Saturday, December 10, 2005

Free Delwin!

I got a kick out of this column on a student who is being sued by the RIAA. They want $5K and now there is a website built by his friends and is dedicated to raising money for Delwin. T-shirts for sale and donations are accepted. The lesson: have smart friends if a lobbying group holds your feet to the fire and tries to make an example of you.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Yet more PR was given to US to go to war... and you didn't even know it, did you?

So my student, Claire Marshall, sent me a link to the NPR story on Joh Rendon and "an effort to sway public opinion that Rendon dubs "perception management."" I like euphemisms for the words like "lying" don't you? Anyways, this is an piece that broke in Rolling Stone of all places. I may hate that magazine for having bad taste (don't get me started), but at least it has journalists who investigate, uh, you know, stuff, unlike Faux News. Anyways, here's a snippet about John Rendon and his PR factory
It is a belief John Rendon encapsulated in a speech to cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1996. "I am not a national-security strategist or a military tactician," he declared. "I am a politician, a person who uses communication to meet public-policy or corporate-policy objectives. In fact, I am an information warrior and a perception manager." To explain his philosophy, Rendon paraphrased a journalist he knew from his days as a staffer on the presidential campaigns of George McGovern and Jimmy Carter: "This is probably best described in the words of Hunter S. Thompson, when he wrote, 'When things turn weird, the weird turn pro.'"
Indeed... one of his major coups? Getting Judith Miller to take much of his information from a disgruntled Iraqi.

So when do you think Roger Ailes hires Judith?

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I'm with the Deadheads on This One

The New York Times reports that the Grateful Dead are shutting down a website of its live recordings. Why is that a big deal? Well, as many of you may know, the Dead always allowed fans to make and distribute live tapes from their shows for many years. Bootlegging and trading has been a longstanding part of Deadhead culture. However, as the article notes,
The band recently asked the operators of the popular Live Music Archive ( to make the concert recordings - a staple of Grateful Dead fandom - available only for listening online, the band's spokesman, Dennis McNally, said yesterday. In the meantime, the files that previously had been freely downloaded were taken down from the site last week.
Now, don't worry, there are ways to capture streams, but this is more about what it means to be a Deadhead...
To the fans, the move signals a profound philosophical shift for a band that had been famous for encouraging fans to record and trade live-concert tapes. The band even cordoned off a special area at its shows, usually near the sound board, for "tapers" - a practice now followed by many younger jam bands.

David Gans, who is the host of a syndicated radio program, "The Grateful Dead Hour," said in an interview yesterday that the battle is rooted in the band's "historically lackadaisical attitude toward their intellectual property." He added: "When they were making $50 million a year on the road, there wasn't a lot of pressure to monetize their archives." Now, however, it may be difficult to put the genie back in the bottle. While the move to revise the Live Music Archive may deal a blow to what many fans considered an organized library of material, "the idea that they could stop people from trading these files is absurd," Mr. Gans said, adding: "It's no longer under anyone's control. People have gigabytes of this stuff."
Genie... bottle... please jump in. Pretty please.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Can you say, "Law of unintended consequences?"

The news that Sony was stopping their employment anti-priacy CDs made me happy. Happier still since it seems to cause problems with viruses...
The move came after security firms said hackers were exploiting the software to hide their creations.

The software has been used by viruses to evade detection by anti-virus programs and infect computers.

Sony said it had a right to stop people illegally copying music, but added that the halt was precautionary.

"We also intend to re-examine all aspects of our content protection initiative to be sure that it continues to meet our goals of security and ease of consumer use," the company said in a statement.
That's right. You wouldn't want the next Bruce Springsteen to make your computer explode, no would you?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Sox are Champs of the World!!!

It's fall and the Sox rule! For the first time in 88 years we can say that and with new pumpkin-related technologies, we can display excellence in gourd fashion. Muchas gracias to the great Levi of Check it out. It's good for you!

Friday, October 21, 2005

First Cookie Monster, Now This!

As if the idea that Cookie Monster had to back off of carbs to set a positive image for obese American children was not sad enough, now Spongebob, Dora and President Bill are in on the act...
Bill Clinton is teaming with SpongeBob SquarePants and Dora the Explorer in a campaign to nudge kids to eat healthy foods and to get up off the couch and move, the former president and Nickelodeon television executives announced Thursday.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Fomer Marine PR Guy Joins Al Jazeera

I thought this was just too interesting to ignore. So here you go...
Is he a modern-day Tokyo Rose, the nickname GIs in World War II gave to the womenthey heard on Japanese radio trying to turn them against America? Is he a propagandist set to tear down the country he once served? A collaborator aiding the enemy?

Rushing, 33, has taken a job reporting for a new channel for Al-Jazeera. That's the Qatar-based network that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said is "perfectly willing to lie to the world" and has "a pattern of playing propaganda over and over and over again" for its 50 million viewers, most of them in the Arab world.

Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly branded it a "propaganda network ... bent on encouraging violence and sympathetic to terrorists." And Iraq's new government temporarily closed the network's offices in Baghdad, saying that Al-Jazeera incites insurgents by showing video of attacks and statements from Osama bin Laden and his deputies.

But Rushing, who will appear on a global, English-language news channel the network hopes to start by spring, considers his decision to work for Al-Jazeera noble, not seditious. "I've given my entire adult life to the health and well-being of this nation," Rushing says. "I wouldn't do anything to threaten that.

"What the Marines trained me to do was to represent the best of what America stands for to a foreign audience. That's exactly what I'm going to do."
And if you saw Control Room the whole thing is even odder. Truth stranger than fiction, indeed!

Sox Win The Pennant!

At least it aint the Cubs. Ozzie Guillen is a minor deity, though I fear there is Major Karma to pay due to Jerry Reinsdorf's cancellation of the World Series in 1994. And Jerry, don't deny you did it... you did! Garland, Contreras, Konerko, oh my! If only Big Frank could get healthy and they could turn the outfield of US Cellular Field toward the downtown, all would be perfect. And Shoeless Joe, you can lift the curse now.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Articles about Internet Control... The US don't wanna let go!

I thought the following portion of this article was interesting...
A senior U.S. official rejected calls on Thursday for a U.N. body to take over control of the main computers that direct traffic on the Internet, reiterating U.S. intentions to keep its historical role as the medium's principal overseer.

"We will not agree to the U.N. taking over the management of the Internet," said Ambassador David Gross, the U.S. coordinator for international communications and information policy at the State Department. "Some countries want that. We think that's unacceptable."

Many countries, particularly developing ones, have become increasingly concerned about the U.S. control, which stems from the country's role in creating the Internet as a Pentagon project and funding much of its early development.
Well, geez, let's see, what would be the counter proposal? How about International control...
EU spokesman Martin Selmayr said a new cooperation model was important "because the Internet is a global resource."

"The EU ... is very firm on this position," he added.

A stalemate over who should serve as the principal traffic cops for Internet routing and addressing could derail the summit, which aims to ensure a fair sharing of the Internet for the benefit of the whole world.

At issue is who would have ultimate authority over the Internet's master directories, which tell Web browsers and e-mail programs how to direct traffic.
Well, this ought to get interesting. More on this later....

