22.7.14

[best short stories about south africa's democracy]

20 Years of Democracy
Alert! Today, Books LIVE unveils the final list of short stories for the Twenty in 20 project, a Twenty Years of Freedom initiative whose aim is to identify the best South African short fiction published in English during the past two decades of democracy.
The project comprises a collaboration between Books LIVE, Short Story Day Africa and the Department of Arts and Culture.
Earlier this month, the four Twenty in 20 judges met to debate the longlist of fifty stories – generated by over 200 submissions from Books LIVE readers – and whittle it down to the final list of the twenty works of fiction that will stand as South Africa’s best since 1994. Over three hours, there was robust conversation and a bit of horsetrading, but it never came to fisticuffs (although at one point Queensbury rules were invoked!).
The result is a list that will serve as a baseline for future writers to aspire to; that will provide pleasure to readers for generations to come; and that will serve as a longstanding reference for South African literary posterity.
The chair of the judges, Mandla Langa, said, “This collection of short stories reflects the diversity that enriches our young democracy. It’s a smorgasbord of ideas to cater for any appetite.”
The Minister for Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, sent the following statement on the Twenty in 20project to Books LIVE:
The Twenty in 20 project is one of our efforts to ensure that all sectors of our society are part of the celebration of the twentieth anniversary of our freedom and democracy.
We are making this announcement shortly after the passing of one of the most prolific short story writers who ever lived — Nadine Gordimer, South Africa’s first Nobel laureate in Literature. When the news of her passing started spreading like wildfire, I was reminded of the famous saying that, “When a big tree falls, the earth shakes.” Indeed, the sound of this giant’s fall reverberated across the globe.
South Africa has a rich tradition of short story writing. Over the years, we produced some of the most outstanding short story writers, including the likes of Gordimer, Bloke Modisane, Casey Motsisi, Bessie Head, Njabulo Ndebele, and many other notable literary voices. These are the giants on whose shoulders aspiring writers should stand. As we celebrate the solid foundation that these pathfinders have laid, we simultaneously try to cultivate a new generation of writers to continue with this glorious tradition while confronting the new challenges of our society.
The wide-ranging Twenty in 20 stories explore varied themes but have one thing in common: they are truly South African stories. Each one makes a unique contribution to our literary landscape.
Here then, without further ado, are the top twenty English short stories of South Africa’s democracy (note you can scroll within the document – also available here – to see the complete list details), organised alphabetically by the author’s surname:

Congratulations to the judges on creating a fine, final Twenty in 20 list.
As project convener, Your Correspondent would like to extend heartfelt thanks to Short Story Day Africa for its untiring work in creating the formal longlist, which has already caused an appropriate degree of literary commotion. I’d also like to thank Mandla Langa for his steady chairmanship during the awards process; and to doubly thank him, Karabo Kgoleng, Mtutuzeli Matshoba and Fiona Snyckers for paying such considered attention to such a diverse body of work.
Project process and timeline
Here is the remaining key date of the Twenty in 20 short story project:
September: The Twenty in 20 compilation of short stories is launched as a new compilation at National Book Week.
About the Twenty in 20 judges
   
Mandla Langa (Chair) was born in Durban and studied at the University of Fort Hare in Alice, Eastern Cape province. He left Fort Hare after playing an active role in student uprisings in 1972. He went into exile in 1976, and lived in countries such as Lesotho, Mozambique, Angola, Zambia, Hungary and the United Kingdom. In 1980 he won the Pan African DRUM Magazine story contest and in 1991 he was awarded the Arts Council of England bursary. His latest book, The Lost Colours of the Chameleon (2010) was shortlisted for the prestigious Sunday Times Fiction Prize and won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book – Africa Region. In 2007 he was awarded the Order of Ikhamanga in Silver.
 

Read more here.

[cfp: digital inequalities]

Special Issue "Digital Inequalities"


A special issue of Future Internet (ISSN 1999-5903).
Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 August 2014

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Roderick Graham
Department of Sociology, Rhode Island College, 600 Mount Pleasant Avenue, Providence, RI 02903, USA
Website: http://www.roderickgraham.com
E-Mail: rgraham@ric.edu
Phone: +1 401 456 8727
Interests: social stratification; race and ethnicity; new media technologies; Internet studies

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,
Scholars have focused considerable effort on understanding the economic and technological changes in our information society. However, there are also tremendous social changes. Ever increasing amounts of political participation, crime and deviance, education, social networking, and selection of intimate partners are done through information and communication technologies. With so much social activity occurring in the digital environment, it is imperative that scholars explore the implications of this shift.
One area of exploration is the various inequalities that occur because of differences in access or usage between groups. The purpose of this Special Issue, a continuation of the inaugural “Inequality in the Digital Environment” Special Issue published in 2013, will be to explore these inequalities. Previous papers presented research on racial inequalities, access to technology for people with disabilities, and gender differences in online aggression.
Papers for this issue can extend these discussions or explore other issues. Some potential topics include inequalities in:
  • material access to the Internet
  • civic and political participation in the online environment
  • digital literacy
  • social capital
  • telecommunications infrastructure between and within nations
  • social support
  • diversity of usage (With respect to both hardware and software)
  • representative content (web content that reflects the culture or interests of the audience)
  • framing of news stories or events
  • the production of racial and ethnic stereotypes



Read more here.

