23 November 2007
22 November 2007
14 November 2007
13 November 2007
"teen-age angst, love and snow mobile racing". The production seems to be very interesting, including technology and music, and venturing into audience participation by SMS. I'll take her word for it, for unfortunately for us, the production is in Swedish. Umeå is the home of Humlab, where I attended a workshop last year, and I was so impressed - and slightly jealous of this wonderful space dedicated to transdisciplinary digital humanities.
I used to find I was always at a loss when faced with the question: A Phd? In what? Hemmm... Well.... After seeing Humlab, and meeting very interesting Internet researchers last month in Vancouver, I now answer : in digital humanities. And that usually is the end of the questions.
09 November 2007
title: Forced blog, and a similarly revealing pseudonym: reluctant blogger. THe blog itself is simply a series of class essays,seemingly on cyberculture, at a rate of one a week. Some thoughts were forced to the surface: why study cyberculture/Internet if you are so unwilling to participate? And on another level, why have blogs as a tool and only use them as a memory? It seems a sad underutilisation of the medium, and also a strange lesson to forgo the communicative element. If all that is needed is a publishing/sharing tool, why not Google docs or similar? However, the reluctance of some students to engage with technology and with alternative teaching methods should not be underestimated either, it is a learning curve, and for some, a steep one. I would very much like to see an example of class blogs being used to their full potential...
08 November 2007
This little exercise did prove one thing: I am not the only procrastinator on earth.
Back to writing.
11 October 2007
Tuesday night saw me rush into the city centre, abandoning the comfort of my Northside home to venture within the hallowed walls of Trinity. The Very Big Sister is now a student there; I was joining her for her idea – and mine – of a good night: a Steven Pinker lecture.
The lecture was a presentation of his new book, The Stuff of Thought. It deals with the way in which theories of time, space, matter and causality inform the way we speak. The last part of the speech dealt with swearing. It started with a picture of Bono, whose acceptance speech ‘this is fucking brilliant’’ inspired an amendment to House Resolution 3687, The Clean Airwaves Act:
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the
(1) by inserting `(a)' before `Whoever'; and
(2) by adding at the end the following:
`(b) As used in this section, the term `profane', used with respect to language, includes the words `shit', `piss', `fuck', `cunt', `asshole', and the phrases `cock sucker', `mother fucker', and `ass hole', compound use (including hyphenated compounds) of such words and phrases with each other or with other words or phrases, and other grammatical forms of such words and phrases (including verb, adjective, gerund, participle, and infinitive forms).'.
Pinker pointed out that, unfortunately for the House, Bono’s “fucking” is in fact an adverb, and as such, not covered by the amendment. Maybe they should employ linguists when they draft the amendment to the amendment.
He identified five categories for swearing:
- dysphemistic swearing (using a taboo word instead of a socially acceptable one)
- abusive swearing
- idiomatic swearing
- emphatic swearing
- cathartic swearing
An interesting point about cathartic swearing – the words we use when we burn our hand on the iron as we desperately try to look presentable even though we are already 10 minutes late – is that it is conventional. You have to learn which word to use in which circumstance, and different words are use in different contexts in different languages. Words I (and even my mother) use regularly as we bump our way through the day would be unthinkable in English. Those I use in English I would never consider in French.
So the book is now beside me, and will be read in the long flight to
08 October 2007
As long as there have been children's books, they have been censored by adults, either at the publicaation or at the translation stage, or when they are read aloud. For instance, if we as parents do not want our children to be afraid, we simply do not read "frightening" stories to them (stories we as adults find too frightening for our children). Yet in this way we may be denying the child's right to be frightened.
My favourite book as a small child involved a goat being killed and eaten by the wolf after a long a bloody battle that lasted all night. My own children always loved sad or scary books, and some still do...
However, it now appears that the foundation does not exist, and the whole press campaign was an elaborate hoax to promote Lemony Snicket books...
01 October 2007
19 September 2007
17 September 2007
Good start to the week...
01 September 2007
My name is Amelia and I was born in Muxía (A Coruña - Spain) on December the 23rd of 1911. Today it's my birthday and my grandson, who is very stingy, gave me a blog.
She now has a readership that could be the envy of any A-lister, and she has recently gone on holidays to Brazil. Her pet hate? Retirement homes, where she says people are drugged to keep them quiet, and they are never offered the opportunity to use the Internet. The Guardian quotes some of her blog posts, including this piece of advice, valid I think for old and young alike:
"There is nothing better than exercising the brain."
