Technology and Culture

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Headed out to New Orleans Tomorrow

Tomorrow I'll be leaving for a weekend trip to New Orleans for LACC, so I might end up missing a day in NaBloPoMo.

In other news, I've beefed up my placeholder Facebook profile, which I've had for a long time, and started adding friends. I slightly prefer MySpace, but the thing that finally convinced me to pay more attention to Facebook is that an old friend from college found me via Facebook. That kind of thing happens every day, but this case was special as this old friend is from Indonesia and, I believe, moved back there after college. I never thought I'd find her again. So I figured if I could find Devi via Facebook, it must be pretty good.

It's also interesting that there are all these references to objects now on Facebook; I'm sure many others have made the comparison before, but it seems almost MOO-like.

Linky goodies

Photo of Faith Hill, Posted as a Public Service

Wow. I'm not sure how to change the animation to make it a little slower, but there the image is. Via Jezebel, and here's the annotated guide. I had noticed the arm resizing and the trimming down of her back, and obviously the removal of wrinkles, but I hadn't noticed some of the other stuff. I need to start reading Jezebel more often.

Edited to add a link to their manifesto.

A Web 2.0 Opportunity

I'd love to see a new program available online which would let users enter what they eat. I know FitDay already does this, but it doesn't have the flexibility I would like. I want a food log program that would let me do the following:

  • Enter times for when I eat, in addition to letting me enter what I eat -- or better yet, timestamp the entries but let me change the times if I want
  • Turn off calorie, fat, protein, and carbohydrate counting if I want -- because sometimes I'm more interested in just logging my foods, not entering all that nutritional information about each food
  • Tag each food item I eat (in other words, there would be one entry per day, but within that entry there would be subentries, like to-do lists in Nozbe and Jot. The subentries would be the foods, and you'd be able to tag those)

Right now I'm using my LiveJournal account for food tracking, to see how that works. It's particularly important for me to be able to enter the times I eat, because that helps me to see my overall patterns and sort out the difference between actual hunger and perceived hunger.

For example, yesterday I was pretty much ravenous all day. At about 11:00, I ate some cherry Jello and some yogurt with granola, then about 2:00, I ate some brown rice and vegetables (peas and peppers) with szechuan sauce. I was working on some writing after that, and I became aware of acute hunger. I looked at the clock, and it was 2:40. I thought to myself, there is NO WAY I'm going to eat again, not a mere 40 minutes after I ate a generous portion of vegetables and rice. It helped to see the types of foods, portions, and times I ate so that I could recognize the hunger as a psychological perception and not a true physical need. I'm also interested in seeing if the feelings of hunger pass after a half hour or so. My general guideline is that if I'm still hungry three hours after eating, I eat something else. Otherwise, I'm okay, and there's no good reason to eat more.

Anyway, I think a good web application would probably help a lot of people who are trying to lose (or not gain) weight. Tagging and dating/timestamping would be key, though; it would be useful in all kinds of ways. People who were trying to switch to a vegan diet could tag meals "ovolacto" or "vegan," and people who go off the wagon and have a big slab of cake could tag that "cake" or "sugar," then track those patterns over time to see when they're the most vulnerable to cravings.

I love YouTube's commercials

Here's a montage of the "You will" commercials from AT&T:

The breathless enthusiasm in those commercials reminds me of the ITT Tech commercials I used in my master's thesis as examples of technology narratives as conquest narratives. I haven't been able to find any of the specific commercials I wrote about, but they're the ones that start out by quoting friends and family ("it's great to see him succeed"). I have found several videos on YouTube by students who dislike ITT. Here's one, but it's a parody rather than a rant:

iPhone Parody Material

Am I just not looking in the right place, or has everyone except these people pretty much dropped the ball on iPhone parody?

The IPhone

Add to My Profile | More Videos

Then there's this image:

and this feeble bit by Colbert.

For several days, literally every third story in my Google Reader under my News label was about the iPhone. I kept checking The Onion eagerly to see if they had some good stories about it, but then they just had rehashed content for their July 4 week issue. Since then, nothing.

Peer Review Activity Using Johari and Nohari Windows

I always like to salvage good ideas from the web, repurpose them, and bring them into the writing classroom. I realize that I've never blogged about one I tried last fall which went really well.

Remember the meme about the interactive Johari windows and Nohari windows? I decided to try that with a peer review activity. I made copies of the Johari and Nohari windows -- a two-sided handout -- to accompany their peer review questions.

I asked students to (among other things) circle at least three words from each window which describe the draft in some meaningful way, then write an explanation of why they chose those words (preferably referring to specific passages in the drafts). I found that this heuristic was especially good for giving feedback on personal narrative essays, as students often have a hard time figuring out what kind of commentary to give on those. With the windows, they were able to respond to the writing, the authorial persona, and the tone in really substantive ways. The students also have more social license to give honest negative feedback because they have the excuse of "well, she's making us pick at least three negative words..." Finally, the windows let the students talk about the Johari words in nuanced ways. For example, "sentimental," "tense," "nervous," "shy," and "quiet" are on the Johari (more positive) window, but those could be used as negative terms as well.

I'd recommend the Johari/Nohari method for any composition teacher looking to shake up peer review.


I'm rather embarrassed to admit that I'm addicted to Hot Chicks with Douchebags, but let me explain. The writing is often clever and hilarious, and there's actually quite a bit of revealing cultural commentary. For example, DB1 offers this explanation of the douchebag phenomenon:

At its essence, if I were to attempt to make a generalized definition, douchebaggery is simply about the affected performative role-playing of the peacocking male in an utterly false and constructed way. It is about the adoption of cultural signifiers of "the stud" as an attempt to woo the female by inverting attraction, by making the male douchebag perform as the object of the female's gaze -- to feminize himself. This attempt at gender inversion, an almost mythic reinvention, allows the male to become the object of attraction through invocation of the tropes of gender masquerade. In this way, the male douchifies himself in the hopes of hiding his true self. Douchitude is the mask, the role being played, which hides the douche from his true reality in hopes of, well, getting jiggy with the hot.

I'd actually love to be in a room where Judith Butler is sitting in front of a computer analyzing these images in a think-aloud protocol way.

Plus, a commenter in this post claims that douchebaggery is about the hyperreal, as DB1 had pointed out that the three guys in the post actually looked more like drawn cartoons than people.

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