March 31, 2004

Google newsreader

A remarkable implementation of treemapping to visualize Google's news, surely just the tip of an iceberg of renderings (via a slashdot posting):

Treemaps are traditionally space-constrained visualizations of information. Newsmap's objective takes that goal a step further and provides a tool to divide information into quickly recognizable bands which, when presented together, reveal underlying patterns in news reporting across cultures and within news segments in constant change around the globe.

Posted by oook at 06:52 AM | Comments (0)

March 26, 2004

thinking about goals and means

It occurs to me (in thinking about what I want to do, preparatory to a talk with the Provost) that it's mostly concerned with waking students up to the excitement of taking responsibility for their own wetware.

My aims as a teacher are aimed at General Education and interdisciplinarity, and not at disciplinary materials or agendas. I want to emphasize curiosity and creativity, and complex linkages --using the tools of information discovery and management to build communications and enhance the distribution and sharing of knowledge.

Anthropology is really good basic perspective for this, based as it is in the variety of humanity, and equipped as it is with highly-developed poaching and borrowing skills.

Posted by oook at 03:02 PM | Comments (0)

Speaking prose

This keeps happening. I serendipitously [i.e., by a surprising/unsought/unanticipated route or conjunction] discover a term or concept that efficiently labels something I've been doing or saying for a long time. Such nexus events connect me to a discourse I hadn't recognized or heeded, and allow me to recognize what I do as "a kind of a..." I'm pretty sure this happens to everybody, but I at least haven't paid much heed to it before now. For example...

When I first encountered the term 'blog' (sometime during my Fall 2002 sabbatical, long after I should [as an information professional...] have been aware of the phenomenon/practise/community-of-discourse), I realized that my long-running practise of keeping log files was essentially the same activity, though it wasn't until this month that I began to explore blogging software (due to various institutional limitations yadda yadda) --and tehre are still facets of the blogosphere (like RSS) that I'm pretty hazy about. But I'm gradually putting more of it together, and pennies continue to drop. And now I see that bloggery is of a piece with journal keeping and Ann Berthoff's dialectical notebooks.

Similarly with two terms I started to explore only a couple of weeks ago, as the fortuitous result of a class exercise: chronotope and architectonic. These two provide a handy shorthand for the 4-space notions I've been working with for 35+ years, and the all-connects-to-all model that I find most pleasing and heuristic.

Posted by oook at 10:52 AM | Comments (0)

March 25, 2004

dictionaries collection

Quite a while ago I began a page of favorite online dictionaries and word lists, but I haven't tended it for far too long --many dead links, and it needs an overall scheme. I'm going to prune and reorganize and then relocate it over the next few weeks, and surely will augment as well, as things present themselves. It's a good candidate for transplantation to, seems to me.

Posted by oook at 08:09 PM | Comments (0)

March 23, 2004

132 blog

I've started a (now 3-way) blog to support the Contemporary Global Issues course at I expect that we'll carry out explorations of the pedagogical uses of the medium there.

Posted by oook at 09:37 AM | Comments (0)

March 21, 2004


Unpleasantly high numbers in a cholesterol test make it clear that I have to take action. I've started a log file to track my thoughts and discoveries. The bit that now seems the most difficult is giving up coffee, but at least in the early stages it seems like something I need to do as part of the Discipline.

It's very hard to figure out the many contradictory versions, though exercise and moderation seem to be the universally agreed necessities. Ron cautions moderation in moderation too.

Posted by oook at 11:24 AM | Comments (0)

March 16, 2004

Magnificent quotations

Just how and why this cluster found its way here is too long a story. They surely belong with favorite quotations.

One day in 1755 the celebrated actor Charles Macklin boasted to Samuel Foote that he could repeat virtually any speech after a single hearing. Thus tempted, Foote challenged Macklin to repeat the following passage:

So she went into the garden to cut a cabbage leaf to make an apple pie; and at the same time a great she-bear, coming up the street pops its head into the shop. "What! no soap?" So he died, and she very imprudently married the barber; and there were present the Picninnies, and the Grand Panjandrum himself, with the little round button at top, and they all fell to playing the game of catch as catch can, till the gunpowder ran out at the heels of their boots.

'Son,' the old guy says, 'no matter how far you travel, or how smart you get, always remember this: someday, somewhere,' he says, 'a guy is going to come to you, and show you a nice brand-new set of cards on which the seal is never broken, and this guy is going to offer to bet you that a jack of spades will jump out of the deck and squirt cider in your ear. But son,' the old guy says, 'do not bet him, for as sure as you do you are going to get an earful of cider.'
Damon Runyon (The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown)

After all, one can't complain. I have my friends. Somebody spoke to me only yesterday. And was it last week or the week before that Rabbit bumped into me and said 'Bother !' The Social Round. Always something going on.
A.A.Milne (Winnie-the-Pooh, Eeyore speaking)

Posted by oook at 07:56 PM | Comments (0)

March 15, 2004


A wonderful graphic, 'quoted' by Seb and repeated here so I can find it again:

The first time I can remember hearing the phrase "Pigs Might Fly" was in Kind Hearts and Coronets, as memorably mouthed by Glynis Johns. It would be enlightening to collect such bits of eidetic imagery and phraseology... I woke this morning thinking of the phrase "You'll eat food from sawdust" that accompanied a 1950 Popular Mechanics article on the World of the Future.

