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May 03, 2006

The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend... - Google Book Search

Link: The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend... - Google Book Search.

Google Print: Hey! I found myself in Ray Kurzweil's new book, "The Singularity is Near." That's cool, to  show up in the book of an author I really enjoy reading.

Might as well record the entire citation. However, I have a bone to pick here. Dude!  That's a section where I quoted a bit from Sherry Turkle's book "Life on the Screen." But the quotation uses elipses so you can't tell which are my words and which come from Turkle.

I used to make all my first-year composition students read the first two chapters of "Life on the Screen" (this quotation comes from the beginning of the book).

It's my favorite line in Turkle's book (copied it here below as well, if anyone wants to discuss it, my version, and Kurzweil's with the elipses).  In the CNN.com column, I couldn't record the page number of the Turkle quotation, but I can put it in here. You can find that bit in "Life on the Screen" at the bottom of page 13.

I also value Turkle's assessment of two dichotomies of competing cultures (aesthetics?) in computer science (and engineering, and many other fields) of "tinkering" vs. "top-down planning," as well as what she calls in her introduction "a culture of calculation" vs "a culture of simulation."

Those ideas are valuable as a heuristic mainly, as overly simplistic dichotomies maybe, like Robert Pirsig talks about in "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance," the "classic" and "romantic" understanding of motorcycles, surface romance vs. the guts of a finely tuned engine. But it gives a person something to think about. One of these days I'm going to insert that Pirsig quotation into this blog as a "Seminal Text." I used to copy it up as a handout for the gifted and talented students when I taught critical thinking at Arkansas Governor's School.

The other essential Turkle book I own is "The Second Self."

Here's the bit from my CNN.com column Kurzweil uses:


How young people live

A student may have a textbook open. The television is on with sound off (perhaps with the CNN Headline News modular screen). They've got music on headphones. On a laptop hooked in to the Internet there's a homework window, along with e-mail and instant messaging in the background. The Web has become an essential part of checking facts and figures for the homework (not to mention plagiarizing with copy and paste). On top of that, the student may field phone calls or talk with a roommate.

One of the most striking observations in Turkle's findings was a quote from one multi-tasking student who preferred the online world to the face-to-face world. "Real life," he said, "is just one more window."

College students are the leading edge in adapting to this new goldfish bowl, these new multi-tasking sense ratios. Some of us will hold on to the old ways by our fingernails, afraid of losing a coherent self. Others will plunge into the new collective nerve center, our various selves loosely joined in a partial free-fall at all times.


Kurzweil's bib citation in the book:

Christine Boese, "The Screen-Age: Our Brains in our Laptops," CNN.com, August 2, 2004.  http://www.cnn.com/2004/TECH/01/26/hln.hot.buzz.silicon.brain/index.html.

Link: The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend... - Google Book Search.

Now part of [my consciousness] lives on the Internet and seems to stay there all the time.... A student may have a textbook open. The television is on with the sound off.... They've got music on headphones... there's a homework window, along with email and instant messaging.... One multi-tasking student prefers the online world to the face-to-face world. "Real life," he said, "is just one more window.
---Christine Boese, reporting on findings by MIT Professor Sherry Turkle.

And here's the bib for Kurzweil's book:

Kurzweil, R. (2005) The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology. Viking.

May 3, 2006 in Citations, CNN.com Columns, Journalism, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 02, 2006

Xena Dissertation featured in the The Chronicle of Higher Education: Digital Dissertation Dust-Up

This still lives behind the firewall (and may well live there forever, I think). So here's some excerpts from it, with some bib information. It is a topic near and dear to my heart, so I have some comments to throw in before you get to the part that mentions my dissertation.

Full Citation:

Monaghan, P. (2006). Dissertation Dust-Up: Film clips and hyperlinks in graduate theses raise tough copyright and open-source issues.The Chronicle of Higher Education. 52: 34. A41. Retrieved on May 2, 2006 from http://chronicle.com/weekly/v52/i34/34a04101.htm.

Link: The Chronicle: 4/28/2006: Digital Dissertation Dust-Up.

From the issue dated April 28, 2006

Digital Dissertation Dust-Up

Film clips and hyperlinks in graduate theses raise tough copyright and open-source issues


Virginia A. Kuhn, a doctoral candidate at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, was having dissertation trouble.

Nothing unusual about that.

But it wasn't that Ms. Kuhn was struggling to finish her thesis. The trouble was that officials at the institution could not figure out whether to accept it.

Her thesis is not a printed document. It was born digital, in a multimedia format full of film clips, hyperlinks to other parts of the work, and other uses of electronic media.

