Blog Flux LinkLog: Outgoing Link Logging and Click Tracking for Em duas línguas

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Resolutions 2006

1. I will focus and prioritize nonstop (like Easton Ellsworth in Business Blogwire). I will say no to everything that is not related to my doctorate. The only paper I write will be for the CATAC conference in Estonia in July and the CIRN Prato conference in Italy in October.

2. I will never use culture as a noun. Unless you mistakenly believe that "culture" is something tangible and fixed, then it is only possible to culture. I will not refer to Hofstede or anyone else who treats culture-as-difference. I will continue developing the idea of culture as practice (or culture-ing as practice-ing).

3. I will develop my thesis as an autoethnography - a place to examine the messiness and contradictions of what I am experiencing and observing. I will be prepared to struggle over that one with my supervisor and I need to know how to articulate my ideas in Portuguese otherwise no-one in Portugual will believe I'm doing real research!

4. I will always turn off my e-mail alert while I am writing.

5. I will not drink so much red wine in the evening which messes up my sleeping.

6. I will not dispell the myth my kids have that I know everything.

7. I will be less tolerant of processes and projects that waste time.

8. I will not spend more than one hour a day reading other blogs or writing my own.

9. I will be unapologetically who I am every moment of every day, trying to make every moment a mindful one.

10. I will be prepared to spend less time at the computer if I meet someone who is sexy, intelligent, wise, gentle, open-minded, well-traveled and who has an ongoing interest in learning, conversations, sports, blogs and me. Oh yes - and who lives nearby!

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A story of scrambled stereotypes

Eating fish last night in my local restaurant on Luisa Todi, where the owner often introduces diners to each other and gets cross-table conversations going, I met an Iraqi woman who was in Setúbal to see her two sons aged 8 and 9.

She married her Portuguese husband in London, they had two children quite late (she must be in her 50's now) and he organised for them to move to Portugal. He went on ahead as she closed down their house, sorted the bureacracy and sent on the furniture.

However, when she arrived in Setúbal her husband refused to take her in. He and his extended family kept the children and said that if she carried on sending money, she could visit the children when she liked.

Now she lives in London working hard to send money for them and to pay for her flight and the hotel to visit her children twice a year. She has had some bad experiences with lawyers; the process is not easy as she doesn't speak Portuguese.

She's bitter, it goes without saying. She is angry to be an Arab woman fighting to see her children in a Western country; she was angry at Portuguese men "more Arab than the Arabs".

The resturant owner, a Portuguese man from Lisbon married to a Brazilian, listened caringly and comfortingly all evening, taking on her anger and her sadness.

And then he invited the woman (and me!) to join his New Year family dinner and party tonight.

What's this? Snippets of life unlocking my chains to the computer!

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Getting a life

A great post (which you have to read with the photos) about 18 lessons Darren Rowse of Problogger has learned in his blogger's journey.

I took note of all of them, but the one that rang loudly at this phase is number 15:

"Get a life". He says "I’ve also learned that unless I take time off the rest of life tends to fall apart at the seams. Not only that but the quality of work I produce suffers after 16 hours in front of the computer and improves drastically when I sleep more than 5 hours and interact with real people or get into one of my hobbies."

That has to be one of my New Year's resolutions.

I'm off now for a few days of life in the Pyrenees with family and friends. They have a fabulous place and also do holiday lets and rent out their gites. I am both biased and informed!

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Schwarzenegger's thumbs up

About a week ago I read that Cavaco Silva, competing for Presidency in Portugal, suggested that Portugal could become the next California of Europe. My first reaction was to chortle. My second was to start imagining it.

But today I knew that despite any fantasies I might have had, I could never ever live in California. I could never ever live somewhere where it was legal for the state to kill a man (for whatever reason). And I could never ever live in a place where a politician - someone who depends on popular votes for his position of power - has the last say in whether or not someone should die.



Bad timing for blogging

A friend, also working in Higher Education, writes that she can't blog these days. Her worries echo those of mine and other colleagues across the sector (Higher Education in Portugal and probably other countries in Europe). She says it's shameful to see the way colleagues are fighting each other in the fear of being laid off. In such an atmosphere you don't want to be sharing your thoughts and feelings.

