Friday, December 4, 2009

The World Economic Forum Names Twitter, Amiando, Obopay, And Playfish Technology Pioneers

Every year the World Economic Forum picks a couple dozen or so up-and-coming technology startups from around the world and dubs them Technology Pioneers. In the past, Technology Pioneers have included Google and Mozilla. Last year, Mint, Etsy, and Brightcove joined the club.

So, as we near the end of the year and all those lists chock full of prognostication appear this might be prescient. Imho, these lists and awards are simply meditations on the present but at least that's better than remediating the past. Hmm, or is it?

Friday, November 20, 2009

What's the Haps with Tweets?

Just a bit more proof that this thing we often call language really is imprecise and functions quite differently than we think it does, might, could, should, would. Or, rather, people might just choose to make meaning fit their own contexts of practice before making their practice fit prescriptions for practicing (and tweeting) their context. There's a story from TechCrunch that might illuminate, excerpted as follows:

Twitter Now Asks “What’s Happening”

Posted: 19 Nov 2009 10:45 AM PST

Twitter has implemented a small change today, which by comparison to Retweets and UI redesigns isn’t such a huge deal but it’s definitely worth mention. Twitter’s prompting question above the box from which you Tweet from has been “What are you doing” since the microblogging platform launched. Today, it’s been changed to “What’s Happening.”

It’s a wise move because “What are you doing” seemed too narrow for the platform. Broadening the question to match all the things people use twitter for was necessary. Considering that Twitter is now used for breaking news, that term doesn’t really cover it. Here’s the full text of co-founder Biz Stone’s blog post:

People, organizations, and businesses quickly began leveraging the open nature of the network to share anything they wanted, completely ignoring the original question, seemingly on a quest to both ask and answer a different, more immediate question, “What’s happening?” A simple text input field limited to 140 characters of text was all it took for creativity and ingenuity to thrive.

Sure, someone in San Francisco may be answering “What are you doing?” with “Enjoying an excellent cup of coffee,” at this very moment. However, a birds-eye view of Twitter reveals that it’s not exclusively about these personal musings. Between those cups of coffee, people are witnessing accidents, organizing events, sharing links, breaking news, reporting stuff their dad says, and so much more.

The fundamentally open model of Twitter created a new kind of information network and it has long outgrown the concept of personal status updates. Twitter helps you share and discover what’s happening now among all the things, people, and events you care about. “What are you doing?” isn’t the right question anymore—starting today, we’ve shortened it by two characters. Twitter now asks, “What’s happening?”

We don’t expect this to change how anyone uses Twitter, but maybe it’ll make it easier to explain to your dad.

Cows, Technology, Climate Change and Environmental Solutions

Tech Awards 2009 recognized some pretty cool stuff last night. My favorite pick is Cows for Kilowatts.

Cows for Kilowatts solves one of the most significant sources of water pollution and greenhouse gases emissions in most developing economies - slaughterhouse waste. The anaerobic fixed film reactor featured in the Cows to Kilowatts project cleans up the waste stream and converts the collected organic waste into methane. The methane can then be used to generate electricity, or function as cheap cooking gas.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

MSFT Store Performance

Check this out...employees at a Microsoft store caught in the act of an impromptu sing-a-long, er, dance-a-long, something or 'nother. Regardless, they are trying.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Yeah, Oft-Inane Status Updates Gaining Popularity

The Pew Internet and American Life Project published a report recently that details the increasing acceptance/popularity of the status update. Irked or not, the status update (or similar feature) is strengthening its foothold. Oh meta remediated lifetstyle how I love thee.

The report, Twitter and Status Updating, Fall 2009, is linked here.

Lastly, and of note, the report states that 19% of internet users claim to use Twitter or another service to share updates about themselves, or to view updates about others. When Pew surveyed the same group in April 2009 and in December 2008, 11% of internet users claimed to use a status-update service.

Monday, October 26, 2009

21st Century Literacies

On 21st century literacies, a lot has come across my radar of late.

First, some great video(s) of Howard Rheingold speaking on/to this. Check it out:

There's also an interesting article in the Charlotte Observer, OMG! Teachers Say Texting Can Be Good for Teens, that's got me fired up (in a good way). In short, a study by researchers (see and scroll down to "Recent Research Study") says that texting may actually help teens in writing informal essays as well as other writing assignments.