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Gas Prices Makes More Mass Transit Riders Out of Us After All

I have an interest in mass transit that goes beyond curiosity... it borders on a minor obsession at times. Mainly trains since buses just don't do it for me. But put buses on a power line and I get all excited. I don't know why, something that has to do with my childhood I am certain, but this isn't the time for that. It turns out that in a town where we are supposed to get trains in the ever distant future, perhaps $3 a gallon gas may quicken our demand after all. In places like Dallas and Losa Angeles mass transit ridership is up...
In Dallas, an increase in ridership in the past month on DART has resulted in "incredibly creative parking at some outlying stations," and the service received a growing number of complaints from motorists demanding to know why the system doesn't serve their destinations, according to DART spokesman Morgan Lyons.

The Trinity Railway Express, a commuter rail service between Dallas and Fort Worth, has benefited even more from high gasoline prices, posting a 15 percent increase in ridership so far this month, Lyons says.

In famously car-addicted Los Angeles, ridership on city buses and subways jumped 7.82 percent in August, while ridership on the Metro-Link, the regional commuter rail service for the metropolitan area, rose 6 percent, the largest monthly increase since last November.
15% and 6% increases... that is meaningful and let's hope that we begin to realize that we need zoning that demands density, a return to car pools for commuting and every metro area needs an adequate light rail system. And as the song goes, some may say I'm a dreamer, but I am not the only one...

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Nano Nano - Pogue Goes Batty Over New iPod

David Pogue, the NYT technology columnist went nuts over the iPod Nano this morning in his review. While skeptical, there was one part that really struck me...
What's so clever about the iPod Nano ($249) is that it merges these two approaches. It contains memory chips, so it's dazzlingly tiny - 3.5 by 1.6 by 0.27 inches, to be exact, about the size of a folded playing card and thin enough to slip under a door. Yet because Apple stuffed it with four gigabytes of memory, it holds as much music as some hard-drive players - more than 1,000 songs. (Apple also offers a $199 model with half the capacity.) Because it contains no moving parts, the Nano is less delicate than full-size iPods and virtually skip-proof.
Did you catch that last part? "Skip proof". Wow, now that is appealing. Coming from a professional klutz, getting four GB of hard drive that doesn't include moving parts is amazing. I'm still thinking about that 60GB model, but that is damn tempting. Besides, I think 1,000 songs around my neck is more than enough... well, ok, maybe I do need 15,000 songs...

Friday, September 09, 2005

On Playlisting

Ok people, I wrote an article for Flow last week and here it is. It's on "playlisting"... kind of... well, you'll see.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

New Orleans

I have tried not to blog about this, but I am so depressed about what has happened in New Orleans. So many, so much has been lost. The many... so poor and so stranded, so powerless. The first lesson I learned from my fourth grade chess coach was "mobility is power" and so many who remained to slowly drown and starve were those who live paycheck to paycheck, take public transit, have no credit cards to charge and no friends who can loan them the money to even take a cab were simply powerless. Not stupid, not arrogant, just without the power to move when they could. That we, the US, who knew the storms were coming and the levees unfinished did not help them move shames me.

And so much more could be said about poverty and it is. For now I simply want to note that New Orleans is not just a city, but a cultural treasure whose value is not measured in the factories it no longer houses or the money it no longer makes in exporting goods. Rather, it's value is historical and cultural. It's the birthplace of jazz, the city center of cajun music, the close relative of rock and roll, a cradle for hip hop and one of the most active center of rhythm and blues culture in the world. As Ned Sublette states in the Village Voice, "The destruction of New Orleans, from a cultural point of view, is too awful to contemplate." He goes further...
If you're only looking at it from the rock and roll perspective, New Orleans is a fundamental city in the story. In 1949, Dave Bartholomew, who I hope evacuated in time, led the house band that backed up Fats Domino on his first hit, "The Fat Man", and became the first professional R&B studio band, the forerunner of the kind of thing that they would have in Motown. Singers like Little Richard, Lloyd Price, Ray Charles would come to New Orleans to play with this house band. Many of the first R&B and rock and roll classics were recorded in New Orleans.

You cannot abandon New Orleans. You can say that New Orleans has no viability as a business or industrial city. But if our history and culture as a nation mean anything, New Orleans is central to it. And if we can save New Orleans--if we haven't lost it already--it has to be put back and saved right. If we can somehow turn around the hateful direction this country is going in, and really save and fortify New Orleans, and really show the world that we as a nation can save our own cities, that our concept of homeland security means something, then we can be proud of ourselves. Right now we can't.

We're not only watching history disappear. History is watching us disappear.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

End of Six Feet Under, Beginning of School

Ok, ok, school begins on Monday and I am looking forward to it. In a weird way, even though I know it will be exhausting, I know I am looking forward to the schedule, the students, my faculty brethren and sisters, and, of course, learning. I dig the classes if only because it drives me deeper and deeper into these subject areas. The benefit of repeated teaching means that you begin to understand your work in new dimensions. When the work is substantial it blossoms with each petal offering us something new and different, but the same as well. It's hard to explain but it's one of the reasons that when I teach a class that I have already prepared I still get a bit nervous. The truth is you think you know, but you know better and you never really do. More on that throughout the semester.

So as I told one of my colleagues, the end of Six Feet Under pretty much made me feel like I was suffering some sort of TV-induced form of post traumatic stress disorder. For about two days I walked around feeling as if I had just lost a best friend. That show, more than any other, crawled under your skin because of its messiness. It's not for the faint of heart. The show begins with death, ends with death, and in between there is joy, struggle and suffering. Lots of suffering, mainly spiritual suffering. Families can do that to you, you know. And if your family is dysfunctional and runs a funeral home, well, you get the idea.

Still, what does it mean to lose a favorite serial television show? The loss of a predictable part of modern fiction is something I haven't really thought much about. It's presence, yes, I get that. It helps us mark time, it gives us a narrative through which we can understand our lives in some sort of form of "parallel play", etc. But what happens to the audience when it ends? How does it feel? How should it feel? How did Dicken's readers feel at the end of each of his serial stories? What do Star Trek fans do every time one of their shows are cancelled? Is their a grieving period? Is there supposed to be one?

Thursday, August 18, 2005

It's Showtime... Almost!

Summer's almost over and I am looking forward to teaching. Yeah, I know, no one believes this. I didn't say I was looking forward to grading, I said teaching! That said, I am finishing up some stuff around the house tonight and a good friend is coming into town, so I hope to get in the double feature at the Studio 35 tomorrow and break out the DDR.

Ok, here's the deal... the last episode of Six Feet Under is on Sunday. Can you say, "must see TV"? Good. Love it, learn it, live it.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Hey, hey, we're the Gorillaz!

Yep, go go Gorillaz! I would have to say that my second favorite CD of the year is Gorillaz' Demon Days and the latest Wired interviews Damon Albarn about his Cartoon band. I won't say much for now other than this is the best extension of Warhol in pop music since Don Kirshner and his Archies... ok, I always loved The Monkees more (the most famous Kirshner project) and, oif course, the connection between the Kirshner band is clear. will write more about it later, but let's just say that when it comes to pop these days there is something going on between me and my monkey, indeed!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Yes, a Good Anti Effects Study Essay

Not a big fan of "media effects" work for so many reasons, luckily this essay gives you ten good reasons to really question this work.

There is So Much to Share

It looks like I am going to have to teach a seminar on gaming at a 400 level and I am thinking about doing one on social action, in particular something that works to produce a game on homelessness. I am not certain what that would look like, but it may be like "The Sims", but we will see.

Heck, I learned about Red vs. Blue and My Trip to Liberty City. But that's only the beginning of what we are doing. Among discussing theory and the like, the most interesting the are doing is playing games, of course. The website will be coming soon!

