Archive for February, 2013

Has e-democracy’s time arrived? You bet it has!

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

From Canada 150 “Towards a Virtual Parliament: has e-democracy’s time arrived?”

We must capture the imagination with a new 21-century national institution: A Virtual Parliament.

An initiative such as e-democracy can have a uniquely Canadian flavour. An imaginative application of communication technology would benefit  governance on a number of meaningful levels. So, let’s begin seeking a vision of a virtual democratic community based on Canadian research.

To illustrate what I mean by virtual community, I refer you to a wonderful project I served on that was funded by Canadian Heritage and Industry Canada in the early 21st century. Federal funds were alloted under the Government Online program, and channeled to a number of major research projects pertaining to everything from e-health, distance education, to cultural content. Actually, I was involved in several projects, but the one I have in mind is RACOL, an incredible bit of research and application that connected 5 schools in a sparsely-populated portion of Northern Alberta.

The following is taken from RACOL: Rural Advanced Community of Learners (go to the website to see a great photo of Dep. PM Anne Mclennan):

“One of the major challenges to rural communities in Alberta is to provide high quality education for their inhabitants. With the evolution of broadband networks, it is now possible to facilitate even more effective learning for distanced students. The Rural Advanced Community of Learners Project (RACOL) is developing a model of teaching and learning that exploits the potential of broadband networks and advanced digital technologies. Rather that falling into either of the synchronous or asynchronous distance learning camps, RACOL exploits the best of each. Capabilities such as broadcast quality digital video, streaming media, electronic whiteboards and educational objects will aid in the facilitation of effective learning and address the needs of students in rural and remote school districts.”

I witnessed some incredible stuff. Basically, the core value of any virtual community of practice is an overall uniform experience, i.e. remote = local. It is a difficult idea, but one just has to listen to your average CBC national radio host doing an interview to see how challenging it is to think a-geographically. Example: Toronto-based host asks a Vancouver guest about something happening “out there”. The language centralizes the discussion on Toronto, but for the listener, and the guest, “out there” is neither here nor there!  So, virtual communities of practice on broadband require alot of practice (whether that practice be education or democratic renewal). We must live with it, everyday, in every office, in every riding, as part of our daily experience.

What about e-democracy? If you can teach on broadband, perform music on broadband, deliver health care on broadband, you can lead a democracy on broadband! And in a country like ours, eliminating the sense of “out there” for any constituency makes for a healthier and more vibrant democracy. Finally, what better place to introduce a pilot project than at the first great convention of the party of 21st century progressive thinking; ours! I’d appreciate any participation in getting such a pilot off the ground, in order to provoke the development of a larger strategy, and to get the attention of those in the party who make these decisions.

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Diploma in interactive media and technology

Monday, February 11th, 2013

Michael has designed and directed an intensive study of interactive and new media history, theory and practices called the Diploma in New Media/Sonic Design for the School for Studies in Art and Culture, Carleton University, including 2 digital media labs and a substantial online and video-mediated presence. The diploma was open to music, film, and art history students, and some courses were available as electives to mass communications, architecture, and engineering majors. The diploma was available as both a concentration within BA/B.Mus degrees, and offered as a stand-alone academic diploma. Here is a screenshot of the diploma’s webpage.

Diploma in Music and New Media

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I designed and delivered 5 full-year courses including 3 lecture courses totaling 216 classroom hours, a professional work study, and a graduating ePortfolio project including a monthly class presentation. My area of expertise is digital artd production and composition, and it was necessary for me to become fluent in the broader context of new media in order to design and teach this diploma. I also became a visiting worker at the National Research Council and the Communications Research Centre during my tenure at Carleton, and became a consultant on some of Canada’s groundbreaking virtual classroom/distance education research projects. My goal was to make this diploma into a seamless real-world/virtual learning experience.

“Media and Technology in Art and Culture” was the diploma’s introductory course. I have posted the course outline here:

Media Technology in Art and Culture

This is an example of my introductory course notes which was also based upon an article published by:

Leonardo: the journal of art, science, and technology (MIT Press)

Subsequent courses included:

  • a comprehensive survey course of computer applications and commercially-available resources (24 lectures, 72 hours in total);
  • an introduction to object-oriented programming (12 lectures, 36 hours);
  • object-oriented programming and project development (8 lectures, 4 student seminar sessions, 36 hours);
  • supervised work study placement with professional partners (7 hours per week over 24 weeks);
  • a graduating ePortfolio (24 weeks, including one monthly group meeting with supervisor’s presentation).

This is a slide presentation I derived from my courses, which I have delivered as a regular visiting lecturer to the Computing and Creative Arts Program at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario:

Electroacoustics: noise, technology and the new musical aesthetics

I produced a series of documentary videos for this course entitled “Prototypes”, an introduction to the history of electronic media and the exploratory worlds where art, science, technology and culture meet. The following episode is presented in the first lecture:

Prototypes: the art of the electronic age

Finally, I’d like to show you some of the amazing projects created by the students for their honours e-Portfolio:

1. Alison was a chip architect at Nortel who wanted to study interactive media. This is her incredible project: The Connections Project.

2. Maya wanted to work in digital animation. She is now a grad student at Ryerson. Here are some of her works: Maya animation.

3. Andrew was a music and film student who was fascinated with immersion and interactivity. He created a presence-sensitive environment in OSX. He is now a grad student and TA at SFU. Here are his storyboards and code: Immersion.

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