A man and his phone….

Emailing Facebooking Twitting Googling etc (Taken with instagram)

Emailing Facebooking Twitting Googling etc (Taken with instagram)


Along the lines of an earlier post about Chris Crutchfield’s video project, here is a photo that showed up in my Tumblr feed today.

There is a photo project out there, I wish I remember by whom, looking at people and their phones in all sorts of places and times of the day. We have very interesting relationships with our phone in this day and age.

It’s a topic totally worth looking into more deeply.


Collaboration and commiseration with the cohort

Ah, breakfast.

All the better for the company of my fellow students. This time it was at The Loop in Calgary’s Myrtle Loop community and double delight in the fact that it wasn’t too cold venturing out earlier than usual on a Saturday morning.


One piece of advice we heard a couple of times during our orientation week last fall was to really make the most of the relationships at grad school. It’s easier and harder than it was in undergrad: easier because it’s such a small cohort (less than 15 for this year’s PhDs and MAs together) and harder because everyone is so. dang. busy. Between reading, being a teaching/research assistant, writing papers, journal entries, articles and proposals, it’s hard to make time to meet, let alone coordinate getting together. 

But it’s so worth it. 

Conversation topics on this Saturday morning, other than food and shopping and goings-on in the city, consisted of:

  • hashing it out about the professors – who’s demanding, who was unfair, who has good advice, who doesn’t, who’s helpful, who isn’t (and it was all relative and personal)
  • assignment expectations
  • the stages of our writing (which pretty much we were all agreed on: nowhere yet)
  • the stages of our thinking about writing (lots of progress, different stages, there)
  • WTF about readings and theory

No one was really (yet) at the bitching stage and it was the best Saturday morning social gathering I’d been to in a while. 

I really don’t want to sound cliche, but it was really really good to know that none of us were truly alone in this master’s degree process: we were on similar pages with similar, yet different, struggles and cares and there was a true sense of encouragement and support amongst the group. 

If anyone ever asks me for advice about going on to graduate studies after a bachelor’s degree, I’m now going to include that same advice: get to know your peers and make relationships with them. 

The proliferation of communication channels in ordinary life

Email. Tweet. Text message. FaceBook message. Gmail chat. Skype chat. Skype call.

On any given day, I can be contacted by any of these methods. Isn’t it crazy? I’m not in a unique situation; most of my peers are also reachable on most of these platforms.

I don’t know why I haven’t thought about it before, but it’s just really nuts. What happened to the days of a phone call and slow mail?

(Our 3-year son said yesterday that he was waiting for a letter in the mail, that he loved opening envelopes that came to our house from the mailman. He doesn’t fully spell and read yet, or get clicking on screen with a mouse, so he hasn’t yet been introduced to email but after he said that, I wonder when (and sadly, not if) he will lose the joy and pleasure of slow mail.)

Anyway, I wonder what happened that made us spread out over so many different communication channels. This morning I saw that the makers of WunderList, my favorite to-do-list app, has just released a new collaboration/social project management tool that looks amazing. I am honestly tempted to download WunderKit. But if I adopt it, it can potentially become one more platform or channel where I can be reached and suddenly, I’m not comfortable with that.

Is this part of working or just living, I guess, in the world today, to be available over so many different avenues?

What will it take to pare it down to just the minimum? What is that minimum?


This video by Chris Crutchfield is his “brain’s interpretation” of a moment of multiple message convergence.

Digitals from Chris Crutchfield on Vimeo.

Old and new media: photography and hashtag projects


There are so many of these photo hashtag projects or challenges emerging with the increase in the number of networked photography apps. I take real delight in seeing the results of such a project, and even more in sometimes contributing to one.

The invention of the #hashtag has influenced and made easier the task of crowd-sourcing. It’s funny how one tiny symbol can make such a difference.

Instagram posts a photo challenge every weekend and this past one was #somethingoldsomethingnew. The app blog always posts a few selected photos and one of this week’s submissions totally caught my attention.

The photo above by user markweaver represents so many of my research interests:

  • new media
  • old media
  • music
  • photography
  • representation
  • the visual

Love it.

In the valley with the rest of the grad students

I don’t know why I haven’t written more about being a grad student. I really wish I had documented and recorded some of the experiences of the first semester, because well…. they were some powerful experiences, probably shared by the great majority of first year master’s students. 

Today, this weekend, I am suffering from the ailment suffered the most by all graduate students, if #PhDchat is any indication, whether they are at the master’s, PhD, or post-doc level. Writer’s block. Kill me now.

How hard is it to put together a one-page proposal? 

I’ve had first semester to get somewhat familiar with an area (in my case, visual culture), just a toe dip, but that should be enough to flesh out a one page document, no? 

I am stuck stuck stuck. 

Fortified by strong tea and the advice of a friend who is a doctoral student in my program, I will endeavor to do my darnedest tonight. 


This is where I spend 80% of my awake time. Good thing I like this library. They allow you to eat and drink here. Lots of printers. Scanners if you need them, even laptops on loan. And iMacs, beautiful things, if you can get on them. And lots of windows, hence LOTS of light. Did I mention I like it here? @TFDL

Girl Walk // All Day Dance Party

Photo by Emily Gilbert

Today’s CreativeMornings talk by Jacob Krupnick was followed by a Girl Walk // All Day movie screening which turned into an impressive dance party. Who says you can’t have a dance party at 10am?

Girl Walk // All Day is a 71 minutes dance video / love letter to NYC. Watch it here.

