May 31, 2006

How now, blogosphere?

A posting on danah boyd's apophenia (blog production/consumption musings) got me thinking about the gradual shift in my own blog behavior. She says

...when i think about reading blogs about tech industry, my research area or other arenas that would actually be helpful, i go into anaphylactic shock. There's too many, it's too overwhelming, i can't cope, eek! I can't even stomach blogs written by dear friends who i will talk with for hours about professional or intellectual ideas (unless they embed the nutritious material in the sugary gossip stuff). I don't even think i'd read my blog given its content if i weren't the one writing it...
I've been ascribing similar feelings about tech/ed blogs to my increasing distance from the front lines of the EdBiz, and to the absence of any specific public for whom I'm thinking and writing, but maybe there's something more fundamental here, some sort of tectonic shift in the world of Online. I need to explore this a bit, and it might as well be a blog posting, even if it's only for my own edification.

In my own daily routines, I read a lot of pretty varied stuff via RSS, and skim even more... but lately I've noticed that I barely glance at many of the feeds that I was reading carefully six months or a year ago. Some of that is just the normal/tidal flux of interests, but much of my interest in "teaching and learning" was linked to my activities in educational institutions and organizations. Now that I'm well-and-truly outside those arenas, I'm increasingly detached from the debates and battles, and I realize that what I think about or see in something really doesn't matter to or connect with the current needs and interests of my former colleagues. Just yesterday I saw a thread on a blog that I would have sent on to several people and I thought (for the first time) "enh. who cares?"

As I review the hundred-some RSS feeds I've been following, I notice some patterns in attention. These days, I find myself adding feeds in areas like food (megnut on food, Hungry Magazine, Maine Foodie, Eating Asia), and paying more attention to video resources (Ze Frank, Better Bad News), but investing a lot less time/energy in tech blogs

(e.g., the Gillmors, the Winer, Signal vs. Noise, Doc Searls, malevolent design, Amy Gahran's Contentious, Continuous Computing),
and less to the clutch of H5N1 sites I've been following for a couple of years
(I scan Effect Measure, but rarely click through any of the links on The Coming Influenza Pandemic or Connotea tagged H5N1, and it's been weeks since I've looked at Technorati on H5N1 or my Yahoo H5N1 search).
And the Ed blogs that I used to watch so carefully are fading from my interest/attention
(including Inside Higher Ed, elearningpost, FLOSSE Posse, EDUCAUSE, EdTech Posse, Alex Halavais, HeadsPace J, Liberal Education Today, blog of proximal development. Even EduRSS has become more of a trial than an essential. All that stuff about what faculty don't do, and what students do do, and how it doesn't connect... I thought and wrote about that for years, without much in the way of effects or progress.
Some of these I feel a certain guilt about not-reading, and I can't quite bring myself to delete them from the RSS list.

I find that I have very little interest in library blogs that I used to scan on behalf of colleagues

(Resource Shelf, RSS4Lib, Free Range Librarian...)

So what's still at the core? BoingBoing, WFMU, Juan Cole for News of Fresh Disasters, anything BryanAlexander or Gardner Campbell writes (they're friends), and similarly Brian Lamb and Alan Levine (I don't actually know them, but feel that I should/could), and the metafolks: Stephen Downes, George Siemens, Jon Udell.

Others I really look forward to for new content: Language Log, Crooked Timber, Google Maps Mania, Ogle Earth...

It'll be interesting to see how the landscape looks in six months or so. Bet it'll be different.

