Friday, April 29, 2005

Screencasting and Google Print

After reading Collin's entry on Screencasting and FYC, I decided to see whether I could line up a free screencasting app.  For kicks as much as for generative digression, asides from more demanding and rigorous projects occupying my time as the semester rolls to a conclusion, of late I've felt compelled to tinker with new software--"new" in the sense that I don't have a terrific aptitude for using it.  For the most part, I've been messing around with Flash lately, while taking breaks from writing.  But screencasting...never given it much thought.  All the motive I need.

I poked around the web, following the link to Will Richardson's entry and Jon Udell's column.  Then, by way of another site, I found the entry in wikipedia on screencasting, and then, checked out each of the software apps listed.  Let. Me. See.  Camtasia 2.1 for $299 or Wink 1.5 for free. Camtasia?  Wink?  Camtasia?  Wink?

Wink 1.5 doesn't have audio capabilities yet (I read somewhere that the 2.0 concept includes audio and an undo option), but other than that, I've found it surprisingly feature-rich.  Plus, it's easy to use (not for Mac, but as a PC user, no Garageband or TinderBox for me now, either).  Capturing, cropping, resizing, adding comment balloons and next arrows--all a breeze.  Probably a sluggish download, but here's my unremarkable first try. Basically, it's just a few screenshots clicking through the stuff I'm writing about here, links and so on.

I didn't plan it carefully before I put it together; hence, in the first try you'll see an odd mix of tabbing between the stuff on screencasting and other stuff I was looking at today on Google Print (check it out, if you haven't already).  I was encouraged to find several texts related to comp/rhet rendered into searchable goodness.  Really something, that.

I don't have any decided conclusions about screencasting and FYC; mostly I'm just thinking it over.  But I think it productively excites the "what if" questions we need to continually ask and answer (ahem...act upon)--about the implications of discord (or outright contradiction) between cross-disciplinary principles and however-wrought conceptions of what constitutes composition.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

You Say Redundant, I Say Repetitive

Third paragraph same as the second and very much like the first.  Oog.  That's how writing has gone today.  Did I mention that my writing today has been a steady murmurmur of sameness and similitude?  Over and over and over.  And over. (I'm giving it a rest, that writing.)

I'm drafting an essay for 711, the net-rhets course.  And I've been thinking about this project for a lo-o-ong time, so it should be easy.  Yeah?  I was shooting for five pages by tomorrow afternoon and, well, I've popped off damn near 1800 words.  All's fine?  Not so.  You see, the problem is that I've dashed 1000 words with a self-deprecating strikethrough effect. Crap.  Moving on...

The other string of writing: three imprecise loops saying the same thing again and again.  I'm not stuck; I can get stuff down.  Familiar stuff.  Stuff I've already written.

***

A fresh start:

On the subject of redundancy, I flipped back to a year-old entry.  April 27, 2004.  There, I tentatively hedged that I was pulling for the Detroit Pistons to ramble through the NBA Playoffs.  Why not?  Didn't jinx them last season.  I'm going with them again, with even greater conviction this year.  I'm a bit wary about the path likely to materialize: second round match-up against the Pacers followed by an Eastern Conference Finals match-up against the Heat.  I expect the Miami series to be close, and if Mourning continues to play well, who knows.  And out of the West, maybe Denver (long shot; more likely the Suns, I suppose).  Although I haven't seen the Suns or the Sonics play this year.  Plus, the Spurs are slamming Denver right now, which'll even that series 1-1.

***

Third paragraph same as the second and very much like the first.  Oog.  That's how writing has gone today.  Did I mention that my writing today has been a steady drone of sameness and similitude?  Over and over and over.  And over. (I'm giving it a rest, that writing.)

I'm drafting an essay for 711, the net-rhets course.  And I've been thinking about this project for a lo-o-ong time, so it should be easy.  Yeah?  I was shooting for five pages by tomorrow afternoon and, well, I've popped off closet to 1800 words.  All's fine?  No.  You see, the problem is that I've dashed 1000 words with a self-deprecating strikethrough effect. Moving along...

