What do you think… is it safe to throw out this to-do list from 1989?

As an undergrad, every morning before I headed out for the day, I would print my schedule (on a clackety dot-matrix printer that took fan-fold paper). At this point I don’t think I was using any fancy software, just keeping a list in a text editor. I had 9 credits of internships as an undergrad, and don’t remember what the noon interview was. It looks like I must have scheduled…

Shatner’s live, extemporaneous post-touchdown monologue on mortality was better than Kirk’s death scene

After returning to Earth in Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin private spacecraft, Shatner is delivering an extemporaneous monologue about viewing Mother Earth and reflecting on death. “I hope I never recover from this,” he says, of the emotions he experienced. Much better than Kirk’s death scene in Star Trek: Generations. Someone (I was listening, not watching… I think it was Bezos) says “Beautiful,” and Shatner thinks he’s commenting about the view…

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Cause and Effect (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 18) time loop. Ka-boom. The Enterprise is trapped in a

Rewatching ST:TNG A smart, character-driven story that follows the crew of the Enterprise-D through a short time loop (about a year before Bill Murray did something similar in “Groundhog Day”). After a chaotic teaser that ends with the Enterprise-D blowing to smithereens, we get a routine Captain’s Log, a relaxed poker game where Crusher impressively calls Riker’s bluff, a dizzy LaForge visiting sickbay, a humming Crusher hearing odd voices at…

The sped-up culture that delivers that novel to your doorstep overnight is the same culture that deprives you of the time to read it.

This ambiguity—fiction as virtue and vice—sheds light on a larger truth about all the components of Amazon’s administration of literary life just enumerated: as state of the art as they may be, they are to some degree self-contradictory, or at least conflicted. For instance, if what fiction most essentially is for us is a volume of commodified time, one of the most notorious facts of contemporary literary life is that…

MisSpelled: Premiering Oct 1

In this podcast series, I voice a mage whose thirst for power leads him down surprising paths. A fully voiced fantasy/comedy audio series, with original music and sound effects. From WAOB Audio Theatre. We recorded much of this before the pandemic, and I have only heard a rough cut of the first scene. (I created the poster in Blender3D.)  

‘Babylon 5’ Reboot in Development at The CW From Original Series Creator J. Michael Straczynski

The Variety story breaking this news doesn’t cite a source, and gives no further news beyond what I’ve quoted here. The rest of the article is padded with details about the 1990s franchise. B5 was ground-breaking in many ways, including telling season-long arcs within a coherent, over-arching series-long story, at a time when most TV was purely episodic. The series also pioneered the use of 3D computer graphics instead of…

“Your resume is not about you:” Insights from a journalism hiring manager on how to succeed in applying for internships and jobs

Your resume is not about you. It’s about ME, the hiring manager. If I move your resume through the stack, I am attaching my reputation to yours. I am being judged in large part by my hires. Don’t ever forget that. When I am looking at a resume, cover letter and portfolio, I am not looking at what you’ve done. Frankly, I don’t care. What I care about is how…

Appreciating the production values and so-stupid-it-might-be-brilliant comedy in Avatar: The Last Airbender

The daughter is showing my wife and me “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” It’s not easy to find a time when we can all sit down together, but we’re managing to watch one a week. (Today we watched two. Not exactly binge-watching, I know.) I’m not particularly a fan of the weird blend of American comics and Japanimation, but I do like the charming hand-drawn feel. I find myself getting a…

Students who grew up with search engines might change STEM education forever

The headline is oddly STEM-specific, but yes, it used to be that if you worked with computers at all, you had to understand your computer’s file directory structure, so all college instructors could expect that their STEM majors had probably learned this concept as part of their earliest computer training. But the “search” function on individual computers (and also the list of recently saved files that almost every software tool…

I’m not a big fan of Disney’s corporate greed.

I’m not a huge fan of Disney, largely because as a grad student in the 1990s, I chose the 1920-1950 time period for my dissertation based on my expectation that the literary works I studied from that time period would fall out of copyright one by one during my career. I planned to mine my dissertation, using what I learned about the literary works in that time period to create…

How to lie with charts, by the @NYTimes

I tend to defend journalism when showboaters & slogan-quoters attack “the media” in general, but I’m eager to read legitimate critiques of individual news stories. Here’s one that seems to manipulate data out of context to support a fearmongering narrative. (Don’t do this!) 1. Data not normalized2. Not the appropriate visualization3. No differentiation between data and projections4. Not the whole story5. No contextualization of risk And NOT a @nytimes staffer;…

Hear That? It’s Your Voice Being Taken for Profit.

Why do tech companies give us these cool free digital voice assistants? (Hint: If you’re not paying for it, you’re the product being sold.) Because of recent major advances in natural language processing and machine learning, individuals will soon be able to speak conversationally not just to their phone assistant or smart speaker but to their dedicated bank assistant, kitchen equipment, restaurant menu, hotel room console, homework assignment, or car.…

Media Bias Chart 8.0 (Left vs. Right; Fact vs. Propaganda; Complex vs. Clickbait; Idle Chatter vs. Original Reporting) Version 8.0

From AdFontes Media. If you never disagree with the slant of your news source, then you probably aren’t reading a balanced news source; you’re just reading a source aligned with your bias. A truly informed person will consult credible sources (above the green line) on both the left and right. Know where your biases are, and make an effort to read credible, fact-based news and analysis that presents views that…

Bound Together by an Historic Moment

I was a young faculty member teaching a two-hour freshman comp lab in Wisconsin the morning of September 11, 2001. On my way back to the office, I happened to pass the English faculty lounge, and saw people watching the TV news coverage of the Twin Towers. When I heard about the plane that hit the Pentagon, I called home to check on my sister. She was living in the…

Dennis G. Jerz | Associate Professor of English -- New Media Journalism, Seton Hill University | jerz.setonhill.edu Logo

In September, 2001 I was blogging about…

With a grant from UWEC, I was able to invite foundational computer game designer Scott Adams to a seminar on Storytelling in Computer Games. I used tiny analog tape recorder at the speaker’s podium, and later worked with my student Matt Hoy to post a hyperlinked transcript to go along with the audio. (This was really cutting edge stuff 20 years ago, and I’m glad the site still works. This…

Delightful interview with a former Setonian editor-in-chief who’s now doing SEO

As a student journalist, Jessie totally revamped the print publications and the website, unifying them with design elements from the Sisters of Charity (the religious order that founded our school) and rounded rectangles that echoed the interface of the iPads (which were at the time a brand new part of SHU’s student technology plan). The way she blended tradition and high-tech is a product of the flexibility of a liberal…

What Is Newsworthy? (10m animated lecture)

How do journalists determine what events are worth covering? “Dog bites man” is routine, but “man bites dog” is unusual, so it’s more newsworthy. Unusual events are more newsworthy than ordinary events. Important people, and ordinary people who do important/unusual things are more newsworthy than ordinary people who do ordinary things. Events with a significant impact are more newsworthy than events with a trivial impact. Events that affect many people…