Friday, September 29, 2006

Thinking about Canadian cultural policy, art and technology

I never cease to be amazed and disappointed at the slow pace of government change. For example, the Canadian government is still trying to figure out what a policy shift from cultural or creative "content" to cultural or creative "industries" might mean. I was just looking at a presentation from 2003 where the consultants compare and contrast UK and Canadian cultural policies and come up with suggestions on how to better foster national "centres of creativity". Amongst the required scenarios for creativity is the claim that "a sense of comfort or satisfaction with a current state of affairs tends to suppress creativity." I love the implications for governance: give the people something to be miserable about and they'll produce no end of creative products and services for you. Now there's something to build nations on!

To give them proper credit though, they do argue that "there is a disconnect between cultural policies and ‘on-the-ground’ experience which is manifested in limited stakeholder and public involvement." But do taxpayers really need to pay exorbanant consulting fees to figure that one out?! I can't help but think that people simply want the government to do something about it. And from our discussions at Interactive Screen 0.6 I learned that they are really still struggling with how to modify what have become well-entrenched, top-down models of cultural policy. (For legal commentary on Canadian government policy and user-generated content, check out Michael Geist's blog.)

A couple of months ago Canadian Heritage put a call for proposals on Merx, Canada's official public sector tendering service, to research and report on the cultural impact of user-generated content. I'm kicking myself for not copying it because it's no longer online and I can't recall the precise details of why it bothered me. I do remember feeling completely overwhelmed by how risk-averse the language was, and how prescriptive they were in their methodological expectations. (I suspect they were influenced by the American view.) I remember feeling a bit queasy at the kind of research and analysis that would be deemed acceptable, and I felt incredibly sad. Now I wonder what kind of proposal they accepted and where it will lead them--and us.

But when Michael Lenczner, from Montréal's Île Sans Fil, let me know about terminus1525, I perked up a bit.

"terminus1525, Canada’s online arts community, is proud to announce a partnership with community wireless groups Ile Sans Fil and Wireless Toronto, which uses new technology to engage Canadian audiences with art in their local cafes, libraries and parks. Ile Sans Fil's and Wireless Toronto's 27,500 users are being introduced to art by young Canadians when they use any of the 135 free public wireless hotspots operated by the two groups.

Maintained by zinc Roe Design, is a collaborative workspace brought to life by the ingenuity and imagination of young Canadian artists working in a wide range of disciplines. A project that has been funded by Canadian Heritage and
administered via Canada Council for the Arts, t1525 operates free online studios where emerging artists can show their work, find support, feedback and inspiration."

I like art and technology, and believe in supporting young artists and technologists, so this sounds promising. But because it's funded, in part, by Canadian Heritage I also know that it's been constrained by the Canadian Culture Online mandate - their policy treats culture as product rather than practice, and so they get all hung up on things like IP and final quality-control. (Do you really want the state to be the official arbiter of cultural taste?) I mean, I think this project can do a great job of disseminating Canadian art, like government portals stage our patrimoine, but I'm afraid I don't understand how this is a "collaborative workspace." Is it the "free online studios"? What kinds of community does this encourage - or discourage?

Still, I find great hope in the idea that people - citizens - really aren't at all resigned to the idea that "collective memory" is something someone else decides. I think we create and recreate it every day, and I think we know that. I've always been a huge fan of [murmur] not so much because it's bottom-up but because it's so on-the-ground. And I'm not sure how much Canadian Heritage can help in such matters as long as they're still wed to the idea of user-generated culture online. After all, it's not just who gets to participate, but where and how.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Reflections on art & design at UIUC

So I'm back in Ottawa after a couple of very good days in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois - which, as our little Saab 340 landed, I learned is smack in the middle of a bunch of huge corn fields! On Sunday night I had the pleasure of meeting, eating and drinking with some of the fine people involved in the Critical Spatial Practice reading group at UIUC and other equally bright and engaging folks. You may recall last year's Walking as Knowing as Making symposium, and if you're not familiar with the Critical Spatial Practice blog and its associated links, they're wonderful resources for all things spatial, cultural and critical.

I believe that my presentation on Monday went well - I certainly enjoyed myself at least. There was a good turnout, and I was particularly impressed by the quality of questions that students came up with, as well as their willingness to further complicate things rather than trying to reduce and simplify them. I presented a jumble of ideas in an attempt to explore the messiness, contradictions and mutability I believe to be inherent in social and material relations, and it was good to be reminded that some people genuinely desire purity, certainty and absolute positionality rather than the kinds of indeterminacy and contingency I favour.

I managed to rub some people the wrong way with my unexplained use of the word "we" and a weak critique of the current hipster craft and user-generated content movement - and no one seemed particularly interested in the historical experiences of anthropology and the politics and ethics of collecting culture, which kind of surprised me - but I did manage to get people taking about the nature of critique. Of course it's almost impossible to explain all the theoretical and methodological matters at hand in such a short time, and people unfamiliar with my work - or the range of social and cultural critiques in general - could very well be at a loss during some of my presentations because I tend to skip those bits. I'll definitely pay more attention to this in the future.

I also need to find a better way to post my presentations online because I don't use speaking notes and my slides usually comprise pictures, quotes or very short points that trigger my memory. This, of course, makes them almost useless to others. But I'll see what I can do.

Special thanks to David Weightman for the invitation, and to Kevin Hamilton for his consistently brilliant and witty insights during our many hours of walking and waiting. (And especially for showing me the gorgeous old stock pavilion and agreeing that it would be a great place to hold classes. There's just something so grounded and appealing about debating theoretical perspectives with the smell of manure in the air!) I'd also like to thank my post-lecture dinner companions for making me laugh so hard - I'm looking forward to keeping in touch with everyone I met.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

UIUC lecture: material sociality and social materiality

I'm excited to be heading off tomorrow for Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, where I was generously invited to speak as part of the UIUC School of Art and Design Fall Lecture Series.

When: 25 September, 2006, 5-7pm

Where: Krannert Art Museum, Room 62

(Steve Kurtz and Lucia Sommer give the next lecture on 9 October, 2006. Wish I could see that!)

I'll be talking about material sociality and social materiality - or everything from the social differences between spoons and blenders, and how craft is a matter of class and taste, to smart objects and ambient intelligence, turn-of-the-century Zuni pottery and the continuing fight to repatriate the Elgin Marbles.

