At the beginning of the 21st Century, a high school teacher in New Jersey named Will Richardson started reading the book Secret Life of Bees  with his junior and senior students (Richardson 2010 p. 23) . It was a relatively new book, and so he suggested to his students that they use an emerging media tool, a weblog (or blog) to create an online reader’s guide to the book. As part of the experience he asked Sue Monk Kidd, the author of the book, if she would join the students in their study of the book. So as his students read the book and began commenting on it, Sue read along with them and began responding to a series of questions they asked. One of her responses ran 2300 words. In Will’s classroom a blog was not something you heard about in the news, but something you used both to engage your own learning and to reach beyond the proverbial walls of the classroom. Internet 2.0, the read/write web (often referred to as Web 2.0), was beginning to make the kind of impact in K-12 education that some had imagined.
Thanksgiving 2010 brought a new player to the e-reader market – the Barnes & Noble Nook Color. The market offering of e-reader technology has been growing steadily for the last decade, and was long dominated by the Kindle. Only a partial new player in the market, the Nook Color significantly upgraded its black-and-white e-ink predecessor into a multi-functional entertainment device. This put it above and beyond the Kindle as a useful e-reader. Imagine an iPad crossed with a Kindle – e-reader functionality, an app store, and media entertainment options. Now, eliminate the Kindle’s e-ink screen and replace it with a full-color iPad screen, crop the iPad to about Kindle size, and mix the prices for a semi-comfortable $249 price tag. That is the Barnes & Noble Nook Color.
In my previous article, I discussed the state of the manga industry and the various planned, successful, or failed avenues of digital publishing of manga as they can be seen today. The question remains, though, as to whether digital manga is truly the next generation as seen by those who read it. A blog post highlights an interesting story about just that topic, following a moderated panel at the Asia Arts Festival at the University of Kentucky:
I chatted a bit more with the panelists (one a soon-to-graduate senior, the other a freshman) and the topic somehow swerved to the manga industry, its travails, and its push to make a market for more esoteric, alternative manga (which for all intents and purposes mostly means “not BESM-standard”).
After hearing this, the freshman subsequently asked “So, like, are they trying to make it cool to read print manga?” at which both I and the graduating senior goggled for a moment before going “what the hell are you on about?”
Apparently, in his high school, it was seen as uncool to read print manga. I didn’t find out then why it was particularly considered uncool, although the perpetual-behindness of licensed releases may have been a factor, as well as a certain sense borrowed from underground aesthetics that licensed titles may have “sold out” or were otherwise “too mainstream”. It’s also interesting to note that the act of “reading manga” itself apparently wasn’t considered uncool. Just reading print manga. 
Some think that social media is a virtual garden in which societal, cultural, and political activism can flourish, but is that truly the case? I will answer that question up front by stating, “Yes, the Web 2.0 world absolutely offers an expanded venue for activism”. I have pondered this topic for a while, but one particular case of activism, on the web, captured my attention and prompted me to consider the actual effect of these online activities. As regular users of Facebook will probably recall, in early 2010 many females began changing their Facebook statuses to the name of a color.  Not unlike many other things involving females, men everywhere were befuddled with this phenomenon. Eventually the secret code was cracked (or more likely revealed) that the colors referred to a woman’s favorite bra color. The point of this online exercise was to increase breast cancer awareness. Did it raise awareness? Maybe just a little bit. Did it give those women who played along a sense of satisfaction that they were doing something “good”? Possibly. Did it accomplish anything tangible with regard to curing or treating breast cancer? Probably not very much.
Whether it’s waiting for delayed planes, avoiding bad movies, long cab rides from airports to hotels, or sleepless jet-lagged nights, my Amazon Kindle has more than paid for itself when traveling. It has prevented me from dying of boredom and aided me in work-related tasks I would be unable to otherwise complete. Continue reading →
The impact of the Internet upon religion has been an ongoing study for us at the Berglund Center. Here we review an important new book, Robert Glenn Howard’s Digital Jesus, which tells us a great deal about the Internet, as well as much about one specific form of religion, Protestant Fundamentalism. 
This book is very like Longfellow’s little girl, who “When she was good, She was very good indeed. But when she was bad she was horrid.”  First, the very good.
Judging from this particular work, the author, Dr. Tim Elmore, writes largely in support of his speaking engagements.  This is not uncommon in certain sorts of entrepreneurial operations. Elmore works as a motivational speaker, focusing on the development of leadership. As his biography proclaims, he has worked with a number of corporations and spoken at many universities, and in, all told, more than thirty countries. 
The amount of information discussing China now found online has grown considerably over the last several decades. While we hope that this growth is creating a proportionately greater understanding of China, this does not necessarily follow. Understanding China has long been a serious challenge for Westerners in general and for Americans in particular. Continue reading →