Tuesday, August 30, 2005


When the first class meeting involves dripping water, the second class meeting must include some sponging up. 

Steady Drip

Pro Writing Clusters

Actually, the steady drip from the ceiling on Monday inspired some wonderful insights about the mysterious water source one floor up--and when it wasn't raining outside.  After obligatory syllabus-readskimreading, we collaboratively chalked a professional writing free-association map. Everyone contributed two impulsive associations (I'd structure it a bit differently next time, urge a bit more contemplative attention to the emerging relationships, spontaneous though they were). When everybody left, I grabbed a photo of the chalk board, and today I dropped it into a CMap for later reference.  I'm thinking about introducing CMap Tools, even encouraging its use for part of one of the projects, but I also was thinking it'd be interesting to revisit the first-day map of sorts, perhaps expanding it periodically as a group.  Or even have students work from a common file to revise their individual concept maps for semester-end portfolios (something that moves nodes around, adds pieces, points to found relationships, etc.).  For the mapping activity, I basically turned everyone loose at once, which gave me a change to watch interactions, conversation, preferences for mapping off of the terms from others, and so on.  Primarily, I was curious about what would come together, where we were starting, how we tend to think about the terms naming the course.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Visual Shock

Beginning with a brief entry from Nixlog, I clicked into a now month-old discussion of the visual shock resulting from the overwhelming complexity of some information graphics. 

From Beyond Bullets:

Have you ever been so confused by the complexity of a map, chart or diagram, that you didn't know where to begin to make sense of it?

I'm interested in the correspondence between visual shock and a reader's textual disorientation--the momentary (sometimes longer) freeze of confusion that comes with feeling lost.  And I'm trying to think about this occurrence--a gasp of dislocation--that marks the shock, its hold, its way of keeping us lost for a moment.  This can work in a couple of different ways, but the discussion at Beyond Bullets (which, in fairness, appears to be concerned with the creative limits of PowerPoint and the visual presentation of simple models and diagrams) suggests that the dislocation (lost-ness) results from the labyrinthine quality of the map (an inherent, fixed quality, the failure of design).  I gather this from the suggestion that someone can be a victim of the map and the map's complexity.

Brief though it is, this discussion--coupled with the WPA-l thread "visual model of complexity"--has me wondering about two paths in visualization (infographics more than photography, although the move to generalize just might hold up): one prefers for the visual object to do the work of simplifying the complex, of reducing complexity to something much easier to see or take in; the other prefers for the visual object to complicate or exceed that which has already been depicted as simple but is not.  This second path would have the visual object contend with commonplace orderings of activity (such as writing in the WPA thread).  Here lies a pun in visual shock.  In the first, the shock is felt by the reader/observer whose method of reading is reductive...the one who wants meaning and only meaning (and any meaning).  The second exacts a shock on the id(ol|le)s, repudiates them with a bolt of complexity.  These two trajectories in the production of information graphics--one given to simplifying the complex, the other given to complicating the commonplaces or disturbing the perceived-to-be-simple--don't quite exhaust the felt of visual shock when we meet the visual (this might go to receivables, also).  If we fluff this out to a set of rhetorical terms, it's hard not to include attitude or manner.  I say this because it should remain a possibility that we could fancy or enjoy the being lost as an opening for imagination--dream/wonder/splits from a duty to one reality-scape in the map. Attitude and manner draw on Burke (what's more dramatic than shock?); I only want to mention it briefly because I'd like to come back to some of these ideas, especially the rift between simple/complex in infographics, the possibility of connecting these up with readerly/writerly distinctions, and the impact of attitude or manner on receivables (esp. the visual).

Sunday, August 28, 2005

State Fair

Best of the NY State Fair: Fried Twinkie.

Nature's Mistakes...Oddity

Worst of the NY State Fair: The house of small animals (all crap and caged misery). In case you didn't make it to your own local fair this afternoon, here's a photo-set and a slideshow.


A collection of stuff I don't want to pass up:

I used to have one of the bright yellow Sony Walkmans used here to house an iPod.  Used to.  So I spent 30 minutes rummaging through the boxes of junk we have stored in the attic.  Didn't find it.  If I can find one, I'd sure like to give the conversion a try (via). 

Earlier this week, at Bush's speech in Utah, at least one person in the crowd donned "Bullshit Protector" ear covers.  Boing Boing picked it up; there's a link to a PDF so you can make your own, good for those times when, you know, it's possible that what you're hearing has some BS mixed in.

The CBA's Dakota Wizards have hired former Baylor scandal-maker Dave Bliss (via).  Wow.  The coach who "made mistakes," such as doing his best to cover up, well, a helluva lot of criminal activity in his program is able to find work again coaching basketball?  Wizardry indeed.  At the same time Cincy is parting with 16-year head basketball coach Bob Huggins, whose reputation for being acerbic and even downright rude (indifferent attitude toward his players' life-beyond-sport?) is well-known. 

From Kairosnews, this link to an entry suggesting "The demise of the geek bloggers."  But the evidence of this vanishing is somewhat suspect.  We're seeing a consumerist expansion among weblogs (more business blogs, more corp stuff), but the "demise" is just as likely a re-positioning in the power law curve.  The shift of geek bloggers from the top 50 spots in Technorati doesn't necessarily mean that they're vanishing.  Instead, it means that they're not as tightly clustered or well-linked as the blogs that are filling up the head of the curve (extroverts or consumer blogs, as the article names them). Since we rarely perceive blogspace as a total structure (I mean that it's not singularly apprehend able; we can't see it all at once), the shift of geek bloggers or any other nested micro-cluster doesn't necessarily reflect a drop in blogging activity.  Yes?

Good chance that we're heading out to the NY State Fair this afternoon.  Photos later (yeah, I'll be the one holding the cotton candy and elephant ears and camera while my kid goes on all the rides...maybe D. will go on some of the stuff, too; as for me, no kicks in jamming my knees into a jostling metal bar over and over again).

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Kinaesthetics, Intensive Gatherings and Bodily Arts

The body itself becomes a sundromos, an intensive gathering of forces (of desire, of vigorous practices, of musical sounds, of corporeal codes), trafficked through and by neurons, muscles and organs.  Entwined with the body in this way, rhetorical training thus exceeds the transmission of 'ideas,' rhetoric the bounds of 'words.' (Hawhee 160)

Yesterday I attended a Writing Program mini-seminar on the relationship between the writing center and athletics and the presence of student-athletes in writing courses. As a part of ongoing professional development, most writing teachers at SU attend two mini-seminars each semester.  The speaker--a graduate student in rhetoric at Arizona--brought many insights; he's been instrumental in launching a satellite writing center in the athletic department at UofA, and so the four-hour session was aptly named "Home Turf: Defining Access and Success for College Student-Athletes."  Early on, the conversation hinged on the spatial quality of athletic performance; for pre-reading, we looked at Hawhee's "Bodily Pedagogies: Rhetoric, Athletics, and the Sophists' Three Rs," from College English, Andrew Zimbalist's chapter "The Student as Athlete" from Unpaid Professionals, Wilfred Bailey's "Summary: Time Constraints, Or Why Most College Athletes Cannot Also Be Students," (College Sports, Inc.) and a few articles from ESPN.com on whistle-blowers. We also talked through perceptions of student-athlete privilege, so-called "problematic sports" of men's basketball and football (with no direct justification for crediting this commonplace to any particular institution, much less SU), and part-time faculty bearing added labor because of support measures (email check-ins from coaches, mid-semester progress reports, etc.) initiated from athletics.

