Technology and Culture

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Computers and Writing Online 2005: Respond to Abstracts!

I'm on the organizing committee for the Computers and Writing Online 2005 Conference, and this year we're doing something that has never been done in our field, or I believe any other: We're having the whole conference on a weblog, including the review process. Actually, we're calling it a "public feedback process," and if you read the guidelines below you'll see that we're less interested in a thumbs-up/thumbs-down accept/reject model and more interested in an abstract-as-conversation-starter, knowledge-making-social model. Anyone with a username at Kairosnews can respond to an abstract (registration is free*), so please provide feedback by May 13.

In keeping with this year's CW Online 2005 conference theme--"When
Content Is No Longer King: Social Networking, Community, and
Collaboration"--conference organizers invite you and other interested
parties to read and respond to the proposals submitted for this year's
conference. These proposals can be found at

Should you choose to participate in this process, we ask that you
consider the following suggested guidelines:

--Before jumping into the response process, look at some proposals that
already have comments posted and get a feel for what's being done.

--Read the proposal carefully and consider what you think might be
improved, extended, re-focused, clarified or otherwise revised.

--We suggest avoiding a lengthy commentary or review. Instead, introduce
some talking points and engage the author in a conversation about the

--Gradually, as the dialogue unfolds, bring in the points you'd like to
see addressed.

--Treat your responses as part of an ongoing dialogue with the author,
your fellow respondents, and casual commentators. When possible,
consider referring to previous responses.

--Generally speaking, we are not looking for responses that are overly
evaluative or argumentative, but rather those that encourage dialogue
leading to clarification and understanding.**

* If you're registered here, you don't have to register at Kairosnews. You can login using as the username, and the password is whatever your password here is.

** This isn't to say you shouldn't be critical of an abstract or feel like you can't disagree with something an author has said; we're just, as I said before, trying to get out of a terse, accept/reject mode. Also keep in mind that it takes courage to put one's work out there for public feedback, and many of these people aren't bloggers, so we're trying to make it more supportive and not so snakepitty.

Ethics and Student Blogging

These are just blinks, really; I want to keep them in mind for next year's Blogging Special Interest Group at CCCC.

Two recent posts by Lilia Efimova on blog research ethics and privacy -- good stuff.

Jill's response, which raises a question I think we as a SIG should talk about more: Should we require students to use pseudonyms when they blog for class?

Another issue I don't think we've talked about enough: what to do once the semester's over, the ethical question of what to do with the blog. On one hand, there's the weblog ethics argument about depublishing (see #4), but on the other, there's the fact that the students are blogging as a requirement, and perhaps a teacher would feel compelled to take the blog down after the learning-in-public experience is over. I've noticed that Mike, for example, chose to depublish his students' weblogs (but I don't know the specific circumstances of that case; maybe the students collectively asked him to take it down, I have no idea). I believe Charlie takes his class blogs down as well; I know he did when he used PostNuke. I myself leave them up, but students know they can go into Blogger or MT anytime they want and delete their own posts. Actually I have the permissions set in such a way as to allow them to edit or delete all the posts if they want, but I ask them to respect others' work by leaving it alone. Judging from Jill's post, she doesn't depublish students' blogs either, if she has administrative privileges on their blogs at all.

CCCC 2006 Proposal: Feedback, Please!

UPDATE: If anyone is doing anything on technology, especially weblogs, and you're looking at submitting something individually but would like to get in on a panel, email me; I have one interested party but we need a third!

I know the deadline for CCCC is tomorrow at midnight, but I'm wondering if anyone doing technology in the classroom would like to invite me to be on their panel, or if any of you would like to give me some feedback on this at the moment half-baked idea I have, which I'll be submitting as close to the deadline as possible, when it will be fully baked, or at least sound like it.

In the conference theme statement, Akua Duku Anokye writes:

[W]e find ourselves in a quandary, a middle space battling against the polarities of everyday life. We work between theory and praxis, object and subject, reading and writing, black and white, literature and composition, native and non-native, oral and visual, cognitive and affective, product and process, academic and personal, individual and group. Now we need to ask, "How does composition reconcile the binaries to build coalitions, culture and community in the rich way that Chicago has built its identity?" How do we meet the challenges of this middle ground by embracing our diversity, forging new alliances, and joining with others that care about America’s literacy needs?

The whole conference is about middle spaces and coalitions between polarities. I plan to submit a proposal about the rhetoric of innovation and access, the need to work within and respond to technological innovations and the sense of social responsibility associated with issues of access. A couple of questions keep buzzing around in my mind: Assuming coalitions could and should be built, how would we as a field go about it? If the call to "think critically about technology" has become an empty gesture, how can the original idea, which, as I understand it, is to keep socioeconomic context of technological tools in the foreground and to refrain from being technological determinists (in other words, let the pedagogy drive the technology, not vice versa -- but wouldn't some people argue that this aphorism is misguided?), be reframed in a more vital way? This is one of those times I'd like to be able to propose a completely different format, a discussion rather than a presentation, but oh well. I was inspired by, and will be citing, the discussions spurred by Will Hochman and Chris Dean's article, Hypertext 101. Collin responded, then Jeff, Sharon, Mike, Jeff, Collin, Collin, and Sharon. I'm probably forgetting some posts, but that's a good start. It was, for me, an extremely thought-provoking conversation, and I of course like the idea that the idea for this presentation grew out of blogging -- open access scholarly discussion. I have (a lot) more to say, obviously, but must pause for now and ruminate about it.

I smell a thesis

This whole Los Alamos National Laboratory thing should be studied by someone interested in organizational communication. The lead: "A blog rebellion among scientists and engineers at Los Alamos, the federal government's premier nuclear weapons laboratory, is threatening to end the tenure of its director, G. Peter Nanos."

