A little pre-writing on a C&W presentation on mentorship

I’m going to do two presentations at the Computers and Writing conference at Purdue and one of them is called “Virtual Mentorship.” It was a panel cooked up by Derek for a variety of reasons, and I suppose one of the reasons why I’m involved is because I am his officially designated mentor.  And it occurs to me that I ought to start thinking about this….

A few pre-writing thoughts this morning:

  • I have to somehow work into this the “mentor” I had at Southern Oregon University when I started my first job way back when.  I can’t remember this guy’s name (and I should say I don’t exactly blame him for his approach to “mentoring”), but the main thing he wanted to talk about was his retirement plan, not exactly the kind of thing that was on my mind as a starting professor.
  • In my estimation and research about blogging, I think that the best metaphor for community is “parallel play,” which is a common and easily observed practice among toddlers where they don’t so much play together as they play next to each other.  Most bloggers, it seems to me, are interacting next to each other rather than directly with each other, meaning that what counts as “community” is a little more loosely formed.
  • Unlike my institutionally assigned relationship at SOU, mentorship in/through blogs comes indirectly and often anonymously.  I think that the late John Lovas was very much a blogging mentor to me and many others in my cohort of bloggers, though I only met him once and I don’t know to what extent he was aware of his mentoring role.
  • Along these lines: it seems to me that a lot of academic types who I used to follow as bloggers have either stopped entirely and often publicly, or have slowed down so much that they might as well have stopped.  Maybe it’s because they have matured out of toddler-hood and no longer are interested in the side-by-side play that is the blogosphere; maybe, as is usually the case with rhetorical situations, the situation itself has “degraded” and/or reached a point of closure.  Maybe they just got bored.  At first, my reaction to this was “oh, people just don’t blog anymore.”  But really, I think what is happening is that a new generation/cohort of academic and/or comp/rhet bloggers is emerging for me, including Ryan Truman and Brian McNely, not to mention a ton of people I came across/learned about through the Twitter feed for the CCCCs.
  • So really, even though I am a “designated mentor” for Derek and I have served in that function by showing him some of the ropes at the institution and with the main undergraduate class we both teach, it seems to mentorship is a two-way street.  I’m getting as much from him and these other “younger guys” than I’m giving, probably more.

On the MFA, 20 years later

While on my every other day “run” the other day and while listening on my iPhone to Michael Chabon’s Manhood for Amateursand let me say now as an aside that 20 years ago, I most certainly would not have been doing any of those things– I listened to his essay “Cosmodemonic,” which is about his time in the Master of Fine Arts writing workshop at the University of California, Irvine “twenty-odd years and nine books” later. I like Chabon as a writer– really really liked The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and I did not realize until reading this collection of essays about growing up, culture, reading, women, children, etc., that he is, more or less, my age.  We’ve had very different lives and careers, obviously, but in terms of being of a certain age and with certain interests, I can relate.  For example, like Chabon, I too was one of the (if not the) youngest person in my MFA cohort.  Unlike Chabon though, I did not a) “score” much with the women in my program, b) smoke big bags of weed, and/or c) go on to have an outstanding career as a novelist.

Six years ago, I wrote on my blog (one that is about 3 versions removed) answers to some of the questions that Chabon considers in the opening pages of his essay here:  “Should I get an MFA in Creative Writing?” I pretty much agree with everything I said then and it’s still available via the wayback machine web archives.  But this is all on my mind this morning because of the 20 year thing.  When I was at the CCCCs last week, I got a ride to the Bedford/St. Martin’s party with Cheryl Ball, who was also in Virginia Commonwealth’s MFA program, but exactly 10 years after me, and I told her how I was reminded that I graduated from the program 20 years ago this year.  Her jaw dropped.  I know.  Maybe it’s something about the sound of “twenty” that sounds more serious than, say, “nineteen.”

