Archive for March, 2011

31 March 2011

Cyborg Subjects

Cyborg Subjects, an open source online journal on digital culture, leads with:

On May 26, 2010 The Telegraph reported that a British scientist had been infected by a computer virus. Mark Gasson, of the University of Reading, claimed to be the first human to have come in contact with a technological virus. A chip that is inserted into his hand, which he apparently uses to unlock his mobile phone with, had been “programmed” with a virus that could spread to other technological devices.

Volume #0 considers what the cyborg subject is. Volume #1 should be appearing soon.

30 March 2011

Producing the Echo awards

Stefan Niggemeier gossips about being on the team producing the Echo music awards show. Television as a creativity-destruction-machine. And as a place where creativity does happen. He has a beautiful comment about how it isn’t the concerns of the people involved that cause certain ideas to be cut but the concerns that someone else (lots of someone elses) anticipates that these people might have:

Erstaunlicherweise haben die meisten Menschen, mit denen man diskutieren muss, aber gar nicht selbst Bedenken, sondern antizipieren nur mögliche Bedenken anderer, die sie dann vorsorglich potenzieren. Wenn man das einmal erlebt hat, hat man plötzlich als Zuschauer oder Kritiker doppelt so viel Respekt für jede Idee, die es trotzdem tatsächlich auf den Fernsehschirm schafft.

And I certainly agree with the last sentence above: whenever I observe media being produced, I start to have double as much respect for any idea which actually manages to get through to the screens/pages.

27 March 2011

Pro-democracy protests in Wisconsin

Was looking forward to writing that headline. Amazing joint rallying going on for weeks in Wisconsin, and not a mention in the German mainstream news media. Nor on BBC World, as far as I could see.

26 March 2011

Kim Jong-il clean, says textbook

Gossip: Žižek says (around minute 1:32, counting down of “TALK”) that a friend told him about a North Korean primary school textbook which explains to the kids that Kim Jong-il is so clean that “he doesn’t need to shit and urinate”.

23 March 2011

Springtime: The new student rebellions

New book linking together global rebellions and protests, from students in the UK to union rallies in Wisconsin and the revolutions in North Africa. Tania Palmieri & Clare Solomon (Eds.) (2011) Springtime: The New Student Rebellions. Verso.

First account of the momentous student movement that shook the world—in the voices of the students themselves

The autumn and winter of 2010 saw an unprecedented wave of student protests across the UK, in response to the coalition government’s savage cuts in state funding for higher education, cuts which formed the basis for an ideological attack on the nature of education itself. Involving universities and schools, occupations, sit-ins and demonstrations, these protests spread with remarkable speed. Rather than a series of isolated incidents, they formed part of a spreading movement that spans the entire western world: ever since the wall street crash of 2008 there has been growing social and political turbulence in the heartlands of capital. From the US to Europe, students have been in the vanguard of protest against governments’ harsh austerity measures.

Tracing these worldwide protests, this new book explores how the protests spread and how they were organized, through the unprecedented use of social networking media such as facebook and twitter. It looks, too, at events on the ground, the demonstrations, and the police tactics: kettling, cavalry charges and violent assault. From Athens to Rome, San Francisco to London, this new book looks at how the new student protests developed into a strong and challenging movement that demands another way to run the world. Consisting largely of the voices that participated in the struggle, Springtime will become an essential point of reference as the struggles continue and spread.

22 March 2011

New design

Inspired by research on textbooks. Indeed. One of the core scholarly insights I was often told when hanging out at the educational publishers in Germany was that research had shown the optimal length of a line of print. So that school children can comfortably read the text, take in the information, and reflect/critically appraise or whatever their particular task is.

Now I have finally found an article which argues this. It’s all about the “three-second-rule”.

Apparently, the brain has a three-second window which typography should make the most of. The eye should be able to take in the whole line in under 3 seconds. Textbooks in particular, writes the author, don’t adhere to this three-second-rule. Nor did this blog until I changed the design today.

Thanks to Robert Maier for the reference: Ernst Pöppel: Was geschieht beim Lesen? In: APuZ (Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte) 42-43/2009, S. 45

(Check Ernst Pöppel’s very amusing, informative and entirely subversive Personal Publication Platform.)

22 March 2011

Identity schools

Watching Australia:

UNSW School of Education is hosting a series of public lectures throughout 2011. The third lecture of the year will be conducted by Dr Kalervo Gulson entitled Identity schools, globalised education policy and re-imagining marketization.

