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New Double Issue of JCMC

There's a new double issue of the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication on "Online Communities" and "Computer-Mediated Collaborative Practices." Give it a read if you're interested in one or more of those topics. In the latter theme, there's an article on the use of IM in collaboration. I had hoped to see a case study of wiki use as well, but maybe no one submitted one. At least Wikipedia gets a mention in the introduction to the "Online Communities" theme.

MOO: I finally get it

Last night I participated in a MOO for the first time as part of Lennie Irvin's presentation for the Computers and Writing Online conference. Actually, it wasn't an old-school text-based MOO, but a web-based MOO running on enCore. I ended up learning a lot about MOO from talking to the experienced MOOers in there. For a long time, I was one of those people who had only a vague sense of MOO as synchronous chat. I thought, what makes these any different from, say, AOL Instant Messenger? Those I talked to before said something to the effect of, "Well, you have these rooms in the MOO, and the rooms are saved -- always there when you go back." I didn't at the time understand the meaning of that; it didn't seem like a good enough reason to continue to study MOO or to use them in writing courses. So I continued with my view of "The MOO is dead. Long live the blog!" (Kairosnews inside joke.)

But I now see that MOO still has much to offer rhetorically and pedagogically if people continue to use it. What struck me the most were the connections I saw to a post from a while back on Collin's blog in which he linked to Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink. In it, Pink argues that in the emerging "conceptual age," the following five skills are becoming very important: "design, story, symphony, empathy, play, and meaning." From what I learned about MOO last night, I'd go as far as to say that MOO is an ideal technology that could be used for bringing out these skills. Of course, writers must learn visual design and how to tell stories with images and sound, which means learning not just how to use tools like PhotoShop and iMovie, but fundamental design principles like line, color, texture, and form. But with MOO, users are forced to provide rich descriptions of rooms, objects, and ways of interacting with the objects. It's design on a different level, and I would argue very creative.

Consider Alex Reid's list of what should be in a writing program (I don't list them all here):

  • some creative writing courses, which offer opportunity for experimentation, for practicing poetic language, for thinking about character (psychology/affect) and narrative, for crossing genres, and for addressing audience in a unique way;
  • courses in poetics and rhetoric as the underlying theories/philosophies of writing, which is something often absent from creative writing courses that tend to naturalize the writing process (and here I'm NOT thinking about the conventional rhetorics of a FYC handbook, not a pragmatics/how-to of process and audience-awareness, but an encounter with the aporias of symbolic behavior--again, the point is to develop the creative, conceptual "right-brain");
  • courses in other professional genres--technical writing, business writing, and so on--that are not taught in the traditional positivistic manner, but rather in the context of creative writing and rhetoric/poetics;
  • and, of course, coursework in new media, the practical but also its aesthetics, poetics, and rhetorics, which is not to say that technology isn't infused throughout this curriculum, but that you actually have to have a place where students experiment with the media.

It's not that I don't think weblogs, wikis, social bookmarking, etc. aren't great technologies, but MOO makes a lot of sense to me in meeting these objectives, and I'm ready to get behind efforts to keep them in use.

Computers and Writing Online 2005: Announcement and Conference Program

I know I've blogged about this before, but I'm on the organizing committee of this conference, and I'm going to promote it; that's just the way it is. This is the big announcement, with the long version of the conference program below the fold (I copied and pasted all the abstracts here, which the Attribution-NoDerivs-Noncommercial Creative Commons license encourages me to do, I might add).

Computers and Writing Online 2005
When Content Is No Longer King: Social Networking, Community, and Collaboration

The 2005 Computers and Writing Online Conference begins on Tuesday,
May 31, and runs through Monday, June 13. This is the first-ever
online conference in our field to be open-access, Creative
Commons-licensed, and hosted on a weblog, and it promises to be
innovative and insightful. We set out to perform the concepts and values of the conference theme -- networking, community, and collaboration -- in our review process, which was open to the public and emphasized group
interaction and helpful, supportive feedback. The responders have done
an excellent job engaging the authors' ideas, and the authors'
responses to the feedback they received have really demonstrated how
enriching this public, collaborative model can be for scholarly work.
The conference organizers would like to extend a big "Thank you!" to
the authors and the responders. Included with each abstract in this
announcement is the link to the original; we strongly encourage you to
read the comments.

As with the abstracts, the presentations are accessible to anyone with
an internet connection, and anyone with an account at Kairosnews
(registration is free) can leave comments. For more information, visit
the CW Online 2005 weblog:

Drawing upon the conference's theme of exploring the increasing value
of the network and collaborative practices within it, presenters
examine the role(s) played by social networking applications and other
technologies that are intended to foster social interaction,
community, and collaboration. Alongside studying the technologies
themselves, presenters will observe and describe the ways that
writers and users are engaging the technologies and how such
engagement is changing our ideas about writing and teaching writing,
and, more broadly, the concepts of rhetoric and composition
themselves. We very much hope you'll get involved by leaving your
comments, or, if you prefer, respond on your own weblog and leave a
trackback! Or write a response on your wiki! Or tag presentations on
your or list! You get the idea. This
conference is meant to be networked.



