Saturday, June 30, 2007


gone gallery

talk at sfpl

on wednesday, i gave a talk called the power of web 2.0 at the main branch of the san francisco public library. i thoroughly enjoyed the experience and hope to collaborate further with sfpl.

i began with the most basic definition - web 2.0 sites are less about lectures (broadcast) and more about conversation (participation) - and talked about user generated content. using o'reilly, i suggested britannica online is web 1.0 and wikipedia is web 2.0.

using the personal, i noted that my old homepage was an example of web 1.0. it acted as a single silo. it broadcasted and controlled information. it gave readers little opportunity to interact. and it was totally about self promotion! then i suggested my blog is an example of web 2.0. it serves as a space for conversation, especially in the comments section. much of its content is generated via remixed media. and, through feevy, my blog becomes a part of a community and - even better - the community becomes part of my blog. along the way, i introduced key terms like online communities, crowdsourcing, tagging, and remixing.

then i stepped back and got critical. first, i identified web 2.0 as a marketing meme, one intended to increase hype of and investment in the web (and web consultants) and hinted at its largely consumer rather than communal directions and applications. second, i warned against the presentism implied in web 2.0. today's web may indeed be more participatory but it is also an outgrowth of past developments like firefly, amazon's user book reviews, craigslist, and ebay - not to mention older user generated content applications like usenet, listservs, and MUDs. third, i argued against the medium-centricness of the term web 2.0. user generated content can and does exist in other media, of course, including newspapers' letters to the editor section, talk radio, and viewers voting on reality tv shows. and i ended with my all-time favorite example of user generated content, the suggestion box, which uses slips of paper, pencils, and a box.

i ended the lecture (a lecture?!? very 1.0) by raising various questions and generalizations about the intersections between web 2.0 and economics, politics, and militarism.

the discussion that followed was exciting. i like how spinning uncensored put it: "The discussion that took place during Silver's talk was animated, though not heated. Most of us were librarians after all!" there were between fifty and sixty in attendance, mostly librarians, and the hour and a half went fast, too fast. it felt, in fact, the way the first day of class often feels - you race through all this exciting material and then the moment discussion begins to go in multiple directions class is dismissed. doh!

thanks to jerry dear and his colleagues at sfpl's herb caen magazines and newspapers center for the opportunity and i'll be sure to keep up with their events and resources through their recently launched blog.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

grannies rage against the war

yesterday in capitola (near santa cruz, california) there was a standoff over military recruitment. at issue was military recruitment of at-risk youth. the peaceful demonstration was organized by the raging grannies of the women's international league for peace and freedom (or WILPF, to which my mom belongs). both the police and the protestors were recording.

ten people, including an 81 year old woman with a walker, were arrested. one arrested granny, phyllis greenleaf, 64, told the santa cruz sentinel, "there's been enough bloodshed, and we are outraged."

the demonstration got fair coverage by the santa cruz sentinel (which, unfortunately and predictably, has gotten emptier and emptier since its recent media consolidation phase). allowing readers to post comments is, however, certainly a step in the right direction for citizen media and the comment thread, like american democracy, ranges from interesting to insipid.

but the good stuff comes, once again, from santa cruz indymedia. citizen coverage and convergence from ~bradley, miss l. ainie ous, katya komisaruk, and jean provides a fuller and more visual depiction of what went down. plus, miss l. ainie ous was able to photograph the navy's It's Up To U oversized check.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

free and public presentation in san francisco

what? a public presentation and discussion
when? this wednesday, june 27, 6 - 7:30 pm
where? san francisco main public library
cost? free.

The Power of Web 2.0, Collective Intelligence, and Online Communities

What is Web 2.0? What implications do innovative ideas like collective intelligence, crowdsourcing and online communities hold for the Internet and beyond? Professor David Silver from the Media Studies Department at the University of San Francisco will explore this pervasive phenomenon that has flooded the virtual information landscape in recent years through social networking resources such as Wikipedia, YouTube, Facebook and Flickr.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

back from new york

on the last day of last week's foundations of online course development workshop, each of the participants presented their work. there was an excellent spectrum of ideas, questions, and answers and it was impressive to see how much ground we travelled within a week. plus, it was great to meet and learn from so many committed professors.

i'll be back in new york soon - mostly to check in again with these cuties.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

twins in new york

since sunday, i have been in new york, participating in a faculty resource network workshop at nyu. together with twenty-five other professors from all around the united states and puerto rico, i am part of a workshop called foundations of online course development. the workshop runs each day from nine to five and is facilitated by ian david aronson.

the workshop has been fairly interesting and i've learned some educational theory to bolster what i've been doing naturally in the class for over a decade. i must admit, i have little interest in distance education - time spent face to face with students in the classroom is one of the best parts of my job. but i am always interested in using digital learning environments such as blogs, wikis, and facebook to enhance, not replace, what we do in the class.

