Today, the looming start of term requires grant and report writing but I cannot settle to it without first referencing one of those complex Twitter conversations that suddenly burst out last night and needs to be addressed. This is where Twitter quickly becomes annoyingly much too constraining, but this post will also be short as time is limited today.
Last night @dajbelshaw @ambrouk @PatParslow @hrheingold @daveowhite and I were discussing a new post by @dajbelshaw on digital literacies, open source and Google, a conversation which led us in all kinds of directions including digital and analogue cultural normalization, crap detection, and the post-digital. This morning I followed up on suggested reading via 2 pieces by @daveowhite from 2009 - one on the post-digital and an earlier one on preparing for it.
I'd like to make a quick comment on the notion of post-digital, or post- anything for that matter. My research into transliteracy has convinced me that thinking linearly about literacy is seldom a good idea. Literacy should be thought of as a holistic ecology, not a linear series of events and changes. Yes, we can trace all kinds of 'first uses' to dates or moments in time but what is much more important than a first use is the way that a tool or skill becomes integrated and unified within the greater sphere of all literacies - nonverbal, visual, grammatical, alphabetical, interpersonal, cultural, interactional and so on.
There are some who find transliteracy annoying because it is too much like a theory of everything. I appreciate their irritation, but point out that it was not until we developed the unifying concept of 'the environment' that real progress started to be made in terms of collaboration towards ecological sustainability. I predict that the same will be found to be true of literacy once we realise that the connections between varieties of literacies are endlessly more fascinating and productive than the differences.
In terms of format, it makes sense for it to be a multimedia product rather than a straightforward print or digital book, so suggestions for appropriate publishers would be very welcome.
At this time, if you'd be interested in contributing please submit some details via this short form. If you'd like to discuss your idea first, please email me. NB: UK academics please note that this volume will *not* be completed in time for the 2014 REF
For more about transliteracy, see the Transliteracy Research Group
Seminar by Dr Souvik Mukherjee, Impact Research Fellow, Faculty of Humanities, De Montfort University
Evaluating Impact: NLab, Amplified Leicester, and creative innovation via social media
Wednesday 8th June 2011, 4pm at the Institute of Creative Technologies De Montfort University, Leicester, UK . Coffee and refreshments. All Welcome
Since 2005, DMU has initiated a series of projects which share a common focus of exploring social media as a means of stimulating creative innovation in business, non-profit, and community life in and around Leicester. They include NLab and CreativeCoffee Club (funded by HEIF, the Higher Education Innovation Fund) and Amplified Leicester (funded by NESTA, the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts). Professor Sue Thomas has devised and directed these activities across the Faculty of Humanities and the Institute of Creative Technologies.
I'm looking for stories about people who have become well-known due to their involvement with the internet and who are NOT NORTH AMERICAN.
I've just created a small page of LambdaMOO resources for those interested in this ancient text-based virtual world.
This academic year I'm focusing on researching and writing my upcoming book for Bloomsbury Academic Nature and Cyberspace: The Wild Surmise.
An offshoot article was recently published in an e-book produced for the 10th anniversary of the Center for Digital Discourse and Culture at Virginia Tech, Putting Knowledge to Work and Letting Information Play: The Center for Digital Discourse and Culture edited by Timothy W. Luke and Jeremy W. Hunsinger. It's an honour to have been invited to contribute to this collection and I was delighted that my piece was included. It's called "From gunny sacks to mattress vine: notes on Douglas Engelbart, Tim O'Reilly, and the natural world" and it considers some surprising synergies between these two well-known figures. My conclusion might be a bit of a stretch, but it's an interesting stretch, and I enjoyed putting it together.
I've also written an essay for something completely different - a collection about various aspects of the body. That's being edited now and should be out next year.
Our experience has indicated that there is a case for the appointment of trained ‘social media community organisers’ who are skilled in transliteracy and amplification techniques. Ideally, these workers will have been drawn from participants who have been through the Cocoon stage and can use online and offline platforms to establish areas of common ground across and between existing diverse networks.
