• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • Finally, you can manage your Google Docs, uploads, and email attachments (plus Dropbox and Slack files) in one convenient place. Claim a free account, and in less than 2 minutes, Dokkio (from the makers of PBworks) can automatically organize your content for you.



Page history last edited by ShareRiff 11 years, 5 months ago



Dr Conner I have some news


PENGUIN!!!! and polar bear. I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!! - AMAnda

awaken...to the sound of one source opening!


shareriff: the that shades Phaedrus plane-tree is deliciously nonliving systems!

Trey Bio

bringing that "old school multi-modal nuggetry" to USFSP since 2006


AIM: "rhythmizomenoid"

Modern Language Association Convention, Philadelphia, PA

Association of Teachers of Technical Writing Panel

New Perspectives in Technical Communication Research: Teaching Technical Communication within Community and Global Contexts

December 28 2009, 10:15 - 11:30 a.m, Philadelphia Marriott


When USFSP's Writing Program partners with a Mt. Zion Human Services, Inc., diverse interests and energies converge on the needs of Midtown St. Petersburg, FL, an area with the highest levels of illiteracy, education failure, crime, violence, poverty, and substance abuse in Pinellas County. This brief presentation is designed to initiate conversations our partnership's origins, it's evolution, and outline our plans for the future. The partnership began with the conversion of otherwise obsolete, donated computers into an open source computer network for youth and preschool programs at Mt. Zion Human Services (MZHS) in Midtown. The project grew. USFSP students in 3 different classes are writing grants, creating brochures and technical manuals, designing a monthly newsletter, installing and maintaining a computer network on the Linux Terminal Server Project  (LTSP) model, researching and implementing a mentoring program, developing new curriculum materials and assessment protocols for an existing after-school tutoring program, refurbishing the creative/art studio, and documenting the process along the way. The ideas, projects, and experiences continue to grow based on community need and student interests--merging these different vectors of interest organizes the dynamic, emergent, high-stakes, and often-times uncertain nature of this collective problem-solving effort, and, along the way, renders an ongoing real-time training in professional communication.  This particular USFSP-MZHS partnership, informed by the service learning tradition, reinforces and grounds our vision of a community-based professional communications program, and highlights the most important challenges, lessons, and possibilities that adhere in our manner of growing a networked (re)public--for our writing program, our students, and our community partners.

wiki community: wake the town and tell the people

Have been jamming on other wikis this semester, but have also been reflecting on the USFSP-MZHS partnership, and all that we have learned together, and searching all across academia for an audience who might also benefit from hearing about our experiences.


Found two--one that will likely require me to do take on the scrivener's duties (mostly) alone, but also another that seems like a great forum for our collective voice:  Higher Education, Emerging Technologies, and Community Partnerships:

Concepts, Models, and Applications - "we seek....collaborative essays representing multiple stakeholder perspectives that include the voices of community partners (corporate, government, or nonprofit) and the people they serve, as well as students, staff members, researchers, faculty, administrators, and other entities involved in these collaborations" We have until December.


As for the other: it's a call for papers about global OSS from the Journal for Technical Writing and Communication. Sharing FYI but welcoming all to click edit and shred it, of course:


Special Issue on "Open Source Software and Technical Communication:

Global Implications

and Local Practices"

The Journal of Technical Writing and Communication is soliciting

article proposals for an upcoming special issue that will examine how

open source software (OSS) is affecting technical communication

processes and practices on local and international levels.  This

special issue will be published in the spring of 2011, and the guest

editors are Kirk St.Amant of East Carolina University and Brian

Ballentine of West Virginia University.


Software is a vital tool that is a central factor guiding the global

information economy.  Within this international context, open source

software (OSS) is increasingly becoming a tool for consideration – if

not a tool of choice – for many technical and professional

communication practices and processes.  The open nature of OSS

development and the community-oriented approach to providing OSS

support present new situations for organizations and individuals

interested in using OSS products.  Technical and professional

communicators, in turn, can benefit from an effective understanding of

OSS and its uses.  Moreover, the growing international use and

diffusion of OSS for a variety of communication and technical tasks

means an effective understanding of OSS can be key to professional

success in today’s global workplace.  This special issue of the

Journal of Technical Writing and Communication will examine what OSS

is, how it is developed, how it is used, how it is supported (both

technically and financially), and what OSS products populate the

current global marketplace.




