What our theorists say...

[W]hat we are dealing with is a modification in the principle of exclusion and the principle of possibility of choices; a modification that is due to an insertion in a new discursive constellation.

Foucault, Archaeology of Knowledge, p. 67

All the treasure of bygone days was crammed into the old citadel of this history; it was thought to be secure; it was sacralized; it was made the last resting-place of anthropological thought; it was even thought that its most inveterate enemies could be captured and turned into vigilant guardians. But the historians had long ago deserted the old fortress and gone to work elsewhere; it was realized that neither Marx nor Nietzsche were carrying out the guard duties that had been entrusted to them. They could not be depended on to preserve privilege; nor to affirm once and for all – and God knows it is needed in the distress of today – that history, at least, is living and continuous, that it is, for the subject in question, a place of rest, certainty, reconciliation, a place for tranquilized sleep.

Foucault, Archaeology of Knowledge (p. 14)

Presence of mind in an electronic age requires persistence. I would like to suggest that the role we might dare to take up as we become publishers of our own pageants is the persistent one of the sacred reader or the adult self. Whether Prospero or Eve, the sacred reader persists in what she reads of the play of self and space, encompassing childhood and adolescence in transcendent performance.

Joyce, Othermindedness, (p.77)

Delagrange Presentation

_NP2G8 on Make A Gif, Animated Gifs
Comments Off on Delagrange Presentation

Individual Research: 4/16

Project Updates:

The project is in full swing now. I tackled several issues that arose since beginning the BuddyPress powered site. As with everything, it is a time-consuming process for me since I am having to teach myself as I go along.

First, I activated the membership function of BuddyPress, so anyone who wished to register to the site would be able. The site recommended a plug-in called Akismet to prevent spam in the comments and prevent registration of spammers. I ignored it because this was yet another annual subscription totalling another $60.00. So far I have spent my own money for the hosting and the domain, and I will have to purchase the acrobat suite soon. I ignored it. But then a friend left me a comment that he was having a hard time registering. I tried to do it myself and everything was fine except no confirmation email was ever sent out.

A few hours over a few days later, I learned that I needed to create an email account through the control panel of my hosting service (admin@southernundergroundpress.com) then install a SMTP plug-in to the website through its dashboard. However, anyone who had attempted to log-in prior to the SMTP activation was receiving an email that the user name and email were already in use. I found the place on the dashboard where I can manage the registered users. I saw over twenty users with strange email addresses - many from the same domain. I also had several comments - strange and in oddly worded English - awaiting moderation. I'd been spammed!

I had to break down and buy the Akismet code to activate the plug-in. This led me to think I needed to create a way for people to help out until I can get a grant. I found a Pay Pal plug-in that creates a Pay Pal widget. That was easy enough, but the widget was then appearing on every page, which was not the desired effect. I created a "Help Us Out" page which was the only place I wanted the donate button to appear.

I first tried to use the codex to find the answer. It suggested that I create a custom page template by writing my own code. I bravely attempted to follow the instructions, watched a video tutorial, and got as far as creating a blank template through the control panel of my hosting service. When it came time to add the content however, I was unable to get that working. After a good bit of time, I decided to get some help the next day from a friend at work.

That night I decided to google the problem, rather than the solution given to me by the codex. I found a thread in a forum that directed me to a different plug-in, My Custom Widget, that allowed the user to create his or her own widget with the promise it would be customizable. I spent an hour or so trying to copy the code (I opened the page with Firefox and used the feature that allows the user to view the code of a webpage, then copied the pay pal widget) and use that to make my own donate button. I couldn't get that to work to even get to the step where I could try to get it on only one page. Back to google.

Another thread. Another plug-in. Widget Logic. This one promised filtering capabilities through conditional tagging. After activating the plug-in, I finally figured out that what it did is add a field in the edit box that opens when I click on a selected widget. The only thing I could find from the website were some bits of code - is_page ("Page Name") and in_page ("Page Name"). I tried the in page code first only to make the entire website crash. Sweet. I tried the is page code bit and nothing happened. I searched some more. One site had spaces after the quotation marks and the page name. I tried and...

Actually, it was more like "I am the "code-master!" But the general feeling is spot on!
Comments Off on Individual Research: 4/16

Reading Notes: 4/9

Assignment #1: New Books Project
  • Delagrange, Susan H., Technologies of Wonder: Rhetorical Practice in a Digital World. Logan, UT: Utah State UP/Computers and Composition Digital Press, 2011. Web.
I finished chapters 3-5 this week. I was assigned this text somewhat by default, but I am really pleased with the content. Susan Delagrange has inspired me on many levels. First, she earned her PhD in 2005 after spending thirty five years as a Writing Center Director and earning her MA in 1971. After three decades of working in the discipline, she returned to school to earn a terminal degree and transition to scholarship on New Media. Talk about the non-traditional student. For someone like me, about a decade behind many of my peers, Dr. Delagrange proves that the length of one's education bears no weight on the quality of the person's intellect. She embodies the notion that we should never stop learning, and we can always make tremendous contributions no matter what road we take professionally and personally. As many of us who have children can understand, the work/life balance can sometimes cause our educational and professional paths to move more slowly, but Delagrange is proof that reaching the goal with speed is not what is important. Reaching the goal is.

I am also incredible inspired by Delagrange's approach to New Media studies that includes principles of feminism and with incredible attention placed on the role of wonder and inspiration.

Susan Delagrange argues four main points in her book.
  1. Approaching New Media studies with principles of feminism allows for issues of inclusion, heteroglossia (many voices), and embodiment to be raised, which she argues are integral to moving the discipline forward.
  2. Visual media and visually-driven digital objects should be granted the same privilege as print-based linear work in scholarship. With her background as a Writing Center Director, Delagrange argues that we need to teach and encourage more visual media production in the composition classroom as one way to destabilize the binary opposition between visual and text.
  3. Our sense of wonder should drive New Media scholarship as a point of inquiry, and wonder should allow us to focus more on the process of learning as opposed to a learning product, thus creating a modern day Wunderkammer (wonder-room).
  4. New Media scholars must not only focus on the critique of media objects, but must move toward a greater ability and desire to construct digital media objects. She advocates for more production-as-work and for more research into production theory.
Delagrange has contributed three important points to the field in this her first book because she calls for change, which is one of the most important roles for a scholar to play.
  • The first change is for the discipline as a whole to reconsider the usefulness of visual rhetoric. The construction of knowledge visually is a powerful and embodied practice with the ability to convey information in ways that text alone cannot - a space in which one can make his or her own connections and guide his or her own learning. This is the idea of the Wunderkammer and something I hope we each keep in mind next time we are faced with making something.
  • The second change is for the tenets of feminism to be applied to the discipline as an established theoretical stance for discussing disenfranchisement of women and other groups from Media Studies, for incorporating multiple subjects' perspectives in the creation and analysis of media projects, and the egalitarianism needed to equate visual with textual forms.
  • The last change is in scholars and critics working in the field of New Media to abandon the solely negative analyses that pick apart a product for its flaws and instead to follow their own senses of wonder in the creation and building of digital products. She calls for a discipline "in which we and our students become active producers rather than passive consumers of visual digital rhetoric...that results in more generous, thoughtful rhetorical action" (19).
Perhaps because she comes from a pedagogical background, the themes in the book have clear applications within the discipline in terms of scholarship and pedagogy. 
  • First, the value in Delagrange's work is most readily helpful as an approach to production. The word production itself invites the image of a finished product. However, Delagrange and her wonder-driven inquiry suggests that, much like our Individual Research Projects, the value in production is the working process. The explorations and tutorials and reflections and analyses are all part of that exploration and as important as reaching a finished conclusion. She urges each of us to let the curiosity guide us in the projects we choose, the decisions about what form in which we choose to present our knowledge, and the way in which we experience the scholarship of others.
  • Second, be liberated. Emancipate yourself from the traditional forms you have been taught. Push the envelope on presentation and engage the non-linear, visual nature of the Wunderkammer. Create your own wonder rooms where embodied connections can be made.
  • Third, there is value in this book if you are a teacher of composition and seeking help with how to produce your curriculum. There are specific details about pedagogical strategies that incorporate the visual and digital possibilities such as a photo essay requiring research of both primary and secondary sources. The students were able to make presentations using Power Point or video.
I have really responded to the idea of the Wunderkammer - a space where free associations can be made and the objects within are connected by the collector's own sense of wonder. It is truly the theory behind how I came to study the Underground Press; it was a project that continues to be driven by my interest, passion, and sense of wonder that are engaged by the topic.

