On Week 6 #111cr #252ac

While I met with #111cr and #252ac students the required two times this week, I think it's safe to write that the main event concerned the evaluation of and reflection on Twitter and how we used the microblogging service these last five weeks. Of particular focus was the question of whether or not we wanted to keep Twitter as a course requirement for the rest of the semester. I was both impressed by and thankful for students' honesty, maturity, and perspective in those Wednesday sessions. In the end, both #111cr and #252ac elected to keep Twitter, but with amended requirements. Based on the numerous, worthwhile conversations already evident in Twitter feeds for both courses, I think students chose wisely.

Before sharing students' statements on tweeting and related matters, I'd like to take a moment for some additional reflection and/or clarification. With blogging and tweeting as new writing experiences for clear majorities in both classes, I understand why many in-class conversations have been about Posterous and Twitter. Thinking aloud through burgeoning experiences and their effects can help us realize just what it is we do with new tools and what kinds of relationships we want to have with them. So, the dominant focus of recent sessions in #252ac makes sense to me.

However, given the incredible range of our expectations and interests as well as the freedom of focus #252ac in particular was designed to provide, I'm curious as to why we haven't engaged both more. For instance, why has so little been said or written about editing or narration or alternate understandings of English? If these expectations and interests matter (and I think they do), why haven't we discussed them much beyond the first day of classes? Student-led facilitations and presentations were additional opportunities to discuss English matters of importance, but this has yet to be capitalized upon in #252ac. Is there too much freedom? Not enough friendly reminders? Perhaps an answer lies above in how experience with and use of new tools tend to dominate discussion. Perhaps those discussions are, for the most part, concluded and now's the time to move on?

As we move on, I think it's worth remembering that even if we don't think our future lies in media or technology, both will continue to influence us. This is because others think their future lies there. Their experiences with and uses of media and technology will shape how and what we do. Even now, some writers struggle with how "technology is rendering obsolete some classic narrative plot devices." Furthermore, if John Jones's prediction that students will someday be required to use writing technologies that haven't been invented yet proves even half-true, shouldn't we spend time experiencing and using what's currently available within course contexts?

 

#111cr

My favorite part was the @ mentions of myself on others' tweets. After my group facilitation I went to Twitter to see what the class opinion was and I easily found out and got props from other class memebers. It gave our class something to connect with and share ideas about the same thing and be understanding and empathetic to what others were tweeting about when it was course related. 
On the surface, Twitter is a device for people to talk about every litte thing that is happening to them. However, in the right hands, such as those of our ENG 111 class, it is possible to have meaningful, educational conversation that are short and easy to read.
I really like the concept of the class using Twitter. I feel its the best communication with the class rather than using Facebook. If we were to use Facebook it would be more difficult to know what post are class related because there are no hash tags.
I have a greater appreciation for Twitter and am much more apt to defend it should someone write it off as "another stupid social media site". It can be used to post links to websites, share about events currently in progress (live-tweeting), and much more! I believe, when used correctly, Twitter can be a huge asset for people, especially in the media, and the classroom.
Throughout this four week experiment, Twitter helped me out but not as much as I’d liked. It helped me to communicate with my group members for the group facilitation, get simple questions answered quickly, and gave me resources that dealt with my interests. I was upset that I would ask questions for my post and not one person would reply and give me there thoughts. For example I posted something along the lines of “I know what my topic is for the “big one,” Anorexia Athletica among pre-professional ballerinas. What do you think any suggestions?” I thought I would’ve got some feedback or at least one comment but I got nothing. In conclusion to this paragraph, Twitter did not help me out as much as I’d liked, I would have liked to have seen more networking.

 

#252ac

Is there more I can get out of Twitter? As a writer I’m always looking for unique ways to get my stories and ideas out there…is this the new form for professional writers?  I can see where I can have a great number of people view comment and think about what I’ve written, but Twitter just stands as a messaging board to me.  Here is what I’ve written, here’s a link to it go and comment, feedback.  Twitter is definitely a great tool, and it does its job well, and I’m looking forward to the conversations we have as a class on the weekly prompt. But as far as feedback and critique goes twitter stands a gateway to other sites through links to get that massive audience to your site or your blog.

we can either post links to more spacious areas of expression or plow through 140 characters over and over in a cascade of posts. both options are forms of disregard for twitter's limitations--the question becomes "why use Twitter at all if you're going to ignore what differentiates it from any other form of communication?"

twitter doesn't offer us anything that we can't get anywhere else. what we use it for is a good thing, but a car is a more comfortable way to get from A to B than a bike is.

