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Assignment: Applying a Theory Rubric

Developing the Rubric:

I started this assignment with the Zoetewey chapter in mind. The two aspects of "usability" and "usefulness" can be productively adapted for theoretical applications. Can the application be "used" by the readers? Can it be "useful" for them?

I outlined how I see these two terms working in the context of theory application below with a clean copy of the rubric following. 

Usability:

Objectives: Is the application of this theory usable - clear and understandable? Could it be reapplied to another object/problem/question? Would another researcher arrive at a similar application?
  • Key terms are defined so reader has clarity.
  • Theory has been interpreted accurately. Application does not misuse theory or remove it from context in such a way that distorts the theoretical argument.
  • Theory is summarized for context.
  • Object/problem/question to which theory has been applied is explained for understanding.
  • Work applies at least three elements from the theory for triangulation.  

Usefulness:
Objectives: Is the application of this theory useful - relevant and significant? Does it have implications for the discipline? Does it reveal meaning or answers that can further research?
·         Application yields insights, observations, and/or answers about the object/problem/question being analyzed.
·         The conclusions drawn from the application are relevant or significant to the field in which the researcher is working.
·         The application suggests new questions or avenues for exploration in further research - possibly by discussing unused elements of theory, theory shortcomings/limitations/, or unresolved aspects of the object/problem/question.

Assessment Area:
Excellent
Acceptable
Under-developed
Not represented
Usability:




  • Key Terms




  • Accuracy




  • Theory Summary




  • Object Explained




  • Multiple Elements Used




Usefulness:




  • Yields insights




  • Relevance to field




  • Further research







Applying the Rubric:

Randomly selecting a Case Study from the list of blogs on our class page, I came to Chvonne's work with Snapchat.

Assessment Area:
Excellent
Acceptable
Under-developed
Not represented
Usability:




  • Key Terms
X - uses in-text definitions following the inclusion of key terms. Keeps the discussion flowing nicely while still giving information needed. 



  • Accuracy
X - demonstrates a very clear understanding of the concepts used



  • Theory Summary

X - perhaps could include more information about rhetorical situation beyond the three key concepts of audience, constraints, and exigence used.


  • Object Explained
X - very thorough and makes good use of links to Snapchat blog postings



  • Multiple Elements Used
X - exigence, audience, and constraints. Each is applied in more than one way as well.



Usefulness:




  • Yields insights
X - makes several observations about how Snapchat fundamentally differs as a social media platform and the nature of ephemeral action versus documented action.



  • Relevance to field
X - implications for multiple fields including networks and social media.



  • Further research
X - poses several intriguing questions that stem from the application that could be explored in additional thinking




So how did it work? Well, it works as a rubric for assessment, but rather subjectively. If I were a student trying to use this rubric for developing my work, I might be confused by a few points. First, there are more items in the "usability" category, which could lead to someone thinking that was weighted more heavily. Since there are no weights or points assigned to any of the categories, that might be difficult. In my mind, the usefulness categories would be most important, so perhaps revising this I would add percentages (maybe 40/60 top and bottom) to give some information for where work should be concentrated. It is still highly subjective though and I would not want to add a certain amount of points to each item because different theories could yield more or less in one area. I would want to use the rubric to gain an overall sense of usefulness and overall usability to determine a grade from that collective impression.

Second, there are no format criteria included on a rubric, so I can imagine that could be an issue. For example, it does not have an item for length or any required formatting like MLA citation or the inclusion of visuals. Surely an assignment would entail these items (or maybe I've been working with freshman too long), but a good rubric I think speaks to all aspects of an assignment. 

Lastly, the subjectivity could be problematic. For example, what is the difference between an "excellent" and "acceptable"? I think this would require some more explanation, but even still it comes down to interpreting qualities of creativity, thoughtfulness, insightfulness... These are not easily measured by rubric boxes, nor are they easily explained to a student. It comes down to an impression or feeling about whether some area of the rubric was present in the application and perhaps how it compared to other examples from the class. Students when presented with a rubric can often focus narrowly on the items and not realize the full potential of their thinking. It can be limiting at the same time it can be helpful for students to gain access to difficult work. I am not sure how I could remove some subjectivity or even if I would want to, but it is part of this rubric as it stands now.

Overall, I like the rubric and think it would be helpful for constructing and assessing the application of theory. 

Mind Map: Class Meeting 2/18/14

Suzanne's Mind Map

(Additions this week are in black again since we have worked through each of the colors.)