I also took her words about the role of the visual in scholarship and that the visual creations can create meaning in ways that text alone cannot. In order to make my plan for the Individual Research Project, I decided to return to the Popplet site I used for my mindmap. The visual representation shows flow of ideas and connections between the various tasks in a way that a textual narrative of my plans and experiences would not, or at least be a bulky and lengthy attempt. Placing the ideas in a non-linear space allows for a new perspective that can lead to new ideas.

I think I will continue to be inspired and drawn to Delagrange's ideas about creating an embodied space for interacting with information through the visual, to incorporate a feminist perspective, to be fearless  in production despite the anxiety, focus on quality processes rather than quality products, and to allow my wonder to drive my work.

I want to create my own physical Wunderkammer, perhaps convert a bookshelf to a space from which inspiration and wonder can be drawn, where association otherwise not apparent can be stimulated by the embodied experience.
Comments Off on Reading Notes: 4/9

Individual Research: 4/9

Individual Research Project:

I have been working steadily on my website and have started calling it a community archive. In the proposal, we were asked to connect our project to two of the theorists' work that we've read in class so far. I think that the concept "archive" has been the critical driving force behind my work. Arjun Appadurai's work with archives and collective memory, briefly discussed in Beer and Gane, is especially helpful in theoretically underpinning my research. He explains that interactive archives create a space in which collective memory can be stored. My community archive is not only a research tool, which I have seen and used, but it is an active. living organism of connection and collectivity. That is what excites me about the work most.


After initially creating the site, which was a tremendous learning process in terms of navigating the transition from free blog to a registered and hosted domain, I got stuck about what to do next. I added plug-ins and tweaked the theme to be a social network using BuddyPress, and I added group functionality and worked to spread awareness through Facebook and Twitter marketing. When Professor Rodrigo gave me the advice to focus on functionality, things began to fall into place.

I made a mind map to show what I have done and intend to do:

Comments Off on Individual Research: 4/9

Reading Notes: 4/2

Assignment #1: New Books Project
  • Delagrange, Susan H., Technologies of Wonder: Rhetorical Practice in a Digital World. Logan, UT: Utah State UP/Computers and Composition Digital Press, 2011. Web.

Chapter Two: (Re)Vision & Remediation

Academic Representation & Digital Media:
"Bolter and Grusin (2000) describe an underlying tension between hypermediacy and immediacy, between opacity and transparency; and this tension often becomes explicit when digital media scholars attempt to give an account of their professional lives, but find themselves stuck between the felt need to observe the conventions of traditional curriculum vitae and institutional websites, and the desire to foreground their embodied, multimodal digital work and hypermediated digital selves." (29)
This opening comment resonates with me. It reminds me of our class discussions between the traditional forms of scholarship and the products of digital and New Media studies. The older forms seem to be privileged, but as more New Media courses are demanded by the students and the work place, I think it will slowly change.
"It becomes obvious that changing the medium changes the message, and therefore content cannot be understood except in relation to its form, its material substrate." (32).

I think that Delagrange hits on another point of class discussion, and that is the idea that in order to fully understand digital media (the message), one must be able to understand the technology that created it (the medium). It has become increasingly more apparent that the ability to use technology is not enough to evaluate it. One must also have a working knowledge.


"Techné is a "making," a productive oscillation between knowledge in the head and knowledge in the hand" (35).
For Delagrange, this section of the chapter can easily be connected with the idea of proairesis. Technology or "techne" must be understood as not just knowledge of using it (in the head), but also knowledge in the production and creation of it (in the hand). A clear picture of Delgrange's attitude toward New Media is emerging as one of advocating for greater incorporation in the traditional forms of scholarship, professional representation, and the knowledge/praxis binary.

Her focus on the idea of techne as production is relevant to the definitions of digital literacy or digital fluency, which not only emphasize a person's ability to use technology but also to create it. The graphic below demonstrates this difference. A digitally literate person may be able to produce something of a very basic nature, but not equal to what the person knows is possible based on other examples he or she has seen. The digitally fluent person is able to create something that matches what he or she knows is possible; it connotes a level of mastery or expertise that the literate person lacks.

Image from the blog SociaLens


"Techne is enabled by wonder, an attitude toward the world and our experience of it that both predisposes us to be amazed and prepares us to desire to learn more about the source of our amazement" (40).

This is my favorite part of the book so far. Delagrange writes eloquently about the role of wonder in our drive to learn about technology. We should not discount those initial moments of amazement when viewing a piece of technology, and we should use that amazement to drive us to ask questions about how it came to be. In my project, I was so inspired by the database of Great Speckled Bird that the wonder I experienced is driving my desire to recreate something similar. It's an exciting way to think about approaching knowledge - for the wonder!

The following presentation connects digital literacy to passion, which is another way of saying techne and wonder. This connection has been asserted in pedagogy before, but is emerging as a powerful strategy for approaching digital learning.

"[Ours is a] discipline that vigorously critiques visual products while at the same time may engage in uncritical digital visual production, or no visual production at all. We need instead a more constructive conversation between theory and practice that restores authority and integrity to embodied visual texts, tempers the overemphasis of cultural critiques on the negative aspects of visual representation, and provokes a theoretical grounding for production of embodied visual rhetoric with our students and in our own work" (49).

Delagrange argues that sighted people privilege the visual. Technology provides a highly visual and interactive product that has been studied theoretically as a pedagogical tool, but not looking at the benefits of producing visual technology. She furthers her call for more scholarship aimed not just at the critique of digital objects, but at aspects of its production.

The Persistence of Vision, Visual Pleasure, Seeing Bodies, Seeing Bodies in Space, Embodied Arrangement:

These sections of the chapter, along with Chapter Three, deal with the importance of the visual, and thereby the body, in relation to understanding. Delagrange asks, "What does it mean to be a technological body, to engage physically with digital hardware and software, and to represent our selves through those media" (17)? She points out, for example, that prior to the development of the scientific method and rationality of the Enlightenment, visual elements such as illuminated manuscripts were commonplace. With low literacy rates, people would gather to listen in a physical space like a church or town square - the space itself enhanced by visual elements of architecture, paintings, sculpture and one another. She argues that this kind of physical interaction (the embodiment) allowed for a stronger and deeper connection to the material. However, with the arrival of rational thinking and the scientific method, these bodily connections were considered immaterial and subjective so thus excluded. The result is the kind of business model for scholarship which prizes speed and clarity of a finished marketable product over "reflective inquiry and generative ambiguity" made possible by embodied interactions. She argues that by reintroducing the visual through various digital interface models, we can reincorporate the visual and also the physical. 