Working title: Communitas in Technical Writing: Local Exigence, Global Extensibility

Lead author: Dr. Trey Conner, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg

co-authors: Dr. Morgan Gresham, Dr. Jill McCracken, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg

associate authors: Pat Fried, JD, executive director, Mount Zion Human Services, Inc. and the students enrolled in ENC 4260/6421 "Advanced Technical Writing/Community Literacy," Spring 2008.

When the University of South Florida St. Petersburg (USFSP) blocked network access to a grant-supported LTSP, three technical writing instructors found interest in community centers serving low-SES communities in south St. Petersburg, where any electronic resource whatsoever was a welcome improvement. So, with OSS as an opening gambit, USFSP partnered with a nonprofit community organization, Mt. Zion Human Services (MZHS) of Midtown St. Petersburg, FL, an area with the highest levels of illiteracy, education failure, crime, violence, poverty, and substance abuse in Pinellas County. The partnership was founded upon similar but divergent understandings of the uses of OSS, and, surprisingly, gained momentum even as the technology implementation aspect of the partnership met with difficulty. As a small handful of USFSP students worked to convert otherwise obsolete, donated computers into an open source computer network for youth and preschool programs at MZHS, the client-based class, as a whole, developed awareness for the larger context of MZHS, forming in the process a sense of communitas as technical writers and an expanded understanding of the domain of technical communication. MZHS, as a client, challenged the students to provide real technical writing solutions to real problems, in language resonant with the MZHS mission statement. In response, the students, by way of a course wiki imagined and enacted as an experiment in OS culture, formed a creative commons, a heterarchical collective of symbolic-analytic workers intervening on unstructured problems and responding to diverse needs while cultivating contextual awareness and serving a common purpose. Students wrote grants, created brochures, used OSS to design a monthly newsletter, installed and maintained an LTSP network for pre-K and afterschook K-12 programs, researched best practices for a proposed mentoring program, developed new curriculum materials and assessment protocols for an existing after-school tutoring program and creative studio,  and created documentation for succession and sustainability of these projects. These ideas, projects, and experiences continue to grow based on community need, student interests, and increasing attention from USFSP faculty seeking ways to incorporate civic engagement elements into their syllabi. Our article suggests that merging these different vectors of interest organized the dynamic, emergent, high-stakes, and often-times uncertain nature of this collective problem-solving effort, and, along the way, rendered an ongoing real-time training in professional communication. OSS and conversations (face to face and on wiki) steeped in the philosophy of open source culture galvanized these efforts, and even served to bridge the various local communities of practice that converged in this partnership. For educators seeking to engage OSS with students, we are framing communitas itself as an extension of the idea of extensibilitycommunitas as a local and open source ethos, and as ecosystemic input for global technical communication practice and pedagogy. Furthermore, because this local partnership demonstrates a shift in exigence for technical communication that closely correlates to issues amplified by the emergence of OSS in developing countries (strong vs. weak IP, vendor-lock vs. transaction costs, social and political components of OSS implementation, local capacity development, the capacity for technical writers to dwell in uncertainty), this article will offer a rubric to help educators in technical communication to identify areas for OS use in their local pedagogical contexts that could then be applied on a broader international level.

select/working bibliography

Chan, Anita. “Coding Free Software, Coding Free States : Free Software Legislation and the Politics of Code in Peru“ Anthropological Quarterly 77.3 (2004) 531-545

Czerniewicz, L., & Carr, T. (2005, July 30). Guest Editorial - Growing communities of practice among educational technology researchers and practitioners in development-oriented contexts: Linking local and global debates. International Journal of Education and Development using ICT [Online], 1(2). Available: http://ijedict.dec.uwi.edu/viewarticle.php?id=72.

da Rimini, Francesca. "Social Technologies and the Digital Commons." Handbook of Research on Open Source Software: Technological, Economic, and Social Perspectives. Ed. Kirk St. Amant and Brian Still. Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference, 2007. 47-67

Dirckinck-Holmfeld, Lone. “Innovation of Problem Based Learning through ICT: Linking Local and Global Experiences” The International Journal of Education and Development Using

Information and Communication Technology. Volume 5, number 1, 2009.

Koch, Stefan. Free/Open Source Software Development. Hershey PA : Idea Group Publishing, 2005.

Lessig, L. (2002). The future of ideas. New York: Vintage Books.



