March 30, 2004

Another tool: Onfolio

Onfolio seems to provide a lot of the functionality I need for capture and management of Web resources. In its premium version ($79.95) it has a pretty slick Web publishing app, nicely integrated with the basic module. See my first page for an example, and I'm inclined to try integrating it more with this blog ...using this combination as the construction environment for INTR132 stuff, at least to find out how well it would work.

If it does prove to be a success, it would probably be worth Ron's investment of $80 for parallel use.

Posted by oook at 09:20 AM | Comments (1)

March 27, 2004

Chronotopes and Images

I don't know where I snagged this, somehow off your log:

Singular Authors / Plural Spaces: Communal Architecture for Personal Homepages
Unabridged version of paper presented on May 24, 2001, at the Canadian Society for the Study of Rhetoric Conference in Quebec city, Canada.
by John B. Killoran

A Great paper on the spatial metaphors we use to mentally domesticate the Internet, to make it something more familiar.

He takes off from Lakoff & Johnson (1980) The Metaphors We Live By [see142 CiteSeer citations], saying those authors "illustrate how our conceptions of our world are shaped by the metaphors embedded in discourse"

He has found the best Bakhtin quote defining chronotope, fundamental metaphors of spacetime:

"Bakhtin speaks of the chronotope as 'provid[ing] the ground essential for the showing-forth, the representability of events' (p.250)"

We represent events and in this representation is a materiality of space-time that often slips in uncriticized, even unnoticed. We accept the metaphor, the implied structuring of events, their relationships among themselves and our spatiotemporal relationship to them, without being consciously aware of it. This is, of course, how the novel works its magic, how it draws us into its world. But it is also how discourse works, and how propaganda and spin work. If we accept the basic metaphor --'terrorism', to point to a contemporary example, or more to the point 'the food industry', we've accepted a lot about the world. What do the images of agricultural landscapes tell us about the metaphors guiding the actions of the people who create them? Consider the difference between the metaphors of 'the food industry' or 'food production' and the older metaphor of 'agriculture', the culturing of the land. We could think of these as corresponging to different images of agricultural landscapes...

the 'industry' metaphor violates certain characteristics of food as a cultural item/process. For one thing, farming, culturing the soil, is a fundamentally biological rather than a mechanical process. Treating it as the latter has introduced all sorts of unsustainable elements into our agriculture (images). It also violates the way we consume food. The final act of food consumption is almost always a gift. When we eat at the family table, the 'providers' (eg parents) are giving food to most people at the table (eg. children, guests). A father may feel that he shouldn't give his child a car becuase he ought to learn to make his way in the world and buy his own damn car. But he would never think of charging him for a family meal. Even in restaurants it is often by invitation that one consumes. It is still this way in most of the world. In America, and increasingly elswhere in the 'global cities', the 'fast food industry' has done a lot to change that situation, ie the commodification of eating. But even there, mom or dad usually pays the bill for the family. 'Fast food' chains also reduce local distinctiveness and cultural, symbolic role of food and eating. What chronotope is implied by the "fast food" metaphor. What about "slow food".

(I wanted to put hyperlinks in this text but no buttons) (so I put a couple in, after the fact)

Posted by Ron at 07:31 PM | Comments (1)

bloglines added

I'm experimenting with bloglines as a way to manage and keep up to date via RSS feeds. Immediate problem is that the links from the /132/ seem all to pull up the last posting made to smitkablog... so I'm trying to add another here and see what the effect is. Perhaps I've misconfigured the archives somehow...

Posted by oook at 06:50 AM | Comments (2)

March 25, 2004

agricultural landscapes

A Google search for "agricultural landscapes" gets 17K hits... so it'll take some little while to find images, but the exercise will probably produce lots of other things. In fact, few seem to have or be collections of images.

Posted by oook at 01:51 PM | Comments (0)

March 24, 2004

parsing images

It occurred to me (while reading Ann Berthoff's Bones and Acts: a semiotic for the Ice Age) that there are many interesting exercises in the interpretation and explication of pictures of agricultural landscapes, like those from Geog of Human Cultures from this this term (some of which aren't agricultural). Parsing really means decoding, laying out implications and architectonic linkages, telling the stories ...but also connecting them up to other things. Thus, an image of center pivot irrigation is just ONE moment in time, and fits in to some literatures, data on the drawing down of a specific aquifer, and so on.

