Monday, March 31, 2008

Whirlwind writing

Wow, I can't believe I haven't posted in so long! I've been hiding out, writing a bunch on other chapters of my thesis, and in general being an overworked grad student. I'm loving it, but I'm also looking forward to June 7th, when I finally get to wear that awesome hood and get a little piece of paper proclaiming me as a Master of the Arts.

Here's a small update on what I'm working on thesis wise. I'm taking a close look at two forms of video tributes, the very unorganized efforts on YouTube related to Hurricane Katrina and the very organized efforts of The reason I'm looking so closely at just two memorial efforts is because of the way both events are critical pieces at revising American national identity and collective memory. They also vary much in aesthetic and organizing - but both have ties to activist media in that they challenge the forgetting of these people/events. I'm excited to be drawing on resources from Pierre Nora to the fan vidding and vlogging community. I'm attempting to not just look at literature produced by academics, but also by new media producers and their respective communities.

Check out the memorials I'm looking at:
Videos from

Video tributes on YouTube to the victims of Hurricane Katrina:

For now its back to work for me, but I'm hoping to keep blogging a bit more about my thesis as time goes on. I'm also working with Joomla! quite a bit right now, learning templating and doing some customization for a pretty rad organization in Shreveport. You guess who. Anyway, I want to share a little review of what its like learning and working with an open source community from a designer/developer stand point - so keep your eyes out for that! Aaaaand a new portfolio layout! Productivity!

Friday, March 07, 2008

Presenting Thesis Chapter on the NIU Shootings and Online Responses

Today I'm presenting a newly finished draft of a chapter of my master's thesis on Social Networking Sites responses to the NIU Shootings.  Here's my fancy Google Presentation if you'd like to check it out:

There's also a preliminary investigation of the topic over at Pop + Politics. A longer draft is coming on Monday as well.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Shreveport's Chimp Haven on This American Life

Shreveport has a chimp rehabilitation center that opened while I was in college there. I hadn't ever heard what it was like for the chimps there and it is fascinating. I haven't visited either, but now I want to. Check it out on This American Life's third act "Almost Human Resources":

Reporter Charles Siebert talks with Ira about retirement homes for Chimpanzees. Yes, retirement homes for Chimpanzees. There are thousands of aging chimps in the US: retired chimp actors, ex-research subjects, abandoned pets. They can't be put back in the wild since they don't know how to survive there. Charles Siebert visited many of the facilities where they're housed, often in rooms, with TV's and 3 meals a day. He's writing a book about his experiences called Humanzee. (11 minutes)
And the section on NY's Rubber Room is fascinating too.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Mediated Mourning?

I've been collecting all my notes on various academic works I'll be working with in my thesis, but in particular I love the complexity of Harriet F. Senie's "Mourning in Protest: Spontaneous Memorials and the Sacralization of Public Space." She deals with identity and the collective at the spaces of violent events in the article and it is fantastic. Here's a short quote:

Although, perhaps even because, public experience in our culture has been rendered private by television and the internet, many of us feel an overwhelming need to make real what is increasingly mediated - to recapture the here and now. To stand on the ground where something happened is to feel the reality of the event - to feel meaningfully linked to others and to history.

To some degree, Senie is correct - when these events are mediated the public reaches out and tries to connect somehow whether that's through donating money, collecting goods, making a pilgrimage, leaving an object at the physical site, etc. We experiencing mourning as something to act upon: we need to take action and just do something. However, I believe Senie alludes to the idea that media remove us from mourning and make it private. In my research, particularly with the online mourning community surrounding the NIU shootings, I see the complete opposite where people are finding online publics like Facebook to connect with other mourners without actually interacting in a physical space. However, they are making "real" what is increasingly mediated - but through the means of mediation. The profile picture changing, the mourning group joining, all the other new media production around the tragedy signals that the public is using the mediating technologies to become meaningfully linked to one another and to the history of this event. After all, isn't the Internet one big database with lots of joined tables?

Sunday, March 02, 2008

What it feels like when you're working on your thesis.

Here's a little humor in the vein of two of my non-academic interests: LOST and animated gifs.
But seriously, this is how I've felt lately working on my thesis.

Thanks, Chris!

Saturday, March 01, 2008


Now you can rick roll in DOOM: