Laboratory Life: Seeking input from YOU on course design

So I’m redesigning a course I’ve taught a few times now (CMNS 253, which I’m teaching right now, too) to transform it from a lecture/tutorial format that uses an all-in-one wiki/blog/CMS (Howard Rheingold’s Social Media Classroom build of Drupal) into, well, a lecture/lab course in writing for social, mobile and pervasive media (using Mediawiki, WordPress, Twitter, Digg, and a whole ecosystem of other open-platform mobile and social media tools).

The 2 hour lectures still follow the same format, tracing the history of analog and digital communications media as told by Wade Rowland in Spirit of the Web. However, what’s new is the lab component: 1 hour following the lecture every week is a workshop in social media literacies and tools, culminating in (1) an individually written research paper in the form of a crowdsource-mediated blog post and (2) a citizen journalism exercise/team multimedia project.

I’m interested in your input, so I’ve included a draft of the syllabus below. Please comment on this post if you have any ideas or criticism. Some of it is more-or-less complete, while stuff toward the end of the thirteen weeks is a bit hazier as of now.

In particular, I’m wondering if there is room in here for things I haven’t yet included – web metrics and analytics, for one, but there are probably others. And I’m also open to suggestion as to whether the lectures should match each lab somehow in terms of theme (though I don’t think this is really warranted, as Rowland’s history stands on its own, and dramatically underlines the watershed represented by the Internet and social media in communications history.


CMNS 253 (W) J1, Spring 2010 – Draft Syllabus

Week 1 (Jan 5) Information, technology, new media, social software.

  • Read: Rowland, Prologue, Chapters 1, 2, 3. See Week 1 for details.
  • LAB: Introduction to the computer lab
    • Overview of Lab Assignments
    • Start a Blog, Get on the Wiki
    • Post a brief blog post about yourself, then post a link to it on the wiki.


Week 2 (Jan 12) The Telegraph. Theories of technology.

  • Read: Rowland, Chapters 4, 5, 6. Also, Kierkegaard’s The Present Age. See Week 2 for details.
  • LAB: Doing online research
    • Tools: Google Scholar, Google Books, EBSCO & library databases
    • Style: APA, blogging/linking conventions, attributing, Zotero, Endnote
    • How to identify and use a peer reviewed source
    • How and why to use non-peer reviewed sources
    • Choose a topic (you sill stay with this topic throughout the semester) from a list provided, OR choose one off-list by emailing me about it.
    • Exercise: find a scholarly article that is relevant to the topic you’ve chosen, post the APA-cited reference to it on your blog before next class (we will need you to read it before next class too, as you will be discussing it in next week’s lab).


Week 3 (Jan 19) The Telephone. Theories and critics of Information Society.

  • Read: Rowland, Chapters 7, 8, 9. Also, Howard Rheingold’s Disinformocracy, Rheingold’s encounter with Habermas and Kellner on Habermas. See Week 3 for details.
  • LAB: Searching and Social Bookmarking
    • Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon introduced. (We vote on which to use)
    • Search techniques (both push -twitter, friendfeed, etc. , or pull -google,yahoo,wikipedia)
    • Topic search to find a news article, blog, or other timely (academic or non-academic) source of relevance to your topic
    • Find at least 2 people who are experts on your topic who you can follow for timely topical updates
    • Create a social bookmark for the article you found. Establish a routine search for topical items. Everyday, do a news/bookmark/digg search. Also read your feeds (people, experts)


Week 4 (Jan 26) Radio. The Tetrad Protocol as a method.

Read: Rowland, Chapters 10, 11, 12. See Week 4 for details.
LAB: Microblogging (twittering), bouncing ideas around about topics.

Start a twitter account (link to it on our designated wiki page for this)
Find the people (experts) on twitter that you identified last week. Follow them and create a twitter list for your topic.
Update this list regularly, and post a link to it on the appropriate wiki page.
Tweet about something related to your topic. use a hash tag. reply to two other tweets (I will configure a twitter list for the class. You can reply to someone else in the class, or to one of your tweeps you’ve identified as a ‘knowledge broker” in your topic).