I was generally in agreement with the speaker's take on several of these complicated problems, and I would like for these notes to reflect such a stance, as well as to support efforts at broader recognitions of the false and damaging commonplaces circulated about student-athletes--athletics as anti-intellectual, a contradiction to scholarly rigor, a kind of unfortunate burden on the institution's already-burdened, or a merely exploitative money-maker.  If anything is clear from yesterday's talk, it's that institutional situations are vastly different from region to region and from one governance level to another (NCAA, NAIA, DI-DIII, etc). Generalizations about student-athletes or athletics departments circulate with great frequency, but many of them plainly don't hold up here or there.

Kinesthetic literacy--or a kind of bodily/performative intelligence--came up early in the talk, but with twenty-five of us in attendance and so much conversation, we didn't have adequate chance to develop this line of thought.  Judging only by her article (I haven't read Bodily Arts yet), Hawhee's stuff, which examines the overlaps between the bodily and the rhetorical arts in the classical tradition, leads us to a question:  how might composition embrace kinesthetic literacy?  How might writing pedagogies account for the kinesthetic?  Citing Sirc's work on Pollock, she explains the approach of composition as "inhabiting, an immersive approach wherein the lines between (and definitions of) artist and work become less clear" (159).  It's a difficult question to answer, but I appreciate that Friday's speaker brought it up through references to Hawhee and (in turn) Sirc.

More from Hawhee:

"As locations of physical training--young boys learned and practiced running, jumping, wrestling, and boxing, for starters--the gymnasia were already important sites for the production of citizen subjects, and moreover, the production took place in a decidedly corporeal style.  From this spatial intermingling of practices there emerged a curious syncretism between athletics and rhetoric, a particular crossover in pedagogical practices and learning styles, a crossover that contributed to the development of rhetoric as a bodily art: an art learned, practiced, and performed by and with the body as well as the mind". (144)

I'm still thinking about two other issues from the session.  The first (-1-) concerns the idea that athletics departments take on attitudes of eligibility maintenance rather than embracing a spirit of intellectual rigor and excellence.  I'm snagged on excellence (and no, I haven't read Readings' U. in Ruins...all second-hand knowledge of it).  Here too, athletic programs involve a mix; it's knotted--the need-a-C-to-be-eligible power forward sits in class alongside the straight-As setter.  So maybe there is an ethic of grade survival (yeah, something like that), but it doesn't mean that anyone (coach, AD, etc.) in an athletic program wouldn't prefer to hold up a 3.9 average GPA for a program (rather than 2.4, say).  Still, it'd help to situationalize this...name names, point to this program or that one.

The second issue (-2-) concerns a paradox: the incommensurability of institutionally enforced amateurism and, on the other hand, what was yesterday called "infantilizing" support systems.  I'm leaving out a lot of details, but the discussion brought out a few concerns about emails to instructors (inquiring about class status or grades) and attendance-checkers as being anti-responsibility and an interference with self-advocacy.  And yet, that roles are systematically defined in such a way that student-athletes are subject to a kind of forced amateurism--rule-fixed laborers--justifies the related supports and insurances.  Yet more knotty stuff, but I was interested in the questions surrounding this issue: how do we learn to advocate for ourselves?  how does agency form and from where or under what conditions?  Notably, at least a few of the anecdotes shared during the session suggested instructor discomfort in the student-athlete's more nurturant network.  In other words, with student-athletes our primacy as (caring writing) instructors is set in tension with this other unfamiliar (except in myth) institutional force--coaches who may be the student-athlete's most trusted ally in the university system and related academic support staff who attempt (often with resulting consternation) to act as an intermediary wedge between the student-athlete and unkind/unaccommodating (or so-perceived) academic policies.

A few other reading notes from "Bodily Pedagogies":

Rhythm, repetition and response (145)

"the wrestler will acquire a bodily rhythm that enables a forgetting of directives." (149)

"What Isocrates articulates here is a pedagogy of association--a cultivation of habits and practices by placing oneself in relation to those who practice the arts one is pursuing; these arts were named earlier in the treatises as horsemanship, athletics, hunting, and philosophy, or study of discourse ([Isocrates] 45)" (153).

"In other words, the 'end result' of such a pedagogy is not a finished product, but a dispositional capacity for iteration--the ability to continually repeat, transform, and respond" (155).

Thursday, August 25, 2005


If you seek thorough notes on today's Fall Teaching Conference, you might be disappointed.  The four-hour conference covered several interesting and important projects: Syracuse community-based writing courses, upcoming service-learning initiatives, and the annual address from the chair of the department.  The featured speaker--a professor from Vermont--gave a talk on "Assessing Diversity," a topic which, you might agree, is both vast and complicated--tangled politically and theoretically.  The talk worked through asking the right questions, devising alternative models, mixing methods and identifying subtle (if isolable) variables.  All of the presentations were held in Hall of Languages 500, the top floor of the building I wrote about earlier this month.  Here's a photo I snapped about fifteen minutes before the sessions started this morning; it's a north-ward look from the place we gathered.


Ironically, the featured talk included a clip from the movie Addams Family Values: the part where young Wednesday breaks from the script in the Thanksgiving play-performance at summer camp. I'd never watched the movie before, and its involvement in the talk made sense, was appropriate and smart.  Of course, I couldn't help being mildly distracted by a second Hall of Languages/1313 Cemetery Lane coincidence in three weeks. I kept it to myself; nobody else appeared to be chilled by the unlikely loop: watching a clip from a 1993 movie based on a television program, the house-set for which has been rumored to be influenced by the architecture of the building (Hall of Languages) in which we sat, watching a clip....  Uncanny.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


I was at the front of the room--staring into the light from the projector bulb--for most of this morning's Writing Program TA orientation session on Quick & Dirty Research.  What put the Q&D in today's talk?  Aggregation and RSS.  Everyone going along with it now has a fresh-fed Bloglines account and 67 subscriptions.  For more, here's the agenda and the accompanying screencast.  I welcome any suggestions; the screencast is a bit rough in spots (and longer than I'd like).

