Tuesday, May 3, 2011

[End of the Term]

Thanks everyone for your participation in the first ever running of the New Media Narratives & Publishing module!

It was a pleasure to *meet* each of you and I look forward to hearing what you're up to via your Tweets.

Best of luck everyone!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Power of Words..

A good video to finish off the course.... no explanation needed...

Monday, April 11, 2011

Week 13: New Media Narratives in Review


    Discussion Questions: 

    Q1. Having spent weeks reading about new 
    media and participating in the new media 
    environment, how has the telling of your own 
    narratives changed? Do you find that you use 
    Facebook or Twitter more often? Are you 
    blogging? Or, have you strengthened your love 
    of print?
    Q2. Chris Anderson is worried that the 
    perceived shift from web publishing to apps is 
    synonymous with a move from connection & 
    active creation to passive consumption. Apps 
    don’t interoperate, they are “hostile to links and 
    search” says Jeff Jarvis. What does this move 
    from online to (almost) offline mean to writers 
    and publishing?
    Q3. Based on our exploration of publishing, 
    new media and transliteracy, how precise do 
    you think Jeff Jarvis is when he says: “Ignore 
    print. Enable community”? (Read Jeff Jarvis’s 
    article on the demise of magazines: http://

    Friday, April 8, 2011

    Creating culture through remix

    Many of us are accustomed to relying on a retweet, status update, video upload or hyperlink as a means of sharing information. Within this sharing we build communities through common interests, gain acceptance and understanding of others, and experience places that otherwise would always remain foreign to us. These ubiquitous acts allow us to move seamlessly between our two roles of consumer and producer, participating in the production of our culture. Each time we share we view something that is produced we essentially are actively engaged in remix culture. To Knoble and Lankshear (2008) “remix means to take cultural artifacts and combine and manipulate them into new kinds of creative blends” (p. 22).” Perhaps to many of us, it simply means actively using the tools we have available to us in our daily lives.

    What to many of us is an obsolete thought is the fact that our use of these tools is in contradiction of the traditional ways in which people were to interact with the media. In the read only culture of the past we simply consumed. (Lessig, 2008). Newspapers, books, television shows and movies were ‘taken in’ - media was served to us. Through this media we defined our culture. Fast-forward to a world filled with digital technology, which “changed how we think about access to culture” (Lessig, 2008). We now not only see culture through what the media gives us, we use media ourselves to create our culture. Each one of us have the ability, if we wanted, to create our culture and we do so without even knowing it. Uploading a movie onto YouTube that was created using iMovie and inserting a song that was downloaded off of iTunes seems nothing more than a few hours work. What we forget is that in the process we accessed information that really didn’t belong to us. Permission wasn’t obtained to use the latest song as background music to accompany personal photos or videos. We simply thought since we have access, we also have permission. And quite frankly even if we knew it may be wrong, the ease of accessibility trumps the feeling of doing something wrong.

    Case study: Punjabi culture remixed

    Defining culture and traditions

    “Culture is the conduit of past to future, the vessel of memory of countless generations of the past to countless generations in the future, an inheritance and a memorial” (Deneen, 2008, p. 65). According to Deneen (2008), culture is the way in which people come together to create meaning, to share values, build a basis by which grief and joy is measured, shared and expressed. How we share the cultural knowledge that we amass is varied through our geography, our tools, our habits and our gender.

    Traditions are social constructs used to create identity. Traditions are based on and defined by a group’s past and are fluid enough to change with the group’s current existence. Traditions stem from the embodied cultural capital of the group, Eisendstadt (as cited by Linnekin, 1983) says, “the selection of what is culture is always made in the present; the content of the past is modified and redefined according to a modern significance” (p. 241). Traditions are easily adapted to accommodate the changes in time and place of the group. The content of traditions is “ . . . redefined by each generation and its timeliness may be situationally constructed” (Linnekin, 1983, p. 242).