The discussion correlates to the arguments made by Baudrillard in his explanation of simulation and simulacra. He explains that simulacra are objects so far removed from the organic original version that no authentic understanding can be gleaned from it. Delagrange clearly argues for the superiority of learning through visual rhetoric in the same way that the gathering of people in a visually stimulating environment allowed for authentic human connection through the physical body. The disembodied nature of non-visual, non-physical experiences leads to a mere simulation of actual connectivity and understanding. 
So I started thinking about her reference to church as having a significant role in understanding because it provides a space which can be physically occupied. I have never really thought about the importance of being in a physically in order to enhance the mental processes. As a distance student, and I negatively impacted by embodying the physical space of the classroom? Would I make stronger connections, or at least be inspired to make new connections, if I were sharing a space with other learners influenced by the tangible and visible space?

It makes me feel about my own experiences as a Catholic. Strange and unexpected connection to be sure, but when she mentioned churches and how the architecture can inspire an embodied connection something resonated with me. While I disagree with the politics of the Catholic Church, I am undeniably a cultural Catholic. I mean that as a third generation Italian-Portuguese American, religion is a huge part of my life's experiences. I still find solace in the rituals, if not always spiritual connections. However, since moving to the south in 1996, I found that I was not inspired in the same way. It has a lot to do with what Delagrange is saying here about the importance of how we experience something physically, as perceived by our senses - especially visual.
Image from Our Lady of Mt. Carmel
Here is a picture of the church I attended growing up in RI. The arch above the altar draws the eye up, there is enhanced lighting, aged woodwork, wooden pews and marble. In the back of the church not pictured is a pipe organ, and the side walls are filled with stained glass windows, statues, and columns. There is an air of solemnity here, a slightly dark space that invites reflection, connects those to the past and history with the church dating back to 1917.

Below is a photo of the interior of the church here in SC. There are no pews, just fabric covered metal chairs. The space is also used as a multipurpose parish center for other events, so the chairs can be removed and tables brought in; the projection screen to the right can be used as well. The only color on the walls is the stained glass cross. There is no organ, no windows, no columns. Classrooms flank the chairs. A commercial kitchen waits behind a door to the right. I never feel inspired by being in this space physically.

Now that I have read this, I have begin to consider all my physical spaces, seeing them not just as background to the mental process but as an integral part of it.
Comments Off on Reading Notes: 4/2

4/21: New Books Assignment Peer Review

New Books Assignment Peer Review:

What a great week. Our class is really inspiring in our collective creativity and ability to further one another's knowledge. I am so pleased to be part of this intellectual community.

I read about the role of wonder in inspiring learning and production. This played out for me in this assignment in the sense that each applied a creative and dynamic experience that had me making connections and inspiring me to deepen my own experiences with my own technology processes.

I reviewed:

  • Cognitive Surplus
    • I really love the section on Chapter Two: Means. So often we see only the negative comments on how the nature of ease of access and production degrades quality. After reading my book where the author calls for a decrease in negativity surrounding digital media critique, this seemed a great connection and theme to carry forward. We need to see not only the social problems but also the social benefits. This reminded me of how negative Baudrillard was about how the immediacy of access fueled the growth a great void and emptiness of our souls. The positive spin on acknowledging the potential for degradation while acknowledging that that means there is an inherent opposite reaction, a positive net benefit, is exactly what Delagrange says needs to happen if we are ever to remove the stigma of visual New Media in scholarship when compared to the traditionally accepted text-based work.

  • The Filter Bubble
    • Well, aside from the utter and complete mind-blow that was being put in a filter bubble to learn about being in a filter bubble, the site will have me thinking for awhile. Now that I have a better understanding of how and why data is mined and the isolation it creates, I want to discuss the implications. As we become more and more highly individualized, filtered, and compartmentalized, will we end up like the lone word in an empty circle of the graphic image? What actions should we take? Then immediately I wonder where that action takes place. Is it a grassroots movement where we just leave Facebook slowly en masse? Do we legislate against this like some sort of FCC bureaucracy? Is it even possible to replace the DOMINANCE of Google with a search engine like Duck Duck Go? With such deep integration, how would even begin to tease ourselves out? And if we did, wouldn't we be isolated in some other ways? Do we even have privacy at all, or just an illusion of it? This needs to be its own course. It reminds me of this:

I was reviewed helpfully by:

What I Learned from Reading:

  • I was not surprised at all by the comments I received. I have struggled in this, my first New Media, class with the vestiges of my literary/composition text-based, linear, print modes of rhetoric that are so deeply embedded in my proairesis process. I took away that the text needs to broken up with more visual elements (which I know and feel is ironic since I reviewed a books all about privileging the visual equally with the text - so sorry Dr. Delagrange!) and to take more advantage of the medium, like adding functionality not available to simply a print style delivered in a digital one.
  • I suppose it is easier for me to get it out in the form I know then try to enhance it with digital tricks; however, I want to have a paradigm shift in how I think and approach work products. I want to conceive of and think in terms of these New Media forms. But here is what I know to be true: Complex thought requires complex language from which the thoughts can be constructed. Without language fluency, or limited language skills, the thinking is also restricted. It is not a stretch to assume that as my digital literacy increases so will the complexity of the products I am able to conceive. (By the way, I really like how this language has a very feminist/female connotation. "Conceiving" ideas is a very maternal idea in contrast to the typically masculine language associated with technology like "construct." And that Delagrange would approve of.)
Comments Off on 4/21: New Books Assignment Peer Review

4/21: Wunderkammer Survey

To prepare for the presentation on Technologies of Wonder by Susan Delagrange, I have prepared a brief survey of sorts.

Spend a few moments examining as many of the following images as you feel compelled to look at for whatever images engage your sense of wonder.

These are images of Wunderkammer. This German word is translated literally as "wonder-room." It is the term applied to any collection of curiosities, oddities, or rare items generally stored in a cabinet or room. But we'll talk more about that Monday...

For now, let's check out the images:

Image from Wikipedia Curiosity Cabinet

Image from Wikipedia Curiosity Cabinet

Image from Jere Smith

Great! Now, spend another minute or two allowing yourself to wonder.

What do you want to know more about?

Survey Process:

  1. Think of a question or two you would want to ask about Wunderkammer.
  2. Google it to see what you can find out.
  3. Find a graphic that represents the answer.
  4. Send an email to ssink002@odu.edu with your question and image.
  5. Try to relax while you wait for the thrilling results on Monday.
Thanks for participating!
Comments Off on 4/21: Wunderkammer Survey

Individual Research: 4/2

Project Proposal:

I would like to take the opportunity to use this project as a stepping stone for work on a dissertation project discussed here.

Through the tutorials project, I was able to complete the following work:

  1. Create a WordPress blog and post a description of the project with pdf files of an underground publication.
  2. Publicize the blog and have it included in a library research guide.
  3. Purchase a domain and acquire hosting through Blue Host.
  4. Transfer blog content to web site.
  5. Add a Buddy Press plug-in to allow for the creation of members, groups, and forums.
  6. Created two groups for the publications I have worked with so far.
  7. Created custom background and header to basic Buddy Press template.
I have started to publicize the domain, but have yet to ask anyone to join. I want to make some progress getting digitized versions of Bragg Briefs and continue working with Laurie Charnigo at Jacksonville State University on building the digital collection of Southern papers.

