Wednesday, August 31, 2005

New things

New things

Well not exactly new, often the first time you see things is as good as new though. And then there's the electric bike, it takes the hard work out of cycling, but does it also take the cycling out of cycling? More interestingly new are new bloggers, a big welcome to Simply Clare and Mary Plain, both blogs look really good (and when is somebody going to do a study on the names that bloggers use - it'll probably be Dr Joolz!)

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Shine on, Sharrow

Some more local stuff, but is it graffiti, or wall-art (it’s tagged as both in Flickr)? Maybe I’ll just settle for urban literacy, but it’s amazing how much wordplay and bookplay is around. Bloggers will be aware of how Avant Game’s Ministry of Reshelving mobilised playful social action in bookshops. Logolalia have a less radical form of bookplay. Here’s their instructions:

Cut the bindings off of books found at a used book store. Find poems in the pages by the process of obliteration. Put pages in the mail and send them all around the world. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I suppose in essence this is a recycling of William Burroughs’ cut-up technique. Maybe he was doing serious play; play as art. In a related way, Ian Breakwell has been doing art with words for a long time (since the mid 70s). And Tom Phillips’ Humument is a sort of visual and verbal mash-up of an 1892 manuscript by W.H.Maldock A Human Document. So more and more the word is being set free from the ‘enclosures of bookspace’. Like this posting, the word onscreen, digital literacy, message play, blogging.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Text in the city

I love shop fronts more than I love window shopping. The shopping areas around where I live are the very opposite of the mall environment, and each shop front is unique, saying something about its proprietor(s). On London Road, shops change hands faster than money. This picture shows a boarded up shop front, which in itself has become a sort of palimpsest. The fly-posters as printed texts seem to be "forming paving stones and paths, networks of rationality through the incoherence of the universe" (de Certeau, 1984).

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Crochet for men

Former BBC director general Lord Birt criticised the state of the British media in the MacTaggart lecture last Friday. "Let us not tabloidise our intellectual life. Let’s skew the balance back towards scholarship." But this assumes it was there in the first place. Meanwhile the BBC itself took the initiative with a podcast trial. Melvyn Bragg’s In Our Time is up there, featuring his exploration of Marx. Not bad, but not so varied as this though, including as it does, Crochet for Men. Why not?

Saturday, August 27, 2005


My new office is an interesting space, being a conversion of two old residential properties (Victorian I suppose). Apart from smelling like the inside of a hoover bag, it's a bit of a maze with interconnecting doors and two staircases which take you to different parts of the building. There's that dreamlike feeling when you discover uninhabited rooms that lead you to places that didn't seem to be there last time you looked. And then you'll find yourself somewhere familiar. A labyrinth.

I was reminded of Borges' fictional places (The Library of Babel has always been a favourite). Looking up stuff on the grand old man I discovered this. The Crimson Hexagon is a sort of annotated bibliography of Borges' fictional booktitles. Strange stuff, labyrinthine in its own way.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Blog depression!

I noted this (from thenonist) on blog depression earlier in the week. I borrowed the image from Jill Walker, who I haven't visited for a while. There's a link there to her latest publication which looks at what students learn when they're blogging - interesting stuff.

Now, is this posting long enough...or interesting enough...or should I have found something more interesting...or original...or....???

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Anyone, anytime, anywhere

Blogs are humming with comments on Google's venture into social software. In their bid for world domination Google now want to colonise the instant messaging market with Google Talk. It's being compared to Skype (which is here) as a way of increasing connectivity.

Comparing the sites, it's interesting to see the idea of total mobile communication taking shape. Any-one (really?), any-where (increasingly so), any-time (in a way I hope not). The Google promotion emphasises choice of medium, quality - particularly with respect to audio - and convenience. Will this corner of the Google empire flourish? Only time will tell.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

BA (Manga Studies)

Learning that at least three Japanese universities are now offering courses in manga studies, I just had to blog 10 year old Oscar's Manga syle sketches. In Japan, it seems that academic interest in manga grows, whilst the home manga and comic market is in decline. That seems to be a familiar picture in popular culture and the study of popular culture.

There are some interesting manga blogs around. I've been looking at the wonderfully titled Cognitive Dissonance which offers comic-book reviews including manga stuff and Precocious Curmudgeon which has a similar pitch.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Souvenir soap

There must be a market out there for souvenir surplus and souvenir mistake goods. This unfortunate Olympic leftover makes a good holiday gift - semiologically interesting olive soap (and functional too!).

Meanwhile my re-introduction to digital culture continues apace. I find out where I could be going wrong (?) reading Stephen Downes - a sort of blogging-by-numbers. The visual display provided by a tagboard or tagcloud is quite tempting. I might try one. Here are the tools. And this one monitors posting frequency. But, is frequent posting necessarily a good indicator of content?

And on the emotional psycholgy of blogging, we now have a new phenomenon. Blog depression! Obviously another example of how evil technology is taking us over. Read all about it here.

Monday, August 22, 2005

The kids are all right!

Night out
Originally uploaded by edsghm.

With several bithdays to celebrate we're out on the town having eaten tapas here. From left to right this is Ruth, Hannah, Asia, Emma, Sammy and Oli. The food's good and the company's...excellent! And, this afternoon we checked out the Touch Me exhibition at the V&A. The stuff that worked was really cool, but don't you get fed up with exhibits that are broken from overuse. Body-messaging and audio-texting were particularly interesting.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Harsmedia podcast

Well I'd never come across a soundblog before, so here's the Harsmedia Soundblog. Click the streams on the left bar for audio samples. Harsmedia are a co-operative of digital artists who are working with found cassette tape. This is the Found Tape Exhibition. Part of what they do is mash up the castaway sounds they find. These files are podcasted. And here's Nick Brendon (from US sitcom Kitchen Confidential) with a rather less ambitious audioblog project.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Double six!

The ESRC Seminar Series on Play and Digital Culture is to go ahead, so play's the thing - that's good news. Although homework reading for something like play seems like a contradiction in terms, I'm quite eager to get stuck in. Jesper Juul (aka The Ludologist) is interesting on the world of games, but there's a sense in which play is larger than the game itself.

Play gets interesting when it's subversive and breaks out of conventional ways of doing and seeing things. That was what Richard Neville realised when he wrote Playpower. For Neville play was subversive, play was political, and play was all to do with disrupting the status quo.

Interestingly, one of the most playful and innovative uses of writing predates silicon literacy. The work of Mallarme - particularly Un Coup de Des - did something with the printed word that hadn't been done before. Something that demonstrates what written signs can do. A reproduction of Un Coup de Des is here, or if you're more interested in Balinese Cockfighting it's all here and here!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Wires and cables

A temporary disruption as I relocate. All my gear's in boxes and it's all reduced to wires and cables. If we went lightweight and wireless there'd be nothing for technicians to do! I think that the persistance of wired connection is part of the secret ecology of new technology. So where are we in the food chain of digital communication? Browsing, grazing and occasionally spewing stuff out. But nevertheless I must say I'm very proud of the new look Blogtrax over here. Let's hear it for Dr Joolz for keeping ahead of the game and keeping us entertained with her keen sense of the visual!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Back in town

Originally uploaded by edsghm.

Yes, I'm back in town and coming into digital culture like an outsider! Blogs are now regular news features: here's a couple that hit the Sunday papers. Thinking about the wonderful world of new communication I've been i-messaging my daughters (hopefully, you can't quite see the picture clearly) and am struck by how different that writing environment is to this. Similar tools, different rules. And, as Ruth had problems with her wireless connection, I found myself txting and messaging at the same time. Time for a lie down.