Basically, the talk hinged on these few thoughts:

  • Aggregation as Q&D (not slow and clean) is applicable for students working on projects and also for your work as a teacher, writer, scholar and academic.
  • It leads with questions about the inventive and generative activity rather beginning with a hierarchy predicated upon licensed sources (credible if it's from the library only, myth debunked).
  • It dislodges the material orthodoxy in composition (what materials are appropriate for composition, what counts as writing...it's unbothered by intermittent junkiness in feeds).
  • It exonerates us from narrow or unnecessarily constrained reading habits.  Qualification: this isn't meant to disparage book-reading.
  • It productively complicates (or steadies, if you're into efficiencies) our information ecologies and personal knowledge management systems.

I carried on just a bit blahngerandthenandthen than I would have like to, but it was challenging to fit all of this into one hour and 20 minutes.  We finished with three minutes to spare, which means it was just about right for the time allotted.  I left, as I often do, knowing full well that it will take more experimentation and play with Bloglines for folks to take it up more fully, even make it part of a daily routine.  The group was gracious enough to clap, so, well, I've had my fill of applause for the week.  Tomorrow: full-on Writing Program fall retreat.  Friday: a mini-seminar on access and success for student-athletes. 

Added: I regret that the screencast shows IE, but it's the less-customized browser on my machine, hence better for a generic-seeming browser view. Also, I didn't come up the name "Quick & Dirty"; it was assigned to the time-slot when I agreed to lead the session.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Whelp's Delight

Now what you hear is not a test; Landlord's new puppy is filling our airwaves with rhythm-less all-night-long crying.  Sunday night was almost tolerable.  The young German shepherd-black lab mix broke into lonely-night-in-a-cage dirge just twice, at midnight and 5:00 a.m. (followed by the bustle of mess mopping?  who knows...I was half-asleep).  But last night, the sorrowful pup yipped and whined all night long, like he was staging a concert for the dead.  I tried to wrap my head in pillows, tried to block out the excruciating sound, even wished for a Sugar Hill Gang earworm, and not because I was still thinking about B. Midler (an all-time low at EWM mentioning that song "did I ever tell you you're my..."  geez.  Hope you'll forgive me for that.), but because I would go for just about anything that would make it stop.    Not only am I going to really struggle to like the dog, I'm also struggling to think of this as a very suitable living arrangement for as long as the dog's yapping fills my ears when I should be sleeping (ironic that L'lord has two dogs now and we have a no pets clause in our lease).  Lest I go far enough to upset or offend anyone (en route to becoming the first blogger to be evicted for posting living-space critique), I'll stop here, relieved to know that puppy so exhausted himself in the nighttime hours that the quiet suggests he's finally resting soundlessly this morning.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Wind Beneath Community Day

Chicken wings were my contribution to the potluck this evening following a full day of CCR-programming--panels and discussions thematically linked to "You Are Here: Mapping Disciplines, Selves, Communities."  I'd have photographed the dish (lemon pepper wings and usual hots) as well as the celebrants, but I forgot my camera at home.  Collin's last two entries say a bit more about the events of the day; as grad director he shouldered much of the coordination of the day's events with support from J. and many other behind-the-scenes contributors, of course.  After such an intensely packed day of conversation, I can't help but reflect upon the quality of the program, faculty and students, and my good fortune at having a place here.  It's not an easy time of the year (classes start next Monday) for people to block out a day for a kind of program defrag, and yet, that most everyone turns out, engages, interacts amiably and with interest, shares excitement about the semester ahead as well as oncoming projects validates the feeling I have that this is the right program for me. /near end CCR plug/  But seriously, an annual fall community day that works this well tells me something about the program.

Oddly enough, I'm also wandering dreamily (and sleep-deprivedly) through a bit of nostalgia (on the verge of Bette Midler earworms, memory lane tear-ups, etc....I said verge) from the flurry of old-friend emails I've enjoyed in the past few days.  In fact, I just sent two rather long emails to friends from half-forgotten undergrad days, one in KC who I've been blogvangelizing (yeah, P., start one up), and another, M., who just moved from Chicago to Durham, N.C.  Explains the site traffic from duke.edu at least.  And, yet another good friend--from my MA program--just emailed to tell me what she's teaching this fall, how things are going with family, alma mater and the GKCWP.  And so, on a day when I'm energized by the SU grad program and colleagues, I'm enjoying a double-lift from being in contact with a couple of really good friends, some of whom I haven't been in contact with for a year or more. Guess this is just a quick note that it's nice, and that the premise of 'you are here' is somehow amplified in a conjunction of friendships.

Added: Keeping count? This is entry no. 400 at EWM. Commence fireworks and fanfare. Or not.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Berbere on Injera

I rarely write about recipes for a couple of reasons: (-1-) I'm not good at keeping a record (measures, notes, images) of what I'm doing when I cook and (-2-) I rarely follow recipes.  Instead, I work with what I've got on hand, and as often as it turns out great, it turns out, well, just so-so.  Berbere sauce, the Ethiopian treat E. taught me how to make, might be one of the few exceptions in terms of consistency.  When I make it, I'm generally satisfied with the results; it's not easy to make it badly, in other words.  And so, because I'm making berbere sauce for topping the injera we carried home from Rochester Friday, I thought to break down the rough process I follow, blog the making of this stuff (because I'm crazy about it, and I mention it here at least once a month).

First, close the doors to all non-vital rooms.  The onions can be overpowering, and they'll linger in your clothes, seep from your pores, and make you think you smell of them for at least at day.  Obviously the more fresh air circulating around your cooking space, the better.

Here's what I'm using to cook for the three of us (D., Ph. and me) plus company.  You should know, too, that I like to carry this stuff forward for a couple of meals, so I cook to have leftovers.  This amount should last at least two meals, maybe three--for three people.  So, serves nine or so?

Today, I'm using six fist-sized yellow onions, two small tomatoes, two boneless chicken breasts, a small can of tomato paste, a cup+ of vegetable oil and a basic mix of seasonings: salt, garlic powder, seasoned salt, and berbere powder.  Berbere powder is a mix of roasted spices; you can order it online or pick it up from a specialty foods shop. You can make the sauce without the chicken or substitute chicken for beef (chunkable beef rather than hamburger).  The tomato paste is also optional.  It thickens the sauce and deepens its red color, but what it adds in terms of flavor is negligible in my opinion.

  Chicken and Onions Ingredients

To begin, in a large pot, heat the oil.  I usually start with about a cup, then add depending on whether it looks like enough.  Basically, my gauge is that the onions should seem thoroughly oiled while cooking.  Heat the oil, then add the chopped onions.  I halve the onions and use a food processor to break them down into small pieces.  Lately, I've been starting with room-temperature onions, chopping them in the processor, then putting them in the refrigerator for a few hours.  When the come out of the refrigerator, their liquid is somewhat separated and easy to drain.  This makes for a drier start to the process, but it boosts the capillary effect of the onions as they mix with the oil (and eventually the spices), so as they emulsify, they pick up a nicer flavor--or so I like to think, whether or not the science holds up.

