Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Class Sessions

On Tuesday 1/27/09 I had the pleasure of conducting two sessions of information literacy, as it were, for the two sections of Family Foundations. This course is also referred to by the students quote unquote Christian sex-education.
This post is quick overview of my view of this session. I would appreciate any insight or feedback as this whole one-shot deal in front of a class is less than ideal. My ppt definitely leaves a bit to be desired but I'm still learning and am not entirely sure how to make it better. Information literacy is much more difficult to share with students than is thought.
My goal is to ty to get the faculty involved as well in the coming semesters. (Side note: On the first week of classes, I did a similar session for Comp I. These two sessions are similar enough so as to not require mentioning the first session.)

Sessions:
1st class has approx. 35 students.
2nd class has approx. 55 students which is a ludicriously gigantic class. (The second class was pretty much like the first session except I shortened the second session.)

(The Hook) Students, especially undergraduates and especially freshman seem to dread this sort of session. The hook has to be pretty good in order to distract them and get them involved. My first attempt at a hook was okay but not great.

Started the session by giving each group of students (4-5) a book and asked them to pick a foreman to share about the book. The books used included anything from the Death of Ivan Ilyich to the Practice of Zen. (Using the practice of Zen in the first session was awesome as any such interaction with such philosophy seems to really blow the students' mind. My enjoyment of their interaction is probably somewhat perverse I suppose but still enjoyable.)

Each group had 5 minutes to gather information on the book in order to understand what the book was about. In the ppt, there were some suggestions of what to look at, such as the title, author, date of publication, number of pages, cover, etc. Once the 5 minutes were up, I interviewed each group foreman for the rest of the class. I asked what is the title of the book, who wrote it, what did you think the book was about and whom would you reccommend the work to? Surprisingly enough the Zen book group would not recommend the book to anyone. Most groups responded well. There were some of those who simply read the back cover and read it back. (How to circumvent this. 1. Remove covers. 2. cover covers so students are
forced to think a bit 3) Use a different hook.)

Once all the groups had responded, the entire class was then posed the question what did we just do with these books? In this both sessions most students got it pretty quickly. They were evaluating, analyzing or assessing the book, figuring out what the book was about. (Goal 2. Tap into the evalutory tools students already have. There's really not enough time or force of mind ot cause the students to instantly develop new methods of information gathering. Using the books allows for a tactile process and physical interaction as well as reinforcing the students already understand some method of evaluation that can be applied to other media .)

I then shared the above informitaon with the class to emphasize that they managed to evaluate these books quite well. I said that I'm not here to throw more information at you but rather try to give you some additional tools to help you evaluate what information you already have access to.

Tools examined: (Each of the tools has, at most, 7 minutes spent on it. Spending more time on my attempt to explain a website loses students faster than then speed of free doughnuts in the student lounge. Asking the students to bring laptops doesn't necessarily help becuase they are searching all corners of the Internet.)

OED
EasyBib
EBSCO
Wikipedia
All Things Google
Google Books
Google Scholar

OED:
The OED really has no bearing on family foundations but our subscription to it is new this semester so I'm highlighting it at every opportunity.
I quickly review how to locate the OED on the Davis site, what the opening screen looks like, locating a word and onto the next one.

EasyBib.com
Is a free tool that allows students to build bibliographies without having to think about what they are doing. It is a good reference to get one going on how to build a bibliography.
We quickly walk through this as a group.

EBSCO
Our main subscription through EBSCO is Academic Search Elite. This is our most used database by far and as such I continue to emphasize it. This database is particularly helpful as it includes
Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection which bears particularly well on Family Foundations.

Wikipedia
I ask how many people use Wikipedia in the past two weeks. For those students who raise their hand, I gather some examples of what they utilize it for. Most use it for learning more about bands, movies and other entertainment, at least those whom admitted it. For anyone who protest, it frankly doesn't matter. Students are using Wikipedia anyway. I simply attempt to say continue using it, just don't stop there. Using the David Foster Wallace article as an example I stres Further Reading and References in the Wikipedia article as an excellent places to continue research. We then briefly discuss the virtues of how Wikipedia exists and works as a community driven entity while also pointing out its failures i.e. Colbert and the elephant entry or the recent "death of Ted Kennedy" item from inaugaration week. (In the second session one of the students indicated that her older brother, also a Davis student, had effectively messed with the Davis College entry. I just checked it and the entry is still off. This is the type of connection I'm looking for in these sessions.)

