June 30, 2004

First Lines

Tobias Seamon at The Morning News offers up some first lines for that novel you've always wants to write.
Everyone knows itís the wrong thing to do but I did it anyway.
or perhaps
We never should have given the nine-armed monkeys machine guns.
Posted by johndan at 03:40 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 29, 2004

Party Mix

Like many apparently bored bloggers, I've been compulsively clicking the "Party Mix" button in iTunes to see what 15 random tracks from my iTunes Library show up.
  1. "Three Cigarettes In An Ashtray", Patsy Cline
  2. "Of Minor Prophets And Their Prostitutes", Pedro The Lion
  3. "Stormy Weather/In a Sentimental Mood/Take the 'A' Train", Charlie Mingus
  4. "What's Going On (Live)", Los Lobos
  5. "Suck", Nine Inch Nails
  6. "L'aguardientem", Camper Van Beethoven
  7. "Midnight Creeper", Eagles Of Death Metal
  8. "Knockin' on Mine (Live)", Paul Westerberg
  9. "Live On In The Dark", Slobberbone
  10. "Avocado Green, Johnny Winter
  11. "Sitting On Top Of The World", Norman Blake
  12. "They're Not Witches", Guided By Voices
  13. "72 (This Highway's Mean)", Drive By Truckers
  14. "That's Enough For Me", Camper Van Beethoven
  15. "Levitate Me", The Pixies
  16. "Crazy Little Things (Live)". Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band
Apparently that's more than 15. Maybe I scrozzed a tag in the HTML somewhere. Oh well. "It goes to 11!" [amazon.com] No one has every accused me of being consistent or focused.
Posted by johndan at 09:18 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Piranhas Ate My Cellphone

The Guardian reports on a management student in Singapore who set a record for text messaging speed.
A Singaporean student appears to have thumbed her way into the Guinness Book of Records after smashing the previous fastest time for text-messaging a 160-character text on a mobile phone. The Singaporean media reported yesterday that Kimberly Yeo, 23, clocked 43.24 seconds in the final of a competition organised by the city-state's main telephone company, SingTel. [...] All attempts to become the world's fastest texter have to use the following two sentences: "The razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality they seldom attack a human." Competitors are not allowed to use spelling aids or a predictive text programme on their phone.
Posted by johndan at 12:33 PM | TrackBack

June 27, 2004

Discouraging People from Reading Your Website

Fast Company's new website linking policy [scroll down to "Web Links" section) highlights how brain-damaged many otherwise smart, new-economy operations are when it comes to intellectual property:
Due to the large volume of requests we receive, we do not have a reciprocal linking program. However, if you like, you may link to us at no cost. This option requires the execution by you and Fastcompany.com of a one-page Web-linking agreement. Please download and sign the agreement and fax it to 617-738-5055, attn: G+J legal, Fastcompany.com. As soon as you receive back the agreement signed on behalf of Fastcompany.com, you may begin linking to our content.
Why should a publication make it difficult for other people to talk about--to actively refer people to its own publication? Fast Company, a publication that is all about the flow of information being crucial to information economies, want to make people leap through hoops in order to help FC move information. Even from a market (rather than open source) model, sending web readers to FC's websites is always a good thing. [via boing-boing]
Posted by johndan at 01:30 AM | TrackBack

June 26, 2004

Go Ask Alice, When She's 600 Pixels Tall

Also via Boing-Boing, an amazing Flash-ified rendition [800k] of J. Otto Seibold's pop-up, print version of Alice in Wonderland


[via boing-boing]
Posted by johndan at 12:46 AM | TrackBack

Office Space Wars

Still catching up on my backlogged NetNewsWire feeds, I found Boing-Boing's post about Office Space Wars:
Office Space Wars is one of the funniest amateur video projects I've ever seen: it's a remake of Office Space, set in the Star Wars Universe, with Vader as the bad boss, Jar Jar as the stapler guy, and R2D2 as the bad printer.
It's a hoot. The 30 MB file has been moved around a lot, as the bandwidth consumed overloaded several of the original hosts; it's (at least for now) available here with Emil's help.

