Monday, May 4, 2009

Grades have been posted

Thanks again everyone on all of the hard work and for the fun semester. Hope you have a wonderful summer break!

- Brett

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Randy's videocast deserves a look

I hadn't seen Randy's videocast about gaming language until tonight. And when we featured the various material on our web sites in front of the class, this definitely deserved to be shown. So please take a look now. He really does some interesting things with this form. Nice work, Randy!

- Brett

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

New WSU email on the way

New Student Outlook LIVE Email Accounts
Fact Sheet

Sign up for your new WSU Vancouver email account starting May 4.
• WSU ITS, in partnership with Microsoft, is implementing a new email system for all students.
• Signing up for the new Microsoft Outlook Live email system is FREE and required.
Getting started is easy.
• Visit to get your new account name and temporary password.
o Account names will be
o Appropriate provisions will be made for students with the same names.
• Go to to activate your new account.
• Please remember to change your temporary password.
Access your new account by going to:
• Check your account frequently—after May 18, WSU Vancouver student email will not be sent to non-WSU email accounts.
• This is the primary way WSU email communications will be sent to you.
Call if you need help.
• Direct your questions to the helpdesk in Pullman 509-335-HELP (4357). Tell the help person that you have a student email question and you are from WSU Vancouver.
Enjoy the perks.
• This is a free, lifetime account – keep your WSU email account long after graduation.
• Store up to 10GB of email.
• Access additional Microsoft services including: 25GB Skydrive, Office Live Workspace, Outlook Calendar and instant messaging.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Dr. Grigar's lecture on April 15

Here is the slideshow of Dr. Grigar's lecture on telematics and telepresence from April 15.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A harvester of human feelings

Ran across this "harvester of human feelings," called:

We Feel Fine

Not sure what to make of it yet, but it's interesting to explore.

- Brett

Friday, April 10, 2009

Vook a book

Here is a recent call for content producers:

"Social media/Web Producer
Reply to: [Errors when replying to ads?]
Date: 2009-04-07, 12:03PM PDT

Calling on Portland's creative class. Book junkies, social media mavens we're looking for you too.

This is an opportunity to flex your creative muscles and build your own epic vision of a classic tale.

You may have already read about us in the Times on Sunday ( -- Vook weaves together text, videos, photography and social networking to create a brand new way to experience and interact with books.

We're looking for a handful of tech-savvy, local book lovers who can help us realize this vision. We want you to take your favorite classic book and "Vook" it.

Successful candidates will use our platform and should have:

* A love of fiction, non-fiction, long form and short stories.
* A passion for the web -- natch.
* Familiarity with Wordpress -- a must.
* A clear understanding of social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) and how to source copyright-free content on the Internet -- required.
* An arts, design, video production background -- bonus.
* Literary roots -- over the top.

This is a short-term, contract creative position. Work from home, work from Stumptown. Applicants should submit a resume and links to any on-line portfolio(s). Compensation to be on a completed, per-"Vook" basis.

* Telecommuting is ok.
* This is a contract job.
* Principals only. Recruiters, please don't contact this job poster.
* Please, no phone calls about this job!
* Please do not contact job poster about other services, products or commercial interests."

Which led me to this piece in the New York Times. Please check it out, and apply, if you are interested. Sounds fun,

- Brett

"Woo Hoo!" from the Research Showcase

For those of you who haven't heard yet, this from Dr. Grigar:

"It was a good day for the DTC Program.

First, the DTC Program had a big presence at the Research Showcase. 28 students were involved in projects featured at the event.

The VJ Fleet Team, led by Zach Jepsen, won the "Undergraduate Research Award" at the 2009 Research Showcase. Their project was one of 17 undergraduate projects considered for the prize. Involved in that project was Zach, Ryan Hicks, Ben Hook, Bryce Van Hoosen, Laura Franklin, Phil McArthur, Michael Hatch, Tony Wu, Matt Wright, Jeremy Harget, and Donald Hawthorne. Other cool projects included Ross Swanson, Melissa Vik, Dana Polf, Sophia Stalliviere, Nik Dupuis-Lund & Eric Bahnmiller's project, "Integration of music and digital art," which looked at the relationship between color and music. JJ VanDyke, Tony Wu, Sarah Chesemore, Kerry Mraz & Eric Jackson's poster, "Interactive Artwork Using Web-Based Technologies," used Twitter to produce a community wide poem. Bryce R. VanHoosen, Spring Atkinson, Ben Hook, Cody Reid, Drew Rickman & Robert Thach's project, "Facelife: The Social Network Social Experiment," explored the way social networks may be changing the way we interact in real life.

Second, at FVTV tonight students produced two excellent live video broadcasts. The first group interviewed musician Rob Melton about his school of music and career as a musician. The second organized a discussion with local artists from the community to talk about the state of the arts in Vancouver. The work created tonight at the station will be rebroadcast. Check out for times.

Great work, everyone! We are very proud of you."

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A new way of taking notes

Please keep on the lookout this week for stories like this, about new technologies that are going to change our ways of doing things in the future ...

Shrinking a banner image to fit in Blogger

As I suspected, some of the Blogger templates (such as Minima) allow you to shrink your banner image to fit the width of the main column. There is a box to check when you are editing the image in a template that supports that feature. ... Others require you to resize your image in another program, such as Photoshop. Unfortunately, there isn't a standard size for the photo to fit the column, but it's generally in the range of 600-750 pixels wide by 100-150 pixels high. So either choose a supportive template, or tinker with the image. Let me know if you need further assistance on this.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Please don't forget to do your self evaluation for Wednesday

Here are the specs:

[ ] Self evaluation, a one-page paper (20 points, 10-point font, single spaced) about your efforts as a group team member for this project; includes at least one example of where you went above and beyond your basic duties to contribute something special to the group, one example of where the group dynamics could have been improved (with suggestions for how that could have been done) and one example of an area in which you personally could make significant improvement as a team member. These ideas will
be shared with your group and discussed.

Electronic Behavior Control System

Visual reference from the bottom of page 171:

Monday, April 6, 2009

Teaching English in China?

I don't know how many of you are graduating next month, or who might be interested in this, but here is a notice that crossed my desk over the weekend from sources of mine in Texas:

"April 5, 2009

My name is Mark Bolding and I, along with my wife, Zhu Yan, founded CNET in 2005. CNET (China Needs English Teachers) works directly with the Jiangsu Provincial Department of Education (JPDE) in Nanjing, China to recruit English teachers for all levels of educational settings. We charge no fees for this service and are not a for-profit recruiting agency. This is our fourth year recruiting for the JPDE and we have had great success the previous three years. I have contacted your department in previous years.

Zhu Yan and I are former teachers from the Jiangsu region who currently live in Houston, TX. Yan and I own and operate a gift store in Houston. We have assisted in recruiting since coming to Houston four years ago as a favor to friends in China who work within the JPDE. We are attempting to secure the best possible teachers for one or two semester teaching engagements. For this reason, we recruit each year solely by contacting English and Education Departments at four year institutions in the United States. If you have graduating seniors who might be interested, please refer them to our website at

Because our recruits will work directly for the Department of Education, there is very little chance of a contractual misunderstanding and, should a problem arise, it will be addressed and remedied quickly. We find that our recruits enjoy their time in China. We have formalized our relationships with some schools to send graduate or undergraduate student groups annually to our summer program or for one or two semester positions. We are always happy to serve as intermediaries in a dialogue between a college or university and the Jiangsu Department of Education.


Mark Bolding

8450 Cambridge, #2167
Houston, TX 77054

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

In case you didn't get this on Google group - How to R.S.S. and upload to iTunes

Here are the directions again from Kerry about uploading a podcast to iTunes:

"I've included a picture of the code. Also, a user can download an example file using the link below.

Please say something like, right click and save as.
Modify anything with ***descriptive_text*** and Save As ***descriptive_text***.xml
Upload to a server."

Click on the code to enlarge.

Podcast contest

Please consider a quick edit and trim of your podcast (max 7 min) and entering it into this national college media contest, sponsored by Tennessee State U.

They would fit nicely under the "creative" category, and, from listening to last year's winners, I think your work would stand up very well.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Updates to

Dan Doernberg just sent me a note about upgrades to that might be of interest to you:

"times-- each user now can set a time zone as their default, so that all times given will be given in your "local" time. Setting the time zone is done by editing your Personal Profile:
tags--- probably not useful to you, but students can optionally input one or more tags for each comment. Tags aren't searchable (for now), they just display.
mail notifications-- each user can also set their email settings in their Personal Profile to control how many emails they get when other people comment on conversations (threads) they have participated in... hopefully the settings are self-explanatory (but ask me if not clear, so I can improve!). When the emails arrive they will (as of today) contain a hyperlink to let the email recipient go directly to the relevant conversation.
reminder that new comments posted via the "Add Comments" pop-in don't show on the poster's screen (after the pop-in is closed) unless the screen is refreshed---- that part of our interface has been confusing to everyone... until we figure out a longer-term improvement this reminder note should be at least helpful."

- Brett

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

WSUV Research Showcase schedule, April 9

To earn the 50 points extra credit for this, your group must personally present your research from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on this day, April 9 (you can work in shifts; displays must be removed by 6 p.m.) and each person will write a short yet thoughtful summary of that experience on the class Google group (about 500 words). You are expected to dress professionally and be prepared to answer questions and discuss the work. I also highly recommend that you participate in the other related campus activities, including attending the keynote speech by Dr. Bonnie Dunbar, former Astronaut and President and CEO of The Museum of Flight in Seattle, from 7 to 8:15 p.m.

I'll be coming by a some point to check out how everything is going. Best of luck!

- Brett


Thursday, April 9, 2009
Highlighting Faculty and Student Research, Scholarship and Artistic Expression
All Showcase events are free and open to the public

9:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Poster and Exhibit Viewing
Firstenburg Student Commons

View Presenters and Abstracts
12 noon - 1:30 p.m.

WSUV Faculty Presentation: Dr. Tom Tripp Multimedia Building (VMMC), room 6
4 p.m.- 5:30 p.m. Awards Ceremony and Reception

The Chancellor's Research Excellence Award, Library Research Excellence Award, and Best Undergraduate and Best Graduate Student Poster/Display Awards will be announced and recognized.

Firstenburg Student Commons
4 p.m. - 7 p.m. Oral Presentations - History Department Students
Multimedia Building (VMMC), room 219
7 p.m.- 8:15 p.m.

