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December 26, 2007

acma's report on families, gender and media technology

I'm sorry I don't have time to write something clever, but I thought some of you would be interested in this. It's ACMA's "Media and Communications in Australian Families 2007" report. I'd seen a few news articles about it, but have only just had time (because it's boxing day and I'm home alone while the family are out buying stuff) to actually look through the report. If you can't be bothered reading the whole report, check out the the press release for an overview.

There are, of course, some concerns about the sample size, etc, though it's presented as a having used a representative sample (only 750 responses, but that's actually not too bad, considering), I'm concerned about the issues of class etc tied up in the sampling process.

But if you read the report, there are some interesting points:

  • Around 70 per cent of girls aged 14–17 have a MySpace or similar profile,
    compared with 50 per cent of boys.

  • Almost two-thirds of girls use a mobile phone, but less than half of boys do.

Interesting stuff there, about gender and media use. My interest is caught by the fact that girls are more likely to use technology with an emphasis on communications. I do think, though, that it'd be worth exploring the communicative, collaborative potential of gaming. Apparently boys spend more time gaming than doing things like MySpace, and one of the definite appeals of things like WOW is the option of real time, collaborative play. Which of course, involves real time, collaborative problem solving and communicative 'work'. Which is, of course, one of the functions of 'gossip' - real time, collaborative communicative work where participants explore potential 'solutions' or 'answers' or 'reasons' for interpersonal 'problems' (ie 'maybe he cheated on you with her because she puts out?').
I also wonder about the significance of literacy. Young people make greater use of online technologies as they get older - as their literacy skills improve. And I wonder about girls' preference for text-based media. Is there perhaps a correlation between girls' literacy and their social media use?
It's all very interesting and definitely worth exploring.

The report itself has some problems - the same comments about 'watching violence on telly making kids violent, which is actually quite difficult to substantiate. Violence is far more complex an issue than can simply accounted for by watching violence on telly. So, you might be more likely to 'use' violence on telly (whether for models for your own violence, or as inspiration or energiser) if you're already living in a violent home, if you've had experience with violence, or if you're otherwise vulnerable. So there's a confluence of factors contributing to incidences of violence, and it's inaccurate to say that 'watching violence on telly makes you violent'. So this report doesn't seem to have taken that into account.

There are also a few, similar problems about ideology and lifestyle - still the idea that 'technology has an effect' or that there's a causal relationship between media technologies and social behaviour. We don't approve of that, over here in the lefty cultural studies media studies feminist corner.

"acma's report on families, gender and media technology" was posted by dogpossum on December 26, 2007 11:53 AM in the category academia

December 21, 2007

why didn't anyone tell me

was fun?
Sure, it's pretty freakin' crappy telly (everything from the acting to the script, with a few pitstops for really awful editing on the way), but it's also highly addictive. I just watched my way through season one, and i give it a tick tick. No V.G., but I'll be looking out for season two, and it's even made me want to watch the new Dr Who seasons to see how the two programs work out. Btw, isn't that the awfulest PR shot ever? Yes, fisheye lens = fun, but why would you fill the shot with a giant, brown couch straight from the nearest sharehouse, squeeze everyone into one crowded corner and fail to consider the effects of fisheye lenses on apparent shoe sizes? I know they were hoping to get the big 'Torchwood' wall art into the shot, but they didn't even manage to do that properly! Argh!

I kind of like the premise - an other Earth, where there's a big old rip in the fabric of time and space, through which stuff comes. And then gets collected. The ob-con part of me likes the idea of a 'secret'* government agency whose sole purpose is tidying up lost stuff. I have to admit, I also like the fluid sexual preferences. Boys? Girls? Omnisexual? Whatever. It's a nice change from the aggressive heterocentrism of Smalls.

It's obviously a rip-off of all the best bits of Buffy and Angel, especially Angel. Immortal boss who can't be injured, lives underground and broods a bit? Queer sex/romantic story lines? Bickering scooby gang? Slightly inappropriate romantic relationships between workmates and employees and employers? Yep. It's also a little dodgy, ethics-wise (they characters pull all manner of dodgy stunts, and unlike House, there's no ongoing negotiation and problematising of this behaviour). And it's a bit crap, 'fact'-wise. The one scene they had set in the 40s included some seriously shithouse and historically inaccurate dancing and music (The Squeeze has entertained himself uncovering the multiple historical inaccuracies, from engine types to planes), I noticed one scene suddenly shifting from dark night to afternoon (with no real explanation), and let's not even go near the costumes. Captain Jack wearing trousers, collared shirt and braces with that ridiculous Great Coat, but no waistcoat, tie, or jacket? What a load of rot.

