“The more you document your own life, the more you check in, you tweet, the more you post photos of what you did last night, the more you do all of this stuff, or even in my case, the more you listen for little lines of dialogue that can make their way into stories, the more you photograph moments, in a way, the more you start to step out of those moments, and if you do that too much, you become a spectator to your own life.”—Jonathan Harris
Edmonton New Media Roundup 27
It seems an awful lot of people are interested in learning how to do new things this year, and a lot of them are journalists and/or bloggers, judging from my Twitter stream.
I don’t think it will turn me into Lisa Williams, and I’m going to have to improve my time management skills to work the lessons into my life, but I’m excited for the opportunity. So is Sheri at This Bird’s Day. So could you be.
Speaking of opportunities to learn new skills, MediaCamp Edmonton is set for Feb. 4 at the World Trade Centre on Jasper Avenue. Tickets will be on sale at yeglive.ca very soon. (Update: Are on sale now!) The idea is to get storytellers and coders together to see how they can help each other.
Among the speakers are SEO/analytics expert Dana DiTomaso, Edmonton Journal publisher John Connolly, developer Aaron Clifford, data journalist Lucas Timmons, designer Tanya Camp, social media strategist Jay Palter, data miner Mack Male, radio/web wunderkind Brittney Le Blanc, Storifyer extraordinaire Tamara Stecyk and Edmonton’s own Dumbledore of code, Owen Brierley. And me. So come!
(Addendum: Todd Babiak of Story Engine will also be joining us, to talk about how developers can get their story out. For more on MediaCamp, see Jeff Samsonow’s post, or listen to his dulcet tones on the latest Unknown Studio podcast.)
MediaCamp is just one of many cool and useful events coming up. To wit:
— Jan. 18: DemoCamp 17: Developers show their stuff at the Telus Centre at the University of Alberta
— Jan. 19: Girl Geek Dinner, Season 2, Episode 5: No speaker this time, just a chance to get together and geek out at Brewsters Oliver Square.
— Jan. 27: Social Media Breakfast: Walter Schwabe of fusedlogic will be speaking at this edition of the monthly event. Ticket details to come, so watch the #smbyeg hashtag for details.
— Jan. 27-29: Startup Hackathon and Global Game Jam: A 54-hour marathon to make apps and games.
— Feb. 2: Pecha Kucha Night 12: A night of short, sharp talks at the Metro Cinema (Garneau Theatre).
— Feb. 8: TEDxEdmonton Salon Series #1: A live speaker event on the theme of “Rethinking Open Source Culture.”
— March 8-10: BlogWest 2012: A conference that aims to get bloggers and brands together, organized by Felicia Dewar.
— May 4-5: iMedia, a social media conference organized by Carol McBee.
And that’s just a bit of what’s going on. Keep an eye on ShareEdmonton’s calendar for more.
Here are a few more things I noticed this month:
— Avenue Edmonton started a petition to get the city to build a monument to SCTV, which was made here in the early 1980s. David Staples and Colby Cosh liked the idea; Mike Otto did not. Much back-and-forthing ensued on Twitter. As many have pointed out, there’s a bit of a generational divide here. If you (like me) grew up with the show, it’s monumental. If you didn’t, chances are you’d rather see the time and energy spent elsewhere.
— While we’re talking about monuments, the prolific Paula Kirman had a nice post earlier this month on the homeless memorial sculpture on 99th Street.
— If you’re looking for a primer on FourSquare, its uses and abuses, Jerry Aulenbach has you covered.
— Lowetide has migrated his widely read Oilers blog to a new site.
— Alex Abboud is in the middle of a thoughtful series of blog posts on Jasper Avenue. Here’s the preamble and here’s a rumination on what’s good about 104th Street. (Mack has a post on 104th, too.)
— In Roundup 26, I admitted my dearth of knowledge when it comes to food blogs. Luckily, Sharon Yeo publishes regular Food Notes as part of her encyclopedic Only Here for the Food.
— In other food news, Jennifer Cockrall-King gave a great talk at The ARTery on Jan. 12 about her new book, Food and the City, which comes out next month.
— She spoke a TripLit, a fun and well-attended literary event put on by three authors: Jocelyn Brown, the new writer-in-residence at the Edmonton Public Library; Lynn Coady, co-founder of Eighteen Bridges magazine; and Marina Endicott, founder along with Coady of the Literary Saloon. I learned a lot that night.
By the way, I’m giving a workshop called Social Media for Writers through MacEwan Writing Works on Feb. 11. I have started compiling a Twitter list of authors who use Twitter effectively. Many are local but there are a few others sprinkled in there. I’d love to hear your suggestions for worthy additions. Comment, tweet or Google+ at me.
