I currently keep three email addresses (,, and The first two are open to everyday email; the third is for some online ordering and a handful of other likely-to-sp8m sign-ups (i.e., the third is a zombie account, in effect). I suspect I am not alone in keeping multiple accounts, and yet I have made changes to these accounts recently that have substantially redrawn how they work for me.

After months of build-up, in November I realized I was spending too much time labeling, tagging, or sorting email messages into folders–a glut of folders, certainly more than 50. I read around briefly about various efficiency techniques, settled on one, and set about moving messages and deleting the excess. It was cathartic, soul-cleansing (though only about as rapturous as shelving books or vacuuming, to be honest). I ended up with the inbox plus four folders: Act, Hold, Archive, and Lists. All of the emails that arrive easily fit into one of these four folders with most going to Archive. Everything that goes into Lists is automatically routed there by a filtering algorithm. Suddenly Inbox Zero was commonplace: my email practices were significantly improved. And, in fact, this morning I deleted the Act folder because I don’t need it. The general inbox has, for almost three months, functioned as an Act folder. Again, the two motives here are ease of retrieving a message and improved classificatory efficiency.

In addition to the four three folders, I apply seven tags (in Thunderbird): 1 Teaching, 2 Scholarly Activity, 3 Service, 4 Administrativa, 5 Personal, 6 Calendar, and 7 Accounts. Category 4 came along after I realized that a number of emails were communicating various university business that didn’t quite fit into Category 3. I assign Category 7 to various password resets, membership renewals, and account information. Category 6 applies to items requiring an entry on Google Calendar. The others are fairly self-explanatory.

In effect, all emails I receive are categorized twice, once by folder and once by tag. Some receive two tags; few receive three. Often I search the Archive folder by sender, keyword, or date, but I can also separate the emails for any category. The other folders are never full enough that I need to search them. Hold, for example, has maybe ten items in it related to conference travel or meetings next week.

I realize this is a fairly mundane exercise, writing an entry about techniques for managing the inbox, but since November I have had two or three occasions to explain how this works, and I have been told it sounds either risky or brave to abandon a glut of folders for this new (to me) configuration. It’s neither risky nor brave. This is no hero narrative (at most, I can get a high-five from Is.: “You did what to your inbox?! Awesome!”). Yeah, I was nervous for 30 minutes deleting all of those folders, but the change has turned out to be a remarkable improvement.

Address Keywords

How best to arrive at keywords (before they are tags)? One humorless punchline is that I will not soon have a degree in computational linguistics. I have dealt
superficially with the question this week, first by thinking about the relationship
of the terms assigned by various methods–where we have keywords at all, that
is. The most prominent journals in composition studies do very little with
keywords, much less with tags (here I am thinking of tags as the digital
iteration of keywords that includes latent, descriptive, and procedural
labeling). Why is that?

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Databasic Writing

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.

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Trouble Shot

Even if the following fixes are only useful to one or two people, posting
them to the blog makes them differently available for searching and bookmarking.
Since I installed MT3.34, I ran across a couple of small snags. Nothing
too off-putting, really. Just bumps along the up-gradual way.

First, the new tagging features in MT3.3+ are, as I’ve said before, really
slick. But I was having trouble with the interface that allows me to merge
tags. Say I have two tags I want to merge, like "method" and "methods."
Okay? I click on one or the other and I the tag becomes editable. After I
apply changes, I can select "Rename," in which case it will summon the database
to see if the new tag already exists. If it does exist, a java popup asks
whether I want to proceed with the merge. If the revised tag doesn’t
exist, it goes ahead and applies the change. The other option, "cancel,"
does just that. Simple, eh?

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X-timing Parataxis

I first thought I would call this entry "Two-timing Parataxis" so I could get
at the different relationships parataxis enjoys–simultaneously!–with
, on the one hand (cheek?), and hypotaxis, on the other.
But as I try to get a better handle on parataxis in anticipation of Thursday’s
defense, I’m starting to think parataxis is more than two-timing. Patsy Cline: "Your
cheating heart will make you weep." Heh, weep. Only I’m the one in
a fix because of parataxis’s scandal and infidelity.

Thus far, I’m finding a couple of more or less common distinctions, one
grammatical, in which parataxis is positioned as a dance partner with
, and one rhetorical, in which parataxis is paired with
. The tabloids will be all over this.

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Cloudifying Exams

Because I have a hearing/defense coming up Thursday morning for my qualifying exams, I figured why not run the answers for the most frequent nouns and noun phrases? And then I figured, why not post each answer as a tagcloud?

I’ve re-read my exam answers to prepare for each of the meetings with members of my committee over the past few days. Re-connecting with the answers has been unsurprising; I mean that the answers were what I remembered them to be. Their arguments, for better and worse, are still fresh with me. Still, the tagcloud gives me another perspective. A different bi-product.

I don’t have a whole lot more to say about the questions I anticipate or the steps I’m taking to defend myself my answers. Just saying that because I have the CSS built to handle it, I’m enamored of posting more vaporous gatherings, beginning with these.

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The Networked Image

I first picked up on
Google’s Image Labeler
two days ago (via).
In a nutshell, Image Labeler addresses a semiotic problem: the indexing of
hundreds of thousands of images based on semantic assignments in the visual
field of each image. Indexing an image depends upon the assignment of
keywords that correspond to the objects represented. Google Image Labeler
makes this process into a game of peer review: in this two person game, a player
win points by registering a descriptor that also appears on the other person’s



links (succumbing,
that is, to the beckoning of a surprising curiosity), I briefly started to follow the life
of this conversation in computer science and art. Most intriguing in this
regard was the talk embedded below, a talk called “Human Computation” given by Luis von Ahn at Carnegie

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Photos and Locative Tagging

launched a new geotagging
this week (via).
It’s tied in with Yahoo’s mapping API; via Flickr, you can assign locative data
to your photos simply by drag-and-drop methods. The Flickr blog
an impressive surge in the geotagging of photographs with some 1.2 million
geotagged in the first 24 hours after the feature’s rollout.

Granted, if a
photo already had geotags assigned, the new system automatically recognized
them, so a fair portion of the 1.2 million were probably auto-assigned rather
than initiated by Flickr users.

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