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Visual Rhetoric_Annotated Bibliography #2

Bogost, I. (2010). Persuasive games: The expressive power of videogames. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Bogost’s research question is to “suggest that videogames have a unique persuasive power” that is made possible through procedural rhetoric as this type of rhetoric is “tied to the core affordances of the computer,” but that “videogames are computational artifacts that have cultural meaning as computational artifacts,” unlike “‘ordinary software like word processors and photo editing applications [which] are often used to create expressive artifacts” since “those completed artifacts do not rely on the computer in order to bear meaning” (ix). Unlike some other game scholars and the gaming community, Bogost (2010) games can “disrupt and change fundamental attitudes and beliefs about the world, leading to potentially significant long-term change,” but that “this power is not equivalent to the content of videogames…Rather, this power lies in the very way videogames mount claims through procedural rhetorics” (ix). Bogost (2010) frames the foundation of his discourse within the evolution of rhetoric, but he applies and expands rhetoric to fill in the gaps left by traditional and visual and digital rhetoric through the technological difference of video games. His belief is while visual and textual rhetoric are still relevant, video game rhetoricians need to understand how procedural rhetoric functions in games. He defines procedural rhetoric as “the practice of using processes persuasively, just as verbal rhetoric the practice of using oratory persuasively and visual rhetoric is the practice of using images persuasively. Procedural rhetoric is a general name for the practice of authoring arguments through processes…its arguments are made not through the construction of words or images, but through the authorship of rules of behavior, the construction of dynamic models,” with the rules of computational arguments written in code (p. 28-29).

Bogost (2010) concludes that “we must recognize the persuasive and expressive power of procedurality. Processes influence us. They seed changes in our attitudes, which in turn, and over time, change our culture…we should recognize procedural rhetoric as a new way to interrogate our world, to comment on it, to disrupt and challenge it. As creators and players of videogames, we must be conscious of the procedural claims we make, why we make them, and what kind of social fabric we hope to cultivate through the processes we unleash on the world” (p. 340). While his “social fabric we hope to cultivate” comment is a bit grand, his exploration of the ways in which processes underlying both society, business, education, and digital games, among other activities is a fascinating one but it takes into account that for every procedure that was included, another one had to be excluded, and the choices that were made reflect cultural and societal influences and norms. An example of this would be when Bogost (2010) talks about procedural rhetoric and political structures: “Procedural rhetorics articulate the way political structures organize their daily practice; they describe the way a system ‘thinks’ before it thinks about anything in particular. To be sure, this process of crafting opinion toward resignation has its own logic, and that logic can be operationalized in code” (p. 90).

Bogost’s (2010) text is useful when approaching my topic because he has a chapter devoted to “Advertising Logic,” applying visual and procedural logic when looking at how advertisers, like “marketing guru Seth Godin,” had to reevaluate the way they delivered advertisements to consumers with the rise of DVR and selling television shows on DVD allowing viewers to skip over commercials (p. 150 and 151). Bogost (2010) points out that, by targeting a demographic of males between the age of 18 to 34, “Marketing has shifted away from a focus on the procedural rhetoric of media technologies — integrating ads into rules of network programming formats. Instead, advertisers focus on the procedural rhetoric of the frames themselves — integrating ads into rules of consumers’ perceived cultural station” (p. 151-152), with even video games becoming a space in which advertisers can reach audiences through what has been coined “advergames” by J. Chen and M. Ringel (2001). While I do find it fascinating that digital games can be used to deliver advertising messages, the section of Bogost’s chapter that is going to be the most useful to me is when he describes three types of advertising — demonstrative, illustrative, and associative — and ties each of the strategies into how they are used within the video game industry. Before reading this section, I had no idea that there were different types of advertising and had no idea about how each of these types of advertising affects the ways in which consumers are approached and the types of rhetoric that are employed. For my particular project, it looks like I will be delving further into associative advertising as it is what Sony is using for their PlayStation 4 campaigns in the US and Japan by attempting to parallel players’ lives with the actions and achievements that are a part of in the games. By looking at his discourse on the associative advertising and then at the advertising rhetorics with “its own internal logic that informs and structures the attitudes” he describes with the three advertising types: “Advertising agencies develop strategic ‘campaigns’ based on a sophisticated understanding of a company’s products or services, their target audience, and their incremental goals for the near future” (p. 164).

As for the overall questions being asked in the class, Bogost (2010) has a conversation that looks at the move from visual to procedural rhetoric in advertising, and how “advertisers are applying existing rhetorics to the videogame medium, despite the latter’s fundamental focus on procedurality. Advertising has always focused on the visual. Advertisers synecdochically refer to consumers as ‘eyeballs,’ whose attention they strive to capture” (169). Bogost’s desire to alter/expand how and which rhetorics are applied to advertising within video games fills in the gaps for me that I have been feeling when looking at the theories we have read so far in class. Video games do not operate the way commercials or print ads, so there need to be different ways of looking at how the rhetorics for advergames operate in a way that is beyond just the visual.

As the winter storms keep coming


Visual Rhetoric_Annotated Bibliography #2

Bogost, I. (2010). Persuasive games: The expressive power of videogames. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Bogost’s research question is to “suggest that videogames have a unique persuasive power” that is made possible through procedural rhetoric as this type of rhetoric is “tied to the core affordances of the computer,” but that “videogames are computational artifacts that have cultural meaning as computational artifacts,” unlike “‘ordinary software like word processors and photo editing applications [which] are often used to create expressive artifacts” since “those completed artifacts do not rely on the computer in order to bear meaning” (ix). Unlike some other game scholars and the gaming community, Bogost (2010) games can “disrupt and change fundamental attitudes and beliefs about the world, leading to potentially significant long-term change,” but that “this power is not equivalent to the content of videogames…Rather, this power lies in the very way videogames mount claims through procedural rhetorics” (ix). Bogost (2010) frames the foundation of his discourse within the evolution of rhetoric, but he applies and expands rhetoric to fill in the gaps left by traditional and visual and digital rhetoric through the technological difference of video games. His belief is while visual and textual rhetoric are still relevant, video game rhetoricians need to understand how procedural rhetoric functions in games. He defines procedural rhetoric as “the practice of using processes persuasively, just as verbal rhetoric the practice of using oratory persuasively and visual rhetoric is the practice of using images persuasively. Procedural rhetoric is a general name for the practice of authoring arguments through processes…its arguments are made not through the construction of words or images, but through the authorship of rules of behavior, the construction of dynamic models,” with the rules of computational arguments written in code (p. 28-29).

