(via Second Life Insider)
I have just returned from the ASFLA conference where I gave my first ever keynote paper. I have to say I was terribly anxious before my talk - I was sitting in the empty lecture theatre 2 hours prior to starting going over my notes (ummm and should I confess to the fact that I was still making notes right up til a few minutes before I started?!) and checking that all the technical things were working!!! Fortunately it went really well and I had lovely feedback from lots of people! PHEW!!
The loveliest feedback I had about my talk came from Len, who said it was the best talk he’d ever heard me give! Len has heard pretty much every talk I have ever given dating back to hmmmm… 1997 I think!! So I thought that was a great compliment. I also inspired several people to run off and sign up with Second Life and/or Kahootz - I think I should be on commission!
It was great to meet up with friends and colleagues I hadn’t seen for a while, not to mention the stimulating and inspiring sessions I managed to attend. I also got to meet several people who read my blog - HELLO!!! The comments ranged from: “Ohhh I recognise you from your blog”, “Hello, I’ve been reading your blog for ages!” and “You’re different to what I expected from your blog” (not sure how I should take that last comment!)
Special thanks to my wonderful friend Brian who gave me lots of moral support, and my poor brother Matthew, who I called at 11:30pm the night before my presentation asking numerous musical questions to make absolutely 100% certain that the musical aspects of my multimodal analyses were accurate!!!
Now I have to finalise the paper for the proceedings - I can’t upload my slides because I don’t have copyright permissions for all of the images I used, but for anybody interested in my paper about machinima let me know and when its all done I’ll send you a copy.
From Channel 4’s Second Lives series comes this short documentary of Alayne Wartell a successful Second Life business person who also met her husband in world:
(via Second Life Insider)
In preparation for my keynote next week, I have compiled some of the machinima from SL which I will be referring to / analysing / discussing etc.
NEW MEDIA CONSORTIUM
TOUR OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM
GOVERNOR MARK WARNER (Some US politician)
SUZANNE VEGA IN SL
A WHALE OF A TALE
SILVER BELLS AND GOLDEN SPURS
I just heard about One Web Day today - a way for people to celebrate the impact of the internet in their lives. The site gives many ways to celebrate, including sharing your own personal stories about how the web has changed your life, and uploading pictures to a common photo sharing site.
Hunter Glass from Second Life told me about it and is organising a special event in SL to mark the occasion, so if you are about in SL on the 22nd, stay tuned for details about a party! Meanwhile check out the site. Nice links to John Perry Barlow, the cyberspace manifesto principles/ethos and so on as well.
So the Yahoo / Channel 7 franchise have developed what they are calling “a ground-breaking 10 part drama” called PS Trixi. Christy mentioned this in her talk last week and since then I’ve spotted it being advertised all over the place. In an attempt to “encourage” people to visit all of the various components of Yahoo and Channel 7 and to catch the teen audience, the story takes place over podcasts, radio stations, a blog, image galleries and mobile phones. The web cam episodes are supposedly based on the LonelyGurl15 set up.
I am somewhat sceptical because of how contrived it seems to be - like the process is more important than the content, but I am hoping to look more closely at it when things ease up here in the near future.
Thank you to the many people who have been long time readers of this blog who have started emailing me asking me if I am OK! I realise I haven’t been posting very much in the past few months, and even when I have been posting its been relatively low-key and insubstantial, and little “thinking out loud” like usual.
There are several reasons for this - some personal and some just annoying and the usual hectic times with too many projects going on.
First of all, ever since Easter I had been having major troubles with my computer and then finally it died the week before semester started. not only did the comptuer die, but the virus somehow infected my 2 gigabyte USB drive and I lost a WHOLE LOT of work. So I have spent many hours rewriting things right at the worst time possible in the year.
Then I started a number of entirely new projects.
For the first time, I decided to teach my New Literacies course inside the virtual world of Second Life. (There’s a class info blog here). Teaching in Second Life has been incredibly exciting but not without its technological difficulties, and I have had to spend a whole lot more time than usual worrying about making sure the computer labs are updated, making sure the skype conference calls are all set up so that the distant ed students are completely catered for, and helping students deal with the culture shock of a new world, a new culture, and a new way of being and experiencing the world.