Tomatoes Oil in Pan

Okay.  The oil is heated.  You've added the chopped onions.  Stir it regularly over high heat for about twenty minutes.  Add a small bit of water if it seems too thick or prone to burning (lower the heat just a bit, too).  Next, add a teaspoon of garlic powder, a teaspoon of seasoned salt (regular salt will work too), and a heaping tablespoon of berbere powder.  Also drop in the tomatoes.  I halve the tomatoes then slice them thin; you can use one tomato or two.  Stir, stir, stir, reduce the heat just a small bit, and continue to cook/stir for another ten minutes.

Onions and Oil Berbere Powder

Add the chicken.  Stir, stir.  Reduce the heat just a bit.  Then let it cook.  Maybe a half hour.

Everything Except Meat On Injera

So the actual cooking part takes about an hour.  You can cook it longer; it only improves the flavor of the chicken.  What you have will be a chili-like consistency--a berbere sauce ready for putting atop spaghetti or injera.  If you want to make this more like Doro W'et, you can add a couple of whole boiled eggs with slits in the sides (add them around the same time as the meat...after the sauce is relatively well established).  And you could use bone-in chicken, but that would probably add ten or fifteen minutes to the cook time.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Amphigeography and Doppelspace

Roland Barthes in Roland Barthes on Amphibologies:

[I]n general, the context forces us to choose one of the two meanings and to forget the other.  Each time he encounters one of these double words, R.B., on the contrary insists on keeping both meanings, as if one were winking at the other and as if the word's meaning were in that wink, so that one and the same words, in one and the same sentence, means at one and the same time two different things, and so that one delights, semantically, in the other by the other.  This is why such words are often said to be "preciously ambiguous": not in their lexical essence (for any word in the lexicon has several meanings), but because, by any kind of luck, a kind of favor not of language but of discourse, I can actualize their amphibology, can say 'intelligence' and appear to be referring chiefly to the intellective meaning, but letting the meaning of 'complicity' be understood (72).

There's something to this passage that I can't quite put my finger on.  What if we spin it around from word-sentence semantics to image-space rhetorics?  I love R.B.'s notion of meanings winking.  My mother-in-law is a winker, and so I've come to know the wink-gesture by her sometimes surprising use of it (when the hyper-winking takes off at a family get-together, what does it all mean?).  Take the word-meaning wink and replace it with an image-meaning wink.  What do we have? (With this, I'm asking about more than the problem of a helluva lot of winking.)

I suppose this doesn't make much sense (yet!).  I'm thinking about the doubling of the virtual and the actual/real--the tense play between Google Maps' satellite imagery and the scripted layers (intricately spatialized, discursive).  Something, somehow is winking between the amateur photos (images of finds, things I notice) and the places.  But the wink is elusive, often subtle; the two+ spaces (a park I walk through and a park on my computer screen...and on the news, and in the photo-image) entangled in the documentary activity. It's writing, yes?  This thing--amphigeography--takes on, maybe confronts, the latency of spatial discourse.  Read through the influx of Google Maps hacks, it might be called the event of the summer--a felicitous and widely celebrated image-space wink-fest.

Remaining: to spatialize discursive shards--finds, whats'its, orts--all punctumoniously abuzz and stinging, fiercely kindled by desires split by the obvious, boring and banal-bland and, on the other hand, the unspeakable, self-doubting, wonder-lost (is it nothing?). Rush to gather it together again.  And so we give in to this frenetic always-making of paths-trails-traces (actual, virtual), combinatorially manifest in unceasing possibilities, technological, sensational, spatial.  Turn up-on-to writing technologies and we begin to enjoy the luck of the "precious ambiguities" in image-space rhetorics, begin to actualize amphigeographies.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Summer Gotaway

It wasn't exactly the two-day leave I'd hoped for just before the first hard kick of fall semester activity; I was counting on a couple of nights in NYC, Lake Placid or possibly Vermont, but (my) poor planning left D. and me with tame options by comparison, and so a late-summer mini-vacation (while Ph.'s away with friends for four days at the New Jersey shore) dwindled into an over and back day-trip to Rochester.  Yeah, Rochester...my summer vacation dream.  Although, as things turned out, it wasn't such a bad turn of events after all, especially when you consider that we followed up on the recommendation of the cab driver who, back in March, shuttled me from Rochester to Syracuse when my flight home from San Francisco was so long delayed in Chicago.  On a scrap of paper he scrawled the name and address of an Ethiopian Restaurant in Rochester: Abyssinia, 80 University Ave.  That's where we stopped for lunch today. Doro W'et on fresh injera (bread).

Abyssinia Restaurant

We had other business in Rochester.  D. was scouting out the Rochester Museum and Science Center as a prospective field trip site for her students.  The museum and science center, as you might expect, is one part science-themed romper room (live on screen weather reporting...I sucked at that...filled up the whole TV screen: "Tomorrow, we'll see a high of...damn, sorry, I'm in the way...just trust me."  Graceful as always.) and part curatorial archive.  Want quiet?  Head to the third floor stuff on Rochester histozzz.  Sizing up the whole place, I'd say the first exhibit, Turbulent Landscapes, had some of the best stuff:  demos of sand storms and plate tectonics in action.  Still, no question a full-on Ethiopian meal was the highlight of the day.  First injera I've had in more than a year; there aren't any Ethiopian restaurants in Syracuse (will somebody please do something about that?). I even walked out the door with an order of injera para llevar--nine pieces for about six bucks.  For the terrific quality of service, great food (order light bc the portions!) and fresh injera, it was well worth the trip, a trip I think I can justify making again if only for Abyssinia.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

And Sweet Smelling

On my walk home this afternoon, a lovely barrel:

Beauty Barrel

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


I'd noticed faces before, but the sudden spike in wallborn figures around here was beginning to concern D. and Ph. Of course, I was taking pictures of the few might-be shapes emerging in the cracked paint on the door frames in this old flat, even posting the images to Flickr. Changing humidity levels, expansion and shrinkage, next appear the cracks and with them, patterns: even people.  Nonsense, you say.  I had my doubts too. 

Cracks III

But, today when I picked up D. from work, I went upstairs to pitch in on a shelf-altering project--make a crooked shelf flat (earlier came the phone call: "Bring a hack saw.  We have a shelf with two inextricable nails in need of sawing.").  We had to adjust the shelf from angled--display-like--to flat.  Easy.  Yet the best part was that there, on the cluttered table nearby, this was staring back at me:


Face to Face, an issue of Pentagram Papers 4 from the late 70's, filled with found faces or face-like patterns.  From the jacket note:

The collection of accidentally created faces shown here was assembled over a period of two years by the Swiss designer Jean Edouard Robert.  During that time each new addition would be presented for the approval of his friends and colleagues, and it became a regular source of diversion for them.