It may be shameful, but it's hardly surprising. Huge cuts in number of lecturers, precarious contract renewal that depends on where (and how) you have managed to claw your way up the hierarchy. And a serious economic recession with no great opportunities for employment. We are the only profession that is not entitled to unemployment benefit.

I've never been very good on timing. And I do ask myself why I'm blogging so publicly - on three blogs, no less - when this is the time to be jumping hoops, grovelling and above all watching my back. Conversations, sharing, and all technologies related to Web 2.0 be damned!

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Monday, December 12, 2005

My nomination for best "edublog" in Portugal

There are some great nominees for the Edublog Awards 2005 for "scholarly and education focused bloggers". The organisers highlight the "quality, diversity and scope of how blogs are being used to support and extend teaching, learning, and research, and to create and reinforce education communties".

With these critera my vote would go to someone not on the list nor part of I would nominate him for the categories "most beautiful design", "best innovation" and "best individual blog". My vote goes to "Reformar a Educação Superior" by João Vasconcelos Costa (JVC).

JVC, of the topdown-monodisciplinary-transparency and technology shy generation in Portugal, challenges the mould. He has a doctorate in Medicine and is a lecturer in molecular biology and virology and a consultant for university management, science and technology, training and co-operation between health and education. His consultancy rates (to be found on the site) include a rate "especially for young people" who want his help for academic ends or personal study.

Among other thing his site stands out for:

• the way it stretches current genre conventions for a blog and personal webpage;
• its original design (including great photos);
• deceptively elegant navigation over a big site;
• a space for people who don't normally have a voice to be heard to speak, "not about great theories" but about "day-to-day experiences;
• good quality, complete articles written by writers from Higher Education in Portugal;
• informative, critical and interesting blog posts about Higher Education from the Portuguese context.

My only reservation is that he and other people in Higher Education in Portugal aren't tagging their posts. Imagine if that wisdom was multiplied!

To find someone of his generation and with his experience sharing his personal, professional and academic insights in Portugal is exciting and inspiring. And all on a beautifully designed site. I'm picking up a few tips from him for when I grow up!

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Sunday, December 11, 2005

Categories and tagging

Thanks to FreshBlog instructions about how to use tags for categories. That's a great technology leap forward that's going to help me organise my docblog writing. It's a different type of categorising than I've used in my portfolio blog where everything I write has to go in only one of four categories. That excellent solution came from Netcf2.

I wish there was an easy way of doing tags in retrospect. I started a PhD blog with thoughts, references and snippets back in 2002. It would be great if that had all been tagged.

In one of my worlds where people are locked into SamePlaceSameTime (SPST) sharing content is big cheese. In my SPST world the innovating thing about technology is that it's a tool for helping you share content - potentially challenging the power politics around access to information. But what's really so fascinating about new (Web 2.0) technologies is that you are not only sharing content, but you are also sharing your processes for organising, your mental maps, and your social networks. Now that's a ginormous cheese!

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Saturday, December 10, 2005

When we die, die laughing

Yes Mary Gergen! Still in the same book (see previous post and reference below) I read about Mary Gergen's "ethnographic representation" as she experiments with performative psychology. The lines which resonate go like this:

"We may be trapped in social orderings, tattooed within our proper place, but in outlandish moments we are freed to create the possibility of cultural change....

"Our spectacles are opportunities to glamour into being other forms of life. As we soar over the edge of respectability ... let us make a joyful noise and be glad of our excesses. Let us find a way to celebrate. Let us dare to strut our stuff and when we die, die laughing."

Having spent most of my life soaring over the edge of respectability I've lately been feeling so very trapped in social orderings. So thanks Mary, I am hearing that challenge of strutting our stuff and being free to create the possibility of cultural change.

Bochner, A. & Ellis, C. (2002) Ethnographically speaking: autoethnography, literature and aesthetics, Altamira Press.

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In those wobbly moments related to my identity, doctorate and blog I have wondered why I wasn't keeping a "proper" PhD blog to talk about concepts and conferences related to international or intercultural communication.

Now, as I read an excellent book I find the words for what I'm doing. It's "autoethnography". As I prepare my doctorate about people from Portugal communicating and learning and in international online communities in English I am also telling the story of my own learning communication and learning in communities in a second language.

