random facts from a former dancer


My gal pal Sarah sent me this page since we’re going to the Madonna concert in July, and I find it hysterical that the bulk of it focuses on the history of the leotard […the origins of the leotard go back to late 18th-century France when colored body stockings were the favored undergarments for the diaphanous, Roman-inspired gowns of the day] rather than Madonna and the fashion industry. That’s something new in the world of news…focusing more on the fact than the infotainment.

Yes, I’m being sassy!


MySpace and the Deleting Online Predators Act

Received this email from the AOIR and felt I should share it because of the MySpace concerns I’ve blogged about. It is, like I am, more in favor of technological literacy and the First Amendment rather than being scared of the site, exploiting that fear, and focusing only on the people who use it for lewd reasons.

Henry Jenkins and i co-authored an interview essay based on questions
from the MIT News Office to address concerns related to the proposed
American law entitled Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA). We
recognize that parents and legislators are concerned, but we do not
believe that DOPA is the best approach and we fear that, if
implemented, it will cause more harm than good. We conducted this
interview in the hopes that it provides valuable information for
parents, legislators and press who are interested in the issue.

I believe that this topic affects our research community as a whole.
The proposed law affects most Internet communities, including
chatrooms, mailing lists, photo sharing sites, gaming environments
and social network sites. It is also a slippery slope legislative
piece, working to give American legislators more control over who
participates online, in what ways and where. Collectively, we have a
lot of knowledge about this terrain and the positive aspects of
digital culture. This needs to be surfaced publicly in order to
combat the culture of fear. I know that most of you aren’t obsessing
about MySpace as much as i am, but i believe that what is happening
with MySpace will affect many of us on this list.

Finally, as researchers, we’re often faced with how press cover this
terrain and we’re often asked to speak out as experts. For better or
worse, i’ve become a press puppet on all things MySpace and i’m tired
of seeing myself in print. I also believe that there are other
voices that need to be heard, other relevant academic knowledge that
needs to be elevated. I have to imagine that there are other
academics who could join me in addressing the press and combatting
the fears the public has over how people use technology. If you are
interested in speaking to the press about these issues, please let me
know. In particular, i’m especially looking for other researchers
who have expertise in digital youth, online/offline sociability,
online dating, risk assessment, reputation costs, gaming, blogging
and anything else you might be seeing the press cover right now under
the fear category. I know that public-facing academic engagement is
controversial, but i’m definitely in the camp which says, “I am
obliged to contribute. Silence is complicity” (Diane Bell, “Writing
in the eye of a storm”). My hope is that others are interested in
helping combat the fear-mongering with all of the knowledge that we
have about this domain.

Dennis has also had some great posts regarding MySpace up lately. This one in particular, but the others are under the social software category.

Would write more on this but still trying to digest it all and need to get updating the i-pod [new Pet Shop Boys album, you know!] and packing.

More around mid-June, unless I sneak a few posts in the next 24 hours…


writing with video

I attended a couple of sessions but recorded some of them on my i-pod instead of taking notes. The Writing with Video panel of Joseph Squier and Maria Lovett was amazing though and I wish I had the time and skills to pursue such a class. Looking at their site is enough for my schedule now, but I applaud everything they are doing!

The following list is based on my notes from the presentation they gave and I think captures the essence of the course:

Video as rhetorical medium
Be conscious of ways of seeing
“What is literacy?” video sketch
Build a metaphorical vocabulary
Students compose a “Pages” portfolio—a facet of the ILife suite (like a word doc but you can incorporate video and images)
Keep a process journal
Show motivation behind their assignments
Talk about audio—music and audio are not the same thing, discussing this lets you talk about media literacy, IP, mass communication
Songs have to have a real intention in the film—don’t just choose anything, justify it
IRB approval—documentary film doesn’t need approval
Performative ethnography—show it don’t tell it
Emphasis is on process rather than making a slick film maker
Video is a constructed text, not a transparent window
Students who wrote more composed better videos


more CW reflections–the dialogue continues

Thanks to all those who left comments on my last post. I’m still baffled that I cried so uncontrollably. I mean, I know I have reason to and I am not embarassed by it, but I was not expecting to be so affected by the thoughts of my NOLA. But that again proves I am the perfect case study for my dissertation…

I like the discussion that has started at Composition Southeast, which is actually a post referencing my initial trauma theory post. Guess I haven’t looked at my incoming links page in awhile, otherwise I would have seen this earlier.

