Technology and Culture

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Jem and Le Tigre get Sealab 2021'ed

Via Feministing, fabulous:

I would love to see this done with a Go-Gos song.

Technologies of Writing

Jonathan and I were talking the other day about how David Foster Wallace did his writing with pen and paper:

Wallace worked longhand, pages piling up. "You look at the clock and seven hours have passed and your hand is cramped," Wallace said. He'd have pens he considered hot — cheap Bic ballpoints, like batters have bats that are hot. A pen that was hot he called the orgasm pen.

Apparently in another article, something Jonathan had read, Wallace said something else about his choice to write with pen and paper, that his writing was better -- more complex and insightful -- when done with pen and paper than on a computer. Then I find this passage in Betty Friedan's autobiography, Life So Far, a great book, I might add. Friedan was in the process of writing The Feminine Mystique and had a writing carrel at the New York Public Library, where she stored her typewriter. One night after the children were asleep, she had done some reading and took out a pen and legal pad to write (p. 113):

On the living-room couch, I started writing the third chapter of The Feminine Mystique, "The Crisis in Woman's Identity," applying to myself, and the women I'd been interviewing, basic concepts about the self, and identity crisis, as they had not been applied to women. And I got to such a different level of thinking, writing by hand on the yellow legal pad that night -- the crucial chapter in The Feminine Mystique, where I spelled out how it had happened to me personally, a truth that other women could identify with -- that I have literally not touched a typewriter since, let alone a word processor.

I might have to give pen/paper a try, even though it sounds soooo tedious.

CCCCs' Use of the Web

It's a little late to try to circulate this ad (deadline is tomorrow), but I'm going to do it anyway. CCCC is looking for a web editor:

The Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) is seeking applications from CCCC members for a new position as CCCC Web Editor (to be distinguished from CCC Online Archivist). The CCCC Web Editor’s term will be three years (non-renewable) beginning as soon as possible after the application deadline and ending in December of 2011. This is a volunteer position.

Actual programming or Web building is not required. Instead, the CCCC Web Editor will have the responsibility of orchestrating uses of new Web building structures made available in the coming months (e.g., blogs, Wikis, Face Book and so on), moderating new community spaces, publishing relevant information, and working with NCTE/CCCC to develop a stronger Website with new features. We anticipate that after the initial restructuring period, no more than 5 to 10 hours per month will be required of the Web Editor's time.

Persons interested in applying for the CCCC Web Editor position should send a cover letter of application to be received no later than October 1, 2008. The applicant letter should be accompanied by the applicant's CV, one sample of published writing, and a one-page statement of the applicant's vision for transforming the CCCC Website into an active community space. Two reference letters from CCCC members attesting to the applicant's qualifications can be sent under separate cover. Please do not send books, monographs, or other materials that cannot be easily copied for the Search Committee.

Applications should be mailed to Kristen Suchor, CCCC Web Editor Search Committee, NCTE, 1111 W. Kenyon Road, Urbana, Illinois 61801-1096; faxed to (217) 328-0977; or emailed to

I originally intended to post this as a "be part of the solution" exhortation, as several of us have expressed criticism of how CCCC has used the web in the past. For example, when they started a blog, some of us weren't impressed. I took a look at the CCCC blog right before writing this post, though, and I was very impressed. The blog had lain fallow throughout late 2006, all of 2007, and the first half of 2008, but now Joyce Middleton has started a series of posts titled Conversations on Diversity. She's featuring essay-length posts by -- so far -- Victor Villanueva, Krista Ratcliffe, Malea Powell, Paul Kei Matsuda, Haivan Hoang, Jonathan Alexander, and Mike Rose. Check it out; I will very likely be assigning this series of posts in my pedagogy classes.

Cross-posted at Kairosnews.

Michelle Obama Coverage on Fox News

A media composition for those of us who are into that sort of thing:


Compounding Pharmacies

This issue wasn't on my radar until just recently when I had to get some prescription cream from a compounding pharmacy, but apparently there's a conflict between compounding pharmacists and the FDA over regulation of compound drugs. The drug companies have a lot at stake in this, what with patents for combinations of drugs and all. That's what interests me the most -- the view from the intellectual property angle. I'd really like to write an article about the way each side is using rhetoric, especially as it pertains to patent rights. There's a lot more information about the various issues in these white papers.

But if you know someone who's already doing research on this topic, kindly let me know so that I don't waste my time, and direct me toward the person doing the research so that I can read it with interest.

As bloggers, are we past the point of caring about eyeballs?

Quick Mini-Review of Remembering Composition

This morning I was going through some papers, and I found my copy of the film Remembering Composition, a documentary about multimedia rhetoric. I decided to watch it while I did a few other things. I may have more to say about it later -- perhaps I'll even do an audiovisual response -- but for now, just a few thoughts:

  • I hadn't really thought about it until reading this article, but I now appreciate the "not the usual suspects" selection of interviewees. It's true that not everyone Bump Halbritter and Todd Taylor chose to interview is a big computers and composition person. It was interesting to get the perspectives of some of the comp people who aren't well known as techies. Administration was well represented, with Sidney Dobrin, Deborah Holdstein, Erika Lindemann, and Kathleen Blake Yancey (apologies if there are some I've forgotten). I especially liked the inclusion of students in the film; in fact, I wish they'd done even more with that.
  • Throughout the film, there were these interludes inspired by Memento. I wasn't crazy about those; I don't know if it's due to the execution of the idea or the idea itself.
  • Some of the interviewees' comments represented the biggest surface-level clichés about new media out there. It was kind of astonishing. I wondered if they made other, more specific and insightful comments that were edited out. It seemed like the remarks could have been preliminary warming up as the interviewees were getting over their nervousness and summoning their thoughts.
  • There were some standouts, the most excellent of whom were Erin Sullivan (one of the students) and Gregory Ulmer. Sullivan provided a useful comparison based on an ethnographic study of a community. The scholar offers the community the product of his or her study; in one scenario, it's a research paper, and in the other, it's a documentary film. In the film, the community gets to see itself in their own images and hear itself in the words of its own members. I was thinking too that the documentary has a certain simultaneity; it can be experienced by many people all at once in a way that a research paper cannot. Ulmer set forth a smart analogy of academia to entertainment as the church to science in the Renaissance. I also appreciated Holdstein's comments toward the end about institutional context.

Overall, the film was pretty good, but I liked Take20 a little better. The concept is simple but elegant, and I like the fact that the Take20 questions are listed for us, and I like the snappy editing showing the commonalities of the interviewees' responses:

"If you had to pick only one essay for a writing teacher to read, what would it be?"

"Inventing the University."

"Inventing the University."

"Inventing the University."

"If you had to pick only one book for a writing teacher to read, what would it be?"

"Errors and Expectations."

"Errors and Expectations."

"Errors and Expectations."

Interview in Computers and Composition Online

I've been meaning to link this for a while. In the Spring 2008 issue of Computers and Composition Online, I'm interviewed by Meredith Graupner and Christine Denecker. I'd like to thank everyone involved, especially Meredith and Christine, who were great to work with.

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