What I've been reading

Prof. B. posted yesterday about the death of feminist activist Allison Crews, who was involved with Radical Cheerleaders, Strap-on, and especially Girl-Mom, a feminist online community for young mothers. I read Girl-Mom periodically about four or five years ago, when it was sometimes linked to from the Ms. boards, but I spent hours yesterday over there, reading the forums and the stories. Three you must read: Outside the Radar, A Mother's Fate, and of course Crews' germinal essay When I Was Garbage. In a feminist-themed composition course with a unit on teen pregnancy, all three of these would be required reading, and while it sounds inappropriate to talk shop in the face of this loss, I only do so because I want to acknowledge Crews' major contribution. To get an idea of how many people she affected, see the comments in the first two posts to her LiveJournal. There are memorials for her taking place in several cities, including Minneapolis. I didn't know her, but I think I might attend anyway.

Books: I finally finished The Picture of Dorian Gray last weekend. Took me a while to pick it up again, and when I did, I read it slowly. I have an intense appreciation for every sentence of Wilde. Although I'm tempted to read The Almond, the next novel on my list is Frances Burney's Evelina. When in my master's program, I took an eighteenth-century literature course, and during the time we were to be reading Evelina, I had a lot of other work to do, so I blew off reading the book and was quiet in class the days we (they) discussed it. For that, I've felt like an idiot loser ever since, so I want to read it now as atonement. Plus, it's an epistolary novel, and I haven't read one of those in a while.

Inside Higher Ed linked to Open Wounds, an essay by Chad of Physician, Heal Thyself. It's a must-read along with the Girl-Mom stories. I'm going to have to read his blog more often.

Fill in the blank

"Yeah, well, we need __________ about as much as 1990 needed Cheap Trick's cover of 'Don't Be Cruel.'"

OpenCourseWare Browse

I realized yesterday that I hadn't poked around on MIT's OpenCourseWare in a while. I spent some time browsing the courses on Writing and Humanistic Studies, Women's Studies, STS, Literature, and Comparative Media Studies. Some finds:

I wish I could do more browsing, but I have work to do. I know that back in 2002(?) when MIT OpenCourseWare went live, it was hailed, the only objections -- the only ones I heard, anyway -- being from some who thought that teachers shouldn't be required to make their course designs publicly accessible. Pshaw. How could anyone argue with the clear benefits to students and prospective students? Students can find the courses that are most interesting and challenging to them, allowing for a more individualized program of study, and OpenCourseWare provides by leaps and bounds more insight into the design and content of the course than a title and little blurb in a course catalog does. The one argument contra that does have merit, in my opinion, is the claim that instructors don't have any way to control the look and navigation of the course's site; everything has the uniform MIT OCW look.

What I was really irritated and dismayed by, though, is the sentiment I heard a lot of people express that went something like, "Oh. Well. They're MIT, so they can do that." Eeeyaarrgh! I can't stand this kind of thinking, that you can only do certain things if you're a Big Name. It seems to me to be, if anything, the opposite: that if you're a Big Name, any endeavor you undertake is going to be more high-stakes, and any possible failure is going to be more large-scale and public, so being a small name would give one more freedom to innovate.

Acceptance: Dreadworthy?

The first article I wrote for The Encyclopedia of Gender and Information Technology, "Gender Theory and Information Technology," was accepted (with revisions). I know that's a broad topic, but it was on the list (.doc file), so I thought it could work. Quick, dirty, and oversimplified summary: In the manuscript, I discuss two major groups of theorists that inform a lot of the work on gender and computing: the Haraway/Stone group and the Chodorow/Gilligan/Belenky et al. group. So why was I apprehensive about opening the attachment with the reviewers' comments? Well, as it turns out, I'm going to have to do a considerable amount of further reading, plus the reviewers pointed out that the manuscript was too long (I knew it was a little too long -- by about 200 words -- but I figured the reviewers would have suggestions on what I could cut). They seem to think that it might be best to form two separate articles from the manuscript.

Point is, I need to devote a lot of thought to these revisions...and get them done by July 8. I wonder how my other article will fare. If they ultimately get rejected, I'll post them here for your pointing and laughing pleasure.