The other bit of writing: three imprecise loops saying the same thing again and again.  I'm not stuck; I can get stuff down.  Familiar stuff.  See what I mean?

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

A Few Linkakees

Ogden Nash, "Tune for an Ill-Tempered Clavichord." April is poetry month, been hearing.
Does everyone know the Ubuweb?  Sound clips from McLuhan (via).
A game.
Comic covers. 'Nuff said.

Matryoshka

Scrape 1.03

Brought about by today's 720 session and our reading from Barbara Rogoff's The Cultural Nature of Human Development.

Monday, April 25, 2005

On Channel Two

Until I read Andy Cline's entry at Rhetorica.net, I didn't even know it was TV Turn-Off week.  I've already soaked up a few minutes of TV today, so I guess I blew that one.  Next year, next year.  Plus, with the NBA playoffs, forget it.  Anyway, I'm much less inspired by a week for this and a week for that than I am by the grad school mantra: "Get yourself right for next week."  Or something like that.

I read Steve Johnson's article--"Watching TV Makes You Smarter"--yesterday.  And I've read a few of the entries made by folks (here and here and here) from the blogroll who've written on the subject.  Should be clear from the outset that I'm not sure I've got anything much to add.  But I'll try.

Johnson's article suggests to me the importance of more complicated understandings of cognition--of thought activity.  What happens in the encounter with a particular interface--paper or screen?  What's the mentation?  The mind in action?  And how are mediating tools (Werstch, Bruner, others) implicated in the complex neural patterns inside one's head, the firing of pulse-driven networks, the image vectors figuring some animated correspondence to word, sound, intelligible object.  Sure, depending on which examples of television programming we want to invoke as an example, we can argue that the tube affords us activations more complex than we might've known otherwise.  But loopy, fractured narrative structures?  Not unique to television nor to any medium.

I agree with Jeff in his contention that Johnson's article is a solid articulation of the cultural shift instigated by new media; a media mind--yup. And yet it's not just the media part of the phrase that seems to be misunderstood, obscured in the school-as-institution's cling to literacy.  Mind, too, has been shrugged aside either as a mystical, speculative science or, in no more hopeful terms, as a universalizing monolith misappropriated to the narrow path of biological determinism (I oversimplify, but some version close to this one seems familiar).  Three pounds of generic (c'mon, whose is it?) grey matter and a dissection pan.  Since I've been reading some brain science books this semester, I've been wondering--week in, week out--about how much bearing it has on the work we do in composition, especially when we hinge pedagogies on new media.  How much do we assume, for example, about how minds work, about how meaning is differently apprehended, differently made?  The givens in comprehension? Whether attendant to the teacher-penned comments at the margin of the page or in the complexly spun plots of a television program. Recently and specifically, it's been Faucconier and Turner on conceptual blends and Antonio Damasio on mind and affect in The Feeling of What Happens.

I expect this discussion will continue to stir throughout the week--as people find time to read Johnson's article at this frenzied moment late in the semester (two weeks to go at SU).  Its coincidence with TV Turn-Off week sets up an interesting counterbalance, no doubt.  As just one last thought, it also got me thinking about the montage episodes ABC has so thoughtfully edited this week (endless efforts to put H.Dumpty back together again).  Last night they aired a re-cycle of Desperate Housewives; Wednesday the same thing's going on with only must-see show of the season in my world, Lost.  And so even as Johnson makes the case that television programming potentially stimulates us to more complex ways of thinking about story sequences and about inferential dialogue-gaps that require us to fill in through projection and anticipation, ABC has turned out full, hour-long episodes dedicated entirely to catch-up, as if everyone wasn't watching every episode.  Continues the questions, how will we be conditioned?  What leaks into habits of mind?  And so on.

Added: Dana Stevens of Slate comments on Johnson's article.

Crack Up

They stand a better chance of being funny once I get the art figured out.  In the meantime: the verge of hilarity.