If you're there, please come say hello - and if there's anything I should see or do while I'm in town, let me know.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Teaching Carnival: Pod People

So. I've become one of those freaky teachers that during my undergrad left me speechless and vaguely wishing I could flee. I mean the poor guy simply wanted some feedback on his research proposal. He mentioned an interest in culinary traditions and technologies and I blurt out with full conviction that the history and impact of refrigeration is ABSOLUTELY FASCINATING! (When I was his age I never imagined my lips would speak that combination of words, and apparently I'm still struggling to not put pressure on people like that. Sigh.) But, bless his kind spirit, he found a way at the end of our conversation to let me know he'd give the question of refrigeration some thought. tag: teaching-carnival

See also: Teaching Carnival 12

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Drawing the future

Jim Flora, detail

Drawn! points to illustrator Jim Flora's amazing vision of the future from a 1960 issue of LIFE magazine: El futuro según Jim Flora. From more complex hobbies and fewer cars in the cities to more holidays and theatre groups, this dream sounds pretty good actually.

Ubicomp 2006, science fiction, community, research and design

Joe McCarthy is quite simply one of the most intelligent and kind people I've met in my travels over the years, so I was very happy to hear that he has just joined the Nokia Research Center, Palo Alto as Principle Scientist - congratulations Joe! And thanks to him, I also got to wake up this morning and read about the first day of Ubicomp 2006.

Between Vernor Vinge's recent talk at the Austin Game Conference about the rather unpleasant ubiquitous future outlined in his novel Rainbows End - "Where walking around with your brain jacked into some 'net' made you an edgy rebel in the cyberpunk lexicon, in Rainbows End you're just another consumer" - and Bruce Sterling's continuing popularity as a tech conference keynoter, I have to wonder about the role of science fiction in tech design today.

According to Thoughts on the Ideal, in yesterday's lecture Sterling said that "The great key to originality is hiding your sources." Um, is this how our thinking on pervasive computing will continue to unfold? Charming.

But Joe offers a bit more insight when he talks about Sterling's keynote. Apparently he said that "what appealed to him about ubiquitous computing was 'the majesty of the ideas and the lyricism of the language'." Well, I guess I have something in common with the guy now because I've got to say that's one of my favourite bits too. But Joe continues:

"After making the case for SPIMES, and the need for design for sustainability, he railed against artificial intelligence, panpsychism, magic, fundamentalism and fanaticism. I think his book is great, but -- perhaps because I'd already read the book -- the presentation was not as inspiring as I'd hoped ... and I didn't appreciate the way he treated questions, and questioners."

Given my own interests, I'm all for this sort of skepticism--but when someone presents their ideas without contextualising them within broader intellectual, cultural and historical concerns I can't help but think it can only be self-serving. (At least in most cases I can read or listen to what Sterling has to say, which is more than I can say for some other "experts.") I guess my point is simply that where--and who--we get our ideas from is just as interesting and important as what those ideas are, and how we use them. (A little reflexivity goes a long way!) Plus, I know that Joe's not the only one who doesn't appreciate aggressive, disrespectful or unkind interactions between people. They don't foster dialogue--they close minds and shut down conversations. But enough ranting!

I was happy to see that Susan Wyche continues to do very good work around the role of history in designing (for) the future. As Joe described her approach: "Exploring yesterday's future helps defamiliarize the present, and better recognize the insights history has to offer." I was also interested to learn that Beki Grinter and Ken Anderson "discussed some of the problems inherent in ethnographic studies of the use of an artifact that has gone where few artifacts have gone before"--like the public toilet, apparently. I also like the comments about iterative combinations of qualitative and quantitative methods that Joe mentions, although it seems to me that quantitative methods are still being trotted out to save qualitative methods from their perceived inadequacies, a.k.a. "Real Science To The Rescue!" And, like Joe, I was surprised to hear that mobile phones are now appearing prominently in the brave new ubicomp future. Anway, I'm looking forward to reading more as the conference continues.

Update 27.09.06

You can check out Sterling's lecture here, although I have no idea what edited "for the public" means.

Also, Joe continued to post his thoughts on Day Two, Day Three and Genevieve Bell's paper on techno-religious practices, and Molly also posted her reflections on the Exurban Noir workshop and the potential for architectural discourse and practice to intervene in these matters of technology. Good stuff.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Architecture and Situated Technologies

Techno-social devices of everyday life: after modern primitivism and dystopian urbanism

"Control is not discipline. You do not confine people with a highway. But by making highways, you multiply the means of control. I am not saying this is the only aim of highways, but people can travel infinitely and ‘freely’ without being confined while being perfectly controlled. That is our future." - Gilles Deleuze, Two Regimes of Madness

In the grand narratives of technological change it can be difficult to locate our lived experiences--those mundane and ordinary practices and forces that actually make, un-make and re-make the world of subjects and objects.Researchers and designers continue to recruit science fiction and conjure magic, with little consideration given to these metaphors at the level of the everyday, or to our actual experiences of space, time and bodies. This is most troublesome when we consider the sometimes fine line between the liberating potential of the carnivalesque and the oppressive tactics of the spectacular—to name just two recurring themes in our myths of pervasive computing. In the popular imagination and in practices of everyday life, the emerging world of networked people, places and objects is permeated with both security and terror. Beyond implicating current global and street-level politics, these interests play out in the types of control embedded in new techno-social devices. Together, I would like to begin to question how these techno-social controls play out in our everyday lives. What role do new technologies play in the people, places, ideas and things we regularly encounter and avoid? How do new technologies create and express new fears? How do we use technologies to make ourselves feel safe? And last, but certainly not least, how can public dialogue--and the concerns of the everyday--intervene in the development of new technologies?

I'm honoured to be joining some extraordinary thinkers and makers in NYC from 19-21 October, 2006 to talk Architecture and Situated Technologies. My contribution is outlined in the abstract above and I'm looking forward to discussing this and more. If you're there, please come say hello.

(Thanks to Glen Fuller for reminding me of that sweet Deleuze quote - it made me dig out the book again and see how it relates to critiques of everyday life.)

