Sunday, April 10, 2011

Spring 2011 Projects Well Underway...

Our students are working feverishly to produce final video essays that reflect growing knowledge of digital composition skills - but also ones that reflect cultural circumspection. In other words, you will NOT see anything like this:

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Fresh Eyes for New Cultures

A friend of mine went to Dominican Republic for a visit. When asked upon his return what he thought of the country, he said, "It was a beautiful country, but there were a lot of foreigners there." It made me wanna say,  "Uh. Yeah. YOU were one of the foreigners, dude."

An immature and uninformed person may dismiss the meaning-making practices of other cultures as "strange," without bothering to examine them as clues to understanding that culture. What a loss of learning opportunities. View the TED Talk by Derek Sivers: "Weird, or just different?" and contemplate your own cross-cultural experience. Derek Sivers: Weird, or just different? | Video on

What practices or customs have you encountered that seemed "weird" to you? What did these practices reveal to you about the culture? Feel free to post your insights throughout the term.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Brave New (Digital) World

There were some excellent reflections in the blogs regarding the week's readings from Nicolas Carr and Kevin Kelly. You really oughta read them if you haven't already. Many good comments about how technology shapes our literacy practices - and our thinking! The famous 20th-century American scholar Walter Ong, writing about the shift from orality to literacy, said, "Writing restructures consciousness." Many of our bloggers picked up on the ways new media are changing the way we think.

A Facebook friend of mine posted an update that is so revelatory of this shift. With her permission, I use it here:

Here is an example of digital social networking restructuring our expressions of emotion... Profound!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Boy Was My Face Rojo...

"The gentle reader will never, never know what a consummate ass he can become until he goes abroad. I speak now, of course, in the supposition that the gentle reader has not been abroad, and therefore is not already a consummate ass. If the case be otherwise, I beg his pardon and extend to him the cordial hand of fellowship and call him brother." - Mark Twain, Innocents Abroad

If you have not yet reached the status Mr. Twain describes above, then you will - or you aren't really trying. I'd be interested to hear your humorous anecdote of a harmless faux pas, misstep, or slip-up that reveals the need for continual growth in our cultural understanding.

Why not just post your story below as a comment to this blog post? Feel free to link to your blog for more info, photos, etc. Sure, we may laugh at you, but in a most sympathetic way, because we've been there, are there, or will be there soon.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Ethnographic Rubber Meets the Cross-Cultural Road

Members of our 2011 CLAM contingent are either now on the field across the globe, or are soon to depart for their fields of study. The student blogs will begin to be even more rich in critical cultural insights in teh coming weeks. The blogs to be posted in the next week will be an introspective self-portrait of the students' own cultural landscapes - as seen by outsiders. An informed and critical investigation of another culture requires a "de-familiarization" of one's own cultural identity in order to see new cultures apart from a limiting "terministic screen" of assumptions and biases.

I recommend here a video from Adaptive Path's 2010 UX Week. This talk by Anthropologist and Kansas State professor Michael Wesch is valuable for several reasons: his personal recounting of cultural immersion, his attention to the way the practice of writing (techne) shaped the culture of a pre-literate society, and his illustration of the dynamic nature of culture. You can learn a lot - for no extra charge - from this supplemental video!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Highlights for Childre... er, CLAMmers

Your colleagues blogs form a network of rich resources to help you as you work toward refining your digital and cultural literacies this term. The links to the right ---> will take you to the blogs of the other members of your community of scholars. Visit them. Check out their posts. Post comments. Ask questions. Share ideas.

Here are a few examples of your classmates work from which you might draw instruction or inspiration:

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Blog 3 - "Rightsizing" Images for the Blog

Students, you will be posting digital photos often to your blog, so this first digital editing exercise is one you will put to use early and often. Don't post more picture than you need! A size of 800 x 600 with a resolution of 72 dpi is plenty! (OK - 96 dpi if you got a Mac.) Let Tommy's Joynt help explain...
I've posted two pics below of a cool restaurant I visited in San Francisco. Do you notice any difference?

The first one is untouched exactly as it was downloaded from my iPhone. Go ahead, click it. HUGE Picture! Over a 1.2 MEG!*
The second one is the same photo - but reduced to 800x600 in size with a resolution of 72 dpi. perfect size for web viewing and only a fraction of the size - only 140k! (and a fraction of the upload/download time!)

Of course, I saved the smaller pic under a new name so I could keep the higher res photo for later use. This tip will save you lots of time in posting, so practice it early and often. (Dr. Howard's videos will provide much more material for you to continue to deveop your image editing skills, but this skill you will use many times!) You can do this in any photo editing program. I use PhotoShop on my lab computer, PaintShopPro on my home computer and GIMP on my laptop.

Don't have a digital image editing software? GIMP is free! Get a copy here now:

*(1.2M uploaded - conerted to 285k by blogger - still twice as long to download, and ten times as long to upload.)