OT: Our Town

I'm about to go see OT: Our Town here at the library. It's part of a free summer movie series, and I'm pleasantly surprised at how sophisticated some of the movies are. More titles later, plus more on OT.

UPDATE: It was great! Now I'm going to start recommending Film Movement to people.

Computers and Writing Online 2005: Announcement and Conference Program

I know I've blogged about this before, but I'm on the organizing committee of this conference, and I'm going to promote it; that's just the way it is. This is the big announcement, with the long version of the conference program below the fold (I copied and pasted all the abstracts here, which the Attribution-NoDerivs-Noncommercial Creative Commons license encourages me to do, I might add).

Computers and Writing Online 2005
When Content Is No Longer King: Social Networking, Community, and Collaboration

The 2005 Computers and Writing Online Conference begins on Tuesday,
May 31, and runs through Monday, June 13. This is the first-ever
online conference in our field to be open-access, Creative
Commons-licensed, and hosted on a weblog, and it promises to be
innovative and insightful. We set out to perform the concepts and values of the conference theme -- networking, community, and collaboration -- in our review process, which was open to the public and emphasized group
interaction and helpful, supportive feedback. The responders have done
an excellent job engaging the authors' ideas, and the authors'
responses to the feedback they received have really demonstrated how
enriching this public, collaborative model can be for scholarly work.
The conference organizers would like to extend a big "Thank you!" to
the authors and the responders. Included with each abstract in this
announcement is the link to the original; we strongly encourage you to
read the comments.

As with the abstracts, the presentations are accessible to anyone with
an internet connection, and anyone with an account at Kairosnews
(registration is free) can leave comments. For more information, visit
the CW Online 2005 weblog:

Drawing upon the conference's theme of exploring the increasing value
of the network and collaborative practices within it, presenters
examine the role(s) played by social networking applications and other
technologies that are intended to foster social interaction,
community, and collaboration. Alongside studying the technologies
themselves, presenters will observe and describe the ways that
writers and users are engaging the technologies and how such
engagement is changing our ideas about writing and teaching writing,
and, more broadly, the concepts of rhetoric and composition
themselves. We very much hope you'll get involved by leaving your
comments, or, if you prefer, respond on your own weblog and leave a
trackback! Or write a response on your wiki! Or tag presentations on
your or list! You get the idea. This
conference is meant to be networked.



May 31: Charlie Lowe and Dries Buytaert: It's about the Community
Plumbing: The Social Aspects of Content Management Systems

June 2: Cathy Ma: What's so special about the Wikipedia?

June 4: Olin Bjork and John Pedro Schwartz: E-service Learning

June 6: Bob Stein, Kim White, Ben Vershbow, and Dan Visel: Sorting the
Pile: Making Sense of A Networked Archive

June 7: Traci Gardner: From Danny Dunn and the Homework Machine to The
Secret Blog of Raisin Rodriguez

June 8: Lennie Irvin: MOO-the Second Decade? 7:00-8:30 p.m. CDT ProNoun MOO

June 9: John Spartz: Web Accessibility and Its Impact on Student
Learning: A Qualitative Study

June 10: Matt Payne: Digital Divides, Video Games, and New Media

June 11: Marina Meza & Susanna Turci: Desiging an Electronic Bilingual
Dictionary for International Trade

June 12: Collin Brooke: Weblogs as Deictic Systems

June 13: Erika Menchen: Feedback, Motivation and Collectivity on

Choosing an Audiobook

I'm going to Atlanta in a few days, so can listen to one of the following audiobooks I checked out from the library. Which one do you think I ought to choose? Given the drive time and that all these are unabridged, I can only listen to one. Keep in mind that I *gulp* have never read any of these:

Virginia Woolf, Orlando

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Pundit v. Life Bloggers: Two Visual Representations

Yeah, I've been thinking way too much about this. Seriously, I thought it would be good to have an appendix to my dissertation for these little finds, as they might not fit exactly into my analysis. I'd appreciate any comments you have, or any other visual representations of categories of bloggers.