Bogost (2010) concludes that “we must recognize the persuasive and expressive power of procedurality. Processes influence us. They seed changes in our attitudes, which in turn, and over time, change our culture…we should recognize procedural rhetoric as a new way to interrogate our world, to comment on it, to disrupt and challenge it. As creators and players of videogames, we must be conscious of the procedural claims we make, why we make them, and what kind of social fabric we hope to cultivate through the processes we unleash on the world” (p. 340). While his “social fabric we hope to cultivate” comment is a bit grand, his exploration of the ways in which processes underlying both society, business, education, and digital games, among other activities is a fascinating one but it takes into account that for every procedure that was included, another one had to be excluded, and the choices that were made reflect cultural and societal influences and norms. An example of this would be when Bogost (2010) talks about procedural rhetoric and political structures: “Procedural rhetorics articulate the way political structures organize their daily practice; they describe the way a system ‘thinks’ before it thinks about anything in particular. To be sure, this process of crafting opinion toward resignation has its own logic, and that logic can be operationalized in code” (p. 90). The implications of Bogost’s argument is that it gives rhetoricians a way to to look at the rhetoric that underlies processes and codes that are usually invisible to society and individuals, except for people like computer programmers who work explicitly with code.

Bogost’s (2010) text is useful when approaching my topic because he has a chapter devoted to “Advertising Logic,” applying visual and procedural logic when looking at how advertisers, like “marketing guru Seth Godin,” had to reevaluate the way they delivered advertisements to consumers with the rise of DVR and selling television shows on DVD allowing viewers to skip over commercials (p. 150 and 151). Bogost (2010) points out that, by targeting a demographic of males between the age of 18 to 34, “Marketing has shifted away from a focus on the procedural rhetoric of media technologies — integrating ads into rules of network programming formats. Instead, advertisers focus on the procedural rhetoric of the frames themselves — integrating ads into rules of consumers’ perceived cultural station” (p. 151-152), with even video games becoming a space in which advertisers can reach audiences through what has been coined “advergames” by J. Chen and M. Ringel (2001). While I do find it fascinating that digital games can be used to deliver advertising messages, the section of Bogost’s chapter that is going to be the most useful to me is when he describes three types of advertising — demonstrative, illustrative, and associative — and ties each of the strategies into how they are used within the video game industry. Before reading this section, I had no idea that there were different types of advertising and had no idea about how each of these types of advertising affects the ways in which consumers are approached and the types of rhetoric that are employed. For my particular project, it looks like I will be delving further into associative advertising as it is what Sony is using for their PlayStation 4 campaigns in the US and Japan by attempting to parallel players’ lives with the actions and achievements that are a part of in the games. By looking at his discourse on the associative advertising and then at the advertising rhetorics with “its own internal logic that informs and structures the attitudes” he describes with the three advertising types: “Advertising agencies develop strategic ‘campaigns’ based on a sophisticated understanding of a company’s products or services, their target audience, and their incremental goals for the near future” (p. 164).

As for the overall questions being asked in the class, Bogost (2010) has a conversation that looks at the move from visual to procedural rhetoric in advertising, and how “advertisers are applying existing rhetorics to the videogame medium, despite the latter’s fundamental focus on procedurality. Advertising has always focused on the visual. Advertisers synecdochically refer to consumers as ‘eyeballs,’ whose attention they strive to capture” (169). Bogost’s desire to alter/expand how and which rhetorics are applied to advertising within video games fills in the gaps for me that I have been feeling when looking at the theories we have read so far in class. Video games do not operate the way commercials or print ads, so there need to be different ways of looking at how the rhetorics for advergames operate in a way that is beyond just the visual.

As the winter storms keep coming

Visual Rhetoric_Annotated Bibliography #1

de Pedro Ricoy, R. (2007). Internationalization vs. localization: The translation of videogame advertising. Meta 52(2), pp. 260-275. Retrieved from http://www.erudit.org/revue/meta/2007/v52/n2/016069ar.pdf

             [insert nifty annotation here] In regards to my own research, de Pedro Ricoy’s article is extremely useful as the author breaks down the global advertising strategies of the top three game companies — Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo — based not only on gender, but also on nationality, language, and cultural expectations. It is fascinating to think of all of the elements that have to be taken into account as the public relations and marketing teams plan the release of games and consoles, and how a misstep in any of the plans can lead to decreased interest in an entire country for the products associated with that console. One of the author’s examples that gave me pause was the lack of interest by Japanese consumers in Microsoft’s Xbox because Microsoft had chosen a date they thought would be auspicious without doing enough research to find out that Japanese employees would not be paid until a few days after the release date, leading the Japanese to doubt Microsoft’s ability to successfully localize their campaigns. As I move forward with my analysis of Sony’s “Greatness Awaits” campaign commercials in North America, de Pedro Ricoy’s article will give me a foundation through which to understand the rhetorical strategies that formed the basis of Sony’s approach to localizing their campaign to draw in an American audience.

A little music for the scholarship 


Visual Rhetoric_Annotated Bibliography #1

de Pedro Ricoy, R. (2007). Internationalization vs. localization: The translation of videogame advertising. Meta 52(2), pp. 260-275. Retrieved from http://www.erudit.org/revue/meta/2007/v52/n2/016069ar.pdf

            For her article, de Pedro Ricoy approaches the topic of localization versus internalization and the rhetoric employed in global video game advertising through the lens of translation theory, marketing, and semiology. The main research question seems to be centered on what type of analysis would be best suited to exploring and evaluating the marketing strategies of video game console developers as they reach out to global audiences, and whether it is localization or internationalization that is most prevalent in these strategies. With regards to the methodology, the author establishes the target audience for video game marketers by moving through the demographics of the players and the buyers as well as discussing the importance of global marketing strategies to the success of the top three video game console developers— Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo — as they spend millions of dollars in their quest to draw in new players while continuing to cater to existing fanbases. As she moves through her analysis of global advertisings by Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo, de Pedro Ricoy looks at examples of textual, static visuals (promotional images), and televised advertisements  to explore how the companies’ marketing teams attempted to either localize their advertisements to a specific country/culture they were trying to reach, or internationalize their advertisements in order to reach the greatest number of potential buyers/players with the belief that globalization has eroded cultural boundaries.

             The author highlights how certain advertisements were received in the countries they were targeting and notes how/why some failed (sometimes miserably) in those countries. de Pedro Ricoy (2007) concludes that “it seems that internationalizing strategies (which imply a degree of foreignization) are more prevalent than localizing strategies in the global campaigns for these products. Whilst different regions may have preserved their overall cultural singularity, certain demographic segments (young, relatively affluent consumers, in this instance) share a common identity that transcends geographical borders” (p. 273). She also lists four “examples of linguistic translation” that she uncovered while doing her research: “1) Literal translation, 2) Free translation, 3) gist translation, and 4) Generation of new text (based in a set of common features) in the context of copy adaptation” (de Pedro Ricoy, 2007, p. 273).