Scrape 1.02

Appreciate all comments, too, on whether I should once-and-for-all quit comicking while I'm ahead.  Or behind.  Or whatever.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

A Variant: The Entry That Changed the World

Only a few days since Richard Adams' gem in the Guardian told of a trend set in motion by Mark Kurlansky, the writer of non-fiction whose Cod (The Fish that Changed the World) and Salt (~The Chemical Compound that Changed the World?) laid tracks for a slew of world-changing subtitles.  In "The Article that Changed the World," Adams gives us the formula for titling manuscripts in the blazing-hot new genre of thing-iographies: Book: the book about the book that changed the world about the fish that changed the world.

I'm busy, so it's inexcusable that I ran across Adams' short piece while surfing (and while watching NBA playoffs).  But in fact I was doing some associative click-around.  More specifically: I was flitting through Bloglines--fresh feeds I set up a few days ago to collect sites matched up with a few designated tags at del.icio.us. Just. To. See.

At the same time, Adams reminded me about De Certeau's chapter on hagiographic edification.  There, Certeau traces the shift from writing to celebrate the lives of saints to writing to celebrate the lives of royalty to writing to celebrate the lives of celebrities.  No, Certeau doesn't go all the way to celebrity, but the short chapter does take up the connections between panegyric memorials, the generalization of moral living (i.e., if the saints can live clean, so can you), and the coordination of the life celebrated with named edifices, streets, and so on (as a response to "leaks and 'loss'" (272) or dispersion of a group). And there's some thick stuff on the histori(o-graph-i)cal implications of the switch from celebrating the lives of saints as a way to proliferate saintliness to celebrating (writing into monument) the lives of less savory, though prominent folks in the twentieth c., and also on the vacation function and entertainment value of such texts (take a break; give it a rest, recline...it's almost May).  Then common hagiographical treatments: mystical protections of body, the bestiary lineup and body as applied metaphor.  Least that's what Certeau says.

And so this amounts to mere notes to self more so than anything else.  I want to come back later, retrace. I'm thinking about the crossover from the genre of thing-iography to the inscription of a name on another thing--the edifice in edification (Carrier Dome, RFK Stadium, Cleaver II Blvd).  Certeau gives us hagiographic edification; what is thing-iographic edification? The object named by an ulterior imprint. A stamp (or assemblage/hybrid?). Do we already call this branding?  I would say 'yes,' except that it doesn't reconcile with what Certeau forewarns as a tautological tomb.

Yeah, the entry that changed the world.  But then the change happened slowly. Or maybe it didn't.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Particular

Soot: The fine black particles, chiefly composed of carbon, produced by incomplete combustion of coal, oil, wood, or other fuels.

Six-family apartment building about one block away from home burned through and through this afternoon while I was on the hill sitting, observing the diss defense of a friend and colleague in the CCR program.  The defense was a success(!); the apartments, ablaze.  On the walk home, in the settling of smoky odor, I strolled through the park. D. and Ph. shared all the fuzzy details, but it was clear enough from the blocked street, the piles of rubbish on the sidewalk and the smell.  The odor expressed a version of the event, storied the afternoon in the neighborhood.  Soot as fading, residual document.  And nobody was hurt, as far as we know.

An interruption and a dilemma! Home from an excursion to Blockbuster video--Closer and The Incredibles, which included a stop at the grocer for a package of buns and a six-pack of orange-flavored malt liquor.  But it turns out that we don't have the Manwich that was supposed to switch the browned burger into the dinner-stuff.  So?  I suggested to D. that we could drop in a can of soup.  That's the sure-fire recipe I remember from childhood: any-flavor can o' soup, ground beef, on bread.  Won't see it on Iron Chef, but in a pinch....

No good, that idea.  Going with H. Helper instead.  A solution, at least.  I have quite a list of to-dos keeping me active through Monday afternoon.  Among them: 1. read and comment on 14 drafts of research projects from 205ers, 2. read several sections of Barbara Rogoff's Apprenticeship in Thinking for 720, 3. draft 4-5 pages of 711 project, 4. revisit draft of project for 611, 5. write a few paragraphs of critique of method(ology), taking J.'s work on alongside White, Certau, 6.  think about N.I. Painter and Robert Connors for a minute, 7. revisions of a short essay for 720, 8. develop three-page bibliography proposal for 720.  Three solid days should get me close.  Ah, and we've got tickets to hear Cornell West talk in Hendricks Chapel on campus tomorrow afternoon.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Flickr Frame-toon

