14 December 2009

Google in a red hat, riding on a sleigh?

Yesterday, I posted this video on my Facebook page. It is a different kind of Christmas song, and my eldest daughter will be spending this Christmas in Sydney, presumably drinking white wine in the sun...

This morning, Google had decided to grant me my wish. My iGoogle page tells me the weather here in Dublin, and in places where my friends and family happen to live. This was Dublin this morning

35 degrees next Thursday... Time to put the white wine in the cooler...

20 November 2009

Jeu de main , jeu de ...

 For this week, no cake of indeterminate nationality or affiliation. After Thierry Henry handled a ball which cost Ireland its place in the world cup, and in the midst of an Internet storm of huge proportions,  this game arrived in my inbox, sent by some well-meaning friends. You can move Henry's arm and hand to score as many goals as you want, and help France to qualify...

Thierry Henry - Jeu de main - Le jeu !

Posted using ShareThis

13 November 2009

Of soccer and flags

Because of the impending doom match tomorrow, and the vexing problem of my double allegiance, this post on Cake Wrecks just seemed so perfect.

11 November 2009

How (not to) write a thesis (part 9,742)

I have written. I am writing. I will write. I have to write. I must write. More. More often. Faster. Better.

I must not let my thinking turn into daydreaming.

(from todays PhD Comics: Brain Saver)

I all else fail, I can always follow Laurie's lead and use the Academic Sentence generator. It's an easy game - pick four words from the drop-down lists, and the generator creates your next sentence. Will you find those in my thesis?

The emergence of praxis may be parsed as the construction of agency.
The emergence of process carries with it the construction of power/knowledge.
 Back to work. And I must remember not use the word emergence.

05 November 2009

Google monster

Here he is again, the Google monster in today's Google doodle - brought to you by Sesame Street's 40th birthday!

Me, I google

Sesame Street has a famous googler in Cookie Monster, and I'm not surprised. The word Google is very attractive to children; my youngest son had a little stuffed monkey which he called Google, and Google went everywhere with us. Google is now hidden behind books, Playstation games and Warhammer figures, but it is still there, watching my little one grow into a teenager...

15 October 2009

A technological sense of humour

Some relents of Hal today in my RSS reader. DCU's president wrote a blog entry on celebrities'  "autobiographies", fame and popular culture. The entry was filed under "culture" and "society". It was tagged with "autobiography", "popular culture" and the names of two of the celebrities in question, Jordan and Britney Spears. Only a wicked sense of humour on the part of some blogging technology imp could explain the automatically generated links: nothing about culture, be it popular or not, nothing on autobiography or life writing. No, the blogging imp created links to Jordan's family photographs and "naughty hottie photos"! And then, as an afterthought, although a puzzling one, a link to Obama's back to school speech. Are the imp and the president(s) suggesting Jordan should go back to school?

01 October 2009

Blogging teens

Tommy has created a secondary school blog directory, as a way of highlighting blogs written in Ireland by young people.  He has already listed a few of them.  From my research, it certainly seems to be true that blogging starts later, in university. However, there are also quite a number of young people blogging on platforms like LiveJournal, and who may prefer to stay outside the blogging mainstream, using their blogs or journals as a means of communicating with online or offline friends, either about the minutiae of their lives or about some special interests, like gaming or fan fiction.

Irish young people did not join in the big blogging craze which spread amongst their european counterparts, notably in France where the Skyblog platform became an oblogatory rite of passage for teenagers.  Its format however was very similar to that of social network sites to come, and young people eventually migrated to Facebook in France, MySpace or Bebo in the UK, and Bebo in Ireland. And interestingly, the blogging facility on social network sites like Bebo was rarely if ever used, or solely for quizzes and memes. At the same time however, a small yet consistant number of young people in Ireland started blogs initially on Diaryland, and then increasingly on LiveJournal, which has a dual role of blogging platform , but includes social network site facilities, like lists of friends and interests.  It is also home to some very active communities of interest, notably for fan fiction writers and readers.