The CHAT authors are interested in remapping the traditional canonical understanding of composition and rhetoric. From this discussion, I was struck most by the rethinking of delivery as a significant canon. I agree that the role of delivery was significantly diminished after English Studies developed as a written discipline as opposed to the oratorical goals of classical rhetoric. This may have resonated with me as I am working with a delivery system for my object of study, but it seems to build on a thread I have been working with. Last week, I added nodes to civic web sites to show the link between the evaluative criterion of usability and Spinuzzi's declaration of communication and information design becoming ever-more inextricable linked. I added the claim from CHAT authors to that set of nodes that spoke to the same overlap in English and the digital world.

To that growth, I added a node for "delivery" as the CHAT authors describe as being made up of "mediation" and "distribution", or choices we make about form and choices we make for getting that form to the audience respectively. I see a connection between mediation and the cluster of nodes dealing with how English Studies is linked to information technology. The growing use of digital media for rhetorical products requires mediation, choice of form, probably more than the traditional printed essay due to the highly variable environment that does not have a prescribed set of style guidelines like MLA. I thought about where else we have seen mediation as an important element. I thought of genre and Vatz's argument about the role of the rhetor. Genre mediates content by restricting it to a particular form. The rhetor chooses and edits content thus mediating the information an audience receives. I connected these nodes to the mediation node.

I added a node to genre to show the connection between it and what the CHAT authors call "affordances." I wrote about this in my reading notes and feel there may be some further exploration on that point - namely an idea I am kicking around about where action comes from. It seems genre theorists argue that actions stem from genres, but I think the CHAT authors are saying that actions collect into certain affordances that then make objects' use easier or more difficult. Are they coming at action from different angles? One with action as an effect of genre, the other with genre (affordances) as an effect of action?

Lastly, I added a node for "memory networks", the burgeoning archivist I like to see myself as. I connected this to Foucault's archives that I already suggested are a type of network. I connected a node for Solberg and Rohan, both CHAT authors dealing with memory, to that. Solberg suggests strong memories can impact the emotional environment in a positive way and Rohan argues that collective memory is built upon the reuse and repurposing of memory artifacts. I see both of these views as bearing on my object of study as effects of the seeing UPS as a memory network. I also connected that UPS node to "distribution" from the previous paragraph.

This is making me thinking about the relationship between memory and delivery. The classical canon suggests that to deliver a speech, we must have committed it to memory. The UPS is both a memory network, like Rohan's grates collecting thoughts and building a group memory, and a distributive system. I think this will be an interesting place to explore - and I'm glad the mind map was there to suggest it. I'm not sure I would have thought about it otherwise.

If the embed feature works, you will also see the current map here:

Individual Research Reflection: 4/30

Final Reflection:

Perhaps my feelings about this project could best be summed up in song:



In all seriousness, this project has been the realization of long held dreams, and even though it is in its infancy, I am thrilled with the process so far. Just as the radicals and idealists of the Sixties believed they were at the dawn of a new era in human peace and equality, so too do I feel as though this ending is merely the dawning of a new age. This is my Digital Age, and even if I am late to the party, I do feel that I have arrived there.

Applications Used:

  • Primarily a WordPress website, I have used the various applications available to me after having the site externally hosted. I have made extensive use of plug-ins and widgets to customize the page. The BuddyPress plug-in has been integral to the community aspect of functionality I wished to achieve. I have became proficient in finding solutions to functionality issues through the use of and adaptation of plug-ins. Most recently I added a plug-in to work around the issue of tagging on pages where my publication issues are as opposed to just being able to tag posts, which I use for project updates.
  • I have been using Acrobat recently to divide my pdf files and will continue to use it going forward to process OCR and possibly allow for readers to comment within the text - especially useful for the author attribution I am seeking.
 
Rhetorical Requirements:
 
 
  • When I started this project, I wanted to create a research tool. I knew very clearly that my audience was made up of scholars, writers, and readers of the underground press. Many who work with the subject have lived through the era in question or participated in it first-hand, while others, like myself, are what Ken Wachsberger calls "intergenerational peers." With that audience in mind, I believe that the process I have begun to tag content to allow for locating points of interest is the best example of meeting the needs of that audience.
  • Additionally, the BuddyPress feature meets an additional purpose behind the project, namely community. I wanted to create a research tool, and that is happening, but I also wanted to create a space for discussion and reconnections. I wanted to preserve and make available this work that holds a significant place in history; however, the nature of these publications was always social. To have a research tool that does not have room for the social aspect of alternative media is lacking. Having groups and forums and places to comment throughout the site is the function that distinguishes this from other digital archives.
 