Lastly, the official word from NCTE...adopted by the NCTE Executive Committee, February 15, 2008

Literacy has always been a collection of cultural and communicative practices shared among members of particular groups. As society and technology change, so does literacy. Because technology has increased the intensity and complexity of literate environments, the twenty-first century demands that a literate person possess a wide range of abilities and competencies, many literacies. These literacies—from reading online newspapers to participating in virtual classrooms—are multiple, dynamic, and malleable. As in the past, they are inextricably linked with particular histories, life possibilities and social trajectories of individuals and groups. Twenty-first century readers and writers need to

* Develop proficiency with the tools of technology
* Build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally
* Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes
* Manage, analyze and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information
* Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multi-media texts
* Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments

Friday, September 25, 2009

Times Are A Changing: Libraries of the Future

There was an interesting piece, entitled "Libraries of the Future", that appeared yesterday in InsideHigherEd. In broad strokes it casts the library of the future (or the emergent paradigm of the space of libraries) as one where academic libraries, namely, are highly decentralized and differently staffed (read euphemism for disappearance of traditional reference services). The piece does intimate a return to disciplinarity (literally--re: embedded librarians) and a shifting toward information literacy and outreach as core library service.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Living and Learning with New Media

For today's class I asked my ENGL 101 students to read Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project. I also asked them to remark on "issues" (prophetic, accurate, "good", "bad", whatever) they may have had with the piece. Most of the students are 17 or 18 years old and were in the researchers' target demographic when the study was conducted. My students' remarks follow...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Harvard's DASH (excerpt & link)

Harvard's DASH for Open Access

September 1, 2009—Harvard's leadership in open access to scholarship took a significant step forward this week with the public launch of DASH—or Digital Access to Scholarship at Harvard—a University-wide, open-access repository. More than 350 members of the Harvard research community, including over a third of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, have jointly deposited hundreds of scholarly works in DASH.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Dealing With Budget Cuts: SPL Closes for a Week

Times are tough all over...I've found it interesting and enlightening to watch how libraries are dealing with new budget realities. An artifact below (click to enlarge)...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

San Francisco Opens City's Data

San Francisco continues to be one of the most forward thinking cities on the planet, and (like him or not) Gavin Newsom is a HUGE factor in this. The city has opened its data via Newsom penned an intro letter for TechCrunch that contextualizes how he sees this new venture. I've pasted the letter below and linked the TechCrunch story here. Good stuff.

San Francisco has a long history of innovation. We are home to hundreds of technology companies that are changing the way the world operates from Twitter to WordPress to Kiva.

In an effort to engage our highly skilled workforce we are launching DataSF.org, an initiative designed to increase access to city data.

The new web site will provide a clearinghouse of structured, raw and machine-readable government data to the public in an easily downloadable format. For example, there will be updated crime incident data from the police department and restaurant inspection data from the Department of Public Health. The initial phase of the web site includes more than 100 datasets, from a range of city departments, including Police, Public Works, and the Municipal Transportation Agency.

We imagine creative developers taking apartment listings and city crime data and mashing it up to help renters find their next home or an iPhone application that shows restaurant ratings based on health code violations.

The idea behind the site is to open up San Francisco government and tap into the creative expertise of our greatest resource – our residents. We hope will create a torrent of innovation similar to when the developer community was given access to the platforms behind popular technologies and devices like Facebook and Apple’s iPhone.

Our effort to improve access to city data has already led to the creation of new services never imagined within the walls of government. Earlier this summer, our Department of Environment released recycling data that was used by a third party to develop EcoFinder, an iPhone application that helps residents recycle based on their location.

By bringing city data and communities together in one location, we hope to stimulate local industry, create jobs and highlight San Francisco’s creative culture and attractiveness as a place to live and work.