Google
After asking if the students are familiar with Google Books,which most were not, I summarily explain how the whole book projects works and what Google is trying to do by scanning all these works. As a class we looked at Sense and Sensibility to demonstrate the ability to read an entire book online. I also found to my own surprise that one can now download the pdf of full preview works. Ergo, one can download and prints the 1922 copy of Sense and Sensibility for free. (There are tremendous implications here but not appropriate for review in this class.)

Secondly, Google Scholar is summarily reviewed.

We examine two sites. The first is The Endangered Tree Octopus and the second is a Flying Car article. I pose the question how do you know which one is correct or usable? Most students pick up on source or the facts stated in the article. We discuss this for a few moments, chuckle at the tree octopus and away we go. The website view segues into Scholarly resources versus unscholarly resources .I pose the question "What do you do with a blog by an established scholar, i.e. Rod Dekker NT scholar at BBS versus an edu website? There are blogs everywhere, can they be used? How do you evaluate it?"
The next slides, which coincide with a handout, are a condensed version of this site. . Also the slide and handout contain information on how to evaluate a journal article. The links are included on the handout.
I have not figured out a particularly good way of reviewing this page with the class. It's fairly useless to read it at the class and mind-numbing as well.
(In hindsight, we should probably go back to the Octopus page and Flying Car page and apply the principles from the handout. This requires laptops and good wireless signal. In this classroom neither are particularly bountiful) While not particularly evident here, I do attempt to use awkward humor throughout these sessions in order to keep the class from getting distracted and involved. In the second class which had 55 students in it I actually did a bit of soft shoe across the front of the class singing "EBSCO" over and over again. At the very least it got the class attention back on me though the overall effect was almost ruined by a student in the front row issuing an incredibly loud snort/shout of laughter.)

That's pretty much it. At the end I emphasize I am really very interested in their feedback and questions. The last slide has the library email, my email, the fact and link to the DAvis College Library Page and the Davis College Group Page. I also post the Twitter acount for the Library. (I am trying Twitter out for the library this semester. Almost to a student in both sessions, no one really knew what Twitter was. I'm really not convinced that these students are digital natives. There is still definitive gaps in user populations. )

If you're interested in seeing the actual ppt, I can post that and share the link. Any feedback would be helpful and appreciated. I'm still rather new at this which definitely shows. I'm trying to read as much as possible on new/better approaches to the pedagogy of teaching informaiton literacy. My mantra, if you will, is to teach what needs to be learned not what I think needs to be taught. We'll see if it actually works.


Goal, loosely stated to students at beginning of session:
You (the students) know how to find information. Finding information is not really an issue at this point. (This is not my idea. Current library writings back
this up as well as my own conversations with students.) What I am here to do is give you some tools to evaluate

An open letter to most self-publishers

Self-Publishers Flourish as Writers Pay the Tab

Dear Self-Publishing writer.
It's not true as one exec states that everyone has a book or two in them. Keep your books inside of you. Spend the time instead of writing nonsense reading better literature then what you could possibly hope to craft. Typically there's a fairly good reason that your book was not accepted by a mainstream publisher. It's not that good. There are exceptions to this rule but until the rest of your fellow wannabe writers flood the market you simply are not there. Please know I'm not against the self-publishing model. It is simply that as readers we are already wading through knee-deep manure in terms of output from publishers and mainstream booksellers. Is it entirely necessary to add another six inches of waste from your own stomach? It is simply making the work of finding good* writing that much more difficult and I do not appreciate your efforts in doing so. Please feel free to open a blog.

Sincerely,
Jeremy

*I understand that the use of the term good is fraught with all types of issues. For now let anyone you would equate with Steinbeck/Sayers/Postman = good and anyone equated with Atwood/Meyer = bad. This analogy should definitely clear up any issues of good vs. bad writing.

