Our program requires that we attend two mini-seminars every semester.
Several different mini-seminars are available, from three-hour sessions on a
single day concerned with the discipline (the
Reese’s PB Cup variety
of rhetoric in my composition and vice versa), world Englishes, WAC, or some
other topic, to sessions broken across a couple of weeks on stuff like teaching
online, service learning, and information literacy. The mini-seminars are
meant to foster professional development. Everyone in the writing
program–besides first-year TAs and full-time staff and graduate faculty (who
oftentimes lead the sessions)–are made to attend.
I was at a session this afternoon on information literacy. But I only
mention the mini-seminars to set the scene and to note that I’ve been a good
mini-seminarian this semester as it was my last one.
But the idea today’s session tipped me onto is what I’m thinking of as
databasic writing. We’ve heard of basic writing. The idea goes
way back, back past the 1976 CCCC in Kansas City, which asked, "What’s REALLY
Basic?" Thirty years have passed, however. The remediation that
finds root in remedy (cure-all comp; whatever ails you) shared its name
with media historicism, the remediation that focuses on precedents, on the old
in the new. The old ancestors of new media were young once. Maybe this analogy
will clear up what I mean: remediation is to basic writing as remediation is to
databasic writing. Claro!
That didn’t work. Damn. What I mean is that there are varieties of
writing new media concerned with writing the database. I
don’t mean roughing out a plan for a MySQL database or some other gridtrodden
boxstrocities built to file complexity into slots (although, try to blog without a dbase). I’m thinking of the blend of
tagging and collecting, a compound of non-syntactic semantic variables and
things–light, pulsatile, electrate. We’re not only writing sentences,
we’re composing quirky, irregular collections. And while databasic
writing borrows felicitously from Benjamin’s "Unpacking My Library," it is a
library whose gathering is inscribed. Databasic writing also resonates
with Sirc’s "box-logic," with collecting and annotating, and also with personal
knowledge management. The question on my mind is "What’s REALLY Databasic?"
Databasic writers know del.icio.us. Tag, aggregate, gather, into
crumb-paths of surprises, wonder, curiosity, and safe-keeping.
technorati tag: teaching-carnival