Archive for the ‘research’ Category

i spy with my little eye

April 14, 2014

Do you think our human visual perception is pretty amazing? Think again and learn about the mighty Mantis Shrimp.

It has the most sophisticated visual system in the world, as its eyes contain 16 different types of photoreceptors (12 for color analysis, compared to humanity’s 3 cones). Mantis shrimps can thus see polarized light and 4 colors of uv light, and they may also be able to distinguish up to 100,000 colors (compared to the 10,000 seen by human beings). from swissmiss | Mantis Shrimp.

And here is another article about this far out creature: How Does the Mantis Shrimp Break Glass Without Hurting Itself? | Mental Floss.

postcrossing

October 9, 2012

I used to love buying and sending postcards, but with the internet, email etc. somehow  have stopped doing so. The last postcard I sent was to my grandmother, before she died last year.

Every summer I remind my son to send postcards from his summer travels to his grandparents in two countries and to us and he dutifully obliges. Everybody, grandparents on all sides, me and my husband are delighted. However, recently he told me, that even though he does send the postcards (usually after being gently reminded though a facebook message) he “does not get this postcard thing.” Why would anybody want to receive some random card with a superficial note, when one could send photos and phone, skype, facebook or chat instead?

I don’t know if I managed to explain it to him properly. In any case – for those who grew up without the internet, with telephone land lines, mix tapes and analog film – a card, which has been bought, written, stamped and mailed by somebody, and physically made its way across the globe is still something special.

A few days ago, I signed up with postcrossing.com – a platform in support of sending and receiving postcards from people all over the world. I posted my first cards, on to Belarus, one to Hong Kong and one to Germany and now I will wait and see who will write to me.

I am interested in vernacular creativity, the kind of things ordinary people get up to, the creative practices and processes and the way people connect and interact in creative ways. David Gauntlets “Making is Connecting” comes to mind.

I browsed the gallery of hundreds of postcards posted online, which people have mailed to each other through postcrossing. Yes, the postcards are sent through mail but can also be “collected” online. I particularly like the multiview tourist  postcards, which use the letters of the name place as a frame for images. Perfect combination of word and image! So I have picked a few from postcrossing.com to share with you. I would be really chuffed if I got one of those! I’ll keep you, ahem, posted.

See also the academic paper on postcrossing by Ryan Kelly  Understanding participation and opportunities for design from an online postcard sending community

And did you know, today is World Post Day!

nostalgic media and mediated forms of nostalgia

August 17, 2012

Hey, I did not know that there used to be a superhero, ahem, space ranger called Rocky Jones with television show, comics, merchandizing and all. Makes me proud to be a Jones myself. :-)

Check out the squeaky clean Space Ranger Code: I pledge

  • to obey my parents at all times
  • to be kind an courteous to all
  • to be brave in the course of freedom, to help the weak
  • to obey the law at all times
  • to grow up clean in mind, strong in body

Children actually bought this? How times have changed.

Which reminds me of the conference  “Flashbacks – nostalgic media and mediated forms of nostalgia” coming up on 13-14 September 2012 in Basel, Switzerland. The preliminary program is here http://flashbacks2012.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/flashbacks_program3.pdf*

wonders of the modern world

August 12, 2012

I have always been interested to find out more about Otto Neurath, creator of the international picture language Isotype (International System of Typographic Picture Education) and one of the fathers of is called visual communication today. He was a central member of the Vienna Circle of philosophers. Almost a century ago, in the 1920s he started developing ideas about visualizing social facts, such as statistics on labour and economy in order to make complex ideas about social economics more accessible to all. Read more about Isotype and Neurath here and here.

