Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Bill Leiss lecture series starts tonight

Mark your calendars. This semester Bill Leiss is in town and the School of Communication at SFU is hosting a lecture series titled, "Science, Up Close and Personal."
Bonus fact: Bill Leiss was my PhD supervisor's PhD supervisor.

All lectures are in HC 7000 (SFU Harbour Centre Vancouver Campus)

Wednesday February 28, 7:00PM-8:00PM

Topic: The New Science of the Mind and Brain

Already in the early 17th century, partisans of the new science of nature envisioned a series of innovations that would revolutionize the conditions of human life. Until now we have experienced them largely as external technologies. With the coming of genomics, however, science gets personal and intimate and, I suggest, the meaning of science for us changes dramatically as a result.

Wednesday March 14, 7:00PM-8:00PM

Topic: Science and Society in the Modern Period

In the eyes of its early partisans modern science was never just about new technologies that confer power over nature on us. It was also an Enlightenment project that would, it was expected, transform the very nature of human societies. As of now, science is universal but Enlightenment is not. This is, I suggest, by no means a trivial matter.

Wednesday March 21, 7:00PM-8:00PM

Topic: Science and Ethics: The Choices that confront us

For most people religion has provided the traditional foundation for personal and social morality. But a variety of factors, including the increasing presence of science in public life, seem to have eroded that foundation. Can a scientific world-view replace religion for this purpose? Can the religious and the scientific world-views be easily reconciled? I suggest there are no easy answers to these questions, and therein lies a whole series of important problems for us, especially where genomics is concerned.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Fire and brimstone

Video games have often been correlated (nay, implied as a causal relationship) with violent and aggresive behaviour. This is old news, right? Games are an endless time/energy sink for those who play them as well as those who lobby against them.
Taken to extremes (and in this case, is it really that extreme), anything can be correlated. There is new research that correlates violent bible passages and aggression. This research is interesting in that it takes a sacred communication medium and applies psychological tests to engagement in such, just as other experiments have done with other media. Perhaps unfortunate, but somehow I don't believe that a massive outcry against the bible would occur as a result and just be shrugged off as a silly inquiry. But is it? Why would we give other tests modeled on the same principles the time of day but not this?
As a society, we hear what we want to hear, do what we want to do, worship what we want to worship (God), and burn what we want to burn (Video games?).

See the story here>>

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Increased reflexivity needed in Korea

In a story coming from the BBC, it is reported that South Korea has the highest suicide rate of all 30 OECD member countries.
An increasing number of suicides in the country should be alarming in any case, but the issue has recently come to the fore because of a recent high-profile suicide of prominent Korean pop star Yuni in January, which has sent the country into a state of soul-searching.
In a 2005 suicide of another Korean actress Eun-Ju Lee, reports brought up the social milieu in which contemporary Koreans find themselves: that of rapid cultural/social/economic upheaval, especially in the last fifty years. To attribute these suicides to more simple causal relationships would be to not do the issue enough justice.
Korea as a nation has changed immensely and, to its credit, adapted phenomenally to changing global conditions to become a competitive force worldwide. Its technology, culture, history, and so much more is an endless source of intrigue to many including myself. I continue to feel however, that much of the social picture remains neglected as a worthwhile investigation. However, it is specifically the aforementioned contingencies at which I am most interested in looking. Just how are everyday people in Korea coping with such changes, really? Amidst the clash of old and new, the shiny happy booth babes toting the latest high-tech gadget, the youth in search of others at the PC bang... what is happening? How are the various instances of social upheaval playing out and forming the bigger picture of contemporary Korean society? How are these impacts resonating worldwide?
We are only just becoming aware, even Koreans themselves, and these are continously interesting times in which to live and answer the questions that matter.

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Happy Lunar New Year

Well, it's approaching lunar new year. The year 4705 officially begins on February 18.
Friend's blogs and such have reminded me of it, along with my parents saying we "MUST have dinner."
The timing changes every year, according to the 'moon' cycles. It's the year of the Pig, which are both my mother and brother. While this celebration has it's own rituals and lists of must-dos, I look at it as a second run at the New Year's resolutions I made more than 1 month ago--and that was to do everything bit by bit so as to avoid getting overwhelmed.

