University of Baltimore Digital Initiative

In September of 2013, the University of Baltimore launched a university-wide initiative to answer the question: “What does it mean to be living, working, playing, creating, and learning—and thriving—in this new digital world?”

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  • All your favorite old skool console!

    All your favorite old skool console!

  • Printer or Weapon? UK Police Investigate

    Printer or Weapon? UK Police Investigate



News, announcements, inspiration, information, and discussion related to the UB Digital Initiative
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Information about research, scholarship, teaching, and learning that engages with the evolving digital world
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Links to news, research, organizations, and people that examine how we live, work, learn, and play in the digital world.
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News, announcements, images, commentary, and video related to Digital Initiative and interesting regional events.
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[GAMES] OMG! releases 80’s and 90’s console arcade games for free!

Image of Atari 2600 Console

All your old skool classics…free!

Holy Guacamole! If you’ve been looking for something to do over Winter Break, check out’s Console Living Room, an amazing collection of bajillions of arcade games from your favorite 80’s and 90’s consoles…for FREE! You’ll find games from the Atari 2600, Atari 7800, ColecoVision, Odyssey, and Astrocade systems playable via emulation right in your browser. If you’re a kid of the 80’s or 90’s, have an interest in the history of video games, or just want to challenge your middle-aged dad to a game of Donkey Kong, you have GOT to check this out. It’s probably one of the most significant contributions to computing history to come around for a long, long time.


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[CULTURE] Fedora Shaming as Discursive Activism

Picture of guy wearing a fedora

Fedora Haters, Unite!

The seemingly universal hatred of fedoras that’s cropped up in social media circles over the past year or so has always seemed somewhat inexplicable. After all, what’s so bad about a hat that millions of men used to wear every day? Of course, the real reason that they’re hated isn’t so much the hat itself as the people who wear them.

An interesting new paper published in Digital Culture & Education by Ben Abraham entitled (not surprisingly) “Fedora Shaming as Discursive Activism” sheds some surprising light on the issue of fedora-hating and how sites such as Fedoras of OK Cupid (highlighted here in a blog post) that shame particular fedora-wearers who express particularly misogynistic attitudes (and other irritating people who post pictures of themselves in the hat) actually fits well into a long history of feminist discursive protest in online communities.   To quote the introduction:

In the following paper I present new research into a genre of feminist activism conducted on the social media site Tumblr, involving the curious choice to shame wearers of a certain type of hat. This choice might seem bizarre at first, but Fedoras of OK Cupid (FOOKC)1 belongs to an emerging form of feminist discursive activism that seeks to attach affective shame to the tropes and cultural objects associated with sexist and misogynistic attitudes and behaviours. Foundational research into online feminist activist communities has been done by Francis Shaw, who contextualises her research into “feminist discursive activism” within a larger challenge to theories of online publics and the problematic utopian ideals of participation.

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[EDUCATION] The history of distance education: a timeline

Distance Education Timeline is also available as a 1.5mb PDF. It’s a long one, so you’ll have to zoom in to view it.

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[TRENDS] Get ready for Amazon Prime Air: 30 minute delivery by drones

Of course, the world still won’t be complete until TacoCopter becomes a reality.



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[GAMES] Apparently Germans are REALLY Excited About the PS4

CAUTION: minor NSFW language (mostly in German) and loud Metal soundtrack. You might want to watch this with your speakers off.

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[MEDIA] Removing Copy Protection from Music Boosts Sales 10%


graph from study

Graph via bOING bOING

Torrent Freak summarizes a working paper from University of Toronto PhD candidate Laurina Zhang that shows that music sales from 4 major labels increased by 10% after they removed copy protection (also known as Digital Rights Management or DRM) from their music. Looking at 5,864 albums from 634 artists, Zhang discovered that the effect wasn’t uniform, however: albums with lower sales (under 25,000 copies) showed the biggest boost, with a 41% increase in sales after DRM was removed. Top-selling albums showed little difference in DRM and non-DRM versions. Why the difference? According to Zhang, “My results are consistent with theory that shows lowering search costs can facilitate the discovery of niche products,” or, in other words, allowing people to share music from lesser-known artists made it easier for others to discover (and then buy) new music.

