Archive for Tag ‘Research‘

Media Cloud(s) On the Horizon

The Berkman Center for Internet & Society launched Media Cloud in early March, though it had been quietly available for a few months before that. It’s an exciting concept, limited in its current implementation but sure to grow in utility as more features get added.



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Context is King

While working on my PhD at the University of Washington, I taught for a couple of years in an Interdisciplinary Writing Program. The fundamental concept of the IWP was to address a fundamental problem common to first and second year composition classes, which is the lack of context.

(A brief aside on “writing in the disciplines” or “interdisciplinary writing” programs: Most college composition courses take one of two approaches: the either ask the students to write about literature or they take a topical approach, choosing topics in which they believe the students will be interested. The former approach assumes the students are interested in what the instructor is interested in, as many of these courses are taught by graduate students or professors whose real interest is something literary. The latter creates an environment in which the ostensible topic of the writing is an artificial academic context usually dealt with very superficially, since the real purpose of the course is the writing, not the topic. IWP and programs like it try to solve that by situating the students and the instructor in a real academic context: an existing undergraduate course in another discipline. The students’ writing tasks are situated in an authentic environment, where they are actually trying to understand and enter an ongoing academic discourse.)

I was reminded of the importance of context (and my love for the insights of the social sciences broadly) this weekend as I watched two videos from an event Microsoft Research held at MIT, to celebrate the launch of their new lab in Cambridge:

(Sorry for the mms links – you can rip them via mplayer if you need to watch in offline mode, but I think reposting them here would be considered a copyright violation).

Both really celebrate / argue for what we might call the situatedness of technology design: the ways in which an understanding of the cultural context of technology use needs to be brought back into the design of those technologies and how non-engineering approaches (from the social sciences in danah’s talk and from Design in Buxton’s talk) can help to provide that context.

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An Embarrassment of Riches

One of the great things about living and working in the Boston area (other than a few significant sports teams) is the prevalence of some many truly great universities.

This is a benefit not only for the steady stream of students (undergrad and graduate) and recent graduates all those colleges and universities pump into the workforce regularly, but also because of the broader institutions they support.

My two favorite examples this year are the MIT Comparative Media Studies program and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at the Harvard Law School. (As an alumnus of neither Harvard nor MIT, I can recommend both impartially).

Somewhat less well-known in tech circles than the Media Lab, the Comparative Media Studies program practices “applied humanism”:

The . . . program is committed to the art of thinking across media forms, theoretical domains, cultural contexts, and historical periods. Both our graduate and undergraduate programs encourage the bridging of theory and practice, as much through course work as through participation in faculty and independent research projects.

Among the projects that the MIT CMS program currently sponsors / hosts:

In addition, check out their Faculty, Theses, Publications, and subscribe to their Events Calendar and News Feed, which often includes podcasts of various events.

This week (Nov. 16th and 17th, 2007), the Convergence Culture Consortium will be hosting the Futures of Entertainment II conference, which (true to their mission):

brings together key industry players who are shaping these new directions in our culture with academics exploring their implications. This year’s conference will consider developments in advertising, cult media, metrics, measurement, and accounting for audiences, cultural labor and audience relations, and mobile platform development.

Check out the full conference schedule for more detail on speakers and subjects. I will be attending and hopefully blogging about much of the conference – though those posts may not appear until the following week due to some vacation time which will take me offline.

Just up the Charles in Harvard Square, the Berkman center focuses on “Internet & Society” in the broad context of the Harvard Law School.

To get a sense of the breadth and depth of the center, just look at:

Also be sure to check out (and subscribe to) MediaBerkman, which podcasts / vodcasts many Berkman sponsored events for those not able to make it to Cambridge in person.

Gartner Web Innovation Summit Notes, Day 1

I’ve already written up a number of notes from sessions I saw at the Gartner Open Source Summit, which overlapped with the Web Innovation Summit.

(Full disclosure: Optaros was a sponsor of the Web Innovation Summit).

Unfortunately I got in too late on Tuesday night to see any of the Tuesday evening sessions. I would have enjoyed Anthony Bradley‘s Web 2.0 Basics Tutorial, based on reviewing the slides and seeing Bradley’s other presentations. I like the way he approaches questions about adoption and Enterprise class Web 2.0 applications.

Wednesday am, running a few minutes late due to a conference call with Optaros colleagues on the East Coast, I wandered into the opening remarks just in time to hear the speaker (was it Adam Tinkoff?) ask “is jeckman in the room?” – he’d been following me on twitter as I tweeted away about my travel saga. (Planes never arrive on time anymore – it’s really just a question of how late they will be or if you’ll get there at all). Best publicity I’ve had from twitter so far, though I’m not sure my “complaining about travel” tweets are the ones I most want to be known for.

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AjaxWorld West Presentation: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

I presented earlier this morning at Ajax World West. The title of the presentation was “Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: Back to the Browser Wars.”

Not sure how valuable the slides will be in the absence of my commentary on them, but here they are:

Thanks to those who attended and feel free to contact me with any questions.