Wednesday, February 9, 2005
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 thefacebook.com this 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 doing).
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).
Jill 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.
Cross-posted to 711.Posted by Derek Mueller at February 9, 2005 10:24 PM to On Weblogs