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Tags and codes

Graffiti tags are like the scents left by animals to mark territory. The territorial call signs of birds presumably fill a similar function. Territories are defined as much by secret conventions as they are by walls and boundaries. As explored in my previous post, one of the technical terms for such sign conventions is “deictic” … Continue reading

A thousand insides

Most cities old and new have underground tunnels, passageways, services, and communication systems, many of these conduits are unused and obsolete. I live in a street with a 15 metre deep tunnel that for 21 years had a rail and cable system for hauling goods and passengers along its 1:27 gradient. The tunnel was since … Continue reading

Escapology 101

Biologists and animal behaviourists refer to their study of escape responses as escapology. Fish, cockroaches and higher animals move at speed in a direction away from an immediate threat from a predator, but not always, and not directly. The direction of the escape travel depends on the lay of the land, the position of likely … Continue reading

Pokémon Go versus Ingress

Everyone is talking about Pokemon Go. So I may as well join in. While on holiday last week in the town of Menton in the south of France I aimed my mobile phone camera at a cat in a laneway. Two young men glanced in my direction as they walked by, and I distinctly heard one of … Continue reading

Flipped classroom 103: Engagement

What do you do with 100 students for two hours after they’ve watched your lecture as a video before coming to the class? In our case the aims were to reinforce the lecture content, facilitate discussion on the lecture themes, encourage participation and presentation, encourage academic reading and writing, develop critical reading and comprehension skills, and … Continue reading

How animals make us think

Dog, cat, sheep, fox, hen, Pokémon — we don’t only classify animals and their surrogates, but animals are a primary means by which we develop the very idea of categories — and their denial. That’s the main thesis of Paul Shepard’s fascinating book: The Others: How Animals Made Us Human. Classification Shepard argues that animals  are “unusual parts of our … Continue reading

Copy edits

No matter how careful you are in following style guides, there’s still a job of work in correcting bibliographies. Here’s a page after the copy editor and I have had a go at it. Back in the 1990s the author would receive paper copy bristling with little plastic tags and hand written notes. Now it’s … Continue reading

Why music reaches the parts that architecture can’t

Physical spaces are charged with meaning and emotion for most of us — some spaces more than others. But it’s rare to enter a building or encounter spectacular scenery and experience the same intensity of emotion many of us feel on hearing a piece of music, particularly music that fits the mood of the moment, … Continue reading

Pros and cons of Google Scholar

As we ponder the ethics of Google’s tax minimisation tactics, it’s worth reflecting on how dependent the academic community has become on Google Scholar, now a major gateway through which to access academic publications. “Pros and cons” can stand for pro–ducers and con–sumers (as well as “for and against”). After all, academic researchers are in the … Continue reading

Brand me

Social media encourages, and even requires, personal branding. According to a leading self-help book on brand and image, your personal brand is “what people say about you when you are out of the room.” So I guess my brand is, “When is he going to get back with those coffees!” Mark Globé identifies the prominence … Continue reading

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