Monthly Archives: May 2005



I will be gone from May 29-July 3. I’m off to Thailand and then in New York with my family (with a conference in there). Email has been shut off. My normal email addresses send a bounce message before proceeding to /dev/null; the ones for mailing lists, blogs, random mail, etc. go straight to /dev/null. I have no intention of blogging and i’m not taking a camera. It’s time for yoga, meditation and beach. I intend to relax to the best of my ability.

Have a great June!!

podcasting: connecting directly via naming and practice

So, when podcasting first emerged and people told me that it was *the* answer to blogging, i rolled my eyes. I have zero interest in listening to random blogs. While i’m happy to scan across large quantities of text, there’s no way that i have any desire to listen to blogs or produce a podcast. None.

From the beginning, i said that i would like podcasting when NPR was podcasting, when electronic music was podcast and when it was otherwise adopted by people who know how to turn voice into an art. In theory, amateurism is interesting to me; in reality, i don’t want to listen to it.

This morning, i woke up to the word podcast coming out of NPR every few seconds. ABC is podcasting. Wow… i’m impressed. Podcasting is not that old but it has already reached mainstream news. But this actually make sense. They already produce large quantities of media ready-to-go for mobile listening. Why not just deploy it in a new way? This makes complete sense. They are doing their own TiVo for radio (and for TV). The practice is already there. While audio-bloggers have to develop a new practice, radio and TV folks have this medium down. Podcasting does what i’ve wanted Audible to do wrt radio for a while. And it is simpler and quicker.

Second, think about the value of the term “podcast.” What was the number one device sold at Christmas? iPod. The term “pod” is hip, cool and yet mainstream as hell.

I’m super super stoked that the mainstream media has taken this and ran with it – this is impressively fast adoption. There’s only one problem… how are they going to feel when we forward through the ads and NPR’s annoying requests for money? Are we going to see the same TiVo fights on podcasting? Are deals going to be made such that podcasting is limited to just the mainstream folks or iPods are created to not allow forwarding? Goddess, i hope not. As much as i have no interest in listening to any audio-blogs, by all means, let those who do relish in it.

What are the costs of mainstream adoption during the early adopter phase? What does it mean when it fits so well with a practice and yet, allows for a different form of it?

ah, the magical touch

I know better. I know better. So, when i started down the path of bouncing my mail for vacation, i figured it had to be easy. This is me.

So, started out with SIMS bouncing per the suggestion. Nope, didn’t work. Why? Couldn’t get formail to get called to save my life. So, switched plans, figured out how to get vacation working so that it sent messages, overrided the time stamp and the To/CC rules. In the process, killed my procmail file which spun 600 messages into chaos. This was great except that everything forwarded from Netspace to SIMS (a.k.a. all messages) sent vacation to Netspace which was bad.

OK. So i tried to set up vacation on Netspace to mimic SIMS to do all of the messages. Vacation doesn’t exist on Netspace. So we went back to formail which worked there.

In the process, of course, i was fucking around with my procmail files and managed to fubar everything. Procmail was going into autoloops, mail was going goddess only knows where, LINEBUF was filling up, bounces weren’t getting sent. OMG.

So, getting everything set up only took a total of 16 hours and the unbelievably awesome help of Glenn, Adam, Greg, Kevin, Kevin, and Thomas. Oh, and a lot of bitching support from everyone else. Needless to say, this is not something i should’ve been doing today. But dear god.

The end result:

| (formail -r -i ‘From: Mailer Daemon Angel ‘ -i ‘Subject: Returned mail: see transcript for details’; cat /home/grrl/.vacation.msg) | sendmail -oi -t


| /usr/bin/vacation -t1s -j dmb

with a .vacation.msg that says:

From: Mailer Daemon Angel
Subject: Returned mail: see transcript for details

—– All mail to danah is currently auto-deleted —–
Bounced: <$SUBJECT>
(reason: danah needs a break)

—– Transcript of session follows —–

procmail: Refused to save
550 5.1.1 …. User exhausted

Daemons have decided to destroy danah’s mail so that she may rest without fear of returning to the dreaded INBOX. All messages sent to danah from May 29-July 3 2005 will not be delivered. If it is still important, contact danah again after July 3. Perhaps, if you feel so inclined, invite the Daemons to visit your server so that you too may rest without email.

—– Do not resend until after July 3 —–

Say bye-bye. Your message has just found a new home in /dev/null. ::wave:: bye bye cute message…. bye bye….

dr. toast : oz so late – music to chill to

In prep for vacation, i’ve been organizing my iPod. I went through the hellish process of creating genres for everything and generating Playlists. One of my favorite genres – psychill – was sadly lacking. It’s the genre that i listen to the most because it’s ideal calm music to work to. Yet, i only had three artists there – bluetech, Shpongle and dr. toast. Part of the problem is that i honestly don’t know what else belongs in this genre.