[via Boing Boing]

Posted by johndan at 12:39 AM | TrackBack

June 25, 2004

Ghetto Blaster Hall of Fame


Sharp VZ-2500, circa 1980s, from the Ghetto Blaster Hall of Fame. A good illustration of the cultural relativity of technology and/as fashion: Portable music equipment in the 1960s and 1970s prioritized the small size recently available due to cheap, mass produced, transistors; the late 1980s and 1990s reversed that trend, fully embracing the idea of massive, heavy, and loud; today, as Ashley B. points out, we're reversing again, with mp3 players shrinking with each new generation. (And those of us who lived through these trends still think about them nostalgically. Boomboxes made music a public rather than private event; they provided the context into which b-boys competed; they marked out territory sonically. I guess the equivalent today would be the Mustang 5.0 with ground-pounding bass, but the small interior space of a vehicle don't support the same types of community interaction. Or maybe I'm showing my age--I guess today it'd be an Escalade or a H2.) [via Notes from Somewhere Bizarre]
Posted by johndan at 10:19 PM | TrackBack

June 24, 2004

If a TV Show Airs in The Forest and No One Watches It...?

We received a postcard from the Nielsen Ratings people yesterday informing us that they'd be contacting us by phone to be part of their television ratings pool.

When we moved into our new house three years ago, we decided to forego our usual satellite TV subscription and put the money toward broadband service (which, surprisingly, was available through the tiny Nicholville Phone Company).

We're in a very isolated location in the Adirondack State Park, so when we hooked rabbit ears on the several TV sets in the house were connected, we found that we received a grand total of five channels--several of which are in French (one, out of Ottawa or Toronto, airs programs in Greek, Arabic, and other languages on Sundays).

The net effect of this is that we watch only a negligible amount of tv--maybe six total hours a month, all three of the viewers in the house combined (and frequently way less than that).

Technically, I assume Nielsen needs to include the tiny (but statistically significant) number of people who watch little or no tv. This should be interesting.

Posted by johndan at 11:51 PM | TrackBack


Digging my way through the massive backlog of email from my month offline, I read this message from Kelly:
From: kelly
Subject: ha ha
Date: May 24, 2004 12:58:10 PM EDT
I have email and you dont.
Kelly Johnson-Eilola
Change is Inevitable. Struggle is an Option.
Ha ha indeed.
Posted by johndan at 08:10 PM | TrackBack

Gilliam's Brazil as Reality TV

Aaron Swartz makes some interesting (and perhaps inevitable) comparisons between Terry Gilliam's Brazil and the world around us today:

Terry Gilliam’s Brazil is probably my favorite film. It has soaring visuals by Terry Gilliam. It has beautiful writing by Tom Stoppard. It has action, plot twists, a vast scope, great depth, and a subversive message. It has beautiful dances of office life and a great soundtrack. But it is a serious film. And if there were ever a time to watch it, it is now; it’s all happening to us (all links go to real news stories):

Complex technology does not work.

Instead of eliminating cruft, we sell it in different colors.

Terrorists (terrorists?) run around blowing things up.

A completely wrong man is arrested because of a smudge.

More connections at Swartz's blog, as well as summaries of some of the incredible extra features on the Criterion Collection box set [amazon link--$50, but well worth it].

[via Aaron Swartz]

Posted by johndan at 01:30 PM | TrackBack

Drumline Covering Radiohead

The UMass Front Percussion Ensemble covers Radiohead's "Paranoid Android" [mp3 file].

[via Boing Boing]

Posted by johndan at 01:25 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 22, 2004


Maybe I missed something in the post I made about Rushkoff's "Money is Media" piece I posted about earlier today, but Rushkoff this evening posts an entry about a Salon article on new methods for understanding transportation and traffic:
Salon recently ran an article on the relatively new school of thought about traffic management called second generation traffic calming. It involves improving traffic flow by incorporating, under certain circumstances, automobile traffic back into the flow of other human activities
And here's a piece from the Salon piece:
Rejecting the idea of separating people from vehicular traffic, it's a concept that privileges multiplicity over homogeneity, disorder over order, and intrigue over certainty. In practice, it's about dismantling barriers: between the road and the sidewalk, between cars, pedestrians and cyclists and, most controversially, between moving vehicles and children at play
Traffic is a medium, a rhetorical and communicative environment. Coolness.
Posted by johndan at 11:14 PM | TrackBack

Money as Medium

Douglas Rushkoff talked about an interesting--and innovative--concept at the Media Ecology Conference: Money as a medium.
Media Ecologists believe that there's no such thing as a value-neutral medium. TV, the Internet, and even cell phones each have various propensities and biases because of the way they work. The same must be true for money - particularly the kind of money we use here in the United States, which is created by fiat and costs interest to borrow. (There are many examples of currencies throughout history that have worked in other ways, with often better results.)