Monday, January 26, 2009

River Reads Books:The Indie Bookstore in my 'hood


I found out that there is an indie bookstore just 2.3 miles from my current location called River Reads Books. The site is simple but it looks awesome. As soon as it is no longer in the negative temps, I'm taking a walk there after work before classwork jumps me.
What is exciting is how I found this particular place. It was through INDIE BOUND, from which the logo above has been lifted. Indie Bound is a site that gives news, store locators and general awesomeness for independent bookstores. This site is sweet; great photographs, really good resources and they support independent presses such as Unbridled Books which was featured in this really excellent review today in Conversational Reading which is fast becoming one of my favorite blogs. This is a solid interview, good questions and excellent responses dealing with publishing in a recession. If possible, support your independent bookstores as by doing so you will typically be supporting the independent presses. You do have to work a little harder in using an independent press because they are publishing more specifically but once you find a collection of publishers you like, the benefits will be tremendous.

And just in case you were wondering where you might put all of these lovely new books, check out the Bibliochaise. (On the right hand side of the page, select Products and then Bibliochaise.) Feast your eyes!

Totally Unrelated: If anyone has a used classic ten-speed, sweeping handlebars and all that, I would be interested. Especially if it's free.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Citispot Coffeehouse

I'm working on homework in the Clinton Citispot Coffeehouse while a self-described medium is attempting to convince a mother and a daughter of his clair-audio (sp?) abilities sharing audio time with a German-speaking daughter who converses with her Germany-inhabiting mother via web-cam and headset as a young man tells the young woman, not yet his girlfriend, "I'm a jack of all trades" so it might not be a date it might actually be an interview but this does not phase the man directly in from of me from finsihing his second cup of cofee and slowly progressing through his book with singleminded focus that the medium would probably envy if he wasn't lying; a shared singlemindness which the high-school age girl in the opposite corner of the room share in her writing of what seems to be homework of printed articles and notes of music that drift in from Radiohead, Iron & Wine and Bob Dylan sharing the outside speaker for the married couple who shares the corner of the table of the German-speaking daugther momentarily fascinated by her technology uniquely together his legs on the run of her chair with her jeans against his while they listen like I'm typing.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Holocaust, Viewed Not From Then but From the Here and Now

The Holocaust, Viewed Not From Then but From the Here and Now

"...the Holocaust has become what one expert here called the “master
narrative” for suffering, shaping discussions about every present
conflict over genocide and human rights even as comparisons distort
history and can serve the purposes of propaganda as often as the truth."
This is an incredibly profound statement about how historical narrative is utilized in our present-day thinking. I looked up the definition of the word quote unquote holocaust. I would guess that the Jewish people knew what they were doing when they picked this word as the first definition is quote unquote A sacrifice wholly consumed by fire; a whole burnt offering. (OED 2nd ed. 1989) However the third definition is an excellent example of how context changes our understanding of words and history . (One of the really nice things about the OED is that it gives quotes from real texts.) The third definition follows quote unquote (A) complete
consumption by fire, or that which is so consumed; complete destruction, esp. of a large number of persons; a great slaughter or massacre. The use of the word holocaust extends back at least as far as circa 1250 (1st definition). The shift of the word is from a sacrificial focus to a victim/victor focus. Reading this word from the context of my history back into these quotes causes some conflict with reading these quotes correctly.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wake Up and Smell the New Epistemology

