I Remember, I Remember

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know the YouTube embeds are ephemeral. Iframe evaporati. Fleeting, all the new things. I’m posting it anyway, in spite of (possibly because of) its impermanence.

Living Portrait

I suppose The Johnny Cash Project is as close as I will come to a Grammy nomination. Seems the crowdsourced sketch-video put to Cash’s “Ain’t No Grave” has been nominated for Best Short Form Music Video at the 53rd annual Grammy event coming up in February. In case you haven’t heard of it, here’s a bit of background on The Johnny Cash Project, including a recent version of the piecemeal video.

As far as I can tell, the video is continuously redrawn, with new frames entering into circulation and with old frames dropping in rank as participants assign a five-star rating to existing frames. Many months ago I spent a whopping thirteen-plus minutes sketching frame #1271. Whether or not it was my finest (or even a remarkable) artistic moment may take many more years to determine. My efforts have been rewarded with an average rating of two out of five stars (.400 is kicking butt in baseball and in drawing, right?). Anyway, ratings are not what is important here (ignoring momentarily that the Grammys are a contest).

Grammy win or no, the Cash Project has a pedagogical double that I remember each time it turns up again in this or that RSS stream–the class-drawn music video pieced together from snippets of lyrics and whatever drawings they motivate, all spliced flip-book-style into an on the fly music video. The rawness of DIY; the investment of “I did that.” D. has done this a couple of times with first and second graders who illustrated “What A Wonderful World.” Before the Cash Project, I hadn’t given too much earnest thought to a corresponding compositional project worth pursuing in the classes I typically teach. The Cash Project is a far more mature (i.e., serious-seeming) digital monument, and, that being the case, it has pushed me to reconsider possibilities for small-crowdsourced projects, maybe by adapting something like this and incorporating Google Docs-Drawing (with placeholder images and layers).  I like the way these music video projects link (implicitly collaborative) crowdsourcing and gestalt; the summative experience is more forceful than, say, reading a wiki entry, although, ideally, their logics could be linked–with one used to illuminate the other. Maybe.

Undoubtedly, I’ll be too tired to stay up and watch the Grammys. And that’s if I even remember when it is on TV. But I’m hopeful that The Cash Project gets its due. Here’s a glimpse of the competition.

“You Don’t Change Your Narrative”

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Are You Ready for Some Midterms? – MSNBC’s Political Narrative
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

What if remix culture (and concomitant sampling practices) are to blame credit for the willfully negligent truncations of context? Whether such truncations are on the rise, it is difficult to say, but they do seem to be more frequently in the news: 1) absurd fixations on narrative preservation/continuation, and 2) a bandying among television networks over how adequately a clip represents, synecdochically, the situation within which it arose. Samplers all, we cannot avoid the negation of context, can we?, so perhaps the best we can hope for is some rhetorico-ethical insight into why (and how) this happens, and, after that, some relief in laughter.

Don’t Sink the Boat

Two videos. The first one is a music video for Flogging Molly’s “Float” (lyrics). Basically, a bearded cotton swab collects a bunch of odds and ends and then assembles them into a raft (via). I won’t spoil it by telling you whether or not it floats.

Second, a cut from Jan & Kjeld’s performance of “Tiger Rag” in 1959 (via). I watched this for the first time on Thursday within earshot of Is., and ever since she has asked to watch it again and again, even claims it as her “favorite song.” As if that isn’t enough, she also said she favors Jan (right) over Kjeld. Perhaps because of Kjeld’s impressively fearful (verging on creepy) expression–the wide eyes and sucked-in cheeks unmatched by his brother, she insists Jan is the more likable of the two.

I admit it, I’m growing weary of watching this second video. But I’ll post it nevertheless because the chances are high I’ll hear another fifteen or twenty requests to watch it before something else comes along.

Track

Whiled away a couple of hours earlier today with D. and Is. at Ph.’s first outdoor track meet of the year (local schools are on Spring Break). NHS can host meets now that they have a shiny new facility. I recorded his events and times on a crumpled sticky note. Thought I’d better post the numbers to blog before I forget how to decipher the original.

Long Jump (1st) – 19-0, 17-6, 18-4
400 Hurdles (2nd) – 63.5s
110 Hurdles (3rd) – 17.5s
Triple Jump (2nd) – 37-9, 38-8

Like I said, first meet of the season. He seemed pleased with the 19-0 long jump, less pleased with the finish in the 400 hurdles. Next meet in another week.

Added:

Consulting by Discontinous Email

In preparation for a Writing Center mini-seminar this Friday, I just finished reading the Yergeau et al. article, “Expanding the Space of f2f,” from the latest Kairos (13.1). In this nodal hypertext, Yergeau, Wozniak, and Vandenberg suggest a few of the ways AVT (audio-visual-textual) platforms productively complicate face-to-face or “discontinuous email”: two default modes of interaction in writing centers. They include several video clips from consulting sessions using Sight Speed, a cross-platform (and bandwidth heavy?) AVT application.