The more time I spent in Second Life, the more I have realised how much I enjoy being creative in other ways and forms, and so I started up (with Dell, my partner in crime) a SL magazine which is a monthly magazine reporting about the Arts, education, culture, entertainment and romance and lifestyles in the virtual world, called Slatenight. Here I have had fun writing less academic pieces about feminism, identity, the avatar, online theatre and so on. My latest article there is called Avatars, Power and the Ethics of Freedom in Second Life.
Next week I am presenting a keynote at the Australian Systemics Functional Linguistics conference about The Machinima Explosion, and this has entailed being involved at all levels of the machinima making process - writing, set construction, acting, reviewing, interviewing people… and then sitting and watching hundreds of them, analysing some of them shot by shot and trying to make some sense of it all.
Then I had two book chapters I had to do some editing on, not to mention the now OVERDUE book I have been working on that is UGH not finished yet because I keep changing things in it to make it better!
Next… (see, I told you…) my visual art classes have been running again and some weekends I have spent hours dabbling in charcoals, inks, pastels, and doing creative drawing.
My undergraduate class of 120 students have been particularly demanding this semester and although I love the unit I am teaching with them (and even started yet ANOTHER blog to keep everything together for them here) I could easily spend 5 hours a day responding to their emails if I let myself.
Oh I may have forgotten to mention the ARC grant proposal I am working on, the co-ordination of one of the Masters degrees, and dealing with the new workplace agreement issues which I really hate because its all so political and I don’t want to sign anything without understanding it.
Now all of these things alone are just the normal course of an academic’s life, but there are other things I don’t want to blog about that are also impacting on my time and sometimes my sanity (!!!) which means life has been ultra stressful lately.
It’s not all negative mind you - I have some great friends, I have a special friend I love spending time with whenever I possibly can, I get to have a couple of days off next week once the conference is over to relax and take a breather, and I like being busy. Its just that I have taken on perhaps a few too many extra things lately, and the blog has suffered.
So once again, my kind thanks to quite a few readers (some I had not met before) who sent me messages. I feel very valued! *smile*
This CFP came into my in-box today and I have been green with envy at all the people who are able to go to it - what a fabulous conference it will be, and I have the *perfect* paper for it too - sigh -
If you are luckier than I am and can go to it, here’s the associated site!
Mid-winter Conference, February 23-25, 2007
CALL FOR PROPOSALS
Peabody College of Vanderbilt University, Nashville Tennessee
February 23-25, 2007
What Counts as Literacy? Living Literacies of the Body and Image
The Assembly for Research of the National Council of Teachers of English announces a conference on “What Counts as Literacy: Living Literacies of the Body and Image” to be held February 23-25, 2007, at Peabody College of Vanderbilt University in Nashville. In recent years, interest in new literacy practices that involve the body and the image has rapidly increased among educators. Clearly, literacy has always involved material, embodied practices and disciplines, and even print texts involve visual and often aesthetic elements. Yet, the rapid expansion of new media, the possibilities of digitization to blend old and new visual forms, and the new and rapid circulations of multi-modal texts calls for theory building, research, and new forms of educational practice. At this conference, our plan is to further expand our research, teaching, and critical imaginations in relation to an expansive definition of literacy that includes visual texts, broadly defined (e.g., photographs, moving images, maps, digital game worlds, advertisements) and embodied performances and representations (e.g., drama, performance pieces, group interactions, representations of raced and gendered bodies, body art). We also welcome topics that examine how bodies are institutionally ‘read’ in ways that grant or deny access to particular forms of literacy over others.
As we share theories, methods, and new practices for re-conceiving of literacy education as multi-modal and embodied, we wish to do so with a critical edge that interrogates such “new literacies.” For whom are literacies of the body and image “alive” or accessible? Whom do such literacies serve? How do literacies of the body and image interrupt or reproduced social inequities? Whose bodies are viewed as literate in schools and other institutions? How might such practices and texts serve as mediational means for acquiring traditional literacy practices? Following the tradition of NCTEAR, such questions about equity and social justice will inform the core of our collective conversation around literacies of the body and image.
