Saturday, December 22, 2007

Merry Christmas and best wishes for a fabulous 2008 and may the cubby guy in the red suit bring you joy (as well as some cool gadgets)!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Times of the signs

Reading - and loving - this new book by Eric Sadin. In it he outlines his work on "the nature and impact of the sudden contemporary transformation of our relationships to text and to signs, brought about notably through the dual expansion of digital and telecommunication networks".

Visually stunning, carried out mainly in Kyoto ... it is stunning. If you are interested in photography, digital communication, urban theory, semiotics and information this is a must-read.

Go here for an interview with Eric Sadin.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Paul Carter and Julian Sefton-Green seminar

We're establishing an international seminar series called Place, space, text based in the Hawke Research Institute for Sustainable Societies and the Centre for Literacy, Policy and Learning Cultures (University of South Australia).

The first seminar (December 3, 2007) features Professor Paul Carter from the University of Melbourne and A/Professor Julian Sefton-Green, an independent educational consultant based in the UK.

Come if you can. Will be an excellent event.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I'm making a list and checking it twice...

L I T E castiron R A C Y
How many literacies does it take to suck all the meaning from the term??

Let's start to count:

digital literacy, technological literacy, computer literacy, financial literacy, emotional literacy, economic literacy, social literacy, mathematical literacy (huh?), religious literacy, spiritual literacy, cultural literacy, dance literacy, water literacy, environmental literacy, science literacy, engineering literacy, health literacy, consumer literacy, physical literacy, psychological literacy, agricultural literacy, safety literacy, medical literacy, media literacy, music literacy, drug literacy.

Any more? How about knitting literacy??

Monstro...the menace from the murky depths

Go here to read more. These are absolute classics from the late 1950s and very early 1960s. From 'I was face-to-face with the creature from Planet X' to 'I am Robot X', the works of Jack Kirby (who went on to create Captain America, the X-Men, Fantastic Four and the Hulk) are fabulous. Each one is a gem.

Monday, November 12, 2007

i told you so...

...the PC is dead (well, ailing, anyway).

Sydney Morning Herald (November 5, 2007) reports:
Masaya Igarashi wants $US200 headphones for his new iPod Touch, and he's torn between Nintendo's Wii and Sony's PlayStation 3 game consoles. When he has saved up again, he plans to splurge on a digital camera or flat-screen TV. There's one conspicuous omission from the college student's shopping list: a new computer. The PC's role in Japanese homes is diminishing, as its once-awesome monopoly on processing power is encroached by gadgets such as smart phones that act like pocket-size computers, advanced internet-connected game consoles, and digital video recorders with terabytes of memory.

PC sales are sliding, mobile phones and other mobile devices are increasingly embedded in our everyday lives.

I don't have a desktop anymore (and haven't for over 7 years). Do you?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

i LOVE this

Graffiti Archaeology is amazing. We are all interested in space, place and time these days. My own interests are also focused on graffiti at the moment.

Put these things together and then find Cassidy Curtis' Graffiti Archaeology - a project developed to map graffiti-covered walls as they change over time.

The site creates a collage of photos taken of the same place by multiple photographers. It creates a visual time line of each site.

It's pretty wonderful.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Would the world be a different place if Washington DC had been called Feili Neivul

In the 19th century, Stedman Whitwell was "deeply troubled by the will-nilly way that cities and towns were named in America". It seems that the plague of Washingtons and Springfields was too much to bear. He proposed a "Rational Geographical Nomenclature".

In contemporary USA there are apparently Springfields in 34 different states (5 of them are cities with populations over 50,000).

More here.

Also at MapRoom.

A minor history of giant spheres

Cabinet magazine contains some fabulous, quirky stuff. A minor history of giant spheres by Joshua Foer has just been published in the Fall 2007 edition. The 'minor history' begins in 1664 with the world's first modern planetarium and ends with an ode to the Star Wars Death Star constructed in the United Arab Emirates.

The magazine itself is a joy. If you don't already read it regularly, you should treat yourself.

This from the New York World's Trade Fair in 1939. It contained a Utopian garden city of the future called "Democracity". Makes me feel quite melancholy.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Forgive me blogger-god for I have sinned... has been a long time since I have blogged.

