas of contemporary cultural production - music 2.0, movies 2.0, and military culture 2.0 - we draw attention to the historical and technological precedents that were necessary for 2.0 applications to take hold in each of our spheres.

In music culture, patterns of socially-driven music sharing - pre-internet and post-internet - have incubated online communities of content creators and influenced a wide range of Web 2.0 activities. In movie culture, independent producers navigate new channels of distribution and promotion by adapting techniques that borrow from the DIY music community and earlier modes of cinematic production. In U.S. military culture, various agencies have begun experimenting with open access to games, video sharing, and wikis despite a legacy of strict institutional control. However, a loose network of technologists challenge the newness of the Web 2.0 phenomenon, and critique the concept as just another iteration of inflated techno-hype.

excellent news to bring an altogether excellent day to an end.

tomorrow morning, i leave washington dc and head back home. it's been a great trip but it will be nice to return. i miss sarah.

Friday, January 12, 2007

a meeting in washington dc

it's hard work keeping up with any field and it seems even harder when the field is new and emerging like the internet. and yet, somehow, the pew internet and american life project has done it - and they've been doing it now for seven years.

today i'm in washington dc - as part of an advisory board meeting for the pew internet and american life project. on a personal level, it's always fun returning to dc, the city i lived in for my last two years of grad school. on a professional level, it's a privilege to be in the same room with so many smart minds - smart minds who contributed to my decision to study digital culture in the first place and smart minds who contribute to my current understandings of what digital culture has become today.

i was excited to hear about future pew reports that examine latino/a use of the internet and the ways in which americans used the net during the 2006 election. i was excited to hear about future pew reports on information ecologies and how americans use the net to search themselves and others. and i was excited to hear that there will be additional reports regarding teens and technology.

the best part for me was when we all went around the room and shared what we thought was new, cutting edge, and important in terms of the internet and american life. being in a room with smart people talking about the future is exciting but it can also be a bit overwhelming - within an hour, we generated enough questions for a few dozen dissertations. but the best part was watching members of the project team. far from being overwhelmed, they seemed ready for more.

for years i've been excited by the work generated by the pew internet and american life project. after today, i'm excited about the work they'll generate tomorrow.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

duboce park, atlas, and digital journalism

from two great posts over at innovation in college media, i learned about atlas. created by journalists and web developers at faneuil media, atlas is a free web-based mapping tool that is incredibly easy to use. with atlas, you can create a map and annotate it with text, images, and links. similar to youtube, you can easily embed atlas maps into blog posts.

i have been playing with atlas for the last few days and am happy with how easy it is to use. this afternoon i used atlas to create this map of the nice walk i took this morning in nearby duboce park.

as i play more and more with atlas, i begin to think of all kinds of public art, public history, and public engagement applications. i think of how someone like my friend kelly quinn could and would use something like this. but for now, staying as disciplined as i can be during winter break, i'm brainstorming ways that we'll use atlas in my spring semester course - digital journalism.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

USF president stephen privett to deliver invocation at tomorrow's swearing in of US speaker of the house nancy pelosi

i just learned that the university of san francisco's president, rev. stephen a. privett, s.j., has been invited by speaker-elect nancy pelosi to deliver an invocation prior to her being sworn in as US speaker of the house.

via the USF press release:

    USF's President, Rev. Stephen A. Privett, S.J., has been invited by Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi to deliver an invocation just before she is sworn in as Speaker of the House. On Thursday, January 4, 2007, Father Privett will offer the opening prayer on the floor of the House in Washington D.C., at 12:00 noon Eastern time.

    In addition, Anne-Marie Devine sent me the following message this morning. Ann-Marie recently joined us as Assistant Director of Media Relations.

    Leading up to the ceremony, Fr. Privett will appear on KTVU's (Fox 2) morning news program during a five-minute live interview with Ross McGowen at 7:15am pacific time. Fr. Privett will discuss the theme of his invocation and the honor of being part of this momentous event.

    This is a great honor for our President and for the University. Upon his return, we shall encourage him to post the text of his prayer on his web-page.

    Dave Macmillan
what an honor and an opportunity.

i've seen father privett speak numerous times and each time he engages people in issues that matter. he focuses - and encourages us to focus - on social justice, human rights, and the need for dramatic change. father privett's delivering the invocation is certainly an honor for the university of san francisco. but more importantly, it gives voice, however temporary, to social justice, human rights, and dramatic change - three things desperately needed in washington, dc.

Monday, January 01, 2007

this week should get interesting

bbc news is reporting that bush will give a speech this week to announce a new strategy for his war in iraq. bush's new strategy is, by most accounts, a massive increase in US troops in iraq.

will karl rove position bush as the decider?

will rove use background graphics?

how will karl dress the president?

i hope republican senator chuck hagel's reaction to the troop increase will carry the day: "It's Alice in Wonderland. I'm absolutely opposed to sending any more troops to Iraq. It is folly."

an experiment to embed an atlas map