I am not sure where to go from here. I know that I want the pdf files to be searchable documents. In the tutorials, I had some leads on ways to get that going - namely CONTENTdm, which powers the database of Great Speckled Bird.

I am wondering if it would be possible to start working toward that goal for this project?

Image posted on Flickr by Giulia Torra
Comments Off on Individual Research: 4/2

Reading Notes: 3/26

Assignment #1: A Look at a Canonical Wiki

The Medium is the Massage

In the introduction to the page, the wiki authors write:

In McLuhan’s view, the media used to communicate a message is more significant than the message itself. The media profoundly shape how we perceive the message, how we think about and structure the world, how we function as a society, and how we operate as a culture. Next to this influence, the message itself is irrelevant.
The power of this assertion struck me hard. Is the way our communications received truly more important that the information contained within? I find this frightening in some way. It seems borne out by the way we privilege certain content because of the medium through which it is communicated. For example, Delagrange argues that the word is privileged over the image, regardless of the knowledge constructed by either. I see it in my students who have trouble reading and staying focused without some visual or better yet an interactive element.

I can't help but wonder: What are the implications for our future if we care not for content?

Assignment #2: New Books Project
  • Delagrange, Susan H., Technologies of Wonder: Rhetorical Practice in a Digital World. Logan, UT: Utah State UP/Computers and Composition Digital Press, 2011. Web.
I have begun reading an ebook titled Technologies of Wonder: Rhetorical Practice in a Digital World by Susan H. Delagrange. Before I explore the content of the first two chapters, I want to take a moment to comment on the form in which I am reading this text.

The book is accessible through a website ccdigitalpress.org/wonder where the table of contents can be opened and links to pdf files of the chapters is available. I can save the chapters to my desktop as well, or I can read them online. Both options allow for the text to be copied and pasted into a Word document, which saves a lot of time in the addition of quotes to the blog. That's a great bonus for this kind of scholarly reading. As a result, I am trying a new approach. I am going all digital - taking notes in a Word doc, saving quotes there, and blogging. Adding notes to the pdf is only an option if Adobe is purchased.

So far, I like the ebook. I can read it easily (although sometimes the scroll jumps to the next page when I don't want it to), and I don't have the problem of holding a book open while my hand cramps. I don't like that I can't just tuck the book in my purse and pull it out while waiting in the doctor's office or steal a few minutes with it between classes, but I could print the pdf pages if I really wanted to. It would just require a little pre-planning and would revert me back to print. I could probably download the pdf files to my Kindle Fire and read them on the go... Something to look into for sure, but I'd lose the copy and paste function.

One thing I really like is the multi-modal approach. The book is much more interactive with embedded videos and images. Like reading a website, the ebook allows for a new form of discourse that equally privileges the text and the visual/audio rhetorics. Here is a screen shot from the text, showing a link to a video:

Overall, my initial reaction has been positive.

Some Thoughts:
Chapter One: Reading Pictures, Seeing Words


Delagrange is a highly readable, concise, and articulate writer. Her promise to incorporate feminist thinking into her exploration of media studies is highly intriguing.

This chapter discusses the implications of moving from traditional print scholarship to digital forms and the questions that this raises.
"Yet this seemingly irreversible movement from print toward digital, and from words toward interactive multimedia, is accompanied by important questions, some old and some new: old questions about visual representation and argument and about the social and cultural effects of technology; new questions about production and publishing and evaluation of unfamiliar scholarly performances, and about the effects of this shift toward the digital on social justice, equity, and access. How do we strike a balance, continuing to value and maintain the quality and craftsmanship of print scholarship, while making room for new and vibrant methods of scholarly invention and production?" (1)
One aspect of Delagrange's argument I find compelling is her view of new media as a "canvas for new forms of rhetorical production that value process over product, and wonder-induced inquiry over proof" (1). I love the idea that traditional written products produce traditional linear thought while new media provides a space for a new kind of scholarship where the process - however messy (my Individual Tutorial project for example - can be emphasized over a finished piece of scholarship. We can be led through the scholarship by wonder - the true research question that derives from curiosity over conformity. Brilliant!

Delagrange observes a reluctance to work toward this kind of research. She writes, "Nevertheless, while important new media scholarship is already being produced by researchers and students in rhetoric and composition, there is still significant reluctance in English Studies to move beyond the historical privileging of the Word" (2). She calls on us to change these stereotypes that keep new media scholarship and production as a sub-standard mode of discourse.

Here, the author sees a place where a feminist perspective can be useful. As a point of view that has experience discussing the privileging of certain contributions over others, there are many parallels between feminism and new media studies' place in the discipline.
"My perspective is feminist, not because I claim that women in particular are differentially affected by digital technologies, but because feminist optics, feminist ways of seeing that focus on social justice and equity, seem well suited to identify points at which any underrepresented group or individual might be disadvantaged, or left out entirely, by technological change, and to formulate principles and practices of digital media use that are more inclusive and fair." (3)

Technological Anxiety:
I loved this section of the chapter. I exclaimed "Yes!" so many times that I lost track. Delagrange eloquently expresses ideas that have seemed almost taboo for me to speak about, but have so often felt and experienced in my own professional work in this field. She is addressing head on the reasons for having such an anxiety about participating in the field as a woman. She writes,

"Technology is one area that creates anxiety not only among feminists...but also among humanities scholars in general, who are usually most comfortable using words as their tools" (4).

One reason for this is that the language surrounding technology is inherently masculine. The narrative surrounding technology's expansion is filled with terms like "a new frontier," with leaders often labelled "heroes" who use "tools" of technology to solve great social problems. It then becomes easy for the field to "disproportionately empower members of the already dominant discourse community—which in technological fields in the U.S. consists primarily of white males" (5).


I was excited to see here how Delagrange builds on the arguments in Remediation, which I explored as part of the wiki projects we did in class - the language is the same, and I am grateful to my collegaues in class for explaining it as it has enhanced my understanding of the text. She sees remediation as a potentially liberating discipline and one in which diversity can blossom.
"Furthermore, re-mediating traditional print-based academic performances—moving them into new (electronic) writing spaces and experimenting with innovative verbal and visual forms—might literally open our eyes to diversity and difference, making inequities visible and therefore available for ethical rhetorical intervention." (7)
Later she revisits this claim, writing, "[through] images and sound,multilinear associative arrangement...we can steer toward new, potentially emancipatory performances made possible in new media" (10).

This is an empowering view - that I can help emancipate scholarly performances is thoroughly exciting. 

Seeing Argument:
In this section, the author focuses on the visual nature of many new media applications and the presentation of most forms of information surrounding us today. She explains, "Places, events, objects, and related beliefs and values are represented by images more often than by words. It also raises the question of the relationship between images and words as sources and means of academic authority, and it focuses attention on the “visuality” of all texts, even those composed entirely of words" (8).
Yet, Delagrange asserts that in scholarship, these visual representations are not as respected in scholarship. She observes, "The demonstrations of knowledge that “count” in the academy are overwhelmingly books and articles in refereed print-based journals that develop linear arguments and rely primarily on logos-based evidence. Images, if any, are simply illustrations: pictures or tables or graphs that merely show what the words have already told. Using images as a substantive component of an argument is suspect" (9). In other words, we tend to only accept images as an appendix to the word, not a replacement or even a corollary.
And if we do choose to present a more visual product, we run the risk of losing authority and legitimacy. She explains that there is a visual reticence.
"Unadorned text, written in plain style and organized in a way that can readily be outlined, has long been the paradigm for scholarly performances, and it has been presumed to fit all “legitimate” academic scholarship. Legitimacy, however, is a conservative, hereditary principle that protects the interests of those who claim it." (10)
How do we move new media into legitimacy? I suppose through the production of new media projects and explorations, submission to the discipline with confidence, and continuing to explore the theoretical underpinnings of new media studies.

