a new soccer language (by my son and his friend)

My ten-year-old and his friend developed a very ‘simple’ new ‘soccer language’ during practice a few nights ago. It features words like widdleahoo ‘miss the shot,’ twiddleahoo ‘make the shot; score’ and twiddleahoo-er ‘scorer; striker.’ They offer an excellent window into their knowledge of productive derivational affixes (for instance, the agent suffix -er) and a consistent rule for adding the soccer language affix –idioto- to consonant and vowel initial English words (very similar to Pig Latin) . In one post-practice take on the ride home, my son offers a description:

(he took a little creative license with the website specialball.com, which doesn’t actually exist… yet!)


liquidation of education?

“…one can imagine that education will be a less and less closed environment, distinguished from professional environments as from other closed environments, but that both of these will disappear to the benefit of a terrible, permanent formation where continuous control is exercised over gymnasium teachers or university staff. One tries to make us believe in a school reform, but it’s liquidation.”

In the 2003 article Archives and Power, Dag Peterson (translates and) quotes Gilles Deleuze from 1990, adding: “What is here referred to as ‘the liquidation’ of the school is not, of course, the end of education but, paradoxically its re-organization according to a new conditional power-strategy.”

crowdsourcing the archive

first paragraph of an article I’m writing which is due in September; its timing coalesces excellently with the OED’s recent quarterly update:

The noun crowdsourcing made its Oxford English Dictionary (OED) Online debut in June 2013[1] as “one of the most recent 1% of entries recorded in OED” and among “50 entries first evidenced in the decade 2000,” which include “words such as bromance, galactico, [and] waterboarding” (“crowdsourcing”). OED attributes the coinage to Wired writer Jeff Howe, who in 2006 described a rising trend wherein “Smart companies in industries as disparate as pharmaceuticals and television discover ways to tap the latent talent of the crowd” (OED, “crowdsourcing”). This story begins shortly thereafter (generations later by some technological measures) when discussions of the shift toward a more participatory culture were becoming increasingly common, and crowdsourcing, in practice as well as in parlance, was spreading beyond industry to touch even the most conservative realms of academia, including textual scholarship and archival studies.

[1] The verb crowdsource was also added in June 2013.

june 2013: cake, dialect, digitization, and tolkien

in addition to snorkeling, swimming, some seriously overdue momming, and a long reading list (literature, some pre-fall planning, and a list i’m co-reading with my recently turned ten-year-old), my research agenda remains active this summer. MBDA continues to advance, and i’m writing two different discussions of the project which require serious reflection on the intersections between theory, methodology, and practice. one is more narrative focused (the convergence of history and story, a motif poignant in description of the life and work of Martha Berry), one more theory-meets-practice-meets-tech (critical to advancement and redefinition of the archive, a theme pressing in my thoughts and evolving constantly thanks to some excellent writings which push us ever further into new terrain, e.g., “We are archivists, since we have to be. We don’t have choice. This decision is already made, or determined by the contemporary technological condition…”).

i’m also directing the Pennsylvania Dialects Project (PDP). i’ve continued to localize my research agenda, and PDP is rooted in rural central Pennsylvania, my current home, my university’s home, and the focus of PDP’s research purpose. we’re at the very early stages of the project, but because i’ve woven it intimately within my teaching and research agendas, and because i have some exceptional student collaborators, the study is proceeding remarkably well.

i was rereading Eat, Pray, Love recently (an excellent antidote to funkiness – and i don’t mean the groovy kind – which apparently i still have need of) and laughed quietly to myself when i bumped headfirst into Gilbert admonishing “You are, after all, what you think.” serendipitous? sought out unconsciously? i’m open to all kinds of interpretations… but, however it happened, lately, i’m a little chocolate cake meets democratization of information meets history and story collide meets documentation of dialect is critical to eradication of dialect prejudice, which, by the way, is alive and well. oh, plus: it’s very cool to pull the linguist card when your child is into J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. very. so i’m also a bit hey darling, did you know that tolkien was a linguist… too.