Like so many other talented Austrians in the 1930s and 40s he had to leave the country ultimately escaping to Britain. He collaborated with designer Marie Reidemeister, who later became his wife Marie Neurath. Just as with other coupes – Paul and Ann Rand and Charles and Ray Eames come to mind – this seems to have been a very creative relationship. After Otto Neurath died in Oxford in 1945 Marie Neurath carried on with the work of the Isotype Institute. Otto Neurath started working on books for children in the 1940s, and the Isotype Institute under Marie Neurath produced many more books for children, notably several series of informational children’s books such as ‘Visual history of mankind’, ‘Wonders of the modern world’, ‘Visual science’, ‘The wonder world of nature’ and ‘They lived like this’. Marie Neurath’s work shows how Isotype, language and presentation can work together in reducing complexity in order to clearly  comunicate ideas to children, putting  ideas for visual education into practice. All materials of the Isotype Institute are now housed by Department of Typography & Graphic Communication, University of Reading.

The books show Marie Neurath’s remarkable contributions: her ability to identify unusual relationships between things and ideas, and to analyze and then synthesize complex information into bite-sized chunks. Her approach to making child-friendly visual explanations included teamwork, consultation with readers, and iteration between experts in a particular field and those making visual decisions.” Read more here

 

Marie Neurath and the Isotype books.

Read also Austin Kleons blog post on The Simplest Expression of an Object.

Dick and Jane

January 6, 2012

Innuendo Set | Flickr – Photo Sharing!.

These Artist Trading Cards have been made by StephanieCake apparently using pictures from a 1960’s hairstying book and the words are from a 1930’s children’s reading primer. I have been researching reading primers and so I find these very funny.

 

how to be a realist

September 18, 2010

Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl speaking in 1972: “If we take man as he really is, we make him worse. But if we overestimate him, idealize him, … see him as he should be, we make him capable of what he can become.”

educational action figures

September 17, 2010

Recently I found out by accident that I have far more subscribers to my blog than I ever imagined. I have not posted for a while, because I have been busy at other sites, but I was so touched when I found out, that I decided to keep posting at least once in a while some of the things I come across, even if I don’t have much time to write thoughtful comments. So here without much further ado a few things related to the educational potential of actions figures, all from a very different perspective. Im my research on superheroes, actions figures played a part, of course. Now here are a couple of videos: firstly, the Brontë Sisters Power Dolls, a must for anybody who loves Victorian novels!


Brontë Sisters Power Dolls

Secondly, Henry Jenkins on “Toying with Transmedia: The Future of Entertainment is Child’s Play” talking at length about actions figures. Jenkins argues such toys served children and young adults as “authoring tools” in stories that grew increasingly elaborate and technologically sophisticated over the years, spawning new kinds of play in our own time. Transmedia is not about “dumbing down popular culture,” Jenkins says. It involves complex mythologies that kids and adults can throw themselves into, with large casts of vivid characters in complex plots rivaling those in Russian novels. Transmedia storytelling also encourages children to “play out different fantasies,” Follow the link to see the video of his talk.Toying with Transmedia: The Future of Entertainment is Child’s Play | MIT World.
This was, kind of, what I wanted to get at in my MA thesis, but of course Henry Jenkins takes it a lot further and much more eloquently than I ever could.

Thirdly, here are David Gauntlett’s actions figures of famous theorists –Anthony Giddens and Michel Foucault – Even though they are almost ten years old, they still makes me smile.

And did I say, that I recently dug out my son’s box of action figures and matchbox cars? (He had wanted to sell them on e-bay last year, but I got upset and I insisted to keep them myself if he did not want to. This summer, I started playing with them and my other new toy, the camera on my iPhone. I might post some of the results soon.

social media

June 5, 2010

There are different ways of figuring out, what goes on in the social web: drawing models, in developing categories and theories. This will keep academics in their jobs for many years to come. I like this illustration of the ten levels of intimacy in today’s communication. (cannot find the source right now, will update asap)

Via Guy’s blog I found this post by Matt Locke,  Channel 4’s Education and New Media Commissioner, on his six Social Media Spaces. Here is the list:

Secret Spaces
Behaviours: Private, intimate communication, normally with only one or two others, often using private references, slang or code
Expectations: Absolute privacy and control over the communication between users, and no unauthorised communication from third parties (eg spam)
Examples: SMS, IM