Wake Up and Smell the New Epistemology

I am not ashamed to say this is a heinous bit of cross-posting but this article is definitely worth it. Besides the kicking good title, Tim Clydesdale accurately and insightfully nails down the current mind set of students entering into college and how to approach teaching/working with them as professors and, at least from my stance, librarians. I deeply appreciate how Clydesdale focuses on the need for good, solid and imaginative pedgagogical approaches without falling into the trap of entertainment replacing teaching. His use of the "we" to understand our joint position in requiring change is also appreciated.
Also, I think Clydesdale nails down exactly where the mis-communication may be happening between postmodern students and, as yet, modern teachers. "...this new epistemology does not imply that our students have become skilled arbiters of information and interpretation. It simply means that they arrive at college with well-established methods of sorting, doubting, or ignoring the same." This position is not unique to Clydesdale, though he does articulate it quite well. Instead of the location of information to form the foundation of scholarship/learning, students require the tools to evaluate the information at hand. What is the best way of equipping these students with these evaluatory tools? Through good pedagogical practice; sharing how we evaluate information and breaking out of the methods of speaking at students in hopes they respond.
Good, successful libraries are constantly re-evaluating how/what they are doing. UofPitt library service utilizes student focus groups to help the library determine what tools and item are necessary to best serve the students while moving the library forward. As a result of this, the UofPitt library system is excellent. (This is slightly biased as I currently attend the school and it's the biggest library I've ever used so this may simply be my ignorance talking.)
I'm not sure how to incorporate this approach into my attempt to "teach" information literacy. Clydesdale does give an extremely helpful hint that I will be pondering with intensity.
"We need to teach as if our students were colleagues from another department. That means determining what our colleagues may already know, building from that shared knowledge, adapting pre-existing analytic skills, then connecting those fledgling skills and knowledge to a deeper understanding of the discipline we love. In other words, we need to approach our classrooms as public intellectuals eager to share our insights graciously with a wide audience of fellow citizens."

This is not to say this article has all the answers. While it presents good ground rules from the chalkboard side of the lectern, there is the underlying assumption that students will respond to this new approach. Educators cannot force students to care about learning; it's simply impossible. Even with excellent pedagogical methods, there are still students who will refuse, for various reasons that will blow the educator's mind, to want to learn. Does these students simply get bounced out of the school? Are we able to reach these students? What needs to be done before hitting college so that there is a foundation of learning/growth?

I do have the answer. Homeschool.

(This link was originally posted on Library Juice by Mr. Ron Litwin. Library Juice is in the top 5 of my current library blogs. It is excellent, informative and all-around brilliant!)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

President Obama's Inaugural Address

President Obama's Inaugural Address
This is a seriously excellent address. Hopefully it is true and Obama will be faithful to the promises iterated here.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Reading

"Librarians might redouble their efforts to create in students a sophisticated understanding of issues surrounding online research and authority that transcend the question of whether or not to use Google and to provide students with real, helpful research strategies."
(Pg. 487) (Google in the Research and Teaching of Instruction Librarians by Charlene Sorensen and Candice Dahl. Available online 9 October 2008 Journal of Academic Libraries)
Perhaps it was deemed too forceful by the writers but I think the word quote unquote must would have substituted well for quote unquote might in the sentence above. While I am still very new to this process of trying to understand what the process is to teach that area of information strangely dubbed as quote unquote information literacy, I do have a thoughts on where my future sessions are going to go.
1) Helpful research strategies did not die with the Internet. I do not completely understand why using books for information is still called research while using the Internet to find information has been heralded as information literacy. The process of evaluating a site is not that much different than a book. There are actually fewer assumptions to work through and I think that one can afford to be even more critical when applying web site evaluation practices to physical works. As a budding librarian, it is my goal to tie the process of evaluation in properly using books and other written materials and the process of evaluation of the web's written word together. This process is still very much in flux.
2) Google is simply a big encyclopedia. A big, searchable, albeit information-sucking, corporately funded encyclopedia. Use it. Love it. Don't stop with it and do not turn your back on them.
3) Wikipedia. Use it. Love it. Don't stop with it. Help out a brother and add some content.
4) Students are going to use Google and Wikipedia regardless. Banning these tools is not going to help librarians, faculty or students cultivate good research practices. It is better to work towards achieving a working synthesis of these tools with physical media rather than attempting to ban them entirely. This creates an unhealthy view of technology. From my view point it also seems to attempt to divorce the contemplation of books and Web Resources.
"Instruction should be learning-centered and learner-centered. In learning-centered instruction, planning instruction begins by determining what should be learned, not what should be taught.” (Tessmer 1985, 28) When students leave, they leave behind syllabi and professors who attempted to ban Google. Google is still there. Shouldn't we teach them how to use it properly rather than forcefully burying our students' collective heads in the sand?
If we, as librarians and faculty, can understand the importance of being able to effectively read and successfully evaluate any text, regardless of its context or medium, critically analyze this text while utilizing it in conversation and writing as well as being able to clearly pass this understanding on to our students, then I believe we will succeed and create life-long students.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Class quote regarding classroom style