We'd be grateful for feedback and discussion of the report at the new public Amplified Leicester community.
Very excited about the first ever Transliteracy Conference at Phoenix Square on 9th February 2010. The speakers' abstracts cover a fascinatingly broad range of topics including ethnography, reading practices, fiction, convergence, digital art, geography, music, comics, interactive graphics, remote audiences, film adaptations, the networked book, critical theory and interactive fiction. Browse through them here.
At the time of writing there are just 8 tickets left. Register here. Hope to see you on the day!
You can also follow the general discussion about transliteracy on Twitter.
Lots of news from me today, and all about transliteracy. A new website, a new forum, and a One Day Conference!
Since transliteracy research began at DMU in 2005 under the umbrella of PART (Production & Research in Transliteracy), group members have produced a significant range of projects, events, presentations and publications, stimulating an informal research network around the theory and practice of transliteracy.
Kate Pullinger and I have now established The Transliteracy Research Group with the aim of focusing PART's work yet more closely. TRG will continue to draw in a broad coalition of theorists and practitioners, both from DMU and other international institutions and organizations, whilst continuing to develop our already strong links with business, local community, and the broader cultural sector. A major strength of transliteracy events at DMU is that participants have come from academia, the arts, information sciences, pedagogical researchers, and the creative industries, and this has impacted in many different areas.
The Transliteracy Research Group (TRG), is a research-focussed think-tank and creative laboratory. The public face of the group resides here, on a new blog run by Kate and I, with regular contributions from the following De Montfort staff, Phd students, and graduates of the online MA in Creative Writing and New Media: Tia Azulay, Heather Conboy, Gareth Howell, Anietie Isong, Jess Laccetti, Kirsty McGill, and Christine Wilks.
Please join us as we develop this new field of academic research. You can contribute via comments to the blog or join the forum community 'Transliteracy Notes', designed by Gareth Howell.
As well as the new research group, we would like to bring to your attention a new resource, the Creative Writing and New Media Archive, an archive of all the Guest Lectures given during the four years of the online MA in Creative Writing and New Media. This archive contains lectures from theorists and practitioners as varied as Christy Dena, Rita Raley, Alan Sondheim, Caitlin Fisher, and John Cayley. Created by CWNM graduate and digital artist Christine Wilks, this resource will be of value to practitioners, students and academics with an interest in transliteracy, digital fiction, digital art, e-poetry, and cross-media. Please feel free to use this archive and discuss it in 'Transliteracy Notes'.
We will be hosting a day-long Transliteracy Conference on Tuesday 9 Feb, 2010, at the brand-new Phoenix Square Digital Media Centre, Leicester, UK. Please watch for our Call for Presentations, going out next week.
I've just used http://backupmy.net/ to back up my tweets. Not sure about it though - am more interested in backing up my Favourites than my own pronouncements. Anyway, I was amused to read my first-ever Twitter post, where I obviously hadn't yet got the hang of 140 characters!
leaving Santa Monica today to fly up to San Francisco ready for Web 2.0
Expo and my great twittering experiment. Will I be able to keep it u
Sat Apr 14 14:14:18 +0000 2007
In March 2008, after a conversation with Toby Moores, I blogged about the ways in which we thought the impact of social media might parallel the impact of the dissolution of the monastaries. But way back then, none of us expected the economic crash that was to come. It makes me smile to read that last year I wrote: "today there is not a single drive to traumatise and destroy our major institutions and companies with sledgehammers" - hah hah hah.
Find out more at the website. If you live in Leicester and you'd like to participate, do get in touch for information on how to apply.
For a couple of years now Toby Moores and I have been trying to set up a project we call Open Source Thinking, based on Toby's desire to share failed and mis-directed projects with others who might be able to run with an idea that did not work the first time around. Here's a link I gleaned from Alex Pang to a similar topic - Eric Weinstein, mathematician and hedge fund manager, talking about The Importance of Risky Research. He suggests that science can learn from finance by applying methods of shorting, not to money, but to ideas and propositions.