Monday, July 11, 2005

Digital Gaming Seminar!

Today I am at NITLE at this year's media studies seminar, which is on Digital Gaming. I am really looking forward to dealing with this issues of gaming, not only in XBOX and PSP land, but also how to use gaming in other places such as SimCity in the Urbanity class. For myself, I am wondering how to think through the issues of material culture and popular music, but others as well. I may teach a class on gaming in communication, but it would be from rudiments to "complexity", but that is all relative. Anyways, we will see how this works in teaching in media studies/communication. So, interested and, of course, looking to play!

Saturday, June 25, 2005

News from the BBC: American Journalism is the Laughing Stock of the English-Speaking World!!!

The BBC, arguably the best newsservice in the English-speaking world, has this to say about our missing-white-woman-obsessed media...
Since the teenager went missing after leaving a nightclub on 30 May her picture has stared out from newspapers, while TV bulletins have covered every movement in the story.

It is not hard to imagine cynical reasons why.

Natalee is young, pretty and white. A judge and his son are among five people held over her vanishing.

Aruba, where the teenager was celebrating her graduation, is renowned for an intoxicating party scene.

Tragic as her disappearance is, some have criticised the flood of coverage which is dominating the national news agenda.

Mark Feldstein, associate professor of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University, told the BBC: "Of course there has been too much coverage, by my standards, but this is what we have come to expect."

Mr Feldstein, a former investigative reporter, compared the case to the story earlier this year of the woman who faked her abduction before her wedding, becoming known around the world as the "Runaway Bride".

"These are really not national stories but they get national attention," he said.
Yeah, and more than half of the US has no idea what the words Downing Street Memo mean. You know, I thought editors were supposed to make reporters report the news and edit when it gets excessive. Of course, 24 hour-a-day news, sports and comedy is exessive. Remember, when you follow the logic of Capital, too much is never enough!

Saturday, June 11, 2005

More Oscar The Grouch, Less Grinch.

Given that the US Congress spent essentially a month focusing on really important stuff like the Terry Schiavo case and another deciding whether or not to change the rules so that we could get a tyranny of the majority, now we are getting down the the nitty gritty: depopulating Sesame Street and Mr. Roger's Neighborhood...
A House subcommittee voted yesterday to sharply reduce the federal government's financial support for public broadcasting, including eliminating taxpayer funds that help underwrite such popular children's educational programs as "Sesame Street," "Reading Rainbow," "Arthur" and "Postcards From Buster."

In addition, the subcommittee acted to eliminate within two years all federal money for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting -- which passes federal funds to public broadcasters -- starting with a 25 percent reduction in CPB's budget for next year, from $400 million to $300 million.

In all, the cuts would represent the most drastic cutback of public broadcasting since Congress created the nonprofit CPB in 1967. The CPB funds are particularly important for small TV and radio stations and account for about 15 percent of the public broadcasting industry's total revenue.
If it sounds partisan to say it then let it be: today's GOP really doesn't care for much that is "public" as evidenced by the following dollops of wisdom (insert sarcastic tone here)...
Rep. Ralph Regula (R-Ohio), the subcommittee's chairman, said the cuts had nothing to do with dissatisfaction over public radio or TV programs. "It's pretty simple," he said in an interview. "The thinking was, there's not enough money for everything. There are 'must-do,' 'need-to-do' and 'nice-to-do' programs that we have to pay for. [Public broadcasting] is somewhere between a 'need-to-do' and a 'nice-to-do.' "
Let's eview the facts: 98 percent of America has at least one TV set, most families have more than one and many of us consider it a "must-have" item. And of those of use who were raised in families that wanted us to learn the alphabet and count to ten, Sesame Stree and Zoom were "must-dos". As I have gotten older I often think that the only broadcast (not cable) programming I can watch on a consistent basis are PBS related. Call me an "old man" but I would rather watch a Frontline on the Iraq situation than American Idol. And, sure, PBS has problems... tends to be too white, too middle class, nothing on the channel represents Working Class views and it needs to get a helluva lot more financially secure so I don't have to watch two people stand in front of a phone bank taking bids on a seven day vacation to the Smokey Mountains. The way you do that is by actually funding this channel. Or more public channels.

That's right, I just asked for more. For too long Americans have considere one public station in their market as good enough. But what if I told you that that just about every other first world country in the world would find this laughable, the televiusal equivalent of being happy just to get one ladle of water a day (that you have to drink from a tin can to boot!)? For many of us we believe that we can make the public sphere more bountiful, not less flexible. Take Michale Curtin's suggestion from a recent edition of Flow for example...
Google's pull media technology is popular largely because it addresses at least three noteworthy and enduring aspirations among media audiences. The first is a desire to escape at times from the world of commercial imagery. The second is a longing to create meaningful patterns and linkages in an era of symbolic excess. And the third is a yearning to counteract the imperatives of push media, which seek out audiences in order to corral them within a universe of proprietary content. Such aspirations are also manifested in the popularity of other recent technologies, such as TiVo, DVR, and podcasting, suggesting that audiences value diversity and intelligibility despite U.S. media's current emphasis on synergy and cross-promotion.

Using these audience aspirations as a point of reference, Thomas Streeter and I have recommended four strategies for media reform in the United States.[i] The first calls for an aggressive expansion of non-commercial services to be funded both by the FCC's upcoming auction on spectrum reallocations as well as a modest tax on commercial users of the public airwaves. Instead of engaging in dramatic David-vs.-Goliath struggles over primetime TV content or News Corps market share, it seems more reasonable to work toward the expansion of alternative resources. If our society is to be truly innovative, then we need structural diversity in media, media organized in a variety of ways, not just more and more outlets that are all following the same principle of delivering audiences to advertisers. Is one public television service enough? One community radio station? Or one or two severely underfunded cable access channels? Are reliable, non-commercial Internet resources available regarding such crucial topics as health, environment, and workplace safety? We need to expand the number of non-commercial services wherever possible but we should at the same time emphasize structural innovation: not just more public television or radio, but more kinds of public TV or radio. Why is there nothing like Britain's Channel Four in the US? The terms "commercial" and "public" have become inadequate to describe all the different structural possibilities; we need terms adequate to the task of engendering a new era of experimentation in media.
In other words, when it comes to creating free space away from Corporate imagery and for-profit endeavors, less isn't more... only more is more.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Comm 226: Framing the Language and PR in British Politics

Hey guys, I know you are all working very, very hard these last few days, but if you read the papers then one of the things you know is that there is a General Election in Britain this Thursday where the people of the UK will elect a new Parliament and a new Prime Minister. I think it is interesting that most people expect Labour to win and Tony Blair to remain Prime Minister. There are many reasons for this, but US Based Liberal Blogger, Markos Moulitsas, has this to say about how Labour controls framing language...
with the Republican sweep of 2004, Democrats have finally come to terms with its minority status. And with that realisation has come a desperate effort to study the factors fuelling the rise of the American right.

The factors are various, but key among them is the notion of "framing" - that is, controlling the political language. Republicans realised decades ago that those who controlled the language, controlled the political battleground. A sort of electoral high ground, providing a tactical advantage in the battle of ideas. ...

Reading Britain's Sunday Times' expected endorsement of the Conservative party, the direct parallel between disaffected American Democrats and disaffected British Tories was startling. "The Tories have accepted that Labour has won the political battle over tax and spend," it says. "Talk of deep tax cuts would, they fear, frighten voters. So the party offers new Labour-lite; no significant tax cuts and plenty of extra public spending."

