Tag Archives: New Media

Remediating Speech in the Museyroom

From Rhetorical Delivery As Technological Discourse

  • Getting from Isocrates to McLuhan by way of the Liberal Arts Curriculum
  • Who’s tipping whom? Mind yer hats goan in.
  • Culture wars

McCorkle explains the transition to writing by rhetorical mechanisms, driven and shaped by rhetoricians, specifically Isocrates. Isocrates becomes the manifestation of the otherwise invisible forces in McLuhan.

What McLuhan sees as a cognitive/cultural transformation, McCorkle explains by the mechanism of remediation, motivated by cultural changes but locally orchestrated by rhetoricians. When the rhetoricians stopped paying attention to delivery, they created a tipping point.

The declining status of delivery was itself a mechanism of remediation, in that it was an attempt on the part of rhetorical theorists to divert attention away from the embodied rhetorical performance and refocus that attention toward words, in and of themselves, as objective components of thought, whatever the medium. In other words, the Greeks had to pay less attention to oratory’s uniqueness as a technology of communication. By paying less attention to delivery, classical rhetorical theory allowed alphabetic writing to embed itself more easily in the cultural practices predominantly occupied by the spoken word alone. Minimizing the importance of delivery helped to blur the material distinctions between speech and writing, naturalizing the written word by erasing its interface. One way of rendering the writing interface invisible was by applying its attributes back onto the speaking body-in effect, making speech more writerly and thereby taking advantage of speaking’s more “natural” disposition. Another was to place writing in a comparatively uncontaminated light, framing it as the intellectually “pure” counterpart to the dangerous, irrational rational nature of the performing body; as Fredal describes the hierarchical repositioning of speech and writing, “Speech appears not as natural but as naturalized, and composition-rhetoric as dependent upon this naturalization for its intellectual stature. Writing disciplines itself by refashioning speech, specifically its non-verbal, performed components, as “organic,” ‘irrepressible,’ and natural” (5). Adhering to the language of Bolter and Grusin’s remediation theory, writing became more immediate (a transparent relay of mental activity) as the attributes of embodied speaking became hypermediated (amplified-and suspicious-attention was placed on the medium-specific elements of speech)…. The culture of writing fostered by Plato, Aristotle, and even Isocrates signaled a change in disposition toward language broadly understood, valuing words-in-themselves (the “pure” state) over words-in-action in-action (the dangerous, contaminated state). This shift in theoretical attitude toward delivery is but one mechanism of remediation, a mechanism reflected in other attempts to remediate alphabetic writing.

A local practice becomes, by McLuhan, a zeitgeist. The common thread between all those who consider the shift to literacy is materiality, embodied performance. Here, the performance of writing becomes embodied in speech. A new practice of logographic is borne.

The practice of logography developed over time to become much more than a means of carrying the unadulterated spoken word for an embodied performance to be delivered later and elsewhere. It was also a contaminating influence on speech. It began to reach back into the materiality of the spoken word, reshaping it so that speech began to take on the attributes we commonly associate with the written word: multiple tenses, embedded clauses, and more complex sentence structures in general.

Speech remediate the attributes of writing. Either (choose one) as a result of a shift in consciousness, or as a cause, or by collocation. Affordances are on the move, and the move is sponsored and carried by The Ten, their written word, and McLuhan.

The presence of writing resulted in more than just a unilateral shift in consciousness. Rather, the process of speech became more writerly and writing became more naturalized owing to a reciprocal, interactive dynamic. The technologies of speech and writing fed upon each other, writing borrowing from the cultural prestige of speech, speech adapting to compete with the newly arrived technology of chirography. At the forefront of this remediating transformation was Isocrates, whom Enos calls the “father of logography,” and who, as one of the Ten Attic Orators, contributed to the growth of the Greek language by bringing ing a notable stylistic complexity to oratorical performance.

