6 January 2010 — Six more class daze?

New Newspaper? Or a better ebook?

“The unique Skiff Reader makes its debut. Skiff, a Hearst-backed startup previously known as FirstPaper, will demonstrate a flexible, large screen e-reader optimized for newspapers and magazines. The Skiff Store will deliver the digital content via the Sprint 3G wireless network.”

The small print: Sprint will offer the Skiff Reader at more than 1000
of its U.S. retail locations later this year, but pricing and other details are still a mystery.

source: http://bit.ly/85sp4I

THINK A MINUTE: Can you describe a time when you learned without being taught? How did it happen? Why did it happen? What made it different from school (as if we all didn’t already know)?

How have your ideas about media changed over the course of this semester…

Social Media

The World Wide Web

Newspapers and information

Persuasive media

Media as a tool — google maps

I disssssss-like crakin’ cold Tuesdays!


One second. Hold on…

Something first, before the emergency… Let’s try a little template action on “Mr. PantyBomber SquarePants,” that totally weak  dude who tried to bring down a plane over poor old Tiny-Tim Detroit on Christmas day. Arrrggghhhhh! As if Detroit didn’t have enough problems with General Motors!

Let’s run a class discussion about that fool and the way the press handled the story using our famed template (below). Remember, we live our lives swimming in media, and “if man were a fish, the last thing he would discover would be water.” So, with that in mind…. Then, in a bit, when we have a moment, we’ll get back to our class room EMERGENCY!!!

Here it is again: Mr. Template!

1.  Research. First you  must do your research in order to understand any medium or event. Today, in this class, we can skip the research because we know a lot about our subject:  Mr. PantyBomber SquarePants.

And this…

2.  Description. Once we’ve completed our research — and maybe while it is still in progress,  we can describe the subject and the substance of our media inquiry.

3.  Analysis. Here, in this phase, we want to examine the information that we have collected through our research and in our description. It is important to work methodically, to separate information and data into its parts, so they may be arranged, rearranged and considered. As well, we should then think of other similar instances we know about that we can use for comparison. Here is the key to critical thinking: compare and contrast. We must think critically about relationships between the events we are considering and other events that we already know about. This sort of comparison (SAT word: “juxtaposition,” meaning “placed side by side often for comparison,” source wordnet on ww.wordnik.com) is a way to gain perspective, which leads us to the next element of our template: interpretation.

4.  Interpretation. The idea here is to think critically about the things you’ve described.  In some cases analysis can take the place of interpretation; and in other cases interpretation can come about as a result of analysis. You may remember that earlier in the semester we described interpretation as explaining what happened; whereas we described analysis as why something happened. When you engage in analysis, you are considering information for yourself. When you engage in interpretation, you are preparing to present your efforts to others.

5.  Evaluation. It may be the case that any one of these elements — analysis, interpretation, evaluation — can be used interchangeably or grouped together for added synergy (SAT word: “synergy,” meaning “The interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects.” source: American Heritage Dictionary). However, when we talk about evaluation, we might want to think about summarizing our ideas, to consider our conclusion, and make a determination about how the media operates, how it treated the subject at hand. And why. In this case we want to end our work by evaluating why the “Mr. PantyBomber SquarePants” story reminded us about why our nation is at war.

And now… at last… the EMERGENY!!!

Two very good students brought to my attention the problem of finding and contacting sources for their weBLAB. Here’s the way to get in touch with contributors outside your group, the school, etc. Here’s how to find  and contact an expert:

1. Google a news article on your subject. Look at the sources they have quoted. The New York Times is always good for this: http://www.nytimes.com. Or Google. Let’s try a couple of examples, topic by topic.

a. Droids in combat. Machines fighting wars. Google search terms: machines and drones replace soldiers. Result: http://singularityhub.com/2009/06/01/war-20-rise-of-the-robots/

In this and the example below, you will find a strategy to follow. Try this: Search for people named in the article and who commented for the writer. Search for names of their organizations, or any organization mentioned in the article. Next, Google the organization and get their email. Then, email the organizations, explaining that you are working on a school project, that you need answers quickly, and that you will cite them correctly. Then, politely ask them a question on your topic. Here are some efforts by me on topics we are working on in our weBLABs.

b. Legalization of drugs. NY Times search terms: Legal pot. Result: http://bit.ly/81FIWV

c. Cheating in baseball. Steroids. NY Times search terms: baseball steroids. Result: http://bit.ly/4yjnj8

d. Prejudice in sports. Google search terms: Prejudice in sports. Result:http://www.h-net.org/announce/show.cgi?ID=134133source right in the story, with email!

e. Erosion of privacy and individuality. Google search terms: Erosion of privacy and individuality Result: http://bit.ly/4o9p1Klong list of sources

f. Controlling the cost of health care. NY Times search terms: health care cost Result: http://bit.ly/7HYFbA

g. Sexting. NY Times search terms: sexting Result:http//bit.ly/4NYYeJ n

h. The future of schools, education. NY Times search terms: future education Results: http://bit.ly/8Fn89c lots of sources!

