Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Your apps are spying on you

Is anyone surprised by this story in the Wall Street Journal, "Your Apps Are Watching You" (18 December, 2010). It begins: "Few devices know more personal details about people than the smartphones in their pockets: phone numbers, current location, often the owner's real name—even a unique ID number that can never be changed or turned off..."

I was dismayed to see Paper Toss as one of the offenders they looked into :(

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Congress actually passed the long-delayed Community Radio Act, allowing low power FM radio stations (usually these reach just a mile or more, are relatively cheap to set up, and create opportunities for more groups to reach the airwaves). This has been blocked by the big radio networks for a long time.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Ummmm...I think I figured out why the phone doesn't ring.


Was walking out to my car the other day and suddenly wondered why I had never noticed the interesting filligree doohickey (those are technical terms, y'all) that was part of our car's antenna. It looked cool. I got closer and saw that it wasn't part of the antennae, but a dragonfly. It very patiently stayed there while I snapped a couple of images with my phone, and then zipped off.

New Books

Just back from NCA. Picked up the following, which look great:

Jonathan Gray, Show Sold Separately: Promos, Spoilers, and Other Media Paratexts. NYU Press.

Thomas Streeter, The Net Effect: Romanticism, Capitalism, and the Internet. NYU Press.

Got in the mail the other day:

Ben Highmore, Ordinary Lives: Studies in the Everyday. Routledge. I had read this in manuscript form and loved it. Glad it's finally out.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

updating Orwell

Under the spreading chestnut tree,
I friended you,
and you friended me...

[updating Orwell's parody of a popular song/rhyme, which itself is echoing Longfellow]

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

The Conversation (1974)

The infamous Jack Tarr hotel, where the key confrontation occurred in this great film, is slated for demolition (if it's not gone already). It was renamed the Cathedral Hill hotel a number of years ago. Apparently not too many people are sad to see it go (a dead end of modernist architecture, someone wrote, actually they said, "the bad direction modernism went"). It's going to be replaced by a new hospital complex.

new books

New books, accumulated over the last few months. Some purchased, and some just appeared in the mail (thank you!!) In no particular order.

Goggin & Hjorth, Mobile Technologies: From Telecommunications to Media. Routledge

Paul Virilio, The University of Disaster. Polity.

Campanella Bracken and Skalski (eds) Immersed in Media: Telepresence in Everyday Life. Routledge.

Solove, Understanding Privacy. Harvard.

Vivian, Public Forgetting. Penn State.

Papacharissi (ed), A Networked Self: Identity, Community, and Culture in Social Network Sites. Routledge.

Turner, Ordinary People in the Media.

Crow, Longford, & Sawchuk (eds), The Wireless Spectrum. University of Toronto Press.

Currently reading: Qui Xiaolong, Death of a Red Heroine, a mystery recommended by Jennifer (thanks!). Though I am also inching my way through both Against the Day (which is taking years, I realize, which is not necessarily the book's fault) and Vineland by Pynchon. Finished Inherent Vice, which was fun.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The everyday

Currently teaching a course on media and everyday life. Right now we’re early on in the course and covering basic ideas about the everyday. Students seem to be enjoying it. But reading and teaching about such things always gets me reflecting on everyday practices, naturally enough.

We read Mauss’s “Techniques of the Body” which got me reflecting on when and where people walk around clasping their hands behind their backs (it’s either very formal, like in school or a form of attention, or quite informal—a stroll, though the latter seems to be a generational thing; do people do this anymore?).

The other somewhat random thought came up when the A/C system kicked on a bit earlier today. The thermostat is programmed by time of day and day of the week, so you can set it to your habits, or the habits of the household. When we first moved into this house years ago, it was set to someone else’s everyday. There was the preferred temperature (and preferred nighttime temp, daytime temp, etc.). But also the timer gives a clue to the schedule of the house: when it first kicks on (people are waking up), kicks back off (people have gone to school or work; or perhaps it doesn’t kick back off if they stay at home), back on in the afternoon (when expected home from school or work), and back off in the evening (when we go to bed); with different patterns for the weekend (does it shut off Sunday morning when you’re not expected to be at home?). Until I figured out how to change the programming, we were living in a house set for another family, continually overriding their everyday. It’s about the ways the everyday accretes in technologies and spaces.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

in the news (old)

A former student of mine just sent me a copy of an article from last January from a college newspaper, The College Times. I remember talking with the reporter, but never saw the issue. So this is 8 months old, and I'm cited several times later on.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Beyond the Lighted Stage

Quite enjoying this documentary of Rush. Lots of old footage and interviews. Doesn't presume you're a fan. Deals with the seemingly utter lack of respect the band gets from rock critics (and reads out choice excerpts of scathing reviews). But as a portrait of a group of friends who have managed to hang together as a band for 40 years (accumulating the most consecutive gold or platinum albums except for the Beatles or the Rolling Stones), it's quite good. There's no scandal here, and none of the usual heavy metal excesses. Geddy, at the end, says that he told the filmmakers they were making a mistake: the band was just too boring. They're not boring, however, but are funny, reflective, honest guys (who happed to be extremely talented musicians). The documentary quietly skips a few late 80s albums (e.g., Presto), which is probably for the best :)

Friday, June 25, 2010

New Old Media

Picked this up in the Night Market in Hong Kong (my, that sounds exotic!).

Apparently it's a Seagull brand, but I haven't been able to trace much beyond that. What's different from the other Seagull TLR's that I can find online is that there is a figure of a rose on the top of the camera.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Just got promoted to Full Professor!

Next stop: Emeritus! :)

Surveillance Birdhouse

I love this!