If true media literacy is the ability not only to read and interpret but to author in that medium, then we should engage in the creation of alternative, complementary currencies. Money needn't only be understood as an economy - it could also be understood as an ecology.

The idea of money as a medium or ecology is interesting in its own right, but it also suggests that we consider nearly any sort of information as having the potential to become a medium. Given that any complex system of information can possess the same sorts of qualities that "traditional" media, we can easily extend the concept to, for example, transportation systems, architecture, or classrooms.

This might, at face value, seem sort of pointless: can a transportation system (say, consisting of roads and vehicles) really be a medium? And if so, what's the point? Simple: The concept of medium gives us a different handle on how people work within that system. So rather than simply thinking of transportation systems in terms of throughput (number of vehicle miles travelled per minute, for example), we can also think of a transportation system as a medium in which participants communicate with each other, interacting in complex ways (turn signals, horns, lane changes, accelerations and decelerations, etc.). Traffic problems become rhetorical/communicative issues rather than simple matters of efficiency. This approach is not necessarily better or worse than traditional approaches, but it can help us approach issues in ways not normally possible.

[via rushkoff.blog]

Posted by johndan at 01:26 PM | TrackBack


I wanted to send out a quick note of appreciation to everyone who posted to Datacloud during the month I was offline. I've been enjoying reading the various posts and comments. Thanks much. In the next day or so, I'll post some more later about my experiences disconnecting from the net for a month. Several people had suggested that I'd go through some sort of withdrawal, but that wasn't really the case; in fact, part of me wishes I could stay offline longer. The structure of my daily experiences was much different offline, less fragmented and more slowly paced. I probably shouldn't make the differences sound too dramatic, though. For the most part, people around me were more inconvenienced by the whole experiment than I was, having to find other ways to communicate with me. (Luckily, the spammers never figured out another channel....) It's good to be back.
Posted by johndan at 11:28 AM | TrackBack



- johndan

Posted by johndan at 12:43 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 21, 2004

OIT welcomes Jd back

While taking a peek at Johndan's email, I found this: Maintenance on systems that house AFS (Andrew File System) will be performed on Wednesday, June 23, 2004. All Clarkson web pages, as well as home directories for user\\\'s of Clarkson\\\'s UNIX systems, reside on AFS. While this maintenance should not stop service, there is the potential for brief, intermittent outages between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. So the dilemma: Should I warn Johndan that the workshop he is supposed to do on Wed with a room full of ambitious high school students could crash and burn? (I did--in the interest of the students.) The on-line community is like a playground carrousel. It's harder getting on and off than just riding around.
Posted by at 02:31 PM | TrackBack

June 20, 2004

New Issue of C&C Online

Kris Blair has just announced the new issue of Computers and Composition Online. Upon initial perusal, it looks intriguing, with Flash/Shockwave movies, essays on PowerPoint and Blackboard, and a collaborative review of James Gee's What Video Games Have to Teach us About Learning and Literacy.
Posted by at 11:38 PM | TrackBack


Via David Carter-Tod comes the reference to Wink,

Tutorial and Presentation creation software, primarily aimed at creating tutorials on how to use software (like a tutor for MS-Word/Excel etc). Using Wink you can capture screenshots of your software, use images that you already have, type-in explanations for each step, create a navigation sequence complete with buttons, delays, titles etc and create a highly effective tutorial for your users.

Looks like it could be useful for not only creating tutorials for students--there have been many times I wish I had something like this to easily create instructions on using software--but as an opportunity for technical writing class students to create tutorials as projects while discussing interface design.

