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Friday, February 24, 2006

There's Gonna Be a Change
After four or five years of good service (who remembers?), I am leaving behind Greymatter. It's a beaut of a little program, but it's run its course. I'll miss that funky interface with the little pithy quotes. That means that Yellow Dog will now be at its natural domain:
It's gonna be hard not typing that "gm" at the end.
So, folks. Adjust your dials. Fasten your seatbelts. Open a Bell's. Come to the new gig. Make your links new so that Technorati treats me right. I'm still adjusting the blogroll over there, but the place is up and running. Bring the controversy next door if you like. There is much fun to be had still.

Posted by jrice @ 06:37 PM EST [Link]

Food and Wine
I'm also reminded of the recent Food and Wine issue. In it, a short essay by Pete Wells entitled "In the Belly of the Blog" drew some wrath from food bloggers.
Wells' crime? He wrote about the tendency of some food blogs to focus on the metaphoric "cheese sandwich" (i.e. what I ate today).

Wells seemed to mean that some food blogs do different things with the medium (for that, he finds them interesting); some don't (for that, he doesn't find them interesting). And he then offered some of the interesting examples; each does something with blogging differently than the other. To make that point, there is context, and there are examples.

It seems the article - and cheese sandwich metaphor - has driven the food bloggers into a frenzy. Somehow, this distinction was read as a "declaration of war" by some food bloggers. Protests. Nasty comments. Cheese sandwich day! has been issued as a call in the hopes of uniting the masses.

The cliché of community.

Now - what would a "serious" day look like? That would be a cool response. "We're serious and we're proud!"

Posted by jrice @ 10:53 AM EST [Link]

Thursday, February 23, 2006

From the Desk of Norman Mailer: More Advertisements for Myself
This whole "Serious Bloggers" thing has got some folks online upset. Cool. But not cool that all folks focus on was one word: anonymous. That was just one point; being anonymous belongs to a larger movement of heavy-handed approaches to a new medium. I wasn't arguing against being anonymous; I was placing it within a larger context. Folks: I don't care if you're anonymous. There is a question of ethos here, but I’m not arguing for you to stop or continue or whatever.

Yet - this morning, I started to think: Ok. Let's return one more time (aw, do we have to?) to this issue of being anonymous online. Do folks approach their academic writing with the same fear of being known? The answer - based on what irks anonymous bloggers - must be "no." But why not? Subject matter? Maybe. But the key seems to be that other dreaded computers and writing term, "access."
Access, you say? Oh yes. Because academic writing is just not as accessible as blogging. Google changed the interface of interaction in ways other search engines failed. But for me to access a fellow academic's work, I must:

  • Pay the heavy subscription rate (for one to three journals, that may be ok. But any more than that, and we have an expensive reading habit)
  • Be at a school where the library subscribes
  • Want to go to the library if that publication doesn't archive online
  • Hope that my library has collected ALL the publication's archived material and not thrown a certain time period in the trash

    And since there are more journals than a human can read, and we don't all write for the same area of inquiry, the odds that I know who you are and where you publish are small (unless you have made Norman Mailer status in the field and become the next Gerry Graff or John Guillory or whoever).
    But if the open source advocates and rah rah creative commons folks had their way, would these anonymous folks still want to be anonymous?
    "NO! We don't fear repercussions for our academic work! There is nothing for us to fear when we write about X novel, X poem, X composition moment, X…."
    Really? Why not? Is it because our academic ideas are "safe" and our desire to document the untold story of Plezure is "unsafe?" Is academic writing always so safe that no one gets upset when they read recent scholarship? Tell that to James Sledd. Tell that to VV. A moment for ideological reflection, no? Academic work is supposed to be "safe?" I think I hear the ghost of Berlin about to land and say a thing or two about writing and being safe.

    If I think about and try to consider working with what non-academic writers do with the medium (like change the nature of archiving, document forgotten moments, etc) is that "unsafe?" Is blogging unsafe at any speed?

    Listen: I wish access was different. I don't know if it would change the anonymous fear, but I do know, that out of my published writings, the one I wish was taken seriously and which could provoke a mass audience ain't this little InsideHigherEd thing. In the last couple years, I've published a few pieces I hoped folks would get irked about, or think about, or respond to. But nada has happened. Only the online pieces get attention. I wish I could upset someone with my academic work. At best, I hear a yawn - maybe because of quality, but also likely because probably half a dozen people read that stuff.

    Fear of retribution is not our problem. Access, I can't believe I am saying this, is.

    Posted by jrice @ 10:22 AM EST [Link]

    Wednesday, February 22, 2006

    Theory and Practice

    From the Lectures of the Cliché: Theory and Practice

    Forgive poor transcriptions. Neighbors won't turn their radio down.

    (CREAAAAAAAAAK. Door opens. In walks the good Dr.)

    What are we talking about? We're talking about practice? Practice?
    Compositionists fret over practice. "We must practice!" Practice?

    (inaudible mumbling in class; sound of someone leaving the room, maybe more than one)

    The (still) emerging field of computers and writing/writing with technology/composition and technology, however you all may scribble it into your term papers, still wonders about practice. How do you put "that idea" into practice? We no longer have lore; we have practice! Our field is becoming a series of Time/Life books: How to manuals. Hackerism. The will to practice. "In this article I will show how I practice multimodal/multiliteracy/multimulti writing in my class. . ."
    The Compile search engine for composition scholarship brings up almost 10,000 hits for "practice" and less than 3,000 for "theory." Practice! Practice has won the search engine war!

