April 2, 2004

CCCC, put to rest, with lots of links

Since I've seen at least one reference to my as-of-yet unfulfilled promise to report on the sessions I saw, and I did promise again last night to do this, and I need to do more with this space than whine about being depressed, and confronting the mess in my apartment is even more depressing to contemplate, I present to you my personal CCCC. For better or worse, my own account will be necessarily briefer than Mike's and others', and necessarily more oblique.

In part, this is because I only went to sessions where I knew at least one of the panelists, and in three of five cases, the entire panel. After a certain point, that's inescapable, I'm sure, but for most of us, it's intentional. It takes quite the panel and paper titles to get me to a panel where I don't know a name. And this runs up against one of my personal rules of thumb re blogging: never type anything that you wouldn't be willing to say to a body's face. I violate that rule from time to time (who doesn't?), but personally, I hate stumbling upon criticisms of myself, and I try to honor that with respect to others as a result.

My panel habits raise another issue. With one exception, I refused to attend a session whose title made reference to the conference theme. CCCC proposals are actually read by qualified reviewers, folks, and everything I've ever heard about this process supports two related conclusions: a theme-referenced title will not help a subpar proposal get accepted; the absence of such a title will not sink an otherwise-acceptable proposal. It may be that my patience is simply thinner than it was when I was a starry-eyed graduate student, but listen to me closely: none of us (myself included) is as clever as we think we are--if you can think of a way to reference the conference theme, chances are that there will be 100 other panels that do the same thing. The result is a swarm of really poorly titled panels. If you don't believe me, check out past years' programs, and see how embarrassingly bad so many of the titles seem. Takin' it to the street, anyone? Ugh.

Continue reading "CCCC, put to rest, with lots of links" »

March 15, 2005

CCCC: 8 kinds of stupid

I'm going to be throwing down some pre-dated entries here, mostly so's I can keep them relatively organized. Before I get to a few session notes, though, let me just provide the year-from-now-me with a little reminder:

Don't ever do that again!!!

Clever me, I thought that it would be nice to get into SF with a chance to do a little exploring on Tuesday. And so I went ahead and booked a flight that left Syracuse at 6:15 a.m. And since I'd probably need to get to the airport a little before 5, I should leave the apt at around 4:30, necessitating a wake-up at 3:30. So far so "good."

Compound my clever with the fact that I'm not really much of a morning person, and I decided that it was better to just stay up all night than to try and sleep a little and risk oversleeping (it's happened before). Since I wasn't really able to sleep on the plane (despite my foolish assumption that I would), I got to SF having been awake for roughly 27 hours straight. In other words, I got into SF with a chance to take a nap. Which I did. But it was a short one, and the end result was that at no time did I ever feel anything but bone-crushingly, mind-numbingly, personality-transformingly exhausted.

I never get enough sleep at CCCC. Rather than take this into account, I somehow talked myself into going there with a guaranteed sleep deficit, an energy hole that I only was able to dig deeper and deeper over the course of the next 4 days.

Yeah. That's smart.

March 21, 2005


On Friday, after going to see an 8 am panel, my friend Lorie and I went to the SF MOMA, where I saw the 2004 Exhibition of SECA award winners. One in particular caught my eye, a guy named Simon Evans. His work is a funky combination of a Dave Eggers sensibility and perhaps an aesthetic close to New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast, with a dash of Borges' Chinese encyclopedia thrown in:

Hard to read, I know, but I haven't found too many good reproductions, and his work is new enough that I couldn't find prints. There are a couple of good pages of his work at the gallery where he's currently showing. His work was the highlight of my MOMA trip this time out. While I appreciated a lot of the other work, Evans clicked for me.

You remember Borges' encyclopedia, right? Foucault cites it in The Order of Things. In "The Analytical Language of John Wilkins," Borges describes 'a certain Chinese Encyclopedia,' the Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge, that divides animals into the following categories:

those that belong to the Emperor,
embalmed ones,
those that are trained,
suckling pigs,
fabulous ones,
stray dogs,
those included in the present classification,
those that tremble as if they were mad,
innumerable ones,
those drawn with a very fine camelhair brush,
those that have just broken a flower vase, and
those that from a long way off look like flies.