Group Spaces
Behaviours: Reinforcing the identity of a self-defined group, and your position within the group, eg ‘stroking‘ behaviour to let the group share a sense of belonging, or mild competitiveness to signal hierarchies within the group (eg who has the most friends, posts, tags, etc)
Expectations: A shared reference point for the group – eg a band, football club, school, workplace, region, etc. Rules about approving membership of the group, and icons for the group to signal their membership (badges, profiles, etc)
Examples: Facebook, Myspace, Bebo, etc

Publishing Spaces
Behaviours: Creating your own content or showcasing your talents to an audience outside of your usual social group
Expectations: The ability to control the context and presentation of your creative content. Ways to receive feedback, comments and advice from other users.
Examples: Flickr, Youtube, Revver, etc

Performing Spaces
Behaviours: Playing a defined role within a game structure. Experimenting through simulation, rehearsal and teamwork to achieve a goal. Iterative exploration or repetition of activities in order to perfect their performance
Expectations: A clear set of rules that is understood by all players. Clear rewards for success or failure. The ability to test the boundaries of the game structure, or to perform extravagantly to show off your talents
Examples: MMORPGs, Sports, Drama

Participation Spaces
Behaviours: Co-ordination of lots of small individual acts to achieve a common goal. Shared belief in the goal, and advocacy to encourage participation by others.
Expectations: Rules or structures that help co-ordinate activity towards the goal. The ability to create micro-communities within larger participation groups – eg a group of friends going on a political march together, or a workplace group created to train for a marathon
Examples: Meetup, Threadless, CambrianHouse.com, MySociety

Watching Spaces
Behaviours: Passive viewing of a linear event as part of a large group. Organising a group to attend an event, and sharing experiences afterwards
Expectations: Spectacle, entertainment, a feeling of thrill or joy. A shared sense of occasion, or of being taking out of your everyday existence for the duration of the event. Mementos or relics of the event (eg programmes, tickets, recordings, photos, etc)
Examples: Television, Cinema, Sports, Theatre, etc.

wrestling with angels

May 8, 2010

Stuart Hall compared the theoretical work, the work of the academic or intellectual, with a struggle using the metaphor: “wrestling with the angels.” He added: “The only theory worth having is that which you have to fight off, not that which you speak with profound fluency.” Its a curious image Hall uses here. Tracing it back to Jakob’s biblical struggle with an unknown, who might have according to various interpretation been a man, an angel or God himself, shows that the meaning of the story is ambiguous. Jacob, after having wrestled with the angel all night, overcomes him, but then asks him for his blessing.

Furthermore, Satan himself was an fallen angel, who according to Milton in Paradise Lost used his abundant rhetorical abilities and persuasive powers for his own purposes, with long lasting consequences, as we all know. Was Jakob wrestling with a fallen angel, or an angel who would fall, after all? To muddle things up further William Blake later reversed the meaning of Heaven and Hell and stated that Milton “was a true Poet and of the Devil’s party without knowing it.”

So who is the theorist, according to Hall, wrestling with? Hall leaves the interpretation to the reader, “you can take as literally as you like,” he says. I think “wrestling with the angels” is a great metaphor, and I may use it to preface my PhD thesis, if I ever manage to finish it. My night of wrestling with the angels is not over yet.
Stuart Hall (1992)  Cultural Studies and its Theoretical Legacies (originally published in Cultural Studies, ed. Lawrence  Grossberg, Cary Nelson, Paula Treichler. New York and London: Routledge, 1992

conference presentation

May 2, 2010

I love all the picture and comic books the children have produced in the winter term during the first phase of the research project “Media Education in Primary Schools”.