So, when in qualitative and ethnographic research, the discourse is about being attuned to the relationship between researcher and researched and in being highly sensitized to the "politics of representation" I feel like I'm walking the talk in a bigger way than merely having a "protocol" or a document that will pass an ethics committee.

In this book I'm reading (reference at the end) they go a step further by analysing "the relational domain ... between rhetor and reader, researcher and audience." (I had to look up "rhetor" - it means orator.) So being a rhetor on a blog that reflects and whinges and celebrates the trials and tribulations of communicating and learning in communities in a second language is all part of my research journey - and not merely a time-consuming diversion. Or, at least, I feel better thinking of it like that!

(Note to myself: that I find myself writing, or wanting to write, less in Portuguese on my blog is something I must think about more carefully).

Bochner, A. & Ellis, C. (2002) Ethnographically speaking: autoethnography, literature and aesthetics, Altamira Press.

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Friday, December 09, 2005

What I do is me: for that I came

Wow! This poem, from a workshop run by The Guardian, caught me by suprise.

How to photograph the heart by Christine Klocek-Lim

You remember how the lens squeezed
unimportant details into stillness:
the essential trail of rain down glass,
the plummet of autumn-dead leaves,
your grandfather's last blink when
the breath moved on.
Your startled hands compressed
the shutter when you realized: this is it,
this is the last movement he will take
away from the silent fall of morphine,
beyond the soft gasp of the nurse,
past the sick, slow thud of your heart
moving in the luminous silence.

It was written during a poetry workshop run by Lucy Newlyn, professor of English language and literature at Oxford University, who did something on "inscape" poems. She talks about an experience that has no word in English - the way someone's movement lets you "read" them. Not their body language but the way "you understand the way their whole identity is bound up in their physical presence, so that they seem absolutely at one with themselves - of a piece, so to speak."

It's the ordinariness of inscape that is fascinating. The relationship between the observor and observed also seems to be an important one and related in some way to the book I'm currently reading: "Ethnographically speaking - autoethnography, literature and aesthetics", edited by Arthur Bochner and Carolyn Ellis (recommended by Lilia) with its emphasis on "sensuous engagement" and "intimate encounter".

Lucy Newlyn's call for poems went like this:

"The subject can be as ordinary as you like. The more ordinary it is, the more familiar you are likely to be with it, and this will probably mean your observation is better... Your prime task is to convince your readers of the physical presence of the thing/person/animal you are conjuring onto the page; and to show us how its identity is expressed through that movement."

Inspiring stuff. So I'm now off to reflect on a sensuous engagement or intimate encounter for my next inscape.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

A portfolio blog this time

It's taken me all day to prepare things for this portfolio pilot project we are doing for lecturers in my Institution. My portfolio is going to be in the form of a blog with categories for the different entries. The highlight of my day was to use a hacking tip from netc42 about how to create categories in Blogger Blogs. It works beautifully.

So in contrast to the usual secretive way we normally go about our practice in Higher Education I'm going to tell all on my teaching learning portfolio in English, Portuguese and Portuglish. Even the rules I don't stick to. With a bit of luck there's an inverse relationship between people who care about rules and people who read blogs.

So that makes three regular blogs: this one, a blog for my students related to our discipline and now the portfolio blog. It's hardly suprising I don't have time to write my thesis. I'll know when I'm on the right track because "Em duas línguas" will become my doctorate blog.

I'm liking the way that on my Yahoo 360º page I put all my blog feeds into one place. Although the page looks like yet another sidetrack, I think it's pretty neat the way you could use it to consolidate the different online spaces you inhabit.

P.S. Since writing this post I've had problems getting the portfolio blog to work. You can only see it if you click on archives. What you are seeing is 24 hours old.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Translations - laughing and sense-making

OK. I'm going to experiment with using Google translations for my post. If nothing else they give you a good laugh. And they might also help to make sense of some of the posts in another language.

The tip comes from 7cMarketing which I got through blogger's tips sent in by users.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Making things, like gay marriage, happen

There was a unanimous ruling last week (December 1st) in the highest court of South Africa in favour of same-sex marriage. The ruling has a story in which I feel like I played a part. And it's a story that keeps me reminded of the bigger significance and effects of our conversations, decisions and actions.

