Archive | April, 2012

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