    For first generation Canadians of Punjabi heritage, remix is a way of life. Being Canadian they grow up experiencing what is seen as the ‘mainstream’ way of growing up: watching Sesame Street, joining sports teams at school, juggling homework and figuring out what university or college to attend. Along with this ‘mainstream’ growing up is the culture that many of them experience at home. This culture is vastly different- language, music, food, and cultural norms that perhaps sometimes seem to clash with what the rest of the kids at school are doing. In many ways these two cultures found no way to co-exist. One existed out the home in the public sphere of school/work another inside the home with friends and family of the same origin. New media dramatically changed that.

    Music as a means of creating culture

    “Far from simply "reflecting" social processes, music provides contexts in which cultural meaning is formulated and negotiated. Among diaspora communities, music is vital for formulating diasporic cultural identity” (Diethrich, 1999, p.39). For the Punjabi community this certainly is true. Music is a way for Punjabis scattered all over the world, to connect back to the heritage and culture that is rooted in India. Often referred to as desi or Punjabi music, for young people, “music is used not only to cross the distance to India, but to create an entirely new space, one that asserts and affirms both aspects of their hyphenated identities” (Diethrich, 1999, p.36).
    Today’s music remixes.

    According to Shirky (2008), “Our electronic networks are enabling novel forms of collective action, enabling the creation of collaborative groups that are larger and more distributed than at any other time in history” (Shirky, 2008, p.48). Because members are no longer bound by proximity, groups can exist and meet no matter where individual members may reside. This is seen in the Punjabi music scene. Websites such as simplybhangra.com connect Punjabi’s from across North America, Britian and India, all sharing their thoughts on music and it’s cultural significance or impact.

    Punjabi Music creating culture

    Punjabi musicians teaming up with mainstream North American hip hop artists is one way in which youth see their culture being remixed.

    Seeing mainstream North American artists perform their own versions of Indian songs is another way in which youth see their culture literally incorporating two worlds.

    The use of Punjabi music at Bhangra competitions is also another way in which remix culture is flourishing. Youth use bhangra music alongside hiphop and pop music to combine energetic routines. The moves in these routines are themselves remixes-choreographing traditional Bhangra (Punjabi dance) with other dance genres without missing a beat.

    These competitions not only feature remix through the music and dance, but also through their programs. VIBC, Vancouver International Bhangra Competition is one example where youth are connecting the many cultures that make up their world.

    A shift in culture

    The challenge comes when these remixes are done without giving permission or credit to the works that are used. Many Punjabi music songs are remixed by artists who sell and produce music as well as by the general public who remix through the use of their laptops-simply because they have the tools and the imagination to do so. Music producers and DJ’s like TigerStyle and create mega hits, seamlessly fusing Indian beats with mainstream music. Their “mix produces the new creative work-the “remix”. (Lessig, 2008, p. 69).

    Traditional copyright laws may not be followed because music is being remixed and reproduced without the permission of artists. At an even simpler level, YouTube is inundated with videos of Punjabi music where the slides use movie clips, images of celebrities, without any real sense of permission. Perhaps one of the biggest ironies is that in many cases the artists who have created remixes are now seeing their work remixed by youth. Many of these youth remix simply because they can “access is the mantra of the YouTube generation (Lessig, 2008, p.46).

    The issues that exist with this remixing of culture go beyond technology. A shift in the very culture that exists within the Punjabi community is also subject to change. Traditional songs now contain modern themes, beats and lyrics. Events that at one point could be classified simply as Punjabi or Western, are now mixing both. Perhaps as mentioned above this is less of an issue, this is a natural phenomenon-traditions change with time and place. Even further, given that remix is synonymous with so much of what we do, we will simply see it as it is what it is- the world we live in.


    Deneen, P. (2008). Technology, culture, and culture. New Atlantis: A Journal of Technology & Society, 2163-2174. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.
    Diethrich, G. (1999). Desi Music Vibes: The Performance of Indian Youth Culture in Chicago. Asian Music, 31 (1) 35-61. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/834279 (April 7, 2011) .

