stories, 2.0 and creative commons

This is mostly an excuse to post cute dog pictures – not my cute dog but cute dogs nonetheless – but something I find very interesting – in an I think this thing is awesome to think about but it’s only tangentially related to most of what I do and it would take a lot of thinking so right now it’s an interest that is very underdeveloped kind of way – is the different ways that the tools of the social, participatory web allow us to tell and understand and participate in stories.

This is what so interested me about Penguin’s We Tell Stories project, and why I am so sad that I cannot go to this conference (look how cheap the registration is!  Stupid international flights and exchange rates).

But one of the things that is so fascinating about the topic is just how easy and simple storytelling can be – I came across this today – a short dog story created by uberphot on flickr and was entirely charmed.  Possibly maybe because I have some experience in the holes to china area.  Go read.  It’s only 9 “pages” long.

Clicking on the image will take you to the flickr set.

Hole to China (part 1)

Hole to China (part 1)

And because uberphot was nice enough to put a creative commons license on that let me, I turned the story into an online book for my neice – whose best word right now just might be “doggie.”   WordPress.com won’t let me embed, so here’s the Slideshare link.

browsing the public discourse

Last spring, I talked about showing a news visualizer from MSNBC called Spectra to a group of advanced composition students. And I talked about how none of the students chose to use that tool when they got to the hands-on portion of the class.  I thought about that again this morning because three sections of that same course came in for library instruction.

An aside – these classes aren’t the typical “how to find a scholarly article” sessions that I do.  The students are being asked to engage with the public discourse in these papers.  Instead of the “find three peer-reviewed journal articles” requirement, these students have to find three editorials or letters to the editor, as well as public conversation on websites like blogs or discussion boards.  So what I show is very different than the things I show in most of my sessionstechnorati authority ratings, advanced searches on Lexis-Nexis and the like.

So we want to encourage some broad exploration of the conversations going on online and in the news media in this class.  Especially this term, because in all 3 classes the students were turning in one paper and just beginning to think about the research paper assignment.  Especially with this kind of find-the-public-conversation topic, it is so much easier when they browse the public conversations and find something that catches their interest and sparks their curiosity than it is when they decide on a specific topic and then have to knock themselves out to find discussion about that.

So this year, I pointed them at Wikipedia, which is an obvious place to browse.  But assuming they all knew that and how to use it, I also showed them newsmap.  This visualization tool has been around for several years now (long enough that they describe themselves as being in need of an upgrade).  The information here is just Google News, but displayed (using flash) as a treemap.  It’s a slice of what’s being highlighted right now (or ten minutes ago, or an hour ago) by Google News.  You can’t search it, you can only browse it.  You can browse by some very broad subjects (health, sports, world news, etc.)

And you can also drill down a bit by geographic location.  Newsmap lets you choose to look at stories from Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, the U.K., and the U.S.  You can also display all countries at once and see them next to each other.

newsmap

So here’s the thing – lots and lots of the students chose to use this tool for browsing.  Even though it can’t be searched.  Part of that, I think, is because of where they were in their process.  Most of them hadn’t even taken the time to think of a general topic area – they JUST finished the previous paper last night or this morning.  So they were more amenable to the idea of browsing broadly.  Part of it, though, is that they obviously found the interface intuitive.  They weren’t just clicking on stories, they were using the tool to browse by country and by subject – everyone I saw was very active in how they used the site.

I don’t know if they were getting the larger ideas about the patterns of the data that the treemap re-presentation of information is designed to provide.  I don’t know if they were seeing how the format “ironically accentuates the bias” of the news, as the site creator claims.  They asked me things like “how did you get to that colorful site,” and “where did you find that really visual thing.”  And in each class, at least a third to half of them were using it for at least part of the time.  So compared to last year, I call that a win for visual browsing.

Election 2.0

Keeping an eye on the process -

Tracking the polling places – how long does it take, are the machines working.  Sharing this information can help the voter make the most of their time, but the implicit goal is also to ensure that any questionable practices at the polling places don’t stay under the radar.

