Friday, April 27, 2007

Spotlight on a pioneering e-journal: Vectors

Vectors: Journal of Culture and Technology in a Dynamic Vernacular, from the University of Southern California's School of Cinema and Television, describes itself as mapping "the multiple contours of daily life in an unevenly digital era, crystallizing around themes that highlight the social, political, and cultural stakes of our increasingly technologically-mediated existence. As such, the journal speaks both implicitly and explicitly to key debates across varied disciplines, including issues of globalization, mobility, power, and access. Operating at the intersection of culture, creativity, and technology, the journal focuses on the myriad ways technology shapes, transforms, reconfigures, and/or impedes social relations, both in the past and in the present." The Journal is edited by an international board and features both submissions and specially-commissioned works "comprised of moving- and still-images; voice, music, and sound; computational and interactive structures; social software; and much more. Vectors doesn't seek to replace text; instead, [they] encourage a fusion of old and new media in order to foster ways of knowing and seeing that expand the rigid text-based paradigms of traditional scholarship. Simply put, [they] publish only works that need, for whatever reason, to exist in multimedia."

Volume I's two issues (2006) dealt with the themes of Evidence and Mobility, respectively. Volume II's issues intriguingly pursue Ephemera and Perception (current issue). Check out the site's Archive for the back issues.

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Data Mashup Resources for Washington Watchdogs

Wired Magazine's Web Mashups Turn Citizens Into Washington's Newest Watchdogs, by Michael Calore, discusses a recent phenomenon of political participation and the web resources that make it possible by "increasingly giving ordinary citizens the ability to easily document the flow of special-interest money and how it influences the legislature." Sites such as MapLight.org, Opensecrets.org and Follow the Money, along with wiki-based political reporting resources like Congresspedia, are empowering citizens to assemble "custom data mashups that use public databases to draw correlations between every vote cast and every dollar spent in Washington."

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Bookmark Alert: NationMaster!

NationMaster, is great way to get comparative country statistics in friendly graph, map, or pie chart (you choose) fashion. It contains a vast compilation of data from such sources as the CIA World Factbook, UN, and OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) . Using the handy search engine query, you can generate maps and graphs on all kinds of statistics with ease. Manager/Developer Luke Metcalfe explains how the site came into being back in 2003. "The idea for NationMaster arose as I was surfing around the CIA World Factbook. It's a great read but I felt the individual figures (like number of TVs, or kilometres of coastline) didn't mean much on their own. They'd be more illuminating if they were placed alongside other countries and shown relative to population." 5,912 stats, 3,728 maps and 6,098 profiles later NationMaster just keeps racking up rave reviews and appearances on countless best-sites lists. Says the New York Times "... an astounding and easy-to-use collection of facts, statistics, charts, maps and trivia on every country in the world."

NationaMaster also features StateMaster which does for states of the United States what NationMaster does for the world.

If you are concerned about authenticity and authorship, all statistics on the site are cited.

You can do key word searches or browse categories that include Media and Internet along with Crime, Disasters, Education, Health, Industry, Labor, Lifestyle, and Religion to name a few. These general categories are further broken down. So under Media you can search Cinema attendance, mobile phones, newspaper circulation, radio use, phone service, and much more. Under Internet you can search broadband access, number of websites, users (per capita), internet charges, and more.

This site is rich and deep and right at your fingertips.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Cartoon Research Library at Ohio State University

Here's a neat research goldmine for a dissertation or two: The Ohio State University Cartoon Research Library, the largest, most comprehensive academic research facility in the nation documenting American printed cartoon art (editorial cartoons, comic strips, comic books, graphic novels, sports cartoons, and magazine cartoons). A portion of the Library is searchable, in a well developed database though it isn't clear from the site what percentage of total holdings is represented. Nine methods of searching are available: Creator, Publication, Title, Date, Topic, Shown, Genre, Format, or a combination of criteria. Playing around with it I was less successful with topics (most I tried don't exist and there's no list to browse) than I was with "Shown" which is very cool. It provides a crude little content analysis of the visuals through a series of tags. I punched in "TV" and retrieved 239 records tagged "TV set." Here's the first record that came up:

Creator: Priggee, Milt, 1953-
Title: In the spring a young man's fancy..
Genre: editorial cartoon
Format: original art
Topic: USFL
Shown: Man, TV set, easy chair, beercan, cupid, bow, hearts, bee, flowers, butterflies, quiver, arrows, bird, grass, baseball cap
Publication: Dayton Journal Herald Date: 1983-03-07 Media1: ink Media2: white ink MediaSupport: paper
FindingNumber: MP 2 55
Size: 28x38cm
Notes: Numbered 62B
Credit: Milt Priggee Collection, The Ohio State University Cartoon Research Library.

Included in the Cartoon Research Library holdings is the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art, acquired by the CRL in 1998 and containing approximately 2.5 million items. It appears this part of the archive is separate, accessible through another finding, not the database.

Founded in 1977, the Library has just turned 30 and is getting some well-deserved press. "Under the direction of curator Lucy Shelton Caswell [the CRL] has amassed 2.5 million comic-strip clippings, about 250,000 original cartoons and 51,000 serial titles, including comic books. Its book titles number 34,000," describes Ann Fisher in a recent Columbus Dispatch article on the Library.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Update on Historical Newspapers

The horizon for historical newspapers just keeps expanding. Here are a couple of initiatives you may not know about:

From the Library of Congress :
Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, a prototype Website providing access to information about historic newspapers and select digitized newspaper pages, produced by the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP). NDNP, a partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Library of Congress, is a long-term effort to develop an Internet-based, searchable database of U.S. newspapers with descriptive information and select digitization of historic pages. Supported by NEH, this rich digital resource will be developed and permanently maintained at the Library of Congress. An NEH award program will fund the contribution of content from, eventually, all U.S. states and territories. You can already do a lot at this betasite. You can search and read newspaper pages from 1900-1910 and find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present (publisher, years of publication, and a list of places with holdings).

Another initiative was actually started way back in 1999 by Cold North Wind, Inc., a privately held company based in Ottawa, that started using best-of-breed technology to turn newspaper archives on microfilm into high-resolution, searchable, digital images on the Internet. Partnering with the
National Newspaper Association to create an online search engine that accesses the digital archives of America's community newspapers, beginning with 3600 NNA member newspapers, the initiative became known as the Cold Wind Newspaper Archive Project and was launched at the National Newspaper Association's annual convention in 2002 with great fanfare. Cold North Wind has also joined forces with PaperofRecord.com which hosts The Toronto Star, which claims to have been the first newspaper in the world to have its entire history from 1892 to present digitized for all on the Internet to see and search...and pay for, because it's not free. Cold North Wind has also embarked on an ambitious project to digitize the archives of thousands of newspapers from around the world, some dating back several hundred years. The oldest newspaper in the project to date is a paper from Spain dating back to 1692.

Of course, don't forget about Penn's ever growing
historical newspaper resources (right now PaperofRecord is not one of them). You may want to tack up this handy table on your wall (virtual or concrete).

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Child Care & Early Education Research Connections

The National Center for Children in Poverty at Columbia University has recently introduced a newly updated version of Child Care & Early Education Research Connections. Research Connections. is a free, web-based resource for researchers and policymakers, to promote high-quality research and the use of that research in policy making. The site has been recently enhanced and includes a comprehensive guide for navigating and searching it.

The website features a continuously updated, multidisciplinary database of nearly 9,000 resources, including citations for peer-reviewed journal articles, books, research reports, fact sheets and briefs, grey literature, instruments, and government documents. Research Connections selects, archives, and indexes publications and data relevant to early education and child care research and policy, and provides access to bibliographic information and full text for many resources. In addition, Research Connections offers data and statistics for download and analysis, and tools for quick online analysis of data.

There aren't a whole lot of media-related subject headings in the list I browsed (none for television, for instance!) but I did find: Media Influence, Computer Programs, Literacy Campaigns, Literacy Development, and Health Promotion.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

April CommQuote

I thought I'd go with a quote from Richard Hoggart this month to accompany the International Journal of Cultural Studies' special issue titled "The Uses of Richard Hoggart" (Volume 10, Number 1, March 2007). The idea for this issue grew out of a conference last April in Sheffield to inaugurate the Hoggart Archive at the University of Sheffield which has acquired 82 boxes of his papers. Hoggart is credited as the founder of cultural studies in the UK. Our April Commquote is from his groundbreaking The Uses of Literacy (which Suart Hall calls "one of Cultural Studies' three founding texts"). In it Hoggart locates popular culture within his readers’(British working class) lives by exploring their customs, relations and attitudes.

There is, after all, an inherent danger of exaggeration in essays of this kind. There is danger of gradually becoming remote from our everyday sense of the endless variety and complexity of human nature. In this particular instance, as I noted at the very beginning, there is a danger of failing sufficiently to allow for the migrations of older influences, of ignoring the less admirable aspects of the ‘older’ attitudes and the more admirable of the new. As we study popular publications we insensibly intend to give them, so great is their mere bulk, a larger prominence in the whole pattern of people’s experience than, in fact, they have. In the areas in which they have their most intensive effect, that effect can be harmful: over some wider aspects of experience, they may have some adverse effect too; but there the effect is quite slowly felt, is checked and neutralized again and again by other forces. People are not living lives which are imaginatively poor as a mere reading of their literature would suggest. We know this, simply from day-to-day experience. Most contemporary popular entertainment encourages an effete attitude to life, but still much of life has little direct connection with it. There are wars and fears of war; there is the world of work, of the relations, the loyalties and tensions there; there are the duties of home and the management of money; there are neighborhood ties and demands; there are illness and fatigue and birth and death; there is all the world of local recreation. That is why I tried much earlier to describe the quality of ordinary working-class life, so that the closer analysis of publications might be set into a landscape of solid earth and rock and water.
--Richard Hoggart, The Uses of Literacy (1957)

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