Tuesday, September 30, 2003

for those who don't yet know... The Baghdad Blog is now available in printed paper form from Guardian Books.

Friday, September 26, 2003

We were fortunate to have Fiona Jane Candy visit us yesterday. Fiona is a senior lecturer in the design department at the University of Central Lancashire. She talked about the results of a study that she's been doing on denim clothing. Here's how she described it for the 2003 Designing Pleasurable Products And Interfaces Conference in Pittsburgh, PA. (session "Stigma and the sensorial experience of objects"): "This paper introduces a project that intends to utilise research methods derived from experience within Art and Design, to investigate the sensory and emotional experience of wearing denim clothing in public....The project is based on the premise that as a 21st century mass-produced product, denim typifies the processes inherent within design and commercial culture." Fiona also presented a version of this paper at this year's International Visual Sociology Association conference in Southampton. On a methodological note, I especially liked a technique Fiona used to elicit responses from participants: she set up a video camera and placed the interviewee in front of it, standing in their denim, much like a photo-shoot. She then asked questions and watched their body language as they stood there, some of them comfortable in front of the camera, but most of them fidgety and anxious. What I like about this is how it responds to certain ethnographic orthodoxies which decree that the ethnographic scene strives for naturalism (e.g. putting the subject at ease, placing them in their "native" context, etc.)--that the only "real" data we get emerges out of natural environments. Fiona was canny about how she used her video data, seeing it in what seems to me to be a kind of psychoanalytic light, i.e. we reveal ourselves in our anxieties. It's excellent work, and the results will be emerging over the next few months I think. Look out for them.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Finally connected! After surviving the kind of identity loss and existential anxiety that inevitably sneaks up on anyone about to loose EVERYTHING on their hard drives (even if they, occasionally, do back-ups), my computer has miraculously been retrived from the dead (thanks to Frank Suffling, comp viz of the week). As an internet researcher, being deprived of the very link to your field, as well as to friends back home, news etc., is a peculiarly tangible, almost physical feeling of being cut off from the world -- and from yourself. Having watched my laptop go through various stages of infection, toward what appeared to be a slow but certain death, it is perhaps ironic that the quick fix in the end involved a removal of the virus shield. So, (momentarily) unprotected and reloaded, I can finally get down to business and start doing something useful.

My 'remediation/reproduction' project will involve, at least, three case studies. One of them dealing with web fiction, one with web-art, and one with online science stuff (on reproductive technologies). More about this later. Starting out with the study in web fiction, I'll use the mind-blowing hypertext 'novel' Patchwork Girl by Shelley Jackson as my point of departure. I deeply recommend it for anybody interested in how issues of reproduction, sexuality, embodiment and monstrosity can be played out in hypertexed writing spaces.


Tuesday, September 16, 2003

"Night Bus (with apologies to W H Auden)

This is the Night Bus crossing the city,
Thirty minute gaps between, more's the pity.
Taxis for the rich, buses for the poor,
Queueing in a mob, then a rush for the door,
Stumbling upstairs, an unsteady climb:
The traffic lights against her, a snail's pace time.
The stench of kebab and half-cooked burger,
Shovelling chips as the bus crawls further,
Arguments blaze and mobiles bleep,
Drunken passengers fast asleep."

thanks to Diamond Geezer for giving us this one.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Two good sources of information and new thinking on blogs:

Tracy Kennedy (aka Netwoman)
Jill Walker


Friday, September 05, 2003

My bus research project has been steadily developing over the last few weeks. There is now a section devoted to 73 bus stories which makes it easy for people to upload their stories direct. I have also learnt how to add pictures and short films to my bus blog and the bus website is still growing in various directions. I am currently preparing to help run a workshop about Maps at an Intel Conference in Portland, Oregon next week. The conference is called The Meaning of Place; Technological Imagination and Human Experience. I am looking forward to it and will report back on it in a week.
- kat.
And here's what Jenny says about herself and the project she'll be doing at Surrey.

Jenny Sundén has a Ph.D. from the Department of Communication Studies at Linkoping University, Sweden. She was a visiting scholar in the English Department at the University of California at Berkeley in 1998-1999, and is now teaching in the field of media and cultural studies. Her publications
include "Material Virtualities: Approaching Online Textual Embodiment" (forthcoming 2003, Peter Lang, NY).

The research project she will work on during her stay at the University of Surrey is entitled "Reproduction/Remediation: Cyberfeminist Interventions in Reproductive- and Information Technologies". The aim of the project is to investigate the links between information technologies and reproductive technologies in terms of body politics. It sets out to explore the connections between racially/sexually different bodies and various technologies in an era when concepts like 'original' and 'origin' are profoundly troubled by notions of 'copy' and 'reiteration'. Exceedingly interdisciplinary in nature, the project attempts to transgress the border between the traditions of Cultural Studies and Science and Technology Studies, as well as the (sometimes all too visible) lines between feminist-, postcolonial-, and queer theory.
Welcome to Jenny Sunden, who has joined us at INCITE for 6 months. Yesterday had a quick look at her new book Material Virtualities, which focuses on waterMoo and provides an intriguing critical re-examination of the notion of the Internet & virtuality through an analysis of text and embodiment. Looks fascinating. I recommend you check it out.