Sound of Urchin

Stuck in my head = Spirit of the Radio by Rush (trust me, you know the song: the words of the prophets profits are written on the studio walls) as covered by Sound of Urchin with Jack Black not resisting the urge to join them on stage. The Urchin in question is a band that Robbie Seahag plays guitar in now, but I do not know if he was present for any of the famed “opening for Tenacious D” gigs… the Urchin/Black mp3 is here.

Now Playing: Off The Map

On a personal note, a movie I gave about seven weeks of my life to as a Dolly Grip has opened in the usual “selected cities” and is getting great reviews.

Off The Map was lots of fun to work on, and good work. Campbell Scott directed, Juan Ruiz-Anchia was the director of photography (and thus one of my many bosses), and I was part of a great New Mexican union crew mostly from IATSE Local 480.

Reviews here and here.

Busy Days, Busy Nights

Precious little new content popping up here, I know, but (excuse coming) I have been working on setting up my mom’s blog… She’ll be speaking at WPPI next week, and I’ll be working the merch table in the back of the Las Vegas Ballroom at Bally’s Hotel and Casino Tuesday March 22nd.

Meanwhile, I’m thumping away at David Gauntlett’s Media, Gender, and Identity for my grad class tomorrow night, which is difficult because I think most of what he says is crap, and I’m taking lots of notes on WHY. Well, not everything is crap – there’s lots of good theory in here (Foucault, Queer Theory, etc.) – but he spends the first two chapters of the book ranting about how effects research is worthless, and then proceeds to trail off every time he starts to mention the “Media” element referenced in the title of the book. Really. Instead of actually talking about how all these neat ideas about gender and identity interact with the media (regardless of who is creating who), he just ignores any relationship.

Also, there’s the next article for my Internet Info Gathering class, which involves asking a question to newsgroups and an “Ask The Expert” sort of site linked to About.com, and then writing about how you got your answers, the interaction with the sources, etc. I plan to ignore the “gee, the guys at rec.radio.shortwave are really nice” angle and just write an article on my topic “Whither Shortwave Radio?” using the, er, sources that I’ve asked the question to as what they are: sources. Seems simple enough to me…

And of course, this Thursday is St. Patrick’s Day, when we Americans celebrate something about snakes or Ireland or the Pied Piper or…oh whatever let’s just get drunk. I’m pouring all day, as usual, over at my minimum wage job. If you’re in Santa Cruz on Thursday, you’ll be there. Heck, the first three people who actually say to the bearded bartender (me) “I read your J-School Blog” will earn themselves a free beer on my dime. Be my guest.

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Print vs. Online – A Question of Class?

Preamble:

When Robert Scoble spoke at SJSU a few weeks ago, he asked the room full of J-School students how many thought they would be working for a newspaper when they graduate. Lots of hands. Scoble tried to explain that everyone with their hand up might work for a news organization, but not a conventional dead-tree oriented newspaper. The few professors in the room took that a little hard, and have been batting the idea around on a superficial level. The prof. who teaches my grad class brought up Scoble’s comments at the Poynter Institute seminar on Convergence he attended last month. He reported back the general “harumph” let out by the editors and educators in response. Steve Sloan mentioned it, and Scoble picked the conversation back up, asking his readers whether they agree or disagree that print is history.

My Reply:
(posted as a comment on Scoble’s entry)

I agree that newspapers will involve less dead-tree-technology in the near future, but I hope that print never vanishes completely.

For me, it’s a question of access. As long as there are cities full of workers who commute by bus and train, I want a newsstand at the entrance to every station selling the (ugh) NY Post and NY Daily News for 50 cents or a buck apiece – whatever the price is up to now.

Unless you can supply every inner-city resident with an inexpensive tablet PC and free city-wide broadband wireless, forget about eliminating print.

Will papers have to figure out a way to turn a profit? Yes. Do I subscribe to a newspaper? No.

I’m a grad student in Mass Communications at SJSU, and I was at both your talk and Prof. Craig’s presentation on the Poynter seminar. Your bit about none of the J-School kids working for print has gone largely misread here – but rest assured that a few people got it.

Forget about reading the analog/digital paper on the patio with your coffee – the sooner this becomes a question about class and access, the better. Otherwise, who is the news for? Preaching to the elite = preaching to the choir? Maybe.

Has the debate over blogging v. journalism, online v. print, digital v. analog passed over the question of access? I understand that the “early adopters” of technology are usually the ones who can afford it, but what purpose do bright ideas like “blogging as the long tail of communication” or “free access to the online archives of every newspaper” serve if the people who have the most to gain from the information still don’t have access to it?

Here’s what we need to truly democratize information:
1. Free broadband internet access in the poorest parts of the country/world.
2. Inexpensive/subsidized/donated/free computers and a tiny bit of training for the same
poorest parts of the country/world.

That’s it. Let the market handle the rest. If all the meta-bloggers and media critics can be so vocal about problems with privacy and copyright issues, then Let’s Start Talking About Access. How about it?

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Update: as if on cue, Scoble points to this conversation going on at Rebecca MacKinnon’s blog. Her question is “So how do we get more diverse voices into the blogosphere?” The comments touch on some of the ideas about access that I’m thinking about.

Library Study Time

Spending the afternoon, as usual, at the library in full-on-study/clearly-not-addicted-to-my-feeds-via-bloglines mode.

I usually glance around at what people are reading/studying/clearly-not-studying around me, and the glaring amusements today = a girl with her highlighter out and textbook open, unabashedly watching a full episode of Smallville on her laptop + the guy about 4 feet away from me right now with a book entitled XML and PHP. Now I admit to not knowing as much technical gibberish about how this blog/rss/aggregation thing works – but I do feel good knowing that the technology is mainline enough that some computer science major knows the language. Of course, I know nothing about this. New disclaimer: I Am Not A Programmer. (IANAP).

Yes, she’s still watching Smallville.

Update: PHP serves all sorts of current web-purposes, and almost seems comprehensible to me, which means it’s both more complicated and simpler than I thought. This is why I never got past DOS BASIC.

Part 2 – Convergence in J-School

Prof. Richard Craig gave his lunchtime talk on Convergence to a handful of SJSU J-School faculty, and I was happy to see reps from broadcast, print, the grad program, and advertising there.

Prof. Craig went over some of the fun details about hanging out at Poynter – he’s a real fan of the First Amendment in Stone. The seminar participants sat in on a few news meetings at the convergence work-in-progress that is the Tampa Tribune newspaper/WFLA local NBC affiliate/Tampa Bay Online – people are starting to call this system “The Florida Model.” The motto of the place kind of freaks me out though: THINK AS ONE. What exactly is the difference between a Converged Newsroom and a Monopoly of Ideas? On one hand, the print, broadcast, and online sections can communicate with each other and share ideas – but I’m not sure that’s happening here yet. It seems more like what Prof. Craig called “shovelware” – as in you move the content from the newspaper and newscast with a shovel over to the website. On the other hand, would there be a broader range of stories and representation if the newsrooms were kept independent of each other?

Mental note: “convergence” is the new “synergy”.

Prof. Craig’s highlights from Larry Pryor’s talk and the three-headed core curriculum model:
-print majors might not need to know how to run a video camera.
-where’s the photo element?
-team teaching is necessary – each instructor won’t know everything at first.
-assign a team of students to cover a story, let them rotate through the crew positions so that they get a taste of everything.

That last part makes a limited amount of sense to me – at NYU Film, I was able to learn a little bit of everything and then specialize in what I was passionate about. I wouldn’t have found out which craft my strongest interest was in until I had tried a few things. But in the field or the studio, it doesn’t take long for that rotation schedule to break down — once I had lit a few video projects, I lit them all. That was what I enjoyed, so it worked out.

I think there’s a difference between teaching a base interdisciplinary curriculum and this “convergence” concept. Convergence should bring together the common tools of different disciplines – as Pryor points out, USC had to get back to basics and bring the writing level of their students up to par. Good writing is a common tool across platforms, and should be the first, last, and middle thing taught in J-School, right?

Meanwhile, no one at Prof. Craig’s presentation brought up the current webcentric classes that the school offers, which does worry me – given that we’re located in downtown San Jose, shouldn’t the school be a little more forceful in seizing the opportunity to train their students to work in Silicon Valley?

Or am I the only one interested in that sort of job?

We’ll see how it goes – remember, I just got here.

previous post on Convergence

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Convergence In J-School

The Professor who teaches my grad class is about to give a presentation on Convergence – he attended a seminar a few weeks ago at the Poynter Institute and came back full of ideas.

What’s convergence? Here’s what Larry Pryor from the USC Annenberg School of Communication adapted from the talk he gave at the Poynter seminar in question.

At SJSU, we already have undergraduate classes in Internet Information Gathering and Online Journalism, as well as a graduate class in New Media Technology, so I’m interested to see what sort of proposal Prof. Craig has for bringing the broadcast and/or photojournalism tracks into the online curriculum. Today will probably just be Convergence 101 for the faculty, though.

Summary to follow…