21.7.14

[from cardboard box to play washing machine]

Having conducted our Ivory Soap experiment, DS1 then hoped for his own washing machine... we had a cardboard (beer) box on hand and crafted our own. I might be crude by my little one loves it. This kept the 3 year old busy for quite a long time. Long enough for me to do our *real* laundry and get supper going. Win-win.




20.7.14

[From Soap Bar to Puffy Fun]

I've been eyeing the Happy Hooligans' Ivory soap experiment for some time but just haven't had a chance to try it out. Well today, finally, DS1 and I were able to conduct our own scientific interpretation of the original Steve Spangler Souffle.

Here are the very simple steps to follow.


  1. Procure a bar of Ivory soap (must be Ivory rather than Dove or other brands. Steve Spangler explains why
  2. Examine the soap? What properties does it exhibit?
  3. Unwrap the soap and place it on a microwavable plate, bowl, tray etc... (we used a large plate)
  4. Microwave on high for about 2 minutes. We cooked the soap for about 1:40. I don't think you can have the soap in the microwave for too long but you'll see that the magical puffing and morphing starts to slow at around 1:20.
  5. Extricate your now puffy soap, careful that the soap and plate can be quite hot.
  6. Once cooled, proceed to examine your soap. How is it different from before? Colour? Texture? Smell?










14.7.14

[*CFP FOR AN EDITED COLLECTION EXPLORING SOCIALBOTS*]

Robert W. Gehl, University of Utah
Maria Bakardjieva, University of Calgary

*CFP FOR AN EDITED COLLECTION EXPLORING SOCIALBOTS*

Many users of the Internet are aware of the existence of bots: automated
programs that work behind the scenes to come up with search suggestions,
check the weather, filter emails, or clean up Wikipedia entries. A new form
of software robot has been making its presence felt in social media sites
such as Facebook and Twitter lately – the socialbot. Unlike more familiar
bots, socialbots are built to appear human. While a weatherbot will tell
you if it's sunny and a spambot will incessantly peddle Viagra, socialbots
will ask you questions, have conversations, like your posts, retweet you,
and become your friend. All the while, if they're well-programmed, you
won't know that you're tweeting and friending with a robot.

Socialbot makers have suggested or demonstrated many uses for these 'bots,
including exposing security flaws in Facebook, healing social rifts,
bringing brands to life, quelling dissent on the behalf of governments,
creating the appearance of popular support for politicians, infiltrating
activist networks, or correcting misinformation circulating online.
Socialbots can automate friending, liking, and tweeting, playing the odds
to gain followers. They are built out of datasets produced by social media
users and thus reflect our social media use back on us. They exploit our
penchant for "hot" profiles, the triadic closure principle, and our need to
make an impression and to get feedback. But they also give us a neutral
sounding board, a means to pass the day, and a new form of friendship.

As a cutting-edge AI technology, socialbots are only the latest in a long
line of mechanical and software-based creations that humans live, talk,
work, love, and struggle with. From the Mechanical Turk to the Turing Test
to ELIZA to Cleverbot, from robotic factory workers to emotionally-attuned
customer service telephone systems, from Rossum's Universal Robots to Robby
to HAL to Colossus to Data, AI presents us with a wide range of
philosophical, ethical, political, and economic quandaries. Who benefits
from the use of robots? Who loses? Does a robot deserve rights? Who pulls
the strings of  these 'bots? Who has the right to know what about them?
What does it mean to be intelligent? What does it mean to be a friend? Can
research be done to create these bots but still uphold the ideal of
informed consent?

As a way to explore these questions – and many others – we seek chapter
proposals for an edited book. Potential topics could be:
•    Socialbots and artificial intelligence
•    Genealogies of bots on the Internet
•    Socialbots and big data
•    Utopian and dystopian socialbot futures
•    Uses of socialbots
•    Socialbots and politics
•    Socialbots and marketing
•    Socialbots and posthumanism
•    Human/machine relations
•    Political economy of socialbots
•    Sociable bots in popular culture
•    Ways to program socialbots
•    What socialbots tell us about social media
•    Socialbots and human sociality
•    Socialbots and anonymity
•    Socialbots and identity politics
•    Socialbots versus spambots

We encourage proposals from people working in a wide range of fields,
including communication, humanities, social sciences, computer science,
software engineering, software studies, science and technology studies,
philosophy, marketing, and media and cultural studies. We want accessible,
well-researched chapters that not only inform others about these 'bots, but
also establish socialbots as a new object of inquiry from many perspectives.
We are currently talking with several academic publishers about this edited
collection.

