Monday, September 21, 2009

Which I is I; or, Does it Really Matter Who Gets Credit?

I've been considering authorship here... especially in the new media world of aggregators and aggregation, mashups, bricolage, social and other forms of Web 2.0 collaboration.

While definitions abound, most of them seem to be old school--informed by and addressing antiquated realities. For instance, I ran into the following Harvard University "Authorship Guidelines"--aimed ostensibly at insuring integrity in the promotion process, but used in other ways to validate the relationship between content and creator. Original research is a giant issue here. (Such, however, seems less important to a poet, though.)

Old school, yes, but what strikes me is the document evidences a contentious battle, instigated, likely, by a cultural shift regarding authorship (and probably copyright, intellectual property, and ownership) even in the Harvard Medical School:

The (can you say, "irony"?) anonymous author here, writes:

"In practice, various inducements have fostered authorship practices that fall short of these standards... Disputes sometimes arise about who should be listed as authors of an intellectual product.."

Seems like some not so hidden thievery is afoot. Seems like even at Harvard Medical School there are many political dimensions to authorship--even when they are not impacted by Web 2.0.

Next, how to consider and/or value authorship alongside:  content and communication (re)directors, producers, managers, sifters, mixers, samplers, and the like.

Check out this Keynote Address on "Mass Collaboration and the Future of Higher Education." If you don't have all the time in the world, move the time slider to 32 minutes, or so, and begin.


“Web 2.0 is all about remixing, not about designing. The best metaphor for web 2.0 is the DJ, not the composer. Web 2.0 is a product of remix culture.” Jonathan Boutelle

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Back to Materiality: The Poetry of Tight Places and Small Screens

So, how shall we begin our class discussion regarding materiality? I've got a Twitter account, and that's a good place to start. If you don't know Twitter, you should--at least for this class of ours.

So, what are the material concerns of writing in tweets? Are they similar to, say, writing haiku? Is there an art to them? a form (other than character limitation)? a governing rhetorical principle? Or, are tweets governed by the same principles I've trotted out in our Rhetorical Analysis wiki page?

And, oh, as you are thinking about thinking about that, don't forget to consider the broadcast and filter engines Twitter uses--how you can aim a tweet at a particular individual or group and how you can filter what you read. These, too, surely impact or issue from the material reality of Twitter.

BTW: as an English professor, the very notion of getting my word on in 140 characters should pain me--shouldn't it? Instead, it delights me. It delights the poet in me. It delights the 21st century me--the one who is tugged in ten thousand directions every day.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Literacy: Too Steep a Hill?

The whole shooting match of "literacy" daunts. So much to know in an ever-expanding world. Visual literacy. Technical literacy. Linguistic literacy. On and on. What to know? Where to search for the baseline?

It can all seem so Sisyphean. Push the rock. Push it. Wake the next morning and push it again.

Back in the day, literacy seemed a simpler thing. You learned the three Rs--reading, riting, rithmatic. If you were born in this America, and you read from a primer; you read books everyone else considered the cornerstones of literacy (The Scarlet Letter, Huck Finn, The Red Badge of Courage, and on), you learned how to spell; you learned to use words to form paragraphs to form sentences to form chunks to create descriptions, comparisons/contrasts, arguments; you didn't feel like you had to know everything.

Literacy, too, did not in those days seem synonymous with "expertise." You could have been an expert cabinet maker, expert farmer, expert milliner, expert chef--and still be illiterate. You knew a thing. You could have learned its vocabulary, its nuance, its practical and theoretical nooks and crannies. You could have "mastered" it. You could have been, in fact, a master carpenter. A master plumber. Etc. Still, you could have been illiterate. You could have been hard-pressed to read, to write a sentence, to carry on a conversation that involved anything beyond your world.

Now, we seem to use the word as a station on the expertise ladder. Literacy. You can... No, you should have multiple literacies. You should be a literate writer, a literate participant in the world of computing, a literate dresser, a... Perhaps "fluency" is a better word? You should be fluent in many areas. You should be able to talk/think/analyze computer-related matters; fashion-related matters; travel-related matters; cooking-related matters. But, how many is many enough? Shall we all strive to be Renaissance men/women, da Vincis? Or, is it enough to buy the Hirsch formula (literacy in a list)?

I'm tired here. I'm trying to know some stuff. I'm reading. I'm watching. I'm listening. I'm doing. Again and again, it seems like the rock thing, the Sisyphus thing. Up the hill. Up.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Web 2.0 Storytelling

Still hammering at the course calendar for New Media and stumbled on a bunch of very potent (what we used to call mixed media, and now I believe multimodal) communication sites. Many photo essays. (Those won't work for me in this language hybrid class...) And then, voila: an Educause piece by Alexander and Levine on the genre, The Center for Digital Storytelling, The Official War Diary of the 9th Battalion of York & Lancaster Regiment, Twistori, and I realized how small and traditionally academic I was thinking--that I needed to follow this snake into the high grass.

Slither first: I was reminded of found poetry...

and then to the nonsense of pictorial

Bosch ("The Temptation of Saint Anthony...')

and language-centered dada... which landed me at a language engine at poemofquotes--where I entered the following sentence in the dada engine (try it yourself)...

