Using Twitter

This week I was officially awarded a Professional Development Grant, which will make my travel to San Fran for 4Cs much easier on the wallet. I’m also 1 week away from receiving final exam essays from the students I asked to start Twitter accounts. Their responses will be the basis of my presentation, and I already know that I’m going to continue with this research next semester b/c I’ve learned so much from them in terms of what their 1st semester college freshman experiences.

This semester I let students protect their updates and only follow me as a way to let them explore the informal writing space; however, I think next semester I will require students to follow all their peers in class too. That way, especially for my online writing courses, we can build community and more easily and quickly share resources. The discussion board posts can evolve to be more formal writing responses and Twitter can remain informal.

More on this once I see if my current students even feel that maintaining the timeline helped them reflect on their tech literacy, but here’s a video created by the folks at Twitter about how and why some people use the microblogging tool. If you notice, nearly everyone is updating from their phones…something I plan to point out to my students!

How Do You Use Twitter? from biz stone on Vimeo.


no mo' NaBloPoMo :(

Haven’t been feeling 100% and as a result, I forgot to blog last week. Will have to try NaBloPoMo again in December!

I’ve got the rest of the semester all planned out, but I think my body is telling me that I need Thanksgiving break NOW! Must catch up on grading and prepare for all the final papers & exams too. It’s been a great 1st semester at Stout, but I do know my laptop policies are likely to be stricter in the Spring. Tired of blank stares and/or complete lack of eye contact all together.

Back to bed b/c I’ve got a lot to accomplish before going to a Liberal Education conference in Madison this weekend.


State of the Blogosphere 2008

Just noticed that Technorati has release another “State of the Blogosphere” report. What I like most about this version compared to previous years is that they “asked some of the leading minds on the Blogosphere to give us their thoughts on where blogging is headed.” I’m pasting in a few below:

“The word blog is irrelevant, what’s important is that it is now common, and will soon be expected, that every intelligent person (and quite a few unintelligent ones) will have a media platform where they share what they care about with the world.”

* Seth Godin
* Author
* Tribes

“Blogging is getting easier and easier and some day, we’ll all have blogs of one sort or another. Most won’t look like my blog, maybe more like mytumblog or my twitter feed, but even more likely they’ll look like something else. Earlier this year I wrote on my blog, ‘Honestly I am not envisioning anything other than this; every single human being posting their thoughts and experiences in any number of ways to the Internet.’ That’s where we are headed and blogging is a big part of that.”

* Fred Wilson
* Managing Partner
* Union Square Ventures

“Although new ‘right-now’ web tools like twitter and lifestreaming aggregators like friendfeed have shifted some attention from classic blogging, they’ve actually deepened the conversation and made the blog, as a place to comment, reflect, and analyze, more central than ever. Blogging has become part of the daily discourse within many communities, and more and more essential is a growing number of disciplines outside of the technosphere.”

* Susan Mernit
* co-founder, People’s Software Company


internet on film

This week I’ll be showing my students 2 episodes of Law and Order, one from 1999 called “Chatroom” and one from 2006 called “Avatar.” Both deal with issues related to the speed, reach, anonymity, and interactivity of the Internet, which [coincidentally? heehee] are the key terms Laura Gurak uses to define the term “cyberliteracy” in her book Cyberliteracy: Navigating the Internet with Awareness.

I’ll post more after we have our class discussions to highlight what my so-called “digital natives” AKA freshmen on a laptop campus had to say about them. I’m most interested to see if they feel the 1999 episode is dated or not. When I watched it the other day to prepare, I felt the plot twists were a bit over the top, but at least they included family members/issues of parental control over computer use.

As far as future television programs that rely on the internet & Web 2.0 software apps that I may include in future lesson plans, I know there have been several CSI episodes that focus on YouTube videos, virtual worlds such as SecondLife, and gaming guilds, as well as the episode “Goodbye and Good Luck” [see clip below] that used Twitter to solve a crime:




Thought I posted for NaBloPoMo today, but looks like I’m getting this post in with only 10 minutes to spare.