Posted by at 09:26 PM | TrackBack

June 17, 2004

The New Johndan

Johndan just reminded me that he only has a few more days before returning to the on-line lifestyle. (Seems like I would have been counting down the hours, eh?) Seriously, he hasn't missed it too much. He has had a few things that took him a while to figure out: how to get the phone number of a collegue, making a hotel reservation, scheduling meetings, and coordinating with his band mates. These were all basic on-line activities that he had to renegotiate. On a happy note he has picked up a couple of non-computerized hobbies. As for me I am looking forward to managing our calendars on-line again. It always seemed so odd to get email from him about an event, but it was much more reliable than him remembering to tell me and me remembering to write it down.
Posted by at 07:14 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 16, 2004

thinking with and thinking about machines

This entry on "Postsocial Relationality and Blogs" from Iago reminds me of the work that Johndan's been doing with Datacloud, and also offers me a new angle for thinking about the relationships between Web designers and their designs in the research I've just completed, particularly the discussion of how people come to treat a
blog itself as a separate object entirely, one deserving of respect and preservation, precisely because its development over time resulted in something that is not simply a product of a single blogger but of a network of relations in which the blog itself was an important actor with whom people had constructed meaningful and important relationships.
Maybe that's why I miss my computer so much at times (or why Johndan is missing his net access so much?) or why the recently orphaned Weblogs.com users are feeling like their lives have been sucked out?
Posted by at 09:38 PM | TrackBack

June 11, 2004

Aloha from Computers & Writing

Greetings from the Computers and Writing Conference in Hawaii! Along with Steve Krause and Steve Benninghoff, I gave a workshop on Cascading Style Sheets as a medium for teaching a robust, rhetorical approach to style. Professor Krause posted some shots on his blog. I am also doing a roundtable and a paper, more on those in a later post... -Bill (looking out at the Ocean as I write this)
Posted by at 06:09 PM | TrackBack

June 10, 2004

elephant graveyards

The University of North Texas Libraries and the U.S. Government Printing Office, as part of the Federal Depository Library Program, created a partnership to provide permanent public access to the electronic Web sites and publications of defunct U.S. government agencies and commissions. This collection was named the "CyberCemetery" by early users of the site. [Via Librarian.net] Can we nominate agencies which we'd like to see become defunct?
Posted by at 09:27 AM | TrackBack

The state of email

Ross Mayfield's got a nice synthesizing post over at Many2Many that quotes the same stretch by Esther Dyson that Bill cites below. In the process of tracking out the various links that RM includes, I came across a SocialText discussion from last week about the death of email where Steve Gillmor offers the following diagnosis of how we divide up our online time:
Was: browser 40% time, email 40% time, rest divided up. Today: most webrowsing is managed by a RSS reader (45-50%). Email is an exercise in futility, responding to ppl who refuse to go via other channels (e.g. IM), about 20%.
I know that academia is a glacier and all, believe me, but I've got to think that claims like this err in the other direction. Now to be fair, I think these are second-hand notes, and so maybe SG's claims weren't quite as extreme as they sound. I have a tough time imagining, though, that "most" browsing is managed through readers, at least once we venture out beyond the tech industry itself. If that were the case, then sites like Dave Winer's (also an earlier Bill entry) would be superfluous, yes? Ultimately, I don't think SG is wrong, just that it's gonna be a while before that vision of our online activity is realized... Now, the death of email? That's not nearly as difficult to imagine...
Posted by at 12:22 AM | TrackBack

June 09, 2004

Back in the Bottle

To follow up on this post, the Register is reporting that Sprint is coming out with a cameraless version of the Treo smartphone for enterprise use. Apparently businesses are nervous about their employees taking pictures of business secrets or other inappropriate things, so Sprint has "blinded" the phones. As the Register dryly puts it, "There's no word yet of Xerox producing a tonerless copier machine, which suggests that the fear of camera phones is more a matter of perception." --Clay
Posted by at 07:52 AM | TrackBack

Partly (Data)Cloudy

Esther Dyson comes awfully close to saying "datacloud" in a post on the future of mail - and other topics
More fundeamentally [sic], as the world becomes more real-time and connected, the virtual and increasingly the actual configuration of the system is changing. There's a rich, complex, shared data store in the cloud, and mail is simply the passing of notifications and alerts that tell you to pay attention to/download specific items in the cloud that are new or changed or that someone wants to share with you. this creates huge challenges in version control, updating and permission management.
Posted by at 07:13 AM | TrackBack

