It’s been a long time since I blogged here at Hyperglphyics and there are quite a number of reasons for that, probably none of them really good. Too busy. Writing in other spaces and places. Etc. And though this blog has always had a focus on writing and technology matters, sometimes even a general topic for blogging can be too broad. Sometimes there’s so much happening, especially in a field like tech/rhet, that a blogger doesn’t know what issue to tackle next. And if other writing projects and places (articles, Twitter, etc.) present opportunities for focused attention or for broad but brief bursts of ideas and info, well, that just makes the blog less of a go-to space. What to put there that I haven’t put out using other forms and means? But I’ve got a big project idea that I need to work on incrementally and I need to keep myself writing and researching on a regular basis in order to make this project turn into something (what that is, I’m not sure – a book, maybe, but I don’t want it to be in the traditional print book form), I am going to have to be disciplined in my attention to this work and I think the blog can help me do that.
So that’s why I’m coming back, baby! I will be writing here consistently again on the topic of curation and composition in digital media. My first big deadline is in April when I have to give a talk at the Willson Center-sponsored Faculty Symposium on “The Future of the Book.” And after that, I’d like to get a proposal ready, perhaps to submit to the Sweetland Digital Rhetoric Collaborative Book Series editors for consideration. So I’ve got goals. And plots. And schemes. And I’m gonna blog about ‘em. Follow my journey if it interests you.
I just hand-wrote a thank you note, something that has become increasingly difficult for me to do. No, not because I’m becoming less grateful for the kindnesses done toward me, or less conscious of the strict rules of etiquette I was raised with by my proper Southern mother and grandmother. I mean it has actually become increasingly hard for me to hand-write thank you notes (and notes of all kinds, really) in a literal, physical sense. The note card space is especially daunting to me as it is generally quite small and, thus, forces me to keep my script condensed, controlled. My hand rebels and my writing, though it tends to start off lovely and flowing, quickly becomes halting and error-ridden as I struggle to control the movement of the pen. I start a word and then “miss” a letter, going back to try to alter it as best I can without scratching out the word or throwing the pricey stationary card out altogether and starting over in frustration. The note card I just wrote on can’t be more than 4″x5″ on which I wrote probably 50 words, and yet my right hand now feels cramped and strained and I’m certain that when the recipient of it opens it, she will be unimpressed with the quality of my penmanship, perhaps even thinking that I scratched it off hurriedly and insincerely. Well, perhaps that last part is just me projecting my perfectionist fears, but still… Continue reading Written with the Body
Another two months go by without a new post. Alas. I’m learning that blogging is, for me, not turning out to be a daily (or even weekly or monthly) writing tool. I’ve been thinking a lot about this because I, for some reason, feel an inordinate amount of guilt for not blogging regularly. It’s like this blog sits here and taunts me, calling me out as a fake, a fraud, a writer who doesn’t write. It rebukes me, telling me that I don’t practice what I preach to my writing students when I tell them to write regularly, daily, to put that writing out there in public so that it becomes part of the swirl of conversation, of circulating discourse. But, I’ve realized something… Continue reading Writing All Over the Place
since it’s summer, after all! I’ve been completely derelict in my blogging duties and obligations for the last couple of months but, in my defense, it was a crazy spring work-wise. But I can’t say I’m sorry to have put the blogging on hold since it was done largely so I could have time to work with my students and their writing (including, for some of them, their own blogging). But now it’s time to be selfish… Continue reading Diving back into the pool…
This has been sitting here as a draft for a month now and, in light of the fact that my students in Web writing and I were discussing Andrew Sullivan’s ideas on blogging last week, I’m going to just post it unfinished. It’s a starting point, something I can come back and revisit. I’m going to try “letting go of my writing”… Continue reading Corporations and posthuman bodies
As I surfed the Web on Christmas day (having nothing better to do than Web surf by a roaring fire while watching my cat play with the new toys from her stocking), I came across this editorial about James Cameron’s blockbuster, Avatar, by Adam Cohen in that day’s New York Times online and I tweeted it the next day so I’d have it bookmarked for some later reflection once I’d had the chance to see the movie (which I did the day after Christmas with my buddy Lance). It’s later now, I’ve seen the movie, and it’s time to reflect. I’m actually glad I haven’t gotten to this until now, actually, because David Brooks weighs in on Avatar in today’s NYT, and he’s raising some of the issues that Cohen’s piece brought up for me, so now I can bounce off both articles and try to weave together some of the threads that have been dangling loosely in my mind. Gotta love it when stuff connects. Curious yet? Continue reading Avatar and a couple of dichotomies
