February, 2009

Wrapup: Digital Stories, Academic Freedom, A Twitter Smackdown, and the End of News

In lieu of our usual comprehensive weekly wrapup, I’d like to use the first part of this post to call out some of the recent non-blog activity at gnovis, specifically the launch of our website’s new multimedia section, featuring some of CCTs explorations in non-traditional academic research. Currently, the section includes 10 projects, mostly “Digital Stories” produced for Dr Michael Coventry’s classes.

Amateurization is Journalism’s Achilles’ Heel

After having recent conversations with friends in the newspaper business and reading Akoto Ofori-Atta’s latest gnovis blog on the predicament of magazines, it reminded me of a lingering fear and, what I believe, an imminent reality: the demise of the profession I spent four years studying — and shelled out thousands of dollars to study — will fall to the hands of millions of amateurs spouting off inane stories, inaccuracies and highly subjective information.

Academic Freedom vs. Resource Allocation: The state of Georgia and Queer Theory

Today, an article came across my Facebook news feed about Georgia legislators trying to stop the funding of research areas deemed “unnecessary”, such as Queer theory. The argument is framed as an economic one – the lawmakers are tired of “spending state dollars on close studies of oral sex and male prostitution.”  Some who commented on the article interpreted it as a religiously, rather than an economically driven action, even though there is almost nothing to suggest that in the language of the legislature.  Others brought up the issue of academic freedom.  So, is this an attempt to spread a particular religious agenda couched in economic terms?  Or, is it an economic argument to be taken at face value? And is it an ideologically motivated attack on academic freedom, or is resource allocation part of the state’s job?

Twittering My Presence

twitter-logoIt is a question as old as the fail whale itself: Why do we Twitter? Yesterday, the Valley Wag asked this question in a scathing critique of the usefulness of this service. Earlier this month, David Pogue of The New York Times in his for-the-masses review described it as a “time drain” and “one of those ego things.” Yes, it is the season for critiquing Twitter.

Magazines in a Mess: What Should Print Media Do?

A few Saturdays ago, I woke up eager to embark on my most treasured weekend past-time- a bowl of granola, a cup of Starbucks, and a stack of glossy magazines. After I skimmed through a couple of weeklies, I reached for one of my many guilty pleasures, People’s Style Watch. I turned through the pages, and came across the number one most annoying magazine pet-peeve of all, the subscription card.

Visualization Technology and Darwin’s Tree of Life

I recently blogged about citizens becoming scientists by observing how nature around them is reacting to changes in climate and imputing their observations into a database. In other words making visible that which would otherwise remain invisible.  Keeping with the theme, I recently read an article in the NYT about biologists collaborating with computer scientists to construct the tree of life, first sketched by Darwin in 1837.