The following are two possible results of a quiz on I saw the quiz on Frogs and Ravens; Rana had taken it and gotten “Life Blogger” as a result. I didn't think anything about it at the time, but I did take the quiz myself just for fun, and I was a little surprised by my result:

You Are a Pundit Blogger!

Your blog is smart, insightful, and always a quality read.
Truly appreciated by many, surpassed by only a few

I still didn't pay attention to the representations in Rana's and my results until the next day, when I really looked at the image and noticed that this was a young, white man, upper-middle class judging from his trendy metrosexual look: He's thin, probably goes to the gym, has a haircut that looks carefully styled with product, hip little glasses, and a turtleneck that might have come from Barney's, Banana Republic, J.Crew, or the like. He has a flat-screen monitor, suggesting that he can afford relatively up-to-date technology, and while, admittedly, we can't see his whole desk, it looks like some I've seen in Pottery Barn and HoldEverything catalogs, whose merchandise is not that cheap. This isn't a guy who has to find an old door at a yard sale or in someone's trash and lay it across two metal filing cabinets, as some graduate students I know have had to do. His apartment is in a large city, as evidenced by the view, and he has a lovely view from a large window up high, suggesting a penthouse. He sits at his desk, supporting his chin with one hand but not really leaning into it. His gesture, as well as his facial expression with lips pursed, is that of a critical, thinking skeptic who is humoring the writer he's reading and who might soon turn that writer's argument upside down. The position and facial expression remind me a lot of Joshua Micah Marshall's blog photograph:

Then I went and looked at the “Life Blogger” image again.

You Are a Life Blogger!

Your blog is the story of your life - a living diary.
If it happens, you blog it. And make it as entertaining as possible.

The scene reminds me a little of Carrie Bradshaw in “Sex and the City,” who sits with her laptop at her desk, or sometimes in bed, often with a cigarette, musing and writing her column while we hear her voiceover saying something like: “I couldn't help but wonder: Can women have sex like men?” Or, “Is old the new young?” This woman, like the pundit, is attractive according to mainstream cultural conventions, young, and white. She's also well-coiffed, suggesting that she either got her hair blown out at a salon to get that perfect little Jennifer Aniston-style flip or that she has plenty of leisure time to style her own hair. Its rich auburn shade could be natural, but could also be the work of a professional colorist. Her eyebrows look deliberately shaped, and she's wearing lipstick to match her hair. Like the pundit, her clothing could have come from Banana Republic or J.Crew. The Life Blogger's laptop has the look of a newish iBook (just like the one I'm typing on now, I must point out), and her leaning-back, arms-behind-head position suggests that she's just written a post, hunched over, and is now stretching out her arms, neck, and back, as I do myself periodically as I work. Replacing Carrie Bradshaw's cigarette are two aromatherapy candles, possibly sage and fig or sandalwood based on the colors, and the scent moves around the woman, touching her nose as it wafts away. Her facial expression is calm, serene, and satisfied. Her blogging is therapy just as her candles are. Her body is willowy and feminine.

In sum, these images are firmly raced/classed, and deeply gendered. The artist seems to be having fun with twenty/thirtysomething middle-class “Friends” stereotypes. I'd love to be able to talk with him or her to see if everything I've pointed out in these images was deliberate. Noteworthy too are the captions underneath the images. The pundit's blog is “smart, insightful, and always a quality read.” The life blogger's is “a living diary,” and is “entertaining.” I also think it's telling that the pundit's blog occupies a position, a rank in an implicit hierarchy much like the Truth Laid Bear Ecosystem or the Technorati Top 100: it is “truly appreciated by many, surpassed by only a few” (emphasis mine).

