Wednesday, March 19, 2008

New online book: Wikiworld

We have received welcome news from our excellent Finnish friends and colleagues, Juha Suoranta and Tere Vadén, that their book, Wikiworld: Political Economy and the Promise of Participatory Media, has been published and is available as of today for download.

They say:

"We have just published an open access book Wikiworld - Political Economy and the Promise of Participatory Media. We hope that you find it of interest in your work. Please feel free to download and link the book from and spread the word.

WIKIWORLD - Political Economy and the Promise of Participatory Media

In the digital world of learning there is a progressive transformation from the institutionalized and individualized forms of learning to open learning and collaboration. The book provides a view on the use of new technologies and learning practices in furthering socially just futures, while at the same time paying critical attention to the constants, or "unmoved movers" of the information society development; the West and Capitalism. The essential issue in the Wikiworld is one of freedom – levels and kinds of freedom. Our message is clear: we write for the radical openness of education for all."

Saturday, March 15, 2008

A wonderful book launching night: Youth Online and Living on Cybermind

I've just back to Cairns from a week in New Zealand catching up with family, largely through the medium of having meals between painting roofs and walls and doing some gardening. It was a good time, and I traded in a week of rain for a bit of sunning in very pleasant temperatures. The trip back from Christchurch took me through Sydney where I had the honour and the pleasure of launching two recent books: "Youth Online" by Angela Thomas, and "Living on Cybermind" by Jonathan Marshall.

A happier detour is hard to imagine. The event was hosted by Gleebooks, the serious Sydney bookstore. They did the event proud with very generous fare and a warm and expansive space for the event. Before things got underway I had already browsed sufficiently to locate the definitive biography of Joe Strummer (and have since learned I was not the only extremely tough male to weep on the day Joe died -- smile). The authors were, as one would expect, nervous about whether or not anyone would turn up. But they were both in for a pleasant "lesson" on the meaning of collegial respect and friendship.

The seating was overfilled, with many people doing standing room only. The large turnout was a fitting indication of the respect and esteem in which the authors are held in their respective academic areas and in their respective universities and beyond. And some folk had travelled a long way to get there.

After the launch speech we were treated to rich snapshots of what readers could expect in the books, as the authors introduced their work to us. There was the usual round of puchasings and signings at the end, but the biggest impression left on me was the celebratory collegial warmth of the event. This was a very happy occasion. People were genuinely and openly thrilled to be able to celebrate the work and achievement of their two colleagues.

And then a crowd of people adjourned to a nearby cafe to have a full meal and evening's conversation after the launch. Folk turned up with wine and overfilled the two very long tables that had been (optimistically) reserved for this part of the evening.

It was an evening worthy of the books and the authors alike. May there be many more.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Shakespeare lives!

Chris Shamburg, author of English Language Arts Units for Grades 9-12 (2008), has been working with high school students in New Jersey (USA) to really bring Shakespeare to life! In conjunction with the Folger Shakespeare Library, Chris has developed a fantastic set of resources for enabling students to produce audio plays from Shakespeare's work. These have been collated into a set of free, online resources titled: "Remixing Shakespeare."

This set of resources includes an introductory video--and this is a must see! I have yet to observe a group of high school students more engaged in reading Shakespeare than the kids in this video. This introduction is accompanied by samples of students' audio plays (brilliant!), a how-to set of tutorial guides, and a set of audio and audio editing resources. This is such a nice example of what can be done in schools within existing requirements and with digital technologies in ways that the students no doubt themselves find compelling and useful beyond school.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Britney goes J-pop. Kinda, sorta

Spooky! I was writing just the day about how it was only a matter of time--and short time at that--until DIY anime music videos began influencing band-official music videos in a nice recursive loop when what appears today? The music video for Britney Spear's song, "Break the Ice" which is utterly and unmistakably done AMV-style. I find this fascinating, especially given that Britney's music doesn't loom large within AMV soundtrack preferences.

Now, for my next prediction: an AMV-style Coca Cola ad....

The winners of the 2008 Bloggie awards have been announced!

Each year, the US-based Bloggies pay homage to popular blogs. Blogs are nominated by and voted for by the general public, although the various categories of the awards are pre-set by the awards' founder. The Bloggies aim to be international in scope, although English-language blogs tend to dominate the awards. This year's Blog of the Year award went to Dooce, a blog by Heather Armstrong (who also won a lifetime blogging achievement award this year, too). Her blog is about her everyday life:
This website chronicles my life from a time when I was single and making a lot of money as a web designer in Los Angeles, to when I was dating the man who would become my husband, to when I lost my job and lived life as an unemployed drunk, to when I married my husband and moved to Utah, to when I became pregnant, to when I threw up and became unbearably swollen during the pregnancy, to the birth, to the aftermath, to the postpartum depression that landed me in a mental hospital. I’m better now.
Her blog crackles with dry wit, acerbic insights into the human condition, and is always very, very funny.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Let's face it, the Archibald Portrait Prize rocks

One of my uber-favourite art competitions each year is Australia's Archibald Portrait Prize. the prize was established in 1921 using a bequest left especially for such purpose by by J.F. Archibald, founding editor of The Bulletin. The contest aims at promoting art within Australia, and the preferred subject for portraits submitted to the competition are "some man or woman distinguished in Art, Letters, Science or Politics." This has certainly made for compelling portraits of people important in Australia's history, whether it be some well-recognised figure, or someone important on a more deeply personal scale.

The competition has also proved to be controversial, and continues to challenge in exciting ways what counts as portraiture within the fine arts. This year's winner (pictured) is Del Kathryn Barton and her painting "You are what is most beautiful about me, a self portrait with Kell and Arella."

Friday, March 07, 2008

Viewer Choice Awards for 2008 announced on

This year's best anime music videos have been voted for and awards handed out across a range of categories (e.g., political parody, best romantic AMV, best horror). The hosting website requires registration, but, believe us, it's well worth the effort (the image quality of the music clips is much higher than on YouTube due to file format possibilities etc.).

Video of the Year is "Magic Pad" by Nostromo. "Magic Pad" is categorised as a dance/fun AMV. Nostromo spliced together segments from 41 different anime movies or television series to create an 5+ minute AMV set to the trance song, "Arise (Hammer & Funabashi Remix)" by Mike Shiver & Ashkan Fardost. "Magic Pad" was made using Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0 and PaintShop Pro 8, and Nostromo worked on and off over 6 months to create his AMV.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Handbook for Teacher Researchers now available in Portuguese

This is our first book-length translation into Portuguese. Many thanks to the translator(s) and to Artmed! (We'll update the translator information once we have a copy of the book ourselves).

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