Friday, August 26, 2011

Coming Soon! Gamercamp Jr

©2011 Gamercamp
For anyone who is or knows a kid between the ages of 9 and 13 with an interest in games and game design, you should definitely check out this new, very cool resource (and upcoming event) put together by the awesomely fantastic guys behind Gamercamp. Gamercamp Jr. is a website, a set of downloadable activity kits, as well as an upcoming in-person meet up, all aimed at introducing kids to game design concepts and language. The whole thing springs from Mark Rabo and Jaime Woo's (Gamercamp founders) vision and ongoing efforts to support the local production of more diverse, independent game ideas, designs, distribution, etc. I couldn't be more thrilled (and proud) to see them extending their mandate to often overlooked in discussions of advancing diversity within cultural production, and yet so unbelievably imaginative and awesome at inventing games and other play opportunities.  

You can check out (and download) the Game Making Kits here.

And here's the (cut+pasted from the official site) info for the Gamercamp Jr Meetup:

On September 10th, 2011, we’re having a local meetup for Gamercamp Jr. at the George Brown School of Design in Toronto where children and their parents/guardians will participate in hands-on activities, hear from professional gamemakers, and create their own games. The event is free and open to children from the ages of 9 – 13 and their parents. (We anticipate adapting future events to a wider age-range!)Grab your ticket starting August 6th, 2011.
PLEASE NOTE: We will not be able to admit children without adult supervision.
Can't wait to see what amazing things emerge out of this initiative. Huge kudos to Mark and Jaime for organizing this and for providing such a uniquely ethical, considered, awesome voice for inclusive game design in all its forms.

Friday, August 19, 2011

CFP Alert: iConference 2012

In case you missed it the first time, we're hosting the next iConference and it's going to be a blast. Submissions are due Sept.12 - hope to see lots of children's lit/media, digital media, copyright/remix culture, tech, design and games people there :)

Here's the (cute and paste) original CFP:

Now Accepting Submissions: iConference 2012
Toronto, Canada
February 7-10, 2012

Greetings to everyone!

We are now accepting submissions for iConference 2012, our seventh annual gathering of scholars, researchers, and professionals who share an interest in the critical information issues of contemporary society.

The iConference will include peer-reviewed papers, posters, alternative events, and workshops—all intended to push the boundaries of information studies, explore core concepts and ideas, and create new technological and conceptual configurations. Our four-day event takes place in downtown Toronto, February 7-10, 2012. The conference theme is: Culture * Design * Society.

Authors and organizers can now submit papers, poster abstracts, alternative events proposals, and workshop proposals using our secure submissions website: All submitting authors must provide basic information and agree to copyright parameters as a condition of acceptance and publication. Papers and poster abstracts will be published in the ACM Digital Library.

In addition, a Doctoral Student Colloquium is being organized, with funding from the National Science Foundation. Applications for the colloquium are now being accepted. Learn more at A Junior Faculty & Postdoc Colloquium is also in the works.

The iConference series is sponsored by the iSchools, a growing association of more than 30 Schools, Faculties and Colleges in North America, Europe and Asia—however, affiliation with the iSchools is not a prerequisite, and we encourage everyone to participate. Presenting sponsors of iConference 2012 include NSF and Microsoft Research.

* Conference home:
* Submissions site:
* Last Year’s Proceedings:

Submission types:
* Papers:  We’re looking for original research, six to eight pages; papers will be refereed in a blind process, and accepted papers will be published in the ACM Digital Library.
  Submission deadline: Monday September 12, 2011
  Notification: Early November
  Final version due: Monday December 5, 2011

* Posters: We’re interested in posters presenting new work, preliminary results and designs, or educational projects. Poster abstracts will undergo a blind review, and accepted posters will have their abstracts published in the ACM Digital Library.
  Submission deadline: Monday September 26, 2011
  Notification: Mid November
  Final version due: Monday December 5, 2011

* Workshops: These can be half- or full-day and can focus on any area within information.
  Submission deadline: Monday September 19, 2011
  Notification: Early October
  Final version due:  Monday October 31, 2011 

* Alternative Events: These can include panels, fishbowls, performances, storytelling, roundtable discussions, wildcard sessions, demos/exhibitions, and more. All should be highly participatory, informal, engaging and pluralistic.
  Submission deadline: Monday September 19, 2011
  Notification: Mid November
  Final version due: Monday December 5, 2011

* Doctoral Colloquium: This year’s colloquium will be organized around the theme of “inquiry.” Applicants will submit a 1,000 word abstract addressing the question, “What is the nature of inquiry in the information field, what makes it similar to or different from other areas of research, and what challenges have you met in your own research in this regard?” Visit our website for details:
  Application deadline: Friday September 30, 2011
  Notification: Late November


Conference Chair
* Jens-Erik Mai, University of Toronto

Papers Chair
* Jonathan Furner, University of California, Los Angeles

Posters Chair
* Paul Marty, Florida State University

Alternative Events Chair
* Philippa Levy, University of Sheffield

Workshops Chair
* Kelly Lyons, University of Toronto

Doctoral Colloquium Co-Chairs
* Hamid Ekbia, Indiana University
* Howard Rosenbaum, Indiana University