Context:Discussing the need to set up the room in a better style rather than classroom style.
"...classsroom style, which is a silly term for it because it implies that classrooms must have rows and teachers up front, one of the worst ways ever to have a classroom because it is not very conducive to interaction."
Dr. Toni Carbo

Schulz as genius

Listening to Schroeder: ‘Peanuts’ Scholars Find Messages in Cartoon’s Scores

Possibly the funniest part of this, to me, is the idea of a 'Peanuts' scholar. Wouldn't it be closer to the point to say a Shulz scholar? The scholar, and this article, is not concerned only with the sub-creation but the creator's relationship to his characters/individuals and how the creator's relationship to his world [context] influenced his sub-creation. And seriously who gets to study Peanuts comics for a year? Who gives out funding for this? It's a good thing and I would love to go to this exhibition but if you're giving out money for the study of Peanuts I've got some other ideas for you.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Libraries and Technology

I've been doing some reading and listening, in and out of class, about the marriage and management of technology and libraries. My library is in a really interesting position here and I think a good one. Listed below are some of the pros, cons and ongoing projects I'm working on.

1) The computer lab, all six of them, live in the second floor of the library. This provides me with continued opportunity to interact with the students in terms of helping them print, figure out what seemingly random MS windows are popping up and why as well as helping them retrieve deleted documents. The last is my least favorite. I also report various issues that I cannot fix, such as the updater server not responding, directly to the Director of IT which leads to point 2.
2) Rob Linebaugh, Director of IT and I have a great relationship. There are several reasons for this one of the most important being Rob is one of the friendliest, outgoing IT guys I've met. He avoids, for the majority of the time, the shirty, Ivory-Tower view of the general public with remarkable aplomb. My own background in IT has helped give us a common ground to talk about his work and by extension what I would like to do with the library, technology-wise. This also give me opportunity to talk up his dept. to my bosses so that we can both benefit. I am finding this to be a unique situation and I'm very grateful for it.
3) The library, in terms of technology desperately needs to be upgraded from the inclusive IBM flat panels to thin-client technology. We have the thin-clients from the former computer lab but the time and effort needed is currently the kicker. However it is on the radar screen.
4) KOHA 3.0!! Exciting and much, much harder than I could have possibly foreseen. I love Koha; it's fantastic. However upgrading to the newest version is kicking my face especially in terms of importing data from the old system into the new one. Most of my experience is in Windows so navigating Unix based, command-line loving programs is a unique experience. My current focus is importing the patrons from the old system into the new one. Manual entry is looking pretty good right now but we'll see.
5) The library web-page is now my baby. This is good in terms of control. This is bad in terms of time.
6)Digitization of the roughly 5,000 cassettes in our collection. I finally got my media converter and am looking forward to getting rid of the cassettes that I can. The digitization process will have to navigate around copyright but I think should ultimately be beneficial.
7) Getting more students to use our online databases. The library really needs to get the ATLA Database and will be rocking the trial for this semester. We have EBSCO, OED, FirstSearch and Wilson but a scholarly religious database is desperately needed to round out this selection. This process is really blowing my mind with the pedagogical process. I don't have the magic bullet on how to wed best pedagogical practices with information literacy but I'm learning, especially from my mistakes. One of the notable ones from last semester is to needing to make sure that the wireless signal in the classroom is strong enough to handle 20-25 students hitting it from their laptops at the same time in an effort to get to an article first. Brutal. Almost as brutal, and I quote. When asked about an assignment a student replies, "I just googled it."
(JM)" Did you check anything else?"
(Student)"Nope, just Google."
(JM) "Did you know that we have these online databases?"
(Student from the session that I taught) "No way; how does it work?"
(JM) ...umm. (Insert quick repeat of session here)

We'll get there someday. I can hear Lancaster's paperless library calling now.