With all of Tony Blair's faults, and he clearly has many, his ability to win the framing wars in Britain is probably his chief legacy - the sort of victory that rises above immediate political concerns, including Thursday's election, and can provide the philosophical foundation for a long lasting Labour majority. That is no small feat, no small accomplishment. And presents a huge challenge for British conservatives given their already significant parliamentary deficits. (The Liberal Democrats appear to be on more solid footing, sharing Labour's economic frame: social services good, tax cuts bad).
In other words, never underestimate the power of framing language as a communication strategy!

Ok, take care and talk with y'all later.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Comm 226: Review Stuff

Dear Class. As promised you can get the review sheets by clicking here and here. The more you prepare, the better you will do on this exam. I want you to think big and synthesize topics on this exam, so go back this weekend and look through all of the notes and your marks in the book to help you.

By the way, I also wanted to note that the issue of education cropped up in the New York Times editorial page. Thomas Friedman, who is one of the loudest voices on issues of globalization, wrote this in today's NYT...
ne of America's most important entrepreneurs recently gave a remarkable speech at a summit meeting of our nation's governors. Bill Gates minced no words. "American high schools are obsolete," he told the governors. "By obsolete, I don't just mean that our high schools are broken, flawed and underfunded. ... By obsolete, I mean that our high schools - even when they are working exactly as designed - cannot teach our kids what they need to know today.

"Training the work force of tomorrow with the high schools of today is like trying to teach kids about today's computers on a 50-year-old mainframe. ... Our high schools were designed 50 years ago to meet the needs of another age. Until we design them to meet the needs of the 21st century, we will keep limiting - even ruining - the lives of millions of Americans every year."

Let me translate Mr. Gates's words: "If we don't fix American education, I will not be able to hire your kids." I consider that, well, kind of important.
So do I and I know that all of you mentioned it last week as well. Anyways, if you want to read the rest you can register on the NYT website for free and have at it. Otherwise, have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Comm 200: Readings, Dossiers and More Dossiers

Hey Guys. I know that everyone is burning at at both ends these days but I wanted to remind you of a couple of things as we finish, and say something new as well.

1) First: Even if you have read the articles for Friday, please re-read them. One of things that I think you should learn how to do in college is to re-read. It isn't a skill that many of us think of as valuable because much of our busy lives but it is far more important than many of us would like to admit. Often articles we are researching will enlighten you in a different manner than it did the first time. This may be because concepts you didn't get the first time you finally get. It may be because you just didn't notice what was going on the first time. This is true for all of us. I know that there have been books I come to once or twice a year and I feel like they pay off in different ways every time I read them.

2) If there are a set of questions I would like you to ask of everything piece of research you read and write for college, they would be
1) What is the thesis?
2) What is the unit or units of analysis?
3) How did the researcher investigate and analyse their data? Always remember, how questions are method questions!
4) What is the research question that the person is trying to answer?
5) What is at stake in this research? If you do not know what is at stake, ask the teacher. For me this is always something that I feel like I need to know. Research is not something that should be done purely for the pleasure of research. Research always has real world consequences. Some research is better known than others, but all research, when done, gives us a new understanding of a topic, method or question. Giving the world a new understanding is a real world consequence!
6) Could this research be proven or disproven? If it cannot then it probably isn't research. It could be an essay, but not a research essay.
7) What kind of sources is the researcher drawing from? When you begin an article try this: start with the endnotes and works cited first and take note of what the sources are. This will always clue you into other kinds of questions?
Believe it or not these are lessons that are easy to state but difficult to learn. Practice these in your upcoming classes and make them habits of the mind. The more habitual they become the better student and learner you will become. And that's one you can take to the bank!

Tomorrow, bring your dossiers. Last week you spent some time looking at each others works cited. Look at these again tonight and now look see what you would like to xerox in other folders. You may also want to bring your earliest drafts with RQs and Theses and workshop them in class. We will be doing that on Monday as well. I know that this is a busy time, but I do have high hopes for you. Also, tomorrow, please be ready to leave your dossiers behind. I would like to, with your permission, place them in library here in Higley so that we can access them for the next week. All I ask is that when you look at an article you LEAVE THE DOSSIER IN THE SAME CONDITION AS YOU FOUND IT. You all worked really hard on your work and we should be considerate of each others work.

Finally, I need to let you know that I have one VERY IMPORTANT REQUEST regarding your dossiers. Please note, when you turn in your repory you should...
1) Make certain your proposal has a detachable cover sheet with all of your information (do not print on the other side!!!)

2) Please, no self-identifying information throughout the paper in any way shape or form!!!

3)Failure to do so will result in an automatic “incomplete” for the course and the assignment.
The reason I need it in this fashion is that your papers will be read by othger professors in the department to see if we are doing a solid job in the 200 level course. We value anonymity and no professor reading your paper will have an effect on your grade for the class. In fact, we will read them in August well after your grades are returned. We think this is a valuable way to see what is working and what isn't. By giving us this kind of anonymous feedback you will be making us better teachers and much more robust department.

Take care and see you tomorrow.

Comm 226: Hong Kong, Dim Sum and Dossiers

Hey Guys. I know the semester has been long and things are winding down. I wanted to let you know that because of the way the semester played out and I am going to make a real quick edit on your readings. I am only going to hold you accountable for the first six chapters and the inrtoduction of the Cohen. Chapters 8-Epilogue as well as Budd et. al for next week, please ignore. You have had a lot of reading and I would rather stay focused on the issue of institutional responsibilities and audience demands for "quality of life" in mass society for our last two lectures. Please DO listen to the MP3 of "The Fix is In" before Monday. It is one of the finest examples of what we have been discussing: issues of corporate/governmental responsibility. It's an hour long, but if you are like me and have any interest in business, I think you will find it very compelling as it is about "price fixing" and Archers Daniel Midland, one of the largest agricultural corporations in the world.

That said, some of you were asking about the dossiers. You may turn in your work in a three-ring binder or a folder. Please have a sense of organization where it is relatively easy to find your work as well as your research. I should be able to find your research with relative ease. so that I can verify your work. Also, if you have questions about MLA format and you want to talk about, please feel free to see me after classes in my office. I imagine most seniors and juniors would not have that many problems, but if you do, no problem. Please stop on by. I need a works cited list to verify your work. If you can't verify it doesn't count!

Finally, I thought of our class when I read this article in today's New York Times

Dim Sum Under Assault, and Devotees Say 'Hands Off'
Published: April 28, 2005

HONG KONG, April 26 - A report by the Hong Kong government suggesting that eating many kinds of dim sum regularly may be bad for your health is threatening to overshadow whatever else might be worrying the people of this city.

Practically every Chinese-language newspaper here has run a banner headline about it across its front page. Scrolling electronic displays in subway cars have flashed the news, and the report has become a topic of breakfast, lunch and dinner conversations at Chinese restaurants across the city.

Longtime dim sum lovers are indignant.

"The government is putting its thumb on every part of citizens' lives, and it shouldn't be telling anyone how dim sum should be served," said Wong Yuen, a retired mechanic and truck driver who says he has eaten dim sum every morning for the last two decades. "People can make their own decisions. If it's unhealthy, they can eat less. They don't need the government to tell them."