Keynote Address

Dr. Bonnie Dunbar, former Astronaut and President and CEO of The Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington

Dr. Dunbar will talk about the common ground connecting her experiences as a NASA MIssion Specialist astronaut aboard 5 space flights, her role in leading and directing the Museum of Flight, and her educational journey in Engineering and Science.

Administration Building (VADM), room 110
8:15 p.m.- 9:00 p.m.

Reception with Dr. Bonnie Dunbar

Administration Building (VADM), 129/130/Gallery

Writing a paper together as a group is problematic in terms of pragmatics, so I've worked with Dan Doernberg at to create a group publishing forum through his handy site.

Using this will be part of your grade for the project, with posting at least five comments on your group's paper as a part of the assignment. That will allow me to see who is contributing what to the paper, and it also will be a fairness check for your group, to make sure everyone is contributing as equally as possible to this part of the process. I think this will be a helpful tool for everyone.

In short, this process will work similarly to the Wittgenstein beta test that many of you did earlier in the term. Only the text you will be working on will be your own. For this research showcase project, you will be asked to create a group paper discussing and explaining your work. Using, you will be able to upload the document to this site, and everyone in your group will get to comment on drafts of it line by line.

The first step is to create a user account.

Browse to:

Here are the basics from there (form letter provided by Dan):

"Dear Students,

The textual analysis tool we are using for this week's work is on the site. Here's the procedure you should follow to create an account:

a) If you don't already have an account, go to the NowComment site and click the "Sign Up" link, which will take you to a signup page where you should fill in these fields:

Login name (use your firstname+lastname as shown on the school's records)
Your email address (use your school address with the school's domain name; you'll have to reply to an email sent to that address to activate the account. Later you can edit your Profile to switch to a different email addresses if you want.)
First name
Last name
An account password (enter it twice as a safeguard against typos)
Optional-- upload a photo of yourself or an image that will appear with each comment you post

Once you're done (should take a minute or less) click the "Sign up" button; unless there's an error of some kind, you'll be taken back to the homepage where a message will say "Thanks for signing up! We're sending you an email with your activation code."

b) Check your email in a few minutes and, once it arrives, open it to click on the activation link (or copy-and-paste it into your browser's URL window).

c) Once you log in on that page with your login name and password (the ones you specified above) your account is active.

d) Go to and navigate to your School, Course, and Section (small classes may not have a section).

e) Click on the link for the section you're enrolled in, which will take you to a page with a link that says something like:

Our records don't show that you've registered for this course with NowComment.

Click that "Register" link to request that your teacher and/or TA let you in (once they've checked your name against the class roster).

f) Once the teacher or TA accepts you into the class you should receive an email saying you're accepted, and you'll be able to access the document then.

g) Once accepted into the class, log in and start commenting on your document.

h) These comments can range from copy editing to structural and style issues, but they need to be stated clearly and completely in a formal academic style useful to your group in creating this document.

i) Each student in the group will earn a base amount of points for commenting; five meaningful comments at the minimum.


Brett Oppegaard


Basic NowComment help file

2-Pane View (Original Document in the left window, comments separately in the right)

How to View Existing Comments

Comments can be on the whole document, a paragraph, or a sentence.

Click icons or text to see Comment summary lines in the right-hand pane.

The number of comments will also appear in "thought bubbles" in the left hand window (inline with the document text).

How to Add a Comment or Start a New Conversation

Click on highlighted text or icon in left-hand window. In right-hand window click on Add Comment and fill in the Add Comments screen that appears.

How to Reply to a Comment

Click on highlighted text or icon in the left-hand window. In the right-hand window click on Full View to see expanded comments and then click on the reply button on the existing comment.

Alternately-- click on a right hand summary line and a reply button (and the full conversation) will appear.

How to see all the summary lines in a Conversation

Click on Expand/Collapse All. Clicking it again shows just the summary lines of the initial comment of each conversation.


Comments in Context View (Shows both the original document and comments in one window)

How to add a Comment

Click once on highlighted sentence or paragraph and fill in the Add Comment screen that appears.

Alternately--- click on the Reply Button in an existing comment and fill in the comment screen that appears.

To Get a Printout of Comments for Discussion

Go to your web browser’s File menu and then choose Print.


Comments Only View (Shows just comments)
View comments sorted by:
1) Commenter (person)
2) Date (first one submitted, then second, etc.)
3) Document Sequence (comments on paragraph #1 sentence #1, then para#1 sentence#2, then.... paragraph #1 in general... then para#2 Sentence 1....finally whole-document comments about the text/author/era in general.

Dan Doernberg, Publisher LLC
Phone: 434-975-0780


The captains of each team (JJ, Ross, Bryce and Ryan) will need to upload the draft paper to the site by sending a copy via email to Dan Doernberg at Dan also would be the one to troubleshoot any problems with the site.

In terms of workflow, I would suggest that the draft of this paper is complete no later than Saturday, with back and forth commenting going on Sunday through Tuesday, adding all of the polish either by the end of the day Tuesday, or on Wednesday before class.

By the way, I've also put a help file in our Google group's stash of files (right-hand side of the Google group; just click on "files" link, then click on NowComment help file).

These are all great projects. I'm thankful for your hard work so far and looking forward to the final results. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance,

- Brett

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Animation opportunity!