As we look to deepen and broaden citizen engagement we will face common challenges: resistance to change, political will, and sustaining data streams from government sources to name a few. Collaboration with citizens, non-profits, vendors, academia, and our peers in government will be critical to overcoming these barriers. It will also take leadership as we’ve seen from President Obama and his CIO, Vivek Kundra to establish our ideals and set forth a shared vision for a more transparent and open government.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Books as Decaying Media/Medium (As If We Didn't Already Know This)

A great piece in the New York Times, In a Digital Future, Textbooks Are History, details what most outside the humanities already know. That may seem like somewhat of a dig at the humanities (and I do believe that there are multi-medium digital humanists out there) but the last stand for the traditional format logocentrically-bound physical monograph seems to continue to be propagated by those mono-medium old school literature-ish professors often found in humanities departments. Oh, there's often collusion with the management of school bookstores too. At least that's been my experience at North Carolina's flagship institution, as well as at a few other spots along the way. My take is that it's a losing battle and I'd be worried about what relevance I'd have when the last salvos are placed. I guess there is always room to expand the teaching pool in Classics departments. And, important to note, it's not possible for curriculum to stricture students into affinity for traditional textbooks. Pretty soon, the students will choose to boycott such courses and spaces. We already see this in declining statistics for humanities majors and minors. The NY Times piece is a good profile of where students are "at" these days, especially en route to post-secondary education. I've pasted a telling blurb below.

Textbooks have not gone the way of the scroll yet, but many educators say that it will not be long before they are replaced by digital versions — or supplanted altogether by lessons assembled from the wealth of free courseware, educational games, videos and projects on the Web.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Google Book Project: A Contrarian Perspective

Google's mass digitization project, that is the Google Book Search Project, is often severely criticized by academics and librarians. The critiques typically run along the lines that it's a corporate initiative to make money and that the once-included librarian community is now on the outside looking in. I can see this critique. Sadly, it's standard critique from the left (of which I am a part) but it is the privileged left that make this critique. The progressives that want to (or are forced to) grapple and harness threads of opportunity in Google's hegemonic machinations have a different take. Last Wednesday, Howard University's School of Law hosted a forum that showcased some of these useful progressive perspectives on the Google Book Project.

My point is that Google's hegemony isn't strictly deterministic, nor is it monolithic. Ala Michel de Certeau, there are tactics to Google's strategies. Or, to invoke other revolutionary refrains, by any means necessary...using the master's tools to dismantle the house...etc. These adages are familiar and the point is that engagement with this hegemony is inevitable and necessary. It can even yield more socially just outcomes. The only untenable action that is truly stricturing and oppressive is the weak liberal (v. strong engaged liberal) lament made from privilege spaces (i.e., flagship research one schools) without any alternate path toward social justice (e.g., Google will give inner city kids in D.C. access whereas a local elite institution will not).

There are a few quotes below, some links, and a fantastic video of Rhea Ballard-Thrower (a must-view for librarians especially).

"The idea that a student in Boston at a very exclusive private school can read the same books that a student somewhere in an underfunded, urban public school, that they can have the same access to the same materials is actually just amazing," said Professor Rhea Ballard-Thrower, law librarian at the Howard law school. "Books are the great equaliser."

"This project is part of a larger effort to democratise knowledge," Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, said during a forum on the book settlement, hosted by the Howard law school. "To me, this project is so crucial because it helps to level the playing field at the most fundamental intersection of rights, knowledge and advocacy."

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mick Jones Ups Librarian Cool Factor

Mick Jones, famed Clash guitarist, has opened his Rock-n-Roll Public Library in London. The repository is based in an office near Portobello Road, west London, close to where Mick Jones formed The Clash with Joe Stummer in 1976. The "guerrilla library" will include 10,000 items from the guitarist's private collection.

The Telegraph articles are here and here.

There's a video's below.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

ibiblio helps found open-source advocacy group

For immediate use: Wednesday, July 22, 2009

ibiblio helps found open-source advocacy group

CHAPEL HILL – ibiblio, a conservancy of freely available information on the Internet based at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is a founding member of a new group aiming to promote use of open-source technology by the federal government.

The new group announced today, Open Source for America, is a cross-section of more than 50 companies, universities, communities and individuals holding that government can and should become more transparent, participatory, secure and efficient by using open-source software.