Maldonado, E., Tapia, A. (2008). "Analyzing Public Open Source Policy: The Case Study of Venezuela". In Information Technology in the Service Economy: Challenges and Possibilities for the 21st Century, Barrett, M., Davidson, E., Middleton, C. and DeGross, J. (Eds), Boston: Springer, pp 249-257


Moody, G. (2001). Rebel code: Inside linux and the open source revolution.  Cambridge: Perseus


Peizer, Jonathan. "Open Source Technology and Ideology in the Nonprofit Context." Handbook of Research on Open Source Software: Technological, Economic, and Social Perspectives. Ed. Kirk St. Amant and Brian Still. Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference, 2007. 468-479

piloting pedagogies/MZHS course syllabus: http://pilotingpedagogies.pbworks.com/Response-abilities

van Reijswoud, Victor and Emmanuel Mulo. "Evaluating the Potential of Free and Open Source Software in the Developing World." Handbook of Research on Open Source Software: Technological, Economic, and Social Perspectives. Ed. Kirk St. Amant and Brian Still. Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference, 2007. 79-92.


Tapia, A., Maldonado E. (2009). "An ICT Skills Cascade: Government-Mandate Open Source Policy As a Potential Driver for ICT Skills Transfer". Information Technology and International Development. Special Issue: "ICTs and Employability", 5(2), 31-51

Watkins, E. (1998). Everyday exchanges: Marketwork and capitalist common sense. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Xiaobai Shen. “Developing Country Perspectives on Software: Intellectual Property and Open Source: a Case Study of Microsoft and Linux in China” International Journal of IT Standards & Standardization Research; Jan-Jun 2005; 3, 1









Yes, Nathan, I hear your plea. Many of us have been hearing about and tuning into this inevitability, and we will certainly read/hear more about it this week. I want to open up the aperture on this discussion as far and wide as possible: we should voice our dismay, yes, because the affective charge that comes when our surface medium shifts so dramatically ("the carpet too, is moving under you...") is of course one of the primary web 2.0 Muses. If you feel dismay, we can help transform that anger into writing, into critique, into encomia and gifanimations and poetry, even!


However, at the same time, I encourage you to crown yourselves with laughter like Zarathustra (cf. Thus Spake Zarathustra Part IV section 18-20) as you welcome this occasion as an opportunity, and a gift. Although I agree that pbwiki 2.0 is totally lame, and the way they went about ignoring their stakeholders in education is puzzling (at best), I am offering a definition of this apparent crisis that may energize you even more.


First: notice that this is an object (perhaps even abject, at first blush) lesson in why open source is the way: pbwiki upgrade is here and as we all already knew, it totally sucks. But we also already knew that they weren't sharing their code. So perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that they weren't taking feedback from the robust 1.0 community of users seriously. There are SO MANY wiki farms (wikis that offer individual wikis, like ours), so let's accept the change as the noosphere's way of telling us not to territorialize on any one wiki--I'm hearing a message that says we ought not to tether our work and play to any one means of production. Now that pbwiki wants to regress into a CMS mentality, let's use it as such, and, in the meantime, browse the universe of new media for the writing adjuncts/software/media that suit our more participatory needs. Along the way, we might find new audiences! Gamers, how can we resist the Wikia gaming wiki scene any longer? Methinks it will also be good fun to learn how to serve our own wiki.  Goran and David are already on the case.


Second, we get the "double D":  detachment and dexterity. Yes, we now have an opportunity to cultivate new levels of detachment with regards to our writing. Unhinged from particular "truths," from pre-formed ideas that need to be "expressed," and also from particular softwares and media (such as pbwiki 1.0), our ability to language (verb form, here), and language in common, amplifies, and as a result, we become better listeners, and become more more discerning analysts of the assumptions and premises that undergird our discourse and our collaborations. In other words, dexterity in the infodynamics of web 2.0 comes only through infinite rehearsal. Game on....and on!


Seeing the semester through to the end is of course the plan: let's stay open.  I look forward to hacking away at the new pbwiki with you all (it is workable, after all), and, at the same time I look forward to learning more about wikis in general. I've already started testing wikis (wiki.dot, mediawiki, pmwiki), and, what's more--this is most important--I think we can learn a lot about our writing by comparing the differences between different versions and visions of the wikidelic. To this end, check out wikimatrixAlso, this list of wiki farms also let's you compare general and technical features--including whether or not the source code is open or not! :)


strike another match, start anew....and Wyrd to the Wiki, baby blue!


Goofing with Graphic Image Manipulation Programs

"The palm at the end of the mind,

Beyond the last thought, rises

In the bronze decor,

A gold-feathered bird

Sings in the palm, without human meaning,

Without human feeling, a foreign song.