29 August 2007
23 August 2007
An article in the Guardian today gives the results of a UK survey on social use of the Internet, and lo and behold, it’s a women’s world now, at least for the 25 to 49 age bracket – I’m in there somewhere, and there is hope for the future as well: the silver surfer is now also spending more time online than your average teenager. Bebo, this staple of Irish life, has now extended its realm to
22 July 2007
21 July 2007
I had registered a while back, all in the name of research, naturally, and ended up being “friended” by an Irish-American college student sharing the same family name; it is however my husband’s name, mine heralding from sunnier climes; one disappointed “friend”, one empty profile. Now that my age-group (most definitely 35+) is joining, maybe I should go back and investigate some more.
14 July 2007
A little while ago, danah boyd wrote a thought-provoking article on a change in Social Network use in US adolescents, which she sees not so much as a “shift” than a “fragmentation”. The former mass use of MySpace in high schools has gradually changed in the past 6 months, along a class divide. Boyd reports on the use of social networks by “good” and “bad” kids (the teens’ own terms) but prefers to refer to them as “hegemonic teens” and “subaltern teens”. The former, aspiring to college and belonging to a comfortable socio-economic class join the college-oriented Faceboook, see as “safer” than MySpace, where non-conformist as well as working-class kids are staying. Aesthetics reflect on this duality: clean and modern look for Facebook pages, “bling” for Myspace. On an interesting aside, she notes that the
Yesterday, Bernie Goldbach posted podcast reflecting on the appeal of Facebook for an older demographic, typically professionals (Robert Scobble, it seems, has thousands of friends on Facebook). There follows a very interesting discussion on the possible uses of Facebook as a teaching tool in college, as it seems his students are now joining Facebook, more for professional reasons it seems, but brings me to wonder if we are going to see a fragmentation of social network use in Ireland following the US model, and if college students are going to leave Bebo for a more “grown-up”, sophisticated version of the social network.
10 July 2007
A while back, after reading Blankpaige’s enthusiastic endorsement, I registered with Statcounter and kept a vague eye on things, reckoning that most of the time, only my own visits were recorded, with a short outburst whenever I linked to someone’s post. Today, sick to death of trying to write a chapter that will not let itself be written, I decided to dig a bit deeper into the analysis offered by Statcounter. I am subsequently slightly unnerved and more than a little nonplussed. Who was the visitor from
08 July 2007
Last August in
"Electronic storage devices function as an extension of our own memory," Judge Dean Pregerson wrote. "They are capable of storing our thoughts, ranging from the most whimsical to the most profound. Therefore, government intrusions into the mind -- specifically those that would cause fear or apprehension in a reasonable person -- are no less deserving of Fourth Amendment scrutiny than intrusions that are physical in nature."
07 July 2007
04 July 2007
Lyrics - I Started A Blog Which Nobody Read by Sprites
I started a blog, which nobody read
When I went to work I blogged there instead
I started a blog, which nobody viewed
It might be in cache, the topics include:
George Bush is an evil moron
What’s the story with revolving doors?
I’m in love with a girl who doesn’t know I exist
Nobody hates preppies anymore
I started a blog, but nobody came
No issues were raised, no comments were made
I started a blog, which nobody read
I’ll admit that it wasn’t that great
But if you must know, here’s what it said:
One hundred of my favorite albums
Two hundred people I can’t take
Four hundred movies I would like to recommend
Ten celebrities, four of whom I might assassinate
I started a blog, I sent you the link
I wanted the world (you) to know what I think
I started a blog, but when I read yours
It made me forget what I had started mine for
02 July 2007
(click on the map for bigger image)
A map of the world according to the dominant social network sites in each country/region. Ireland is unequivocally Bebo country, along with New Zealand. LiveJournal is identified as social network here, as is Blogger. From Valleywag.
01 July 2007
13 June 2007
11 June 2007
09 June 2007
06 June 2007
05 June 2007
The Big Brother is on holidays, after a heroic attempt to cram a year’s studying into 3 days before his summer exams. He is now free from his mother’s nagging for a blissful 3 months and can dedicate himself to further improving his vocabulary.
A study in Britain last year, reported by the BBC, suggested that the average teenager has a vocabulary of over 12,600 words, just about half of an adult’s vocabulary. The most used words are, not surprisingly, yeah, but, no, and like. I would suspect fuck comes rather high on the list as well, but no mention of it in the article.