The group also holds that the open-source community can drive collaborative innovation for government; and that a decision to use software should be driven solely by the requirements of the user. For more information about Open Source for America, visit

The term open source refers to software that is distributed with its source code, so that user organizations and vendors can modify it for their own purposes. Most open-source licenses allow the software to be redistributed without restriction under the same terms of the license. For more information, visit

ibiblio, accessed at, was one of the world’s first Web sites and is the largest collection of collections on the Internet. It is supported by UNC’s School of Information and Library Science and School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

We’re delighted to help explain and promote the rewards and benefits of open sources to the government sector,” said Paul Jones, director of ibiblio and clinical associate professor at both schools. “Open code is a giant step toward providing the kind of transparency and accountability that democracies require.”

Only two North Carolina universities are represented in Open Source for America: Carolina and N.C. State University in Raleigh. Others represented are the University of California’s Irvine and Merced branches; Carnegie Mellon; Oregon State University; and the University of Southern Mississippi.

ibiblio’s goals include expanding and improving the creation and distribution of open-source software; continuing UNC programs to develop an online library and archive; hosting projects that expand the concepts of transparency and openness; and serving as a model for other open-source projects.

School of Information and Library Science contact: Wanda Monroe, (919) 843-8337,

School of Journalism and Mass Communication contact: Kyle York, (919) 966-3323,

News Services contact: LJ Toler, (919) 962-8589

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Amazon's Orwellian Iterations

This is just too ironic, or is it coincidental? Anyway, on Thursday Amazon began e-mailing several hundred Kindle owners to notify them that AMZN had deleted their electronic copies of George Orwell's Animal Farm and 1984. Amazon did refund the $0.99 purchase price of the books, but nonetheless...

I am not sure this is legal and it is totally Big Brother creepy. The press has called it digital/electronic/virtual book burning which seems apropos. I did read a rumor that the FCC was looking into the legality of this too. In a related note, I read that Apple also possesses a remote "kill switch" for apps on the iPhone, though AAPL hasn't used this and says the kill switch is only for apps that might be malicious to the iPhone as a device. There are two stories on the AMZN brouhaha....TechCruch here and Information Week here.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Gates Foundation Picks Guilford Tech For New Program

I had read about this in InsideHigherEd about a week ago and the story recently got some play on the local news. Until the left is willing to work harder and collaborate a bit more effectively, this is our hegemony (and IMHO it's not all bad). Being an ex-community college instructor, this seems like important work in a pivotal and crucial educative space. Lastly, a lot of the Gates Foundation pilot work was done at Portland Community College in their alternative high school problem. My partner taught in this program and she had nothing but praise, well almost nothing but praise. So, here's the InsideHigherEd blurb and the local WRAL link follows.

New Gates Grants for Remedial Ed at Community Colleges

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and MDC Inc. are today announcing $16.5 million in
grants to 15 community colleges in 6 states to expand remedial education efforts that
appear to be having significantly more success than the norm. More than 133,000 students
take remedial courses at the colleges involved and the rate at which students move from
remedial to college-level work went from 16 to 20 percent for those involved. The
strategies involve the use of technology to teach basic skills, mentorships and better
coordination between high schools and community colleges. The five states and their
participating colleges are: Connecticut (Housatonic Community College and Norwalk
Community College); Florida (Valencia Community College); North Carolina (Guilford
Technical Community College); Ohio (Cuyahoga Community College, Jefferson Community
College, North Central State College, Sinclair Community College and Zane State College);
Texas (Coastal Bend College, El Paso Community College, Houston Community College and
South Texas College); and Virginia (Danville Community College and Patrick Henry
Community College).

WRAL link:

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Beaverella Strikes Again!

Here's a video of my very talented UNC English Department colleague, LF, participating in the Beaver Queen Pageant. It's a shindig to raise money for the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association. Here's a link to an article in Durham Magazine, if you want some basic info on the event.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Russians Love Them Some SNS

Details of a comScore study excerpted verbatim from TechCrunch:

The comScore study found visitors in Russia to spend 6.6 hours and viewing 1,307 pages per visitor per month on average.

To put that level of ‘engagement’ in perspective: the average world-wide is 3.7 hours and 525 pages per visitor. Among the 40 individual countries reported by comScore, Brazil ranked closest to Russia at 6.3 hours, followed by Canada (5.6 hours), Puerto Rico (5.3 hours) and Spain (5.3 hours). The United States is ranked number 9, with 4.2 hours and 477 pages per visitor per month.

