Site upgraded, mess ensues

Just did an upgrade from 2.I-forget to 2.7.1. Oh Brave New World, etc. Please pardon the more-than-usual disarray here as I work on the site over the next few days, weeks, months….

EDIT: I should be less cryptic. It was a huge upgrade that actually went very smoothly aside from my kludgey header image set-up, one that I put together way back in the day and never really coded properly (it seems). Now I’m in a widget-ready theme and building back all the little affordances on the sidebar–nice. I’ve just got to get “really real” with a few of the innards, which means a little time skating up the learning curve again. Not a big deal, just a small pain, and one of my own (un)making.

Deschool, Reboot, Real School

Like everyone else in the known universe, I’m finishing up a grant application this weekend. I’m on the last piece, a two-page version of my curriculum vitae, and I’m citing URLs where audio of my recent presentations can be found. As I do so, I realize I need to bring audio from my February, 2007 keynote at the University of Maryland “Innovations in Teaching and Learning” conference over to my site (another good case for Jon Udell’s “hosted lifebits” idea). The good folks at Maryland have had my audio and slides up since I gave my talk there, and I’m grateful. But as Frost says, “way leads on to way,” and I can’t expect that URL to be a persistent URL (do folks still call them PURLs?), so I’ve just moved the audio over here (actually, recorded the stream off their site)–and now it’s a podcast: “Deschool, Reboot, Real School.” Here’s the PDF of my old-school PPT slides, too.

Many thanks, by the way, to the folks at Maryland. They were terrific hosts and I greatly enjoyed the opportunity to be among them.

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The Digital Imagination (Take One)

Keynote audience at JMU Teaching and Learning with Technology Conference 2007The calm before the storm, as conference attendees settle in and get ready to hear me hold forth on “The Digital Imagination,” my keynote talk at yesterday’s opening of the fourth annual Teaching and Learning With Technology Conference at James Madison University. My thanks to Jim, Andrea, and Mary Ann for being such wonderful hosts, for putting together an enjoyable and thought-provoking conference (they made it look effortless, but I know how tough it is), and for giving me the opportunity to try to work with and share some ideas I’ve been haunted by for some time. The haunting continues, as do the work and sharing.

If you have a chance, drop by the conference–it’s in its second day today.

Full disclosure: I messed up a climactic moment when I was to drop in a devastating audio clip from Chris Dede: I hadn’t pulled the audio over from the folder on my flash drive, only the PPT slides. Typical hasty mistake and I figured it out ten minutes after the talk was done and my adrenaline had begun to subside. Luckily God created a thing called “post-production,” and that clip is restored here. Also, the audio is a little clippy throughout, for which my apologies.

If you want the moment as it originally went down, here’s the original audio from yesterday’s talk as recorded by the folks at JMU. That was fast! It’s great to have conference resources appearing while the conference is still going on. Kudos to the JMU team.

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The Ice Cream Man


Not the emperor of ice cream, mind you, though I wouldn’t be surprised a bit to learn his curds were concupiscent….

Going back to the radio daze archives for this podcast. From about 1985 to 1988 (I’m fuzzy on the beginning date), I worked as a DJ at WWWV-FM in Charlottesville, Virginia, where I was in graduate school at UVA. For the first year or so I had my own special show: “Late Night With Gardner Campbell.” Highly imaginative show title. The cool thing about the show, for me anyway, was that by running from 10-1 at night I got to be more adventurous than my non-late-night colleagues. I played some music from the playlist, but I played other music that was off the playlist, and on occasion I would do special shows. My Neil Finn interview dates from this time. So does tonight’s podcast, which features a special guest I refer to merely as the “ice cream man.”

Now it can be told that this man was none other than Eddie Dean, a terrific music writer who’s been published in The Washington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Washington, D.C. City Paper, and even in Best Music Essays of 2000, a collection edited by the extraordinary Peter Guralnick. At the time Eddie was finishing up his undergraduate career at UVA, where he was my student in the very first college class I taught all by myself: Freshman English Composition.