Yet I must say that, like Tommy, I would love to see more young Irish people create blogs within the mainstream blogging community, and make their voices heard on issues which concern them, or simply tell their stories. I would also love to read more blogs from older people, and hear their stories as well. We need more voices, more stories which will create a patchwork of narratives, making for a more inclusive blogging community.

29 September 2009

Love in time of social media


How Facebook and blogs are changing relations between boys and girls...

 From the always excellent xkcd

19 September 2009

Read like a pirate

Pirate day ahoy? How do pirates read, and how do they talk about their readings? It seems that LibraryThing knows a thing or two about them:

18 September 2009

A French Downfall

The Downfall remixes have been going for more than a year.  In 2008, Wired estimated that hundreds had been created. This week, a new remix was published in France, dealing with the incident of the racist comments from the Interior Minister, Brice Hortefeux.

The minister was attending a summer meeting in Seignosse, a small town in the Landes area. He was introduced to a young man from North African background, and is filmed saying: "Quand il y en a un ça va. C'est quand il y en a beaucoup qu'il y a des problèmes."  ("It's ok when there's only one; if there are many more, then you've got problems").  The video was published by the online edition of Le Monde, and it seems that many commentators criticized the unregulated internet,and the president of the UMP group, Jean François Cope, called for a public debate on "internet and freedom".  In the meantime, both the original video and now the downfall remix are gathering a growing audience...

10 September 2009

Open access academic books

Open Humanities Press has announced the launch of a new series of open access books, which will be available free of charge as electronic books and as reasonably priced paperbacks.  The series include Critical Climate Change, edited by Tom Cohen and Claire Colebrook, Global Conversations, edited by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o,  Liquid Books, edited by Clare Birchall and Gary Hall, New Metaphysics, edited by Graham Harman and Bruno Latour, and Unidentified Theoretical Objects, edited by Wlad Godzich.  From their press release:

NEW OPEN ACCESS MONOGRAPHS SERIES - Open Humanities Press (OHP), in conjunction with the University of Michigan Library’s Scholarly Publishing Office (SPO), is pleased to announce the following forthcoming open access series in critical and cultural theory: New Metaphysics (ed. Graham Harman and Bruno Latour), Critical Climate Change (ed. Tom Cohen and Claire Colebrook), Global Conversations (ed. Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o), Unidentified Theoretical Objects (ed. Wlad Godzich), and Liquid Books (ed. Clare Birchall and Gary Hall).
In a unique collaboration, the scholars of the Open Humanities Press are partnering with the University of Michigan Library’s Scholarly Publishing Office to launch five new OA book series, edited by senior members of OHP’s editorial board. All of the books will be freely available in full-text, digital editions and as reasonably-priced paperbacks.
“This is a tremendously exciting development for humanities publishing” said Barbara Cohen, Director of HumaniTech and a Steering Group member of OHP. “For faculty and libraries to work directly together to address the monographs crisis in this way makes perfect sense. It is a savvy solution to a long-standing problem of access whose effects have been having a major impact on scholarship worldwide.”
“We are delighted the scholars of OHP approached us to support their innovative vision” said Maria Bonn, Director of SPO. “We are enthusiastically supportive of what they are trying to accomplish, and excited about the opportunities our collaboration offers for rethinking existing models of scholarly publishing.”
All books published by OHP in conjunction with SPO will go through the highest standards of editorial vetting and peer review that will be managed by OHP’s series editors and board, which contains some of the most well-respected names in literary criticism and cultural studies including Alain Badiou, Chair of Philosophy at the École Normale Supérieure, Donna Haraway, Professor of the History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies, UC Santa Cruz, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Director of the International Center for Writing and Translation, UC Irvine, Gayatri Spivak, Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities, Columbia University, Peter Suber, Open Access Project Director for Public Knowledge and Professor of Philosophy at Earlham College, and Stephen Greenblatt, Cogan University Professor of the Humanities, Harvard University.

25 August 2009

Tech support flowchart

From xkcd, a guide to any tech problem:

22 August 2009

About communities

This is one I will order today: Digital Habitats, byEtienne Wenger,  Nancy White and John D. Smith is now out, and can be ordered here.