I don’t know what this all means, other than I’m getting old (and tomorrow is my birthday).  Annette and I were discussing mid-life crises a bit ago and she was wondering if I was going to have one.  I don’t think so for all kinds of reasons, though I do wish that I had managed in the last 20 years to actually write and publish a novel.  This is not a regret, really.  Putting aside talent/abilities for a moment (I would rather not face the question of whether or not I had/have “what it takes”), I decided a long time ago that I enjoy steady and reasonably paying work far too much to live the kind of life it takes to get a first novel off the ground.  And I also of course like the idea of teaching and doing more academic sorts of work, obviously.  I still write lots, and, as I mention in my older post about getting an MFA, I think my experiences in a creative writing program helped me a lot with the academic writing I’ve been doing since the MFA.

I think this is probably true for the vast majority of folks I knew back in those MFA days.  Through the blessing and curse that is Facebook, I’ve managed to connect and reconnect with a lot of the people I knew back then, and, as far as I can tell, most of them have morphed into real jobs of one sort or another.  In that sense, I think the MFA has turned out to be a lot like a lot (most?) college degrees:  you start in a place with a set of lofty goals and dreams, and then, after one thing leads to another, you end up in a different place.

Krause’s #CCCC10 Recap

As I have discussed in the past, my recent record at getting stuff in at the Conference for College Composition and Communication has been bad.  But I was in this year and had a grand time.  I saw some good talks, got to connect with a lot of old friends and EMU students, played with Twitter and listened to talk about more tech stuff than I have typically at the CCCCs, and I had a lot of tourist fun in Louisville.

I shot some video which I am hoping to put together in the next week or so to show my MA students, many of whom don’t know about what goes on at academic conferences. Here’s a link to some pictures; and after the jump are probably more details than you want to know.

Continue reading “Krause’s #CCCC10 Recap”

… why just Twitter?

I saw a couple of interesting and thought-provoking presentations at ATTW today, some of which I might blog about later, but for the time-being, the one on my mind is one done by some folks at Old Dominion University (Liza Potts, Kathie Gossett, and Vincent Rhodes) called “Tweetagogy: Building Community in 140 Characters or Less.” The short version is they were discussing how they used Twitter as a community building tool with students in their PhD program, which is an especially important task since their PhD program includes a lot of students who are some form of “distance learners.”  Check out the Prezi presentation for the full details.

It’s not that I disagree with them– at least not exactly.  I think there’s a lot of potential for Twitter like they are talking about, forming community around a topic/affinity of some sort is one of those ways.  They had a lot of great ideas and suggestions for some software tools to make Twitter work better for this.

Still, why just Twitter?  The responses they are giving me when I asked this question on the ATTW twitter feed were that things like blogs weren’t as successful, that Twitter was easier/blogs were harder, etc., etc.

I dunno.

Like I said, I like Twitter quite a bit, but I also like blogs and facebook and all kinds of stuff.  I think most of our students are the same way.  So it seems to me that these tools can play off of each other quite well, as I’m trying to do here.

And this is more than 140 characters.

NCAA Tourney in 3 parts

I’m actually playing 3 different NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament brackets this year:

  • For EMUTalk.org, I just picked the top seeds for everything without thinking about it.  I figure I’ll let someone else do the winning with their wise picks.
  • For the Earth Wide Moth tourney, I actually made some “real picks” to the extent that I’m able.  Nothing too radical, though I am picking West Virginia and Louisville to do well.
  • And for the two brackets I play with my father and the one I’ve been playing with my friend Bruce for at least 25 years, I picked at least one crazy upset:  my hometown’s own Northern Iowa (which I always knew as UNI as a kid) over Kansas in the second round. I realize the chances of this happening are very slim, but dang, if it does, I’ll look like a freakin’ basketball genius.

“Internet Explorer, I’m looking in your direction”

Before I get down to some biz-ness, I decided to take a look at Daring Fireball, one of my (new though it’s not a new blog) regular reads.  In the “colophon” section, we learn a little more about the site’s author and such, and this little bit about web standards:

Web standards are important, and Daring Fireball adheres to them. Specifically, Daring Fireball’s HTML markup should validate as either HTML 5 or XHTML 4.01 Transitional, its layout is constructed using valid CSS, and its syndicated feed is valid Atom.

If Daring Fireball looks goofy in your browser, you’re likely using a shitty browser that doesn’t support web standards. Internet Explorer, I’m looking in your direction. If you complain about this, I will laugh at you, because I do not care. If, however, you are using a modern, standards-compliant browser and have trouble viewing or reading Daring Fireball, please do let me know.