There was no way to measure the margins to make sure they met the university's specifications, which are notoriously strict at many institutions. But that was a minor concern. The biggest issue was copyright. Citing a snippet of text in a printed thesis is standard procedure, but including a piece of video or a still picture, which Ms. Kuhn says is critical to explain her points, can raise the ire of copyright holders, and sound the alarm among university attorneys.

Although Ms. Kuhn lists detailed citations for all multimedia works in her thesis, she refused to ask permission to include them, because she insists that she should be able to cite them in the same way that print sources have long been cited. She says: "If you ask for permission, you're screwed because you imply that you legally need it."

Instead, she says, "I'm doing all that's incumbent on me legally to establish fair use."


[At the time I was working on my multi-media, native hypertext dissertation (The Ballad of the Internet Nutball: The Xenaverse in Cyberspace), I had to deal with a similar issue with fair use and the rights to material, as it relates to fandom and "textual poaching" (Jenkins). During my data-gathering period, Xena fans who also had web sites in X-Files fandom had two very different experiences with their fannish bastardizations of screenshots and artwork, and of course, fan fiction. Several of my informants with X-Files sites received "cease and desist" orders from Fox, basically forcing them to take down their sites (I have a bit on this skirmish in my diss, here).

Xena fans had a very different kind of relationship with the producers of that show, Renaissance Pictures, and Universal Studios. Because it was a more marginal show, the producers (TPTB) were regarded as friendly parts of the online community for the most part, and Universal saw the fan sites more as free publicity that the show wouldn't have gotten otherwise. All fan sites in the Xenaverse carried standard disclaimers about fair use, and as I wove my dissertation into that community, I used many of the same materials, and did not hesitate to use the same kind of disclaimers as the fans used.

If I had any doubt on the question, I had also researched and attended academic conference sessions and workshops on the evolving nature of intellectual property (it didn't hurt that my dissertation adviser, David Porush, was an outspoken "copyleftist") , and I was well aware of the protections I had under law for non-profit academic "fair use."

Now if I had a book contract, most of those materials could not be used. But the bigger challenge in converting my nonlinear dissertation into a book was "unweaving" it, which isn't exactly impossible, but the more I worked on it, the more I felt it was a betrayal of the original thought patterns I was advocating.]

An Enhanced Book

The form of Ms. Kuhn's dissertation is based on that of a regular book, but with many nonstandard features. Its online pages are heavy with text, like a printed book, but when a user moves the cursor over the pages, hyperlinks pop up, leading to embedded information. And images, when clicked on, open windows containing more-detailed captions, or a film clip, or citations. An electronic "sticky note" feature lets users record comments and reactions for their own later reference.

"I made it look traditional so it wouldn't be completely alienating for a university user," says Ms. Kuhn.

To produce the electronic work, she used TK3, a software platform designed by Robert Stein, research director at USC's Institute for the Future of the Book. An acclaimed figure in new-media circles, Mr. Stein is the founder of Night Kitchen, a seven-year-old company that develops writing tools for electronic publishing.

Ms. Kuhn first secured the approval of her dissertation committee, whose members became enthusiastic after initially hesitating. When her doctorate was put on hold, committee members went to bat for her.

She assured University of Wisconsin officials she was willing to convert the document from the TK3 platform to an open-source program that Mr. Stein and colleagues have developed, called Sophie, which Mr. Stein says is specifically designed to "be alive for a long time." The Sophie project is part of his work with the Institute for the Future of the Book, a collaboration between USC's Annenberg Center for Communication and Columbia University. The software allows writers and readers to have conversations within books — both live "chats" and exchanges through comments and annotations.

The software does not answer the thorny copyright questions, though.

In her dissertation Ms. Kuhn discusses such subjects as what it means in the era of digitized media to reproduce images. That and, as she puts it, "why should you pay copyright fees to cite an image but not a word?"

She argues that citing works, the way one cites texts, should be enough. Copyright laws, as currently enforced, she says, "limit what can be put out there," and discriminate against people without a lot of money. "The rich can afford to pay Hollywood for those clips.


[That is an important issue. The problem is often the "percentage" rule, where the part cited or quoted cannot exceed a certain percentage of the total work. In a collection of words, a quotation is a small part, but what is a percentage of an image? Thorny questions. Video material also has to be chunked up this way, but that is largely for commercial, for-profit "fair use." I'm not aware of the same standards applying to non-profit research and the issue of the shrinking public domain due to increasingly narrow conceptions of intellectual property.

Academics and other researchers find their work limited simply because of Mickey Mouse, and the 800-pound gorilla that is Disney, which has enough power to keep extending Mickey's copyright into perpetuity. As many researchers have noted, the violences done to history at the hands of Mickey Mouse keep adding up, as many other works are lost, deteriorating, losing value, because they fall under the Mickey Mouse copyright restrictions, when many of them would have a quite robust life in the public square, the public domain, and are even too important historically to lose in this way, like the documentary film "Eyes on the Prize."