Martin Hash, a Clark County resident who created the internationally popular software Animation Master, is working on another pet film project and looking for help. Here's the story in Sunday's Columbian. Also should check out the company home page.

This would be a great opportunity for students interested in this kind of work to meet others in the field and get valuable experience.

Those interested can post a comment on the Animation: Master online forum here.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Research Showcase

Abstracts posted here

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Visualizing a tweet

Eric Jackson shared these links with his group, and they were so interesting, I want everyone to see them:

SXSW Twitter visualizer


DIGG swarm

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Way more on the remediation of "The Wizard of Oz" into "Wicked"

Providing context for my failure of a point tonight. Oy!

"Wicked," the musical, at Portland's Keller Auditorium through April 5

"Wicked," the novel by Gregory Maguire; Google books excerpt

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Create a poster; win prizes

Another chance to display your skills at WSUV:

The Expressions of Diversity Poster Contest

The Diversity Council invites members of the WSU Vancouver community to enter the Expressions of Diversity Poster Contest. Your original poster design or concept should reflect the importance of diversity to our campus and the larger community we serve. The winning poster will be used to promote diversity on the WSU Vancouver campus, the Diversity Council's website and sponsored events, as well as throughout the Vancouver and SW Washington region.

Unleash your creativity and feel free to express yourself in any media, from pen and ink to watercolors to digital design.

The winning selection will receive a $200 gift certificate to the WSU Vancouver Bookstore.

The contest is open to all WSU Vancouver students, staff, and faculty.

All entries must be submitted by March 27, 2009.

Diversity poster contest

The first computer?

The Antikythera just might have been ... The Antikythera is "a mysterious clockwork object made up of numerous meshed cogs that was discovered more than a century ago among the cargo of a Greek shipwreck.
The mystery of how the Greeks had made a machine that appeared to be 1,800 years ahead of its time and why that knowledge was seemingly lost is fascinating, but Marchant's story is really about the scientists and engineers who have fallen under the spell of the Antikythera mechanism over the last century."

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Stephen Fry podgram about language

Brought to our attention by classmate Eric Jackson (Thanks, Eric!). ... A lot of interesting information in here.

Among his accomplishments, Fry won the Perrier Prize at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Please listen when you get a chance.

Fry on language

Friday, March 6, 2009

Project management help

Besides Google groups, which are a great way to keep in contact and share ideas, some of you might be interested in trying a project management system that will help you keep track of tasks and set deadlines and such.

Microsoft Project is one, and a free open-source program that is similar is:

Open Workbench

This upcoming research project will be more complicated than our previous group efforts, so this might help you and your group get the task done in an efficient manner. Let me know what you think,

- Brett

Reshaping a news broadcast into a tune

Heard this on the radio this week, and Rick Emerson graciously emailed me the file to share. Emerson is one of the most talented radio performers in the region. His show -- which used to be 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays on AM-970 but, as of March 16, will be moved to 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. on KUFO FM 101.1 -- focuses on banter about pop culture, tech trends and weird news. It can be very funny and clever. In turn, he has cultivated a group of listeners who actively produce interesting audio bits, and this one, as an example, shows how a simple section of a news segment about a crazed man with an oscillating fan can become the lyrics for a catchy little tune.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Links from Dr. Grigar's lecture on March 4

Here are those links she promised to share:

The slideshow: (under March 4)

Kendall's piece, Faith:

More examples of electronic literature:

And please keep in mind that anything Dr. Grigar spoke about is fair game for the next quiz.

- Brett

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Audio projects

Here are the audio projects generated by our class this term:

I'm going to put more details (and the files) as I get them.

"Alicia in Wonderland," based on the characters of Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," only set as a reunion of sorts in a bar many years after the initial tea party. Authors: Levi Bibo, Melissa Vik, Sokphan Pan, Robert Thach, Dana Martin and Sophia Stalliviere.

"Huck Finn" is an excerpt from the classic American story "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn." It focuses on the last two chapters of the Mark Twain novel, with minor editing and omissions, for a more modern feel. The dialogue remains largely unchanged though, to allow for more of a realistic experience in regard to the place and time of the story. Authors: Drew Rickman, JJ VanDyke, Christina Roberts, Ryan Phillips, Eric Bahnmiller and Cody Reid.

"DJ From Detroit" is based on the legend of "The Pied Piper of Hamlin." It has been rewritten and updated to a modern setting. Authors: Spring Atkinson, Eric Jackson, Kerry Mraz, Tina Willhite and Tony Wu.

"Thomas' Saga" follows a viking thane and his men as they set out across the sea to attack a neighboring society. Thomas' Saga is an original script written and adapted for audio play by Niklas Dupuis-Lund and produced by Sarah Chesemore, Randy Holland, Bryce Van Hoosen, Ross Swanson and Ben Hook.

Large files and email

Sometimes email accounts won't take (or send) files of really large sizes, apparently like the ones we are working on right now. One solution that I've found handy is the web site: It allows you to send large files through its system. If you are stuck, please give that a try. Thanks!

- Brett

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Guest lecturer on Wednesday

Dr. Dene Grigar, co-director of the DTC program, graciously will guest lecture about textuality and materiality during the first segment of class this Wednesday. Please come prepared to ask thoughtful questions about those subjects. A good place to start in your prep is your reading for this week.

- Brett

Monday, March 2, 2009

More help with research question and abstract - Please Read!

