Friday, August 31, 2007

Journalism is Burning Or How Breaking News is Broken

I wonder if the Journalism grad students are thinking about things like Dale Dougherty is musing about at Journalism is Burning Or How Breaking News is Broken. He starts with simple observations, then begins to imagine new ways that news could be reported and gathered by readers. Very imaginative. Where is it that scholars are studying these phenomena? I want to study them, because it's instrumental in the telling of the story about what's going on with cultural institutions that have acted as intermediaries when we seem to be able to do more and more for ourselves. Of course, I know there's always the information frontier, but still, libraries can't be unaffected by all that's going on.

So I wonder if the College of Communication is where all this research is happening. I'm taking a class there this semester on Research in Interactivity, Web 2.0, so I'll get to meet some of the Communication grad students. I could see looking at a survey of new forms of scholarly communication that emerge over a 3 year period or something like that (for example, MediaCommons and CommentPress, both if:book platforms). Watching the world change right under your nose. Looking at uptake in a specific community. Counting the numbers of alternative publications. Right now you can actually count experiments in alternative and interactive publishing in single digits. I doubt that will be true for much longer. It would be good to get on it right from the ground floor.

I would love to revisit things like this post in 10 years and see how it looks from 2017. It's curiously satisfying to look back at what you were theorizing, what you thought about where things were going. I guess that's one of the bonuses of writing down what you think. No way I'd remember it otherwise.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Time passes slowly when you're watching a full lunar eclipse

WOW. There are just no words that better describe this morning's lunar eclipse. But of course, I'll go on anyway. A reddish ball floating low in the Western sky. Majestic. Warm. Aglow. It doesn't so much look like our moon. It looks like a planet. It could be Venus or Mars. It's a big, big ball of the same stuff that earth is made of, floating in space, but not very far away. Not far away at all. I started watching it at 4:30 Austin time. It was a totally clear night. I have a balcony door off the bedroom facing West. I watched it for about 45 minutes. What amazed me was that when I came back to see it again about half an hour later, it was even better. It was lower, redder, and more distinctly spherical. My best view of it was at 6:15 this morning, in a clearing amongst the junipers behind my deck. As it got lower on the horizon, the three-dimensional aspect became intense. Our moon is not a flat disk. It is a softly glowing ball in the night sky. What a treat.

And it's too low now for me to see it anymore. It is obscured by some kind of misty cloudy thing just above the level of the hills to the West. Ah, life.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Fall semester's classes

Fall semester starts next Wednesday, actually, Thursday for me because I don't have a Wednesday class, but I'm already reading articles for the first day's meeting. Phil assigned 6 articles about research in the field of information studies. That and his 74 page syllabus round out a full weekend's concentrated effort. Nevertheless, I took off a full 4 hours this morning to work diligently in the garden. It was a beautiful morning, everything needed pruning, fertilizing and in some cases, transplanting, to prepare it for the 3 month-long fall growing season here in Austin (we expect first frost around Thanksgiving each year).

Now I'm reading, reviewing my fellow Ph.D. students' blogs and websites to find out what each one is studying, well, not every one, but the ones I know already, and others if they are into anything similar to what interests me, at the moment. So, I'm getting some ideas for how to tweak this blog to make it a little more useful as a collection of important information related to my work at the iSchool. I need to add some static pages, but I'm not sure Blogger does that. In fact, I don't recall anything about that. I'll check when I'm finished with this post.

For now, it's enough to get back into the habit of organizing readings, writing papers, and beginning the process of thinking about where my interests fit into the grand scheme of things within info studies. Some of the articles I read made me feel that I don't fit in at all. I seem to come at it from a different perspective than the articles indicate most people who are attracted to this field come from. I don't really think about representing information. I just think about supporting research and scholarship, and how that will change as the forms of scholarly communication change. I guess I'm not thinking about the mechanics of helping people actually, but whether that will be done in any way remotely like it's done today, say in 10 years or 20 years.

This doesn't seem to fit in with what I'm reading about research in the field. But then Lance Hayden's critical discourse analysis around red light surveillance doesn't seem to fit in either and he was accepted to candidacy on Thursday. I'm pretty sure there's room for people whose interests seem a bit tangential perhaps, but with the changes in the definition of what information studies is, should come changes in what kinds of people the field attracts. And these articles are all pretty old, at least by my standards (from the 90's). But that's another issue. Enough for now.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The last days of summer

The month of August is always so bittersweet. It's hot, often humid, making me wish for fall, but it's also the last of summer and I always feel that once it's over, we hurtle at breakneck speed towards the end of another year. Another year. This summer in Austin has been one of the most unusual I've experienced in the almost 40 years I've lived here. It was so rainy and cool for June and July that it was hard to believe it was Austin at all. Everything was so green and lush. If summers here were like that all the time, we'd be the size of LA. August brought a bit more normal heat and humidity, but even that only lasted about 2 weeks before the hurricanes and tropical storms in the Gulf of Mexico lowered temperatures and brought the rain back.

So, I'm about to begin my second year in the graduate program in information studies. I feel a bit more calm about it, not so "kid in a candy store" about it. I have great classes lined up: a research class focusing on interactive Web stuff, where I'll get to work on my presentation from the trip I took to France in May; an intro to doctoral research and theory with my buddy Phil Doty (we've taught copyright and information policy together several times at the iSchool before I became a student); and a management class with MaryLynn, whom I adore. I guess I am still a bit like a kid in a candy store...

And work really hasn't taken any kind of break. In fact, while I've not had classes, I've put in extra time on the digital distribution (eres and Blackboard), UT Press (collaborative publishing), School of Nursing (open access) projects and picked up a new project creating a process for clearing our scanned books for posting as public domain works. This is exciting as it involves collaboration with other Google library partners, first off, University of Michigan.

So, very busy, very happy, but also a bit sad to see summer come to an end. And another year to fly by.

"And they tell him, take your time, it won't be long now, 'til you drag your feet to slow the circles down." -- Joni Mitchell, Circle Game