But I still like it. And, apparently, Spike'll be in it in the second season. Probably snogging Cpt Jack.**

*Secret? Not when they order pizzas for 'Torchwood', delivered to their 'secret' HQ, they drive around in a seriously pimped black 'SUV' (that's what they call it - the SUV) with 'Torchwood' written all over it, and they routinely bust in on police crime scenes saying things like 'this case belongs to Torchwood now'. The fact that they're also based in Cardiff, in a country I know first and foremost for its population made up of a) people I'm related to, and b) the most accomplished busybodies in the known universe, doesn't really help convince me that this is a 'secret' agency.

**Though who hasn't? Ianto has (talk about inappropriate workplace relationships - boss and employee? Boss and recently berieved employee?), the real Cpt Jack did. The Cpt Jack boss character's supposed to be 'bi' (as in not actually operating within a specific orientation), but he's yet to kiss any ladies. Come on - if he's only into blokes, why not say so? I'm quite happy to deal with him waiting for his 'special Doctor', but why doesn't he just come out already, and quit with the dithering?

"why didn't anyone tell me" was posted by dogpossum on December 21, 2007 5:10 PM in the category torchwood

December 17, 2007


There are many nice things. This is one of them. Yet again, I kick myself for failing to attend.

"o " was posted by dogpossum on December 17, 2007 5:36 PM in the category clicky

monday jazzblogging (because everyday's caturday when you likes jass)


I wish I could shimmy like my sister Kate ~ Mugsy Spanier and His Ragtime Band 1939

Oh, wish I could shimmy, like my sister Kate, Now she shakes it like jelly, On a plate.

My momma wanted,
To know last night,
Why the boys think Kate's so nice,
Every boy in my neighbourhood
Now knew she could shimmy
And it's understood,

I might be late,
But I'll be up to date,
When I can shimmy like my sister Kate
I'm shoutin'
shimmy like my sister Kate,
Oh boy.

Just one verse, really, but it's worth it, just for that line - she shakes it like jelly, on a plate. I like that sort of talk.
And the saucy trumpet (or is it a cornet?) solo makes it all work. But really, we're all just waiting for the big old shouting chorus at the end.
(That's not Kid's Ragtime Band there in the image, it's his other band - the Original Creole Jazz Band).

[PS - I just found this 'collection of New Orleans greats by Mahalia Jackson' and nearly weed with excitement. Apparently it's a misprint. Wracked with disappointment. Trying to get over it]

[PPS my favourite Kid Ory song is 'Creole Bo Bo' - a French nursery rhyme done with a seriously swinging New Orleans rhythm which makes me HAPPY! It also defies DJing. At 203bpm, with French lyrics, an obviously nursery rhyme melody and too much swing for charleston, it's just not a song you'll play every day. For anyone other than yourself.]

"monday jazzblogging (because everyday's caturday when you likes jass)" was posted by dogpossum on December 17, 2007 5:00 PM in the category cat blogging and music

December 14, 2007

seasonal rhinitis

Argh. These allergies are killing me. Snot everywhere, sinuses aching, dizzy and confused, itching all over, shaky, sneezing, coughing... Is it the weather (I've been taking antihistamines every day for ages, so surely it's not that?), or is it the semi-annual going-through of boxes of old crap that are drowning in dust? Argh. I'm not tough enough for this.

"seasonal rhinitis" was posted by dogpossum on December 14, 2007 11:39 AM in the category domesticity

December 12, 2007




"bazlotto!" was posted by dogpossum on December 12, 2007 5:25 PM in the category clicky

nostalgia = go

Is it just me who's really excited about this film coming out?

I really enjoyed the first one - I thought it looked lovely and lush, it was heaps of fun, and it actually seemed to make the gender stuff work ok. Perhaps I was blinded by nostalgia, but I thought it was neat. Probably because I thought the Lord of the Rings films were freakin', shitfully dull, and the Narnia stories are heaps more fun. And with way less violence.

Which I think is appropriate for kids - I'm not one of these people who thinks kids should be reading and watching stories about the Holocaust, child abuse, dystopian post-apocalyptic societies where kids are left alone to battle nasty monsters, animal abuse, etc etc etc. The Narnia stories aren't all sugar and sunlight, but I don't approve of too much horribleness for kids.
And I'm a kid, and I don't like that stuff. I like fantasy and flowers and kissing. Though I bet there won't be much of that in the new Narnia film.