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Variations in technological critique

Ulises Mejias has a solid socialist mind when it comes to things technological, whether it be his take on Social Media and the Networked Public Sphere, Social Media and Ultimate Consumerism or A Different Kind of Net Neutrality. If you're not familiar with his blog ideant, I suggest checking out how he mashes up old-school social scientists, French poststructuralists, and revolutionary educators. I mean, it's not very often that you get C. Wright Mills, Deleuze and Guattari, Paulo Freire, Foucault, Edmund Leach and Ivan Illich rallied for the same cause!

Anyway, Ulises recently posted some thoughts on 'the internet of things':

"Hurray! The freedom to move around while being invisibly tethered to the market, digitizing things or information about things outside the market and putting them in circulation within it . . . What I find most troubling is that the discourse of the 'internet of things' suggests a certain inevitability: the true potential of the internet of things can only be achieved to the extent that it encompasses everything (it is not accidental that the internet of things is an extension of the discourse of ubiquitous or pervasive computing). Shouldn't we question this inevitability? After all, the act of 'outsourcing' (to use Trebor's term) our memory and social functions to internet things is not without political and social consequences: The mobility of us cyber nomads —our ability to detach and re-attach ourselves to reality at will— is usually acquired thanks to the drudgery and exploitation endured by someone else (the call center worker in India, the Cassiterite miner in Congo, the factory worker in Mexico or Taiwan, etc.)."

I've written before on my concerns about technological inevitability, and I share Ulises' skepticism of the current 'production is the new consumption' promise, albeit in less structuralist terms. I also try to teach students to understand their personal technological devices at global scales: Project Censored recently reported on high-tech genocide in Congo, for example.

But mostly this makes me think about everyday life, and if the current state of pervasive computing is actually RFID (via) then it seems to me that the fundamental social and cultural practices at hand are collecting, sorting, storing and circulating--and the accompanying political and ethical issues revolve around a sense of belonging (and not belonging). Extend these matters of inclusion and exclusion to the practices of people working to bring us new technologies and you have the particular interests, and tastes, of consultants, fiction and non-fiction writers, corporate researchers and designers, technologists, academics, artists, activists, marketers, consumers and more--both converging and colliding.

But before we go on making sweeping generalisations (both positive and negative) about emerging technologies, it seems to me that we really need to better understand the practices of actual people and projects. (Without drawing a hard line between the two, ANT may be known for its theoretical perspectives, but I think its greatest contribution has been methodological.) So let's start identifying relevant players and trying to understand their games--because who and what don't get to play are just as important as who and what do. When it comes to socially ethical research and design, we don't need to judge best and worst, but we shouldn't be afraid to judge better and worse. And we also need not fall prey to a desire to convince others of our 'rightness'--ultimately, we can agree to disagree.

New mobilities journal: Wi

Wi: Journal of the Mobile Digital Commons Network

"Welcome to Wi, the journal of the Mobile Digital Commons Network (MDCN). Wi publishes the latest in Canadian mobilities research, encompassing disciplines such as design, engineering, computer science, communications and media studies. Currently focusing on the research work of MDCN projects, Wi aims to expand its purview in the coming months to include other national and international scholarship, artistic productions and design research on mobility, wireless technologies, and digital media."

Vol. 1, Issue 1

A Letter from our Editors-in-Chief (Barbara Crow, York University & Kim Sawchuk, Concordia University) html | pdf

Mapping the Mobile Digital Commons Network (Michael Longford, Concordia University) html | pdf

p2P: Cityspeak's Reconfiguration of Public Media Space (Marrousia Lévesque, Lucie Bélanger & Jason Lewis, Concordia University) html | pdf

The Liminal Magic Circle: Boundaries, Frames, and Participation in Pervasive Mobile Games (Alison Harvey, Concordia University) html | pdf

The Persistence of Surveillance: The Panoptic Potential of Locative Media (Andrea Zeffiro, Concordia University) html | pdf

Learning From Commercial Mobile Games (Janice Leung, York University) html | pdf

Iterative and Digital: The Use of Blogs and Wikis in Social Science Research (Neil Barratt, Concordia University) html | pdf

Editor's Choice (Top Links on Mobility Related Websites)
  1. The 4th Screen
  2. Mobility, Vectors: Journal of Culture & Technology in a Dynamic Vernacular
  3. Keitai: Mobility, Culture and User Experience
  4. Locative Media Special, Leonardo Electronic Almanac
  5. Vodafone's Receiver Magazine


I can't concentrate this morning--my thoughts change direction about every ten seconds. Maybe I should teach Nietzsche next term. Cool! Thought-controlled prosthetics. I need to get my presentation ready for UIUC next week. What the hell is Survivor thinking? I want more coffee. But I really want to teach Stengers. Where's the cat? I wonder what'll be available at the farmer's market on Sunday? I never considered C. Wright Mills to be amusing--inspired for sure--but Ulises is right, he's kind of witty too. Man, the construction worker banter next door is driving me crazy. I need to go back over Canetti's writings on the crowd. I can't decide which Latour to teach. I think it was 1895 or so when Gustave Le Bon said that "the age we are about to enter will in truth be the era of crowds." Yup, and then generals gathered in their masses. The making of prosciutto sounds lovely, doesn't it? I must iron that skirt this afternoon. I'm surprised there isn't more email from students. Where did I take my sneakers off this time? The definition of empire is weird, but this is pretty good propaganda. Isn't there a shitpile of work I could be doing? I gotta go for a walk.

Friday, September 15, 2006

And then there are just cool things

Toronto artist Nicholas Di Genova has a gallery opening tonight at Fredericks & Freiser in NYC, and you can check out his super fantastic art there until 14 October, 2006.

via Wooster Collective

A bibliography of Things

[Updated 15.09.06 - see comments for more suggestions]

As a sort of follow-up post to my working bibliography for The Internet of Things, I thought I'd share what's in (on?) the THINGS section of my bookshelves.

James Aho. 1998. The Things of the World: A social phenomenology. Westport: Praeger.

Arjun Appadurai (ed.) 1988. The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Judy Attfield. 2000. Wild Things: The material culture of everyday life. Oxford: Berg.

Jean Baudrillard. 1996. The System of Objects. London: Verso.