In this paper, I will explore the relationship between identity, globalization and the micro-processes of choice that provide education policy and curriculum options, and which have denationalized prior ideas of public and private education. Specifically, I will focus on tracing the establishment of ‘identity schools’ in many countries, including the US, Australia and Canada. These public and private schools have been primarily initiated along singular identity lines pertaining to, for example, ethnicity and religion, and are often hard-fought for responses to the manifest failure of public schooling to address the educational needs of certain groups. These schools provide significant social, political and educational benefits for students who have been historically marginalized, and play important roles as part of community control and the insertion of cultural legitimacy in schooling. However, as these schools are also enabled through marketised educational policies, this has led some scholars to argue that education and economic policies that promote ‘identity schools’ are a new force in conservative politics that simultaneously promote school choice and school competition, while also complicating progressive and conservative education. I will conclude by briefly touching on the paradoxes of consuming as solidarity, consumers (students and parents) as part of social movements, and choice as progressive politics.

11 March 2011

Mass media and social media

Deb Roy, from MIT, on TED. From approx. min 12, he demonstrates a fascinating hi-tech method for linking up specific “mass media” moments to what is said about these media moments on social media.

With this, it’s possible to trace the circulation of discourse among media formats, looking at which actors, facebookers, blogs, etc. feed back into mass media and strengthen particular stories or angles on stories.

9 March 2011

Torchwood declassified. CfP

If only there were more hours in the day…

CFP: Torchwood Declassified: Investigating Mainstream Cult Television

Proposals are sought for a edited collection on the BBC Wales programme Torchwood (2006-) . Entitled Torchwood Declassified: Investigating Mainstream Cult Television, the collection is to be published by I.B.Tauris in their long-established Investigating Cult TV series.

Building on a recent one-day symposium, held at the University of Glamorgan, the collection seeks to examine the show from a range of perspectives, given the current production of the show’s fourth series. The collection allows examination of both the specifics of the show itself (e.g. through the television show, the audio dramas, audience texts such as fan fiction) and wider debates within Television Studies surrounding representation, identity, genre, institutions and audiences.
Chapters on a range of topics have already been secured but further contributions are sought with chapters on the following issues being of particular interest:

  • Representations of horror and/or science-fiction within Torchwood
  • The production of the BBC radio plays
  • Torchwood’s multi-platforming and ancillary texts (e.g. novelisations, magazines, reviews, DVDs, website etc.)
  • The globalisation/international appeal of the show and its new direction as a co-production between BBC Wales, BBC Worldwide, and the US network Starz
  • Torchwood ‘anti-fandom’ (e.g. fans of Doctor Who that dislike Torchwood, Torchwood fans who dislike John Barrowman)

When submitting proposals please bear in mind that awareness and discussion of Torchwood’s status as a cult and/or mainstream television show will be expected, even if this is not the main topic of your proposed chapter.

Please submit proposals of no more than 250 words, along with a 200 word author biography to Dr. Rebecca Williams by 1 April 2011. It is anticipated that full papers will be submitted at the end of 2011, to allow authors to consider the fourth series of the show.

…via ECREA

2 March 2011


Mediations, Journal of the Marxist Literary Group, Vol 25 (1): Marx, Politics… and Punk

Available online, also as pdf.

Editors’ Note

Fredric Jameson: A New Reading of Capital

Is Capital about labor, or unemployment? Does Marxism have a theory of the political, or is it better off without one? Fredric Jameson previews the argument of his forthcoming book, Representing Capital.

Anna Kornbluh: On Marx’s Victorian Novel

As out of place as Marx himself might have been in Victorian England, Capital is less out of place than one might have thought among Victorian novels. But this does not have to mean that its mode of truth is literary. Anna Kornbluh explores the tropes that propel Capital in order to establish the novel relationship Marx produces between world and text.

Roland Boer: Marxism and Eschatology Reconsidered

The variations on the thesis of Marxism’s messianism are too many to count. But is it plausible to imagine that Marx or Engels took up Jewish or Christian eschatology, in any substantial form, into their thought? Roland Boer weighs the evidence.

Reiichi Miura: What Kind of Revolution Do You Want? Punk, the Contemporary Left, and Singularity

What does punk have to do with Empire? What does singularity have to do with identity? What does the logic of rock ‘n’ roll aesthetics have to do with a politics of representation? What does the concept of the multitude have to do with neoliberalism? The answer to all these questions, argues Reiichi Miura, is a lot more than you might think.

Alexei Penzin: The Soviets of the Multitude: On Collectivity and Collective Work: An Interview with Paolo Virno

One of the principle conundrums that confronts the theorization of the multitude is the relationship it entails between individual and collective. Alexei Penzin, of the collective Chto Delat / What Is To Be Done?, interviews Paolo Virno.

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