Blog-to-Book, Hybrid Genre(s)

I think the writing Jodi has been doing lately is outstanding, and just now in a comment I told her I could imagine her as one of those people who gets a book deal from his or her blog. Which reminds me, I've been meaning to post for a while now about the book-deal-from-blog phenomenon; I'm interested in several aspects of it. I want to:

  1. Compile a list of bloggers who have gotten book deals
  2. Think about what kinds of writing these bloggers are doing, what these blogs have in common (for example, the writing on all these blogs is acutely personal)
  3. Keep track of what the generic conventions are: What will the book-from-blog hybrid form look like?* Of course specific books will vary, but for the most part, will they be epistolary memoirs? How will they be arranged? Will they keep reverse chronological order (a blog expectation), or invert to chronological order for continuity (a print memoir expectation)? Or will the blog posts be used as raw material, with the intention that the end product will be a seamless narrative? How will the generic expectations merge to create a hybrid? Will one or the other -- blog or book -- prevail? What will happen to the comments readers leave? Will the blog be taken down after the book is released?

I know these questions aren't new, that plenty of other people are wondering the same thing and have probably already written about it. If you know of such writing and can point me to it, please do so in the comments. Also, here is a list of blogs I know of that are going to be released as books, or already have been. If you know of more, please alert me to them.

  • The Julie/Julia Project, book here
  • Where is Raed? (Salam Pax), book here
  • Baghdad Burning -- looks like the blog is still up. Actually, there's an excerpt of the book in the most recent issue of Ms., and it looks like they've kept the post format; the excerpt consisted of dated entries ending with "Posted by River @ [time]." Must buy that book.
  • The rumor is apocryphal, so I don't want to say for sure, but I heard that Ginmar's blog might become a book. (She's in the U.S. military and was stationed in Iraq for a long time, but is back now. Great writing there.)
  • UPDATE -- found some more: Diary of a London Call Girl
  • Wil Wheaton (his writing speaks for itself, and his weblog was what got his writing noticed, so I'm counting him here, but his celebrity prior to starting the blog certainly helped)
  • Mimi Smartypants, book here

* I want to be clear about my terms here: I don't mean to suggest that "book" is a genre. "Memoir" might be a genre, but I consider "book" a form and a technology, much like "blog."

UPDATE: Should have done the Amazon searching first. Looks like in every case, the weblogs have stayed up after the publication of the book.

City Quiz

Via Jeremy, whose cities are somewhat more hip than mine.

American Cities That Best Fit You:

60% Washington, DC
55% Honolulu
55% Miami
50% Austin
50% Chicago

Support Research by Eighth Grade Girls

I hope Prof. B. will pick this one up as well. Got it this morning from my university's women's studies department's listserv.

We write in hope that you can help out some extremely deserving Minneapolis public school students and their teacher. Three eighth graders from Harry Davis Academy (names omitted for privacy) won their first place at the History Day competition with a fascinating project on Betty Crocker and her significance for women's history. They also won the chance to go to the national competition in DC--but of course this is an expensive proposition, particularly for the very-low-income families of
these girls. Their teacher, Tim Kaari, is covering the cost of the $2400 trip himself in hope that he will be eventually reimbursed. So far, however, he hasn't had any success, including his attempts to get support from General Mills. Meanwhile, the students are raising funds through bake sales and some small support from the Star Tribune. Thus, we're asking faculty to make modest donations for this cause. Checks can be made out to Harry W. Davis Academy and if you mail or personally deliver them to one of our mailboxes we will forward them on to Mr. Kaari. Checks don't need to be large--any amount would be helpful and would certainly reinforce our committment to the work that is going on at this school. It's worth noting that other students from Davis Academy also went to state finals (for a project on African slave quilts) and won prizes in their age-categories for projects on labor history and GLBT themes. Clearly something exciting is happening at this school.

How great is that teacher for paying for the trip?! And WTF re: General Mills? Email me if you'd like to know how to get in touch with the people who are collecting checks for Mr. Kaari.


"What do you get when you cross a member of the Mafia with a deconstructionist?"

"An offer you can't understand."

"Postmodernism." Encyclopedia of Folklore and Literature. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, Inc. 1998.

Syndicate content