So, asked the interviewer, should journals and funding sources should be more willing to take risks on young scientists, even if they might be wrong? Weinstein:
Makes a lot of sense to me, but achieving it would require a radical buy-in from academia and I just don't see that coming any time soon.
Here in the US, my neighbour and many of her home-schooling colleagues are becoming 'economommies' - that is, women who were 'stay-at-home Moms' before the economic downturn but who now need to supplement the family income with paid work which allows them to look after the kids too. See full blogpost at NLab.
See full post at NLab.
By COLBY FRAZIER — March 25, 2009 In the mass of inky words and pulp pages that is a book, an infinite number of people, places and ideas wait to be lifted from the page by a human eye.
Once this occurs, anything can happen. The reader is free to write a paper about the book, tell a friend about it, or better yet, make some food, as 30 Santa Barbara City College students and faculty members have done for the school’s first Edible Book Festival scheduled from 2-4 p.m. today inside the Luria Library.
“The idea is to celebrate our love of books and our attachment to food,” said Elizabeth Bowman, a campus librarian who organized the festival.
City College’s festival is loosely based on The International Edible Book Festival, which was founded in 2000 to celebrate the birthday of French author and gastronome, Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin.
The festival’s rulebook is short: everything made has to be edible and based on a book.
Read the rest at UCSB's The Daily Sound
On Monday here at ETech, CEO Tim O'Reilly's keynote described the way in which the tech industry has been living in a bubble and declared that it should now turn its attention to the 'reality bubble' and work on 'stuff that matters'. For too long, he said, the industry has been focussing on pretty gewgaws instead of addressing problems that have been mounting for years whilst the best and the brightest have been preoccupied with throwing sheep at each other on Facebook. He emphasised the need to use our extensive skills to address the world's greatest challenges. This will, of course, include working with nonprofits, which statement rang a bell with me. A few weeks ago I interviewed Stewart Brand, who has a pretty successful record of persuading big companies to experiment with digital futures of all kinds. I asked Brand whether there were any examples of when his methods had failed, and he thought for a while then responded that he had failed to engage non-profits. The reasons, he felt, were cultural and related to the risk-averse nature of many non-profit agencies who are usually dependent on portfolios of funding from sources, often very traditional and not transliterate (the latter is my term, of course, not Brand's), whom they dare not offend.
I'm sure this is something O'Reilly will be thinking about as they move towards their challenges, and especially in relation to the first upcoming O'Reilly Gov 2.0 Summit in Washington DC this September.
I'll be posting more about ETech and San Jose when I get back to Santa Barbara. Am about to hit the road. One word though - I met quite a few O'Reilly people this time and found them all very friendly, energetic, and interesting. Quite an impressive mini-ecology going on in that company!
Noticed in a tweet from Tim O'Reilly quoting a message from Tim Berners-Lee regarding possibly 'the next big jump in capability' - see this article by Nova Spivack about a different kind of knowledge engine Wolfram Alpha
Wolfram Alpha is like plugging into a vast electronic brain. It provides extremely impressive and thorough answers to a wide range of questions asked in many different ways, and it computes answers, it doesn't merely look them up in a big database.
In this respect it is vastly smarter than (and different from) Google. Google simply retrieves documents based on keyword searches. Google doesn't understand the question or the answer, and doesn't compute answers based on models of various fields of human knowledge.
Presumably if this takes off it will once again change the ways in which we obtain and process information. Just as we got used to searching, maybe now we will have to learn the skill of questioning...
I've been reading quite a range of books during my research for The Wild Surmise but I've especially enjoyed Ellen Ullman's 1997 Close to the Machine: technophilia and its discontents. Eugene Miya at the Computer History Museum was keen I should read it as a commentary on life in Silicon Valley in the 90s, and it is certainly hugely informative about those early days of startups - the uncertainty of tech companies rising and falling on a weekly basis, the role of venture capitalist, and the nagging doubts of a generation who began as left-wing idealists and ended up with stock options that made some of them very rich.
