Category Archives: Print Culture

cooking for engineers

Barbecue Pork Ribs Baby Back or Spare – Recipe File – Cooking For Engineers

When the cook lives in a technical mindset, the kitchen becomes a problem space and cooking an analytical solution.  Michael Chu’s instructions – words, pics, layout -  are models of clarity and enjoyment, from an engineer’s perspective:

After about 1-1/2 hours for baby back ribs or 2-1/2 hours for spare ribs, the meat should have shrunk away from the bone substantially. The temperature of the rib meat should be over 180°F which means much of the collagen in the meat has probably converted to juicy and unctuous gelatin (the reason we love ribs).

But what’s really nifty is his recipe layout, like this one for ratatouille:

Someone’s been reading Tufte.

link journalism and rhetorical work

Just a few rhetorical notes on this (relatively) new meme.

From an elearninspace post

Perhaps the most significant contribution the web has made to society – outside of providing increased access to information – is the forced consideration of perspectives and opinions outside of our own. While we might not always take advantage of it, each link is a simple access point to a new perspective. We can build echo chambers if we so desire, but the ability to encounter random views and perspectives is valuable and worth pursuing in its own right. A similar occurrence in traditional media.

which led me to an example of what Scott Karp at Publishing 2.0 sees as link journalism at The Lede, and his commentary:

Nizza isn’t just lazily linking to these stories — he’s read them, compared them, identified shortcomings, extracted key facts and issues, and connected the dots.

In a traditional newspaper article, all of these facts and analysis would have been synthesized, but the reader wouldn’t have had the opportunity to read for themselves the source material. This post does what journalism is supposed to do — empower people with facts, understanding, and perspective about important issues.

and back to consider elearnspace:

the ability to encounter random views and perspectives is valuable and worth pursuing in its own right.

Links, wherever and however included, don’t present random views or perspectives. They are select, and selected. – even in a google search. Link journalism ups its ethos and illustrates its logos by linking (Karp is persuaded to value Nizza’s post by the rhetorical work Nizza has done in drawing the sources together). Linking might make it possible for readers to look at the evidence and come to different conclusions, but the linker is still in control, presenting, at best, a multiple set of vital perspectives, but still a contained set; and presenting a rationale, more or less out in the open, as to why these links, this evidence, are important, and how this evidence is best interpreted. The dots are selected from a background of dots, and they are connected to show a coherent image – and not another, possibly equally coherent, persuasive image.

Link journalism, that is, is no less a matter of management than any other form of persuasion. And that makes it really really interesting.

venerable gutenbergs, coffeehouses, and theses

Venerable GutenbergMark my words: this from The is going to get some play in the next few weeks.

Writing Students and Professors Fight to Keep Theses From Being Freely Available Online

As more graduate students deposit their theses online and make them freely available, college administrators on a number of campuses are being asked to treat creative-writing theses differently. English professors and writing students are pressing college officials to exclude creative-writing theses from open-access policies, arguing that they undermine students’ ability to get published in literary journals.

Jeanne M. Leiby, an associate professor of English at Louisiana State University, is among those who argue that writing students should not be forced to widely distribute their theses online. Ms. Leiby, who is editor of the literary journal, The Southern Review says in an article in this week’s Chronicle that she will not accept manuscripts that have been freely disseminated online.

She also says that writing students may be hesitant about making their theses open access because of professional pride. “I don’t necessarily want people to go back and read my thesis,” says Ms. Leiby, who earned a graduate degree in writing from the University of Alabama. “I’d like to think that in 15 years I’ve become more of a writer. I don’t necessarily want those early attempts associated with my name.”—Andrea L. Foster

The more complete news article is here. It looks like publishers who want to maintain exclusive rights to work are driving the university policies.

The argument also seems to rest on thinking of a thesis as a magnum opus: as the masterpiece of production. I wonder about that. I’ve always read (and written) theses and dissertations as a first step into the professional field. A start, not an end.

So, choose your theme to discuss:

  • Print and pixels. Print argues that exclusive rights to a work creates value. Pixels argues that less-restrictive rights create value. Discuss quietly among yourselves.
  • A creative work must be in print and controlled by a sanctified publisher to be valuable. Stepping over that barrier devalues the work – now and forever more. Myth or fact?
  • A work deemed creative and worthy by a master’s or dissertation committee is not really worthy. The True Measure is Publishing. Yea or nay?
  • The creative work is fundamentally different than the scholarly work. Art is not scholarship, nor scholarship art. (Of course the work is valued differently, as different genres are. But the successful argument will demonstrate an essential difference between the creative work and the scholarly work.) Extra points for not resting your argument on the trope that Art is Inspired. That needs a proof of the existence of gods.
  • There’s no hiding your juvenilia anymore. (Was there ever? Ask Milton. Ask Eliot.)
  • The quaint idea that a Writer can somehow conceal or control the work that came before the work. (Has anyone read The Road to Xanadu?)
  • The even quainter idea that distribution before Official Publishing is somehow new, novel, or a result of the Interweb. (You may refer to Pound, Eliot, Joyce, Steele and Addison, or any of the coffeehouse writers of the 18th century. Extra credit for making a case against serial publication by Dickens.)

My dissertation (Student Rhetorical Interaction in an E-Mail Conference: A Case Study of a First-Year Writing Course) has been online since the afternoon it was approved. I wrote my MA thesis before the web was invented, although bits of it might still be floating around the MERITS system from 1986. Maybe I’ll scan and upload it this summer. There’s not enough narrative crit on the web, and my thesis was a real cracker: “A Narrative Analysis of John Fowles’s The Magus.

looking forward to looking forward

We’re beginning to wrap things up in Weblogs and Wikis. Starting tomorrow, we’re back to face to face meetings with two ends: project presentations, and some discussions of implications – looking back and looking forward.