Pierre Bourdieu. 2002. Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Bill Brown (ed.) 2004. Things. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Martha Buskirk. 2005. The Contingent Object of Contemporary Art. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Neil Cummings and Marysia Lewandowska. 2000. The Value of Things. Basel: Birkhäuser. (Amazon)

Tim Dant (ed.) 2005. Materiality and Society. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Lorraine Daston. 2004. Things That Talk: Object lessons from art and science. New York: Zone Books.

Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby. Design Noir: The Secret Life of Electronic Objects. Basel: Birkhäuser.

Gay Hawkins and Stephen Muecke (eds.) 2002. Culture and waste: The creation and destruction of value. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.

Martin Heidegger. 1982. The Question Concerning Technology, and Other Essays. New York: Harper Perrenial.

Christina Kaier. 2005. Imagine No Possessions: The Socialist Objects of Russian Constructivism. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Siegfried Kracauer. 1995. The Mass Ornament: Weimar Essays. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

George Lakoff. 1990. Women, Fire and Dangerous Things. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Bruno Latour. 1993. We Have Never Been Modern. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Bruno Latour. 1999. Pandora's Hope: Essays in the Reality of Science Studies. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel. 2005. Making Things Public: Atmospheres of Democracy. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Michael McKeon. 2005. The Secret History of Domesticity: Public, private, and the division of knowledge. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Steven Miles and Malcolm Miles. 2004. Consuming cities. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Daniel Miller (ed.) 1998. Material Cultures: Why some things matter. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Daniel Miller (ed.) 2001. Home possessions: Material culture behind closed doors. Oxford: Berg.

Daniel Miller (ed.) 2004. Materiality. Durham: Duke University Press.

Donald Norman. 1998. The Design of Everyday Things. Cambridge: MIT Press.

William Rathje and Cullen Murphy. Rubbish!: The Archaeology of Garbage. Tuscon: University of Arizona Press.

Brain Cantwell Smith. 1996. On the Origin of Objects. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Michael Taussig. 1983. The Devil and Commodity Fetishism in South America. Raleigh: University of North Carolina Press.

Michael Thompson. 1979. Rubbish Theory: The creation and destruction of value. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (out-of-print)

Christopher Tilley. 1991. Reading Material Culture: Structuralism, Hermeneutics and Post-Structuralism. London: Blackwell.

Christopher Tilley. 2000. Metaphor and Material Culture. London: Blackwell.

Peter Paul Verbeek. 2005. What Things Do: Philosophical reflections on technology, agency, and design. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press.

Catherine de Zegher and Mark Wigley (eds.) 2001. The Activist Drawing: Retracing Situationist Architectures from Constant's New Babylon to Beyond. Cambridge: MIT Press.


Thursday, September 14, 2006

Bring on the multitude!

My sociology of science and tech class starts today and so the adventure of teaching 70 students representing 19 different disciplines in the arts and sciences begins...

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

On collaboration

Statement of Purpose, E.A.T., 1967 Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.) Statement of Purpose, 1967

John Cage: "If the artist can become aware of the technology, and if the technologist can become aware of the fact that the show must go on, then I think we can expect not only interesting art, but we may just very well expect an interesting change in social order. The most important aspect of this is the position of the engineer as a possible revolutionary figure. And it may very well come as a result of the artists and engineers collaborating, because the artists, for years now, have been the repository of revolutionary thought, whereas the engineers, in their recent history, have been the employees of the economic life. But in relating to the artist, they become related to a revolutionary factor..."

Billy Klüver: "Together the artist and the engineer went one stop beyond what either of them could have done separately. But perhaps more importantly, the artist-engineer collaboration was the training ground for larger-scale involvement in social issues for both the artist and the engineer."

I've never quite understood what Cage means whenever he talks about the "revolutionary" ethos and actions of artists, especially if this relies on art being extra-economic, and I hear it regurgitated (like academics with Deleuze) by too many artists today, but I do believe that both he and Klüver are onto something valuable when they narrow in on the potential of collaborating as a force for social change.

I especially like the implication of political collaboration. Rather than the hippie-utopian dream of everyone holding hands and working/playing together productively, their call for a re-ordering of things conjures images in my head of shaven-head French women after the war. So many boundaries crossed that the powers-that-be snap to attention, fiercely defending the borders-that-be. (Submit, you seditious whore!) We still fear miscegenation. We want to protect the human, and the machine. We want to maintain certain borders around certain practices and values in art, technology, design, sociology and anthropology too. But we want--we need--to collaborate. To "go beyond" what we can achieve separately. To not merely survive the siege, but come out the other side, like emerging from a crowd, unscathed but nevertheless transformed.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Excess and beauty as resistance

Lee Miller's War - former fashion model inspired by Surrealism takes crushingly beautiful photos of WWII - "Lee Miller was never afraid of the evil that men can do."

It's not that she raises suffering to high art, but that she seems to understand the absurdity of it all... I particularly like her photos of the everyday lives of women. Most are painful, but I had no idea that cloth wasn't rationed in France, which seems quite beautifully excessive:

British service women at a fashion salon, Paris, France, 1944.

"The British found the richness of the designs and materials unbelievable after the austerity of wartime rationing in England, and it was difficult for them to understand that the French regarded profligate use of materials as a gesture of resistance to the German occupation as it asserted their identity and denied the enemy material."


Saturday, September 9, 2006

Letting the monster out, Or how to finish a dissertation publically and collaboratively

I can no longer settle on a title, so the dissertation will now be referred to, following Spalding Gray, as my monster-in-a-box. And while the structure continues to change shape a bit, here's where I'm at today:

Part 1 - Urban Tapestries and the mobile public

[This is my major case history, focussed on the entire duration of the UT project and its transition into Social Tapestries.]

Part 2 - After method

[This is the methodology bit, building off John Law's fluid results, elusive objects and unconventional forms, it critically evaluates my own qualitative methods.]

Part 3 - A brief history of pervasive computing and locative media

[This is the lit review bit, a comprehensive but necessarily selective account of technology research, art and design cultures.]

Part 4 - Play in the networked city

[These are my minor case histories (Sonic City & Tejp, Passing Glances, and Mobile Bristol) focussing on pervasive computing as materials and means of playing in, and with, public spaces.]

Part 5 - Mobilising publics

[Part of the major critical analysis, this situates the technologies, art and design practices at hand within the sociological literature on publics and mobilities.]

