I am totally gonna meet Hindrocket!

Thanks to a recommendation from Laura Gurak, I've been invited to participate in a panel at the regional Society of Professional Journalists conference. The blurb for the panel (emphasis and update mine):

Blogging and the Mainstream Media—SPJ

What's the future role and impact of Web logs and story chat on mainstream media coverage? Does anyone pay attention to this "virtual"conversation or is it just a place for people to vent? Moderator: Mike Knaak, assistant managing editor St. Cloud Times; John Hinderaker, a Minneapolis lawyer who blogs on Power Line, Time Magazine's blog of the year; Gordon "Mac" McKerral, SPJ immediate past president; Nora Paul, Institute for New Media Studies, [Clancy Ratliff, Department of Rhetoric,] University of Minnesota; and John Yenne, online director for the St. Cloud Times.

Okay, I don't mean to be silly about what is actually a great and much appreciated opportunity. I sincerely am honored. But Hindrocket! The folks at Unfogged are going to be so jealous when (or if) they hear about this.

Recovering Rhetorics of African American Political Agency

It may not seem like it, but I don't only go to techie sessions at CCCC. I make it a point to go to at least a couple of the best-sounding panels on the history of rhetoric. This was one, and it turned out to be one of the best sessions I attended. There were three presentations:

1. "Recovering the Voices of Florida Turpentine 'Slaves': A Lost Rhetoric of Resistance" by Linda Bannister and James E. Hurd, Jr., who have been writing partners for a long time now. Bannister and Hurd told us about the rich, detailed interviews they'd done with Hurd's grandfather, Jake Hurd, who, if I understand correctly, either himself participated or knew someone who participated in the Folk Life Project. Bannister and Hurd pointed out that the Folk Life Project, which was carried out in order to get a collection of folklore and stories from Florida fishing boats, workers, etc., actually contains a lot of misleading data. African Americans who were interviewed for the study often gave white interviewers diversions and didn't give them access to the real stories. They began by offering an historical overview of African Americans in the New South. Many black Floridians were workers in a system of peonage, with debt to turpentine management companies. The workers never made enough money to cover their room, board, and food, all of which were provided by the company. The workers who dared to flee were hunted down by quarter bosses. They were only technically "free." They identified three rhetorical tactics used by workers in the turpentine factories: ironic, stubborn literalness, ingenious lying, and insolent foot-dragging. They also mentioned the storytelling, saying there was always a message if the hearer was quick, sensitive, and subtle enough to catch it (but they often were not, as whites have grossly oversimplified the complex rhetorical tactics used by African Americans in various contexts). To illustrate these tactics, Bannister and Hurd did a dramatic reading of three excerpts from their play, Turpentine Jake (scroll down to 22 February). It was superb, and I'd never be able to represent it adequately here, so I encourage you to get in touch with them (, if you'd like to arrange a performance of the play.

That Book Meme

You’re stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?

The Red Tent.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

Yes. Would you like to know who? Okay. Rupert Birkin. In my childhood, I had a crush on Peter Hatcher, the long-suffering older brother of "Fudge" Hatcher in that series of Judy Blume books (Superfudge and -- I think -- Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing). Yod, the cyborg from He, She, and It.

The last book you bought is:

Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama.

The last book you read:

The Turn of the Screw, if that counts as a book...

What are you currently reading?

Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman.

Five books you would take to a deserted island:

The Cay, Lord of the Flies...nah, kidding. Hmmmm. Just five? Well, without having thought very hard about it: Gravity's Rainbow, Infinite Jest (never read either of those but I figure I'd have plenty of time on a deserted island), The Awakening, The Hero With a Thousand Faces, The Norton Anthology of African American Literature.

Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons)? And Why?

Jonathan, because his response will be funny.

Collin, for no particular reason. [UPDATE: I knew there would be a good reason to name Collin here. Actually, there are many reasons, which is why I couldn't pick a particular one. :)]

Cristina, because she has excellent taste.

The Aftermath of Access

Collin Brooke and Jennifer Bay kicked off their panel, "The Aftermath of Access: From Critical to Creative Computer Literacies" by showing theses from the Creative Computing Manifesto. I thought their approach -- two presentations that were sort of networked together -- was excellent; composing my notes now, I'm struck by how nonlinear the presentation was (in a good way!). I'll do my best to summarize the panel here, and hopefully contribute something to the conversation. Maybe the fact that I'm linking to the sources they mentioned will be helpful for some of you.

Bay (someone I don't know, so I'll use the last name) started off by problematizing a concept one encounters in writing courses. She said, "'The writing public' is already out there. People are already in it; they don't have to 'enter' it." She then described three kinds of computer literacies: functional literacy (the ability to use), critical literacy (awareness of values and ideologies embedded in computer culture), and network literacy, to which the panel was devoted.

To historicize and situate network literacy, Bay then reviewed Carolyn Miller's 2004 article Expertise and Agency: Transformations of Ethos in Human-Computer Interaction (PDF). In it, Miller identifies two major kinds of ethos associated with computers: rational reliability and sympathy. An "expert system" is rationally reliable, as opposed to an "intelligent agent," which gets its ethos through its common sense. Its agency emerges through social interaction. The 1990s saw a good deal of analysis of intelligent agents -- AI programs -- bots.

Photographs from CCCC 2005

No time to type up notes just now; company's coming in a little while! But I did have time to crop and size some photos from the conference:

First, from the city. These were both taken within a block of my hotel:

Maybe not *that* spicy.

There's this wonderful little hole-in-the-wall (and cheap!) Thai restaurant catty-corner from my hotel from which I've been ordering take-out. I just had a seafood salad from there, and when asked if I wanted it spicy or not, I enthusiastically said, "Spicy!"

Compared to a lot of people, I've got a high threshold for hot and spicy foods, but right now I feel like my lips are about to fall off and my nasal septum will surely disintegrate.

UPDATE, several hours later: I needn't have worried about the spiciness, but rather the seafood itself. During dinner tonight with some great people whose company I really wanted to enjoy unfettered, I can only surmise that I experienced the onset of food poisoning, of which I'm in the throes now. I had to walk a mile in the rain back to my hotel room in misery. Now I'm going to lie down in the fetal position and watch cartoons.

CCCC: Day 1, Session 2

Well, I guess technically the day I presented was Day 1, but Thursday was the day I started hitting the sessions, so we'll go with that. The second session I attended was, "The New Collegiality: Circulating Ideas about Writing and Teaching on Weblogs." For this one, I only have notes from John and Joanna's presentations.

CCCC, Day 1, Session 1

Finally getting around to blogging some notes about sessions I've attended. I don't know if the overall quality of the conference has improved or if I just really know how to pick 'em, but all the sessions I've attended so far have been great. The first session I attended was "Evaluating Academic Weblogs: Using Empirical Data to Assess Pedagogy and Student Achievement."

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