Archive for January, 2008

25
Jan
08

A commentary on digital literacy…

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21
Jan
08

Beautiful Machinery and a Dinosaur

Wiled away several hours yesterday watching the Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction in Scottsdale with Dad. Some truly beautiful cars, although my favorites from the 30’s and 40’s (aka gangster Fords and Chevy’s were rather few and far between and went for piddly #’s under 100 grand.) Here’s a few of the more interesting auction results:
This Corvette – a 6 speed manual, 6.2 liter V8 with the 00001 serial number – drew the highest bid of any car all weekend – a cool MILLION, to charity.

 

This 1963 Thunderbird concept car went to the owner of the Blackhawk Auto Museuem (from my hometown digs of the East Bay Area, CA).
And then…there was this. Not a car of course, but a robot-dino-that folds up into a tractor-trailer-and crushes cars. It cost 5 million to build and has been “entertaining” since the early 90’s. As bidding slowed down the Robosaurus was heard to growl “I need a new Daddy. If you take me home I promise not to eat any of your classic cars.” Indeed… would you trust the word of somethin’ that looks like this? 😉

21
Jan
08

Travelogue

View off Fidalgo Island

Took a drive today down Chuckanut Ridge and through the lowlands of Skagit County down to the first destination point of Washington Park on the tip of Fidalgo Island. I’ve never seen so many Madrona trees in one place! We took the loop around the park and on one side the water was boiling, a true sea-foam green complete with white foam caught up and blown by the wind. Here, though, on the bluff facing southwest, all was calm.

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After leaving the park we wound around the marina until we came to a fork in the road. “Home or pie?” were the choices. Pie, of course! This is Greenbank Farm on Whidbey Island just below Coupeville, with a local artist co-op, antigue store, pie cafe and wine tasting corner. They have some of the most delicious apple pie ever, the perfect blend of cinnamon and sugar, sweet and tart, topped with raw sugar.
Mmmmm….sorry, no picture of the pie. It didn’t last long enough.
(BTW Wednesday Jan. 23 is National Pie Day…as the flyer at the shop read, “share random acts of pieness!”)

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The local fowl, however, hung around long enough to have their photo taken.

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On the way home, the sun gradually came out and the moon rose in the sky. Having grown up in the smoggy Bay Area of Northern CA I sometimes do a double-take when I see the cerulean blue tones that the skies up here sometimes take on. But Deception Pass was the most stunning view all day.

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 I’m always fascinated by the way that the always-present but usually invisible movement of currents and eddies becomes visible here. Watching a vessel attempt to navigate these challenging waters always reminds me of the trip I took with family years ago in which we had to make our way back to the marina in Anacortes in thick fog using the GPS and nautical charts since visibility was null.  I was in charge of honking the fog horn regularly… I may be obtuse, but it was a blast (no pun intended)! Some day I want to sail/motor through Deception Pass.

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Probably my favorite photo of the day. I love three day weekends – the bookworm gets to rediscover the world again, if only for a bit. A bit is enough, though, when it’s this beautiful.

18
Jan
08

Who knew?

It always strikes me when little things or comments come together to make me see something in a totally new way, in this case to realize value in a set of experiences that I had not seen before. In Bill’ s Basic Writing course today we were having discussion about what makes one a valuable job candidate to community colleges (since Whatcom has a full-time position open that several of us are going to be applying for, though it is a long shot as we’ll be freshly minted grads). Turns out that my undergrad work with minority lit and Minor in Women’s Studies were great choices. So was attending community college, although that’s not a surprise. Certainly someone who attended a community college is going to have a jump on understanding the way the community functions over someone who went straight to a four-year. But I’m sure my eyebrows nearly jumped off my forehead when Bill said that having a GED would be a plus. A GED? A plus? So I’ve never been ashamed of my GED – far from it, I’ve always thought it was a smart choice for me and just the ability to move on to college was hard won — but an asset? Yup. Just like the community college experience, the minority lit, the women’s studies….it means that I’ve got diversity of some kind under my belt. My experience is one that might say to a selection committe that I have the ability to relate to and understand people whose education experience has been somehow other-than-the norm.

In talking with another professor the other day, she mentioned that perhaps my circutious and independant route toward education that had me nearly entirely self-educated through junior high and high school and earning a GED might account for the way I go about education in general, the way that I approach projects, writing, teaching. I hadn’t thought of it that way before. While I’m proud of the fact that I’ve gotten to where I am, I’ve always thought of it as being despite my earlier experiences. I usually think of it in terms of lack (for instance, the fact that I cannot answer a single question on a grammar quiz correctly. I’m not kidding!). But that those experiences of roughing out my own terrain for learning might have created the framework for my approach to learning, is something I need to ponder more. What use I might make of tracing the origins of my way of approaching the institution and way of learning, I am not sure. But its worth some thinking about.

15
Jan
08

Wahoo!

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So part of my conundrum is getting better. I’ve just spent 15 minutes in the TA computer lab and figured out how to do the simple screen captures I need for my my thesis! This is one from the Web 2.0 vid. Just had to share the excitement – I love it when I learn something new and it doesn’t require bashing my forehead into the computer screen multiple times!

