Thursday, April 29, 2004

Print literacy vs. Network Literacy

Expat Australian new media academic and research blogging queen Jill Walker gave a talk late last year on student blogs:
"Weblogs are good as learning journals (searchable, writing practice, catching thoughts, intellectual workout, valuing one's own opinion, discovering interests, even recommended as therapy) but all these things could be done in a paper notebook - though the knowledge that other people are (or can be) reading is important.

What's more important to teach our students is network literacy: writing in a distributed, collaborative environment. "
If you are interested in learning more about this, read on....

Oh, and could you all please turn on update pings: Choose Settings>Publishing and select "Yes" for "Notify". Why? See the entry "Tech Update" below.

What's hot this week

Some of you have taken to blogging like ducks to water, others of you have taken to it more like fish to bicycles. I thought it might be a good idea to draw your attention to some of the ducks.

Quite a few people have started to turn their blog into an online research, thinking and writing space:

Roxy is using hers to explore the relationship between rap and the media; John Goh has become lost in trippy animated graphics as he explores rave culture; Kane is investigating "the way online communities and fan sites can influence the media and sales surrounding certain pop acts" and invites comments.

Speaking of inviting comments, it's even more exciting to see some people attempting to build their own social networks around these blogs:

Matt is looking at the (legal) trading of concert recordings, and finds Tara's (gorgeously redesigned) blog on music activism to be closely related to his. Because Tara has added comments to her template, she now has the beginnings of a dialogue on the topic of filesharing going with Matt.

But the highest aggregate of brownie points this week goes jointly to cocktail expert David Stubbs and beat poetry fan Renee Yates. They have both done extremely snazzy redesigns including adding the ability for visitors to leave comments; they both have really interesting content about their research online, and between the two of them, they have started a cosy little blog dialogue. I encourage you all to burst in on their groovy little world and pester them to tell you how they got such good looking blogs.

So, that's what's hot...go fix what's not ;)

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Some braincandy

This call for submissions for a forthcoming book caught my eye: the list of possible topics for book chapters sound very much like possible topics for essays to me. Read on...
Cybersounds: Essays on Virtual Music Culture
Edited by Michael D. Ayers, New School for Social Research, New York City
Call for Chapters

There is no doubt that the Internet has the ability to shape and transform the art fields. The popular culture art forms- Film, Television and Music have found their specific homes in cyberspace, but out of the big three, music has found the most controversial space to say the least. In the post MP3 scare[*], this volume seeks to examine the role of cyberspace in the cultural production, creation and transformation in the way which society consumes and uses music in its various forms.

This volume seeks to examine music and cyberspace, utilizing theoretical perspectives from cultural studies, sociology, cyberculture studies, feminist perspectives and media studies

Suggested submission topics include, but not limited to:

How cyberspace challenges/confirms traditional production of music cultures
Online music (sub)cultures vs. Real Life (sub)music cultures
Musical genre manifestations online
Theoretical perspectives on the digitalization of music
Theoretical perspectives of consuming music through cyberspace
Case/Comparative studies of fan groups and fan identity in cyberspace
Quantitative studies on downloaders
Artist/Audience Interactions online
The Political Economy of Digital Music/Politics of Digital Music

Chapters should be submitted in Microsoft Word format, 12 point font, double spaced.
Essays should be in the range of 7500 - 10,000 words with references in ASA style.
Send submissions and inquires to

Monday, April 26, 2004

Tech Update: Pings

As well as providing easily updated links lists, has an added dynamic feature: you can set it to display a little message next to each link that has been recently updated.

This is potentially good for you because we should be able to look at the list of class blogs and see which ones have fresh content - which means the more you update, the more readers you will have. It is also good for your fellow staff and students because we can quickly and easily see which blogs have been updated since our last visit.

In order to turn on this update notification feature for your blog, go to your blogger interface. Choose Settings>Publishing and select "Yes" for "Notify". Save changes.

What this does is tells the blogger server to "ping" the server, "telling" it that your content has been updated.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Weblog Training Session Debriefing

Well, we all survived yesterday's whirlwind training sessions - 4 groups in 3 hours learning how to set up and maintain a blog from scratch! Me having the flu probably didn't help, either. Remember, the advanced configuration instructions (how to add comments and links) are online.

In the sidebar on the right, you will see that I have now added a list of all the blogs I've received a name and address for. I did this quickly and easily using a free service called Blogrolling. Blogrolling provides an interface where you can enter the name and URL of a link you want to list on your blog. You paste some javascript into your template, and from then on, every time you update the list at, it is automatically updated on your website too.

IMPORTANT: Please let me know via email if your blog is missing from the list, and also if you would prefer that I list it under your blog's title, rather than your real name.

So now that you all have blogs, what are you going to do with them? To get you started, here's a few suggestions for the first few days' topics: reflecting on the training sessions; trying to express what you think your blog will be used for; trawling the world of blogs and reporting back on what you think of it all; reflecting back on the first half of the course and your expectations for the second half.

By next week everyone should have enough good content on their blogs for us to start discussing things amongst ourselves, and getting that network I was talking about happening.

I have to give brownie points to Matt Roberts for a great first post.


I am anticipating more than a few tears before bedtime caused by the unfamiliar technical issues many of you have to confront.

Please post any technical questions or problems in the comments section of this post only, and I or one of your esteemed colleagues will help you.

This archive of questions and answers will end up being a kind of FAQ, and I will put a link to it from the right-hand menu so it will always be accessible.

If I ask you to email me privately to sort a problem out, please remember my email address has a 1 in it:

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Course News

The due date for the first essay has been extended to Wednesday 21st April at 10am.

Details of the weblog assessment task and training sessions are now online. A full guide to setting up and maintaining weblogs will be available at the same URL from this afternoon. But don't worry if it all seems complicated - you don't have to do it on your own. The training session will get you through the process.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Just bookmarking this tool for customising blogger templates: hexadecimal colour codes

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Is file-sharing destroying the music industry?

By now we've all heard the rhetoric of digital "piracy", according to which an mp3 shared is equal to a single sale lost by the industry. There are all kind of logical problems with this - for example, is it necessarily true that if a person downloads a track out of curiosity or to explore a new genre, they are getting something for free that they would have otherwise gone out and bought?

Well, it seems the mainstream media is now listening to academic research that questions this "downloading is destroying record sales" rhetoric - a rhetoric which up until now has been successfully deployed by the RIAA in their lawsuits and PR campaigns.

From pro-technology magazine Wired:
Researchers at two leading universities have issued a study countering the music industry's central theme in its war on digital piracy, saying file sharing has little impact on CD sales.

"We find that file sharing has only had a limited effect on record sales," Felix Oberholzer-Gee of Harvard Business School and Koleman Strumpf of University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill said in their report. "The economic effect is also small. Even in the most pessimistic specification, five thousand downloads are needed to displace a single album sale."
Read the full article here.