Well, this blog has been running for almost three years! It started out as a collective analysis of digital media and how to do research in digital environments. However, Kristin Scott and Sean Lawson, the other two contributors, have moved on to do other projects (Kristin’s teaching and finishing up a PhD; Sean is building his well-deserved reputation as a cyberwar critic and theorist).
I myself have kept this going, but I’ve felt a bit limited by the overall theme of the blog. So, I’ve decided to set up a new blog on my own domain to explore ideas. I will likely do more social media criticism and commentary there (as I have here), but I can also expand and discuss other topics, like being a professor, being involved in cultural studies, software studies, science and technology studies, and political economy, and sundry idiosyncrasies.
For now, since this blog is paid for, I will probably maintain it here. Later, I may archive it.
In any case, thank you for reading!
Robert W. Gehl
I guess many of my posts aren’t posts so much as they are collections of ideas. For example, you can see my Advice to Students post or my Reasons for Leaving Facebook. Not much of the advice or reasons are my own, but it is my blog and I can collect what I want.
Here, in this post, I want to start collecting calls for humanities education to increase the training our students get in computers, software, programming, and networking. I agree with these calls: I believe that undergraduates in the humanities need to understand how these technical systems work, because these systems (for better or worse) are part of the fabric of the developed world. Ethical, critical, and philosophical inquiry into technology has to happen in education because we are increasingly governing, regulating, and monitoring ourselves with these systems. So, here goes: read more…
This spring, I’ve started teaching a “Special Topics” course in the department of communication at Utah. I call the course “The Culture of Computing.” The goal is to explore the history and culture of computing (largely in the US context) through three streams: historical scholarship (predominantly the excellent history from Paul Ceruzzi), the writings of computer scientists, and science fiction. The basic questions we’re exploring include read more…
Robert W. Gehl
The tech staff at the Frontiers of New Media did a great job recording the various presentations. You can see the list of videos here. In particular, see Richard White’s talk on railroads – a phenomenal presentation. My friend Fan Yang’s talk is also quite good.
My presentation, “Mass Producing Social Media: Technical Standards, The Interactive Advertising Bureau, and the Rise of Template-Driven Social Media” is also available.
Robert W. Gehl
As you might have noticed, I’ve been critical of Notehall, the online ‘marketplace’ for university class notes. I basically think that it is part of the larger crass commercialization of higher education. Some people call that ‘disruption’ and ‘edupreneurial activity’; I just think it’s part of the larger erosion of the meaning of higher education. I guess I hold the same position as Marc Bousquet, although he’s far more eloquent about it.
In response, someone from a notehall.com email address posed as a student user of the site and defended it. That was fun. I’ve seen similar comments on other blogs, so I imagine Notehall has some people Google-alerting the name and defending that company’s dubious cyber-honor. That’s ok, if a bit disingenuous. We all have an agenda.
More recently, I’ve been editing the Notehall Wikipedia page. My username there is Octavabasso, in case you want to review my edits. I noticed that the Notehall WP entry didn’t have a section on the criticisms it’s received from academics, particularly in the University of California system. So, I added what I believe is a well-sourced, even-handed section outlining those critiques.
My edits have been reverted. Moreover, looking through the history of the Notehall WP entry, I see that a previous, similar section had been removed before.
So it looks like some Notehall folks are patrolling Wikipedia, too. They aren’t adding anything unless it’s positive. Well, except for the 50% cut they take – that’s remained in the article. But otherwise, truthiness is alive and well in that little corner of the Web. Let’s see how long my edits last.
I am only now starting to recover from a seemingly non-stop weekend of some of the best research on media, communication, and history going on right now. The University of Utah just hosted the third Frontiers of New Media symposium. I was part of the group that planned it. I will admit that I will extremely nervous about everything: whether or not it would go smoothly, how well we organized the presentation panels, and of course because I presented my own research. (For anyone who wants to read my talk, here’s a PDF).
In the end, I couldn’t be happier. read more…
I have a new article out in the open-access journal on the Internet, First Monday. It’s got a somewhat strange title: “Ladders, samurai, and blue collars: Personal branding in Web 2.0.” Anyone who reads it should treat those terms as easter eggs scattered throughout the article. Here’s the abstract: read more…