Packing up and moving on

26 12 2009

As of today, I will no longer be updating this blog. I enjoyed doing so for the past two years, but it’s time to move on. I look forward to blogging elsewhere in the near future and will continue to tweet and post ‘excursions’ on Laidback.

So long.

As a former skateboarder, empty pools never fail to capture my imagination. Pictured here is the main pool of the now abandoned Marshall Street Baths in Soho, London. Picture by Cigi Cifali.





Belgium, a symbol of unity-in-diversity

15 12 2009

In a 2,500 word opinion piece in The Weekly Standard, Christopher Caldwell opens with:

Ever since it was carved by treaty out of the Dutch, French, and German borderlands after the Napoleonic wars, Belgium has been an odd kind of country–short on space, sunlight, and national identity.

This is an interesting read and firmly grounds the media representation of Belgium in political turmoil, linguistic conflict, cultural stereotypes and economic (in)stability. I’m adding Mr. Caldwell to my list of people to interview about my new research project.





When Stevie Wonder tweets

13 12 2009





Now ‘web enhanced': SLA goes social

2 12 2009

The Society for Linguistic Anthropology has made the jump from Web1.0 to Web2.0. The Society’s website, linguisticanthropology.org is now more social, interactive and dynamic. Powered by WordPress, the new SLA website now features a Twitter and RSS feed, a Facebook page and a blog. Kerim Friedman:

we hope to make the blog a central place for online discussion of issues relating to linguistic anthropology. It is hoped that the blog will draw more people to the site, building a vibrant community in the process.

Ensuring the blog keeps rolling, SLA has established the position of  ‘digital content editor’, which Leila Monaghan will fill. And interestingly, the journal page now features ‘web enhanced’ (i.e. multimodal) articles. Forward-thinking bunch, those SLA cats.





Curating the 9/11 pager messages

29 11 2009

Wikileaks is an international non-profit organization that has released some 573,000 pager messages from the 9/11 tragedy. This corpus of text messages covers a 24 hour period directly related to the attacks in New York and Washington. As Wikileaks notes:

Text pagers are usually carried by persons operating in an official capacity. Messages in the archive range from Pentagon, FBI, FEMA and New York Police Department exchanges, to computers reporting faults at investment banks inside the World Trade Center

The archive is a completely objective record of the defining moment of our time. We hope that its entrance into the historical record will lead to a nuanced understanding of how this event led to death, opportunism and war.

There have been some interesting visualizations, applications and tools but this corpus is a research report waiting to happen. Journalism students, linguists, social scientists: get cracking.





DiO Workshop on CMC and style

24 11 2009

A successful conference in September 2009, a new logo and invitation template and a new workshop series. Things are looking up for Discourse in Organizations. On 11 December, Michael Opgenhaffen (Lessius/K.U. Leuven) will give a DiO talk on presentation style in computer-mediated communication. Participation is free as of this year. Drop us a line if you’d like to attend the workshop at the Modern Chinese Art Foundation.





Deconstructing Martha Stewart’s style

19 11 2009

Lovely paper by Jennifer Sclafani in the latest issue of the Journal of Sociolinguistics. Sclafani investigates “parodies of a linguistic style that has been attributed to the ideological construct of the ‘Good Woman’ (Eckert 2004), as it is used by lifestyle entrepreneur Martha Stewart” (2009: 615).

Using Lakoff’s list speech elements typical of Woman’s Language (which I am reproducing below, just for the fun of it), Sclafani illustrates how Martha Stewart parodies exploit these features to expose Martha Stewart’s ‘Bad Woman’ alter ego.

1. lexical items related specifically to women’s interests (e.g. dollop, mandolin);
2. hedges (you could, if you like);
3. hypercorrect grammar (British pronunciation of herb with initial /h/ aspirated intervocalic /t/);
4. superpolite forms (double-thanking guests, i.e. ‘thank you, thank you very much’);
5. no joking;
6. speaking in italics (i.e. using emphatic stress);
7. the use of intensive ‘so’ (these are so tasty);
8. empty adjectives (gorgeous, utterly fantastic);
9. wider intonation range; and
10. question intonation in declaratives.

(Sclafani 2009: 617)

Sclafani, Jennifer (2009). Martha Stewart behaving Badly: Parody and the symbolic meaning of style. Journal of Sociolinguistics 13 (5): 613-633.





Negotiating client No. 9 news discourse

7 11 2009

I am one of the 28,492 people who follow NYU Professor of Journalism Jay Rosen’s tweets. Jay is well-known for launching the People Formerly Knows As The Audience acronym and for mindcasting instead of lifecasting on Twitter. He also has a knack for curating content.

The Gawker story Jay recently linked to is a remarkable piece of investigative journalism (in itself a practice many ‘journalism-is-dead’ advocates never thought would be possible online). The story reconstructs the off-the-record email traffic that ensued when the Eliot Spitzer story broke. Mark Peterson calls it “unwriteable discourse”, Gawker calls it a “the inside of a PR meltdown”.  A recommended and surprisingly cordial tale of news management:

You’d think that, with blood in the water, the traditional coziness that develops between official flacks and the beat reporters who have to talk to them every day would break down into some kind of last-man-standing slugfest. But in the Spitzer case, the opposite happened. The revelations upended the worlds of both reporter and flack alike, and the uncertainty, long hours, and breakneck pace of the scandal actually seemed to throw them together as they worked toward what seems, if you read the e-mail exchanges, like a common goal of getting the news out and behind them.





Towards self-informing news publics

26 10 2009

File under “statements that make me dance”.

Exhibit A.

A single person can now speak to millions of people without touching a reporter. In many cases, it’s thrilling, but for the most part the tools are primitive; we are at the utter beginning of what this means for news production.

Exhibit B.

Online, what a public needs, far more than reporters or endowed professional newsrooms, is a way for everyone to do this more effectively.

Cody “the LeBron James of news production” Brown, news visionary and future millionaire. Anyone with an interest in media and journalism, I suggest you read Cody’s latest blog post.





The future of news? Bricks-and-clicks

25 10 2009

The latest trend for ailing news organizations is to adopt a bricks-and-clicks business model. What with evaporating advertising revenues, news organizations such as Corelio in Belgium are dipping their toes in online retailing. For instance, just last week Het Nieuwsblad launched their Nieuwsbladshop.be, hoping to lure their readers into buying wine, DVDs and books.

Nieuwsbladshop.be








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