That’s how Cory Doctorow does it all

Cory Doctorow had a post on boing-boing yesterday, “Daily Routines: a blog about the habits of interesting people.” The blog he was talking about, Daily Routines, is only kinda/sorta interesting. More interesting to me was the routine Doctorow described for himself:

I’m a total creature of habit, even when I’m on the road, a 5AM-rising daily writer; the last thing I do before bed is all the breakfast prep for a huge, elaborate three-course breakfast for the family so that I can bang it all out in ten minutes after getting to inbox0 from the night’s email and getting through all the morning’s blogposts, hot and ready by 7AM. I get a nap, half an hour’s reading and half and hour’s yoga every afternoon, get in two pages of the novel, two pages of the short story, and about 3 to 5 times a week, I write a column. Every Monday is podcast day. Monday and Wednesday night, I leave the office ten minutes early, get the kid from day care and make sure she’s bathed, fed and in bed by 7 when the sitter comes by so Alice and I can go to a proper 1.5h yoga class around the corner. Sunday mornings we have breakfast out, and I walk the kid to the PO Box, stop and play in the park on the way back, drop off all the stuff from the box at my office, then come home and put the kid to bed while Alice kills zombies on the Xbox. I love my routine.

All of which makes me think a) I need a routine, and b) I need a nap because I did not intend to wake up at 5 am this morning.

Just how does Twitter make money, anyway? (and a couple good Twitter links)

I came across– via Steven Johnson’s Twitter feed, actually– this article in the New York Times yesterday, “The Tweet Smell of Success.” The article is about how Twitter has in “the last few months it has plucked a few hundred users from a sea of more than 30 million and put them on its A-list, deeming them particularly worthy of being followed.” Johnson included, by the way: “It’s funny, everybody has been asking me, you got your Twitter ID on the cover of Time magazine, you must be getting an insane amount of followers,” he said. “And I say it’s nothing compared to the steady influx you get from being on the suggested user list.”

Also via Johnson’s feed this morning, I came across Andrew “The Daily Dish” Sullivan’s post about Iranian protesters using Twitter, and in this NYTimes article, I found the link to Johnson’s Time Magazine article on Twitter, “How Twitter Will Change the Way We Live.”

Anyway, there was one paragraph in the NYTimes piece about how Twitter is not believed to be profitable, which made me wonder: how doe these people make any money at this? Do they make any money? Am I going to start to see 140 word ads pop up on my feed sometime soon? And if I do, will I (or anyone else) still use the service?

This is certainly something that will come up in 516 next winter, maybe in 444 this summer too….

The internet doesn’t work on a daily schedule and it likes a voice

One of the many many things I need to worry about in the next couple of weeks is getting my summer section of English 444: Writing for the World Wide Web up and running. It’s increasingly difficult for me to decide what “counts” as “writing” for the “world wide web,” but generally, I have stayed pretty literal with exercises that focus on coding, blogging, and wiki-ing. Last year, we read a number of things about citizen journalism, and, since we locally have a front row seat to the demise of print newspapers (the Ann Arbor News is calling it quits after 174 years), I might include even more on journalism and the ‘net.

All a long prelude to a very good commentary by Dan Froomkin, “Why ‘playing it safe’ is killing American newspapers.” Besides talking about the money issues, Froomkin says smart stuff like this:

But we’re hiding much of our newsrooms’ value behind a terribly anachronistic format: voiceless, incremental news stories that neither get much traffic nor make our sites compelling destinations. While the dispassionate, what-happened-yesterday, inverted-pyramid daily news story still has some marginal utility, it’s mostly a throwback at this point — a relic of a daily product delivered on paper to a geographically limited community. (For instance, it’s the daily delivery cycle of our print product that led us to focus on yesterday’s news. And it’s the focus on maximizing newspaper circulation that drove us to create the notion of “objectivity” — thereby removing opinion and voice from news stories — for fear of alienating any segment of potential subscribers.)