Eddie was obviously special from the get-go. He’s still probably the single most imaginative and intense writer I’ve ever taught–and I’ve had some fine writers, believe me. Along with our common literary interests, Eddie and I also shared a deep love of popular music. He used to come visit me in my grad-student cubbyhole and we’d argue the merits of everything from Yoko Ono to the Guess Who for hours, just ranting and raving and having a great young time.

I miss Eddie. He followed his muse and I followed mine, and though we still keep in irregular touch through friends and family, I haven’t seen him in a while. But every now and then I’ll see one of Eddie’s pieces in the Post or elsewhere, and he never, ever fails to satisfy and inspire me. Truth is, I probably learned more from him than he ever did from me.

This podcast demonstrates just how zany we could get. I have no idea whether anyone else will find this funny, but as I listen to it again two decades later, it still tickles me, and I hope you enjoy it.

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Paul Hester 1959-2005 (Neil Finn Interview Part Three)

Paul Hester
This is the third and final part of my 1987 interview with Neil Finn of Crowded House. In this part I ask Neil about “Hole in the River,” a song about his aunt’s suicide. Given the news this weekend that Crowded House drummer Paul Hester took his own life Friday night, Neil’s comments are even more poignant.

I’m dedicating all three of these interview podcasts to Paul and his family. I don’t feel like writing very much more about this tragic event. The podcast has my other comments.

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A Conversation with Neil Finn, Part Two

Crowded House First Album

Crowded House's debut album

No time to put together anything very elaborate this evening. (Lucky you.) Here’s part two of the interview. I do regret hounding Neil so much on the Beatles stuff–but only a little, as he was such a good sport and it was fun to talk to a fellow Beatles fan who was so good at using the tradition and not being used by it.

Neil, if you’re out there, you’re a hero in my book. Thanks.

Part three will follow tomorrow or the next day.

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A Conversation with Crowded House’s Neil Finn, Part One

Neil Finn

Crowded House was a great band that actually had considerable success worldwide, and that’s pleasant to report. I also like to reflect on when they first emerged in America, in 1986. At the time I was a DJ with a late-night radio show at WWWV, an FM AOR (that’s album-oriented rock for you young ‘uns) radio station in Charlottesville, Virginia, where I was doing graduate work at the University of Virginia. One day program director and afternoon drive-time jock Jay Lopez brought me a 12-inch piece of vinyl from Capitol Records. On it were three songs from a new band called Crowded House. Well, they had me from the downbeat. They sounded like a rootsy version of Squeeze, or maybe an antipodean Beatles around the time of Magical Mystery Tour crossed with a kind of spare, dreamy rock that reminded me of certain Robyn Hitchcock songs. I was an instant fan and played the grooves off that record on my late-night show.

Jay Lopez was a fine DJ and a great guy to work for. He arranged for me to do a phone interview with Crowded House several months later. The album had been out for quite a while by then, but it hadn’t done much in the market. That, however, was about to change: “Don’t Dream It’s Over” had just been released when I did the interview, and of course that song took Crowded House to the top of the charts and made them famous all over the world.

It was a very interesting time, then, to talk to Neil Finn, the songwriter, guitarist, and lead singer for the band. Crowded House had not yet toured the US. Capitol was trying to break the album one more time with a new single. And Neil was in the mood to talk about this wonderful album that not many people knew about yet.

This is part one of three parts I’ll podcast over the next few days. As you’ll hear, there are some goofy radio moments I’ve left in, even though the interview wasn’t aired live. In fact, I edited the goofy stuff at the beginning out of the version I aired. But for the podcast, you get (almost) the whole thing. (There was some nonsense at the beginning when I thought I was talking to Nick Seymour, not Neil, but I’ll save that for the Director’s Cut.) I think the interview holds up pretty well all these years later, and I’m still very moved by how open, warm, and intense Neil was willing to be with a guy he’d never met before.

I hope you enjoy the interview. Here’s part one.

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