Posts filed under: blog

I should be doing many other things, but every once in a while, there’s a bundle of ideas in my skull that gathers together and sets up a resonance field, and there’s really nothing for it but to write it out. So this is more suggestive than it would be had I the time to really write through it all.

The piece that clicked it all together for me was Jon Udell’s recent post on networks of first-class peers, which has its roots (I think) in the recent announcement of the demise of Google Reader, the death knell for which happened while I was in Las Vegas at CCCC, our annual conference for all things compositional and rhetoricky. I don’t want to project my own affect onto Jon’s post, but there was a sadness there, a nostalgia for the days when the weblog was the undisputed chief of social media. Jon closes his discussion with a look back:

What some of us learned at the turn of the millenium — about how to use first-class peers called blogs, and how to converse with other first-class peers — gave us a set of understandings that remain critical to the effective and democratic colonization of the virtual realm. It’s unfinished business, and it may never be finished, but don’t let the tech pundits or anyone else convince you it doesn’t matter. It does.

He’s responding in part to the “has Google decided that blogs are dead?” portion of the …

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What follows is a fairly rough approximation of the talk that I gave at the UK Networked Humanities Conference (#nhuk) in February, 2013. I don’t usually script out my talks in quite the level of detail that I have below, but this time out, I struggled to get my thoughts together, and scripting seemed to help. As usually happens with me, though, I went off-script early and often.

Also, I use a lot of slide builds to help pace myself, so I’m not providing a full slide deck here. Instead, I’m inserting slides where they feel necessary, and removing my deck cues from the script itself. I’m also interspersing some comments, based on the performance itself.

I’ll start with the panel proposal that Casey Boyle (@caseyboyle), Brian McNely (@bmcnely) and I put together:

Title: Networks as Infrastructure: Attunement, Altmetrics, Ambience

Panel Abstract:  In his early 2012 discussion of the digital humanities, Stanley Fish examines a number of recent publications in the field, and arrives at the conclusion that DH is not only political but “theological:”

The vision is theological because it promises to liberate us from the confines of the linear, temporal medium in the context of which knowledge is discrete, partial and situated — knowledge at this time and this place experienced by this limited being — and deliver us into a spatial universe where knowledge is everywhere available in a full and immediate presence to which everyone has access as a node or relay in the meaning-producing system.

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It’s been a while, but I need to get back into my blogspace. I’ve got some thoughts to share about the brand new semester, but I thought I’d start the year by retrieving an old post from the first incarnation of my blog. I shared a link on Twitter this morning to an entry where I shared a draft of the statement I included in my tenure portfolio, about the role that blogging played in my academic work and why it should be considered in my tenure case. While it made me a bit anxious to think of my colleagues across the college reading some of my sillier and/or snarkier posts, I certainly believed what I wrote about the value of academic blogging. In the wake of the push towards the digital humanities, it only makes more sense now.

For what it’s worth, I did indeed receive tenure, and the committee took this statement seriously. What follows was a draft of what I included in my portfolio–I did revise it a bit, in part according to comments that I received both in the entry and privately.


“We’ll see how this flies”
Collin vs Blog, 26 August 2006

I’ve spent the past few days finishing up the overview document for my tenure case, known affectionately across the campus as “Form A.” The form closes by asking for “additional information” that might be helpful in evaluating one’s work. Here’s what I put:

In a conversation with one of the members of

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You may have caught the news over Facebook or Twitter late this past week: I accepted an offer from the Rhetoric Society of America to become their inaugural Director of Electronic Resources (DER). First, I want to thank everyone who congratulated me over email, FB, Twitter, etc. I appreciate all the positive feedback and good wishes.

By the time we got to the point of the offer, it wasn’t a difficult decision at all. I really like how RSA has framed the position, imagining it as on an organizational par with a journal editorship, an ex officio board membership, etc. And there were several things, I think, that recommended me for the position–my familiarity with most things digital as well as the fact that I’m tenured/established, the support that SU was willing to provide me upon accepting the gig, and the fact that I have a good working relationship with the person who’ll be running the conference in 2014. All of those will make the position a manageable one for me.

I did spend some time this summer really thinking carefully about whether or not I wanted to dip my toe back into the pool of organizational service, though. After last year’s surgery, my health and energy levels are still somewhat precarious. I feel pretty solid now, but it takes less to incapacitate me than it used to, and taking on extra duties was something I really had to think about. I’m also in the process of getting my next …

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I left a comment over at Dave’s excellent discussion of the MLA Job Information List, and part of it was picked up at Alex’s equally worthwhile followup, so I thought I’d expand on it here. Here’s the comment I left:

I was going to make the same point that Alex makes vis a vis the costs of the JIL vs. the costs of the conference itself for both interviewers and interviewees, especially all those years that we were forced to compete with holiday travelers for both plane seats and hotel rooms. The list is the tip of a very lucrative iceberg that has supported the MLA for a long time.

I wanted to second your comments about opening up the job list database, which for all intents & purposes is the same (inc. the crappy interface) that they used in the mid-90s. A much richer set of metadata about the jobs could be gathered by MLA (and made available to searchers) if the arbitrary scarcity of the print list is set aside and MLA were to take their curative obligation seriously.