By the end of class Wednesday, I hope all of you will have your research question developed as well as an abstract of what you want to accomplish in this research (those submitting for extra credit will then be able to do so).

These initial ideas may very well change to some degree over the next few weeks. But we need to start somewhere. In that regard, let's begin with the basics of what we are pursuing:

Research area. I'd like all of us to focus on an area of emerging technology since that's where most of the fertile questions will be.

Some ideas:

* GPS -- This is the next huge mainstream technological phase, and it's coming fast. GPS can locate and track but it can also be used for social networking and games and data gathering and processing. Anything related to mobile communication and the mobile life right now is ripe.

* RFIDs (radio frequency identification tags) -- These are the next phase for UPC codes, or bar codes, the little rectangular pattern on every package that checkers scan for price and product information. Only with RFIDs, people may soon be able to skip the checker and just fill a cart and pay and walk out the door without ever removing an item from the cart. These RFIDs can be injected in skin or attached in other non-visible ways, which means we soon will be able to track anything anywhere, even without people knowing about it. Very Orwellian.

* Accessibility -- As the Internet changes the world, the people without access are being dramatically left behind. There are many issues related to this phenomenon.

* Text messaging -- Many of you have voiced concerns about how this form of communication is eroding society. Prove it.

* Telepresence -- Teleconferencing, web cams, remote applications of technology, remotely created art (such as the WSUV MOVE Lab) etc. We are able to do so much more interaction with each other now, without actually being present. Are there any intriguing issues for you in that?

Those are just some of the many interesting areas in your field right now, ripe for research. Whatever you decide to pursue, think action. What kind of action will you take to develop answers to your question through experiments and research. We are not looking for projects that simply observe and describe behavior.

This will involve at least two variables: A manipulated variable (the one you control) and the responding variable (the one that reacts to your manipulation). It also likely will include controlled variables, or parts of your experiment that don't change from test to test.

You will need to create a hypothesis, or a statement of what you think will happen, and then test that idea. A standard construction for this is: If _______, then _____, because _________.

As a group, you will need to develop a procedure for all of this to take place and for your research question to be answered. To do that, though, the research question must be finely honed and focused.

An example of an unworkable research question: How is GPS technology changing the world?

A better approach: What aspects of GPS technology can be implemented and used on a commuter campus, such as WSUV, to create stronger social networks among otherwise disconnected students?

From there, you will need to gather data and make observations about that data. Then you will need to process all of that material and make a conclusion about what you learned.

I will go over all of this in more detail in class. But please remember that this project will be a major part of your grade in this course, and everything will go much more smoothly if all of this is thought out in great detail by your group before you start, rather than trying to adjust and catch up as you go.

Please bring your thoughts about this project and questions to class Wednesday night. We will be spending time in the third hour working with our groups and developing our questions and abstract.

Until then,

- Brett

Friday, February 27, 2009

How to write an abstract

Here are some guidelines about writing a research abstract, from UCDavis' Advising Services, Reading this is a good place to start:

What is an abstract?
An abstract is a very concise statement of the major elements of your research project. It states the purpose, methods, and findings of your research project.

Why write an abstract?
The abstract allows readers to make decisions about your project. Your sponsoring professor can use the abstract to decide if your research is proceeding smoothly. The conference organizer uses it to decide if your project fits the conference criteria. The conference audience (faculty, administrators, peers, and presenters' families) uses your abstract to decide whether or not to attend your presentation. Your abstract needs to take all these readers into consideration.

How does an abstract appeal to such a broad audience?
The audience for this abstract covers the broadest possible scope--from expert to lay person. You need to find a comfortable balance between writing an abstract that both shows your knowledge and yet is still comprehensible--with some effort--by lay members of the audience. Limit the amount of technical language you use and explain it where possible. Always use the full term before you refer to it by acronym [for example, portal venous transfusions (PVT)]. Remember that you are yourself an expert in the field that you are writing about--don't take for granted that the reader will share your insider knowledge.

What should the abstract include?
Think of your abstract as a condensed version of your whole essay. By reading it, the reader should understand the nature of your research question.

Abstracts for experimental research projects should include:

* A specific and detailed title.
* A brief introduction to the topic-providing context or background.
* A statement of the study's objectives--what is the research question?
* A summary of results.
* A statement of conclusions (or hypothesized conclusions).
* Possibly some discussion of the relevance of the conclusions.
* Possibly some call for future research.

Abstracts for research projects that are primarily text-based should include:

* A specific and detailed title.
* A brief introduction to the topic-providing context or background.
* A statement of the study's objectives--what is the research question?
* A summary of the key subtopics explored—what argument are you proposing about the topic?
* A brief reference to the nature of the source material and methodology (if relevant)—library research? analysis of fictional texts? interviews or observations?
* A statement of conclusions (or hypothesized conclusions).
* Possibly some discussion of the implications of the conclusions.

Whatever kind of research you are doing, your abstract should provide the reader with the answers to the following questions: What are you asking? Why is it important? How will you study it? What will you use to demonstrate your conclusions? What are those conclusions? What do they mean?

Stylistic Considerations:
The abstract should be one paragraph and should not exceed the word limit. Edit it closely to be sure it meets the Four C's of abstract writing:

* Complete — it covers the major parts of the project.
* Concise — it contains no excess wordiness or unnecessary information.
* Clear — it is readable, well organized, and not too jargon-laden.
* Cohesive — it flows smoothly between the parts.

