chimerically: (Default)
First Berkeley, and now Stanford is cracking down on "illegal use of file-sharing technology." Sounds like they're leaving it up to the RIAA/MPAA to determine violations and to establish a definition of "legal" -- a bit dangerous, if you ask me, given how liberally they're flinging about takedown notices (and how difficult it is to challenge one). Also, both letters have the usual misuse of DMCA, implying that it applies to file-sharing generally rather than to just reverse-engineering or otherwise circumventing copy protection technologies (e.g. DeCSS). Also, there's no mention of fair use in either letter. Anyway, thought some of you might be interested in seeing both of these.

The Stanford letter (5/15/2007) )

The Berkeley letter (4/3/2007) )
chimerically: (sewing machine)
My life's been invaded by robots. It all started with [livejournal.com profile] dag29580863 getting a robotic dog last fall, when he was still at IBM. At the time he was exploring cognitive computing and was hoping to use it for something involving that, but when he moved to Google it came home with him.

Then I got him a Lego Mindstorms NXT kit for xmas. We've played around with ideas of building a ballroom-dancing robot and a thermostat robot with it. This quarter, in Cliff Nass's lab, I'm working with a team doing studies on human-robot interaction ... and as part of an experiment we're running on attachment to robots, I borrowed [livejournal.com profile] dag29580863's kit back and built and programmed some robots to use in the study. (Yeah, I'm a terrible gift-giver in this case. "Here's a present! Now I'm going to play with it ..." I also feel like I'm back in undergraduate computer science in that I'm pulling all-nighters figuring out the advanced programming features of the NXT.) I've also talked to several friends who are doing research on various robots, including a fascinating project on the Mars Rover missions.

Finally, after recent allergy tests revealed that I am, in fact, allergic to lots of things (surprise surprise), yesterday we ordered a roomba that should arrive next week that should help us keep our place cleaner and less allergy-inducing.

I feel like my life's being taken over by robots! What will be next? Maybe I can incorporate these recent forays into robotics into my final paper for my (fabulous and fascinating) phenomenology class, just to continue the trend. :~) Or I can program a robot to sew ballroom dresses for me. (I'm trying to finish up two dresses for the performance I have this Saturday.)

Any other robots I should know about out there? Can they invade my life even more?

(P.S. Isn't this sewing userpic cool? I can't remember where I found it, but for many sewing machines are so opaque and this is just a great graphic for understanding what's really going on.)
chimerically: (goldenrod)
It's nearly two and I'm not tired and for once I have no urgent assignments to finish, so perhaps I should write a bit about how my life is going. I haven't updated in -- how long has it been now? -- well, either mid-summer or the end of spring, depending on what you count as an update. In that time I've passed the quarter-century mark; moved to Palo Alto; started blues dancing; tried hanggliding and waterskiing; participated in a wedding (as a bridesmaid) at the Grand Canyon; performed with a lindy hop troupe; finished up my internship at Yahoo! Research, helped write two papers for CHI, and started classes at Stanford all in the same week; mobilized my incoming PhD cohort to collectively buy a printer, provide cheap snacks, and have a social email list like my last two departments did; bought and built a fancy new desktop computer for data storage and processing; started competitive ballroom dancing again with a new partner and won second place in a recent competition; went backpacking with first-timers [livejournal.com profile] stellae and [livejournal.com profile] zestyping; presented at two conferences (one with [livejournal.com profile] dag29580863!) ... in short, I've been insanely busy and that's why I haven't been posting, even though I have millions of things I want to write about.

Despite the prevalence of social-sounding events in that list, what has been consuming most of my time is classwork. I'm loving my courses down here, but they really do keep me busy every spare moment with readings and assignments. I've found my Theory of Communication class, though focusing more on psychological measures and political communication than I (currently) do in my research, fascinating. We've discussed emotions and cognition, attitudes and persuasion, verbal and nonverbal communication, interpersonal and mass communication, and political communication, and will be talking about news, campaigns, and the Internet before the semester quarter is over.

I have two other classes which I am particularly enjoying, one on ethnography of virtual communities (taught through the anthropology department) and one on qualitative research methods (taught through the sociology department), which is a lot like a class I took at Berkeley except more structured. I have a list of at least fifty other classes I would like to take in the next few years, which of course I probably can't really do. I think I was at Berkeley long enough -- seven years altogether -- to exhaust most of the classes I wanted to (and was allowed to) take, except for the new and exciting one-time offerings through SIMS the iSchool. It's great to be in a place with a different (though similar in many ways) intellectual tradition and a whole new set of course offerings and opportunities. I have so many sociology and anthropology classes that I want to take that I may end up getting PhD minors in both (if I'm allowed), and maybe even getting a Master's in sociology along the way. The inimitable Jean Lave gave me the names of about twenty professors who she really likes at Stanford, and their course offerings all sound fascinating. I'm having trouble keeping the number of units I want take each semester quarter (eventually I'll get used to the new nomenclature) below the maximum.

