Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Communications majors in the news

Ouch! David Brooks writing on tattoos in a Sunday, August 27 New York Times editorial, Nonconformity Is Skin Deep:

In a forthcoming essay in The American Interest, David Kirby observes that there are essentially two types of tattoo narratives, the Record Book and the Canvas. Record Book tattoos commemorate the rites of passage in a life. Canvas tattoos are means of artistic expression. So some people will have their kids' faces tattooed across their backs, or the motorcycle that belonged to a now-dead friend, or a fraternity, brigade or company logo. In a world of pixelated flux, these tattoos are expressions of commitment -- a way to say that as long as I live, this thing will matter to me. They don't always work out -- on the reality show ''Miami Ink'' a woman tried to have her ''I will succeed thru Him'' tattoo altered after she grew sick of religion -- but the longing for permanence is admirable.Other people are trying to unveil their wild side. They're taking advantage of the fact that tattoos are associated with felons, bikers and gangstas. They're trying to show that far from being the dull communications majors they appear to be, they are actually free spirits -- sensual, independent, a little dangerous.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Copyright and Culture Blogs

Cinema Studies professor Peter Decherney taught a course this summer called Copyright and Culture (ENGL566.940/FILM595.940). Several library colleagues attended it after which they offered an informal debriefing session to fellow non-enrolled librarians. At the session I had a chance to look over the syllabus and noticed a list of "relevant Blogs" you may want to check out, if you haven't already.

The Patry Copyright Blog - http://williampatry.blogspot.com/
Copyfight - http://copyfight.corante.com/
CopyCense - http://www.copycense.com
Freedom to Tinker - http://freedom-to-tinker.com/
EFF: Deep Links - http://www.eff.org.deeplinks/

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Movie industry numbers

Several times a year I get reference questions about box office statistics so I thought I’d share a website that I’ve just discovered called The Numbers. It’s at your fingertips more readily than the classic annuals: International Motion Picture Almanac (here in the ASC Library) or Art Murphy's Box Office Register, 1982-1995, also at the ASC Library though no longer published, and more cut-to-the-chase than the movie industry paper of record Variety, or Variety.com (be sure to access it from the Penn library webpage for full subscriber access). The Numbers, subtitled: Box Office Data, Movie Stars, Idle Speculation, provides daily and weekend charts including archives of these that go back to 1980. There are all kinds of lists: all-time top 20 United States and worldwide grossing titles, biggest weekends, biggest days, widest opening weekends, highest grossing movies never to reach number one, biggest money losers, on and on. It even groups movies by over 100 genres so you can see financial figures for movies about animals gone bad, the beauty industry, courtroom dramas, funeral reunions, gay/lesbian themes, the Mafia, twins, etc. This from the site:
The Numbers was officially launched on October 17th, 1997
as a free resource for industry professionals and fans to track
business information on movies. Since its humble early beginnings,
with just 300 tracked movies, the site has grown to become the
largest freely available database of movie industry information
on the web. Nearly 10,000 movies and about 500,000 separate
pieces of information are now stored in the database, and The
Numbers continues its commitment to making this data available
to the widest possible audience.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Special issues on Citizenship

Two journals, The European Journal of Cultural Studies and Social Semiotics, have recently published special issues on citizenship.

Guest-edited by Joke Hermes and Peter Dahlgren, EJCS (Volume 9, Number 3, August 2006) features the following articles under the rubric Cultural Studies and Citizenship : Doing Citizenship by Peter Dahlgren; The Personal, the Political and the Popular, by Liesbet van Zoonen; News and the Empowerment of Citizens by Justin Lewis ; Culture and Citizenship by Nick Couldry; The Public Sphere on the Beach, by John Hartley and others; Something You Can actually Pick Up, by Karina Hof; and Citizenship and the 'Other,' by Nick Stevenson, Nick.