Pause for a moment to consider how the teaching-orators are creating and spreading this New Consciousness. Your first-year comp teacher, with her tedious stylistic moves, is the vector of infection.

The development of this complexity owed much to the sort of plastic manipulation of language afforded by written discourse. For instance, Forster describes in the introduction to Isocrates’s Cyprian Orations how the teacher-orator “could manage the period as few Greek writers succeeded in doing. In reading a long sentence of Isocrates we are struck by the fact that, however intricate it may seem, it runs smoothly, and its structure is perfectly clear” (22). Isocrates developed a style of composition that, in part, drew upon oral stylistics and extended them to degrees that likely could not have been developed in purely oral contexts. Forster observes that “the conscious artifices which Isocrates employs”-among them parallelism in sound, homophonic wordplay, and the avoidance of hiatus (a word ending in a vowel followed by another beginning with a vowel)-“though at times they may seem laboured, certainly often add to the clearness of his style” (23). Isocrates also brought uniquely writerly prose to the composing process, an ornateness derived from his use of amplification and highly embedded constructions.

The Liberal Arts foster the literate consciousness by clandestine rhetorical training. Blame the teachers. Pay attention to the figures going out. Tip.

As students grew accustomed to encountering written discourse as a surrogate for speech from the outset of their rhetorical training, the differences between the two media became less distinct.

things we would never put on the university home page

This graphic has been making the rounds.  I found it on The Bamboo Project Blog: It’s About Answering Their Questions, Stupid: What Goes on the First Page ? – where I find a lot of Good Stuff.  The reminder that Michele gives:

[W]e still have this broadcast notion of content that can trip us up at the oddest moments. We need to stop thinking that social media–or any online content, for that matter–is first and foremost about us. The best stuff is always, always about our users.

If we could only get our PR/Communications people to hear that, we’d see an improvement in BSU’s little website – an improvement that the students who use the site – and those who never enrolled because the couldn’t find what they were looking for at a university – could then carry forward into their professions. [Warning: Don’t expect any of the following on our front page.]


But design, it’s really about control, isn’t it?

#critlit2010: trees and linkers


photo by robokow


This morning I’m reading “The Hypericonic De-Vice,” from E-Crit, Marcel O’Gorman, and right in the middle of this passage –

… According to Ong, Ramus was simply responding to the need of universities to corporatize knowledge delivery:

… in the university, the teacher was also part of a corporation which was uncalculatingly but relentlessly reducing the personal, dialoging element in knowledge to a minimum in favor of an element which made knowledge something a corporation could traffic in, a-personal and abstract (almost as though it were something which existed outside a mind, as though one could have knowledge without anybody to do the knowing, as Ramists were eventually to maintain one could). (1958: 152)

The Ramist spatialization and infinite binarization of the world, which Ong refers to as a ‘corpuscular’ episteme, haunts our educational apparatus to this day; the same technological drive towards efficiency that spawned textbooks on logic is ow producing distance education and the ambitious electronic archiving projects that characterize much of the humanities scholarship in the digital age. (51)

O’Gorman is juggling Ramus, Ong, and Blake in this chapter. Here he is discussing Ramsus’s appearance at the cusp of printing, so that his trees articulating the division of knowledge into “natural” relations from generals to specials arrived at the moment when it could be distributed in print to young learners. Mnemonic devices to remind the learner of divisions of topics would not be needed after Ramus planted his schematizing of of bipartite division. Ramsus’s trees suited the economy of learning just-in-time. Kismet.

Here’s how it’s characterized at the university today, still in the corporate model:

Knowledge existing outside the knower = professional knowledge as it tends to circulate in the university.

Knowledge as the personal construct = amateur knowledge as it tends to circulate outside the university.

So, while I’m in the middle of passage, this week’s reading list from Critical Literacies arrives by email, including, Shirky: Ontology is Overrated, and Folksonomies – Cooperative Classification and Communication Through Shared Metadata, by Mathes.