 

Scrape 1.01
Originally uploaded by ewidem.
Without so much as a clear, definitive purpose (les-sure or lei-sure), I've been futzing around with the combination of badly drawn, badly written frame-toons (of my own creation?) and some of the possibilities with Flickr. I'm interested in the combinations and the tools--vector drawings in Flash, cut/paste in Photoshop or comparable such as Gimp, the layered notes in Flickr, and even comments. I need more practice with it--more play--to figure what else might be possible with it, but it makes sense that it could be set up in a whole bunch of different ways (granted it's not soo different than the memory maps meming around).

Ph. has been watching me rough this one together; says he fancies starting up a blog--maybe this summer. Maybe a Flickr Frame-toon blog. And yeah, I already know this first one's so-so--squarely in the genre of mediocrity just like so much of my late-April work.

Four Sentences

Courtesy of Nell Irvin Painter, Standing at Armageddon: The United States, 1877-1919.

In 1892, 1,300 delegates from the Alliances, Knights of Labor, Nationalist and Land and Labor parties, and a series of smaller groups met in Omaha, Nebraska, and formed an independent party which they called the People's party, whose adherents became known as the Populists. (98)

Silver had become the favorite cause of Populists, silver Democrats, silver Republicans, and the owners and miners in the silver-producing areas of the West which stood to gain from the massive purchases of silver that would follow unlimited coinage. (135)

In 1900 Mitchell's ties to the National Civic Federation eased relations with Hanna, who in turn approached J.P. Morgan, who headed the Morgan-Hill-Vanderbilt-Pennsylvania group of railroads that controlled the mining of anthracite coal. (181)

After having served one term in the U.S. House of Representatives in the mid-1880s, Robert M. La Follette, a maverick Republican, won the Wisconsin gubernatorial election of 1900. (190)

More?

Monday, April 18, 2005

Call Me Once You've Quit Your Crying

I'm reading annotated bibliographies from my students this morning, making notes and emailing them back.  They've come up with several really interesting projects--ideas nested contextually in the arena of McLuhan's The Medium is the Massage and Barabasi's Linked.  We also pulled a chapter from Gladwell's The Tipping Point this semester, "The Stickiness Factor."  And so one student is thinking about some of the factors affecting the design of children's television, particularly Sesame Street and Blue's Clues, the programs Gladwell draws on.  Coincidentally, just as I thinking about this project, which, among other things, considers the reluctance by early developers of Sesame Street to conflate real and imagined elements out of concern that pre-linguistic children would be confused by the discordance, I clicked onto this article from today's New York Times, "A Way to Calm a Fussy Baby: 'Sesame Street' by Cellphone."

The article is basically about all the corporate scrambling to win the market for multi-feature portable electronics, particularly mini-entertainment apparatuses for tikes. 

To test the personal appeal of mini-entertainment, Hyers turned to his own children, ages 3 and 5. He downloaded movie trailers for "Harry Potter" and "Finding Nemo" to a personal device and passed them the little screen. "They watched it over and over," Mr. Hyers said.

"It's really convenient because there's only so much 'I Spy' that you can play out the window."

Phone entertainment is so novel that even children's organizations that readily dispense advice are stumped.

I spy something...hold on a sec, my phone's crying.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Blogs, Emergence

Here's the audio file of my pitch in Albany yesterday.  It's just under twenty minutes (5.8MB).  The more I think about it, the more I think I got a few things wrong.  Well, maybe not horribly, embarrassingly wrong, but not quite right, either.  There's a zany, complementary slideshow, but in my first try I wasn't having any luck converting it for web viewing, and so I gave up in favor of other, more pressing work. I've got a lot of that piled up--pressing,  pressing work.  Late April: ugh.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

CHATS @ SUNY-Albany


SUNY-Albany: Torch?
Originally uploaded by ewidem.
Just home from the Humanities and Technosciences Conference at SUNY-Albany. I'll try to say more later on, but until then, these are most of the photos. We pulled an over and back, so it was an early morning, and I'm spent from the anticipatory buildup, the paper-giving rush, and the slow fade of energy that follows. I haven't decided yet what I'll post from my talk--notes, text, podcast, slideshow. Yeah.

