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

In September, 2000, I was blogging about PICK UP AX, Bellamy’s Looking Backward, WB Yeats, Jupiter Communications, and why Flash Animations Suck

In September 2000, I was blogging about The nerdy, 3-person 1990 play PICK UP AX The full text of Edward Bellamy’s Utopian fantasy Looking Backward (written in 1888, set in September 2000) The papers of William Butler Yeats (donated by his son to the National Library of Ireland) An elitist press release from Jupiter Communications that catered to web users with the fastest computers and Internet connections Why Flash animations suck

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

In July, 2000, I was creating handouts on the sounds of poetry, prototypes, and writing for the web

It seems that an unusually high percentage of links I posted to my website in July 2000 no longer work, but here are a few links that I could find via the Wayback Machine: The guy who invented the “pet rock” won the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction contest for really bad writing. Humorous courtroom transcripts Q: All your responses must be oral, OK? What school did you go to? A: Oral. In July 2000 I posted several new handouts that I’ve kept up over the years and still use in some form or other. Current Poetry is For the Ear; 2000 version…

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

In May, 2000, I was blogging about the ‘I Love You’ virus, hacking URLs, PG Wodehouse, and Pez poetry

In May, 2000, I was blogging about The “I Love You” IRC virus A college that shifted to online applications only A poem about Pez that has lodged this couplet forever in my brain: What art thou, Pez, that must needs be dispensed? T’ be merely wrapped would leave thee so incensed? Hacking the URL A school for doctors with bad handwriting P.G. Wodehouse

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

In April 2000, I was blogging about HTML frames, the future of reading, grammar, Kairos, and Hypercard

In April 2000, I was blogging about… HTML frames (who remembers how much they sucked?) The sorry state of web design (AskTog) The future of reading “Rules grammar change: English traditional replace to be new syntax with” (The Onion) Journalism students who don’t read or watch journalism A design critique I published in the innovative online journal Kairos How Apple’s Hypercard set the stage for literary hypertext

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

In January 2000, I was blogging about dancing paperclips, the transience of literary judgement, “bafflegab,” and a planned B&N/Microsoft online bookstore

In January 2000, I was blogging about Dancing paperclips and telemarketers A “100 best novels” list published in 1899 Updike’s prequel to Hamlet The “bafflegab” jargon generator “Bookseller Barnes & Noble is teaming with Microsoft to build a new online e-book store.” (but the link is dead)

Over time, Google has made paid ads harder to spot

  In 2007, Google changed the long-standing shaded background indicating the ads section of the page from blue to yellow. In 2008, it then briefly tried a green background before reverting back to yellow. Google continued to test variations of background colors including bright blue and a light violet. In 2010, violet officially replaced the yellow, but only lasted about a year before yellow reappeared in 2011. In 2013, Google tweaked the yellow to a paler shade, which would close out the era of background shading. At the end of 2013, Google removed the background shading and began testinga yellow…

Big Calculator: How Texas Instruments Monopolized Math Class

My math education predated the widespread use of graphing calculators. I remember writing my own BASIC programs to graph simple functions, but that was in a summer school programming class during middle school, not part of my high school curriculum. I’m amazed these old calculators cost this much. Bulky and black, with large, colorful push buttons and a low-resolution screen, TI graphing calculators resemble top-of-the-line design from the 1990s and are functionally the same as when Texas Instruments first launched the TI-84 Plus in 2004. Even the price has remained almost the same. When my mom bought my TI-83 Plus…

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

In November 1999, I was blogging about books, camomile tea and Skylon 4, the death of Star Trek, and the “active user paradox”

In November 1999, I was blogging about John’s Book Pages (by a CS grad student who had recently read Gene Wolfe and Anthony Bourdain, among many others) What camomile tea has in common with the attack squadron over Skylon 4 (rec.humor newsgroup reference to a disastrous “tandem story” assignment) “Nimoy is, to say the least, amused by the notion that ‘Star Trek’ is on its death bed.” The paradox of the active user: Why engineers shouldn’t write for an idealized, rational reader who wants to read the manual. The business philosophy of typewriter repairman Victor Barough.

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

In October, 1999 I was blogging about college application essays, Willie Crowther, and Elizabethan English for RenFest workers

Jessica found herself wishing that somebody — anybody — in her family had died: ”Because then I could write about it.” — College application essays. >As a young man I needed someone to look up to, someone to emulate. I was something of a nerd: I needed someone who’d integrated highly technical talents with the basic social graces. —Tribute to Willie Crowther, by Martin Heller Proper Elizabethan is more akin to the speech of backwood communities on the East Coast of the United States, where language has not changed significantly since the founding of those communities. —Proper Elizabethan Accents (for…

4 Lessons From Moving a Face-to-Face Course Online

This fall, I’ve been asked to teach a Shakespeare class online. Here’s what Kevin Gannon wrote in The Chronicle of Higher Education about moving an established course to cyberspace. As I looked at the class — an upper-level U.S. history seminar — and began to think about how I would teach it online, my heart sank. How was I going to preserve what I thought was most essential — the regular student interaction, the freewheeling give-and-take as we discussed a particular source or topic — if none of us would be together in the same physical space at the same…

PAC-MAN: The Untold Story of How We Really Played the Game

A fascinating study of the thinginess of a video game. Put in your quarter, hit the one-player button and grab the joystick. All you have to do is move Pac-Man through a series of tight cornered mazes, trying to eat all the dots and fruit on screen while also trying to out-maneuver a group of ghosts who will kill you as soon as they touch you. If you eat one of the energizer dots, though, you’ll have a short period of gameplay where the ghosts slow down and stop chasing you so you can eat the ghosts and pick up extra…


Digital literacy is different from print literacy. How do we balance the trade-off?

My job includes teaching students to read long, complex texts (novels, play scripts, and academic texts.) My job also includes asking students to write researched essays that are longer documents than many of them at first seem comfortable reading. Years after they graduate, students often thank me for what I’ve taught them, and say the effort was all worth it. Buoyed by that feedback, it would be an easy thing for me just to keep plugging along, doing what I’m doing, confident in my belief that what I’m asking students to do is good for them, that the end result is…

Screen shot of a Globe and Mail news article that uses an anonymous source, with an expandable inline explanation of how and why journalists use anonymous sources.

Canada’s Globe and Mail Uses Expandable Inline Meta-articles to Explain Its Coverage

Journalism matters. Educated citizens who understand and appreciate the role of the free press in a democracy are a threat to authoritarian figures who benefit by sowing mistrust. It’s perfectly reasonable to point out errors and bias in specific news stories. (News organizations love reporting about when their competitors get a story wrong, and journalists are regularly disciplined or ousted for egregious mistakes.)  It’s hardly constructive to use the errors of individual journalists to justify a claim that journalists in general are unreliable or “fake.” We should all be downright terrified to hear our president repeatedly claim that journalists are…

Facebook Axes “Trending” Sidebar

Facebook is discontinuing the “trending” list. After the employees hired by Facebook to curate the trending news items were found to bury news they didn’t like, Facebook fired them all and tried to automate the process. If it matters to you whether their bias was liberal or conservative you can look it up, but my point is that a social media feed that adapts itself based on what you say you love and hate is not the right vehicle for informing yourself about the world. A truly informed citizen should not just follow sources that confirm their worldviews and ignore…