So, i approached Toast to ask for good things in his genre and, bless his heart, he made me a mix of vacation music to chill by. In return, i wanted to do a shout-out for anyone who’s looking for good music to chill or work to. His album oz so late is just beautiful and i’ve listened to it perpetually since it came out. Click here for some song samples.

Lessig working to end child abuse

As head boy at a legendary choir school, Lawrence Lessig was repeatedly molested by the charismatic choir director, part of a horrific pattern of child abuse there. Now, as one of America’s most famous lawyers, he’s put his own past on trial to make sure such a thing never happens again. — New York Metro

Pedophile inclinations result from an illness, but execution of those desires constitutes rape. And rape is always an abuse of power for which society must do everything in its power to eliminate.

Thank you Larry for having the strength to come forward with your story and use your privilege to put an end to this.

Ni una mas.

vacation + plea to unix geeks

I wanted to remind folks that i will be departing next weekend for one month; there will be no email. If there’s anything i need to take care of before i go, please let me know now.

Also, can i get a little help from the unix geeks out there? I have most of my procmail set up. All mailing list messages will be sent to /dev/null and that works like a charm. What i can’t figure out how to do is get the bounce line working for everything else. A friend suggests that it’s a combination of formail and sendmail and sent me this to plug into procmail:

| (formail -r; cat “danah has turned off email for June 2005; please re-write in July if it is still relevant”) | sendmail -oi -t

I feel lame because i don’t know enough about either formail or sendmail (and the manpages aren’t getting me anywhere – more lameness). Since that doesn’t actually work, what do i need to do? Help?

(Once i get that working, i’ll post it for all of the rest of you who want to kill email during vacation. There’s no need to come back to hell and void your entire relaxing break.)

categorization negatively affects memory

Yo, Clay: “As people become smarter, they start to put things into categories, and one of the costs they pay is lower memory accuracy for individual differences.” This article suggests that new research is revealing the complex relationship between categorization (of different types) and memory. In short, the more you categorize, the less you retain and the less knowledge you have about something, the more you pay attention to it because you are unable to easily place it in a comfortable mental model for categorization and forgetting.

In other words, maybe all of my psycho-flipout about labeling things might be my brain kicking into memory protection mode?

(Tx: Chloe)

16 hours

16 hours…. grading finals took 16 hours solid without breaks. As i imagined, some of it was utterly inspiring. One student created a question that showed how new media could be used to deconstruct new media (and its professors and GSIs). It totally took us to task and we loved it. Others showed new ways of combining work in this field that i had never considered. Of course, there were a few problems that broke my heart.

One thing that surprised me was how much pass/fail affects both group dynamics and students’ attitudes. I took most of my classes pass/fail at Brown since i actively despise grades. Yet, it never affected my participation in a classroom. I never expected that i would simply pass by existing. I could never imagine screwing over a group of other students. Of course, i suspect that i got mostly As in P/F classes. I still worked my ass off. Much to my chagrin, i don’t think that attitude is shared. My co-teacher (who only had P/F at his undergrad) and i were stunned at our anti-P/F attitude following this process. Both of us valued it immensely but it really wrecked a few things in our class.

programming an exam, teaching theory

My students’ final exam is due tomorrow. I’m actually quite proud of the design of this exam because it plays on every aspect of new media, even in the design. First, it’s combinatorial. Students write an essay for each artifact that they studied, choose two readings, two frameworks and one insight, write a question and answer it. It’s not like most essay exams because it requires so much creativity and piecing together all that they learned. Yet, it will show what they’re passionate about and help us see which readings mattered to them and which frameworks worked. Not only will it help us evaluate the students, it will let us evaluate the course itself. Conveniently, it’s also something that can be done in takehome fashion without too much worry about cheating (because goddess knows i never want to prosecute another cheating case ever again).

The biggest problem i’m learning as students ask me questions is that they do not really know how to engage theoretical frameworks in an essay. In trying to explain this to them, i discovered a good method (which was recently confirmed by a friend who uses the same method). Tell students to imagine having a conversation with an author or authors about a subject. Ask them to imagine how that conversation would go, how they would offer different insights in the dialogue. Students have a tendency to treat texts from an external perspective, as though they just have to quote things verbatim. It’s much more productive when they can think about how a theorist would deal with an issue and this results in much more interesting responses.

Students’ exams are starting to pour in which is a bit terrifying. There are 60 students, 4 essays each and each essay is 500-1000 words. Plus, there are 12 final projects to grade. By the end of tomorrow, i need to have semester-long grades for all students. Teaching has given me a new respect for professors. I used to bitch about exams and essays but i didn’t even consider how much work grading is. Luckily, the combinatorial final will mean that each essay will be new and interesting and i suspect that i’ll learn a lot about new media from my students tomorrow.