April 29, 2005
This is one of those times in which I feel like I should be able to come up with some great analysis of the following cartoon that indicates all of the multi-layered jabs at culture. We have isolated ourselves so much through technology, given our mental faculties (particularly memory) over to technology, our experiences are so mediated that we must question the very nature of experience....But at the same time, we've never been closer/had more access to friends and social groups, we've never had so much knowledge so readily available, and we've never had such multi-layered experiences as we do now.
(if the link ceases to exist I may put the cartoon up just for the sake of it)
(I've cross-posted this at kubernetes and will be updating it from there)
April 28, 2005
I found if you search Google/Images with the term "social network," it turns up a little trove of network maps with the accompanying articles. Some are familiar figures from articles on our reading list.
April 25, 2005
Just a quick reminder:
This Thursday, we're meeting not at 2 but at 3, and downstairs. You'll do course evals, and then we'll pop up to the cluster where you can meet with me to chat about the progress you've made on your projects and/or to work on them.
April 20, 2005
If I had a visual...
I'm trying to consider what my response would look like as a graph. What ideas would I chart? I've looked back at the margin notes, the things I highlighted, the way reading other's entries here have called to mind different segments, and I'm most intrigued by what I've left off. I'd be interested to see a graph of the things I left out because the ideas that I latched onto or gravitated toward are likely already known to me either as positions I assume or as positions I don't.
What I am most drawn to are the interrogations of ideological assumptions in Drucker's article. As I commented in Derek's entry, Drucker asserts that "the discussion of graphical knowledge sketched here does not proceed on the assumption that visual information can be grasped in any self-evident way" and "[n]o image is self-evident" (3). She points to our logocentric attitudes, and those are formulated as culturally received ideologies. We don't make sense of words because words are somehow more natural, but because we are surrounded by education about words and our education about graphics is limited to say the very best. Drucker is writing about taking us beyond learning shapes and colors to "the idea that graphical means can provide an interpretation, be used as tools in the subjective interrogation of texts or other objects" (20).
However, I, like Jen, have several questions about the limits that Drucker seems to set forth in defining this field. Jen asks whether or not this field is defining a new episteme, and I think that Henry's post alludes to this same question in a certain way. Are we actually seeing a new way of knowing or does this harken to ideas of remediation?
Also, I am wondering if the radical subjectivity that Drucker privileges is the only way to approach the concepts of graphesis. Is subjectivity an inherent part of graphesis? Is the purpose of graphesis to provide meaning or context (or both)? This question stems in part from Drucker's example of using "complex temporalities in humanities documents and research" (20). In some ways, those are the artifacts she and Nowviskie are using, and as such one might make an argument that they can be viewed as objects if our goal in the graph is to demonstrate a context into which ideas are spoken instead of parsing meanings.
Finally, I'm curious about her theoretical discussion of the act of interpretation and the creation of knowledge (18) in relation to our previous reading from Greg Urban on Metaculture. Urban's discussion of alpha, beta, and omega cultures has prompted me to wonder about the ways that Drucker describes the knowledge production through the interaction between reader and text. Take a text, let's say Barthes' The Rustle of Language. As I read this book (alpha), I am engaged in an interpretive--meaning making--act. My interpretation (beta) then becomes viable, but only in relation to the alpha. If it turns to something new (omega) then it becomes a new alpha. But if Drucker is concerned with disrupting the assumptions that come attached with alphas, this would create a headache for me. She writes, "Representations are always premised on abstract conceptual schemes--or models--that shape any individual expression within constraints and patterns of thought--even as that realization provides a crucial insight for breaking through existing habits" (20). The situation, then, shapes the expression (a la Bitzer's "The Rhetorical Situation" or Foucault's discourses). However, if that's the case, who gets to claim what meaning should be inserted once we break through? Instead, I think that graphesis could be a very productive tool that demonstrates the discourses, those culturally received ideologies, that shape situations, but I get the sense that Drucker is headed the opposite direction. So I guess my response to Jen's musings would be that it's not a new episteme in the way that we generally thing of new epistemes, as an original or authentic, but it certainly can and does shift our focus to different ways of expressing, and thus interpretting/interrogating, our ideological constructs.
Graphesis as epistemic shift?
I liked this article. Drucker is one smart lady. But I found myself wondering about just how epistemic graphesis is or can be. As described in the article, graphesis seems to be a method developed staunchly within this cultural and intellectual moment – a way of reclaiming form in a poststructuralist context. But I kept wanting more. I wanted to see this as a way to enable an epistemic shift, and I am not sure if that is what was intended, nor is desired from this method.
She states that in her article she intends to:
. . .create a critical framework within which the forms that are generally used for the presentation of information can be understood and read as culturally coded expressions of knowledge with their own epistemological assumptions and historical lineage. (2)
What is really neat about this is that her method and analyses throughout the article seem to be incorporating structuralism as well as post structural modes of analysis. This is a move that has been lacking in the humanities because, as she states, often our analyses focus on a single aspect with in the production of the text (e.g. the creative context, the receptive context, the form of the text) rather than the multiple layers of meaning and context which produce The Text in its entirety.
Rather than seeing the form as the mere tool or invisible transmitter of meaning, in graphesis, the form becomes just as much a part of the meaning as the conditions in which the text ways produced. (I am thinking of Derek's post here – the way we read and make meaning is largely influenced by how the text is formatted on the page, in the book, by our bedside table, etc.) So for Drucker, graphesis is a way to begin to find a method to speak of all of these intricate moments of meaning making as a whole. Or at least make them visible by stripping or changing the mostly invisible formatting choices we currently use. I like this. It seems productive.
But, my question about this article still remains. Can graphesis mark an epistemic shift? Can it show us something new that we have yet to see more than traditional textual forms? I am not sure. When I visited Kartoo this week, I was struck by how much sense its visualization of my topic (immigration) made. Much more than goggle scattershot hit ranking method of information. Taking in context, geography, state practices, advocacy groups, and then laying out how these connected with one another made all the sense in the world to me. It is like work that I try to do with information when I need to sort it. So, is graphesis (at least in this scenario) thinking for me or validating my own presumptions? Or perhaps I would have never connected those particular dots? So I see how Kartoo was giving me a new way of knowing information, but can I say that it shifts how I know completely? Hmmmm . . . still not sure on that one.
Semotics, graphics, and mathematical formalism
I like the Drucker article. It may just be my reading, but he seems to invoke some strands of semiotics – particularly his treatment of graphesis as sort of abductive phenomenon (or is he making claims for induction, particularly in his commentary about Ed Tufte?).
More to points that I could respond to:
The emphasis on the way graphics function within a system of mediated exchanges with human users brings information design closer to its cousin, interface design. A language of usability, rather than compositional form, has appeared in parallel with the growth of graphical user interfaces and the realization that their design principles give the lie to the static nature of print artifacts (16).
