Thursday, August 28, 2008

I cried

It's won a string of awards already and Somers Town is a great film. Shane Meadows always seems to come up with a new take on masculinities. Anyway there's a bit where the Polish boy gets drunk and a bit carried away and ends up trashing the flat. The next morning his father makes him a coffee, gently wakes him and apologises! Tears were running down my cheek at this point. It's so sensitively done. Whether it triggers the whole father-son thing or whether it's a broader theme about parents getting it wrong is unclear to me...but it's still powerful. And here's a YouTube teaser for Shane's next venture. I'm from Nottingham, too. Cool!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Originally uploaded by De Seven Free.

There’s a whole lot of work to do on creating a taxonomy of graffiti tags. Recently I’ve been tuning into the diversity of all the calligraphic styles. It’s interesting that they can’t all be read by the tagging community, but there’s clearly an awareness of styles. So De Seven Free's picture Clear introduces ambigramming, a reference that had me racing to the dictionary and then here, where you get Hofstadter's definition: a calligraphic design that manages to squeeze two different readings into the selfsame set of curves. Many thanks to DSF, keep on ambigramming, its remixing the script!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Post industrial post

I went to pay my last respects to Tinsley Towers last week and somehow managed to leave my camera at home! But not to worry, there are some excellent views of the demolition on YouTube and on Flickr, too. The two towers were right beside the M1, the major north-south arterial which was constructed when I was young. They were a sort of gateway to the North, or of course a return home; depending on your point of view. Anyway, I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about growing up in the twilight of the industrial age. As a child I remember factory sirens, factory shut downs and crowds of workers leaving Raleigh Cycles, Players Cigarettes, and Erikson’s. Now only Erikson’s remains as we inhabit a post-industrial landscape where the sites and markings decay into history or are completely erased like the Towers. Erased except from memory and archive material on YouTube and Flickr.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Les fleurs du mal

they knock yer back
I've just been writing about music-sharing for the Web 2.0 book. I wrote this. 'Legal file-sharing can be used in the study of music, but also educators have a responsibility to alert students to the potential risks involved in using and downloading from sharing sites.' I referenced Becta on the risks, one of which is exposure to viruses and hacking.....A few minutes later I was on to downloading beats from DJ spaces and that's when I got the malware. Antivirus 2009 looks just like a Windows security message. I clicked and downloaded a whole bucket load of trouble! The laptop froze, error messages were popping up like crazy and all operations ground to a halt. I looked on my other computer and read the boards and it seemed like SpyDoctor was the answer, downloaded that, copied it, loaded it - but reader beware, its just as much trouble! Eventually I managed to rescue the book document (and keep all this secret from Dr Joolz). It then came down to a deep clean. This involved running F-secure in safe mode...and that's not easy. That, quickly followed by Spybot from my pen drive. Now I'm clean. Ironic, or what?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Born to be random

Born to be wild
One of the attractions of music file-sharing is that the user can select the specific track wanted, rather than the whole bundle and go on to produce a personalised compilation of his or her own favourites. This practice of creating your own mix, which first emerged with the availability of cheap recordable audio tape is now reproduced online. Muxtape is a Web 2:0 music sharing site that encourages its members to exchange compilation collections. But alternative patterns of consumption are emerging all the time. The CD multiplayer brought in the idea of randomly shuffling through a bank of CDs, but as Naomi Alderman observes, the iTunes shuffle function takes randomness to a new level, as listeners are able to draw on their entire music library. But Alderman goes one step further in suggesting that 'we’re welcoming more randomness in our lives'. She gives a number of examples including the Flickr concept of interestingness. Now that’s interesting, or is it random? And how random is random, anyway? Shall I tag this Web 2.0 or random?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Twenty two and three six four days
We’ve had a bumper crop of good SATs stories this year, starting off with this one about a student picking up marks for using swear words (appropriately) in a paper. Then that was followed by ETS Europe’s failure to do the marking on time. But of course it wasn’t the government’s fault, they just responded by cancelling the £156 million contract or at least asking for some of the money back. Surely the larger question is how the profession and the British public allow the government to get away with it. £156 million on marking something we never wanted, and most kids find mind-bogglingly boring.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Out of it on new literacies

Fog your brain
Thank goodness it's just texting and emailing....blogs are perfectly OK! Phew. Here's the wonderful Becky Bowley (remember the dissolving knitting?). Her recent performance piece Transmerge was based on her train journey from Sheffield to Manchester. In Sheffield she dug a hole: then she took the earth to the next stop, Dore, where she then dug another hole and filled that hole with the earth from Sheffield. The process was repeated right along the Transpennine train route to Manchester. The Manchester earth was then taken back to fill the original hole in Sheffield. The full story's on the blog, complete with photographs of the costume and props. How cool is that?

