Steve Krahnke’s Ties, Matt Pierce’s Collectibles, Kiersten and the FCLJ, and CMCL’s Mary Gray

Steve Krahnke’s Ties

If you’ve ever prepared for a classroom lecture, deciding on what tie to wear may not have topped your list of priorities. But for Professor Steve Krahnke, the big tie decision is a regular part of his morning routine. Steve collects bright and interesting designer ties, and he never wears the same tie more than once a semester.

Professor Steve Krahnke displays some of his ties in his graduate seminar. Photo credit: Ryan Newman

Steve’s collection started off with a gift from his wife. He was leafing through the pages of a Metropolitan Museum of Art catalog when he spotted an interesting tie that his wife later purchased for him as a gift. The tie, an unusual green, orange, black, and white piece by designer Gene Meyer, has since then gathered plenty of compliments and some good discussion. And for Steve, interesting ties aren’t bold fashion statements—they’re conversation starters. “The ties have broken the ice for me so many times in business meetings,” he says.

Since picking up his first Gene Meyer tie about 20 years ago, Steve has expanded his collection and added another designer, Chris Coleman. There is a tie for every occasion. “I have one I call my ‘Point of View’ tie, I have a rhetoric tie, which has just a bunch of words, I have some that are just beautiful, and I have plenty of Christmas ties,” Steve remarks. This fall Steve put his ties on display for his graduate class, exhibiting over 50 of his ties.

For Steve, the ties send an important message to his students. “I don’t think of it as collecting, really,” he says. “We spend so much time being generic, so I think there’s something to be said about trying to be a person in a tie.” Steve started wearing ties on a regular basis when he began teaching for the first time. “For me, it’s a sign of respect for the students,” he adds. Steve encourages his students to dress up for in-class presentations. They don’t often wear ties, but they still enjoy getting to see a different one of his in class each day. Steve has an elaborate system in his closet to keep track of which ties he’s already worn to lecture so as to avoid wearing the same one more than once. He also has a tie that closely resembles a Powerpoint template, which he uses on the day he wears that particular tie.

Some of Steve's designer ties on display. Photo credit: Ryan Newman

The ties can be difficult to find, and Steve relies on eBay to find the ones he wants. He checks the site every few weeks to see what’s available, but it’s also not uncommon to be outbid for the ties. In fact, one of Steve’s friends in the IU English department also collects Gene Meyer ties, and they occasionally spot ties online that they’re both looking for. “Sometimes we find ourselves competing for the same ties in a bidding war on eBay,” Steve says.

Despite the size of his current tie collection, Steve still maintains that his first Gene Meyer tie from 20 years ago is the best one. Steve says it gets the most compliments, and everyone agrees that it is one unusually great tie. “I thought it was the coolest tie I’d ever seen, and I guess it’s true,” he says.

Objects in Offices, Segment 3: Matt Pierce

If you couldn’t already tell from the collectibles, books and memorabilia, Professor Matt Pierce is a definite amateur radio enthusiast.  His office contains many items that take you back to the golden age of radio.  He has a true appreciation for the beauty and technology behind the radio, before our lives were inundated with texting, Skyping and Facebooking.

Matt has had a passion for tinkering with things ever since he was little.  Eventually, he received his first amateur radio operator’s license his freshman year in high school and never looked back.  Working up through the ranks, he eventually certified as an extra class operator, the highest level of amateur radio license.  In addition to acting as the faculty advisor for the IU Amateur Radio Club, Matt is in the process of collecting parts for the rebuilding of one of his most prized possessions, his 1936 Philco radio.

Matt took time out to demonstrate his Morse code practice oscillator and show his Philco radio, a radio that was likely listened to during Franklin Roosevelt’s fireside chats, World War II and more.  In addition to the radio itself, Matt also has the original owner’s manual, diagrams and service bulletins.  His goal is to bring the radio back to life so that it works properly.  For this process, he offers some words of advice.  “If you ever buy one of these things at a garage sale, do not run home and plug it in to see if it works.  Almost always, the electronics inside have gone bad and you could blow out the transformer.”  He explained that the fixing up process is one of intricate detail.  Most important to Matt is what the radio represents: a time when families used to gather around a single piece of Americana for information and entertainment.

Kiersten Kamman Edits for FCLJ

Many of our graduate students spend time writing papers with hopes of submitting them to journals or conferences, but one student, Kiersten Kamman, actually gets to tackle the job of editing for a journal. Kiersten, who is currently working towards a joint degree in Telecommunications and Law, is the Senior Articles Editor for the Federal Communications Law Journal (FCLJ), housed on IU’s campus at the Maurer School of Law. Kiersten’s job involves reviewing and selecting the content for three annual publications and sending them to article editors.