Dim sum, which means "touch of the heart," is usually eaten at breakfast or lunch and includes steamed or fried pastry dumplings stuffed with anything from pork and beef to shrimp and egg custard. Many other savories, like mango pudding and egg tarts, are also dim sum. The Cantonese restaurants of the local Maxim's chain serve 100 kinds of dim sum.

But based on laboratory analyses of 750 dim sum samples, Hong Kong's Food and Environmental Hygiene Department found high fat and salt and low calcium and fiber in everything from fried dumplings to marinated jellyfish. The report suggested that local residents eat these kinds of dim sum in moderation, and choose more dim sum like steamed buns and steamed rice rolls.

Regular dim sum diners should order plates of boiled vegetables to go with their meals, the report said, and should beware of some steamed dim sum for which the ingredients are fried, like bean curd sheets.

The report came as a shock here because dim sum is a part of the culture of Hong Kong in a way that few foods unite Americans.

Families gather every Sunday morning in dim sum shops across the city, grandparents showing grandchildren how to hold their chopsticks properly. Wealthy taitais, the fashionably dressed wives of powerful men, take breaks from their shopping marathons and spa visits to try costly varieties of tea and nibble the occasional har gau, a shrimp dumpling, or kwun tong gau, a shark's fin dumpling in a rich broth.

The mainstays of dim sum restaurants across Hong Kong are retired men like Mr. Wong who come every morning to socialize, sip tea and occasionally order a small freshly steamed bamboo basket with several delicacies inside. These are the avid dim sum consumers whom the government here is trying hardest to reach, and who are not enthusiastic about the government's warning.

The restaurants have large tables seating a half-dozen or more customers, and diners are routinely seated with strangers. Sitting on Tuesday morning in the Sun Chung Wah Restaurant, where the ham shui kok, or fried pork dumplings, leave little yellow lines of grease on a plate, Mr. Wong, who is 86, periodically gestured with his chopsticks as he explained how important these dim sum breakfasts were to him.

"I meet people here every day," he said. "We don't know each other at the beginning, but we talk."

Dr. Ho Yuk-yin, the community medicine specialist who oversaw the government report, said no one wanted to stop such meals, but older people in particular need to be aware of the risks of relying too much on dim sum.

Edmund T. S. Li, a nutritionist at Hong Kong University who was not involved in preparing the government report, said the findings were consistent with academic research on the nutritional content of dim sum and were especially important given recent studies on how people from this region absorb fat. Genetic tendencies toward long trunks and shorter legs mean that many people of southeast Asian descent may carry a higher proportion of fat relative to their height and weight than people of the same height and weight from northern China or Europe, he said.

There are some hints that even without the government warning a new health consciousness is starting to spread here. In the more expensive restaurants, working women and taitais alike can sometimes be seen dabbing their dim sum with tissues to soak up some of the grease and daintily pulling away the fried exteriors of some dumplings with their chopsticks before popping them into their mouths.

Some women - few men - even pour a little hot water, provided to dilute tea, into a small bowl and dip the dim sum in it to remove oil.

Perhaps proving the cynical adage that it is more expensive to eat healthy foods, the restaurants that are trying to reduce the fat and the salt in their dim sum are often not cheap. One of them is the Man Wah Restaurant at the top of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, with magnificent views of Hong Kong harbor and I. M. Pei's Bank of China tower.

The restaurant stopped using monosodium glutamate, or MSG, 15 years ago, and switched from lard to vegetable shortening five years ago. But Henry Ho, the restaurant's Chinese culinary adviser, said the renunciation of lard had cost the restaurant valuable points in the city's fiercely contested dim sum competitions.

"A high fat content adds to the flavor," said Kong Churk Tong, the chief dim sum chef.

A dim sum lunch at the Man Wah runs the equivalent of $25 a person with inexpensive tea and no wine. By contrast, Mr. Wong, the retired mechanic, paid just $2.82 for tea, a bowl of porridge with pork and preserved duck eggs and a plate of cheung fun, a steamed, folded sheet of wheat flour with pork inside.

He brushed aside the government warnings as he relished his food. "I'll just keep eating pork," he said, "the greasy kinds of pork even."
It's a good example of how at times governments can easily reach beyond their limits when influencing the public's daily habits. So much for "Progressivism"? I don't know. I just think it is interesting.

Take care!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Comm 226: Working Wages and Wal Mart

Class, While we are talking about the rights of the consumer, one of the things that I think is interesting is that one can only consumer if you have consuming power. This is typically the kind of discussion that people have in economics classes, but there is nothing more interesting in America today than to watch what happens when a Wal Mart comes to town. Where I grew up in Arizona, this was something akin to a Holiday or the opening of Disneyland. My Father was a small business owner, lifelong Republican and very pro-business and really resented Wal Mart because he felt that he just couldn't compete in terms of prices. His business didn't fold, but it is interesting that there are so many passions revolving around Wal Mart.

Recently, The Cleveland Plain Dealer ran this interesting article on the cost of Wal Mart to the State of Ohio and just this week I got an e-mail about a campaign called Wake Up Wal Mart. You can just hear the PR people at Wal Mart working away, can't you?

Anyways, I mention all of this since Wal Mart is always talking about the low prices it offers consumers, then if the AFL-CIO posts these talking points do they hate consumers?

Ok, enough for now. Will chat with you later in class.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Comm 200: Indy Research Proposals, Plus...

Dear Class,

Sorry for the length between when I said I would post and when I could. A number of factors have made this delay happen, most notably the amount of time it took me to prepare for the conference, which was considerable (all day Tuesday until midnight) and, after waking up at 6am the next day, I was stayed up a continual 31 hours until I could catch a wink. Let’s just say that you should never ever give a paper after 30 hours of consciousness, lengthy travel and inadequate nutrition. No problem… the audience all noted that it made sense.

Anyways, I wanted to let you know a little about the project so below is what you are looking at …
Purpose - If properly developed properly, this research proposal will result in three specific products. They are 1) a large individual portfolio/proposal, 2) a continual develop of internet resources through blogging, and 3) a research proposal substantial enough to be submitted for some a large portion of research paper in a 300 or 400 level course. By paying attention to what happened and how it happened in your research groups, your final proposal will become a much richer experience than most of you may first envision.

Requirements -

This second research proposal comes out of your group’s work and practice, but it is a personal project that is centered around creating a qualtitative research project. This discernment will come in the form of a research proposal that will consist of the following

1)Your RQ, a hypothesis and a discussion of your method all in the form of an abstract that will come first thing after your table of contents.
2)An explanation of why you want to study what you want to study. Explain what is at stake in your research. In other words, make it clear why anyone should care about this research.
3)A Literature Review – a formal explanation of what has been researched and how it has been researched. This will take the most amount of time but a good literature review allows you to take your question deeper and provides your reader with a clearer understanding of what is at stake.
4)A proposal of what you wish to research and how.
5)And, at minimum, a 30 cite working bibliography. Your bibliography should consist of one third “book citations”, one third peer-reviewed articles and one third other (reference books, audio-video, general periodicals, etc.).
6)All research will be represented by the inclusion in the dossier of a Xerox of the title page of each book title and the complete Xerox or printout of each peer-reviewed journal article, reference book entry and general periodical article.
7)The dossier will be a large, three ring binder that has your individual name.
Ok, Take care and cheers from London!

