Thursday, March 31, 2005

Staring at the future

Along with our interest in retrofuturism (examining past predictions about the future and looking at how they have or haven't come to pass etc.), we're also deeply interested in looking ahead. We were recently discussing with a teacher education class their responsibilities concerning the education and preparation of a Grade 4 student in 2007 for adult life in 2016. Some of the resources we came up with to help us envision (or "scenariate") life in 2016 included the following:

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Seminar in London

Here's news of what looks like a really engaging seminar to go to if you're in London in the first week of May 9and featuring Dr. Joolz!):

An exciting seminar series entitled ONLINE LEARNING: CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES will be held in May and June at the Institute of Education, University of London.  The series is organised by The Centre for the Study of Children, Youth and Media. 

Tuesday 3rd May 5.30-7.00, Room 639
Active participation or just more information?  Young people's civic uses of the internet
Sonia Livingstone, London School of Economics

Tuesday 17th May 5.30-7.00, Room 639
“Hello newbie! **big welcome hugs** hope u like it here as much as i do!” An exploration of teenagers’ informal on-line learning communities
Julia Davies, Sheffield University

Tuesday 7th June 5.30-7.00, Room 639
Online/Off-course: Exploring the political and economic construction of the digital curriculum
Neil Selwyn, University of Cardiff

All seminars are free and open to the public. For more information contact Rebekah Willett (  For directions to the Institute of Education, see  There is a map on the home page in the lower left hand corner.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Why, oh why... this account about images of dead US soldiers listed under "Entertainment" on the Yahoo! news website??!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Found texts as cultural maps

You can tell a lot about a nation from what its inhabitants eat. Here's an online archive of found shopping lists. Intriguing items include "chz [cheese] in a can", "2 marachino cherries (with stems)", "bud light + good beer", "1 tomato -- big one". and "strong decaf coffee" (one of the best oxymorons I've ever seen!). What's on your shopping list for this week?

Saturday, March 05, 2005

What may we have unwittingly unleashed...?

There's a lot about flocabulary that makes me think it can't be for real... It HAS to be a spoof of high stakes testing and a bunch of qualitative literacy research studies. Of course, if it's not fake, then for all of us who keep lauding the benefits of paying attention to children's and young people's out-of-school literacy practices this may be the edge of a very dark abyss.....

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Phonecam documents teacher verbal abuse, phonecam owner punished instead

Here's an interesting spin on a recent event in New Jersey reported on Smartmobs. A student uses his phone video cam to document a teacher's verbally abusive treatment of students during morning sesion activities (singing the national anthem etc.), posts it online and is subsequently suspended for 10 days while the teacher appears to have not been formally penalized, according to newspaper reports (although having the video posted online sure is gonna not make his day!). The students are clearly adept at pushing this teacher's buttons, but even so, it's difficult to see why a student was punished for documenting what students reported as being fairly typical--and grossly unacceptable--morning treatment.

Interestingly enough, most of the current online discussion concerning this incident focusses on the teacher forcing a student to stand during the national anthem (standing isn't a compulsory law-governed act; just the opposite, in fact. the right to not stand is constitutionally legal) which is indeed a disturbing thing for a teacher to do, but even more insidious to me has been the school's reaction--which effectively has been to close down student critique of abusive teacher treatment in class. Nice lesson for these kids to learn. Not.

Here's an interesting set of posts on the event at NYC Indymedia.

Alternate Realities

Some people have parallel universes thrust on them daily, others like to choose their alternate realities instead. Alternative reality gaming is doing a fantastic job of blurring old distinctions between meatspace and cyberspace. These usually whodunnit-style games are played both online and offline, with game hosts making use of "found" texts (e.g., postcards, billboards) newspaper advertisements, video narratives, text messages and phone calls to players, and so on, as part of establishing a web of clues to be unravelled in order to “solve” the game’s puzzle.

One of the more recent alternative reality games to emerge is Perplex City, which, according to the New York Times (rego required), was officially launched by means of an advertisement in a US newspaper that read that read:
LOST. The Cube," read the ad, posted at the top of the paper's "Notices" section. "Reward Offered. Not only an object of great significance to the city but also a technological wonder."

The ad has appeared subsequently in a host of newspapers around the world. Games like Perplex City put a whole new spin on “role play games”.

An interesting dimension of alternate reality gaming is that the game tends to generate tight-knit, collaborative affinity spaces, such as lively game-dedicated online discussion groups that use their collective intelligence, or “hive brain”, to unlock clues. For example, The NYT describes how already
The collective mind has come up with sometimes astonishing information, however. One series of digits featured in an early teaser advertisement was deciphered as the ISBN number of science fiction author William Gibson's Pattern Recognition, with specific words on certain pages spelling out a message.

The NYT also raises some interesting questions regarding marketing and alternate reality playing, although my own position is that their fears are overblown. Alternate reality games have been used promote Spielberg’s movie, A.I. and by Microsoft, to promote is video game, Halo, but the actual alternate reality game—and the player affinity spaces that spring up around it--appears to be what is most compelling for players, rather than the game’s association with a commercial product.

We first became aware of alternate reality gaming in 2001 with the launch of
, and later, Uncle Roy All Around You and bot fighting. We never had the chance to play (we were based mostly in Mexico at the time, and game coverage didn’t include our part of the world), but have long been interested in the implications of these games for how we will move through our respective universes in the not too distant future (Rheingold’s “always on, always available” internet model comes to mind here).

So get out there and blur meatspace/cyberspace distinctions and bend your realities a little. See you in the Perplex City discussion forums!

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?