Part 6 - After the hype

[I close with my evaluation of future potentials for socially relevant technology research and design.]

Sometime in the next month or so I'd really like to start letting the monster out of its box by posting each part (including bibliography) online for feedback. I've been so fortunate to have such bright and diverse readers over the years, and I know the final version would benefit from your direct input. Of course, I'd also love the chance to show the university examiners how research and writing can be done publically and collaboratively! What do you think?

Friday, September 8, 2006

Telling stories about pervasive computing and locative media through Lefebvre's projective-retrojective method

In other news, I submitted two chapters to Rob--one on methodology. Over pancakes and eggs this morning, I explained how my blog analysis (part auto-ethnography, part historical narrative) focusses on how I moved back-and-forth between how sociologists understand concepts like 'public' or 'place,' and how they are mobilised by technologists, designers and artist researchers. A sort of "we say..." and "they say..." dialogue, or iterative design for sociology and anthropology. My blog archives allowed me to trace my own methodological and interpretive trajectories, as well as the conversations, workshops, conferences, etc. that helped me publically work through--refine and modify--my thinking. The historical lines of flight present in my blog also offer a glimpse at some of the situations, events and discourses that have shaped the fields of pervasive computing over the past four or five years of my research.

So Rob told me about a method originally proposed by Lefebvre, and adapted by Sartre, that seems to have fallen into obscurity not least because it has a name that just wasn't very catchy: "projective-retrojective" (sometimes translated as the "progressive-regressive method"). As he explains in Lefebvre, Love and Struggle (pp.132-133) Lefebvre's method consists of three steps or movements:

1. descriptive observation informed by experience and general theory;
2. analytico-retrojective analysis comparing back historically to the known origins of other cases;
3. historico-progressive study of the genesis of structures, reconstructing the projection of trends to provide an explanatory framework for the present.


The retrojective moment (sometimes incorrectly referred to as the 'regressive moment') 'combines geneaological (returning to the emergence of a concept and exploring its concrete affiliations, detours and associations) and historico-genetic procedures (abstract and total, likened to the general history of society and philosophy). Progression refers to the opposite move, that of beginning with the present and evaluating what is possible and impossible in the future' (Kofman and Lebas 1996; Lefebvre 1980b)


In The Production of Space, he describes this method as taking as its starting point the realities of the present: 'the forward leap of productive forces, and the new technical and scientific capacity to transform natural space so radically that it threatens nature itself. . . . The production of space, having attained the conceptual and linguistic level, acts retroactively upon the last, disclosing aspects and moments of it hitherto uncomprehended. The past appears in a different light, and hence the process whereby the past becomes the present also takes on another aspect' (1991:65). Debord, however, best grasped the principle: the 'empty repetitions of modern life, of work and spectacle could be 'detourned' - hijacked - into the creation of situations, into abstract forms that could be infused with unlimited content' - that is, with a utopian, projective inspiration to action (Marcus 1989:238)."

Okay, that last paragraph kills me. So is it this hijacking that is so important to the toolkit of critical theory? (Is this different from poaching?) Is it the "projective inspiration to action" that matters? Kofman and Lebas' description above seemed so simple: I start by describing today's techo-social processes and artefacts, trace their positions and movements, relate that back to the historical concerns of sociology and STS, and then return to the (newly constituted) present to evaluate what is possible and impossible in the future. Am I missing something? Is this sort of spatio-temporal dialectics not the important bit? Is it not the moving back-and-forth between the retrojective and the projective that offers hope? Or am I misunderstanding?

This afternoon I also looked at Eric Margolis' article on reflexive video ethnography, in which he discusses the process of editing as alternately regressive and progressive: "In the regressive moment transcripts became the basis of the script. They were analyzed, cut apart, and organized topically . . . The progressive moment was the attempt to produce synthesis." This process is quite similar to the one I've used in my analysis and writing, but it seems to map better onto Sartre than Lefebvre, and now I'm confused.

Sartre's primary contribution to Lefebvre's method seems to be a greater focus on phenomenology and the relations between subjects and objects, which allows means of articulating (reflexively) how the present is generated by alternately looking backwards and forwards. But how does that differ from Kofman and Lebas' explanation of Lefebvre? Does it ultimately provide the space I need to allow for non-human actors in my account? Does Lefebvre's version prevent or discourage that?

After dinner conversation note to self:

Yes, yes, it's all old school dialectics and hermeneutics, but Sartre needed a way to balance that with his existentialism and so there might be something worth pursuing here regarding phenomenology as method--"describe don't theorise" as Lefebvre's first move and Sartre's last. Also, follow-up on this reference:

As George Lichtheim noted, “Sartre’s humans don’t cooperate, they are thrown together or, as he put it, 'serialised.' ... Thus human nature is shown by a state of affairs which bears a marked resemblance to a concentration camp.” (ref)


Tom Coates came back from FOO with some interesting points On the Politicisation of Science that I'll definitely come back to (along with some comments there by Jane McGonigal) once I'm more settled into teaching a class on, well, the politicisation of science and technology.

And blessed be the scholars of rhetoric: Clancy Ratliff points to Tia's stellar post at Unfogged which includes "guidelines for avoiding actively irritating women who are discussing feminist concerns," and Mark Kaplan's brilliant Notes On Rhetoric.

Listening to the latest Demos Podcast on Science and Society reminds me that I'd still love to work with them (hint, hint) but I might have to insist that the podcasts stop being so disco. This time Kathy Sykes talks with Jack Stilgoe about how scientists need to do more than speak at the public; they need to listen to the public as well. Their conversation goes over the institutional (academic, government) restrictions that interfere with this imperative, and how we can foster greater public engagement and dialogue with science.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

"Cutting deals with technology": Using the Amish to understand contemporary anxieties about emerging technologies

If it didn't sound so gross, I'd say I have a thing for contemporary Anabaptism. And I especially have a thing for popular accounts of how the Amish, Mennonites and Hutterites deal with technology. But what is this thing we have?

