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December 30, 2006

Let's. Meet. The Bloggers

How early must a body wake up to beat the Starbucks line? I had to wait behind 5 people at 6:50 am, which is when I got up in an attempt to beat the crowd. And from about 6:50 to about 8:30, when the session started, I had the title of this entry bouncing around my skull, to the tune of "Roll out the barrel." And yes, we had a blogload of fun.

I'm going to jot some notes re the panel, but probably not until I'm back in Syr, since I have to check out of my room soon. I had vague memories of reserving an extra night, specifically so I wouldn't have to drive after waking up early for that session, but the fine folk at the Philly Marriott think not. So I'm going to caff up, and hit the road shortly.


Liz Losh has a rundown of the session over at Sivacracy, including links and whatnot, so I won't repeat that. One thing I will say is that each of the speakers in the panel took a particular angle on what Scott explicitly called "academic blogging" (as opposed to blogging by academics), but that there wasn't really the time to put all of these takes together.

It's hard to know what to expect from supersessions, and this one was no exception. It felt like each of the speakers just got started with an idea, and ran afoul of time. It's tough to put 4 substantial talks into a 75-min panel, honestly. The one quote that I jotted down came from Michael's talk, about how "intensity comes to function as a value of its own" in blogspats--seemed to me an entire panel could be put together on whether the intensity that powers blogspace is genuinely compatible with the kinds of knowledge we associate with research and scholarship.

If nothing else, though, it was interesting to see some of the ubers in person--kind of like seeing radio personalities after hearing their voices for a long time. Michael has pix of himself at his blog, but I could feel myself wondering if the other 3 "looked" like their blogs.

That is all.

December 28, 2006

MLAte to the blogger meetup

I was running out of Appropriate A-words, so you will settle, one hopes, for an LA word. I spent most of my day engaged in pseudo-preparation, and trying to time my trips to Starbucks such that I wouldn't have to wait in line too long. Interviewed this afternoon, and then got a little social.

I met Laura face-to-face for the first time at one of the many cash bars that occupy the 5:15-6:30 timeslot. She came to dinner with me, Thomas, Jeff, Jenny, Derek, and Meredith. We ate at Bookbinders, purveyors of easily the finest seafood I've had since I lived in Virginia, and perhaps the best ever. Ev0r.

Laura and I went to the Blogadoodle, but we got there pretty late, and only stayed maybe an hour or so. Still, I made plans to hang for a little while tomorrow with Kathleen, met Scott, chatted with Chuck, Jonathan and Clancy (who took pix that I assume she'll post), and caught my first glimpse of some of the (other) ubers that I had only heretofore known virtually.

And that doesn't count all of the other folk I ran into and chatted with today. Felt like a real conference today, it did. And having my formal duties discharged made it all the better.

That is all.


This may not be of much use to anyone not already here in Philadelphia, but Jill points to a list assembled by ACH of all the "digital humanities" panels here at MLA this year. It's an encouraging list...

I really wanted to get to a panel or two today, but I have a thing about needing huge swaths of time in order to prepare for formal stuff. So no sessions today, it looks like, although I'm hoping to run into a couple of folk at the Rhet/Comp cash bar at 5:15 and the Bloggadoodle at 8:45.

In the meantime, carry on.


This may not be of much use to anyone not already here in Philadelphia, but Jill points to a list assembled by ACH of all the "digital humanities" panels here at MLA this year. It's an encouraging list...

I really wanted to get to a panel or two today, but I have a thing about needing huge swaths of time in order to prepare for formal stuff. So no sessions today, it looks like, although I'm hoping to run into a couple of folk at the Rhet/Comp cash bar at 5:15 and the Bloggadoodle at 8:45.

In the meantime, carry on.

December 27, 2006


As the regular reader will remember, this year's MLA kicked off with a stirring rendition of the second chapter of my book manuscript, with the unusually expository (for me, at least) title "The Rhetorical Canons as an Ecology of (New Media) Practice." Gee, I wonder what the talk was about?

Hee. Today was also the 3rd step in the epic self-transformation that will see me turn from a reader of conference papers to a speaker of conference presentations. I worked from an outline and from the slides, but otherwise, did not script the specifics. I think it went okay, but I do have to confess that the fellow in the 3rd row who used his cameraphone to take snapshots of each of my slides, and whose phone rang not once but twice during our session, was a bit of a distraction.

And yet, it was he who inspired me to go ahead and try out SlideShare, which is basically a YouTube-like service for PP presentations. Keynote exports to pdf, which I can then upload and turn into a shareable Flash doodad.