Very worried about the Big Brother's linguistic ability, I dug a little deeper. It seems that the average English speaker does in fact possess around 20,000 words. Out of 616,500!!! (French, it seems, only proposes a meager 100,000 words...) Michael Spears, a lecturer in journalism, has created a little test . I failed on a number of those... eleemosynary??? I guessed refulgent, but I was really good on the latin ones. Good old French secondary school, latin for 5 years, and I can still say arma virumque cano. Not that I would. David Crystal is more optimistic, according to this article, and suggests 60,000 words per graduate.
The Big Brother is getting there. We had a very interesting conversation around the dinner table.
"What does apathy mean?"
Great temptation there to give an example very close to home. I resisted, and explained.
"- And what does monogamy mean?"
- Monogamy???? What were you reading?
- It's in a song, an Eminem song
- Well, monogamy means marriage to one person only.
- Doesn't make much sense.
- That's a matter of opinion.
- No, it doesn't make sense in the song!"
The Big Sister rolls her eyes:
- Do you mean monotony?
- What does monotony mean?
- Yeah, that makes sense.
Do not diss Eminem. The Big Brother is now three words closer to 60,000. It's going to be a long road. Get writing, Eminem! I would suggest eleemosynary and refulgent. Good rapping sound to those.
25 May 2007
Today is Towel Day. It could be an oblique reference to the Irish election results, as in “throwing in the towel” (to admit defeat or failure, it seems) or using an old towel to mop up the remains of some party or other, but it isn’t.
It is a day for geeks and linguists, a day to celebrate Douglas Adams and the many uses of a towel in intergalactic travel. It is thus in the spirit of discourse analysis that I quote this important section from the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, which gives us a glimpse into the crucial problems encountered by grammar in time travelling circles, notably in the case of the Future Semi-Conditionally Modified Subinverted Plagal Past Subjunctive Intentional (the last tense usually consulted by readers of The Time Traveller’s Handbook of 1001 Tense Formations; it seems that students subsequently give up on tenses, and the above grammar book is blank after the Future Semi-Conditionally Modified Subinverted Plagal Past Subjunctive Intentional entry. Sad, but true.)
It will tell you for instance how to describe something that was about to happen to you in the past before you avoided it by time-jumping forward two days in order to avoid it. The event will be described differently according to whether you are talking about it from the standpoint of your own natural time, from a time in the further future, or a time in the further past and is further complicated by the possibility of conducting conversations whilst you are actually travelling from one time to another with the intention of becoming your own father or mother. (Adams, 1980, p.80)
And the Future Perfect was or will be abandoned because “it was discovered not to be”.
17 May 2007
15 May 2007
The Lulu Blooker Prize is the world's first literary prize devoted to "blooks"-books based on blogs or other websites, including webcomics. (from the Blooker prize website)
The prize went to an ex-soldier, a American machine-gunner who wrote his blog while serving in
The second article is by Zoe Margolis, blogger turned published author, who claims that publishers are now trawling through blogs in an effort to find new authors. Several famous bloggers have of course received book deals from publishers, even though Dooce ended up in court over it. In the UK, Tom Reynolds recently published Blood, Sweat and Tea, and Petite Anglaise, who was famously dooced last year and recently won a court case brought by her ex-employer, has also received a six-figure book deal. In
The only paper “blook” I’ve read so far is Salaam Pax’s The Bahdad Blog, which really was only a printed version of his blog, and as such a little disappointing, in the line of other books which are collections of blog entries from various authors. Blogs don’t make very good books, they lose too much in “translation”, but I certainly hope bloggers will write good books and keep their blogs running as well.
14 May 2007
and sometimes female...
I remember trying the same tool on non-fiction writing; essays and chapter excerpts were male, and my diary was female. Do we always conform to male norms when we write professionally, and only unleash our female side when writing fiction or diaries? Or is the algorithm flawed, as an article in the Guardian at first suggested?
11 May 2007
This is one of my favourite songs, and it also happens to be one of the 25 Most Exquisitely Sad Songs in the Whole World, although in the Jeff Buckley version, which The Big Brother thinks is, like, totally superior to the original.