Knowledge management (more specifically, knowledge mining) struggles with this front/end back representation when it attempts to address obscure data that resides in anything but a keyworded artifact. But as Ty has noted in some of his past posts, commercial search tools (Google, Yahoo, etc.) aren’t very good at or capable of extracting context from an artifact. Graphesis may be an opportunity to reconsider how our computer systems can function more like humans; assimilating and contextualizing large amounts of information by reading simple search result statements.
I recently read about a company that developed a “phonetic search engine” that can process the basic units of speech that comprise phonemes. Instead of trying to analyze entire words, the engine can search audio recordings 50 times faster than text-to-speech systems by match specific units of speech. Is there an extension of this concept to graphics and images, or does the fundamental subjectivity of images make this difficult?
Drucker notes the limits of Boolean search logic, which I think are actually less popular today (I think we’ve discussed this in class). How cool would it be to look at an artifact a an expression of language, “… whereby [the] encoded expression provokes a response for cognitive processing (3)” – where our search engines understand syntax and semantics?
Graphesis, DNA, Cajal, the network, and the poststructuralist hat
Reading Drucker, I feel compelled to mention two graphetic “incidents” in science. The first was the publication of the structure of DNA by Watson and Crick. At the time of their discovery, the candidate molecules for the genetic code had been narrowed down to some very interesting proteins and simple, boring DNA. Most of the scientific community supported the protein theory, since DNA seemed too simple to carry the genetic information needed for the code of all life. Watson and Crick essentially published an image (model) of the structure of DNA, which was a plausible fit with the existing data. It became clear from this configuration alone that DNA solved the
genetic mystery, as well as how the strands were able to replicate. The image clinched the point.
A second, lesser known case is that of Ramón y Cajal. Cajal’s meticulous technical illustrations of networks of neurons “led to the conclusion that the basic units of the nervous system were represented by individual cellular elements (which Waldeyer christened as "neurons" in 1891). This conclusion is the modern basic principle of the organization of the nervous system.” (Marina Bentivoglio, “Life and Discoveries of Santiago Ramón y Cajal”)
I think we were teetering last week toward one of Drucker’s key points in our discussion of social function and the human elements of networks. When we map a network, the knowledge we construct is a function of the visual artifact rather than a simple representation of “what is already known in a graphical form” (20). This points to a theme we have visited several times, that the network diagram derives its meaning from a certain degree of reductionism, for instance by defining a single characteristic (safety, knowledge, access, engagement, as in Cross et al.) transecting a given moment of time, or by homogenizing the character of the nodes, as in Watts’ mathematical models. The result is a partial insight into patterns of human activity from which certain limited inferences can be drawn.
Finally, I puzzled over the theoretical flavor of Drucker’s writing. While the scholarship in one sense seems exhaustive, the epistemological agenda Drucker is working has been much more richly elaborated in poststructuralist theory and elsewhere (e.g., Rorty’s Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature) for quite a while, yet Drucker only skirts the marches of lit crit and language theory. For instance, had I been trying to make her distinction between “model” and “representation,” I would have felt much more beholden to Peirce’s distinction between symbolic and iconic signs, which is only mentioned parenthetically. And McGann is cited to stand in for a piece I recall as Barthes’ essay “The Work of the Text” (which, if memory serves me, argues that the “text” is a virtual production, a system of signification that emerges between the signifiers and the reader, who does the work of production). When it comes to radical subjectivity, Drucker points toward quantum mechanics before Continental theory. There seems to be a politics of choice here. As scholars closer to the English department than physics or design, what are we to make of this?
April 18, 2005
I came across these books when I was at the library yesterday. They are in our new books section and I thought they might be of interest.
The first is Friendship and Educational Choice: Peer Influence and Planning for the Future by Rachel Brooks. The author investigates how friends influence each other when making education decisions. Just reading the front and back flaps of Brooks's text makes me wonder about peer pressure and whether it can be used as a force for good in a writing classroom. Are there such studies?
The second book is Democratizing Innovation by Eric Von Hippel. I think this book will be of immediate interest to anyone studying the open source movement and innovation management. Von Hippel seeks to "explain how innovation by users provides a very necessary complement to and feedstock for manufacturer innovation" (2). If Von Hippel's predictions are accurate, I wonder if we will see an increase in usability studies by manufacturers or even a rise in SNA studies. Von Hippel has a CC version of the text available for download: Democratizing Innovation. He also has some of his other papers available for download if you're interested. Although, I haven't linked to his homepage because it looks awful on my iBook (the text is running off the page).
Ethnography as Pedagogy
It strikes me that upper managment would be very interested in SNA, for it formalizes the often hard to get at inter-personal dynamics that impact relationships in workplaces. It would give them data they can use to justify taking particular actions and as Cross, et.al. point out, "Being peripheral because one is inaccessible is a different coaching process than if one is not considered safe" (119). Absolutely.
I'd like to connect up with something Jen said in Chris's post, "I guess the question(s) becomes (at least for me) how can we begin to make the shift from knowledge as commodity to knowledge as communal through SNA or the web or our classrooms?"
This is a concern I share. I wonder if part of an answer may lie with what is said on the Selected Bibliography of the Cross essay:
This work is making clear the large degree to which people learn how to do their work not from impersonal sources of information but through interactions with other people
This bumps up against an essay by Amy KM Hawkins, that I just ran across at Kairos: Bytes and Sites: Ethnography as Writing Pedagogy in a Digital Age; specifically, When ethnography and technology meet.
What do you think?
Call for papers
Eileen Schell forwarded this today, and I thought I should absolutely add it to our blog posts, even though I'm sure you all got it from Eileen, too. It gave me a tremendous amount of satisfaction to have read some of the folks being cited and understand the conversation. In the process of making the CFP more "linked," I discovered David P. Reed's website, specifically his Reed's Locus page, with a link to an entire page devoted to Group Forming Networks resources.
From: Samantha Blackmon
Date: April 18, 2005 12:14:58 PM EDT
Subject: C&W 2005
Reply-To: Writing Program Administration
Here is the CFP you've all been waiting for: Computers and Writing
Online 2005! Complete details can be found at
When Content Is No Longer King: Social Networking, Community, and
David Reed explains that in the early stages of a network's formation
and growth, that "content is king," that there are a "a small number of sources (publishers or makers) of content that every user selects from" (qtd in Rheingold Smart Mobs 61). As the network scales, "group-forming networks" occur, and the value of the network increases exponentially in relationship of the number of users, otherwise known as Reed's Law, privileging the social interaction over content.
