Crowdsourcing (part of) a syllabus…


Diversidad etnica

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I’ll be teaching a new course this coming spring term (2012) on digital ethnography (with a likely, but somewhat bland, title of Digital Ethnography). As a methods course preceding the establishment of a new media & culture graduate certificate, I’m thinking it iwill attend to at least two areas under the “digital ethnography” heading: doing ethnographic work using digital tools, and doing ethnographic work in the digital domain.

Barring a few reading options, this is as far as I’ve gotten in the planning. I am seeking comments and input from students (potential or otherwise) about what else the course might take on. So, please post comments here with suggested readings, methodological issues, tools you are curious about (or have used)—in short, anything that you’d love to see in a class of this sort. In that I’m imagining this class to be a collaborative experiment in general, having at least part of the syllabus co-authored/crowdsourced is fine first step in my mind. And I’ll certainly credit any/all contributions that I end up using!

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mimetic inquiry @ AFS 2011

I’m heading to the annual American Folklore Society meetings in Bloomington, IN, and will participate in a poster session focused on digital humanities. This will be the test drive for the “mimetic inquiry” concept I’ve been batting around. A JPEG of the poster is above, and here is how I describe the concept on the poster:

Embracing an ethos within digital humanities that positions the “digital” as simultaneously object of study and context of scholarly practice, mimetic inquiry utilizes tools of digital content creation and manipulation to generate interpretative analysis that is both process and product-oriented. As such, it entails ethnographically-grounded interpretation that echoes artistic processes, while proposing a move beyond textual representation as the norm for cultural research.

I’m hoping to get some feedback so that I can continue to refine the ideas I’m working with and push this idea further into the realm of usable.


Folklore, webinars, and workshops—oh my!

Image courtesy Wisconsin Historical Images (some rights reserved)

On April 1 I was in Madison, WI for a workshop co-sponsored by the University of Wisconsin Folklore Program, the American Folklore Society, and the ARIS team at UW. ARIS stands for “augmented reality interactive storytelling,” and the project consists of an iPhone app (the client) and a web-based game editor within which someone would construct a “situated documentary” or place-based educational “game.” Run largely by ARIS team members, the workshop focused on getting folklorists to think about how to employ this platform (and related technologies) in cultural heritage/tourism contexts. We did plenty of hands-on work with the extremely-alpha editor (based on MIT open source code), but also spend time discussing best practices, limitations to application, and conceptual issues related to the whole effort. Since the games in ARIS are place-based, you can’t really play them unless you are physically in the places they reference, but the app is free and once they move into beta stages of development I imagine there will be wider access to the whole system.

Somewhat related, I received an announcement the other day about a series of webinars hosted by South Arts (regional arts non-profit that works with nine state arts agencies in the U.S. South). Geared largely toward folklorists and heritage workers, the series kicks off on April 13. Go here for a descriptive list of all of them, but below are selected highlights:

April 13, 2011 10:00 a.m. ET (1.5 hrs)

Folklife Emergency! 12 Steps to Readiness
All areas of the nation are subject to emergencies including natural disasters and human-caused events. However, our cultural resources-including people, buildings, and objects-are often at risk for severe damage or loss. Learn about 12 simple things that you can do right now to protect your folklife and cultural heritage assets.

May 5, 2011 2:00 p.m. ET (1.5 hrs)

Digital Tools for the Folk
Spotlight on digital trends and tools folklorists can use to advance their work. Participants will learn about an assortment of free and low-cost resources easy enough for the non-techie to use.

June 1, 2011 10:00 a.m. ET (1.5 hrs)

Online Exhibits: Get Your Fabulous Folklore Content to an Online Audience
As more and more organizations jump on the online exhibit bandwagon, competition for eyeballs gets tougher. In this webinar you’ll learn best practices to make your exhibit stand out from the rest.

All of the workshops have some sort of connection to media, management, documentation, and arts/culture work. Each costs $25.oo to register, and look well worth it.

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Random media-ites (or bits of media stuff)

The Flaming Lips, Zoo Amphitheater, Oklahoma C...

Image via Wikipedia

Some things I’ve run across lately, stemming from either my recent trip to the Educause/ELI meetings in Washington D.C. or from people passing things along to me. Likely of interest to students in my Media Management Praxis course, but maybe not.  No annotations, just links:

A DIY Data Manifesto here

Flaming Lips cellphone symphony here

Great PBS series on “Digital Media: New Learners in the 21st Century” here

Visualizing tweets here

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Another cloud tool…

Just discovered Tagxedo, which is a far more flexible tool than Wordle for making word clouds/visualizations from text. The catch is that Tagxedo requires Silverlight, a Microsoft browser extension…

With Tagxedo, you have a lot more control over shape, which words are included, and potential sources (Tweet streams, URLs, etc). Definitely worth checking out!

Here is a cloud I made from the Twitter feed generated during the Oregon Folklife Network‘s launch-symposium, “Public Folklore in the 21st Century“:

OFN Twitter stream cloud

Click on the image or follow this link to get to a “live”/larger version on the Tagxedo site…

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