I'm also looking forward to The Golden Compass.

"nostalgia = go" was posted by dogpossum on December 12, 2007 12:57 PM in the category fillums


If Drinkle could do anything with a troupe, anything at all, it would be this:

"ok..." was posted by dogpossum on December 12, 2007 10:44 AM in the category lindy hop and other dances

December 11, 2007


I did a gig at the speegs during MLX which wasn't really very great. First, there were no dancers there but The Squeeze and I. So my swingin' jazz went down like a lead balloon. Thank heavens for James Brown, or I'd've been lynched. Though they booked me for a jazz gig, I just couldn't bear the empty floor any longer. So I played the very few soul and funk songs I had. And the punters loved it.
A bit later, some dancers arrived, so I started in with some good dancing from the jazz tradition. After 'Lavender Coffin' and midway through 'Joshua Fit De Battle of Jericho' some drunk prick tried to climb up on the stage (I dealt with that, quick-smart and used my scary body to move him back). "Are we going to be subjected to this gospel swing all night?" he demanded in a pleasant drunken slur. And I sort of shrugged it off with a tight smile. He kept lurking and I gave him the super snub. A few minutes later he returns with the same charming line. And I reply "If at all, possible, YES!"
What could be better than an evening of hardcore New Orleans Jeeeeezuss! music? I can't imagine. Then I gave that prick some serious snubbing.

There's nothing worse than a know-it-all jazznick heckler who thinks he knows better. Prick. Hope I never see that loser ever again.
But speaking of gospel, I'm quite struck on Mahalia Jackson live at Newport. I want it. At first it was just for that version of Jericho, but now I just want it. Not necessarily for DJing (though the Jericho would go down well at a blues event). The Basie Live in Antibes CD got me keen on Jackson, and I think I could well get over this swing malarkey and return to my soul and funk roots. Sigh. More obsessive collecting to come.


So, anyway, to finish off that bit about the speegs gig, Trev and Russ came in later and played the other bits of the set for me. If you look at the pic there (courtesy of Wendy), you can see me DJing (and probably freaking) and Trev leaning over my shoulder with beer in hand (there are no DJing rules at the Speegs).

Trev played excellent party lindy, moving into formerly uncharted territory, and Russ then decided it was partyhardy time. Yes, we did hear the theme from Footloose, amongst other 80s party anthems. The punters went nuts. The lindy hoppers went nuts. The speegs staff were very happy with us (I did check with them that it was ok to move on down this motown/stax/disco anthem track, and they approved), the pay was good.
I've done a few sets there, and I have to say I approve. Nice people, nice gear, fun crowds. Except for the stupid pricks. And I've been offered other DJing gigs (fielding phone calls all over the place), but I think I'm going to keep it real and only play for dancers. Unless the pay is good. Real good.

"Jeeeeezuss!" was posted by dogpossum on December 11, 2007 8:27 PM in the category djing and music and objects of desire

December 10, 2007

copying is easier than creating

Mz Tartan has posted a post about conferences that applies quite nicely to lindy exchanges. So I will now infringe her intellectual copy rights with some select copying and pasting.