Week 5 (Feb 2) Radio as an Industry.

  • Read: Rowland, Chapters 13, 14, 15. See Week 5 for details.
  • LAB: Blogging.
    • Post a blog as a first draft for your Major Research paper, based on your research thus far. Include your two sources (at least one academic) found thus far. Be sure to cite in APA (including a references cited list) and link/attribute appropriately.
    • Comment constructively on 2 other students’ blog posts about social media.
  • Assignment: Major Research Paper draft


Week 6 (Feb 9) Television (and review of previous weeks).

  • Read: Rowland, Chapters 16, 17, 18. See Week 6 for details.
  • LAB: Collaborating on a Wiki
    • team forming, idea clustering (based on topics chosen) (teams will also work together on the video assignment later)
    • discuss and differentiate your ideas. identify your unique contribution (we can’t all write about “Facebook and surveillance”, for example – if more than one person is writing about something – try to work together to differentiate your individual topics)
  • Due: Major Research Paper draft. Give it to a partner for formal peer review.


Week 7 (Feb 23) Midterm exam

No reading assigned this week. No lecture/lab this week. 2 hour in class exam. See Week 7 for details.

Week 8 (March 2) Pre-history and history of computers

  • Read: Rowland, Chapters 19, 20, 21, 22 and 23. See Week 8 for details.
  • LAB: Exploring & Coordinating Online Syndication: RSS & APIs
  • Due: Major Research Paper draft – formal peer review – use form for review, communicate review privately to original writer (ccd to me).


Week 9 (March 9) Microchips, computers, and the Internet

  • Read: Rowland, Chapters 24, 25, 26, 27, 28. See Week 9 for details.
  • LAB: Exploring multimedia sources
  • Due: Major Research Paper (final draft). Post as a document (Word, Open Office, something that permits me to comment and edit) to your blog. Revise based on peer feedback.


Week 10 (March 16) Search, Social Media and the Real-Time Web

  • Read: Rowland, Chapters 29, 30, 31 and 32, and Jenkins’ “If it Doesn’t Spread It’s Dead” (part one). See Week 10 for details.
  • LAB: Mobilizing your social media
    • What’s in your phone/laptop?
    • Using SMS and MMS with social media
    • Using cameras, streaming media
    • Using location apps
    • Using the field: making use of free wi-fi, 3G, Bluetooth to communicate live (laptop or cel phone)
  • Assignment: for the final multimedia assignment, decide on a topic based on your teams’ individual research. Can you combine your topics or just use one (or two) of your individual studies to springboard into a multimedia project? Remember that you will decide on a local event (or create your own) that is useful to your research topic – a conference, barcamp, public event, political protest, or flashmob. Preferable to use one that’s already happening.


Week 11 (March 30) Copyright and its Digital Discontents

  • Read: Oswald’s “Plunderphonics”, Doctorow’s “The DRM Sausage Factory” and DeBeer’s “Respect and Reality are Keys to Reform” See Week 11 for details.
  • FIELD EXERCISE: Citizen Journalism and/or Flash Mob. We will cover a live event, or create one of our own and cover it, in teams we formed back in Week 6. we will decide on the location ahead of time, so the timing might not sync with lab time. in that case, we’ll cover the event (on a weekend or evening only that we decide as a team, or as a class if we all do the same thing, but regardless it will have to be something that happens in wek 10 or 11 in order to have enough time to edit footage down. I will compile an event calendar of things accessible via skytrain or bus that will be suitable), and instead use this time in the lab for editing/scripting as needed by the various teams of 5. post your footage to the wiki, blogs, and make it creative commons.
  • Assignment: In teams, and using the wiki, script/design your video or multimedia project. Remember that as we’re doing this around a live event, you need to decide what kinds of footage you’re likely to need:
    • interviews – with whom, and using what questions? script your interviews ahead of time, get model release forms and informed consent forms signed first, on location
    • b-roll – establishing shots, ambient footage. looks good behind voice-overs, can be used for montage, etc.
    • event footage. when we get closer to the event, spec out the setting for: lighting, probable noise, angles, probably sites where the action will be, where the audience will be, where signage is, etc.


Week 12 (April 6) The Mobile Web and Pervasive Computing

  • Read: Castells et al, The Mobile Communication Society (Chapters 6 and 7). See Week 12 for details.
  • LAB: editing, remixing, mashing
  • Assignment: Edit your video or multimedia project.


Week 13 (April 13) Student Video Presentation Day

  • No assigned readings. See Week 13 for details.
  • Hand in video/multimedia project via this wiki the night before (April 12), and bring a hard copy to class as a backup.
  • Screening of student multimedia projects in Lecture.

Making Money in Music: a Poll and a Crowdstorm

I’ve created a twitter poll (something I should be doing more regularly) asking a question of central importance to this blog, to my life, my creative pursuits, and something that’s been on everybody’s mind since the dawn of music (when wazzat?): how should musicians get paid? If I haven’t given all the possible discrete answers, then please tweet me (@jeanh) or comment here if you have other ideas that don’t fit the framework imposed by my limited imagination on such matters.

I’m hoping to use this small gesture as a way to springboard into a wider and more comprehensive crowdstorm (cloudstorm? tweetup? weathercamp? huh?) about music and money. To come, to come, but here’s what I’m thinking. I’d like to hear practical ideas for musicians of all styles and instruments (or vocalists) to earn money so that you can continue making music, and possibly even make a sustainable living wage from it. This includes old (e.g., session work) and new (e.g., ad revenue sharing sites) methods.

Keep in mind that I am totally uninterested in hearing about fake Youtube (or whatever “viral” nonsense) campaigns (which I’ve denounced more than once on this blog) for mediocre bands that want to be successful in very limited, old-fashioned ways.  Cokeheads dreaming of a “Pitchfork 10” or a short-lived career in “reality programming” needn’t apply. Let’s put our heads together and figure this out.

Open Web Vancouver

I’m attending (and presenting at) Open Web Vancouver next week, celebrating (and problematizing) with many others the many affordances and limitations of open source and open formats in our digitally mediated world. My talk will likely be rather policy-wonkish, as a current concern of mine (and a crucial chapter in my dissertation research) is that of the potential impact of broad public participation in wireless and mobile internet policy development. If you haven’t yet, register here. The leader of the Pirate Party is keynoting, so it’s well worth the hundred and eighty five clams, to my mind.

Hope to see you there.

Slide It Up

Bucket of Slugs - Pacifism (1987)OK – daughter’s asleep…continuing on with recordings of similar vintage (1987 and pre-), to ensure the oldest tapes I have are salvaged first.

More Bucket of Slugs, of course. Unlike yesterday’s monochromatically raucous Carnival EP, the follow up LP, entitled Pacifism, oscillates between whispered and barked songs. It appears that parents were at home while this was recorded, as there is evidence of periodic interruptions, attempts to make quiet music for various spells, and even, in the opening “Kill, Kill, Kill”, open violent threats against them. Some holdover from prior exercises, too – an ‘unplugged’ reworking of “Different Flavours of Birthday Cake” (featured in my last entry). There are also many in-jokes that I barely understand anymore, reiterations of themes worked over and over again until they were no longer funny. “Old McDonald’s Farm” seems to be a response to a parental request to “play something we all know”. “Don’t Box Me In” is an impotent Stan Ridgeway cover, and it appears that three of the four musicians either forget how it goes or have never heard it [maybe I’ll remix and post that one later for some ha ha]. Much of the second half is attempts at random note spatters just to fill up space, but in retrospect, that material is far more listenable than our attempts at songs with narratives and stuff.