A new year, time for a little reflection on this whole blogging thing I started back in the summer, fresh off the high of Computers and Writing and the flush of technophilia I always feel during and immediately following that conference. Much like the students in my Web writing course, it’s apparent that blogging is easier said than done. However, I’ve always meant for this blog to be mainly for my own purposes – a place to compile notes and research – than for others. My blogging project was not to gain a loyal following or make money or break news. No, my blogging was meant to be a space for working out my own thoughts and to form a record of those thoughts that I can draw on for more formal writing projects. I also like thinking of blogging as post-process composition – writing always in the state of becoming. This is a line of thought that I’m increasingly interested in for my rhet/comp pedagogy, though it poses some challenges for anyone working in an increasingly assessment-oriented institutional atmosphere. I’m using Robert McRuer’s text Crip Theory as the theoretical foundation for a pop culture project I’m working on, but I’m drawn again and again to his chapter on composition “Composing Queerness and Disability” even though it’s not relevant for the paper. But it is relevant for my comp work and his question, “Can composition theory work against the simplistic formulation of that which is proper, orderly, and harmonius?” (147), fascinates me. Certainly composition is about putting things in order and creating a product, but McRuer suggests that we can think of composition as producing not order, but a disorder that he calls “de-composition,” drawing on that term’s connotations of disintegration and of an on-going process or progress toward another state of being. This is an idea I will be returning to frequently in the coming months, hopefully here on this blog.
Anyway, all this talk about process and composing is really just to say that I’ve found I haven’t been writing in my blog as much as I’d hoped/intended. However, what is interesting is that I seem to have adopted Twitter as a note-taking/research compiling application. As I review my tweet stream from the past several months, it’s crystal clear that Twitter is where I bookmarked articles and items of interest for future reference. It’s like a little note-taking app for me and it was a great way to share stuff with the Web writing class, although the fact that I can’t pull up the tweet stream for our hashtag is frustrating and suggests, as one of my colleagues put it, that Twitter is more interested in the now than in the past. But I’m going to keep using Twitter this way, both with a hashtag for my class and through the new list function, because I think it’s been really good – better than a blog even – for noting stuff I want to go back to later.
Since we’ve been playing around with Twitter in my Writing for the Web class, and since I’ve been thinking about the poetics/rhetorics of streaming torrents of words, ideas half-formed, the cumulative piling-on of new ideas and meanings in remixes and retweets, I want to think more about what our microblogging, status-updating, twitterpating will produce in terms of rhetorical art.
Continue reading Of Tweets and Attention Spans and Art
Today my Writing for the Web students and I will be discussing McLuhan’s “The Medium is the Message” and a chapter from Amy Devitt’s A Theory of Genre, two texts that provide important theoretical grounding for this course. Both McLuhan and Devitt warn us that medium and genre can constrain and limit us if we are, in McLuhan’s formulation, “unwary” (15). We are ever in danger of being entranced and hypnotized by media, leading us to make certain assumptions about the way the world operates without ever understanding that we have made the world operate that way by the extension of our technology – ourselves – into it. It is the same with genres. They constrain our expression by giving us prefabricated containers in which to place our thoughts and ideas, formulaic ways of responding to a rhetorical situation. But both Devitt and McLuhan argue that we need not remain under the spell of media and genre, that we can awaken and recognize that both media and genre are “extensions” of the human, a way of ordering, organizing, enabling. Such a project of extending ourselves into the world via technology means that the products of that technology – media, tools, templates, etc – necessarily impose certain assumptions on us that we must continually resist through an interrogation of the media and genres rather than a passive acceptance of them. That’s not to say we can’t effectively use these tools, but only if we take them and their role in our lives seriously. So that’s my justification for studying Twitter! While some Tweets may be trivial, the Twitter-verse is serious academic business.
McLuhan, Marshall. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. New York: McGraw-Hil, 1964.