Monday, March 21, 2005

Comm 226: VNRs and Democracy

Given the suggestion of John that many people may not be interested in democracy (and he may be right, who knows?) I thought I would make a post on VNRs. As it turns out, this isn't a just a Bush technique. According to at least this 1994 post, the Clinton admin was doing somewhat similar things as I mentioned earler....
Congress and the White House have gotten into the act. Congress creates VNRs in its own fully equipped, tax-payer-funded television station in the belly of the Rayburn Building in Washington. Meanwhile, the Clinton administration hires out, paying companies like Medialink of New York--at taxpayer expense--to transmit VNRs by satellite to stations around the country.
Honestly, I don't care who is in power in the government, it seems to me that if we value independent thinking then we should be concerned that governments create VNRs that pass as news and have been for over 10 years!

Call me a curious, but I am always interested in how people are trying to influence the way I think and feel. So I decided to go to's website and guess what I found...
"Our and U.S. Newswire services generally grow in both strong and sluggish economies," Moskowitz continued. ", our joint venture with Business Wire, continued to expand its reach to more than 35,000 registered users, up 32% from the fourth quarter of 2000. The increased reach has carried over to the client base, attracting domestic and international companies, including Anheuser-Busch, National Semiconductor, MG Rover, Kraft Foods, Taco Bell, Motorola, Qwest, American Home Products, Hasbro, Pfizer, Sony Electronics, Novartis, Nextel, Prudential Insurance, Stockholm Stock Exchange, and Universal Studios."

"Additionally, we have seen growth in our U.S. Newswire (USN) service, a leading news release wire service utilized by approximately 1,900 government associations and public affairs news sources," stated Moskowitz. "After previously working with the Clinton Administration, during the first quarter USN began working for the new Bush Administration, transmitting news and information issued by The White House to newsrooms nationwide. In an effort to cost effectively broaden the reach of USN, we have added sales personnel in the Midwest Region and consolidated USN’s operations with Medialink’s Washington office. USN will continue this integration in the coming months, expanding USN’s sales presence with Medialink offices nationwide." (emphasis mine)
So guess what, you and I are paying for Medialink's services, have been for quite a while, and you probably didn't even know about this.

This is where the issue of accountability kicks in. It may be true that the transmission of perfect information and transmission is impossible to get, but the deliberate creation of government-funded information, no matter how noble its intentions, should be labeled as "government funded information". Or should it not? I mean, there is plenty of government information that is labeled. Pamphlets, books, reports, legislation... why not these White House press releases? We know why they are not... executives of all types want to effectively mobilize their agenda to a mass society. The question is, is this the only way to do it? Should we be democratic in our deliberations about policy? Or can we not afford that luxury? Maybe we need to seriously think about John's point that democracies are inefficient at times. Indeed, they are. Perhaps we cannot deliberate in a time of serious threat? Honestly, I don't think there are easy answers to these questions. The truth is that conservatives and liberals alike should be invested in getting the best information possible. If you are a conservative the last thing you want is to grow government and place it in places like our mass media, which these VNRs do. If you are a liberal you would hopefully want to place a check on any misuse of information production and distribution by any government: misinformation distorts the social good according to liberal beliefs in the competitive marketplace of ideas. Wherever you stand politically, the issue of the VNR should at least make you sit back and think.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Comm 226: Rathergate and Gannongate

John noted the power of "bloggers", a community of which you are now part. Congrats! And he noted the Dan Rather story where bloggers helped force the resignation of Dan Rather after he and his producers used a piece of false evidence in a story about President Bush's service in the Texas National Guard. There is an entire website deidicated to it titled

Conversely, I mentioned the Jeff Gannon story in the context of framing the White House news. This has not gotten even close to the amount of attention, partially because Dan Rather is a huge name in news and Jeff Gannon is, well, someone who I didn't even know of until about two weeks ago. That said, I think both The Daily Show (quicktime)(some mature content!) and this piece from Anderson Cooper do a good job detailing this issue. The issue really is about someone who seems like a fake reporter who was let in to ask "softball questions." Is this as bad as using fake evidence that you didn't properly check out? I am not certain. But that said, it's interesting that both sides are interested in framing the news.

By the way, if you are like me and are hypercritical of all media (hey it's my job!), you may want to see this video from The Daily Show (quicktime) (some mature content) on the "new journalism". It's fairly inciteful about how you should always question reporters and their motives. That does not mean you ignore reporters, rather you are always critical and you ask for evidence or question the questions they ask. Also, this is an interview that is very candid between Ari Fleischer and John Stewart of the Daily Show. Here he talks about managing the news and framing it. In many ways this is because I would like all of my students to become something of an iconoclast and thinking critically about all media images, sounds and expressions. This is what it means to be part of an active democracy!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Comm 200 and 226: Deepen your Blogs

I will be gone starting on Thursday morning until Monday morning and will be out of touch for the most part. So, you should still be posting your quality posts as I do plan on checking them out if I can find a connection. If not, I will do it when I return.

That said, many of your blog sites can improve and improve the quality of your in-class research experience and I want to suggest that you take the time to do just that in the next four days. Devote an hour and a half to working on your sidebar and your blog will become that much deeper. Allow me to give you a few examples of blogs that I feel have very deep and helpful sidebars. The first one is Baseballnews.Blogspot. Just look at the sidebar on the left-hand side of this blog. Any major league franchise and a blog about that franchise (official or unofficial) is just a click away. This makes thos blog an exceptional research resource not only for its reader, but also for its blog composers.

For another example of something that is even more specialized, look at, a blog devoted to Pakistani Music. It's links are a bit more limited, but they take you to sites that are of interest to this person and, ideally, the readers as well.

Finally, here's one blog that is very deep and useful for someone like myself who studies media. It is called Abu Aardvark and it deals with "Arab Media". The amazing thing about this is if you scroll down the blog and follow the right-hand sidebar you run into an amazing sidebar devoted to Arab Media links. How helpful! How convenient! To an outsider such as myself this is one of those blogs that I feel makes me want to learn more about these institutiuons and that is the point!.

So take some time and work on your sidebar and you will find that yoru project won't so much be an assignment but something that you find yourself getting further and further into.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Comm 226: Blogging and Contemporary Connections

Dear Class, one of the things that this blogging should be about is making the things in class more relevant to your life. As we are in the middle of the 6th week I will need more participation on your part to make this class energetic and blogging is one way to do that. There were a number of really smart posts that connected issues of brand loyalty to discussions made in class last week by Dan on the NHL lockout and another Brand Loyalty and one's Jeans by Erin. Another was on how ads often have to take on Nationalist airs in order to reach its audience and Derek makes this point on Canadian Advertising. That reminds me of one of my favorite ads of all time, this ad for Molson beer about being Canadian (quicktime). Really wonderful stuff about Canadian culture. Anyways, notice, that and each of these posts and others like them that have taken soemthing discussed in class or the readings and made it relevant. That's a big positive and it will help better get the main ideas in the class. It will also help your peers.

As you blog think of this as the opportunity to make contemporary connections. This class deals with the past, but it is a very relevant and pertinent past, one that is little over 140 years. That isn't much time and we are still dealing with many of the issues and concepts. Technologies and standardization, PR and advertising are all issues that you must deal with each day of your life, even if you do not necessarily think about it.

On Friday I think I am going to show you a film about needing to control information in a time of chaos where the stakes are high. It is titled Control Room and is about how the allies CentCom worked to put out their story and Al Jazeera is putting out another. I will show the first 55 minutes or so and will give you a writing exercise to turn in later. We will relate this back to PR, so please finish the first four chapters by Friday.

Take care and see you later!