Appendix ?: A Weblog Primer

It seems my dissertation has as many appendices as it has chapters. Well, not really, but my committee wants me to do three of them, one of which is a primer on weblogs. It was my idea to do a primer, as most people on my committee are just starting to learn the technology, and probably won't ever be heavy users of it; the idea is just to communicate the meanings and significance of certain aspects of the technology, especially the implications for writer-audience interaction. Derek's CCCC presentation might be useful here. I didn't know where I should put the primer, though, and my committee suggested that I include it as an appendix. Here's a list of terms I know I need to include; can you think of any others?

  • History of weblogs (can be moved to the intro later)
  • Weblog (for which I'd draw upon Jill Walker's canonical definition and Dave Winer's definition as well).
  • Significance of tools (I'd discuss how some tend to think of LiveJournal and Xanga sites as something other than weblogs, and my own opinion of that distinction, which is still in formation.)
  • Network literacy
  • Networked rhetoric(s)
  • Blogger stereotypes (Self-indulgent egomaniacs, plagiarists, etc. I have a great collection of a week's worth of Doonesbury cartoons that ran in Fall 2002 that illustrate these really well.)
  • Comment (what makes it different from a post, also comment spam)
  • Trackback
  • Referrers (If you link them, they will come.)
  • Sitemeter
  • Technorati (as a tool to find out who's linking to you)
  • Ranking tools (Technorati, Truth Laid Bear, etc.)
  • RSS
  • Blogroll
  • Timestamp
  • Permalink
  • Categories and searchability (indexing)
  • Content management system

By the way, the other appendices they want me to do include one on the implications of my research for composition pedagogy and one that's a reflexive essay on my methods and my location as a woman, a blogger, and a blog researcher. I already have a good bit to say on that one. Then there's also the miscellany; hopefully I can work some of the interesting things I find into the bodies of the chapters, to tell more of a story, but I want the miscellany to be in there somewhere, even if it's in an appendix.


Mapping, the city, and technologies (some resources)

I'm way behind the curve when it comes to thinking about and getting involved in the intersections among ubiquitous computing, art, the imagination, rhetoric, the personal/emotional, and geography, unlike some people I know, but an article in Wired, The Art of Street Talk, caught my interest. Plus I know it's The Next Big Thing, or maybe The Current Big Thing, and I need to catch up -- which means not just reading about it, but actually making media that engages these areas (I wish I had actually gone to some of those flash mobs I intended to participate in). An excerpt from the article:

Next time you're walking down a city sidewalk, look out for the internet. It's all around you -- and not just in the phone lines and cables running under the streets or in the airborne Wi-Fi streams. In recent months, several services have sprung up to allow a communion between the real world and the internet, with cell phones acting as the medium.

If you send a text message to an e-mail address scrawled in paint on a subway advertisement or on a sidewalk, for example, you could get some digital pop art on your phone in return.

An adhesive arrow on a telephone pole could hold the key to the history of a nearby building.

[. . .]

[John] Geraci[, founder of Grafedia,] likened grafedia to putting a message in a bottle. "You don't know who will find it and uncork it, and it doesn't really matter," he said. "It's an act of anonymous, artistic sharing, done with strangers in your city."

According to the article, a teacher at Central Connecticut State University assigned this kind of place-marking to his students; I'd love to know who the professor was and what the course was about. The article set me off in several different directions, including to yellowarrow, Grafedia, and [murmur], which I enjoyed; from the main site, you go to a map, select a red dot, and then hear a story about that place. I went to Toronto once for the Association of Internet Researchers' conference; maybe I could tell a story about that. I went to Toronto during the tail end of the SARS scare, and I wish I could include a link in the audio file I'd record. It would lead to this.

Favorite Movie Lines

Because it's Saturday night, and I'm in the mood for some silliness.

"I'm not talking about dance lessons. I'm talking about puttin' a brick through the other guy's windshield! I'm talking about taking it out and chopping it up!"--Gene Hackman as Royal Tenenbaum, The Royal Tenenbaums

I've got a GUN out there in my purse, and if you take one more look at me or make another indecent proposal, I'm going to go GET that gun, and I'll turn you from a rooster to a hen in ONE SHOT!"--Dolly Parton as Doralee Rhodes, 9 to 5

"I'm a star. No one ever leaves a star. That's what a star."--Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond, Sunset Boulevard.

What are your favorites?

UPDATE: Or, if you'd prefer, least favorite movie lines. Here are two:

"Now THAT'S podracing!"--Jake Lloyd as Anakin Skywalker, Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace

"This is why I hate flying!"--Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars, Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Well, almost any line in those movies, really. I won't even quote directly that awful "drag" pun C3PO made.

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