We can see this change in network valuation in today's Internet. The
increased valuing of social interaction in large scale networks is
reflected in the new technologies that place emphasis on social
communication and community over content. These technologies, often
dubbed "social software" are applications that, as Clay Shirky
explains, "support group interaction."
We invite proposals from scholars, graduate students and others who
have interest in computers and writing and social interactions and are
working on projects in gestation, in progress, near completion, or at
any stage in between, whether a thesis or dissertation, article, book
project, or just want to preview and fine-tune your conference
presentation for Computers and Writing Conference hosted by Stanford
University. This is a unique opportunity for extended discussion of
your ideas before heading to Palo Alto. Conference organizers are
particularly interested in presentations that address, but are not
limited to, the following concerns:
--Internet "social software" technologies such as blogs, wikis, RSS,
social networks (orkut and friendster), and social bookmarking
--Mobile technologies such as wi-fi and smart phones.
--More traditional social, community communication spaces of email,
discussion forums, newsgroups, listservs, and MOO's.
As an acknowledgment of the value of social networks in creating
discourse of and about scholarly work, CWOnline 2005 will follow a
submission process using weblogs whereby participants will submit
abstract proposals for public review and feedback within the Kairosnews site. Final versions of presentations will be made available online on Kairosnews.
Samantha Blackmon, PhD
Department of English
West Lafayette, IN
**Please change my email in your address books to
April 17, 2005
Perhaps the most dramatically overlooked graphical forms in the humanities are the most familiar: books, pages of print, letterforms, and all the structures of textual and paratextual apparatus. The graphical features of texts are generally regarded as trivial, except by students of bibliography, book history, or design. But basic codes for reading are graphically structured. (10)
One among the many clear, cogent points offered by Johanna Drucker in "Graphesis" is that as readers of conventionally formatted, paper-bound texts we're already accustomed to recognizing and apprehending meaning by way of graphical features. To a degree, the comprehensibility of the text is immediately gauged by its adherence to given graphical organization schemes. Readers generally anticipate and perhaps even rely on some stylistic consistency in graphical patterns. Grievances against conventions—whether violations of margin spaces, fonts, paragraphing as indicated by tabbed indentation, punctuation, and horizontal, left-to-right lines of characters—stand to perturb readers, and in this sense, a few simple graphical conventions are the mainstay of fixed texts (well, yeah, and fluid texts in various interfaces). Because I've experienced a subtle shift in the way I approach such graphical conventions with students over the past few years, I appreciate that Drucker acknowledges the way such "basic codes" are commonly perceived as "trivial." The distinctions between fixed texts and fluid texts, between intertial forces and accelerative forces all seem to coalesce in this rather simple-seeming matter—the graphical design of texts (broadly construed) and the design's relationship to meaning, the experience of the texts, etc.
April 15, 2005
You all will no doubt appreciate this, even if you've already seen it. Apparently, technology will make scholarship obsolete.
At one point in my small-time career as a writer for a start-up software company, I authored a frustrated e-mal based on notes I had taken at a meeting of the minds. The e-mail largely consisted of strings of buzz words and catch phrases (very similar to those Collin parodied so nicely for us in class). I got called before the CEO (who was also President and Chairman of the Board) to explain, not because he was offended, but because he wanted to know what I meant. I told him I had no idea, but that this was the way we were talking to one another.
I suppose that I'm working my way back to this problem/solution and identification that Cross et al. were on about in "Knowing What We Know", but I think I might be going even more fundamental with the concept of what we know and how it relates to problem solving.
As I recall, Cross et al. were concerned with knowing what other people's knowledge is to determine whether or not they will be helpful to us in solving our problems. I'm more interested here in whether or not I have enough knowledge of a problem to identify it and state it stuch that I can figure out whether or not someone else's knowledge will be required. It seems to me that a lot of what goes on is somewhat red herring-ish as we go about problematizing things. In other words, when we look for problems, we will find them, but are they really problems?
I have a friend, and I think I've mentioned this somewhere before, who frequently winds up with two drinks in his hands. Invariably someone quips about his drinking problem (two hands; one mouth). My friend invariably replies, "It not a drinking problem, it's a drinking opportunity" and proceeds to down one of the beverages.
Well, I think I've digressed far enough from the point, but I do find the linked article above interested for the very fact that we try our best to normalize things, to make some sense out of them or bring them back to our own grids of intelligibility. As such, gibberish spit out by computer makes perfect sense, particularly when we are in an environment that breeds fear of not knowing answers, and thus fear of asking questions.
April 14, 2005
“The fallacy is to think that social networks are just made up of people.”
Interesting post from Anne Galloway about our constructions of social network concepts. She considers Jyri Engeström’s assertion that
A profound confusion about the nature of sociality, which was partly brought about by recent use of the term ‘social network’ by Albert Laszlo-Barabasi and Mark Buchanan in the popular science world, and Clay Shirky and others in the social software world. These authors build on the definition of the social network as ‘a map of the relationships between individuals” ... The fallacy is to think that social networks are just made up of people. They’re not; social networks consist of people who are connected by a shared object.
April 13, 2005
To further what Mike has said:
Through our reading, I find I’m fixated at a discussion back in Watts (224) where he explains “threshold rules.” These are rules of individual decision-making, concerned with the threshold at which a person (node) in the network responds.
The actual position of an individual’s threshold depends on precisely to what extent that individual cares about future payoffs versus short-term gain from acting selfishly, and also how much influence he or she perceives themselves as having. It’s possible for individuals to have such a high threshold that they never contribute, no matter what other people do, or such a low threshold that they always contribute. (225)
Not only that, but the input that can go into a choice to
contribute, should, in my best of all possible worlds, be extremely rich and complex (cf. Dianna’s comment). If you mapped all of us into a network as comp/rhet students, for instance, we still would not respond to, say, new books in the field in anything like the same vein. That is why it shocks me that the network models reveal populations acting in such mathematical, “psycho-historical” ways. I can only think this is because, although the brain is complex, social situations can be highly stereotyped and call for only a limited range of responses (like the “social following” that would generate a power law curve--and a best-selling book in the field). The same with the corporate setting: expectations of performance are narrowed; people are slotted by function into smaller repertoires of behavior. And, along the lines Mike is pursuing, the passage above recognizes that it matters how people are processing a situation for their threshold to be reached. Objectification might be a function of reifying the social network, forgetting that it is, in fact, a pattern of human activity.
The People arethe System
In reading entries about this week's readings, I recognized that his concerns were not concerning me. This was surprising because I always want to find the human agency in any systemic analysis. (Or at least I think that I do). So although I understood where he was coming from, I had a completely different take on these readings.