And then there's live-tweeting, which has greatly enhanced several class periods; it definitely pumped up my group's facilitation. I'm also fascinated by the dynamics of multiple levels of discussion presented by having both people speaking as well as people typing. This is the number one reason to keep Twitter, IMO.

Twitter is a glorious examination of the chaos of unfiltered human communication, a sort of party line restricted to 140 characters. It's just as easy to tweet with friends about a Tigers playoff game as it is to organize a rebellion against an authoritarian regime.

Twitter seems relatively asinine at first glance, lacking many of the features that other social networking sites embrace. There is no like button and no instant messaging bar. There is no continuous stream of updates that require press conferences to unveil. And I love it.

To be fair, I do see some drawbacks to Twitter- I notice when I live-tweet, I miss some of what is being said. I try to make an honest effort to multitask, but sometimes it slips out of my head. I think I might tweet too much though, so I am probably going to scale that back a bit.

On composition pedagogy, the syllabus, Twitter, journalism, privacy, copyright, and videogames #dyr

it’s too easy to allow the classroom work associated with composition courses to focus on activities other than writing. I’ve been in many composition classes here and at other institutions where the students discuss readings and approaches and the teachers facilitate work and manage discussion and sometimes stand at the front of the classroom and show students things. Compositionists know and agree and emphasize that the work of the writing class is writing, and yet — in many classes — students simply don’t produce much text, largely because of the way we apportion the work of the course.

 

we may be a little too fond of limiting and certainty. These days syllabi are looking more and more like those Terms of Service that pop up when we use software...They are contracts that we can’t negotiate, and they contain provisions we might not agree to, if we understood what they actually meant. But the most striking thing about TOS is that they are full of rules – and very few people read them.

 

what are the teaching and learning practices of the networked classroom? No doubt there are people out there doing that work, and those of us who have taught in computer labs have related, relevant experiences. In both cases, it's a matter of turning the focal point away from the professor. Even in the class discussion format, among faculty committed to "decentering" the classroom, conversation generally runs through the professor, or at least the professor steers conversation through its iterations. As we have discovered, nothing decenters the classroom quite like a room full of laptops and smartphones, eh? The networked students is only partly in the classroom and is partly distributed. 

 

The reality of the Twitter effect isn’t just that President Obama has Twitter town halls now where he talks directly to American citizens, nor is it just that someone with no journalism background sitting in a house in Pakistan can report on a military raid that kills the world’s most notorious terrorist. It’s that journalism of all kinds has now become something you do, not something you are. Anyone can do it, whether they call themselves a journalist or not.

 

Politics presented as entertainment charges the press with a failure to treat the serious stuff seriously. And that is a valid critique. But here’s a trickier problem: even when the press is trying to be serious, to provide, say, “analysis” instead of a good yarn, it increasingly relies on an impoverished notion of politics, a cluster of bad ideas that together form the common sense of the craft

 

The definition of privacy has been thrown out the window, and we have a new definition of privacy, which is whether we have control of what companies are doing with this information and if we have knowledge of how it’s being used.

 

you can’t motivate monopoly legislation based on your costs, when others are doing the same thing for much less — practically zero. There has never been as much music available as now, just because all of us love to create. It’s not something we do because of money, it’s because of who we are. We have always created.

 

Just like in the best zombie movies, the real drama in L4D lies in the relationships between the living, not the dead. The infected are just a pretext for collapsing the social order and forcing people to depend on one another to survive. It’s the ultimate online co-op experience, a game that requires not just headshot skills but communication, collaboration and confidence in your fellow player.

 

tweeting guidelines, updated Fall 2011 #111cr #252ac

[amended from Brian Croxall]

To create and sustain further conversation this semester, all students are required to maintain active presence on Twitter for a minimum of four weeks. One post (or tweet) per day is required, but there is freedom regarding content. Students are welcome to post original thoughts, "retweet" classmates' updates, @ (reply to) classmates' updates, and share course-relevant links with the course hashtag. Posts unrelated to course content are okay, but these will not count toward the requirement. I am very active on Twitter, so I encourage all students to check my profile (as well as those I follow) for potential models of engagement.

Twitter is a writing platform, but simpler. It's similar to a Facebook status update, except you're only allowed to post entries that are 140 characters long. This is because Twitter was designed to work via cellphone text messaging. You can update Twitter from your phone as well as "follow" people on Twitter (and they can follow you back). Updates come to your phone (or online) instantly. You get real-time updates from peers and others you are interested in knowing what they are doing. 