For those of us unfortunate enough not to have a Celestial Emporium handy, I offer to you the new and improved Call for Proposals for next year's CCCC. Once upon a time, back in the day, we simply chose an "area cluster," one of 11 areas which would determine where (and by whom) our proposals would be considered.

Then they added the "level emphasis" which designates 2-year college, 4-year college, or cross-insitutional. Insofar as CCCC attempts to encourage participation from faculty at 2-year institutions, this seems okay to me.

Last year, they added the "interest emphasis," which named race/ethnicity, gender, class, sexuality, and disability as interests from which we were to choose one. This year, there were supposedly 209 panels with an interest emphasis of race/ethnicity, a fact which (I'm sure) had nothing to do with the explicit mention of race/ethnicity in the call for proposals.

This year, another category, "major focus," appears on the proposal form, which allows us, if applicable, to check basic writing, two-year college, first year composition, WAC/WID, feminist studies, or cultural studies.


In advance of the 2007 Call for Proposals, I'd like to suggest that, in addition to area cluster, level emphasis, interest emphasis, and major focus, another category be added called Evidentiary Inclinations, from which proposers can, if applicable, select one of the following: careful observation, dictionary definitions, thinkers whose last names begin with vowels, elegies, and, as a nod to Borges, those included in the present classification.

After all, it couldn't get much worse.

Perhaps CCCC is indeed trying to do something with this data. What they are currently accomplishing, however, is exactly the opposite. By proliferating these categories on the call itself (instead of asking for, say, 5 minutes of our time when our proposals are accepted), they are influencing the proposal process itself, in a bad way. Last year, it was pretty obvious that people felt that naming race/ethnicity as their emphasis gave them a better chance of acceptance, and unfortunately, the numbers bore that out. We don't need a more complicated formula for determining acceptance rates, and if the data isn't being used that way, then there needs to be some type of explanation on the form itself of how exactly it's being used.

And it needs to be a helluva lot more nuanced than "check one." Panels are comprised of multiple papers--is an emphasis in one paper enough to qualify the whole panel? If so, then my panel was "about" gender this time out. Which "major focus" is appropriate for a paper on using WAC strategies to help basic writers enter FYC classes sooner? And so on and so on.

I realize that CCCC is us, and I realize that I run the risk of hurting some feelings when I say this, but this trend, towards increasingly arbitrary and unclear categories, is downright stupid. If we want actual data about the conference and the presentations, then make a brief survey part of the process by which we accept our invitations. And design it better than a bunch of "check one if applicable" lines that don't come anywhere close to actually naming the range of areas covered in CCCC presentations. The implication right now is that these are "favored topics," and if they're not, it needs to say so. If they are, then it may be time for me to spend my March next year doing something else. Because my work doesn't fit comfortably (or even roughly) into any one of them.

Oh, and if we hurry, we might be able to book Simon Evans to do the cover for the 2007 program.

That is all.

March 22, 2005

My Friday panels

One of the disadvantages of getting noticed is that, with the solidification of blogging as a Topic™, I found myself duplicating the experiences of other CCCC bloggers. In other words, I went to the Wednesday night session (A.15: Public, Private, Political: Social Theories and Blogging Practices) that Mike has summarized in far more detail than I could provide. And I went to the first half of B.26: Evaluating Academic Weblogs, mainly to see Derek present before I left to work on my presentation. And Mike and Clancy both have blogged that session. Since my own session was largely a haze (more on it soon), I thought I'd offer some quick thoughts on the two sessions I hit on Friday--I haven't looked around too much, but I don't think anyone's blogged them yet.

Continue reading "My Friday panels" »

March 23, 2005

S.F. Conferential

Jenny has already mentioned this, but it's worth saying twice: the set-up for the conference was abysmal.


This year, many many panels were held in spaces on the edges of the big open exhibit room, separated from the exhibit space by curtains. In many of the largest rooms, the back walls were not walls, but curtains. On at least one occasion, I left a panel because I couldn't hear my own session over the sounds of another.


And this was the second year in a row where the conference was scattered socially. There was no central social space for people to hang out in, meet up with each other, or encounter each other serendipitously. On Friday, they set up tables in the upper level (for the party that night), and people flocked to them. Loud and clear, once and for all:

We would like a place where we can sit down.