I’ve featured two of the most interesting tracks here for your curious ears. First, “Slide It Up“, a “let’s switch instruments” foray that IMHO really works. Second, “That’s What You Get For Loving Me” – an irritatingly silly 60s pop venture.

Happily, this one imported from-cassdeck-to-arrange-window with no issues.

This LP includes eleven songs:

  1. Kill, Kill, Kill
  2. I’m So Jaded
  3. Our Bass Player…
  4. You Broke My Heart
  5. Don’t Box Me In (a cover of an original Stan Ridgeway/Stewart Copeland song)
  6. Slide It Up
  7. Different Flavours…
  8. Old McDonald’s Farm
  9. Italian Dad/Mexican Son
  10. Igor
  11. That’s What You Get For Loving Me

??????
And yes, it appears that Simple Minds’ New Gold Dream (81 82 83 84) is still intact on Side B of this world-weary UX-90. And it still rocks.

The PhD – the comprehensive exams

So I’m diving straight into my comprehensives now. I’m building lists and checking them twice (and more). While building these reading lists is in many ways a very personal journey, I’ve decided to blog about the process so that I might get feedback from unexpected locales, harnessing the “wisdom of crowds” (while simultaneously, in both comp areas, critiquing how such “wisdom” is in fact problematic). I also hope that documenting the process can help others through it. I won’t be posting my full notes (who’d read them?), but I will share my definitional essays, my questions and answers, and an account of process along the way. I’ve written up preliminary préces of my two exam areas below.

Area 1. Science and Technology Studies. This will involve SCOT, ANT and other critical theories, but it will also dovetail through Philosophy of Technology (I’m thinking Heidegger through Marcuse and Feenberg, and also including Ellul and others, perhaps a few off the beaten track – we’ll see). I want to ask questions through this literature about the relationship of technology, power and social organization/social change. There are also some intriguing connections with Area 2 (below) via Hennion/Latour (their work on culture industries), and, according to one of my advisors, Habermas’ Public Sphere as well as Lazarsfeld.

Area 2. Culture Industries/Sociology of (The) Art(s). Starting with Hesmondhalgh’s (2002) synthesis of political economy of media studies with cultural studies and other approaches to the sociology of art, I plan to broaden this area out to include American and Continental approaches to the study of cultural/creative industries. This will likely include a range of approaches, including Bourdieu (various), Becker (various), and DeNora’s more recent work, but this area is still under development. There are important connections to literature on occupations (Balfe, Latouche) organizational studies (Throsby, Sacco, Menger), and of course The Frankfurts. Essentially, as I told one of my advisors this morning, I want to survey the body of work that theorizes culture industries, without limiting myself to a particular tradition (as approaches vary broadly). Keep in mind that I wish to keep this area current, as well, and as such I will need to make room for Eglash’s (and others’) work on appropriation, as well as Jenkins’ (and others’) work on fan culture. Sprawling enough? It makes sense to me.

My advisors, colleagues and friends (as well as the “social web” hoi polloi) can feel free to jump in any time. Like you have any time.

Ex-Perry Mental Geekery

Nice to be back in the swim of things. I just put a final report out the door on a research project that I’d been working on for 14 months. It was a difficult project – one that didn’t always go as planned, that got intermittently sidelined by other events in my life (buying an apartment, having a first baby), and included a whole feeling of responsibility and guilt unlike any other research project I’d ever worked on. More than anything, it was in a research area worlds away from poopular (yes, I mean poopular, it’s not just the baby talking) music, which is my number one research passion.

I’m not going to divulge any more details about that project here (details of it will soon be published elsewhere), but your takeaway from the above blurb should be that now that the project’s done, much more of my time can be devoted to my work in music and my work in mobile – both of which are central themes of this blog.

