January 2006

Via Boing Boing:

Dance-Dance DNA

This is a very cool implementation of the Dance-Dance Revolution idea to teach kids about DNA. Not only that, it's called 'The Codon Hoedown'. (See this news release.)

I recently had a meeting with a non-profit group I work with, and I was trying to get them to incorporate mySpace into their cirriculum. Why? Because, as the CEO of the group said, 'it's where the kids are at.' If we can have the perspective to adapt our ideas about what counts as learning, creativity, and expression, we can create all kinds of new technologies that engage kids in learning without beating them over the head with it!

I want to insert a plug for an exciting project I'm working on called Mycroft. It's still in the very early stages, but we've got an extremely alpha prototype up, and some web content (quickly evolving). Check us out at mycroftnetwork.com. Very soon you'll also see the prototype appearing on these blog pages as well.

I'll be posting more about this project (probably a lot more) in the coming weeks and months. What I love about it is that it's a wonderful synthesis of the technical and the sociocultural. It's a research platform and a practical tool, and I get to do design and coding as well as anthropological fieldwork. You'll get the gist from the site, but I'll be interested in starting some discussion about the specific sociocultural issues later on. In the meantime feel free to post comments here, or email the team at mycroftnetwork@gmail.com.

The program for this year's SfAA meetings in Vancouver has been released. I'm completely psyched for this year's meetings both because last year's in Santa Fe were fantastic and because I've never been to Vancouver. If you've never checked out SfAA, I highly recommend it. The meetings are always a lot of fun – I've found them to be both more informal and much more useful and valuable than the AAAs are. There's also a lot more interaction. The sessions tend to be well attended and full of interesting discussion. It's just a wonderful community of knowledgeable and experienced people.

And more and more there are papers that cross the boundaries between ICTs and anthropology. This year I am doing both a paper and a poster. My paper is titled 'Cultural Assessment of Kiosk Projects: A Path to Sustainable Success' and is in a double session about evaluation that my former advisor put together. The poster is called 'Managing Multiple Identities Online' and draws on a set of informal interviews we conducted about people's strategies for managing multiple online identities.

I appreciated my friend Dave's well-reasoned reaction to the recent uproar over Microsoft's banning of a politically active Chinese blogger.

This seems like exactly the sort of thing that well-meaning but ideologically narrow minded and ethnocentric folks would be up in arms about, if only because Microsoft is already the Devil. We might say that Microsoft was acting in a culturally sensitive manner by banning the blogger. Not only that, but acting in a culturally sensitive way now, even if it violated their sense of ethics and fairness, positions them to do good things later on.

All the best to you in the new year. As my grandfather says: I wish you health, love, and prosperity, and the time to enjoy them.