According to comScore, 65 percent of the worldwide Internet audience engages in social networking activities. More precisely, of the 1.1 billion people age 15 and older worldwide who accessed the Internet from a home or work location in May 2009, 734.2 million visited at least one social networking site during the month.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Panel at SLA Addresses Interdisciplinarity in Science

Carol Tenopir, professor at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville's College of Communication and Information and director of the Center for Information and Communication Studies, drove a great panel presentation discussion at the recent annual meeting for the Special Libraries Association. Those familiar with Tenopir's work will recognize her compelling claims.

In short, she is drawing attention to the proliferation of science journals over the past few decades and the increasing interdisciplinarity of these journals. This is impacting scholarly communication in profound ways, and this paradigm positions the library as a nexus for this scholarly exchange and curation.

In the presentation, Tenopir alerted attendees to the trend of how scientists are now reading a wider swath of journals than ever before. For instance, "in 1977 scientists on average read at least one article in 13 journals per year, in 1995 scientists read 18, in 2003 they read 23, and in 2005 they read 33. An increase in the number of journals and articles read means that scientists are now reading each article much more quickly than before."

There is cross-pollination between disciplines and fields as a result too. This is particularly appealing to my interest in the cultural study of scholarly communication in technoscience.
The panel also mentioned what most librarians already know: that interdisciplinary scholars are most inclined to discover (re)sources in other disciplines based on linked citations or other networked sources. The assertion was also made that researchers in a few recent studies were described as valuing textbooks and conference proceedings less, as well as being older. This impacts the preference for new types of library service and curation across a diverse demographic (not just "younger" digitally literate researchers). And lastly, the panel suggested that libraries compose multidisciplinary library teams that may be embedded in the library or in departments across campus. This is a particularly exciting rearticulation of space and outreach to.

There's a lot of inspiration in that end you may want to check out Tenopir's recent journal publications (linked here).

Monday, June 15, 2009

On The Media: Transcript of Process Journalism

On The Media: Transcript of "Process Journalism" (June 12, 2009)

This is a good listen from the folks at TechCrunch, who are doing process journalism REALLY well. The interview struck me because there is a lot of talk (and has been for decades) in English/Composition about process and post-process pedagogy, but from my experience it's mostly lip service at most places. The typical writing program ultimately seems to follow the NY Times model of putting out a perfectly "polished" piece, however untimely and non-dialogic it may be.

Friday, June 12, 2009

L7 and Digital Humanites Manifesto 2.0

Summer has been filled with all sorts of activities, from teaching a Technical Communication summer session course to weeding and organizing CDs. Technical Communication is what it (bleh) is, but the CD that's been great. For the past few days a decade old L7 disc has been spinning in my car stereo. It's been just what I needed (in many ways to deal with the summer session class...j/j of course). Regardless, L7 has me in my manifesto-y mentality AND, fortuitously, today I received an email alerting me that there's a new Digital Humanities Manifesto out. It's a project of the Mellon Seminar in Digital Humanities at UCLA and the new document is aka The Digital Humanities Manifesto 2.0. A pdf is linked here. A few of my new manifesto-lifted mantras below:

Process is the new god; not product. Anything that stands in the way of the perpetual mash‐up and
remix stands in the way of the digital revolution.

And for the traditionalists in humanities departments that "fuel my fire", we've got a problem with you too. The new manifesto rightly identifies these folks as:

‐‐ the great diminishers: they will reduce anything in digital humanities (it's just a tool; it's just a repository; it's just pedagogy). They have rarely, if ever, built software, parsed code, created a database, or designed a user interface. They are uni‐medium scholars (most likely of print) who have been lulled into centuries of somnolence.

‐‐the false fellow travelers: they will wave the banners of change with continuity on their agenda. What's at stake is not simply continuity vs. change but honesty vs. hypocrisy.