             In regards to my own research, de Pedro Ricoy’s article is extremely useful as the author breaks down the global advertising strategies of the top three game console companies  based not only on gender, but also on nationality, language, and cultural expectations. It is fascinating to think of all of the elements that have to be taken into account as the public relations and marketing teams plan the release of games and consoles, and how a misstep in any of the plans can lead to decreased interest in an entire country for the products associated with that console. One of the author’s examples that gave me pause was the lack of interest by Japanese consumers in Microsoft’s Xbox because Microsoft had chosen a date they thought would be auspicious without doing enough research to find out that Japanese employees would not be paid until a few days after the release date, leading the Japanese to doubt Microsoft’s ability to successfully localize their campaigns. As I move forward with my analysis of Sony’s “Greatness Awaits” campaign commercials in North America, de Pedro Ricoy’s article will give me a foundation through which to understand the rhetorical strategies that formed the basis of Sony’s approach to localizing their campaign to draw in an American audience.

A little music for the scholarship 

Annotations Remix

A remix takes the original version and edits or recreates in order to sound different from the original version. Below is a remix and response to the Digital Writing: Assessment & Evaluation Annotations created by Maury and Leslie. I chose to respond to Maury’s entry on Crystal Van Kooten’s article, “” Toward a Rhetorically Sensitive […]

Every Annotation Deserves a Response, But Here Lie Only Two

This post covers my responses to two of my peers’ Digital Writing Assessment & Evaluation Annotated Bibliography entries. For this particular assignment, I chose to respond to Jenny’s entry on Reilly and Atkins, and Leslie’s entry on Brunk-Chavez and Fourzan-Rice.

I chose Jenny’s annotations on Reilly and Atkins’ article, “Rewarding Risk: Designing Aspirational Assessment Processes for Digital Writing Projects,” as it seems to align very well with the article I read by Eidman-Aadahl et al., “Developing Domains for Multimodal Writing Assessment: The Language of Evaluation, the Language of Instruction.” Reilly and Atkin’s emphasis on the process of designing assessment that did not alienate students (rather, it encouraged them to be a part of the process) was encouraging, especially in terms of “trial-and-error” and students being self-reflective about how they chose to approach the work. Both trial-and-error and self-reflection are tools for people to become aware of their own processes, which can be critical when a person is struggling to learn and master new material and technological tools. Jenny did an excellent job linking the material from the article she read to not only what we are reading in class but also the kind of work and the digital tools that we are all slowly developing skills within. So often, work in the classroom becomes more about a percentage than the skills that are being learned and refined while working through material. I have seen some college professors and grade school instructors who were very concerned with their students proving themselves in a number scale that showing progress in learning course content was placed second. In their assignments, the students seem to come up against assessment that was all or nothing. The process of learning and producing should be even more important than the grading system that only looks towards the final product without any regard for the academic journey of the student. With the rise of digital writing projects and the fluidity with which such technologies can offer students in terms of not only how they produce their texts but also how they distribute them, is going to be very informative in watching students and instructors learn to navigate their changing relationships to texts.

Leslie’s article annotation on “The evolution of digital writing assessment in action: Integrated programmatic assessment” by Brunk-Chavez and Fourzan-Rice was fascinating in that, as a case study, it was concerned with a particular instance of digital writing assessment in a way that Jenny’s article and my article were not. It was fascinating to read about the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) acknowledging that new technologies require the curriculum and instructing practices to adapt so as to “improve student feedback” processes, “professional development,” “improved quality of programmatic assessment and feedback,” and to enable “students to write for a discourse community beyond their instructor.” While the goals of the program are laudable, the concern of students about feeling alienated from their professor (ideally, the one person whose aid is what they come to depend on in terms of learning how to improve and to seek guidance from) as their work is sent to “WriterMiner….[and] then randomly distributed to the Scoring Team, which is made up of first-year graduate teaching assistants,” raises questions not just about the language of assessment as seen in other articles in the Digital Writing Assessment & Evaluation, but what kind of structure should be in place so that students learn to work within in a digital learning atmosphere and what kind of network of evaluation would emerge to allow for an efficient “programmatic consistency.” My former university had something similar to UTEP’s process. The course was a required Humanities class taken by all students who had entered into the university with 59 credits or less (Junior-level transfer students lucked out), and was solely online. The course is strictly online and has an enrollment of up to 400 students a semester, divided between instructing professors with a certain number of graders assigned to each instructor. The material for the class was divided into two modules–Art and Music–and each module had designated units, which were based on different styles and mediums. While the class sounded highly efficient, students and graders tended to get lost in the mire. Each grader was generally in charge of anywhere between 40 to 75 students (though some graders could take on a greater number of students, but those were exceptions rather than the rule), so responding to student work was done through general stock comments according to a rubric that was both very specific (in terms of what needed to be covered) and very vague (in terms of how those content items should be covered). The students themselves never met their instructors (as the content of the course did not vary from semester to semester) and dealt virtually with their graders (who were better known as proctors). The course itself became a kind of assembly line of learning and the critical skills required of students in the coursework was meant to be learned elsewhere and channeled into their writing (despite most students taking the class were usually freshmen with no prior college writing classes). The course was redesigned my final year working with the university, but the administrators’ stance was that there should be stricter rules and more of them (many more rules) so that passing the course was a matter of moving through a checklist rather than strengthening critical and creative academic skills. That was a long-winded explanation to make a point that both Leslie’s entry and my experience with that Humanities course is that it seems instructors and administrators are right in the idea that curriculum and teaching styles should adapt to integrate new technologies, but the new technologies should not cause students to feel alienated. As digital assessment and evaluation are newer to the academic environment, some trial-and-error are to be expected, but the ultimate goal should be the encouragement and facilitation of student learning with an emphasis on students’ coming to understand their own progress with the materials and tools.


Response to Annotated Bibliographies: So Now I’m a Node

I responded to Maury’s annotated bibliography of VanKooten’s “Toward a Rhetorically Sensitive Assessment Model for New Media Composition,” and I also responded to Amy’s annotated bibliography of Bourelle’s et al. “Assessing Learning in Redesigned Online First-year Composition Courses.” I appreciated Maury’s conclusion that the model VanKooten offers is plausible because I trust her academic, pedagogical, and professional chops. I appreciated Amy’s intent focus on networking as it related to her chapter because I find her insights about connections among ideas enlightening, sometimes even intimidating, in their complexity and depth. I also wonder if Amy might have politely glossed over the fact that the authors had precious few assessments to offer (in a chapter titled “Assessing Learning…”) of their shift to entirely online composition courses!