The June 2006 issue of Social Semiotics (Volume 16, No. 2) titled Mediated Citizenship(s) is guest-edited by Karin Wahl-Jorgensen. Papers include: Do Crying Citizens Make Good Citizens?, by Mervi Pantti and Liesbet van Zoonen; Media, Citizenship and Governmentality: Defining 'The Public' of Public Service Broadcasting, by David Nolan; Mediating Citizenship through the Lens of Consumerism: Frames in the American Medicare Reform Debates of 2003-2004, by Emily West; Invisible Centers: Boris Johnson, Authenticity, Cultural Citizenship and a Centrifugal Model of Media Power, by Andy Ruddock; Mediated Citizenship and Digital Citizenship: A Rhetoric of Control in a Campaign Blog, by James A. Janack; From Active Audience to Media Citizenship: The Case of Post-Mao China, by Haiqing Yu; Mediating Which Nation? Citizenship and National Identities in the British Press, by Michael Rosie and others; CODEPINK Alert: Mediated Citizenship in the Public Sphere, by Maria Simone; and A cultural approach to the Study of Mediated Citizenship, by Jeffrey P. Jones.

Both issues are available online (go to main Library webpage) or in paper at the ASC Library.

"Text Mining" The New York Times at UC Irvine

From the news release:
Performing what a team of dedicated and bleary-eyed newspaper librarians would need months to do, scientists at UC Irvine have used an up-and-coming technology to complete in hours a complex topic analysis of 330,000 stories published primarily by The New York Times.
Text mining allows a computer to extract useful information from unstructured text. Until recently, text mining required a great deal of preparation before documents could be analyzed in a meaningful way. A new text-mining technique called “topic modeling” – which UCI scientists used in their New York Times experiment – looks for patterns of words that tend to occur together in documents, then automatically categorizes those words into topics – all with minimal human effort.

UCI researchers (David Newman, Padhraic Smyth, Mark Steyvers, and Chaitanya Chemudugunta) didn’t invent topic modeling, but they developed a technique that allows the technology to be used on huge document collections. They also are among the first to demonstrate its ease and effectiveness by applying it to a newspaper archive. The results reveal few surprises, but the application demonstrates the ability of topic modeling to spot trends and make connections in a way that could be applied to more complicated and cumbersome documents such as those used by medical researchers and lawyers.

A 13-page paper presenting this research can be found here.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Health Literacy issue of Studies in Communication Sciences

The latest issue of Studies in Communication Sciences (Studi di scienze della communicazione) is devoted to Health Literacy. Published at the Universita della Sviszzera italiana (but entirely in English), this semi-annual is usually around 250 pages and often centers around a theme.

Volume 5, Number 2 is titled: Enhancing Health Literacy Through Communication. Following an introductory piece by guest editors Peter Schulz and Kent Nakamoto is a full literature review on the subject. Article titles include: Breaking Through the Barriers of Low Functional Health Literacy: Implications for Health Communication; Active Acquisition or Passive Reception: Health Information Literacy Among Fifty Finns in Differing Health Situations; 'Ask Your Doctor' Argumentation in Advertising of Prescription Medicines; Deceptive Health Promotion: Barriers to Health Literacy; Developing Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Health Education Materials; Healthology, Health Literacy, and the Pharmaceutically Empowered Consumer; Health Literacy, Sex Education and Contraception: the Singapore Experience; Evaluating a Health Literacy Kit for Physicians;...Effects of Taru, a Reproductive Health Soap Opera in India; Improving Health Literacy of Rural Health Care Consumers; ...How a California Community Reshaped its Well-being; Health Literacy--More Than Reading a Prescription Label.

This issue is in the ASC Library and not available online.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

MediaCommons Scholarly Publishing Network

The Institute for the Future of the Book (if:book) has introduced a new electronic scholarly publishing project focused on media studies. Dubbed MediaCommons, the project is described as "a wide-ranging scholarly network ... in which folks working in media studies can write, publish, review, and discuss, in forms ranging from the blog to the monograph, from the purely textual to the multi-mediated, with all manner of degrees in between."

Among the possible "nodes" in this network will be electronic monographs, casebooks, journals, reference works, and forums. The announcement with more details, including the structural and intellectual reasons behind if:book's choice of media studies for this scholarly publishing project as well as lots of blogger responses to the initiativie, can be read at the if:book site.

Web Analytics