29 March 2008

The world according to newspapers

This is a very interesting map,courtesy of Nicolas Kayser-Bril.

And this is the blogosphere:

18 March 2008

A French presidential cyber-spy?

It seems that the French blogosphere is buzzing today, with the news that the French president Nicolas Sarkozy has appointed a young and supposedly brilliant 25 year old to be his cyber-eye, and keep a finger on the pulse of the French blogosphere , at least for news of the president and rumours about the president and videos of the president insulting a citizen. It also seems that it only took a few hours for bloggers to create a Facebook group on the young recruit, called "Nicolas Princen est sexy"...

14 March 2008

Memes and books

I have been looking at memes recently, in the context of my study, for they flourish in LiveJournal and in blogs in general. These are the modern, digital memes, some of them the equivalent of the old chain letters. The word itself was coined by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, and he defines it as a "unit of cultural transmission". Susan Blackmore explains:

Memes are habits, skills, songs, stories, or any other kind of information that is copied from person to person.

Henry Jenkins
and his colleagues have been doing the 1,2,3 challenge, a sort of literary meme:
  • Look up page 123 in the nearest book

  • Look for the fifth sentence

  • Then post the three sentences that follow that fifth sentence on page 123.
In my memory, it was only one sentence, but three will give a better idea of the book you are reading (maybe the meme was thus amended by academics). On my desk, amongst others:

  • "But when the private individual and private life entered literature (in the Hellenistic era) these problems inevitably were bound to arise. A contradiction developed between the public nature of the literary form and the private nature of its content. The process of working out private genres began. (M.M. Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination)
This seems incredibly relevant to today's discussions on the shifting concepts of public and private on the Internet, and most particularly in personal blogs.

  • "However, such interpenetration does not necessarily mean that the two are combined. The transparency of blogging, especially when the authors are identified by name, leads to an unusual collapsing of the public and private sphere, a regression to rural life and concentric social circles. The very elements of blogging that make it most valuable - a networked audience, open conversation, low barriers to entry, and transparency - are also most threatening to established strictures of academic behavior." (Alexander Halavais, Scholarly Blogging: Moving toward the visible college, in Uses of Blogs)

There seems to be a theme here...

and then...

  • "Why can't we just hide?"
"Someone might find you."

"You have an answer for everything."

(Robert Crais, The Watchman)

13 March 2008

Bebo, AOL and what's hot

I see in The Guardian today that Bebo has been bought by AOL for $850m. The Guardian are talking of Bebo "riding the second dot com wave", and Jemima Kiss has worked out that deal works out at $38 per Beboer... It would seem my home is worth $76 to Bebo, then.

Nothing about the money, or AOL on the Bebo front page. What's hot today on Bebo is the All-for-Nots ("The band that will conquer the world wide web...unless they run out of gas.") It's all about music, and videos, and your Bebo skins , but a press release is to be found in the press section:

"Bebo is the perfect complement to AOL's personal communications network and puts us in a leading position in social media," said Randy Falco, Chairman and CEO, AOL. "What drew us to Bebo was its substantial and fast-growing worldwide user-base, its vision of a truly social web, and the monetization opportunities that leverage Platform-A across our combined global audience. This positions us to offer advertisers even greater reach and marketers significant insights into the desires and needs of consumers."

Today, surprisingly enough, the advertiser on the front page was the University of Liverpool, for their online masters course.

Back to the marketplace...

11 March 2008

How not to write a thesis . Part 71

Oooh, I shouldn't be here, I should be in chapter 3, subchapter 2, in fact I should be writing 3.2.2 but what can you do?

The Little one was sick. I got a call from the school, Madam, your Little One is not feeling well, please come and collect him. And so it goes. First of all, a pale face and downturned mouth ... "I have a sore throat and a sore head and a sore tummy and I don't feel well and I don't want anything to eat." WHAT? You don't want anything to eat? Come here, my little one, the best thermometer in the world, a kiss against a forehead, does not lie. Tis a virus, a nasty one, a sore throaty one, a fevery one, one where you get up every two hours during the night to inform your mother of your plight. So we administer Calpol (although not every two hours, having read both the leaflet and the very scary blog post on paracetamol overdoses) , hot drinks and honey, and cuddles galore.