And I think D., Ph. and I are going to head across the park, take in an evening performance of Caryl Churchill's Fen in the Schine Underground on campus. Read Fen seven years ago in my first MA seminar; wrote a fine little paper called "Val's Fifty-Six Pounds: Fashioning a 'Congenial Environs' in Fen." If all goes as planned, I'll have something to say about that later, too. And if not, it just means that I'm busy writing another paper, piling through the stack of reading for the upcoming week.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

L.A. Crosse

First lacrosse event of the spring drew us out to the NHS fields late this afternoon.  Ph.'s team--in the white jerseys (he's no. 3, mid-pile here)--lost the scrimmage, 7-6.  I'm not always sure what's going on out there: several faintly familiar rules rolled into one--slashing, penalty boxes, face-offs, out-of-bounds, spacing and ball reversal.  Really I have no clue.  But Ph. insists that it's fun, and he managed to net a goal this afternoon, so I guess that's notable.  I put a few other pics in a slideshow for you diehards.

Added:  Just learned over dinner that Ph. went without wearing the sports goggles or glasses he needs to...erm...see the ball clearly.

Poly-mask

But only if you have time. This is one of the more narcissistic entries around here (unlike the bulk of my reader-centered entries)--much ego in reveling mug modifications, much less sharing them. Last August, when I first arrived in Syracuse, somebody shot a flattering photo for the CCR web site (so much can be said for photo-doctoring, yeah?).  So when I ran across Face Transformer, I had to give it a whirl, see what my official grad student photo would look like after some re-faciation, a make-over.  Plus, figuring that the just-before-first-year photo is the best I'll ever look for the remainder of my years, it's a game of nostalgia.  In fact, upon Ph. commenting the other day that he could use a larger duffel for his lacrosse gear (and he's right), I might've told him, "What, kid, why not use one of these bags from here underneath my eyes?"  Grande friggin' pouch-swells (like puffed blowfish), I swear, from mad-pace reading (to say nothing of training myself to read PDFs on-screen).  But, alas, transformation.  Imagistic morphesis.  Here are my top choices (if you've made it this far, you might as well follow the link to the original): ape, el greco, botticelli, and baby.

And the top-most of the top: modigliani, magna cartoon.

Just in case you decide to play around with the Face Transformer, you should pay special attention to their terms and conditions.  I've lifted the important bits for your convenience:

The Face Transformer is a fun toy only, and is not guaranteed fit for any purpose, implied or otherwise. The Perception Laboratory and the University of St Andrews accepts no responsibility for loss or damage incured while using this software.

And

We reserve the right to use your facial image and the personal data you have supplied for scientific research purposes only. We will not publish your facial image on the web, in scientific journals or in the media without prior consent.

Says nothing about lasting effects.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Blogospheric Equilibration

Okay, so they're probably not connected, but they are two notable blips in my morning glance at the blogosphere.

Penn State professor Stuart Selber announces he will disconnect his blog.

The Council of WPA launches a fresh (er...idle for one month, but hey) site.  With RSS.

What's a WPA?  This, from the FAQ:

What does the WPA acronym stand for?
WPA stand for Writing Program Administration and in some contexts "Writing Program Administrator." Learn more on the About page.

Monday, April 11, 2005

1, 2, 3, 4,

Most importantly, this is entry No. 301 at Earth Wide Moth.  Fifteen months, six days.  Three or four memorable entries and three or four forgettable ones.  The rest, writing.

On the subject of writing, I'm 3700 words committed to the 611 project, a draft of which is due to be shared on Thursday--opened to full-on blazing scrutiny.  Words: not to be confused with images.  But I have about five pages worth of visualizations to sprinkle in here and there. Should I be worried that I haven't yet said much about the specific method? Nah.  I'm going for the recipe-card paragraph close to the end; a list of steps, each of which must not exceed five words.  Plus, who wants to read a bunch of formulae: "To arrive at the standard deviation, take the square root of the number of...."  Yuck-oh.  I'd rather capture a .mov of me futzing around with a calculator and a spreadsheet and Flash until it was just right.