Heh.  Perhaps I’ll come back to this in 444.

Remainders on my browser

I have a habit of leaving Firefox open with dozens of tabs leading to dozens of things I either intend to read, bookmark, come back to for teaching, etc., and then I get busy with other things and I don’t.  In any event, in an effort to close some windows and to keep track of some of these things later, here’s a list of links to stuff, some of it tied to teaching and scholarship, some of it just kinda cool/interesting to me:

  • SecondBar allows you to have a menu across two monitors, which is how I roll on my desktop computer.  Not sure if it works yet or not, to be honest.
  • “Let Us Now Trash Famous Authors” by Christina Davidson is an article/web piece from The Atlantic might be useful for 621 in talking about why it is really important to be careful about how we work with “subjects” (e.g., “people”) in our research.  Davidson goes back to the town of Moundville, Alabama and retraces some of the history of James Agee’s Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, which is about sharecroppers during the depression and which is also famous for having some iconic depression era photos by Walker Evans.  Well, when Davidson tries to talk to some people about it all, the only ones she (apparently) can find who know the book feel like it exploited and humiliated the families.  Which I think just goes to show you that we always have to kind of careful about what we think will be “harmless” research or writing.
  • “No Ink, No Paper: What’s the Value of an E-Book?” is an NPR story that argues, basically, that publishers ought to move aggressively to e-books and take their substantial losses now instead of waiting for the inevitable.  Interesting points.
  • Chicken chicken chicken, which figures very briefly into my CCCC 2010 talk.
  • “Thank Sex for Making the Internet Hot.” I have always said that when it comes to figuring out what advances in technology matter, look at porn.  As I understand it, when man figured out how to fire clay into things, the first things they made were not pots for holding stuff but sex toys.  I might be wrong about that.  Anyway, this is an NPR story in which an actual technology historian talks about how sex paved the way for many new technologies, with a fair amount of focus on the internet.
  • “The Posting Hour” is about insomniacs and forums like Facebook.  Kinda interesting, I guess.
  • And finally (for now), there’s the Google Apps Marketplace, which looks to be a sort of “App Store” for things Googley.  I haven’t played with it much yet so I don’t know how useful it might or might not be, but it was an open tab, so there you have it.

CCCC 2010: The preamble

I think I’ve finished with a draft of my CCCC 2010 presentation. That’s a link to the web-based version of my talk that I’ll be giving next week; it’s not the same as actually “being there” of course, and I suspect I’ll be tweaking this in the next few days. I’m reasonably happy with this, though it is one of those classic presentation issues that come up where there’s no way it can “all fit.”  I have timed this pretty carefully though so that it is less than 20 minutes, because I am of the opinion that anyone who goes over their allowed speaking time ought to be shot. Well, okay, not shot.  But at least booed.

What I like about this right now is the “show” aspect– that is, the chance of sharing a fair chunk of video from RiP: A Remix Manifesto. What I don’t like about it is the same thing I don’t like about most conference presentations, that “unfinished” feeling.

Oh, and by the way, the other reason I post these things nowadays on the ole blog here is because this spiel is likely to get more readers/hits than the actual talk itself in Louisville before I actually give the talk.  But that is perhaps a different story.

More CCCC 2010 updates soon.

I’m not even sure I like chicken this much

I stumbled across this the other day:  from a blog I probably should follow Cheap Healthy Good, “1 Chicken, 17 Healthy Meals, $26 Bucks, No Mayo.” Basically, the challenge was to make a one big chicken last a couple for the bulk of a week’s worth of meals.

I think these are good tips and they sound like pretty good meals, too.  But given that the Mrs. is not that crazy about chicken and I pretty much don’t like eating the same thing two days in a row ever, I doubt I’ll do this exactly.  Still, I like the idea of making something that can be remade into several different things, I like the recipe ideas, and there’s no reason why you couldn’t just freeze the stripped chicken meat and spread these meals out with a mix of things between just chicken.

BTW, as one of the commentators pointed out, not making stock from the left-over carcass is in itself a waste.  But that’s perhaps another food-oriented post.