Friday, February 18, 2005

Comm 226: Quizzes for Study

Class, I promised you the quizzes and here is a copy of the fourth quiz and the fifth quiz. I hope that you can find some time to help each other through discussion and study groups and look forward to seeing you next week Monday for your exam. Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Comm 200: Quantitative Keyterms

Dear Class,

Up until now you have done the readings and taken notes without keyterms. I don't believe in giving keyterms until after people read and listen since they are often mistaken for "the only terms you should look out for". Still, I expect you to be able to learn the vocabularly and given that there is quite a bit in the book, I would like you to begin to think of your projects with certain terms in mind. I have made a list of keyterms, terms that you should have an understanding of in both definition and how to use them in a proposal, in a word doc that is available here. I will add some more terms later and let you know when I have updated it, but I think that this is a good time for you to begin to test yourself and your peers. Remembers use this language and you should be able to use it if you want to communicate as a researcher in any field. And the only way to learn a language is practice, practice, practice. Use these terms in your blog, when discussing your survey, etc. It will take some time but they will stick if you practice!

Comm 200 and 226: More on blogging.

Dear class members,

Many of you are reporting that you are running into bugs with blogger. All I can say is that if you cannot post, give it some time an make certain to cut and paste your code into a word or text doc and try later. Blogger has bugs and it jams up. I wish I could do something about itr, but I can't. That's the sad truth.

In other cases I am hearing about students who are having trouble with their hypertext links. I think this is often the result of bad coding, although I am not always certain. If your code is off even just one character inside the quotation marks, you will not be able to retrieve your desired text. Computers are dumb and they only do what we tell them to do. So always double check your code if you are having problems.

Finally, you guys are interested in another couple of hours of blog help this Friday could you write me back tomorrow by 10am in the morning? If I have enough interest I can put aside some time to assist like I did last week. There was a decent turnout in the lab last week, but it was mainly Comm 200 students. If you 226ers want some help, then let's do it.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Comm 200 and 226: A Time to Practice Blogging and a survey, for you!

Hey, Guys. I want to offer you a chance to come work on your blogging skills with me on Friday not only in class, but also from 2pm to 4pm in Higley 325. I have reserved the lab to spend a few hours with you and we can work on making your blog more "personal" or informative. I can give you a number of tips I have picked up in the last few months. And if we have few people, then you will get more attention. It should be fun!

Also, and especially for students in Comm 200, if you could take a minute to do this survey, I would be grateful.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Comm 226: Modeling Your Research

Hey class, I am getting a lot of questions about your dossier proposal, which is a good thing. Keep em coming! I will answer them as soon as I can. But one of the things that I want you to do is begin to conceptually model your project by keeping the "triangle" that I introduced in class in mind. Because many of you seem to have forgotten this triangle, and because I feel it is one of the more important ways to think about communication in general, here is is as a pdf file for you to download. Please check it out and plot out how your topic and question might fit in this triangle. We can always walk through it in my office hours, so download it and begin to think about how this applies to your dossier.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Comm 200: Permanent Fatal Errors Q&A

Hey Class. One of the things that I want to do tomorrow is think about the article "Permanent Fatal Errors". This is a discussion about the aftermath of the 2004 Presidential election. Elections are our most interesting and dramatic "Cross Sectional Surveys" for they measure public opinion at one point in time. But, they are not very sophisticated and one of the things that is hard to discern is "what does it mean that someone voted for X candidate". The way people try to find out is through another form or cross sectional surveillance: exit polling. Not only do they ask "who did you vote for?" but they ask a another set of questions in order to find out why people voted the way they did. After the election many pundits thought that the reason that Bush won was he was able to get a "morality" vote. The problem is that this is really vague: what is "Morality"? Despite what some people in our society believe, the term "morality" is rather undefined and squishy. As you read this article that is critical of the exact nature of polling, please pay attention to why Menand is critical. What is it about polling that makes it a less-than-exact science, but still a valid method?

You should have a bloglines account by now and be ready to do some "cross posting" next week. I will ask for your first quality post next week. If you do not know what is a quality post, please see the portion under the headline quality post by clicking here.

Finally, we will spend time redefining your RQ, yet again. Please come prepared to discuss these questions for at least 15 to 20 minutes. Look at what you have already posted and think about how you could be even more refined in your questioning. We may look at a few in class.

Take care.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Comm 226: Thoughts on Technology

Hey guys, I hope that you are beginning to get something of an idea on how blogger works. I know we haven't posted anything, but we will next week and shortly thereafter you will have a number of assignments that help you get accustomed to working together on the internet. If you do not have an idea what you are doing and have not found a sense of ease by sometime next week, please come meet with me. If you have not even made a blogger account and have been added to your group's blogsite, then you better get on it. Ask them how to do it or, again, come see me.

Also, I hope that you can use the mass society and technology website I have posted in order to better frame the lectures and the readings. We will discuss Chapters four and six on friday after the quiz and a brief few notes. Please come prepared for discussion.

If you have misplaced the handout I gave to you today, you can get the pdf file of the proposal needs here anytime.

Finally, even if you think that you may not have a good idea of what you want to study, I hope that you are formulating research ideas soon. If you want to come and just chat with me, write me so we can schedule some office hours time or just drop by. If no one is in then we can most definitely chat. If you want to schedule a time outside of office hours, let's do so.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Comm 200: About to Liftoff into the Quantitative!

Hello class! I hope your weekend has gone well. I am about to find some time in a coffee shop getting prepared for the upcoming week's classes and the enjoy our snowfall. As such, I want to make a few announcements. First of all, if you are still having problems with setting up a bloglines account, please do so as by Tuesday. It is terribly easy and it is essential for all of the upcoming blogging assignments. Just click on the link above and make an account with a password that is easy to remember. If you need help come see me during my office hours tomorrow and we can walk through it. If you have already done it and know someone who needs help, please help them!

Secondly... NO QUIZ TOMORROW! I know I have that on the syllabus and I may give you one on Wednesday, but I think we are a little behind and need to catch up. We will still have a quiz on Friday, so put it in your books!

We will meet in the Communication Lab yet again and I will go through the end of the lecture from Wednesday and begin a new lecture. After this, we will begin to refine your RQs even further. Tonight, take a minute and look at your group's many RQs posted on your blog. Before you come pto class, ask yourself, "are these questions specific enough?" If they are not then how could you make them as specific as possible. As yourself is there a specific unit of analysis that could be measured? And if so what is it (or what are they)? If you cannot identify any, then rewrite these questions with speicifc units of analysis.

We will spend some time getting to a very specific RQ. But don't think this is something that you can just get without preparation. It will become very clear who has actually taken some time tonight to jot down a better set of RQs and who has not. A small amount of preparation tonight will pay off tomorrow!

Read the assigned Frey chapters and I will see you tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Comm 200: Thoughts on Reading and Method

This week's reading is small, but it fits into the theme of research with "real world" implications. I would like you to have looked closely at it by the time class begins tomorrow. "The Stovepipe" by Seymour Hersh is an investigative article about how information is acquired. Only a few weeks ago the Bush administration announced that they were giving up their investigation into WMDs in Iraq. This announcement occurred conveninently two months after the general election, thus deflecting criticism about claims made by the administration that they knew Iraq had WMDs and, in some cases, knew where they were. Given that this was the primary case used to convince the American public and the Congress to go to war with Iraq, this has huge implications on the public trust as well as world opinion of America in general. So Hersh's asks how did we get such inferior information? That is a method question and it is the basis of questions that deal with how information is acquired, as well as the reliability of the informants. In this case, this has to do with the "vetting process".

