Graphicacy

For the past few weeks, “graphicacy” has insinuated itself into the part of my brain where nagging curiosity comes from (the self-nagebellum), becoming the terministic equal of an ear worm: word worm. Term worm? Lexical maggot? Whatever. And there, for weeks now, it has wriggled, dug in.

I don’t recall encountering “graphicacy” before Liz Losh mentioned it casually in her presentation to EMU’s First-year Writing Program during her visit last month. I wrote down several things from Liz’s talk, but graphicacy was there on top of my notes, large and starred. It stands to reason that graphicacy keeps company with literacy. Both are –acy words, which means they are adjectives converted to nouns and that they name or identify conditions. Presumably these, too, are nominalizations, but they by-pass verbs, which is the problem I’ve been thinking about. We have reading and writing to verb literacy, but what verbs graphicacy?

I had to do a little bit of cursory sifting and searching for graphicacy, to start. It seems like the term was initiated in a mixed and sprawling range across math education (learning to plot points and interpret graphs), geography (facility with maps), and graphic design (technical-aesthetic savvy). Late last month, it surfaced in the context of a conversation about multimodal composition and the graphic rhetoric we have adopted at EMU, Understanding Rhetoric. This is the main reason it took hold for me: graphicacy seemed to gather an array of practices related both to understanding and making visuals. It sweeps into one pile an assortment of visual communications–graphs, maps, word clouds, comics, painting, photography, typography, data visualization–much in the same way visual rhetoric does. And yet, with graphicacy as with visual rhetoric, it feels like we are still missing a sufficiently encompassing verb to capture the array of practices.

At our Advanced WAC Institute on campus late last April (or was it by then early May?), I worked with a team of colleagues on a new (for us) configuration. With colleagues from Communications and Education, we put together an institute keyed on five complementary practices: writing, reading, critical (or I would say “rhetorical”) listening, speaking, and visualizing. The fifth term, visualizing, was mine to introduce to institute attendees, and it was the most difficult to identify with a verb that was adequate to account for the frame, which amounted to concept mapping, drawing/sketching as heuristic for arrangement, and creating occasions for students to work at the intersection of textual and overtly visual and designerly composition.

Because we called it “visualizing,” we began the sessions needing to backtrack and contextualize. With visualizing, we weren’t talking about conjuring brainbound images or about an indwelt priming of the mind’s eye to work on problems or particular ways of seeing. These were among the associations attendees made with visualizing. And this seemed reasonable. Visualizing wasn’t quite the right verb. But what is the right verb? What is the general verb comparable to writing, reading, listening, and speaking that relates not only to seeing but to creating visuals, especially in consideration of vector illustration programs and shape-based concept mapping software that bears only faint relation to drawing?

Graphicacy stirs this question yet again but does not quite answer it. But I hope not to call it “visualizing” ifwhen we convene the institute again next time.

Pixton

I spent time in class today introducing ENGL328ers to a variety of comic writing applications and platforms, the latest of which is Pixton. Pixton is the best thing to come along in template-driven web comics. The site offers several templates–a fairly comprehensive suite of modular figures to be repositioned, stylized, and otherwise modified (color, rotation, size, flip, etc.). For more context, follow the discussion here, and check out user Brunswick’s “The Simplest Comic Ever.”

Here’s my first run at Pixton.

Were I not so much in the weeds following CCCC (e.g., I found frisbees stuffed in my campus mailbox, for Pete’s sake), I would create two or three more.

Maybe I Need One of These

In case I do need one of them (for research and related work-tasks), if I went ahead and picked one up now, got up to snap with how it works, then I would be fully prepared when the time comes that I actually have to use it. Maybe?

wacom.jpg

As you can see, there are the great challenges involved when predicting the future (while frittering away a few minutes before the next WC consulting session).

Pride

Billie
tagged me with the book meme, so I figured I may as well get on with
proliferating it. It’s the p. 123 meme, the one where you pick up the nearest
book of more than 123 pages, flip to page 123, jump over the first five
sentences, and then post the next three. My selection:

Where’d they come from, sir?
Those things aren’t wild out here, are they?
No, not wild.

This comes from
Pride of Baghdad
, a graphic novella based on a true story about a pride
of lions freed from the Baghdad zoo on the first night of the air strikes in
2003. I borrowed it yesterday and then read it this morning before everyone
(other than Is.) was awake. It was written by Brian Vaughn (Y: The Last Man
and Ex Machina) and drawn by Niko Henrichon, and the build-up and
presentation are terrific, right in line with Vaughn’s other stuff.

The last piece of the meme requires that I tag five others (chain-letter
style, the last person to break the meme, so I hear, spontaneously combusted).
Because I’m curious what they’re reading these days, let me try
Tricia,
Brian,
Julie,
Jeff, and
Malcolm.

Breakfast Theory

A few remnants for 691:  Theory as method: Reid’s 1989
cartoon, "Breakfast Theory: A Morning Methodology."

A Morning Methodology

And for daily fiber:

PBS Kids’ Freaky Flakes
.  P’shoped a EWM-brand box.  Plus,

this
, from the Detroit News, an article on Kelloggs.  Elsewhere
Homi Bhaba
talks about breakfast cereal and globalization.

Breakfast Theory

You know, spring of my senior year in high school, I had a
basketball tryout at Kellogg CC in Battle Creek, MI. 

Earlier today on ESPN News (playing low in the b’ground), the
anchor, commenting on Jason Kidd’s off-the-backboard oop to Richard
Jefferson in the Nets-Jazz game last night, said (about connecting up on the fast break) "That’s just good writing
there."