Here we go!

I’ve been noticing several sites talk about the use of the internet in this election, one of which being “Blogged Down in the Past,” from the Columbia Journalism Review. See the map below to note “…a fundamental difference in the candidates’ approach to the blogosphere.”


See also “Obama Says – Yes We Can, With Social Media & More” and “Barack Obama and Blogging”


the power of video

I remember seeing this in 2003, on the Alan Cumming website of all places, and thinking how powerful an example it is:

So it’s amazing to see now, thanks to YouTube and other video-sharing sites, there can be efforts such as “Why Tuesday?” and “Video Your Vote”.

Obviously these videos aren’t as polished, but they still have an impact and purpose, whether to inform or persuade. Since I’ve looked at the use of internet in political campaigns since 2003, I’m just baffled at how much things have changed, how widespread access has become, and how people are using the internet in more innovative ways than thought possible.

Consuming, Producing, AND Sharing content = Citizen Media!


Politics 2.0

After noticing all the Twitter election coverage tools, I’ve decided to spend tomorrow reviewing these sites [and others] with my students. To do this most effectively, I need to begin with a quick lecture on Howard Dean’s 2004 blog and the ever-growing power of video.

This video will help start that conversation:

Then we can move on to pages such as, Twitter Voter Report, YouTube’s Video Your Vote, and the counter and map Facebook has set up.

I’ll let you know how it goes and what students can predict for 2012!


twitter politics

MSNBC had a great article on the power of Twitter during this election. The tips they list below are good ones, and even if you don’t have an account, just seeing the livestream on is AMAZING!

Use Twitter like a pro on Election Day
Register for an account at Choose a username you like; part of the fun of Twitter is people publicly responding to your tweets and vice-versa. If your username is TwitterNewbie, other twitterers will reply to you by starting their tweets with “@TwitterNewbie.”
Cast your vote for the president in Twitter’s mock election,
Check out and participate in, a constantly updated stream of what people are saying about politics on Twitter. Hot topics are highlighted at the top of the page.
If you have voting problems, head over to, a site that compiles tweets of people sharing their voting experiences and suggesting resources.



Andy and I cast our votes last week, so tomorrow we can go about our teaching schedules and not have to rush the polls or wait in any lines. I’m so excited that this election is finally coming to an end. I just hope by tomorrow night we know, for sure, who won.


Tonight Frontline on PBS is showing “The Choice: 2008,” its wonderful examination of the rich personal and political biographies of John McCain and Barack Obama. We’re watching it on tv right now, but it’s also available online here and on iTunes and YouTube.


new social media in my life

Sites I’ve joined over the past few months:–like Twitter, but with music. I love how it gives you “props” and also stores everything you’ve played. I’ve also found many wonderful mashups and covers, such as this bluegrassy one of Blu Cantrell’s “hit em up style”

Pandora radio–for when I don’t want to hear a specific song and just need some background music. I used to rely on radio stations I found in iTunes, but they seem to repeat the same playlists over and over. Pandora gives you more control over what you want to hear and finds similar sounding artists.

Second Life–the Director of our Nakatani Teaching and Learning Center is all about getting UW-Stout a presence in SecondLife, so I’ve been to a few information sessions to see what it’s all about. Thankfully, for people like me who can barely get my avatar to walk or sit, there are two sub-groups: one for beginners to get comfortable using SL, and the other for experienced in order to start students using our space. My avatar’s name is PhDaisy Quandry for anyone interested in looking me up.

