As you may know by now, our small town in the midwest has been systematically and completely overrun by little small bugs that get in your hair, stick to your clothes, and generally annoy. The bugs are Soy Aphids according to bug bloggers like this one.

Up close, the bugs that have filled our town look like this:

And we've all had plenty of chances to view them up close, since whenever you go outside you get covered in them.

This week has been a bad bug week in another way for me in that I was stung not once, not twice, but three times by the yellow jackets. They're living in my siding, and as it turns out, I swell up pretty bad when yellow jackets sting me.

Pretty much everything I do these days involves following advice I find online, so I ended up shop-vac-ing up the stinging buggers. This made me feel bad, as a bug lover, but the stings were just too much to handle.

Here's what a yellow jacket looks like up close:

That's it for bugs. Tomorrow is Friday.


Recent Review

It took me a while to notice it, but I see that there is a nice review online of my 2009 CCCC video prezzy. The presentation is on YouTube in two parts that pop up if you Google "desktop mcing."

From the review, written by Missy Nieveen-Phegley:

Schaffner’s work, and the work of emerging scholars employing new media as a vehicle for their scholarship, challenges our perception of academic scholarship and requires us to redefine it, both in how we recognize what constitutes “valid” scholarship and in how we reward it through tenure and promotion review processes.

Here at UIUC, this kind of presentation seems to exist on the periphery of institutional evaluation. I mean, it counts, but not any more than a regular conference paper. "It's just a conference presentation," in a sense. One cool thing about experimenting with new media at conferences, I think, is that there is a lot of free space to do something new; a downside is that there is little recognition for it. A conference prez is a conference prez.

Anyway, I'm using the Desktop MCing approach in two more conference presentations this year: one at SLSA in Atlanta, and another at CCCC in Louisville. I've pretty much eliminated the talking head from the mashup of media elements, and I'm ramping up the pacing in terms of how quickly things come atcha. We'll have to see how it goes.


Pickle Juice: The Taste of Power

Two recent publications by Pete Gayed, typist and scholastic wonder. The work can be found online (where all good things are) at ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.

My fave of the two pieces is titled "Why Some People Prefer Pickle Juice" and pithily begins "Richard Lifton has seen patients who crave nothing more than pickle juice."


Facebook Lexicon

A bit ago I put up a few posts about how word clouders (like this'un) can be fun ways to visualize revision.

As a technology, clouders have their limitations given their reliance on lexical prevalence. If I wrote "I like blogs more than frogs," blogs and frogs would be tied. If I wrote "I like blogs. Frogs jump around too much. And plus, frogs are green." Frogs would come out on top via a clouder.

Anyway, Facebook is hyping their lexical clouder as a marketing tool. Step 1: Cloud lexical items on Facebook. Step 2: Sell stuff relating to what makes big clouds.

Facebook's hype copy reads "Lexicon graphs are a powerful way to understand the trends in what people are talking about. We've introduced a number of new ways to play with the data. Use the tabs at the top to explore different trends in a given topic."

Understand what people are talking about? Um, kinda. Only if you understand "what people are talking about" as defined by the prevalence with which they use identical words. "Facebook is like, like, like soooo 2006."