I'm not talking about three tables near the coffee kiosk. Genuine social space, please. Please. Half of the fun is running into old friends, making spur of the moment plans, all the while having an anchor space where we can go with some assurance that we'll see someone we know. Two years in a row now that hasn't happened. And as a result, it feels disjointed, jumbled, and I feel like I missed seeing some people I wanted to see.

As expensive as I know it will be, I'm honestly longing for the old Palmer House. Sweet home Chicago.

That is all.

A final CCCC post, complete with podcast

Looking back on my CCCC experience this year, I can say two things with some certainty. One is that I think that we should have included the word blog in our panel title, since we ended up talking more about blogs as a site of creative computer literacy or network literacy than anything else. Two is that, if I choose to continue going scriptless, I'm either going to have to (a) learn to live with a certain level of incoherence, or (b) prepare my presentation even more than I did already. I'm not going to swear off reading, because I think I write a pretty snappy script--it's usually the delivery that I have to work on.

Anyways, for those of you who weren't able to "here" our presentation, you can now hear it, recorded in all its glory. You can hear me forget to click a couple of slides, then catch my slides up while I lose my train of thought in the process. That was a real gem. For my part, it went okay, but I felt like the threads of my talks were a little more loosely woven than I would have preferred. Ah well.

And yes, I am thinking about going into GarageBand, and futzing around a bit with my portions of the talk. Without further adieu, I present session D.24: The Aftermath of Access: From Critical to Creative Computer Literacies. Speaker 1 & 3 is Jenny Bay; speaker 2 & 4 is me. The whole session runs about 40 MB, so I've broken it into four pieces: Jenny, Collin, Jenny, and Collin.


Update: Clancy just posted her account of our session...

March 14, 2006

The lesser of three travels

So I'm getting myself together to leave in the near future for my annual trip to the Conference on College Composition and Communication. Rather than regale you with tales of catching up on my bills or my laundry (both of which have commanded my attention today), I thought I might express my annual regret that I must go to CCCC instead of, say, ETech or SXSW, both of which command the attention of the blogerati this time of year. Not that there's anything wrong per se with CCCC--I always learn a little something, and I see a lot of people with whom I would otherwise fall out of touch. It's a visceral reminder for me of the academic community that I've chosen to join.

And yet. I can't help but feel that my interests and my inspirations would be better served at one of these other conferences. I envy Laura, who is/was down in Austin for SXSW. And I share her sense that "that education needs to catch up a little bit to this world." But I'm also struck by the outsider-ness of her post, because I've experienced that myself on more than a few occasions. I want to feel like there's a middle space, between the mercenary collisions of acronym people and the (at times) oblivious pokiness of the academy when it comes to these things. I think that there are conversations out there that are just waiting to be held, conversations that take the potential of these ideas as their jumping off point rather than the painstaking objective of endless wheel-reinventing presentations.

This is how you can tell that it's late, and I'm a little frustrated. I start stacking words and phrases as high as I can until they start wobbling.

At any rate, some of my frustration has its source in the fact that, unless I somehow move to CA or TX, I won't ever be a regular attendee at either of those conferences. As a humanities scholar, I'm basically priced out of those venues before I even start. The humanities don't get grants, they don't get corporate sponsors, and they don't include lavish travel budgets among the necessities. I can afford to go to Chicago for 4 days, but only because I applied to my college to cover the difference between cost and my normal travel funding allotment. They do so only because I'm giving a presentation--there is no argument I could make for putting a trip to SXSW on the university dime.

It's frustrating to me because I know where Laura's coming from when she despairs of "fighting the fight" of getting our colleagues to see technology and getting the technologists to see us as something other than a cottage industry ripe for takeover.

No grand conclusions or solutions to be found here. I know that there are those among us who would really welcome rich and complicated conversations, but I don't think it's simply a matter of academics being willing. It's also a matter of patience on the part of industry, some faith on their part that there's some long-term good to be had in engaging with us. Maybe there are already those kinds of spaces that I just don't know about. It's frustrating to me, though, not being able to afford to visit the ones I do know about, even as I suspect that I can't afford not to be there.

If that makes sense.

March 25, 2006

Homeward bound

It will surprise no one who saw me at Miller's Pub last night at around 3 am that I was unable to get as much of my Chicago to Syracuse drive done as I'd initially hoped. As a result, I'll have more of the trip to do tomorrow than I'd planned, but oh well.

