Wednesday, April 30, 2008

new reviews in cyberculture studies (may 2008)

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

books of the month for may 2008 include:

Electronic Literature Collection (Volume 1)
Editors: N. Katherine Hayles, Nick Montfort, Scott Rettberg, Stephanie Strickland
Publisher: Electronic Literature Organization, 2006
Review 1: Kimberly De Vries
Author Response: N. Katherine Hayles
Author Response: Scott Rettberg

Gatewatching: Collaborative Online News Production
Author: Axel Bruns
Publisher: Peter Lang Publishers, 2005
Review 1: J. Richards Stevens
Author Response: Axel Bruns

Wired Shut: Copyright and the Shape of Digital Culture
Author: Tarleton Gillespie
Publisher: MIT Press, 2007
Review 1: Benjamin J. Bates
Review 2: Troy K. Schneider
Author Response: Tarleton Gillespie

enjoy. there's more where that came from.

coming soon: a very large list of new and exciting books waiting to be reviewed, perhaps by you. for more updates, subscribe to the RCCS announcement list.

Monday, April 28, 2008

davies forum speaker series: phillip thurtle

the davies forum on digital literacy hosts its last speaker this thursday evening with phillip thurtle. first the facts:

who? phillip thurtle, assistant professor, comparative history of ideas, university of washington
what? a semester-long speaker series devoted to literacy in a digital age
where? maier room, fromm hall, university of san francisco
when? thursday, may 1 at 6:30 pm
price? free and open to the public

phillip thurtle is an assistant professor of the comparative history of ideas program and the history department and adjunct assistant professor in anthropology at the university of washington. phillip is the author of the emergence of genetic rationality: space, time, and information in american biology, 1870-1920, co-author with robert mitchell and helen burgess of an interactive DVD-ROM entitled biofutures: owning body parts and information, and co-editor, with robert mitchell, of data made flesh: embodying information and semiotic flesh: information and the human body.

as with the rest of the davies forum speakers series, this event is free and open to the public. in preparation for the talk, you are welcome and encouraged to read the following:

Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art (Harper, 1994); and selections from Alan Moore's Promethea (America's Best Comics/Wildstorm, 1999-2005).

to see what we've been up to so far, see (photos) and (videos).

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

the davies forum at stonelake farm

as we left the barn, francis turned to us to see if we had any questions.

lulu had one: "do you ever let the goats out from their regular fields?"

"sure," replied francis, "on the field below the octagon. i let them graze for a few hours while i watch the sunset."

late last week, the davies forum on digital literacy traveled to stonelake farm, an organic, off-the-grid homestead in humboldt county. we - amber, blake, kelly, lis, lulu, sara, steven, and me - drove six hours in two cars stuffed with backpacks, blankets, sleeping bags, and good food from rainbow.

from our arrival to our departure four days later, we agreed to six strict rules:

1. all of us must work on the farm for at least one hour a day;

2. those who cook a meal do not have to wash dishes;

3. lulu can't cook every meal;

4. if anyone gets unruly, everyone has the right and responsibility to approach him or her and say, "hey, settle down";

5. we are allowed to use the internet, cell phones, and text, but use as little as possible; and

6. be mindful about as much as possible.

on friday afternoon, francis lake, one-half of the team that runs stonelake farm, shared with us the farm's history and its back-to-the-land roots (the same back-to-the-land roots, btw, that show up in fred turner's from counterculture to cyberculture). then, he led us on a guided tour of stonelake's many natural resources, animals, tools and technologies. during the tour and throughout our stay, francis offered us concrete and profound examples of sustainable living. at stonelake, nearly everything consumed is remixed back into the farm: the worms get our spent coffee grounds, the goats get our apple cores, the chickens get nearly everything, the fruit trees get our poop from the outhouse, and la luna and meza get an occasional dropped pancake or bite of french toast.

as a class, our goal was to live more intentionally for a few days. i wanted all of us to experience organic living first hand, in first life, as unmediated as possible. and while we were doing that, i wanted us to be as collaborative as possible.