  • thinking of holding a conferencen exchange? Best not. It is a far, far better thing to receive conferences exchanges than to give them. I can't really remember what people actually said the dances I had, in most cases. I do vividly remember various people telling me that it is incredibly anxiety-producing to organise a conferencen exchange. That's the truth. And all the while one is industriously producing anxiety one is well aware that the anxiety is ridiculous: one is not actually the person whose academic standing DJing or dancing has attracted people to this event, nor the one behind the microphone giving the talk good oil which is being intently listened danced to, let alone the person who wrote these exquisite novels songs and/or dances in honour of which everyone has gathered.
  • But here is a specimen of the type of situation which feeds anxiousness. I did not mention this en blog at the time, but back in April of this year, I came into my office one morning to find six or seven messages on my answering machine from a person who seemed to be saying she'd showed up at LTU on the weekend for the conference, and she was standing outside the venue right now and could I call her back straight away to tell her why nobody was around - where it had been moved to? Oh, and she'd come from Italy to attend. FROM ITALY. I was DJing at set in one room when the DJ from the other appeared at my side to ask where the DJ for the set following his was at. Can you imagine the abyss of horror which opened up beneath me? Can you? I'm sorry, but you can't. The original call for papers, sent out eighteen months earlier, had indeed mentioned this weekend as the probable date, but we'd changed it very quickly to coincide with the English Teachers' meeting. And of course nobody else had turned up. And of course ALL the subsequent promotional stuff very clearly gave the proper date. And of course it is incredible to simply turn up to a conference without at least re-checking that it's on, or even attempting to register, or looking at the conference website. Yet, still, here she apparently was. FROM ITALY. All of the DJing rosters had been sent out ages ago and approved by all DJs concerned. We did manage to find the DJ (asleep somewhere), but it was a near thing, and yet another opportunity for public humiliation before an audience of my peers and international and interstate guests.
  • She apparently turned up again last Friday afternoon. The person on the conference desk said she'd appeared and wanted to know where her name tag was. Then we lost track of her again. I would have liked to sight her, from a safe distance (from inside a bird observation hut perhaps) but it was not to time, no doubt.
  • If, in spite of this potent warning, you still want to do a conference n exchange, overbook your speakers DJs. Out of thirty-five two dozen, two will withdraw for good reasons and in plenty of time for you to make other arrangements; two will courteously let you know that they won't be coming in time for you to pull them out of the program, one will pull out a week before, and one will pull out by email at 6:24pm on the evening before the day their paper set is scheduled at 10:45 1:30 am. This person will be emailing you not from the Australian city where she resides, but from a country that is nine hours' flight away. How did she get there? you will wonder. Didn't it occur to her as she got on the plane....etc
  • The sick feeling you will acquire as you contemplate what looks like the complete disintegration of your carefully assembled program will make it impossible for you to write play your own paper set with any degree of competency, so you will withdraw it, bash it out any way thus making you feel like a total hypocrite and poser. Nevertheless, there will actually be more than enough papers DJs, and you will eventually realise that all the agonising and your own self was were unnecessary.
  • Don't cancel the wildlife tour/shopping tour/olden days architecture tour. It is what the internationals are looking forward to. You may think possums/shopping/old buildings are boring, but they do not.

Despite the extreme anxiety of previous MLXs, this year wasn't actually all that bad. The above are really just par for the course, and what I think of as 'inevitable screw ups'. The issue becomes not whether or not they happen, but how you deal with them when they do happen. The difference between a conference and an exchange, though, is that a couple of hundred dancers are there to have fun, and it takes quite a bit to dissuade them of their intent. Conference attendees, however, have a few more issues going on, and can be far less forgiving.
I only had one freak out during MLX, and that was on the Thursday of the weekend. My good friends and hostees took me for cake and I got over myself and it.

I find that the very most important thing about coordinating a dozen or so events over one weekend for a few hundred visitors is to remain calm. Freaking doesn't help. I also have a rule: "no shouting". Unless you're shouting with delight. Shouting at people is never productive, and definitely not when the shouter is feeling angry/upset/etc. Remain cool. If you do feel a good shout/cussing out is in order, take it out the back so as to avoid broken furniture, exorbitant bar tabs and embarrassing guest DJs.
I have another solid rule: say thank you to anyone who has in any way been helpful, kind, accommodating, interested or otherwise a force for good rather than a force for inertia*. It doesn't hurt to say thank you three or four times, but it does hurt if you don't say it at all. Saying thank you makes you feel good, too, and so it's a win-win deal for everyone involved.
And another rule (which is related to the previous): volunteers are the most valuable creatures at your event. DJs are generally a bit precious and high maintenance (with exceptions!), rock star dancers are a pain in the freaking arse (organise exchanges for beginners - they're far less annoying) and fellow organisers can drive you nuts. But volunteers are gold. Love them, respect them, buy them drinks, thank them, squeeze them and underwork them. They will come back next year and figure out how to work the vacuum cleaner all on their own again.

*yes, I know.

"copying is easier than creating" was posted by dogpossum on December 10, 2007 10:13 AM in the category conferences and lindy hop and other dances

December 3, 2007

west brunswick toodle-oo

So November is over. It was ok.