15
Jan
08

How do you language a hyperlink?

I’m going to use this space here tonight to try and think through another kind of writing I’m doing in my thesis, so bear with me. Any comments, advice, encouragment, and/or ways to procrastinate are welcome. Who knows, maybe you and this blog will make it into my thesis in my ‘reflection on methodology and my own changing literac(ies)’ chapter….! 

Michael Wesch’s video “The Machine is Us/Ing Us” 2007

An ecologist explores how writers interact to form systems: all the characteristics of any individual writer or piece of writing both determine and are determined by the characteristics of all the other writers and writings in the systems.”  ~Marilyn Cooper, 1984 in “Writing as Social Action”

The Perpetual Beta Internet software is not a static artifact but rather a process of engagement with users. Users are treated as co-developers and the software is developed continuously and out in the open. Companies thus harness the “collective intelligence” of the web users to make sure their software gets better each time it is used. ~ Summary of Tim O’Reily’s defintion of Web 2.0 2005 and 2006

So here’s my conundrum: I have this section of my Master’s thesis that I am working on that simply won’t be written. I don’t mean I can’t write it, in that I don’t want to or have writers block. I’ve been there and this is totally different. It simply won’t be written. I mean written, in this case, in a traditional linear form with claims and evidence and analysis, with citations as flashpoints and my own “creative” act as the primary force. The part that won’t be written is part of an attempt to define web 2.0 within my project, but not only to define it, but to bring together different disciplinary ways of knowing and understanding web 2.0, not to mention different modes and platforms in which these ways of knowing are articulated. I’ve got a scholarly text written in 1984 by a composition scholar, 2 blogs written by Tim O’Reilly  from 2005 and 2006 respectively, and a 2007 YouTube video by an anthropology professor. Up to this point my way of writing has been a nearly simultaneous act of data collection, connection, questions, and articulations of claims that has somehow worked together to get me 45 pages of semi-polished draft and about 100 pages of notes/fragments/nodes/lists of questions/notices/reflections/freewrites. For these 45 pages the method has worked. For these pages that refuse to be written it hasn’t.

I’ve realized that at least part of my struggle here has to do with the fact that I’m limited by the word-processing page that I’m constrained to. I need hyperlinks, I need images, I need contigent and fluid meanings. I need the ability to show the reader the connections that I am making are tentative, contigent, and ultimately situated with my way of reading these texts since for every 1 thing that my connection articulates, it obscures or elides 2 others. I’ve got a mind map of circles and arrows and phrases that visually shows what I want to say. But what the work of a scholarly thesis demands of me seems at odds with this portion of my project. (For instance, I can only use one font in the body of my text, per graduate school guidelines.) So how to work around all this? I need to language these tentative and contigent connections. I need to language a hyperlink. I need to language my choice and arrangement of data without necessarily unpacking or explaining the data in the way a traditional essayist mode would expect. What this also means is that this section cannot be exactly a part of my thesis – it must be an inserted gif file, named and titled as a “Figure” as if this section of work itself were not my own but a citation. Maybe that’s appropriate, since with this chunk the point is not the creative work I am doing but the connections I am drawing. I have to further fragment texts that are already fragmented and put them back together without precluding other connections. Each fragment needs to be inserted into a “web of connotations and codes” as Johndan Johnson- Eilola puts it. I need to draw attention to the fact that, according to articulation theory, each of these fragments means not automatically but because of what it is connected to. The work, then, needs to not only reveal what my position in rhet/comp makes into the contigent meaning, but to perform that contigent meaning as well. The pieces above are just one example of the fragments of works I need to reconfigure and link. What’s missing is the link. But how do I language a link?

OK, so maybe all of this has really been dancing around the real question. Maybe the problem is not the languaging of the link, instantiating the connection between fragments, but in justifying doing this at all. I suppose I have the sense that I need to defend my reasoning behind this approach. The discourse — despite our professed comfort, acceptance, and even enthusiasm for a pomo sensibility — still seems to privelege the linear text with a strong authorial voice, to privelege the act of composing over the act of connecting. That’s not wholly fair, of course, we’re not a bunch of ostrichs with our heads in the sand (at least not here at Western). But still, every text I’ve read that does something different has to explain how and why. However you cut it, its justification. So what’s my justification?

15
Jan
08

Delurking is delightful…

So apparently last week was National De-Lurking week. Who declared it such, I dunno. But sounds like a good idea. I’ve learned today in face-to-face conversation with friends/colleagues that I have a number of lurkers who, for whatever reason, have not commented. No problem. After all, just taking the time to read is great and I appreciate it. But please, feel free to comment – anything. Or just add to my collection of wierd or bizarre YouTube videos. That’s fine, too.  So…

Join Fluffy here and leave a note. 🙂
(Fluffy is a homage to Cathy. Although someday I’ll have a kitty to blog with I don’t currently so for now Fluffy – my virtual cat that I borrowed from another blogger – will have to do).