In each of my responses I noted my perception that their summaries touched on the practical and pragmatic. Part of my learning curve in this PhD program is the practical applicability of what I learn to what I do. And I don’t refer only to teaching, which I’ve only ever done at the college level in a contingent capacity over and above my full time profession as an online content manager (and sometimes developer) and marketer. Granted, these two chapters focus more specifically on composition pedagogy rather than web development, professional communications, or marketing, but they are part and parcel of a clearly pragmatic theme running through the ODU English PhD program. I am grateful for this focus, as I fully expected to find little of the coursework, reading, or writing applicable to my real world of composition and research pedagogy or professional communications. I am a product of undergraduate and graduate programs focused solely on literary and critical theory with no attempt at application (beyond the literary text) or pragmatism. As a result, I am refreshed and encouraged by the focus on pragmatism in the midst of grounding ourselves in theory.

New media assessment model (diagram)

Crystal Van Kooten’s model of New Media assessment of multi-modal compositions. Courtesy ‘Live Action Network Theory‘ by Maury Brown.

That’s not exactly what I learned from these blog posts, of course. But it’s part of the learning network I feel I’ve become a part of, and this learning network is one to which I am able both to contribute and receive. As a node in this learning network, I am able to tap into multiple genres that inform not only my theoretical stances, but also my day-to-day professional functions. So when I read Maury’s summary of VanKooten’s chapter, I join the discipline’s kairotic moment in theorizing the assessment of my students’ new media compositions. I gain entry into this particular node of the network by virtue of the fact that Maury summarized the chapter, and I read her summary. Her summary motivates me to read the chapter myself and consider applying VanKooten’s assessment rubric in some way. And when I read

Classroom network visualization (diagram)

Classroom Network Representation based on Bourelle et al. Courtesy ‘140 Characters in These Streets‘ by Amy Lock.

Amy’s summary of the chapter by Bourelle et al., I join the discipline’s pragmatic concern about labor practices and centralized decisions made about online instruction. I find myself concerned about ways my own institution centralizes curricular decisions and uses contingent faculty—and picture myself differently as a result.

I am a node in the genre of the response, in the genre system of the assignment, in the activity system of the class, and of the boundary genre of English studies. I love being a part of this network.

References

Bourelle, T., Rankins-Robertson, S., Bourelle, A., & Roen, D. (2013). Assessing learning in redesigned online first-year composition courses. In McKee, H. A., & DeVoss, D. N. (Eds.). Digital Writing Assessment and Evaluation. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital Press/Utah State University Press. Retrieved from http://ccdigitalpress.org/dwae/12_bourelle.html

Brown, M. (2014). “Toward a rhetorically sensitive assessment model for new media composition” — Crystal Van Kooten annotated bibliography entry [Blog post]. Live Action Network Theory. Retrieved from http://mbrow168.students.digitalodu.com/?p=102

Lock, A. (2014). Annotated bibliography entry: Burelle et al. [Blog post]. Digital Rhetor: A Research Space. Retrieved from http://alock011.students.digitalodu.com/?p=214

VanKooten, C. (2013). Toward a rhetorically sensitive assessment model for new media composition. In McKee, H. A., & DeVoss, D. N. (Eds.). Digital Writing Assessment and Evaluation. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital Press/Utah State University Press. Retrieved from http://ccdigitalpress.org/dwae/09_vankooten.html

[I am a node! Cropped Popplet visualization of my storage network with my photo added.]

Assignment: Annotated Bibliography Part 2 – Peer Comments

Thoughts after reading Annotated Bibliography entries:
  • We can run no longer. The era of critical making is here. Daniel's blog discussed the implications of data collection in digital spaces, and Leslie's blog discussed the need for digital composition and assessment strategies. Both have the inherent argument that the ramifications of digital spaces are firmly embedded within our discipline. What this tells me is that as scholars and instructors we have the responsibility to understand how to create technologies for scholarship and the classroom. We have to understand it as fully as teachers need to understand anything they teach and as scholars need to understand to analyze. It's a kind of fluency with technology production that most of us lack, or are scared of, or refuse to accept is part of the discipline. If there was a historical schism between linguistics and English, oral communication and English, and creative writing and English, with these disciplines being splintered off from the department, we must do the opposite for technology. As it now exists in completely separate discipline, technology studies needs to be enveloped by English studies. We have to bring these courses in technology production, management, and theory into our world alongside our surveys and seminars in literature and rhetoric. If we are going to teach students to be producers of digital content, we must understand the technology that facilitates that production. The time has come; I hope it has not passed.  
  • The assignment for this entry asked for a summary of what/how/why I learned. The what is pretty easy. My comment above speaks to that. The how and why are far more difficult to answer. How did I learn? Collaboratively would be one way to answer that. My peers, whom I hold in the highest regard and regularly inspire and teach me, were able to comprehend the readings, coherently summarize them in their pieces, and offer broader implications for our course and discipline. The knowledge that I built is on their solid foundation, so in that sense I learned by working with Daniel and Leslie. These kind of jigsaw activities (I believe they are called if my memory of undergraduate courses in education are serving me right) are among my favorite ways to learn. Others often bring ideas to the table or make connections that I would not have made based on our diverse experiences and bodies of knowledge.
  • Why did I learn what I learned? I was open. I was willing. I was humble in the face of the vastness of things that I do not know. My peers are intelligent. My instructors asked me to. The material was selected for me. I have been trained in and have practiced the active reading and critical thinking skills needed to learn. I have prior knowledge from which to draw. All of these are potential answers to the question of why I, or anyone for that matter, might have learned. But I think that the real answer here if that I learned these particular take-aways because I am acutely aware of the issues surrounding critical making or technology production as a result of my own research. The "why" is inextricable from the "what" in which I am interested. The human mind most easily makes the connections across the pathways that are already there. As new information comes in, my mind works to fit it into the files that exist, to see the relevance to that which I already find important. Perhaps this is why networks grow organically. I want to expand the nodes I value. I seek out the connections that can be made to and from it. The network grows where knowledge can be easily created and around nodes that are most valued.


Comment on Daniel's blog

Comment on Leslie's blog (at time of posting, this comment was awaiting moderation)

Synthesis Post: What did I learn from the Annotated Bibliography?