Around twenty years ago I started my job as "Community Worker" in the Leicester World Development Centre (in UK). My brief was to promote awareness of aid, trade and human rights in community groups in Leicester. Most of our funding came from Oxfam and Christian Aid. Although the centre was not Christian, we received donations from local church groups whose intentions were to contribute to helping the poor people in Africa and other Third World countries.

One of the first things I did at the centre was to start a newsletter - and I invited different community groups to contribute with news and articles about things that concerned them in their own communities. One of the groups that responded was the Gay and Lesbian group. This caused outrage from some groups who gave donations to the centre. They complained that lesbian and gay issues were not "Third World" issues. In my usual implusive way, and to the disapproval of some members of my Mangagement Committee, I wrote a strong case in the next newsletter as to why any agenda about human rights in any part of the world could not exclude gay and lesbian issues - and that as a centre we could and would not compromise on that.

Another significant part of my activities at the centre was promoting and supporting information and counter-information, action and counter-action related to Southern African countries. Apartheid was going strong; Nambia was still illegally occupied by South Africa; there was low-intensity warfare by South Africa in Mozambique; Nelson Mandela was still in prison and the African National Congress (ANC) was still seen by many as a terrorist organisation.

Around this time, 1987, Ruth Mompati - an executive member of the ANC - was in London to promote South Africa Women's Day. She was articulate about issues of women's emancipation. However, when Peter Tachell, a gay rights activist and supporter of the ANC in South Africa asked her about gay rights she responded that gay rights was not an issue in South Africa and was merely a red herring to the apartheid movement. While women's issues were of concern to the ANC, gay rights certainly were not.

Her statement and others that came from executives in the London ANC office caused outrage among some of us and we started to put pressure on the ANC. We stepped up our conversations about lesbian and gay issues with ANC members who came to Leicester for political events. After these events we used to have great nights of drinking beer and dancing late into the night. These events became another opportunity to put social pressure on ANC members to confront and include gay and lesbian issues in their political agenda.

A few months later Thomas Mbeki responded to public reaction to Mompati's comments with a letter stating that the ANC was firmly committed to removing all forms of discrimination and oppression in a liberated South Africa, including gay and lesbian rights. I remember attending a meeting in London where I listened to a convincing speech by a well-known ANC executive member about gay and lesbian rights - while only months before he had been in my house assuring us that these things were fashionable Western worries and nothing to do with the South African struggle.

In 1996, after Mandela's release, South Africa's new constitution became the first in the world specifically to outlaw discrimination on the grounds of sexual preference. And now in 2005, in the context of being the only country in Africa to even officially acknowledge same-sex relationships, same-sex marriages have become legal.

So when I read the BBC stating that "South Africa is one of the world's most liberal countries in terms of gay rights" I feel satisfied to think that some of my conversations and some of my actions probably helped to make that happen.

Friday, December 02, 2005

An identity project

In one of my worlds I organise online and face-to-face learning events, conferences and unconferences. In this world technology talk is, among other things on RSS feeds, Web 2.0 and converging technologies... Power point is a dirty word - or rather a lazy option - and open space and the discourse of coming together to dialogue and negotiate meaning have been around a while. There are conference blogs, wikis, online spaces... In between events people follow each others' blogs, meet up on Skype, experiment, mix and remix medias and modes for communicating and learning. Taking intiative is the dynamic of doing.

In my other world I go to long meetings where we worry about the number of lecturers who still don't know how to use e-mail, where the closest anyone has to participating in a Yahoo Discussion Group is a friend who does (she thinks). The progressive learning event we organise will have a morning of fun activities for people to get familiar with each other and in the afternoon an outside expert will come in and give a powerpoint and "lançar um debate" (launch a debate) in the amphitheatre. In this world, my suggestion of starting a blog for presentation of, and reflection on, teaching portfolios is rightly dimissed as being too ambitious. I'm reminded - by people more important than me - that we have to keep our feet on the ground.

Both these worlds are ones I inhabit. Both worlds are ones to which I belong. My role in either is neither visitor, nor consultant, nor holiday-maker. It is as a fully paid-up stakeholder.

Is it suprising that I have to keep working on my identity?