Instead of blogging, I have been in Canada visiting with the University of Alberta. My visit was hosted by the Faculty of Education Technology Council and was arranged by the wondrous Joyce Bainbridge. I got to hang out with people like Mike Carbonaro and Margaret Mackey, give some (well, a lot..) of talks, see Jasper National Park (and sundry wild life), go to ice hockey, talk to teachers and administrators. Totally brilliant!

My thanks to the kind and generous admin, IT and academic staff across all the departments that make up the Faculty of Education @ UoA. Very special place, very special people.

Photo is of Margaret Mackey and Joyce Bainbridge taking a moment to admire the glorious scenery of Angel Glacier in Jasper National Park.

The secret life of poster boards II

And then there were none. Where do all the flyers go? Who decides when the board is too full?

Veeeery intereeesting...

Monday, September 17, 2007

Imagined geographies and graffiti

For the first time in human history more of us now live in urban sites than rural, amid growing diversity and struggle for access to diminishing resources and political power. Henri Lefebvre noted that,
The urban space of the street is a place for talk, given over as much to the exchange of words and signs as it is to the exchange of things. A place where speech becomes writing. A place where speech can become ‘savage’ and, by escaping rules and institutions, inscribe itself on walls.
It seems to me that the autobiographical writings, the scrawled messages, and the more ambitious art projects written on the spaces of the urban are important, albeit often unsanctioned, texts. I'm finding graffiti in all its forms very interesting, particularly in relation to issues of public space and Said's notion of imagined geographies.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The secret life of poster boards

One week, they're sad and empty

and the next they're bustling and overcrowded.

Where do all the flyers come from? Where do they go?

State of Play V: Building the metaverse

A collaboration by Harvard Law School, Yale Law School, New York Law School, Trinity University and Nanyang Technical University is presenting the 2007 State of Play Conference.

According to the conference blurb:

The popularity of virtual worlds in Asia is phenomenal. From Thailand and Malaysia to Indonesia and the Philippines, the Asia Pacific region's on-line gaming market generated approximately $1.4 billion in annual revenues last year – a figure that is expected to reach $3.6 billion by the end of the decade. Much of this growth will be propelled by 180 million Chinese Internet users, the majority of whom will play on-line games.

It is being held at Marina Mandarin, Singapore - August 19-22.

Take note.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Missing in action

I've been missing-in-action for a few weeks. I've been going to various events. One of the most interesting was hosted by the Gippsland campus of Monash University (and most particularly Margaret Somerville). The one day symposium Landscapes and Learning brought together a cross-disciplinary audience and featured presentations by, amongst others, my colleagues Barbara Comber, Helen Nixon (pictured here preparing for their seminar), Debra Hayes and Alan Mayne as well as well-known scholar and artist Paul Carter. An interesting day. Lots to think about. Look out for the edited collection that will follow.

I've also been reading this fabulous and intensely thought provoking book by Paul Gilroy.

Street Art Film Festival in New Jersey

Trenton, NJ is hosting the Street Art Film Festival celebrating public art from around the world. The work of the artists showcased is challenging ideas about who owns public spaces and what they can be used for.

Find it here:

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Strange Maps

Increasingly fascinated (like everyone else) by notions of place, I have been really enjoying You are here: Personal geographies and other maps of the imagination (Katherine Harmon, 2004).

Those very personal mappings and a growing appreciation of the beauty of maps led me to these (a 1570 Swiss map of Europe as a Queen and an 1838 map showing how Australia might have been partitioned) and a whole range of other fascinating and Strange Maps.

I was hit # 2,091,183 so I don't think the site is much of a secret. Well worth a visit if you haven't already been there.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Not everything is digital

Not everything is digital, nor does it need to be.

Scott Carney has reported for Wired on The Musalman. Established in 1927, the paper is hand-written in Urdu and circulated in the city of Chennai, India.

India has 45974 newspapers (circa 2001). While the majority are published in Hindi, 5364 newspapers are published in over 100 languages. The Musalman, with its beautiful calligraphy, is part of the vast array of newsprint published and distributed across India.

The diversity of textual practices across location, times, purposes, technologies and cultural contexts is pretty exciting!