  • I had a birthday (that was ok)
  • I liked all the moustaches (I don't think there's enough facial hair in the world, and it made dance partners extra interesting)
  • we did mlx and it went well (biggest ever, zillions of interstaters and internationals, the usual reluctance on the part of Melbournites to play nice with guests)
  • we had galaxy plus a round of dancers stay with us (and that was very nice)
  • I did all my marking and got it in with plenty of time to spare
  • I got a job interview for a postdoc (argh! next week!)
  • I got a small grant to get me to the CSAA conference this week (double argh! paper not written! flights not booked! accommodation not sorted!)
  • I've had a few punters ringing me offering DJing gigs (I am resolute about only taking paying gigs - I've done enough freebies to know I never want to do one again, unless it's for a real charity)
  • Galaxy and I met up with Mz Tartan pre-GG and the Austenauts (dang, I'm sorry I missed that! blogged with excellence here) and she was surprisingly cool, calm and collected
...and now I'm desperately trying to get my sleep pattern back to normal for the conference this week. I managed to have a relatively stress-free MLX (in fact, incredibly so), and slept at least 8 hours every night. From 8am til 4pm most days, but still, 8 fat hours of solid, dreamless sleep. Unheard of.

I've also met another dancer doing a phd on dance stuff, but she lives in Perth, so we're squeezing in a natter-fest tomorrow before she flies out. She's into sociology and anthropology and I'm not sure she's up there with the hardcore sister action. But we'll see. It'll be neat just to sit and have a nice, nerdy chat.

I'm planning to meet up with the Adelaidean dancers during the conference visit this week (Wednesday). So I'll be able to say I've danced in every scene in Australia. Except Launceston. That should be nice.

My paper is pretty much done - just some tidying up to do. It's a combination of bits from these three posts, but obviously with far less detail, seeing as how I only get 20 minutes. 20 minutes kills me, especially when I want to play some music and clips of dancers to actually make clear what I'm talking about. It's ridiculous to talk about dancing without showing any, particularly when you're talking about gender performance in dance. In fact, it's so ridiculous I should just show 6 clips and provide an exercise sheet to stimulate group discussion, a la tutorials past.

I've also noted I'm in kind of a dud session, parallel with papers I'd really like to see, and which everyone else would really like to see as well. Not a big deal, really, and just desserts for someone who fucked the programming around at the last minute (I'd missed out on another grant and cancelled on the organisers, then been offered one by someone else, so squeezed back into the program - people who pull that shit deserve to get dud sessions). But it's parallel with an old buddy's paper and in a session of licorice allsorts, so we'll have trouble asking each other questions. It is in the last session of a day, but this time it's not the last session of the last day, so I guess it's ok.
I don't mean this to sound like a big old bitch - I really am very lucky to be going at all, and I don't want you to think otherwise. But the part of me that's trying to get a job keeps saying 'how will you pimp your fine self out if there's no one in the audience?' But really, it only takes one. And there'll be plenty of afternoon teas for me to pimp myself about. I'm cringing, writing that stuff. I hate the thought of such aggressive self aggrandising, but at the end of the day, in such a competitive job market, I have to be a bit pushy.
So I'm going to experiment with performing pushiness, and pretend like I'm one of those blokes who, obliviously, introduces himself to all the Names at conferences. It's the sort of thing chicks tend to be reluctant to do. And as a consequence, those pushy blokes get remembered, simply because the chicks have been to shy to step up.
But I'm going to focus on Names that mean something to me - you know, the Old Girls network. The ladies who do. The sorts of women academics who I admire and want to work with and be like. They're the ladies who'll call me on bullshit pushiness and demand some sort of fer real talk. No bullshit (unless it's a story about my career as a stunt woman and there are Tasmanians in the room), all kick arse Sister. No pathetic arse-kissing. No sycophancy.... like I'd have the patience for that. And for sure I'd forget that it's not cool to swear in polite company. Must remember that for the job interview, actually. Swearing = not cool.
But we'll see. No doubt I'll forget all these plans and end up talking shit and eating all the chocolate biscuits with the homies from UQ. Awesome.

Galaxy asked me the other day if I'd written a 'why dance is important to cultural studies' paper, and I haven't. I'm not sure I really, hugely care - if you don't dance you don't understand why it's important. Words won't help convince you - you have to feel it to understand why it's good stuff. But I do have a short list of reasons which include things like 'class' and 'not needing literacy' and 'ethnicity' and 'faster than words' and 'freakin' great fun!' I'll have a think, though. Perhaps it'll be a paper I write when I actually have a job or a book or more than half a dozen papers. Right now I think I'd get more from a paper called 'Why cultural studies needs dogpossum' which is so effective it gets me lots of jobs. But I'll work on it.

"west brunswick toodle-oo" was posted by dogpossum on December 3, 2007 11:18 AM in the category conferences and djing and lindy hop and other dances and travel