Too-much too-fast writing puts me in the spirit of photo-taking.  This afternoon, when it occurred to me that I might blog something or other today, I went and got the camera, looked out the window for a long time.  Nothing stirring (except the neighbor kid who spent two minutes waving a plastic saber at gnat-swarms, but his folks wouldn't appreciate me digitalizing him into blog-famy).  So I put the whole thing off.  Later (by which I mean 'just now') I zoned through an online content management meeting (the unveiling of a centralized content repository) for little more than an hour, because I'm picking up some online work with my old u. for the summer months.  From the meeting (which included a conference call): "Metadata? It's like a wrapper that surrounds content items."  Or rapper.  Or rapport. 

#301#

Saturday, April 9, 2005

Self Park

Pictured (via and via):  That's me yesterday while reading Gilles Fauconnier and Mark Turner's The Way We Think: Conceptual Blending and the Mind's Hidden Complexities.  I read most of it on the plane ride to San Francisco and back last month, and I'm on first thing Tuesday morning to lead a class discussion on its finer points.  Here, for example, is one of the passages from a page I dog-eared:

Ed Hutchins studies the fascinating mental models set up by Micronesian navigators to sail across the Pacific.  In such models, it is the islands that move, and virtual islands serve as reference points.  Hutchins reports a conversation between Micronesian and Western navigators who have trouble understanding each other's conceptualizations.  As described by David Lewis, the Micronesian navigator Beiong comes to understand a Western diagram of intersecting bearings in the following way:

He eventually succeeded in achieving the mental tour de force of visualizing himself sailing simultaneously from Oroluk to Ponape to Oroluk and picturing the ETAK bearings to Ngatik at the start of both voyages.  In this way, he managed to comprehend the diagram and confirmed that it showed the island's position correctly. [The ETAK is the virtual island, and Ngatik is the island to be located.] (51)

Via interlibrary loan, I went ahead and requested "Why the Islands Move" from Perception--the journal that printed Hutchins and Ed Hinton's short article in 1984.  Why?  Well, phase two of discussion-leading is writing a short essay due one week after the discussion.  And I've been thinking about epistemology and virtual reference points in relationship to cognition ever since I brushed against this passage.  So there it is. 

The rest of the weekend: social network analysis for 711, drafting a long-ish project on a set of six (1999-2004) CCCC keynote addresses (need to get down 10-12 pages by Monday afternoon to be on pace) for 611, and tinkering on a talk for the Humanities and Technosciences conference in Albany next Saturday (if you check the site, know that they've got our title wrong...we didn't call it "Web Blogs...." 

And lawn chairs.  Sixty and sunny, a laptop and wifi--we'll need lawn chairs for that.

Friday, April 8, 2005

Insigniature

Today's web zen--pranks--links to John Hargrave's wild tomfoolery with credit card signatures

Credit card signatures are a useless mechanism designed to make you feel safe, like airport security checks. So my question was, how crazy would I have to make my signature before someone would actually notice?

Debt still accumulated, turns out, but still good for a few kicks re grid signature and snake, bird, caterpillar

Wednesday, April 6, 2005

Casting for Nine Seconds

Here goes nothing.  I finally downloaded Audacity and carefully crafted a podcasting button.  With only a small investment, you too.... 

[Added] Uncanny: I was making buttons and starting entries with "Here goes nothing" exactly one year ago.

1/2 Grateness?

Entered two pools this season.  One:

And the other:

Tuesday, April 5, 2005

ω

Briefly, I just want to post a few thoughts on Greg Urban's chapter from Metaculture, "The Once and Future Thing (PDF)."  As Urban tells us, the ways culture moves, flows and circulates "is the central mystery of our time" (39).  Urban frames the paradox of cultural flow by characterizing its latent tension: the pull between sameness and difference. According to Urban, these two forces combine in a conglutination of alpha (α) (which he derives into beta (β) or "new" culture) and their inventive counterpart, omega (ω).  Where beta is inertial (replication and mundane derivation in New! culture), omega is accelerative (inventive).  Urban tells us that "The force behind such accelerative culture is the interest it generates, which stems in part from its novelty" (16).  As I read it, this has bearing on our other considerations of the ways memes achieve thriving conductivity (Aaron Lynch in Thought Contagion) and restrictive factors in diffusion theory (Everett Rogers, Diffusion of Innovations). And although I don't want to be hasty in extending this to questions about the ways ideas and innovations spread/cycle through a discipline or field (like ours truly...um?), I will return in a brief second to one connection.