I'll blog in a little more detail about CCCC when I get back, but one thing I'll note right away, and that's that, after 2 years of relatively spread out conferences (in SF and SA), the return to Chicago was a return to the kind of spatial centralization that results in the chance encounters that make CCCC a worthwhile experience for me. With most of the participants in the conference hotel (even though I was staying at the historic and expensive Drake Hotel), I had the pleasure of almost always running into people by happy accident.

I can't stress enough the importance of this. It strengthens our weak ties to be able to happen into each other outside of formal session spaces--I feel more a part of the discipline this year than I have for the past 2 conferences, and that's not an insignificant advantage of having the CCCC in the mega-hotels. This shouldn't necessarily exclude other locations, but it does mean that future planners need to be very conscientious in planning social spaces in addition to the more formal spaces of the conference.

I'm just sayin.

Like I said, I'll say more tomorrow, or Monday, but I did accomplish a couple of things over the past couple of days that I was especially proud of. First, I did a fair bit of evangelism for CCC Online, both to the CCCC Executive Committee and at the Computer Connection. It seemed like every time I introduced myself as the person partly responsible for CCCO to people, I heard about people using the site left and right. That's a good thing. The second thing I wanted to do, which didn't occur to me until yesterday during the sessions, was to suggest to the leaders of the Blogging SIG that our discipline's award for best academic weblog be permanently named after John Lovas. I hope others have made and do make this suggestion along with me. It was at last year's CCCC that I met John for the first and only time, and I felt his absence keenly yesterday.

That's all for the moment. I won't be blogging the sessions I attended in any sort of detail (having not really taken notes this year), but I will do a little roundup post, and ideally, get myself back into the habit of here.

Safe travels, all.

March 27, 2006

CCCC 06 Roundup

I would have posted this a little sooner, but I've spent the last day or so figuring out how I can cast aspersions on a field that I'm only peripherally involved with, reaching the conclusion that the best way to argue that the field is going in the wrong direction is to "cherry-pick" 5 panel titles, out of hundreds, from their annual conference, and then not going to the conference so as not to complicate my thinnnnnest-slice impression (which I'll describe, of course, as a "fair portion" which provides the double-entendre of both representativity and fairness) of what it is that they're doing.

That's all I have to say on that bit of nitwittery.

It was a good conference this year, although I definitely feel older and less able to keep up than I used to. This year's CCCC had the strange distinction of embodying two strange trends: each night, I got to bed later, and each morning I had to get up earlier. If I had stayed one more day, these trends might have passed each other in the wrong direction--I might have had to wake up before I went to bed. Eek.

As far as sessions went, I only hit a few of them, and they were pretty much superstar caliber. I didn't go to anything before Derek's and my performance at the Computer Connection on Thursday, but afterwards, I saw Jim Porter, Catherine Latterell, Dànielle Devoss, and Stuart Selber (E.28 Why Plagiarism Makes Sense in the Digital Age: Copying, Remixing, and Composing). It was a solid panel, doing some of the work necessary to bridge our disciplinary (and pretty traditionalist) notions of authorship with the implications of new media. Shockingly enough, after a 7 am breakfast meeting, I caught David Blakesley, Thomas Rickert, and Diane Davis all give really intriguing papers revisiting KB's notion of identification (F.15 The Rhetorics of Identification; Or, Me and You and You and Me, So Happy Together?). All three were strong papers, but I was especially interested in Diane's--the idea that mirror neurons suggest an originary, pre-linguistic "togetherness" which is first broken and then imperfectly healed through identification was (a) a really smart take on neurobiology's implications for rhetoric and (b) a very original challenge to some of our cherished disciplinary assumptions. After a brief pause to fill my body with sugar and caffeine, I went to see Becky Howard, David Russell, and Sandra Jamieson (H.15 Authentic Arguments: Information Literacy and Case Studies in FYC). Becky and I chat IL all the time, but I hadn't seen before the work that Russell was doing to track how students use sources in building arguments. Interesting stuff. Having been up at 6-ish, by the end of their session, I was pretty much wiped, so I skipped on the next 2 sessions plus the other general (the awards one).