You know then that it is not the reason

That makes us happy or unhappy.

The bird sings. Its feathers shine.

The palm stands on the edge of space.

The wind moves slowly in the branches.

The bird's fire-fangled feathers dangle down."

-Wallace Stevens "Of Mere Being"



Audacity is a free open-source multimedia composition tool for working with sound on all platforms--Windows, Mac, and Linux. This week, I want to explore Audacity's potential for doing our mid-semester reflection pieces in audio format.


California, here we come...

Wii Wave: Riding the Waves Shaping our Digital Communicative Acts


Session: J.40 on Mar 13, 2009 from 2:00 PM to 3:15 PM Cluster: 106) Information Technologies

Type: Concurrent Session (3 or more presenters) Interest Emphasis: not applicable

Level Emphasis: 4-year Focus: first year composition


and I am waiting happily

for things to get much worse

before they improve

~Lawrence Ferlinghetti "I am Waiting" 1958


Nobel Prize winner Wolfgang Ketterle ran an interference experiment showing that all the atoms really were linked in a single wave of matter. "By first separating a condensate into two parts and then causing these to expand into each other, he could observe distinct interference patterns— rather like what happens when two stones are thrown into still water at the same time. The interference pattern would not have formed unless the matter waves were coherent." However, the wave-like understanding of matter, first proposed to the physics community in the 1920s by Louis de Broglie, usually manifests as cognitive dissonance, rather than holistic unity, in our immediate interpersonal experiences, where composition and communication unfold. We tend to notice waves as they come crashing in on us, as they change the landscape, as they wash away the old that we have known. But this is only a small part of the picture that is the wave. Although we expect that waves will change the landscape, we are often afraid of the change. Waves seem big, overwhelming. And in many ways they are. Yet in the context of the ocean, even the most mighty wave seems miniscule. It creates change, it reflects change, and it is change, but the location changes our perception of it. For this presentation, we are looking toward the positives of the changes that the latest wave of digital technologies can offer us. We desire diminished and permeable boundaries, and as active participants of both worlds, we find ourselves erecting boundaries in the morning and concocting ways to knock them down in the afternoon.


In this performative and interactive panel presentation, we speculate on the future of student texts, focusing on interactive technologies, social networking, and serious games, and speculating on how these new communicative environments might affect writing programs and our ability/need to utilize new media and multi-modal composition technologies. Our initial thoughts will be represented in multiple emerging (but recognizable) digital environments--facebook, myspace, wii--that will underscore the points we will make, while at the same time turning a critical lens on these visions of digital interaction with the assistance of our participant audience members.

Speaker 1 sets the stage by initiating the multiple conversations we plan on the futures of composition, as the discipline shifts to embrace both technologies and civic engagement. Speaker 2 examines relationships between new and old technologies--inter/intratextuality—our relations, our students' relations, our practices with assignments, teaching, assessing. With an eye toward the diversity of composing, Speaker 3 plays with access/materiality/economics issues (lullz culture, leet speek, generation m) in the rhetorics of "unwriting" while speaker 4 addresses developing programs around new digital literacies, juxtaposing the needs of students who are digitally connected with faculty who may remain somewhat reluctant players in the new digital scenes of composition. Finally, Speaker 5 elicits audience participation to bring us back to play by pulling together the multiple strands that unite us in a Mii Parade: digital literacy, conversation interplay, games and their potentials for both creativity and relevancy in the teaching and practice of composition. Despite the sense of foreboding that surrounds them, waves provide a perspective on the digital culture engulfing us; wii want to ride the wave of change.



Participant Affiliation Speech Title (if known)

Morgan Gresham

(Chair) University of South Florida St. Petersburg Session Contact Person

Morgan Gresham

(Speaker 1) University of South Florida St. Petersburg

Jill McCracken

(Speaker 2) University of South Florida St. Petersburg

Trey Conner

(Speaker 3) University of South Florida St. Petersburg

Roxanne Kirkwood

(Speaker 4) Marshall University

Teddi Fishman

(Speaker additional) Clemson University


Roller Derby, 2nd law, fishing metaphors and other tropes, topoi for invention, immersive journalism, remixxin'as arrangement, and peer-calibrated grading


And so much more! Great class tonight, gamers. If our collective grok on Lydia's emerging Roller Derby article were "re-mediated" as a song, it would surely have to be a dythyramb! I do think we should create a "McCloud" tag for all of our McCloud blogging , so we can easily compile our responses on one page, where Sue could quickly remix a replacement for the blog she sacrificed, 2nd law style. I will follow up with more reflections this weekend.