Team to Attend New Media Conference in Lebanon
This week, the Media Matters and Global Frontier Analytics team will travel to Beirut, Lebanon to attend the 16th annual conference organized by The Arab-U.S. Association of Communication Educators (AUSACE).
This year, the AUSACE conference theme will tackle two current, pressing, and interdependent concepts: digital literacy and media literacy, and their evolutionary and revolutionary roles in contemporary media education, media practices, and media policies.
Particularly in light of this week’s elections in Tunisia and the upcoming Egypt elections in November, this conference occurs at an extremely fascinating time and place in which to review the role of digital media in politics and social infrastructure.
The team looks forward to writing about who we meet and what we learn.
Edmonton New Media Roundup 26
As I reflect on 2011 in Edmonton’s new media space, a figure haunts me: 3,400.
That’s how how many blogs Mack Male counted in this city, for a talk he gave at WordCamp in November.
Man, I thought. Here I figured I was reasonably on top of the Edmonton blogosphere. I had read so many posts in 2011, thanks to the recommendation machine that is Twitter. I had selected dozens for the Edmonton Journal’s first try at aggregating local blogs. And I was writing a sort-of-but-not-quite-weekly roundup that presumed to bring attention to the cream of the crop.
But did I even come close to reading 3,400?
I don’t think I even made a big dent in the 850 or so “active” blogs — i.e. those that had been updated within the week that Mack made his count (a level of activity that I can’t claim to have lived up to).
And that doesn’t even count all of the other new media work being published on YouTube, in podcasts, on Flickr and Instagram, on Soundcloud and Pinterest and Reddit and Yelp and elsewhere.
I felt a paralyzing sense of inadequacy. And then I remembered what I always tell people who avoid Twitter for fear of information overload: You can’t drink the whole stream, so don’t even try. Just dip in, and enjoy getting something you didn’t have access to before. (Thanks to Steve Buttry for the useful metaphor. And thanks Dave Sutherland — corrected! — for the picture of the North Saskatchewan River to illustrate said metaphor.)
So I’m at peace with the knowledge that I can’t consume everything. But I will take this year-end opportunity to examine how I filter and in what ways I should broaden my horizons.
— I have a definite bias towards blogs that focus outwardly rather than on the inner life of the blogger; in short, I like blogs that are journalistic. That’s why Mack’s Mastermaq, The Charrette by Mike Otto and Scott Lilwall, and Dave Cournoyer’s daveberta are in heavy rotation, as was the edmontonian, the late, lamented blog of Jeff Samsonow and Sally Poulsen. Civic affairs and local stories turn my crank, so I listen to every Unknown Studio podcast and try to read everything that Zoe Todd writes, both on Urbane Adventurer and on post-awesome.
— I also tend to read the blogs of people I know, and I’ve met an awful lot of people over the past couple of years. Among those I tend to pay attention to are Andy Grabia’s The Blanket Fort, Tamara Stecyk’s Community Intelligence, Jeff Samsonow, Jen Banks’s Tech Mommy, Alex Abboud, Linda Hoang, Chris LaBossiere, Jason Konoza’s 8 Frame Dissolve and Duncan Kinney’s Polynerd.
— This is kind of a cheat, but West Edmonton Local, the news site that my MacEwan students produce, is technically a blog, and I can honestly say I would read it even if I didn’t run it. I’ll also mention a couple of interesting blogs kept by students in my class: Vickie Laliotis’s Adventures in Fashion and Aaron Taylor’s Egocentric Movie Blog.
— Gig City is also a good source of local happenings. While we’re talking entertainment, I’ll note that I listen to a couple of locally produced movie podcasts: DVD Afternoon and Jay n’ J, even though I see few movies. I sometimes listen to Shutter Time with Sid and Mac and User Created Content, but my lack of knowledge about photography and video games, respectively, holds me back. The Prairie Belles keep me up-to-date on local music.
— Food is a definite blind spot. I hate cooking, and while I like a good meal, I don’t live for great epicurean experiences. But there are so many talented food bloggers in this city. I plan to pay more attention to Only Here for the Food, A Canadian Foodie, Kevin Kossowan, The Kitchen Magpie, Walsh Cooks and foodgirl, among others.
— My knowledge of local mommy and daddy blogs is also spotty. I am a parent, and I like sharing things about my kids, but I don’t read a lot of parenting blogs. I know from those posts that I come across on Twitter that there’s a lot of good stuff being written, so I resolve to pay more mind to blogs such as Attack of the Redneck Mommy, Mom Nation, Wildsau, home made dad, Modern Mama Musings and the like.
— Fashion, exercise, cycling, travel, general lifestyle kind of stuff? Again, not my bag. And yet I suspect there is a lot of good stuff out there that would be worth my attention. City and Dale, Bikini or Bust and Girls and Bicycles are on my “really should pay more attention to” list. I’m sure I’m missing tons more.
— I’m in the middle of reviewing applications for The Journal’s blogger-in-residence program. Besides being very fun to successfully pitch an idea that was a little out of left field, it has also been a great way to draw my attention to blogs I didn’t know about at all or hadn’t paid enough attention to. Some are mentioned above; others that have been updated recently include Traveler Ahoy, Sacred Social Justice, The Mind Travels, The Hope Lady, Recycled Thoughts from a Retro Gamer, Thingamajig, Jamie Post, Blogginsince 05, Chaiwalla’s Boombox, The Past in Unwritten and Caroline in the City. (If you applied and haven’t been mentioned, don’t fret. No decisions have been made, and what The Journal is looking for in a blogger-in-residence is different from what I’m looking for as a reader.)
— Speaking of The Journal, you may note that I rarely mention blogs written by mainstream media in this space. My reasoning was that they have their own tribune, so they don’t need mine. On the other hand, traditional news outlets tend to undervalue the blogs written by their staff, so maybe I should link more. For the record, I tend to read The Edmonton Commons, Plugged In and Capital Notebook, and I greatly admired Elise Stolte’s Living on the Edge in the summer. I haven’t paid enough attention to other local media blogs, but resolve to do better in 2012.
OK, so I just named 50 or so blogs. That leaves roughly 3,350. Gulp. I know I have left out lots of good ones, so please use the comments to let me know what I’m missing. You can also find me on Twitter and on Google+.
Addendum: Andy points out that I didn’t mention any hockey blogs, which is kind of a big lacuna in this town. Unlike food and fashion, I actually pay some attention to the Oilers, so I’m not sure why I left these blogs out, other than that most of them seem to go into the game far deeper than my casual fandom can absorb. Anyway, a few do cross my transom via Twitter: Copper & Blue, Lowetide, Oilers Nation, The Cult of Hockey and mc79hockey (written from Toronto but very Edmonton-focused). There are, of course, many more.
Cory Arcangel, Super Mario Clouds (2002)
I find it particularly intriguing that artists who choose to confront the role of technology in society (either as a subject or as a medium) often take a retrogressive stance. This type of work predominantly takes two forms: repurposing (to make something new out of old) or retro/nostalgia (to look towards the past from the present).
On the one hand, work that repurposes older technologies to make them appear new or to arrive at new functionality exists. These include artists working from an environmental perspective, working with circuit bending, game hacking, and creating digital/analog hybrids. Such works serve as a bridge linking our past with our technological present. These formats also comment on the rapid obsolescence of technologies.
“...cloying niceness and blind enthusiasm are the dominant sentiments. As if mirroring the surrounding culture, biting criticism has become synonymous with offense; everything is personal—one’s affection for a book is interchangeable with one’s feelings about its author as a person. Critics gush in anticipation for books they haven’t yet read; they ”—Writers and readers on Twitter and Tumblr: We need more criticism, less Liking | Slate Magazine
Natural User Interfaces + Gesture Control via Kinect
One of our core responsibilities at Tocquigny (and more specifically within Tocquigny Labs) is to immerse ourselves in emerging technologies, with the key objective of identifying their respective applicabilities within our space. When something is launched, for instance Google+, it is my team’s task to become the resident experts, with the capability of answering a wide gamut of business and technical questions from both internal stakeholders and clients. Like scientists, we must see beyond the buzz-ridden Mashable articles and “Trending Topics”, and actually submerge ourselves in the technology. This all leads up to the key function of Labs: adding relevance & context. Every day we get to don our creative caps and architect innovative applications of the technology specific to our diversified client-base and their short- and long-term needs.
We have a roadmap of technologies in queue, but this week’s was one we had been waiting to test out for quite some time: the Kinect motion-sensing input device (created by Microsoft). Released in conjunction with the XBox 360, it didn’t take long for technologists to see the Kinect’s applicability beyond gaming. The infrared device brings John Underkoffler’s visionary gesture-control interface from Minority Report to life.
This $150 consumer-facing infrared camera has introduced natural user interfaces (through gesture- and voice-control) to the masses. Offered many different names by the tech-crowd (computer vision, NUI, gesture-control, feature-recognition, spatial navigation, et al), the Kinect represents what many feel is the future of physical computing.
This week, we took the Kinect for a lengthy test-drive. Most notably, we used the device to capture full-body movements and converted them into commands that were fed into a piece of music composition software. Illustrated by the above photo, a person can control a digital symphony simply by moving any joint in their body. Sounds like a toy, right? A pretty practical toy… After all, this experiment was the catalyst for dozens of ideas pertinent to our future-facing clientele.