Credibility Commons

I read about this effort in the Chronicle's Wired Campus Blog and at first was wondering how they will tackle the issue in a culture fraught with wacko preachers, crooked pols, sold-out media, and bought-out research. Where the most inane of ideas can be given equal time in the name of "teaching the controversy". Credibility itself seems to have been replaced with credulity, and even in the best of worlds we're slowly facing up to the increasingly persuasive critiques of positivist epistemology.

But read the manifesto on the site - it's quite thoughtful and pragmatic, and what sold me was their inclusion of paperless voting as an object of research. An effort well worth watching.


While I was standing there thinking about treehugging,

DSCN2785.jpgthis huge live oak snuck up behind me and stretched out its boughs to give me a squeeze of its own, just seconds after it snatched my camera away and snapped this photo.

Ya gotta watch 'em.


Nice Quote, Gorby

Isn't it ironic that the former leader of the "Evil Empire" is doing more about the global environment than any of our recent Reagan-derived leadership? Consider this quote from a piece Gorbachev wrote for a special issue of Civilization, a magazine of the Library of Congress, back in 2000:

Water, like religion and ideology, has the power to move millions of people. Since the very birth of human civilisation, people have moved to settle close to water. People move when there is too little of it. People move when there is too much of it. People journey down it. People write and sing and dance and dream about it. People fight over it. And all people, everywhere and every day, need it.

We need it for drinking, for cooking, for washing, for food, for industry, for energy, for transport, for rituals, for fun, for life. And it is not only we humans who need it; all life is dependent on water to survive.

Thanx to Jan Aceti for posting this on the Fostering Sustainable Behavior Listserv (fsb@cbsmlist.com).



Today's mail contained my letter of acceptance into the Ph.D. program in Communication at FSU! I've been on pins and needles since I heard the review committee was meeting last week. I thought I had a pretty good shot, but didn't want to count my chickens, having counted many a nonexistent clucker in the past.

I'm in! Officially start in the Fall but will try to take at least one course this summer as a warmup. Here's an excerpt from my application letter that describes my current thinking about research interests:

I met with Communication Dean John Mayo back in December 2005 to discuss program options, and he recommended that I talk to members of the faculty whose interests appeared to parallel mine. Based on his (and others') recommendations and a look at the department's website, I spoke with Ulla Bunz, Davis Houck, Donna Nudd, and Andy Opel -- all of whom were most encouraging. The conversations energized me, made me feel welcomed, and helped me better conceptualize and articulate what interests me.

Two general areas seem the most compelling. Computer-mediated communication and related areas are obviously related to my professional (and avocational) interests and skills; I've been involved with online publishing and academics for over ten years, and my computing experience (interface design, CBT development) goes back even further. And I've been an active Netizen since the pre-web days of Usenet, gopher, Archie, and Veronica.

The other area is communication and social action: political rhetorics, social movements, and so on. This interested me twenty years ago when I was pursuing my M.A., and it still does today. I have to thank Andy Opel for mentioning environmental communication, because here is something very close to my heart -- which also should be apparent from my published fiction and essays.

I've been investigating the subject of environmental communication since our conversation, and have already given myself a reading list. I am especially interested in the (perhaps increasingly computer-mediated) rhetoric and discourse of competing groups regarding issues of water management, aquifer condition, and marine environmental quality in and around Florida. Dr. Opel mentioned the possibility of coordination with the FSU Dept. of Oceanography, and I'm very interested in how that plays out, as I consider myself a well-read layperson in marine biology / biological oceanography.

One rarely has the good fortune to experience epiphanies, even minor ones, but in the subject of environmental communication -- especially as I have characterized and focused it above -- I find the possibility of exploring interests and concerns that have been with me since childhood.

It will be interesting to look back on this statement in a few years and rate it for both pretentiousness and naivete!


Juggling, Beatles music, 'Net humor - the lot!

Chris Bliss kills 'em with one of my favorite Beatles medleys and some of the most balletic jugling I've ever seen. See some of his comedy routines, too.


Almost Gigeresque

Artkrush's latest ish features this disturbingly curvilinear image by Marina Abramović, on display in New York this week.

Not particularly germane here, I guess, but I've just been perusing Giger's website (marveling at its humble design more than anything else) after picking up a faux Necronomicon (yes: redundant) at an Amazon-inspired buying frenzy at the Paperback Rack in Tallahassee tonight.

Along with the ersatz Lovecraft, I scarfed up a couple of tomes on Florida environment & culture, my first Castenada, and a book on sanity by Michel Foucault. Oh! And a wonderful find: a 1941 edition of Don Blanding's Floridays, full of delightful monochrome illustrations of palms, gators, herons....

But no scorpions.

P.S.: Lovecraft fans will especially enjoy this screenshot from my online evening.


Reference tools

I stumbled across two del.icio.us-like reference tagging tools while looking for bibliographic software: Connotea and CiteULike.  Both have enhancements designed for the researcher.

I've pulled in a bunch of content into the former and am trying it out.


At Week's End

DSCN2617.jpgOn the first friday of the month the local UFF chapter gathers at a local watering hole. Today we met at Paradigm, whose entire glass front rolls up garage-door style to create a very tropical-bar atmosphere. When we left the sun was setting beyond FSU to the west, silhouetting Westcott Hall's towers. And there was this wonderful congruence of moon, palmetto, and my bus, waiting patiently.


The disappearing line between online and meatspace

Fascinating discussion on the Association for Internet Researchers list about shifts in perceptions of online interactions among teens (broadly defined), the gist of which is that there is less distinct characterization of (and thus stigma related to) online interaction per se, and more granularity of value for different activities (IM, MySpace, etc.).  This is consistent with growing familiarity and ubiquitousness of the medium (media, really) -- these kids were born into it.  I found comments by bloggers Dana Boyd and Angela Thomas especially insightful.

The conversation made me think of something seemingly unrelated: speculation a few years back about how the increasing ability to ape "reality" with (e.g.) cinematic special effects might lead us to question the verity of experiences outside cyberspace as well -- and which leads one to further ruminations about epistemology and what one considers to be real anyway.

The aforementioned teens don't make that real/unreal -- offline/online distinction so much as they evaluate the quality of the experience, it seems.  Will they be better or worse epistemologists?