Monday, February 27, 2006

new reviews in cyberculture studies (march 2006)

for over ten years, i've been building the resource center for cyberculture studies. the heart of RCCS is a ton of full-length book reviews, quickly approaching 400 in total. new reviews for this month include:
Mark J. P. Wolf and Bernard Perron, eds., The Video Game Theory Reader (Routledge, 2003). Reviewed by: Jason Rhody, Department of English, University of Maryland, College Park. Brief responses by: Mark J. P. Wolf and Bernard Perron.

Jo Groebel, Eli M. Noam, and Valerie Feldmann, eds., Mobile Media: Content and Services for Wireless Communication (Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2006). Reviewed by: Susan Jacobson, Department of Journalism, Temple University.
it was great to work with susan on her review. and it was great to work with jason, who i've known as a friend and colleague ever since our MITH days at the university of maryland. whenever jason talks and writes about computer games, i listen and learn.

Sunday, February 26, 2006


here's a picture of bosso, trevor and ally's dog. i had the pleasure of petting bosso this weekend.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

a dr. seuss-like dog

great campus visit. they are building something interesting and are looking for new ideas. i met a lot of committed faculty, staff, and administrators.

before driving back to seattle, i had brunch in northeast portland with my good friend trevor. he's recently married, to a wonderful woman named ally, and really shining. they have a great old house, a dr. seuss-like dog (i'll get and post a picture), and two or three cats! i've known trevor since high school and it's always great seeing him, especially our last few visits. next time, i'll be sure to visit when ally's not working.

tomorrow beth and i are seeing nada surf! it's a small kexp show which means it's during the day (kind of weird, right?) but small and quaint (usually a good thing with bands you like).

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

driving south and new ideas

tomorrow afternoon i leave for a campus visit near portland. i return on saturday.

so much is happening with the september project. when i get back, i'll blog a bit about some recent tsp developments and share some new ideas and designs. sarah, klockner, and i have been meeting alot lately and the meetings are extremely productive and creative -- and fun. klockner is designing and testing new maps and building pages that can be translated easily into many languages. sarah talked with lynne faulk (friend and former gates foundation's library project colleague of sarah's) who then produced a new web design. the new design is a huge improvement over our current design.

i've been working on the web site's wording, especially the home page. two goals: 1) write it clearly so that visitors will understand what the september project is all about and 2) write it simply so that the pages can be translated more easily into other languages.

in 2004, when we began working on the september project, we didn't really know what we were doing. in 2005, things made a little more sense. it is exciting to be in 2006.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

brunch with beth

spent the morning having brunch with my buddy beth kolko who, as usual, is working on three or four equally interesting projects. then we walked up the street for a marathon grading session at verite coffee in ballard. it's great to have friends in your neighborhood.

grading has been interesting. the projects (for com 300, basic concepts of new media) are really good and really strong. for their final project, however, i want the students to return to building stuff on facebook rather than analyzing stuff on facebook. i'll be curious to hear what students think about this when we reconnect in class on tuesday.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

rock on siva!

my friend Siva Vaidhyanathan on the daily show!

(thanks to jen and alex for mentioning this clip in com 300.)

buy this product and become more unique

on tuesdays and thursdays, i teach com 201 -- intro to communication. with 95 students, it's supposed to be run as a lecture but i teach it as sort of a discussion class. whether it's music or television, film or internet, the students have so much to say, so much to ask, so much to answer, so much to imagine. i love this class.

this week we've been discussing advertising. we've covered basic persuasion strategies (celebrities, normal joes and janes, bandwagon effect) and various associational principles (buy this product and get laid, buy this product and be more natural, buy this product and become more unique). we also talked about advertising in a digital age, where our purchase habits fuse with our browsing habits, where our fashions and fetishes collide.

the only problem today was that we didn't have enough time. i'm still curious to hear from the students about what they think about advertising, what they think about commodities, and, most importantly, what they think about consumer culture. what does it mean when who we are is, we are told, what we buy? what does it mean when our ideas and beliefs -- our ideologies -- can be summed up, we are told, by what shoes we wear or what deodorant we use? what does it mean when we present our more general and specific identities via stuff: stuff we buy, stuff we buy that we can't afford, stuff we buy only to discard in a matter of weeks.

two class periods on something as complex as consumer culture just isn't enough time.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

santa cruz to san francisco

santa cruz was awesome. mom's busy doing her thing with WILPF and busy being baba. since i quit smoking cigarettes, visits home have been much more fun and relaxing. plus: the pacific ocean.

palo alto was great. my sister nancy, brother in law jeff, and nephews aleks and ben. aleks dressed up and performed as the happy witch and kept the dress-cape on as we cruised downtown palo alto. after lunch, we saw nectarine group -- righteous office space.

san francisco was tremendous. the department is supportive, engaged, and extremely interesting. i gave a research talk, taught a journalism class (which was a blast), had a tour of campus, and met a lot of great people.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

writing for my local newspaper

in the last year, i've written two editorials for the daily which is the student newspaper of the university of washington. last quarter, i wrote Play it really, really loud. this piece rocks! it was a lot of fun to write and i got some positive feedback. before that, in spring, i wrote Collective wondering. that wasn't much fun to write but the process was extremely rewarding. and it felt good to voice those questions in a newspaper.

recently, staff members of the daily have invited me to write an editorial for this quarter. i feel totally honored and totally stoked to be asked by students. as for the topic of the editorial -- i've got a few good ideas but i'd much rather it come from STUDENTS.

so i'm going to start a facebook group called something like please help me come up with a topic to write about for the daily! setting it up will take about 5 minutes and i'll basically ask UW students to post topics that they think are important, inspiring, baffling, delicious, and/or urgent. since facebook allows for threaded posts, it's possible that some set of themes may emerge. and that will be the topic of my winter quarter editorial for the daily!

travel --> i will be in SF this weekend to visit a campus. i will also manage to see my mom in santa cruz and my sister nancy, jeff, and their boys aleks and ben in palo alto!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

superbowl sunday

it's been a fun run this year with the seahawks. for me, the best part of today's game was the first quarter -- not a single first down for the steelers! a 3-0 lead! then it went downhill fast with bad plays and bad calls.

back from travel --> back from usc, where the annenberg school has a big and interesting initiative on online communities. i saw some friends and colleagues and met a lot of really sharp people. it will be interesting to see what comes out of this and larry gross certainly seems to be the kind of person who can make big things happen.

one of the trip's highlights was seeing my sister cara, steve, and their boys will and dolan. my nephews grow like magic weeds.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

sarah smiling

my friend kaley over at upper left images took a great picture of sarah. this look, which is more of an eruption than a smile, is one that always melts me. it's also quite contagious.