i had been to stonelake farm before - twice with sarah, once alone as an artist in residence - and have always found life there to be intentional, sustainable, less mediated, and collaborative. i had to remind myself, though, that my prior visits to stonelake were during the summer and early autumn, when school's out, the sun and sunflowers are high, and everything is beautiful and bountiful. this visit was different. this visit had seven students. this visit had snow.

most of our farm work involved gathering wood for heat. we'd gather wood, chop wood, and saw wood. we gathered a few trees francis brought down and hand-sawed them into logs - logs for the campfire, logs for future octagonians, and, most importantly, logs for the wood stove that gave us heat, sweet frickin' heat, from the cold out doors.

all of our meals were collaboratively made and extremely delicious. and whenever possible, we'd eat together outside.

by saturday, melinda stone, the second-half of the stonelake team and my media studies friend and colleague, arrived to the farm. melinda brought with her seven baby ducks and one mild snow storm. because it was butt-cold outside, my students decided that saturday's dinner would be a fava beans-and-greens feast served inside, in the octagon. the meal was prepared and cooked collaboratively by the students and declared absolutely delicious by all of us.

before arriving to stonelake, i gave my students an assignment: while at the farm, digitally disconnect and reflect deeply about something important to you. before returning to the city, i gave my students a homework assignment: write your best blog post ever. log off before you blog off.

and they did:

Amber McChesney-Young's Reflections on StoneLake Farm

Blake Wilberding's Stonelake Farm

Kelly Pretzer's Stonelake Farm

Lis Bartlett's The Best Blog Post Ever

Lulu McAllister's The Digitally Literate Go Back to the Land

Sara Bassett's StoneLake Farm

Steven Barnett's coming-soon podcast thingy (i will update this link when the post goes live).

back in class on tuesday, one by one we'd read out loud our best blog posts ever. i projected individual blog posts from my laptop to the screen on the wall and the author of the post would come to the front of the room and read his or her own writing. then we took a few minutes to discuss the post and share what we thought worked and what didn't. then, individually, we'd write on paper a list of tags that we associated with the blog post - food, firewood, logging off, snow, sustainability. finally, we'd record the tags and their frequency on the white board on the wall.

as class ended, it became clear that we had covered a lot of ground in the last few days.

and then, silently and stealthily, davies student sara collected the tags and their frequencies, logged back on, and dumped them through TagCrowd. what she created was this, a pretty accurate tagcloud of what went down and an excellent way to end a blog post about the davies forum at stonelake farm.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

davies forum speaker series: jasmine park

the davies forum on digital literacy continues its speaker series this thursday evening with jasmine park. first the facts:

who? jasmine park, fashion blogger and photographer
what? a semester-long speaker series devoted to literacy in a digital age
where? maier room, fromm hall, university of san francisco
when? thursday, april 24 at 6:30 pm
price? free and open to the public

jasmine park is the author of the prominent seattle fashion blog she publishes a weekly photo in the seattle times, and she has been featured in seattle magazine and the daytime talkshow northwest afternoon. was chosen as the best local fashion blog by seattle metropolitan magazine in 2007.

as with the rest of the davies forum speakers series, this event is free and open to the public. in preparation for the talk, you are welcome and encouraged to read the following:

read: Amanda Kwan's “Look sharp: Your style could show up on a blog," Seattle Times (July 9, 2007);
watch: Fashion Television, "The Sartorialist"
read lots of: Pike/Pine
get a feel for: HEL-LOOKS; Face Hunter; and The Sartorialist.

to see what we've been up to so far, see (photos) and (videos).

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

when students take over a library; or, national library week at gleeson library

this week is national library week and to celebrate my digital literacy students and i took over a significant chunk of gleeson library.

we began the project three weeks ago when i asked the students two questions: what do you love about the library? and what do you wish the library had? the next week we met in class to discuss our ideas, dreams, and designs and to let our individual intelligence and imagination weave collectively. last week, USF librarian vicki rosen joined us in class and we talked about which dreams and designs could and would become real.

last night we assembled in gleeson library to build our project. we began with this space:

earlier in the week, amber asked us to email her the titles of five or so of our favorite books and a sentence or two about why we dig them. and poof! we had a student-generated book exhibit. amber and steve arranged them on a shelf, posted our brief annotations, and added a sign-up sheet for library goers to add their own favorites.