The discussion idea came to me late last week when I ran into a posting on The Ed Techie, a blog run by Martin Weller, a professor with the IET (I’m not sure we ever met when I was in MK years ago). Whither the blogosphere? looks briefly at the fragmentation of discussion spaces occurring with Google Reader, Flickrr, Facebook, and Twitter. Not that there’s anything to lose sleep over. People are still reading and writing blogs, even as they start to use other spaces. Ed sees the fragmentation as succession.

What I think is happening is another example of technology succession. The blog was the primary colonizer for the barren landscape of online identity. The presence of this colonizer changed the environment, which made it more amenable to secondary colonizers, e.g. YouTube, Flickr, Slideshare, etc which relied on the blog to spread. This in turn made the environment even more friendly towards the social flow apps, which started out linking to blogs, but have gradually taken on their own life. This resulting ecosystem will vary for each of us – for the people above the third wave of colonization has taken over the dominance of the blog and forced it into a smaller ecological niche. For others, the blog is still dominant, but these other tools flourish around it.

For me, it’s a matter of ends. Blogs are still used because they still serve rhetorical purposes, still provide a space for a running discussion.  Other spaces provide a space for different rhetorical situations (Twitter), or serve a different set of rhetorical purposes (Facebook, Second Life, Flickr).

But that’s not what I wanted to talk about.

Martin’s post started me looking for a way to frame up a discussion on the (social – rhetorical) implications of blogging and wiki writing. They are always just below the surface, but I don’t think I ever worked at bringing them out in class. Now that 16 students have finished 10 week projects, they are in a pretty good position to stop and think about what All This Might Mean.

Class discussions on implications tend to digress into hearsay, anecdote, clichés, and yawns. To avoid that, I’m starting with some class notes [link to come], and a set of links to sites that just begin to tease open some implications.


Then there’s the Wikipedia reminder for would-be posters that neatly puts students and professors alike in our place:

Remember that millions of people have been taught to use a different form of English from yours, including different spellings, grammatical constructions, and punctuation. Wikipedia:Manual of Style∞

Nothing like shaking the ethnocentric tree a little to get things started.

The trick to this discussion will be to focus groups on specific groups of people: university teachers, for instance, or marketeers, or administrators, freelance writers, technical writers, students who are only 12 years old right now… Keep a human face on the implications, and keep grounding matters in the material world of symbol users.

I’ll let you know how it all turns out.

reference to not reverence for The Literary

One of those read-it-fast-and-set-it-aside-for-later pieces. Sebastian Mary at if:book gives a useful OV of the present state of the Web in literary (and Literary) publishing: friday musings on the literary. The Web is a cultural space where the high and low, working out their relative positions, bring the ideology of The Literary to the fore.

Mary traces a complex discussion, starting with Stephan Page at the Guardian on the ebook (“serious literature can still thrive thanks to the internet” – and can you get more patronizing?), through the literary ideology – “inseparable from print” –

People use the Web to share work, peer-review their writing, promote activities, sell books and find others with the same interests. But this activity happens almost always with reference to the ideology of the literary – in particular, to the aspirational associations of broadcast-only, hard-copy-printed, selected-and-paid-for-and-edited-by-someone-else-and-hopefully-bought-and-read-by-the-public publication. For those submitting to such magazines, the hope is that they will move up the literary food chain, get published in better known journals, and perhaps – the holy grail – finally after decades of grim and impecunious slogging, be anthologized by Faber.

to promotion of the literary (possibly a lost cause), to authors seeking feedback and validation, and publishers trying to Build Community, culminating in an all or nothing a careful dance:

Finding new writers; building a community to peer-review drafts; promoting work; pushing out content to draw people back to a publisher’s site to buy books. All these make sense, and present huge opportunities for savvy players. But […] to attempt to transplant the ideology of the literary onto the Web will fail unless it is done with reference to the print culture that produced it. Otherwise the work will, by literary standards, be judged second-rate, while by geek standards it’ll seem top-down, limited and static. Or just boring.

Read that closely: reference to print culture not reverence for.

the lie of the portrait and a tangled web likeness

Girl with Pearl EarringThis (from a recent Chronicle article by Laurie Fendrich) is so cleanly stated that I had to have it on hand. It’s seeing portraiture as rhetorical, focusing on the message, the mediation.

The disheartening truth — a truth most often swept under the rug of aesthetic pleasure — is that while portraiture teaches us about the human range of emotions and character in general, no specific portrait can reliably be said to reveal the inner life of its subject. Instead, great artists have the daunting ability to deceive us into believing that they have painted the heart and soul of a person. When we are moved by a specific portrait, then, we are unwittingly moved by the artfulness of the artist rather than the personality of the sitter.

This perspective won’t come as surprise to citizens of a post-Einsteinian world, but it can be, as Fendrich has it, “disheartening” to confront the lie.

But then I look at the analyses of web sites that the E-Rhetoric class developed recently, re:, and I see Fendrich’s premise hard at work on the web, and students hard at work trying to negotiate the surface, untangle the differences between the personality and the artfulness of grrl. grrl as web celeb, grrl as huckster, grrl as obsessed with fame. We read the artfulness of grrl, not the soul. The class’s study of visitor roles on the web demonstrated how mediation reigns – lies and all – and how much knowing still counts.