This year I will be presenting some of my research into teaching media literacy/multimodal literacy in primary schools, based on results from the MIVA Project on the following international conferences:

„Key Concepts revisited: Teaching Teachers about Media Literacy“ as part of the Symposiums: Teaching Media Literacy in Primary Schools at  UKLA International Conference 1010 „The Changing Face of Literacy: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,“ Winchester, 9.-11. July 2010
Abstract: Teaching Media Literacy in Primary Schools

“Teaching media literacy with magazines and comics: a case study from Austrian primary schools“ 32. International IBBY Congress, Santiago de Compostela. 8.-12. September, http://www.ibbycompostela2010.org/
Abstract: Teaching Media Literacy with Magazines and Comics

I will also be presenting at some national conferences and seminars, for example at the Bundestagung zur ganzheitlich-kreativen Lernkultur an der Sekundarstufe 1: BMUKK und in Zusammenarbeit mit der Pädagogischen Hochschule Wien, 27.-28.09.2010. Looking forward to it all.

reading traces

November 25, 2009

“Writing, like human language, is engendered not only within the human community but between the human community and the animate landscape, born of the interplay and contact between the human and the more than human world. The earthly terrain in which we find ourselves, and upon which we depend from our nourishment, is shot through with suggestive scrawls and traces, from the sinuous calligraphy of rivers winding across the land, inscribing arroyos and canyons into the parched earth of the desert, to the black slash burned by lightning into the trunk of an old elm. The swooping flight of birds is a kind of cursive script written on the wind; it is this script that was studied by the ancient “augurs” who could read therein the course of the future. Leaf-miner insects make strange hieroglyphic tabloids of the leaves they consume. Wolves urinate on specific stumps and stones to mark off their territory. And today you read these printed words as tribal hunters once read the tracks of deer, moose, and bear printed in the soil of the forest floor. Archaeological evidence suggests that for more than one million years the subsistence of humankind has depended upon the acuity of such hunters, upon their ability to read the traces – a bit of scat here, broken twig there – of these animal Others. These letters I print across the page, the scratches and scrawls you now focus upon, trailing off across the white surface, are hardly different from the footprints of prey left in the snow. We read these traces with organs honed over millennia by our tribal ancestors moving instinctively from one track to the next, picking up the trail afresh whenever it leaves off, hunting the meaning, which would be the meeting with the Other.”

This is a quote from David Abram (1996) The Spell of the Sensuous. New York, Random House. To him the alphabet “is a strange and potent technology”.

edupunk comic

October 16, 2009

I have introduced ComicLife to a group of primar school teachers, and it will be interesting to see what they will be coming up with in their classrooms. In the meantime I found this comic.2595116903_64a0fcaa75_o
Edupunks, meddlers in the middle, teaching as subversive activity – where is my research leading me to next?

secret powers & subversive activities

September 26, 2009

Keri Smith’s blog is always an inspiring place to drop by, which got me to buy some of her books. Promoting her new “This is Not a Book” book she posted these illustrations on the penguingroup blog:

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She sums up very well what sadly, is many children’s experience. It certainly reflects to a large extent what my son had to go through. I might use this in some teacher training course!

Interestingly the Austrian Minsitry of Education has recently issued an edict demanding “holistic-creative learning culture in schools” outlining how  creativity should be a guiding principle for learning across the curriculum. This is great in principle, yes, but it beats me how educational authorities think creativity can be ordered on demand. As if a whole national school system developed over centuries, designed to stifle creativity will change with the issue of a five page statement. It will take some substantial backing in the form of funding, appropriate teacher training, dedicated and supportive groups of people in key positions, well planned long term strategies, the freedom to take risks and  lots of patience to see some real change. Otherwise it will just remain one more edict which teachers, in reality, are free to ignore.

plot_sm

Which leads to Keri Smiths second drawing in her post on “how I discovered my secret powers: Plot to infiltrate the system.” I think hers is a very good plan – I could do with some more superpowers though :-)

This reminds me of  Teaching as a Subversive Activity by Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner, first published in 1971. While the book sometimes is polemical and sketchy and has to be understood within the context of its time,  it is still an interesting and thought provoking read. It was also published in German, but is now out of print.