‐‐all those who would falsely equate the tools of the present with a turn away from history in the name of presentism, voguishness, or vocationalism

These are just a few, and I'd love to post more but Tech Comm awaits. Check out the Manifesto. It's a quick and inspiring read. After you've read it, do something.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Reuters Reports Web 2.0 as One Millionth English Word

A former student sent me this news story today...Web 2.0 is recognized, canonized, surely now outmoded as a term.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

U.S. Impact Studies

Following up on yesterday's post, here's a great resource that shares a continuing study of the impact of free access to Internet/computers in public libraries. The U.S. Impact Studies project's "aboutness" is described as:

"A research team led by Mike Crandall and Karen Fisher of The University of Washington Information School, with support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is examining the impact of free access to computers and the Internet on the well-being of individuals, families, and communities."

Check out their site and emerging data if you are interested (and you should be).

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Libraries Essential to National Broadband Reality

ALA spokespersons commented recently to the FCC with regard to achieving the administration's goal of national broadband. In sum, libraries (of all sorts) can be key in realizing this goal. An excerpt follows:

“The national broadband plan has the potential to benefit millions of people by enabling high-capacity, ‘future-proof’ connections to the Internet in large multi-user locations such as libraries,” said Emily Sheketoff, executive director of ALA’s Washington Office. As the premier public computing centers around the country, libraries can serve as “community anchor institutions” by providing broadband, Sheketoff said.

What an idea. As we are all dealing with new realities and developments, it is heartening to know that there are possibilities for re-imagining relations and communities. Re-thinking the importance of libraries to communities is especially appealing to me. It is a great example of rethinking the places that impact our access to spaces of community and connection. While this is indeed a potential boon to libraries, the implicit mandate is that the libraries and librarians facilitating this change are radically different in some ways. So, in working toward such realities we need to ask how technology and social practice has changed the ways that individuals and groups access information and their needs (both known and unknown) for curation of said information.

Yes, this is a call for things like "Library 2.0" and beyond, but it's also a situation where progressive librarians need to be adept at understanding new literacies and lost literacies when it comes to critically assessing user needs and resources.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Exploring "The Social" in the Twitter Universe

There has indeed been a lot written about Twitter as of late. Fred Stutzman blogged incisively a couple of days ago about demographic paradigms dialectically tethered to Twitter, blogs, and many things social media. Since then the remapping of "the social" has been a point of mental occupation for me. Today, TechCrunch published a piece entitled "The Future of Twitter Visualized". In it M G Siegler provides links to some groovy charts forecasting possible futures for the popular service. Scenarios range from worldwide domination to swift acquisition by another tech player. The visuals are pretty neat and I recommend checking them out.

My point to all this is that in none of the scenarios did anyone argue that the new paradigm Twitter has ushered in will disappear (or lose influence/user preference). We,whether we use Twitter or not, now live in a context that conceptualizes communication, social relation, social access, and social identity way differently. In Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet, Sherry Turkle is recasting Fredric Jameson when she writes, "In simulation, identity can be fluid and multiple, a signifier no longer clearly points to a thing that is signified, and understanding is less likely to proceed through analysis than by navigation through virtual space" (p.49). Turkle's prescience is probably even astounding to her.

With the ubiquity/mobility of Internet access and the waning influence of traditional textual mediums, our social realities and identities are rapidly changing faster than Turkle or most anyone else could have imagined. What was previously abstracted, apprehended only through the best postmodern theory (like Jameson), is now material---made apparent in our daily practices and inscribed in the corporeal and the now sentient places we traverse.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Eric Schmidt Video at CMU

Many have prolly already seen this, but I still find it interesting. It's Google's Eric Schmidt delivering the commencement address at Carnegie Mellon. I really wish more educators would think through how the characteristics he describes need to be used when designing curriculum. Educators and students need to be engaged and to be taught relevant skills, in addition to practicing creativity, criticality, and what I think of as progressive irreverence.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Time Magazine's 10 Biggest Tech Failures of the Last Decade

Interesting "failure to launch" list and story. I'd like to see what these "failures" made possible or probable, by laying the groundwork or context for new innovations and expectations. Or, paths never to be trodden again (i.e., Vista).

Failure to Launch List

Microsoft Vista
Sirius XM
Microsoft Zune

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

AFT Report Details and Reaffirms Exploitation of Contingent Labor

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) has released American Academic: The State of the Higher Education Workforce 1997-2007.