My advisor Fred is fabulous, though he's been very busy this quarter promoting his new book -- which I guess is just as well, because I've been preoccupied with classes myself. I really look forward to interacting more with him and with others in the Communication department and beyond, though. And I'm also excited to do what I can to help forge more ties with Berkeley's iSchool, something several of the folks in Communication are interested in doing but lack the time to actually implement.

Aside from classwork, I've also become quite involved in several dance communities around the Bay Area. A good friend in the Stanford Ballroom Dance Team invited me to be their teacher training coordinator, so I set up a program for them at the beginning of the quarter. A fellow Yahoo! Research intern introduced me to blues dancing over the summer and I was hooked, and am now helping with R.A. Blues, a blues dancing venue in the South Bay. I've also been helping Julia Minson with her Mad Hot DanceSport program, teaching elementary school kids how to ballroom dance once a week and choreographing their end-of-year cha-cha/swing medley performance. (Stay tuned for more about this -- this will probably be Dec. 9, and the more who attend, the merrier.) Finally, after a four-month break, I've started dancing competitively again, this time with a Googler who recently moved up here from Southern California. So far it's going great -- though it was really important for me to take a break from ballroom dancing to rehabilitate myself, I've found that I have really missed it. Other kinds of dance, though they all share features, just can't make me as euphoric as International Standard danced at a high level. *contented sigh*

Well, there's a lot more to write -- I have a dozen outlined or half-written posts in my blog.txt file. But it's now approaching three and I'm finally starting to feel tired, and I have to get up early for physical therapy tomorrow (Stanford's health center is SO AMAZING! You Stanford students who complain about it don't know how lucky you are), so for now I'll sign off and leave my midnight railings and political rants for another day.
chimerically: (2 years old)
I can't help but smile every time I pass by the two relocatables named "Harold" and "Maude" on campus.
chimerically: (ballroom)
I'll be teaching a seven-week "Swing Essentials" class at Stanford this July and August (a reprise of "Swing Essentials" classes I've taught over the years for UCBD). Feel free to join! It's a beginning class but I hope to cover a lot of ground. You'll learn the basics of East Coast Swing, Jitterbug, (ballroom) Jive, Lindy Hop, and West Coast Swing, and how to use the same concepts and moves in all the styles. The cost is $30/students, $60/nonstudents for all seven weeks (a steal!). No partner or experience is necessary! You can preregister online, or come to one of the first two weeks of class to register at the door (come early!).

I'm teaching with my colleague Simon, a great blues and lindy dancer, who has been very involved with Friday Night Blues in San Francisco. He brings a very different perspective to dancing and teaching. While most of my training has been formal and competitive, his training has been on the social dance floor (though he's also done swing performances) and he's a very "intuitive" dancer. He has a lot of teaching experience too, so I think we'll make a great team (even if we don't always agree :~)).

As part of the class, I highly encourage students to attend outings to local swing clubs. The best (if not only) way to really learn swing (and all dance, in fact) is to get out there and do it. These outings will also serve as an introduction to the local swing community and to other swing resources. I'll coordinate the details of these outings through the class mailing list. (If you're in the class but not on the mailing list, email me and I'll add you: ljswingmorganyaorg.) Note that most of the optional outings are to Swing Central. This event draws a big crowd, and repeated visits give everyone a chance to get to know a particular swing community. But going every week, and also visiting other swing clubs in the area, may be too much of a time commitment for some students, so I've prioritized the outings into official ones and optional ones. I'll also show up 30 minutes before classes 2-7 to answer questions and review steps from last week, and recommend that students attend, since we don't have time for much review in class.

In the true spirit of collaborative learning, I'm "open-sourcing" my proposed syllabus, which I also hand out to students at the beginning of the class (and again in revised form at the end, based on what we did cover). I do want to focus on teaching the technique and the "feel" of swing dancing more than the memorization of specific moves (but I also want to keep everyone moving during class!). I'll revise this post as the syllabus changes. Syllabus behind the cut ... )

Stanford

Apr. 14th, 2006 03:39 pm
chimerically: (Default)
I've decided to move to the Stanford Department of Communication next year. The decision was difficult and involved, but I think it's for the best. I am planning on keeping my Berkeley contacts alive, especially that with my current advisor, and I'll probably be back to sit in on a class or two as well (especially the one Jean Lave and Peter Lyman, though both retired, are planning for next spring). I've been doing lots of research on what classes are offered, who teaches them, and what professors and peers I could work with at both places. Danah and David helped me focus in by suggested a few pointed questions to ask myself: where can I find a community I want to work with? who will help me with the inevitable bureaucracy? where can I learn the skills I want to have? whose job would I love to have, and how do I get there? Ultimately, I know that I can't make a fully-informed decision since I haven't attended Stanford and can't possibly learn everything about it and can't know what will come up at Berkeley that I don't yet know about. Both schools have their strengths and weaknesses, and I'd very likely follow different paths at each. But all things considered, Stanford's resources in various areas put it ahead of Berkeley.

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