Jan 27th, 28th



Allen Ginsberg is Whitman is Bob Dylan is "Vibrato Woman" is Anne Waldman is Atman is Brahman is...


We've talked a lot about the digital medium and digital literacy. Musical pioneer John Cage (1937) brought his characteristic optimism to these trends to these possibilities long after Plato's time but well prior to our present movement; now, digital technology has redefined creative production, but this redefinition has been well underway for while, now. John Cage in his work “Future of Music: Credo” in Silence, states:


The composer (organizer of sound) will be faced not only with the entire field of sound but also with the entire field of time. The "frame" or fraction of a second, following established film technique, will probably be the basic unit in the measurement of time. No rhythm will be beyond the composer's reach. (p. 5)


Who is the composer in this infinitessimally perforated medium, itself a mixture of multiple modalities (long ago, Aristoxenus the musician named dynamic media "rhythmizomena") that Cage predicted and in which we are now immersed?


See also: algorithmic music, generative music, noise, 200 motels, indeterminacy in music, mash-ups




Hey, Gamers! Exciting news--we will have a special guest for Thursday night's unit 1 rough draft workshop. University of Florida's Associate Professor of Management and Communication Jane Douglas (author of "The Pleasures of Immersion and Interaction: Schemas Scripts and the Fifth Business" in our First Person text book) will join us as we bear down and bring "beady eyes" to our rough drafts in class. Take a look at her article before class--although we'll focus on our drafts in class, we will read and respond to her article, and a few others in First Person, this coming week. Dr. Douglas was my adviser and mentor when I was an undergraduate at UF, and in her workshops, I learned how to accept and administer peer critiques. To put it bluntly: by this process of feedback and reflection, I learned how to write. I'm looking forward to sharing this process with all of you!


Jan 23rd


Often, when we think of definition, Webster’s dictionary comes to mind. But dictionary definitions can't attend to the exigence of a particular time and place--terms, concepts, and meanings emerge to frame issues, according to the rhetorical situation. Definitions, in use, don’t usually function like perfect classical mathematical equations. Rather, in everyday situations, definitions have more to do with probabilities; therefore, writers tend to amplify certain aspects of definitions in circulation and turn down the volume on other uses.


Long ago, Cicero wrote that “when you have taken all the qualities of the thing you wish to define has in common with other things, you should pursue the analysis until you produce its own distinctive quality which can be transferred to no other thing” (Topics v, 28, cited in Crowley and Hawhee, 216). To illustrate this process, Cicero provided an example close to our course content. To define “inheritance,” he placed it in a class, “property.” Next, he added a vector of difference, stating that inheritance is a form of property “which comes to someone at the death of another” (vi, 29). Here, Cicero starts down a particular process of definition called “species/genus” definition: first he places the thing to be defined in a category, then he begins to list differences that distinguish the species from other members of the proposed genus. We could also call this process “defining as…,” and in this process, argumentation begins as soon as a writer sets limits on her definition by selecting a particular class or category, even before the procedure of selecting differences and distinctions. One group of writers may place intellectual property in a class with tangible property, and in this case, much of what we call fair use would in this case be defined as free riding. Of course, another series of arguments might place “free riding” in a different category, and argue that free-riding is part of creative, innovative work in markets. When competing definitions arise out of the same terrain, writers must select differences and points of distinction, but they may choose do so as a process of showing how one thing (say, free-riding) is NOT another thing (say, theft), as well. Some folks call this method “negative definition.” Furthermore, definition arguments are often more like “re-definition” arguments—re-definition processes radically displace the “it” in question into seemingly ill-suited categories, as a way of amplifying or tuning in on a specific aspect of the “it” to be defined, or leveraging a boundary-example as a means to shine a new light on an issue. For example, some readers may be unprepared to think aboutthe Burning Man Festival in terms of gift economics, but traversing the ground between the species (the Burning Man festival) and the genus (gift economics) provides ample opportunity to turn a particular readership towards the notion.