I just discovered Girl Talk, the web sampling master musician this past fall, when fellow students in a graduate media studies seminar kept talking about him. The name was mentioned with reference to copyright, Rolande Barthes, and current music culture. Over the Christmas break, I downloaded the All Day track – and just loved it. It’s funny to be listening to something and then be, like, “Hey, that’s Belinda Carlisle,” (in rap/hip-hop track!), or “What? Isn’t that Peter Gabriel?”, for the entire album.

So this past week, I was absolutely learn about Girl Walk, a film about dance and NYC, set to the music of a single long-play All Day track.

If you like music, New York, creativity, and something different, you have to check out the film, which is available streaming on Vimeo. Just look at how these viewers were celebrating the film at 10am in the morning.

Survival tactics

So, December has rolled around, faster than any one of us imagined. Ridiculous us. We should have expected it. 

Three papers, one at 12 pages, the others at 20 pages. At once. Here is where I lament the sad lack of time management skills. If ever there was a time to be developing and practicing those skills, it would have been around month 2 of the program. Month 1 was still pretty tame.

Things that have been helping, a LOT, are:

  1. free and convenient access to a gym where I never have to wait for use of the machines (unlike in Vancouver or Kingston!)
  2. the company of good friends to go out and grab a bite, despite the fact that we have deadlines looming. Food and conversations can help, seriously. 

Here’s to the last month. 

If I’m posting again in the new year, then it will mean I’ve made it and that I’m still interested in new media. Then it will have been worth all the turmoil and panic and (almost) tears. 

Identity is an Industry

by Mathew Ingram 

Identity on the Internet used to be a fluid concept: something that was difficult to pin down, an idea the New Yorker memorialized in a cartoon depicting the fact that “on the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog.”

But that phenomenon has changed as the web has matured. Advertisers have thrown larger and larger sums of money at companies that can tell them exactly who someone is (or close enough), where they live, and what they like to eat or wear.


This post is one of a series on “How connectivity is revolutionizing everything” on GigaOM. It’s a very good short read and raises questions of concern, the strongest one for me being the overall corporatization of information and self as existing on sites like Facebook and now, Google+. 

Yes, we are tied to who we are perceived to be on these sites, but many people will NOT join or not participate on public SM sites because of the corporate, ad-driven nature of the “business”.

Since web searching and internet scans are increasingly common methods of looking up information about people, of confirming who they say they are, or of just looking for someone who you want to get in touch with, how does this impact those who do NOT want to be participants online, who do NOT want to have a presence on these mega-commercial sites? Is there a (online) place and space suited to those who want to be off commercialized platforms but still wish to have an online presence or an identity on the web?

I’ve been doing assignments since starting grad school and many of them are tied to the author of the concept, article or book in question. The exercise of tracking down information about authors, most of them scholars and experts in very distinct academic fields, has highlighted for me how much the existence of one’s work and track record digitally recorded on the internet in some form, stands as a measure of what one has accomplished.  Yes, this is an arbitrary measure, and some people will not care or as mentioned, choose not to participate online, but for those studying and wanting to utilize the knowledge body left behind by thinkers and scholars, the internet, unfortunately, is the space where most of the ‘search’ will take place. 

These are different questions but all related to the overall notion of online identity.

How many photos have ever been taken?

At the dawn of the new millennium a new technology (that Kodak itself invented) was reshaping the whole industry – the digital photo. When the first few hundred thousand digital cameras shipped in 1997 their memory was strictly limited (in fact cameras like the Sony Mavica took floppy disks[5]!). Digital cameras are now ubiquitous – it is estimated that 2.5 billion people in the world today have a digital camera[6]. If the average person snaps 150 photos this year that would be a staggering 375 billion photos. That might sound implausible but this year people will upload over 70 billion photos to Facebook, suggesting around 20% of all photos this year will end up there[7]. Already Facebook’s photo collection has a staggering 140 billion photos, that’s over 10,000 times larger than the Library of Congress.[8]

The world's largest photo libraries

Even accounting for population growth the exponential growth of photos is incredible (we take 4 times as many photos as 10 year ago).

To me, the Library of Congress represents a repository that holds crucial history, at least the history of select segments of Americana. So I am staggered by the number of digital photos taken, and probably on the increase, in comparison to some important archives. Is the visual record of our culture, history, and social documentation going to be maintained on Facebook? That’s disturbing.

I also thought that Flickr was one of the largest sources of photographs so am surprised by Facebook’s overwhelming dominance. Mind you, there are x number more users on Facebook so that makes sense, and the majority of the pictures taken on Facebook are not as deliberate, or professional, than those on Flickr.

We’re moving towards becoming a world with digital remains. I’m curious what archival studies will look like 50 years from now.

The digital experience and public spaces

I’ve been thinking about public spaces, identity and mobile technology a lot lately, especially with the exercise of narrowing down a paper topic in mind.

So it was neat to come across this post this morning about one little experiement in integrating a public space, Twitter, and photography. It’s not quite how I envisioned the interaction between the people with each other and within a public space they inhabit through or mediated by digital technologies, so maybe that’s why it quite captured by attention.

TweetingSeat by Chris McNicholl is an interactive public bench which links the physical and digital worlds by tweeting photos of its users and the environment wherever it’s placed. Still confused? Watch the video below…

via unplggd.com


Other than the HUGE privacy issues arising from the TweetingSeat (what if you DON’T want your photograph to be tweeted to the world?!), it’s a neat little project.

Designer and TweetingSeat inventor Chris McNicoll gives the aim of this project “is for people and communitiesi to form their own rtelationship with the object though the way in which they choose to use it.” 

More information is available on the designer Chris McNicoll’s website and its project blog.