    (barely audible question from students)
    "But Dr. Don't you tell us not to draw binaries?"

    Indeed. You ask a good question. I will give you a "C." It is neither A nor F. So it, too, is not a binary.

    Quintilian told us to practice the places of argument, not just know them! Jay David Bolter asks us to practice our theories, not just explicate them! Who among us really works with applied grammatology? But what are we talking about?

    Student: "Uh, practice?"

    Correct! In his CCCC chair address, Donald Stewart asked: "How can historical knowledge liberate composition teachers from theory and practice which are dated and ineffective?" I give you your notes. Why do you people not read your notes from this course! A history which lasts only one or two weeks, and you forget! You over there! You're not even taking notes! What the hell are you doing?

    But I digress.

    What were we talking about?

    Posted by jrice @ 08:15 AM EST [Link]

    Tuesday, February 21, 2006

    Public Writing
    Now I know how Michael Berube feels!


    A little public writing (I said a little!) goes a little way on the Web. It was interesting to see my hits triple and to get a little blogosphere action on the side, outside of the usual suspects I run with here. Some folks think I'm talking about stand-up, some don't like the word serious, some got too hung up on the context I introduced regarding being too heavy handed (being anonymous), some say, yeah, maybe, some remember their past habits as trolls and relive that experience again, some want public conversation to always be a debate (You're wrong! You're right!). No one really wanted to talk about new media (it's new cause it didn't exist before) and conventions, particularly how we are drawn to maintain conventions (or, we say, gasp! how we are interpellated!).

    The disagreement is, for the most part, cool (I really don't like the debate aspect; however, regardless of which side a response takes). It's just a short piece. But you get a few folks talking that you normally wouldn't talk with, and that's not bad. Overall, public writing (outside of blog writing) is not entirely for me (because of space, form, debate responses, and language limitations), and without the invite, I wouldn't have done it. I said entirely! It was a bit enjoyable as well.

    My favorite response is the one from the guy who can't help but STILL be mad that I (and someone else) told him a year ago he wasn't up to speed with current scholarship regarding his topic.

    Maybe it’s as simple as meaning intended is not necessarily meaning received. My point is that we need a lot of care with humorous writing to avoid as much missing of meaning as possible. If a joke is hurtful to some people mentioned in the joke,” is it rightfully funny?

    To which I say: Yes.

    Posted by jrice @ 07:04 AM EST [Link]

    Monday, February 20, 2006

    Serious Bloggers

    A few weeks ago, I was invited to do an IHE piece. So here it is:
    "Serious Bloggers".

    Posted by jrice @ 06:47 AM EST [Link]

    Sunday, February 19, 2006

    Even if I am dangerous, I find this weird:


    Stumbled across it by accident yesterday. To whoever is trading my website on the fantasy stock exchange:

  • You have the wrong "its."
  • You have the wrong "its" twice.
  • Loop Di Loop is a day trader with bad breath.
  • What's up with this "Humanities" listing? Yo. I'm New Media.
  • "Recent performance"? Hey. None of your business. But thanks for the shout out.
  • Where's my cut, dude?

    Posted by jrice @ 08:43 AM EST [Link]

    Saturday, February 18, 2006


    A reader from Salt Lake City (who did not sign her email) writes:

    Dr Fabulous:
    Aren't you upset that you didn't make David Horowitz's 101 Most Dangerous Professors list?

    Dear Reader:
    Yes. I'm really upset. I'm steaming. I kicked a can this morning!
    I know VV has called Sirc "The Most Dangerous Man in Composition," but I'm pretty dangerous too! I mean, just dig these rhymes I wrote on the way to the gas station this morning:

    My rhymes are fantastic
    Not spastic
    They stretch around you like plastic
    Arrive at your front door
    Like a fruit basket

    No way you want your kids in my writing course! I also wear jeans to class. And I blog!

    Now, if the issue is you have to first be tenured to be dangerous, then, of course, I'm still pretty safe. But I still plead my case!
    Still - just a few names I have learned are on the list:

  • Mark Ellis, Baylor University
  • Miriam Cooke, Duke University
  • Laurie Brand, University of Southern California

    I don't know who any of these people are! How dangerous can they be! Have they wrestled a turtle with their bare hands? Have they used non-Western bathroom facilities? Have they earned the scorn of WPA-L? Have they left a comment at The Blogora? No siree.
    But Dr. Fabulous, now there's a name all over the Internet. 11 million hits via dear Google. And someone thinks I'm a dentist. Man, there are few folks more dangerous than dentists. Ever see Marathon Man?

    So - I suppose I still have work to do, more rhymes to write, places to go, people to see, papers to grade, beers to drink.....uh....where was I?

    Madlib sent me an email to remind me of some choice rhymes I penned (and he took) one weekend when we were working the boards in L.A.

    I'm so dangerous that it's scary
    I got more talk
    Than Harry
    Reasoner, you heard it here
    Park your car, get out your beer
    60 Minutes of me making you fear
    The ultimate attack, like dirt against Blue Cheer

  • Man, I don't remember that.

    Posted by jrice @ 10:27 AM EST [Link]