meanwhile, steve and blake designed two treasure hunts with clues hidden in books distributed across the library. inspired, perhaps, by bryan alexander's ideas about alternative reality games, or ARGs, or influenced by the librarian in black's ideas about library treasure hunts, steve and blake's treasure hunts encourage students to explore and discover the library and its nearly infinite resources and materials. plus, the two lucky people who follow the clues to the treasure hunt's finish will find some pretty cool gift certificates.

all of us were eager to create a comfortable space to read in the library so we hauled in comfy chairs and set up two small tables to generate a living room-like vibe. influenced by kelly quinn's ideas about flip books, blake took photos of gleeson library, designed original jacket covers, bound the photos and covers into flip books, and set them out on our coffee table. totally cool.

we wanted to learn what other students thought about the library so lulu spent a day interviewing USF students asking them what they loved about the library and what they wished the library had. then, lulu and lis spent a day taking photographs, beautiful photographs, of the library - of the building, of students reading, of students at computers, of students collaborating with one another - and designed a five minute audio slideshow. every librarian should watch and listen to what lulu and lis made. once we figure out how to lock down a laptop, we will incorporate it into our project.

ever since kelly quinn's guest lecture, many of the students, include kelly, lis, and sara got fiercely interested in creating inspired public spaces. between the three students, there was talk of a canopy made of book covers, a tent covered with books, and many other wonderful ideas. sara surprised us all by bringing in a fort! sara and lis assembled the fort and covered it in colorful book jackets and a reading fort was built.

and yet, structural engineers we are not. during the night, tragedy struck and the fort fell!

so this morning, undeterred and armed with tape, sara and i rebuilt the fort and all is well in gleeson library.

happy national library week!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

planting a garden

today i headed north, over the golden gate bridge, over to howard rheingold's, where we planted his garden. we planted tomatoes, basil, artichokes, strawberries, and garlic. from seed, we planted lots of corn, lots of peas, and three kinds of zucchini.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

making media and new media @ USF

today, i'm on campus to give a talk to newly admitted USF undergraduates who will join are considering joining us in the fall. my talk is called "making media and new media @ USF," and most likely will go a little something like this.

i'll begin by introducing our new students to the many media-making opportunities at USF. there is the foghorn, our campus newspaper. there are our two radio stations, KDNZ and KUSF. there is USFtv, a student-run campus television station. and there is our film studies minor. and interspersed across many of our media studies classes, as well as courses across campus, are opportunities for students to create digital media.

then, i plan to discuss that while student media at USF is difficult to categorize, most of it contains one or more of the following characteristics: diversity of content; collaboratively made; and social justice driven. to show what i mean by this, i hope to screen some examples of inspired student work.

such as ...

wyclef jean's video "if i was president" directed by USF student alexandra platt with help from a USF crew that includes chris begley, dave binegar, aiza bonus, david burgis, nikka elman, sandy hayashi, james kilton, kevin kunze, tobe platt, shaina onnagan, nina sasson, miles simcox, amanda von west, and danielle watchman:

USFtv's visionz (with meg and dia):

and a clip from MTVu's editorial board featuring USF student laura plantholt:

and "fungus among us" by the how to homestead crew:

and then, if we have time, i may even show them this:

update: here's what it looked like from my side!

Friday, April 11, 2008

USF student interviews US speaker of the house nancy pelosi

earlier this week, laura plantholt, sophomore at USF, news editor of the foghorn, and student in digital journalism, traveled to washington, dc to take part in MTV's editorial board. laura was one of four college students brought in to interview US speaker of the house nancy pelosi.

at the time of the interview, human rights advocates were protesting - in london, in paris, and in san francisco - china and the olympic torch. so, cooly, calmly, laura asked speaker pelosi her thoughts:

rock on speaker pelosi for, in this case, supporting human rights. and rock on laura for an excellent interview and for representing USF!