We welcome conference proposals grounded in diverse theoretical and methodological perspectives, including, among others: semiotic analysis, sociocultural studies, performance theory, critical race theory, film theory, critical discourse analysis, poststructural analysis, historical studies, and others. We invite proposals that focus on empirical research, including teacher/action research, as well as conceptual/theoretical work.
The following questions are offered as a guide to our collective dialogue and inquiry; we welcome proposals that address these or related issues:
* How might social practices with bodies and images be used to scaffold literacy learning with traditional print texts? What are the problems inherent in taking such a scaffolding perspective that might be viewed as privileging print?
* What are the current roles of visual and embodied literacies in the lives of socially and culturally diverse children, youth, and adults in out-of-school settings? What are the roles of such practices in school? The workplace?
* What are the possibilities of current methods of investigation regarding embodied and visual literacies? How are such methods infused with a print perspective, and how might they be reconceptualized?
* How do current literacy research methods, such as ethnography, include bodies and images in their modes of theory-building and representation? How might we re-imagine research representation? For embodied practices, what are the limits of representationalism?
* How have visual and embodied literacies been incorporated into teacher education and what are the barriers to reconceiving teacher education in this way?
* How does current educational policy (e.g. NCLB) affect literacy pedagogies that seek to incorporate multimodal and embodied literacies?
* What embodiments of literacy are privileged in schools, families, community organizations and other sites, and what are the implications for our work as researchers and educators committed to social change.
Yesterday I went to the most fascinating presentation by Christy Dena and she has totally converted me into the heady world of Mono-Polymorphism!! This was one of the best “big picture” conceptualisations for the many forms of distributred narratives, ARGs, digital fiction, fan fiction and media franchise narrative “events” that I have ever seen. I love talks like this because they remind me how SLOW education is in this field and really challenge my thinking to new levels. Here is Christy’s abstract - if only I had some of her mind blowing slides to show too!
Mono-Polymorphism: A Paradigm for Understanding Cross-Media Entertainment
In the age of cross-media production works are distributed over time and space like never before. A story can be adapted into numerous media and arts forms; episodes traverse television and digital games; a plot can stretch from a book to the web; a work of fiction can be indistinguishable from reality and a work of art indistinguishable from marketing. The methodological discourses touched by this phenomenon are, among others, Narratology, Ludology, Media Studies and Semiotics. How does one recognise, analyse and frame these works? Introducing Mono-Polymorphism: the theory where many forms and the singular co-exist. Giddy with the notion of a ‘unified theory of everything’, this theory seeks to provide a schema for understanding the meta-discursive, taxonomical, and rhetorical complexity of these works. And yes, the dissonance with ‘mono-polymorphism’ is intentional.
Because of the problems with Second Life last night, I had to improvise myself and actually do my lecture offline, so we talked about performance narratives and I couldn’t resist showing them this one. It is so funny and says a lot about mass entertainment, fandom etc. It’s a must read if you want a laugh
Eeep, I have been so caught up with writing, working, and managing 20 projects all at once that I missed this fascinating story! Lonelygurl15 is a series of videos which have been telling the story of a teenage girl, Bree, over the US Summer. I managed to read the full story on Danah’s blog here, which gives a run down on the mystery of who lonelygurl15 actually was, the fans who managed to crack the mystery after suspecting she was a hoax, and the media reports about the way the narrative and fan activities played out.
It’s wonderful because it’s another form of blog fiction but taken one step further - using youtube and myspace it reflects the teen vibe better than I have seen elsewhere although as Danah pointed out, it was clearly a fake because it didn’t *quite* convince.
UPDATE: Henry Jenkins has a very well constructed response here about Lonelygurl, and the comments are also enlightening. Fantastic reading!
with Julian Dibbell!! OK I am exaggerating but look at how he signed my copy of Play Money - what a sweetheart!!
For anybody who doesn’t know, Julian spent a year surviving on the money he made in the virtual world, Ultima Online. He’s now making cash from Second Life (I bought his in world book as well as his real one from inside the world, giving him my Lindens as I stood chatting with him in a virtual bookstore). Virtual economies, virtual businesses - so fascinating. My own virtual business (editor of the SL Arts magazine Slatenight) is in the red right now, so I have a lot to learn