If its on the interweb it must be true

September 26, 2009

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Museumsquartier by loungerie on Flickr

On July 7 20o9 the “Internet Research Group” from the University of Vienna presented YouTube Cinema with a programme called “Fake!” at the Museumsquartier in Vienna. Everybody had ten minutes to show and talk about  some favourites. It was a fun evening with some lively discussions. Here is our playlist:
YouTube Kino: Fake!

the red book

September 23, 2009

Here the New York TImes have a fascinating report about Carl Jung’s private notebook with personal reflections as well as drawings, which has been kept from the public until now.  He worked on the Red Book for a period of 16 years, and ever since his death it has been locked away. Now, for the first time it is going to be published.

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<click to enlarge>

Carl Jung said the Red Book stemmed from his “confrontation with the unconscious,” during which visions came in an “incessant stream.”

“I should advise you to put it all down as beautifully as you can — in some beautifully bound book,” Jung instructed. “It will seem as if you were making the visions banal — but then you need to do that — then you are freed from the power of them. . . . Then when these things are in some precious book you can go to the book & turn over the pages & for you it will be your church — your cathedral — the silent places of your spirit where you will find renewal. If anyone tells you that it is morbid or neurotic and you listen to them — then you will lose your soul — for in that book is your soul.”

Wow, this is intriguing. I might have mentioned before, that many years ago I researched the visonary writings of Jakob Boehme, a German mystic, who had visions, and who is thought of as the first German philosopher, e.g. by Hegel. > On my Christmas Wish List!

via Austin Kleon

structural violence

September 20, 2009

How do you visualize a concept, which implies a complex theoretical discourse and is also embodied in our experience, something such as structural violence?

Sometimes an image search will bring up a series of useful visualisations. Sometimes it is hard to find something that works, so you have to think laterally and  that search may bring up new ideas of how to think about a phenomenon.

Here is what I have come up with for structual violence related to an educational context:

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engWord_large

I am not sure yet, if this is what I really meant to say, but it is what I found to be expressive and telling so far. For some reason the images all include writing. Now I wonder, is this a concidence? Or does it say something about how language and literacy is used in power relationsships? Note to self: Read Bourdieu’s Language and Symbolic Power and Foucault’s Diszipline and Punish.

academic writing

September 19, 2009

essays

Graph by Dingo from graphjam.com

My son is in the process of applying for universities, the whole family involved in the game. I am happy that he sucessfully completed school, and that he is clever and mature for an eighteen year old.  But I cannot help worrying about his first steps into this strange world of academia. This pie chart from graphjam.com makes me laugh, as there is some truth in it. It could be turned into a tool for teaching students how to write essays:

You cannot brag if you don’t know something about your subject, which you can show off, so do it. Ass Kissing means that you have to know the important players in the field, who said relevant things. You should acknowledge, what you have learned from them. You don’t have to be sycophantic, though. Sometimes clever Name Dropping is enough, to show that you know what you are doing, and that should be included in the chart. And well, the slice of Relevant Content could be bigger.

Of course there is also the other side, the bitter truth about the essays you get from students. No comment on this chart, it speaks for itself:

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Graph by: cheez_masta via Graph Jam Builder

To round it all off here is a Calvin & Hobbs cartoon:

calvin-essay-writing

portraits from dürer to facebook

September 10, 2009

This summer I went to see a few great exhibitions in London. Last week I went to the National Portrait Gallery for the first time. I found it a strange experience, in particular the galleries and long corridors with paintings and busts from the Tudors to the Victorians. Long rows of  extremely ugly, joyless, nasty people people staring down on you. But I did love some like the portrats of William Blake and William Shakspeare for their graceful simplicity and the lovely expression of their eyes, and Harold Pinter’s and Neil Kinnock and his wife’s for their storytelling and gentle humour. And I heard Larry Friedlander talk about Portraits from Durer to Facebook at the Transforming Audiences 2 Conference at Westminster University. (see here)  Of course, doing all this research on Flickr I cannot help getting more and more interested in visual portraits. Last term my colleague Selma Koric and myself did a mini research project: “International exchange students using of digital photography to keep in touch with friends and family”, where we studied the use of photos for self representations on social media sites such as StudiVZ and the Russian version of Facebook. One tentative conculsion was, that a substantial level of media literacy is necessary for people to feel they are in control of their presence online, if not they are not happy and don’t know even exactly why.

