MEGAUPLOAD site looks useful…

This just goes to show you what you can learn from your students:

In the two online sections of English 328 I’m teaching right now, I’m having students working collaboratively to make short videos that they are going to then upload to YouTube. I know, it’s a logistical nightmare er, challenge. So far, things seem to be working fairly well. The groups are figuring out a lot of different ways of collaborating and interacting with each other– on the eCollege course site, in/on chat rooms, via email, via the phone, and in person. Since about 80% of these students are taking classes on campus along with the online classes, the “outside of class” meeting time has so far seemed to work.

Anyway, I have a lot of thoughts on the implications and possibilities of this assignment that I haven’t really processed yet, and I am very interested to see how this comes off. But I’ve already learned at least one useful tip: MEGAUPLOAD. As far as I can tell, the goal of the site is to host giant files that others can download for various reasons. The “top 100” downloads on the site seem to mostly be game demos and movie trailers. But it is also a site where you can upload the kind of huge files that are difficult to handle via email– you know, things like huge movie files. They’ll take things up to 1 GB for free, and bigger than that if you opt for the premium version.

It’s not a perfect solution of course, but if I am remembering Dànielle Nicole DeVoss, Ellen Cushman, and Jeffrey T. Grabill “Infrastructure and Composing: The When of New-Media Writing” article correctly, one of the big problems there was a computer lab that wouldn’t allow students to save these giant files. This might help with that, and it certainly helps with the online class sharing, too.

ReReRe:CCCC-ing, part 2 (Rethinking the CCCCs as an electronic/virtual conference)

Here’s the second (of three or four?) idea for a CCCCs proposal for “The Remix: Revisit, Rethink, Revise, Renew.” I’m just throwing stuff against the wall here to see if anything sticks, but about a title along the lines of this: “Online Presentations: Rethinking the CCCCs Program.” I brought this up a couple weeks ago in talking about Dan Anderson’s CCCCs presentation/video. Given that it’s possible– even easy– to record a presentation as a podcast or videocast that a) can be discussed online, and b) can exist pretty much forever as a document to reference/cite/link to, what’s the point of in-person/face-to-face conference presentations?

I thought about this again tonight as I came across the CHE article, “Economic Downturn Limits Conference Travel.” A couple of paragraphs:

Attendance is down at many academic and professional conferences in higher education this year, and next year’s numbers are expected to be far worse, as campus budgets take further beatings. With many colleges limiting travel to professors or administrators who are speaking at events they’re attending, will anyone be left in the audience?


It is difficult to say how much of a hit travel is taking, especially because some professors are still able to secure outside grants to cover trips to meetings. But travel budgets have been one of the first things cut on many campuses.

The University of California says it has reduced its travel costs by about 30 percent compared with last year, according to a report to the Board of Regents this month. The university has not banned travel, but it is forcing staff and faculty members to make a case for every trip.

The “outside travel grants” I’ve been able to secure over the years come from the Visa or Master Card foundations. Actually, I think I am still paying off some of the conferences I went to as a PhD student.

I’m not suggesting that there shouldn’t be any “real time” CCCCs. A lot of the meetings that happen there would be tough to hold online, there are some presentations that would be tough to pull off online, and it’s fun to get away to the conference experience. But I think a pretty compelling argument could be made that a lot of the conference experience could be replicated online. Take the classic conference presentation CV entry, for example. I’ve never attended a conference where I didn’t give a presentation (why I wasn’t in SF this past year), and often enough, my presentations have been so poorly attended to be a bit of a waste of time.

Sure, it’s great to attend a “big time” panel with an invigorated and large audience. But given that most presentation audiences are small (out of about 30 or so presentations, I think I’ve had more than 20 people show up to less than 10 of the panels I’ve been on, though I have had 3 or 4 presentations with well over 100), is it really worth it? Couldn’t we all save a lot of money, travel resources, time away from family/friends/work/students/etc., greenhouse gases, and lord knows what else if we just made some simple videos and had online discussions?

ReReRe:CCCC-ing, part 1 (Rip: A Remix Manifesto)

The call for proposals for the 2010 CCCCs in Louisville is titled “The Remix: Revisit, Rethink, Revise, Renew.” First off, proposal readers better get ready for a whole bunch of “Re:”s which is likely to be included in just about every single proposal. I didn’t look too closely at the CCCCs program for San Francisco, but I will bet you there were enough waves to make a reader seasick.

Second, I suspect the CCCCs ought to be careful what it asks for. Is this an organization that is really ready to rethink, revise, and renew? I dunno.

Third– and maybe this is just me– but that “The” bothers me, as in “The Remix,” which suggests singularity which obviously not only doesn’t exist but which is defied by remixing in the first place. Plus every time I read the phrase “The Remix,” I misread and/or hear “The Reflex” by Duran Duran.