Shirky sets what’s coming ([amateur constructed] folksonomy links that remove the need for [professionally constructed] hierarchical file systems) against other knowledge schemes (Dewey), and sees this:

What I think is coming instead are much more organic ways of organizing information than our current categorization schemes allow, based on two units — the link, which can point to anything, and the tag, which is a way of attaching labels to links. The strategy of tagging — free-form labeling, without regard to categorical constraints — seems like a recipe for disaster, but as the Web has shown us, you can extract a surprising amount of value from big messy data sets.

That is to say, we are moving from the filing system


to the file system disappearing to leave the links


images from Shirky

An observation: Constructing links does not eliminate the file tree. It’s still back there. But the links can remove dependence on the tree, and may remove the tree from the privileged position.

This is move from the Ramsian bipartite, where each item has to exist in one branch only, to the rhetorical, situational, probabilistic quantum where a particle can be in two places at once, exist in two states at once Shirky:

We are moving away from binary categorization — books either are or are not entertainment — and into this probabilistic world, where N% of users think books are entertainment. It may well be that within Yahoo, there was a big debate about whether or not books are entertainment. But they either had no way of reflecting that debate or they decided not to expose it to the users. What instead happened was it became an all-or-nothing categorization, “This is entertainment, this is not entertainment.” We’re moving away from that sort of absolute declaration, and towards being able to roll up this kind of value by observing how people handle it in practice.

The connect with critical literacy is pre-socratic, pre-Ramsian rhetoric.

The connect with PLEs might be this: Just as the book, the library, the taxonomy of the library, the taxonomy in the book are the hypericons of university knowledge, so the link, the directional gesture, the link-er, can be a hypericon of the PLE.

iPad, serious writing, and kafka

Cam-11.jpgOk, I’ve been slow getting back to the blog for the season, but Joe’s post on the iPad winds me up a little. Sure, he likes it in general, but grudgingly.

I’m sad to report reading online websites, including newsmagazines, is less appealing. This, clearly, is a transitional problem. If you make the font large enough (that’s right, I’m old and nearly blind), you have to use the scroll bar.

Joe: There is no scroll bar on the iPad. You flick. The fact is, at least you can increase the font size, making reading (aka skimming) web pages sweet.


Imagine my surprise, then, to find I could only project from Keynote, Apple’s app for presentations. Apparently it’s also a filter, a way of erasing the Internet in terms of visibility and empowering Keynote. Ugh. And folks say Microsoft is evil?

Response in obligatory bullet list:

  • 1. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise – especially to an Early Adopter – that there would be limitations to VGA out.
  • B. It ain’t true. Loads of apps can route to the projector. You have to find them but that’s part of the exploratory spirit of the Early Adopter.
  • III. It isn’t greed, it’s early development – Ok, it’s greed, too. $10 a pop for Keynote x 2,000,001 will pay a lot of graduate tuition. There are alternatives to Keynote that work with the VGA out port – apps that do more than slides. Like concept mapping. Like plain old text. Drop a few dollars in the App Store.
  • > MS is evil. So is Google. But that’s another story.

Speaking of Keynote, an app that drives users towards the lecture, I’m with Joe all the way on Apple’s difficulty envisioning new teaching models when they address us academics. This sounds too familiar:

The lecture model! Isn’t that amazing? Apple gets some of USF’s best tech folks together and then tells them what they already know, what, as the speaker repeatedly mentioned, could be downloaded from the Internet! Jeez, just pass out 20 iPads, break us into groups and have us brainstorm! What can we learn from each other. This is new stuff. Where are we going, educationwise?

Every Apple-presented event I’ve been at for 20 years has been the same damn lecture. It might be those young Apple presenters getting their own back on faculty who lectured them for four years.

But here’s where I have to depart from Joe the most:

The iPad isn’t a writing device, it’s a reading tool, an injection system. Right now I’m logged into a wiki page and visibility is murky: If you want to do some serious writing, get your laptop.