Those very arbitrary and politically-based decisions that continually shrink the public domain are also part of the reason I have chosen to disregard the literal element of the percentage rules in most of my appropriation of others' material, in the same spirit of the Creative Commons copyright notices.

I'm more interested in the spirit of crediting others for their contributions to the public domain than poaching, but my experience with the non-profit fan uses of material as with Xena also makes me a bit of a poacher as well. Not that I want to deprive anyone of the credit or remuneration that comes with their creative or intellectual property, but I want to overthrow this ridiculous "scarcity" model that counts copies as property, instead of a more distributed, democratized model that gives more weight to influence, and the work's role as a participant in much larger dialogues and conversations.

This point is highlighted especially with the absurd restrictions of firewalls, such as with the Chronicle of Higher Education or the New York Times columnists under TimesSelect. Generally, I'd boycott those sources, because they clearly don't want to have influence or be part of the larger public dialogues. By restricting ACCESS to their work (and don't get me going on the restrictions on academic research journals, which aren't interested in the dissemination of ideas at all, just creating fiefdoms), they deprive the free exchange of ideas from certain ideas, effectively censoring themselves and weakening the knowledge-making that comes out of such public domain dialogues.]

The University of Wisconsin System is setting up a repository for a variety of digital documents from the system's campuses. But the library requires that materials that are placed in the archive be "open-access compliant," she says, so that anyone can get to them. And, she says, if Ms. Kuhn's work is included in such a repository, that may create legal problems because copyright holders may consider the document's accessibility a breach of their copyrights.

The university's legal department, however, has washed its hands of the dissertation. "After reviewing the matter, we concluded that the copyright issues were the concern of the student and publisher, not UWM," says Robin L. Van Harpen, the campus's senior university legal counsel, in an e-mail message.

For members of Ms. Kuhn's doctoral committee, the delay in approval of her work became frustrating. "I don't see what Virginia did as anything less than a solid, original dissertation," says one of them, Charles I. Schuster, associate dean of humanities. "It met all the requirements: good argument, exploratory, full references and sources, innovative."

Even the copyright concerns struck him as misplaced. The concept of "fair use" should apply, he said, because "this is a dissertation, not a commercial property."

Legal experts agree. "It seems to be classic fair use," says Kenneth D. Salomon, a Washington lawyer who often represents colleges in intellectual-property cases.

Courts determine fair use by considering several questions, says Peter Jaszi, a professor of law at American University. Is the use educational? Is it for commercial ends? Does it do measurable harm to a copyright holder's prospects in the marketplace? Are the clips unnecessarily long or numerous?

He agrees with Ms. Kuhn that images should be evaluated just as text is. "Case law makes that absolutely clear," he says.


But even court rulings, say the two lawyers, do not prevent organizations such as University Microfilms Inc., the publisher and repository of 98 percent of doctoral dissertations completed in the United States, from imposing their own rules. And, in fact, Milwaukee officials did meet opposition when they tried to submit Ms. Kuhn's work to that archive.

The company, which is now part of ProQuest Information and Learning, has been accepting dissertations in CD-ROM format since 1996. Sound, video, and other non-text files can be uploaded to the company using an online submissions process. But those files must be in "standard" formats — and the TK3 software platform does not qualify.

Nor does Ms. Kuhn's dissertation meet the company's copyright-compliance requirements. Tina Orozco, a spokesperson for ProQuest, said in an e-mail message: "While we are seeing many challenges to copyright 'standard practice' and the scope of 'fair use' is being debated across academia and the global media, we are obligated to protect our authors to the extent possible and to comply with the standards set by our agreement with the Library of Congress."


[Here's where things get a bit onerous, I think. Those Library of Congress standards are similar to what's being worked out with Google Books and Amazon Pages, and the system is set up to stack the deck in the favor of copyright holders, effectively short-changing the public domain and the contributions to the larger world of ideas, where works gain value when they circulate, when they are distributed, when they belong to all, but are adequately credited. What if Jefferson's "Declaration of Independence" had been behind a firewall? That could have reduced his risk a bit if the British couldn't get at it. But how would those ideas get around? And the "Federalist Papers?" Are works of deep thinking meant only for the elite and insiders, the same way Bell Labs may be rewriting the laws of physics right now, but so anxious to keep their discoveries proprietary, they may never make college or school textbooks?