How do I go about writing the abstract?

1. Assess your writing task. Figure out the basics--Deadline, Length (250 words, maximum), Purpose (to communicate clearly to your various audiences what you have researched), and Audience (faculty, students, etc).
2. Write a draft and get feedback from your sponsoring professor, from peers, from TA's, etc.
3. Revise the abstract based on feedback you receive. Plan on several revisions with time away from the draft.
4. Be sure your abstract is grammatically sound. See a writing specialist at the Learning Skills Center for final revisions.

Here are three successful sample abstracts—for an experimental research project, for a cultural studies project that combines field research with library research, and for a literary research project:

Estimating Gas Transfer Rates in Bag Cultivation of Shiitake Mushrooms

Previous studies have shown that growth rate and fruiting quality of Letinula edodes may be affected by levels of O2, CO2, and H2O. By knowing the gas exchanges rates within the growth substrate and across the filter patch on cultivation bags, growth and quality of shiitake mushrooms may be maximized. This study was performed in an effort to develop a simple, non-invasive method for measuring the rate of gas exchange within the substrate and across the filter patch. The mushroom growth substrate consisted of sawdust supplemented with rice bran and millet at an initial moisture content of 65%. Air was supplied to cultivation bags continuously at various constant airflow rates. Patch permeability was also tested using Trichoderma harzianum. Both experiments showed that for identical aeration rates, patch permeability varied considerably. Patch permeability did not seem to be affected by autoclaving time. Another set of experiments was conducted to measure the rate of water exchange across the patches. Patch permeability to water vapor was approximately the same, regardless of aeration rate or autoclaving time.
(172 words--Biological & Agricultural Engineering)

A Bit Bright: The Rise and Fall of Neon Signs in Las Vegas

Paris may be the city of light, but Las Vegas is the city of neon. People associate Las Vegas not only with gambling, but also with the glittering neon signs that cover the city. My area of research is the rise and fall of neon signs as an architectural presence. Using a mixture of field work, interviews, and library research, I have traced neon signs from their earliest days as roadside signs, to their incorporation into buildings, to the Golden Age of the 1970s when signs became separate structures independent of the casinos they were advertising. I would argue that in the past fifteen years, with the rise of the mega-resort in Las Vegas, signs are falling in importance. Now the architecture of the casinos themselves are the primary advertisements for resorts like the Venetian and New York, New York. However, the reality is more complicated than just saying "casino architecture has risen at the expense of neon signs": up and down the Strip, many buildings still have large signs in front to advertise to the drivers and pedestrians who cannot see the buildings. I hypothesize that, now, a casino's position on the Strip and its architectural style influence the type of sign it has in this, the most complex era of signage.
(213 words—American Studies)

There's Something About Harry:
Representation of Females in J. K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" Series

The "Harry Potter" series—like all children's literature—reflects the ideologies of the society of its time, including attitudes about women's roles. The object of my research is to examine (1) the evolution of the traditional female characters Rowling draws from; (2) the ways in which Rowling's use of female archetypes in her works acts as a retrograding agent; and (3) the reasons why traditional representations of women continue to appeal to the general audience. Even though late 20th – early 21st-century society encourages female empowerment and gender equality (as demonstrated in recent movements in children's literature which have attempted to construct bolder, more contemporary female figures, such as the "Girl Power" and "Feminist Fairy Tale" movements of the late 1990s), Rowling has met critical, popular, and commercial success by reverting to traditional, stereotypical characterizations of women. Thus far, I have traced the origin of many of Rowling's female characters and have done preliminary research into the psychology of children's reading habits. Through a close analysis of popular children's literature, I have discovered ways in which female characters have evolved over time to suit the ideas of society in and for which they were written. Through further research, I hope to discover how authors of children's literature can create modern female characters that appeal to the young reader with equal success as traditional representations.
(223 words—English)

Some things to avoid:

Including too much introductory material:

The Black-Capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) is a species of North American songbird inhabiting the United States and Canada. Unlike many other songbirds whose songs vary geographically, previous studies done on chickadee populations from Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York, Ontario, Missouri, Wisconsin, Alberta, Utah, British Columbia, Washington, and California have shown that males sing a typical two tone song, "fee-bee-ee," with little variation between populations. Researchers have also shown that an isolated population from Martha's Vineyard, an island offshore of Massachusetts, demonstrates singing patterns different from the usual two note songs. I am studying a second isolated population of chickadees in Alaska, which has not been systematically investigated previously. There is one anecdotal report that suggested the males from the Alaskan population have unusual singing patterns. For example, the males sing songs with multiple notes accompanied with frequency shifts. The goal of my research...

Using too much jargon:

Within the historiography of North American studies, my research attempts to combine criticisms of Them vs. Us historical paradigms with recent psychological findings on stereotype formation, self-esteem and implicit self-theories.

Not using complete sentences:

To determine and describe the ancient Mayan calendar system. To ascertain how they tracked time for their civilization. Included is...

