Monthly Archives: July 2008

“The Coolest Desire”

The Jetpack – From Comics to a Liftoff in the Yard – NYTimes.com
“There is nothing that even comes close to the dream that the jetpack allows you to achieve,” said Robert J. Thompson, the director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University. He called it “about the coolest desire left to mankind.”

I have a running joke with the guys at dads’Night about when our jetpacks will be invented.  Guess they have.

On a research note, the article mentions he has been working on this for twenty years and has a “network of collaborators.”  But his passionate (maniacal?) devotion is on par with other inventors.  And no overt military tie-in.  He is from new zealand, afterall.

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Filed under innovation, Social Networks, technology

Powerful Words about Resilience

One of the congregants at TVUUC, site of Sunday’s shooting, is a Knox County Commissioner.  At today’s meeting, we spoke some powerful words.

“Commissioner Mark Harmon, a member of the church, said, “Hate entered a house of worship. Hate will not last there; the people will.”

Well put.

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Map of Enabling Hate Crimes

In the course of tracking down info for my Mom’s congregation, I found this useful map of states that enable or outlaw anti-gay or gender orientation hate crimes.

A map of intolerance, you might say…

hate_crimes_04_08_color

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Knoxville Shooting (TVUUC) Hits Close to Home

Busy, weird day yesterday as the church targeted in Knoxville is my Mother’s church and church I grew up in.

She did not see it because she was shielded by the organ.  She is shook up , of course, but is being resilient as is whole congregation. They are cleaning up today and are already mobilizing to support each other.

One of the fallen was a friend of my Mom’s.  Greg McKendry was on the church finance committee and was always around the building figuring out how to save money.  He used to be a purchasiing agent before retiring, and brought that frugality to the church.  I’m sure it was appreciated.  He was a loving person who had recently become the foster father to a teen ager who had bee bouncing around in the foster system.

Monday news:  Shooter apparently blamed “liberal movement” for his woes.  That is why he targeted TVUUC, a church active in civil rights for African-Americans, Central Americans (part of sanctuary movement), and LGBT.
Seven principles of UU faith:

There are seven principles which Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote:

  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  • Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

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Blogging and Democracy of the blog media- 2nd Guardian Column

I think the title for my Guardian Column (they don’t seem to update the site) is “Our Online Selves.”  That can be improved.

Here is the second installment.

“The End of Culture and Truth?”

I am a blogger.  Eight years ago, saying this might have conjured up someone doing something disdainful with their finger and nose, or some fascinating example of a field position in some strange British idea of a sport.  But now, most people recognize that I maintain a web-published journal or log (“blog” is a contraction of Web-log).  Why would I or anyone else write publish a personal journal on the web?  Who do we think we are, anyway?  Great unwashed masses clogging the for a with our swollen egos.  Like so much on the Internet, from the amusing video of Mentos and Diet Coke (google it!) to archives of Saturday morning cartoon characters, the common response is “Who has the time?”

A friend of mine, a professor, told me off-handedly: “I don’t read blogs.  I don’t have time for anyone’s unfinished writing.”  I was spluttering with annoyance at such a narrow perspective of blogs and blogging.  I have kids so I get the “no time” complaint.  But unfinished writing?  Surely he has heard the idea that no writing is ever finished meaning that all his favorite classics were also “unfinished writing.”  Who knows what undiscovered Shakespeares and Toni Morrisons are out there?  I think what he really meant was that he preferred writing that had already been vetted by some authority.  He wanted a seal of approval.

Continue reading

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Filed under digital culture, Information and Communication Technology, Living Web, Media, technology, writing

My first Guardian column

I suppose for my first column (anywhere) some sort of inaugural words are called for.  Let’s start.