For me, it seemed as if the human factor was built into the analysis because the people make the system. Without connectors, brokers, mediators, knowledge producers, etc. there would be no flows of information. Now I know this doesn't exactly address Mike's question about what companies are looking for and the assumption that all people are altruistic in their methods of sharing information and working. But, I think that it does speak to how this type of analysis can provide insight into the type of culture and conditions that can encourage employees to share knowledge, work to be brokers, etc.
So, yes, the system is made up of the employees, but the Ross et. al piece was quick to show when one employee (Cole) was particularly effective, but how that was not the best configuration for optimal corporate health. Additionally, Ross and company cited many instances where the architecture of the building (moving the management to a different floor) effected the flows of information through out the firm. I think that by recognizing the how the system influences the people within it, even through something as simple as a floor change shows just how dynamic the system, and those within it actually are.
It is the back and forth between the system itself and the people who create the system that interests me in this method. And I think that is where the people are in these analyses. If someone is an employee that is not that good at communication and/or just a slacker, it figures that their connectivity will be low. Then the questions come about why that connectivity is low, and efforts can be made to work on that individual or the system at that point.
Connecting Small Pieces
I was talking to Collin yesterday about the number of time I have referred to Weinberger and Watts in my religion class, and how many connections I've been making between the texts I'm reading there and these two books. And it occurred to me while I was talking about it that I haven't written about it. In the religion class, it doesn't fit the "response" format, and in this class the religion stuff seems out of place. But given recent posts about brokering and interdisciplinarity, and social networks, and talking to each other and so forth, it does make sense to build this connection.
Last week's reading was Buddhism at Work: Community Development, Social Empowerment and the Sarvodaya Movement by George D. Bond. It's basically a case study of the Sarvodaya Movement in Sri Lanka from its origin as a volunteer action by a professor and a group of students to a formal NGO and winner of the National Icon Award.
Sarvodaya is a Sanskrit term meaning "the welfare of all." The volunteers (and staff) work with people in villages to improve village conditions and to help the village become self-sustaining with a sense of community and mutuality. The movement works from a combined idea base of Buddhism and Gandhian principles of self-sufficiency, simple living, emphasis on the village, and spiritual liberation.
The professor, a man named Ariyaratne, wrote that the only means to peace is 'the dispelling of the view of 'I and mine' or the shedding of 'self' and the realization of the true doctrines of the interconnection between all animal species and the unity of all humanity'" (42). The Sarvodaya Movement "teaches that the causes [of suffering] lie in factors such as egoism, competition, ignorance, and disunity" (15). This is a reference to the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism, which I had to look up because it's been about 30 years since I originally learned about them. These factors expressed this way made me think of Weinberger's 100 lb backpack, and led me back to Henry's post on this, which now makes more sense to me, because of this case study.
Weinberger's backpack is filled with the elements of what he calls our "default philosophy," where by "we" he presumably means contemporary western culture - or more specifically - US culture, which Henry summarized as "realism" and "modernism". He says:
The Web is a return to the values that have been with us from the beginning. It is even a return to our basic self-understanding-a return from the distraction of modernism and the antihuman untruths emobided in the default philosophy we call carry with us like a hundred-pound backpack. When you set it down, you feel like you can fly. (180-81)
Summarized, these are the things in Weinberger's backpack:
- Individualism, the idea that we are first and foremost isolated human beings, that group activity is secondary.
- Realism. the idea that the real world is fully independent of our awareness of it.
- Relativism. The idea that all concepts and values depend on accidents of history and culture.
- Solipsism, the idea that all we can really know is what’s inside our own heads.
We've talked in this course about how the web only exists because people are willing to share. Weinberger said the Web is about public rights and public ownership, which is how the Sarvodaya Movement attempts to build the consciousness of the villages where it works. Their goal is to create a non-materialist focus on "following the basic premise of Gandhian economics, which states that 'civilization in the real sense of the word consists not in the multiplication, but in the deliberate and voluntary restriction of wants'" (49).
At the core of both this movement and the shared knowledge features of the web is the shift away from "I and mine." There's much more to this idea running around my brain, but for now I can pin it to this: I have wondered many times this semester how to reconcile the open knowledge sharing afforded by the web with the individualized publication requirements and the politics of publishing (i.e., intellectual property rights, plagiarism hyperventilation, etc.) that are so foundational to the academy. Can there be a ground up movement to change the way the academy rewards knowledge production so that it is more communal? It seems so possible, and at the same time so hard to map.
Can "objects" be warm and fuzzy?
In his last post “Warm Fuzzy Network,” Henry states what I see as a pretty big problem with SNA—the idea that all actors within the network(s) are altruistic to a degree that allows them to accept (yet not always recognize) the value of knowledge sharing. And while the visual representations of the different topographies work well in presentations to management (as Henry notes); they fail to consider the “individual” traits and behaviors of the actors.
I think Krebs provides a hint to this system-centric view of information and knowledge in “Knowledge Networks: Mapping and Measuring Knowledge Creation” when describing the ONA tools used by “knowledge” disciplines:
ONA is basically an Object-Oriented model of an organization with objects such as people, teams, and technologies interlinked sending messages to each other and invoking their respective methods to accomplish the goals of the firm. (2 of 10)
This “objectification” (and I don’t mean to co-opt or confuse that term) allows Krebs (and Cross and Morville) to discuss social networks and the analysis thereof in terms of improvement and increased productivity. As objects within a diagram, an isolated or removed employee can be viewed as a failed product, which allows the analyst to focus on the process or system that allowed the failure to occur in the first place. The analysis assumes that by providing access to the appropriate objects within the network(s), a failed product (a net negative producer) can be transformed into a net positive producer.
What I’m seeing in our readings (and especially from Krebs) is an emphasis on information engineering methodologies and not enough emaphsis on the "social" aspects of Social Network Analysis. While all three authors we’ve read seem to claim otherwise, I see a heavy emphasis on information as a corporate asset and as the critical component of SNA and network(s) redesign (redesign which is based on the results of the analysis). It just looks too much like structural analysis with the addition of object (or entity)-relationship diagrams. In some ways this emphasis isn’t (or shouldn’t be surprising), as it is an outgrowth of object-oriented design and development methodologies, which encapsulate data and functions together in reusable objects. Instead of looking at a person’s function within the organization (and decomposing that function—procedural abstraction), SNA’s application of OO methodologies allows for a person’s (an object’s) function to be generalized and the network to be described as a “whole-part” structure.
In the introduction to Knowledge Networks, Krebs notes that some consultants emphasize the soft-side of knowledge management—the side that rewards knowledge sharing. It seems to me that the value in “soft-side” analysis is its recognition of the human element of the network—of the behaviors that need to be modified to improve knowledge creation and sharing—and of the fact that employees aren’t interchangeable objects that respond to knowledge/information/data connections in a consistent and predictable way.