Posted by oook at 11:57 AM | Comments (2)

May 30, 2006

links for 2006-05-30

Posted by oook at 03:17 AM

May 28, 2006

links for 2006-05-28

Posted by oook at 03:17 AM

May 27, 2006

links for 2006-05-27

  • "it will help you tag your audio and video files with information about your license and it allows you to upload Creative Commons-licensed audio and video works to the Internet Archive for free hosting..."
Posted by oook at 03:18 AM

May 26, 2006

Mike Davis on William Gibson

I've been thinking about and studying regions for 40-some years, man and boy, and I've done serious scifi/cyberpunk time too, but this bit from Mike Davis [Late Victorian Holocausts, Magical Urbanism, City of Quartz, Planet of Slums, others...] is the clearest link between those worlds that I have ever seen:

The ongoing crisis of the Third World city is producing almost feudalized patterns of large slum neighborhoods that are effectively terrorist or criminal mini-states – rogue micro-sovereignties. That’s the view of the Pentagon and of Pentagon planners. They also seem quite alarmed by the fact that the peri-urban slums – the slums on the edges of cities – lack clear hierarchies. Even more difficult, from a planning perspective, there’s very little available data. The slums are kind of off the radar screen. They therefore become the equivalent of rain forest, or jungle: difficult to penetrate, impossible to control.

I think there are fairly smart Pentagon thinkers who don’t see this so much as a question of regions, or categories of nation-states, so much as holes, or enclaves within the system. One of the best things I ever read about this was actually William Gibson’s novel Virtual Light. Gibson proposes that, in a world where giant multinational capital is supreme, there are places that simply aren’t valuable to the world economy anymore – they don’t reproduce capital – and so those spaces are shunted aside. A completely globalized system, in Gibson's view, would leak space – it would have internal redundancies – and one of those spaces, in Virtual Light, is the Bay Bridge.
(from William Gibson's blog, but see BLDGBLOG for the whole [and totally EXcellent] interview)

Posted by oook at 08:06 AM | Comments (1)

May 22, 2006


For the moment, geocalumny is a googlewhack, albeit a self-referential googlewhack (i.e., it doesn't really count, since I coined the term, to fill a much-needed gap). Since the first instance (quoting from a John McPhee article in the New Yorker for 3 October 2005, and mashing it up with a Google map [9 Nov 2005]), I've noticed quite a few other passages that exemplify the highly-developed art of geocalumny (and/or the closely related ethnocalumny, linguocalumny, and general trash talk). Today's beauties come from Madding Gerund and from London Review of Books:

(of Texas, ca. 1840)
...filled with habitual liars, drunkards, blasphemers, and slanderers; sanguinary gamesters and cold-blooded assassins; with idleness and sluggish indolence (two vices for which the Texans are already proverbial); with pride, engendered by ignorance and supported by fraud.
(Nicholas Doran P. Maillard, quoted by Mark Liberman, who ends the posting with an addendum: "I need to add that I don't subscribe to Maillard's description as an accurate characterization of Texans, whether in 1840 or 2003, and especially not of my wife.")
(an "anonymous scribbler" annotating Leigh Fermor's Roumeli, to contradict LF's assertion that modern Greek is ‘undisputed heir of ancient Greek’)
...Nonsense. It is the barbarous pidgin of the Albano-Slavs who defile the land of their occupation with the deformity of their "dago" bodies and the squalor of their politics.
(quoted by Mary Beard in "Don't forget your pith helmet", LRB 18 Aug 2005)
This is very much in the "Wogs begin at Calais" vein that certain Blimpish Britons are sometimes thought to have invented. One can appreciate the spleen without endorsing the sentiments, right?

Update: yesterday there was only one Google hit for 'geocalumny', but seemingly this posting has provoked a few more.

Addendum: John Dowie's British Tourist will please connoisseurs of musical variants of the genre.

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

May 21, 2006

Four Guys from Sfax

Every time I go back to Leigh Fermor's list of 'Greek' communities, I plunge into another journey of discovery. Yesterday's was provoked by "the Shqip-speaking Atticans of Sfax": Shqip=Albanian and Sfax=port city in Tunisia, facts I had tucked away in the back rooms of the mind. I filled in some other bits, including the Ottoman practise of using some ethnicities (Albanians being a frequent example) to control others, and then went a-Googling. One of the things I found was a list of immigrants from SS La Bretagne (Le Havre, France to New York, 28 May 1907), including this set of four doughty voyagers who stated Sfax as their last residence:

Naoum, Yoannou; 35y; Male; Married; Occupation: Miner;
Able to read/write: Yes/Yes;
Last Permanent Residence: Turkish E;
Race: Greek;
Last Residence: Sfax;
Final Destination: N. York;
Having a ticket to final destination: Yes; Paid by: himself;
Money in Possession: $ 12;
Whether ever in U.S.: No;
Joining: Friend Agamemnon Panagakis;
Address: 3 Morris St;
Whether ever in prison, etc: No; Polygamist: No;
Anarchist: No; Offer to labor in US: No;
Health: Good; Deformed or Crippled: No;
Height: 5'7"; Complexion: Brown; Hair: auburn; Eyes: brown;
Place of Birth: Georgia

Dimitrios, Maniatis; 28y; Male; Single; Occupation: Sailor;
Able to read/write: Yes/Yes;
Last Permanent Residence: Greece;
Race: Greek;
Last Residence: Sfax;
Final Destination: N. York;
Having a ticket to final destination: Yes; Paid by: himself;
Money in Possession: $ 20;
Whether ever in U.S.: No;
Joining: Friend Agamemnon Panagakis;
Address: 3 Morris St;
Anarchist: No; Offer to labor in US: No;
Health: Good; Deformed or Crippled: No;
Height: 5'6"; Complexion: Brown; Hair: auburn; Eyes: brown;
Place of Birth: Kranidi

Dimitrios, Selavounos; 27y; Male; Single; Occupation: Sailor;
Able to read/write: no/no;
Last Permanent Residence: Greece;
Race: Greek;
Last Residence: Sfax;
Final Destination: N. York;
Having a ticket to final destination: Yes; Paid by: himself;
Money in Possession: $ 12;
Whether ever in U.S.: No;
Joining: Friend Agamemnon Panagakis;
Address: 3 Morris St;
Whether ever in prison, etc: No; Polygamist: No;
Anarchist: No; Offer to labor in US: No;
Health: Good; Deformed or Crippled: No;
Height: 5'3"; Complexion: Brown; Hair: auburn; Eyes: brown;
Place of Birth: Kranidi

Lefterios, Retoulas; 29y; Male; Single; Occupation: Sailor;
Able to read/write: Yes/Yes;
Last Permanent Residence: Greece;
Race: Greek;
Last Residence: Sfax;
Final Destination: N. York;
Having a ticket to final destination: Yes; Paid by: himself;
Money in Possession: $ 52;
Whether ever in U.S.: No;
Joining: Friend Agamemnon Panagakis;
Address: 3 Morris St;
Whether ever in prison, etc: No; Polygamist: No;
Anarchist: No; Offer to labor in US: No;
Health: Good; Deformed or Crippled: No;
Height: 5'6"; Complexion: Brown; Hair: auburn; Eyes: brown;
Place of Birth: Hydra

The hidden Tales here are not unlike those that attach to any of the Nova Scotia Faces photographs: fragments provoke conjectures, good stories trump inconvenient (or missing) facts, and one ends up far from the starting point. In this Sfax case, my curiosity centers on Agamemnon Panagakis, the Friend, of 3 Morris St., NYC. It's a good guess that Maniatis and Selavounos are brothers or maybe cousins, and I'll bet that the four met in Sfax... but how did they get there? Doubtful that they're Shqip speakers. Hydra is a long way from Albania, but it's pretty close to Kranidi, so Retoulas is a plausible third. Yoannou remains a puzzle, Georgia being a loooong way from Kranidi or Sfax. Georgia... that's Colchis of old, Golden Fleece territory

History and Structure of the Hellenic Language tells us this:

PONTIC (PONTIC GREEK) [PNT] 200,000 in Greece (1993 Johnstone); 120,000 in western Georgia; 320,000 or more in all countries. Suburbs between Athens and Peiraeus Katerini. There may still be speakers on the Black Sea coast of Turkey. Also in Boston, Philadelphia, Canton, Akron, USA; Toronto, Canada; and small communities in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. Indo-European, Greek, Attic. Brought to Greece in the 1920's and 1930's by immigrants from the Black Sea coast, which had been inhabited by Greeks since antiquity. Speakers of Standard Greek cannot understand Pontic, and Pontic speakers are reported to not understand or speak Standard Greek. Pontic clubs and centers exist in the Athens-Peiraeus suburbs. Young people may speak Standard Greek as their first language. Speakers in North America are reported to hold onto their language more zealously than those in Greece. Ethnic Greeks in Georgia called 'Rumka' speak Pontic Greek.
...and of course Wikipedia adds more...

Posted by oook at 09:42 AM | Comments (0)

May 19, 2006

More Leigh Fermor

A Lifehacker post points to Google Blog Search, so I bethought myself to check out the buzz over Leigh Fermor in blogland, and found myself hip-deep in an asynchronous multilingual conversation, with pointers to gems like Mary Beard's Don't forget your pith helmet (London Review of Books) and a translation of an Ode of Horace that figures in his Cretan adventures during WWII --neither of which would I have been likely to encounter by staying on the gravelled paths...

Posted by oook at 01:39 PM | Comments (0)

May 18, 2006

Leigh Fermor

Alas, this week's online New Yorker doesn't include Anthony Lane's profile of Patrick Leigh Fermor, so only subscribers will enjoy lines like

As a rule, nature is judicious in the dispensing of talent; we are happy to revere George Eliot, say, secure in the knowledge that she looked like Seabiscuit. (pg 60)
Leigh Fermor's travel writings have graced my shelves for about 20 years, but Lane's vivid descriptions of Leigh Fermor's WWII service in Crete and Egypt add still more dimensions.

Lane chooses his examples well. Here's a nice bit that quotes Leigh Fermor: many autodidacts, he sees no reason not to throw open to the public the overstocked library of his mind:
The scattered Bektashi and the Rufayan, the Mevlevi dervishes of the Tower of the Winds, the Liaps of Souli, the Pomaks of the Rhodope, the Kizilbashi near Kechro, the Fire-Walkers of Mavrolevki, the Lazi from the Pontic shores, the Linovamvaki --crypto-Christian Moslems of Cyprus-- the Dönmehs --crypto-Jewish Moslems of Salonica and Smyrna-- the Slavophones of Northern Macedonia, the Koutzo-Vlachs of Samarina and Metzovo, the Chams of Thesprotia, the scattered Souliots of Roumeli and the Heptanese, the Albanians of Argolis and Attica, the Kravarite mendicants of Aetolia, the wandering quacks of Eurytania, the phallus-wielding Buonariots of Tyrnavos...
That is Leigh Fermor on the dispersal of Greek communities. The list covers two pages, includes what could be a line of Edward Lear ("the Shqip-speaking Atticans of Sfax"), and closes with the phrase "to name a few."
That's from pages 4 and 5 of Mani: travels in the southern Peloponnese, and I see that I'd marked it in my copy. Strikes me that it 's a fine example of my own tastes for anthropogeographies --and in fact I have recordings of the musics of quite a few of those communities.

Addendum: Mercurius Complutensis quotes the whole passage.

This is all very fractal, or maybe it's hologrammatic. I started looking for more bits to fill in gaps in my knowledge and an hour later was still just beginning. A few links:

George Moran on Touring the Vlach Villages of Greece


Chams, and the continuing controversies --viz. Miranda Vickers' The Cham Issue: Albanian National & Property Claims in Greece

On Dönmeh

This on linovamvaki:

I seem to remember coming across the term "linovamvaki", used in Cyprus; sometimes it was used politically (to refer to people who were neither left nor right, but sat on the fence), but I believe that its roots went back to either Greek Cypriots who had converted to Islam or Turkish Cypriots who had converted to Christianity. Does anyone know this term? If so, I'd be interested to know exactly what it meant. ethnic Greek (ethnic Greek 21:21, 2 May 2005 (UTC) The "limnovamvaki" is a small piece of cotton that is worn on the outside and it was used by ethnic Greek Crypto-Christians in Cyprus. It was definitely not used by Turkish-Cypriots who converted to Christianity. Any Turkish-Cypriot who converted to Christianity was severely punished. The millet system saw to that. Anyway, the Greek-Cypriots used the "limnovamvaki" to hide their identity from other Muslims, but at the same time maintain their Greek identity by makiing themselves recognizable only by Orthodox Christian Greeks. ethnic Greek May 4, 2005 3:44 P.M. EST Thanks for this. I'd thought that it was "''lino''vamvaki" meaning "linen-cotton"; I'm not sure exactly what "limnovamvaki" means, though. ethnic Greek (ethnic Greek 21:48, 4 May 2005 (UTC) Yes, linovamvako is a fabric made of linen (lino) and cotton (vamvaki)--see Babiniotis or Andriotis dictionary. Presumably it followed the same sense-development as English "linsey-woolsey": not just a particular fabric, but also a strange mixture or mish-mosh in general, e.g. half Greek/half Turkish. I don't know about its ''specific'' meaning (Greek language, Muslim religion? Christian mother, Muslim father?), which isn't mentioned in the dictionaries. The story about the piece of cotton sounds, um, doubtful; the spelling limnovamvaki (lake-cotton?) doesn't make much sense and isn't recorded by the dictionaries. Perhaps what it really is is a troll? I am beginning to wonder if Charonite isn't simply trolling us overly-earnest ns: take a look at the extravagantly implausible theories he propounds on his talk page. As for conversion (apostasy) from Islam, yes, that is punished in principle by death. --ethnic Greek 22:53, 4 May 2005 (UTC)
(buried in
I could continue all day, no doubt.

Posted by oook at 04:26 PM | Comments (0)

May 17, 2006

Pepys, and more on Jinxes

I don't pay nearly enough attention to the serialized Diary of Samuel Pepys, though I glance at it pretty much every day in RSS summary. Thus, I've been missing the community created by the annotators and commenters who brighten each entry with erudition, miscellaneous carpings, and occasional doggerel. Monday's piece (Friday 15 May 1663) is a case in point, with [among many others] Australian Susan's addition, jeannine's limerick, and Robert Gertz' imagined dialog as wonderful enlargements on the text.

...and while we're enlarging upon texts, three weeks or so ago I pointed to a r0ml posting about jinxes, and just this morning I happened on two Language Log entries (Pickle Jinx [16 Dec 2003] and High Jinx [17 Dec 2003]) in Far from the Madding Gerund that offer links to several antecedents in jinx research, and suggest an Opiesque/Sutton-Smithian research frontier...

Posted by oook at 08:32 AM | Comments (0)

links for 2006-05-17

Posted by oook at 03:18 AM

May 16, 2006

Willinsky snippets

Brian Lamb points to a presentation by John Willinsky, noting that "the grand theme is the imperative (and potential) for technology to facilitate genuine learning in service of an education that transcends skills training..." The whole hour is a delight, and here are four extracts to inspire you to make the time to download and listen:

...a whole new relationship to the access to knowledge... 1:33
...why would people construct knowledge on that basis? (re: Wikipedia) 1:45
...learning is nothing unless it's a contribution to others... 0:52
...pure, unadulterated self interest... (re: open access journals) 2:00

Posted by oook at 10:20 AM | Comments (0)

links for 2006-05-16

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May 15, 2006

links for 2006-05-15

Posted by oook at 03:18 AM

May 14, 2006

A shove from Solnit

Commencement speakers are expected to be eloquent, though their primary audiences are probably too distracted to recognize it when it happens, or to remember the details of the message. Rebecca Solnit crafted a barn-burner for the Department of English at the University of California at Berkeley. There are lots of yessss! moments, but here are two bits that really got my attention:

The amazing thing about the novel 1984 is that Orwell could invent the Ministry of Truth, Big Brother, thought crimes, and the Memory Hole, but in his book women are still hanging cloth diapers on clotheslines. It's easier to prophesy global politics than laundry, but our lives are shaped by both...

