Technology and Culture

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Sluicing off this excess self

Heh, ever since John Holbo used that phrase on The Valve, I've been thinking about how apt it is.

Kristine Blair and Pamela Takayoshi, in their introduction to Feminist Cyberscapes: Mapping Gendered Academic Spaces, describe mass media representations of women on the Internet. According to the famous MCI commercial, there is no gender on the Internet. But some other stories have told the cautionary tale of the woman who became addicted to online chat and neglected her husband and children, eventually running off with some man she met online:

The narratives offered in the commercial and the news magazine segment tell two different stories about technology -- the MCI commercial asserts a utopian vision in which we use technology to rise above our material conditions, while the story of female computer addiction suggests a rhetoric of excess in which the promised escape from our material existence positions us as victims. Together, these narratives suggest that a blanket acceptance or rejection of the Internet as an empowering site for women does not account for the complicated relationships between women and technology in their personal and professional lives. (1999, p. 2, emphasis mine)

They go on to cite stories in other mass media publications about the obsessive use by some of online pornography and online harassment (cyber-stalking). At every turn, it's a rhetoric of excess. Likewise with women and blogging. So-called "mommy bloggers" are obsessive, self-absorbed hyperparents. Same with those silly teenaged girls on LiveJournal. What makes them think anyone would actually want to read about their daily minutiae?

The last two days have been gray and overcast. Taken with my stress, this has resulted in listening to melancholy, wistful music (Crowded House) while doing work (dissertation and job applications) and counting the hours until my show comes on (Sunday night Simpsons/Family Guy, Monday night Prison Break).

Excess self. I'm definitely sluicing it off in this meandering post.

Dwight K. Schrute, a character on The Office, has a blog. I don't know if he's the David counterpart or the Gareth counterpart, as I've only watched a few minutes of the U.S. version of The Office. At any rate, it kind of amuses me that this character has a blog. Kind of like that blog Barbie used to have that she doesn't have anymore.

Know who else has a blog? Chris Matthews. It's called HARDBLOGGER. Oh my.

From Firefox to Safari, maybe

I'm having an infuriating problem with Firefox lately, and I might have to switch to Safari, even though I really don't want to. It's a strange redraw problem when I scroll up. This just started a few days ago. I can scroll down, but when I scroll back up, it compresses all the images and text into this mess that looks kind of like sedimented layers of rock, but made out of web page instead.

Okay, wow, one second after I hit "post," I went to View --> Status Bar, and it stopped. Crisis averted, and I get to keep my lovely lovely Firefox with its lovely Pimpzilla theme.

Rhetorical studies of public-access cable?

So, I'm sitting here watching -- for some reason -- Drinking with Troy and Ian, a public-access cable television show. It consists of a couple of guys who look to be in their early twenties sitting in front of a camera and drinking. That's it. In the space of forty-two minutes, they've downed seven shots of Jägermeister. I'm nauseated just witnessing it (assuming it's real Jägermeister).

But it occurred to me: I've listened to podcasts that are kind of like this, and any substantial study of citizen media (which is a big part of my research agenda beyond my dissertation) ought to look at public-access cable. It seems that there's a stereotype that people who make use of public-access cable are political wingnuts and/or just plain weirdos. Think about the Saturday Night Live spoofs of it (and, of course, of Jimmy Fallon's famous character, Jared at Hampshire College, who has the web show from his dorm room). If anyone knows of any studies of public-access cable, doesn't matter what discipline, will you please let me know here or via email?

Dissertation: Literature Review

Now for my concept map that represents my literature review. This is how it's shaping up, and hopefully I won't have to add too much to it (I'm fine with taking stuff out). I've been struggling with it and getting contradictory advice, which I've come to understand is common, and which boils down to one question: Is it preferable, in a dissertation, to enter a specific conversation in one field of study, or to get a broader sampling of books and articles representing multiple disciplinary perspectives on your general topic/object of study, even though you run the risk of overlooking some important work? I'm hoping to be able to do the former, as you can see on the concept map. I want this thing to be wieldy. (This image links to a larger one.)

Literature Review for Dissertation

But if there are problems, I need to know, and I'm always grateful for feedback, so please leave it here or email me.

Online Portfolio of Work Related to Rhetoric, Digital Media, and Feminist Theory


Dissertation Prospectus

Preliminary Exams

Outlook: What's next for blogging? In Bruns, A., & Jacobs, J. (Eds.), Uses of Blogs. Forthcoming from Peter Lang Publishing. Original questions and answers posted July 24, 2005.