Warm, fuzzy network
A point that intrigued me in Cross et al. (“Knowing What We Know”), was the use of network diagrams--viz., the artifacts themselves--as a rhetorical device for presenting a case for organizational change. In delicate situations where there is bad blood among employees, the neutral, non-accusatory image of the network offers a geometry of communicative relationships that the “nodes” themselves can recognize as flawed. The cool formalism of the image is used to deflect the blame and ire
that could easily flare up otherwise.
While management had suspected there were problems, the visual representation of the network diagram clearly showed the extent to which these issues were impeding the ability of the overall group to effectively leverage the expertise of its members. (113)
What’s interesting on the next level down are the warrants that make the network diagram such an effective argument. The value stated here is the “ability of the overall group to effectively leverage the expertise of its members.” Scattered throughout our readings are a number of similar values and goals: to understand how people “create and share knowledge” (119), to make interactions “visible and actionable” (119), “to better manage knowledge for “improved innovation and competitive advantage” (“Knowledge Networks” Krebs), to locate resources and sources of expertise within groups for problem-solving, to establish the roles of participants with an eye to using them more effectively (“An Introduction” Krebs), and so forth. Acceptance of these values as common goals by workers lends the diagrams their cogency. Conversely, qualities like clustering (in the maps) and isolation are identified as negatives. Prophets in the wilderness need not apply.
The backing for these warrants lies in deeper values, which I think we could locate in the godterms “productivity” and “expediency.” The latter is from an critique by Steven B. Katz (“The Ethic of Expediency,” CE, 1992) pointing out how the institutional ethic of “getting things done” can occlude the ethic of why we are doing them and whether or not they should be done in the first place. Is it fair to say management discourse typically asks how human behavior can benefit work life, while it falls to philosophy to ask how work can be made a more meaningful part of human life? To a cynical worker, I could see that SNA would just crop up as the latest float in an endless parade of schemas used by managers since the 1950s to exploit human potential.
However, rays of light. Throughout the articles there is another strain of discourse that reflects a warmer, fuzzier side to networks, a recognition of some of the realities of human social interactions: that members must be willing to participate and become engaged for a network to function well, that they must trust other members, that informal relationships are important, that it takes time to develop trusting relationships. The question remains whether the sponsors for these studies will really make room for any of these insights. I wonder what the old hippie utopian phantasts at the Coevolutionary Quarterly would have done with SNA.
And, of course, the question arises about knowledge-sharing within our own network of writing teachers, within the Writing Program, within academia, where perhaps we’d like to think that knowledge is more of an end in itself than a means.
April 12, 2005
Today in Louise's class we were dealing with a text that I think is incredibly interesting in light of last week's Urban reading. (FYI, tho, some of my mates in both classes don't necessarily agree). The text is The Way We Think: Conceptual Blending and the Mind's Hidden Complexities by Gilles Fauconnier and Mark Turner. This site will give you an idea of what the books about, as well as links to the authors' websites at U.C. San Diego and Case Western, respectively.
The thing I found interesting about this book is that is offers a theoretical model for explaining the unconscious framing/reframing our minds do everytime we alide two (actually MANY more than two, usually) disparate mental concepts to create meaning in the moment and a new, blended concept. We do this all the time, we usually just never notice that we're doing it. Obvious metaphors are a blatant example, and largely conscious, but we leap over huge reality gaps, comparing, juxtaposing, or substituting unlike things and ideas to make simple everday things happen and simple everyday activities move "forward" ( for many of us, things like learning and teaching).
For me, the connection to Urban is the way these authors all talk about forging new associations to create Urban's omega artifacts, F&T's "unique mental constructs." "Conceptual integration," "blending," and "emergent structures" are some of their buzz words. Check it out. As I work with it more, I'll try to keep you posted on my thinking and explain it better.
Social Network Analysis and Hobbes
Didn’t Derrida have something to say about dominant knowledge—about how dominant knowledge works to purify itself? I’m sort of stuck with that in the wake of the Cross piece. The concept of Social Network Analysis (SNA) is kind of cool—analyzing combined knowledge, access, engagement, and safety networks—and yet it seems to rest on the same human element that Watts kept bumping up against.
The process of SNA seems like it would be a lot fun to work through. I’d venture that most of us have been formally or informally involved in some of these activities (particularly mapping knowledge sources for a particular project). And yet, after all the analysis is done, the success of the action plan rests on the people involved. The concept of safety within the social network is really just the degree to which a person is comfortable with their own skills, talents, knowledge, and position within the organization. As Cross et al notes, the better leaders were those who modeled information seeking and sharing – leaders who were, no doubt, completely confident that their expressing a lack of knowledge in a particular area did not compromise their position within the organization.
My point is that the results of any analysis intended to identify knowledge sources and knowledge sharing process will ultimately rest on the people involved. The example of Cole isn’t so much about the people around him knowing that he was the “go to guy” than it was about him actively working to increase his value to the organization. It is human nature for most people in organizations to centralize knowledge—to improve their relevancy in regard to what they know and do for others—in order to increase their value to the organization. If this wasn’t the case, consultants like Cross et al wouldn’t be pulling down huge $$$ to perform SNA in Fortune 500 organizations.
Again, I think there is some real value behind SNA. It has implications across organizations of any size and seems to lend itself to online learning analysis—specifically how communication networks form in regard to and against knowledge sources. I just think Cole et al could have given more credence to the human element of the networks they analyze.
I had an exceptional boss/mentor who once told me: “The best processes in the world are only as good as the people who perform them.” That’s the Derridian thing I’m stuck on. The people behind the process—the makers and users of Derrida’s knowledge—will work to locate and place value on different aspects of the system. Those values, it seems to me, are and can be often be conflicting and problematic.
April 11, 2005
A call that may be of interest
There was a call for papers that came across Kairosnews a few days back that some of you may be interested in. If you're so inclined, it might be worth using your project for this class as a way of getting started on something for this:
Technical Communication Quarterly Special Issue: Online Teaching and Learning: Preparation, Development, and Organizational Communication
Online teaching and learning have become common to many organizations. Various traditional colleges and universities currently conduct academic courses—such as rhetoric and technical communication—online. Many times, students need acculturative exercises to assess their “readiness” for the online environment and possible follow-up orientation. Those who teach online and administer such programs also need orientation and training for their own “readiness” in online environments. They need training at organizational levels not just for technical platform-specific skills development, but also for the practical and theoretical transfer of pedagogical principles and practices to online environments. Similarly, non-traditional educational institutions that provide learning assistance or market to distance learners conduct employee training and development. In any of these cases, such training often occurs at a distance. It is important to examine what kinds of principles and processes address the very real challenges that arise when an institution conducts some or all of its training and professional development online–via the Internet or other modalities. This special issue of Technical Communication Quarterly explores organizational communication, needed preparation, and development strategies for online educators.