"I have wandered over the fishes for there is power in not eating with your mouth" (clearly infused with the spirit of the Bosch painting I had appropriated for use above).

and was rewarded with the following "poem" (which I must wrap in quotations, because it isn't what I have come to buy as poetry, but is, in fact, Web 2.0 Storytelling, verdad?):

wandered fishes for is not
I over for there is
wandered fishes for is your
wandered for power in not
wandered the there is in
the fishes for is power

All of which brought back to wondering if the most (only?) valuable thing that can come of basking in control-less communication or allowing such in class is feeling gleefully postmodern (also read as: feeling less anal)?

Slither next: ?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Forestalling Premature Closure

Wrestling with the Writing for New Media syllabus here. I have assembled all of the front matter--the stuff that precedes the calendar of assignments--which is the actual biscuit of the thing in many ways. The biscuit. Knowing what and when we'll discuss the thing. And: what I expect my students to be working on to create the right time/space/psychological locus.

I have a pretty good sense of what I'd like to cover during the course of the semester, but in concretizing such, I'll likely close the door on the authentic eruptions and sidewindings and purposeful lollygaggings that might could take place if I left the calendar door open--which I am also convinced is the way I want to go, and the way this class could unfold.

This trepidation comes from a deeply rooted hate of egg-on-the-face, which is part and parcel of the expert syndrome. I know. You don't. Therefore, you've assembled before me.

Too easy, of course. Too pat. The stuff of yesteryear. Stuff is swirling around. The new media stuff in particular. Fragments. As is this blog. Fragmentary. To be seen mostly for what it is after the fact. Or, factless and inductive. And gathering. Not gathered.

Deep breath. Om.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Conquering the Anal Impulse & Honoring My Mixed Diction

Backgrounding Stream

I live a bifurcated life. Oh, hell, actually I live many lives. Or, I live in many lives. Or, I can't be sure about being sure about any damned life.

Early on, I started to write. What it was, I couldn't say. I could say... I can say... what it was was what it was, and it inhabited me, and so I went with it. And, a bit later, I--and others--called it poetry.

At the same time, or course, of course, I was attempting to imagine myself for the long run. I was trying to figure out how and what to monetize. (I hadn't thought about that word until I found it on one of the tabs above this blog entry editor. Still, that's what I was trying to do. Or, I was trying to figure out what I could stand to do for a long while that would pay me to do what I wanted to do. Or, I was trying to figure out what I did NOT want to do or could NOT do. More about that later, perhaps.)

Anyway, long story short not really, I ended up getting a doctorate in poetry (invention of the modern diploma mill and the desire of others like me sort of to try and make a living with their minds but not as fact merchants or engineers or racketeers--rather as associative souls). However (and, yes, I was taught by someone I thought was way smart at the time that no one owing to how it went in Latin should in English begin a sentence with "however"--reserving that for the clause that appears after a semicolon--hence, in part, my fascination with punctuation in general and with the semicolon in particular).

That poetry thing didn't work out. Well, actually, it worked out just fine in a roundabout way, but back then anyway I was one at times interesting but most of the time just another poet type; so (semicolon love), I decided to add a layer or create a parallel track for my own self--to help monetize my life, don't you know. And, so, I pushed myself on an ex nun who happened to have traded Jesus for the study of rhetoric, and ended up doing post doctoral work in how to write the non poetry stuff and how to write about those writing and delivering just about anything. Definitions: rhetoric, rhetoric, rhetoric: and on (ad nauseam). And, it turned out, I could play that game a bit. And, anyway, the marketplace was hungry for anyone with official and verifiable backgrounds in the reemergent field of rhetoric and composition. I could monetize! And, I did.

All of which resulted in me having had one leg (if two are all you get) in the poetry world and one in the rhetoric/composition world (which morphed or massaged its way, too, into the business and technical communication world). Two legs, two worlds. How different. How, now, converging upon each other, though.

The Poet Noosed by the Academic (or, how THEIR rules blessed and killed me)

For at least the past 25 years, I've been helping students find their way toward correctness. Hey, it was/is a living. Learn the genre. Teach others where they fail the genre. Find a template. Love a template. Bang the template loudly. Pretend for long enough that there is a narrow bandwidth, and you can prosper there. Small territory of the mind.

Now, however, I find that limitation, well, limiting. And, so, I've decided on visiting convergence town in the form of a Writing for New Media class. Hell, it turns out, that my first wife (calculated in terms of time spent, depth of snuggling, plans for the future) is the net. Ooops. You know what I mean. So, if I'm out there in the www ether for 80, 10, 12 hours a day, why wouldn't I be good at guiding (posing the questions) a class in the matter of writing for new media. So, I begin. After all, I am a living incarnation of mixed diction, anyway.


Self-Portrait with Forecast

You have a wife an appealing babe adjusting to the face of corporeal treachery still no one’s afterthought two children: one rasping at those outskirts that fail now to fascinate or lure & another whose penance (when generous you call it succor) is common distance: a furlong for every indigestible antipathy & a mutt-Dalmatian who trotted recently into the dangling biscuit of your kindness & kinged you by utter mistake There is a job: yada yada: trespasses tortured diplomacies all the piddliness and rigmarole you’d expect from insufficient recompense but there are laurel saplings too: strivers oily green & sun-fuddled & quirky hedges that demand your focus or deliberation or depth of faith or some such amalgamated pretense multiplying as they do at some encroaching edge