I wish I could be around to help students directly affected write through their experiences, but only hope that I will be able to soon enough. Trauma and the Teaching of Writing discusses what teachers can do with traumatic moments as well as what to think of when our usually writing-centered ideas fail us. I’ve not finished the whole collection but will post a response up tomorrow before I take off for HI.


C&W moments

I’m going to write about my time at the C&W conference backwards because I presented today and much of what I said in the final version of my Powerpoint was influenced by what I heard on Thursday and Friday.

And the main thing I need to say off the bat is that I cried.

Yes, I got up in front of my audience and as soon as I saw the slide with the pic of me in front of my house in New Orleans [the same one on the front page of this blog], I said “That’s my house,” and the tears started coming down. I’ve been writing and thinking about this presentation for months now and had felt no emotions stir up, then everything changed. I don’t know why, but now I am scared that it will continue to happen all the way through the dissertation defense and job search. And that is very scary. But I do feel that writing a personal piece is more important than anything else I could do right now.

Per Heidi McKee’s suggestion, I was going to write about this immediately after it happened, but I got a phone call from my NOLA actorgirl friend Lara, who I have not spoken to in months, and it was more important to have that outburst all over again with her. She’s been most affected by the storm and is still living in flux, but as soon as I started telling her about today, she completely understood and was proud of me for sharing my experience. The more people, even those in academia who are already thoughtful and celebrate personal narratives, that hear about how painful it is to lose your home and see your city underwater, the more they can begin to think about the rebuilding efforts and what we can all do to try to help.

Anyway, other than that session, the Graduate Research Network Forum really helped me pull out key words that I can use to frame my dissertation. As I have mentioned before, I’ll be using trauma theory to write about how going online during times of crisis is a physical action and something that the body and mind can do together. Therefore, “event,” “embodiment,” and “ethos” are words that I will use to guide that writing and make the dissertation more of a rhetorical one than quantitative or one that adheres to a fixed set of methods. As strange as it sounds, I will be building a theory around what happened to me during Katrina. It was also suggested to me that I make the examples people-based in addition to text-based, and I think that is a good idea, but since I am my own case study and (as evidenced by today’s proceedings) it’s an emotional topic for those personally affected by the storm, I think writing a text-based dissertation will allow me to finish it quicker and make some important points. I can keep track of people’s stories in the mean time and use them in subsequent projects.

I have to get ready for tongiht’s dinner, but will write about the video panel I saw yesterday later.


the personal prevails

Well, I have yet to begin writing my dissertation, but I am so happy with the topic and my outline that I cannot wait to get some feedback from the CandW crowd this week. And after reading “The Apparently Bearable Unhappiness of Academe,” all I can say is that I am so glad to be writing about something that I am personally invested in. The more I read abstracts of others, I feel that we’re all thinking, reading, and writing about the same thing in often similar ways. And that stresses me out. I always feel like someone else will have said it better, so what would be the point of me repeating it?

At least with my topic and connection to NOLA, I know that my dissertation will be more of a personal journey…a way for me to heal from the trauma of losing my home as well as analyzing how/why evacuees turned to the Internet to help themselves heal and get much needed information.

Also when reading the Inside Higher Ed article, I began thinking about my future, when I might go on the job market, when I might fit having kids into this whole plan, where I might end up teaching, etc. Thank goodness I am so ready to get out of FL and start my life in AC, otherwise I’d be tempted to stay in school longer to avoid thinking of these topics!


more NOLA news

Well, Ray Nagin won a second term. Interesting…I don’t have anything against him, but I am surprised that Mitch Landrieu didn’t win just for the sake of needing a change…but like the presidential election, no one likes change in the midst of turmoil. Metroblogging had a great post on election-eve asking for readers to spread the word online and off. Main message is to communicate, any way possible, and I like the way they are saying that.

And speaking of remembering, I am glad I will be able to check out the “KATRINA EXPOSED: A Photographic Reckoning” exhibition when I am home in July.


albinos protest

Can’t blog long…need to prepare for the conference this week, but having seen The Da Vinci Code this weekend and enjoying it–despite some minor changes to the ending, I wanted to research some of the rumors I had heard about albinos protesting the depiction of yet another evil albino. Here’s a summary of the protesting groups from which writes, “The Da Vinci Code” will be the 68th movie since 1960 to feature an evil albino.”