I’ve got a couple of vague ideas for proposals, but one thing I’m kind of thinking about is something along the lines of Rip: A Remix Manifesto, only in the form of an essay/word-driven project. Here’s a preview:

The Ann Arbor film festival is going to screen this on Saturday night, but not until 9 pm. And given that I am a flying solo this weekend while Annette is off at a conference, I’m not sure I’ll be able to make it or not. But the point of the movie, as I understand it, is it is the first “open source” documentary, where the filmmaker invited folks to remix/mashup the video. So the two things I wonder about:

Could this work in a “conventional” first year writing project, where one of the research writing “essay” projects was replaced with a “mashup” essay?

And is the CCCCs and/or comp/rhet world actually ready for something like that? Do I want my life easier, or not?

One of my students turned me on to, which supposedly can update your status (or whatever?) in all of your social networks at once. I haven’t really had time to check it out yet and it probably is a good thing/good idea. But I do have two reservations. First, like Debbie (see #7), I sometimes grow weary of the book o’ face. Second, I’m not sure I want to update all of my social networks the same. Maybe I do, maybe not. Actually, I’ve thought recently of setting up a Facebook account that is actually for my “real friends” and not as a “public persona.”

My student learned about at a workshop about publishing and the need for writers to set up their own “platform” for promoting their books/writings/etc. This reminds me that in that conversation I had last week with my journalism friend, he talked about how he used his twitter account to post links to articles he had written. So in the sense of “driving traffic,” perhaps all of these other things do make a little sense.

But before I have time to figure any of this out, I need to get caught up on grading and such….

Steve Krause was surprised by his students’ negative reactions to facebook

Last Monday was Facebook/social networking night in English 516. I had meant to post about this earlier, but it’s been another one of those weeks. In any event, I was somewhat surprised by the generally negative reaction my students had to the ol’ book of face.

As a course requirement, I made them sign up for a Facebook account at the beginning of the term so that they could get a sense of what it was all about. Out of 14 students, I’d guess that about 8 of them didn’t have Facebook accounts already. There were folks who were not crazy about jumping into the Facebook thing at all. And, as became clear last week, the majority of students in the class either didn’t care about Facebook one way or the other, or they were pretty vocally against it. As far as I can tell, there was only one student who considered themselves “addicted” to Facebook, and that student seemed to think it to be a habit like smoking, something that would be best to quit. Generally speaking, most of my class is 20 to early 30 somethings. Most of them are teaching college first year writing or in secondary schools, and they seem more than aware of the extent to which social networks expose them to the world. This is actually quite a bit more aware than my students were just a few years ago.

This group’s reaction makes me think that the Time Magazine article “Why Facebook is for Old Fogies” is surprisingly true, and I think it is also why I predict Facebook is sooner than later going to take a nosedive. It’s a toss-off article, but I think that Lev Grossman has it about right. I am of an age where I like that Facebook allows me to catch up with people from my past (a lot of my students expressed dismay about this), I no longer care one way or the other about high school (though I do like the idea of reunion-type activities), high school and grade school pictures of me are now cute, I’m no longer cool, etc. In contrast, I think that a lot of my students are just young enough to think differently.

And this is why I think that Facebook is going to tank. The original target audience for Facebook, college students and younger, have wised up. I have no idea where they are going to nowadays or what is coming next, but I do know that when the fastest growing group on a social networking site are in the 50+ demographic, you’ve got a “hipness” problem.

Two modest observations about the jounalism biz

I was talking to a friend of mine this morning who has worked as a newspaper reporter for a long LONG time now, this after hearing a story on NPR this morning about how the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is going to make a run of it publishing only online:

  • I think the story has been, ironically enough, somewhat mis-reported. True, fewer people are reading paper/printed newspapers. But when I talk to people who actually know about newspapers, what they tell me is that the loss of revenue that is just crushing them is classifieds. So it isn’t things like Google News or online versions of the newspapers that are doing them in; it’s things like Craig’s List and This might seem like an overly nuanced take on this, but all the reported news I’ve heard has been about how the demise of newspapers has been the result of them giving away its content, when really, these other services invented a better mousetrap
  • On the one hand, newspapers are folding because they aren’t making any/enough money. “We can’t make money at this anymore.” Well, maybe newspapers need to figure out a better business plan or they need to acknowledge they are no longer relevant because of the technology. On the other hand, this is bad because the press as the “fourth estate” stuff. “But we need to protect democracy!” Well, maybe newspapers need to reorganize as not-for-profit entities more akin to public radio/TV, or as foundations like the Pew Trusts. But the only way that newspapers can stay both profitable and a force for democracy is to travel back in time.

Update: If anyone is interested in the opinions of other “experts” (actually, I am in this case), check out this post from Clay Shirky and this one from Steve Johnson. Both are also excerpted in this NYTimes op-ed piece. All good 444 stuff.