First of all, let me say that after reading classmates’ bibliography posts, I’m convinced I must read this publication in its entirety. For this post, however, I chose to focus on readings reviewed by Maury and Summer. I selected Maury’s … Continue reading

Multimodal Writing Assessment_Annotated Bibliography

Eidman-Aadahl, Elyse, Kristine Blair, Dànielle Nicole DeVoss, Will Hochman, Lanette Jimerson, Chuck Jurich, Sandy Murphy, Becky Rupert, Carl Whithaus, and Joe Wood. “Developing Domains for Multimodal Writing Assessment: The Language of Evaluation, the Language of Instruction.” Eds.  Heidi A. McKee and Dànielle Nicole DeVoss. Digital Writing: Assessment and Evaluation. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital Press/Utah State University Press, 2013. Web. 30 Jan 2014.

This article, written by the Multimodal Assessment Project (MAP) committee for the National Writing Project’s Digital Is…Initiative, identifies five domains they believe are “vital for the assessment of digital writing offers the possibility that the language of assessment can inform—and build upon—discussions more often associated with interaction, instruction, and text creation than with evaluation”: 1) artifact (“the finished product”), 2) context (“the world around the artifact, around the creation of the artifact, and how the artifact enters, circulates, and fits into the world”), 3) substance (“the content and overall quality and significance of the ideas presented”), 4) process management and technique (“the skills, capacities, and processes involved in planning, creating, and circulating multimodal artifacts”), and 5) habits of mind (“patterns of behavior or attitudes that reach beyond the artifact being created at the moment”). The authors elaborate on the definitions of these five domains by centering each one on a specific example of a student(s) project that they feel best exemplifies each domain. My favorite example was that of context with the example being a class/individual project of creating war poems based on The Things They Carried and the class’ microblog. Each example represents a multimodal project incorporated into a grade school classroom and the strengths and weaknesses that were demonstrated in the final “artifact.” MAP, with its emphasis on the five domains as the focal point, suggest that such projects could encourages students to become active producers of rhetoric and more aware of how they and others are using rhetorical strategies, and be a progressive step towards a better understanding of how to evaluate multimodal projects that go beyond the uniform writing skills that are being taught in accordance with standardized testing.

This article was very surprising in just how creative the grade school multimodal project instructions and productions were. The aim of the MAP committee’s project was interesting in that it founded itself upon multimodality, with an emphasis on how students and teachers were operating within rhetorical genres. I was heavily reminded of the reading by Miller (with her idea of fluid motivations for genres) and Popham (with her dissection of boundary genres and the cohesion and tension such meldings can bring). The Google Earth Historical Figures Tour (not quite the right name for the project, but still) was a fascinating boundary genre because students were drawing on skills learned in history and English courses, using technology as the go-between despite that level of technology being an unexpected surprise to the teachers who had simply expected students to use the more traditional PowerPoint. The article itself presented alternatives to the standardized writing assessments that are lacking in many areas that multimodal writing projects could unveil, such as a student’s growing awareness of situational needs that would play into the rhetorical choices they make with their work. By picking and choosing among existing projects being done in various schools (and even a camp setting at a university) the authors did a nice job of uncovering just how well K-12 grade students can learn to adjust and even thrive with writing assignments that go beyond the traditional print platform and the new skill sets that emerge when rhetorical forms are being engaged by youths who are learning to navigate what can be accomplished with advancements in technology while still retaining and honing skills that can be learned with more traditional modes of communication.

In terms of the Theories of Networks course, this article seems especially useful in that multimodal writing assignments create a network unto themselves between different kinds of technologies, students and teachers, students and students, and students, teachers, and larger audiences involved. One particular example in the article that stood out to me in terms of how a project discussed by the authors became more than just a project but a network of skills and participants/creators was that of the website created by the girls at a technology camp. The girls were broken into groups of 3 and given a short amount of time to create a website that reflected their own emerging digital identities but also that of the camp itself. By collaborating so regularly on specific projects, the girls became a network of shared skills and well as a collective intelligence about the project and camp as a whole. This network then grew larger as the website was put on display as the final project to visiting family members, but then attained a greater sense of network as the aim of the project was to be used for potential campers and their parents. The girls involved essentially created a network between themselves as existing campers, the camp leaders, and anyone interested in the camp as a camper or as the guardian of a potential camper. The multimodality of the project is a physical representation of the collaborative nature of the camp and the relationships between the campers that made the website possible.

Music with Which to Celebrate Multimodality


Annotated Bibliography: Reilly and Atkins

Reilly, Colleen A., and Anthony T. Atkins. “Rewarding Risk: Designing Aspirational Assessment Processes for Digital Writing Projects.” McKee, Heidi A., and Dànielle Nicole DeVoss, Eds. Digital Writing Assessment & Evaluation. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital Press/Utah State University Press, 2013. Web.

http://www.toondoo.com/cartoon/1727740


Weigh the Elephant.

In the article “Rewarding Risk” Reilly and Atkins describe a process of creating a method of assessing digital writing projects that encourage students to take risks. In the beginning of the article, Reilly and Atkins discuss the challenges of assessing digital writing projects and the ways in which assessments can either discourage or encourage students from taking risks while undertaking a digital writing project. While students are learning to use new technologies, they benefit from assessments that take into account their attempts to learn to use technologies without punishing them for imperfect outcomes. Reilly and Atkins claim that the language of assessments of digital writing projects should be generalizable, generative, aspirational (encouraging students to use new tools and learn new skills), and should solicit student involvement in assessment creation, which Reilly and Atkins claim will localize and contextualize the assessment). In creating assessments, Reilly and Atkins claim that assessment should clearly support pedagogical practices, that the educational values of the course should be evident, that the assessment should focus on instructive aspects of the course, and that the assessment should give feedback to guide future work (2-3). The assessments that are developed for digital writing projects need to be nimble, adaptable, and take into account students’ unfamiliarity with the technologies that they are utilizing. By connecting assessment to student learning outcomes, can help encourage students to learn new skills. Digital writing projects, according to Reilly and Atkins, should include collaboration, acknowledge the way in which writing has changed, incorporate peer review, and include a revision plan (5). The author’s suggest the use of deliberative practice, which “overtly requires a process that includes trial and error, the experience which leads to expanding proficiencies and developing expertise” (5). They say that assessment must encourage students to move past their current skills level and develop their expertise (6). Deliberative practice requires increasing the level of challenge, so assessments should take into account that students will make mistakes in the learning process. Reilly and Atkins say that assessments that students view as a checklist “discourage the deviation and innovation essential to engaging in deliberate practice and embarking on the process of developing expertise” (7). Attempts by both Reilly and Atkins to develop aspirational processes of assessment are detailed in the passage. They suggest that one way to facilitate assessment is to have students write reflections of their experiences working on projects, can help students to think about their work in rhetorical terms, to demonstrate their knowledge of course concepts, top provide rationales for design choices, and to learn through analyzing their experiences (9). Another approach that they explores was the use of primary trait scoring for digital writing assessment (10). This process involves the students into the creation of an assessment that “accounts for the risks they ned to take to complete a project successfully while simultaneously blurring distinctions between formative and summative assessment and making assessment part of the writing process, informing the development, production, and revision of digital compositions” (11). This process begins with assessment of the assignment, and also includes “analyzing the writing performance, and formulating primary traits” (12). This approach acknowledges that student “accomplishments may be much greater than the product they submit” (13). When involving students in the making of the assessment, the assignment becomes aspirational (15). In their conclusion, Reilly and Atkins acknowledge that there are some limitations to the process, such as time-constraints, but they explain the benefits that they have seen in their courses, such as increased student motivation and helping students learn to determine how projects should be assessed. The outcomes and the results suggest that by utilizing the aspirational process of assessment or the primary trait scoring process can increase student motivation and encourage them to take risks as they learn to use new technologies.