My Fair Election – A mapping application that lets you rate your polling place.  Not much information here, really – and maybe that’s because there’s an easier way to share this info, that a lot people are already using -

Twitter election watch

Twitter Vote Report was described by Information Aesthetics as a grassroots election monitoring system… that features an innovative use of Twitter as the main infrastructure for distributed data collection.

Twitter users can mark messages #machine to report problems with voting machines, #wait to report on wait times, and #votereport for all kinds of polling-related messages.

00 am Election Day
real time results for #machine aat 8:00 am Election Day

Of course, the opposite problem might attach here – too MUCH information to make anything specific to my situation find-able.  Not to mention no Twitter user could possibly be entirely confident that the election won’t break Twitter.

ETA – Another twitter project.  Election Protection: You Have the Right to Vote. 1-866-OUR-VOTE.  The twitter feed gathers and broadcasts reports of voter suppression and other problems.  Users can also report problems using state code tags in this format:  #EPstatecode (i.e. #EPOR), and zip code tags (#EPzipcode).

Please let me know about similar projects in the comments!

Looking back at the campaigns -

The 10 most viral videos of the 2008 campaign (from Politico)

The campaign in posters (from Caleb Crain)

Dipity Election Center – mashing up election information and dipity’s timeline tool (from Dipity)

How I’ll transfer my Olympics obsession to politics

via TechCrunch – C-SPAN gets a lot of things right…

Several months ago, Karen pointed out how libraries could learn something from information portals created by major media outlets and news organizations.  The example she used at the time was a site about the U.S. Elections produced by the Globe and Mail.  There was a lot of stuff going on on the site, but the overarching theme was a rich body of information presented in interesting-looking and attractive graphic forms.  By presenting and re-presenting the information, the Globe and Mail provided some context and analysis to the data, and also supported the user as they made meaning out of that information themselves.

Karen asked then -

is this a kind of instruction that we’d like to work towards developing?  Should we be training ourselves to create materials like this–if not a guide to the electoral process, then maybe an interactive history of African-American migration after emancipation, for that American History class we teach every year?

I think it is.  Another major media outlet that has generated a bunch of notice lately for its informative and engaging visualizations has been the New York Times. Examples here, here, here and my favorite, here.

Karen pointed out at the time some of the barriers to this kind of thing, one of them being money and another expertise.  After all,  So today, when I saw that C-SPAN is augmenting its coverage of the upcoming major party conventions with a variety of familiar social software tools, I thought back to this post.

C-SPAN’s got two connected convention “hubs” augmenting their main politics site.  They’re going to launch for real in the next few days, but you can get there now from the politics site or the TechCrunch review.  They’re video-heavy, but much more stripped down and flexible than the videos normally provided by C-SPAN.  These will be embeddable.  There are also connections to YouTube, and to Twitter, and content aggregated from several blogs – some state-focused, some national.  Bloggers can ask to be included in the aggregation, and can also ask for help getting their hands on video not readily available from the site.  It’ll be interesting to hear how well that works.

There’s also a twitter feed.  By using official tags (#DNC08 and #RNC08), people twittering from the conventions can get their comments included on the C-SPAN feed.

What I like about the site isn’t just that it’s exciting and more dynamic because of this content, but the social content seems purposeful.  One of the TechCrunch commenters grumbled about C-SPAN jumping on the twitter fad, but I don’t know – I think this is the kind of focused thing twitter can do well.  I use twitter now to follow live sports events in other countries, or film festivals I can’t go to.  And recently I picked up a few people to follow through the  TV Critics Press Tour and Comic-Con.  This seems similar – and like it could provide two kinds of information that twitter provides very well – that vicarious sense of being there and in on exciting things as they happen and the sense of being connected to other people participating in or watching the same thing you are.