the first day we were assigned to groups and i got lucky - our group, group one, rocks. we be (left to right): perpetua ruiz (mathematics and computer science, chicago state university); me; juan martinez-colon (accounting, university of puerto rico, rio piedras); martiza sostre rodriquez (english, university of puerto rico, bayamon); and tae kim (nursing, st. joseph's college).

workshop participants' knowledge, experience, and comfort levels around computers and digital resources varies widely and ian has done a good job keeping us all on track. unfortunately, however, there is a major design flaw in the workshop's curriculum. the workshop is based not on the technology resources of participants' home colleges and universities but rather upon those found at nyu. this is extremely problematic.

for example, early in the workshop, ian was talking and said something like, "at this point, you take your project to your IT staff." a professor from puerto rico turned to me and whispered, "what is an IT staff?" another professor, also from puerto rico, told me that his university has a single lab of twenty computers for all students in four departments. "and," he added, "nearly none of my students have computers at home." it is awfully nice for nyu to host all of us but it sure is wrong to assume we have access to similar kinds of resources and staff.

the workshop ends at five and that's when the fun begins.

five months ago, my sister lisa and her husband jean had twins. through phone calls and photographs, i have tried to keep up with the lil' guys' progress but there's no substitute for seeing them face to face, holding them, and squeezing their cute little feet. they are like two little chunks of sweetness.

last night, after lisa put the twins down, we feasted. jean cooked up a delicious asparagus and shittake mushroom risotto and lisa made a salad that would make the folks at stonelake farm proud. numerous times throughout the evening, i excused myself and tip-toed into the boys' room to watch the twins sleep. with bellies full and proud parents nearby, the twins slept blissfully.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

off the grid

if stonelake farm is off the grid, how come the octagon has lights? how come the octagon has running water to cook, wash, and shower? and how am i able to access the internet to upload this blog post? where's the electricity coming from? where's the running water coming from? and how can it be that my showers are hot?

it starts here, at the top of stonelake's property, where pipes and storage tanks collect water from the creek.

the pipes take the creek water downstream and down the hill, all the while gaining velocity.

this contraption, a pelton wheel, inputs gushing water and outputs electricity.

electricity is stored in two car batteries tucked neatly away in this wooden box.

at the same time, stonelake farm derives energy from the sun. multiple solar panels, including these two outside melinda and francis' home, input the sun and output electricity. the first panel supplies much of the farm its electricity; the second panel supplies melinda's editing studio and the farm's internet cafe. access to the internet is limited at stonelake farm and i was able to use it for two hours a day. one thing i learned at stonelake farm was that two hours of the internet a day is more than enough.

the secret to the octagon's hot showers is the nearby solar panel. the water comes from the creek, travels from one side of the farm to the other through pipes, and is made piping hot by this solar panel.

in addition to being a natural wonder, stone lake farm is a technological wonder.

now i'm home. tomorrow morning, i leave for a week at new york university for a faculty workshop on teaching with technology. while in new york, i'll finally get to meet my two new nephews.

Thursday, June 07, 2007


there are many animals living on stonelake farm.

there are lots of chickens, maybe a dozen, most of them hens. collectively, they pump out around ten eggs a week. the eggs are delicious. they taste the way eggs used to taste. at times, the chickens are allowed to peck and poke their way through fallow fields in the garden. they feed on and distribute the compost (mulch), peck peck peck on the ground (hoe), and poop all over (manure). the chickens, while not too smart, are experts at prepping garden beds.

there is one dog and her name is lalune. lalune is the most self-confident, self-assured dog ever. if you see lalune, there's a good chance that francis is nearby.

during various points of time, stonelake farm's duck population ranged from two to twenty; currently, two ducks - duckalito and duckalita - call stonelake home. early in the morning, the ducks quack and flap their way into the garden where they, hypothetically, find the fattest slugs and snails and eat them uncooked. realistically, duckalito and duckalita spend most of their time tearing through the garden indianapolis 500-style. when possible, the ducks' poop is mixed with hay and made into mulch for the garden and orchards.

there are currently six humans at stonelake. most of what we eat comes from the garden (plus the eggs from the chickens), most of what we throw away is composted, and our trash is kept to a bare minimum. francis and melinda's home comes with a composting toilet, a living system that converts human waste into humanure, which is then fed to the fruit-bearing trees in the upper orchards. farm visitors use the outhouse and our wastes nourish future fruit-bearing trees on the lower orchard. it also affords views like this.

there are six goats - three adult goats, three baby goats - on the farm. tiny, the proud mama, is one hellava goat - friendly, social, vain. she's making a lot of milk, which is a good thing - the three little goats require three bottles of milk three times a day. although tiny is the only one making milk, all of the goats make poop, which is, i believe, the farm's main source of mulch and manure. on a farm, goats are all-stars.

the three baby goats - florence, zetta, and alfalfa sprout - are 100% cutie pies. the baby goats are comprised almost entirely of leg, and they are not exactly sure how to use them. they jump - upward, with a mid-air booty-shake to one side - for no apparent reason.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


barbara kingsolver begins animal, vegetable, miracle with a perfect anecdote. kingsolver's family of four (plus dog) are in a quick-stop convenient market just outside the city limits of tucson, arizona. they have packed up all their belongings and are driving east, to a farm in southwestern virginia, to live a year (or more) of what kingsolver magically calls "food life."

at the time, it had not rained in tucson for over two hundred days. so when the sky suddenly darkened, kingsolver, her husband steven, and the young cashier at the quickie-mart took notice.

