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Wednesday
Nov302005

Fiction meets tech

I admit I am a voracious fiction reader – mostly of books my mother would not approve of me reading. While I do like a graceful writing style and am growing increasingly intolerant of clumsy novelists, I still like in large doses sex, mayhem, murder, mystery and, well, more sex, murder, mayhem and mystery. I appreciate any genre –sci fi, historical fiction, thriller, technical manual – that includes sex, mayhem, murder, and mystery.

In my article on e-books, I speculated:

From reports of developing technologies, one may safely conclude a true e-book:…
Will change the nature of “fiction.” Many writers may experiment with text that is customizable by the end user for both artistic and commercial purposes. The reader may substitute the name of his or her current inamorata or inamorato for the protagonist (or murder victim). The latest Stephen King can be set to mild, scary or terrifying, or Harold Robbins to suggestive, lurid, or … well, let’s not go there. Video games and fiction may merge and the skills and choices of the reader/player may determine the outcome of the plot. Today’s most highly rated video games are plot-driven. Metal Gear Solid: the Twin Snakes is an example, according to my gamer son.

What great fun for those of us who are not literary purists. (Although I have enough English major in my bones to think that an electronic book in which George lets Lenny live or Beowulf gets bested by Grendel’s mom would somehow lead to the eventual collapse of civilization.)

It’s fun to see a couple other folks thinking on the same lines:
Once we have cheap e-books, the medium by which we read will also be a medium by which can write and respond. Reading will cease being a solitary act and will become a social one. You can see this already with blogs. David Weinberger's JoHo the Blog
Can the Sims or Second Life be considered a work of on-going fiction? Is e-mail correspondence ever literature? Are there novels in blog form in existence? (Dickens, after all, made his fortune by serializing his novels.)

Julia  Keller in her article,  Plugged in Proust, Nov 27 Chicago Tribune, writes:
Literature, like all genres, is being reimagined and remade by the constantly unfolding extravagance of technological advances. The question of who's in charge -- the producer or the consumer -- is increasingly relevant to the literary world. The idea of the book as an inert entity is gradually giving way to the idea of the book as a fluid, formless repository for an ever-changing variety of words and ideas by a constantly modified cast of writers.
English teachers beware!

 
Are hypertext minds be more likely to read hypertext novels? How would you like your favorite recreational reading material to take advantage of electronic publication? Or would you just as soon it didn’t? 

Tuesday
Nov292005

Equipping the "smart" media center

This came in this afternoon's e-mail:

Hi Doug. I came across your handout for "Is Technology Making a Difference in Your School" while searching for some prototypes for long range media center equipment.
 
Do you have any planning instruments to help us plan for Media Center equipment as we move from standard classrooms to smart classrooms?
 
Any ideas you can share would be helpful. 

 Good question. No planning instruments, I‘m afraid. Off the top of my head, I’d certainly include these things in my “smart” classroom planning if justified by your program.

Media center classroom

  • Ceiling-mounted LCD projector.
  • Interactive whiteboard.
  • Good computer with Internet connectivity.
  • Sound amplification for computer and speakers.
  • Remote pointing device/wireless mouse.
  • VCR/DVD/CD combo.
  • Some sort of easy to use switch to select projected devices.

Media center production lab

  •     Powerful computer with photo and video editing software.
  •     CD/DVD burning and duplicating equipment.
  •     Video and still digital cameras.
  •     Good microphones (movie narration and podcast creation)
  •     21” LCD display.
  •     color laser printer that will print on photo paper

Media center should have wireless connectivity throughout with some laptops for check out.

I still think there is a place for a computer lab in or adjacent to the media center for large group instruction in productivity software and research (along with a separate stations dedicated to library catalog access and research for both individuals and small groups).

Consider the media center being adjacent to any interactive television classrooms or housing distant learning equipment.

This is off the top of my head. I’d be anxious to hear what others think might make the media center a “smart” classroom from an equipment standpoint.

OK, Blue Skunk readers. What did I forget? I promised the writer of this question that you would have wonderful ideas. Don't let me down.

Monday
Nov282005

Blogorrhea and blogs vs cellulose

Blogorrhea noun. An unusually high volume output of articles on a blog.

Usage: "Well, 48 hours and 4,195 words later, we're reaching for our dictionary to check the definition of "significantly." After that, we're going to look up blogorrhea." - William Quick <www.samizdata.net>
I stumbled across this term the other day. I immediately felt shame. Am I guilty of blogorrhea? Does posting on a daily basis (not for the sake of the reader, but the release of the writer) qualify? Should one let one’s significant other know of this embarrassing condition? (As if the LWW doesn’t know already.)

Part of my long Turkey Day weekend was spent writing and revising two columns for publication in cellulose. Both pieces seemed to come hard from the mind to the page. Blog entries rarely do. I am wondering why.

How does writing for print (or established website) publication differ from writing in a blog?

Print: word count matters - conciceness is a virture
Blog: take as many or few words as one needs - why say something in five words you can say in ten?

Print: topic of broad interest to a particular readership – to inform, convince others
Blog: topic of personal interest – to inform, convince oneself

Print: careful proof-reading, best if by a second party
Blog: catching embarrassing mistakes (usualy)

Print: little reader response
Blog: expected reader response

Print: careful conclusions
Blog: conclusions under construction

Print: deadlines (and those whizzing sounds as they shoot by)
Blog: no deadlines, as inspiration strikes

Print: scheduled for publication 2-6 months in advance
Blog: now, yesterday is old news

Print: formal language (well, kinda for me)
Blog: natural voice, including works like kinda

Print: editorial oversight
Blog: one’s own conscience

Print: monetary remuneration
Blog: jewels in one’s crown (am I biting the hand that pours beer in my mug?)

Print: gravitas
Blog: whatever

I recently attended a Soaring to Excellence teleconference called Google and Your Patrons. One of the video segments showed two college students doing research. One chides the other that she is reading journals, not RSS feeds, to prepare for a class assignment. And this from a library teleconference. Uff-dah!

So who is better informed? The journal reader or the blog reader?
Should monthly print journals/magazines be worried about readership?
What should the informed professional be reading - blogs or journals - when there is not time for both?
What really constitutes blogorrhea? Too many words or too few ideas?