for more on laura's experiences in dc, see her blog post about it.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

the olympic torch in san francisco

right on time, sarah and i joined the crowd directly outside the baseball stadium where the olympic torch was supposed to run on by. mostly what we saw were cops.

the sidewalks were five, six, seven people thick. occasionally people carrying tibetan flags and singing FREE TIBET! would march by, prompting the people carrying chinese flags to chant CHINA! CHINA!

an hour later, two trucks raced in and riot helmets - those big, bad, metal stormtrooper-like helmets - were distributed.

helmets on, the police stood double deep and faced us. to our left, a phalanx of motorcycles drove by, sirens blaring, suggesting that something was about to happen.

ten minutes later, something actually happened. behind us, three or four floors up, through an open window of a huge building, a man screamed down to us: "the torch is gone! it's on van ness street! the torch is gone! it's over!"

we - sarah, me, tibet supporters, china supporters, old people, young people, middle people, all of us on the sidewalk - looked up at the man and realized, almost immediately, that he was speaking the truth. we'd been hoodwinked.

as we learned later, a few blocks from where we were standing, while the motorcycle decoy captured our attention, the torchbearer bravely took the flame, strongly held it aloft on a stage, quickly ran backwards into a warehouse, skillfully jumped into a van, was expertly driven a mile inland, and then gallantly handed it to another runner. the torchbearer, like american and chinese democracy, did the old end around.

Monday, April 07, 2008

davies forum speaker series: gayla trail

the davies forum on digital literacy continues its speaker series this thursday evening with gayla trail. first the facts:

who? gayla trail, gardener, photographer, graphic designer, and crafty gal
what? a semester-long speaker series devoted to literacy in a digital age
where? maier room, fromm hall, university of san francisco
when? thursday, april 10 at 6:30 pm
price? free and open to the public

gayla trail is a toronto-based gardener, graphic designer, writer, and photographer with a background in the fine arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. she is the creator of the popular gardening project, and the author of you grow girl: the groundbreaking guide to gardening.

as with the rest of the davies forum speakers series, this event is free and open to the public. in preparation for the talk, you are welcome and encouraged to read the following:

barbara kingsolver, "called home," from animal, vegetable, miracle: a year of food life (harpercollins, 2007); michael pollan, "the idea of a garden," from second nature: a gardener's education (grove press, 2003); and portions from gayla trail's you grow girl: the groundbreaking guide to gardening (fireside books, 2005).

to see what we've been up to so far, see (photos) and (videos).

Saturday, April 05, 2008

visual and critical studies graduate symposium at cca

today at the california college of the arts, seven graduate students in visual and critical studies presented their master's theses as part of this year's graduate symposium. the work was excellent and original, the presentations were engaging, and a good day was seemingly had by all.

the presentations were divided into three panels:

reconstructing objects, which included erik scollon's "craft in the expanded field," maya kimura's "the schoolgirl body in pieces: sex as violence in makoto aida's harakiri schoolgirls," and analisa violich goodin's "an imagined absence: images of loss and the performance of representation";

visualizing work and play, which included rae quigley's "the stinking rose: a food festival at play in the production of social order" and victoria gannon's "day laborer landscapes: seeing informal hiring sites; and

charting the digital domain, which included guinevere harrison's "neogeography: mapping our place in the world" and lee pembleton's "the work of art in the age of digital reproduction."

i served as moderator of the last panel and thoroughly enjoyed guinevere's exploration of online maps and the way they can foster individual and collective expression and action and lee's reworking of walter benjamin's germinal essay by way of louis althusser's concept of the hail. during my comments, i noted how both presentations represent exciting new directions in digital media studies in that they a) move from text to visual culture; b) pay attention to cultural and economic contexts; c) transcend silly and ultimately unhelpful utopian vs dystopian debates; and d) approach the web as not merely a platform for consumption but rather for consumption and contribution - the participatory web. it was a thrill to be a part of this panel.

overall, i really enjoyed the day at CCA and am excited about what they are doing. i was particularly impressed with the graduate students and their ability and willingness to cross disciplinary boundaries, fuse methodological approaches, and assume roles and voices that are at once deeply critical, deeply creative, and deeply engaged.