Archive for March, 2004

Atlanta Desk

Just found out about Atlanta Desk, a blog that covers Atlanta and Georgia politics. I think this is a great example of what a political blog can do, and I look forward to following their coverage of a rather nutty political scene (thanks to Chris Martin for the link).

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Movie Top Five

Just a few film articles to read while you enjoy your nightly glass of wine or morning cup of coffee:

  • Can He Have a Hellmobile?” Just one of the many stupid questions Guillermo del Toro faced while trying to adapt Hellboy. I’m still eager to see del Toro’s The Devil’s Backbone (via Bookslut).
  • I’m a little late on Jon Ronson’s Guradian piece, “Citizen Kubrick,” in which Ronson tours Kubrick’s estate and learns the extent to which Kubrick researched his films. His elaborate filing systems are absolutely fascinating even if many of his films (Barry Lyndon, especially) left me feeling cold.
  • Salon’s Charles Taylor in defense of Showgirls, based on his “love […] for the disreputable.” Like Taylor, I’ve got a fondness for the disreputable, but I didn’t think that Showgirls really took me there or went quite far enough with its promise. I like the fact that the film avoids easy moralism and doesn’t seek to “redeem” the Elizabeth Berkeley character (I’d also say that Berkeley has gotten a raw deal in Hollywood based on the failure of that one film).
  • My goal for the weekend is to see Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, especially after seeing several good reviews from people I trust (sometimes you have to think big).
  • I’m also curious to see the Dawn of the Dead remake. Anyone seen it? Is it worth seeing in the theater?

I really am having movie withdrawal. I haven’t seen a movie in the theater in a couple of weeks, and I’m starting to feel a little lost. If you see me wandering the streets with a glazed look on my face, just walk me to the nearest movie theater and send me on my way.

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Democracy in the Age of Electronic Voting

Yeah, I’ve been blogging a lot lately. This is the first chance I’ve had in a really long time to “write ahead,” to simply throw some notes together about ideas or concepts and see if any of them work.

I know the electronic voting issue is pretty well-covered by now. I’m very troubled by the use of e-voting, especially given the well-documented ties between Diebold and the Bush crowd. Georgia was one of the first states to go electronic, and I have to admit that in the recent Democratic primary, I found the use of e-voting kind of scary. No paper trail. Your voting booth faces the middle of the room. Bad stuff all around.

But I have a second motivation for linking to this Wired article, too. I’m thinking about focusing my English composition class this fall on election issues. I’ve done similar “current events” approaches (the semester of 9/11, in fact), and they’ve worked pretty well. My goal for the course, obviously, would not be to convert my students to my political viewpoint, but would instead be to look at other election-year issues, such as how voting is organized, who has access to “citizenship,” that sort of thing. I’ve just started thinking about these issues today, so any suggestions would help immensely.

Update: As promised, here’s a link to David Weinberger’s blog entry about electronic voting (a draft of a commentary that ran on NPR).

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Rewind to Yesterday

It sounds like something out of a Charlie Kaufman movie (which I still haven’t seen). From Microsoft Research’s Cambridge Laboratory comes SenseCam, which allows a wearer to document the day using “a badge-sized wearable camera that captures up to 2000 VGA images per day into 128Mbyte FLASH memory.”

According to an article in The Feature, the technology could be used to help people remember where they left their eyeglasses or to remember a particularly enjoyable bottle of wine from a party several days earlier. Of course, this technology raises all sorts of ethical and legal questions, as Sunil Vemuri suggests:

“Computers have reached the point in which continuous, verbatim recording of an individual’s life experiences is technologically feasible,” Vemuri writes on his Web site. “The challenge now is turning vast repositories of such recordings into a useful resource while respecting the social, legal, and ethical ramifications of ubiquitous recording.”

Via Anne at Purse Lip Square Jaw.

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Campus MovieFest 2004

For the second year in a row, I attended Georgia Tech’s Campus Movie Fest (sponsored by a popular local airline–click the link if you really want to know). The event organizers provide any interested Georgia Tech students with digital video cameras, editing equipment, some training, and then students have one week to make a short film (5 minutes or less), with the winners receiving valubale prizes (dinners, round-trip plane tickets, etc). So far, the event takes place on eight different Georgia campuses, including Emory, UGA, Georgia State, and the Atlanta University center.

Several of the movies, especially the night’s winning team, showed some outstanding talent and creativity. I’ll update later when I find the name of the winning film, but the work, in spirit and style, reminded me of Godfrey Reggio’s “Qatsi Trilogy.” Also nice to see several of my students participating in some of the films that were screened.

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Summer Film Class

I’ve just received the wonderful news that I’ll be teaching a 2000 (sophomore) level course in film studies this summer, and I’ve been searching for resources online to supplement the course. In the class, which is essentially an “Introduction to Film” course, I plan to use David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson’s Film Art: An Introduction, a relatively popular film textbook.

So far, I’m still canvassing for ideas. During my search, I came across the Society for Cinema and Media Studies Resources page, which offers a section where people can submit resources for teaching, research, and scholarship on film and media. The SCMS just launched their new webpage, so it may take some time for the resource page to build up a collection of useful material, but it’s something worth watching.