Twitter [again]–I established a separate account for teaching. As I mentioned a month or so ago, I’ll be presenting a paper on teaching with Twitter at 4Cs this March. So far, I’m not requiring students to follow people or build a community outside of our class, which is what I find most appealing in my own Twitter use. But I have asked them to maintain their Twitterstream as an informal, public journal focused on documenting their semester-long experiences with technology and literacy, both in my class and others. I’ve been learning a lot from my students, especially how attached they are to their laptops, as well as their lives as freshman. I know more now about what other required classes they’re taking and frequently hear them talk about going home on the weekends, which is nothing like my college experience [I lived at home all 4 years, in New Orleans mind you, so who wanted to leave that?!] I can’t wait to read more over the next month–While it was clear students were struggling to learn the course management software in September, I think this push to be critical of their web use is something they’ll take with them the rest of their 4 years here.

And to keep me more connected than ever before, I recently purchased an iPod Touch. Hands down, it’s the best thing I’ve bought in a long time. Were I not trapped in my T-Mobile contract for another couple years, I’m sure I would be an iPhone owner too, although I do wonder if my constant social media use & updating would run the battery down! One of the best parts about it is that is has a built in speaker so you don’t even have to wear the headphones, say, while you’re sitting in your office and grading papers. 🙂




In an effort to keep up the blogging efforts I started last night, I figured November would be good a month as any to participate in National Blog Posting Month. The FAQ is quite detailed, but I’m excited to try and live up to the challenge! With all of the dissertation writing I still need to do, blogging is bound to get my juices flowing, right?

With that said, I recently read an amazing Katrina-related book that I know I will include on a syllabus in the very near future. [In fact, I just wrote about “place writing” for the Katrina Media blog, so I know this book would be a great companion to the Rose text.]


It’s fiction, but it is the most authentic representation of New Orleanians, both transplants and locals from the Lower Nine, that I’ve ever read. I love the Ricky and G-Man books by Poppy Z Brite, but Tom Piazza’s City of Refuge is set right before, during, and after the storm. Having that focus offered him the chance to explain, through his characters’ voices, why some people stayed, where so many people ended up, and why still so many are desperate to return to New Orleans.

I know of several people who still doubt my reasons and passion for the place I call home, but perhaps after reading this very well-written fictional account they’ll be more willing to empathize.


the power of blogging continues

With my hectic schedule and lower back pain, I haven’t blogged much lately; however, I have continued to update my Twitterstream, primarily from my phone and new I-pod touch. These have been short posts pointing to links I’ve found interesting or sharing my observations in a small Wisconsin town.

But this past week I noticed a couple blog posts that I knew I wanted to write about in a text box that didn’t limit me to 140 characters. These two posts, on a meta-level, discuss 1) the impact blogging has on literacy and the future of our country as well as 2) the freedom blogging offers that social media sites like Twitter cannot. Both articles give nods to the multitasking we networked citizens do, online and off, but they’ve reminded me that, in the words of Doc Searls, blogging “is something you do as an independent human being.”

Just as my dissertation argues that NOLA blogs are examples of authentic, personal, and public writing, Palfrey’s and Searls’ posts echo this celebration of voice. Palfrey writes, “To ignore online public discourse and the possibilities for engagement, by young people and old, would be to squander one of the great opportunities of our age.” I’m sure some might argue with me, but like Doc, I don’t think what happens on Facebook or Twitter is discourse. It’s just too brief. While the speed of information and response is awesome, the most interesting people I follow are those that also maintain blogs where I can really learn more about their lives and their takes on current events, pedagogy, research, etc. Again quoting Doc, “Blogging at its best is free speech working in open spaces,” which is a perfect segue into the “How blogs are building a friendlier world” video below:

If you know me at all, you know how ideal this video is for my research into embodied writing and trauma; moreover, I’m so happy to hear Mena Trott describe blogs as “records of who you are” because that’s the description I’ve been looking for. As someone who also doesn’t have a lot of family records, her speech has urged me to return wholeheartedly to blogging and to use it to build an infinite archive of who I am.


teaching update

Wow. I haven’t blogged here in over a month, with that last post consisting only of embedded videos! I have written a couple posts over on the Katrina Media site, though, so check those out when you have a chance.

Things have been very busy here, such is the life of a still dissertating new Assistant Professor, yet I’ve been loving every minute of it.

