A wikiality of permanent impermanence

31 10 2008

In the latest issue of Tekstblad:

  • The intricacies of technical document design
  • The (improved) quality of automatic text summarization
  • Tio(povo): a revolution in learning-to-write programs
  • The pros and cons of forms
  • Mark Deuze on reality/wikiality in liquid times
  • and much more. Tekstblad 05 | 2008 is out.





These are the breaks: Amen Brother

30 10 2008

This should be required viewing for anyone with an interest in music, intellectual property or cultural production.

“Culture is impossible without a rich public domain…Nothing since we tamed fire, is genuinely new. Culture like science and technology, grows by accretion…Overprotection stifles the very creative forces it is supposed to nurture.”

Amen.

[Via Indymedia.be]





Making the online leap: CS Monitor

30 10 2008

Leave it to the Christian Science Monitor (how’s that for an oxymoron?) to be the first major daily print publication to make the online leap. You can read about their new business strategy here. John Yemma, CS Monitor editor pointed out that print journalism is “costly in terms of production and delivery and we recognize that print is not the issue, it is keeping the journalism alive.”

This statement echoes what many have been observing for quite some time now. Nick Davies calls it a “terminal” illness facing newspaper journalism, The State of the News Media 2008 reports that newspapers are “far from dead, but the language of the obituary is creeping in”. Media convergence, globalization and technological innovations have resulted in dwindling employment figures, profit margins and pagination patterns.

In his most recent blog post, Mark Deuze beautifully frames these developments in their broader context. Drawing on Jay Rosen’s concept of The People Formerly Known as The Audience, Mark notes a second power shift in media ecologies, one that

“erodes the very foundation of the way we know (and thus interact with) the world, and our ability to truly function in it autonomously, and on our own terms.”

This potentially devastating power shift materializes in the form of

“a sapping of economic and cultural power away from professional journalists by what I like to call The People Formerly known as the Employers.”

If we follow this line of thought, it is only a matter of time before we coin the phrase The People Formerly Known as the Journalists.





On (the absence of) historical context

28 10 2008

Following massive public outcries, VRT, the public broadcasting company of the Flemish community in Belgium, has decided not to air a controversial episode of Plat préféré, a culinary travel show hosted by professional chef and local television personality Jeroen Meus.

photonews)

Show host Jeroen Meus (credit: photonews)

The show format makes for original culinary television (is that a genre yet?): the host travels to a location where he prepares the favorite meal of historical icons à la Roald Dahl, Freddie Mercury, Salvador Dali and … Adolf Hitler. You read that right. Apparently, Hitler was fond of trout in butter sauce (and genocide).

The public debate over this show has legs and cuts right to the heart of media reception. Some organizations warn against the ‘trivialization’ of Hitler’s legacy, others cry ‘censorship’ and ‘freedom of speech’. Citing the controversial nature of the episode, the VRT announced that it would not air the show and regrets that the show in question could be received as “humanizing – or worse – glorifying” (my translation) Hitler.

Screenshot from the cancelled Plat Préféré show

Screenshot from the cancelled Plat Préféré show

While this incident illustrates the importance of historical context in documentaries – a quality not lost on other WWII documentaries VRT broadcasts – I think that the decision to cancel tomorrow’s airing of Plat préféré does more harm than good. Instead of giving viewers a chance to judge for themselves (watch the trailer), the VRT seems to suggest that the episode does indeed glorify Nazism. That’s poor business communication.





The metadiscursivity of lesbianism

27 10 2008

In Lesbian Discourses, Images of a community, Veronika Koller offers what Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay (insert your own spelling joke here) calls “a plurisecular metadiscourse on the discourse of/on lesbianism”. I have absolutely no idea what that means, but his review hails the book as non-essentialist, self-reflexive  and squarely within a “new paradigm of convergence(s) of academic disciplines”.

New coalitions are forming all over and across the humanities and social sciences; media anthropology, linguistic ethnography and (ahem) news production linguistics are some of the budding intellectual spaces that come to mind. Without having read the book, it offers a historical critical discourse analysis (CDA) of lesbian identities across 4 decades (1970s-2000s). This quality – a sense of history – is difficult to come by in most CDA works. Moreover, this historical dimension, and the title of course, spark my interest. If only I was conversant in Foucauldian philosophy.





Nine is the magic number

26 10 2008

Some things do not age. The allure of Zipp speed weaponry, the comfort of Nike Air Zoom Moire, clips of Mike in his prime and, at the risk of repeating myself, the Nine beat compilation. Choice instrumental hip hop from the Belgium’s finest beatmakers. Produced by Brussels-based beat collective Infinitskills and  Citywurl, Nine equals pure gravy.

This album has been *the* soundtrack to my nightly editorial rounds of my budding PhD. That’s why I’m plugging the entire album – a first on Soul sunday – once again. Preview at Rushhour.nl, download on Laidback.be. And spread the word.

Various artists – Nine (Citywurl, 2007)





Thank you and goodbye, Tempelhof

25 10 2008

As previously reported on this webspace, Berlin’s Tempelhof airport has officially shut down. The last flight took off this evening at 6:55pm. Flying in and out of Berlin via Tempelhof was a joy. No hassle, no crowds, no rush. Just miles of concrete symmetry and a rich but checkered past. I wonder what’s next.