There’s been no small amount of buzz lately surrounding the MLA JIL, our fields’ annual posting of open academic positions. For a long time, that list has been proprietary to MLA. At one time, institutions paid to have their positions appear in the list, and prospective applicants paid for a print copy of it. I don’t remember the exact year that the online database version of the …

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There’s no way to talk about this without sounding like I’m #humblebragging, but really I’m not. I just finished the fourth and final book proposal review I agreed to do this summer.

Those four reviews were three more than I’d been asked to do during my first 14 years in the field (yes, yikes, this fall marks the 15th anno of my PhD), but this summer, le deluge. I know that there are folks out there who do a lot more of this kind of stuff than I do, but I’ve been conscious lately of all the largely invisible work that has been occupying my to-do lists. I’m not complaining about it–I believe in gift economy karma–but it’s forcing me to rethink a lot of my work habits and accept some limitations that I would have scoffed at ten years ago.

On the plus side, there are some really good books coming out in the next year or so. And when you see them acknowledge the anonymous press reviewers, one of them might be me.…

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Someone is less than amused by the lack of content around here lately.








Last week, unfortunately, my workload basically took my good intentions with respect to MOOCMOOC and turned me into a lurker, and the past couple of days’ worth of orientation activities wiped out whatever rest and energy I’d managed to save up. Hooray, end of summer.

On Monday, we had our annual grad program orientation day. Considering that last year at this time I was having my gall bladder removed, I can say without a trace of irony that there are worse places to be.

Anyhow, one of the conversations we had was about program values–what does our program do well, and where might it be stronger–and the discussion followed fairly predictable lines. One point that I raised then is something I want to mention here. While I was directing our graduate program, I considered it my duty to advocate on behalf of the graduate students in every way I could. The basic ethos behind that hasn’t changed for me–I doubt there are too many graduate programs out there we could accuse of caring too much for their students, and it shouldn’t just be the job of the graduate director.

At the same time, I think it is important to acknowledge the limits of what a graduate director, program, or faculty member can do with respect to graduate students. It’s hard to talk about this without feeling like you’re “shaming” specific …

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It’s my blogday too, yeah.

On August 13, 2003, I uncorked what would be the first of a little more than a thousand entries on my old blog. At the time, apparently, I had Cracker’s “Teen Angst” running through my head, because I think three of my first ten or so entries troped on the “what the world needs now” line from that song, including the first one.

It hasn’t been one long, uninterrupted string of blog entries, but it’s been 9 years since the first one, as of today. I’m still figuring out the new ratios among platforms, but I’m pretty comfortable with the pace that I’ve set for myself here this summer. Next year at this time, I’ll likely feel a little less sheepish about claiming a blogiversary.…

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“[Rhetoric] seems to me then . . . to be a pursuit that is not a matter of art, but showing a shrewd, gallant spirit which has a natural bent for clever dealing with mankind, and I sum up its substance in the name flattery. . . . Well now, you have heard what I state rhetoric to be–the counterpart of cookery in the soul, acting here as that does on the body.”

Ahh, Plato, our old friend.

Yesterday was the first day of MOOCMOOC, a massive open online course devoted specifically to the topic of massive open online courses. Follow that link if you’d like to take a look–my understanding is that lurkers, observers, and hangers-on are welcome. Far as I can tell, there are a few hundred participants at the moment; other than posting an introduction and missing a Twitter social this evening, you won’t have missed much if you hop on in.

One of the values that I’ve already found is that the readings for each day provide so much more context for MOOCs than the infotisement columns that have been floating around lately, dutifully penned by those with a corporate stake in the success of a certain brand of MOOC. If you’re like me, you’ve gotten quickly tired of them. And by quickly, I mean that I now scroll to the bottom to check the identity of the author before I’ll even bother with paragraph 2. Anyhow. The readings for MOOCMOOC are refreshing in that …

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I spent a little quality time in the cgbvb archives last night, and thought I’d dredge up the entry below. It’s a nice example of the kind of seriality that Kathleen was talking about, and also highlights for me the kinds of serendipity that online scholarship is capable of. Sadly, the blogosphere isn’t quite the metonymy machine that it used to be, but this summer, I’ve been feeding data from my desktop and my iPad into Instapaper, and I’m finding that the same kinds of patterns emerge.

I also found out that at some point, for a while anyway, I was ending blog entries with “Snip, snap, snout.” I don’t have any recollection what that was about.

[This entry is a little more impressive with all of the links that I originally included, but now that they’re mostly dead and gone, I went ahead and scraped them. Dead links are not as impressive.]


“So that’s how it works!”
Collin vs Blog, 18 September 2006

I have a folder on my desktop that I’ve been gradually filling for almost two years now. I probably add something once a month or so. Maybe I’ll pull something off of a delicious bookmark, or I’ll see a link to a pdf through Bloglines, and just dump it in.

So anyway, I didn’t have a “next” thing to read about 10 days ago, so I went into that folder and grabbed a pdf. Turns out it was James Moody’s “The Structure of a Social …

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