Not giving the reader sufficient context and completeness:

We have used infrared reflectance to study the effects of melt recrystallization on the structure of thin polymer films. We hypothesized that slowly melting and then resolidifying the thin polymer films will lead to higher levels of crystallinity and orientational order in very thin polymer films. (46 words for the whole abstract)


AND here's one more set of tips, from (from Lynda Kelly, Head, Australian Museum Audience Research Centre):

When answering a call for papers a number of factors need to be kept in mind to ensure that
your abstract has a good chance of being accepted.
• Ensure that your ideas are well thought out and follow a logical, coherent flow:
􀂾 state the issue to be discussed
􀂾 give a brief background to the issue
􀂾 brief description of what you are doing about it
􀂾 implications/outcomes: why is what you’ve done important?
• Ensure that the abstract relates to the conference theme:
􀂾 in a ‘real’ and not contrived way: if it doesn’t fit then don’t submit
􀂾 an interesting and catchy title helps:
• but make sure it’s not too ‘clever’ or obscure
Ensure that practical aspects of the abstract comply with requirements:
􀂾 it meets or is under the specified word length
􀂾 is typed in the specified font type, size
􀂾 spacing and setting out are correct
􀂾 if no guidelines are given then a standard format is usually:
• 200-250 words
• Times 12pt font
• 1.5 line spacing and centred on the page
• Limit amount of references cited in abstract:
􀂾 use only if essential to support your argument
􀂾 detailed references can be covered in the resulting presentation/paper
• Look at past abstracts/conference papers to pick up the tone and style of that particular
organisation’s conferences
• Run your abstract past someone familiar with both the topic you wish to present and the
conference style: such as a university lecturer, work colleague, member of professional
society, someone who has presented before at the conference
• Submit on or before the due date and in the required way:
􀂾 electronically, via e-mail, is usually preferred
􀂾 ensure computer compatibility of documents (especially in converting Macintosh
to IBM formats)
􀂾 saving in ‘Rich Text Format’ in Word is better (*.rtf)
􀂾 not all are able to access documents in html formats easily – stick to established
word processing programs such as Word
• Ensure you include your name, title, organisation and contact details, including phone,
fax, street address and e-mail
• Finally, remember that your abstract serves two purposes:
􀂾 to interest and intrigue the committee so they will select it
􀂾 to introduce/outline your topic for the conference handbook – so it needs to stand
alone as a record of your presentation
Websites of recent conferences with examples of well-written abstracts can be found at:
The Association for Australian Research in Early Childhood Education, 2002 Conference
Australian Association for Research in Education, 2001 Conference
Museums and the Web International Conference: Abstracts and papers online from
conferences held since 1997
Lynda Kelly, Head, Australian Museum Audience Research Centre, 1 February, 2002

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Most desirable and undesirable songs

Thanks to Eric Jackson for mentioning the This American Life segment on the topics of polling and artistry and music creation. Here is the link: This American Life (it's on episode two)

Eric also found the mp3s of the songs, found here

Comment here about what you think.

- Brett

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

WSUV Research Showcase

Here are some of the basics on the upcoming WSUV Research Showcase. Our class project for the next few weeks will be created under this model, with extra credit for those who actually end up presenting the work at this event. So please review as soon as you can.

To receive the extra credit (50 points per person), your group will need to submit -- via the electronic form at this link -- your abstract and accompanying material by 9 p.m. Wednesday, March 4 (let's talk about the abstract in class before you submit), and then carbon copy that information to me at:

One important caveat, if this project does not meet a high standard that represents DTC well (at least a B level, not a B- or lower), I do reserve the right to pull the plug on it in terms of the public presentation and extra credit (not the class grade). So, again, this needs to be a B project or better to make the cut and earn the extra credit.

- Brett

A few more audio theater examples

Here are a few more to sample:

Silent Universe, a futuristic soap opera

The Wireless Theatre Company

Example 1 from WTC (banter, character development and sound effects, including silence): The Importance of Shoes

Example 2 from WTC (language and communication): Laying Ghosts

Example 3 from WTC (framing): The Fun Tom Menace

A list of many, many more Web resources:

Radio Theater on the Web

BBC Radio

The largest broadcasting company in the world, The BBC, still invests heavily in audio theater. Some of the best modern pieces are coming from here. There are three channels producing this kind of work:

BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio 4 generally offer drama and more serious fare.

While BBC Radio 7 offers sci-fi and comedy as well as other miscellaneous programs.

Radio play scripts offers several examples of radio play scripts.

Mercury Theatre radio plays from the 1930s

The Mercury Theatre, famous for its "War of the Worlds" broadcast and its association with Orson Welles and John Houseman, created some of the finest examples of radio plays in the 1930s. This page offers many examples of some of the best of this genre.

David Sedaris' "6 to 8 Black Men"

This audio piece provokes thoughts about language, small talk, onomatopoeia and traditions, including the stories we pass down from generation to generation. And it is really funny.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Creative Commons

Those looking for public domain media also should consider checking out:

Just watched "Peter Pan" tonight with my kids, and the original book, by James Barrie, was written in 1904. Thought I might mention that, in case there is anyone out there who might want to look into it. At least one of the stage versions, maybe more, also was pre-1923.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Another extra credit opportunity! KOUG radio

This from Randy: "The first KOUG Staff Orientation will be held this Saturday, February 7, from 1-3pm. At this session, our advisor Brian Blair will be talking about broadcasting in depth, how to produce a radio show, and how to best work the equipment in the studio. We will also cover ways to get involved at KOUG, and FCC compliance. Attending this orientation session will give you a solid foundation so you can create great programs and be a great on-the-air personality.