Technology has changed what it means for communities to “be together.” Digital tools are now part of most communities’ habitats. This book develops a new literacy and language to describe the practice of stewarding technology for communities.  Whether you want to ground your technology stewardship in theory and deepen your practice, whether you are a community leader or sponsor who wants to understand how communities and technology intersect, or whether you just want practical advice, this is the book for you.

06 August 2009

Sligo to Dublin with Julia

The 5 o'clock train from Sligo to Dublin takes three hours, stopping at every small town and village along the way to pick up improbable passengers. On one occasion at least, it was carrying a gaggle of 50something women joyfully drinking white wine out of plastic cups on their way back from an overnight trip, and a group of young Sligo men carrying sports bags, as well as carrier bags full of beer cans for the long trip ahead. I had obviously not chosen a quiet carriage, and my plan of reading Julie Inness' " Privacy Intimacy and Isolation" seemed to be rather ill-advised.

Luckily, I was prepared for such an eventuality: a few hours earlier, I had ducked out of the pouring rain in Sligo, and rushed into a shop which advertised SCHOOLBOOKS!, assuming they might also be agreeable to selling books not intended for school. They were. But not much. I didn't want to read classics, or long, intense novels. I needed a book for the train, just in case, and preferably a thriller, to distract me from the guilt of not reading Something for the Thesis. I was also in a rush, so I picked up one of the first books I saw, Julie and Julia - presumably about friendship, not too long, and on special offer.

It wasn't a thriller, and it wasn't about friendship. It was about food, French cookery books, and blogs. It tells the story of the Julie/Julia project, which happened in 2002/2003, when Julie Powell, a temping secretary in a government agency, decided to navigate the murky waters of her 30th year by cooking every single recipe in a book of French cookery by Julia Child. She also decided to blog the project, at a time when blogs where more text and less pictures. It is a very enjoyable standalone book, doesn't feel at all like a blog on paper, but at times, it made me feel sorry I hadn't known the blog during the project, and hadn't been able to experience the day by day narrative. The project, incidentally, went from blog to book to film. Julie Powell now has a new blog, by the way. And a new book. And Julia Child's cookery book was reedited, with Meryl Streep on the cover.

25 July 2009

Books, bells and kindles

I don't have a Kindle. Some do and like it, but it seems that the acquisition and use of the device can be problematic in Ireland. Amazon uk sell a Sony reader for those without a US credit card and address. Of course, the idea of bringing a lot of books on holidays without hurting your back or paying for overweight luggage is engaging, but I like to write on my books. I even - horror of horrors - tend to print articles from eJournals so that I can highlight, underline, and write in the margins.   Also, I don't think I would like to wake up one morning and find the book that I'm reading has disappeared from my desk. As others noted, it is also somewhat ironic that, among the books deleted, were Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm. The most startling fact though, is how unaware we are of powers outside our control, even over objects which we feel belong to us:

The worst thing about this story isn't Amazon's conduct; it's the company's technical capabilities. Now we know that Amazon can delete anything it wants from your electronic reader. That's an awesome power, and Amazon's justification in this instance is beside the point. As our media libraries get converted to 1's and 0's, we are at risk of losing what we take for granted today: full ownership of our book and music and movie collections. (Farhad Manjoo in Slate)

04 July 2009

Cyberbullying, cyberharassment and the Megan Meier case

Lori Drew was acquitted last week of charges against her in the cyberbullying case referring to the suicide of Megan Meier. Drew had created a fake account, pretended to be a young boy on MySpace,  befriending Megan Meier and subsequently attacked her online. The government argument it seems, was that Drew has violated the terms of service of MySpace, and that this was equivalent to hacking, which the judge refuted, arguing that this was tantamount to letting MySpace or other service providers decide on what was a crime.

More interestingly, as reported by NetFamily News, the Progress and Freedom Foundation blog makes reference to a report which differentiates between issues which are generally covered by the all-encompassing term of "cyberbullying":

They dfiiferentiate between cyberbullying, defined  as kid-on-kid abuse online, Cyberharassment , defined as people of all ages using the internet for abusive purposes, and Adult-on-kid cyberharassment, which would refer to the Megan Meier case more particularly.