How is this Relevant to the Course:

One way in which the discussion of the creation of assessment of digital writing projects is relevant to the course is that we are ourselves creating digital writing projects that some of us do not necessarily have much experience with. Before my first 894 class, I had a blog but had never really used it. We also use other technologies like Popplet. While I don’t need to know how to write code in the class, I have run into a few issues with Word Press.

As I was reading this article by Reilly and Atkins, it occurred to me that some of the writing prompts, particularly the reading notes prompt, were designed to be an aspirational process of assessment. Because we have choices in the type pf content and the format, we students have the freedom to try new things with our blogs. We have the opportunity to aspire to continue developing our skills with blogging. The reading notes assignment prompt accomplishing two things that Reilly and Atkins felt were important in assessment of digital media projects: It encourages experimentation with composing in digital media, and it motivates “students to move beyond the basic activities necessary to produce the digital compositions” (np.).

Another parallel that I saw was that some of our assignments (particularly the Mind Map) include built in reflection on the use of technology. Reilly and Atkin explain that using a written reflection for digital projects encourages students to think rhetorically about their technological choices, show knowledge of course concepts, and articulate goals. The written discussions of our Mind Maps help us explain the rhetorical choices that we made and give us a place to delve deeper into how course concepts guided our choices.

Vatz and the Rhetorical Situation: How can assessment encourage rhetorical thinking?

Reilly and Atkins say that student reflections “about their digital compositions should involve rhetorically oriented rationales of content and design choices” (9). Why is it important that students be able to explain their rhetorical choices? For the answer to that question, we can turn to Vatz. Vatz says that if “you view meaning as a consequence of rhetorical creation, your paramount concern will be how and by whom symbols create the reality to which people react” (158). I think that this quote by Vatz is sheds some light on the ways in which attention to rhetorical concerns can impact assignment design and assessment.

1. By writing rhetorical rationales, students begin to develop an awareness of the ways in which meaning is “a consequence of rhetorical creation”.

2. Reflection on the assignment helps teachers understand the rhetorical nature of their assignment designs. By examining students’ discussions of the ways in which they interpreted and grappled with an assignment, teachers begin to see how symbols [particularly assignment design symbols] “create the reality to which people react” (158).


Annotated Bibliography: Digital Writing Assessment & Fairness

Poe Mya. “ Making Digital Writing Assessment Fair for Diverse Writers.” Eds. Heidi A. Mckee and Dànielle Nicole DeVoss. Digital Writing Assessment & Evaluation. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital Press/Utah State University Press, 2013. Web. 3 February 2014.

In “Making Digital Writing Assessment Fair for Diverse Writers,” Mya Poe argues that digital writing assessment must consider fairness in order to provide an equal opportunity to all students. Digital writing assessment is becoming more important due to the rise in digital writing and multimodal composition. Poe presents two theories about assessment and technology: “writing assessment as technology” and “writing assessment with technology. First, writing assessment is a technology.  Poe sites the work of George Madaus, who argued that assessments fall under “very simple definitions of technology—the simplest being something put together for a purpose, to satisfy a pressing and immediate need, or to solve a problem” (qtd in Poe).  Second, digital writing is being assessed through automated essay scoring (AES). The research on AES is mixed. On one hand it has been shown as reliable. On the other hand, the programs are said to have the “raced ideologies of their designers” (4). In response to this, Poe presents 3 key terms in digital writing assessment: validity, reliability, and fairness. She defines validity and reliability; however, the focus here is fairness.

Fairness is fundamental to digital assessment because through fairness instructors are able to “make valid, ethical conclusions from assessment results so that we may provide all students the opportunity to learn” (7).  Poe uses the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing as a starting point for developing more equitable large-scale digital writing assessments.  Using the Standards, Poe presents that fairness guidelines require the following:

  • Thoughtful design
  • Extension of fairness through the entire assessment
  • Data collection (locally sensitive data through surveys, ethnographic research)
  • Interpretation of evidence in context
  • Frame assessment results for the public

Under the fairness, instructors consider the goal of the assessment and to ensure that students understand the purpose of the assessment. In addition, when interpreting assessments, instructors consider the social context and connect writing program data to institutional data. The fairness guidelines also encourage instructors to gather evidence about digital identities, understanding students’ past digital writing experiences and the nature of those experiences. The Standards “provide us ways to think about the interpretation and use of assessment results” (14). Digital writing assessment has to go beyond traditional rubrics to seeing digital assessment as a way for instructors to make informed choices for the benefit of their teaching and student learning.

The questions posed in Poe’s work (and in the entire collection) remind me of our initial class discussion where we talked about defining a network and understanding the affordances and roles of networks. Poe’s work aims at the question: “How might the multimodal, networked affordances of digital writing affect issues of equity and access?” (Preface).  This goes beyond questions of access to the network but also the benefits that sad network offers to that particular group. A minority group may have access to the network, but lack the knowledge or ability to capitalize on this access. This could be a network of physical friends and co-workers or a digital network.

Poe’s work also made me think of assessment as a kind of boundary genre. Boundary genres are defined as genres that “may actively participate in interprofessional struggles about hierarchies, dominance, and values, helping to create, mediate, and store tensions” (Popham 283). Assessments work in this way, as scholar-teachers we struggle over the role of assessment and when and how to assess. Assessment goes across professional disciplines/boundaries because teachers, administrators, and the public use them to make changes to pedagogy, develop policies, and judge quality/effectiveness, respectively.

I am still pondering the connection between boundary genres and networks. Would boundary genres serve as nodes, providing connections between disciplines and groups in order to redistribute information and communicate between different points?

