Technology and Culture

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We Feel Fine

I don't think We Feel Fine has been publicized enough yet. I'm fascinated by the concept, and of course I thought instantly of Jenny's research. From their mission statement:

Since August 2005 [and I'm just now finding out about it?!], We Feel Fine has been harvesting human feelings from a large number of weblogs. Every few minutes, the system searches the world's newly posted blog entries for occurrences of the phrases "I feel" and "I am feeling". When it finds such a phrase, it records the full sentence, up to the period, and identifies the "feeling" expressed in that sentence (e.g. sad, happy, depressed, etc.). Because blogs are structured in largely standard ways, the age, gender, and geographical location of the author can often be extracted and saved along with the sentence, as can the local weather conditions at the time the sentence was written. All of this information is saved.

The result is a database of several million human feelings, increasing by 15,000 - 20,000 new feelings per day. Using a series of playful interfaces, the feelings can be searched and sorted across a number of demographic slices, offering responses to specific questions like: do Europeans feel sad more often than Americans? Do women feel fat more often than men? Does rainy weather affect how we feel? What are the most representative feelings of female New Yorkers in their 20s? What do people feel right now in Baghdad? What were people feeling on Valentine's Day? Which are the happiest cities in the world? The saddest? And so on.

They have a gallery of montages you can browse, with the "I feel" sentences matched with images that accompany the posts. My last post is even up there.


Did all of you already know about, a rather regrettable parody of the actual feministing? I can't believe I've only just now happened upon it (via Ilyka Damen).

Please update your address books

I've decided to take the plunge and switch everything over to Gmail. I'm having email forwarded to my new Gmail account, so I shouldn't lose any, but I'd appreciate it if everyone would contact me at clancy.ratliff at gmail dot com in the future. Matter of fact, it would be really cool if everyone reading this would email me just a quick ping so that Gmail will save your address in my list of contacts.

Tech Support Much Appreciated

I'm having a serious problem with Thunderbird. Context here.

Yes, nerds and geeks, I know I should have set up my email so that it's backed up on the server. Actually it doesn't look like any of the mail is lost; I just can't access it. My address book seems to be AWOL, though.

Textual Transgressions Online: Plagiarism and Fraud in Weblogs and Wikis

The following is our CCCC panel: myself, Rebecca Moore Howard, and Sandra Jamieson. Becky did a great job putting this together, so a public thank you is in order.

Session Description:

Contemporary life in the U.S. is awash in the discourse of transgressive textuality. Concerns about text owners' ability to profit from their property led to the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act of 1998, which extends copyright protection seventy years past the author's death. Many professional organizations include the subject of plagiarism in their statements on professional ethics; most colleges have established policies regarding plagiarism; and the Council of Writing Program Administrators has issued a Best Practices document addressed to college teachers, students, and administrators.

None of these addresses questions of plagiarism in weblogs and wikis. As Siva Vaidhyanathan has observed, plagiarism is a local rather than legal issue; it is adjudicated through institutional practices and policies. When one blogger plagiarizes from another—whether that plagiarism is unattributed quotation or wholesale appropriation of entire texts—there are no regulations to remediate the situation. Copyright infringement has occurred only if the appropriation deprives the originating blogger of income, which is seldom the case. When no colleges or professional organizations are involved, the appropriation falls under no one's plagiarism policies. This panel explores how web users define and deal with plagiarism in the absence of official policy and procedure; the implications of their definitions and responses; and the larger authorship issues raised by the Internet.

SPEAKER 1, "Negotiating and Regulating Plagiarism in Everyday Blogging Practices"
"You hv posted a very kewl blog. I have stolen a few things from It just to start with my own blog." This message, a curious kind of indirect citation, was sent to Speaker 1. The sender, who wishes to start a weblog and wants some startup material for it, copies and posts material from Speaker 1's weblog. However, s/he notifies the author shortly afterwards, along with a compliment and an expression of thanks. Speaker 1 discusses both this illustrative case and an argument about improper citation of material on the popular group weblog Kuro5hin*. In a comment thread at Kuro5hin, one poster publicly called out another for plagiarizing material from Wikipedia, and another poster made the argument that Kuro5hin "isn't exactly a formal publication." This is a moment in which notions of intellectual property and plagiarism are staunchly disagreed upon, and these cases demonstrate the complexity and variety of views of these concepts. Speaker 1 argues that these cases reveal a segment of the cultural milieu regarding the concept of plagiarism and that further exploration of plagiarism in nonacademic, everyday public discourse can enrich the existing body of classroom research about intellectual property, authorship, and plagiarism.

Notes from Next/Text Rhetoric

What follows are my notes on the Next/Text meeting for Rhetoric and Composition. At first I was really vigilant about preceding people's comments with their names or initials, you know, so they'd get credit for what they said. But then things got so rapid-fire that I got lazy about it. These notes represent what we, as a group, said, and each of us made contributions: myself, Cheryl Ball, Cindy Selfe, Daniel Andersen, David Blakesley, David Goodwin, Geoffrey Sirc, Janice Walker, Jeff Rice, Johndan Johnson-Eilola, Karl Stolley, Kim White, Michael Day, Victor Vitanza, and Virginia Kuhn. To give a little background, Next/Text is one of the projects of the Institute for the Future of the Book, which is part of the Annenberg Center at the University of Southern California. Next/Text is focused on classroom textbooks in particular. Our meeting was devoted to imagining how we in rhetoric and composition would go about creating a completely new electronic textbook -- new, as opposed to CD-ROM companions to print textbooks: your basic linear, text-with-images, PDF-esque, "take a book from the tradition of print, digitize it, and smack it up on the Web."

As we started out, we briefly discussed institutional constraints and realities -- the old hiring, promotion, and tenure. In any discussion of online/technological work, we can't put those aside or dismiss them. Although this part was kind of bracketed after the initial comment, I suppose it was always in the background. For a while, we talked about generalities: basic needs, realities of textbook publishing, realities of online projects which someone starts (a faculty member) and others work on and contribute to (e.g., graduate students/T.A.s, non-tenure-track instructors, etc.). There was a stated need for what we, for lack of a better term, called a datacloud with portals and axes that help to organize content (which I'm going to call tags here, because that's basically how they'd function). I kept smiling and thinking of a conversation I had once with (the brilliant) Geoffrey Sauer, who emphasized the need for me really to connect scholarship with what it is I do online. I was trying to offer ideas of what I thought he was driving at, and he kept saying, "no, it can't be just another archive!" I relayed Sauer's call for some new online endeavor that wasn't just another archive to the Next/Text group, who agreed vigorously.

Next/Text Meeting: Rhetoric Textbooks, Digital

I took copious notes at the Next/Text Rhetoric meeting of the Institute for the Future of the Book, but I still need to work on massaging them into blog-post suitability, and I have an imminent deadline for an article for S&F Online. Plus, I'll be out of town with spotty internet access until May 7, so posting will be pretty much nonexistent until then. For the time being, check out Jeff's notes from the meeting, Dan's notes, and the pictures I took during my stay in L.A. By the way, the folks at the Institute are terrific hosts. Great food and accommodations -- my first-ever stay at a bed and breakfast.

My first contribution to YouTube

Enjoy. (It's imperative that I get a better camera soon.)

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