Wednesday, September 13, 2006

wikipedia and barbie

Wikipedia is continuing to grow exponentially, both challenging and exciting us. I have just been reading about Barbie. If you haven't had a look, you should. An amazingly comprehensive overview of her development, evolutions and make-overs and her cultural impact. Did you know, for instance, that she has been both a palentologist and tourist in her time (as well as, of course, astronaut, vet, rock star and firefighter)??

There's a lot to be said for the power of wikis to enable collaborative work across space and place.

And a further note on Barbie - the amazing Simon Tyszko has Suicide Bomber Barbie depicted on his site - more evidence of the way this iconic doll is hijacked as a mechanism to critically reflect on key contemporary issues.

Project Gutenburg

Project Gutenburg was the "first and largest single collection of free electronic books, or eBooks. Michael Hart, founder of Project Gutenberg, invented eBooks in 1971 and continues to inspire the creation of eBooks and related technologies today". While there are issues about copyright and public domain (you might have noticed that most of the material available could be described as 'classic') it provides an amazing resource of print and audio.

A sample:
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes adventure, The Valley of Fear, is available as an audio file as well as text. Listen and enjoy.

If you are really excited by the prospect of this growing public collection of classic works and want to contribute in some way, you can volunteer to become a proof reader.

Monday, June 26, 2006

UKLA digital literacies symposium

There's going to be a fabulous symposium at this year's UKLA conference in Nottingham. The UKLA Digital Literacy SIG is presenting a symposium which outlines some of the interesting research that's taking place among the group members. A highlight!

Here's part of the abstract:
  • This symposium will explore the early work of the Digital Literacies SIG which began in October 2005. The research day at UKLA 2005 showed just how significant the field of digital literacies has become and how far we are all influenced in our everyday literacy practices by digital cultures. For children, however, there is an increasing gap between the worlds they encounter in and out of the classroom. At home they segue seamlessly between media to make meaning and interact with others’ meanings; in school, all too often, the digital territory they inhabit at home is unwelcome or corralled into a clearly designated space with little impact on literacy practices.
Presenters will include Muriel Robinson, Rebekah Willett, Guy Merchant, Clare Dowdall and Julia Davies! All brilliant and engaging. These people are also members of the ESRC seminar series on play, creativity and digital cultures

Saturday, June 03, 2006

My Happy iDog

Just back from Japan (more on that next time). I'm involved in an ESRC seminar series around play, creativity and digital cultures (next seminar is on the 5th July in Lincoln) and this little guy fits right in. He's the blue 'Happy Version' and I found him in Tokyo. He dances and demands attention and is generally very cute! I wanted one for xmas but it was worth the wait.

I also personalized my BlackBerry while I was there -- the lure of the racks and racks of phone decorations was too much to ignore! Also, one of the attractions of personal technologies is that we can personalize them. We add stickers, glitter, soft toys to mark them as unique and make them our own. It's an interesting phenomenon and one not to be ignored by researchers.

Christian - if you're reading this.....hello!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Spell with flickr

You can now use images from flickr to spell out words! How cool!
VIiCMar_27_06 015Othis photo stream brought to you by the letter R...I 009A

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Lollipop Street is fab. Although, as you can see, I am a minimalist with limited talent, it is fun. I am fascinated by the ability to create a street. If you want to draw a house and add it to Lollipop Street, this is the link. We can create a neighbourhood! I wonder if we will have street parties and drop by for afternoon tea?

An online neighbourhood drawn in (aspirational) 2D in a multidimensional online space by people sitting in offline spaces located in houses and neighbourhoods. Ouch, makes my head hurt!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Inside Barbie

I have no good reason for this post (other than i have spent 11 hours in front of my keyboard trying to be profound and write about the construction of cohesive self-narratives...blah...yes, i know!). So, if you're ever wondered what is inside that Barbie you have hidden in that box under your bed labelled 'research projects', look no further. Under biohazard laboratory conditions, the Visible Barbie Project has come to your rescue!

My faith in the great modernist narrative of science is hereby restored.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Another brilliant set of photos from -- street art. But not just plain, ordinary street art (if such a thing exists) -- 3D street art!

As I said in a previous post, I have been collecting pictures of street art, graffiti and other text for a long time but I have never come across 3D work. The set displayed on are amazing and demonstrate how vibrant, unexpected and transient urban streetscapes can be.

Viva Barbie

I have posted in relation to the iconic Barbie on and off. Anyone who thinks about popular culture and consumer culture will no doubt share my interest. She is both awe inspiring and horrifying and while her sales figures are starting to slip, she is about as famous as you can get. Her fame is hard-won and well-deserved. She is no pop starlet, here today and gone tomorrow. She has ridden the wave of rapidly changing times and reflected ourselves back (with all our prejudices, vanities and frailties) in ways that made us take note.