Posted by oook at 06:32 AM | Comments (0)

March 12, 2004

Postmodernism Generator

Found via an entry in Sébastien Paquet's blog: Postmodernism Generator. The source is another blog, Martin Terre Blanche's Collaborative Learning Environments. The bit Seb picked out from Martin's posting is worth repeating here:

One tends to think of Google as a tool for locating some particular thing (say a good academic paper on critical psychology in South Africa), but I suspect that most Google searches have as much to do with getting a feel for context as with locating something specific. exemplar of the ways in which exploring this medium gooses me into thinking differently about the quotidian...

Reading further, there's a great deal here that I find especially resonant at the moment. Another bit, Martin's comment on a comment, says just beautifully what I've been thinking myself but hadn't found the eloquence to articulate:

It could be fun to be read by zillions of people, but the real reason I write is not because I hope to reach a large audience. In a way putting one's stuff on the internet is to already have such an audience. Writing here is a way of being in conversation with a few million others out there, contributing my part to the what is being said, without demanding that everybody must suddenly shut up and listen to me exclusively.

Later in the day, happened upon this by my highschool-era friend Matt Cartmill (incidentally, one of the dedicants of Heinlein's Rocket Ship Galileo [1947]):

As an adolescent I aspired to lasting fame, I craved factual certainty, and I thirsted for a meaningful vision of human life - so I became a scientist. This is like becoming an archbishop so you can meet girls.

(quoted at

Posted by oook at 05:45 AM | Comments (0)

March 10, 2004

On the coffee account

Much of today's work was loosely around coffee as a Globalization example --the usual gathering up of too much material to really digest or even put into the right order, with various detours. One of them had me revisiting Max Havelaar.

I also added an entry to the disgruntlement file, to work off some irritation with institutional costiveness.

Posted by oook at 09:26 PM | Comments (1)

March 09, 2004

Tools keep appearing

This (early) morning's troll of the sites I visit frequently brought from ResourceShelf, and I was able to find a good variety of stuff on TODAY's Sarawak news (for example), and also to explore globalization as it appears in news reports. The downside is a bunch of advertising, but as another tool for explorations, it looks like a winner.

...and more on King Rat: I assumed that the music Miéville wrote about was imaginary, but come to find out it's a genre I missed...

Posted by oook at 06:52 AM | Comments (0)

March 08, 2004

Reading Ingrid Monson's The African Diaspora

In the context of globalization and music, I happened on this book by the sometime cornetist of the Klezmer Conservatory Band. Some nice tidbits:

Mitchell's Jazz Kings recorded in the early 1920s in Paris (a bunch of .ram exampes available on the page). The site notes that

In the 1920s the Jazz Kings played a five year residency at the Casino de Paris. Mitchell had his own American restaurant called Mitchell's in Montmartre and helped Bricktop (Ada Smith-Ducongé) set up her first club, The Music Box in Paris...

Stephane Grappelli remembers that the first jazz tune he heard was Zez Confrey's "Stumblin' ", played by Mitchell's Jazz Kings... (Harris in Monson 2003:109)

Harris goes on to say:

Jazz has, throughout its history, held appeal for people from many different societies and from different places within society, including at its margins. It is rooted in --and is a manifestation of-- the human ability to redefine marginality as a "location of radical openness and possibility" (hooks 1990:153)... (Harris in Monson 2003:123)

Posted by oook at 02:39 PM | Comments (1)

March 07, 2004

Still struggling with basics

The basics of look-and-feel are still a mystery to me --how to implement CSS, how to tweak appearance and functionalities displayed. It's like any other medium: conceptual stuff seems daunting until you know the tricks, and then you wonder how you could have been so dense...

In this case it was a matter of a simple edit to the /mt/index.html file, to add /mt to the path for the stylesheet. I suppose it's a win that I did figure it out...

...but now I can't make it stick... when I SAVE this edit, it reverts to the vanilla form, without the formatting I specified. It's probably something in the setup that I'm overlooking.

Moving the stylesheet to the directory above /mt/ seems to have done it...

Today's activities mostly around globalization, but I also started thinking about words about music, and transcribed a vibrant passage from Miéville's King Rat

Posted by oook at 08:31 AM | Comments (0)

March 06, 2004

Up and running

A day of exploration of RSS led me to, which had superb instructions for installing Movable Type. I'm intending to use this blog as a means to track various things I do, as a replacement for my current.html file, which has become too overstuffed to be very useful. I think I'll still use my W&L Webspace for a lot of my activities, but link them here as new threads and projects and digressions are begun.

Posted by oook at 05:25 PM | Comments (0)