Judging from this, it's near to Saper's notion of the intimate bureaucracy in Networked Art except that in this set (maybe not an assembling, hard to say) the fantastical dimension provokes another question: how do the art objects/receivables themselves act in the network? How do they impart the network structure, dynamics and flow? It is somewhat far afield from my initial compulsion to grab images of the paint-crack formations--best viewed in the half-light of daybreak when I should be asleep.  Just the thing I was looking for to help me think about something more than the peopling of the paint cracks (not just some lead-dust hallucination, turns out!): extra-human networked interaction.  Photographer Irwin Dermer adds this in the introduction to the collection of thirty or so photos:

Once a group of "faces" has been found, it can be seen that a unique society has been discovered.  A society existing in isolation until the moment they are seen in relation to each other.  But unlike other societies, there is no interaction between members.  They serve silently until the time when they no longer function or simply become worn out.

No interaction? Doesn't quite seem right for some reason. And so I'll leave this question open for now, and take away a different understanding of the persistent figures in the paint cracks.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Skeleton Key

If spoilers follow, they're slight.

Skeleton Key: Kate Hudson acts the part of a New Jersey college student who, mourning the loss of her father, shifts her work to hospice care, easing the dying to the end.  Naturally, she lands a gig in a hoodoo-haunted Bayou mansion (is this the same place Forrest Gump was filmed?) many miles from the closest city, a shadowy and unkempt house where much mystery and mayhem ensues, tensions build, and the spirited plot (in four words: need more brick dust) creeps onward.

It's fresh enough and solid enough that I don't want to flatten it out too much here.  I'd say it's styled in the tradition of Twilight Zone; the double entendre on skeleton key is something like Rod Serling would've devised (or so I was reminded, not that I'm really not very well studied in this kind of thing). And its PG-13 rating is just about right considering that it's just a little bit sexy, a little bit surprising, and a little bit bizarre.  On the verge of the stuff of nightmares, especially given John Hurt's stroke-stricken character, Ben Devereaux, who coughs, gasps, and makes wide eyes throughout his drawn out victimization.  And yes, it also includes to at least one painfully unoriginal one-liner; a groaner I was disappointed that the writers/directors/producers didn't have enough good sense to trim. Formula: high-suspense moment when imperiled character breaks in with ridiculously obvious statement; everyone laughs in relief (although there's really nothing much funny about what's happening).

And so I recommend the movie with the caveat that it's a mid-grade pop-suspense success and also something of a puzzler--one you, if you're like me (which you might not be), will think over for a few minutes, seriously expecting unforgivable gaps in the story.  But I was satisfied that the resolution was much less detectable than the same in The Sixth Sense, which is to say that if you know how it's going to turn out, my take on on Skeleton Key slides all the way from decent down to why bother. I'm stopping now before I've said too much.

From This Point On

What started with making a few notes last night for an informal talk I have coming up next week unraveled into a what'sit: #FFFF00 Path. I was overcome by the impulse; you know, the grab-a-camera work-avoiding impulse lurking beneath the surface of practically everything in late August.

Pre-apologies: if you select the raw version, you're going to hear explicit lyrics. And for both varieties: herky-jerky digivid, overall file size and download time. Sorry about that. (I'll do better not to commit so many transgressions in one entry).

Added: Let me know if you find anything glitchy with the embeded mpeg, okay? It's coming up quirky in Mozilla.

Links directly to the mpeg files: clean | less so.

Monday, August 15, 2005


ClustrMaps is back on the scene with a recent beta release.  I don't know that it was ever completely off the scene, but I dropped my map sometime in the spring because it didn't seem to be updating any longer. It's quite likely that they've worked around some of the problems they had late last fall with high-traffic maphogs, sluggish updates and so on, although my current (re-added today) ClustrMap's reflection of two visits since July 27 suggests there's still a glitch or two with the beta rollout.  Or much worse, it's accurate, meaning that I've had just two visitors in 19 days (welcome to both of you, if that's the case).  Yet another (highly likely) possibility, you actually have to have the map showing on your site for the visits to reflect.  Either way, the beta release is available to others by invitation only from existing users.  And so, since I signed up last October, I have two invitations available--exactly enough to pass along to both of you.  No, seriously, if you want a ClustrMap, just drop in a comment, and I'll have one of the sign-ups sent to your email.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Might Be Nothing

But I'm going to call it "Compositional Remainders in Four Poles."  What is it?  The papery staplecake wrapping completely around the four telephone poles at the intersection of Westcott and Euclid.

These fading sprays of tacked paper are visible at the most desirable locations--public, visible, heavily trafficked.  Why aren't there any notices on these four poles today?  Who tears down the signs?  How many years of printed signs are layered here?

More we can say about it? Co-concocted at a busy streetcorner by staplers and notice-pullers (the removers of the "Car 4 Sale 145K runs great").  Made without purposeful making.  Residua (this, history?) and detritus; a dead-pulpy reunion: unreadable remainders of remainders of.... An archive of public writing. A shabby, encrusted blanket of desperation writ: lost dog, urgent sublet, have you seen this cat?, $$$ painting houses.

 Pole 1: SW
 Poles 2 and 3: NE

Pole 4: NW

Might be nothing. But if it's a nothing, that won't explain why I can't stop looking at it every time I walk or drive by, why I can't stop feeling like it makes the intersection more intersected. (The image below, a close-up of the first pole.)

Remainder or One History of Discourse

Images Ovr-flowing

I have exceeded my free Flickr account--split the seams, spilt the banks.  The free version holds 200 active images, and, when you pass 200, it tucks the oldest pics out of sight. Bummr.  Because I'm so thoroughly hooked on Flickr, I went ahead and dropped the few bucks they collect to switch me to the upgraded "pro" account.  Now I only wish that instead of "pro," I was classed as a "spendthrift hack amateur."  That'd be closr to the truth. With the upgraded account (and its whopping 2GB of storage per month), I have room for even more fine pics, such as this one from Erie Blvd. earlyr today. 

Fun Crime

Friday, August 12, 2005

For Reading

Here are the booklists for the two classes I'm taking this fall.  I ordered many of them the other day (had several from the second list already on the office shelf).  The second class (690) is an independent study, so I was thinking that it might be worthwhile to (semi)formalize a reading schedule, post it here, and invite read-alongs.  By this I mean that anyone interested (or already intent on reading anything listed in the months ahead) could coordinate readings mixed with a few carnivalous interchanges, conversation and so on.  And yet I understand how things go, how in-semester workloads swell beyond our earlier anticipations of them.  No problem if that happens (if, down the line, you're too busy).  As one of the agreed-to aspects of the study, I'll be registering notes, lines of inquiry and other connectables throughout the fall, blogging it either way, I mean.  Feel free to express interest, whatever comes of it.