Writing to establish such connections, our recipes work with definitional ingredients including but not limited to

  • enumeration (listing the most important parts that make up a whole—not all the parts, because defining something well actually requires that we leave certain contested aspects out of the “equation,” so that we can focus our readers’ attention)


  • etymological definition (studying the history of a concept and its uses, and then selecting and amplifying the use that will make your case persuasive),


  • and definition by way of example. Generally speaking, definition requires us to determine when greater or less ambiguity will be more persuasive in a particular case. The simple art of telling stories usually brings about opportunities for experimenting with these (and other) techniques, so try and find "gutters" and transitions in your narrative where you might weave in techniques of enumeration, etymology, or example. Narrative is a flexible genre, and definitions easily nestle into stories with compelling plots.


But you can always go back to the simple formula "X is..." or "X is not..."



What is (Anti)comedy?


Here's a basic template for composing with definitions:


X is/is not Y (criteria/match or "genus/species" technique). For example, you could argue: The Amazing Mr. Slug is a performance artist, not a stand-up comedian.


For example: how to define standup comedy? In this video, we find that a "border case" (here, the performances of The Amazing Mr. Slug) creates the conditions for a structured definition of this particular genre of comedy. "Border cases" and counterarguments actually help us define our terms and categories. In this video and the video debate that follows, it is easy to see how an interesting species (X term) can help articulate an understanding of a novel genus (Y term) and vice-versa.

Jan 15, Jan 23rd



Bravo, wikidelians, we are starting to get our traction already, early in the semester. The dialogue and ideation bursting forth from our Living and Learning With New Media blogs set the scene for a great session in FCT 120 with Pat Fried, and the Service Learning article, as Maria points out here, crystalizes and reinforces our plan. As we move into an ethnographic mode, we do so with a purpose, and, at the same time, we are poised to refine our purpose as we proceed. We are at a critical phase--we are going to get wild on the wiki, and, at the same time, we are going to be mindful and aware of the ethics and etiquette of professional communications in real-world projects.


"The Symbolic Lotus of A Thousand Colonels" by Aric Obrosey



Did somebody say branding? When Jacob and Pat dialogue about the promises and pitfalls of this ubiquitous rhetorical strategy, they tune in on the double-edged sword of building ethos via definition. I think the Negativland "remix" of Pepsi's "remix" of the Ying/Yang icon. This icon of information compression of unknown origin that arrests our attention in the midst of the dynamic and interdependent forces that it represents and pulls together in a single image, speaks to the complexities of the fraught but axiomatic rhetorical strategy of branding. Negativland doesn't so much critique Pepsi's appropriation of this icon as much as they critique the use of legal codes to prevent others from freely using and further refining their version. Aric Obrosey's "The Symbolic Lotus of a Thousand Colonels" reduplicates the iconic Kentucky Fried headshot enacts an argument against a permanent "arrest" by putting the Colonel into a archetypal array. Dylan K prompted some interesting discussion about the appropriation of brand-icons in class, questions that parallel discussions underway in Lydia's business law class. As we pursue this line of inquiry, let's consider what's at stake: what is being defined in these arguments and how do these compressed definitional arguments unfold?


Branding is nothing new, really. Speakers and writers have always used and re-used commonplace and available rhetorical forms to alter the consciousness of listeners and readers. Back in the day, Socrates puzzled over the double-edged nature of rhetoric itself--famously, in the Phaedrus, the polysemous pharmakon concept (meaning both "medicine" and "poison") becomes a learning tool by virtue of its ambiguity. Today, we find ourselves in what UC Berkeley researchers attempt to quantify and define as an unprecedented infoquake brought about by human interaction with and through information technologies that yields dramatic qualitative shifts in our everday experience. acob's concerns are legit: in this article about

neural marketing , researchers debate over the health, safety, and ethics of branding as it continues to refine it's scale and resolution via technology. In this context, branding has become a science, one no rhetor can simply disavow or ignore. Jacob and Pat tease out the importance of both critique and leverage in the information age, a puzzle that Brian Sleevi tackled last semester


dynamic and interdependent forces...pulled together by single cause. benefitting our community ... what is our common, solidified image? our strategies and goal to work towards ... perhaps this confusion lies in the absence of common purpose. if the end result is in formation, fine. let it be. perhaps at the beginning, we refer to the end. upload,document ... voice individual thoughts on an outcome. next, sit down and see. a vision stays a vision (inside one brain) without communication (the sending and receiving of a message). are we branding for attraction? are we promoting our class learning inputs? learning and poison, poison can teach us. AMBIGUITY: lack of decisiveness ...commitment...resulting from a failure to make a choice between alternatives. what are the alternatives to branding, source? One thing to learn about our class: communication is key and via the wiki, ideas flow freely and thoroughly to discuss, we mold our understanding through peer dialogue...we learn, grow, learn, and grow more. the only trouble i have found with branding after scrutinizing both sides of this branding clash is no sense of purpose, especially unity. PLAY.