June 08, 2004

The Medium is The (Yummy!) Message

The Motley Fool reports on Proctor & Gamble's latest flash of brlliance, printing advertisements on Pringles chips! Not the can, mind you, the chip itself. Pringles are a really good candidate, I suppose, as they are pressed-pulp chimeras that have more in common with paper than with their other snack chip bretheren (and cistern). Using other foods for adverts might not prove so easy, although I am sure that some cool things could be done with with die-cut fruit roll-ups! Via Boing Boing
Posted by at 01:00 PM | TrackBack

June 05, 2004

Ducks have accents

The Guardian reports that ducks have accents. (Courtesy of the Register). --Clay
Posted by at 09:44 PM | TrackBack

June 04, 2004

Microsoft patents the double click

As Dave Barry would say, I swear I am not making this up...Yahoo! News - Microsoft Wins Patent for Handheld Computer Click
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on April 27 granted a patent for a "time based hardware button for application launch" in which a click of a button can start different programs if it is clicked once, twice or held down for several seconds.
via Yahoo News
Posted by at 03:45 PM | TrackBack

June 03, 2004

RSS for the rest of us

Dave Winer's new site called Really Simple Syndication: Everything a non-tech user needs to know about RSS 2.0. seems like a darn good idea to me. I know I'd've liked to learn about RSS this way instead of the piecemeal approach I am still using... Dave says:
So I wanted to start a site where people from the RSS users community can answer questions to help newbies figure out what to do with an RSS feed without requiring a PhD in XML.
You might know Dave for his work with Userland and other web publishing stuff. He's smart.
Posted by at 10:01 PM | TrackBack

Search Engine Prestige

University of Arizona's home page features a "spotlight" link. Usually touting the university's achievements, this link is prominently placed just below the visual images in the "middle" of the page. Recently, the feature was entitled, "UA Biology Project No. 1 on Google." This tidbit offers kudos to an educational project hosted by the biology department at UA.

A precedent is set here at UA. Won't my 4th-year review committee *have to* accept google hits related to Kimme Hea as a sign of national reputation? ;)

Enjoying a 106 in Tucson,


Posted by at 07:52 PM | TrackBack

June 02, 2004

Telephone: The Missing Manual

There's a great old manual titled How to Use the Telephone to Make Friends posted at Contact Sheet. The title doesn't really indicate the true purpose of the text, which seems to be a sort of training guide for business calling. The scans are really well-done and I found myself reading the whole thing quite earnestly, abandoning my ironic hermeneutic stance after just a few pages. I even learned some things. No, really. Do you know how far you should hold the mouthpiece from your mouth for optimal transmisson? via Many to Many
Posted by at 08:47 PM | TrackBack

women and blogs

There's a tussle going on at Dan Drezner's blog about the accuracy and meaning of his recent survey of blogs. I seem to remember the topic coming up at CCCC. -- Clay
Posted by at 01:54 PM | TrackBack


There have certainly been a lot of blog entries (and even entire blogs) devoted to the discussion of why people choose to pursue Ph.Ds in the humanities when they will not be able to grasp the brass ring of tenure-track jobs. However, I've noticed that most of these entries tend to make no distinction between specialties in a field, or to note that people who specialize in certain areas (rhet/comp and professional writing, for example) have a better (although not guaranteed) chance of getting a job over other specialties. They also don't mention the premium placed on "technology skills," even by jobs that seemingly don't require technical aptitude, or how acquiring these skills in grad school (and how does one acquire them?) opens up a range of non-academic possibilities as well. Are these distinctions unimportant or unremarkable? I don't know what I think about this. I'm still rather raw from the whole job market/dissertation completion wheel of fire, so I'm asking for opinions more than I'm opining. On an unrelated note, this is entry 600. I wonder how many we'll have before The Man returns?
Posted by at 11:00 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 01, 2004

Random musings on criminalized writing

John Lovas brought this up on the blog SIG listserv and it made me think long and hard about how responsible we are when we students get busted for speaking their minds. Anyone who knows me, knows that there is no buffer between my brain and my mouth and I pretty much say what I feel. I usually encourage students to do the same thing. While my professional and personal life is my own responsibility am I wrong to encourage students to do what they feel is right despite the consequences? Are we supposed to teach students to do what is "just right" rather than "just and right" for the sake of safety? Cross posted at my blog
Posted by at 05:10 PM | TrackBack