8 December 2009

Photo of the day —

Name the secret location; take the poll!

For the sake of reference, here’s the image of our whiteboard on which the project and the notion of a collaboratory was described.

Click on the image below to expand it:

Here is an additional approach to the collaboratory:

Each item I show you today appeared on YouTube. Other, maybe better, tutorials are available. For instance, in the case of Webspiration, which is a little further down our list, there’s a tutorial that show’s you how to turn Webspiration into a web page, which might be a way for you to solve three problems at once: employing a tool for collaboration; conceiving and developing your porject; and, finally, producing a presentation for the class.

Still another approach you might want to consider is creating a website, which is not as freaky as it sounds, especially if you use Google sites:

Finally, here’s one of my favorite tools for developing ideas, Webspiration, at mywebspiration.com

Some key questions you will answer in your groups and hand in to me at the end of class:

1. Consider the collaborative tools I’ve shown you. Does it matter which one you choose for your project?

2. Does your project more easily lend itself to one of these collaborative tools?

3. Now consider how you are going to present this collaboration to me — try to give me a sense of what it will look like — a research paper? a design for a video with an accompanying video?

Here’s an item for those of you pawing over the problem of virtual war –


A Day That Will Live in Infamy – 7 December 2009

Monday’s photo of the day —

Dr. Mims after watching a story about Geoff Canada on CBS’s “60 Minutes” at http://bit.ly/5AYK89

Now this:

“The Internet surrounds us like air, saturating our offices and our homes. But it’s not confined to the ether. You can touch it. You can map it. And you can photograph it. Here are five postcards from the journey of a single bit, as data flashes from sea to wired sea. (Wired.com)”

Now have a look at it: http://bit.ly/6Cqktw

Here’s a great example of a collaboratory in action.


Here a suggestion for a web-space (or platform, whichever word you choose) where you may collaborate on your project…


Here’s a bold way to collaborate — create your own social network, like facebook!


Also, some interesting thoughts about who we’re really talking to on facebook —


9 November 2009 – Week in Review

Two big lessons from last week, both part of an ongoing effort to grow an understanding of media, as well as to learn how the video elements of media work.

Lesson One — Open Source computing: For our purposes we will define OS software by way of analogy. The Source is like a giant supermarket. The market is open because there is no key (no hidden source code), as there is on PC or Mac. Everything in our supermarket, which comes in the form of codes, is free. Think of these codes as recipes. Part two of our analogy is a restaurant. Think of the restaurant as the software application or operating system we want to design. Even though all of the food in the supermarket — fruits and vegetables, meats and fish, along with their recipes are free for the taking — we still must prepare them for our restaurant. We must use the food and recipes available to us to create a customer tempting menu. We can also change the recipes available from the supermarket, too. Still, in order to have a successful restaurant — or in this case, a software application or operating system — we have to find the right menu, the right setting, and provide the best customer experience. Even though all we take from the supermarket (code) is free, it’s still up to us to make it delicious (useful). The great advantage of our open source supermarket is that lots of people can contribute code and other recipes. With more people working to solve the same sorts of problems, the more likely it is that someone will be able to come up with a better restaurant (application or operating system).

Lesson Two — A documentary film is based on reality. I often think of it as the video cousin of print journalism and non-fiction literature. Wikipedia describes it as an effort to “document reality.” In “No Direction Home,” we saw the documentary in the role of a biography, about Bob Dylan. In “Shine a Light,” we saw the documentary in the role of exposition, telling the story of a “Rolling Stones” concert. In “My Flesh and Blood,” we saw the documentary in the role, again, of exposition, telling the story of the trials of Susan Tom’s family. How, then, do we think about “King of Kong”?

Today, we’re going to try grasp the full impact of media first through the eyes of a man we’ve spoken about before, Marshall McLuhan. Then, we’re going to try to narrow our focus down to everyone’s favorite Web site, YouTube. Again, Michael Wesch will be our focus, but this time we’ll try to add the work of Dana Boyd for contrast and comparison.

The objective of this lesson? We will attempt to understand that when we use media, media is also using us.

Let’s discuss the purpose of the lesson. Let’s look at this example for clarity.

o – It’s apparent how we use media (or is it?); so first, let’s ask how how media might be using us.

o – Let’s read though the printouts I’ve given you about Marshall McLuhan and be prepared to discuss how the experience of radio and the experience of television might affect a family’s evening.