09 May 2007
07 May 2007
23 April 2007
What interested me – nearly as much as the political aspect, was that two issues seemed to exercise the political bloggers: ethics (should they issue the results of the exit polls before 20.00 hours, which would have been illegal, but tempting – freedom of speech, of course, and the affordance was there, why not use it?) and definitions (what – or who - is a “real” blogger?)
Both issues are, I think, at the heart of blogging in general, and not only French blogging, or political blogging, or French political blogging. Indeed both issues are at the heart of the personal blogs as well as the opinion blogs. Ethics, as seen of course in the recent code for bloggers proposed by Tim O’Reilly, but also in the day to day issues facing personal bloggers, issues of moral responsibility and of self-disclosure. Definitions also, as arguments flourish over definitions of Web 2.0, and of the word blog itself.
More to come, from the French elections, from French bloggers, and from those vexed issues.
19 April 2007
17 April 2007
16 April 2007
The one I most wish I hadn't bothered with: Five People You Meet in Heaven.
The one I wish they had included: an awful lot, amongst which That They May Face the Rising Sun, The Blackwater Lightship, more Terry Pratchett
The one that's beside my bed but I haven't yet opened: The New York Trilogy
The one I doubt I will ever read: The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic
The one I wish I had time to read: A Suitable Boy
13 April 2007
The past two days have been very busy, desperately catching up and preparing a presentation – too late, always too late. So I didn’t keep up with my Google reader, I worked and wrote and today, at last, I read as well. Serendipity again? Blankpaige has introduced a law of blogging, the incredibly complicated calculations of which I will not attempt to describe, but it can be summed up as: the more you read (blogs), the less you blog. This did of course strike a chord , expert procrastinator that I am, always looking for scientific reasons to my lack of blogging/writing chapters/ironing. And in today’s Guardian – although the author has probably not yet read Paige’s law, this sentence:
It could be that the vast majority of people prefer just to read blogs rather than write them…
In an article which describes blogging as “a minority sport”, and compares the slow rise in blogs to the meteoric rise in social network participation. This is indeed what I find in the realm of young people’s blogs – a significant number of blogs are slowly abandoned, and online interaction moves to Bebo. The true bloggers, who stay the distance? They write, and writing is not easy.
10 April 2007
30 March 2007
29 March 2007
Superhero supplies from Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co.
Last week’s New Scientist has a very interesting article on mental time travel and references to « autobiographical memory network » in the brain. In short, the same area of the brain is used for to stock memories and to imagine the future, and memories are used to project into the future. They explain that the constructive nature of memories can help us to anticipate the future, but also causes us to form false memories. They also reiterate that scientists, for the past 50 years, have known that our brain can work independently from our control.
This grabbed my attention, for I have had the brain on my mind for a while. The idea of a brain working on its own brought back memories of a cartoon I used to watch with the two Big Sisters when they were small. What I remember – and it could be a “constructed” memory, is little men at work through the body, and the control center in the brain organizing the whole day, with no input whatsoever from the “person”, who was actually totally irrelevant. I have been wondering about those little men (why not women?) and about what this PhD business is doing to my brain. For over a week now, if I wake up naturally, and not jerked into wakefulness by the Little One jumping on my bed/the cat scratching at the door/assorted family members wondering very loudly about breakfast, if and when I wake up on my own, I wake up to thinking about The thesis. I don’t wake up, wonder about the day, and think about the thesis, I wake up to my brain thinking about the thesis behind my back, and stumble into the conversation. It is a strange feeling. I have tried admonishing my brain “what are you doing, thinking without me? What if I don’t like what you’re thinking about?”, but my brain is becoming sneaky. Already, it has stopped me from reading novels for months on end. I pick up a thriller, settle myself comfortably on my bed, away from the bedlam that is the rest of the house, and… nothing. I read a page, sigh, read another page, feel bored. I love thrillers, but my love is thwarted for weeks and weeks. Then, suddenly, my brain lets me read thrillers again, and refuses to concentrate on articles.
It has become so contrary, a little bit like a sulky teenager intent on freedom at all costs, and intent mainly on testing my resolve and my power over it. So it works without me. Maybe to my advantage, mind you. In a lecture room the other day I found a very strange questionnaire. Question 1 was “do you think you have super powers?” Yes, YES, of course I have super powers. I think in my sleep! Not a very useful superpower, I hear you snigger. Maybe, but superpowers can be improved, I have read enough comics and seen enough films to know that much. I could very well go back to my home planet/attend a special school/wear a new superhero outfit, and wham, zam, new super powers. Never mind about my brain, I really want my hands to start typing while I’m sleeping.