Take two :)
On the move:
I suppose I have come out of this last little while quite alright, having survived a move amidst demands that were anything but amenable to such lifestyle liminality. I made sure to do a little at once, have a checklist, and... and... and. But, when the time came to actually move, I was still in a state of OMG! My laptop had gone 'boom' and refused to turn on... so that was in the shop. Any grad student who has gone through this will know what an eye-twitching experience that was in itself. And the deadlines, the people across oceans who had no idea of the upside-down cake that was my life, were none the wiser. Ha. At least it was better than last year.
One could always say, "It could have been much worse," and one does. The actual day of the move was beautiful and sunny, and my piano didn't make a crunching sound while being jostled about. And I don't -think- I lost anything... it's just still in boxes and/or strewn about my less than "House and Home" looking place right now.
On customs:
It's normally taboo to do things like clean or cut one's hair while lunar new year is happening--on the premise that one could 'sweep the luck right out the door' or similar sentiments. Ideally, all your haircutting, new clothes, cleaning and other radical changes happen before new years. Like many customs, I can see why they exist--you want to get all that stuff out of the way before a celebration if humanly possible. But life overrules custom in this case (or should)!

Some lifestyle improvements since the move:
  • It's now a steady 45-minute, one-bus commute into downtown from where I live. Really strange, when you consider that I used to live practically downtown but traffic made it a much more frustrating 30-minute journey to work (especially with the trench that used to be Cambie Street). Now, I get to settle in for the ride and get some book-learnin' done.
  • Because the community is student-oriented, the transit is pretty good, with routes leading off the hill to almost anywhere in the GVRD.
  • It used to be a real drag to commute -up- to the Burnaby campus for anything, but now that I live here it's great. Somewhat like an 'alpine getaway' now after a hard day slogging through work downtown.
  • I'm now within striking distance of friends who do not live downtown so I get to see them more often.
  • It's quiet, but not too quiet.

I'm being interviewed by some people for a documentary on video game players, so I'd best be off. More on that, this, and the other... you know where to find me.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Banff Consensus

Remember those two intense days in September I spent sequestered at the Banff Centre for an Innovation Summit? Well, thanks to the hard working folks at THECIS et al, the results are in and the fruits of that labour are on display in a very concise report called "The Banff Consensus: Integrating the Creative Capabilities of Western Canada into the Global Innovation System."

CPROST is getting a bunch of the hardcopies off the presses sent to us shortly, but you can access the report in pdf form here on the THECIS website as well!

My specific contribution is on page 12.
I saw it as my Coles notes from the Summit, and they saw it in a similar way, so there it is!

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Monday, February 05, 2007

(Re)Inventing the Internet

This is what I'm doing on Friday, February 23rd. If you're in the area, keep that date free and call to make reservations! After a long day ending at 4pm, I can -almost- promise there will be 'apres' shenanigans.

You are cordially invited to a one-day workshop featuring cutting-edge research from the upcoming Applied Communication Technology (ACT) Lab book.

Friday, February 23, 2007
Segal Graduate School of Business
500 Granville Street, Vancouver, BC
4800 Policy Room

Refreshments will be served!

Graduate students in the ACT Lab have been working for a year with Dr. Andrew Feenberg and several of his colleagues on a forthcoming book entitled (Re)Inventing the Internet: Critical Case Studies. This workshop is a report on the progress of their research. The presentations correspond to chapters that explore the social construction of the Internet in a variety of settings, from video games to online education, civic participation to music sharing. The theme is the shaping of the Internet by the practices of users who attempt to influence its design and impact. The Internet appears in these presentations not just as a functional device but also as a
field of struggle within which a variety of social and technical factors meet, contend, and converge to produce new forms.
Presenters include noted philosopher of technology, Dr. Andrew Feenberg, communication scholar and author of Internet Society, Dr. Maria Bakardjieva and Dr. Norm Friesen, Canada Research Chair at Thompson River University. Other panelists include: Ted Hamilton,
Cindy Xin, Michael Felzcak, Florence Chee, Sara Grimes, Darryl Cressman and Kate Milberry.

The workshop is co-sponsored by SFU's School of Communication and the Institute for the Humanities.

Admission is FREE but reservations are required. Call 604-268-7845 to reserve seats.