This is not the knowledge-sharing that was born during the Enlightenment, with dialogue, replicable experiments, and debate. This is learning as alchemy, as secret groups pass books around to hide them from the Inquisition, with special passwords and lodges to allow texts to go forward in time. Science Direct, Taylor and Francis, even TimesSelect and the Chronicle of Higher Education have to acknowledge what kind of knowledge-making and information-sharing they are advocating. They encourage learning, all right, just as alchemists did.]

In addition to problems of readability and dissemination, he said, there is the obvious one of copyright. He said Ms. Kuhn's work posed challenges because, for example, it "includes video clips nested inside other multimedia 'quotes' from other 'authors.'" In such cases, attempts at clear referencing of material are "not always so simple," he said. The university is not permitted to help a student resolve such legal issues, but officials are sympathetic to the difficulty students face when they try to, he said. Students, he said, are "ill resourced to clarify such complex legal and commercial issues."

Multimedia dissertations are not new, though they have been few and far between. One of the first was Christine Boese's 1998 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute dissertation about the "Xenaverse," the cyberworld of fandom for the television show, Xena: Warrior Princess (the work is stored at http://www.nutball .com/dissertation).

Authors of multimedia dissertations have found various ways to deal with the issues that officials at Milwaukee have been confronting. Way back in 1997, for her dissertation at the University of Virginia, Constanze M. Witt, now a lecturer in classics at the University of Texas at Austin, used a multimedia format to support her arguments about the nature of early Celtic art.

"I actually didn't have many problems with acceptance, as the time was ripe," she says. The "nonlinearity" of hypertext suited her subject, she says. Celtic art, she explains, is "curvilinear; it's very hard to follow what is background and what is foreground. Many images don't have a beginning and an end; they twist and turn on themselves."


So irony of all, in order to find out why the Chronicle of Higher Education was sending all kinds of hits to my dissertation, I had to stand on my head, rub my stomach in a circle, turn around three times, and spit, and eventually I found a way to get access to an article that folks in every other university office have lying on coffee tables. If I were a purist, I suppose I'd refuse to acknowledge it, just as I boycott TimesSelect columnists in my blogs, because they have chosen to erase themselves from the larger world of influence and dialogue, and instead speak only to the closed magical lodges that keep information so hermetically-sealed and safe.

May 2, 2006 in Citations, Projects | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 26, 2006

Cyberprof reflects on Pollner semester

Link: University of Montana School of Journalism: Cyberprof reflects on Pollner semester.

News & Events • February 2006

Cyberprof reflects on Pollner semester

By Christine Boese
2005 Pollner Distinguished Professor

photo by Teresa Tamura

2005 Pollner prof Chris Boese gets tricky with computer screens.

To say that I was a bit of a fish out of water when I came to Missoula might be an understatement.

True, I'd grown up in Alaska and traveled and camped extensively throughout the Midwest and West. I am no tenderfoot. But since the early 1990s, I became obsessed with the study of cyberspace, cybercultures, radical democracy, independent media and voices that weren't necessarily backed by the power of a major corporation. I'm the kind of person who has found the work she loves, and that's about the worst thing, because I'm my own workaholic.

Somewhere along the way I started seeing myself as a citizen of cyberspace first, and in the walking-around-world second. I was happy, but people often worried about me. They sent emissaries to try to get me to come out and play. "What was I missing?" I wondered.

In coming to Missoula, I knew I'd have a good opportunity to give the walking-around-world another chance, because here was a place as idyllic as anything I could imagine, a college town, a tranquil yet interesting campus populated with deer the way squirrels run around on most campuses. A river runs through a downtown haunted with hundred-year-old structures. Bike trails are everywhere. It's surely a paradise for dogs, and I take my mutt with me everywhere I travel. Not to mention the fact that I was hoping for snow and a chance to hit the ski slopes. Montana did not disappoint.

photo courtesy of Chris Boese

Boese skiing at Big Mountain, with Glacier National Park in the distance.

People here care about where their food comes from, and the farmers' markets promise abundant feasts on healthy, living things. I'm told Missoula is in a region that could sustain itself with locally-grown food if something bad and apocalyptic were to happen, and I believe it. In some ways, Missoula is like an island tucked over here on the other side of the Continental Divide.

I'd grown up hearing stories about the J-school in Missoula, and over the years classmates in other places would tell me about their "triggering town." What better place to pull my head out of the computer for a while and find some good people and good conversations?

Folks may think I'm a big gearhead, but conversations are what I'm all about, not the machine itself. Dan Gillmor, author of the book "We the Media" that I used as a primary text for my Pollner seminar on blogging and the citizen journalism movement, has adopted the emblematic slogan that "news should be a conversation, not a lecture," and I found my way into the Blogosphere because of the magnetic force of its dialogues, its probing and prying, and yes, its flame wars.