There's more detail, including possible topics, at the call itself...
VP Jones of the Petroleum Company
In the PDFed article by Cross et. al. "Knowing What We Know: Supporting Knowledge Creation and Sharing in Social Networks," I thought it was especially evident that the convergence of hierarchical structures with network models doesn't automatically alter the inner-workings of the hierarchy. I suppose that's the primary purpose for conducting social network analysis within corporations, yeah? In the case of Vice President Jones of the Petroleum Company, for example, the non-connector position could be advantageous. Upper administrators who are directly linked to connectors (Cole, the most highly connected) can self-select their interventions in the spheres of access, knowledge, engagement and safety. In other words, VP Jones--from the well-paid periphery, upwards in the organization's ranks--enjoys the luxury of moderating his own accessibility, the circulation of knowledge, engagement and safety/confidentiality. Of course, according Cross et.al.'s study, they concluded that "Jones had become too removed, and his lack of responsiveness frequently held the entire network back when important decisions needed to be made" (106).
Yet I'm interested that it's possible for a VP to buffer hirself from the most active locations in the network structure. This suggests distinct types of capital; the VP isn't paid less for not being a connector. And yet connectors--in many cases--would seem to bear a considerably greater labor burden:
Social network analysis showed that four months after the transition to teams, several key people had become significantly overburdened, as they were heavily sought out by both their past functional colleagues as well as their new team members. In particular, we found that the people who were reputed experts in their area were tapped for advice to such an extent that they were falling behind on their own work. (113)
April 10, 2005
six degrees? really?
I’m conducting a small-world experiment over on my blog. Feels a little too personal/selfish to post in its entirety over here, but you’re more than welcome to come look over there.
Update: Collin found her (and thwarted my experiment, but hey - I’ll take it.)
The Once and Future Thing: Derivative Works
Reading through Urban’s The Once and Future Thing, I was struck by how useful this might be for part of my intellectual property research. Then I came across Jen’s question:
How does culture move and progress if it is always at least tainted by the previous incarnation of culture?
I think the notion of derivative works is quite useful in working through Urban’s notions about accelerative culture. For those of you who aren’t intellectual property geeks, a derivative work is created when a previously existing work is “recast, transformed, or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications which, as a whole, represents an original work of authorship, is a ‘derivative work’.“ (17 U.S.C. § 101 (1994).) The right to create derivative works is a right accorded to the copyright owner of texts, recordings, art, or videos under §106 of the copyright code. (There’s a much fuller discussion here, if you’re interested.) The Creative Commons movement as well as recent cases involving the legality of sampling have pushed the issue of derivative works to the front of the copyfight conversations.
One example I often use is Janet Jackson’s Got Til It’s Gone, which is a derivative work of Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi. (Note to self: come up with example featuring artists I like.) Literary examples would include Moby Dick and Ahab’s Wife, Lolita and Lo’s Diary, or Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea. In each of these cases, the major elements of a previously existing work were transformed into an arguably new work.
Urban’s definition of accelerative culture falls right in line with this:
By my definition, an ω expression is something new. It is accelerative in the sense that it takes old cultural elements - which can be microelements such as patterns of prenominal usage - and fuses them into new wholes.
We have no choice but to work with what we have; everyone gets their inspiration from something that already exists. Therefore, the only way the culture can possibly move forward is with the “taint of the previous incarnation.” I’ve been spending a lot of time this week extracting clips of Hail! Hail! Rock ’n Roll!, which follows Chuck Berry’s career up to 1987. As Eric Clapton notes late in the film, rock guitarists don’t have much choice but to work from the lines Chuck laid down. However, Chuck spends quite a bit of interview time explaining how he swiped composition ideas from most of the major Big Band and Blues players and then came up with his own lyrics. The rest of it he collaborated on with his pianist, Johnnie Johnson (although there is quite a bit of conjecture that Johnson was the primary author of many “Berry” compositions). All of the standards like Little Queenie, Carol, and Memphis, Tennessee are, to some extent, derivative works which then filtered on down through the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and countless other bands. All that transformed old stuff is what moved rock and roll forward.
April 07, 2005
it's actually called "vaticancam," which is almost worse. in any case, they've moved on now from staring at his body only to shifting to 'round the world video of "events related" to the pope's death.
i wonder if there's a recording of the ceremonial bonking.
now who's going to explain for the people who weren't in the dungeon w/us this afternoon what that has to do with metaculture & our reading selection? (i'll bet raiding his wardrobe would set us up to do a great ornamentally-costumed film about king arthur. which 90s band should we get to cover the original camelot theme-song?)
Fleshing out “The Once and Future Thing”
As I consider these readings, which resonate very richly on the production and circulation of messages through social networks, I’d like to reply along some vector of scholarship or teaching or technology, but instead I find I have such a long-lived visceral understanding of, and response to, Urban’s analysis of cultural transmission I can’t get beyond it. This is because of my long extracurricular association with traditional folk music and several communities engaged in its reproduction, preservation, and innovation.
So when Urban describes the circulation of alpha, I see myself (A) in any number of situations learning a tune (alpha) by ear from some other player (B) and getting it almost right (beta), and passing it along the same way. Then, after the tune has suffered a long game of “telephone,” there’s inevitably the
ALPHA discussion, which is whether “beta is the same as alpha,” especially since now part of it might be in a minor mode in a different key. All this complicated by various transcriptions and mechanical reproductions, by musicians who might not perform it the same way twice if you held a gun to their head.
Urban’s definition of omega very accurately captures the problem of trying to write a new tune that will be identified with the tradition, either something one wants to pass as fully traditional, or something recognizably innovative. Clearly, it has to “[contain] within itself traces of all the cultural elements that were the backdrop against which it took shape” (6), “past expressions of culture,” and “various aspects of different kinds of prior expressions,” or else one simply wouldn’t recognize it as traditional. On the other hand, it has to contain something innovative but plausible, to give it stickiness and memetic momentum. The new element is more than likely something drawn from “seemingly disparate cultural elements” (5). For instance, there are trends on the contradance scene to alter traditional material with roots jams and jazz harmonics and on the Celtic scene to meld with New Age textures. Page 16 in Urban is a blueprint for designing the qualities of an original/traditional tune. Some of these dynamics are also addressed by Lynch (11-12), but in the somewhat different context of beliefs.
There are also splits in trad communities between the principles of acceleration and inertia. Accelerators are irreverent, playful creators of omega stuff (that beautiful waltz you’re dancing to is actually the Gilligan’s Island theme in 3/4 time), while traditionalists and purists are “inertialists” (who in extreme cases, would reproduce the errors heard on some field recording of an “authentic” source). The two groups can get along, but each is sometimes just a little sour about the other’s approach, which is generally attributed to a disgusting personality flaw.