    Lankshear, C. & Knobel, M. (2008). Remix: The Art and Craft of Endless Hybridization. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 52(1) 22-33. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/30139647 (April 8, 2011) .

    Lessig, Lawrence (2008). Remix Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy. New York: The Penguin Press.

    Linnekin, S. (1983). Defining traditions: variations on Hawaiian identity. American Ethnologist, (10)2, 241-252.

    Shirky, C. (2008). Here Comes Everybody. New York: Penguin Press.


    Baronroflcopter. (2010, June 8). Jay-Z and Punjabi MC Mundian to bach ke live at Rock am Ring 2010. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOnz35MzlYc&feature=related

    Gurrvy. (2008, July 21). Nachna onda nahi. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNIZ8Phmh4U

    Ladygagamex. (2009, September 4). The Pussycat Dolls feat. A.R. Rhaman Jai Ho! Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJ9_8wxofik&feature=fvst

    Redman07. (2010, March 8). Kollaboration 10 Bhangra Empire. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0oepvmYWYwU





    Cool Collaborative Art!

    This is a beautiful example of collaborative, digital music. (Bias declaration: my sister is in this, so I obviously like it. It is really good, though.)

    Wednesday, April 6, 2011


    harold_innis_public-domain_library_archives-canadaliteracyLascaux-aurochs cave paintingDemosthenesTranscuneiform tabletrosetta stone
    ancient-roman-graffiti800pxpompeiaviaabundanciapropagandaelectoral5445_1prostitute advertising ancient rome800px-Kilroy_Was_Here_-_Washington_DC_WWII_Memorial_-_Jason_Coynemodern graffitipapyrus scroll
    antisemitism woodcutsangry gibbonHuman physical communicationMona_Lisa smilesmileerbore tribal make up ethiopia
    yakuza tattoostribal makeup man new guineaindian jewelryemo boymoroccan architecturefallingwater-1

    NMN, a set on Flickr.

    Harold Innis was correct that certain communications mediums can be used to control information, but the creativity and adaptability of humanity means that we have always found ways to get around this.

    Tuesday, April 5, 2011


    Sheet MusicMusic-modernGarage BandMusic-emotionCave paintingArtist
    Computer ArtInteractive ArtMuybridge Horse PhotosMovie Poster: Battleship PotemkinYouTube Art FilmYouTube: Jack-Ass Parody
    Digital StorytellingDigital LiteratureYouTube: Meaningless ArtCultural Filter

    COMM 597, ASSIGNMENT 3, a set on Flickr.

    Aldous Huxley believed that technology was creating an "atmosphere of passivity" that stifled artistic expression and suppressed creative culture. Although his thoughts were expressed in 1927, these ideas are particularly interesting today in the context of new media publishing. I will explore these ideas through this flickr photo essay.

    Sunday, April 3, 2011

    Week 12: Guest Lecture

    This week I have the great pleasure of introducing Kate Pullinger.

    Here is Professor Sue Thomas (left), Kate Pullinger (next to Sue) and moi. We were being very transliterate with our Nintendo DS game playing.

    A bit about Kate:

    Kate Pullinger’s most recent book, The Mistress of Nothing, won the 2009 Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction, one of Canada’s most prestigious literary prizes, and was long-listed for the Giller Prize. Her digital fiction project Inanimate Alice has also won numerous prizes, reaching online audiences around the world. She is Reader in Creative Writing and New Media at De Montfort University where she co-founded TRG, the Transliteracy Research Group, and she also offers private 1-1 mentoring for emerging writers in both print and new media.
    Kate Pullinger is currently working on a new novel that builds on themes developed in her collaborative digital fiction project, Flight Paths: A Networked Novel. You can also read Kate on My Secret Blog.

