May 2, 2013 § 1 Comment
This is my 600th post on my “New” blog. This is the sequel to the “Old” blog where I posted 859 times.
This blog has been seen 67,500 times by folks all over the world.
It’s nice to know that people find my musings interesting.
It’s also the last day of classes in the 2012-2013 Academic year. Over this time, I wrote 81,000 words for this blog and 145,000 words for various projects ranging from peer reviewed manuscripts, articles, book reviews, grant proposals, conference papers, reports of various kinds, letters of recommendations, and other odds and ends. You can see what I worked on this year here.
Making an App for That: A Conversation with Sam Fee on Developing In-field Applications for Archaeology
April 2, 2013 § Leave a comment
On Friday at 11 am, Prof. Sam Fee, from Washington and Jefferson College will speak via the internets with the UND community in the Working Group in Digital and New Media Lab (O’Kelly 203). His talk is titled “Making an App for That: A conversation with Prof. Samuel Fee on developing in-field applications for archaeology”. The talk will be a conversation between me, Sam, and anyone who wants to join us from the audience.
I’ve known Sam Fee for over 20 years and he has an inspiring knack for making the complex simple and teaching archaeological methods, practices, and theories. He was one of the first archaeological bloggers who I followed regularly, and I have admired his accomplishments as a photographer.
At UND, he’ll talk about the development of the PKApp which is the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project’s custom web/tablet application for trench side data collection. We alpha/beta tested this summer on a bunch of iPad generously provided by Messiah College and wrote a short descriptive and technical piece on our experiences for Near Eastern Archaeology (that I think will appear this month).
So come by the Working Group Lab (O’Kelly 203) at 11 am on Friday to check out Sam Fee.
March 19, 2013 § Leave a comment
I’ve been trying to interest some of my colleagues in the Communication program in a project that works to document the use of social media in the Bakken Oil Patch. So far, there have been no takers, so I thought I’d pitch the idea a bit more widely.
Over the past 5 years, the use of fracking to extract oil from miles beneath the surface has transformed communities in the western part of North Dakota. For all the effects on the physical communities around Williston and Watford City, there has also been a parallel development in the region’s social media presence. From the rise of Greg the YouTube sensation (check out Kyle’s picture!) who describes on YouTube his struggles to make his way as a new arrival in Williston to the Real Oilfield Wives, a website and Facebook page, dedicated to the life of oil field wives. Facebook pages dedicated to Watford City Newcomers and My Life in Williston share space with pages dedicated to Watford City’s new Indoor RV Park and the tragedo-comic Bakken Oilfield Fail of the Day. The business oriented the Bakken Dispatches speaks in the same forum as the Facebook page, This is Mandaree, which documents the influence of drilling in the Ft. Berthold Indian Reservation. Amy Dalrymple’s Oil Patch Dispatch provides news from the patch in a blog type format. The North Dakota Petroleum Council maintains an active Twitter feed. A simple search for #Bakken on Twitter provides a significant insight into the range of activities present in social media outlets. Photographers and documentary makers share space with local businesses catering to the Bakken boom. While I am not trained in the study of social and new media, I have been pretty interested in how Facebook and Twitter collapse the distinction between various voices. Industry advocates (driven in part by marketing strategies) stand shoulder-to-shoulder with support groups and critics of activities in western North Dakota. The interaction between media outlines, critical voices, individuals, and communities provides a window both into the nature of these new media voices and the emerging communities of the patch. Some student, somewhere, needs to analyze this to understand how these virtual communities, marketing strategies, viral phenomena, and twitter strategists contribute to how we understand the Bakken and the North Dakota oil boom at the intersection of community, individuals, and technology.
In other, somewhat related, news from the Bakken, we were a bit shocked to hear that there was a stabbing death at the Capital Lodge in Tioga. This is where we tend to stay when we’re out in the Bakken. Sort of a bummer.
January 1, 2013 § Leave a comment
For those of you interested in this kind of thing, here’s a link to the annual report generated by WordPress.com.
31,000 views and 230 posts isn’t too bad, but the dearth of comments is always disappointing.
Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!
November 21, 2012 § Leave a comment
Several members of the Working Group in Digital and New Media have been discussing glitch art. Some of this was inspired by Mark Amerika‘s glitched contribution to the Arts and Culture gallery show titled “The Eastern Shore of Maryland”. The term glitch art refers to digital images that are manipulated by deleting lines of code or through sometimes random processes of data and file corruption.
In a few brief conversations I became interested in the performative aspect of glitching art as much as the results. So on a grey Saturday, I started glitching some of the images that I prepared for the final publication of our survey at Pyla-Koutsopetria. The first step was converting the .tif files to .jpg files. Jpegs appear to be more susceptible to glitching and less likely to fail. Once the file is in .jpg format, it it possible to open it up in NotePad or TextEdit to and manipulate the code.
I started with an image like this:
Deleting random code made it look like this:
These images are randomly glitched. I have no idea what code I took out and could not replicate this. Each image is effectively unique. Some attempts to produce this kind of glitched image resulted in the file being too seriously corrupted, and it could not be opened.
A more systematic effort at glitching involved cutting parts of the code and replacing them. The advantages of this is that its replicable. By swapping out the effectively random letters (to me) that made up the code for the image, I began to think a bit more about how to introduce to the images something less random. In other words, to make the language of the image intersect with the more easily understood forms of verbal communication.
For this image I replaced the combination “SM”, the initials of Scott Moore, our ceramicist, with my initials BC:
For this image, I replaced “DP”, for our co-director David Pettegrew, with “BC”:
Finally, I replaced the letter P with the acronym of our project “PKAP” (the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project):
The idea of these last three images is to combine computer code and human codes to transform our computer mediate image of archaeological reality in unpredictable ways. The process is remarkably similar to analyzing the site via the GIS where we take the “natural” landscape and transform it into a series of symbols, lines, and text. By manipulating the code that produces these images in both random and patterned ways, we manipulate the meaning of the image and the way in which these images communicate information to the viewer. We problematize the process and manifestation of mediating between the experienced landscape and its representation as archaeological data.
November 8, 2012 § Leave a comment
Today the working Group in Digital and New Media had their third open house. We had a nice crowd throughout the afternoon as various university dignitaries and colleagues came through to check out the newest work.
Tim Pasch provided music, Jim Champion prepared a melting sculpture, and various other projects from music, history, and art and design were on display. A few pictures show off the lab space and the projects.
November 6, 2012 § Leave a comment
Next year, in April, this blog turns 6. So by then, I’ll have been blogging for five years. So there are children who are going to kindergarten who have never lived in a world without my blog. Or, in statement more appropriate for the day, my blog has run for longer than Barak Obama has been President. In our fast paced, new media world, five years is a long time. In my academic world, however, five years is not a very long time particularly in the humanities. For example, the manuscript for our volume dedicated to the survey we conducted at the site of Pyla-Koutsopetria has existed in some form for close to 5 years and still has not seen publication.
The reason I’m musing on the life of my blog is that I’ve begun to think about what I can do with my 5 years worth of blogging experience. I feel like I should mark this in some way, and I have begun to think about producing some kind of traditional publication reflecting my experiences blogging archaeology. The problem is, of course, translating my experiences to a contribution to the large and growing scholarly discourse on social media, new forms of publication, and new methods for documenting and analyzing research. Part of me wants to write an reflective essay that eschews the limitations and requirements of academic writing, but another part of my wants to put my experiences in a broader and more rigorous academic context.
1. Research Transparency. I wonder what impact increased research transparency has on the academic discourse. Blogging has always been a way for me to make my “creative process” (such as it is) visible to a wider audience. Is there a value to letting people see the man behind the curtain and is this kind of transparency significant across academic life in general? In other words, is my transparency (albeit of a studied kind) significant for how scholars read academic production more broadly?
2. New Forms of Publication. Blogs exist in the uneasy place between the formal standards of academic publication and the more spontaneous social media. As formal publication standards adapt to new media and methods associated with digital publication and social media becomes increasingly fluid and informal, the middle ground of the blog is increasingly emptied of its place in the publishing landscape. It can be more spontaneous than studied, more individual than collective, and more austere than elaborate, but I wonder whether this is enough to keep the practice vital into the second decade of the 21st century?