context and meaning part II

I was wrong. Context does determine meaning. I was very much caught up in the metaphor and I think the metaphor may still have some force. This has two parts. My argument against myself why context does indeed inform/cause meaning and secondly why the snake metaphor still has some teeth, as it were. After a fairly involved conversation with my father, he gave me this idea/quote: "One meaning, many significances." Context is essential to meaning. W/o context there are no boundaries to harness language into a usable form. For example the word "love" by itself on a page has no context. While it does not have infinite meanings, there is no way to determine what meaning is to be applied without context. The reader is left adrift without the word's context. Context acts as a mold into which language is poured and set so when the mold is removed the form and shape is legible and coherent. As context of history changes, the finished item (meaning) will either be ground into nothingness, be molded into another form altogether, merge w/ another meaning or successfully hold its own.
Context limits language. Context limits us as humans by keeping language grounded but at as context changes the significance of the meaning is changed/adjusted based on the bias imposed by the reader's context. Thus the snake in the shoe store would retain its meaning as a snake but its significance is being out of the cage. The snake out of its expected environment would prompt a different reaction than viewing the snake in the zoo. Same meaning; different significance, possible panic versus simple animal voyeurism.
Could be taking text out of its context be the highest hermeneutical crime? I would argue, tenatively, that taking text out of context nullifies the rest of the individual's agreement and points to a possible logical fallacy. Text is not meant to bent to the reader's purposes. Nor does the reader serve the text unconditionally but the reader needs to observe context as the number one rule in extracting and interacting with texts/narratives.To a certain extent, I think complete dependence upon reader response in the vein of "what does it meant to you?" does this. This is what prompted the original snake metaphor. I would like to suggest that accurate reader response to generate the best discussion and understanding of the text is reader response based on context of the text from the viewpoint of the reader's historical bias/context. The ability to connect from various contexts from multiple readers is a joy and a pleasure and I think the purpose of meaning.

History and the quote

History tends to be fairly brutal to people who attempt to naysay the future.
Annie Proulx saying “Nobody is going to sit down and read a book on a twitchy little screen. Ever."
Well while the Kindle is not taken over the world it's definitely doing well, there's a large number of very popular, expensive journals and e-books available and the rest of us are pretty comfortable with that.
Here's another great one I came across today.
Haynes McMullen cautioned that: “It is unlikely that the typical university library staff of 2005 will employ any mechanical devices which are not already in
existence in 1955.” (Sapp, Gregg and Ron Gilmore (2002). A Brief History
of the Future of Academic Libraries: Predictions and Speculations from
the literature of the profession, 1975 to 2000 – part one, 1975 to
1989. Portal: Libraries and the Academy. 2(4). 553-576.
)

It's possible that I think this is funnier because of my line of work but the inability of people to dream big and then say what they refuse to dream big about is staggering. While technology blossomed with fervor during the ensuing years it's distinctly awkward to go down as the footnoted person who is condemning change. It's simply not bright. If anything, go the cautionary route and don't date yourself.




Sunday, January 11, 2009

Quote of the week

"History is not a procession of illustrious people. It's about what
happens to a people. Millions of anonymous people is what history is
about."
James Baldwin

Friday, January 9, 2009

Apple’s Long-Awaited Shift on Music

Apple’s Long-Awaited Shift on Music

Want to Copy iTunes Music? Go Ahead, Apple Says

As a result of the DRM associated with purchasing records from iTunes, I have not ever bought anything from iTunes. However I'm willing to re-evaluate that stance with this change. I am also a current subscriber to eMusic so that for a set amount each month I have 30 downloads, DRM free, and one audio book download. eMusic is nice because it keeps me from going overboard buying and downloading digital files. For me the now very available digital access is not unlike some people's additiction to gambling: it's very hard to stop and I don't particularly want to especially as the institutions are very willing to take my money. The other nice thing about eMusic being a subscription service is that it forces me to continue to look at physical CDs. I've been trying to amp up on buying more physical records than just downloading digital files.
In a related, possibly dubious note, Barnes and Nobe is now selling vinyl through their stores and online. I'm not sure if this lends them more credentials or not. It's hard not to be nonsenically happy about having such easy access to vinyl through their prices are pretty high and selection limited to stuff you can get used through the Salvation Army. Hopefully they will start capitalizing on the recent push for vinyl by many new bands such as Bon Iver's forthcoming Blood Bank on JagJaguwar. And yes, I pre-ordered the vinyl.



