Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Let's ask Google!

Today I found an interesting little online hack called Google Image Slideshow.  This utility lets you specify a search phrase for the Google Image Search site, and then automatically creates a little slideshow of the top 64 image results.  You can then embed your search in a URL to send other people to the slideshow with just a click.

I've created a little slideshow using the phrase "future of print" and it's kind of interesting to see what the collective intelligence of web authors, filtered through the algorithmic intelligence of Google, comes up with as supposedly relevant images for this phrase.  (The photo of Oscar the Grouch that came up when I viewed the slide show is particularly interesting and/or unnerving.)

I've set the parameters on this search to be "strict" in order to weed out potentially objectionable images (well, objectionable as defined by the Google algorithm, but that will serve our purposes here).  I imagine the images returned from this search will change over time — and will likely change depending on who actually does the search from which particular local context — as will the results of any Google search.  Check it out if you'd like a bit of inspiration for your own brainstorming on the topic of "how today's online culture views the future of print culture".

Any syllabus yet?

A graduate student asked me today,
I was wondering if I can bug you for some information about LIS 875. Do you have a syllabus yet? If not, do you have an idea of what the reading list will look like? And what kind of assignments do you foresee?
Here was my somewhat unsatisfying, but honest, response:
This is a totally new course for me; no syllabus yet, no reading list yet, though I've been working through candidate  materials for a few months now.  I expect I will throw a wide array of strange article-length readings at students, and probably ask students to seek out and report upon one or two books each during the course of the semester.  It will very much be a reading and writing seminar so I will want students to work through lots of material together, taking turns leading discussions and posing critical questions for the whole group to ponder, but also to strike out on their own and put together some sort of individual research or review project for the main part of the grade.  We will try to get guests to come and talk with us from a variety of perspectives.  And I may try to get the group to collaborate on some sort of loose, collective statement on what the "future of print" has been, could be, and/or should be.  
So if you're up for some educational experimentation and "innovation" this spring, register now!

(I promise to have an actual syllabus and reading list by January ... and I may drop some hints and spoilers here in the blog along the way.)

Monday, October 1, 2012


It's been only five years since the first Amazon Kindle was sold, ten years since Google News went online, twenty years since the public was introduced to the World Wide Web, and over a century since the development of microfilm.  What unites each of these historical moments was the premature public announcement of the "death of print" in the face of supposedly inevitable and revolutionary technological and economic change.  Yet print remains not only a crucial part of the material information environment of all societies around the globe, but also a persistent organizing metaphor for how we understand and circulate text, numbers, and images through both broadcast and networked media.  This new (and experimental) seminar will explore the perpetually-renewed "future of print" from various historical and geographical vantage points -- including our own.