Urban intersections

Its exciting when stuff you're randomly reading intersects in interesting and unexpected ways.

Currently I'm reading Paris: The secret history (Andrew Hussey), City Reading: Written words and public spaces in antebellum New York (David Henkin) and now the website Citygraphy. From diverse perspectives, each source is tracing the development of public culture in urban sites. The roles of written and visual texts as well as architecture and the development of public spaces are taken up in interesting ways. Really interesting stuff and decidedly related to the emerging shift towards looking more specifically at place, space and time in relation to textual practice.

Ah, when men were men and women wore nice aprons and the world was a better place

This is hilarious (but not).

I don't think that I look this happy when I'm in the kitchen washing up while the men are in the living room playing a 'family' board game. However, as my partner suggests, the men may well have cooked dinner. Yeah, right!


Friday, July 13, 2007

2007 UKLA digital literacy SIG symposium

Swansea University campus

Our digital literacies SIG hosted a symposium of PGR students at the UKLA (United Kingdom Literacy Association) International Conference held at Swansea University last week.

Great papers were presented by Cathy Burnett (Shifting identities within initial teacher education), Naomi Hamer (Playing across print and digital texts) and Becky Parry (Reading and rereading 'Shrek'). Each presentation showed their diverse and sophisticated takes on issues linked to a range of literate practices. In the two years since the SIG started it has been exciting to see the way the digital literacies field has morphed into something exciting and full of diversity. Keep an eye out for these women - they're doing fabulous stuff!

Photo of Becky and Naomi preparing for the session.

2007 Lubetkin Prize for architecture

We are increasingly interested in the design and uses of urban space. The Lubetkin Prize is awarded to the most outstanding architectural work constructed outside the UK by an RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) member.

This year the prize has been awarded to Southern Cross Station in Melbourne. While the structure is essentially a big, undulating shed roof, according to the judges "its vocation is as a civic structure. It is a point of entry to the city and, critically, it makes a space connecting the new and old parts of the town". The blend of structural integrity and beauty is stunning. Congratulations to the architects, Grimshaw, and to Melbourne!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Face your pockets project

Flickr has a photo pool called 'what's in your bag?' This group has almost 4000 photos in it (and growing). If you would like to do something a little different, Timur Akhmetov and Yulia Yakushova are encouraging you to scan your face alongside whatever happens to be in your pockets.

I have no idea why.

But it's really interesting to see what and how and wonder why.

In the 1990s, before James Gee began to think about video games and learning he wrote about Discourse (with a big D), describing it as an identity kit. With that in mind, it is fascinating to see what people keep in their pockets and/or what they want us to think they keep in their pockets and how they choose to arrange it all.

There's something really interesting here about the notion of making the very personal and private, public. The communal nature of the activity is also quite fascinating.

Don't forget to close your eyes when you do your own entry (or wear goggles).

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Public Diplomacy Island event

The University of Southern California's Annenberg Public Diplomacy Island is hosting an international virtual event in Second Life on the 22nd June from 9.00 SLT. Second Life CEO Philip Roseday and MacArthur Foundation's President Jonathan Fanton will discuss philanthropy in virtual worlds. Grab your avatar and turn up!

Saturday, June 16, 2007


Mooch: to obtain something without paying for it.

BookMooch is about giving and receiving books. Every time you give a book, you receive a point and can in turn get a book you want from someone else registered on BookMooch. You can also choose to give your points to identified charities.

Cool idea.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Beyond the digital divide - Futurelab at work

If you've never been to the Futurelab website, you should go. As their website says, they really are passionate about changing the ways in which people learn and exploring the ways in which technologies and learning intersect and they do some funky, important stuff.

One of the most exciting sections on the website is (for me, at least) the commissioned literature reviews - all cutting edge and written by key people in relevant fields. In the last couple of weeks a great paper on the digital divide has been released. Really clear outline of key issues that points to the complexity of the notion and identifies a set of questions to which we must attend in order to move beyond the divide.

Friday, June 08, 2007

I have been reading designobserver. Apparently we are currently publishing a book every 30 seconds - which means that by 2052 there will be more people writing and publishing books than people reading them. This poses interesting challenges for publishers and authors.