Jan 13


Hey check out Aldijana's entries on open source. Aldijana's blog notices the noisy nature of open community forums, where we find an exciting web trope: "the free expert." This is a fact of community forums that we will explore further this semester. Free expertise, unlike "free beer" (Stallman), is part of a practice, and as such requires something of those who seek it: mindful and critical attention to competing claims, and willing participation in commons-emergence. Also on this page, Aldijana introduces the Connexions project at Rice University. Visit her page or any of the pages sprouting on the wiki, read the arguments and links, and respond.


My favorite entry in the Connexions mission statement is their argument about the link between nonlinearity and connectivity. "Our brains," Connexions argues, "are not linear - we learn by making connections between new concepts and things we already know. Connexions mimics this by breaking down content into smaller chunks, called modules, that can be linked together and arranged in different ways." Read the Connexions philosophy. What are some of the "implicit" premises in this argument?


In 2-Bits, Chris Kelty explains that practices that brought about the Free Software Movement served as a template for growing the Connexions project at Rice University. "Free Software provides a template made up of the five components: shared source code, a concept of openness, copyleft licenses, forms of coordination, and a movement or ideology. Connexions starts with the idea of modulating a shared "source code," one that is not software, but educational textbook modules that academics will share, port, and fork. The experiment that results has implications for the other four components as well. The implications lead to new questions, new constraints, and new ideas" (2 Bits Part II, section eight One interesting but simple implication is the "modularity" of the site, which lets users remix modules for different purposes and contexts. No space is neutral or inherently liberatory, but the design of modularity and nonlinearity, which already enables the web anyhow, affords us both chaos/parataxis and the ability to re-combine the digital medium n ways and in n dimensions. So, as composers on this medium we frequently ask ourselves: amidst so many rhetorical choices, how do we proceed? Let's ask and tell each other by reading and responding to each other's writing as it emerges.


still image from McDonald's: The Video Game


Reading Persuasive Gaming, and looking forward to working through the text together in class. Chapter 1 is straight up: Bogost situates his argument in the crosshairs of a few different academic communites--rhetoricians, compositionalists, new media scholars, anthropologists, and others. Basically, he says "here's the new trip I'm offering, and here's how it resonates with existing research even as it adds something new" Whenever we write in academic contexts, this is a good idea--rhetorical analysis that makes distinctions between key terms and concepts that matter, but matter differently in different communities, is a good way to find and begin to address your audience.


His basic aim in chapter 1 is definitional: he uses rhetorical analysis (of current interpretations of "digital rhetoric," for example), comparison/contrast, example, and enthymeme to articulate and distill the concept of procedural rhetoric.

Notice how Bogost will identify and promote a need for inquiry even where he is not planning to pursue it. For example, he talks about the importance of code to procedural rhetoric, but provides reasoning for why he will not pursue this aspect of procedural rhetoric in his text. Likewise, we may not feel that we are stakeholders in Bogost's main argument. However, I think he provides a fantastic common text from which to build a vocabulary for sharing our expository writing procedures--our writing processes--on our wiki. In other words, once we gain an understanding of procedural rhetoric, in relation to classical persuasion/attention management/expression in prose or speech (as in the Freakonomics arguments about procedurality vs. the arguments embedded in procedures, p. 9), we gain a better understanding of both. We can then mindfully evaluate games, compositions, and issues that emerge from our course theme, and determine the best way to share this information (creating arguments, describing and explaining processes and more) with a specific audience. Expositorily!


Perhaps most interesting here is the common terrain shared by a procedural rhetoric and a classical rhetorical enterprise, the figures, patterns, and tropes that structure arguments, narrative, poetry, games, and distinguish one genre of writing from another. We can go further, and use these "templates" to grow new narratives, arguments, etc. When I read about the Rogerian Eliza program, which is a machine for generating "believable" dialogue, I thought of the whole history of AI but I also thought pop music. Pop music has a limited syntax, so it is easy "remix" the tropes of pop music to write new pop songs. In a a similar way, a careful examination of rhetorical forms/figures/tropes in movies, television, books, and even technical writing shows the basics of these genres and suggests strategies for growing your own versions of these forms. In the section of chapter 1 concerning procedural figures, forms and genres. The TV Tropes Wiki, an incredible free writer's tool on the web, compiles this list of video game tropes. I propose that, as we move through the semester and find our projects, we compile a list of "interactivity tropes."