    Read more on Kate's site: http://www.katepullinger.com/

    Kate's Guest Lecture:

    ‘Inanimate Alice’ and Her Other Lives: a mini-case study

    Kate Pullinger

    I came across this a couple of weeks ago and was amazed by it: it's a fictional

    podcast in the style of a radio interview
    . In it, Alice, the character we created for our online episodic multimedia digital novel (gasp) 'Inanimate Alice',

    is interviewed by the host of a show called 'The Daily Dose' about a 'giga pet' she's created, 'the Brad Bud'.

    It's just over three minutes long but I'm amazed by it on many levels, but mainly on the level of 'wow'. These students have taken the Alice stories far beyond what exists online, developed Alice's character into young adulthood, created a business for Alice that includes a piece of tech kit that Alice has designed herself, the ‘Brad bud’. Then they've gone one step further and created a talk show for Alice to appear in, with its own host, and they've recorded the talk show interview, and broadcast it, along with the transcript, online.

    There's very little information on the podcast webpage itself, but I can see from the url that it comes out of 'pitt.edu' which is the University of Pittsburgh in the US. A few tweets later, I'd figured out that these students are working with Jamie Skye Bianco, who is Professor of Digital Media at Pittsburgh (also known online as @spikenlilli). Jamie teaches both 'Inanimate Alice' and 'Flight Paths' to students on her 'Narrative & Technology' class; her students wrote a series of interesting blogposts about Alice and FP earlier this year.

    It's been nearly two years since new episodes of Inanimate Alice, created by readers, first started appearing online, and these new episodes continue to proliferate. The pedagogical community around the project continues to grow; if you are interested in having a look at it, a good place to start is the Facebook Inanimate Alice group page. Recent developments include a Scottish teacher, Hilery Williams, who has written a series of wonderful blog posts about using 'Inanimate Alice' with dyslexic teenaged readers; the post linked to here is number four in a series on Alice.

    As well as that, another Scottish teacher, Kenny Pieper, has been using Alice in his secondary school classroom and, again, blogging about it in a way that I've found both useful and inspiring. Both groups of students are working on their own episodes of Alice, and Mr Pieper’s class has started posting these online at the class ‘Inanimate Alice’ blog - https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/sl/InanimateAliceBlog/

    For writers who work in the genre of science fiction, this kind of reader-story interaction is fairly commonplace via 'fanfic', or fan fiction. But for a writer like me, working in both the genre of literary fiction, and with new forms of digital fiction, having readers talk back to my story in this way is an extraordinary experience. Every time I see a new episode, or a new blog post from people working with 'Inanimate Alice' I feel absolutely amazed. To me it seems a very meaningful form of interactivity and I'm thrilled that these stories are being used by students and teachers around the world to find new ways of talking and thinking about storytelling in the 21st Century.

    I was interviewed recently for an article called 'Are Midlist Authors An Endangered Species?' that appeared in the Globe & Mail newspaper yesterday - somehow I've become one of the go-to-girls for journalists who want to talk about the future of the book and the future of stories. My conversation with the journalist was, of course, vastly reduced in the context of the article, and I ended up being quoted in the final paragraph, given this as a not-very-bright-sounding last word: “Writers will make a living in a lot of different ways, only some of which are writing,” Uh-huh. I was described in the article as a writer who "publishes both conventionally and online, where she posts fiction for free." While, strictly speaking, when it comes to 'Inanimate Alice' and 'Flight Paths', this is true - these works are available online for free - to see the vast interactive community project that Alice in particular has become reduced to 'fiction for free' is infuriating. This is not to fault the journalist; my point here is that at the moment the argument about the future of publishing seems to be focussing on self-publishers vs real publishers, on 'free' versus 'paid' content. To me this feels like I'm watching a couple of mice argue over a tiny piece of cheese while around the corner a big fat cat (representing the vast potential for multimedia, interactivity, mobile delivery, etc etc etc that digital platforms offer to writers) sits calmly licking her paw.

    I’d be interested to hear from you all about what you think about this kind of thing. What are your thoughts about how writing and publishing are changing? Have any of you been in touch with writers you admire via social media? Would you feel able or inclined to contact a writer you like through their website, or their twitter feed or facebook page, for example?