As I've just added the starred items to the 690 list, it's starting to look more and more ambitious, so I'll probably be swift with some, more careful with others.  In addition to the list of books, we have a packet of 8-10 articles in 691--the final core course in my current program of study.  Along with teaching 307, this constitutes my fall:

CCR691: Comparative Processes and Premises of Research: Crafting Researchable Questions
"We Are Coming": The Persuasive Discourse of Nineteenth-Century Black Women by Shirley Wilson Logan (ISBN 0-8093-2193-9)
What Writing Does and How It Does It: An Introduction to Analyzing Texts and Textual Practices edited by Charles Bazerman and Paul Prior (ISBN 0-8058-3806-6)
Sidewalk by Mitchell Duneier (ISBN 0-374-52725-3)
Collision Course: Conflict, Negotiation, and Learning in College Composition by Russel K. Durst (ISBN 0-8141-0742-7)
Rhythm Science by Paul Miller aka DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid (ISBN 0-262-63287-X)
Self-Development and College Writing by Nick Tingle (ISBN 0-8093-2580-2)
Strange Encounters: Embodied Others in Post-Coloniality by Sara Ahmed (ISBN 0-415-20185-3)

CCR690: Visualization and New Media
Barthes, Roland. Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography. Trans. Richard Howard. New York: Hill and Wang, 1981.
Baudrillard, Jean. Simulacra and Simulation. Trans. Sheila Faria Glaser. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1994. (selections)
Benjamin, Walter. Illuminations. Ed. Hannah Arendt. New York: Schocken, 1978. (selections)
Bolter, Jay David and Richard Grusin. Remediation: Understanding New Media. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999.
*Fuller, Matthew. Media Ecologies. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005.(selections)
Hansen, Mark. New Philosophy for a New Media. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2004.
*Hayles, Katherine. Writing Machines. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2002.
Hocks, Mary and Michelle Kendrick, eds. Eloquent Images. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2003.
iPod (aural digression). Apple. 20GB. W/ iTalk for podcasting.
Johnson-Eilola, Johndan. Datacloud: Toward a New Theory of Online Work. New Dimensions in Computers and Composition Ser. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, 2005.
Kittler, Friedrich. Discourse Networks, 1800/1900. Trans. Michael Metteer. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford UP, 1990.
Liestol, Gunnar, Andrew Morrison and Terje Rasmussen, eds. Digital Media Revisited: Theoretical and Conceptual Innovations in Digital Domains. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2004.
Lanham, Richard. The Electronic Word: Democracy, Technology, and the Arts. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1995.
Manovich, Lev. The Language of New Media. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2002.
Mitchell, W.J.T. Picture Theory: Essays on Verbal and Visual Representation. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1995.
*---. What Do Pictures Want? :  The Lives and Loves of Images. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 2005.
Norman, Donald. The Invisible Computer: Why Good Products Can Fail, the Personal Computer Is So Complex, and Information Appliances Are the Solution. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999.
Taylor, Mark and Esa Saarinen. Imagologies: Media Philosophy. New York: Routledge, 1994.
Tufte, Edward. The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. 2nd Ed. Cheshire, CT: Graphics Press, 2001.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Three Oh Seven

My syllabus for WRT307 still needs a small bit of tuning, but it's sufficiently complete that I have turned it over for a departmental stamp of good-enough.  The schedule is much rougher, but I have plans for the week ahead to sharpen the early weeks, and I'm generally reluctant to hyperplot the daily events, especially for a MWF class.  I've always found MWF classes challenging to pace; the 50-55 minute meetings spill over too easily, exceeding the tight unit of time.

I'm asking you for feedback, too, either in the comments or via email, especially if you're struck with the sense that what shows might (not) work--an added reading, an assignment tweak, an alternative order of events.  Two quandaries with the course-as-planned:

(-1-) The Writer's Cluetrain: The End of Professional Writing as Usual is conceived as a semi-formal collaborative project that will take off from The Cluetrain Manifesto and devise writerly insights from it.  People of the world: 50 theses.  We'll devise these while reading CM, I think.  The pinch:  all fit and flow, where in the course, how to frame it as a subsidiary and collaborative project and still have it come together.  That's all.

(-2-)  Because this is the first time I'm teaching WRT307, I've been softening my stance toward the use of a textbook.  In fact, I ordered exam copies of Pearsall's Elements of Technical Writing and Gurak and Lannon's Concise Guide to Technical Communication.  At $25 per copy, Pearsall's is inexpensive, and as I looked it over, I just didn't find it to be the kind of thing I would use very much.  A few of the examples are good, but the framework is just a bit reductive--elemental.  Not flawed elemental, just elemental.  And that's Pearsall's shtick with this book: affordable and basic.  Gurak and Lannon are quite the opposite.  Their Concise Guide is really quite a textbook as textbooks go--loaded with rich and impressive (situationalized) grips on tech comm.  Problem: at $62 bucks a pop I wonder how central a piece it must be in the course to be worth its price.  Quite a book, quite a price.  I'm inclined to adopt it, but I think this move will also compel me to expand the textbook's role and do a bit more to feature it.  That's quandary no. 2.

Disciplinary Sculpture

Via information aesthetics, I came across this entry on "email erosion."  An enclosure houses a block of biodegradable foam subject to sprays of water triggered by a stream of discourse--emails sent to bots in this case.  As I understand it, the email-analyzing algorithm activates the bots that patrol each side of the container; under certain conditions, the bots let loose with the water and the block of foam dissolves.

"At the end of the show, the remaining foam, if any, is a finished sculpture."

A what-if: Say we turn this model toward disciplinarity, devise a set of bots and systematic squirts, then channel everything reflective of a discipline (pick your discipline, why not?):  journal articles, listservs, syllabi, student work, weblogs and textbooks. Anything that passes as information, anything indicative of the field, noetic and technic.  After 30 days, what would the sculpture look like?  After 30 years? (We might imagine twenty foam blocks, each assigned a discursive stream.)

Now, do you mind if I change lanes to the despondency thread on WPA-L from yesterday?  I subscribe in digest, so I don't know where this thread is going today.  I'm sure it's going.  And I won't try to offer any summary or critique here.  I only want to point a finger at it because I've been thinking a lot about disciplinarity lately, about what it means to identify oneself with a particular disciplinary formation--to say I'm a compositionists or a rhetorician or a comp-rhetor.  What other ways to put it?  Flexing with despondency or resplendence, whole disciplines are really difficult to characterize.  And yet, the meta-disciplinary hum is fairly regular, ongoing.  Where am I headed with this?  Well, the "email erosion" got me thinking (more than I was already) about the ways we have of talking about disciplinarity--of anecdotal accounts of encounters with ill-informed contrarians and others unaware of the work we busy ourselves with OR of typically broader inferences drawn from conference programs (thinking of CGB's fallacies of scale), textbooks, journals, publishers and their book-types, graduate programs and other histories (such and such event(s) led to Y or coincided with n).  What else?