3. New Forms of Audience. One of the key aspects of digital publication is the ease with which audience behavior can be tracked. Statistics make our readers more visible than ever, but in the spontaneous world of digital publication, they also tempt us to respond to reader and viewer statistics in ways that a previous generation of content providers (in an academic realm) could push into the background. There have been days when I sat at my computer wondering what I should write about and knowing that I need to provide content to my blog in order to keep my reader’s attention. Is this a good thing?
October 25, 2012 § Leave a comment
Yesterday I walked across the street to hear the panel discussion hosted by the 2012 Arts and Culture Series. The panel brought together practitioners of various forms of digital art ranging from music to animation to digital and new media journalism. The panel was packed with smart, thoughtful people. (The screening and conversation with Max Porter and Ru Kuwahata from Tiny Inventions was particular remarkable.)
The panel discussion began with an interesting question regarding the place of digital technologies as a kind of “philosopher’s stone” that could transform one media to the next. This resonated a bit with some of my thoughts regarding the role of archaeology as a mediating discipline between physical objects and ideas. Texts (and photographs, plans, drawings, and increasingly video) do much of the heavy lifting between object and idea within the archaeological discourse. As Max Porter and Ru Kuwahata and Andy Ihnatko noted at several points in their talks, the goal of the (new) media’s philosopher stone is to tell stories and create experiences.
Another useful question that the able moderator asked is how digital technologies have transformed the rhythm of life for the artists on the panel. The journalists commented on how the digital age has created a 24 hour new cycle in which they must at least attempt to engage. Others commented on how they could now communicate in realtime with collaborators and partners around the world. Others still noted that the manual components of their work (practicing piano or making prints on paper) seemed to stubbornly resist any of the supposed efficiencies presented by a digital commons.
I got to think about our academic pace of life on how digital technologies have transformed it. One thing that the panelists make clear, the ability of the digital world to collapse space has a clear connection with its tendency to compress or collapse time. Global workflows and instant communication have changed work patterns and professional expectations. I blog every day because not only because I think I might have something to say, but also because the digital rhythms of internet-mediated, personal publishing demands a kind of regularity in the production of content that a group of writers would have managed to fulfill the expectations of earlier media.
This is all to set up an advertisement for myself (in a round-about way). Check out the Cyprus Research Fund Lecture today at 4 pm CST. Keeping with the theme of collapsing space and time, the talk will be streamed live on the internets. Click here to get to the talk.
If you’re old school, stop by the East Asia Room in the Chester Fritz Library at 4 pm to hear the talk live and in-person.
August 28, 2012 § Leave a comment
One of the thing that I was pretty unprepared for when I became a university professor is learning how to deal with media attention (and, if necessary, create it!). While I like to tell people about my research, as readers of this blog know, my research tends to be relatively inaccessible.
(My hope that this blog would open up my work to new audiences has not been entirely unsuccessful.)
These days, however, when public patience with and support for academia seemingly at all time lows (whether this is really the case or not, if very difficult to determine), it feels all the more important to make my research not only relevant but also visible to a wider audience. The fact that it is a legislative year in North Dakota makes it all the more important that we connect our position in the public trust and to the work we do.
So this past week has been a bit of a crash course in media management as my North Dakota Man Camp Project has blown up (this is the locus classicus for this phrase, but it’s not rated-pg) in the (local) media. So, here’s what’s happened:
First, I wrote a press release here.
Then, the writers in the University of North Dakota’s Office for University Relations turned it into this press release.
It was also quickly picked up by the local TV; it is at the 4:00 mark of this broadcast by WDAZ.
The most in-depth coverage came from Prairie Public Radio here.
None of this is likely to change the world or even make much of an impact as hurricanes and conventions have taken center stage in the ever-churning news cycle. On the other hand, it does feel good to play a part in getting some of my research out of the cul-de-sac that is academic conversation.