Here's the thing:  Urban's work invokes familiar sources, from Bakhtin--"Our speech is filled to overflowing with other people's words" (17)--to Benedict Anderson (imagined communities, text privileged, print capitalism), Bourdieu (habitus as "filter created by inertial culture for new expressions" (23)), and Gramsci (hegemony), he draws on an impressive list of thinkers/writers often invoked in rhet/comp.  Yes?  Without being explicit about what he regards as the most formidable cultural objects involved in the replication of culture, Urban does, in places, give us cause for supposing that we might be capable of making--perhaps composing--the ω object.

"The process [of hegemonic struggle] must depend upon the production of new expressions, and hence, on ω culture" (26).

and

"However, accelerative culture opens the possibility that a new object--an ω object--can cut new pathways, can reshape social space by harnessing different strands of extant inertial culture" (19).

I'm not making my point as succinctly as I'd hoped to, and it's a rather simple point: "Shared and circulating documents, it seems, have long provided interesting social glue" (190). See there, it's not even my point.  Here I'm drawing on a chapter I used with WRT205 students for this evening's session from Brown and Duguid's The Social Life of Information (PDF). Basically, the connection for me is that the busy vehicles shuttling memes, enabling diffusion and so on are oftentimes documents--produced texts; written, designed and rhetorical.  Brown and Duguid tell us, "documents do not merely carry information, they help make it, structure it, and validate it. More intriguing, perhaps, documents also help structure society, enabling social groups to form, develop, and maintain a sense of shared identity" (189).  I'm not trying to make a case that documents are the only thing; they're merely one thing.  But that they're the thing of interest to many rhet/comp folks reminds me that we should come to terms with the relationship of writing to Urban's ω cultural object.  It's not a tidy match with Urban's cultural object-types, but Brown and Duguid differentiate documents into two groupings: fixed and fluid.  Particularly as we conceive of the bearing of texts on network/cultural formation and organization, the distinction is incredibly useful, I think. I'm trying to say that consideration of memes, diffusion and variously same-different cultural vectors (from Urban) presents us with productive correspondences to document production (text making...writing) and the (dis)comforts manifest in our biases toward/against fixed or fluid texts. 

Cross-posted to 711.

Friday, April 1, 2005

The Berbere of April

Today, while Ph. and I were throwing around a lacrosse ball in Thornden Park, the good people from the USPS left a parcel at the door.  Ph. found it when he ran back to the apt. to get a baseball glove because, after two catches, I was already whining that the lacrosse ball was stinging my sensitive paws, especially the one left with blister from yesterday's Festival of Plunge (I *did* eventually clear the drain last night, and then I cleaned the tub just to remind the bathroom fixtures who's in charge of the show).  And inside the package?  A double-bagged pound of berbere powder and two handwritten notes, one each from good friends and former colleagues back in KC, E. and M.  The berbere of April has arrived.  How can I do anything but cook some for the Final Four tomorrow? 

Which reminds me.  You know two weeks ago when I flew into Rochester?  The guy who drove me all the way to Syracuse knew all about the Ethiopian restaurants in Rochester.  And he knew how to make injera.  Behind all of that complaining, I got to talk for 90 minutes about how to make injera.  Nah, still not sure whether I'll have time to give it a try tomorrow, but I can make the sauce either way.

Other than celebrating the berbere of April, I've used up the better part of one good day smoothing out a proposal for the Contesting Public Memories conference here at SU in the fall.  Read a few weblogs.  Goofed around with a new-but-barely-used miniature web cam. Wrote a few lines for an independent study proposal. Ate some Ruffles. Yeah, that's about all.  It's going to be a busy month; no need to over-exert myself on the first day, right?