It’s serious enough for me, Joe. Works with my wikis just fine. Maybe it’s the wiki you’re logged into, Joe. Maybe you need a more modern wiki.


I do get the sense of playfulness Joe’s hinting at. Typing with the on-screen keyboard seemed toy-like at first, and some of the apps on the scene work the real-world desktop metaphor far too hard. Notebooks on the iPad don’t need a leather-bound or a legal pad interface; and journal apps don’t need to use some awful script-like font on just as awful bogus-antique paper background. That’s just silly, and it feels silly. (To be fair, even Apple places these apps in the Lifestyle category rather than the more … er… serious Productivity category.)

In fact, it’s a lot like the early days of the Mac. Back then, in the DOS days of urine-yellow text on black screens, the Mac apps looked like toys. Serious work couldn’t be done in MacWrite or MacPaint. Whizzy-wig? Windows? Black text on white ground? That’s for… amateurs. A lifestyle choice.

But the iPad can be serious. Intimidatingly serous. When students present at finals, I usually take notes with pen and notecards, or, occasionally, at one of the desktop machines in the classroom they present in. A couple of days after I got an iPad, I used it instead. It was nice. I don’t suffer from carpel tunnel syndrome, but my handwriting has gone to hell over the past few years, so being able to take typed notes during presentations is brilliant. And I could move around the room, as I typically do, nod a lot, keep the presenters moving. But a couple of presentations in, I realized that the presenters were becoming more anxious than usual. I asked, and one student said, “That iPad thing is intimidating. It’s like you’re taking notes for Kafka.” I put the iPad down and went back to notecards. getserious.jpg

Spoiled my fun for the day – but I did use the Intimidation Factor at an administrative meeting later in the week. If taking notes on the iPad crooked in my arm, moving around the room and nodding, looks Kafkaesque, I’m going to use that kind of seriousness.

The newness of the device, the novelty of writing with it like a turbo-powered clipboard, might be the intimidating factor. This will pass. But after a while, the toy-like feeling, the novelty, slides to the background. I use a bluetooth keyboard when I’m typing extensively on the iPad, so it feels more like a laptop. But I can also get a lot of serious work done

The big issues for me: File management; it takes too much cognitive overhead to think about getting files on and off the iPad. Don’t like the tethered synching with iTunes. Single-tasking. Interface inconsistencies, as Nielsen mentions. PDF annotation is rough around the edges. Might need to switch to html when editing in WordPress, and wikis on pbworks.com are not worth editing using the iPad: too much code.

But, truth be known, I come to the iPad having learned the interface on the iPhone, so greeting the expanse of the iPad is like finally getting out of the cabin after a long winter snowed in. (Obligatory north woods cabin fever metaphor.)

4489021464_72b3fde27f_m.jpgIn mid-July, I’m presenting with Joe and Matt Barton at the WPA Conference. I’ll be using my iPad to draft my part of the presentation and will no doubt use it when we present. I expect members of the audience to take notes with their iPads, and those with 3G to backchannel with them. Sure, there will be a few taking notes with their clunky old serious laptops, and it will be a pleasure to talk with them. But I want to go to the bar with the iPad users, not the laptoppers. bar photo by jeffwilcox.

I’ve been pirated

EN 3160 .jpgA  for-profit site, coursehero.com, has grabbed a couple of handout exercises I used in a web writing course four or five years ago, and is trying to sell them to students. Right now, the page is here: EN 3160 Bemidji State – Notes, Exams, Homework Answers, Textbook. I don’t know how long it will last. The administration has discovered the site and will be taking action.

It looks like one of their spiders simply scarfed stuff up willy-nilly. The EN 3160 course at BSU is long defunct; and on the site, my handouts are mixed in with PPs and a set of what looks like final papers submitted for a history course. Elsewhere on the site, I found old drafts of reports from campus offices – a real hodge-podge of stuff, pretty much worthless to anyone. It looks like someone’s been raiding the wastebaskets.