I treated those images as explicanda: things to be decoded. But there are other tales to be told by going further with them. And we could seek out many more examples, and make a gallery for comparison, annotation, analyses of various sorts...

Posted by oook at 03:17 PM | Comments (0)

log and blog

Each medium has its uses. Blog entries can be used to draw others' attention, with brief notes; gatherings, ruminations, developments are better carried out in log files, which can then be linked in blog entries.

It's interesting to consider conducting the course as a writing-intensive activity --saying that it is up front, and monitoring and responding continuously to student writings. That's not impossible with a dozen or fewer, but with more than that it gets intractable pretty fast. It probably does require specifying frequency and length(s) of postings, and it might be sensible to require that students respond to each other's writings in some structured way(s).

Posted by oook at 08:43 AM | Comments (1)

March 23, 2004

how blogs work (long)

I've looked at most of the links in these entries. I've explored a few of them. Just jotting a few thoughts while they're still here.

If you look at any 100 entries on these blogs, most of them have no comments. Some of the blogs are collections of links and comments are not expected. (As a matter of fact, the blog format probably isn't the best choice for this activity.) Some of the entries are clearly asking for responses. What does it take to get interaction going?

Most of the active blogs that I know of feature one writer (yes, one person who can actually write) who is also either very enthusiastic or very knowledgeable about the topic. If this person is relentlessly amusing, that helps. For whatever reason, a community develops around this host. The same group of people comment regularly. They comment on the original post and on other responses.

Making Light ( is an example. The entries cover a wide range of topics but they're all fairly opinionated. It's a self-selected group of people comfortable with the medium and interested in the topic(s).

The blog for the Middlebury Irish Studies course is interesting. Some of the projects were great. The blog part of it was a disappointment. The class was divided into teams. Each team was required to post and then required to comment on their fellow team members. Some of it was helpful but most of it was a required, minimal effort. Some of the students' contributions were actually posted by the professor - not a good sign.

Stating the obvious. No answers. Time for tea. CM

Posted by Cindy at 10:07 AM | Comments (0)

asking a lot?

The blog format asks students to do a lot of reading in an unfamiliar medium, with the carrot being that they can add to a string of comments on a posting. The stick might have to be that they're required to comment... not a very compelling scenario. And how does it improve upon the threaded discussion model of BlackBoard?

Some courses have each student maintaining a personal blog, though I'd rather accomplish that via Web pages constructed with FrontPage or other packages.

Posted by oook at 10:06 AM | Comments (0)

One from Seb's blog, and others

Sebastien Paquet's blog (which I follow daily) has been good for lots of things, and he cites a University of Toronto course (Mind, Media and Society: The Technopsychology of Collaborative Environments), from Fall 2003. I haven't explored it yet. See also its continuation this term in Applied McLuhanistics

Another: Technology and Children's Development from University of Washington. And a course-planning blog on Network(ed) Rhetorics from Syracuse.

A sort of an omnium gatherum at EdBlogger Praxis ("Find Examples of Educator Blogs Online. Participate and comment.")

Computer Organization and Design at Waterloo

Eszter Hargittai's comments on Blogs and teaching ...a pointer from an interesting series of comments from Out of the Crooked Timber

Posted by oook at 09:11 AM | Comments (1)

some 3-way testing

It occurred to me that it would be an interesting experiment to ask Cindy to be another set of eyes in this blog, as we try to work out the niceties of mking it work as a communication medium for the course.

One thing we need to do is explore other instructional uses of blogging. The Middlebury Irish Studies one that Ron found is a fine example (Contemporary Ireland through Literature and Film), but a real critique would be useful: what does and doesn't work? What bits do we need to adapt/adopt that aren't in the current 132 template (which is basically vanilla)?

So if y'all can find other examples and post their URLs, we can all chew on them. And along the way we'll hopefully get comfortable with the interface and the process of posting-and-commenting, and so get a better idea of just what the learning curve will be for students.

Posted by oook at 08:54 AM | Comments (0)