Capstone Announcement 2013 heaThe 2013 New Media Night opens tonight from 6-8pm at the University of Maine to celebrate the unveiling of a new center for whiz-bang art and innovation.

Funded by a $3.9M bond in 2009, IMRC (pronounced “immerse”) is chock full of cutting-edge toys, from 3d printers and laser engravers to 360-degree projections and moveable walls.

This opening show is the 8th annual New Media Night, where our best students exhibit their visions of the future. This year’s crop ranges from walk-in immersive videogames to autonomous shadows to social networks for gardeners and boulder climbers.

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Typical Los Angeles “food desert” photo along Figueroa Corridor. Getty Images/David McNew

Walking through the Figueroa Corridor in South Central, Los Angeles, it is difficult to overlook the wave of urban developments. If you haven’t visited the area, you may have already seen it through popularized photos of fast food chains between Jefferson Blvd and Adams Blvd used as an icon for “food deserts.” These so-called deserts are short on healthy food options and high on fatty foods, and the commercial zoning of the Figueroa Corridor coupled by a large mix-used inner-city/university population has lead to a proliferation of prefabricated options. Though the restaurants are iconic of the area, due to a number of factors including the expansion of nearby University of Southern California, the re-emergence of Downtown LA as a cultural and economic center, and the relatively cheap land value of strip-malls, the northwest end of South Central is losing its fast food chains in favor of multi-story housing facilities. Re-enforcing the trend away from the strip-mall towards a more fashionable aesthetic is the style of the new developments: marble-looking columns meet archways at entrances, statues line the walkways, and brick is mixed with stucco.
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Art History Textbook no PicturesAs reported in numerous outlets today, publishers at the Ontario College of Art and Design realized their art history book would have cost $800 if they secured the rights to every image. So they chose the nuclear option, replacing each illustration with a white square and instructions to look the photos up online.

Not to worry! This approach should work fine for artworks like Kasimir Malevich’s White On White, or Robert Rauschenberg’s White Paintings or Erased De Kooning Drawing.

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Ruby, Objective-C, Lua, Python…so many languages, so little time. After the UMaine New Media Department decided to teach code across the curriculum, its faculty needed to choose baseline language with an easy learning curve and broad applicability. Their choice? HTML5.

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Nmd Tutorials Screenshot 2Want to learn new media skills but don’t have the cash for pay-to-use services like or Codecademy? The U-Me New Media Department is planning to launch a repository of how-to screencasts and other educational resources in the coming year–for free.

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This month’s debut of Apple’s digital textbook venture met with mixed reactions. Who’s right?

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if you are interested in any of these jobs, contact these folks directly or via New Media Department chair Larry Latour or Jon Ippolito.

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Vintage Grilled Cheese Ipad heaA California high school aborts an “incentive” program that would give lower-scoring students different colored ids and a separate lunch line. Kindergarteners in Auburn, Maine, meanwhile, are handed iPads along with their jars of paste.

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Digital Humanities LogoTechnology is usually associated with scientists, but now that artsy academics have tasted the power of digital media, the digital humanities are going full tilt. Featuring everything from best-selling Kindle authors to sociologists of Twitter, this week-long on-ramp takes tweed-jacketed academics from 0 to 60 onto the information superhighway.

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Just because your phone captures video doesn’t make you Steven Spielberg. Wired offers a few pointers on how to shoot videos that don’t suck.

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John Bell and I have pointed out that version control — systems widely used in software development for logging the incremental versions of an application as its being developed — would have benefits for all creative production if adopted by other disciplines:

Part archive, part message board, and part management tool, sites like meld project development with open access and documentation. Version control software like git and subversion facilitates asynchronous collaborations between contributors by standardizing how their work integrates. If the creative community documents their work in as structured a manner as coders have, and with the same eye toward future integration with the work of others, it will be a boon to those trying to preserve and build upon the cultural artifacts created today.

But as this article by The Daily WTF founder Alex Papadimoulis points out, the are many types of version control systems representing different philosophies. For there to be a boon, picking the right one for each discipline (or knowing which one not to use) is critical.  For example, systems specific to code creation might not be the best for storing essays.

But source code – though just a bunch of text files – is a special kind of data: it represents a codebase, or the living blueprint for an application that’s maintained by a team of developers. It’s this key distinction that makes source control a special case of revision control, and why we need an additional dimension for managing changes in source code.

At the same time, Alex’s article does a great job of explaining the technical aspects of version control system. For anyone interest in GitHub, but having trouble understanding its Forks and Repos, this is a great primer.

A fork copies a three-dimensional repository, creating two equal but distinct repositories. A commit performed against one repository has no impact on the other, which means the codebases contained within will become more and more different, and eventually evolve into different applications altogether.

Full text at

Why lose $20 reselling that engineering book or Shakespeare reader, when you can pay Amazon $5 and keep your notes in the cloud when you’re done?

Amazon Lets Students Rent Digital Textbooks

“Amazon has unveiled a new digital textbook rental service, allowing students to choose how long they’d like access to an eBook-version of a textbook via their Kindle or app — with the retailer claiming savings as high as 80%. Kindle Textbook Rental will let students use a text for between 30 and 360 days, adding extra days as they need to. Any notes or highlighted text will be saved via the Amazon Cloud for students to reference after the book is ‘returned.’ Amazon said tens of thousands of books would be available to rent for the next school year.”

While iPads have been getting the headlines, there are plenty more e-readers to choose from.

Study This: E-Textbook Readers Compared

The iPad was supposed to wipe out standalone e-readers, but they’re still here, and they’re a big deal on campus.

Two days after Aaron Swartz is accused of downloading a huge swath of academic journal articles from the paywalled site JSTOR, another activist has posted a similar trove to the notorious Web site Pirate Bay. What happens when academics espouse plagiarism?

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JavaScript’s rise to prominence continues as it becomes the new introductory language for Computer Science at Stanford.

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The New York Times reports on the increasingly frequent–but still very controversial–practice of incorporating Twitter and other “backchannel” communication networks into the classroom. Do such conversations make classes more inclusive or more distracting?

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09orono lgh Perma may 03 illWant to try a helping of edible landscape? Mosey over to LongGreenHouse this Friday and Wednesday for a permaculture field day.

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Well, not exactly–but Steve “Woz” Wozniak did recently argue that American education should focus more on sustained long-term projects. The UMaine New Media department is doing its part by showcasing senior capstones at the Collins Center for the Arts on Tuesday 19 April from 7 to 9pm.

Press on this year’s capstones:

A complete list:

The word from Woz: via Byline

“At SNW in Santa Clara this past week, a diverse group of techies shared insights into their industries….Steve Wozniak attacked the American education system, saying students should be graded on a single, long-term project rather than a short learning/testing cycle. ‘In school, intelligence is a measurement,’ he said. ‘If you have the same answer as everyone else in math or science, you’re intelligent.’”

A prominent educator claims today’s college students are learning in silos, specializing too much to see the Big Picture. (Via NMD alumnus Will Seyffer)

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If you haven’t already bought this term’d textbooks, here are a dozen sites ready to sell them cheap. via Byline A look at the long list of Web sites that help college students find the cheapest textbooks available.

Job prospects dim? You’re not the only one depressed.

Freshmen are reporting record levels of stress in an annual survey involving more than 200,000 students.

You can still profit from your college experience by following these “tips for getting student discounts long after graduation.” via Byline

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