02 June 2009

Next Thursday, in the National Library, Gerry McKiernan, from Iowa State University, will be giving a lecture on scholarship in the 21st century:

Lecture: The paradigms they are a-changin' - the future of research and scholarship
Thursday 4 June at 1.00pm
Admission free; booking is not required

28 May 2009

Young people and technology

Interesting post on a Channel 4 blog, on a report that they have commissioned to study young people and technology; interestingly as well, they have extended the traditional "adolescent" age to include young adults up to 24 years old, which seems to be a growing trend, both in commercial and academic research. The results are not surprising to anyone who has been watching young people's practices with technology, but it is nice to have some figures as well. Most young people own on average 8 devices, televisions, DVD players, MP3, phones, laptops, digital cameras. They see technology as a means to communicate above anything else, to the point of sometimes texting a friend who is physically beside them at the time (more polite than whispering in their ear some comment about what is happening, I'd say). The first thing they do when they get home is to turn on their PC or laptop, as they feel that they don't spend enough time with their friends. As for media, they want to be able to talk about it (and do, with MSN and/or mobile phones on when they watch television), and they want to be able to interact and, more importantly I think, they want to be able to play with the content.

25 May 2009

Humanities journal search

Fr those who don’t have access to online libraries in universities, and for those who do , there is a new search engine, Jurn, which works with Google as a background (I know that’s not the technical explanation), techie stuff here. It searches a huge database of free academic journals or journals with substantial free content, in the arts and humanities disciplines. There is also a directory, with links to journals.

22 May 2009

Ghosts in the machine

Cambridge University researchers have recently completed a study/experiment on deleting photos from various SNS or blogging sites, with mixed success. Whereas the picture cannot be seen any more on your Faceboo/Bebo/MySpace/LiveJournal, it would seem that in the depths of some server somewhere, your photos live their ghostly lives in limbo. If you need something more scientific than "ghostly lives in limbo", the very technical explanation is here.

18 May 2009

Just a few words

Twice today, people have remarked that my blog looks very sad and neglected. I know. Same story as my friends, my diary. Words are not as plentiful as one might think, and I am using them all for my chapters. They are being torn from me, very slowly and painfully. I don't even twitter, and that doesn't use up many words. Less words.

A long time ago, I read an issue of Wired about very short fiction. Shorter than Twitter, shorter than a haiku. In short, it is best illustrated by the first attempt at the genre by Hemingway:

"For sale: baby shoes, never used."

Here are a few more by famous - or less famous - people:

Gown removed carelessly. Head, less so. - Joss Whedon

Longed for him. Got him. Shit. - Margaret Atwood

Wasted day. Wasted life. Dessert, please. - Steven Meretzky

It’s behind you! Hurry before it - Rockne S. O’Bannon

In 2006, SMITH magazine organised a contest of six-word memoirs, which then became a book, and t-shirts, and a website again where anyone can leave life-stories told in six words. Some are well-crafted, others more therapeutic maybe, reminiscent of PostSecrets.

Or I could try Twitterature. Some of it seems similar to SMS novels in Japan, a short message serialization of a work of fiction. Some are standalone, just very short stories, like the 140 character Twisters created by Arjunbasu. I like this one:

They will not ask for directions. Because they are men. And so their planned wild weekend becomes two days of contemplation at the monestary

05 April 2009

Flutter: The New Twitter

Better, shorter, quicker than Twitter ? Also funnier.

25 March 2009

Of maps and books

There is something about maps that grabs the imagination. I love strange maps, I love games with maps, I have always loved poring over maps of the world and dreaming of roads, villages, cities, and how people live. And as I was looking for a book (and I love books even more than I love maps...), I sat mesmerised, watching people buying books all over the world with the Book Depository map...

13 March 2009

WWW @ 20

Twenty years ago today, I'm not sure what I was doing. I know I was working part-time, and that I spent a lot of time playing with my two little girls. What I wasn't doing, was sitting in front of a laptop, accessing far-away libraries and journals, and reading today's paper. But twenty years ago today (give or take), Tim Berners-Lee, the mind behind the web, was setting us all on the path to a new way of life. Today, in CERN, they are celebrating.