Graduate student Kiersten Kamman edits for the Federal Communications Law Journal.

The FCLJ is entirely student-run with one main faculty advisor and oversight from the Federal Communications Bar Association. IU Telecom’s Professor Barb Cherry has helped with the journal in the past. The journal publishes articles on communications law, intellectual property law and IT, and related topics. Around 70 students on staff review legal and policy analyses, papers on FCC decisions, and social scientific articles with policy implications. “Net neutrality is a hot topic right now, and we’re currently working with an essay about using social science research to make policy. We try to stay at the cutting edge of policy decisions,” Kiersten says.

For Kiersten, her work in the Telecommunications Department has added a unique approach to her studies in law. “Having a strong background in the academic social scientific side has helped me understand a lot of policy decisions that have been made,” she says. Kiersten also spent last summer interning at the Federal Communications Commission headquarters in Washington, D.C., where she realized that having knowledge of both Law and Telecommunications really helped. “I worked on a lot of children and the media issues, and there policy research is based on social scientific data, so I was glad I could help,” she says.

Kiersten hopes to further make the most of her dual degree, aiming to head to D.C. eventually. “I’d really like to work for the FCC or for a communications law firm in the area,” she says of her future.

Mary Gray (CMCL) Brown Bag Presentation

This past Friday, Professor Mary Gray from the Department of Communications and Culture presented at the Brown Bag co-sponsored by the Rob Kling Center for Social Informatics and the Department of Telecommunications.

Beyond “Online/Offline”: Information Access, Public Spaces and Queer Youth Visibility in the Rural U.S.

Abstract: Drawing on her nearly two years work in rural parts of Kentucky and in small towns along its borders, this talk discusses how lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and questioning (LGBTQ) youth and their allies make use of social media and local resources to combat the marginalization faced in their own communities and their absence in popular representations of gay and lesbian life and the agendas of national gay and lesbian advocacy groups.  This talk explores how boundary publics—visibility strategies that blur offline/online experience—act as responses to “digital inequality” against increasing privatization of information access and government-mandated censoring of information at educational institutions in the rural United States.

Random Thought

“There are unpleasant aspects to the job.”  (Found on a scratch paper in Professor Annie Lang’s office.  Published with permission.)


Nicky Lewis: Matt Pierce’s Collectibles, CMCL’s Mary Gray

Katie Birge: Steve Krahnke’s Ties, Kiersten and the FCLJ

Special Thanks

Ryan Newman: Photos of Steve Krahnke’s Ties


A Top Paper, Mark and the Janissary Collective, the Third Dimension, and the Market for Eyeballs

This week’s edition brings an array of happenings from all ends of the department:   conference honors for Travis Ross,  Wednesday meetings of  the Janissary Collective in Mark Deuze’s office,  Chris Eller’s 3D project “An Ancient Pond,” and the brown bag featuring Ted Castronova’s quest for the elusive eyeballs of video game players.

Travis Ross has a Top 5 Paper at Meaningful Play 2010

Doctoral student Travis Ross has received recognition with a Top 5 paper at the upcoming 2010 Meaningful Play conference.

PhD student Travis Ross and co-author Jim Cummings received top paper recognition for the upcoming Meaningful Play 2010 Conference. Photo Credit: Travis Ross

The paper, entitled “Optimizing the Psychological Benefits of Choice: Information Transparency & Heuristic Use in Game Environments,” was co-authored by Travis and IU Telecom grad alum Jim Cummings. Jim, who completed his MA here, is currently pursuing his doctoral studies at Stanford University’s Department of Communication.

Travis and Jim will present the paper at the conference, which will be held October 21-23 at Michigan State University. With regard to the top paper honor, Travis says, “I’m really excited. I knew our paper had some potential, but I thought it would lead to an empirical study, not an award.” The paper, along with the other 4 top papers, will be compiled into a special issue of the International Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations on meaningful play.

Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of writing this paper, according to Travis, is the opportunity to work with Jim, a former classmate. “Although writing the paper was time consuming, I really enjoyed it,” he says. “Jim is a great co-author, and it isn’t everyday that you get to produce academic work with someone you also consider a close friend.”

Mark Deuze and the Janissary Collective

If you happen to walk by Professor Mark Deuze’s office on Wednesdays around lunch time, you might notice a small group of students and faculty inside.  It is a constant flow with people popping in for minutes or hours at a time, crowded on the couch or sitting on the floor.  What they talk about varies from week to week, but it often revolves around works in progress, current research ideas, and life in general.  The meetings often include some variations of caffeine and sweets and the discussions range from popular culture to philosophy.