The report is a 10-year analysis of hiring trends and faculty composition at community colleges and public and private colleges/universities. The findings show accelerated erosion of stable faculty positions with respectable wages and working conditions. AFT's report also shows that the trend of exploitation continues when it comes to "contingent" labor and graduate teaching assistants. Individuals within the academy that were interviewed about the report's findings, from my perusal of early reporting, seem to lay blame on market forces. To that I say, of course BUT individual departments and schools have allowed this to happen AND have even embraced this exploitation to protect the privileges of the already highly paid and tenured who enjoy low(er) teaching loads and academic freedom. This lowers the quality of intellectual exploration and education, as the bulk of the courses taught are done so by contingent labor. It is disgusting to see those in a position to take a stand simply step aside; and, in many cases, to witness the eagerness of continued hocking of bogus goods to graduate students and the nontenured by way of false hopes and promises.

By not owning the consequences of silence and hypocrisy the tenured and tenure-track are killing the academy and its promise. You know who you are.

Here's a great chart, from InsideHigherEd's synopsis of the report, with some key figures.

Distribution of Teaching Positions in Higher Education, 1997 and 2007

Job Type 1997 2007
All Institutions

--Full time, tenured or tenure track 33.1% 27.3%
--Full time, non-tenure track 14.2% 14.9%
--Part time 34.1% 36.9%
--Graduate assistants 18.6% 20.9%
Public doctoral granting universities

--Full time, tenured or tenure track 34.1% 28.9%
--Full time, non-tenure track 14.1% 14.4%
--Part time 14.3% 15.8%
--Graduate assistants 37.5% 41.0%
Public four-year colleges and universities

--Full time, tenured or tenure track 51.0% 39.0%
--Full time, non-tenure track 9.0% 10.9%
--Part time 33.6% 43.9%
--Graduate assistants 5.7% 6.3%
Public community colleges

--Full time, tenured or tenure track 20.6% 17.5%
--Full time, non-tenure track 13.4% 13.8%
--Part time 64.7% 68.6%
--Graduate assistants 1.2% 0.0%
Private doctoral-granting universities

--Full time, tenured or tenure track 34.9% 29.2%
--Full time, non-tenure track 17.3% 17.9%
--Part time 29.9% 31.3%
--Graduate assistants 17.9% 21.6%
Private four-year colleges and universities

--Full time, tenured or tenure track 39.3% 29%
--Full time, non-tenure track 15.6% 17.2%
--Part time 42.3% 52.2%
--Graduate assistants 2.9% 1.6%

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Book Scanning: The Google Edge

Google has a propriety book scanning technique AND has a patent on said technique. There's an article with diagrams at BuzzNewsRoom and at TechCrunch. As both articles highlight, Google is scanning thousands (millions?) of books a year...who knows how many?

Regardless, the point is that the project is full speed ahead and it looks as if there's no turning back to the way things used to be when it comes to searching, retrieving, and accessing information/books. Being a library science scholar I can't help but think what this continues to mean for librarians. I am still working through scenarios, as every librarian should be, because these are exciting and quickly changing times. The main challenge/excitement for me is the fact that how we conceptualize the institution of library and the practices that articulate that institution is way different now.

Libraries will never be able to scan books as quickly as Google. However, we will be able to curate better (or with different objectives) because information seekers need curation that isn't bound up in selling something. It's a knowledge project, and as long as librarians recognize that we can move successfully around in these new spaces without old institutional strictures.

Thoughts, anyone?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Google Goats

Here's a link to Google's blog post announcing their use of goats instead of lawn mowers. Click here. I'm digging it, seriously.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Twitter Cops

Twitter cops...

"The fate of "Paper of Record", GOOG, and the Tacit Call for DIY Attitudinal Librarians

I have had all intentions of posting/commenting on this story ever since I ran across it on InsideHigerEd a few days ago. But, alas and alack, I am end of the semester swamped. So, here is an excerpt and a link. Evidently, Google does not always have the same (intellectual) project in mind that the academy does 100% of the time.

"As digital archives have become more important and more popular, there are varying schools of thought among scholars about how best to guarantee that they will be around for good. Some think that the best possibility is for the creators of the archives -- people generally with some passion for the topic -- to keep control. Others favor acquisition, thinking that larger entities provide more security and resources for the long run."