Thursday, January 8, 2009

Closed Captioning

I was getting my lunch from the cafe at Davs this afternoon and while
waiting I was watching the news. As the cafe is a fairly public place,
the sound is very quiet, though audible from a close distance.To assist
in understanding what is going on the screen, the close captioning
feature has been activated.

The story happend to be one featuring what Fox proposes to the
important bits of an address by President-elect Obama on the subject of
dealing with the economic crisis. President-elect Obama was speaking on
the economic crisis and its impact on the job market. The news bit
focused on Obama speaking on the government's awareness of the number
of people who had lost their jobs due to the economic crisis and had
been unable to regain employment. Obama then pledged his support as
well as that of Congress to assist these people in receiving
employment. What the close captioning managed to convey was that Obama
had committed himself and Congress to "... help those who who have lost
their guns and can't find new ones." While I do sympathize with anyone
who loses their gun I'm not sure simply giving them a gun to replace
their lost one is the most responsible method. Perhaps, subliminally at
least, Obama is indeed in favor of looser gun control laws and only the
closed captioning could somehow read this subliminal messaging. It's a
possibility.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

context and meaning

"...the same words in the same order can nevertheless mean something uttely different when transported to a new context." P. 109 My Mother was a Computer. N. Katherine Hayles
If context determines meaning, this cannot be good for the meaning of the work.
If context is allowed to determine or set meaning, I believe the inevitable implication is that meaning cannot be established and we will chase our own tails through a maze of shuffling understanding that will force us to continue to build walls that are designed to mislead and misdirect. This is in direct opposition to the purpose of language to clarify and direct.
I believe in the historical shift of the definition of words within their use in the language. Meanings are added to words as culture(s) and subculture(s) conflict and attempt to classify existences and interactions by finding new meanings in old terms. I think this movement is similar to birds molting or snakes shedding skin. The beast of language is the same inherently but some new scales have been added to its length. However a snake is a snake regardless of its context. If a snake is found in a shoe store the shoe enthusiast does not try, based on context, to ram one's fit down what must be a shoe opening complete with a tongue. A snake's presence is still a reptile, a snake regardless of its existence in the context of a shoe store.
If context is going to be based on meaning than I think we as readers will be consigned to limp around, fantastically confused by the strange footwear we are attempting to display while it is doing its level best to eat us alive.

I love the Internets

Monday, January 5, 2009

Puttin’ Off the Ritz: The New Austerity in Publishing

Puttin’ Off the Ritz: The New Austerity in Publishing

While this article may spell some top shelf discomfort for the high rollers of publishing, there are discernible silver gleams from this dark cloud especially for the consumers, at least that I say. One of these is the forced assessment of the worth of new books; instead of flooding the new book tables with the latest thrillers this austerity will hopefully cut back on these works. The other gleam is the non-returnable book from the retailers. If book retailers cannot sell their books at the initial price this will cause the prices to be dropped. While not as good for the sellers this is good for the consumers to be able to pick up books at a cheaper rate. While there is no guaranteeing the types or quality of books for sale, there is some hope that desirable books will drop in price to be more accessible. The definitive downside to this clampdown is the loss of publishing good books because of the publishers need to produce what they believe will sell.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

It's the New Year

In the onslaught of New Years' posts ringing throughout the blogosphere one resolution in particular caught my eye. From Monitor Mix, Carrie Brownstein's blog: "Be patient, read and write more, drink less soda pop, continue to volunteer, and be appreciative of what I have." For myself, I need to read and write more and definitely drink less soda but I would also add the necessary desire to continue to grow and mature in my relationship with/to God. Without understanding and growing in this relationship, I think the other things are useless and lack any significant point in the long run. I would like to better understand how the kingdom of heaven is supposed to function now and especially my relationship/required actions to it. I would also like to better understand how community within the chruch should work and help to make it better in whatever church we end up attending.
We'll see how this year goes. Happy new year and peace!