Mark explains that the group began last year, with just Laura Speers and Peter Blank coming to his office to chat.  Eventually it grew to the size it is today, with a core group of around 10 people, coming from several different departments on campus.  In addition to both graduate and undergraduate students from Telecom, the group includes students from Learning Sciences, Journalism, Informatics, and Communication and Culture. Professors Mary Gray (CMCL) and Hans Ibold (Journalism) also drop by regularly.

Recently, several  students from the Wednesday meetings collaborated to write a chapter for the upcoming Routledge Handbook of Participatory Cultures under the pseudonym The Janissary Collective (evoking the spirit of Ottoman warriors against theories, paradigms, and methods that dampen free thinking). This chapter focuses on developing a definition of participatory culture and situating the individual in it. The group is also collaborating on future writing projects, including an essay on authority and digital media in the British fashion magazine Under The Influence, and a chapter in a forthcoming NYU Press anthology on social media and dissent.

Last week’s meeting covered a wide range of topics, including: concepts of online identity, the idea that being delusional can lead to happiness (according to Woody Allen), and notions of what makes a culture unique.  Participants of last week’s meeting included: Siyabonga Africa, Mark Bell, Peter Blank, Watson Brown, Lindsay Ems, Mary Gray, Hans Ibold, Mike Lang, Nicky Lewis, Jenna McWilliams, Nina Metha, Brian Steward, Mary Gray and Daphna Yeshua-Katz.

See a clip of the discussion on the possibility that we all exist in our own Truman Shows and how the concept of delusion may hold an answer:

3D at IU Telecom

“An Ancient Pond,” a stereoscopic 3D short film project by MS student Chris Eller, wrapped up its filming over the weekend. The project’s shooting finished on Sunday with cast and crew recording final scenes in the IU Arboretum and in Telecom’s own Studio 5. “It’s a film about power, assassination, revenge, and innocence,” says Chris, who is filming “An Ancient Pond” as part of his final project, which will eventually include two other shorts in 3D. “This is the first project that Telecom has really been involved in. This has been in pre-production for three months.”

In addition to shooting his own work, Chris is also helping Professor Susan Kelly teach T452: 3D Storytelling. The course,

Chris Eller edits 3D video footage for "An Ancient Pond."

a pioneering one in the country, immerses 12 students in semester-long advanced 3D production work. The students were selected on the basis of an application process, and the high demand led to the addition of another course in the spring.  Chris is hoping to develop a course design for future 3D production classes through a special T540 project this semester.

Chris says that producing 3D film is really interesting because it presents unique challenges. “There’s the added complexity of the 3D camera rig. The two cameras have to work together,” he says. From a production standpoint, Chris says he’s gaining a new awareness for the techniques involved in capturing the magic of 3D. “You have to be much more conscious of how you frame. You have to reconceptualize everything, but then there’s a new sense of realism,” he says.

The finished product of “An Ancient Pond” will be viewed in the soon-to-be completed IU Cinema, which will be 3D-ready when its renovations are finished. Chris is also helping IU Cinema gather 3D content through both grad and undergrad projects. The IU Cinema’s grand opening gala will be in January.

Grad student Chris Eller makes adjustments to the stereoscopic 3D camera.

For the future, Chris has several other 3D projects planned. On the agenda for upcoming months are a thriller/comedy involving zombies and a documentary on the art of bookbinding.

In addition to talking with us this week, Chris was interviewed for a pair of 3D-themed stories in the Indiana Daily Student for the Weekender section. You can view one of the stories through the IDS website here:

Brown Bag

Professor Ted Castronova was featured in the T600 Brown Bag Presentation this past Friday:



Much has been written about the Attention Economy, yet there are not many conceptual tools for thinking about it in terms of Communications.  How does a game designer know how many monsters to put into a Facebook game?  Adding monsters costs money, yet more monsters – to a point – are needed to capture the eyeballs she needs to make a profit.  What is this market for eyeballs??  In this talk I start with a model of limited cognitive resources and end with a model of supply and demand for attention.  In other words, I walk the long, arduous, dangerous, difficult road from Annie to David.  I’ll need help on the way, so come with me!

Take a look at some of Ted’s presentation here:


Nicky Lewis: Mark and the Janissary Collective and the Market for Eyeballs

Katie Birge: Travis Ross has Top Paper and 3D at IU Telecom