She addresses the CRAP guidelines we used in class and categorizes them as an effort to force visual rhetoric into a more legitimate form by imitating the page.
"The mistrust of images, and the emphasis elsewhere on alphabetic text as the most legitimate form of scholarly production, is evident in the ubiquity of the design principles of contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity for web pages (Williams and Tollett, 2005). While these principles provide an initial framework for the novice designer of new media, they are in effect design’s version of the five-paragraph essay. Contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity construct an artificial efficiency and unity of text and image that are a function of form, but not necessarily content, and that make complex visual invention and argument impossible. Like the print conventions of academic journals and monographs, these design principles also assert a claim for a 'culture of no culture.'" (11)
She concludes that in order for "English Studies, which still privileges the Word as its preferred mode of performance, and linear argument as its preferred form...to change, more scholars must move beyond critical verbal analysis of visual texts and become active architects of intellectually engaged (and engaging) multimediated visual rhetoric. Until we and our students see ourselves as producers rather than just consumers of visual rhetoric, we are ceding the authority to speak and intervene in an increasingly multimediated world" (11).

It makes being enrolled in this class, with the kind of fearlessness I've been talking about in my other posts, all the more critically important.

Feminist Epistemology:

I took from this section that we need to more actively advocate for and include elements of visual rhetoric in the classroom.
"Writing instructors can—and should—take advantage of new forms of digital media for creating texts, and assign web pages and other demonstrations of multimodal argument, thus encouraging a rich, diverse rhetoric that responds to contemporary multimediated contexts and incorporates ethical ap­proaches to invention, arrangement, and style. Creating such assignments, producing our own multimodal pedagogical performances, and scaffolding them theoretically are essential if the shift from page to screen, and from alphabetic linear print to multimodal, multi-perspectival images and text, is to be understood and rewarded by our tenure-granting departments." (12)

Chapter Two: (Re)Vision & Remediation


Delagrange argues that a new emphasis on visual rhetoric necessitates a newly developed set of criteria on which it can be evaluated, different from the the traditional, linear, print criteria. She also contends that there is the possibility to create modes of scholarly inquiry that have no equivalent in print, but that are no less significant than the print. 


In this section, the author explores the idea of remediation - the recycling of previous forms into new ones. She uses visual images heavily here - supporting her own argument for the validity of such a presentation - to show examples of remediation from painting to photography, stage to film, and internet and television. She echoes her call for strategies for consuming visual media and for English studies to stop fearing the power of the visual.

For next time:

Academic  Representation & Digital Media:
The Persistance of Vision:
Visual Pleasure:
Seeing Bodies:
Seeing Bodies in Space:
Embodied Arrangement:
Comments Off on Reading Notes: 3/26

Individual Tutorial Notes: 3/19 (Or – Domain Thing is Not to Panic!)

This Week's Inspiration:

This week I am inspired by...


Okay, so at the risk of sounding arrogant, I am tooting my own horn here. Last week on March 19th,  I uploaded the scans of Inquisition to my WordPress site. I was toying with the different menus and widgets until I was pretty pleased with myself. I shared the site on my Facebook page and tagged three of the original editors in the post. By the end of the day, a librarian in Alabama included a link to my page from the university's underground press research guide.

It went like this:

  • 6:25 p.m.: Facebook post with link and tags
  • 7:52 p.m.: Paul Jones (Inquisition poet and Chapel Hill professor in Information Science) tweets page
  • 7:55 p.m.: Center for the Study of the American South retweets Jones's post
  • 8:15 p.m.: Jones posts on Facebook
  • 8:30 (guessing) p.m.: John McMillian, author of Smoking Typewriters, shares link to my page on FB with Laurie Charnigo (assumingly a share from FB from Jones)
  • 8:33 p.m.: Charnigo asks if he knows who created the page and he gives her my name, which he got form Jones who had met at a conference (I have since added contact information to the page)
  • 8:45 p.m.: Charnigo updates JSU library page with link to my page and reaches out to me with an offer to help gather publications for digitization

The Internet is an amazing thing. But I am inspired by my success. In a short time, I have made a lot of progress and have gathered a good bit of attention. It's terribly flattering and exciting. I am more motivated than ever to work on this project!

Tutorial Activities:

This week I decided I would dedicate myself to transforming my WordPress site into a BuddyPress site to allow for community forums. Little did I know that I was opening a can of worms. But let's start at the beginning.

I started by exploring BuddyPress.org and looking at some examples of BuddyPress sites like tastykitchen.com.  I was excited to see the community features and decided to push ahead with adding this feature. I started by clicking the download for BuddyPress. It downloaded easily enough, but the next step was to go to the dashboard and activate the plug-in (this terminology by the way was something I had to learn about on a basic definitions page). After many minutes of not being able to locate any such tool from the dashboard, I returned to the definitions page. I read there that plug-ins are not available on blogs hosted by WordPress for security reasons. Externally hosted pages can support this, so I would have to change my host to get BuddyPress.

At that point, I still didn't understand what hosting meant. I thought it had something to do with what WordPress was advertising from the dashboard, which was to register a domain. I understood domain to be a website and thought this would be what I needed to do for BuddyPress to be added. I paid the $25 and upgraded my blog to a website: southernundergroundpress.com. I tried again to find the BuddyPress plug-in to no avail. My website was still being hosted by WordPress. I learned I would need external hosting, and WordPress directed me to Bluehost.

I spent a lot of time here. I chatted online with a customer service rep who informed me of the difference between registration and hosting. Eli explained that I could host my site on Bluehost for $85 a year. I signed up for hosting and attempted to follow the "basic" instructions for transferring a domain.

I watched this many times. I was overwhelmed. This is the tutorial? The four things I am supposed to do before I even start the transfer was a complete foreign language! Unlock from my current registrar? Change privacy? Locate my EPP code? Point DNS to bluehost? Dear God! What have I done?

I called the help line, much like Tom Cruise screaming for tech support in the movie Vanilla Sky.

They walked me through how to find the place on the Wordpress dashboard where I could access these settings (Dashboard - Store - Domains - click on domain name to open domain manager). I got off the phone and set up a log in and password for the domain manager. I waited for a confirmation email then clicked on the link to verify the account. I went into the domain manager and unlocked it. I couldn't figure out how to change the privacy setting frustratingly. Nothing would happen when you click on that. Oh well. I requested the EPP code to be sent to my email. I even changed the DNS (domain name something or other) to the Bluehost codes or address or whatever "ns1.bluehost.com" is called. 

Now what? Hmm. Everything is still the same. Back to the website for Bluehost.

I discover that a new domain name cannot be transferred to a new host for 60 days after registration according to a federal law. Since I had just registered the domain on WordPress that day, I would be unable to transfer it for two months. But I need BuddyPress now! I was instructed on Bluehost that some registrars allow for cancellation, then the domain can be registered and hosted on Bluehost.

Back to WordPressBluehost to register the domain with them and get BuddyPress going!

Only, the domain is not available. I call. I am directed to who.is, a site that will let me know if a domain is available. When the domain southernundergroundpress.com is available again, I can get it. Apparently this can take days or even longer once a cancellation has occurred. I was also informed that if I had just waited 24-36 hours for the DNS change to take place, I would have been able to proceed. Nice.

southernundergroundpress.org is available and I have thought about taking that domain. I could just register that and get going, but it is more expensive to be a .org than a .com.

