Friday, December 20, 2013

December CommQuote

We've had videos reign as CommQuotes; our quote this month is an image (or two).

There's more to  Erik Kessels 24 HRS in Photos installation than meets the eye. What looks like just a junky room full of trash is actually all of the images uploaded to the popular social networking photography site Flickr on a single day in October. Kessels printed out over 900,000 images that exhibit participants can walk through or pick up for closer viewing.

Kessels’ installation is part of A Sense of Place, a photography group exhibit on view at Pier 24 Photography in San Francisco through May 2014. A review of the show can be found here.

You can get to know this artist/designer better at this TEDxBreda talk.

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Undercover Reporting Database

Undercover Reporting: Deception for Journalism's Sake: A Database 
is "a collaboration with NYU Libraries [that] collects many decades of high-impact, sometimes controversial, mostly U.S.-generated journalism that used undercover techniques. It grows out of the research for [Brooke Kroeger's] Undercover Reporting: The Truth about Deception which argues that much of the valuable journalism since before the U.S. Civil War has emerged from investigations that employed subterfuge to expose wrong. It asserts that undercover work, though sometimes criticized as deceptive or unethical, embodies a central tenet of good reporting--to extract significant information or expose hard-to-penetrate institutions or social situations that deserve the public's attention. The site, designed as a resource for scholars, student researchers and journalists, collects some of the best investigative work going back almost two centuries." --website

This unique resource collects a substantial amount of coverage--articles from major and not-so-major news publications, along with books, film, and television. In addition to author/reporter, date, and publication, the database is organized around thematic clusters--issues such as prisons, migrant workers, the Welfare system, gender, class,and many more. One can also filter searches by journalistic method (posed as, undercover, disguised, lived as, worked as). The database strives where it can for a deeper history than the last few decades. For example, there is a cluster called "Antebellum Undercover," which provides full-text articles of undercover reportage (1854-75) from the New York Tribune based on the work of journalists who headed South prior to the Civil War.  

This is a really interesting resource. Kudos to the NYU Libraries for getting the database to this point and for its future development. They welcome suggestions for new material as they plan to "deepen and internationalize" the collection. 

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Monday, December 09, 2013

Winter 2013 Booknotes

The Allure of the Archives, by Arlett Farge (Yale, 2013) A new translation of a classic. “Originally published in 1989, Farge’s classic work communicates the tactile, interpretive, and emotional experience of archival research while sharing astonishing details about life under the Old Regime in France. At once a practical guide to research methodology and an elegant literary reflection on the challenges of writing history, this uniquely rich volume demonstrates how surrendering to the archive’s allure can forever change how we understand the past.” –publisher’s description 
The App Generation: How Today’s Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy, and Imagination in a Digital World, by Howard Gardner and Katie Davis (Yale, 2013). The authors “approach their subject in a constructive spirit, providing analytical tools to distinguish among apps, the ones that will stifle and the ones that will nurture.” –Sherry Turkle, MIT
The Arab Avant-Garde: Music, Politics, Modernity, edited by Thomas Burkhalter, Kay Dickinson, and Benjamin J. Harbart (Wesleyan University, 2013). “Investigates the plethora of compositional and improvisational techniques, performance styles, political motivations, professional trainings, and inter-continental collaborations that claim the mantle of "innovation" within Arab and Arab diaspora music.” –publisher’s description
Black Code: Inside the Battle for Cyberspace (Random House, 2013). An in-depth look at the growing insecurity of the Internet…a meticulous examination of the “malicious threats that are growing from the inside out” and which “threaten to destroy the fragile ecosystem we have come to take for granted.”—Adam Thierer, George Mason University
Communicating Climate Change and Energy Security: New Methods in Understanding Audiences, by Greg Philo and Catherine Happer (Routledge, 2013). “Examines the contemporary public debate on climate change and the linked issue of energy security…The authors address fundamental questions about how to adequately inform the public and develop policy in areas of great social importance when public distrust of politicians is so widespread. The new methods of attitudinal research pioneered here combined with the attention to climate change have application and resonance beyond the UK. –publisher’s description
The Cool School: Writing from America’s Hip Underground, edited by Glenn O’Brien (Library of America, 2013). “A kaleidoscopic guided tour through the margins and subterranean tribes of mid-twentieth century America—the worlds of jazz, of disaffected postwar youth, of those alienated by racial and sexual exclusion, of outlaws and drug users creating their own dissident networks. Whether labeled as Bop or Beat or Punk, these outsider voices ignored or suppressed by the mainstream would merge and recombine in unpredictable ways, and change American culture forever.” –publisher’s description
Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government is Smarter, by Ilya Somin (Stanford, 2013). "Illuminates both the extent of political ignorance and why maintaining such ignorance is rational for voters who recognize the near-futility of their efforts at political engagement."—Sanford Levinson, The University of Texas Law School
The Democratic Surround: Multimedia and American Liberalism From World War II to the Psychedelic Sixties, by Fred Turner (University of Chicago. 2013). “A dazzling cultural history that demonstrates how American intellectuals, artists, and designers from the 1930s to the 1960s imagined new kinds of collective events—different from fascism’s crowds—that were intended to promote a powerful experience of American democracy in action. Drawing parallels across a wide set of venues—from MoMA’s Road to Victory and Family of Man shows of the mid-century period to the 1959 National Exhibition in Moscow to the Happenings of the sixties counterculture, Turner challenges us to think about the lines between information, entertainment, art, and propaganda. Along the way he shows how important the media have become to the design of collective experiences and forms of democratic citizenship” --Lynn Spigel, Northwestern University
Different Bodies: Essays on Disability in Film and Television, edited by Marja Evelyn Mogk (McFarland, 2013). ”Collection of 19 new essays by 21 different authors from the United States, the UK, Canada, Australia and India focusing on contemporary film and television (1989 to the present) from those countries as well as from China, Korea, Thailand and France.
Digital Politics in Western Democracies: A Comparative Study by Cristian Vaccari (Johns Hopkins, 2013). “Greatly advances our understanding of digital politics while engaging with the wider debates in political science, as well as media and communications studies, through rigorous comparative analysis and engaging writing.” –Bruce Bimber, University of California, Santa Barbara
Framing the Net: The Internet and Human Rights, by Rikke Frank Jorgensen (Edward Elgar, 2013). “Deconstructing four key metaphors-- the Internet as infrastructure, public sphere, medium and culture…shows where the challenges to human rights protection online lie and how to confront them…develops clear policy proposals for national and international Internet policy-makers, all based on human rights.”Wolfgang Benedek, University of Graz, Austria
The Future of Social Movement Research: Dynamics, Mechanisms, and Processes, edited by Jacquelien van Stekelenburg, Conny Roggeband, and Bert Klandermans (University of Minnesota, 2013). “ Major, very important work which brings together the leading lights in the international, interdisciplinary, invisible college of social movement scholars…combines thoughtful essays on the state of the art in the study of contentious politics with grounded speculation on the many still unanswered or incompletely answered questions. The authors do an excellent job of distinguishing what is based on solid empirical research and what would require additional research to answer with confidence.” --William Gamson, Boston College  
The Gamble: Choice and Chance in the 2012 Presidential Election, by John Sides and Lynn Vavreck (Princeton, 2013). "The 2012 election was when Moneyball defeated Game Change--and Sides and Vavreck explain why political scientists and number-crunchers were able to forecast the results well in advance, while the conventional wisdom was so often wrong…definitive account of what really happened and what really mattered in the campaign."--Nate Silver, author of The Signal and the Noise
Hatemail, by Salo Aizenberg ( University of Nebraska, 2013). Examines the content and usage of anti-Semitic postcards throughout the world, especially during the pre-Holocaust years. 
How Media Inform Democracy: A Comparative Approach, edited by Toril Aalberg and James Curran (Routledge, 2013). Leading researchers consider how media inform democracy in six countries – the United States, the United Kingdom, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden.
How to Watch Television, edited by Ethan Thompson and Jason Mittell (New York University, 2013). “Brings together forty original essays from today’s leading scholars on television culture, writing about the programs they care (and think) the most about. Each essay focuses on a particular television show, demonstrating one way to read the program and, through it, our media culture.” –publisher’s description 
Listening Publics: The Politics and Experience of Listening in the Media Age, by Kate Lacy (Polity, 2013). A sparkling synthesis of broadcast history and social theory that is full of original insights and nuggets from primary research...unfolds the neglected politics and ethics of the ear. A marvelously sane plea for listening as a key mode of participation in the public sphere." --John D. Peters, University of Iowa 
Saturday Night Live and American TV, edited by Nick Mar, Matt Sienkiewicz, and Ron Becker (Indiana University Press, 2013). Critical assessment of the show in relation to its media environment.
 Serial Fu Manchu: The Chinese Supervillain and the Spread of Yellow Peril Ideology, by Ruth Mayer (Temple University Press, 2013). Chinese characters in books, movies, comic books, and television since 1913. 
Social Acceleration: A New Theory of Modernity, by Hartmut Rosa (Columbia, 2013).“…the most developed and most important social theoretical analysis of the acceleration of time from the perspective of critical theory. His theory of social acceleration is of great importance, since it explains how our social lives are speeding up, and extends critical theory into a new and fruitful avenue of inquiry -- and maybe even into a new generation of social theorizing and critique.” --Jerald Wallulis, University of South Carolina.
Social Media and the Law: A Guidebook for Communication Students and Professions, edited by Daxton R. Stewart (Routledge, 2013). The legal ramifications of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and Flickr in relation to issues of free speech, defamation, privacy, terms of use, intellectual property, student speech, government information, obscenity, cyberbullying, social media in courtrooms, and policies for journalist, advertisers and public relations professionals. 
Social Media in the Courtroom: A New Era for Criminal Justice? by Thaddeus A. Hoffmeister (ABC-Clio, 2013). Social media is now used as proof of a crime; further, social media has become a vehicle for criminal activity. How should the law respond to the issue of online predators, stalkers, and identity thieves? This book comprehensively examines the complex impacts of social media on the major players in the criminal justice system: private citizens, attorneys, law enforcement officials, and judges. It outlines the many ways social media affects the judicial process, citing numerous example cases that demonstrate the legal challenges; and examines the issue from all sides, including law enforcement's role, citizens' privacy issues, and the principles of the Fourth Amendment. –Publisher’s website
Spam: A Shadow History of the Internet, by Finn Brunton (MIT, 2013).  “Shows us how spam has coevolved with social media, an arms race where new communal tools and behaviors designed to fight spam lead to new kinds of spam, which leads to still newer tools and behaviors.” –Clay Shirky, New York University
Supercinema: Film-Philosophy for the Digital Age, by William Brown (Berghahn Books, 2013). Drawing on a variety of popular films, including Avatar, Enter the Void, Fight Club, The Matrix, Speed Racer, X-Men and War of the Worlds… studies the ways in which digital special effects and editing techniques require a new theoretical framework in order to be properly understood… proposes that while analogue cinema often tried to hide the technological limitations of its creation through ingenious methods, digital cinema hides its technological omnipotence through the continued use of the conventions of analogue cinema. As such, digital cinema is analogous to Superman hiding his powers behind the persona of Clark Kent - as opposed to most other superheroes who hide their limitation behind their superheroic alter ego. --publisher’s description
Surveillance on Screen: Monitoring Contemporary Films and Television Programs, by Sebastien Lefait (University of Corsica, 2013)  “Drawing on the rapidly developing field of surveillance studies, Lefait offers an in-depth analysis of television shows and films, which complement current theoretical approaches to those subjects. This unique combination of surveillance theories with the latest concepts of film, television, and Internet studies is based on a large and diversified range of popular series and films, including the shows 24, Lost, and Survivor as well as such films as Minority Report, Paranormal Activity, The Truman Show, and the on-screen version of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.”—publisher’s description

Thursday, December 05, 2013

The Sarnoff Collection and The Sarnoff Collection Online

The Sarnoff Collection is named in honor of David Sarnoff, chairman of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA), founder of the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), and internationally renowned pioneer in radio and television. It comprises over 6,000 artifacts (among other items--papers, photographs, etc.) that document major developments in communication and electronics in the 20th century. First housed at RCA's central research lab in Princeton, NJ, it has since moved to The College of New Jersey (artifacts) and to the Hagley Library in Wilmington, Delaware (other archival holdings). 

The College of New Jersey has recently opened a long-term exhibit called "Innovations That Changed the World," which traces the history of telecommunications from the invention of radio to the information age. The exhibition, which includes over 80 objects of telecommunication and electronics, is divided into nine media sections--radio, phonograph, black and white TV, color TV, electron microscopy, computing, integrated circuits, home video, and flat panel displays. Visitors are provided with social and historical context relating to these artifacts in addition to scientific and engineering principles.

If you can't get to visit in person you can do a lot virtually with The Sarnoff Collection Online. While it doesn't contain the complete holdings, over 1000 artifacts have been cataloged, photographed and reside in the site's fully searchable database.

Pictured above is a 256-Bit Early Computer Memory Grid (1950) which reminds me from this distance of a grade school potholder project. Objects deceive, digital objects deceive even more I guess!

New Televsion News Archive on the horizon

CommPilings posts are usually about resources; this one is about the promise of a resource. According to a recent story in Salon.com, the collecting obsession of a devoted Philadelphia-area librarian, Marion Stokes, may result in the largest television news archive to date--some 140,000 VHS tapes of network, cable, and local news programming between 1977 and 2012.  Librarian Roger Macdonald of the Internet Archive has taken on the collection which will be digitized and indexed for all. Not sure when it's slated for completion but the project has begun and, well, it's the Internet Archive (!) which already delivers a serachable database of the last four years of television news (2010-2013).

Of course the most famous television news archive is the Vanderbilt Television News Archive, a searchable abstracting service for national television network news broadcasts, 1968-present, with CNN and NBC broadcasts available as RealMedia video streams from 1998-present.  Unlike the Internet Archive initiative, it cannot post all of its footage online for free; researchers have to borrow clips on DVD for a small fee.

Communication scholars and historians certainly appreciate all of these archival efforts--it will be interesting to see the vision of Marion Stokes come to fruition, hopefully not too far from now. 

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