Monthly Archives: April 2007

Rethinking Peer-Review and Journalism

Can’t find more information just now but on the latest episode of ScienceTalk (SciAm‘s weekly podcast)

Scientific American editor-in-chief John Rennie discusse[d] peer review of scientific literature, the subject of a panel he recently served on at the World Conference of Science Journalists

I hope there will be more openly available information about this panel and other discussions of the peer-review process.

Though I do consider the peer-review process extremely important for academia in general, I personally think that it could serve us more if it were rethought.  Learning that such a panel was held and hearing about some of the comments made there is providing me with some satisfaction. In fact, I’m quite glad that the discussion is, apparently, thoughtful and respectful instead of causing the kind of knee-jerk reaction which makes many a discussion inefficient (including in academic contexts).


Is Canadian Tire Corrupting Our Youths?

No, I don’t mean TV ads…

Language Log: The Problem With Today’s Youth


Ethnography and Technographics

This one certainly made the rounds among observers of online activities, but I only just got the link through a comment by Martin Lessard, the insight-savvy YulBlogger and “Internet culture” describer.

The Groundswell (Incorporating Charlene Li’s Blog): Forrester’s new Social Technographics report

Many companies approach social computing as a list of technologies to be deployed as needed – a blog here, a podcast there – to achieve a marketing goal. But a more coherent approach is to start with your target audience and determine what kind of relationship you want to build with them, based on what they are ready for.

Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? I get from it the same reaction as from effective ethnography. Not really a “Eureka!” moment. More of a “Doh!” moment, when you suddenly realise what was really happening around you.

This ethnography-like insight is even more obvious in the report itself (a review copy of which I got through email, thanks to Forrester’s excellent policy for content use). In that report, Li et al. define different user types in a manner not incompatible with our tendency to classify, in ethnography as in cultural life. Like ethnography, the report is showing the relationships between those different profiles (instead of stereotyping or “profiling”).

Sure, the proportion of creators is an important factor for Old School market research. But, what’s more important, is that different people adopt different behaviours in different contexts. Obvious, but important.

The report talks about age and gender differences, provides evidence for the changes in the Internet 6 ecology, and manages to treat Internet users as human beings. “All in fifteen pages or less!”

Again, this report isn’t groundbreaking. But it can be really useful as a representation of cultural patterns for technological adoption (MS Word document). (As it turns out, this issue came up in an exam I gave today… Wish I could share the textbook page on early-adopters in cultural change.)

There are other blog posts about this report, including some advice for marketers:

Companies seeking to engage customers with these new tools need to understand where their audiences are with this categorisation and then create bespoke programmes for them.

As per Larry Wall’s ethnographic training, diagonal thinking. “There’s More Than One Way to Do It.”


Post-Book Culture

Interesting post about Google’s history-tracking Web History service. In my mind, this service has a lot of potential if it can do some of what Spurl.net, Del.icio.us, StumbleUpon, ma.gnolia.com, Google Reader’s star and share features, and other “social bookmarking” systems can do. The ideal blogging tool, for me, is one which has enough access to my history that I can quickly insert full links in my blog posts.

Anyhoo… The blog post:

Official Google Blog: Your slice of the web

Printed and bound together, the web pages you’ll visit in just one day are probably bigger than the book sitting on your night table.

Not a new idea. But it takes on a new meaning in the context. Pushes Google’s mission in our faces. To an academic, the prospect of having a way to trace back all of our readings (especially in the context of Open Access)…? Dream come true.


Concordia and Open Access Self-Archiving

Fascinating talk:

News@Concordia: Stevan Harnad, Maximizing Concordia University’s Research Impact, April 25

Reactions were varied but some of us were able to have a very good chat after the talk. For one thing, it helped me understand the whole “Green OA” issue in a new light. As an idealist non-tenured faculty, I tend to get dreamy about the possibilities for the next step in the Open Access movement. Including in terms of pedagogy and community outreach. But Harnad’s talk really put the focus on the “knowledge ecology” involved in this world of unlimited resources.

To me, Concordia is an interesting case. So far, the university’s online visibility has been quite low, self-archiving is quite rare among Concordia researchers, and people tend to focus on the logistics. But Concordia seems to be on a mission to redefine itself in the broader frame of “forward-looking institutions of higher learning.” Contrary to McGill (Concordia’s “neighbour”), Concordia focuses on such things as flexibility, diversity, community outreach and, yes, even rebranding (which some people dislike). Sure, much of it might be “corporate-speak” to increase enrollment. But the point is, Concordia seems to truly cherish the diversity of its enrolled students. In fact, it’s not positioning itself as the “so elite, just being admitted is enough to get a job” model typical of certain prestigious institutions in the United States. Some people at Concordia are making sure that the message of “going forward to meet new challenges” is heard.

It’s no secret that I like Concordia. As my second semester there comes to an end and as I reflect on my time there, I tend to see this university as a place where true learning can occur. I may only teach one more semester there before I move to Austin so I will enjoy it to the last drop. And, who knows, I might find as many things to like in Texas once I’m settled there.

If Concordia can increase its visibility by engaging itself on the OA route, I’m all for it.


Balado et radio, version Sarko

L’effet est saisissant. Arte Radio, la balado-diffusion de la chaîne Arte, s’amuse à faire une parodie de DJ radio, version Sarko. Outre le thème politique, j’apprécie le contraste entre cet extrait et le son habituel d’Arte Radio. C’est en entendant cet extrait que je m’aperçois à quel point la radio me rase et que la balado est plus près de mes habitudes d’écoute.


Lessons in Podcasting

Been recording a lot of things since I got my iRiver H120, last summer. Despite my conscious effort at making sure everything would work, I still made several mistakes and ended up losing some material. Luckily, nothing I lost was mission-critical. Also, since Concordia’s Creative Media Services have been recording my lectures, I was able to really notice the value of having a specific person on the task. Multitasking is fun but it’s often more efficient to monotask.

Seems like we all learn by doing:

Synthesis of Thought: Blog post up for another SfAA session and a lesson learned the hard way

Actually, I mostly wanted to leave a comment but this blog’s TypeKey system seems not to work.