They are having a party, which will be open to all as a webcast:

It will consist of short presentations from Web veterans, a keynote speech from Tim Berners-Lee with a demonstration of the original browser, and a series of presentations from people that Tim believes are doing exciting things with the Web today.

Although the event is by invitation only, everyone will be able to follow the event:

The celebration will be webcast (streamed both by CERN and the French newschannel lci.fr from 14:00 CET).

Happy Birthday, World Wide Web!

(picture: free clipart from Webweaver)

09 March 2009

Things I like about academia

There is a serious, academic journal called Journal of Happiness Studies. And amongst the fascinating articles (easy to lose track of time and of your own studies), I found this one, on narrative identity, written by Jack Bauer.

03 March 2009

Best job in the world, the vote

For the Best Job in the World, it's too late for me. However, 50 applicants have been shortlisted, and among them is George, and Irish guy from co. Meath. 10 applicants will be chosen by Tourism Queensland, and one will be chosen by popular vote. They will then go to Queensland for an interview and a chance at The Best Job in the World. All applicants have created a 1 minute video, and votes are open for another 21 days. The rest of us can dream of sunny islands.

15 January 2009

Tools for research

Google are stopping development on Google Notebook, which I had used for a long time. I liked the fact that I could integrate all my tools for research on my Google page. Recently though, I had switched my organising from Notebook and Delicious to Evernote, which is much more visual and versatile. I even transferred my Delicious bookmarks to a folder there, and things are much clearer.

Here is a good post on how to use Evernote for students.

13 January 2009

Job seeks blogger

It seems that a blogger somewhere could get the best job in the world.

Hamilton Island are looking for a blogger who will live on the island for six months and promote it on a blog, for a salary of $150,000. Not surprisingly, they expect a great response, and thousands of applications before the Feb. 22 deadline.

I could think of worse ways to wait out the recession...

12 January 2009

Secrets and blogs

It is no secret, I read Post Secrets on sunday afternoons. Two secrets that I noticed where secrets about reading blogs, as if it was somehow forbidden. These are lurking secrets, and somehow it seems to the writers that they have knowingly invaded someone else's privacy. They read in secret, and then, anonymously admit their secret. Sins and confessions of the internet...

The sins of writing are more straightforward. In the immortal words of Dr. House : "everybody lies".

07 January 2009

Slow start to the year

The year is now starting in earnest. The first day of January isn't real, it's still too much part of the holiday season, with unfinished boxes of chocolates and crackers lost and found on the tree, friends and family calling and wishes exchanged.

Now it's back to work, and also back to blogging. But maybe differently.

When I look at the blogs in my RSS reader, it seems that they come in two categories: some are updated daily, or at least several times a week, and posts are short and to the point. Others are slower to update, and then longer entries are posted. One reason could be the hard discipline it is to keep a daily blog and fit the writing into a long list of other activities. If blogging is a hobby, it can be a time-consuming one; if it fits into a professional activity, it may be relegated to the "things I do when I am less busy". And then, they twitter. Or maybe they Twitter.

Last month, when Christmas was still a list of presents in my notebook, I met Damien to get some background on Irish blogs for The Introduction. He mentionned that a lot of community building and communication goes on behind the blog page, on Twitter. These micro-blogged short messages are more manageable, and somehow also feel more personal, similar as they are to our mobile text messages.

At the other end of blogging, is the slow blogging movement, which has its roots in the concept behind the slow food movement. I came across it first in an article from the New York Times, which led me to bgblogging. The posts there are thoughtful and peaceful, they take time to establish a context and paint a picture before delving into more intellectual matters. They mix the personal and the public, the artistic and the academic. It must take time to write them, and it takes time to read them.

I try to consider the transitional spaces between old practices and new, old literacies and new, old treasures and new.(bgblogging)
Making art is A Good Thing, and blogging can and should sometimes be a means to that end regardless of its many other affordances. (ruminate)

The reflexive use of the blog and the concerted effort at slowing the pace of blogging and of living reminded me of Nancy White's slow community movement.

And now that I am back at my desk, and frustrated by the slow pace of my writing, I think that maybe I should accept that pace, and see the PhD process as slow thought, slow scholarship.