Monday, June 28, 2010

dana boyd has just released the draft of Risky Behaviors and Online Safety: A 2010 Literature Review for public feedback. The review was produced for Harvard Berkman Center's Youth and Media Policy Working Group Initiative.

Rather than rely on the rantings of the conservative media or pandering to technoutopianism, this document draws together and synthesizes a large range of recent research focused on youth and online behavior. This is an important publication for those of us interested in digital media, digital literacies and youth online.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

More on the Facebook privacy debate

I've been following the Facebook privacy debate (circa May 2010) pretty closely. I'm kinda interested in issues around privacy, identity and how kids are using social networking and this has coincided with the most recent concerns about the way Facebook treats user information. Moving away from issues of selling information and buying privacy, the most thought-provoking piece i have read to date is this one by Jeff Jarvis on BuzzMachine. I am very interested in his suggestion that Facebook has been at the receiving end of a backlash because it has crossed a particular line. This is the line he has in mind:

In Facebook, we get to create our publics. In Twitter, we decide which publics to join. But neither is the public sphere; neither entails publishing to everyone. Yet Facebook is pushing us more and more to publish to everyone and when it does, we lose control of our publics. That, I think, is the line it crossed.

There is a difference between 'the public' and 'publics'. Nissenbaum's new book Privacy in Context is also interesting in this respect.

London Zine Symposium

The 2010 London Zine Symposium is on this weekend. Lucky you if you are in London this weekend!

In a celebration of DIY and zine culture, the symposium brings together zones, small press writers, radical press and comic creators.

The pedagogies of disney princesses

This from Boing Boing

Social Media Revolution

Socialnomics pulled together a range of interesting information about social media to create this video. Watch it. Go to the website to read the lists of information from a vast range of sources.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Facebook owns you

Kurt Opsahl, writing for the Electronic Frontiers Foundation, has constructed a timeline of Facebook's privacy policies. He's mapped out the shifts from 2005 to April 2010. He begins with:

Since its incorporation just over five years ago (Vic: can it only be that long?), Facebook has undergone a remarkable transformation. When it started, it was a private space for communication with a group of your choice. Soon, it transformed into a platform where much fo your information is public by default. Today, it has become a platform where you have no choice but to make certain information public, and this public information may be shared by Facebook with its partner websites and used to target ads.

Read "Facebook's Eroding Privacy Policy: A timeline" here. If you're yet feeling slightly meh about what happens to your data when you join Facebook you should read Ryan Singel's Wired article "Facebook's gone rogue" which gives you a more detailed overview of what happens to your profile information.

If any of this alarms you, then go here and read how to opt out of the bits you still can.

For an alternate view, read this. Daniel Castro has a point, "Facebook is neither a right nor a necessity". If don't like it, don't use it.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Zombie chain

I am a big fan of zombies. There's something appealing about their mindless shuffling and refuse-to-stay-dead attitude. I give you: A chain of zombies!

We begin with Boing Boing (they have some great entries lately) and the Annotated Walking Dead Google Map. It maps the action from the Walking Dead Comic onto a map of the real site.

Then, we move on to Trendhunter and Undead Movie Apparel which includes living and dead movie stars. They call this one 'Zombie at Tiffany's'
Next, armed with our map and t-shirt, we move to literature and the zombie-ification of classic literature at You will all be familiar with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (and once you have enjoyed this new classic, you can move on to Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter).

As we come to the end of our chain, some zombie movie greats:

And finally, because you know you want to - a video game: Plants vs Zombies.

We are being overrun with zombies. For dead ghouls, they're surprisingly active.

Why am I so interested in zombies? They are a key theme in a range of Gothic literature and popular culture and this is an area of fascination for me at the moment. The Gothic's engagement with the past, the provisional and slippery notion of the incomplete or fractured self, constructions of the 'other' as monstrous and fearful, its fascination with the grotesque, its attention to the boundaries of life and death, space and place and claustrophobia and control. These themes have resonance.

UPDATE. See Trendhunter for a just posted list of zombie stuff: "Forget werewolves - zombies are for sure the biggest contender against vampires for pop culture domination...the undead have invaded every facet of mainstream life, from lingerie to plush toys".

More mappings

More on the theme of maps and how we represent the world around us. Boing Boing pointed me towards the brilliant blog Comic Book Cartography.

This stuff is awesome!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Vampire conference in the UK

The University of Hertfordshire's Dr Sam George is convening the first UK Vampire Conference 'Open Graves, Open Minds: Vampires and the Undead in Modern Culture' (16th & 17th April 2010) in response to the Americanization of contemporary vampire narratives.

Catherine Spooner (whose work i have coincidentally been reading this week - see for example The Routledge Companion to Goth & Contemporary Gothic) - is giving a keynote (yay!!) and the conference themes look spectacular: 'undeed teens', 'politics of the undead', 'undead in the new media', 'appetites of the undead' to name a few.

For more information, contact Sam George.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Feed your inner Goth

I see you admiring my gothic masterpiece 'untitled'. Make your own deeply gothic poem with The Goth-O-Matic™ Poetry Generator.

It's soooo much fun.