And later in the article:

The blog runs a petition for Dr. Nanos's immediate removal; it has garnered more than 100 signers, although most have concealed their names.

One who signed openly in February was Dr. Brad Lee Holian, a theoretical physicist who worked at the lab for 32 years. He retired a month later.

"People were feeling like they were in a pressure cooker," Dr. Holian said in an interview last week. "Nanos is so abusive, not just to the general staff but his underlings. People were afraid to say anything. On the blog they could vent without fear of reprisal."

Interesting in terms of its implications for leadership, communicative norms, scientific/technical communication, privacy, etc.

I haaaaaate Microsoft

Okay, so ever since I bought this iBook and hooked it up to my cable modem, I haven't been able to connect to the internet with my desktop (a PC). EVERY TIME it says "A network cable is unplugged." No it's not! It's plugged!! I've spent hours on the phone with Comcast tech support, and I've done the following:

  • Turned everything off, unplugged everything (modem, machine), plugged everything back in, turned everything back on again (oh, and I have done this MANY times)
  • Uninstalled and reinstalled the drivers for my network card (which is built into the motherboard)
  • Done a System Restore

The people at Comcast think it's a glitch in the operating system. There's obviously nothing wrong on Comcast's end, and the modem is fine; I have no trouble at all connecting with the iBook. Why would everything work perfectly for almost a year now -- the whole time I've been living in this apartment -- and all of a sudden stop working completely? Aaaarrgh. Microsoft is crap. It's the only logical conclusion.


I'm posting from my new 14" iBook that I've been playing with all afternoon (including GarageBand!). I'd been meaning to get one for years now, and almost did last year at this time, but I hemmed and hawed, then had to move to a new apartment, moving expenses, etc. This year upon receiving the tax refund, though, I decided it was now or never, that I absolutely had to get this laptop while I had the money in my account (and while I'm still a student -- love that $100.00 discount).

So I've been trying to install OpenOffice, which has been a pain. They try to intimidate you, saying you have to be an advanced UNIX user to be able to use OO for the Mac. Then there are all these other hurdles; I had to insert the OS X install disc 3, download and install XFree86 Darwin or something to that effect, and now I still can't open the program, because I have no idea how to answer this question: "Where is your preferred X Window server?" Huh? It gives me a list of a bunch of applications, but I guess I'll wait until someone can help me out. Either that or just use AppleWorks. I can save files in .rtf and .doc format, so it might work out okay. Or, might this work itself out once I upgrade to Tiger?

Computers & Writing Online 2005

I'm excited. For the first time ever in our field, the online version of the Computers and Writing Conference is going to be held in public, on a blog (Kairosnews). Instead of having a review process with designated reviewers, we're having a public feedback process (I say "we" because I'm on the organizing committee), which will have designated respondents but will allow anyone registered on Kairosnews or another Drupal site to offer comments as well (collaboration, baby!). Here's the call for proposals:

CFP: Computers and Writing Online 2005

When Content Is No Longer King: Social Networking, Community, and Collaboration

David Reed explains that in the early stages of a network's formation and growth, that “content is king,” that there are a “a small number of sources (publishers or makers) of content that every user selects from" (qtd in Rheingold Smart Mobs 61). As the network scales, “group-forming networks” occur, and the value of the network increases exponentially in relationship of the number of users, otherwise known as Reed's Law, privileging the social interaction over content.

We can see this change in network valuation in today's Internet. The increased valuing of social interaction in large scale networks is reflected in the new technologies that place emphasis on social communication and community over content. These technologies, often dubbed “social software” are applications that, as Clay Shirky explains, “support group interaction.”

We invite proposals from scholars, graduate students and others who have an interest in computers and writing and social interactions and are working on projects in gestation, in progress, near completion, or at any stage in between, whether a thesis or dissertation, article, book project, or just want to preview and fine-tune your conference presentation for Computers and Writing Conference hosted by Stanford University. This is a unique opportunity for extended discussion of your ideas before heading to Palo Alto. Conference organizers are particularly interested in presentations that address, but are not limited to, the following concerns:

  • Internet “social software” technologies such as blogs, wikis, RSS, social networks (orkut and friendster), and social bookmarking (
  • Mobile technologies such as wi-fi and smart phones.
  • More traditional social, community communication spaces of email, discussion forums, newsgroups, listservs, and MOO's.

As an acknowledgment of the value of social networks in creating discourse of and about scholarly work, CWOnline 2005 will follow a submission process using weblogs whereby participants will submit abstract proposals for public review and feedback within the Kairosnews site. Final versions of presentations will be made available online on Kairosnews.

Interested presenters should present a 150-250 word abstract by midnight April 30. Abstracts must be submitted to CW Online 2005 at Not only will presentations receive feedback from conference organizers, but presenters are encouraged to invite colleagues to provide feedback and to expect feedback from people who are responding out of the goodness of their hearts. Presenters are expected to respond to the feedback provided by organizers and "informal" reviewers as a condition of being accepted as presenters. Final presentations should either be posted to the CW Online blog space, or a link to the presentation should be posted in the blog with a brief explanation of what the materials covers.

More specific information about the abstract and presentation submission process is available at

Formal registration for the conference will occur when participants sign on to the conference listserv,, at


  • Proposal abstracts accepted until midnight, May 2
  • Reviews completed by midnight May 8
  • Acceptance email sent no later than May 10
  • Presenters will begin posting their presentations on an assigned date, beginning May 31 and ending June 13.
  • Discussion on each submission continues as long as interest warrants.

For support and more information about conference technologies, visit

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