And in the morning, you are still poorly, but well enough to force down some hot chocolate and toast with honey while you watch National Geographic's endless documentaries on tigers, pigs, dogs, crocodiles, lions... and your poor mother tries to keep her eyes open and her brain on lofty matters to cram in her thesis.

The said chapter, chapter 3, the bane of my life, now proudly owns 4000 words!!! I know, we are still far from the required 9000 before next Thursday, but hey, a few more sleepless nights and I'll be able to type drivel like noone before.

Onwards to the kitchen and a cup of coffee, and hopefully inspiration thereafter. Or a documentary on wild hogs. Whatever.

09 March 2008

Elastic time

Daithí's post today reminded me once again of the bi-annual mental block that grips me when we have to change time. Every year, twice a year, my brain freezes as I try to comprehend whether we lose or gain time as the clock goes backwards or forwards. This year, I won't even try, because time is all in your mind, or so says the New York Times:

the time we experience bears little relation to time as read on a clock. The brain creates its own time, and it is this inner time, not clock time, that guides our actions. In the space of an hour, we can accomplish a great deal — or very little.

The time related to my thesis seems to expand and shrink at a furious rate. Thursday and Friday, time had shrunk, and the output was great. Today, time is slow slow slow, and the output - nonexistent. I could calculate a word to hour ratio and correlate it with the internal clock that speeds or slows down time. If I could add or multiply, or divide, or whatever it is that has to be done for calculating ratios. Or if I had time to learn basic maths and then progress to genius level maths, and then I could also study the time expansion technique that is procrastination. Or I could go back to writing.

05 March 2008

It didn't even take 30 minutes

I am nerdier than 68% of all people. Are you a nerd? Click here to find out!

And no, I am not wasting time or procrastinating. I have typed 3 pages and written another 3 in my notebooks. I am keeping an eye on the deadline, and it is looming.

03 March 2008

30 minutes

I went to the Irish blog awards on Saturday, and to the Tea Party beforehand. Both were attended by very nice people, and many new blogs will have to be read henceforth. I had already added this to my reader, for the times when I actually have time to try out new recipes. Grannymar and Grandad won the personal blog award, and they made a dashing couple on the podium.

I also got a lesson in time management from Grandad, who blogs for 30 minutes (or was it an hour and 30 minutes?) in the morning, then writes (he got a book deal, you see...) and then works at his other job. And makes time for a 2 hours nap in the afternoon. It got me to wonder if this was not the answer to my writing problem. Maybe if I start the day with a blog post, and time myself for this (30 minutes would have to do), then the words might flow on the thesis front...

He also mistook me for Kathy Foley, whose name is so similar to mine, but she has a K and no W; she also has a different take on blogs and blogging. Reading this column, once more I am startled at the different meanings for the word blog, and its constant linking to conventional media. As Haydn points out, it seems that "influential" bloggers are journalists. Other bloggers who make the transition into print media are those with the fabled "book deal". However, this book deal often sees the death of the blog in its glorious vitality, one must presume in order to keep some material for the publishers. This has not happened to Twenty Major, the recipient of the Best Blog award, whose blog is still vibrant and funny and ... a blog (I must confess that I have not read his book, and thus cannot compare it to the posts).

The conventional media tend to overlook the vast majority of blogs, which are personal blogs. However, academics and academic bloggers tend to concentrate on those, rather than on journalistic blogs, except maybe in the field of media studies. What fascinates me in blogs and blogging is the emergence of a new form of communication rather than a new form of publishing, and the blogs I prefer to read are snippets of life.

01 March 2008

Footprints on the web

While looking for books on multimodality, I kept encountering the name of Ron Scollon; because I am curious, and it is Saturday, I looked around a little more, and found his website, and a fascinating web-essay entitled Footprints.

A web-essay?

This is how he defines it:

A web-essay is a way of thinking by playing with images and making networked connections. Mostly those connections are made by the way images are placed on the screen and then glued together with some words.(...)

Writing from the top to the bottom of writing tablets fits with a linear line of argumentation. Where people don't write they don't often do that; they tell stories in a chronological storyline to achieve suspense in their listeners; or they try to persuade their listeners by getting them excited and worked up.

The whole essay deserves much more time than I could give it this morning, it is a fascinating read to which I will come back again and again.