This picture from the brilliant is one of many gorgeous Barbie pix. At least we now know how she has kept her complexion so milky and soft for all these years...

Friday, March 17, 2006

The Visual Dictionary

I have a vast collection of signs, text and street art from all around the world, including these from San Francisco

However, my collection pales in comparison to this brilliant collection by The Visual Dictionary:

The Visual Dictionary is a collection of words in the real world. Photographs of signage, graffiti, advertising, tattoos, you name it, we're trying to catalogue it

Go, look and contribute.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Dark and lonely water

The BBC is marking the 60th aniversary of the Central Office of Information (there's a discussion to be had about the English and their fascination with the concept of 'the centre'... perhaps another day) by releasing a range of archived films.

This one "Lonely water" was released in 1973 to warn children about the dangers of playing near water. I'm surprised it hasn't been reprised as a horror movie!

Provides an interesting insight into models of childhood in the 1970s.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The next big thing

The next big thing.

As part of her masters work at the Interaction Design Institute in Italy, Ruth Kikin-Gil developed what she has called BuddyBeads. Her website notes:

BuddyBeads are techno-jewelry items that facilitate non-verbal and emotional communication among group members, through codes and signals which the group decided upon together.

Each group member has a matching jewelry piece and can use it to communicate her emotional state to the other group members. Messages are decided by the group in advance and construct a secret private code among its members
How it works: the bead designs make use of the mobile phone network to provide opportunities for girls to convey emotions and group identity. A group of girls each have a buddy bead bracelet which is connected via mobile phone. The electronic beads are activated by pressing and send information to the other bracelets via the mobile phone connection. Different patterns of bead pressing provide information to the others allowing a version of digital chatting.

The beads, bracelets and communication system were developed in conjunction with groups of girls (and boys).

This time next year we'll all be wearing them (well, those of us with enough friends).

Sunday, January 15, 2006

G'day (hello) from Australia, the land "down under"!

Australian Barbie® sports an outfit typical of a jillaroo (female rancher) in the outback. Her brown, wide-brimmed hat protects her face from the hot sun while her tan skirt and vest match much of the dusty terrain found in the outback.

Yes, this is exactly what I wore last time i was a jillaroo in Sydney!

cool new DIY vlog

A new vlog has arrived. Techie Diva found Switch and it's brilliant. It is a "Do It Yourself show where we create fun and fashionable items with electronics". In the first episode the host, Alison and her guest star, Diana Eng, "create a little ipod-like case made out of a dental floss container for voice recording/playback module. They add the module to a photo frame so you can leave a voice message with our photo".

To create this little goodie, you will learn how to solder, drill and strip wire. Doesn't get much better than this!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Cereal boxes

Did you learn to read from cereal boxes and road signs? I did. As an adult, i continue to read road signs and road-side advertising aloud (to the confusion of my partner) which says something about how much time i spent in the back seat of a car as a child.

Perhaps this is also why I am so attracted to the amazing collection of cereal boxes at

"The frosted corn cereal that makes artificially flavored strawberry milk" !!!!!!!

A person whose hipness is non-existent

lachrymology - crying as therapy
lachrymotormouth - one who can't stop talking about her (sic) troubles.
L7 - a square. a person whose hipness is non-existent
L16 - to go L16 is to become haughty and precious in the glow of your own ego

I am enjoying the L section of pseudodictionary.

Other gems include:

z'it - to wipe clean or re-format a computer's hard drive
z-monster - tiredness so excessive you can't keep your eyes open

Bonus round: you can submit your own pseudo-word and meaning to the dictionary and "enshrine your vocabulary on the internet". Love it!

Hmm..interesting how keen we all are to be recognized and valued online: blogs, websites, encyclopedias and dictionaries, photo-sharing sites with attribution levels. Is this where we can finally have our 15 minutes of fame?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Last year I pointed out a site called Paper Doll Heaven which allows you to dress up celebrities. Lately, I've been playing on another fabulous site--eLouai--which allows you to design entire rooms and houses as well as people, smilies and animals.

This is the new, improved me for 2006 (of course, i secretly want to be a mermaid, but for now, wings will do). I have decided to opt for comfortable footwear this year.

Given the growing interest in online avatars (one section of the site allows you to create caricature avatars), identity and the importance of play, sites like these are important to examine and play with.

Note my use of the term 'play'. There is a fabulous ESRC seminar series called "Play, creativity and digital cultures" continuing throughout 2006. The blog of the series is Let's Get Digital: Play.

Monday, January 02, 2006


I'm not sure what to make of this. However, i am pretty sure there are few useful links to literacy to be made (or maybe there are quite a few?).

For more unbearable cuteness, go to CuteOverload.