Blogs, Flashmobs and going viral


Today I am teaching the first class of Informationsteknologi för humanister – HUMlab’s own 7.5 point course on IT in the humanities. My session used to be about blogging. It was a how-to/textual class. But I realized that by telling the students about blogging, and not about the way it is being integrated and used, I was only giving them a small piece of the puzzle. I want to share more about blogging as a portal where thematically linked social networks can share ideas and content – and not just textual content, but audio and video. Blogging is a virtual world of sorts (although, admittedly not in the traditional sense). Rather, a city of linked little homes, a few pubic squares. A coffee shop or two. Places where you can invite people in to talk, or where you can go to discuss and debate with larger groups. Yes, today our students will learn how to blog – and they will make their own blog. But I hope that they will leave with not only the tools they need, but also an understanding of why it is important.

(the picture in my slide is from a flickr stream of the silent flashmob rave at Victoria Station – kudos to the photographer)

lab update

The lab seems to be appreciated despite it partly being under construction. Actually, as someone pointed out, the photo from the language consultancy class below, shows the part of the lab that has most fully been reinstated. If I had turned around and taken a photo it would have been more like a construction site shot.

Anyhow, things are coming together, and when I visited the new part of HUMlab yesterday – and this is truly a construction site – I got a good sense of the new space for the first time. They have almost finished building the new wall (this creating an emergency exit passage way), and paradoxically, the space now feels bigger.

The Working (Second) Life

I have been employed by the Swedish Institute as a guide at the Second House of Sweden (the Swedish Embassy) in Second Life. This is a shot of me doing the Saturday morning shift, hence the baggy eyes. I am really enjoying my work at the Second House of Sweden (SHS) however it is keeping me from working on the HUMlab Island in Second Life (SL). I have a lot of ideas for the HUMlab Island but it will take a bit of time.
During the week the blog for the Second House of Sweden welcomed HUMlab into the virtual world of SL. here is an extract from the entry:

Another Swedish university is venturing into Second Life. Umeå University’s HUMlab, “a vibrant and diverse meeting place for the humanities, culture and information technology”, has just bought part of a sim and is beginning to explore the space.

It is nice to be part of the Swedish presence in SL. That’s something I have got from my job with SHS so far; the meetings, chatting with people from all over the world. Once one has a reason to approach other avatars in SL it becomes so easy to make friends. The 3D aspect of SL makes it very different from a text chat room. One can approach people and initiate conversation in ways very similar to how it is done in RL social situations. My friends list is getting longer and I feel that I do actually ‘know’ these people and that we meet in a ‘place’: Second Life.

Doctoral Appointment in Humanities and Information Technology with a Focus on Gender Studies

Eight doctoral positions have been announced at Umeå university. One of which is a “Doktorandanställning i humaniora och informationsteknik med inriktning på genusvetenskap” (Doctoral appointment in Humanities and Information Technology with Focus Upon Gender Studies). The position will be from 1 January 2008 and will be in HUMlab. Application forms (HERE) and a 5 page research plan are to be marked with Dnr 313-3530-07, and shall be submitted to Umeå universitet, Registrator, 901 87 Umeå no later than 2007-10-08.

Information on doctoral position in Swedish

Umeå Advanced Gender Studies (English)

Informatics seminar next week

September 12, 1.15 pm
The MIT building, MC 313 

The Cyborg, the Self and the Other
John Waterworth

Without technology, we would not be human. But what is the essential nature of our relationship with information and communication technology (ICT)? Are we natural born cyborgs (Clark, 2003), or more like the “natural born dualists” implied by Bloom (2004)? I will suggest that we are both, and that this can be better understood by considering what happens when our relationship with ICTs breaks down; when we are suddenly and unexpected deprived of their support. If we have become used to and dependent on them, we are – at least temporarily – at a loss. This loss might feel as if an organ of perception is missing, so that some of the world can no longer be perceived and acted upon. Or it may feel as if a part of unconscious memory has been erased, and we just can’t access that information consciously when needed anymore. These are quite different psychological effects which, I will argue, reflect the “presence mechanism” in action, calibrating the extent to which we are immersed in an external environment. Its output helps us to partially answer the question of who is acting on the information: the cyborg, the self, or the other?

The seminar is a revised version of my keynote address to the 1st PEACH Summer School on “Presence, towards human machine confluence”, held on the island of Santorini, Greece, in July.

Bloom, P (2004). Descartes’ Baby: How the Science of Child Development Explains What Makes Us Human. New York: Basic Books.
Clark, A (2003). Natural Born Cyborgs. New York: Oxford University Press.

first class in revamped lab

This morning, Stephanie taught a class on new media and language for a group of language consultancy students. This is the first booked activity of the semester with a more than a couple of people present, and it is nice to the revamped lab in use. There is still work to be done in the ‘old’ lab, but I like the somewhat updated appearance – not least the cheerful floor.


The new part of the lab has not quite been finished yet. You can probably do your own estimate of when it will be ready based on this photo.


This is where the language lab used to be. It has now been moved to the other side of the corridor.  

Overall, we are quite hopeful about the constructing-moving-installating-research process.