But why are we doing this? As we'll soon be reading, there are a great number of ways of writing and Twitter is a new one (kind of). Perhaps Twitter can help us learn better clarity and concision. Furthermore, employers in a variety of fields and industries are interested in hiring employees who are social-media savvy. Knowing how to use Twitter could even help you get a job. I'm also curious, though, to see if using Twitter changes the culture or society of the class in any appreciable way. 

So, if you haven't joined Twitter, join Twitter. You should also:

  1. Create a profile. In your username or bio (or both), use your real name (e.g., my username is "betajames," but have my real name in the bio section). Don't forget to upload a picture!
  2. Make your profile public. If you already have a Twitter account that is private and would prefer to keep it that way, create a new account for this class. (If your profile is private, classmates cannot search for you and your course-related tweets won't appear in the archive I set up.)
  3. Find and follow all members of our class (students and professor). (I'll try to make this easier by sharing a full list of users.)
  4. Search for and follow some other interesting people, such as @barackobama, @ConanOBrien, @shakira, and/or @TheScienceGuy. Consider following different services that provide updates, too, like @CNN or @FOXNEWS.
  5. Post at least once a day from September 12 to October 12. When posting about our class, please use the course hashtag. This will allow us to better track one another's tweets. 
  6. Consider connecting your cellphone or smartphone to Twitter to get real-time updates. Having phone updates is not required for this assignment, but it could be helpful. Regular text messaging fees do apply. 
  7. Get into the habit of checking Twitter at least once a day. (Don't worry about keeping up, though. Just see what's happening when you check in. Think of Twitter as a river of information. Dive in and you might get swept away; stick in a toe, or even a whole foot, and you should be fine.)
  8. Post an evaluation of Twitter (and how we used it) on your blog (due Wednesday, October 12). As a class, we will decide whether or not to keep using Twitter for the rest of the semester. This assignment and the subsequent evaluation will be assessed on the same basis as everything else written in this class, i.e., if you make an honest effort to play along, you will be in accordance with the grading contract.

Here are some other interesting ways to use Twitter:

  • There are a number of desktop and smartphone applications for using Twitter. They’re very easy to find and most are free.
  • You can sync your Twitter updates to your Facebook status. Just install the Twitter application on Facebook.
  • Use your cellphone camera in conjunction with Twitpic, Yfrog, Instagram, or other such services.
  • Check out the autopost feature on Posterous. Any time you update your blog, Posterous will send an update to Twitter, too!

On writing, blogging, design, fake Twitter accounts, spoilers, and death on Facebook #dyr

research verifies that taking notes makes writing easier­—as long as you don't look at them while you are writing the draft! Doing so causes a writer to jump into reviewing/evaluating mode instead of getting on with the business of getting words on the screen.

 

I have come up with a conceptual framework that explains what I believe to be the core elements--and the essential worth--of a blogging initiative, either within a course or across an entire program. I've built the framework out of three imperatives: "Narrate, Curate, Share." I believe these three imperatives underlie some of the most important aspects of an educated citizen's contributions to the human record. And in my experience, blogging offers a uniquely powerful way of becoming a self-aware learner in the process of making those contributions.

 

Breakthroughs in all fields—science and engineering, literature and art, music and history, law and medicine—all come about when people find fresh insights, new points of view and propagate them. There is no shortage of creative people in this world, people with great ideas that defy conventional wisdom. These people do not need to claim they have special modes of thinking, they just do what comes naturally to them: break the rules, go outside the existing paradigms, and think afresh. Yes, designers can be creative, but the point is that they are hardly unique.

 

One of my indulgences, however, is reading well-crafted tweets from satirical Tweeters who've taken on the persona of someone else. To do it right is like being a method actor: You have to get inside the head of a famous person but with a twist; the post has to be funny and insightful. It isn't easy and Twitter is littered with failures.

 

Subjects liked the literary, evocative stories least overall, but still preferred the spoiled versions over the unspoiled ones.

Why? The answers go beyond the scope of the study, but one possibility is perhaps the simplest one: that plot is overrated.

 

Nobody is resting in peace anymore. The suicide, the aneurysm, the overdose. Distilled into how they died because their [Facebook] pages are a persistent reminder they are dead, not of how they made me feel alive. I’d like to believe a legacy is in memories made, not the unintended irony of a last status update.