NPG 212, William Blake

William Blake

NPG 1, William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare

NPG 6185, Harold Pinter

Harold Pinter

NPG 6583, Neil Gordon Kinnock; Glenys Elizabeth Kinnock

Neil Gordon Kinnock; Glenys Elizabeth Kinnock

What Kind of Tech User Are You?

May 22, 2009

What Kind of Tech User Are You?
from Pew Internet

Apparently I am a Digital Collaborator.

If you are a Digital Collaborator, you use information technology to work with and share your creations with others. You are enthusiastic about how ICTs help you connect with others and confident in your ability to manage digital devices and information. For you, the digital commons can be a camp, a lab, or a theater group – places to gather with others to develop something new.

blackboard

May 16, 2009

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Currently thinking about old and new media practices, and teaching digital literacy to teachers in training I came across these images by David Silver’s photostream on Flickr.

These photos sum it all up nicely. Here is his blog with some interesting stuff including 5 ways my students use twitter

I like the way photography changes the use of the good old blackboard as it allows to fix something that is so  transient as chalk on board.

taking video literal

March 14, 2009

billy-idol13

White Wedding: Literal Video Version – watch more funny videos

This literal video version of White Wedding by Billy Idol made me laugh out loud. I guess you had to be there in the eighties, when some of your friends were Gothic, some of your friends were New Wave and some of your friends were Straight Edge, and you had a little brother tapping his feet in black leather pants, to really appreciate this wry comment on eighties pop culture.

via boing boing

On a more serious note, this video illustrates well how words and images work best together in juxtaposition. I am just reading Perry Nodelman, Words about Pictures. The Narrative Art of Childrens Picture Books, and here is a quote which fits perfectly: 

“In a discussion of the semiology of film, Christian Metz suggests that films demand from their viewer knowledge of at least five different systems of signification, most of which can also befound in slightly different ways in picture books: culturebound patterns of visual and auditory perception (such as knowing how to understand a perspectve drawing), recognition of the objects shown on screen (labeling), knowledge of their cultural significance (such as knowing that blackclothes stand for mourning), narrative structures (types of stories and how they usually work out) and purely cinematic means of implying significance, such as music and montage.

Metz suggests that each complete film “relying on all these codes, plays them one against the other, eventually arriving at its own individual system, its ultimate (or first?) principle of unification and intelligibility”. In other words, filmmakers make the use of differencees between various means of communication in the knowledge that each medium they bring into play will finally merely be part of the whole along with all the others; consequently, they deberately (or sometimes, given the varying narrative capabilities of different media, inevitably) make each incomplete so that it can indeed be part of a whole and so that the meaning will be communicated by the whole and not any specific part of the whole.

What the clothing and gesture do not reveal to us, the music or the narrative structure might; and what the clothing and music communicate separately is different from what they communicate together. So each medium that filmmakers use always communicates different information, and all of them express their fullest meaning in terms of the ironies inherent in their differencees from each other. Irony occurs in literature when we know something more and different from what we are being told.” (222-3)

Music videos play with visual codes and popular narratives adressing the viewers’s contextual, (sub) cultural knowledge and in contrasting, juxtaposing, contradicting and amplifying music and lyrics add to the overall meaning. In the case of this Billy Idol video spoof, the irony lies in the breaking of these film making and music video conventions, which we all know so well. The lyrics are a literal translation of what is seen, merely labeling the objects and actions on the screen (candelabra! black leather pants!) and the cinematic means of implying significance (letting in the fog, blowing up stuff, going outside) but ignoring their cultural significance. Taking language conventions literal is stand up comedy stuff, here it is applied to film. The new lyrics attempt to undermine the “subversive” interplay of original lyrics (about white weddings) and video narrative  drawing on a different kind of cultural knowledge by calling it what it plainly is in the eyes of a contemporary viewer – a goth wedding, an eighties pop video. 

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