So I think this might be a connected but not exactly the same example of the ways we could build information portals that would help our students and our users make meaning out of the information and events around them — both with us and with each other.

fun with words! pretty, pretty tagclouds for all

peer review 2.0, the proceedings paper in tagcloud

This is the paper Kate and I submitted along with our LOTW presentation, rendered into this gorgeous tagcloud by Wordle, a new tagcloud generator I saw today on Information Aesthetics.  I love tagclouds anyway – but this one lets you play with layout, fonts and colors in a way I’ve never seen before.  You can upload or copy and paste any text, or hook it into a del.icio.us account as a new way to see those tags.  So much fun.

LOTW follow-up – from people who weren’t there!

Kate and I are still buzzing from the great conversation we had with the people who came to our session at LOEX of the West. It’s always an amazing and kind of surreal experience when you find out that other people are excited by the same ideas you are.

And it seems that other people really are. Almost the second we stopped talking, we started finding other people who were. All over the web.

At ACRLog, Barbara Fister brings up the issue of promotion and tenure, and how many committees find it difficult to evaluate the significance of publications that don’t fit into the traditional scholarly formats — particularly when they are trying to evaluate the impact of scholars from other disciplines. These ideas are strongly connected to the ideas about distributing professional rewards, and we really just got started talking about the question of expertise, and evaluating work outside your discipline at the end there – good to see and think more about it.

Dorothea Salo talks about the differences between informal writing on the participatory web (like blog posts) and scholarly journal writing. She brings up one benefit to scholarly journals that we only hinted at – the way that the lengthy give and take between author and editor in the traditional publication process can make an individual article better. Not bring it up to some objective standard of quality, but make it better than it was. She also talks about something we did spend a lot of time talking about – the archive of knowledge, or the scholarly record. But she goes a lot further than we did talking about the role academic libraries play in that process.

Then today, I saw Tenured Radical’s discussion of the Social Science Research Network. She’s asking why historians aren’t participating in this project, and looking at some of the implications of that lack of participation. The SSRN is a digital archive that has as its goal the rapid dissemination of research in the social sciences. It includes an abstract database (of scholarly working papers and forthcoming papers) and an e-library of downloadable papers. These resources are available to registered members for free; there are also entry points into some proprietary database holdings, for a fee.

Tenured Radical highlights one of the reasons we think it’s so important that we are all having these conversations – not to replace traditional forms of publication, but to make them accessible. Not to encourage scholars to write for the public instead of for each other, but to leverage technological change in ways that can keep that scholarly discourse available to those who want to find it –

An insistence that the only good work has been heavily vetted through our current refereeing practices may be a mistake, much as soliciting the criticisms of others does contribute to producing good work (although it doesn’t always, I’m afraid, as cases where flawed research has slipped through to publication or to a prize demonstrates.) In its current form, it may be a fetish that is doing us more harm than good, and may be something that our professional associations need to review to take advantage of an atmosphere of intellectual vigor offered by electronic and other forms of mass publication.

edupunk — positive, negative, vitriol or faith, what does punk mean?

I actually have no idea what the answer to that question is. I already mentioned the essay about the Clash which was about corporate rock, politics, and the reality of growing up in Canby, Oregon.

But there’s also this short movie that the Willamette Valley Film Collective made last year to compete in the International Documentary Challenge.  The Willamette Valley Film Collective membership varies, but the IDC competition has been a regular feature of hte WVFC’s schedule every year.

Last year we looked at an exhibit of punk rock art at the library at Western Oregon University.  Shaun has put a couple of versions of the final product up on his channel at Blip-TV.

We edited this video between the hours of 11 pm and 5 am.  And there’s a lot about the process I don’t remember that well.  But what I do remember, and what I think is fairly tightly connected to the edupunk ideas that have been so well-discussed online over the last few days is in the description of the DIY aesthetic.  As you can tell, that was a strong theme throughout the discussion of the meaning of punk, and of the meaning of punk rock art.  And I think, *think* – it gets at some of the reason this term is resonating with people, at least a certain subgroup of people, around the web.

Visual Vitriol – Quicktime version

Visual Vitriol — Flash (lower quality) version