The materials from other universities look much better: syllabi, essay assignments, student papers from NYU, BYU, Ohio State, and BGSU, although there’s no telling how current these are. I’m almost embarrassed by the thinness of the booty the pirates found at BSU.

We’re going to get warnings from the administration about locking our course materials behind firewalls. But I see this wastebasket raid demonstrating the advantage of keeping an open net. The materials students need for my classes are already on the course site – offered under Creative Commons Share-Alike with no charge. And that make the materials pretty much worthless to for-profit pirate sites. So coursehero.com ends up scavenging to make a living.

Course Hero also has an interesting method of handling copyright infringement. If they have your stuff, you have to prove it’s yours.

Looks like an interesting week is starting.

iPhone Apps for New Media, part 1

3568463428_8d0c739875.jpgTake Lev Manovich’s The Language of New Media, in one hand, your iPhone in another, and try these exercises in transcoding.

Bloom. Creates paradigmatic montage, with an applied algorithm creating syntagmatic variations. Takes input to initiate the montage, but also sets up syntagmatic expectations in response. The music is looped, with variations creating a syntagmatic sequencing. But the loops are placed paradigmatically in layers.

Koi Pond: Montage, paradigmatic, to create a syntagmatic scene for narrative, if not a narrative itself. Composites image, motion, sound, and reaction: ripples can be created by touch, and come audio; fish will feed if given food or touch a finger held to the surface. Lilypads can be moved on the surface. Motion and sound will continue without interaction. The app doesn\’t engage narrative, but it encourages experiment with setting for narratives.

Shopper and other grocery list apps: Menu selection from a larger to create a subset, which is then accessed and modified in situ. Might be location based, in which case the app selects the subset. Might be mapped to the store, in which case the app draws on prior use and movement through the store to re-create the narrative movement. Items in these lists do not need to be real objects. The Shopper database can store elements the user sees fit to enter, using paradigmatic alternatives to Groceries. A user can create a fully motivated (if linear) narrative of shopping: Turning into the Tunnel of Love, you purchase a vinyl copy of McGough’s Summer with Monika. Crossing Shaftsbury Avenue, you buy a pickup for your steel guitar.

StarMap and others. A database of stellar objects, presented by selectable criteria: place; time of day, day, and year; direction. Data on each object is accessed in typical ways of touching, zooming in. Access points are mapped to cosmological traditions (constellations) and measures of astronomy (celestial equator, horizon).

Enigmo, Crayon Physics. The object in these is to create a device that achieves a simple goal (get the fluid in the container, the ball to the other side of the screen) by selecting and placing surrogate objects on the screen. The objects interact with the agent (water, ball) and with each other in a simulation of physical properties. In Tetris, we don’t ask how we’re able to rotate the pieces as they fall: physical limits are set aside. In these games the object is to make explicit how agents on the screen can be acted upon. Can create a sense of picaresque narrative – a narrative of trial and error – in that the machine may have to be constructed and torn down more than once to complete the puzzle.

CameraBag. Selection of filters from a time-centered menu. Most of the filters are constructed to degrade the digital image towards material-based techniques: make it look like it was taken with a Holga, a Polaroid. In other cases, the filter vignettes and adjusts the image towards a cinematic frame. This is material nostalgia: nostalgia for lost tools. Even the title – CameraBag – replaces the idea of selection from a menu with a selection of cameras.

More to come. What’s on your iPhone?

notes on collecting with Brightkite

I’m down for the count today – something upper respiratory – so I’m working from home. But in keeping with my project while staying within the bounds of dry mouth and fatigue caused by the [unnamed maker of cetirizine HCI here], I’m doing something simple, and even simpleminded: reviewing my use of Brightkite as a way into using it for composing and teaching composing.

