Archive for March, 2008

the magic numbers

Working on a new set of ideas around urban re-enchantment, I came across this quote:

I accept no responsibility for statistics, which are a form of magic beyond my comprehension. -Robertson Davies

Save for having read and enjoyed the Deptford Trilogy (and his fabulous presentation of self) as any good canadaphile would, I have no other comment. The band, The Magic Numbers, is here.

technology and pedagogy

My best-blog friend (BBF?) kristina b linked to a video by Michael Wesch’s Kansas State Mediated Cultures website (a part of his Digital Ethnography course) a while ago, and as I keep on teaching my class on ‘Media, Technology and Sociology’ I’ve been mulling over these issues… We’ve done a pretty good job discussing doing hands-on wikis, blogs, audio, and film, but the hybridity of the course makes it all a little too compact. Grr.

It’s a little like the reverse of the digital divide that Attewell and Battle research: they find that when you just throw technology at students those who have the cultural capital to use them excel and those who don’t, don’t–further exaggerating inequalities and masking them in a techno-utopic vision… can the flip be said about faculty? I could be wrong but that classroom looked HUGE, and I wonder if diminishing class size rather than adding the expectations of techno-wizardry would have a larger impact on a class like that. Whoosh. And I’m wondering about how to be more effective in folding over media-criticism, reflexivity on media/technology and sociology, while also doing hands-on workshops with these technologies… With 21 students. Any more than that, and the transaction costs are too large…

On related notes of technology in the classroom, Erik Olin Wright podcasts all of his lectures here. Discussion of the use of ‘clickers’ at Scatterplot here. It makes me think that I may want to work on creating movies for the use of technology so that students can learn these things outside the classroom… Maybe over the summer.

“ts’i mahnu” @ SXSW #2

Ok. I’m no longer at SXSW, but here’s one more pic to explicate another scene. It has the free barbecue (yes, it is so hard to abide by by new rule not eat mass-produced meat when there was so much free BBQ… it’s a plate of potato salad and beans) in the foreground from the VIP section of the Austinist/Gothamist show, to the right is the free beer (Lone Star only… I guess I prefer Shiner), and then in front of the white tent are a few photographers who are taking shots of We Barbarians. The crowd sticks to the shade until the headlining bands, so it looks like no one is there. In the background is a new condo project that hadn’t broken ground when I was standing on the same balcony last year. The Austin music ghetto has dozens of venues stuck between bail bonds and sheet metal shops. But it is quite the bourgeois bohemia. Soon enough, a local Whole Foods will move in.

austinist

I also got to check out Liam Finn (yes, son of ‘Crowded House’) and the Shout Out Louds at the show. I was set to work the door of the VIP at the event, which would have really been a nice moment of participant-observation: the ethnographer becomes gatekeeper! But the fine Austinist folks wanted to spare me what they would’ve thought to be ‘work.’ Alas.

“ts’i mahnu” @ SXSW

So, the ‘Dell Lounge and Paste Magazine‘ party has these two ‘blogger cages’ for people to report ‘live’ while at South By Southwest Music Festival. So… Here I am, checking out a band I used to like, The Weakerthans, and a brilliant musician, Kaki King. John Samson, singer from the Weakerthans, provides this banter from stage:

Is someone blogging right now? I will never get used to this modern world… This just makes me want to smash my laptop. No offense.

Um. Ok. Here’s a picture from the venue (‘Volume’). The hanging computer is one of three that allows people to surf the internet while only being mildly distracted by that band down in front. Definitely a new way to think about experiencing live music. It’s just like watching TV at home!

dell show

Later, She & Him and Billy Bragg, if I’m lucky. Ok. Off to more corporate sponsorship!

dressing up sociology

… or me. I hate having to think about clothes, particularly ‘teaching clothes.’ It occupies my mind very intensely every morning from 7:05-7:07, and it is enough to make me wish I could just wear a monk’s robe to work every day. Well, at least I’m not alone. Someone argues that academics should be more dressed up, a kind of ‘broken windows’ theory of academic attire, I suppose. Then two people respond here and here. No mention of those  expectations as being heavily gendered, by the way. Yes, this is perhaps irrelevant. But perhaps I’ll wear a suit tomorrow and see what happens.

corporate coursework

A Hunter College course was sponsored by the IACC (International Anti-Counterfeiting Commission)–“world’s largest non-profit organization devoted solely to protecting intellectual property and deterring counterfeiting”–wherein students were assigned to design a guerrilla marketing campaign against, you guessed it, counterfeit products. One of the things they did was a blog, which was written by a fictional ‘Heidi Cee.’

Some question why a for-credit college class at a public university should be doing, in effect, discount marketing work for an industry group. Some wonder about a college using some students to fool other students. Others are concerned about the circumstances of the course itself. It was created without any curricular review. The professor who taught it says that he was pressured to do so even though he has no expertise in advertising or public relations (he teaches computer graphics) and had ethical qualms about the course.

Further, the professor — and other professors who have investigated the circumstances of the course — maintain that the professor was required to teach only one side of the issue, had to accept industry officials watching him teach, and had little clout to fight back since he didn’t (and still doesn’t) have tenure.

Read more here.


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