finishing on a good note

it’s been fifteen l-o-n-g weeks of challenges this semester. i’ve been mired in some time and labor-intensive university administrative responsibilities, the kind that require turning over old stones and peering into dark crevices, the kind that remind you that an academic institution can somehow juxtapose inspiring heights with some pretty dank lows, the kind that ask you to document what’s happening without empowering you to do anything about it. i admire those willing to take this kind of thing on full time, especially those impressive few who elude cynicism.

on a brighter note, MBDA launched this spring — the programmer and i worked too many hours to count; we had an excellent sprint, and we’re both admittedly a little tired. but was it worth it? absolutely. HUGE kudos to our amazing project team for a successful launch!

from a teaching perspective, the semester was unusually challenging. it’s not uncommon to guide undergrads through a crisis or two each semester, but more than a few of my students struggled with serious personal issues this term, and it was difficult to leave my concerns about them behind when i left campus for home every day. it’s not clear to me why this semester was different, but i am reminded that teaching is often serious and complex in ways i don’t anticipate and that educators have responsibilities that can’t be defined by learning objectives or measured by outcomes assessment. many of our responsibilities are traditionally instructional to be sure, but many more, if less tangible and more elusive, are no less significant.

good moments? a few, actually…

it’s not exactly academic, but running a half marathon with my nine-year-old son while his brother (my older son) ran the full 26.2 and meeting half way through the course (which overlapped) was pretty spectacular. my runner’s high lasted for days! how to keep a nine-year-old motivated for 13.1 miles? a rockin’ playlist that makes you laugh. here’s a sampling from ours:

  • Newton: Streamline
  • Cake: The Distance
  • Bad Religion: I Want to Conquer the World
  • P-Square: Chop My Money
  • Yanni: The Storm
  • Knoc-Turn’al: Muzik
  • The Temper Trap: Sweet Disposition
    and Love Lost
  • Bach: Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major
  • Mamadou Diabete: Joukouya
  • Revenge: Minecraft Creeper Song

reading this hilarious (and somehow sage) quote in a book my sister recommended: “worrying is like praying for what you don’t want,” a quote i’ve now discovered is so ubiquitous as to be cliché, was also a good moment (it’s hard to take yourself too seriously when a phrase like that really resonates with you). that same book admonishes: “you are what you think.” and yes, i confess, this too resonated with me. did i mention it’s been a tough fifteen weeks…

finally, a few weeks ago when i was contemplating how to best negotiate a difficult decision and weighing it out a bit too assiduously, having a senior colleague offer me some of the best professional advice i’ve ever received: “chill out” was humbling and awesome. it’s difficult to grow cynical when someone you respect puts things in perspective for you like that, but it’s easy to be grateful. and i am.


meeting my son during my 13.1 and his 26.2

Martha Berry Digital Archive

Great news: The Martha Berry Digital Archive (MBDA) project is launching this week. Of course we anticipate a few unexpected surprises (technical as well as human), but we look forward to the challenge and to seeing the project grow!

MBDA Community



mapping MBDA

In the midst of debugging our site upgrade and thereafter finally turning toward site styling. Despite the bugs and incomplete design scheme, archive data is solid. We’ve mapped c. one-third of the scanned and published collection (and there’s quite a bit more yet to scan and publish) and geolocation data (shown in the map below) is just beginning to offer a very cool visual of Berry’s far-reaching influence:


discovering Martha Berry

Just finished a fairly comprehensive draft of Discovering Martha Berry for MBDA, which is scheduled to be released publicly in April. The piece is not yet garnished with images or other visual flourishes, but it was wonderful to write, and equally intriguing to mine the archive for sources. Berry is an incredibly interesting subject, and I find her – simultaneously – elusive, extroverted, vivacious, intense, and witty. Though I’ve spent c. 2.5 years working intimately with her writings, I’ve yet either to tire of her or precisely to pin her down. And the fun is just beginning, it seems, as there’s so much more yet to learn once we open the project for public editing.Martha Berry

We have much left to accomplish before April, but MBDA’s participatory editing plugin is nearly ready for Omeka 2.0, and, with a bit of luck, the programmer will have successfully upgraded the dev site to 2.0 this weekend. Now that is progress to celebrate!