 Works Cited:

McKee, Heidi A., and Dànielle Nicole DeVoss, Eds. “Preface.” Digital Writing Assessment & Evaluation. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital Press/Utah State University Press, 2013. Web.

Poe Mya. “ Making Digital Writing Assessment Fair for Diverse Writers.” Eds. Heidi A. Mckee and Dànielle Nicole DeVoss. Digital Writing Assessment & Evaluation. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital Press/Utah State University Press, 2013. Web. 3 February 2014.

Popham, Susan L. “Forms as Boundary Genres in Medicine, Science, and Business.” Journal of Business and Technical Communication 19.3 (2005): 279-302.

Images:

Deuren, Joe Van. “Fairness heading” Balanced Life Sills. Web. 3 February 2014.

Tarbell, Jared. “Node Garden.” Gallery of Computation, 2004. Web. 3 February 2014.


Assignment: Annotated Bibliography Part 1 – Entry

Citation:

Zoetewey, Meredith W., W. Michele Simmons, Jeffrey T. Grabill. "Assessing Civic Engagement: Responding to Online Spaces for Public Deliberation." Digital Writing Assessment & Evaluation. Eds. Heidi A McKee and Danielle Nicole DeVoss. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital Press/Utah State UP, 2013. Web. 3 Feb 2014.

Summary:

The primary concern explored in this chapter is the evaluation of student-produced civic web sites; these web sites are defined as "community-based digital spaces that can be used to enable public deliberation."

The authors explain that there is an inherent difficulty with assessing civic web sites in that usefulness - the ultimate goal of a civic web site - can only be determined after the public has had a chance to utilize the site. However, a student will need a grade at the end of a semester before the public has had that chance to interact with the final project students produce. If the site cannot be evaluated based on its usefulness to the public, then what criteria and methods can be employed to determine a fair evaluation?

The authors are clear to distinguish between "usefulness" and "usability." Usability is a site that is easy to use, makes efficient use of graphics and interfaces. Usefulness is the idea that a site helps users "do better work"; the site supports learning and knowledge-making.

Civic web sites can be difficult to assess because traditional rubrics favor usability when evaluating digital products; concepts like simplicity, scanable content, and efficiency are privileged. However, civic web sites have a different purpose, which is to provide users with deeper educational content, unfettered access to data, and communicates in specialized vocabularies specific to the field. These criteria are often incompatible with traditional usability rubrics, requiring an alternative method for evaluation.

The authors explain their concept of "productive usability" which accounts for these advanced needs and is based on the features that users of civic web sites have identified as being important to the work they wanted to do. Productive usability is based on three main criteria: consideration of alternative use, consideration of technical literacy, and consideration of interactivity.

Alternative use is the idea that site creators should consider the multiple ways in which the information may be of use to the public, and they should plan for the kinds of alternative uses that might occur that differ from the creators' intentions. For example, the creators may want a civic web site that provides information for policy makers, but the site may also be visited by citizens looking to become involved in a cause. The site should be evaluated based on whether the creators accounted for the multiplicity of purpose in visiting the site.

Technical literacy is the idea that the civic web site is educational at its core, and if people visiting the site are to be able to participate in the discourse, they must have the fluency in the specific jargon used therein. There must also be an inclusion of full-text reports and other data that can be read and interpreted by the user. Technical literacy is the term applied to the jargon and data, and it should be evident on the site in links to data or the inclusion of glossaries.

Interactivity is the idea that visitors to the site must be engaged in order to participate in the discourse surrounding the particular civic issue being highlighted online. Interactivity is the pathway to engagement by building emotional and psychological connections to the issue. The site should encourage various forms of interaction to build the sense of engagement and ultimately action. Evidence might take the form of photographs designed to induce an empathetic response or a place devoted to user uploaded narratives.

Finding indicators of the three criteria above should also be combined with evidence of the students' process in creating the site. Process-based evidence might include journal-style work logs, which track the groups' discussion and implementation of the three criteria.

By evaluating a civic web site based on the indicators and process-based evidence of the three criteria of productive usability, instructors will be able to confidently assess student-produced digital spaces before the public has a chance to determine their usefulness outside the academic exercise.

Connections to Course Readings:

  • The article describes civic web sites as having "the potential to aid change in communities." This is reminiscent of Miller's work with genre. She explains that we can view genre as being able "to marshal linguistic resources for the sake of social action" (71 "Rhetorical Community"). She continues to argue that genres help "communities do their work and carry out their purposes" (75 "Rhetorical Community"). There are also connections to Popham's claim that "genres are the means by which things get done within a community, ideas get transmitted, and plans get made" (281-2). Both civic web sites and genres are significant because of the work they can perform with a community, for their ability to create action and change. 
  • This ability for the audience to perform social action is also linked to the claims by Bitzer. He argues that the "rhetor alters reality by bringing into existence a discourse of such a character that the audience, in thought and action, is so engaged that it becomes mediator of change” (4). Here, the rhetor can be understood as the makers of civic web sites. They bring the site into existence much like Bitzer's rhetorical discourse and the audience reached becomes engaged in the topic enough to foster change. The term engaged is significant especially since interactivity to increase engagement is on of the three criteria the article proposes to use for evaluation. Furthermore, the civic web site is evaluated based on usefulness - the concept that the user can "do better work". This doing of work by the audience is the same as Bitzer's argument that "rhetorical discourse produces change by influencing the decision and action of persons who function as mediators of change" (7). Civic web sites provide the tools and information needed for the audience to do work that will ultimately change a community.
  • The concept of alternative use is related to Popham's ideas about boundary objects. Popham states that "a boundary object serves the needs of multiple sites or multiple professions" (284). This is exactly what makers of civic web sites must take into consideration under the article's proposed evaluative criteria. The site should be agile enough to meet the needs of users that the site-creators may not have in mind as the initial audience; it should be a boundary object that can serve the needs of multiple users. There is also the Bazerman idea from the chapter "Systems of Genres and the Enactment of Social Intentions" embedded here that there is a "multiplicity of action" (90) in texts with multiple intentions and interpretations possible from the same speech-act (87). Alternative use suggests that civic web sites have multiplicity, the potential to be useful to the community in more than one way. 
  • We can also see connection to Foucault in the discussion. Consider the following quote from the article: "[The alternative use criterion] requires seeing the audience in context, considering how the information relates to a range of stakeholders, and positioning them as active participants, capable of exploring their own interests." In this sense, the civic web site becomes meaningful in terms of its relations. Foucault is interested in scholars' ability to "analyse the interplay of [concepts'] appearances and dispersion" (35). Creators of civic web sites are evaluated on how well they can analyze how information relates to various audiences, how the active participants will be positioned against the information provided, and where they will be dispersed throughout the field.
  • Foucault is also present in interactivity as the concept is grounded in the theory that there should be "no pre-set entry points or stopping points" (Mirel qtd. in Zoetewey). This is discussed in context of the notion that interactivity and engagement can be reached through user-guided explorations. The web site should be designed in such a way to support this free exploration without pre-set starts and stops. This is like Foucault's ideas about general history versus total description. He writes, "A total description draws all phenomena around a single center - a principle, a meaning, a spirit, a world-view, an overall shape; a general history, on the contrary, would deploy the space of dispersion" (10). By building in a principle of free exploration to enhance engagement, the civic web site is less structured or restrictive, much like the general history using the "space of dispersion". Users are allowed to move as they will through the dispersed space, leading himself or herself to the knowledge and connections important to them. 