So: Some Observational Notes

Bemidji State UniversityBrightkite
A few weeks ago I made a mental observation: Keeping up in Brightkite is work. It isn’t really as simple as checking in – and even that takes a few moments. Using Brightkite – and so Twitter or any of the microblogging stuff – means stopping what I’m doing for a few moments to do something else. I can talk and walk, but I can’t easily walk and post to Brightkite.

Stopping to post is probably less an issue when at a desktop or laptop than it is when mobile. What it means is that asking someone to post means giving them time and space to make the post. A tweet or Brightkite post may be short but that doesn’t mean it’s quickly composed, or composed while multitasking.

[I’d guess that a lot of mobile posts are made on the train or bus, or while waiting for a train or bus or something else to happen. To fill time. In public.] That’s often how I use it: as a waiting game. It’s as much a habit as anything because I could simply snap a pic to my phone and work with it later. Instead, I use Brightkite. Perhaps there’s something in the communicative possibility. But this use of Brightkite isn’t really extensive. Others are.

Occasions of use: purpose driven

  • to capture a low-res pic of something interesting and fleeting
  • to capture ditto something I’m figuring others might find curious
  • to signal to others where I’m located
  • to take a visual note I’ll want to use later

Much of this use is also driven by collateral posting of the images to flickr. I don’t simply send to Brightkite for others to see; I also send the image to my own collections to use later. Again, I don’t have to use Brightkite for image collection; I have other apps that upload to flickr. Again, it’s habit more than intentional selection of the right app. Brightkite – and the communicative drive it includes – has been my pencil of choice lately.

I don’t seem to use Brightkite to take or send textual notes. I lean towards the image with Brightkite, but I don’t have to restrict myself to this.

Target Stores: Store InformationCollecting
Part of working with mobile apps is sending local data to the cloud so the sender and others can use it. Images taken with a phone are far more useful, and easier to work with, when they are moved off the phone. On the phone, they can be viewed by the owner and others physically near the owner. Off the phone, they can be manipulated, edited, reused, distributed.

Collecting doesn’t need to be purpose-driven. It can be loosely driven from behind: Just gathering up stuff that might come in handy later. But it helps if collecting is spurred on, driven extrinsically. Grades or fulfilling assignments are the usual way, but not very good for really getting interesting stuff. So, try another way.

Purposes, and Leveraging the Communicative for Collecting
Posting images and notes to a common space (flickr, a wiki, Evernote) serves (as least) two immediate purposes. The post signals that something has happened: it’s a check in, a communicative gesture of bird here or task done. The post also places the image or text in play for other uses. (This is what I’m doing when I post to Brightkite.) The communicative gesture can be a pretty strong motivator; it’s immediate, anyway – especially if the context is set up to allow others in a group (nearby or following) to respond. That is, seeing what others are up to may spur more collection.

What’s next
Try collecting stuff using alternatives to Brightkite. One of the tasks I’m skirting around is the nature of the collecting: immediate or mediated. I’ve been going straight to immediate:

  • immediate: posting directly to flickr, Brightkite
  • mediated: saving to the phone, then vetting and uploading later

Debategraph homeGathering
After that, look gathering the stuff collected. Examples:

  • gathering stuff in a notebook with annotations, decorations, commentary. Get out the moleskines, the PoGo and the ink pens. Individual. A variation this would be creating a place note book or using Diffusion Generator to frame the gathering.
  • gathering stuff in a set (flickr) or group (flickr), on a map (flickr), and by tagging (flickr). Collective. As a set of favorites.
  • how to handle notebook-like gathering on computer or online (Curio is my current fave. Can be posted to web.)
  • and draw distinctions between varieties of gathering: like a scrapbook, like a map, like a categorized list, by tagging or key content word, by time, like a mashup, like a wiki or concept map.

And then, after that, start looking at other apps and materials for mashup gathering in multiple media: concept maps, Wordle, and delicious tag clouds.

three educational uses for Brightkite: some notes

If you have to look for uses for an app, is it really useful? Or are you just making it up? We have to make it up at first to see the possibilities.

