Internet – fifteen years on

Posted by jerry on February 15th, 2007 — Posted in History, New media, Technology

It’s hard to believe that fifteen years have passed since Tim Berners-Lee released the software and the concept of the world-wide-web to the public. I remember having used ‘Gopher’ to retrieve documents, and then being amazed by Mosaic v1 when I first saw it. I’d used email since 1989 at the university, so I guess it was fairly early when I came to the World-Wide-Web, in about October 1993. I suppose I could put in a shameless plug for my book Virtual States (The Internet and the boundaries of the Nation-State) here, but I won’t 😉
The BBC has put up a timeline of world-wide-web history – ever wondered whatever happened to the Cambridge University coffee pot? It’s all here 🙂

BBC - web history


Time travel and hypertext

Posted by jerry on February 13th, 2007 — Posted in Journal, New media, Theory, Writing

Having just read the remarkable novel The Time Traveler’s Wife I got to thinking just how common time travel is. So common, in fact, that you have to think carefully to realise you are doing it every day. There are hints, of course, like when your Partner looks at you strangely over the coffee and says ‘have you heard what I just said?’ and you realise you were thinking about the sound of a violin you heard last week, or a funny email from your daughter.

As Mark Marino notes, time travel is a common theme in literature and film. But these narrative devices work on safe constrained parameters – the film maker or writer supplies the context against which the time travel is juxtaposed for its effect.

Time travel narrative

He makes the claim that perhaps hypertext is different – and he may be partly right. The thing about hypertext is that it can have many more variables than linear fiction – whether novel or film – and may be constructed in a ‘writerly’ way by making it wiki-like with multiple authors. But real time travel is far more complex.

We time travel all the time, but have little control over where it takes us – the scent of a rose takes you to that garden in Leeds Castle in the UK ten years ago, or the sight of some wrapping paper takes you to the gift you are thinking of buying your partner next week. The thing is, it is only by exception that we actually experience narrative sequence in an ordered linear sequence. We are constantly steered by connotations and overtones of meaning.

It makes me wonder then, why some people seem to get hot under the collar about the time and resources that go into spaces like Second Life – real life experienced in a virtual world. Don’t people get that we are always embedded in a multiplicity of virtual worlds? And to think the authorities were worried about novel-space, like the court case surrounding ‘Madam Bovary’.

Angela Thomas, a New Media researcher from Sydney explores Second Life and uses that space for teaching new media literacies – you see, it’s all about real human interaction, it’s just the space that’s virtual. Perhaps that is more healthy than sharing a real space and daydreaming off somewhen else!


WordPress Directory

Posted by jerry on February 12th, 2007 — Posted in Journal, New media, Writing

Some good news- Mindsigh – this humble blog has been added to the new WordPress directory of blogs – under the category of Humanities – performing arts. In an era in which spammers are severely muddying the waters, these directories will become a major part of the search strategies used by people wanting to get to real content providers quickly. Bouquets to WordPress for
getting this service up and running 🙂

Wordpress directory


Writer Response Theory – social bookmarking

Posted by jerry on February 11th, 2007 — Posted in Journal, New media, Writing

The concept of referencing is ancient – and goes back at least to Akkadian times on cuneiform tablets. Between notions of body-as-text and and the emergence of social virtual worlds, like Second Life, it is perhaps not too surprising that Web2 provides a whole new dimension to social referencing – and social bookmarking, whether through shared possessions via Amazon or LibraryThing or through the varieties of online community that emerged in the last decade of the 20th century, through to YouTube and Flikr.

One aspect that characterises the new web is the increasing capacity to annotate or edit socially written texts – through wikis or collaborative projects, such as those referenced in Mark Marina’s ‘Marginalia in the library of babel‘ project. Diigo software adds a further dimension to social bookmarking:

If social bookmarking allows us to share our library catalogs, social annotation sites allow us to share our libraries complete with their underlinings, highlights, and marginalia.


Web2 has been with us for some time increasing possibilities for social transparency transforming notions of privacy and ownership into a new form of social space and cultural intimacy. This is beautifully illustrated by the short video Web 2.0 … The Machine is Us/ing Us by Michael Wesch


Many thanks to Angela Thomas for pointing to WRT and for WRT pointing to Professor Wesch’s site – see what I mean?!!


Canberra Floriade 2006

Posted by jerry on October 2nd, 2006 — Posted in Journal, New media, Technology

The tulips are in full bloom at Floriade – Canberra’s flower festival – and with a sunny long weekend it seemed a perfect day to check it out.

tulip 2006

Well, the flowers are wonderful and the record crowds seem to agree, despite the sun being just a bit too intense (can they turn it down a bit?) and the cars parking in the dirt were kicking up a fair bit of dust.

The flower beds are arranged in contrasting colours and heights and stretch off into the distance in Commonwealth Park between the lake and Stage-88.


And with a carnival theme the balloon benders and street performers delighted the kids and adults alike with their skills.

floriade balloon bender

After a pleasant walk back over Commonwealth Bridge, we headed to the Pancake Parlour for a short stack of pancakes and iced coffees. And there I found that the place had a free wifi access point – so I just had to do some quick photo edits on the iPaq and upload a quick blog entry! What a great idea – the place gets a thumbs up from me 🙂