If we had yet another way of perceiving disciplinarity, such as this exhibit, what might it tell us?  What shape, this disciplinary sculpture?  And would anyone admire it?  Or would the green foam wholly erode (too much water pressure), leaving behind an empty glass enclosure?  Sure, we'd still have the bots. And another block of foam? 


Related: Pulsart: "a physical installation that represents level of activity (of family members or museum visitors, measured by a pulse-meter in form of a ring or a bracelet) by water running down blocks of salt."  We could use one of these at the Palmer House in '06. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


We day-tripped around Central New York on Tuesday.  Starting south on I-81, wound onto state highways through Ithaca and Watkins Glen, then north on Hwy. 14 before coming back to Syracuse on I-90.

  I'd considered heading over to Watkins Glen for biking when D. and Ph. were in Kenya, but lo and behold, I was rained out.  It was a whim to check out Watkins Glen, but it's honestly it's home to of the most amazing state parks I've ever seen. The park features a 1.5 mile trail graded over 600 vertical feet of shale (thin and flaky, right?) cliffs, pools and waterfalls. We hiked down the gorge and back in about three hours:  longer on the way down for ogling and photos and about 30 minutes on the return trip. 

Ithaca Falls

Montour Falls

Watkins Glen

At Watkins Glen, we took 409 off of Hwy. 14 and started the walk from the north entrance (this was suggested by the helpful attendant at the south entrance).  By entering this way, our down-and-back was against the intermittant walking traffic of those who parked in town and started up the gorge.  There are a couple of ways to come in, but I think we did it well (although ending with the upward climb might not suit some). Incidents on the day-long tour included a non-turn in Dryden (and an accidental but not alarming alt. route to Ithaca as a result), photos at Ithaca Falls, Montour Falls and Watkins Glen, and ice cream in Dresden.  We also passed by the thousand tiny wineries along Hwy. 14.  Might be nice to return to the area with a better plan to stop in for the wine tastings or something on or next to one of the Finger Lakes.

Tuesday, August 9, 2005


Yesterday Ph. picked out cleats for the fall.  No slowing down in these; they won't allow it.  I've never seen shoes that made me feel so fast and so much like running just by looking at them.


On the subject of fast, he's got to muster a six minute mile in about two weeks.  To pep him up for it, I broke out one of the when-I-was-young parentals (that genre of uphill both ways; obscure, groan-summoning lore of self).  Told him that in college, guards had to break 5:30 and bigs had to make a mile under six minutes before we could move workouts indoors in the fall.  And lap three, lap three was my nemesis--the impossible leg of end's not quite in sight. (To say nothing of the heated debates about who was a guard and who was a big.  Imagine the enthusiasm of newly converted 6-2 power forwards.)  But like so many kids who hear the when-I-was-young parental, he rendered my wisdom inapplicable: "We're running it on a straight-away."  Hence, no lap three.  But still, that anyone as lumbering as me can hit 6:00 ought to be of some encouragement, don't you think?  And if only I'd had shoes this glimmering-fast...

Added: Observing that I'm blogging about his cleats, Ph. just leaned in to look.  Me: "Shiny, aren't they." Ph.: "I just cleaned them." (He had a summer league match last night.)

Sunday, August 7, 2005

Google Maps EZ

With Google Maps EZ, you can embed a marked map with ease and include links, text and images (all via HTML) in the captions associated with each marker (via).

Alliance Bank Stadium
Alliance Bank Stadium

We started out in right field,
but as the sun set, it was too
much to bear. Couldn't
see into the sun. So we switched seats.
Not like it was a packed stadium that night.
Here's the perspective from our first
seats at around 6:30 p.m.

Alliance Bank Stadium
Alliance Bank Stadium

When I first tried it out earlier today, I was having trouble with the EXTENT definitions.  With EXTENT, you can establish the scale and map type (hybrid, map or satellite), thereby giving the map a stable look.  The fancy dropcaps feature that I added to the blog a few weeks ago were interfering with the "E"--grabbing it away from "XTENT" and clouding up the whole process.  With that resolved, I've tried to push just a bit farther to mark the photographed spaces at a Syracuse Sky Chiefs game in late July (could be anything though).  Basically, I wanted to integrate the Flickr image sources for the thumbnail views with links to the larger versions of the photos.  Click on the each of the markers to see what I mean. You can navigate the map with the control buttons, too. In concept, it's similar to geo-tagging in Flickr, except that it's localized, speedier and needs only to work with the images you involve.  I haven't had much success with geo-tagging, actually; even after I've tagged photos, they only sporadically cycle into Mappr, and the KML bit with Google Earth doesn't notice them after a week.  Always possible that I'm doing something wrong, of course. 

Like some of the other stuff I've been casually piecing together this summer, I can imagine EZ and Flickr working with documentary projects as well as just about any kind of spatial or space-conscious writing (especially w/ a local photo-set).  In many ways, the combination of Google Maps EZ and Flickr is an extension of the photographemic map I tried out in early June, but using Google Maps would make the project easy to expand, to add to over time.  In this sample, I've lettered the markers (lettering can run A through J), but I only tried to add a caption to the image associated with B.  I didn't have any luck getting the text to wrap in the bubble, nor could I get the image to align differently (right, for example).  But that's small stuff, really. 

Ready to try it out?  You'll need a Google Maps API key (it's free, you know).  For the rest, you ought to follow the tutorial posted by Chris Houser, the programmer who devised the javascript and who is generally hosting it for widespread use (and yes, I'm doubly impressed bc Chris responded helpfully to an email I sent earlier).  Worth noting, too, that I actually used two different API keys--one for my main index and one for my ../archives/ directory.  With two API keys, the map will show on the weblog's index and on all of the various archives.  I'm dropping the code in here your for reference.  It's pretty much the same as what Chris has in the tutorial.

