Friday, June 15, 2007

Rice, "Networks and New Media"

Rice, Jeff. "Networks and New Media." College English 69.2 (Nov. 2006): 127-133.

In his contribution to the College English symposium on "What Should College English Be?", Rice answers "new media" and, more precisely, the aspect of networks as connective, associative phenomenon proliferating throughout the digital, informational orders. "College English has not yet imagined or perceived itself as a network," (128), Rice writes, and while the ways "networks alter current understandings and rhetorical output still need unpacking and further study" (132), we might begin by with Hayles' suggestion of linking as an emerging form of expression or Burroughs' anticipation of "the rise of the network as rhetoric" (130), as we "reimagine English studies' efforts to generate a twenty-first century focus" (130). In the collection of essays titled Composition in the Twenty-first Century, David Bartholomae, suggests a focus involving composition's focus on "the space on the page and what it might mean to do work there and not somewhere else" (130). Rice emphasizes Bartholomae's differentiation between the page and the "not somewhere else," suggesting that, in fact, new media and networks compel us toward the somewhere else, the open space constructed out of connections where multiple writers engaging within multiple ideas in multiple media at multiple moments function" (130). In the "complicated act" that is "writing as network" (131), "'writing' feels too limited", its connotations of "fixity" burden the metaphor "in an age of total information and delivery" (129). Drawing on Hayles and Lyotard, Rice examines the paradox between "established knowledge" that is the prototypical concern of English Studies and the "momentary configurations" of networks and the texts that circulate across them.

Developing a strong case for new media and networks as a new focus for college English, Rice acknowledges precedents in "intertextuality, the avant-garde, or Bahktinian dialogue" (130), but these concepts have not theorized networks adequately, particularly in light of the Web. Rice's response to "What Should College English Be?" fans out, as well, through a succession of answers, one of which is that "College English should be the intersection of the various areas of discourse that shape thought and produce knowledge" (132).

"Or it may involve a complete reworking of how information is classified and stored, as the emerging practice of folksonomy, a system where anyone can attach any term to any piece of information, does in a direct challenge to referential organizational systems" (128).

"Whether for good or for bad, the network is reimagining social and informational relationships so profoundly that even if the discipline of English Studies remains wary of the network and suspicious of its place within the curriculum, the field can still benefit from learning how networks alter both understandings of writing and writing itself" (129).

"By social, I do not mean 'people,' 'friendliness,' or 'mingling.' Instead, I mean the ways bodies of information socialize, the ways they interact, or, as Burroughs wrote, the ways they associate" (131).

Terms: established knowledge (131), momentary configurations (131), emergence/growth (132), folksonomy (128), connectivity (128).

What is at the junction between Rice's call (new media/networks) and Bialostosky's (variegated reading and productive attentiveness)?

Bookmark and Share Posted by at June 15, 2007 8:39 PM to Networks