This is a pro-AVT account, with lots of examples to illustrate some of the
challenges students and consultants faced. The authors offset the positive
tenor of the article with grounding and caveats, noting, for example, that while
"[they] revel in the recomposition of f2f via AVT, [they] want to avoid an
attitude of naive nostalgia." Most accept that face-to-face consulting
allows for communicative dimensions not neatly duplicated via distances,
interfaces, and so on. But AVT consulting refreshes the debates between
synchronous and asynchronous, conversation and response, f2f and online.
The piece goes on to deal with the haunting of f2f genealogies of interaction,
Bolter and Grusin’s remediation (i.e., matters of transparency and opacity), the
(unavoidable?) regulatory role writing centers play, the degree to which
discontinuous email consulting undercuts much of what has motivated the growth
of writing centers over the past 25 years, and the bricoleur spirit of
online consulting initiatives. (I would link to the specific locations in the
piece where this stuff comes up, but the nodes-as-frames presentation
unfortunately does not provide identifiable URLs for any of the sub-content).

Computer technology’s rapid half-life aside, we also realize that
individual writing centers have their own specific needs, and any discussion
concerning potential AVT technologies must consider that center’s available
resources, as well as its student requests.

This point about reckoning AVT possibilities with local considerations is,
among other things, the purpose of Friday’s meeting. We have been piloting
online consulting sessions this summer, both by IM and by discontinuous email. I
tend to cautiously embrace consulting by IM because I experience the
conversational quality that makes writing center work worth doing. I have
many concerns about the way our email model is set up right now, and I suppose I
shouldn’t air those out here.

Along with Yergeau et al., we’re reading Ted Remington’s
"Reading,
Writing, and the Role of the Online Tutor," (PDF)
which argues that email
consulting is potentially promising because it makes for a more
text-focused experience. Interpersonal dynamics and conversation don’t
detract from the text-as-written in quite the same way as in f2f sessions.
Also, he emphasizes that consultants, by writing, respond in kind, modeling the
textual qualities they value by virtue of the response itself. I’m not
convinced, at least not from this summer’s pilot, that students regard the
comments I make on their emailed drafts as any sort of model. But perhaps
this is because our current set-up doesn’t give us any way of knowing whether
students ever even read the comments at all, much less whether they regard the
writing the consultant does as exemplary. The time constraints (i.e.,
consultants are still paid hourly when responding via discontinuous email) also
throw a wrench in the works: there is only so much fine-tuning the
writer-consultant can do when dedicating one hour to a five-page draft.

Yergeau, Melanie, Kathryn Wozniak, and Peter Vandenberg. “Expanding the Space of f2f: Writing Centers and Audio-Visual-Textual Conferencing.” Kairos 13.1 (Fall 2008). 17 Aug. 2008. <http://kairos.technorhetoric.net/13.1/topoi/ yergeau-et-al/index.html>.

Ch. 71

Over the weekend I gave the blog a two-point tune-up. Point one: Rolled
all one-hundred and some entries from
Exam Sitting
(later renamed "Dissarray"…so clever!) into Earth Wide Moth.
I will delete the other site soon. Now my old reading notes have a home with a
hearth: the "yesterblog" will churn those entries back to the front page once
per year so that I can freshen up on all that I’ve forgotten over the last
eighteen months. Point two: Launched a TV station–EWM-71–by
making a page with a bunch of YouTube custom players. I know, I know: all
big media conglomerates started small. Naysayers might add: "Technically,
YouTube is not TV," and to them I would retort, "Why are you crapping on my stoop during this moment in the sun?"

I appreciate that all of the programming is easily controlled and readily
updated through YouTube. I will see a video I want to add, click on it,
bump it into a playlist, and there it is, live on EWM-71. I can also re-arrange
the order of the clips in any playlist. Why bother with this? Well, not only do
I like it, but I’ve been thinking about some sort of project that would tie into
this practice of tele-tubing; something for a class, maybe, where research
involves piling up a yarn of video snippets. Not necessarily a full
24-hour marathons of crappy 70’s TV, but a variety show arranged into a single
page–a wall of moving images. And then write some sort of account of it, a
review of the next person’s programming line-up, annotations, and so on.

Another programming note: Eventually, what I’d really like to see is a Web
2.0 application (developers?) that makes it possible to produce something like

PTI
at home. Voice- and video-enabled pairs could connect, pre-load
(or randomize) a list of discussable points, set an arbitrary timer, and then
get going with a pop-pop-pop conversation. And then post it to blog, of
course. Go!

1. John McCain’s plagiarized speech
2. Tayshaun Prince’s minutes against China
3. Spiced ketchup
4. How long of a job letter is too long of a job letter?
5. Peter, Paul, and Mary

I came up with these off the top of my head. But seriously, there would
be a lot to love in a DIY, web-based PTI module, no? If it doesn’t come
along soon, maybe somebody will go out on a limb with me and pitch a PTI-styled
conference panel, so I can get it out of my system.

World as Text

Picked up this clip, “The Child,” from infosthetics this morning and found it striking enough–for its geotypography–to justify pasting it on. This is what the world would be like were it purely textual. The premise is simple enough–a couple in New York City rushes to the hospital where their baby will be delivered. Only, is the baby a word? And wouldn’t NYC have more words?

Anyway, I say it’s worth stowing in your playlist as a conversation troubler the next time culture-as-text, thick description, or an everything’s text worldview comes up.