Right now, I’m trying to find ways of complementing the excellent treatment of film form in the Bordwell-Thompson book with a project that focuses on the material, social, and economic bases of film production. One possibility that I’ve considered is a collaborative project in which groups of 4-5 create a page focusing on (1) a specific decade of US/world cinema or (2) a specific technological or social development (the emergence of widescreen, the Hays Code, etc). I want to temper my ambitions somewhat because it is a summer class while still ensuring that students understand individual films in terms of their social, economic, and technological contexts. But any suggestions from people who have taught intoduction to film courses would be helpful. What assignments do you use to get students to think beyond film form? Will I be asking too much to encourage them to think beyond formal elements in such a limited time?

I’m really excited about getting a chance to teach this course again. I’ve enjoyed teaching similar courses at both Purdue and Illinois. There’s usually a fair amount of enthusiaism for the course among students in the class, so it should be a fun way to make some cash over the summer.

Cross-posted at Pamlimpsest. Feel free to comment at either location.

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A pollen count of 120 or higher is considered to be “very high.” Guess where the pollen count currently stands in Atlanta?

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Georgia Conference on Information Literacy

I had a paper on blogging accepted a few days ago for the Georgia Conference on Information Literacy. I’ve just been to busy to mention it. The conference looks pretty cool. Instead of a short 20-minute presentation, it looks like they will be scheduling sessions of one to two hours (depending on the presenter’s needs, etc), allowing for a much more in-depth discussion of pedagogical stratgies. I’ll talk more about the direction of my presentation as it develops.

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I’m a Ramblin’ Wreck

Nope, I’m not talking about my writing style (although the description may apply). The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets just made the Final Four! Woohoo!

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ICFA 2004 Wrap-Up

Just returned from the 2004 International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts where I gave my frequently advertised paper on The Ring. Like George, I had a refreshing and rewarding weekend, one that will hopefully provide me with the spark to produce some new material for articles and my book project.

The weekend started just a little inauspiciously when my flight out of Atlanta was cancelled due to the failure of a sensor on the wing. I won’t trash the airline in public for now because they gave me two round-trip tickets anywhere the airline flies for postponing my trip for one day. The delay also gave me the chance to catch up with one of my colleagues from Tech who was also going to the conference. Would have been nice to get one extra day by the pool (and the pool bar), but now I’ve got airfare to two more conferences.

I finally arrived late on Thursday afternoon, which gave me a chance to catch a panel entitled “Topics and Issues in Televised Science Fiction.” J.P. Telotte’s paper on Disney television shows from the 1950s was very cool. Telotte primarily discussed an educational Disney show in which scientists would come on to discuss aspects related to space travel. Other panelists discussed the racial allegories in cable sci-fi shows such as AlienNation. I was too tired from the plane trip to take very many notes, hence the scattered thoughts.

I spent most of the day Friday revising my paper. It wasn’t quite done when I left Atlanta, and working on the plane seemed like a bad idea, plus I wanted to read William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition, which seemed like a rather apt airplane read (so far so good). So I spend most of the morning and afternoon in the bar (no coffee shops within walking distance) and by the pool finishing my paper. Meanwhile, my panel chair (a friend from a previous ICFA) was nervously trying to track the rest of the panel so that he could give us a proper introduction. No sign of them anywhere.

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ICFA Paper Link

In working through my comparison between Blair Witch and The Ring, I may take some time to discuss how both films used the Internet in creative ways to market their films. For both films, websites about fictional places create the impression of local legends. Here’s the website for The Ring:
Moesko Island Lighthouse.

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Busy-ness of the Long Distance Blogger

Like many of you (including George and Matt), I’ve spend most of the last few days putting out various fires, trying to revise a couple of articles (more details soon) and put together a conference paper. I’ve been working with students on getting their research papers rolling (so far so good–my students rarely fail to impress me). I’ve also been putting together proposals for conferences and future articles, including 1-2 conference papers that will hopefully allow me to indulge my desire to talk about documentary films. In short, I feel like I’ve been in a full sprint for the past month, unable to slow down at all.

This isn’t a complaint, just context for a few passing thoughts I’ve recorded in my blog over the last few days. Weez comments that my references to a “blogging crisis” leave her “wanting more words.” I know that one of my goals, when I started my blog, was to use it as a tool for working through research ideas and hopefully receiving a little feedback from my readers, but lately, because the blog hasn’t felt very much like an extension of my research, I’ve been trying to reflect a little more on why I blog.

I just lost a huge chunk of this entry, and I don’t have time to re-create it, but the main thrust was that I’ve been trying to work through how my understanding of my audience changes what I’ve been including in my blog and my dissatisfaction with what I’ve been writing about here lately. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to restate what I’d said, but I think the hastily written entries that I’ve been writing lately don’t seem to be quite as fulfilling as I’d like them to be. I’m not sure that’s a critique of the medium as much as it is my use of it lately, the fact that my own understanding of my audience is in flux right now. If I get some time tonight, I’ll try to work out these thoughts in further detail, but I need to spend the day revising my conference paper on The Ring and getting myself packed for my flight tomorrow morning.

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Three Reasons I Never Bet on Sports

  1. Nevada-Gonzaga
  2. Maryland-Syracuse
  3. Stanford-Alabama

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One Year

The war in Iraq began one year ago today. We still haven’t found weapons of mass destruction. What else is there to say?

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MIT Blog Survey

Just a quick link and comment to the results of a blog survey conducted by Fernanda Viégas that attempts to map blogging habits. I’d guess that the results are somewhat complicated by the fact that the survey group consists primarily of people who are highly-educated (nearly one third have a graduate degree). Still, the survey seems to identify a few social norms that are beginning to develop among bloggers including a trend toward more personal, “rambling” entries and a tendency to avoid identifying one’s employer in the blog.

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