Doubling Back

I emerged from Netheruary break on Monday still in a bit of a haze from the
weekend. Did you see that the Giants won the Superbowl? Enjoyed
every minute of it.

But this is an entry about the diss. I expected that I would bound back
into my daily paces on Monday, resume the 9-noon sessions, aiming for roughly
two pages each day so as to have a draft of Chapter Four by the end of February.
But I fell into a slump. I couldn’t see the chapter. I knew vaguely what I
wanted to do. I had an outliney plan, a few notes, a bottle of Vitamin Water. I had the graphs I
painstakingly built day by day throughout January. And I remain fond of the
graphs. I think they’re quite good for getting at what I take to be the aim of
the chapter. But! I couldn’t grasp the chapter; couldn’t sense it,
couldn’t begin it in a smart-enough place. And, therefore, piling them up 2 p.
by 2 p. by 2 p., I typed nearly seven pages of rubbish between Monday and
Wednesday. I would excerpt some of it to win my point; then again, I would
never subject you to such inhospitable treatment.

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Clouds, Graphs, Maps

A couple of days ago Mike posted notes on

CCCC talk
from late last month, and I was reminded that I’m at least ten days
past due on the video
I said I would
following the conference.

I recorded the talk to an mp3 yesterday afternoon and went to
campus last night where I planned to use iMovie to sync the audio with jpegs of
the slides. Because the slideshow includes text, I needed to get the
resolution right, but, well, it started to get late. I started to get impatient.
I was able to output a reasonably readable mp4 file, but for whatever reason, I couldn’t get
Google Video or
Daily Motion to encode it.
Finally Jumpcut accepted the file, so it’s
available below the fold (even if much of it suffers from jaggies). The original mp4 is available for download

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And Returns

Ph. and I whistled into the Syracuse train depot yesterday afternoon; we’re
home from the excursion to the conference. Everything is unpacked,
laundered, put away.

I have plans to put the paper to an mp3 and sync it with the slides. I
can do this, of course, because my talk was scripted. It’s endlessly
reproducible as a result. But recording will have to wait until I shake off the
cough-inducing tickle that has been getting the best of me all day today.
Sure, I could delete out any of the hacking and rattling that makes its way into
the mix, but why? I’ll just wait it out.

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Gliffy and Facebook

The week’s quasi-experiment in WRT302 blended Facebook and Gliffy. In the
session dedicated to Facebook (what of it?), I wanted to prime our upcoming
discussion of networks when we read a few chapters from Critical Mass.
But reading about Facebook didn’t seem to me to be enough. I was mildly
bored with the idea of reading about Facebook. Next, pose as if critical.
Next, rehearse the cautions about visibility and decorum. Thorny! It’s a fairly
reliable pattern that when I’m bored, my students are doubly bored. And

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As Graphs

In with the URL, out
with this: an
approximation of this page.  Movable Type is
responsible for much of the structure. Still, there you have it–a good (and
mighty granular) example of computational methods and visualization combined to
offer up a projection of a localized complex. It looks to me like a dragon fly
(or maybe a cluster map of the dissertation I will one day write).

And. Also.

Tufte – Visual Display/Quantitative Information (1983)

Excellent graphics are simple, clear pictures of numbers, Tufte argues in
this "landmark" book,
The Visual
Display of Quantitative Information
.  Basic graphical designs–"box plots,
bar charts, historograms, and scatterplots" (124)–have in common principles of
functional simplicity and clarity. Note the review comment attributed to the
Boston Globe: "A visual Strunk and White." I read the first edition, and it’s
currently out in a second edition, so these notes should be so-understood. 
They reflect the 1983 edition–the version that later needed an update for one
reason or other. 

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Banal Features Analysis

Alt. title: "Dull Feature Analysis."  Today I’m working on a small-time
application of discourse analysis for Method~ologies.  We’re looking at a
corpus of eight student essays.  Initially, I considered how I would graph
Bazerman’s concept of "intertextual reach," which he defines as "how far a text
travels for its intertextual relations" (89).  How far is that?  How
do we account for the span of these traces–meters, leagues, years, decibels,
lumens?  Maybe referential density could draw on network studies. 
How?  We could establish a near intertextual reach as
reference-gestures that share another source.  This would involve a
triangulation of citations: Bazerman–let’s say–cites Porter and Prior. 
But Porter also cites Prior.  Porter is intertextually nearer than Prior
(who does not cite any other source in common with Bazerman).  I’m making
this up.  The far reach would describe the solitary reference–the
singular text-trace that is not shared by any other source cited in the primary
text (the text whose traces and reaches we are surveying).  But I wanted to
think about intertextual reach as a quality that could be determined by
triangulating citations.  Applied to a batch of student essays where
works-to-cite are predefined, intertextual reach seems wobbly–a stretch,
as in…look at how they reach alike.

I’ll need something else. 

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