Getting Stuck:
 
 
  • Getting stuck has become a habit for me (and I've written extensively about that in previous posts), but it is no longer one that causes me stress. I got stuck at pretty much every point along the way, especially figuring out how to get BuddyPress installed (external hosting and domain registration) and figuring out how to divide pdfs and add page tags (free trial download Acrobat X Pro). I discovered that there is a system (yay for my linear brain!) that I can follow whenever these inevitable obstacles pop up. I work my resources:
    • Internet - Someone, somewhere has probably had the same problem. And they probably posted in a forum. While not always easy to wade through, I have often been lead to the solution or answer I was looking for.
    • Humans - My favorite resource of is other people. Whether it's a phone call or online chat with tech support or customer service (Bluehost tech people are amazing) or a friend in person or online, people with expertise are out there and willing to help. I try people after I try to find the solution on my own because it is important to me to learn and not just follow directions without knowing why.
    • Codex - When all else fails, I go to the codex, which is the online manual for WordPress and BuddyPress. It isn't as straight forward as the previous two sources, but with time (and an Internet connection to look up all the words and phrases I don't understand), it can be helpful.
 
Theoretical Connections:
 
 
  • Delagrange: For me, this project has been about overcoming the anxiety of technology creation, learning that I can learn how to make digital products, focusing on process over product (almost converted), and becoming more proficient at techne, which Delagrange defines as producing technology. She advocates repeatedly for increased making of technology by New Media scholars and less talking about it. This project has been something I made, from the ground up, where no website or blank template existed. Her encouragement and call for women especially to take up ground in the field was invaluable in helping me situate myself in the field. 
  • Archive: This key concept resonated with me from the very beginning of class. However, I have come to start using an adjusted term: social archive. For me this is a combination of collective memory building, public archives, social networking, and interactivity. Because the project has both preservation and connection at its heart, I think social archive is a better descriptor of the work.
  • Ecology of Culture: My project is part of the scholarship surrounding the underground press; however, much like Delagrange's calls for an increase in the prestige of New Media products in comparison to print articles, the underground press must also fight for equal footing within the discipline. There is a culture that dismisses the work as the insignificant ramblings of a sex, drugs, and rock n' roll counterculture. I have even heard this voiced in my own interviews with people who participated in the creation of these newspapers.  There is a growing number of scholars who argue for an increased emphasis on alternative media (especially since the role that these sources played in the social movements like Arab Spring and OWS). They, as do I, argue for recognition of the work done by these publications in reflecting and effecting social change, to view them as important historical documents, and to examine them with the same scholarly lens as other canonical texts in an effort to legitimize and increase the study of the underground as a whole. The Ecology of Culture is slowly shifting with new scholarship examining dissent and social media, self-publication and social change, and alternative media's influence in society overall. I feel that my work contributes to shifting the culture, and I look forward to the continuation of the project in the future.


Individual Research: 4/23

Project Updates:

This week was all about Adobe Acrobat X Pro.

Here's the saga:

I as seriously overwhelmed at first (can you say Persistence?), but like my previous experiences, I took a deep breath and jumped in with both feet. First of all, what I wanted to accomplish was breaking up the pdf files of the issues into individual pages. This would start the process of OCR for in-text searching. In the meantime, I could apply tags to the pages and give users a better research function.

But there are so many different Adobe products. Which one do I need? I tried to use the "Compare Products" chart, only to discover I really didn't know what the different criteria meant. Automate multistep tasks? Integrate with Microsoft SharePoint? Insert furrowed brow here.

On to the next resource (and my favorite) - HUMANS! No luck on my Facebook post plea for help. And the customer service number is only open during the day. When I was able to call someone the next day, I told her what I wanted to do (you can actually select "help choosing a product" from the automated menu when you call - I am obviously not alone in my woes). She told me I need X Pro. Great, how much? $199? Oh. There's a student/educator discount? $119. Hmm. And you have to send in forms and wait for them to be reviewed and approved.

Sigh.

But wait!! There is a 30 day free trial!! Yes, please! Then this:


Screen Shot of my Facebook Wall
 Tried on my husband's computer. Still no luck. Firewalls up and down. Pop-up blockers on and off. Cookies allowed and blocked. Restarts and pounding the keys as though it would work if I just click hard enough or enough times. Trolled forums and FAQs and random internet sites from a Google search of my problem. Somewhere by some miracle a suggestion caught my eye. Like a voice of an angel.