Into the page or template <head>:

<script src="http://maps.google.com/maps?file=api&v=1&key=YOURAPIKEYHERE" type="text/javascript"></script>
<script src="http://bluweb.com/chouser/gmapez/gmapez.js" type="text/javascript"></script>

And into the <body>:

<div class="GMapEZ GSmallMapControl GSmallMapTypeControl"
style="width: 300px; height: 300px;">
<a href="http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=43.079256,-76.165402&spn=0.002844,0.010131&t=h&hl=en"> EXTENT </a>
<a href="http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=43.079029,-76.164715&spn=0.002844,0.010131&t=k&hl=en">
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/33032196@N00/29733482/" target="blank" title="Photo Sharing"><img src="http://photos23.flickr.com/29733482_808c36d52a_t.jpg" width="100" height="72" alt="Alliance Bank Stadium" /></a>
<a href="http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=43.079695,-76.165863&spn=0.002844,0.010131&t=k&hl=en">
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/33032196@N00/29733457/" target="blank" title="Photo Sharing"><img src="http://photos21.flickr.com/29733457_987c98767d_t.jpg" width="100" height="75" alt="Alliance Bank Stadium" align="right" /></a>We
started out in right field, but as the sun set, it was two much to bear. Couldn't see into the sun. So we switched seats. Not like it was a
packed stadium that night. Here's the perspective from our first seats at around 6:30 p.m.
<a href="http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=43.078966,-76.165338&spn=0.002844,0.010131&t=k&hl=en">
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/33032196@N00/29733464/" target="blank" title="Photo Sharing"><img src="http://photos21.flickr.com/29733464_110bb3e70c_t.jpg" width="100" height="51" alt="Alliance Bank Stadium" /></a>
<a href="http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=43.079272,-76.164951&spn=0.002844,0.010131&t=k&hl=en">
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/33032196@N00/29733470/" target="blank" title="Photo Sharing"><img src="http://photos22.flickr.com/29733470_998985366d_t.jpg" width="100" height="53" alt="Alliance Bank Stadium" /></a>

Friday, August 5, 2005

Make Yourselves Uncomfortable

Ph. and I stopped up on campus after 5:00 p.m. this evening--late enough to park close to the office.  I had a few books to shuffle into my campus workspace, and I needed to run a couple of PDFs from chapters I intend to use this fall in WRT307: Professional Writing.  I'll share a link to the syllabus when it's ready; all you'll find there now is drafty stuff, tentative experimentation and pre-planning.

On the way out of HBC (home to the Writing Program) and on a whim, Ph. and I tried a door on Hall of Languages, the building where I'll be teaching the class.  I've been meaning to peek in on the space for a few weeks since I learned about the assignment, but I just haven't gotten around to it.  Low priority that it is. And being after hours, I'd expect it to be locked.  But the door creaked open.

"We try to encourage their young minds to wander" - Morticia

Local lore has it that SU's Hall of Languages, viewbook frontpiece that it is (appearing on all the admissions brochures) influenced the design of the house in the Addams Family.  Yep: 1313 Cemetery Lane.  You decide.

And so I'll be teaching composition in the building of campus buildings (notable improvement from the basement of Bowne Hall (Chemistry?) and the "Orange Grove" modular building I taught in last fall, not that I'm hard to please re: teaching spaces).  I recall that our teaching request forms invited us to rank preferences for courses, wired-ness and time of day; all in all, I fared well on the counts of the course and the technology.  Time o' day: 12:45-1:40 p.m., MWF.  I know.

Their house is a museum.
When people come to see 'em
They really are a screa-um.
The Addams Family. (track)

Museum, eh?

The best part of this architectural mash-up (HL201/1313CL) is that Gomez (or Fester?) was endlessly inviting prospective business clients over to the house where they'd get all unsettled by Lurch or Cousin Itt or Thing or Kitty Kat (all of the cast, really).  Interesting relation:  the theme of deals-chased-off by the grotesque, the bizarre.

"Make yourselves uncomfortable." - Fester to his clients

Just checking campus spaces, reporting on them.  And so I'll stop here, on the precipice of the unnerving next-step that would be explaining how any of this has seeped into my imaginings about what the course could be. But Ph. and I did check the room, and we found that the furniture is far more agreeable to a semester of Professional Writing than the corresponding space (the Play Room?) on Cemetery Lane.

Thursday, August 4, 2005

Pass It On-sendings

[Ray "Sugar Dada"] Johnson initiated a practice called 'on-sending' which involved sending an incomplete or unfinished artwork to another artist, critic, or even a stranger, who, in turn, helped to complete the work by making some additions and then sending it on to another participant in the network.  These gift exchanges, begun in 1955, evolved into more elaborate networks of hundreds of participants, but at first they included a relatively small circle of participants.  Johnson would often involve famous artists, like Andy Warhol, as well as influential literary and art critics in these on-sendings.  In a variation on this process, each participant was asked to send the work back to Johnson after adding to the image.  Much of Johnson's mail art and on-sendings consisted of small, trivial objects not quite profound enough for art critics to consider them 'found objects.' These on-sendings were part of the stuff previously excluded from art galleries.  Johnson's gift giving resembled the lettrists' earlier use of a type of potlatch (which was the name of one of their journals), Fluxus Yam Festivals, and the work of intimate bureaucracies in general.  The gift exchanges soon led Johnson to explore the fan's logic in more depth. (31)

Saper, "A Fan's Paranoid Logic," Networked Art

Tuesday, August 2, 2005


TagCloud (beta)

TagCloud (beta) returns keywords and phrases from a collection of RSS feeds.  I have yet to dig very far into their methods for arriving at the set of keywords from the set of feeds, but for a first run, it yielded a tag-set that accords fairly well with the feed.  Just to experiment, I've posted a cloud in the right sidebar; for now, it draws on the atom feed for this weblog alone. A cloud (this one or a second one) might draw on a set of feeds from comp/rhet bloggers, general news feeds, or any other collection worth glancing into periodically.

TagCloud tag-sets are now available in XML, which makes them friendly to some other possibilities (underway, at least conceptually).  But TagCloud also works with OPML imports, which means that it would be simple to export an OPML file with all of your feeds from Bloglines, for example, and import them into a single TagCloud.  Optimally, the feeds would pull from atom feeds to reflect, in the tag-sets, the full texts of each entry.  The cloud is easy to re-size, too; the items (words/phrases) range between 1 and 200 (maybe higher?) simply by altering the URL, and the cloud responds to CSS.

The TagCloud site pitches the tag-set as a folksonomy, and as I was reading around, and finding that there seems to be some disagreement about whether a folksonomy can be automated or whether it must be socially generated.  It raises a difficult question: what puts the folk(s) in folksonomy? My first hunch is that an automated tagging system is not folksonymic but rather lexicanymic (trust me on this coinage, just this once!). Still, I'm not sure whether the difference is significant.  Is a folksonomy indexically superior?  A folksonomy developed by distributed readers might not match perfectly with the auto-generated term-set, but the auto-generated term set, at the very least, corresponds with the words (albeit with a technical intervention, rather than an interpretive one?).  Oh, I don't know.  But I definitely find the automatic tag-set fascinating as an alter-reading on what I write/post here (a whirling, rain-making thunderhead or thin cirrus).  In this sense, it's much less about the memorial/indexical qualities than it is a way of rediscovering my thinking/writing through the loosely convened vapor-text embodied in the cloud.  Inventive possibilities in the TagCloud?

I should probably add that all uses of the TagCloud needn't be so self-centered.  I'm going to watch the side panel for a while and consider adding a cloud more inclusive of the feeds I read.