Saturday, October 21, 2006


So, last Thursday I get an email from Shin Dong Kim, a scholar in Korea who studies mobile technologies and with whom I've been corresponding, saying that he was helping run a big conference and had just lost a keynote speaker. Since the plenary topic was culture and technology, would I be interested in speaking?

Next week.

In Korea.

So I'm currently in a mad scramble. But next Thursday I wing my way to Gwangju, Korea, to give a talk called "Technological Culture" to the Asia Cultural Forum. I arrive Friday evening, speak Saturday morning, and fly back Sunday. Won't get to see much of Korea this trip (I was there for ICA and a cultural studies preconference in 2002 and lived in Seoul for 2 years growing up, back in the mid-70s), and I wish I could stay for more of the Forum, which looks fascinating. Saturday seems dedicated to panels on Asian youth culture.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Gabbie, RIP

Well, we finally lost our Bichon Frise, the 16-year old irrepressible Gabrielle Button Woodstock ("Gabbie" or "Gabs"). She's been in declining health these last six months or so, sleeping more and losing weight. She finally went into kidney failure last week and died today (10/11/06). She will be sorely missed.

Gabbie has been part of our family since we lived in Illinois. She was the dog of a vet Elise's parents knew in Texas. The vet died, his widow couldn't care for Gabby, so Elise's mom babysat Gabs a lot. We brought her up to Illinois to find someone to adopt her (we knew someone who did pet adoptions) but she ended up taking over our house and never left. She's lived also in South Carolina, Georgia, and Arizona.

Bichons have a wonderful character. Often mistaken for frou-frou Fifi type dogs (especially since they can be groomed to be all fluffy snowballs) they are also scrappy little dogs with street smarts. Historically they're from the Canary Islands, used to be traded by Spanish sailors apparently. They ended up as court dogs for royalty (appearing in royal portraits) and later lost favor, becoming European street dogs before the breed was brought back. Which kinda sums up a bichon's personality: part royal lap dog, part streetwise, part "hello sailor," and very intelligent.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Book Award

"Culture and Technology" just won the Book Award for the Critical and Cultural Studies Division of the National Communication Association!

Woo hoo!


Monday, October 09, 2006

New STS Stuff

Interesting new books seem to come in threes...

Recently across my desk (I'll put in links later if I get the chance):

Wenda K. Bauchspies, Jennifer Croissant, & Sal Restivo (2006) Science, Technology, and Society: A Sociological Approach. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

David Bell (2006). Science, Technology, and Culture. NY: Open University Press.

Mike Michael (2006). Technoscience and Everyday Life: The Complex Simplicities of the Mundane. NY: Open University Press.

The first two are more obviously intro/textbooky kind of things. The latter less directly so.

Sunday, October 01, 2006


I made paper (dammit!)
OK, so this isn't headline news, or perhaps that unusual an occurrence. It certainly lacks the profound political and cultural significance of, say, Gandhi making salt. But it's something.

This whole exercise (which Catherine helped me with; the pulp she referred to as "double ewwww!") comes under the "Old Media" theme which may crop up from time to time here. I have an interest in old media. But that doesn't mean that I'll be curing sheep skins or hammering woven reeds flat any time soon. Indeed, I'm avoiding the full-on "artisanal" aspects of papermaking. With a couple of how-to books from the library tucked under my arm (with a tip of the hat to Jennifer Slack and her colleague for some references) I called the main art store in town asking if they had papermaking frames. They sort of scoffed, hinting that real papermakers construct their own down at the hardware store. So I ended up at Michaels picking up a pre-made screen (like I'm going to spend the afternoon making a frame; I don't even have time to blog!). Actually making basic paper (and this stuff I'm cranking out is as thick and ungainly as they come) is fairly easy and kinda fun.

What instigated this is my long-term love of old books (if I ever win the lottery, or if Peter Jackson options Culture and Technology for his next trilogy of films, I'd probably end up apprenticed to some book-making and repair endeavor), but the current impetus was the announcement this summer that Phoenix no longer accepts shredded paper in its recycling program (mucks up the machinery). Given that people are shredding everything these days (as they should) that means lots of perfectly recyclable paper heading back to the landfills. So this first effort was from the home shredder. A nice lavender it turned out, eh?

Next, on to figure out sizing, which is how to make paper that one can write on with ink, otherwise it's like blotter paper; and how to de-acidify it a bit so it won't brown and crumble like newspaper.

For those interested (and I doubt anyone's made it this far down the post anyway), I ended up with Arnold Grummer's Dip Handmold which comes with the frame (a "deckle"), papermaking screen, a cover screen, and a support grid. One also needs a wide basin, a blender, a bunch of towels and sponges, a cookie sheet, an iron and an ironing board. Oh, and a large heavy book wrapped in plastic (a "press bar") to smush the paper flat [I'm using Smolan, Moffitt, & Naythons "The Power to Heal: Ancient Arts and Modern Medicine," which I pulled off the shelf because it was big, heavy, and handy, though I'm sure the cultural studies doorstop would work just as well].