As I emerged, blinking, in the Montana light, I found people who were engaged in a different kind of life, the life of their gardens, their communities, their state. Faculty focused on teaching the timeless values of asking hard questions. Students came to Missoula not just to milk careers out of college, but instead to use college as a time to engage fully with the landscape and activities all around them.

They didn't spend very much time on their computers at all. How did they do it?

I didn't get to ponder that question for very long, because shortly after I got settled in Missoula something happened that turned my sensibilities upside down: Hurricane Katrina.

I should mention that I didn't just pull back from cyberspace in taking the Pollner Professorship. I also live deep in the 24-hour news cycle of CNN Headline News newsroom, and since one month before 9/11, I've been holding in my head in the details of just about every majorbreaking news story around the world, and a lot of minor ones too.Besides covering wars and terrorist attacks, I'm a bit of a weather nut who once chased storms with my camera around Arkansas and Oklahoma. The leading arm of what was Hurricane Ivan actually passed right over us in Atlanta the previous year. Before coming to Missoula, the last big story I'd covered was the tsunami and its effects around the Indian Ocean. I don't go to these places. I cover the stories "virtually," from Atlanta.

It doesn't occur to me that people don't obsess on cable news the wayI do. I stayed up all night watching Katrina's eyewall come ashore. When I came to my class later that day, many students were just becoming aware that there had been a big storm somewhere far away, but the effects of that storm soon rose up and enveloped us all. Students working on the Kaimin worked hard at pulling local angles for their Katrina coverage, and I was proud of how they came to shape and package the Katrina-related material, to bring the impact of what had happened to a student body that can seem a bit disconnected from larger, global events.

Katrina also provided an object lesson in what the blogosphere does best, and it gave the Pollner Seminar plenty to study from the bloggers and citizen journalists, not to mention outstanding coverage under duress from the New Orleans newspaper's online site. One student in my seminar found a person blogging from a ten-story building with a generator in New Orleans, right in the middle of the worst flooding. Prior to Katrina I'd been surfing the science/weather blogs, checking conditions like a nervous mother, but as the events afterward unfolded, bloggers rose up in a chorus, detailing exactly how the relief effort was being botched, sharing first-person stories of truck drivers ordered to take loads of ice everywhere except to New Orleans.

We read stories of rescues, of unimaginable horrors. We saw bloggers helping to reunite families, and coordinating massive charity efforts through cyberspace.

And we also saw journalists from CNN and other mainstream venues begin keeping Katrina blogs, first-person accounts, as the television coverage left its objective tone behind and began reacting emotionally to the tragedy and incompetence.

In the Pollner Seminar, in addition to keeping individual blogs, students also participated in a 24-hour virtual class blog, our group discussion space. I kept it behind a firewall, so students could speak freely and comment without restriction about what we were reading and finding. We also used the space to share links and follow trails around the different spaces in the Blogosphere. For me, this was where some of the best interactions of the seminar took place, and it enriched our classroom discussions considerably.

One of my primary jobs as the Pollner Professor was to assist with the online Web site for the Montana Kaimin. I helped convert the site to RSS feeds so it would be subscribable on news feed readers like Bloglines.com. Web editor Denny Lester became a regular fixture in my office as we worked through a series of logistical nightmares plaguing the site, from a non-working search engine to an inconsistent archive. We explored different content management solutions that also left room for the Kaimin to incorporate blogging columnists and guest bloggers in the future, such as the idea of a professor blogging from Pakistan while participating in an earthquake relief effort, or blogs for students studying abroad, or even ROTC students posting updates from Iraq.

Ultimately we had to abandon the existing content management system and begin the process of transitioning the Kaimin to a new platform. The better part of that job is in Denny's capable hands right now, and I'll still help him however I can, from where I am now, back in my virtual home in cyberspace.

There were some things I wish we could have tried with the Kaimin site, like setting up a subscribable mobile phone-blogging feature, so students could get text messages of quick headlines on their cell phones, say of sports scores, or quick bulletins announcing that the governor is on campus, and where he was speaking. I'd like to see student government representatives given space to blog on the Kaimin site as an ancillary to the Kaimin's traditional meeting coverage.

But the bigger problem is that University of Montana students are immersed in life more than they are immersed in technology. Students and faculty are still learning that there are news feed readers that can give instant headline summaries. The pace is different here. Back where I come from, people want quick text message updates on their cell phones. Studies show that since the Iraq war, more and more people are getting their news from the Internet, and compiling their own customized sources.