The Internet doesn’t work on a daily schedule. But even more importantly, it abhors the absence of voice. There’s a reason why opinion writing tends to dominate the most-read lists on our “news” sites. Indeed, what we’ve seen is that Internet communities tend to form around voices — informed, passionate, authoritative voices in particular. (No one wants to read a bored blogger, I always say.)

Oh, and this is via what looks like a nice site, Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University.

Sign up for Technology for Teaching and Learning!

In the shameless self-promotion department: if you are an undergraduate or graduate student at EMU who has an interest in technology and teaching and who likes the idea of spending a week in August in Traverse City, sign up for a class I’m teaching, ENGL 479/592: Technology for Teaching and Learning. I’ve set up a blog and a wiki for the class, though both are drafts at this point– I’m already pretty sure I’m going to make a few changes. Here’s the description I have right now:

This will be a “hands on the keyboards” workshop on using technology for the teaching and learning of writing, and it is designed for Composition, English, and Language Arts teachers K-College. We will have extensive in-class activities designed to learn how to use a variety of internet applications in present and future teaching– email, web sites, blogs, wikis, bookmarking sites, image sharing sites, podcasing, online video, and so forth. Students will build their own basic web sites and complete a post-class exercise on using technology in their teaching. No previous experience with the technologies covered in this class will be necessary.

As a “special topics” course, our regular ongoing undergraduate and graduate students could take the course as an elective. However, it is not be a suitable substitution for required courses in either the undergraduate programs in writing or the graduate program in written communication (e.g., courses like ENGL 328, ENGL 444, ENGL 516, or the “Topics In” courses in the MA program, ENGL 517, ENGL 518, ENGL 526, and ENGL 527).

The CRN for the undergrad version of the class is 41988 and the CRN for the graduate version of the class is 41989. We’ll have a month worth of online discussion starting July 1 (mostly discussing some readings about how we use technology now to teach and learn and how we want to after the class) and we’ll meet in Traverse City from August 1 through August 7.

These Traverse City classes have declined in numbers in recent years as online classes have become more workable and popular. As much as I like teaching online, I think it’s a shame because the Traverse City environment is a really great way to both teach and learn. The class is “on the bubble” in terms of getting enough students to make, so if you are reading this and are thinking that you were going to sign up eventually, do so right away! Like yesterday!

Ann Arbor city council doing stupid emailing during meetings

This was an amusing way to wake up this morning:

Some question appropriateness of mocking e-mail banter during Ann Arbor City Council
meetings in the AANews. Here are the opening paragraphs:

After his presentation to the Ann Arbor City Council, Washtenaw Audubon Society member Will Weber had every reason to think city officials shared his views about protecting birds during migratory season.

But while they publicly endorsed the efforts, the same City Council members who backed “Safe Passage Great Lakes Days” in March mocked its significance in e-mails that flew back and forth during the council meeting.

“The highlight of Hohnke’s legislative career a non-binding resolution to dim your lights to help birds,” Leigh Greden wrote in an e-mail to fellow council members Carsten Hohnke, Margie Teall and Christopher Taylor.

Greden’s March 16 missive prompted a dozen messages in which the four council members made sport of environmental or wildlife protection measures that they had passed.

The article goes on to recount a couple other conversations in which Ann Arbor City Council members walk a fine line between being just human, childish and/or assholes. I think my favorite part of the story is how these emails came to light:

Sent from city e-mail accounts, the messages were released by the city in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center.

The Detroit-based law center was seeking communication about the city’s planned underground parking structure on Fifth Avenue. What it got, in addition, were a series of live e-mail exchanges among council members during three meetings in February and March.

So, what have we learned here today?