I’ve also observed some of the vagaries of diffusion, the puzzling ways material can percolate through the networks of folk music communities and other areas of national culture, and have experienced metaculture (ALPHA) as it is described by Urban, in the form of artifacts like publicity and reviews.
Given all this, I can see that the overall project of diffusion in the scholarly community differs in some ways from the project above, where tradition implies strict replication of an artifact (“individuals as conduits” [Urban 33]), and from projects like the social programs described by Rogers, where the goal, say, is to replicate behavior in stable ways, like having mothers adhere to the instructions on the baby formula. Scholarly communities seem to be primarily inertial in the other sense, of maintaining forward momentum, with an emphasis on omega productions, or originality and innovation.
April 06, 2005
Dominant, Residual, Emergent
As I was reading the readings we were assigned to read for this week's reading assignments, I noticed some repetition in the descriptions of how culture gets made and replicated. These repetitions between articles also reproduced, as Derek so carefully discussed in his post, several familiar theories of cultural production (Bourdieu, Gramsci, et. al). But what I kept fixating was the assertion that memes, inventions, and or thoughts have an easier time moving through culture and sticking (so to speak) if they replicate, at least in part, something already present in culture. It is the old in the new that makes the new seem to catch on -- or at least the new seems to connect with something old, even if it is not the same kind of thing.
For example Lynch cites Hawkins and states:
...that prior cultural values predominate in setting the course of subsequent cultural exchange.
And Urban states that new forms of culture:
...assimilates earlier manifestations of culture into itself.
Now I brought this up as a question surrounding teaching as a comment on Derek's post, but here I want to try to understand, much like Mike in his post how this works. How does culture move and progress if it is always at least tainted by the previous incarnation of culture?
Something that is helping me think about this is Raymond Williams' idea of Dominant, Residual, and Emergent. According to Williams, at any given moment in the process of culture, there is a dominant culture, a culture emerging, and one that has past but still leaves its residual marks on the current forms of culture. To me, this helps me understand the ways in which Lynch and Urban are dealing with how culture moves, and how we can strive for new cultures while still invoking cultural norms that are more familiar.
I suppose this post can be filed under "scholarship of duh," but this connection has helped me better understand how one might use these models for resistance to dominant waves of culture. (I know, always with the activist angle here.) If activist movements want to change the world, as they are often wont to do, there needs to be some consideration of the dominant and residual in their rhetoric. In other words, it is difficult to have a full rejection of a culture stick (not counting wars and genocides and other atrocities that "seem" to lead to full rejection of the beliefs that enacted them), so perhaps it is the omega that we should all be aiming for. The culture that takes into account the dominant and residual, but still finds a way to make emergence happen.
Thought Contagions and Dissonance
cross-posted from my place
The concept of “prior existence” as invoked by both Lynch and Urban has me wondering about dissonance. It seems there’s a “dissonatic” component to the organic and evolutionary nature of popular notions (understandings) of culture that Lynch and Urban propose. Tying some of this ramble back to Jen’s comments, in some ways we teach to students to write based on some understand (ours and theirs) between what is known and what might be. The known is often (too often?) embedded in genre, but nonetheless we are still addressing or teaching to some disparity between their thoughts and their words. (disclaimer: I’m borrowing – perhaps incorrectly – from Flower here).
So let me work through this: Thought contagions are embedded in certain documents – artifacts that establish the foundation of preexisting idea. Working from this foundation, our students (with and without our prompting) act as a critical mass population reflecting on the preexisting idea (dissonance in the form of exigency). Some may accept the preexisting idea (in fact, be acting upon the contagion if we accept Lynch), but others will transform the idea through dissonance – showing that more X (value, meaning, appeal to human nature, wealth, etc.) can be extracted from a slightly different form of the idea.
Here I go over-simplifying again: Generational differences and influences aside, it would seem that a population would transform (or transition from) a preexisting idea simply because the older idea fails to solve or address some important group of problems (cultural or otherwise). Even if the expense (material, psychological, and emotional) could be justified by a large enough representation of the population, the massive inertia (which Lynch addresses) associated with the “application” of the older idea would seem to minimize, if not in some cases mitigate against the transformation. But if the population pushes hard enough for a kind of social order in which the older idea cannot easily reside, then there may be sufficient pressure to adopt the transformed or new idea.
I’m thinking less about cultural memes and more about technology here. Remember your first computer? Remember that period of time after Microsoft introduced Windows when everyone wanted a system with pop-up menus and icons? There was a huge shift from the preexisting ideas of analysis/design and information engineering, which failed to offer guidance to software developers. This brought about shift (somewhere in the mid-90s) to ideas of object-based programming which did provide useful guidance in regard to windows, pop-ups, mousse, etc. The point is that some external force created a dissonance that accelerated a movement to a newer generation of ideas which were based on the underlying frameworks of the older ideas, but which allowed developers to better address technologies, languages, tools, etc.
So many similarities. So little coherence in the way I’m trying to tie it all together.
I've been reading the post about omega culture by Derek, and it struck me: what happens if we propogate beta culture?
I'm probably thinking of this in the wrong terms, but while I was in San Diego I kept running into the conversation about English programs that aren't reading literature anymore. They have no object for their theoretical analysis. I'm thinking that the alpha represents the literature and the beta culture represents the theory. What happens if we theorize without anything to apply it to? Do our ideas lose a certain materiality? Do we cease to have texts?
In Lynch's piece about idea contagions, he writes about Amish memes in several places, but each of these seems tied to a concrete idea. The taboo against modern farm machines (which is somewhat misleading), is a concrete taboo. It has a specific object. Likewise, memes about values are about the actual values (separatist or Luddite, or Islamic beliefs). What is passed on is a glimpse of the alpha, but not necessarily the beta that I interpreted from Urban's discussion of Pygmalion, for example.
I suppose what I'm getting at is a different angle on an idea Derek pulled from Brown and Duguil, that "documents do not merely carry information, they help make it, structure it, and validate it. More intriguing, perhaps, documents also help structure society, enabling social groups to form, develop, and maintain a sense of shared identity" (189). There is a sort of materiality in both the alpha and the beta, but the beta seems fairly removed.