Yet at the same time, one of the most innovative citizen journalism ventures in the U.S. is based right here in Missoula: NewWest.net. I was very excited to meet the first Pollner Professor, Jonathan Weber, and to observe how the interfaces and communities of New West are structured. I know that people at CNN.com are watching sites like New West closely as well. It is a difficult thing, building community, encouraging ordinary people to find their voices and speak out about what is happening, about the walking-around life in their communities, and to get them to go into cyberspace to do it. New West is sponsoring WiFi hot spots around town, to bring the site to the people in the places where they have conversations, a terrific idea.

I fully believe this is the last bridge to be built for cyberspace communities to be truly vital, which is for them to migrate from face-to-face into cyberspace. I've always struggled when it comes to bringing groups I know face-to-face into cyberspace. I wish New West the best of luck, because in some respect, I believe ventures like these are our last hope, not just because so many small newspapers are just gone, but because the dialogues of the public square are disappearing as well, and I want them to come back.

And while I may be content to live here, inside this little box, people who live large, in big sky country with big mountains and big fish, can get cramped in these tight spaces. They want to escape from boxes. This is what I learned from the people of Montana. Where I find life in cyberspace, they long to escape.

What I wish for them: electronic "paper" to attach to the front of your fridge with a magnet, not to tell you the milk is sour, but rather, a news feed reader, with headline summaries in type big enough to read before you've had your coffee, before you hit the bike trail, before you head for the ski slopes.

The headline feeds tell you if there's something inside that computer box worth reading quick before you head out to bigger and better things.

They tell you so you can wait just a bit and not miss a Hurricane Katrina or an earthquake in Pakistan. Why? Because John Donne not only said "No man is an island, apart from the main." He also said, "Send not for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee."

Thank you to the University of Montana Journalism faculty and students, and so many others who also had me in to speak to their classes, for sharing their lovely campus, stimulating ideas, and hard questions with me.

April 26, 2006 in Citations | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 03, 2005

Wisconsin Public Radio interview: "'Netted: Life Online"

Link: Netted Index - Wisconsin Public Radio News.

Link: Blogs -- Wisconsin Public Radio News.

Download 102105BlogsMJW.mp3

`Netted: Life Online

A 10-Part Feature Series Produced by WPR News

Many people regard the Internet as a new development, along with CD players and microwave ovens. Yet the history of the Internet actually spans back to the 1960s, when it was first conceived as an elaborate communications network for the military. The goal was to relay messages across vast distances, even in the midst of a nuclear attack.

But today, the Internet is best known for e-mail, blogs, websites, chatrooms, and media downloads. Its features have jacked up demand for personal computers, and has proven a virtual goldmine for certain businesses and communication systems.

`Netted: Life Online looks at the cultural and societal influence of the Internet, upon everyday aspects such as shopping, romance, therapy, alternative media, and crime.

Click on any link below to hear the topics covered in this ten-part series. Note that audio will only be available on the listed airdate of each segment:

Feature producers are Brian Bull, Gil Halsted, Sandra Harris, Shawn Johnson, Shamane Mills, Patty Murray, Micah Schweizer, Mike Simonson, and Mary Jo Wagner. Series Producer is Brian Bull.


Surveying the Blogosphere


By Mary Jo Wagner, WPR

If you have an opinion to share with the masses -- you could get on the phone, copy off a stack of leaflets, blast out a barrage of emails....or you could start a weblog on the Internet. Because it’s so easy to do, blogging is one of the fastest growing tools for people to share what they’re up to with anyone who cares to know. The concept has caught on with many in the user community, and blogs are now commonly cited in politics, media, and mainstream society. In today's installment of our series Netted: Life Online, Mary Jo Wagner explores the "blogosphere".

running time 4:44
Listen to this story now using RealPlayer

Christine Boese spoke with Mary Jo Wagner about the particulars of blogging. She is a journalism professor at the University of Montana, a reporter with the CNN Headline Newsdesk, and an intrepid blogger.

running time 26:00
Listen to this interview now using RealPlayer

Download blogmaryjo.rm.ram


November 3, 2005 in Citations, Interviews, Radio | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 17, 2005

Fifth annual Pollner lecture draws big crowd

Link: Fifth Annual Pollner Lecture.

News & Events • October 2005

Fifth annual Pollner lecture draws big crowd

J-School Web Reporter

photo by Ryan Brennecke
Blogs have power because they are interactive and more personal, Boese said.

A visiting journalism professor who kept prominent war blogs from the Iraq war says she often feels trapped between two worlds: one of traditional media and one in the blogosphere.

Christine Boese’s Oct. 10 lecture, “Big Media and Little Bloggers: How corporate media responded to war-blogging journalists,” addressed tensions that arise when mainstream media and bloggers go after the same story but in different ways.

“What does little David have in his slingshot that is making Goliath sit up and take notice?” Boese asked

This year's T. Anthony Pollner Distinguished Professor, Boese delivered the annual Pollner lecture to a group of about 150 people in the University Center Theater.

