Tuesday, May 21, 2013
simple phone too, so that they have at least one thing that works well. That's all very well, but as I pack for a trip to Hong Kong it's a logistical nightmare making sure I've got my phone, my camera, my iPad and my laptop and all the various leads and cables (each being completely different, of course). So, actually I'm a big fan of convergence technology, just because it makes life simpler, but it does seem that there's a way to go.
Thursday, May 09, 2013
I've just been writing another paper about toddlers and touchscreens, and it returns to the same themes about gesture that I explored before. Essentially, looking at the video data we have, you see how hand gestures and pointing are woven into adult-child conversations and that they also appear to extend quite naturally into taps and swipes on the touchscreen. Often someone starts off pointing at something on the screen and then ends up tapping - it becomes part of the interactional flow. And the toddlers (see index finger in pic) often seem to have their trigger fingers at the ready, perhaps mimicking adult gestures or maybe in readiness for when they need to deploy them. I'd been using the word 'index finger' so often in the writing that I began to wonder about its origin. For one feverish moment I thought it was connected to print literacy, being the finger that turns the pages at the index. But in the end I was convinced by this account, which simply connects it with indicating or pointing. Well even that is enough to confer on it a very significant place in human communication. I reckon there's a book to be written about the role the first finger plays in human culture. Someone's probably already written it, though.........no, just got lost at Amazon only to discover that someone called Al Fingers has written a book on Clarks in Jamaica (bring on Vybz Kartel). How random!
Monday, May 06, 2013
Adam Nicholson - a historian with impeccable qualifications - who dazzled viewers with his take on literacy in seventeenth century England. It was, or so the title goes, the century that wrote itself and he had lots of quirky examples to illustrate this idea. Although very entertaining, the major shortcoming was its rather narrow determinist view. That's the way we became modern: through literacy, through individual expression, from discovering the power of writing and so on and so forth. Major social, political and religious changes were relegated to the sidelines in these programmes- as if they were simply caused by literacy rather than intimately bound up with it. Power, and that century's particular shifts in economic and civic life were always hovering in the background: class, gender and race reared up as another version of how we became modern. Nonetheless this is better than a lot of TV, and if you're in the UK you might still catch the series on demand on iPlayer.
Sunday, April 14, 2013
I like Thompson's idea of mediated publics. He argues that public was once defined in terms of people, places and events that share a common locale. Print media disturbed this convergence by creating a 'reading public which was not localised in space and time.' (Thompson, 1995:126). Other media have helped to accelerate fractured or reconfigured publics. In the UK, the 1952 Coronation is often cited as a landmark event, in which the spectating public was dispersed as television ownership grew exponentially. A public event was witnessed in private surroundings by many people, often with neighbours crowding into houses to share the spectacle. Perhaps it could be argued that the first moon landing was another key moment in that the immediate audience was particularly small, but the mediated event reached out to a large and very diverse public. Interestingly though, for the upcoming funeral of Thatcher, the public is divided in other ways, but there's bound to be a heavy media presence.
Monday, April 01, 2013
Yes, I finally let go of my Flickr account last year, realizing that it no longer served any real purpose for me or, in fact, held my interest. There's a sort of archive of memory there, but a lot of it was rather ephemeral - or so it seems now, at least. Interestingly though, I'm using Instagram more intensively, and almost exclusively to share more intimate family-related images. In some ways it's a more traditional network. Barton & Lee pick up on a passage from Wellman that fits in very well with this: 'CMC supplements, arranges and amplifies in-person and telephone communications rather than replacing them ' (2001:18). This relates to our family use of Instagram which for me hybridizes the phone-call, the blog and the family photo album without replacing any of them. It all seems far more old-school than the sort of transformational social networking associated with Web 2.0 that I, and others, have written about extensively. Appadurai (2003) suggests that 'where natural social collectivities build commonality out of memory, virtual communities build memory out of connectivity.' - well he might just have produced a killer quote, but certainly the first half matches what we do on Instagram. We must be a natural social collectivity, then. For me this points to a very interesting research area which would look at how new media gets adopted and absorbed into family interactions. Next project?
Thursday, March 28, 2013
here. Welcome to the weird world of technology. Maybe I'll get out the vacuum-cleaner instead - do a bit of hoovering (sorry Hoover) if they'll let me!
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
I always thought that the idea of the paperless office was somehow flawed, and this video really brings home the point! Last week I was involved in so many discussions that helped to cement the view that the relationship between literacy and digital technology is additive rather than transformative. By that I mean, that it's not really a question of either pen and paper or keyboard and screen more 'both...and'. Literacies just got more complex, that's all! So rather than being digital, I'm enjoying a really good book at the moment (and I'm reading it on my Kindle and my iPad in turn, depending on which device is closer to hand - oops digital, sorry). It's by one of my favourite writers Michael Chabon. I thought that 'The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay' was a wonderful exploration of the world of early comic book artists and that got me hooked. Chabon has this wonderful ability to weave narrative around strong themes of popular culture in contemporary American life. Telegraph Avenue follows a similar pattern, based in and around a record shop - a purveyor of second-hand vinyl with a community-oriented feel to it, that's Brokeland Records. Collectors, fans, and the sort of loose (and tight) affinities that emerge are lovingly explored. I always like to quote and there's a bit set in trading card fair that I thought was brilliant (and also very funny) - but this, spoken by one of the characters sticks out: 'Trading cards? Little rectangles of cardboard? Stained with bubblegum? Pop one in the spokes of your bicycle, make it sound like a Harley-Davidson'. Why? Because, I think it captures multiple meanings so well. The cards, part of children's culture, can just as easily be taken seriously as they can be re-purposed in creative play; but at the same time, when they are re-contextualized at a card fair, there's an economy of circulation that takes place in a hallowed atmosphere of reverential seriousness liberally mixed with nostalgia. The same dynamic seems to lie at the heart of the vinylist culture as well. Let's hear it for Chabon - nice website, too. Paper, too could one day become a collectors' item. Imagine that.