So what have I learned....

Reflection of Learning:

I have learned that patience is key and panic helps nothing. The domain registration (new concept) and the web hosting (new concept) will get sorted out soon enough. As soon as the domain is available, things will go smoothly.

The good thing about Bluehost is that they have unlimited storage space. Once I get going, I will be able to upload all the media and files I need.

I didn't get to enable the BuddyPress plug-in, but I am excited to get that going. I think this week, despite nothing to really show for it except some charges on my debit card, has been actually productive in helping me understand how the business of website creation works.

I also learned that interest and help is out there. Check out my comment:


and some other work in the field:

Closing Thoughts:

At this point, the tutorial activities are no longer required and the project work is to begin. I have a lot left to do and learn and need to continue working on various tutorial projects as I go, but I am excited to move forward with BuddyPress (hopefully soon, if the domain becomes available!) and try to build the community feature of this project. Bluehost told me once I import the blog, I will have to rebuild the theme and set-up and will probably have to reload the pdf files. I'd like to make some progress on obtaining the next set of papers to digitize. I have a lead on a collection in Greensboro of Bragg Briefs, a military base publication.

It's hard for me to summarize what I've learned. I've learned a lot about myself in this process, being fearless and jumping in to something new with both feet, despite the overwhelming amount of information that is new. However, I found that I can learn it - methodically - and practice it - even as a novice, which is a new thought. In the past, I felt like I would have so much to learn before I could have a tangible product, but the truth is that with only a bot of knowledge, a creation can come to life. The Internet is infinitely open to revisions. Nothing I post today can't be updated or added to tomorrow. That is a comforting thought. I don't have to roll out with a perfect finished product; it can and will move in stages of increasing functionality.

I learned about technology as well. The definitions and the business of publishing a website. The speed at which information is disseminated. The terminology associated with these things (my last phone call to Bluehost was so much easier because I was able to use the terminology to explain exactly what I had done with registration, hosting, and the DNS changes - actually, I was really proud of that conversation!).

All in all, I am thrilled and excited by the progress, and I can't wait to keep going.
Comments Off on Individual Tutorial Notes: 3/19 (Or – Domain Thing is Not to Panic!)

Reading Notes: 3/12

Read and Replies Post:

This week I read and responded to blog posts from four classmates from the first Individual Tutorial posting on February 20th. I am interested in seeing what others are working on; perhaps there are opportunities for digital collaboration in the future.

I have linked to my comments below:

Cheri - Ruby on Rails
Eric - HTML5
Laura - PHP
Sarah - XHTML/Dreamweaver


I love reading my peers' blogs because I see so much of myself in their experiences. It's easy to forget sometimes that we are all students. I see their successes and hear them talk about their knowledge in class, and the fear that I will be found out as a fraud and stripped of my admission in the program surges forward. However, reading these posts I (re)discovered that we all have anxieties, no matter how much we know or not. It is reassuring to remember that we all have fear of the unknown, but we all have something else in common too.


Each person responded that after a moment or two of nervousness, a plan was formulated and followed. Bit by bit, the information is taken in and applied. It just takes a moment of fearlessness in order to take the plunge.

I have a friend who skydives. No matter how many times she does it, there is always a moment of fear before taking that leap out of the plane. Yet once the fear has been overcome, she gets to enjoy the experience of falling. While even writing this strikes fear in my acrophobic heart, I think the metaphor is good. We have to overcome the fear so we can enjoy the fall, the learning process.

Sky Dive Masters 05
CC Image Posted on Flickr by Sky Dive Masters Party

    Comments Off on Reading Notes: 3/12

    Product Analysis: Great Speckled Bird Database 3/12

    Individual Tutorial Assignment: Product Analysis

    The assignment this week is to examine, explore, and analyze a product that utilizes the technology we have chosen for the research project. Since I am looking at the creation of an archive and community for underground press publications, I decided to explore the functionality of a digital archive.

    Georgia State University Library currently has a digital collection of media that can be searched, and it is very similar to the kind of project I envision. I also selected this archive because Georgia State University is home to history professor and author of the underground press book Smoking Typewriters, Dr. John McMillian.

    Here is a link to the database: GSU Library Digital Collections

    Although the collection includes many different types of media and various titles, I am primarily concerned with Atlanta's major underground publication, The Great Speckled Bird. There are far more issues of this newspaper (having run from 1968-1976) than there are of the papers I have been involved with thus far; however, there are many functions of this database that I think would apply to mine.

    A Walkthrough:

    From the database's home page, you can select the publication or collection you want to browse. I selected Great Speckled Bird. This screen shot shows the results: a list of titles with thumbnails of the cover and date of publication. Each has the same description and subject. At the top, there are options for doing an advanced search, setting results preferences (number of hits per page and format), and saving articles and entries to a favorites section by clicking the box beside the thumbnail.

    By clicking on the advanced search tab, I was able to search for key terms within the collection. I could limit the search to one title or select multiple media to search across the entire collection. There are some various search options like searching for an exact phrase or all of the words. I searched "Charlotte" in just Great Speckled Bird.

    The search produced a list of hits. Each issue that contains the term is listed in the same way as before, but when the title is clicked, the page that contains the term is highlighted in red.

    Here is where my heart started beating a little faster. There are many amazing features shown in the screen shot below. First, the database is able to list each issue's pages separately down the left hand side of the screen, clearly indicating in red the page that has the key term. The viewer wouldn't have to scroll through a lengthy pdf file but simply click the page he or she needs.

    The next feature that I like is that the key term is also highlighted, so the viewer can see exactly where the term appears without having to read the entire document. An additional tool bar appears to the immediate left of the document. Here, the number of instances that the keyword appears on the page is given as well as the file paths for each instance. By clicking on the file paths, the highlighted box will move between the various instances on the page. The page being viewed can also be searched for a different keyword.

    Finally, in the upper right hand corner are a series of tabs. The tools tab allows the viewer to create a pdf of the page and export it by email or with Adobe SendNow, convert the page to a Word document, or create a new pdf. These tools are available after signing up for Adobe membership, which the viewer will be directed to before having access to these features. Comments can be added and text can be highlighted by selecting the comments tab.

    Why This Rocks:

    There are many aspects of this database that are impressive, particularly for a researcher:
    •  The completeness of the archive is great. They have done a lot of work in compiling, preserving, and digitizing such a vast amount of issues.
    • The thumbnails of each cover makes the results resemble a digital catalog, which helps the researcher more readily scan through the various issues.
    • Organizing each issue with a list of links to each individual page is an excellent research tool.
    • Searchable text is the key feature that takes this from being a reading resource into a true research tool for scholarship. Being able to look for a certain event or person allows the archive to be used by multiple disciplines.
    • The quality of the scans makes it very easy to read each issue, and the zoom features on each page allow the online viewer to closely simulate the first-hand experience.
    • The researcher is also able to use Adobe tools to annotate, save, and export in a text document. This would allow for the text to be easily incorporated into a paper or blog. Not having to retype passages can save a lot of time.
    • There is a place to click for a reference URL. A new window opens with a URL address directly to the page being viewed that can be copied and used in citations. Another great research tool.
    It really seems as though the database was built with the needs of a scholar in mind. The kind of searching, saving, annotating, and exporting functions it provides are excellent research tools. This helps me see the difference between a website dedicated to just reading about or having a forum about a particular title and a research archive designed to further the scholarship in a particular academic discipline. While I want the forums as a place for author attribution and connection, I don't want to lose sight of the scholarly purpose.