On a lighter note, here is a video for The Albino Code:

But forget about the albinos, here is the most frank headline I’ve ever seen: “Locals are just too weary to worry about film.” Oh, how I miss New Orleans…


death toll still rising reports the latest numbers of Katrina-related deaths. Here’s a passage I find most interesting:

…weeks after it made landfall Aug. 29, Hurricane Katrina kept claiming Louisiana victims, often in more subtle fashion and often in other states: elderly and ill evacuees too fragile for grueling trips on gridlocked highways, infants stillborn to mothers who were shuttled to other cities when they should have been on bed rest and residents overcome with anxiety by 24-hour television broadcasts of the devastation back home.

The last part of this is fascinating and links to the work I’ve read of Bessel van der Kolk [see page 5 of the PDF “The Limits of Talk”]. Being left helpless in a strange city and separated from where the trauma occured can be more mentally devastating than being there, evacuees want nothing more than to physically do something. They don’t want to talk or reflect; they want to move on, check on their homes, rebuild, save pets, find tangible memories…unfortunately, as this article reports, many lives were lost to such anxiety.

As you know, my focus of study is, what about those who went online to try and do something? How did that inform the traditional media’s reporting of the hurricane? How can trauma theory be used to articulate and analyze those moves?

I can’t wait to start writing! I ordered several more items from Amazon today to keep my work up-to-date and comprehensive: Anderson Cooper’s Dispatches from the Edge : A Memoir of War, Disasters, and Survival and the 2005 Complete Guide to the Hurricane Katrina Disaster – Federal Reports, Government Response, Science Reports, Devastation to Louisiana, New Orleans, Mississippi, Alabama dvd. It’s been pretty difficult to read about the goings on of that week in late-August, but I have to make sure that I contribute something, even if it is in dissertation form rather than physical labor.


can't sleep

Back from a lovely trip to Chicago (where I saw my first Pearl Jam concert) and Winona, MN (AC’s college town and parents’ home) and am feeling ambivalent about my summer plans. Since I had to take that Incomplete, I know I will be reading a lot of good stuff, but there are still so many other things to do before moving apartments later this month, traveling to the Computers and Writing conference, and teaching in the Summer B session. The thing is, ever since the back spasm, I enjoy not being on the computer a lot more, but that also leaves me feeling out of the loop when it comes to the latest trends in computer literacy.

Oh well, something tells me that that anxiety will pass, but for some reason I cannot get that Chronicle article from last year out of my head. Yes, I know keeping a blog obviously puts my personal thoughts out there for everyone to read, but since I am getting closer to the end of this PhD, I feel more open to critique. I also just received my teaching evaluations and the students made strong comments both for and against blogging, which leads me to reevaluate my use of them, yet again. Let’s hope that as soon as I have created a daily schedule of what to do with myself this summer and have mingled with the Computers and Writing folks next week that I can articulate myself better!


Katrina text

I knew there was something I wanted to link to today! I read about Douglas Brinkley’s book The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, in this month’s issue of Vanity Fair, which also features Anderson Cooper and a diary of his time in NOLA during and after Katrina.


Here is Metroblogging New Orleans’ take on it along with the NPR Fresh Air interview that started Brinkley going.


back in the saddle

OK after receiving the go ahead from my chiropractor to resume schoolwork, computer usage, etc., I composed 3 final papers in less than 10 days. I enjoyed the topics I wrote on, namely academic freedom and writing against that David Horowitz’s “Academic Bill of Rights,” but was wiped by the time it came to put together a 4Cs panel last Friday. Everything felt so rushed, but I think it all came out OK. I had to take my first Incomplete though, but all that is left to do for the class is a lit review. Since I plan on reading all summer, starting after May 18, that should be no problem and will also be a welcome experience–reading stuff that applies to my dissertation! Woohoo!

Other than that, not much else has been going on. I went to a fabulous Kentucky Derby party with folks I used to work with, rode my bike and went to the beach yesterday, and been planning out my summer.

Am so behind in the blogging world, I have no links to share…but I know that will change soon.