Works Cited:

Bazerman, Charles. “Systems of Genres and the Enactment of Social Intentions”. Genre and the New Rhetoric. Eds. Aviva Freedman and Peter Medway. London: Taylor and Francis, 1994. 79-104. Print.

Bitzer, Lloyd F.. “The Rhetorical Situation”. Philosophy & Rhetoric 25 Selections from Volume 1 (1992): 1-14. Print.

Foucault, Michel. Archaeology of Knowledge. New York: Vintage Books, 2010. Print.

Miller, Carolyn R.. “Rhetorical Community: The Cultural Basis of Genre”. Genre and the New Rhetoric. Eds. Aviva Freedman and Peter Medway. London: Taylor and Francis, 1994. 23-42. Print.

Popham, Susan L.. “Forms as Boundary Genres in Medicine, Science, and Business”. Journal of Business and Technical Communication 19 (2005): 279-303. Print.

Zoetewey, Meredith W., W. Michele Simmons, Jeffrey T. Grabill. "Assessing Civic Engagement: Responding to Online Spaces for Public Deliberation." Digital Writing Assessment & Evaluation. Eds. Heidi A McKee and Danielle Nicole DeVoss. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital Press/Utah State UP, 2013. Web. 3 Feb 2014.

Annotated Bibliography Entry: Bourelle et al.

Bourelle, Tiffany, Sherry Rankins-Robertson, Andrew Bourelle, and Duane Roen. “Assessing Learning in Redesigned Online First-Year Composition Courses.” Digital Writing Assessment and Evaluation.  Eds. Heidi A. McKee and Danielle Nicole DeVoss. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital Press/Utah State University Press, … Continue reading

Annotated Bibliography Entry: Crow in DWAE

Crow, A. (2013). Managing datacloud decisions and “big data”: Understanding privacy choices in terms of surveillant assemblages. In McKee, H. A., & DeVoss, D. N. (Eds.). Digital writing assessment & evaluation. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital Press/Utah State University Press. Retrieved from http://ccdigitalpress.org/dwae/02_crow.html

Crow addresses the ethics of assessment by defining online composition portfolios as surveillant assemblages, collections of electronic student data that may be used to create increasingly accurate aggregate student profiles. Composition studies seeks assessment techniques, strategies, and technologies that are effective and fair. As big data continues to proliferate, Crow argues that we need to understand and communicate specific ways that student data are used in surveillance. Our goal should be to move toward caring on a surveillance continuum between caring and control.

Google Drawing Visualization of Surveillance Continuum

Google Drawing Visualization of Surveillance Continuum

For-profit assessment platforms, from Google Apps to ePortfolio companies, have sharing and profiling policies that are troubling and may represent more controlling than caring policies. These controlling policies may remove agency from students, faculty, and composition or English departments and transfer agency to university IT departments, university governance, or even corporate entities. Crow concludes that the best option would be a discipline-specific and discipline-informed DIY assessment technology that would take into consideration these real concerns about surveillant assemblages.

The concept of a surveillant assemblage is a network concept. It’s a dynamic collection of student information grown ever larger by the addition of student files. Crow demonstrates that electronic portfolios used for assessment are networked collections of files, collected over time for assessments, that build a (potentially) dangerously accurate profile of the student in aggregate—a profile that can be used for extra-assessment purposes through data mining.

Contemporary networks make privacy a complicated issue, a moving target, one that requires decisions on the part of participants regarding levels of privacy expected.

“[I]n the midst of venues that facilitate social networks, and in the midst of increasing technology capabilities by corporations and nation states, conceptions of privacy are changing shape rapidly, and individuals draw on a range of sometimes unconscious rubrics to determine whether they will opt in to systems that require a degree of personal datasharing.” (Crow 2013)

Crow responds that English studies as a (supra)discipline has a responsibility to investigate the effects of surveillant assemblage collections and to maintain student, faculty, and departmental or disciplinary agency in technology and network selection and implementation.

Miller’s genre, Bazerman’s genre set, and Popham’s boundary genre all demonstrate the socially active nature of genre and genre collections. Crow makes similar observations about student files as surveillant data collections: they have and take on a social activity of their own that can’t necessarily be predicted or controlled. As networked action, genre can expand within its framework and, in the case of boundary genre, expand into interdisciplinary spaces. Tension and contradiction (a la Foucault) are continually present in such networks, including surveillant assemblages, and unexpected results—like the superimposition of business in medical practice seen in Popham’s analysis or the potential marketing of aggregated student data from assessment processes and results mentioned in Lundberg’s forward—can, perhaps likely will, occur, if disciplinary agency is not maintained.

I’ve been working on my Twitter identity this past week, and a Tweet from @google about its transparency efforts caught my eye in relationship to Crow’s article.

The tweet links to an entry in Google’s Official Blog, “Shedding some light on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests,” dated Monday, February 3, 2014, and reports that Google is now legally able to share how many FISA requests they receive. The blog entry, in turn, links to Google’s Transparency Report, which “disclose[s] the number of requests we [Google] receive[s] from each government in six-month periods with certain limitations.”

What struck me about the Transparency Report, the blog post, and the Twitter post related to Crow’s article is the focus on the important role reporting has on my willingness to contribute to my own surveillant assemblage. I feel a little better knowing that Google reports on such requests in an open and relatively transparent way, even if I also know that Google uses my data to create a profile of me that feeds me advertising and other profile-specific messages. This is my own “sometimes unconscious rubric” to which I turn when making decisions about how much and whether to opt in. The question it raises is whether we give our students, faculty, staff, and prospects agency to make these opt-in decisions, consciously or unconsciously. As a Google Analytics and web metrics consumer, these are especially sensitive issues with which I deal on a daily basis.

[CC licensed image from flickr user Richard Smith]