Once again Baroness Greenfield has been giving evidence to the House of Lords about the dangers of computers and social networking. I would like to know who else is giving evidence to them? Is hers the only voice? If so, I fear for their ability to make reasoned decisions about this field. This time she claims that "Social network sites risk infantilising the mid-21st century mind, leaving it characterised by short attention spans, sensationalism, inability to empathise and a shaky sense of identity", warning "It is hard to see how living this way on a daily basis will not result in brains, or rather minds, different from those of previous generations. We know that the human brain is exquisitely sensitive to the outside world."
Well, it may be hard to see, Baroness, but why don't you give it a try? Yes, the human brain is sensitive and yes, it may be changing. But in the year of Darwin's anniversary, why should we assume this is a Bad Thing? Couldn't humans do with a bit of tuning up?
Her remedies are, forgive me, intensely naive if not insulting to earlier generations and present non-literate cultures. She claims that there is "a risk of loss of empathy as children read novels less.". I wonder what kind of era she comes from? Novels have been around for 400 years maximum - what did children do before then? Were they not intelligent? Did they not develop talents in rapid response / high concentration activities such as hunting and fishing? I could go on spelling this out, but I don't think I should have to.
The danger of scientists untempered by Humanities knowledge of history, anthropology, sociology and culture is once again rearing its head. Baroness, it's not enough to measure brain activity, we must understand it in the wider context of human culture. Please, get some experts with a wider range of viewpoints on your team, including some who really know about education and social networking. You are in urgent need of a transliterate perspective. Without it you are a danger to society.
My watchword for 2009 is 'nourish' - relationships, oneself, and one's community as a whole. And yesterday turned out to be a good example of nourishment in practice. My family held a little farewell party for me because tomorrow I'm departing for a four-month research trip to California. Most of us are pretty connected and in touch a lot by email, Facebook, texting and phonecalls, but it's a long time since we were all physically together in one person's home and it was a really lovely and warm occasion.
I was reminded of it today when I saw a tweet from Tim O'Reilly pointing to a post by Stowe Boyd commenting on research on Social Networks and Happiness conducted by Nicholas A Christakis and James H Fowler reported at The Edge.
It explains how posting smiling pictures of oneself strengthens online interactions. Here's an excerpt:
This makes a lot of sense, so in the interests of nourishing my social networking practice I'm replacing my Facebook profile picture with one which is almost embarrassing in its smileyness...
Barack Obama has taught the world a lesson in the use of social networks. This former community organiser already knew how to connect with many different cultures and communities, then he combined that knowledge with an understanding of social media, and his reach became huge (thanks also to a large and skilfull team). Now we can learn from his success and apply his methods to our own projects. More on this in Read/Write/Web's Obama's Social Media Advantage
I will have space to supervise some new PhD students from Autumn 2009, and would like to hear from researchers interested in developing projects around topics such as:
More information here.
This weekend I stayed at a friend's house and was intrigued to notice that she turns her router on when she turns on her laptop, and turns it off again when she's done. It surprised me because it has never occurred to me to turn off my router, even when I go away. So I tweeted a brief enquiry to find out what other people do. I also emailed my provider, Plus Net, to ask for their advice on the matter. Here are some of the answers I received:
Great first meeting at the Poetry Society Cafe today. We read excerpts from Blake's prose and poetry and discussed whether he could be counted as an 'amplified individual' It was interesting to think about his relationship to work at a time when the Industrial Revolution was only just developing, cities were growing very rapidly, and the factory working day was a new concept. Today, I think, we may be heading back in the opposite direction, towards perhaps a kind of technologised, independent and comparatively wealthy peasant class. That aside, it was a great meeting and a wonderful opportunity to learn and share ideas. Many thanks to Chris Meade for setting this up and I'm really looking forward to seeing how it develops. Follow the project, and look out for William Blake's personalised netbook (courtesy of Bill Thompson)
T-shirt expertly modelled by Lisa Gee
See more photos at Flickr