The kids today and the internets

This is mostly a reminder post for 516 for winter 2012 (I assume I’ll be teaching it then) and some reading(s) I might want to add about participatory culture and digital natives, and it’s in my mind now because I literally came across both of these things almost at the same time while looking for other things.

First, there’s the book Born Digital, which looks like a much smarter version of the whole “digital natives” argument than Pensky.  Along these lines is the web site/group Youth and Media.

Second, Clay Spinuzzi posted on his blog a useful review of Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century By Henry Jenkins with Ravi Purushotma, Margaret Weigel, Katie Clinton, and Alice J. Robison, useful not only for his comments but also for the link to the book.  Thanks Clay, and go read some more Jenkins– good stuff.

Another link round-up post

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks around here, all work work work work, and not the sort of work that is particularly interesting to blog about.  All committees and inside department/program politics, things that are maybe interesting to an audience of a dozen people, tops, and often times things that are not interesting to even me.

EMU is on break this week, which will (hopefully) give me a chance to catch up on grading, reading, prepping for the rest of the term, and writing a couple of blog posts too.  But while I’m sitting here watching the Oscars, I thought I’d go ahead and clear out the tabs in my browser and sort through my reader and post a bunch a links:

“Twitter’s five-year evolution from ridicule to dissidents’ tool,” from the Guardian UK, and “The ‘Twitter Can’t Topple Dictators’ Article,” both of which are  articles about Twitter that I’m liable to in my current section of Writing for the World Wide Web.  It’s a nice contrast of readings that say that Twitter is “all that” and that its not.

“Blogging high school teacher has no job — and no regrets.” This is one of many articles about a high school teacher named Natalie Monroe who was fired for a blog that was a bit too honest with her critiques of students. She is still blogging about all this at

The World’s Only Ass Kicking Machine. Something I could have used over the last month or so.

Slushpile Hell. Maybe this is why I gave up trying to write fiction.

“The truth about writers.” This is an oldie, actually, an op-ed piece from back in 2009 from the LA Times. But I think it’s pretty accurate and funny.

“How to Write Faster” from Lifehacker, which I guess might be helpful to the person who wrote that LA Times piece.

I am hoping to have more interesting things to say soon….

Scholarly reading blogging interlude: CCC, what’s with the “posters?”

Once again, I’m in that “completely swamped” territory of work stuff, this time more because of grading/assessment project I’ve nicknamed the Googledocs Gradinator 2011 v1.1-1.2.  I’ll probably post about that soon– maybe yet this weekend as I finish up the first batch of grades/comments on projects for English 328.  And I am actually in the process of reading things; right now, it’s Marilyn Cooper’s excellent essay in the most recent issue of College Composition and Communication on “agency,” a concept that proved to be quite thought-provoking in English 505 last fall.  This is an essay that will probably find its way into that class the next time I teach it, and I really will be blogging about that some time next week.

But for the time-being:  CCCs, what’s the deal with these “posters?”

I think this began a few issues ago with one about “the rhetorical situation” (complete with obligatory triangle), and the most recent ones are for “Literacy/Literacies” (December 2010) and “Genre” (February 2011).  Of course, they aren’t posters at all, but rather one page pieces with some kind of graphic element (for “Genre,” it is a word cloud, which strikes me as a sort of odd choice, almost the use of a genre to define “Genre”), and “Literacy/Literacies” was accompanied by an image of the book cover from the 1917 textbook English Composition as a Social Problem. (?????)

As barest of bare bones summaries, I guess they are okay, but honestly, I can’t see giving either one of these to students as some sort of introductory piece to students.  Maybe– maybe— they would be useful if my non-academic Mom asked me something like “dear, I read that people in your field are interested in ‘genre;’ what is that?” but how big of an audience is that, really?  My reading of the validity of all of these posters to date has been “well, sort of,” not because they are not well written and inaccurate, but because they are attempting to define God terms that are too slippery for a less than 500 word summary.

So honestly, does anyone out there have a sense of the purpose of these things?