April 05, 2005
Briefly, I just want to post a few thoughts on Greg Urban's chapter from Metaculture, "The Once and Future Thing (PDF)." As Urban tells us, the ways culture moves, flows and circulates "is the central mystery of our time" (39). Urban frames the paradox of cultural flow by characterizing its latent tension: the pull between sameness and difference. According to Urban, these two forces combine in a conglutination of alpha (α) (which he derives into beta (β) or "new" culture) and their inventive counterpart, omega (ω). Where beta is inertial (replication and mundane derivation in New! culture), omega is accelerative (inventive). Urban tells us that "The force behind such accelerative culture is the interest it generates, which stems in part from its novelty" (16). As I read it, this has bearing on our other considerations of the ways memes achieve thriving conductivity (Aaron Lynch in Thought Contagion) and restrictive factors in diffusion theory (Everett Rogers, Diffusion of Innovations). And although I don't want to be hasty in extending this to questions about the ways ideas and innovations spread/cycle through a discipline or field (like ours truly...um?), I will return in a brief second to one connection.
Here's the thing: Urban's work invokes familiar sources, from Bakhtin--"Our speech is filled to overflowing with other people's words" (17)--to Benedict Anderson (imagined communities, text privileged, print capitalism), Bourdieu (habitus as "filter created by inertial culture for new expressions" (23)), and Gramsci (hegemony), he draws on an impressive list of thinkers/writers often invoked in rhet/comp. Yes? Without being explicit about what he regards as the most formidable cultural objects involved in the replication of culture, Urban does, in places, give us cause for supposing that we might be capable of making--perhaps composing--the ω object.
"The process [of hegemonic struggle] must depend upon the production of new expressions, and hence, on ω culture" (26).
"However, accelerative culture opens the possibility that a new object--an ω object--can cut new pathways, can reshape social space by harnessing different strands of extant inertial culture" (19).
I'm not making my point as succinctly as I'd hoped to, and it's a rather simple point: "Shared and circulating documents, it seems, have long provided interesting social glue" (190). See there, it's not even my point. Here I'm drawing on a chapter I used with WRT205 students for this evening's session from Brown and Duguid's The Social Life of Information (PDF). Basically, the connection for me is that the busy vehicles shuttling memes, enabling diffusion and so on are oftentimes documents--produced texts; written, designed and rhetorical. Brown and Duguid tell us, "documents do not merely carry information, they help make it, structure it, and validate it. More intriguing, perhaps, documents also help structure society, enabling social groups to form, develop, and maintain a sense of shared identity" (189). I'm not trying to make a case that documents are the only thing; they're merely one thing. But that they're the thing of interest to many rhet/comp folks reminds me that we should come to terms with the relationship of writing to Urban's ω cultural object. It's not a tidy match with Urban's cultural object-types, but Brown and Duguid differentiate documents into two groupings: fixed and fluid. Particularly as we conceive of the bearing of texts on network/cultural formation and organization, the distinction is incredibly useful, I think. I'm trying to say that consideration of memes, diffusion and variously same-different cultural vectors (from Urban) presents us with productive correspondences to document production (text making...writing) and the (dis)comforts manifest in our biases toward/against fixed or fluid texts.
April 03, 2005
Mapping service-learning conversations
Go ahead and take a peek if you want to. I wanted feed back on what I thought I understood my project to be, as well as place it here for the question I ask in the next entry down. :)
(Project notes from class discussion 3/31/05)
Using Burke; Porter and Sullivan as lenses for mapping,
Map the citations of and articulations between service-learning essays:
·Instead of an annotated bib, create a map that gets at a conversational structure
·From there derive some things to “know” about it
·Create a network of information—accumulated frequency of citation of certain essays and authors (or decreasing frequency) over time
·Note certain trajectories and densities of central themes, again, over time
A map of a conversation will have/be:
·A time element (have to have a sense of time-driven directionality)
·Necessarily reduced (no way, at least initially, of accounting for why certain articles/authors are cited—i.e., as support for or against a theme, or because “everyone” seems to be citing it and it has a certain capital, etc.
·Not a static, complete, finished map (ala P&S)—it’s a snap shot at a particular moment from a particular angle.
The physical map could include:
·Nodes for essays, or authors, or themes—with spokes moving out from them to the other essays or authors or themes they cite/invoke
·Variety of node size—central essays could have larger dots; major connections could have thicker lines; if minor, thinner.
·May need to have a map of essays and after deriving certain drawable conclusions, look at the piece from the standpoint of themes invoked, then work with search engines to create a theme tracking map?
For starters, check out:
·Course syllabi of service learning courses for readings about s-l
·CCCC s-l SIG members and solicit their top three essay choices
·Ask Steve, Eli, Maureen, Eileen, Anne to give me their top three choices.
Questions I might find answers to doing this:
·What does mapping a conversation like this reveal?
·What’s being read the most?
·Does the reading being done influence the current practices?
·Can I really tell from the readings how s-l is being implemented/practiced? Or is this a limitation?
·If I can’t, how can I see implementation trends?
·Does the reading lean toward service, engagement, partnership, or activism? (I would argue that the qualities of these are different)
Mike suggested A.H. search engine
Also, Touch Graph as a tool for finding out what a URL is linked to—i.e., put in a s-l site URL and TG will show me what other sites it links with.
Burke and my project
So...I've been working with, in, and around both Burke and Huberman today. I'm grappling with understanding the Burke fully. And I'm grappling with understanding these essays/chapters from the standpoint of application. Given the description of what Collin is encouraging me to do for my project, will you help me think this through? Read on if you're game...
This essay is a description of what Burke calls a “sociological” approach to art/literature—not in the sense that the literature's content can be read as mirroring social conditions at the time of writing, but read in terms of its function within a system of social acts, including the writing of it, and in orchestration with other “actors” acting (within as well as outside the piece of writing). Any social act can be read in terms of its function within a system of and in orchestration with other actors acting.
Burke states that deciding what a (poem, action, event, project, research) does for a particular reader, we might be able to discover what it does for all readers--“cues for analyzing the sort of eventfulness the poem contains” (73). I wonder if this contradicts what Huberman says about the disconnection between the well-defined (hence, predictable) behavior of an individual in the system of individuals and the outcome in the system of all of the actions taken by all of the individuals in that system. In other words: systems have to be investigated as an aggregated whole. Of course, he doesn't go on to tell us how to investigate the whole, really...does he?
So how can I think about applying Burke's analysis of the "system" a poem or piece of literature creates and then its function, or eventfulness? How does this translate to looking at the systematicity of service-learning ideas, their social capital, their distribution?
More links to topics covered in previous weeks. (They’re all posted to del.icio.us, but I thought I’d list them over here in case any of them might catch your eye.)
Week 6 - 7: Network Studies & Small World Methods
The Official Stanley Milgram Site
Science Daily: Small-world methods valid for mapping hidden populations
more links on the Long Tail
I’m working on catching up on postings, links, and other work that I missed after my surgery, so I’m a bit out of sync here. When I post stuff like this, I’ll just note what it is and stash the content beneath the fold so as not to derail the conversation too much.
(via Between Lawyers)