With the arrival of the Internet as a major form of interactive communication, we have seen an avalanche of new types of communication.  From websites, blogs (an online journal- web+ log=blog), video sharing (YouTube), social networks (Facebook.com), to the newest virtual worlds (Second Life), the breadth and depth of these forms of communication is, for me, exciting, over whelming, disturbing, and, ultimately, unavoidable.  As much as you can not imagine going without a telephone, or the postal service, or written language, these newer forms of digital communication are here to say and will have all kinds of impacts on how we collect, share, and distribute information.  Information is the backbone of all relationships, and, so, also of communities, societies, and culture.

One of the benefits of all these digital goodies is that you, the consumer, have a wide degree of what you choose to see, to watch, to ingest.  Sweeping generalizations aside, lets zoom in on the details.  Let me be a tour guide for you through this teeming landscape of media and information.  That is a mouthful.  Is there a better term?  President Bush offers up “the Internets.”  Or his sidekick, Senator Stevens (AK) famously lectured his colleagues about how the Internet is a “series of tubes.”[JC2] The internet doesn’t really do the job o describing what is out there.  Its like describing the auto industry as roads or the economy as money.   The internet, roads, and money are all simply ways to get from A to B.  The exciting stuff, the pulse of culture, politics, discovery, and life are all the As and Bs.  So, the world of information is the digital jungle, the metaverse, the infoscape, or where-we-are-headed (albeit at different speeds).  Cyberspace has emerged as an alternate term ad I’ll stick with it for now because it implies a destination, not a mode of transport.

We have a good sense of how people move around in cyberpsace.  For the record, that is about 73% of us.  The US still has the greatest degree of Internet use, even if the foreigners are kicking our butts in everything from manufacturing to mathematics.  No one out gadgets the average American.  Yet.

Anyway, the Pew Internet and American Life Project (http://www.pewinternet.org) has been doing some insightful research into what we are up to with all of our on-line hours (32/month, according to Nielsen Online; that’s nothing compared to world-leading Israel, at 58 hours per month according to comScore.)  The good Pew folks look at how assets (your computer, your connection), attitudes (do you want to take a sledge hammer to your machine?), and actions (what do you do?) jointly can define the various types, species, of denizens of the infoscape.  They have this nifty quiz (online, of course) you can take to identify yourself (http://www.pewinternet.org/quiz/quiz.asp).  It takes about 10 minutes. Continue reading

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Filed under digital culture, participatory technology, sociology, technology, writing

WOW and SNA

Stumbled into a paper of networks of players, guilds in World of WarCraft [WOW].  Visual complexity had the image.

U Mich researchers map PVE interactions.

U Mich researchers map PVE interactions.

This led to a paper that is worth looking at to see how they extracted the data for the network analysis.

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Filed under Gaming, Network Visuals, Research, Social Networks, virtual worlds

Cell phone precautions

Text of email from my pa-in-law:

Surprising warning from the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute:

<http://www.environmentaloncology.org/node/201>

Some reaction, as reported in the press:

<http://apnews.myway.com/article/20080723/D923R4DO1.html>

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Filed under epistemology, Research, technology

Lively- big players move into VW field

Google has its own virtual world simulator.  Lively.  Read about ita t terra nova blog.

I made a room ( a cafe!) and an avatar.  My avatar looks like one of my smug students chewing gum.  Blech.

I couldn’t seem to walk, only scoot by clicking on a different spot and then the ava just **zip** appears there.  For some reason it reminded me of a 3D version of the old text adventure games like  Hitchhiker’s Guide or (??) Zork.

Ok, thats my review after five minutes.  It was easy to download and set up.

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Pre-emptive pardons? NYTimes.com

Felons Seeking Bush Pardon Near a Record – NYTimes.com
Such a pardon would reduce the risk that a future administration might undertake a criminal investigation of operatives or policy makers involved in programs that administration lawyers have said were legal but that critics say violated laws regarding torture and surveillance.

A pre-emptive pardon?  Can one do such a  thing?  Sheeesh.  It sounds like an admission of guilt.  How can you define the scope of it without naming the crime for which one could be prosecuted and is now immune from being charged with?

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Filed under Politics, Power, Activism