Washington Post: Still Called by Faith To the Phone Booth

"Off the side of a dirt road in Southern Maryland stands an odd answer to the swiftly changing telecommunications industry. It's a rusted metal chamber, nearly eight feet tall. The door is padlocked. Trees surround it, with no houses in sight. It looks like an old bomb shelter. Inside is a telephone. Built by several nearby Mennonite families, the oil tank-turned-phone booth connects them to the rest of the world -- sort of... The phones allow them to conduct business -- crucial to surviving amid the region's development pressures -- while holding on to prohibitions against home phone lines and cellphones. Called 'community phones,' they are the latest example of how the groups in Maryland and elsewhere have been cutting deals with technology for the past century." (via)

Since the Industrial Revolution, we've been confused, fascinated and offended by communities that oppose or reject new technologies. While some popular accounts still focus incredulously on Anabaptism as some form of contemporary Luddism, more often mainstream descriptions of Amish and Mennonite communities extol the somewhat exotic virtues of responsible and situational engagements with technology--rather than total acceptance or rejection.

Referring specifically to the Amish, Howard Rheingold calls such people "adaptive techno-selectives," and if we follow Donald Kraybill's account of the telephone in Amish life, then we look to these Others specifically because they offer not just parables, but living, breathing examples of human control over technology. Kraybill argues that the community phone "symbolizes key Amish values--separation from the world, establishing limits, shunning convenience, preserving family solidarity, and respecting past wisdom...These understandings keep the phone at a distance and limit its use. The Amish are its master rather than its servant...The phone story is... a demonstration that a technology can serve the community without dominating it."

But if ethnographic accounts tell us as much about the world of the author as the people studied, then Kraybill reminds us that we're still scared of technologies controlling us. In The Amish in the American Imagination, David Weaver-Zercher demonstrates how changing popular representations of the Amish way-of-life reflect broader societal anxieties about emerging technologies, and use Amish practices to "mark boundaries, express fears, support causes and, in many cases, make a profit." And in his Wired article Look Who's Talking, Rheingold explicitly looks to Amish ways of negotiating with technology rather than letting it run amok:

"[T]he Amish have an elaborate system by which they evaluate the tools they use; their tentative, at times reluctant use of technology is more complex than a simple rejection or a whole-hearted embrace. What if modern Americans could possibly agree upon criteria for acceptance, as the Amish have? Might we find better ways to wield technological power, other than simply unleashing it and seeing what happens? What can we learn from a culture that habitually negotiates the rules for new tools?"

But Diane Zimmerman Umble, in Holding the Line: The Telephone in Old Order Mennonite and Amish Life, further describes the underpinning logic of telephone adoption as one of "appropriate association--who can be connected to whom, in what context, and under what circumstances." In this sense it's not the technology itself that's important, but rather the communal relations in which it's embedded. In discussing the "telephone troubles" Zimmerman Umble explains:

"The telephone helped mark but did not itself alone foment questions regarding the privileging of domestic, local, and oral communications, the habits of correspondence among far flung groups of believers and their elders or leaders, or the much debated practice of excommunication as a form of social control."

The important point here is that the telephone was both object and subject of people's (other) daily interactions. Just seeing how the telephone was being marketed in the early 1900s makes me wonder if it was the telephone or the values associated with it that were more troublesome to the Amish:

Reasons to own a telephone:

"So your wife can use it daily, to order her meat and groceries. You can get at once into communication with your home when you are away. . . . If every clock in the house stops, you can get correct time from central."

"You can increase your circle of desirable acquaintances as a telephone in the home gives you a social distinction in the country."

"By use of the telephone, more work can be crowded into one day, . . . increasing the length of one's life, as after all, what really counts is what we actually accomplish."

"How pleasant it is to make a telephone visit to relatives or friends. The distance only adds enchantment to your chat."

"The old order of things has passed. To be modern is to have a Bell Telephone. To have a telephone is to live."

I mean, I want nothing to do with values like those, and I'm not Amish! But debating 'the telephone' or any other new technology allows the Amish to renegotiate cultural and communal understandings of the relationship between people and ideas and things--to renegotiate their boundaries. As Zimmerman Umble discusses, the Amish have complex ways of deciding what is included or excluded from the Amish way-of-life, and these decisions manifest as Ordnung, or codes of conduct. However, as Jameson Wetmore points out in Building Amish Community with Technology: Regulating Machines and Techniques to Forward Social Goals, Ordnung are quite different from non-Anabaptist regulatory traditions:

"Each Ordnung is an unwritten collection of rules comprised of the district's long established traditions, as well as more recently agreed upon norms. It is conveyed both by example and by instruction when someone breaks a rule or inquires about a rule . . . An Amish minister described the decision making process in the following way: 'We try to find out how new ideas, inventions or trends will affect us as a people, as a community, as a church. If they affect us adversely, we are wary. Many things are not what they appear to be at first glance. It is not individual technologies that concern us, but the total chain'."

One of the ways this kind of (non?) networked thinking plays out is in how the Amish limit the use of certain technologies. Wetmore tells stories of how, when electricity was needed, certain technologies were adopted--but restricted in ways that made it difficult or impossible to run other appliances. These adoptions also favoured the re-use of discarded machinery and the re-purposing of other technologies. This last point allies the Amish more with Asian repair cultures than with mainstream North American society.

So what do we make of the "Amish example"? Do we seek in theirs something that we miss in our daily lives? Do we want protection from our fears? Hope of action in the face of political uncertainty and disempowerment? Is this thing we have a sense of community lost? A crush on a girl we cannot have? A desire for Truth? What if the Amish aren't who or what we think they are? Want them to be? Would that make a difference to who or what we think we are? Who we want to be?

Sunday, September 3, 2006

On teaching (and interest, difference and social interaction)

George has posted the first Teaching Carnival of the year and, as always, there's lots of good stuff.

Teaching seems to differ quite a bit across disciplines (the posts are mostly from the humanities), institutions, and even countries (almost exclusively American). I mean, I'm pretty sure I'll never hear a student say "I Love Jesus" - and if I did I'd be so shocked that I don't know what I'd do! But more generally, I suspect that some of these folks wouldn't even consider me a colleague because I don't yet have my PhD in hand. From what I understand, Canadian graduate students teach far more than American grad students - which is both good and bad. I gain valuable teaching and learning experience, but my labour is exploited as a sessional lecturer, and American universities may consider my experience irrelevant or even inappropriate.