(Update: The doodad was taking serious download time, so I'm replacing it with a link to the SlideShare page instead. Those readers uninterested in unnarrated PP slides may now breath an appropriately grateful sigh of relief.)

The pdf option, far as I can tell, preserves original layout and font better, and has the virtue of being about 1/10 the size of a PP export. So even though there's no support for a Keynote native presentation, it works out just fine.

The slides themselves are probably a little oblique without commentary, so I'll use ProfCast when I get back to Syracuse and offer a full-service version. In the meantime, suffer in silence. I'm done with my talk, and have a much more leisurely conference ahead of me.

That is all.


So I left Iowa on Christmas night, and put in about 5 hours of driving so that I could stay overnight in Lafayette, IN, whereupon I woke at 6 am, picked up a wingman, and proceeded to drive some 700+ miles to Philadelphia. We made surprisingly good time, despite some weather and traffic delays, and arrived in Philly at around 8 pm. Little question, though, that this drive would not have been possible had I been on my own. We had dinner, at a reasonable hour no less, at Monk's Cafe, where the food and beer was as good as promised.

Socializing today will be at a minimum, as I prepare for my presentation tonight, but otherwise, it's a pretty wide open conference schedule for me. I have a few panels marked as potentially interesting but otherwise, I expect to be able to relax a bit after tonight. Track me down if you're here, too.

That is all. Welcome back to the mostly daily blogging. And a big thanks to the wingman.

December 18, 2006

Wherein I continue to err on the side of the opaque

There are a few things that I might say, but for the moment, I'm going to keep quiet.

Except to note that, last night, my car was egged as it sat in front of my father's place (and we were at dinner). I was more curious than anything. Just one egg. I'd planned on getting the car washed anyway, given the grime of the long-distance roadtrip, so this has accelerated my timetable. Other than that, it's a decidedly minor event.

This is how I know I'm older: the number of activities that have (for me) no redeeming entertainment value grows annually. Thing is, I don't even care about having to clean off my car--it's no big deal. So I can't really muster any outrage over it. It just seems kind of stupid.

Ah well. Egg away, Iowegians.

December 13, 2006

Not so much with the blogging for a while

I'm too busy. But I can say that I made it through 2 relatively pain-free days of driving to get to Iowa (relatively only because of the rain yesterday in S. Ohio and Indiana).

But I've got work to do right now, not the least of which is preparing my presentation for MLA later this month, so blogging will be intermittent.

That's all for a spell. Check ya later.

December 9, 2006

Hobbits, Potter, and....Alethiometry?

The IMDB, if I remember correctly, has started up some tech that allows people to "play" movie seasons in the same way that fantasy football works for the NFL. It's too early to start picking movies for next year, but if I could drop a little money on a movie, I'd place my bet on the Dark Materials trilogy, the movies based on Philip Pullman's books.

I just found out that my birthday next year is on Pullman Eve, the day before The Golden Compass is coming out. Looks like a strong cast (Lord Asriel makes a lot more sense, all of a sudden), and if they do it right, it should be a lot of fun.

As for me, I'm trying to gear up for the annual holiday pilgrimage, so expect pretty light blogging over the next couple of weeks.

December 8, 2006

The Strength of School Ties

A necessarily quick entry, but one I wanted to dash up here for later thought. Over at Centrality, a report on a study by Christine Beckman that compares Silicon Valley startups by examining the strength of their internal ties prior to startup. The findings:

When the team members were previously employed at the same company(ies), the new firm introduced its product to the market more quickly than firms founded by teams with more diverse previous work experience. Additionally, these companies tended to develop products that competed with existing products through lower costs or product enhancements. Further, the final product of these companies more closely resembled the product envisioned by the team at the start of the firm.

In contrast, firms founded by teams with diverse previous work experience took more time to bring their product to market, but that product was more innovative and leading-edge. The product, however, had changed form the product the founders initially intended to bring to market.

Sorry for the long quote. There's more at the entry, including a link to the study itself. Here's what I want to think about, though: Are there implications here for classrooms, particularly at the graduate level? We're a very small program, with classes ranging from about 5-10 students, often at the low end of that. And in the fall, we have a gateway course that is only for the 1st years (the equiv of a "team with diverse previous work experiences").

It's not exactly the same, of course, since a grad course isn't exactly focused on bringing a particular product to market. But I know lots of folk who, by the end of coursework, feel constrained in the grad classroom because they feel like discussions, regardless of topic, tread and retread over the same ground.

