Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Rice on McLuhan on Wired

I can't pass up responding to Jeff Rice's post about McLuhan as the patron saint of Wired, appearing on the cover in of 4.01 in 1993. That issue of Wired was undoubtedly a turning point in my academic career, although it took me a long time to accept and realize that.

4.01 was the first issue of Wired I bought. I remember having a physical reaction not unlike purchasing pornography--I was in the last semester of my MA literature program, living in a palpably anti-technology environment, so purchasing Wired, with Canada's infamous Philosopher of Pop on the cover, was definitely a challenge to my moral and ideological environment, yet titillating. I didn't do any McLuhan scholarship for a few years, but my first academic presentation on hypertext was well received, McLuhan makes a few cameos in my dissertation on writing instruction in western Canadian universities (that was an exciting project!), I more or less sketched out a book I still haven't written about McLuhan for Compositionist in 1997, I finally told myself I had to commit to computers and composition as "my field" in 2003 or 2004, I had a dream about Jeff in 2004, and 15 years, I have more or less absorbed McLuhan, but still haven't written the damn book. : (

As for Wired, the once-pornographic has reversed to the common-place, so much so that my 9 year old often reads it, or at least looks through it. It certainly covers his world (video games, manga) more than it covers my world. The mag may have flattened out, as Jeff notes, but I feel more like McLuhan reading it now, noticing all the little stories that re-enforce "the medium is the massage" over and over again without the authors even noticing.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

African Soul, American Heart Sample

About two weeks ago, Matt McGregor, the ASAH camera man and now editor put together this succinct, beautiful, little sample of our documentary project, African Soul, American Heart.

Friends of the Congo

I wrote about the Congo a few posts ago, and I have continued to correspond with the young Congolese man I met in December at Kakuma. I spent some time this afternoon looking for possible scholarships (Peterson's has a surprisingly large collection of scholarship for non-US citizens attending non-US schools), but I also came across an interesting projectFriends of the Congo. This 501.c.3 based in Washington DC is trying to do things like raise money to send kids to school (primary and secondary, but not post-secondary), build an Internet Learning Center in Kinshasa, support a health clinic, etc..

For any professorati reading, they also have a speakers bureau--invite a Congolese speaker to your campus. They suggest starting a blog to follow news about the Congo; first-year comp classes with an inquiry-based focus could sure learn a lot about research and the Congo (or Africa more generally) by taking up a task like this.

Remixing for Social Change

Just saw an announcement for the Remixing for Social Change contest. This has me thinking about a Lost Boys of Sudan Mash-up, a consciousness raising, nation building, social change project:

Mash-up the various Lost Boys projects and foundations--lots of video footage to work with.
Mash-up the data, e.g. 16,000 orphans in Duk County + X in other counties, because the call asks for real data.
Mash-up some of the health data, the school data. Need to track this down.
Mash-up the costs--the costs of building, the costs of maintaining, these infrastructure projects.
Mash-up people like John and Joseph and other others talking about what needs to be done in. Joseph has a great line about raising this generation to be equal to the rest of the world.
Mash-up some of the others we have on film: commissioner, Gideon Dau, footage from others?
Mash-up some of the great music we have, some of the children and women singing.

I'll have to see what the team thinks.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Chuck Klosterman Live!

I heard Chuck Klosterman perform tonight at MSUM. Long time readers of 10 A Day might remember that I occasionally get obsessed with Klosterman's writings, his application of McLuhan without acknowledging his source, and the mystorical elements of his first memoir, Fargo Rock City.

His performance was okay, and he was self-aware enough to acknowledge that it wasn't great. He more or less told the story of his unlikely rise to stardom from his humble beginnings in Wyndmere, ND to NYC darling (or love-able goof ball?). The first twenty-or-thirty minutes were nicely delivered and he spoke eloquently, flawlessly, but he began to tire, I suspect, and the Q&A didn't really have much zing to it. I left after he talked about an essay he just finished (not yet published) on bloggers and their sense of fame, their sense of being public figures. Clearly he isn't a blogger, or he knows different bloggers than I do.

He made a couple of other sociological-type arguments that seemed pretty weak--i.e. people under forty are unhappy in their relationships because of idealized relationships they see on TV and movies. Like most writers/thinkers, he really is much more convincing and interesting when he writes about his own life and things he knows a lot about (hair metal).

I do applaud him for not just reading from his work; more engaging than the average book reading.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Notes on Rickert's Acts of Enjoyment

I had on my to-do list "Rickert Notes" b/c I have been reading Acts of Enjoyment, but being the social media scholar that I am (cough cough), I thought I should see what notes others have written first. Saves a lot of typing.

Jim Brown has an extended entry comparing Rickert and Rice.

Everything else I found gave Rickert a mention, but no notes to steal / borrow. Too bad. Lots of "go read it" recommendations, but no notes.

I'll post my notes here if I ever get 'em finished.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Following up on WUSC

The World University of Canada is doing exactly the kind of work I saw the need for while I was in the Kakuma Refugee Camp in December. They linked to a story that ran on CBC--it focuses on 2 Somali students from the Dabeeb refugee camp in Kenya; apparently they selected 11 students from Dabeeb last year. I am sure they must go to Kakuma as well, but I will try to find that out.

I wonder if there is any equivalent program in the US?