To wit, I’m TAing a 3rd year course in popular music studies this semester, and the gearing up is invigorating. We’re doing something of an experimental “taste laboratory” of sorts on Last.fm. I’ve invited the 76 students in the class to join so we can have some healthy backchannel in a music-rich environment. We’ll be sticking to the books and lectures in tutorial, but I figured having this optional addon for students who are so inclined can be instructive, and perhaps give some students some concrete experience with which to grapple whilst reading Hebdige, Attali, Adorno, McRobbie, and others (PS – I didn’t design the reading list, so if you have a problem with it, take it up with the Sessional).

The other thing I’m diving into now is a short ethnographic study (yes, the third in a series) of mobile phone use, using the Nokia 95. I’ve been playing with one of them for a couple of days now, and I am quite impressed with its ergonomic design. Something about this phone feels just alright, as Lou Reed would say. However, the phone keeps crashing when using the built in photo gallery app. Looking for a workaround.

Oh, and of course, there’s the upcoming AOIR, which I’m helping out with (and presenting at).

I’ll be keeping you posted.

Beercamp Vancouver

Tonight and tomorrow I’ll be mind-moshing with local geekerati at Barcamp Vancouver. If you’re signed up to be there too, come up and innerdooce yourself (you already know me by sight, or can figure it out via flickr or facebook, can’t you?). I always like to meet readers and fellow bloggers in the flesh. Or so I think.

OK – so maybe there’s only, like, three of you. At any rate, keep in mind for part of the night tonight I’ll be busy behind a camcorder, following Kris Krüg around, turning his seemingly insatiable gaze back on him for a research project I’m working on (for Mobile Muse). But hit me up if you’re around (like I will be) for the free drinks.

AOIR 8 Vancouver, 50 Parties, etc. (Oct. 2007)

Heya. I am presenting in a panel at AOIR this year (the title of my presentation/paper is “The Technical Micropolitics of the Online Music Industry, 1997-2007″, abstract here). For those of you who’ve followed my blog, you’ll know something of what to expect, except that I’ll be strictly framing up the narrative in terms of something called “technical micropolitics”, which, with any luck, I’ll have a competent grasp of by the time the conference rolls along. Theory, y’know? One minute you think you’ve got it, and the next minute, well, you sound like Daffy Duck.

Which brings me to another announcement of sorts – one more suited to quacking unintelligibly [& yes, readers coming in via The ORG should get that one]. I volunteered to organize (hopefully not all by my lonesome self!) the Vancouver instantiation of something Jimmy Wales started called “Heather and Jimmy’s 50 Party Club“. See the links I’ve provided for as detailed an explanation as you’re going to get (which admittedly ain’t much), but in a nutshell, you can expect a gathering of an international set of free culture/creative commons/open source nerds drinking together in the same physical space and engaging in as-yet-undetermined activities to keep each other vaguely entertained. Go to the wiki and pitch in! Your help is needed. Know of a potential sponsor (hint – local microbreweries or wineries love nerds because nerds drink lots!)? A venue? An entertainment source? A fax machine we can rig up to send loopfaxes to Larry Lessig for quitting the good fight? Or do you just wanna show up and make an arse of yourself? Get with our little planning wiki, whatever the case. Let’s have some fun.

Copyright/Creative Commons Lecture

I delivered a lecture today for my 200 level Communication class on “Copyright, Commerce, and the Creative Commons”. It might need work around its rougher edges still, but I’m kinda modestly proud to have gotten it into the shape it’s in now. The emphasis is on (1) the historicization of copyright law using a political economy of media approach, and (2), in the second half, confronting the current era of massively collaborative media and imagining alternative regimes of remuneration/distribution. The images are low resolution to enable quick downloads. If anyone wants high-resolution images, or links to the embedded URLs/movie clips, make some noise and I can provide that info.

Feedback is welcome, of course. I’m always looking to improve on this stuff.

Here’s the file: Copyright, Commerce, and the Creative Commons