(I didn't get to see the morning general session on Thursday, either, although I heard vaguely unflattering things about it, or rather that the Address itself had less than flattering things to say about some of the things that I do. Rather than offer a 4th hand response, I'll wait to see/read a version of it...)

Saturday morning, with my sleep and energy quotients approaching zero, I attended my final session of the conference, K.23 From Panel to Gallery: Twelve Digital Writings, One Installation, and no, I won't list the 12, although several are friends. Being able to walk around the room and futz was perfect for me, though, and there were some really sharp pieces. If I can find the URL, I'll post a link to Tim Richardson's thingamajig, which was a Flash interface that positively hypnotized me. It reminded me of the stories I've heard, and pics I've seen, of SIGGRAPH interface galleries. Cool Cool Cool.

Anyhow, that was my formal CCCC. Counting my own, I went to 5 sessions, which is about right, and I met lots and lots of people and strengthened ties with others. Can't ask for much more.

September 15, 2006

The off-4Cson

My title only works when you understand that 4Cs is pronounced "four seas." I'm just saying.

Unless you happen to be involved with the behind-the-scenes work of the conference, there are basically 2 times during the year when the dreams of rhetcompers turn to their annual conference. The first, and most elaborate, is March, when the conference itself happens. The second, though, is right now, the week when notifications are made for the following March. Word on the street is that the conference acceptance rate is now hovering somewhere around 33%--that there were maybe 600 accepted out of about 1800 submissions. Hard to know exactly how those numbers play out--some proposals are for 3-5 person panels and some individual--but still, it's a pretty big deal.

So it was a little aggravating this week, as everyone was receiving their notifications, to not receive my own. I did hear about a panel that I'm chairing, but that only served to confirm that my email was indeed working. As I noted a couple of years ago,

Notification is always something of an odd season around grad programs--on the one hand, CCCC is selective enough that you expect a little bit of congratulations; on the other, no one really asks anyone else, for fear that they didn't get accepted.

So I pretty much just kept my mouth shut, and vowed to give it a few days, figuring that if I hadn't heard by this weekend, I'd fire off a Monday email to see. Well, my patience was rewarded with the news today that Deb Holdstein, Derek, and I will be doing a Featured Session at the 2007 CCCC, one where we talk about the relationship between the journal, both print and online, and the discipline. Rock. Roll.

I think the plan to is to do some revising to the text of our abstract, and perhaps even the title, so once that's done, I'll be sure to post it here. In the meantime, I'm just going to sit back and bask in the glow of the fact that our work on CCCO is going to be featured in disciplinary primetime. CCCC was really the last piece of a speaking puzzle for the year that includes four (four!) different conferences and perhaps a job talk or two. Hence the whole lot of talking that I referred to a couple of days back. And hence the recent addition to my speakerly arsenal. I can't guarantee that I'll be good, but I'll almost certainly be better.

That's the plan, anyway.

October 20, 2006

Had they asked a week ago,

I could have sent them a picture with hair. Oh well. One implication of being tapped for a featured session at CCCC is that I needed to provide them with a headshot. And so...

A smirky little pic of Collin

A few notes:

Yes, that hint of a smirk is as close as I'm able to come to smiling for photos. Don't know why, but it's always been that way. I've never been able to really smile for pictures.

Goodness knows, short of some pretty monumental transformation, I'll never be especially adept at the Academic GlamorShot™ that some people seem to be able to throw down effortlessly.

Looking to the side is the only way that I can have a picture taken where I don't blink during the flash--if I had to guess, I'd say that one of my few superpowers is that I blink faster than the speed of light. Makes it more than a little difficult to get a open-eyed photo of me. Unless I'm looking well off-camera.

In honor of finally rescuing my camera from the trunk of my car, where it had been sitting dormant for close on to six months, I snapped a few of the new arrival at the Mothosphere, the best of which is probably this one, since (a) she's waving at me (or waving a fist at me), and (b) you can see the bottom of her jack o'lantern footsies. This one is linked to a bigger pic at Flickr:

Is. decked out for Halloween

Snip, snap, snout.

October 21, 2006

Collin's Clever CCCC Cluster Cloud

Speaking of CCCC, or of the CCCCCCCCC referenced in my title (8 Cs!), Derek and I were yappin tonight about how we might go about indexing the CCCC Program using TagCrowd, a tool I came across via Jill and recommended to Jenny. It overlaps a fair bit with what we're doing over at CCCOA, but one difference is that TagCrowd allows you to upload a file, whereupon it generates a cloud of frequent terms.