May 31: Charlie Lowe and Dries Buytaert: It's about the Community
Plumbing: The Social Aspects of Content Management Systems

June 2: Cathy Ma: What's so special about the Wikipedia?

June 4: Olin Bjork and John Pedro Schwartz: E-service Learning

June 6: Bob Stein, Kim White, Ben Vershbow, and Dan Visel: Sorting the
Pile: Making Sense of A Networked Archive

June 7: Traci Gardner: From Danny Dunn and the Homework Machine to The
Secret Blog of Raisin Rodriguez

June 8: Lennie Irvin: MOO-the Second Decade? 7:00-8:30 p.m. CDT ProNoun MOO

June 9: John Spartz: Web Accessibility and Its Impact on Student
Learning: A Qualitative Study

June 10: Matt Payne: Digital Divides, Video Games, and New Media

June 11: Marina Meza & Susanna Turci: Desiging an Electronic Bilingual
Dictionary for International Trade

June 12: Collin Brooke: Weblogs as Deictic Systems

June 13: Erika Menchen: Feedback, Motivation and Collectivity on

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

Wikimedia Commons and

I'm a slowpoke...I'm finally getting one of those social bookmarking sites.

In looking through the Wikimedia Commons, I found a couple of cool collections of images: 18th Century Fashion (might use that image on the left as my new CultureCat image when I do the upgrade to Drupal 4.6 and accompanying redesign, do the whole thing in black and white), the collection of Louis Riel's family photographs, and the Edward S. Curtis collection. All these images are either copyleft or public domain.

The Aftermath of Access

Collin Brooke and Jennifer Bay kicked off their panel, "The Aftermath of Access: From Critical to Creative Computer Literacies" by showing theses from the Creative Computing Manifesto. I thought their approach -- two presentations that were sort of networked together -- was excellent; composing my notes now, I'm struck by how nonlinear the presentation was (in a good way!). I'll do my best to summarize the panel here, and hopefully contribute something to the conversation. Maybe the fact that I'm linking to the sources they mentioned will be helpful for some of you.

Bay (someone I don't know, so I'll use the last name) started off by problematizing a concept one encounters in writing courses. She said, "'The writing public' is already out there. People are already in it; they don't have to 'enter' it." She then described three kinds of computer literacies: functional literacy (the ability to use), critical literacy (awareness of values and ideologies embedded in computer culture), and network literacy, to which the panel was devoted.

To historicize and situate network literacy, Bay then reviewed Carolyn Miller's 2004 article Expertise and Agency: Transformations of Ethos in Human-Computer Interaction (PDF). In it, Miller identifies two major kinds of ethos associated with computers: rational reliability and sympathy. An "expert system" is rationally reliable, as opposed to an "intelligent agent," which gets its ethos through its common sense. Its agency emerges through social interaction. The 1990s saw a good deal of analysis of intelligent agents -- AI programs -- bots.

Couplea Links

Check out, a portal of resources for rhetoricians.

Also, I notice that there's now a new CC Wiki License. According to Lawrence Lessig, wiki contributors are "looking for a license that was (1) share alike, but (2) required attribution back to the wiki, rather than to the individual contributors to the wiki." He notes that this "could be achieved with a very slight change to our existing Attribution-ShareAlike license: rather than requiring attribution back to the copyright holder, require attribution back to either the copyright holder or a designated entity." That's fine, but I'm wondering why we need a separate license for this distinction. Couldn't the distinction just be added to the Attribution-ShareAlike v. 3.0 license with an "as the case may be" stipulation? One of the objections to copyright law is that it is too needlessly complicated, and we need a simpler solution. I guess it's just a choice between having more simple licenses or fewer (more complex) licenses.

Wikipedia: The Heavy Metal Umlaut Article

Specifically, a screencast about it. [edited to remove redundancy] Via Collin.

In other news, Sam is trying to decide what to wear at CCCC. I'm all packed, and as I said in a comment under Sam's post, my clothes will be fairly casual, but not slovenly. I'm not knocking myself out, just wearing clothes I teach in (you'll see in the pictures I post from the conference.). I'm bringing one pair of jeans, but I might not wear them until the plane ride home. If I had a pseudonymous blog about academia, maybe I'd write a fashion report about CCCC, seeing if trends in my field are in keeping with what people have pointed out at Invisible Adjunct -- for example, power suits for the job-seeking and baggy, frumpy clothes with "large ethnic jewelry" for the tenured. I don't at all have strong opinions about the way academics dress, but it's going to be fun to notice, like playing that road trip game where you notice the states on car tags.

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