Boese was writing for the “ticker” at CNN Headline News when the war in Iraq began. She said she had felt uncomfortable ever since the events of Sept. 11. “The thing that shook me up the worst was the uncertainty,” she said.

That uncertainty was magnified by her placement in two different journalism traditions: one in the mainstream media she was exposed to at CNN, and one in the blogosphere, where stories would break but often weren’t regarded as credible by the mainstream media.

“I didn’t know, or trust, whether or not the military would allow accurate reporting,” Boese said. “Most of the time I doubted what the so-called official sources were telling us.”

A long-time blogger herself, Boese wanted information when the war began from journalists who were in Iraq but not embedded with the military.

“I wanted to know I had sources on the ground in Iraq who were independent of the U.S. military,” she said. “I wanted to build their blogs so I could read their blogs.”

Boese met two journalists online and eventually became the keeper of their blogs. Carolina Podesta, an Argentinean journalist, wrote a blog that was featured on Argentinean television early in the war. At its most popular, her site was getting nearly 1,000 hits per day.

photo by Ryan Brennecke
Members of the Pollner family visited Boese's seminar on Oct. 10

Josh Kucera’s blog also grew popular. Eventually, after the Boston Globe wrote an article about Kucera’s blog, Time magazine, Kucera’s employer, demanded that he stop posting to his site.

For Boese, that demand raised important questions about the ownership of ideas. “Can employers lay claim to what Josh [and others] do when they’re off the clock?” she asked.

Stifling intellectual freedom in that way is a disservice to readers, she said, because blogs offer strengths that differ from the strengths of traditional media. A major strength of blogs is that they encourage readers to interact with what they read, rather than simply providing facts, which encourages readers to remain childlike, Boese said.

Mainstream journalists often cite credibility as a reason for following traditional journalism guidelines. But, Boese asked, “what if credibility is casting readers into the role of perpetual children?” News should be a conversation, not a lecture, she added.

Blogs are also noted for being more personal than traditional media and often seem more like letters home than a news story. “It is incidental, off-hand observations that I think give blogs their power,” she said.

But despite their strengths, blogs don’t signal the end of traditional media, she said.

“Blogs couldn’t survive without newspapers,” she said during a question-and-answer session following the lecture.

Boese is the School of Journalism’s fifth T. Anthony Pollner Distinguished Professor, a position made possible by family and friends of Anthony Pollner, a graduate of the School of Journalism who died in 2001. The Pollner professor spends the fall semester at the Journalism School, teaches a seminar and mentors the staff of the Montana Kaimin.

Previous Pollner professors were Jonathan Weber, a former reporter at the Los Angeles Times and editor of the Industry Standard, the fastest-growing magazine in American history; Tom Cheatham, a former UPI war correspondent and Emmy-award-winning producer and bureau chief for NBC News; Maurice Possley, a criminal justice investigative reporter for the Chicago Tribune; and Nancy Szokan, an editor at the Washington Post.

October 17, 2005 in Citations, Journalism, Portfolio, Television, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 13, 2005

Professor talks war blogging - Kaimin

Link: Professor talks war blogging - Kaimin.

Professor talks war blogging

Story by Daniel Person/Montana Kaimin 10.11.05

With the recent 9/11 terrorist attack, imminent war and widespread fear
that another terrorist attack was soon to come, journalist Christine
Boese said she was shrouded in uncertainty.

Boese, this year’s Distinguished Pollner professor at the UM School of Journalism, gave a lecture Monday night about blogging and her personal experiences with the Internet phenomenon.

One of the writers for the ticker that scrolled at the bottom of CNN Headline News, Boese was at the front line of breaking news, and what she heard scared her.

When the United States began bombing Afghanistan, she told her friends and family to stay at home, for fear that terrorists would retaliate.

And when the first news of an anthrax attack reached CNN, she said she vomited after work because of the uncertainty of what she might wake up to.The anthrax attack was not widespread, but Boese was determined to stop the uncertainty. So when the Iraq war loomed, she sought to find avenues for information other than the mainstream media, that would likely be influenced by military spin.

“I didn’t know or trust whether or not the military would allow accurate reporting,” Boese said in a lecture she gave Monday night.

Boese had an extensive background in blogging, and as a blogger herself saw it as a way to get the information she needed.

She began managing two blogs by journalists in Iraq. What they sent back was, according to Boese, revolutionary.

Both blogs, one written by Josh Kucera, a freelancer for Time Magazine and the other by Carolina Podesta, an Argentinean journalist, were very successful. At the peak of the war, Podesta’s site got 1,000 hits and her blog has been published in its entirety in Argentina.

