“The star-spangled banner” turns 200

Originally posted on Bibliolore:

star spangled banner

Around 1775 John Stafford Smith wrote a melody for verses celebrating the Anacreontic Society, a London amateur musicians’ supper club. With its stirring tune, The Anacreontic song soon escaped the confines of club ritual, appearing in popular song collections and inspiring parodies in London’s many theaters.

By 1790 the melody had become part of the core of the active U.S. broadside tradition; by 1820 Anacreon, as the tune was then known, was the vehicle for more than 85 sets of American lyrics.

A number of these songs were nationalistic, praising early presidents and articulating partisan conflicts. The tune became widely associated with U.S. patriotism, making it a natural choice for Francis Scott Key for his commemoration of the nation’s surprise victory in the Battle of Baltimore in 1814. Originally titled Defense of Fort McHenry, the song quickly became a U.S. patriotic favorite as The star-spangled banner.

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Early French trademarks


Some cool and odd ideas here!

Originally posted on Bibliolore:

Cinématographes Phonographes et Pellicules trademark

The Archives de Paris holds 1200 registrations, mainly by instrument builders working in the former département of the Seine. The same company could have several different trademarks or hallmarks, either to differentiate among products or their quality, or due to various acquisitions or inheritances. In the 1890s trademarks for phonographic machines using cylinders or records, as well as for player pianos, were also registered.

These trademarks are rendered by labels, stamped imprints, dry point, and other means. They include various combinable elements: initials, patronyms, handwritten signatures, instrument names, common names or qualifying adjectives, names of cities, proverbs, or maxims. There are also figurative elements: notes, emblems, coats-of-arms, instruments, stars, animals, photographs, exhibition medals, certificates, and so on.

Les marques de fabrique des facteurs d’instruments de musique déposées au greffe du Tribunal de Commerce de Paris de 1860 à 1914 is an open-access online resource that includes a detailed chronological inventory…

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Just Engage


Another Blackboard rant: everything in Blackboard that one creates for students is tied to grading. For example, the disappearing dropbox mentioned in my last post has been “converted” to an assignments. (Converted is just a nice way of saying it no longer has the option, I guess.) Ditto for the wiki. I want a wiki in my class to allow collaboration, organization, and quick notetaking. The Blackboard “wiki” offers none of those, and again it’s tied to grading. What if you just want a space where collaboration and participation can happen? Look for it somewhere else.

Death of the LMS

Blackboard no longer has a drop box feature.

Blackboard no longer has a drop box feature.

I’ve been using technology in learning environments for most of my career as a student and a teacher. I’ve emailed with my teachers since being in high school, starting when I took music lessons with a professor at the University of Wisconsin in 1996. My first college courses used online streaming to facilitate listening assignments in a music appreciation course through a home-grown (as much as you can call anything “homegrown” at a major research university, though it’s probably a bit ludicrous) course system at the University of Michigan in 1999. That system was replaced by a Sakai-based “Course Tools” LMS at UMich. I used that throughout graduate school, and again when I first taught courses at the University of Michigan–Dearborn in 2008. So, I don’t think that you could say I’m unfamiliar with using technology for teaching and learning. When UMich migrated to Google services in 2012, CTools changed and now integrates with Google web services.

Yet this year, returning as an adjunct faculty to teach one class at the George Mason University, I find myself completely fed up with the current version of Blackboard. Does it exist to provide easy, intuitive, and quick options that facilitate learning? No. It offers a blackboxed, behemoth system that is not open, not attractive, and offers nonsensical descriptions of things. (Like, if you just want to upload a pdf for students to read, you have to create “content” rather than “upload a file.” FYI – that’s not creating content, you’re offering content that someone has already written, and you’re not even creating the metadata for the file, Blackboard is.)

I want my students to be able to upload files to a folder that I can see and they can see, but not everyone else in class can see. Sounds easy, right? But BB doesn’t offer that any more (see above). Instead, if I want that, I’d have to use dropbox. In fact, that is the course I’m taking – using systems that do exactly what I want them to (and that students might actually use) rather than going through the plodding irritation of creating individual module after module. I want the tools I use to teach to be easy to use, lightweight, and to make things easier to do what I want, not more time consuming. And yes, perhaps tools that students might actually want to use. For example, I’m using a mixed suite of tools so far in teaching an archives course, including:

  • Email (Google, and also Office365) – some classics never go away
  • Dokuwiki
  • Twitter
  • Medium.com
  • Google Docs
  • WordPress (the version provided through GMU)
  • Blackboard (begrudgingly, but it does offer a login-protected place for grades and non-public announcements)

I’m afraid that this may be only one of a series of rants as I make my way back into the morass of teaching technology this term. The death knell of the open-source LMS that served the needs of educators and learners probably sounded long ago, and it feels like slogging through the tar pits to even use parts of Blackboard these days.


Corn chip music


Most certainly one of today’s most entertaining, and flavorful, examples of cross-domain use of music…

Originally posted on Bibliolore:

corn chip music

US patent 7942311, granted 17 May 2011 to George Eapen of Frisco, Texas, describes a  method for identifying sequenced flavor notes in a food product and developing a musical passage that represents or artistically relates to the tasting experience of the flavor notes. The passage is played and listened to concurrently with tasting the food product, thus producing a combined sensory experience.

The document includes data from a panel testing of a salsa verde flavored corn chip, which identified the flavor notes cilantro, tomatillo, lime, and an unspecified “spice flavor”. The inventor explains how these flavor notes can generate musical passages.

Eapen assigned rights to the patent to the corn chip giant Frito-Lay, presumably for its use in their marketing of corn chips.

This according to “Music to your tongue: In a bid for more emotional snacking, Frito-Lay patents culinary theme songs” by Marc Abrahams

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The esoteric phonograph


Always fun to be reminded about the spiritual roots of humble sound reproduction!

Originally posted on Bibliolore:

Edison phonograph

Emerging in the gaps between biology and physics, matter and unseen ether, electricity is a liminal force that inevitably carries a powerful imaginative charge both ethereal and anxious.

Many of the influential early figures in the science of electricity, such as Samuel Morse, Alexander Graham Bell, and Guglielmo Marconi, couched the new technology in mysticism and spiritualism, or even linked it to extraterrestrial life. Even the inventor of the phonograph himself was somewhat of a techno-spiritualist; Thomas Edison once attempted to build a radio device capable of capturing the voices of the dead.

Since then, musicians and composers both highbrow and popular have twiddled and tweaked electronic and electrical instruments, as well as electromagnetic recording and broadcasting technologies, to tune into new sonic, compositional, and expressive possibilities. In so doing, they have also gone a long way toward reimagining the scrambled boundaries of subjectivity as it makes…

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