    A New Lead:

    At the bottom of the screen, there is a little link that says "powered by CONTENTdm" (a php site by the way). Here is the link: http://www.oclc.org/contentdm/.

    can handle the storage, management and delivery of your collections to users across the Web." The storage of archive could be a great solution to my eventual problems of space, and the conversion to searchable files is something they could potentially help with in addition to building the interface for the archive like the GSU collection.

    I am really excited to have come across this new lead!
    Comments Off on Product Analysis: Great Speckled Bird Database 3/12

    Cannonical Books Peer Review Assignment: 3/16

    Canonical Books Peer Review Assignment:

    Here are the links to the comments I made on the wiki pages for the Canonical Books Assignment:

    1. Remediation
    2. How We Became Post Human

    1. What did you learn from reading and replying to your classmates’ drafts?

    • I learned that my classmates are intelligent, creative, funny, and articulate!
    • From Remediation, I was bale to make many connections to Baudrillard. The idea that all media is merely revised versions of earlier media is very similar to Baudrillard's arguments about the recycling of ideas. The points about remediated spaces is also similar to Baudrillard's exploration of simulacra.
    • How We Became Post Human made me happy because I feel that women are underrepresented in this discipline. The canonical texts and theorists we've been reading are predominantly male. I was pleased to see a prominent female so articulately explored by two more female scholars. Again, this is helping my confidence issue - I think we stereotype technology as being something that very smart men have created - Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, and Mark Zuckerberg. I know it's just a stereotype, but my being surprised by her presence among the texts made me realize how much I've been participating in perpetuating that stereotype myself, at least internally.
    After reviewing their drafts, what do you realize you need to revise in your own draft?
    • From the beginning, I was worried about the length of our wiki page. We were committed to the content and worked hard to make a clear and intelligent treatment of the texts; however, great content gets lost in poor format. The concise nature of the two wikis with charts, columns, and wrapped images to eliminate scrolling to eternity were all key format features of the pages. I realized that we needed to work with our content to better suit the medium. I think Sarah and I are both so used to traditional printed products that it was a challenge to adapt to the conventions of a digital product.
    • In the end, we converted the connections to key concepts section (our longest) into links out to separate pages. This dramatically reduced the length and made the wiki much more readable. We shrunk and/or wrapped images to also decrease the overall length. This way we did not have to sacrifice content while adapting to the digital format.
    Now read the reviews conducted on your draft (please list the names of your classmate’s who reviewed your draft).
    • Our page was reviewed (helpfully) by:
      • Susanne N.
      • Eric S.
      • Mat R.
      • Smitha B.
      • Laura R.
    Did any comments surprise you? Why or why not?
    • I wasn't surprised by any of the comments. The primary feedback was that the amount of information was overwhelming and difficult to digest. The lower-order concerns Eric pointed out were very helpful. I was also not surprised because I had spent a good bit of time searching the site then the web to find out if there was a spell check feature for Google sites. Alas, there is none. I wanted to avoid some of the format problems that occurred for me last time when I cut and paste the text from a Word document. Typing directly into the wiki though prohibits that kind of immediate checking. I was surprised that there was no spell check feature, but definitely learned to either copy and paste text into a word document and more carefully edit, which I find hard to do on the screen. I think I could use a Google doc to help with spelling and a print out to help make it easier for me to proofread.
    Comments Off on Cannonical Books Peer Review Assignment: 3/16

    Individual Tutorial Notes: 3/12

    This Week's Inspiration:

    Scan of February 15, 2012 Article on Charlotte Observer

    I came across this article while looking through the newspaper a couple weeks ago. I clipped it out and put it on my refrigerator for inspiration. You can read it online here. I find it inspiring because the article describes a project that is very similar to what I envision.

    The 573 letters exchanged between Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett were previously only available to people who went to Wellesley College and viewed them in the library. However, in a collaboration between Baylor University and Wellesley, the letters have now been digitized and made public.

    The whole world can now access the letters here: www.wellesley.edu/browning

    The article continues to explain that,

    "The website set up for readers to see the correspondence includes both the handwritten letters and transcriptions, as well as a zoom function for readers to try to decipher faded or illegible words. The body of letters will also be searchable by keywords."

    I plan to explore this more in a deeper analysis in a separate blog post.

    Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2012/02/15/3013203/browning-and-barrett-love-letters.html#storylink=misearch#storylink=cpy
    Tutorial and Project Activities:

    The Project:

    I began this week where I left off with my project. I couldn't rest until I figured out those menus across the top! I have trouble moving forward if things aren't just right. I used the WordPress "Support" page search to find a tutorial on making a static home page - also called front page - so the blog will have a more traditional web site feel. I found this page: Writing & Editing - Front Page.

    I also finally figured out that the tabs across the top, with this theme, are not considered "menus," like I thought. Each "page" I create is tabbed across the top. I was able to create two tabs: one for publications and one for project updates. The publications now has tiered pages - a main page with the story of the magazine, then each issue has been uploaded as a link to a pdf. The updates tab will be where my blog posts are stored. I can use this to keep readers updated on progress. I converted the first post - a basic overview - into a static front page. This is important because it will prevent the overview from being replaced with newer posts.

    I also figured out how to space the title, so I know have this:

    Screen Shot by Suzanne Sink of southernundergroundpress
    I'm still not happy with the widgets along the left hand side of the page. I like the search feature, but I am not sure if I should have more or different widgets and plan to work on that later.

    Also on the agenda is to find out if there is a way to have the pdf files be visible on the post without having to link out to them. I need to add description to the pdf files posts and tags, so people can be directed to authors and content they are interested in.

    The Tutorials:

    This week I decided to investigate OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology. This technology is designed to take a pdf, or other text-based document, and create a file behind the text that recognizes the different words. This will allow the text to be searched  for words, show the reader where those words appear, and help the search engine locate the different texts containing the search terms. This is a major part of the project's functionality as I envision it, and it is what makes the Browning database so helpful to scholars.

    My goal here is not only to preserve and archive these cultural artifacts, but to make them useful to scholarship in literary, sociological, artistic, and historical fields of study. If the user is unable to search for his or her particular topic - the draft, for example - then the archive is just an interesting read. I need it to be a tool. OCR is at the heart of that function.


    Being the novice (fearless novice, but novice nonetheless) that I am, I started this exploration on Wikipedia's page on OCR. As I tell my students, Wikipedia can be a good place to get some background information, but it doesn't replace further research. I needed a primer - something that would help me understand the vocabulary and terms surrounding these products.

    OCR - technology that coverts an image or scan of text into machine encoded text, or computer recognizable characters. This allows data to be searched by key words and is required for text mining.

    Text Mining - deriving information from texts with the ability to categorize and summarize that information. This is a function that may be useful in the future of this project when there are multiple publications to search and analyze for patterns.

    OCR vs. ICR - An important concept for me was the difference between OCR and ICR (Intelligent Character Recognition). ICR is necessary for converting handwriting to machine encoded text. Many of the publications are a combination of handwriting and typing, so ICR capabilities will be something to have in a purchase of software.

    Error Rate - There is a great variation of accuracy among the different OCR software. I expect that the more accurate the software depends on the quality of the image to be converted and the sophistication of the software. Since I have older texts in various stages of readability, to get a low error rate, I will need a more advanced system for OCR.