  • Be careful about your email because it never ever goes away, even if you think you deleted it. I worry about this with my colleagues, actually. I’ve been on committees where fairly private/sensitive information found its way into email. I’ve been guilty of sending some of those emails myself. I recently had a conversation with a quasi-administrator-type person about a way to get reimbursed for something (I ended up getting paid the old-fashioned way, taxes and all) and this person told me to erase all those emails because they might get us in trouble. (Deep sigh) Well, if Kwame taught us anything it should be that stuff like email and text messages simply do not go away. Oh, and I don’t think those emails would have gotten anyone into trouble anyway.
  • People just can’t resist back-channel discussions, even when they really REALLY should know better. So maybe we really shouldn’t be that hard on students who don’t pay attention 120% of the time, especially when the instructor is just standing there going blah-blah-blah.
  • Many of the folks on Ann Arbor city council kinda seem like Douchebags, and, according to this wikipedia entry, I believe douchebag is the correct slang term: “The term implies a variety of negative qualities, specifically arrogance and engaging in obnoxious and/or irritating actions without malicious intent.”

Anyway, besides the local political/humor angle, I will have to remember this for English 516 or maybe English 444, some kind of class where we talk about how uses of email can go wrong.

RIP, Koko Taylor

I learned via my friend Troy’s Twitter feed that Koko Taylor died yesterday. In case you don’t know: Koko Taylor was the “Queen of the Blues,” born in Memphis but really a Chicago singer/performer.

Taylor has kind of a special place in my heart because I saw her in concert in 1988 when I first moved to Richmond, Virginia to start my MFA program. I can’t remember who I was with when I saw that show (I can imagine though), but I remember it was in some sort of gym on the VCU campus and I also remember meeting Paule Marshall at that show. Marshall was teaching in the creative writing program at VCU when I was there, so I ended up having some classes with her.

Anyway, if you get a chance to listen to some Taylor today, do so. Good old-fashioned blues.

Comic Life Update and now also for Windows

Just came across this in the blogosphere: Comic Life (1.3) is available for Windows, and an update (1.5) is available for Apple OSX. The bad news is it is $30 for Windows; the good news is there is a 30 day free trial. So who knows? Maybe one of the other changes I’ll make to 328 is instead of using Flickr for making a comic, I’ll use Comic Life. Heck, maybe I’ll offer it as an option for 121 this spring and in the fall….

Two more “must have” boing-boing links

Boy, skip reading the boing-boing feed for a couple of days and you miss out on some gems:

First, there’s this, BB on GOOD: The “Twitter Revolution” – Social media meets social unrest in Guatemala.” In more evidence that I am both out of the loop and big media does not give a rat’s ass about little countries to the south of US, I was unaware of the upheaval in Guatemala that is apparently underway, nor was I ware of the role of technologies like Twitter and blogging in both getting the word out and causing problems. Definitely something for 516 in the winter 2010 term.

Second, from Michael “Orange Crate Art” Leddy comes “What Plagiarism Looks Like.” Here’s a quote that kind of sums it up:

Some enterprising readers (faculty? student-journalists?) have gone through the dissertations of Carl Boening and William Meehan, highlighting every passage in Meehan’s that can be found, word for word, in Boening’s. Neither the University of Alabama (which granted Boening and Meehan their doctorates) nor Jacksonville State University, where Meehan is president, has chosen to take up the obvious questions about plagiarism that Meehan’s dissertation presents.

Plagiarism– it’s not just something students do poorly….

David Lynch’s “Interview Project”

This looks pretty cool: via boing-boing, I found David Lynch’s INTERVIEW PROJECT, which is going to be/is a year-long project where David Lynch’s people (I don’t think it is the director himself) goes on a road-trip and interviews everyday people. If the first one and the promo are any indication, the “real people” in question are more or less drifters, which is pretty fitting for David Lynch’s style.

It looks like it might end up being pretty interesting, and it also very much looks like the kind of thing that might work well for something like English 121, especially as I’m doing these student documentary video projects this term. I have no idea how they’ll turn out yet, of course….