And here's the rub...

"The fate of "Paper of Record," a digital archive of early newspapers with a particularly strong collection of Mexican newspapers, may be cited in the years ahead as an example of the dangers of purchase by a large entity. Paper of Record was purchased (secretly) by Google in 2006, and shortly after Google took over management of the site, late last year, the archive disappeared from view. After weeks in which historians have complained to Google and others about the loss of their ability to work, the previous owner of the archive has received permission to bring the archive back for some period of time, and resumption of service could start as early next week."

Please read more here.

UNC School of Information & Library Science Ranked #1

U.S. News Media Group has released the 2010 edition of America's Best Graduate Schools. The rankings are available online at and are to be featured in the May U.S.News & World Report magazine (on newsstands April 28, 2009). The 2010 rankings are of graduate school programs for a variety of disciplines, however some disciplines are not ranked this year. Information and Library Science is one of those; rankings for ILS programs come out every two years.

UNC's School of Information and Library Science was ranked #1 in 2009. UNC SILS shares this distinction with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The rankings are here. Of particular interest to me, UNC SILS is ranked number one in digital librarianship.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

"Laptop Hunter" Videos

I just wanted to post the most recent video in what I think is a pretty interesting's the new "Homeless Frank" release. The video is a parody of Microsoft's "Laptop Hunters" series; some Brooklyn Mac disciples crafted it. Lots of discussion around this. I am digging this collaborative exchange among various authors and publics...fluid, flexible, and indicative of how we communicate identity and ideology in "New Times". More curation to come.

And now, the Mac devotee response to MSFT!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Use Facebook, Lose a Letter Grade

Ah, here's a great piece detailing the academic consequences of Facebook use. Watch out young scholars...your new literacies and/or slacking off could portend poor curricular performance.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Kurt Cobain and 15 Years

Not enough coverage of Kurt Cobain's death, imho. A Seattle Times piece here. A New York Daily News piece here. For a band that brought music out of the '80s and soothed the pain of the Bush I trainwreck, there needs to be more. My students were three when this happened. Where is their Cobain? What discourse do I give them? There is a crack in the world and I don't know how we fix it.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

U of Michigan Press Commits to Digital Monograph

Inside Higher Ed reported that the University of Michigan Press has commit ed "to shift its scholarly publishing from being primarily a traditional print operation to one that is primarily digital". In addition, Scott McLemee blogged about this. McLemee correctly remarks that this sea change has been on the horizon for some time AND that this change will radically impact infrastructure that produces and circulates knowledge/scholarship/information. I would also add that uses and practices of literacy will change because of this too. Preferences for consumption and organization of such information will drive these new literacies. Of course, policy and pedagogy must recognize this change, driven by digital literacy, and accommodate accordingly.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Daft Punk

womyn/man, i just seems we need more of this these days. increasingly i am looking for music/soundtracks/whatever that enable a looking in all directions at the same time. it's geography, not history. daft punk feels like what henri lefebvre was saying when he uttered "history is contested in the city but won in the countryside". btw, lefebvre was french as is daft punk. that's hokey on my part. sorry.

but, back to my claim this is good stuff. seriously. i'm serious. are those the same?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Library Journal Releases Movers & Shakers 2009

Library Journal has published its annual issue that includes "Movers & Shakers 2009". These are the people identified as those who are "shaping the future of libraries".

I like the map function on the site that details total winners...way to go NC!

The only augmentation I'd like to see in the future might be the creation of a "monkeywrench" category...a space to profile the radicals that are challenging the status quo in (sometimes uncomfortable) lesser aggrandized ways. I'm thinking of social, economic, and literacy justice areas. Granted, many on this year's list do this; but, a whole category of monkeywrenchers would be pretty cool. Good stuff regardless.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

"What a way to go out, out like a sucka"

Once again, Jon Stewart proves to be the closest thing we have to journalism. Most recently, Stewart calls out Jim Cramer and in his infinite hubris Cramer falls into the Crossfire/Tucker Carlson trap...he tries to defend an indefensible argument. I'm saddened because, in a way, I really like Cramer but he's beat. He'll be on Jon Stewart tomorrow. In honor of this event I'm embedding a classic. Please watch, Jim.