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Commons Locked Book IconMaine Public Radio highlights the debate over open access to scholarly publications in conversation with Still Water’s Jon Ippolito and his fellow colleagues from the University of Maine.

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Figure 1. Vanessa Vobis, Crystal World (2008), Legion Arts-CSPS, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, USA
Figure 2. Vanessa Vobis, Mars Attacks Fragonard (2009), (106) Gallery, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
Figure 3. Julian Epps, The Cave (2008), FreesePop, Bangor, Maine, USA

Still Water Fellow Vanessa Vobis has a history of combining installation art and ecology. In 2007 she filled sandwich bags with tap water and after a couple weeks they burst with algae growth under natural light. This discovery led to her MFA thesis show, Nitpickers, at Legion Arts-CSPS in 2008 (Figure 1) and gallery shows including Mars Attacks Fragonard at Grand Rapids’ (106) Gallery (Figure 2). Later in 2008 she taught the inaugural installation class at UMaine’s Intermedia graduate program, prompting a student show at Bangor’s historic Freeses Building featuring a community theme and materials including pancakes, wheatgrass, and projections inspired by bioluminescence (Figure 3).

After moving to Los Angeles in 2009, Vanessa is continuing to connect people and natural resources, helping found the volunteer corps LA Green Grounds, working as a gallery interpreter and Master Gardener at LA County’s Natural History Museum, and creating an edible and native garden in her South LA backyard. Vanessa’s activities were toured last week by Still Water co-founders Joline Blais and Jon Ippolito, in Los Angeles for an ecology-themed set of activities at nearby University of Southern California.

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In the digital art preservation field, we are in the middle of a crisis between contents versus containers. This is a crisis of substance, material substance opposing to conceptual/intentional substance of the artwork. What do we want? That all resources be directed towards to the preservation and storage of the original devices? Or, that each time it is exhibited, the artwork be constantly updated and adapted to new versions of hardware and software ? In other words, should we preserve the material (hardware/software) or the intent?

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Still Water Senior Researcher John Bell has been selected to take part in the Mozilla+Journalism news lab, the second round of this year’s MoJo Innovation Challenges.¬† Over the next month he’ll be one of sixty participants applying the knowledge of people like Christian Heilmann, Burt Herman, Aza Raskin, John Resig, and others to the problem of redefining journalism for the open web era.¬† You can follow his progress on his blog.

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A recent story in the New York Times provides a contemporary snapshot of how Internet-based recognition metrics are challenging the closed peer review typical of traditional academia.

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Mit Press Journals Banner“New Criteria for New Media” topped the list of the most downloaded article from MIT’s Leonardo Journal with 798 downloads as of this writing. This article by Joline Blais, Steve Evans, Jon Ippolito, Owen F. Smith, and Nathan Stormer proposes concrete new academic guidelines for evaluating scholarship in the digital age, and has garnered enormous attention from university researchers and administrators alike.

A pdf version can be downloaded from the MIT Press Web site. An interactive version of the article can be found at ThoughtMesh.net.

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Thoug Sample Reviews illThoughtMesh developers Craig Dietrich and John Bell have just launched a sophisticated reviewing system internal to the ThoughtMesh open publication platform.

Unlike the relatively uncontrolled comments at a site like YouTube, ThoughtMesh’s reviews are subject to a rigorous trust metric. Each reviewer must claim a level of expertise before rating an article, and the software holds them accountable in a way that even the rigorous method of peer reviewers for academic journals do not achieve.

As might be expected, a review by someone claiming expertise will have more effect on the overall rating of the essay than by someone who claims none. However, those who claim expertise have to live up to it. If an academic makes exaggerated claims and is then trashed by her peers, her credibility will plummet faster than if she claimed no expertise in the first place.

You can see a sample discussion by clicking on the “peer review” tab of Robin Boast’s paper “Open Objects Initiative: A Critique of Openness.”

The release of this peer review feature is good timing, given MIT’s recent publication of the University of Maine’s new criteria for 21st-century academics.

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MIT’s Leonardo magazine has published the promotion and tenure criteria of the University of Maine’s New Media Department, along with a white paper entitled “New Criteria for New Media” that argues for updating academic standards for the Internet age.

Leonardo Cover v 42 n 1 CropThe publication has been reported in over 1000 outlets online, from Rhizome to HASTAC to LibraryThing. The criteria have already made their way into policy statements at UCSD, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Nebraska.

The publication can be downloaded for free at the Leonardo Web site, and is mirrored in interactive form at ThoughtMesh. For more, see the feature story at the U-Me New Media Web site.

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