I don't have a fully formulated thesis here, but it might be worth asking what effect strong/weak ties have on the learning process--my guess is that it might actually be an axis along which people locate themselves variously. Might also correspond to someone's preference for reading broadly vs. reading deeply. Might also connect to teaching style--certain folk might make better teachers given one type of "team" rather than another. Etc.

Like I said, more thoughts than thesis. That's all.

December 6, 2006

Having come far enough along

Having come far enough along in the writing of this weblog, I find now that I am less interested sometimes in producing new™ and exciting™ content on a given day than I am in reading past entries for the particular day in question.

Case in point. Today, in search of a little birthday inspiration, I went browsing back back back, where I (re)learned what happened on this day in history, reflected on positive and negative freedom, and contemplated the artifice that is the birthday. Busy busy fella. And see, already, just in the process of recounting past birthday blogical triumphs, I'm all ready to rip out a big old birthday essay for your reading pleasure™.

Okay, so maybe not. But I will do more than backlink my birthday posts.

This is my birthday tale for this year. Back back back in the day, like high school back back back, I once knew a girl, a couple of years younger than I was. When you're in high school, though, calendar years are like dog years, and two or three years is like forever. So it would have probably been riding the fine edge of appropriateness at the time, I suppose, to admit that I had a crush on her. Not that it really mattered. Her family moved away, I moved on to college soon enough, and we lost touch.

Flash forward to the present day, where she's sitting at work one day, and decides to throw my name into Google and to see what pops up. This blog, among other things. And she sends me an email, I reply, and before you know it, I'm ringing in my day of birth with a three-hour phone call, where I learn about her marriage (and divorce), three kids, a life that's been even more nomadic than my own, and all sorts of stuff besides. I suspect she'll be reading this entry at work later today.

So the moral of my birthday tale is that, at a time in my life where it's felt like my ties have weakened in general, where I'm prone to pity over the fact that I'm cruising up on the "new thirty," and where I'd planned on "celebrating" by doing nothing in particular, I celebrated instead by renewing a friendship that I lost so long ago that I'd even lost the fact that it was lost. That's not too shabby, as far as gifts go, not too shabby at all.

So enjoy today; it's on me.

December 4, 2006

Early Warning System


I was going to say that the first sign of winter's imminent arrival is the fact that, if you look closely at this picture, you can see the guideposts that have been installed at the various corners of the sidewalks. Because the snow gets deep enough fast enough that the snowplow drivers need help keeping track of the sidewalks on campus. Heh.

But really, the guideposts are the 3rd sign. The first is the gradual disappearance of the sun, and the snow itself is the second. They usually wait until after a couple of dustings to get the posts in place.

Anyhow, we've had some chilly nights over the past week or two, but this is the first day that's genuinely felt winterish. Won't be the last.

That is all.

December 1, 2006

MiHiICPie, or, Why I Prefer Dark Sweaters

That's Mile High Ice Cream Pie: a precariously tall ice cream pie with mint chocolate chip ice cream, an oreo crust, placed atop a slick of hot fudge. That was the final course of last night's meal. I only made it partway through, and unbeknownst to me, a drizzle of fudge decided to spend more time with me than I'd planned, by draping itself in a thin line down the front of my sweater.

Normally, not that big a deal. But as it happened, this was a dinner for Kathi Yancey, who's up here for a couple of days consulting for us, and after dinner, I drove her back to her hotel, and we had a nice conversation in the downstairs bar (which was surprisingly quiet for a Thursday night). And I didn't realize that I'd dripped chocolate sauce on myself until I was getting out of the car after I got back home.

Fortunately, I'm pretty sure that wearing a dark sweater hid this fact from Kathi as much as it was hidden from me. And actually, honestly, who really cares? It's not as though we don't spill on ourselves from time to time. So even abnormally, not that big a deal. And how exciting must my December 1 be, if that's what I've got to report?

The whole reason I was even thinking about it today, though, is worth relaying, and that's that it's rare to get an uninterrupted hour for conversation, and one where the stakes are basically non-existent. We "know" each other as colleagues, but sometimes I marvel at how much I simply assume about people based on minimal exposure. We have so little time for plain old sociality, it seems, encounters that aren't governed by the customs of networking at conferences or behaving properly during campus visits or what have you. It's rare that we ever get the chance to just talk.

Even with fudge drizzled down the front of one's sweater. That's all.