New Media and Technology Converge at Conference
University Showcases Research to Bloggers, Designers Attending Wordcamp
July 9, 2009
More than 300 bloggers, Web developers and social-media consultants met recently at UT Dallas to explore new frontiers in Web publishing. While they were there, they got an up-close look at a campus where researchers and students are working to push the technology and design of electronic communications to the furthest limits.
Wordcamp Dallas 2009, which filled School of Management's Davidson Auditorium the weekend of June 27-28, focused primarily on WordPress, an open-source blog publishing application. Topics included blog design, WordPress-powered multimedia publishing, search engine optimization, legal aspects of blogging and use of WordPress as a content management system.
Attendees were invited to visit UT Dallas research facilities on the afternoon before the event.
“UT Dallas is really pushing forward in information technology,” said attendee John Duncan, manager of operations for eLocomotive, a company that provides Web design and programming services. “There is a convergence of all the technologies that are changing the way that people live. The tours were a chance for me to see how those areas are going in the near-time future. UT Dallas is a school that is rapidly growing in both stature as well as keeping pace with changes in academia.”
The tours kicked off at the ATEC building, where Dr. Thomas Linehan, Arts and Humanities Distinguished Chair and director of the ATEC program, gave a presentation about his group's research exploring the convergence of Arts and Humanities with Engineering and Computer Science.
Dr. Marjorie A. Zielke, an assistant professor of arts and technology, discussed the training and simulation-project grants she manages. Of special interest to her are 3D emerging environments and cyberpsychology as applied to e-marketing and e-learning applications.
Next up on the tour was the Motion Capture Lab, the ATEC Digital Sound Lab and the Mobile Lab. Dean Terry, associate professor of aesthetic studies in the Art s and Technology program and the head of the Emerging Media and Communications (EMAC) program, led the tour.
“The basic idea of our program has to do with new-media literacy,” said Terry. “Instead of Web design, we think of it as conversation design.”
The EMAC program is intended to teach its students fluency in design, video, audio and text. “Collaboration, participation and conversation, that’s what the program is about,” said Terry.
Technology convergence was evident at Davidson Auditorium. Video of the WordCamp Dallas 2009 conference streamed live, and the conference quickly became a trending topic on Twitter. Attendees who took photos of Wordcamp were instantly uploading them to Flickr via their iPhones. Those same photos were being instantly displayed on the two screens on each side of the stage.
One of the highlights of the conference was a “real-time intervention” that was held during one of the sessions. Liz Strauss, a social Web strategist explained what makes a blog attractive, readable and irresistible. At the same time, a blogger made updates to his design based on her suggestions while the audience watched.