June 30, 2004
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.
We never should have given the nine-armed monkeys machine guns.
June 29, 2004
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.
- "Three Cigarettes In An Ashtray", Patsy Cline
- "Of Minor Prophets And Their Prostitutes", Pedro The Lion
- "Stormy Weather/In a Sentimental Mood/Take the 'A' Train", Charlie Mingus
- "What's Going On (Live)", Los Lobos
- "Suck", Nine Inch Nails
- "L'aguardientem", Camper Van Beethoven
- "Midnight Creeper", Eagles Of Death Metal
- "Knockin' on Mine (Live)", Paul Westerberg
- "Live On In The Dark", Slobberbone
- "Avocado Green, Johnny Winter
- "Sitting On Top Of The World", Norman Blake
- "They're Not Witches", Guided By Voices
- "72 (This Highway's Mean)", Drive By Truckers
- "That's Enough For Me", Camper Van Beethoven
- "Levitate Me", The Pixies
- "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!
No one has every accused me of being consistent or focused.
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
June 27, 2004
Discouraging People from Reading Your Website
'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.
Posted by johndan at 01:30 AM
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
Posted by johndan at 12:46 AM
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
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
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
Digging my way through the massive backlog of email from my month offline, I read this message from Kelly:
Subject: ha ha
Date: May 24, 2004 12:58:10 PM EDT
I have email and you dont.
Change is Inevitable. Struggle is an Option.
Ha ha indeed.
Posted by johndan at 08:10 PM
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
Drumline Covering Radiohead
The UMass Front Percussion Ensemble
covers Radiohead's "Paranoid Android
" [mp3 file].
[via Boing Boing]
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
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.
Posted by johndan at 01:26 PM
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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?
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)
June 10, 2004
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.
Can we nominate agencies which we'd like to see become defunct?
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...
June 09, 2004
Back in the Bottle
To follow up on this post
, the Register
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."
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.
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
June 05, 2004
Ducks have accents
reports that ducks have accents
. (Courtesy of the Register
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
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...
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.
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,
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
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.
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?
June 01, 2004
Random musings on criminalized writing
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