Back when the web was just getting going, early users had a sense of what it could be used for, a sense of the potential, even while the actual use at the time struck others as trivial.

You can link to anything. Anything. Like text to an image.

So? What’s the point of that?

You can connect chunk of text to other chunks. Read along paths.

And so?

So go read Vannevar Bush.


Brightkite allows users to send a notification of where the user is geographically and post a note that can be read by friends, or by people nearby, or by anyone on a public feed. With a mobile camera phone, the user can send an image along with the note.

So, outside of locating people or being located, what’s the point of that? What’s the educational point of that?

Brightkite casts its primary affordance as placestreaming:

Placestreaming, as in the stream of content originating from a specific place. We think this really captures what Brightkite is all about. We enable location based conversations. And location based conversations, in aggregate, are placestreams.

While there’s something of the buzzword in placestreaming (along with Eventstreaming and Lifestreaming), its a useful concept to start with.

A list of three

– As on twitter, Brightkite users can follow each other, seeing where others are physically, as well as what each other is doing. That can build community between users. That’s can not will. The quality of the posting is going to be a variable. But there’s something of the game of tag or geocaching in checking in on Brightkite and monitoring who’s nearby.

– The Brightkite.com site runs a web app called The Wall. The Wall can be set up to see who’s in a vicinity, and lets non-Brightkite users post using their mobiles. See How the Mattress Factory Art Museum uses the Brightkite Wall. At the Mattress Factory, the Wall itself becomes a performance as people come and go – a little like Flickervision and Twittervision. But run The Wall in a classroom, or as a teacher, or as a member of a Brightkite-linked group. Members can see what others are doing, whenever they choose to check in. So, a professor can send students into the field, monitor The Wall, and gain periodical updates on what’s happening. All the students can see what others in the group are doing. If they are nearby, they can meet up. If they need help, they can ask anyone in the group. As they work, they can post results as notes or images.

– Landscape marking. I’m interested in how we can virtually annotate or tag the physical world, layering virtual observations. On the marketing / daily grind side, it can work like this:

So, I can be visiting a place like St. Petersburg, Florida, and I can check in. I might take a snap of the hotel where I’m staying, and I might add a note like “the coffee here is horrible, but there’s a Dunkin Donuts a few blocks west.”

Someone else in the area who is using the same application might now see this update and realize two things (depending on my privacy settings): 1.) I’m nearby. 2.) That the coffee at the hotel stinks. In both cases, this information is only available through the use of this software.

On the extensive side, Brightkite is an input for place tagging, but (as far as I can tell) the tags aren’t persistent to the geo-location of the place. If you’re not listening in when a place note is posted, you’ll miss it. What’s needed is a way of posting checkins, notes, and images to a more permanent, centralized space on a wiki or blog, or something delicious-like. (The iPhone app graffiti does this, but it’s a mess). This mashup might already exist. I’ll have look for it.

Other links along the way

Why I Use Brightkite, Amanita.net.
5 Uses For Brightkite, andrew hyde
The BrightKite That I Hope To See…, SheGeeks
Using Social Media to Get Out of Your House, SheGeeks

Next or soon: the misery of using Brightkite. Checking in takes effort.

debate in sl

200901241005.jpgI found the note that SJU was going to hold a debate in SL underwhelming at first.

This week Stephen Llano, the director of debate at St. John’s University, in New York, announced what is billed as the first tournament debate held in Second Life. It will take place on February 4 at 8 p.m. Eastern Time in the university’s virtual campus (shown below).

[From Wired Campus: College Debate Teams to Face Off in Second Life – Chronicle.com]

But, as The Chronicle points out, the event will test how effective debate modeled on face to face exchange works when mediated by SL:

College debate matches can be physically intense — with participants rattling off arguments at top speed and gesturing dramatically. So it will be interesting to see if a debate contest can work in Second Life, the virtual world.