On Cosgrove’s “What Our Graduates Write” and Gogan et al’s “Research Centers as Change Agents”

Man, it’s been a couple of crazy weeks around here.  It’s been a tsunami of teaching stuff (one experiment of which I might be blogging about soon), meetings up the ying-yang, reports/requests/documents/whatever to write, grad students interested in our MA program, program poli-ticks not worth explaining here, etc., etc.. And then there’s that pesky teaching thing, which I feel pretty far behind on too.


This is two-fer in my on-going reading and reviewing scholarship project, two pieces from the December 2010 College Composition and Communication.  First, there’s Cornelius Cosgrove’s “What Our Graduates Write:  Making Program Assessment Both Authentic and Persuasive.”  This is an essay that starts out kind of slow for me, describing what I see as a fairly routine assessment of what graduates from writing programs end up doing.  And I have to say that while I realize assessment work is important and a legitimate area of study and all that, I personally find it kind of boring.

But I like what Cosgrove does here, especially in his results.  First, he raises some interesting questions about what it is we should count as “writing” in the public sphere, more or less suggesting that we ought to be more open to considering a lot of different kinds of writing beyond traditional classroom settings.  I think it’s difficult for us within academia to often see what those other kinds of “real world” writing practices might be, so it’s useful to just ask our graduates and let them tell us.

Second, I really like what he has to say about the extent to which we ought to (or really, not) teach specific software, because that’s changing all the time.  Rather, “it’s just that the practice we provide our undergraduates should probably be driven more by the texts they are likely to produce than by the software applications that are extant that the moment when they are producing them (326).”  I agree 100%, and for me, it means that there isn’t really much point in teaching students how to use a specific piece of software in class like Writing for the World Wide Web or a computer documentation class.  Specific software choices shift way too fast, and besides, just because we teach students to use a specific software because it is the “industry standard” doesn’t automatically mean that particular employers will actually use that software, if that makes sense.

And I also agree that students today in writing programs need to think about is actually creating an audience for their writing via blogs and other social network sites.  That’s a point that might be coming up in my section of “Writing for the World Wide Web” this term.

As far as “Research Centers as Change Agents:  Reshaping Work in Rhetoric and Writing” by  Brian Gogan, Kelly Belanger, Ashley Patriarca, and Megan O’Neill goes:  I think it’s a reasonably good piece about the history of research centers and how they have contributed to the field.  For the most part, this seems to me a history of research centers and sort of a recap of some of the current ones that are in operation and that are tied to writing studies.  But I have to say I found my mind wondering in reading this one.

While Buttoning Down for the Groundhog Day Snowopoloza

Three snowy thoughts:

  • Extreme snow edition #1: circa 1982/3/4, the middle of Iowa:  the worst snow event I can recall happening to me was somewhere in high school.  I recall being a part of a high school debate/speech team event where I ended up being stranded for at least a couple of nights with classmates and chaperons in some ridiculously small Iowa town and equally ridiculous small town motel.  I remember it was about 8 people to a room, we could only eat at the deli counter at Hy-Vee for some reason, and the David Lynch movie The Elephant Man was on repeatedly on HBO or some such thing.
  • Any number of snowy memories/tortures blur together.  There were many other storms in Iowa, including a drive back to the University of Iowa from Cedar Falls on quasi-closed interstates with a classmate who I can’t remember:  I do recall coming back the Sunday after Thanksgiving only to find the university closed on that Monday.  I remember several times in Richmond, VA, where the (comparably modest) snow and/or ice and/or snow ended any sort of normal interaction in the city.  There was a terrible storm in Bowling Green that included -20 degree weather,  snow like crazy, canceled classes, etc.  I am sure there were other such experiences I’m forgetting.
  • And now we have this latest event, which is easily the most hyped snow event in recent memory.  I’m writing/thinking about this post long before this turns truly ugly, but I have to wonder if it’s possible for any weather event to live up to these expectations.  I suppose tomorrow morning will tell.