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13 years ago
In my defense yesterday, Lalitha Vasudevan mentioned Mike Wesch, a cultural anthropologist at Kansas State. He has a number of videos he's made, some of which I have seen, but I have never heard him talk about his research. Here is one presentation he delivered at the Library of Congress which I find quite fascinating, and surprised I hadn't seen before (so if you have, just ignore me). He gives an anthropological introduction to YouTube, and defines the community he is studying as the YouTube community. It is very interesting to see him do this, especially since my experience with "participant observation" here at TC has been about "place," and by this physical location was meant. This was kind of frustrating for me because it seemed to ignore the way in which many people actually live these days (one's physical space may not be the most meaningful place for some people). He also really effectively uses the video to illustrate what he is saying. Check it out:
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13 years ago
Joey Lee gave a good presentation here at Teachers College a few weeks ago and discussed his dissertation, which is a design-based research study of a video game he developed to teach students about the misconceptions facing Asian Americans. He described the problem of having stereotypes forced onto Asian American students as being detrimental to their healthy development, leading to stress, anxiety, and depression. In the design of the game, he came up with some interesting strategies to teach kids about these issues. Reading Judith Warner's blog post over at the Times, I wonder if a similar strategy could be used to deal with the masculinity problem in schools. She describes how concepts of masculinity have shifted little over time and in today's school "to be something other than the narrowest, stupidest sort of guy's guy, is to be unworthy of even being alive." I totally hear her loud and clear: the "gay" label is often attributed in cases where it has nothing to do with homosexuality. I can remember in seventh grade making it a point to count how many times I was called gay (I stopped counting at 50). At this time, this had really nothing to do with homosexuality but rather with the fact of being a goody-goody who made it a point to dress well (a few years later it had a lot more to do with it, but by then no one cared so much). I do wonder if a game could be developed that could teach kids to expand their notions of masculinity. Joey had mentioned that he thought that a similar strategy could be used with women (e.g., women in science), but didn't make an explicit point regarding masculinity. Although Asian men don't often get the "gay" label (for some reason, people will tolerate Asians to be a bit more effeminate), it seems like the problems that Joey describes are fairly similar to the masculinity problems that Warner describes. I might nudge him to take things in this direction....
13 years ago
I was somewhat tickled when I was doing this years survey of student satisfaction with technology at Teachers College and saw this question: The last question groups Pocket Knowledge with social software like Facebook and Twitter. I thought this was kind of cool because my dissertation explores how social software (or Web 2.0 technology) impact the culture of learning, and an important argument is that PK is indeed social software. This kind of helps my case. I wasn't involved with the...
13 years ago
Over on the Communication, Computing, Technology and Education website, I am making a plug for the program with the aim of attracting new students. They cropped out everything except for my mention of the EdLab and some overly ambitious thing I mentioned that I wanted to do after graduating (it was last summer; what can I say). It is so embarrassing to watch yourself on film; I don't know how people on the video team do it (maybe you get used to it?!?).
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13 years ago
It looks like things are getting pretty ugly. Paul Krugman has little confidence in the Obama rescue plan, and Huffinton calls for the dismissal of Geithner. A Rolling Stone article finds that by "creating an urgent crisis that can only be solved by those fluent in a language too complex for ordinary people to understand, the Wall Street crowd has turned the vast majority of Americans into non-participants in their own political future." This trend is truly tragic in the sense that we are in an age of great possibilities for open government through the use of digital communications technology, but we are seeing a greater shift towards an "insider culture" and away from a participatory culture. When people do actually want to participate these days, you often hear it being dismissed as "populism" (e.g., if you don't have a PhD in economics from MIT or Harvard, please keep to yourself). The best hope I think is that once things calm down a bit, and the recession isn't such a new thing, that we will see a return to the Obama-the-candidate-style openness (wishful, I know). On a positive note, TC should do well in this climate. I have personally taken people from the banking sector to campus and showed them our swank new admissions office on the third floor of Thorndike and connected them with Tom Rock. It seems like TC is really well positioned to help people who are seeking "meaningful work" (no guarantee there, but probably a better bet than BofA-Merrill-Wacho-Stearns).
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13 years ago
Being on vacation this week (at home in Long Island City, which isn't quite like the real vacation I had a few weeks ago) and also writing my dissertation, I was astonished to visit the Teachers College website and see this: With the cafe at the top and Gary at the bottom, the distinct impression did set in: is the Library the College, or is the College the Library? Congrats Gary on your new role. Cheers, AC
13 years ago
I always like to keep an eye on educational technology startups to see what is or isn't picking up. In doing this, I came across Mendeley, which is a research paper management tool. I signed-up and downloaded the tool, but must say I kind of miss the point. The tool allows you to manage your research papers, and auto-extracts information from them. However, I thought it would do more for you, like display researchers papers that it thinks you haven't...
13 years ago
I was watching CNN this evening and saw this very unusual commercial for the website ashleymadison.com. Intrigued by this unusual commercial, I discovered that it was a website for people to have affairs: "Life is Short. Have An Affair." So much for the sanctity of marriage. I wonder what the correlation is between a bad economy (CNN was talking about the "Misery Index") and increased extra-marital affairs? It would make perfect sense if there was one: like an alcoholic binge, you get a quick burst of short-term pleasure followed by a really bad hangover. Interesting thing to study, but I suspect IRB might have a problem with it... Every ICT has its secret sauce: Facebook has the News feed; MySpace has the music, and I would suspect, if done right, Ashley Madison would have to figure out a way for one's spouse, friends, or family to never be able to find out one was on there. It seems like from a technical standpoint, this could be pretty difficult, if impossible (how do you keep people from tattling on each other?). If we were only French, we could have our affairs out in the open and do away with all this online nonsense. All kidding aside, if done right, they could do really well by being really bad.
13 years ago
I truly enjoyed this TED talk from Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote the very successful book Eat, Pray, Love. I always find it comforting to hear other people talk about their creative process (and all the anxiety and joy that comes along with it). I find her discussion of how the creative process has moved from external forces (the Gods) to the individual (the creative genius) during and after the Renaissance very interesting. She discusses some of the problems that have resulted from this shift (on a related note, this week's New Yorker describes the tortured life led by James Baldwin, a writer who dealt with issues of being black and homosexual in America). She tries to conceptualize her creative process using this earlier construct as a way of protecting herself from the creative anxiety that has plagued so many Westerners. I think some alternative ways of thinking about creativity could be useful for an academic audience, many of who have gotten themselves so caught up on the humanistic "I" that it's no wonder it takes people so many years to write their dissertation. Having lived with someone writing a dissertation, and now doing the same myself, I think trying some alternative ways of thinking about creativity (even some of the slightly odd conceptualizations) can help folks stay sane and productive.
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13 years ago
I just noticed today that Google is hosting an image archive from (the former) Life magazine. There are some great photos of TC and Columbia from the Life Magazine archive as well. As someone who co-made made something very similar (which is now defunct like Life Magazine) for the TC Library, it is interesting for a few reasons. First, it shows that in seeing their role as "organizer of the world's information," they are increasingly becomingly more like a big digital library themselves (beyond just providing a searchable index of the world's information). More importantly though, they aren't just the biggest digital library in the world, but they are starting to act like one. For example, notice how the maintain the meta data alongside the image. The design of the site itself is almost exactly like the image gallery that was created for the TC Library (search box, click on a thumbnail to view a larger image with meta data on the right side, click on the image again to too the image at full size). It will be interesting to see if more of these "photo archives hosted by Google" will become available. Check out some of these TC images from the Life archive: