Showing posts from April, 2012

Permediability 2

In most of what I read in my MACT studies, in Shirky, Bruns, Gillmor, Jones, in the perspective of the hypertext prophets, is a theme about the degree of interactivity allowed by the grammars of the various media.

Here is Ong (I am slowly, and gratefully, getting through Orality And Literacy, as every one, and I mean one, who follows this blog knows), on print:

The printed text is supposed to represent the words of an author in definitive or 'final' form. For print is comfortable only with finality. Once a letterpress forme is closed, locked up, or a photolithographic plate is made, and the sheet printed, the text does not accommodate changes (erasures, insertions) so readily as do written texts. By contrast, manuscripts, with their glosses or marginal comments (which often got worked into the text in subsequent copies) were in dialogue with the world outside their own borders. They remained closer to the give-and-take of oral expression. (130) 

First, the elegant phrase &quo…

All This Locomotion

There are a few things I'd like to do.

I'd like to see New York City and Washington, DC, with Shelagh. I'd like to sit in a pub and have a couple of beers with our sons. I would like to do a decent job on my final project for my Master's degree. And I'd like to get my thoughts about trains going in the right direction.

When I was young, we would travel by train across the prairies to visit my grandparents in Winnipeg. My dad worked for CN and we would get some sort of break on travel costs, and those were the days when train travel was still economical.

I have a freight car full of memories of those trips, the stations, the stops, the food, the smells, the sights of sunsets out the window, the board games in the observation car, the thrill of getting a new book to read for the voyage.

But one of my keenest memories is sitting in whatever vehicle my uncles were driving that day and heading out of downtown and out to the north end. But before we got there, we drove o…

Trust In Me When I Say!

Ong's thoughts on orality take mine in a lot of directions, including to Las Vegas.

In Orality and Literacy, Ong shares many examples of the persistence of the oral state of mind and its practices, habit, instincts.

Witnesses were prima facie more credible than texts because they could be challenged and made to defend their statements, whereas texts could not (this, it will be recalled, was exactly one of Plato's objections to writing. ... Written documents themselves were often authenticated not in writing buy by symbolic objects (such as a knife, attached to the document by a parchment thong...) (p. 95)
Somehow,  this account of medieval society transported my thoughts to the Palazzo in Vegas and into the Jersey Boys theatre. In the play that tells the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons there is a scene that depicts the heart of the group. It is an oral agreement, sealed by a gesture, a handshake, between Valli and musical partner Bob Gaudio. And the content of the…

I Hear Voices When I Run

Part of the challenge of effective communication is in deciding the status of the voices in the conversation. And I'm talking only about communication with myself!
Now that I can actually run for more than 40 minutes at a time, it's a bit of a lark to note how quickly into a run the voice sharing some version of "I am tired," or  "I am sore," or "I haven't felt that pain in my foot before," or "Maybe, let's just walk today" makes itself heard.  Sometimes it's about 17 seconds in, sometimes the voice morphs its message and haunts me for up to 10 minutes. 
What is that voice? Where does the laziness come from and how did it develop its rhetorical skills? Given that we agree that keeping running is a worthwhile goal, how should that voice counselling the alternative be dealt with? Persuaded? Ignored? Crushed? 
When I do push through and quiet that voice, what happened to it? Was it convinced or shamed or did it simply retreat a…

Pan Opti Con

This video is a riot.

It's gotten more than 7 million views on YouTube, so, I'm not the only one who thinks so. Or who has shared it at home or work with some version of, "Hey, have you seen the video with the drunken guy arrested by the RCMP? You gotta see this!"

What it is, besides funny, a decent use of 6:10(x) of your life, and near-conclusive proof of how impervious to alcohol is the human ability to memorize, is RCMP cruiser video of drunk driving suspect Robert Wilkinson of Edson combined with his singing of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody.

That makes it a rhapsody, of sorts, itself. The meaning of the Greek term 'rhapsodize,' rhapsoidein, Ong teaches (Orality and Literacy, p.22), is 'to stitch song together' (rhaptein, to stitch; oide, song).


In oral cultures, Ong says in words that remind us of our own time, "originality consists not in the introduction of new materials but in fitting the traditional materials effectively into eac…

Slippery City Shoes 2

In the land of the long roads/
High lonesome prairie/
Dreaming of the springtime/
First crocus in the snow/
Coffee in a go cup/
He's heading for the old rigs/
Land of shining mountains/
Big Alberta sky.
Those 37 sculpted words from Ian Tyson's Land of Shining Mountains are attached to a stone wall near a C-Train station near 7th Ave. and 9th St. SW in Calgary. The words are raised, so they produce shadows.
Tyson's songs are great, and his best are the best, but they, when performed or listened to, they exist in time.

All around is motion and sound as trains stop and go, workers criss cross, jackhammers ring.

The tribute in text somehow seems still and pure.

Until you consider that words are not, in the end, visual, but have to be related somehow to the world of sound, the natural habitat of language, to yield their meaning. This is the Ong (Orality And Literacy, p. 8) in the song that is Tyson's language.

In a song devoted to visual Alberta (long roads, crocus, go cup…

Good Communication

You have to jack up the volume to get hear this, but Don Cherry makes a good point for students of communication.


Maybe it's time for some new thinking when it comes to violence in hockey. Maybe it's time for some new voices. I don't pretend to be one of those voices, but I'm ready to hear a few of them.

The string of images to the left tells the visual story of a hit yesterday unleashed on Blackhawk Marian Hossa by Coyote Raffi Torres.

Torres caught Hossa blind, without the puck, leaving his feet to deliver a shot to Hossa's head that left the Chicago star crumpled on the ice, motionless, helpless.

Don Cherry has condemned the hit. It's been a playoff season where the talk hasn't been as much about the goals, saves, passes and hits as it's been about the length of suspensions for dirty hits.

On cue, the NHL suspended Torres indefinitely. Informed speculation has it that he will draw a 10-game ban when his case is decided by the league.

Of course, there is a lack of proportion here. Hossa, a gifted player, was taken to hospital and realeased. He is reportedly out …


Here, from Steve Mann's Cyborg, are words that struck me as a fitting description of our media sphere.
With an ever-increasing number of media-empowered cyborgs able to act as their own videographers, news-gatherers, filmmakers, and publishers, the corporate convergence will be only one version of an increasingly permeable shared reality. (p. 178) I have a tendency to skim over written words. So, let's repeat:

An increasingly permeable shared reality.
An increasingly permeable shared reality.
An increasingly permeable shared reality.
An increasingly permeable shared reality.
An increasingly permeable shared reality.

I didn't do so well in high school science ( a 38 per cent average in Physics 10 magically became a 55 per cent after I took Mr. Nowak's offer to pass me as long as I didn't enrol in Physics 20), but I do remember something about the biological concept of permeability. Perhaps I remember it because of its affinity to plot and story having to do, as it …

Big Alberta Sky (Through Google Glasses)

Earlier this NHL season, quietly, teams started to experiment with a new form of advertising. It features a company's digitized logo superimposed not on the ice or the boards but on the back glass. Looks like:

Greg Wyshynski, writing in a Yahoo Sports article, raises and then backs away from the possibility that the new advertising somehow crosses a line. He asks: What makes the glass more sacred than centre ice? The use of the word sacred is a clue to Wyshynski's opinion. After all, not many anymore argue in favour or something because it is sacred. 

But, it's worth starting to think about. It does feel different. It's not like text on a page in a book where the page has a presence that is somehow more real than the letters printed on it. Sure, the back glass in a hockey rink has substance, but it is also transparent, not there, ethereal. 

In a way, like the sky. 

Recently, not quietly, Google has unveiled its Glasses initiative, a reality dream in wearable technology th…

Bow Time

I went for what I think was about a 5 km run in Calgary tonight, and took the iPhone along for the ride. There are some blurry shots here, one nice shot of the sunset over the new bridge, and a couple of flipphoto shots of me while running. Yikes. All shots were taken while moving approximately 6 mph!

It was a nice run!

George And Jesse James

This is my friend, George Campbell. I met him at a CTV Edmonton open house, and we've tried to stay in touch. Every now and then I meet him for a coffee, and he tells stories about the old, or not so old days. 
George is a former telegraph operator. And that storytelling signal still runs through his blood. And in his eyes, especially at 0:39x.
Here he's talking about the early morning on a train car in Fort Edmonton Park that he became a fan of Brad Pitt.


Through The Darkness

I've learned to take pics, save them and wait for them to travel through time.

Like starlight.

Copy and paste:


Slippery City Shoes

There will be a time when I get it all down, she being bound to go, and all, but, 'til then, it's worth putting down a few Tyson memories in short form.

-- Dancing with Shelagh at the Howlin' Wolf. The band played Gallo, and we polka'd. Tyson signed my Martin guitar strap, and Shelagh's shirt.

-- My mom loved the line about the big stands of timber wait there just for fallin' in Summer Wages.

-- The high soaring hawk/The dark awkward crow was one of the only ways Michael, down the hall this moment crashing out a song from his electric guitar, would get to sleep as a baby.

-- Steady told the story about singing Tyson at a wedding in Florida with family from Newfoundland.

-- One summer we drove the long way home from Kananaskis so we could go through Longview. We went to the Navajo Mug.

-- I had great conversations about Tyson with Peter North when I worked at The Journal.

-- The autograph on the guitar strap faded, and Danny Baldassarre from ACCESS got it signe…


I have been thinking a lot about driving these days. In part because we're driving a pretty nice car these days. It's a ten year old BMW 330i, it's gold, and it just makes you enjoy the ride. It belonged to Eleanor in the days she was still with us, so we remember her, too.

I'm also thinking about driving because of an article in a recent edition of Wired. It's called "Let the Robot Drive: The Autonomous Car of the Future is Here." Well, it, and its promise of "no traffic jams" and "no crashes" isn't quite here.

On the way home from work today, a pedestrian darted out of the shadows and started across Jasper Avenue. I had time to react, but I wondered if a car radar or laser system with the brainpower of a computer system that could predict the movements of pedestrians would have given me more information than my own eyes and brain did.

Then, coming down 142 St.,  I saw a young person lying on the road, covered in warming blankets, …

597 And The Weather Today

In Edmonton, the cold and the snow sat this winter out. But the mild winter didn't really make for a shorter winter, time being time. In the middle of it, it still seemed long, and long turned to longing for spring, and into then into joy when the ice today said enough.

A day like this makes you think of Bill Bourne's Bluebird.It's a long road, patience is a virtue, darlin'
By and by we will hear
The bluebird singin' on the old coal trail
And we'll know that the springtime's here. The springtime and its themes of melting and rebirth are also trickling out of my 597 readings, where the metaphor is used to characterize the power of digital communication. Andy Campbell, in Undreamt Fiction, likens the land we have escaped from, or been shown the way out of, to a non-moving (I read icy) world.
Campbell writes: "In the digital world, text does not have to stand still, can be superimposed against colourful backgrounds, animations and imagery with no print desi…