Thursday, January 25, 2007

302.2345 Social Aspects of Television Case Study: 24

Commercial television and the Web have made a marriage, shaky at best some days (YouTube?), and maybe a perfect example of a technology mash-up of sorts on better days.

Case in point: possibly the hottest set of two numbers to come to the forefront since the speed limit was dropped to the double nickel level back in the 70s!

24, the real-time action thriller involving the agents of the mythological Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU) of the federal government and featuring the super hero character of Special Agent in Charge Jack Bauer, a man's man and a man not only mothers, but countless women, could and would love! Television hasn't seen the likes of him since Marshall Matt Dillion, I don't think.

Not only is the show a topic of conversation around the real water cooler on Tuesday mornings, it has a huge virtual water cooler community on the Web. Google the number 24 and Bauer together and you get about 25,400,000 hits. Search Blog, Bauer , and 24 and you get 1,420,000 hits.

The show has a slick website over at its parent network FOX site. You can catch up on missed episodes by watching streaming video pieces. One of the most interesting tabs is that of Profiles where the reader can toggle between the biographies of the actor and the character. Just where does reality stop and fiction begin?

In Wikipedia, there are 34 items in the contents list and countless links on the main page alone--a sea of "blue words" you might say. If you are unfamiliar with how Wikipedia monitors its articles, take a look at the Discussion and History tabs for this entry and see the incredibly minute details that are noted for editing and adding.

But this particular 21st century entertainment phenomenon rates its OWN WIKI. Not just an article in a Wiki, but the whole thing...all 1,573 articles and 2,220 images (so far) started on September 30th 2005. It includes its own "encyclopedia" of topics and its own list of worldwide community members. It includes information about the official magazine available on newsstands (yes, a real magazine printed on P-A-P-E-R!) and the reference books (their word, not mine!) available.

Would all of this hoopla be possible....or possible at this extreme level...if it were not for the social networking aspects of the Web and the partnership of the 2nd and 3rd screens of the technology world? Should education take a page from this particular case and from the many, many other worthy examples out there and see how to create the same level of interest and excitement for appropriate parts of the learning process? It is something to think about.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

910 Portals to the World

Portals of the World: Links to Electronic Resources from Around the World – another great service from our nation's Library of Congress.
Example page:
Information from the Portal site:
"...contains selective links providing authoritative, in-depth information about the nations and other areas of the world. They are arranged by country or area with the links for each sorted into a wide range of broad categories. The links were selected by Area Specialists and other Library staff using Library of Congress selection criteria."

Oh, and by the way (BTW), all of these portals have MARC records in the LC catalog!

070.04 10 X 10 : A Different View of the News

Came across an interesting news form called 10 X 10. In a grid 10 blocks by 10 blocks, each hour of the day is represented by a "snapshot" of the hour. There are representative photos and key words for each event.

The most intriguing part of the concept is that the choices are NOT human. Technology selects the events! 10 X 10 scans the RSS feeds of several leading international news sources, and performs an elaborate process of weighted linguistic analysis on the text contained in their top news stories. After this process, conclusions are automatically drawn about the hour's most important words.

Currently, 10x10 gathers its data from the following news sources:
Reuters World News
BBC World Edition
New York Times International News

Monday, January 8, 2007

004.678 Social Networking

The PEW Internet Project data is out about the effect of social networking on teens, and especially on girls. If you think that online chatting, emailing, blogging, and sites like MySpace and Facebook are not prominent methods of communication among the young adults today, then let this report help to change your view.

From the report:
55% of online teens use social networks.
55% have created online profiles.
48% of teens visit social networking websites daily or more often. 22% visit several times a day!
70% of older girls (15-17 yrs. old) have used an online social network compared with 54% of older boys.
85% of teens who have created an online profile use MySpace to do.

The Pew Internet Project is a non-partisan, non-profit research center that examines the social impact of the Internet. It is part of the Pew Research Center and is funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts. Learn more here.

Are we doing our kids a favor when we continue to ignore the impact of these communication tools on their E-V-E-R-Y D-A-Y lives? Should we continue to hide our collective heads in the sand thinking that these "fads" will go away instead of teaching our kids to use them responsibly and safely? This report (and others just like it) should help us make the right choice.

428.1 Vocabulary: What's In & What's Out for the New Year

PLUTOED (demote or devalue someone or something, as happened to the former planet Pluto) has been voted as the Word of the Year by the American Dialect Society in its 17th annual top word list. The other contenders for top word included YouTube (as a verb) and flog (a fake blog created to promote a product or TV program.) Climate canary (an organism or species whose poor health or declining numbers hint at a larger environmental catastrophe on the horizon) was the overall runner up.

The sports world contributed a close cousin in PLUTOIZED beginning back in late summer when a few sportscasters referred to teams or players in danger of losing their standings or positions as being plutoized.

So Pluto may be out as a planet, but will "live on" in other ways! Another case of making lemonade out of lemons, perhaps?

At the same time, Lake Superior State University issued its annual List of Words and Phrases Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness. This small public university has been publishing this list of worn out words since 1976. Included on this year's list is TRUTHINESS, a 2005 American Dialect Society winner, and originally popularized by The Colbert report. Other tired terms include I-ANYTHING, ARMED ROBBERY/DRUG DEAL GONE BAD (when do they go good?), CHIPOLTE, and combined celebrity names such as TomKat and Bennifer...just plain overdone! My personal favorite banned word AWESOME made the list as well. I haven't used it and "neat" for years!