Thursday, August 14, 2008


I just love all those portmanteau words! In Canada I discovered the wonderful idea of a snack called a naanwich, a real linguistic mash-up! I also recently listened to a programme on infomercials. Infomercial is a term used to describe those endlessly boring programmes that try to convince you that you need some weird gadget - or on the lighter side, those TV shopping channels (which, of course I never watch). So when I saw the feed on this piece on frolleagues I just had to read it. Interestingly, I’ve just had an invite to LinkedIn so it was useful to read. Amusing that LinkedIn recommends that users keep a separate account for socialising so that business contacts don't mix with friends! Their spokeswoman warns us that it's becoming increasingly important that we keep our professional and social lives separate and manage our online reputation as effectively as possible. Well I suppose we all do a bit of impression management, but I always felt one of the strengths of online spaces is the opportunity they present to blur some of those boundaries. Oh and by the way, it seems that a frolleague is a colleague who sends a friendship request. So let’s put a stop to all that nonsense, first name terms and the like. It’s all on a professional footing now. If I met you through work and I see you on the street I’m going to blank you (or maybe not).

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Blog on blogs

Sarah and Danah
Wow! This was NRC - nearly 3 years ago. I realised I haven't been visiting some blogs very much lately. So I've done some catching up. Sarah has a great post on blogging (from April!). As she says: We're lucky if our posts get one comment, and even luckier if they spark a discussion!! But still we keep on blogging because we know they're not discussion boards. So maybe this comment on Web 2.0 - that they are based on the value gained from actions of users is a bit off-beam. Wouldn't that make a discussion board a bit more Web 2.0 than a blog, which it clearly isn't. Apart from spending my time writing about Web 2.0 I'm also trying to keep up to date with new stuff. There are a couple of list sites, here and here.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

New technologies in childhood

I'm one of the founders of the Journal of Early Childhood Literacy - and it's a fine journal. It's a great pleasure to work with such creative people in the literacy field! On the horizon we have a Special Issue on New Technologies in Childhood and I'm co-editing this with guest editors Victoria Carrington and Vivian Vasquez. The call for papers (which will appear in the next issue) reads something like this... New technologies are changing communicative practices on a global scale. Many children are apprenticed to these practices from an early age, in their homes and communities as well as through their early schooling. Nevertheless, the role that new technologies plays in early childhood literacy is under-researched. This Special Issue aims to stimulate academic interest in this area by focusing on young children’s experience of the literacies embedded in new technologies. Cross-disciplinary and international in scope, we seek to feature papers from researchers whose work addresses these new literacy practices and the complexities of learning through and learning about new technologies. Papers may be theoretical or report on empirical work within any research paradigm. The emergence of new technologies and new forms of digital text provide a changing set of resources for meaning-making, presenting young children with new semiotic tools and communicative possibilities. Key features of the communicative practices associated with digital text challenge traditional views and definitions of literacy and literacy development. This Special Issue will provide a forum for exploring these ideas and for setting the agenda for future research in this area. Submissions for the special issue of the Journal of Early Childhood Literacy are invited on any aspect of the topic of literacy and new's going to be a good one!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Skin literacies

tattoo book

I've finally got my copy of Arabic Tattoos (see sidebar for details). It's got my photograph of Ruth's white farasha tattoo (here) in it. There's also a really interesting piece by Jon Udelson on the appropriation of different languages and scripts in skin art. The tattooers' and tattooees' comments are also worth noting. They show the tattooers' concern to get it right, as well as the way the writing is significant to the tattooees. Jon asks the question: to whom does a language belong, but avoids a direct answer. In most cases it seems that the meaning is richer for the bearer of the tattoo (the text?) than for the reader or the writer.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Desktop spaces

open your mind

We already have a language for the topgraphy of online space that is expressed in th way we refer to the flow of information which we either up- or down-load. Similarly, in describing our connection, like turmimg on water or electricity, we are either on or off. Yet the popular description of going online does seem to suggest that logging on is a point of departure and the question "are you online?" compares well with location-based questions like "are you in the garden?". In screen navigation we borrow the language of print to describe directionality, with up and down, and forwards and backwards. In contrast we open up programmes or new windows and go into or click through screens as if we are actually going somewhere. Somewhere we can walk through or have a look around. But also we personalise our space, we decorate it or protect it with passwords. These spaces become the more intimate places of online worlds. Perhaps we should also consider the folders on our desktop as private space. Are they like the wardrobes and desk-drawers that Bachelard writes about: "...hybrid objects, subject objects. Like us, through us and for us, they have a quality of intimacy."? (1994:77)