Alice Twemlow asks:

Why keep on with the work of traditional publishing when the Internet would seem to provide a much more efficient means for reaching the people? What is is about the book, pamphlet and magazine formats that continue to lure publishers onto the rocks of insolvency?

Perhaps it's the level of control that books afford. They are created from the top down: completed and finessed before their release, they provide few entry points for unpredictable reader contributions. Books are statements, serene and imperturbable.

This issue of control and sense of completion is interesting, particularly when contrasted against the more fluid and eternally incomplete nature of many digital texts. Different technologies, different social purposes, different functions.

Flickr photo 'Pile of books' by hawkexpress.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Google maps Street View

Wow!! I love Google's new Street View. I do a lot of research where I collect photographs of textual landscapes in urban sites. The ability to cruise around urban sites from the comfort of my office is cool (don't get me wrong - it doesn't replace the need to be on site). The top photo is a street scape shot of a random street in San Francisco (878 Haight Street); the second photo is zoomed in on the poster board (in the top right hand corner of the street scene).

The collision of geography and technology with my own interests is really exciting.

If you want to learn about Street View, there's a cute tutorial here.

On the privacy issue raised in relation to Street View: I've been living in the UK where I appeared on CCTV an average of 300 times a day. If you're in the US and you are one of the 100 million people who shop at Wal-mart you are contributing to the more than 460 terabytes of personal data (your social security and drivers license number, where you live, which colour lipstick you buy, what snack foods you like, when you are having a dinner party).

Sunday, June 03, 2007


The GeoCommons site was officially launched on the 28th May at the Web 2.0 Conference in San Jose.

The aim of GeoCommons is "to make the world of detailed geospatial data on everything from crime statistics to meteorite strikes at your finger tips". This is amazingly cool.

The heatmap pictured here is "The hippest place to live in San Francisco". The brighter the heat spot, the greater the concentration of particular categories. In this case, SeaGor (who created the map) chose popular bars, low crime rate, density of tech workers, newer homes and female motorbikers as indicators of 'hip' and overlaid them accordingly. Interesting choice of categories.

See the blog as well.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Homework - love it or hate it

Homework: 'schoolwork that a student is required to do at home'. Makes it sounds so easy. Doesn't capture the emotional stress, missed sleep, arguments, tears, uncertainty, frustration (and that's just what parents experience). Homework is, and should be, the topic of hot debate these days.

If you're interested in the issues surrounding homework, you might want to read The case against homework: how homework is hurting our children and what we can do about it
or have a look at

Another well-known homework themed book is Alfie Kohn's The Homework Myth. Stirred more responses on the Amazon page than i have ever seen.

Even if you're a huge fan of homework, there are some interesting issues flagged.

See also Cory Doctorow's comments on boingboing

Thursday, May 24, 2007

8 myths about video games debunked

Next time you're at dinner and because you foolishly listed computer/video games amongst your interests you are being asked all those questions about the decline of civilization, youth alienation, violence, blah blah, it may be useful to have read Henry Jenkins' response to 8 myths about video games.

His comments were part of a PBS focus on the "video game revolution".

They should provide some useful armour.

Picture of Henry Jenkins from his MIT staff site.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The decisive moment

Henri Cartier-Bresson was one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century.
His 1952 book "The Decisive Moment" changed the face of photography as it captured the instant, the 'decisive moment' where event, organization of forms and photographer (and via him/her, technology) intersect.

Simon Cherpitol has kindly put the entire book online here for us to admire and learn from. The images are exquisite and many are haunting.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Net filtering

A report in the BBC News outlines the growing volume of state-led censorship of the internet. Since 2002 the number of states actively filtering access to the internet has grown from a couple to at least 25.

There’s a lot being written about the potential of the internet for the growth of citizen journalism and the dissemination of information across national and international boundaries. The OpenNetInitiative has accumulated data for government level censorship around categories such as political, social and security. Not all censorship is bad. However, as the report notes “In a growing number of states around the world, internet filtering has huge implications for how connected citizens will be to the events unfolding around them, to their own cultures, and to other cultures and shared knowledge around the world”.

To view the summary of Australia’s internet restrictions, click here.