Between Work and Play: Blogging and Community Knowledge-Making (Essay in Lore: An E-Journal for Teachers of Writing)

Review Essay on Blogging, October 2002

Sites of Resistance: Weblogs and Creative Commons Licenses (PDF)

Making the Adjunct Visible: Normativity in Academia and Subversive Heteroglossia in the Invisible Adjunct Weblog Community

Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca on Data Selection

"Push-Button Publishing for the People": The Blogosphere and the Public Sphere

Neither Compelling Nor Arbitrary

Thoughts on Burke's "Four Master Tropes"

Response to Burke's "Semantic and Poetic Meaning"

Genre Theory, Genre Analysis, and Blog as Genre

Blogging as Privileged Speech

Anarchy in Academe? A Cultural Analysis of Electronic Scholarly Publishing

Musings on Foucault, Power, and Resistance

Thoughts on Aspasia and Diotima

Feminist Theory

Gender and Open Source

Performativity: Draft of 3W Encyclopedia Entry

Essentialism: Draft of 3W Encyclopedia Entry

Whose Voices Get Heard? Gender Politics in the Blogosphere

Feminist Knowledge Claims and the Postmodern Critique

Identity Politics: Genealogy, Problems, Legitimacy

Theorizing Butler

Can Narrative Do the Work of Theory? A Look at Toni Morrison's Beloved

The Problem of Experience in Feminist Theory

On Theorizing Gender

Intersectionality, and I *Heart* Nomy Lamm

Notes on the Sex/Gender Distinction

Conference Notes

CCCC 2005

CCCC 2004

Feminisms and Rhetorics 2003

Two posts on Computers and Writing 2003

Roundtable on the Status of Qualitative Internet Research (from AoIR 2003)

Rhetoric Seminars

Seminar on Richard Fulkerson, "Composition at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century," College Composition and Communication, June 2005 (56.4)

Composition Theory, "Good Writing," and -- Impending Theory Wars?

More on Fulkerson

Seminar on Kelly Ritter, "The Economics of Authorship: Online Paper Mills, Student Writers, and First-Year Composition," College Composition and Communication June 2005 (56.4)

"It don't matter. None of this matters." Or, composition pedagogy and Ritter's article on plagiarism

More on Authorship, Intellectual Property, "Templates," and Student Writing

Dissertation: Methodology Chapter

As I write my dissertation, I've been mind-mapping like crazy. It helps me rein in all the material I'm using and everything I need to say. What follows is the map of my methodology chapter, which includes everything I really feel that I need to cover, i.e. stuff I would be remiss if I didn't say. But I want to know what you think: Assuming there's too much going on in this chapter as I've conceptualized it at this point, what can be cut? (This image links out to a bigger, readable one.)

Methodology Chapter of My Dissertation

The chapter basically has four parts.

  1. A review of methodological problems (or complexities) to consider in doing qualitative internet research. Some are from a roundtable on the subject, and others I have learned on my own.
  2. A general definition and overview of my approach: how I'm defining "rhetorical analysis," what is meant by a "feminist rhetorical approach."
  3. A description of my data collection and analytical procedure (to answer the "What did you do?" question).
  4. A reflective section that addresses situatedness and reflexivity -- locating myself in the research. This section is an important part of my overarching feminist approach.

I'm tentatively planning on doing it in that order, but I'm open to suggestions if you think another arrangement would be more coherent and sophisticated. [Edited to add: I should put the "operationalizing gender/online identity" point (which is just a little "how I define and interpret gender online" few paragraphs) under "general introduction." Probably better that way.]

My whole dissertation (at this stage) in sixteen pages

I'm working diligently on this thing all the time, improving and clarifying it a bit each day, but I figure now's as good a time as any to ask for some feedback. This paper was published in the conference proceedings of the New Media Research at UMN conference (well, really it was just a spiral-bound collection of the papers presented, distributed only to conference attendees). They might be publishing the papers online as part of a white paper about the state of new media research at the University of Minnesota, but I'm not 100% certain of that. My writing sample for the job market will probably look a bit like this, so I welcome your comments. Leave them here or feel free to email me: Also, please shoot me an email if you decide to use this paper in any classes you're teaching; I like to keep track of that information.

Where Are the Women? Rhetoric and Gender on Weblogs (PDF)

Courts Unlikely To Stop Google Book Copying

Here's a good story about the Google Print Library Project. Experts interviewed in the article, including Jessica Litman, author of Digital Copyright, and William Fisher of Harvard Law School, predict that if the case were brought to court, Google would win, and their scanning would be upheld as fair use. I'm surprised to have found this story via digg rather than Copyfight, but you can find plenty of good background information and opinion posts on Google print here, here, here, here, and here.

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