Also, we will have a lecture on method, something that is vital to the research process, but is most often forgotten by general readers. Unfortunately, without attention to method you actually will have very few ideas as to how you got the information you got and, therefore, won't be able to correct yourself in the future.

PS - I will say more about blogging later as I am getting many questions on it. No problem! Keep em coming. Also, remember, I have office hours. They are there for you to use.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Comm 200: Comments on yesterday's discussion, some terms to look out for...

I thought the discussion was good, even if we had different versions of the reading due to printout variances. In the future, let's all try to print outr the "printer friendly version" of the online articles if they are available.

I thought some key terms came up and I will be developing over the course a "key terms page" with HTML that will act as an online glossary. That said, Investingating Communication has an extensive glossary and I would like you to use it when you need to. Here are the following key terms you should look up...
Anecdotal Evidence
Personal Experience
Unit of Analysis
You should look these up and see if you can apply them not only to our readings in the future, but all of your work in every class at Denison. Say a professor makes an assertion that we know what kind of armor was used in the Penelopennesian War, ask them what kind of "empirical evidence do we have to make such a claim". It's not being uppity (unless you are doing it simply to be difficult), but inquisitive. These are good questions to ask because they draw us further into a conversation rather than simply accepting a bunch of claims because of the authority of those who dispense them. It's ok to be critical in this manner, no matter how annoyed some people get. I will continue to talk about this later.

About the article: The more I read it the more convinced I am about the hard work that one performs when one does long term research. It's something that anyone with a degree needs to understand since you will most likely have to perform, at least once in your life, a kind of "long term research project". In fact, this may happen many times over. Do not get frustrated by not getting quick results, Quick results tend to be cheap and just like anything cheap it usually loses whatever value it has just as quickly as one got it.

See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Comm 226: Comments on Orality and Writing

Hey, I am about to hit the road here after a long day in the office and I wanted to make a few comments about orality and writing as I listen to the new Mos Def. Hip Hop culture, perhaps more than any other form of recent popular culture, is firmly committed to "oral culture", a culture where you either know it or you don't. I can't imagine a rapper getting on stage and freestyling with lyrics in hand. No "skillz" right? There is still something heroic and respected about this type of knowledge where one can remember a lengthy rap and deliver it with such ease and flow that it' mastery must be recognized. Given that hip hop is the most popular form of pop culture there is today, here is something for us to remember: perhaps we have quite a bit of an interest in orality today.

That said, for the most part the key issues of power, identity and technology seemed to those that really hit home for many of you. Do yourself a favor and go back and re-read those readings this weekend and instead of thinking of Egyptian Pharoahs and priests, think about the power that mass media corporations, programmers, and franchises have in terms of "branding" and creating a following of readers and loyalists. Despite our relatively high levels of literacy and scientific knowledge, many of us still feel the need to identify with something larger than ourselves. I keep thinking of fandom in mass society and how that is constructed (and how our fandom constructs who we are and with whomewe identify). What is it about our identities that somehow are connected to mass produced and distributed texts like baseball games (hey, most of the sports we watch is on TV and TV isn't natural: it is a produced text)? I hope you will mull this over tonight and tomorrow.

By the way, your pictures can be found by clicking here. Check out what y'all look like at 9:30am. Show your friends!


Monday, January 17, 2005

Communication 226: A request and the upcoming readings.

Hey guys, remember we take pictures on Wednesday. Bring your "game face"!

I need to make a request of you. Many of you wrote that you would like to "study television" if you were to study anything in a communication course. That is fine, but it is far too vague. What, specifically, about television would you like to study? A particular type of programming? Social effects? Be specific! The more specific you are, the better I can help you help yourself. This is something that you can all do. If you wrote that you wanted to study advertising, you need to think more and more specifically about it. We will study mass society and community and that may sound general, but we will always be focused on a number of examples. For you to do your research you need to start focusing today. It doesn't mean you need to choose, but think about focusing to a few things you find interesting about your topic, an specific example if you will. We will come back to this over and over throughout the class.

Also, you have two short readings about writing and oral culture. In the first essay I would like you to pay attention to how writing, technologies and power are intimately connected. As you read it, are their contemporary connections between those in ancient Egypt and today? If so, what are they? Are there other examples in history where we see a shift in writing and technology affect power structures?

In the second essay, the issue has to do with how important "orality". Why does Ong believe that orality is so important for explaining issues of memory and knowledge? What is "secondary orality"? Can "orality" be "written"? If so, how? What kinds of technology would write "oral culture" and what kind of effect would this have on us?

These are discussion questions. Jot down some answers and come prepared to talk about this on Wednesday and, hopefully, we can take this into Friday as well.

Communication 200: Webpage Pictures and First Reading Thoughts

I posted the photos and you can check em out by clicking here. A couple of them came out fuzzy, but I can always retake your image later. If you hate, hate, hate your headshot, send me another and, if it is accurate, I will post it later. We will actually use some of these later in your blogs.

Also, your first reading is "Learning to Spy" by Elsa Walsh. When you read it think of the FBI and the CIA not as espionage organizations, but as "research organizations". And look for places where these organizations did solid research but did not necessarily share or understand the information that they required. I want to talk about why it is that a "fact gathering organization" such as the FBI may not necessarily have been the best organization to think about what the evidence means or what it could mean with regards to future events.
Why would it be bad to have too much information, as the article implies.

Why do certain organizations have a hard time communicating about the same topic or idea? Why would the NSA, FBI and CIA have such a difficult time finding a common way to research "terrorism" as the article implies?

One of the things that CIA and NSA develop is many of our "reconnaissance capabilities" for military targeting. Why would the quality of research information be key for this?
Jot down some other thoughts about the article as you like. Admittedly, I find the article kind of scary, but it also interesting to note that doing research is always hard work. There is little magic to it. My favorite quote from the article is the following,
Everybody, Baginski said, tends to make intelligence “sound so hard and mysterious, and it’s really not. You need something, you go get raw material, and you add value to it. You put out a product and you keep adjusting, based on the feedback that you get. That really is all it is.”
Adjusting from solid feedback from other is key! We will come back to this time and time again throughout this course so be prepared to give it to your peers through discussion and web posts.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

The Syllabi and the Gateways

If you are reading this, then you are most likely enrolled in Communication 200 and/or 226. Both of these classes will involve substantial blog work, including using this forum for the distribution of information and announcements. In other words, you should bookmark this page and come to it on a daily basis.

If you look to your left you will notice a number of links, two of which are the two classes I am teaching this semester. These lead you to some "less-than-exciting" gateways that are link you to content that is relevant to each of the courses. Please read the gateway that is relevant to your class today! This includes the link to the Communication Department's Mission Statement. After that, feel free to go through these pages, give suggestions and utilize them as the tools that they are menat to be. Please note: these pages are rather "wordy". They are meant to "frame" the readings and the coursework more than entertain. I may point to one section or more throughout the course in class. When I do that, it is probably a good idea to go back to these portions of these frames and inspect what it contains. I will post links to assignments and tip sheets in these pages as well, most likely they will be in the "gateway portion".

Finally, here are the two links that have your syllabi. Your first assignment: Read the syllabi on your own time and expect to get quizzed on part of it on Friday.
1) Communication 200 Syllabus

2) Communication 226 Syllabus.