Books matter. Stories matter. People die of pernicious stories, are reinvented by new stories, and make stories to shelter themselves. Though we learned from postmodernism that a story is only a construct, so is a house, and a story can be more important as shelter: the story that you have certain inalienable rights and immeasurable value, the story that there is an alternative to violence and competition, the story that women are human beings. Sometimes people find the stories that save their lives in books.

Posted by oook at 09:12 AM | Comments (0)

May 13, 2006

Mencken comma where is he now that...

I'm sure that lots of people are getting out their Mencken quotations, umbrellas in stormy weather. Here are some especially trenchant bits, posted as part of a comment to a Washington Post op ed piece:

The one permanent emotion of the inferior man is fear - fear of the unknown, the complex, the inexplicable. What he wants beyond everything else is safety.

Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.

As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.

And what is a good citizen? Simply one who never says, does or thinks anything that is unusual. Schools are maintained in order to bring this uniformity up to the highest possible point. A school is a hopper into which children are heaved while they are still young and tender; therein they are pressed into certain standard shapes and covered from head to heels with official rubber-stamps.

...and he's been gone for, what, 50 years...

Posted by oook at 07:14 AM | Comments (1)

May 12, 2006

links for 2006-05-12

Posted by oook at 03:18 AM

May 11, 2006

links for 2006-05-11

Posted by oook at 03:18 AM

May 10, 2006

Madding Gerunds

It's hard to imagine any lover of words who wouldn't be susceptible to Far from the Madding Gerund and Other Dispatches from Language Log (by Mark Liberman and Geoffrey K. Pullum), just delivered by USPS today. Flip it open at random and forget about whatever you were doing before... The first chapter is titled "Random monkeys & mendacious pontificating old windbags", enough right there to justify the purchase. It's all from the Language Log blog, to which I've pointed repeatedly, but there's definitely value-added in the printed form, not least in the index and the many interesting callouts sprinkled here and there. It's simply ideal bathroom (or bedtime) reading. Example, from the penultimate entry, one of several on Dan Brown's ways with words:

The simple fact is that if you are ever mentioned on page 1 of a Dan Brown novel you will be mentioned with an anarthrous occupational nominal premodifier ("Renowned linguist Geoff Pullum staggered across the savage splendor of the forsaken Santa Cruz campus, struggling to remove the knife plunged unnaturally into his back by a barbarous millionaire novelist"), and you will have died a painful and horrible death by page 2, along with several curiously ill-chosen clichés and mangled idioms.
(pg 341, and Nov 7 2004 for the whole thing)
Run right out and buy multiple copies, and place them with those most in need.

Posted by oook at 02:15 PM | Comments (1)

links for 2006-05-10

Posted by oook at 03:18 AM

May 09, 2006

links for 2006-05-09

  • "UNSAVOURY SONGS: If you have ever fancied putting Schubert, Tom Waits, Edgar Allan Poe and Fiddler on the Roof into a blender and consuming the resulting concoction, then this is for you..."
    (tags: musics)
Posted by oook at 03:18 AM

May 07, 2006

links for 2006-05-07

Posted by oook at 03:19 AM

May 06, 2006

links for 2006-05-06

Posted by oook at 03:20 AM

May 05, 2006


Mark Liberman's comments and linkage to Nick Montfort's take on l'affaire Viswanathan gets me interested in the whole plundergraphia thing (Jason Christie's Sampling the Culture: 4 Notes Toward a Poetics of Plundergraphia and on Kenneth Goldsmith's Day is perhaps the essential instantiation).
What's desperately needed, academically and otherwise, is a suite of tools to HANDLE attribution --the infrastructure to underwrite real 21st century bibliography for the world of ReMix, so that the trails through the jungles of Influence and Source can be made clear, kept clear, seen as the long-run stigmergy that they surely are. The print-oriented apps like RefWorks, EndNote and so on are geared to bibliography construction more than toward management and exploration of one's hoards of interlinked Information...
This needs thinking about.

Posted by oook at 08:20 AM | Comments (1)

May 03, 2006

links for 2006-05-03

Posted by oook at 03:17 AM