22 March 2007
I wonder does all research have an autobiographical element? There are many layers of autobiography to my research interests; diaries, journals and even blogs are part of life writing, and choosing to study life writing necessarily leads to writing your own life. I started writing my life in 1971, in an extremely cool apple green locked diary (with a drawing of a girl wearing flares, an indian tunic and beads on the cover; in my memory, she is dancing). My diary had a name, that I shall always swear I do not remember... I started reading blogs in 1999, on my first computer, in the bedroom of our apartment in
15 March 2007
I have finally added a widget, even though the name had been bothering me and keeping me away from widgeting. But I gave in, mostly because my delicio.us is in a terrible mess and I have no time to clean up. So a widgetory glance can tell me which entries I have been noting on the work front; the tarte tatin aux endives is not entirely related to work, but it could be. And because I am entirely serious and not at all prone to attacks of procrastination, I do not include the really intriguing blog entries, such as The One On How to Get Rid of A Body or The One with the ExpletivOMeter.
Which leads me nicely to the realisation that I do not need tags on this blog, so single-minded am I in the pursuit of procrastination. And I rue the day when I picked its name; rumble strips should slow you down a little, not bring you to a halt every 100 meters.
12 March 2007
I came across this, in one of my procrastinating meaderings, and it felt like serendipity. I have started writing on expectation of privacy in adolescents' blogs, and my readings today had taken me to some journals of psychology, to self-disclosure, transient self and abiding self scales, as well as construction of identity online... from there to proof of identity is one tiny step that I am glad to take, at least for one second, until I go back to my work. No more procrastination.
I also found an article on procrastination, although I was at the time avoiding procrastination like the plague, and dutifully sticking to academic journals of relevance. What do you do when procrastination comes looking for you? This is the abstract for the article:
The Nature of Procrastination: A Meta-Analytic and Theoretical Review of Quintessential Self-Regulatory Failure. Steel, Piers; Psychological Bulletin, Vol 133(1), Jan 2007. pp. 65-94. [Original Journal Article] Abstract: Procrastination is a prevalent and pernicious form of self-regulatory failure that is not entirely understood. Hence, the relevant conceptual, theoretical, and empirical work is reviewed, drawing upon correlational, experimental, and qualitative findings. A meta-analysis of procrastination's possible causes and effects, based on 691 correlations, reveals that neuroticism, rebelliousness, and sensation seeking show only a weak connection. Strong and consistent predictors of procrastination were task aversiveness, task delay, self-efficacy, and impulsiveness, as well as conscientiousness and its facets of self-control, distractibility, organization, and achievement motivation. These effects prove consistent with temporal motivation theory, an integrative hybrid of expectancy theory and hyperbolic discounting. Continued research into procrastination should not be delayed, especially because its prevalence appears to be growing.
They research procrastination AND they have a sense of humour...
20 February 2007
"How can he fall so eloquently?" asked my young linguist.
19 February 2007
But what greets me on the Amazon page, waving madly at me with a spooky blue grin? Mr. Target, obviously inspired by one of the lesser Mr. Men. What's a student to do? Click, of course, on the little blue yoke, to discover - although much much too late in my case, and sadly too late also for my poor neglected children - that Little Blue Yoke is a potty training aide.
And I quote:
Helps to accelerate the Toilet/Potty Training Process
Makes using the toilet fun and interesting
Helps to get children out of nappies faster
Promotes greater hygiene standards in the bathroom, by giving children a point of focus
Works for girls and boys
Made with Hygienilac(R), a patented antibacterial ingredient
Each ball lasts for up to 4 weeks
Floats on the surface of the water, inside the toilet bowl and doesn't sink
Can help to reduce nappy expenditure
Great for children of all ages, including Dad!
I wonder what Mr. Faiclough would make of it. Or M. Foucault, for that matter.
15 February 2007
I came back energized and ready to jump back into reading, researching and writing. And resolved to once and for all resume blogging.
Ha! This was discounting my truly amazing propensity for procrastinating. I did start working, but an entry on a blog was left to tonight when I get home, after I've cooked dinner, just before I go to bed, after I've finished reading other people's blogs, and maybe follow a few links, tomorrow without fail, when I get to college, after I've read this article, after lunch, this week-end definitely...
I have however uploaded my pictures on my still-new and more than ever beloved laptop, hence the snow.