So here's what I did:

1. I went to the searchable program for the 2007 CCCC, and searched for all panels under the 106 Area Cluster (Information Technologies).

2. I added each of the 50 or so panels to my "Convention Schedule," and then hit the button to email it to myself. The result is a window with all of the panels & descriptions in a text file. Copy and paste into TextEdit.

3. I stripped out all of the speaker information, including titles. I could have left the titles in, but it would have taken longer (and been a little more debatable in terms of focus).

4. Find/Replace on 2-word phrases (new media, social software, et al.), variants (online and on-line), making them a single word in the case of the former and standardizing in the latter. (I thought, too, about just deleting "speaker," which appears in the prose with some frequency.)

5. TagCrowd the file, and voila!

Tagcloud for Area Cluster 106 (Information Technologies)

You can look at the bigger graphic over at FlickR, but here's a cloud of the 100 most frequently used terms in CCCC proposals for the 106 cluster. "Speaker" and "presentation" are throwaways, and you could argue the same for "discuss" ("In this presentation, Speaker X will discuss...."). Looks pretty sensible to me--I'd say that blogging and Facebook are the flavors of the year. I may have caused the word "remix" to drop out of the cloud by not including titles--I'm not sure.

One caveat is that not all the panels included prose descriptions--that may just be a matter of time, though. Again, I'm not certain.

One thing I do know, though, and that's that this whole process took me less than an hour, and it would be child's play to go back in, and do it for each cluster, as well as all of the "focuses" and "emphases." Not that I have the time, energy, or schedule to allow me to do so. But it's a fun little experiment, nonetheless.

(I should mention, if anyone sees fit to do some of these, that TagCrowd allows one to create a blackredlist of terms that won't be included. In addition to speaker, presentation, and discuss, I'd probably (were I to redo this one) add become, consider, examine, important, include, and panel. They function here as mostly empty proposal jargon.)

That's all.

October 22, 2006

CCCC Categories and Counts

I'm going to throw this information below the fold, but in the process of messing around with the CCCC Searchable program, I thought I'd go ahead and see how the various categories worked out. Including workshops, there are 54 panels tagged with Area Cluster 106 - Information Technologies, for example. But there are also a bunch of categories gathered under Focus, Interest Emphasis, and Level Emphasis. I've commented before on the Borgesian feel of our proposal system, so I'll restrain myself here. Each of the categories should add up to the same number, but I haven't checked--it's more likely that I made an error than they did, though...

Continue reading "CCCC Categories and Counts" »

Cloud for CCCC Area Cluster 105 - Research

Here's a cloud for the abstracts in Area Cluster 105, which is Research. I did go ahead and redlist the terms that I said I would yesterday...

Tagcloud for Area Cluster 105 (Research)

January 8, 2007


Came into the office today to find a promotional flier for this year's CCCC:

front page of CCCC flier
back page of CCCC flier

Wait a second. Scroll down the right hand column there for me on the back. What's that?

who's a featured speaker?

That's right. For one brief, shining moment, I'm a rockstar. We're far enough in advance of the event that I don't feel any nervousness at all. And I can't have messed up or anything. Our featured session exists in a state of pure, perfect potentiality and as long as it stays that way, who's to say I'm not a star?

Well, okay. Lots of people. But I'd appreciate it if you didn't ask them, at least until after March.

That's all.

March 13, 2007

If Tuesday began with the letters CSH...

Then I could tell you that those letters stand for "crushing seasonal headache." The news round these parts is that the temperature reached into the low 60s today, which has been good for The Melt, but bad for My Head. When seasons change, the corresponding shift in pressure typically renders me unable to focus for 2-3 days at a time, bringing with it dull, throbbing headaches of the sort that quite literally make my eyeballs sore. Needless to say, sleep becomes something of a chore, rivaled only by the effort that goes into being awake. Not the happiest of times.

