Thursday, September 24, 2009

Instant messaging 'chatspeak' no danger to spelling: study

Texting and instant messaging using short-forms and "chatspeak" have no effect on teens' ability to spell properly and could even provide "a little brain workout," researchers at the University of Alberta say.

The small study of about 40 teenagers found that use of the "virtual dialect" of texting and instant messaging did not have any correlation with poor spelling performance.

Study author Connie Varnhagen said teens who were good spellers in the classroom were also good spellers when texting.

"And kids who are poor spellers in English class are poor spellers in instant messaging," said Varnhagen in a statement.

The study, designed by third-year psychology students, involved about 40 students from the ages of 12 to 17. The participants saved their instant messages for a week, and were given a standardized spelling test.

Student researcher Nicole Pugh said she was amazed at the number and complexity of chatspeak words she found in the chat logs.

"Going through the participant conversations, it was interesting to note how many new words that children are using online," said Pugh. "We would have to decipher the meaning of the language with online dictionaries or by asking younger siblings."

The researchers suggest that chatspeak is a complex dialect of English, borne out of a new method of communication.

"Using a new type of language does require concentration and translating it to standard English does require concentration and attention. It's a little brain workout," Varnhagen said.

While the University of Alberta study was small, it does add to the body of evidence that abbreviations and slang seen in instant messaging are not a menace to the Queen's English.

A study in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology in 2009 said that regular users of chatspeak tend to have better vocabulary than others in their peer group.

A study out of the University of Toronto in 2006 said that use of IM slang did not significantly affect students' writing ability.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Asia 2.0: Blogs as Public Media - Call for Papers

CFP: Session at ACS Crossroads Hong Kong 2010 (June, 17th-21st)

Title: “Asia 2.0: Blogs as Public Media”

Organizers: Younghan Cho (Postdoctoral Fellow, National University of Singapore, Singapore)
Nakho Kim (Ph.D. Candidate, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA)

This notice is to call for presenters for the proposed session, entitled as “Asia 2.0: Blogs as Public Media.” Papers are particularly sought around the following related themes:

This panel aims at illuminating diverse ways in which people utilize blogs for spreading public news, sharing their opinions, building social networks, and mobilizing those networks for civic action, specifically focused on Asian contexts including political and economical conditions, media history and cultural values.

From anonymous social protest organizers in Seoul and youth vote activists in Tokyo to crowd-journalists in Shezuan, uses of blogs often imply that blogging is more than a tool for personal activity or social connection. Rather, blogging might function as a public catalyst in the online discourse ecology which often elicits wide circulation of information as well as various responses in turn.

By looking at actual practices of blogging in Asia, this panel intends to show how blogging has become an unofficial journalistic practice as well as how it plays the role of alternative media, social bonds, and democratic movements in their unique social and cultural contexts. To encapsulate such activities of blogging, this panel suggests the idea of “blogs as public media.”

Possible topics include but are not limited to: citizen journalism as alternative media, social media as tools for democratic mobilization, cultural practices of social networking, changes in the media ecology, shifting social bonds etc, specifically focused on Asian contexts. This panel does not emphasize any specific research method, and doors are open to empirical case study, and/or theory-based papers grounded in sociological theory and cultural studies, among others.

If you would like to present a paper, please send an initial expression of interest to Younghan Cho ( by October 21st, 2009. An abstract of 100-150 words will be expected by November 20th, 2009.

Youghan Cho, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow in Asia Research Institute
National University of Singapore

Dr. CHO Younghan (PhD Communication Studies, UNC-CH)
Postdoctoral Fellow, Asia Research Institute at National University of Singapore

Studies in Evil Media

University of East London School of Humanities and Social Sciences and Centre for Cultural Studies Research present

Studies in Evil Media

October 7th 2009

University of East London
Docklands Campus
(Cyprus DLR - the station is literally at the campus)
Room EB.3.19 (third floor, main building, turn left on entering main square from station)
All Welcome

Matthew Fuller (Goldsmiths: Author of Media Ecologies)
& Andrew Goffey (Middlesex University: Translator of Isabelle Stengers’ Capitalist Sorcery)

Evil Media

Evil Media updates Machiavelli's 'The Prince' for the era of networked digital media and corporate governance. Addressing a range of objects, practices, techniques and knowledges traditionally excluded from the purview of media studies, it explores the sophistry that is quite literally embodied by the sophisticated technologies of the knowledge economy.

'Evil' explicitly references the antagonistic ethical and moral quality that an epoch gorging itself on progress has sought unsuccessfully to banish; and so Evil Media offers a useful prospectus of the ruses, subterfuges, deception, manipulation and trickery which media technics make possible and effective.

By adopting a perspective which counters the idealistic, liberal, assumptions encoded within the notion of representation or facilitation and enabling, it aims to re-situate the study of media within a framework which includes forms of media that are 'below the radar' of most contemporary theory and actively occluded by the framework of representation.

Here, media do not so much tell us about things, but are themselves things that exhibit behaviours.

Tony Sampson (University of East London: Author of Virality:Contagion Theory in the Age of Networks)

New Media Hypnosis

Drawing on the microsociology of Gabriel Tarde (1843-1904), and a number of other "Tardean scholars", this presentation approaches the idea that new media landscapes function increasingly as a mode of hypnotic mass persuasion. Significantly, this is not a sociological perspective that concerns itself with rational, self-contained individuals, or indeed society as a whole, but rather responds to what one viral marketer (following a decidedly similar trajectory to Tarde) recently referred to as 'the invisible currents that run between and among consumers'.

These 'invisible currents', affective contagions (Thrift, 2007), or the radiation of imitation-suggestibility, as Tarde termed it, work at the intersections between attention inattention, cognition/noncognition, social/biological domains and consciousness/unconsciousness.

The talk focuses on examples taken from the new science of networks,epidemiology, HCI, emotional design, affective computing, eye tracking technology, neuromarketing and evil media studies.

Respondent: Paul Gormley
(University of East London: Author of The New Brutality Film: Race and Affect in Contemporary American Cinema)

Did You Know 4.0

Fantastic video on the progression of information technology.

4.0 for 2009 - Newly Revised Edition Created by Darren Bachynski, and modified by Jared Bachynski; Globalization & Our Changing Planet. It was even adapted by Sony BMG at an executive meeting they held in Paris this year.

Lemelson Center Fellowships 2010

The Smithsonian's Lemelson Center is seeking proposals for its 2010 Fellows Program, which supports projects that present creative approaches to the study of invention and innovation in American society. These include, but are not limited to, historical research and documentation projects resulting in publications, exhibitions, educational initiatives, and multimedia products.

The fellowship program provides access to the Smithsonian's vast artifact and archival collections, as well as the expertise of the Institution's research staff.

The Center offers fellowships to scholars and professionals who are pre- or postdoctoral candidates or who have completed advanced professional training.

Fellowships are awarded for a maximum of ten weeks and carry a prorated stipend. Fellows are expected to reside in the Washington,D.C. area, to participate in the Center's activities, and to make presentations on their work to colleagues at the museum.

Applicants are required to consult with the fellowship coordinator prior to submitting a proposal.

The Lemelson Center was established at the National Museum of American History in 1995 through a gift from The Lemelson Foundation. Jerome Lemelson (1923-1997) was an independent inventor who earned more than 600 patents, representing one of the largest patent portfolios in the nation's history.

The Center's mission is to document, interpret, and disseminate information about invention and innovation, to encourage inventive creativity in young people, and to foster an appreciation for the central role invention and innovation play in the history of the United States.

The deadline for applications is January 15, 2010.
Application materials are available on the web at