"dang," the cashier said, according to kingsolver, "it's going to rain."

"i hope so," steven replies.

the cashier, a "bleached-blond guardian of gas pumps and snack food," scowls at steven and says, "it better not, is all i can say."

"but we need it," kingsolver says.

cashier: "i know that's what they're saying, but i don't care. tomorrow's my first day off in two weeks and i want to wash my car."


yesterday it rained at stonelake farm. it wasn't a torrential downpour, but neither was it a wimpy drizzle. it was a beautiful rain and it lasted nearly the whole day and evening. the rain watered buck mountain, the trees, and the surrounding fields of grass, some of which, as a result, has turned from hay-like yellow to grass-like green. naturally, the rain also watered the garden.

i spent most of the day in the coopala, dividing my time between reading kingsolver's book, listening to the rain fall, and being mindful.

that night melinda, francis, sarah lewison, and the two interns, montana and kelson, joined me in the octagon for dinner. the whole meal was delicious, especially the centerpiece, a fresh salad made from at least ten different greens from the garden.

all of us were, i am sure, more than thankful for the rain.

Monday, June 04, 2007


each morning at 10:30, i report to francis, stonelake farm's garden director. he assigns me a task in the garden that takes about an hour. in exchange, i receive fresh farm eggs and delicious dinners that come straight from the garden. plus, i learn a whole lotta new gardening knowledge and skills. the deal is sweet.

first task: working with melinda, we built supports for the tomatoes.

second task: digging and prepping circles for watermelons, cantaloupes, and winter squashes.

the garden requires an unbelievable amount of forethought, attention, research, love, and labor. task done, i roll - to go read, to go eat, to go be mindful, to go find the waterfall. francis and melinda stay put and keep working.

from my standards, the garden is huge and includes one main section and about four or five smaller, terraced plots. the goal, melinda says, is for the garden to feed her and francis as well as visitors to the farm.

a week ago, while in omaha, sarah and i saw author/farmer/humanitarian barbara kingsolver on the television. we only caught the last five minutes but everything she said made so much sense. upon returning to the city, i bought her new book, animal, vegetable, miracle, thinking it would be a perfect book to read at stonelake farm.

it is.

with excellent help from her husband steven and eldest daughter camille, kingsolver manages to horrify and delight. she horrifies with stories of terminator genes, genetically modified seeds that after one year of life are programmed to commence a species-wide suicide - killing the plant, preventing the farmer from saving seeds for next year's crop, and boosting profit for corporations like monsanto. and she delights by recounting how much health and joy and well being and pleasure she and her family gather from working in and eating from their garden.

kingsolver's book and stonelake farm share many similar characteristics, i think, and one of them is this - both are rooted in growing solutions not merely bemoaning situations.

Sunday, June 03, 2007


for the last three days and the next six days i am here, at stonelake farm, as an artist in residence. stonelake farm is about three hundred miles north of san francisco, nestled snugly on burr valley road, in bridgeville, in humboldt county. the farm gets its name from its owners - melinda stone and francis lake.

i'm living in the octagon.

the octagon was built by the farm's previous owners, the wheelers, in the early 1970s. i believe multiple families lived on the farm and together they raised the octagon. there is a strong connection between octagon architecture and counterculture/back-to-the-land movements of the 1960s and 1970s but none of us were exactly sure what that connection was. the octagon provides an open, public space that lends itself to communal living. the octagon also generates a circle which relates to the whole circle-of-life idea so important to the back to the landers. perhaps there's othere connections. maybe the octagon architecture is simply easier to build. maybe the octagons have something to do with the inspired, futurama designs dreamt up by buckminster fuller, one of the spiritual and social guides of the 1960s and 70s. or maybe it's just that the octagons look so damn cool.

like an octopus, the octagon has eight sides.

a side to enter and exit - as well as to borrow or leave behind a book.

a side to sleep.

a side to write and to look out the window.

a side to cut bread and look out the window.

a side to cook food and wash the dishes.

and many other sides, including the top side, a coopala, which i'll need more time to explore before i try to describe.

if you hop, miraculously, over the sink and through the glass window, you will land in the solar powered outside shower. when it's sunny, it can deliver as hot a shower as you desire. and when you stand, buck naked, in the shower, this is what you see.