 

poignant passages, 9.14 #eng112

No columnist or reporter or novelist will have his minute shifts or constant small contradictions exposed as mercilessly as a blogger’s are. A columnist can ignore or duck a subject less noticeably than a blogger committing thoughts to pixels several times a day. A reporter can wait—must wait—until every source has confirmed. A novelist can spend months or years before committing words to the world. For bloggers, the deadline is always now. Blogging is therefore to writing what extreme sports are to athletics: more free-form, more accident-prone, less formal, more alive. It is, in many ways, writing out loud.

 

Kill your word-processor

Word, Google Office and OpenOffice all come with a bewildering array of typesetting and automation settings that you can play with forever. Forget it. All that stuff is distraction, and the last thing you want is your tool second-guessing you, "correcting" your spelling, criticizing your sentence structure, and so on. The programmers who wrote your word processor type all day long, every day, and they have the power to buy or acquire any tool they can imagine for entering text into a computer. They don't write their software with Word. They use a text-editor, like vi, Emacs, TextPad, BBEdit, Gedit, or any of a host of editors. These are some of the most venerable, reliable, powerful tools in the history of software (since they're at the core of all other software) and they have almost no distracting features — but they do have powerful search-and-replace functions. Best of all, the humble .txt file can be read by practically every application on your computer, can be pasted directly into an email, and can't transmit a virus.

 

There's no doubt that social-media networks are fantastic communication machines. They allow people to feel connected to a virtual community, make new friends and keep old ones, learn things they didn't know. They encourage people to write more (that can't be bad) and write well and concisely (which is hard, trust us). They are a new form of entertainment (and marketing) that can occupy people for hours in any given day.

"Great blogging is great writing, and it turns out great Twittering is great writing — it's the haiku form of blogging," says Debbie Weil, a consultant on social media and author of The Corporate Blogging Book.

But the art of the status update is not much of an art form for millions of people on Facebook, where users can post details of what they're doing for all their friends to see, or on Twitter, where people post tweets about what they're doing that potentially every user can see.

 

I fail to see any clear distinction between someone's boring Twitter feed – considered only semi-literate and very much bad – and someone else's equally boring, paper-based diary – considered both pro-humanist and unquestionably good.
Kafka would have had a Twitter feed! And so would have Hemingway, and so would have Virgil, and so would have Sappho. It's a tool for writing. Heraclitus would have had a f***ing Twitter feed.

 

" Twitter...always has the potential to be a two-way conversation." #wymhm

What works about Twitter? It’s not anonymous. I’ve found it to be a marvelous medium to engage critics in a low-key, non-defensive way, to say, hey, I’m listening, I’m a real person here, can you let me know a little more about what you’re thinking? I’ve turned critics into supporters and I think softened the tone of some debates over the book.  (I recently had a critic who had trashed a speech of mine on Twitter DM me “You have far too many fans for me to criticize you in public!”  After a little back and forth about his concerns, he went on to write a glowing review of the book.)

"The point is that good writers find ways to adapt to and play with available technology" #wymhm

The goal is economy of style, accomplished, like most good writing, through vigorous editing. If you tweet, you know the drill: You've got a spot-on observation, deep thought or humorous nugget to get off your chest and onto the screen. You type away and you end up with, say, 220 characters. So you whittle, and you whittle some more. You work in a contraction or two. If you value the integrity of your writing, you avoid cute rhyme abbreviations ("Gr8!").

In Japan, Twitter is "playing out as a rediscovery of the Internet" #wymhm

One reason is language. It's possible to say so much more in Japanese within Twitter's 140 letter limit. The word "information" requires just two letters in Japanese. That allows academics and politicians to relay complex views, according to Tsuda, who believes Twitter could easily attract 20 million people in Japan soon.

Another is that people are owning up to their identities on Twitter. Anonymity tended to be the rule on popular Japanese Web sites, and horror stories abounded about people getting targeted in smear-campaigns that were launched under the shroud of anonymity.

In contrast, Twitter anecdotes are heartwarming. One well-known case is a woman who posted on Twitter the photo of a park her father sent in an e-mail attachment before he died. Twitter was immediately abuzz with people comparing parks.

I look forward to future comparative studies on how citizens in different countries use Twitter. I'm also taken by the translation of "tweet" as "mumble." For me, there's a humility and a demureness there that isn't very present in much of American tweeting, particularly by 'social media experts.'