This morning, I thought I’d have time for three blog entries. I told
myself that today would be the day I posted thrice. Hmph. Never
written thrice before. I’m having a bit of "dogfish in the
dissection pan" with hyper-consciousness about post-literacy, studying the
network, tweening the EWM-style blogging I know and love with more academicky
smelting–dutifully dumping into whatever contrivance, as assigned. Of
course it is my own sense of what happens that flattens all of this out, rolls
over it again and again. Scalpel, glassine envelope….
A thought-splice: I signed up for
semester. Built a profile, uploaded an image, listed a set of tags to
cross-reference me with the thousands of others–mostly undergrads–who dig the
same stuff I dig. I did it because I wanted to start the semester in WRT205 with
some talk about social connection, self-identified tags, and mediated
connections all as buildup into McLuhan, Barabasi, and writing critical
research. I was clear with students that they didn’t have to keep
profiles; turned out all but one or two of them already kept extensive listings
in thefacebook. They knew more about it than I did. They were
already doing creative computing, in one sense, making themselves into
data, encoding other (small) worlds with discriminating presences. It was
fun; and I told them, shortly after I built a profile, that even though I didn’t
have any facebook friends, none of them should feel any obligation to list me.
But two did anyway. In this space, I am, categorically, friends with my
students. I’ve kept it perfectly centripetal, never listing anyone else as a
friend of mine, but just standing still, checking things out, welcoming pulses.
In the past two weeks, I’ve been listed by three students from last
semester’s WRT105. I get emails, "such and such has listed you as a
friend." When I click on the link from the email, I’m transported to a
site where I can confirm the friendship, and I have in each case, although other
options (reject, deny, wait a minute?) are available to me also. I’ve also
joined the "I Hate WRT105" group. It’s the only group I belong to,
and I really should do something about that since I teach the course and I’m
doing doctoral work in the program responsible for devising the curriculum.
And, what’d’ya know, I happened across the profile of a familiar student or two
in there. Thought, heh, what’re you doing in here? Same to
you. Hate, the acerbic cousin of critical (the mask of
Thought-splice: Miles and Yuille’s
Creative Computing manifesto sets out to define "how we use computers in
teaching and learning for creative industries" in IT contexts. They offer
a thoughtful list, but it leaves me feeling ambivalent about the think treatment
of some of the grander concepts included. Perhaps that’s how it’s designed to
work; its gross under-development invokes a busy array of associations.
Seems more like a move to stimulate rather than define. Even in its
simplicity, the list teases out a few useful distinctions about with-ness
rather than working "on the network," and about "learning by doing."
Indeed, "these literacies are learnt by doing." Which literacies aren’t?
We could describe literacy not as a monolithic term but as a cloud of
sometimes contradictory nexus points among different positions. Literacy
can be seen as not a skill but a process of situating and resituating in
social spaces (Wysocki 367).
Walker’s talk at Brown and, just as much, the comments following her account
push me to consider the reversal of network and representation (composed, in
writing or otherwise). I don’t know how to put this, but maybe Walker’s
title will help me find a grip. Rather than writing in the network,
it’s rather more–in my thinking–like writing the network. The network is
written, I mean. It materializes in language (oftentimes language that is
not written, but otherly, I suppose, oral, imagistic…dunno about all of this,
though). Cripes, I’m slogging…. I’m trying to say that the
sociality of the network is an enticement/motivation to writing (for people
who’ve never had a care for Composition, I mean). Beyond the academy,
lots of folks are compelled to write because of the sociality of the network,
and this seems like an interesting turnabout of motivation, one that ought to
interest teachers of writing.