    Digital Libraries - I fell into a bit of a black hole on WikipediaNC ECHO - North Carolina  Exploring Cultural Heritage Online. This could potentially be an excellent resource for assistance in the process of gathering texts and publishing digitally. They provide some grants, but like NEH, grants are only awarded to institutions and not individuals. However, I could certainly look into partnering with a local library or work through ODU to obtain this kind of funding. This site is one I will need to revisit when funding becomes more of an issue.

    Edit vs. Search - One potential area for further research is in locating software that doesn't simply allow for the editing of a scan but for the ability to search within in. For example, there are free versions of software that will convert a pdf to a Microsoft Word document. I have used this before to take an older worksheet and put it into a Word document. In my experience, this process resulted in a high number of errors and no option to search the text. It is something to consider when shopping for OCR software.

    Search on my Computer vs. Search on the Blog - I found one resource that at first seemed promising. It can be purchased from a company called Lucion. I was very excited when I started watching the videos about how it works. However, the problem is that it converts pdf files to tif files, which is not a file type supported by WordPress. WordPress will support odt files, so I need to do more research on software that will convert pdf files to odt files.

    Zotero - A professor of mine suggested I look around the resource Professor Hacker. There I found the suggestion that I look into using Zotero to store and organize my pdf files. I downloaded the software and plan on exploring that in the upcoming weeks.

    Reflection of Learning:

    This week was very productive for me. I learned a lot about what kinds of problems I will need to overcome to realize my vision. In particular, I need to find a way to make my scans searchable documents - easy enough to do if I want to have that function on just my home computer. This becomes problematic when thinking about making this a function of a website or blog. I am on the trail though, and after looking at the archive of the Browning letters, I am reassured that it is possible.

    However, I can't help but  feeling like I am trying to reinvent the wheel. How do I connect with the people who have already digitized and made texts searchable?

    Ironically, I now have a follower on my blog. She is a librarian at Jacksonville State University where there is a very large collection of underground press publications on microfilm. There is also a tab where users can see a list of links to digitized publications. Here is what I saw:

    I posted these scans earlier today. Later the same day, I find that I have been added to a college library research guide! It's so exciting!

    But I see from the her guide, that several papers from the South already exist in digital form. Perhaps collaboration with many projects will be necessary in the future.
    Comments Off on Individual Tutorial Notes: 3/12

    Individual Tutorial Notes: 2/27

    This Week's Inspiration:

    At the beginning of this semester, I have to admit that I had many fears about taking a course in New Media. I consider myself an adept user of technology, but I was concerned about my ability to be an adept producer of technology. With some limited experience with Microsoft Frontpage back in 2003, I knew just enough about writing code to be aware of how very little I knew about writing code.

    Then last semester, a discussion of the term "digital literacy" brought up this notion that in order to be digitally literate one most be able to produce digitally. It stuck with me, and I know now that I have to overcome the fear and doubt about my abilities to become fully digitally literate for myself and my students.

    When my mother found the photograph below, I felt rather inspired. There I am, blazing a trail on the TI-99 home computer in 1983. That girl was unafraid. She was ready for anything, and so am I.

    1983 - Suzanne on the forefront of New Media!

    Tutorial Activities:

    This week I am working on developing a WordPress blog that I can use as a starting point for creating a database. The name of the blog is southernundergroundpress.wordpress.com. This domain name is also available (and hopefully will remain available), and I hope to eventually establish a website for the archive of underground press publications.

    At first I thought I could just get started, like I have been learning as I go with Blogger, but I quickly realized that WordPress has far more customizations, technological capabilities, and advanced features. This week I have been working on getting myself familiar with the site. The first stop was this handy little tutorial located on the bottom of the home page:

    Screen Shot by Suzanne Sink from http://www.wordpress.com/
    This looked like a promising place to start, so I clicked on it and it took me here:

    Screen Shot by Suzanne Sink from Word Press Article "Master the Basics and Beyond"
    The article includes information on how to:

    Get Started: This written and video tutorial walks the user through the creation of a WordPress account from selection of a domain name through to setting a password. I had been able to do this without the tutorial, but it was nice to know I didn't miss any steps.

    Get Acquainted: This section is dedicated to the "Dashboard." This is described as the back-end, the part that the reader will not see. This is where I can control the blog, and it is also as far as I went before realizing I needed help. There are so many options from the dashboard, so I was reassured when WordPress told me:

    "If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the menus here, don’t worry – you only need to know your way around a few key parts of the dashboard to start publishing content and personalizing your blog’s appearance."
    Thanks WordPress! After spending time on the PHP.org pages, having technology that speaks to the novice is actually very empowering. It instructed me to find my way to the "Settings" controls and play around with the features and then repeat that exploration with the "Privacy"controls, which I did. I made the page able to be indexed by search engines and adjusted the tag line to:

    "The Project to Archive and Rebuild the Communities of the Southern Underground Press"

    Get Focused: This section is full of advice for choosing a blog topic. I just skimmed since I have a clear idea of my purpose here.

    Get Customized: Now I am ready to give my blog a "unique personal design." The advice that jumps off the page is, "It may be tempting to choose a theme just because you like the aesthetics, but don’t forget about functionality." Since I want to have a home page with a description of the project then links to the database search and community areas, I decided to use the filter to help narrow theme choices that had a side bar. I chose "Greyzed," which has an urban, edginess to it that I like for the project.

    Then things get difficult. After an hour or so of battling with widgets and menus, stubbornly trying to figure it out on my own, I decided to leave things be for now and look for further guidance on the subject in the support page - here. I chose to use Search, Archives, Categories, Pages, and Meta for now.

    Get Published: I learned here that I can write "pages" as well as posts. These are not organized chronologically, but are suitable for stable content. I'm thinking that each publication could have its own page? For now, I used an edited version of last week's blog in the "About" page and used a portion of a paper on Inquisition on another page.

    Get Flashy: Adding images and video works much in the same way as Blogger, but I like the Zemanta feature, which intuitively recommends images and articles that are free to use based on the content of a post as well as tags. Cool!

    Get Connected: Here I found some general advice about how to find blogs I might be interested in reading and how to use tags to help readers find me. The Zemanta application I activated in the last step has already helped me with the tags, and I added a photo and a blurb to my profile.

    Get Famous: This section has tips for boosting exposure and readers. I will certainly look into this more when I get the page more established.

    Get Mobile: I can use my HTC phone powered by Android to work on my blog.

    bookmarklet to my favorites bar, so I can automatically keep track of content on the web I might want to include in my blog. Way cool!

    After the Basics:

    I still have questions about having a static home page, menus, Buddy Press, and adding pdf files. I am continuing to work on learning about the various functions by using the WordPress Codex page, which is the online manual for the site.

    Screen Shot by Suzanne Sink of WordPress

    I still have more work to do of course, but I think I am off to a good start.

    Screen Shot by Suzanne Sink of southernundergroundpress

    Reflection of Learning:

    This week, I have learned to stop being afraid. There may be some questions that linger (how do I get those menus at the top the way I want them?) and some frustrations on how long it takes to set something up, but in the end, I am excited to take these first small steps on this journey toward realizing such a grand dream.

    Perhaps for some, messing around with a WordPress site would be no big deal, but for me this has been quite an undertaking. It is much more involved than this Blogger site, and it it has exponentially more functions than what I have been happily doing here. I learned that while it will take time, a work in progress is better than no progress at all.

    I hope to continue to channel my fearless self and refuse to be intimidated by what is challenging and unknown.

    Next up, I will continue to build the site, but I want to explore the world of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology, At some point, I would like the uploaded publications to be searched by content and not just tags.
    Comments Off on Individual Tutorial Notes: 2/27