TIMELINE
•    500 word abstracts due to socialbotbook@robertwgehl.org: October 15,
2014
•    Notification about abstract acceptance: November 15, 2014
•    Full chapters due: March 15, 2015

EDITOR BIOS

ROBERT W. GEHL

Robert W. Gehl is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication
at the University of Utah, USA. His forthcoming book is Reverse Engineering
Social Media: Software, Culture, and Political Economy in New Media
Capitalism (2014, Temple). His work is at the intersections of science and
technology studies, political economy, and cultural studies and explores
network culture. He has published research that critiques the architecture,
code, culture, and design of social media sites such as YouTube, Facebook,
Twitter, MySpace, and blogs in Social Text, Lateral, The International
Journal of Cultural Studies, New Media and Society, Television and New
Media, Computational Culture, and First Monday. He is a member of the
editorial board of Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies. His current
project is a genealogy of software engineering.

MARIA P. BAKARDJIEVA

Maria Bakardjieva is a professor in the Department of Communication and
Culture, University of Calgary, Canada. She is the author of Internet
Society: The Internet in Everyday Life (2005, Sage) and co-editor of How
Canadians Communicate (2004 and 2007, University of Calgary Press). Maria
held the position of editor-in-chief of the Journal of Computer-Mediated
Communication from 2011 to 2013. Her research has examined Internet use
practices across different social and cultural context with a focus on the
ways in which users understand and actively appropriate new media. Her work
on the topics of Internet use in everyday life, online community,
e-learning and research ethics has been published in numerous international
journals and edited collections including Media, Culture and Society, New
Media and Society, The Information Society, Philosophy and Technology,
Ethics and Information Technology, Sage Benchmarks in Communication, Volume
4 and others. Her current projects investigate the social and political
implications of social media and look at the interactions between
traditional and new media with the objective to identify opportunities for
broad democratic participation in the public sphere.

___________________________________________

13.7.14

[Call for Papers: The Journal of Community Informatics]

Special Issue – Research Methods for Community Informatics

The Journal of Community Informatics (JoCI) is seeking scholarly articles and notes from the field for a special issue on Research Methods for Community Informatics. Community Informatics is the study and the practice of enabling communities with Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs). JoCI is an international journal that focuses on how researchers and practitioners work with communities towards the effective use of ICTs to improve their processes, achieve their objectives, overcome the “digital divides” that exist both within and between communities, and empower communities and citizens. This is possible in areas such as health, cultural production, civic management and e-governance, among others. JoCI is a focal point for the communication of research of interest to a global network of academics, community informatics practitioners, and national and multi-lateral policy makers. JoCI is currently indexed in the IBSS and Google Scholar as well as several indexes of Open Access journals. Efforts are underway concerning additional scholarly indexing. More information regarding JoCI is available at http://ci-journal.net.

The guest editors for the special issue are: Dr. Colin Rhinesmith (University of Oklahoma, USA), Dr. Mark Wolfe (University of Alberta, Canada), and Andy Bytheway (Retired Professor of Information Management at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa).

Objective

This special issue will focus on the methods used to investigate how ICTs can support local economic development, social justice, and political empowerment. Community Informatics (CI) is a point of convergence concerning the use of ICTs for diverse stakeholders, including community leaders and activists, nonprofit groups, policymakers, users/citizens, and the range of academics working across (and integrating) disciplines as diverse as Information Studies, Management, Computer Science, Social Work, Planning and Development Studies. This diversity brings with it a range of methodological approaches – and tensions – to the field of CI. The special issue seeks to both disentangle and organize the use of existing methods in CI research and to explore innovative new approaches used by researchers and practitioners in their work with communities.

Topics

This special issue seeks articles focused on methodological topics and issues related to community informatics research. We encourage contributions that come from a wide range of perspectives, including (but not limited to):

Conceptual foundations. What are the pros and cons of positivist, interpretivist, and critical methods in the CI context?
Data elicitation. What techniques are needed for reliable data to be collected in local communities, and what is the role of the cloud, “big data,” and data analytics in this context?
Measures of success. What is the extent to which key variables and measures of CI investment success are actually understood?
Ethics. How are research ethics understood in the context of CI work?
Comparative analysis. How can shared local and global research resources be developed for comparative studies in different regions of the world?
Cross-cultural studies. How are data elicitation techniques and methods used in a cross-cultural context?
Extant theory. What is the applicability of other extant theories from related research areas (e.g., MIS, anthropology, science and technology studies, etc.) to the field of CI methodology?

We also invite authors to submit “Notes from the Field” from CI practitioners and policy makers that describe relevant methodological topics and issues.

Submission procedure and deadlines

Full original and unpublished articles for this special issue should be submitted via the JoCI website. Authors are invited to submit full-length papers between 5000-7000 words and notes from the field between 3000-5000 words. All full-length research articles will be double blind peer-reviewed. Notes from the field containing insights and analytical perspectives from practitioners and policy makers are also encouraged – these will not be peer-reviewed. All authors should provide a note to the editors via the website indicating their interest in having their submissions considered for the special issue on “Research Methods for Community Informatics.” Interested authors should consult the journal’s editorial policies and author guidelines for submissions at http://ci-journal.net/index.php/ciej/information/authors.  

Full article draft submissions due: November 15, 2014.
Notes from the field due: December 15, 2014.

All inquiries should be directed to:

Colin Rhinesmith, 
Guest Editor

Email: crhines@illinois.edu (before August 1, 2014) / crhinesmith@ou.edu (after August 1, 2014)