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[EDUCATION] Udacity Schadenfreude Roundup

Picture of little girl sticking out her tongue

Academics React to Thrun’s Admission That Udacity is a ‘Lousy Product’
Photo Courtesy Eric Peacock

In the latest issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Wired Campus  , Steve Kolowich recounts some reactions from academics to Udacity founder Sebastian Thrun’s admission in Fast Company that the MOOC is a “‘lousy product’ for educating underprepared college students.” Thrun made the admission as a response to the less-than-stellar results of an experiment at San Jose State University where students (some at the university and some from local high schools) used Udacity to learn mathematics.

Here are some of the more…err…pithy comments:

  • From George Siemens, Athabasca University Technology Enhanced Research Institute: “After two years of hype, breathless proclamations about how Udacity will transform higher education, Silicon Valley blindness to existing learning research, and numerous articles/interviews featuring Sebastian Thrun, Udacity has failed.”
  • From Martin Weller, Open University: “Thrun seems to have ‘discovered’ that open-access, distance-education students struggle to compete….hey, OU has known this for 40 years.”
  • From Rebecca Schuman, University of Missouri at St. Louis: “Thrun’s cavalier disregard for the SJSU students reveals his true vision of the target audience for MOOCs: students from the posh suburbs, with 10 tablets apiece and no challenges whatsoever.”
  • From Jonathan Rees, Colorado State University at Pueblo: “Who’s left to teach all those less-than-ideal students at San Jose State? Living, breathing professors…the only way to open higher education to the masses is to hire more people to teach, either in person or online.”


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[TRENDS] 10 Most Shared Video Ads of 2013

Social video company Unruly has just released its list of the 10 Most Shared Video Ads for 2013. We thought it’d make a perfect diversion to ease you out into the Thanksgiving holiday. Here they are, in order:

Dove “Real Beauty Sketches”

GEICO “Hump Day”

Evian “Baby & Me”

Kmart “Ship My Pants”

Coronetto “Yalin”

Budweiser “Clydesdales Brotherhood”

Pepsi Max “Jeff Gordon Test Drive”

MGM “Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise”

Ram Trucks “Farmer”

Volvo Trucks “Jean Claude Van Damme Epic Split”


You can also view them in a YouTube Playlist. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


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[BUSINESS] Bitcoin Demystified

Bitcoin logo

Mystified by Bitcoin? You’re not alone.

If you’ve been following the news at all, you’ve probably heard heard a lot about something called “bitcoin” lately. Typically it’s billed as a “virtual currency” or, less generously, as an “alternative payment system.” Stories about Bitcoin are usually accompanied by at least one of two other elements: 1)a breathless reference to how the “anonymous currency” is the new currency of drug dealers, arms traffickers, and other criminals; and/or 2)how a lucky few people who got in on the whole Bitcoin thing before it was cool are now discovering, thanks to the incredibly volatile Bitcoin market,  that they’re Bitcoin Millionaires. If a pseudoanonymous, open source, distributed, global, virtual currency could be considered hip, Bitcoin is the new “It” coin.

Unfortunately very little of the buzz around Bitcoin actually takes the time to explain what the heck it is. How is it created? How do you get it? Where can you spend it? Is it really “money?” How the heck does the whole thing work? All in all, Bitcoin is more than a little mysterious.

Luckily there are people like Alexandra Berke out there who are able to bridge the gap between the tech-know-it-alls and the rest of us by providing a remarkably clear explanation of the inner workings of Bitcoin. In the first part of her two-part series “Bitcoin Demystified: A Hacker’s Perspective,” Berke  lays out the basic vocabulary of Bitcoin, how Bitcoins are created, how you own them, how you spend them, and how the built-in features of the virtual currency virtually guarantee that it can’t be counterfeited. It’s a great primer for anyone who’s been confused about Bitcoin. Let’s just hope she writes part 2 soon!

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[STATS] Must-read Infographic

People sure do love those infographics! These days, it seems next to impossible to read a blog, click a link on Twitter, or browse social networks without running into collections of barely-related “facts” stripped down to their barest elements and tarted up with some eyecandy. Sadly this trend is probably going to get a whole lot worse: today HubSpot unleashed “35 free templates to make content creation faster and easier” on an unsuspecting world. We weren’t sure if this bold claim was too good to be true so we decided to take one for a spin. Here’s the result. (click on it to enlarge)

An infographic making fun of infographics. If you can't see the image, you're not missing anything.

The Ultimate Infographic

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