I'm also often told that the longer I take to finish my PhD, and the longer I continue to teach as a sessional, the harder it will be for me to find a tenure-track position and get down to some real work. This is usually followed by the (rather flippant and ineffective) advice to JUST DO IT, and I must take a deep breath before politely reminding people that it takes longer to finish a PhD when you're working practically full-time at other things JUST TO PAY THE RENT. Plus, I like teaching these classes. I got to design them; I get to redesign them. It's fun. And the students are cool. But I'm getting off-track.

The best part about Teaching Carnival is finding kindred spirits and other inspiring people I probably would have never otherwise come across:

At Is there no sin in it?, A White Bear describes how she decides what to teach:

"One of my deep interests as a scholar is the very nature of the interesting. I have searched far and wide for that which is exciting, disturbing, upsetting, profound, stimulating, and profane so that I never have to hear those fucking words: 'Teacher, I think this is boring.'"

Sweet! But what is interest?

"You can talk about what 'interests' you without mentioning a single text, author, or even period. You can write an English dissertation without mentioning language or even words. How? Because you find vague things 'interesting.' It got me thinking: How do you get interested in things? Is it different for every person? Is it something like self-recognition mixed with arousal? Is it basically like masturbating in a brand new way?


I feel like my greatest flaw as a scholar is that my 'interest' in things borders on the obsessional, and it can be intimidating for my students and friends. I never say, 'You might like this; you might not'; I end up saying something like, 'This is one of the most fascinating texts I've ever read. You'll love it.' It puts way too much pressure on the listener, and only the most blindly trusting will go along with it."

Wow. I do that all the time! Perhaps this is what a friend recently referred to as my "aggressive intensity"? I know I sometimes sound really certain about something, but I don't think people understand what's going on in my head. The certainty doesn't come from a belief that I've found the truth (and that others should too) but rather from a conviction that something is absolutely fascinating and worthwhile to think about and discuss. In other words, I'm more inclined to be certain about my questions, and quite happy to be uncertain about their answers. This may be arrogance, but I'm not sure it's the kind of arrogance that people expect from academics - or women. In any case, I'll pay more attention to the social implications of my behaviour in the future.

And, last but not least, here's a lesson that reaches far beyond the university:

NY Times: What a Professor Learned as an Undercover Freshman

"Federal studies have shown that college students today spend less time studying than previous generations, but also less time socializing. So what are they doing? Professor Small learned that many on her campus were struggling to balance academic demands with long hours in jobs off campus. She also found that the university had unintentionally fragmented the student body by offering a plethora of options on many aspects of student life. Everything from course loads to living arrangements can be tailored to suit individual tastes, but the results reduced the chances that undergraduates would mix with people unlike themselves."

Not only does this get back to my perpetual interest (or is it hobby horse?!) in sociality as encounters with difference, but it also sounds a bit like what plagues some visions of "social" technologies. When individualism, rather than collectivism, is at the core of one's definition of the social, social software revolves around things like customisation or preferred networks (a.k.a. filtering or social sorting). This is fine some of the time--depending on who's doing the sorting and to what end--but I'm quite certain that it's not good all of the time.

After all, we can't really discuss preferences because they're points of fact rather than matters of concern - and so we end up talking at each other rather than with each other. If I'm always allowed to act on my preferences, to be "entitled" to my opinion and my identity, I can successfully avoid the idea and practice of some sort of social contract. And that, I'm afraid, I cannot support.

Friday, September 1, 2006

Knitting in Public - Part 2 - The Secret Lives of Scientists

I've got to say that the best part of last month's Knitting and Public Politics post is how others, and especially knitters, have engaged with it.

For example, the general consensus at The Needle and the Damage Done, Knitting History and My Middle Name is Patience is that knitting helps them concentrate, and so actually makes it easier for these individuals to be more publically present and productive and happy. In terms of social interaction, one commenter said "I think knitters knitting in public are a lot more approachable that [sic] i-pod listeners, or cellphone users" but a few more considered knitting, even in public, to be a solitary or private activity (like reading) not to be disturbed by others. Several knitters, however, also commented on the pleasures of engaging with strangers, of always having a ready object of discussion at hand. In others words, the experience of knitting in public is highly variable - which is probably no surprise to anyone.

But knitting in front of other people at work was almost always described as socially tense, and I found the discussion amongst scientist-knitters (?!) at Skeintily Clad to be completely fascinating with its glimpses into laboratory life and science careers, as well as knitting in public. Dharia, "a laboratory scientist by day who turns to the arts at night" posted to her blog the following thoughts in response to my post:

"The thoughts here really hit home for me, as a science grad student. I often wish i could knit during weekly seminars. I'm not bored by them, but its more that knitting would help me pay attention better...And yet, there is no way that i could actually knit during seminar without being frowned at. The professors would definitely think i was not paying attention, was a less dedicated student, or didn't care about the topic...The same goes for down-time in the lab. Every scientist knows that you have lots of little waiting periods throughout the day. 10 minutes here spinning samples, 5 minutes there waiting for a buffer to mix. Its not enough time to do something else, but would be the perfect time to whip out a sock and knit a row or two. But that is WAY frowned upon. People would rather see you browsing web comics or playing sudoku than knitting. Because if you're knitting, you are obviously NOT paying attention to anything else. blah! thoughts from other knitting scientists? How is the culture at your school/job? How could we change it?"

First of all, I'd never thought about how important those "little waiting periods" must be in the everyday experience of space/time in labs. All punctuated equilibrium, or something. But she also draws out an interesting sense of knitting as real power: demanding enough, satisfying enough, to threaten a student's dedication to science and attention to scientists. After all these years, it seems that Sharon Traweek's ethnography of physicists still resonates in science education; a good scientist's first love, true love, should always be science. Actually, I've always liked imagining the scientist who takes science as his lover, caresses her each day, and now I wonder if knitting could be an infidelity of heart, mind and body? I mean, I really enjoy the sense of knitting as a liaison dangereuse in these comments:

"If I have an extended period of time between experiments, I retreat to the library (of a neighboring Department where no one knows me) and knit there. If it's 10-15 minutes, I have, on occasion, knit in the stall in the bathroom. It's gross, but if I've had my share of comics and sudoku for the day, it's the best I can do..."

"I occasionally brought it to seminars, but only took it out if I could sit near the back and hide it."