What they find might inform our ideas about how lectures, student exchanges, and even guide-on-the-side mentoring work in SL.

My sense is that the debaters will adapt their vocal delivery to the 2D cartoon world, and I’d bet they’ll find that the appearance of the avatar is going to be pretty significant to the effectiveness of the argument. It’s not just canned gestures here. Gender, wardrobe, hair, height and weight and body shape are all rhetorical affordances in SL.

rough notes on personal learning environments or how i spent my xmas vacation

PLEI spent most of my semester break messing with looking at some social networking apps and how to link them up. I was familiar with a few of them already and had been using them regularly: flickr, delicious, facebook (not so regularly), tumblr, twitter. I added brightkite, friendfeed, and ping.fm. Righ away, brightkite and friendfeed struck me as useful for what I wanted to do, and ping.fm less so. Brightkite fuses image and text and geotags them both. Friendfeed aggregates feeds to a common stream and allows connecting those feeds with others.

On the browser side, I tinkered with Flock for a day, but went back to Firefox and installed add-ons to coordinate some of my feeds; I wanted to put them in the same app if not the same frame. I’m currently working with Flickerfox, Sage-Too for rss feeds, TumblrPost, and Twitbin. I’m watching for a Brighkite add-on, but Sage-too makes it possible to put an rss Friendfeed stream in the sidebar.

I haven’t added browser-based notes, however. I’m still using the browser mainly for access to content and working with other apps like Evernote and DevonThink for collection and text production.

This catalog of web apps, social apps, and plug-ins looks geeky, I know, put there’s a point to it.

Spurred on in part by using an iPhone more and more, I started to get interested in how to pull the apps together in some kind of more or less coherent set. I got interested in creating an informal PLE.

Gloss from Wikipedia

Personal Learning Environments are systems that help learners take control of and manage their own learning. This includes providing support for learners to

* set their own learning goals

* manage their learning; managing both content and process

* communicate with others in the process of learning

and thereby achieve learning goals.

A PLE may be composed of one or more subsystems: As such it may be a desktop application, or composed of one or more web-based services.

Roughly, a PLE is a more or less hacked together system or space to work in – and that’s a pretty good idea of it, for me, for right now. My wife has a PLE for her work. It’s her studio. Al Gore has one. It’s called his office.

But PLEs extend beyond office and studio walls to include sites and sources, the devices used to access those sites and sources, and the devices used to manipulate the content of those sites and sources. Desktop computer, laptop, iPhone, mobile, digital camera … You get the idea. Hardware, software, people, content, places.

The memex was an early conception of a PLE. Englebart’s Study for the Development of Human Augmentation Techniques a 1968 overview of the idea. And his mother of all demos is an early demo of one: hardware, software, people, content, and places.

Martin Weller has a lot more to say on the matter than I do right now. Brian Lamb has posted on PLEs recently. And he’s picking up on comments made by Stephen Downes.  A Collection of PLE diagrams presents a range of visualizations about PLEs.

To my mind, proboscis.org is experimenting with informal PLEs. In their work, streets and parks and buildings become part of the PLE, which also includes other people, both present and past. Their work emphasizes the material in the environment, where learning takes place by creating and manipulating maps and boxes, and by physically and virtually annotating physical spaces. See Social Tapestries, for instance.

Creating or using a PLE of any complexity is going to demand some fluency in transliteracy.

I made some remarks on PLEs from a side angle in Wikis, Blogs, and eFolio: How wikis and weblogs trump eportfolios and No One Stop Shop. My sense of PLEs is the learner mashup rather than the prepackaged OfficeMax D2L. Having just reread these drafts and notes, it looks like the PLE is a common thread in my thinking, one that might open into a more extensive article.

More notes

I’m a late-comer to the PLE party, so a review is in order:

A PLE – VLE continuum

on the PLE

A Collection of PLE diagrams

E-learning 2.0, Stephen Downes

More later.