I've been giving some thought to the presentation I'll be giving at CCCC this year. Inspired in part by last week's snarky little entry, which itself prompted me to add "snark alert" to my categories, I've been dialing back my expectations for what I'll accomplish in this presentation. It's hard, having been working on CCCOA for two-plus years now, to imagine that there aren't folks in our field who remain unfamiliar with it, and yet, my guess is that this is actually a fair description of most folks in our field. The speed of change in the 'sphere--and on the net more generally--outpaces that of the run-of-the-mill discipline, perhaps exponentially. And so, what I think I need to do in my talk is to actually introduce the site and what it contributes.

Right now, I'm thinking of an unofficial subtitle for my talk that would be something like "13 Ways of Looking at a Journal." Mostly it would be an introduction to the site, running from the most basic and obvious features to some of the trickier stuff we've built into it, and finally to a couple of disciplinary questions that a site like this can provide us the evidence to work on.

I've been thinking about this a little harder after seeing Tim Burke's post about what he describes as "search as alchemy." To wit,

But there are other times where I want search to be alchemy, to turn the lead of an inquiry into unexpected gold. I’m hoping that the rush to simplify, speed up, demystify and digitize search doesn’t leave that alchemy behind.

It seems like such an obvious point to me, that academic search functions in much different ways than "regular" search, but what's come clear to us over the past couple of years is that we need to figure out better ways of getting the word out, to make the case that CCCOA is a site for search, yes, but also a site of invention. I think that message is both clear and obvious to many of you, my fair readers, but to the field-at-large, it still needs saying.

So I think that's part of what I'll be saying next week.

March 16, 2007

Another CCCC Cloud

You may recall that, last fall, I put together a couple of tagclouds based upon the abstracts from different cluster areas found in the searchable program for CCCC.

Unfortunately, no one took me up on the process I developed (along with the pre-fab redlist that I built for it). I still believe that it would be interesting to compare tagclouds of various area clusters, not only from area to area in a single conference, but for the same area from year to year. Right now, the searchable program doesn't exactly make it easy, but if that data's still around, it is probably our single best source of evidence for what actually goes on at our annual conference.

Not that I have the time to take it up myself. But I did go ahead and put together a cloud for Cluster Area 103, aka "Theory." Click on it to go to the much more legible version I've stored at Flickr:

What's this year's theme again?

March 20, 2007

All aboard!

Today finds me headed to NYC for the annual Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC). Originally, I'd planned on participating either in the Research Network Forum or the ATTW conference, two of the all-day Wednesday events, which goes some distance to explaining why I'm going down there on Tuesday when my presentation is on Saturday.

Maybe it's just a matter of who I'm aggregating, but it's felt awfully quiet this year leading up to CCCC. I haven't seen much complaining about reading (don't do it!), the program (where's the X?), and actually very little about the costs (which are disproportionately high this year, it feels like). It just seems like there hasn't been much posting, period.

In the last year or two, the conference has changed the way it handles the program, which is a softcover, 400-500 page document. This year, unless you want to pay extra, you have to wait until the conference to pick up the program, and even though it was only postage, I just figured I'd wait. I've looked through the program, thanks to Derek, but I haven't really had it handy for mulling over. I wonder if that hasn't had an effect on folks' ability to marshall their annual indignation (and I'm not exempting myself here) for the relative absence of their favorite topics and the relative fetishization of the conference theme.

So you'll have to wait until afterwards to hear those complaints out of me. It'll give me something to do on the train ride home.

That is all. Next stop, NYC.

March 26, 2007

4 Cs, 4 days, 16 panels

Inspired in part by Donna's theme review of CCCC:

CCCC 07 summed up in 16 panels

There was more to it than that, to be sure, but as far as my presentation went, at the risk of sounding like I'm fishing for sympathy, having a featured presentation on Saturday afternoon was a lot like being called up to the big leagues the day after one's team is knocked out of competing for the playoffs. Hard to know when or if I'll be back.

I continue to be grateful to Cheryl Glenn for the opportunity, grateful to those good people who did come, and grateful to Derek and Deb, whose presentations were excellent. And I'll go ahead and screencast my talk this week, for all of those who couldn't make it.

I may post a little more about the conference over the next couple of days as well. What won't I post about? The squawking that Alex references that's going on right now over whether or not it's better to read or speak.

That's all, except to note that I did this with Stripgenerator 1.0.1)

Update: You can find both my slides and Derek's at We'll both have screencasts soon as well.