Media, Technology, and Education

New Definition of “Friend”

One of the ways that I first knew that Facebook was having a major impact on our society was that I heard my friends in the real world, many of whom are English professors, using the word “friend” as a verb.  Before Facebook, “friend” was a noun.  Before Facebook, the verb form of “friend” was “befriend.” …

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Increase Your Probabilistic Inference Skills

The latest salvo in the “games good for you” vs. “games bad for you” debate has been fired.  For now, it seems that games are good for you. Researchers at the University of Rochester chose 26 subjects who had never played action-packed first person shooter games like “Call of Duty” and “Unreal Tournament.”  Over a period…

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Mad Men Mixed Media

Mad Men is one of the most interesting shows on television right now.  The characters continue to reveal layers of complexity into the show’s third season.  The early 1960’s setting is rife with tension–between women and men, blacks and whites, old and young, between the staid 1950’s and the revolutionary 1960’s–that we know is going…

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Facebook Places

Here’s the status update of one of my friends on Facebook today (August 29): “IMPORTANT!!!   Facebook launched Facebook Places yesterday. Anyone can find out where you are when you are logged in. It gives the actual address & map location of where you are as you use Facebook. Make sure your kids know.  Go to…

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Barack Obama X?

I could not believe what I was hearing on NPR this afternoon.   I had heard about the “Hussein” controversy when Obama was running for President of the United States, where conservative commentators tried to make a big deal of his middle name during the 2008 election.  I even changed my own middle name on Facebook…

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Social Games

I recently traveled to Oxford University in England to present a paper at a conference called Videogame Cultures and the Future of Interactive Entertainment.  The conference brought together aabout 25 people from all over the world and from a wide variety of disciplines.  It was one of the best conferences I’ve ever attended and I…

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Translating Between Media

One of the best books I’ve ever read is a short novel about South Africa after the end of apartheid.  The novel is the Booker Prize-winning Disgrace written by J.M. Coetzee, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2003.  Disgrace tells the story of David Lurie, a white South African professor of English, who loses his job and…

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Nothing is Real

I got back from a visit to England about two weeks ago.  Throughout the trip, I thought about my friend, Robin, and her recent NEMLA panel on Post-Modern Tourism.  Ann and I visited a number of tourist sites that reminded me of Baudrillard and the hyper-real.  The Sherlock Holmes Museum was a special treat.  It…

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Security Theater Revisited Redux (Redux Redux …)

If you’ve read this blog before, you know that I’m interested in (and amazed by) the security theater that pervades our airport experiences.  I’m in Washington, DC as I write this, ready to review proposals submitted to the Broadening Participation in Computing CFP.  That means I experienced our airports today.  And once again, experienced amazing…

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New Ways of Thinking

A year or two ago, in one of my classes at the InterLakes Senior Center, a man asked me how he could get a copy of the information he finds on web sites.  I explained to him how to add the site to his list of favorites so that he could come back to it…

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Technology in our Lives

On a flight back from England recently, two college-aged women sat in front of me.  I overheard one of the women say to the other that she doesn’t like technology.  This seemed to me to be quite an ironic statement as we sped above the earth at an altitude of 40,000 feet and a ground…

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The Post In Which I Get Philosophical

Anyone who knows anything about me knows that I am an agnostic.  So it might be a surprise to learn that this post was inspired by a sign on a church.  I was out on my bike this afternoon, a place where I do some of my best thinking.  I was reflecting on the challenges that…

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