But Boese, who continued to work at CNN while managing the blogs, said the blogs and mainstream media have not worked together, but rather clashed like a modern “David and the giant Goliath.”

Because Kucera’s blog was the subject of a Boston Globe article that said it was better than his Time articles, Time made him shut it down.

This was also the fate of Kevin Sites, a CNN reporter who ran a blog until it began getting popular. Sites later moved to MSNBC which was more accommodating to blogging reporters, and has since become a full time blogger on his website The Hot Zone.

But Boese said mainstream media had much to learn from these journalists who write personally and interact with their readers.

“News should be a conversation, not a lecture,” Boese said.

Boese said blogs offer information that would not find its way into the pages of major magazines and newspapers.

“It’s the incidental, off-hand observations that give blogs their power,” she said.

Boese even suggested that blogs may be more accurate than mainstream media outlets.

It is common, she said, for bloggers to tell their readers that they have only a limited scope, a reality that exists for all journalists whether they admit to it or not.

“Bloggers like to pull away the curtain and expose the man, the wizard,” she said. “Blogs are more honest and perhaps more true than I was on the ticker.”

Boese said media outlets stomping out their journalists’ blogs disturbed her, and possibly went against the first amendment.

Also, she said the relationship between blogs and mainstream media need not be one of conflict, but of mutual gains. Bloggers need the information gathered by mainstream journalists, but mainstream journalists in turn can learn much from bloggers.

“A relationship is actually more symbiotic than oppositional,” Boese said.

Boese is the fifth Pollner professor, and teaches a class on blogging in the School of Journalism.

Last Updated ( 10.11.05 )

October 13, 2005 in Citations | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Pollner Lecture to explore war blogs

Link: October 2005 news briefs: Pollner Lecture to explore war blogs.

Pollner Lecture to explore war blogs

photo by Sarah Galbraith
Christine Boese

Christine Boese, the T. Anthony Pollner Distinguished Professor in residence at the J –School this fall, will present a public lecture Oct. 10 at 7 p.m. in the University Center Theater.

Boese, a writer for CNN Headline News and a pioneer in the Web log movement, plans to speak about her dual role during the Iraqi war writing updates on the Headline News double-tiered ticker and privately keeping blogs for journalists in Kurdistan. The working title for the lecture is, “ ‘Big’ Media and ‘Little’  Bloggers: How Corporate Media Responded to Warblogging Journalists.”
“I started the war blogs because I wanted an independent source,” said Boese. “They were for kind of selfish reasons, because I wanted eyes on the ground to tell me what’s really going on.”

Boese acted as publicist, designer, host and liaison for Time magazine reporter Joshua Kucera’s Iraq War web log, “The Other Side,” and for Carolina Podesta’s blog “Ojo,” the only Spanish war blog reporting from Iraq.

“My idea of blogging is not an armchair quarterback,” said Boese. “My idea of blogging is a journalist who is there and active in what’s going on.”

Boese is spending the fall semester at the J-school, teaching a class on blogging and advising the Kaimin, the student newspaper.

“It was hard to unplug initially from the 24-hour news cycle, but now I’m functioning OK,” said Boese.  “I’m loving it here and meeting some wonderful folks and energetic students and faculty.” Boese’s lecture is open to the public at no charge.

- Keriann Lynch

October 13, 2005 in Citations, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 24, 2003

Article in College Composition and Communication on my dissertation

CCC Online Archives

Understanding Visual Rhetoric in Digital Writing Environments by Mary E. Hocks of Georgia State University.

author:  Mary E. Hocks
title:   Understanding Visual Rhetoric in Digital Writing Environments
volume:  54.4 date:    June 2003 page(s): 629-656

full text: Click Here for full-text PDF (NCTE Members/Subscribers only)

This essay illustrates key features of visual rhetoric as they operate in two professional academic hypertexts and student work designed for the World Wide Web. By looking at features like audience stance, transparency, and hybridity, writing teachers can teach visual rhetoric as a transformative process of design. Critiquing and producing writing in digital environments offers a welcome return to rhetorical principles and an important pedagogy of writing as design.

The article looks at a hypertextual visual rhetoric essay from Kairos by Anne Frances Wysocki titled Monitoring Order, and my dissertation, The Ballad of the Internet Nutball: Chaining Rhetorical Visions from the Margins of the Margins to the Mainstream in the Xenaverse.

Then it goes on to discuss methods of teaching visual rhetoric in the classroom, using techniques analyzed in our works.

In all, I'm very pleased and flattered to have my work looked at in the article. Wish I could find an electronic version to send to my mom. I was too broke this year to keep up with my NCTE dues. Joined ICA instead.

July 24, 2003 in Citations | Permalink | Comments (0)