"Try using a different browser"   


Chrome? And like magic the free trial worked. Damn you Internet Explorer!! I was able to split my pdf files, load them on the site, and start tagging. I have two of the nine issues uploaded and tagged so far.

I have tags in the following categories (oh, and I had to search for and download a plug-in to allow tags on pages as well as posts - that was a gem of a few hours):

Author
Theme
Genre (prose, poem, political cartoon)
Serial (for repeated articles and features)
Format (images, image and text, cover, etc.)

I also included a tag called "Needs Attribution" that I will tweet and post about in an effort to find authorship for the anonymous pieces. 

It's amazing to see this abstract dream come to fruition. I am revelling in the process not the product, which ain't easy for a product-oriented girl like me!

Oh, and Ken Wachsberger (author and scholar - on the additional resources page, basically an annotated bib I did as part of an Independent Study for Dr. Depew) is now my friend on Facebook. He sent me a very nice note, and it is amazing to be called his "intergenerational peer."

The saga continues....

Reading Notes: 4/16

Reading Assignment:     Electronic  Journals

Enculturation

Computers and Composition Online

Flow

Technoculture

Kairos


Some Thoughts:

When I first read that we would be looking at online journals, I thought I knew what I would find. I thought that I would be looking at digital versions of print journals. It was eye-opening to discover that these particular journals include so much more than just print articles online.

It was interesting to work through Technologies of Wonder by Delagrange around the same time I was looking through the journals. She advocates for the exact thing that I saw in the journals: the visual, non-linear, non-print based product made with technology. Delagrange argues that New Media scholars must not only write about technology, but they must also work with technology. They must produce something and be fluent in the creation of digital objects. Scholars must also make use of the digital platform, which has the power to make different rhetorical points than print alone.

For example, in "Television and the Yuletide Cult" by Ernest Mathijs published in Flow, the author utilizes embedded video and images that color the argument in ways that merely describing the films would not.



Screen Shot from "Television and the Yuletide Cult"
But perhaps even more to Delagrange's point is the following multi-modal presentation by Daniel Anderson published in Kairos. Unlike the article above, this presentation has no print equivalent. It is a highly visual experience. As Delagrange notes, these kinds of products emphasize the process over the finished publishable "Paper." It involves the body and allows the viewer to move through with a sense of wonder, letting the information wash over the body as opposed to digesting it through reading it in a linear form.




It comes down to the key concept of interactivity on many levels. The electronic journals allows more interactivity through greater access. They are not holed up in a library, or digitally secreted behind a library page log-in like JSTOR articles. The visual forms, the ability to link out to follow other thoughts as they occur to the viewer, not necessarily intended connections by the writer, create an interactive experience.

I am reminded of advice a fiction workshop teacher once gave me. She told me that I needed to leave the reader to draw his or her own conclusions. I shouldn't try so hard to tell them what I wanted them to think about the characters or events. It strikes me that these journals allow for the viewer/reader to follow his or her own path through the material. They are like Wunderkammers where we are free to physically occupy a space and pay attention to whatever captures our interest and sense of wonder.

I am left to ask myself how can I produce something for publication that is not print-based? It is a challenge both in my relative novice abilities in technology and in my creative ability to think it up. Do I have the kind of mind that can produce something like the Anderson presentation? I have serious doubts. I think in linear ways. I prefer the outline to the concept map (although I had a lot of fun making that poplet for the research project...). Maybe this is just the beginnings of my own paradigm shift. The digital work will only continue to grow in importance to scholarship, and I either get on the wagon now or be truly left in the dust.

It's a brave new world out there. I think I'll go join it.

Delagrange Presentation

_NP2G8 on Make A Gif, Animated Gifs

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!

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.

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.

Plan:

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:

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.

Techne:

"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

Wonder:

"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.

Seeing:
"[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.

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.)

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!

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?

Confused
Image posted on Flickr by Giulia Torra

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

Introduction:

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


Introduction:

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. 

Remediation:


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:
Techne:
Wonder:
Seeing:
The Persistance of Vision:
Visual Pleasure:
Seeing Bodies:
Seeing Bodies in Space:
Embodied Arrangement:
  

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

This Week's Inspiration:

This week I am inspired by...

ME!

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:

http://southernundergroundpress.wordpress.com/posts/about/

and some other work in the field:
http://peopleslibrary.wordpress.com/2012/02/07/protest-history-underground-press-syndicate/


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.