Remember when Pluto was a planet? Did you grow up being told that dinosaurs were slow, cold-blooded dull lizards (in my own defense, i never believed this one)? Remember when the moon had no water? Name the countries that make up Africa.

The things we know as 'fact' change. Knowledge is not a constant. This is very exciting albeit a little inconvenient for school text book publishers. It is also slightly inconvenient for those amongst us who fondly remember the good old days when schooling was about learning facts and useful stuff that you could demonstrate your mastery over via direct recall.

Samuel Arbesman introduces the concept of the mesofact. In the Boston Globe, he writes: "When people think of knowledge, they generally think of two sorts of facts: facts that don’t change, like the height of Mount Everest or the capital of the United States, and facts that fluctuate constantly, like the temperature or the stock market close. But in between there is a third kind: facts that change slowly. These are facts which we tend to view as fixed, but which shift over the course of a lifetime". Read the article here. Visit here. I very much like the concept although i'm not sure that his example of a capital city and a mountain are good examples of facts that don't change.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Google's Model Your Town Competition

Maps, geolocation, studies of place and space are all the rage. The popularity of Google's mapping software, particularly Google Earth and Google Maps (who can live without 'street view'?) are testament to our fascination with where we are in relation to everyone else.

The Google Model Your Town Competition has been running since December 2009. The competition was about creating detailed 3D models of communities (and demonstrating the power and beauty of Google's SketchUp and Building Maker). While all the entries can be seen here, the five finalist towns have been selected (Barranco (Lima, Peru), Braunschweig (Niedersachsen, Germany), Donostia-San Sebastian (Gipuzkoa, Spain), Dursley (Gloucestershire, UK) and West Palm Beach (Florida, USA) and the competition has now opened for public voting. If you're interested and want to vote, voting closes May 1 with the winner announced by May 15.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Women in science & technology

Ada Lovelace worked with Charles Babbage in the 1800s and between them they laid the foundations of modern computing. Ada, in fact, wrote the world's first ever computer program (October 1842). March 24 has been set aside as Ada Lovelace Day, an international day of blogging to celebrate the achievements of women in technology and science. Ada remains one of our enduring science and technology heroines.

But, just in case you were worried that women are not getting enough acknowledgement for their contributions to science and technology, fear not. The two latest Barbie careers have been released: computer engineer and television host!

With thanks to Naghmeh for pointing out the computer engineer Barbie!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Urbanisation is unstoppable

This is the Urban Age.

This ...

The newly released UN report "State of the World's Cities 2008/2009: Harmonious Cities". Its preamble: "Half of humanity now lives in cities, and within two decades, nearly 60% of the world's people will be urban dwellers. Urban growth is most rapid in the developing world, where cities gain an average of 5 million residents every month. As cities grow in size and population, harmony among the spatial, social and environmental aspects of a city and between their inhabitants becomes of paramount importance. This harmony hinges on two key pillars: equity and sustainability"

leads to this ...

Justin McQuirk's design focused blog in The Guardian outlining the role that designers must play in creating livable urban spaces. He writes, "By 2050, three quarters of us are expected to be urbanites. But here's the scary part: most of this growth is happening in places where millions of people already live in slums: Mumbai, Delhi, Karachi, Shanghai, São Paolo, Kinshasa: these are the fastest-growing cities in the world, most of them destined to have populations of more than 20 million by 2025". In additional already large cities will over-run each other, becoming 'mega-regions'. Some of these will swell across national borders. The endless city.

leads to this ...

Meanwhile, an article by Simon Romero for the NYTimes draws us back to the scene of a large-scale urban crisis: the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake. He describes the chasm between wealth and absolute poverty that has been exacerbated since the earthquake. He writes of the "surreal contrasts along the streets above Port-au-Prince's central districts. People in tent camps reeking of sewage are living in areas where prosperous Haitians, foreign aid workers and diplomats cone to spend their money and unwind. Often, just a gate and a private guard armed with a 12-gauge shotgun separate the newly homeless from establishments like Les Galeries Rivoli, a boutique where wealthy Haitians and foreigners shop for Raymond Weil watches and Izod shirts".

Equity and sustainability?

Friday, March 26, 2010

I use 'The google'

Interesting, funny, slightly scary You Tube video called 'What is a browser' filmed by a Google employee.

If you find it a little worrisome that so many of us don't actually know how we get online and stay there, reading Adam Engst's TidBITS Opinion piece "Have we entered a post-literate technological age?" will make you shudder. I am as guilty as anyone. I just want stuff to work!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Identity jigsaws

According to the NYT's Steve Lohr, "Services like Facebook, Twitter and Flickr are oceans of personal minutiae - birthday greetings sent and received, school and work gossip, photos of family vacations, and movies watched. Computer scientists and policy experts say that such seemingly innocuous bits of self-revelation can increasingly be collected and reassembled by computers to help create a picture of a person's identity, sometimes down to the Social Security number".

Given how many of my colleagues, relatives and young people have close online relationships mediated via Facebook this is fascinating. Read the complete article here.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Goodbye Margaret Moth

Margaret Moth died yesterday. The world is smaller.

Go here to start watching "Fearless: The Margaret Moth Story" and here to read Jessica Ravitz's moving piece remembering her.