Schisms (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 6, Episode 5)

Rewatching ST:TNG Riker is having trouble sleeping, except during Data’s poetry recitation. (“O Spot! The complex levels of behavior you display / Connote a fairly well developed cognitive array.”) As the ship faces a labor-intensive task of charting the Space Thing of the Week, LaForge has made some adjustments to the deflector grid. Riker’s dozing is more than a teaser gag; he reports to sickbay, and snaps at Dr. Crusher when she waves equipment near his head. Meanwhile, Worf flinches at Mr. Mot’s barber scissors. The sensors seem jumpy too — they detect what appears to be “a massive EPS…

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

In November 2001 I was blogging about

In November 2001, I was blogging about Florida recounts would have favored Bush (contentions election famous for a Florida ballot that many voters found confusing) Is this a burger which I see before me, / The soft bun in my hand? Come, et me clutch thee. / I eat thee not, and yet I want thee still. (McDonald’s Soliloquy)’ The Tyranny of Nicespeak Treating users with disabilities as people What if David Mamet rewrote 2001: A Space Odyssey?  

Axios journalism style delivers traditional news content in scannable format

In addition to the fact that it’s good news that a federal judge is responding rationally to science, logic, and our basic human obligation to care for the most vulnerable members of our society, I’m also interested in the way Axios labels each paragraph of this news story and supplies details with bullet points. It’s an interesting blend of journalism and writing scannable text for busy online readers. Copying and pasting text from the Axios website is annoying because of the embedded non-standard formatting. (I had to recreate the look on my page.) A federal judge ruled Wednesday that Texas…

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 puts into its “load” menu) means generation Z usually doesn’t need to internalize the concept that a document exists at a single location on a hard drive. I have recently…

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. […] It could all seem like a small price to pay until you project out the use of this tech into the near future. An apparel store clerk uses an…

“Link In Bio” is a slow knife

We don’t even notice it anymore — “link in bio”. It’s a pithy phrase, usually found on Instagram, which directs an audience to be aware that a pertinent web link can be found on that user’s profile. […] For a closed system, those kinds of open connections are deeply dangerous. If anyone on Instagram can just link to any old store on the web, how can Instagram — meaning Facebook, Instagram’s increasingly-overbearing owner — tightly control commerce on its platform? If Instagram users could post links willy-nilly, they might even be able to connect directly to their users, getting their…


A Successful Failure: The TI-99/4A Turns 40

My family had one of these when I was 12 or 13. The games I remember include a Pac-Man clone called “Munchman,” but I think I remember learning BASIC, blocky computer graphics, word-processing, and using a speech-synthesizer. The TI-99/4A was a great computer to learn on. I remember making a Star Trek combat simulator (based on the text-only battle games that were popular at the time), and I remember being incredibly frustrated, that in order to get a “+” sign, you pushed “shift” and the “=” button; but that in order to quit a program, you pushed “function” and the…

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

In February, 2001, I was blogging about computer nostalgia, Napster, a horror typing game, usability, and web blurbs.

In February, 2001, I was blogging about Computer nostalgia and text adventure games.“Walking into a room rendered in the Q3 engine can be lovely and impressive, but when you’ve only 16K to tell a story, you have to rely on the gamer’s imagination to provide the details. Just the words ‘you are on a beach’ can summon vistas no game can provide.” — James Lileks Napster. File-sharing was destroying the economic model of the recording industry. Here’s a screenshot of what the Yahoo News “Technology Full Coverage” section looked like on February 23, 2001. The Typing of the Dead: A…

Texas lawyer trapped by cat filter on Zoom call, informs judge he is not a cat

A Texas lawyer accidentally left a kitten filter on during a video conference call with a judge and was unable to change it, eventually responding to a judge’s query about why he was being addressed by a digital feline by saying: “I’m here live. I am not a cat.” Later, the judge wrote: “These fun moments are a byproduct of the legal profession’s dedication to ensuring that the justice system continues to function in these tough times. Everyone involved handled it with dignity, and the filtered lawyer showed incredible grace. True professionalism all around!” —Guardian

The Myth of North America, in One Painting

Fascinating art history — a thoughtful close reading of a painting. Great example of multimodal journalism. The clouds are heavy and black. A grim day for fighting. In the air is the smell of damp, and mortar fire. It’s a little after 10 a.m. on Sept. 13, 1759. The battle is almost over. In the distance, the wounded French soldiers are retreating. And a young general in a red coat is dying far from England, on the other side of the Atlantic. What does history look like? Who gets to write it, in whose name? The Seven Years’ War —…

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

In November 2000, I was blogging about the US Presidential election, mirrors, Arts & Letters Daily, and more

In November 2000, I was blogging about Ursula K. Le Guin Why we perceive mirrors reversing things left/right but not up/down Pioneering blog Arts & Letters Daily (just a year older than my own blog) Nick Montfort’s constrained poem “Upper Typewriter Row“ The 2000 US Presidential Election controversy (ballot design, hanging chads, recounts, political cartoons) The Web Economy Bullshit Generator The Onion’s fake “Fontly Speaking” typeface design column. James Lileks’s Orphanage of Cast-off Mascots A Quake 3 gamer who misses solving puzzles in text-adventure games

Cameras and Masks: Sustaining Emotional Connections with Your Students in an Age of COVID19

There are some sound pedagogical reasons for turning cameras on. Thus, I suggest sharing those reasons with the students before giving them the choice of what to do about their cameras. Explain why you are making your request. For example, being able to see students’ faces gives instructors a quick and easy way to discern whether students are finding the material engaging, at least in smaller classes. One instructor told me that “I asked students to turn their cameras on to say hi to their classmates at the beginning and end of class, and those were the best moments of the class.”

Deadline seems to have briefly published, then taken down, story that says Pence has tested positive for coronavirus

Deadline seems to have briefly published, then taken down, a breaking news story including the sentence “Pence announced late Wednesday that he is among those who have tested positive in the ongoing White House coronavirus outbreak.” 1. Google search for “tom tapp coronavirus pence” shows a hit for a Deadline story with a headline prefaced “PREP. DO NOT PUBLISH UNTIL THE NEWS CROSSES.” 2. Clicking the URL takes you to an error…   3. Clicking the down arrow by the URL reveals Google’s “Cached” version of that page.   Some years ago, people found CNN had pre-published obituaries of famous…