Speaking of projects...one way to think of final projects is by way of analogy to game engines, which Bogost discusses on page 13. Whereas in a game engine "sets of graphical logics are often packaged together as....a software toolkit used to create a variety of additional games," informal writing (blogging), unit assignments performing specific sets of "rhetorics," can be packaged together as a final project. Wyrd to the wiki!


There's more to say here but I'll wait for your responses and chime in then!

Jan 10

On this day, I will blog about

wiki functionality (how do I work this thing?)

wiki alternatives, such as mindmeister

and wiki supplements, like the incredible Etherpad tool.


Jan 9


Here, David initializes what I hope will be an ongoing conversation (and practice) on our wiki when he requests that "if you do or do not agree I still encourage constructive criticism. I want the page to encourage critical thinking, not random outbursts of anger or incoherent thoughts" (1984existence). I went ahead and added a link to his post to a great book chapter that discusses logical types, and distinguishes fallacious reasoning from sound reasoning. This .pdf provides a nice, detailed exposition one the logos node of our rhetorical triangle (ethos, logos, and pathos).


Whenever we argue, we argue in common. This is perhaps most clear when we engage in counter-argument. In our courts of law, we hear "objection!" as a request to introduce counterargument. Counter-argument engages with objections that a composer imagines will bother a reasonable reader, listener, end-user, player, etc... Counter arguments need not only come from the imagination, although the imagination is a fine place to search for them. Dialogue is another tool we can use to discover and work with counter arguments.


Prolepsis: A Rule of Three

(1) Address your interlocutor where they are. This does not mean you should talk "down" to them or "up" to them. Just forge a connection!

(2) Listen--with ears...and your eyes, and your whole being

(3) Be generous with your interpretation of premises. At the same time, challenge the assumptions, claims, and reasoning when/if the sentence, paragraph, or idea on the page puzzles you.


Consider: how does dialogue differ from debate?

post your thoughts to the wiki!


Jan 8

What the bleep is technical writing?


So, I was reflecting on something Rich said yesterday about technical writing and creative writing. One good way to define a term is to differentiate that term or concept from other terms or concepts in the same genus. When Rich proposed that creative writing and technical writing are opposites, he does as a definitional strategy. Creating binaries does clarify things long enough to capture and focus attention, but usually this strategy marks the starting point for further description, and, often, it is necessary for a writer to collapse the putative opposites so that similarities resound more than distinctions, because this sets the scene for more nuance, and takes readers deeper into the matter, into increasingly precise comparisons/contrasts, until an essential definition is distilled. The above image is the cover "page" of a remarkable user's manual for Ruby a computer programming language, Why's Poignant Guide to Ruby. Computer programming is technical, but most would agree that the cartoon foxes and bearded skeletons that guide programmers through Ruby's code and language are characters born out of a creative writing enterprise. Compared to other online Ruby guides, Why's Poignant Guidestands apart as a border case. Rhetoricians, in speech and in writing, throughout the ages, have used border cases to illuminate and amplify essential characteristics of one or both terms. Could it be that we can learn about technical writing by following cartoon foxes, analyzing them, and showing this example to others?


Jan 7

making a mesh of things

gif animation by The Physics Classroom

Feeling so fine now that class is in session again! Joy! I enjoyed meeting everyone today and I'm looking forward to a fun semester. Very much enjoyed collective attention on learning, and the shared anticipation, embarking on new narratives--a new semester--and so, here we go....


Couldn't help but notice both the common interests and the strong difference tones during our introductory discussion. All the aforementioned anticipation brought out much of what is exhilarating about distributed rhetoric--the fine art of perfectly-timed interruptions, the affectively charged counterarguments, the describing, the transcribing, and of course and all knowledge-sharing and skill-sharing. We are more than just a mash-up of two sets of majors from two different colleges--although I do believe this basic mixture promotes peer-learning, project-building, and process-assembling. I'm mostly saying that we are poised to celebrate an even finer mesh of commonalities and differences--Jesse and Jacob were saying as much during the water break we took halfway through class. If we follow the open-source adage "share early and often," with special attention to the the practice of "open-sourcing" our premises, we'll find out what a wiki can do. Weaving our diverse interests and ideas on our wiki will allow us to rehearse, as we figure out the best way to embrace each project, the idiom translation skills that are the hallmark of an interdisciplinary university community. Let it be so!



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