Working at KOUG will be both fun and challenging. It is a serious commitment of time and effort, so you should only apply if this something you would be willing to devote your passion and your time to. We have big plans and would love to have you involved, but we need you to jump in with both feet and not just put a toe in the water.

KOUG Staff Orientation
On campus, Firstenburg Student Commons conference room 104.
February 7, 1-3pm.

Contact Zane Wagner at"

Same basic parameters as the VanCoug boot camp (only 15 points instead): Attend, think about it in terms of our class, post a significant response on the Google group, get your points.

- Brett

Monday, January 26, 2009

Extra credit opportunity! VanCougar boot camp

Go to this. Get a free lunch. Learn about The VanCougar (the WSUV newspaper) and its intersection with language, texts and technology. Post about what you learned (particularly in relation to our class and its various topics) on our Google group. Get 25 extra credit points. Any questions?

This from Dean Baker, the VanCoug adviser:

"The semi–annual WSUV-Vancougar journalism boot camp is coming again. It's on Feb. 7 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and you and your students are invited.
Featured this time will be Steve Lane, Columbian photographer, and Michael Andersen, Columbian reporter. We'll talk about "Getting the story." The emphasis will be on conceptualizing, interviewing, reporting, and writing the story. The location probably will be the same as last time, the FSC conference room. But editor Katie Wells is still nailing that down. It's free. There's a free lunch and all are welcome. Those who plan to attend should e-mail Katie at"

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Enemy Mine - translation clip

A film clip to help you visualize the translation process. This movie, by the way, deals quite a bit with the foundations of language.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Chat Wittgenstein and get extra credit

Students in this class get the unusual opportunity over the next two weeks to participate in a custom-designed beta test of new software being developed by And earn extra credit in the process (up to 20 points).

The site's founder, Dan Doernberg, and I have collaborated on setting up the next two readings, Wittgenstein's aphorisms 1-79 from "Philosophical Investigations," in this software for this test.

The first document is at:

Aphorisms 1-36

The second at:

Aphorisms 37-79

To participate, you first will need to sign a waiver in class Wednesday night and return that to me.

Second, you'll need to create a free account at

To do that:

Go to the ElectionDocs home page:
Click on the "login" link (upper right-hand corner)
Click the "Create a New Account" link
Fill in all the required information (uploading a photo is optional) and click the "Sign up" button.
After submitting your information, our software will send you a confirming email; click on the link given after the line "Visit this URL to activate your account". Once this is done your new account is active.
Click on “Log In,” and then enter the same username and password you chose earlier. Only if you're working from a secure, private home computer should you click the “Remember Me” box to remember your password information. In general it's best to enter this information each time rather then use this shortcut.

B) Accessing the Documents

Once the account is set up you can go directly to the two documents through the links above.

On those, you'll be able to post comments line by line and interact with the comments from your classmates on specific sections of text.

Highlight either the "whole document" icon, the paragraph icon or the sentence icon to comment on the text at any of those levels (I've placed a comment on each level as examples). The Document Focus and Comment Focus links switch the views. Ideally, we'll get some back and forth comments among us, about specific parts of the text.

To earn the extra credit, you'll need to make significant posts about the content. A significant post should be at least 50 words, but as long as you want. And, most importantly, it should convey some idea or question or comment you have about the text, with your own original interpretation included. These posts can start threads or continue threads.

I will give up to 10 extra credit points for each of the two batches of aphorisms (2 points per post), for a total of 20.

I will demonstrate this in class Wednesday, Jan. 21, and go over any questions then.

Please give it a try. Thanks!

- Brett

Monday, January 12, 2009

To order the course pack ...

Here's what University Readers sent:

"Dear students,

Your custom course materials for DTC 375 published by University Readers are now available online at I have carefully selected the readings included in this course pack to provide you with a more relevant, custom learning experience. Please purchase this course pack to stay on top of your readings. Doing so will help you be successful in this class.

The course pack price is $81.35, and includes materials that we will use in class daily, so you should purchase your own copy. Also, please keep in mind that our institution adheres to copyright law, so any copyrighted material should not be copied or duplicated in any manner.

To purchase the course pack, please follow the instructions below:

Step 1: Log on to

Step 2: Click on the white "STUDENTS BUY HERE" button located in the "Student Store" section (upper right-hand corner of the page).

Step 3: Create an account or log in if you have an existing account to purchase.

Step 4: Easy-to-follow instructions will guide you through the rest of the ordering process. Payment can be made by all major credit cards or with an electronic check.

Orders are typically processed within 24 hours and the shipping time will depend on the selected shipping method and day it is shipped (orders are not shipped on Sundays or holidays). If you experience any difficulties, please email or call 800.200.3908.

Kind regards,


P.S.: after purchasing, you will also be emailed instructions on how to download a FREE 20% PDF to get started on your required readings right away.

Friday, January 9, 2009


To Language, Texts and Technology ... Please get your course pack right away from University Readers (link on the left under class materials). After you click on that link, go to the University Readers student store (link on upper right of page) and then fill out the registration. That will give you access to the course pack, which is $81.35. Then, please join our Google group (link under forums; I'll need to authorize your membership). Please let me know if you have any questions,

- Brett Oppegaard,