"I'm sneaky about it, but I knit in lab during incubations... if I'm there after five. Since it's after the work-day proper, if I'm caught I don't care...I'd also like to change people's minds about my ability to pay attention with yarn in my fingers. "

I assume that male (and other female) scientists have their own versions of these behaviours and sentiments as well, but for now let's focus on what these knitters are saying:

"As an ex-grad student (in the trenches for 8 years) and a lab scientist, I can completely understand/remember the frowning upon of things like knitting. I think part of it has/had to do with the kind of odd geek/macho environment, where you were supposed to live and breathe your research - but also not actually be 'girly' enough to do a traditionally feminine craft."

"Knitting in the lab and seminars? Probably not. Yes, it would be nice to fill those minutes with a few sock rows... yes, it would be nice to have knitting with you throughout those seminars... but if you want to be taken seriously, it probably gives the wrong impression."

"I don't knit in meetings because I'm afraid it would make me be taken less seriously. Although there are some meetings that turn out to be a giant waste of time of everyone, other than the person who's enjoying hearing himself talk."

"I managed to stay awake, ask intelligent questions and make head way on a birthday gift yet I was reprimanded since knitting is 'out there' and I’m not respecting the speaker? Yet the five individuals who were napping, the one guy playing chess on his PDA, the doodlers and the gal texting her boyfriend were not reprimanded at all."

"I never let my desire to knit interfere with my professionalism. I was a student pursuing a degree, aiming to conduct experiments that would move the field forward, etc. It was clear to anyone who spoke with me or saw my work that I was dedicated to my project (albeit extremely frustrated by it), and knitting ALWAYS took a backseat to the science. My work is a little different now, and I don't bring the knitting to meetings or knit while I read materials for work...I understand how nonknitters may labor under the perception that knitters are not paying attention. I think it's wise to be sensitive to the thoughts of others (even if they are wrong), particularly to those who may have influence over your future. When you are older and established in your career, you can act however you want and tell people to kiss your ass. While you are a junior colleague with little professional credibility, it may be wiser to toe the conventional line. That's my advice."

Lots to talk about here, but we've also come full circle again. To be a good and successful scientist, one shouldn't knit at work. No matter how nice it would be. No matter what other people get to do. No.

But some girls are still managing to get their knit on at work, one way or another:

"I am a cognitive psychology grad student who spends a lot of time in an fMRI control room running experiments...Since I usually just gab with the tech anyway, I brought in my knitting to gab and knit at the same time. My tech not only thought it was a great idea, she even asked me to teach her! So now we both knit in the control room whenever I'm down there."

"Just follow my example and join a lab where the PI, his wife, and half of the lab knits!"

"I always have a little circular-needles public-transport-friendly project with me and, if I'd knitted during the lulls or the work that's all hands-free listening and talking, it would be off the needles by now. The thing is, I know I'd still be concentrating and my work wouldn't slip, but I'm pretty sure my work colleagues would think it wasn't on. So so far I've resisted, but you might just have inspired me..."

And before we start yelling "Vive la Résistance!" this final comment won't let us ignore the question of privilege:

"Ironically, I have a friend and colleague from Romania who worked in a lab there and she told me that people often brought handiwork because due to shortages of chemicals and whatever there was not much else they could do some days. I suppose we could be glad we aren't in that situation..."

Scientist-knitters are way cool.

There is still much hope

Letters From Young Activists Letters from Young Activists: Today’s Rebels Speak Out

Sending a Message: Young activists put their doubts and dreams into words

"If anyone wonders about what that nebulous thing called ‘the Movement’ is, here are their many and varied voices. In letters of love and hope, of anger and depression, of wonder and rebellion, young people, from preteens to twenty-somethings, grapple with what it means to be part of ‘the Movement’ in these dim days of empire. They demand to be heard, by parents, by politicians, and by those who peopled ‘the Movement’ before their birth. These voices will not be ignored. They will be heard." - Mumia Abu Jamal

There are a dozen letters from the book published at the sites above, including two that blew me away. Walidah Imarisha and Not4Prophet write this brilliant letter to hip hop:

"You were our 10-point program, our list of demands, a declaration of existence, our statement of resistance, a shout (out) from those whose tongues had been previously tied by the shitstem, a voice for those who were not supposed to be seen or heard. Because you existed, we persisted. And you were as rebellious as a riot, as insubordinate as us, a borrowed black-brown-Boricua bible tribal tone poem pieced together from the Samo shit talk and sabotage Spanglish, a ghetto griot's god-guided tour of every gutter and all-borough bombing. You were just as hard as Harlem, as bad as the Boogie Down and Brooknam, and as stunning as Strong Island, St. Albans, and Shaolin...Tired of living the amerikan nightmare, you wanted the amerikan dream, so a microphone became just another way out of the hood, like a basketball or a kilo or a fast car. In the end, you weren't tryna bust out of the shitstem, only bust the door down to get in. Yeah, you coulda been a leader for a people who will lead themselves, a real synonym for black power, the anti-nigga machine, the Moses for the massive, the true king (and better) of New York. Man, you was beautiful, full of innovation and inspiration, rebellion and redemption, energy and possibility, but never beyond belief. Because you were something to believe in, in a world with nothing left to believe in."

And Noelle Lorraine Williams is a girl after my own heart in her call to bear witness always:

"Why are you here? Why am I here? To bear witness? remember that you made the decision to see, even when it hurts, even when you are seeing the horror of other’s faces in looking at yours for being different...Don’t forget to always see, always feel.Always being told that I was different somehow made me feel like I had less stake in the reality of things. I was wrong, not natural to the environments so therefore unreal...However the things connected to being a citizen were made not to see, to not know how things happen. Blocked out by bricks, large formidable government buildings guarded with multilayered steps, set back from the street projects. The places where key decisions are made and blocked out? but I was expected to believe that these things were real...Bear witness always...Witness the hurt, torture and murder that comes along with being the watched ones, the prey...Remember the vow to depict authentically the quietest and most painful fears and desires. Even when it hurts, when it feels like bliss or you feel nothing at all. Bear witness always? remember that you made the decision to see."

The other contributors also sound fascinating, and a related article asks the hard questions, including How do we build intergenerational movements? Good stuff.

CC Copyright 2001-2009 by Anne Galloway. Some rights reserved. Powered by Blogger and hosted by Dreamhost.