Keynote Speakers Chair
* Brian Cantwell Smith, University of Toronto

Publication Chair
* Yuri Takhteyev, University of Toronto

Social Media Chair
* Rhonda McEwen, University of Toronto

Program Committee

* Mark Ackerman, University of Michigan
* Alessandro Acquisti, Carnegie Mellon University
* Jack Andersen, Royal School of Library and Information Science
* Nick Belkin, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey
* Jean-François Blanchette, University of California, Los Angeles
* Johan Bollen, Indiana University
* Geoff Bowker, University of Pittsburgh
* Amy Bruckman, Georgia Institute of Technology
* Donald Case, University of Kentucky
* Chen Chuanfu, Wuhan University
* Paul Clough, University of Sheffield
* Kevin Crowston, Syracuse University
* Ron Day, Indiana University
* Melanie Feinberg, University of Texas, Austin
* Robert Glushko, University of California Berkeley
* Sean Goggins, Drexel University
* Sara Grimes, University of Toronto
* David Hendry, University of Washington
* Steven Jackson, Cornell University
* Jim Jansen, The Pennsylvania State University
* Michelle Kazmer, Florida State University
* Anita Komlodi, UMBC
* Christopher (Cal) Lee, University of North Carolina
* Bonnie Mak, University of Illinois
* William Moen, University of North Texas
* Bonnie Nardi, University of California, Irvine
* Heather L. O'Brien, University of British Columbia
* Ee-Peng Lim, Singapore Management University
* Vivien Petras, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
* Kalpana Shankar, University College Dublin
* Elizabeth Shepherd, University College London
* Bo Xie, University of Maryland

Learn more at

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Save Our Libraries

©2011 Our Public Library TO, campaign logo

I know that many of you (particularly those of you in Toronto and other parts of Canada) have been following the recent, very troubling, threat of funding cuts to our city's public library system...along with numerous other community services, arts and enormously important public fora and services. Many of you are already participating in campaigns to save the Toronto Public Library (TPL) against the proposed cuts and closures, while many more are bemoaning the parallels between the discussions this summer in Toronto and what's been happening in other cities and countries around the world over the past few years. I've posted about the Our Public Library campaign on twitter and Google+ a few times already, but want to republish my thanks and gratitude to everyone who's been taking action and speaking out against the possible privatization (or more simply destruction) of the Toronto public libraries and other community services. 

For those of us with an interest (professional or personal) in children's literature, media and culture, a threat to public libraries--and to children's services specifically (as is the case here)--is a particularly crucial issue to rally around. Children are major users of public libraries (in some cases, making up over 40% of patrons); there are all sorts of important correlations between library access/use and learning (and achievement); not to mention all the links between rights/wellbeing and access to information, culture, literature, ICTs, knowledge, community programming, and everything else the library currently provides.

For those of you who haven't been following this story, here's a very brief rundown, which I hope will also serve as a (renewed) call to action and support. In July, consultants hired by Mayor Ford and City Council to come up with recommendations for spending reductions proposed sweeping cuts to the Toronto Public Library, which would include branch closures, reduced hours, and cuts to children’s services. Here's the summary from the Our Public Library "Threat" page:
Mayor Rob Ford, launched a review of all city services as a prelude to a massive Toronto budget-slashing plan. The TPL is a target of this Core Services Review, a process with the goal of privatizing or shutting down municipal services. 
Following the lead of several American cities, we are likely to see our City Council privatize some or all of the TPL’s operations, unless we act to change this outcome.
How could a private company make a profit running a free service that is funded by taxpayers? The mandate of the private operator would be to reduce the level of public funding that now supports our libraries. At the same time, they need to make a profit. There is an inevitable conflict here which signals bad news for all library users, from children to seniors.  First, local branches of the Toronto Public Library would almost certainly be closed. Library users would see higher user fees, fewer books and less access to the information and other vital services our public libraries offer for little or no cost as hours of operation are limited. The cuts to library staff that have been going on for years will be accelerated. 
Three quarters of Toronto residents oppose closing local library branches as a way of cutting costs and seven-in-ten oppose library privatization.
Or, if you'd prefer a video summary, here's the one that's been making the rounds:

The announcement and the Our  Public Libraries TO campaign led to a petition, which you can sign here, as well as a very strong pro-library presence at last week's marathon city council meeting (22+ hours, 169 concerned citizen speakers), which you can read more about here, and a now infamous battle between the Fords and the fabulous Margaret Atwood. During all this, City Councillor (and the mayor's brother) Doug Ford has said some pretty inflammatory things, which helped enormously in raising public interest and awareness (including the much cited, "“we’re going to be outsourcing everything that is not nailed down” and the famously erroneous "I’ve got more libraries in my area than I have Tim Hortons").

Final decisions about the cuts have been postponed until September 19th, so keeping the campaign alive will be tough but key. A number of councillors have already sided against cuts to the TPL, but a lot can happen in six weeks. So be sure to spread the word often and loudly. And remember that this is just one of many fronts upon which this battle is being fought these days.


  • Our Public Library TO campaign website
  • Phil Bradley's Save our Library posters - from the recent UK campaign
  • Follow Margaret Atwood's Twitter
  • Follow (and add to) the #savetpl twitter topic
  • Use the library - visit your local branch, take out lots of books. If you don't have one already, sign up for a TPL library card asap
  • Let me (and everyone) know about things, events, actions you're taking to fight the proposed cuts (to the TPL, arts funding and/or any other essential community service), and I'll be sure to repost it across my networks!