Being at a teaching school means I’m observed three times each semester [for the first couple years, I think], and I’ve already received 2 out of 3 evaluations. My main concern this semester has not been the 4/4 load, but the return to teaching face-to-face and 5 days a week after almost 2 years of solid online teaching or a Tues/Thurs schedule. As a result, I’ve been concerned with using all of the allotted class time. I’m not sure why, but our twice a week classes meet for 85 minutes rather than the typical 75. To keep the students engaged and take advantage of being on a laptop campus, I’ve integrated many in-class discussion board posts, online research, group work, as well as reading quizzes and watching of short videos on either YouTube,, or

I have three sections of ENG 101, so I’ve focused the course to explore the themes of public writing and social media. As stated in my syllabus, “all assignments challenge students to understand knowledge and information as existing within a broader situational and cultural context.” Their first project was an Annotated Bibliography focused on defining Web 2.0, and now their second project is a Rhetorical Analysis of a Website related to their major/chosen profession. Based on the drafts I’ve read so far, this has been an ideal assignment for students at a polytechnic school. Pushing them to find websites in their chosen field, some of which include golf enterprise management, apparel design, construction, packaging, and vocational rehab, is asking them to be proactive in learning then writing about their chosen career path.

I just hope the students are enjoying this as much as I am!


Trouble the Water

Who knows when I’ll ever get to see this [considering my new Wisconsin town has yet to get Burn After Reading], but I know I’ll look as hard as I can to find it. May even drive to Milwaukee since this schedule says filmmakers will be there in November.

As Loki writes, “It is fortunate that Katrina hit us in an era when technology has made documentation like this possible. Camera phones and video cameras have allowed a much more intimate view of the disaster than any prior era could offer. This is an opportunity to be on the inside for a moment, to put yourself in the shoes of one of us.”


Old Media, New Media, and My Post-Katrina Blues

Cross-posted at Katrina: An Unnatural Disaster:

Last week I was interviewed by the communications staff here at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. They contacted me, saying they had heard about my research into the post-Katrina blogosphere, and the result of our conversation is this press release, which was sent out to 50 local and regional reporters. I guess you could say that my new media efforts are about to make waves through the old media channels.

On a more serious note, the blog post that accompanied this news story has reminded me of my ever-conflicted feelings of trauma and loss. It features a picture of me that they describe as follows: “Pignetti is shown here in a February 2006 photo as she sits on the front steps of her childhood home in New Orleans, which was devastated during Hurricane Katrina.”

Anyone viewing the picture can clearly see that it was taken on a sunny day, with my house gleaming white. The only visible indication of Hurricane Katrina’s wrath is the spray paint on the front door. Because of this, I felt I should immediately share a link to pictures of the house’s interior, which truly shows the damage 10-feet of water can do.

The urgency with which I left that comment proves that I still wrestle with feelings of being misunderstood. After all, I was living in Tampa in August of 2005 and didn’t have to physically endure anything other than frustration at not having any precise information about which levees breached and what that even meant. Yet, three years later, I am still traumatized by what happened to my house, on my street, and to my city. I experience survivor’s guilt on a daily basis, with my feelings of doubt only increasing with the passage of time, making me wonder, how am I justified in feeling as sad as I do?

For instance, when I meet people face-to-face for the first time, I still proudly proclaim that I’m from New Orleans, but often only respond with, “We lost everything” to their question of “How’d you make out after Katrina hit?” Why is that all I say? I certainly am annoyed if no one bothers to ask, so why, when given the chance, do I truncate my story to a three-word response?

I think it is because I figure that if I respond, “I couldn’t find my parents for almost a week,” they will think that my mother and father were like the people they saw stranded either at the Superdome or Convention Center. I am convinced that when they find out my parents are better off than most “victims” due to their relocation to a second home we already owned in Picayune, Mississippi, any sympathy they had for us will diminish.

Writer and scholar Louise DeSalvo states the following in her book Writing as a Way of Healing, and I believe it explains my situation as a transplanted New Orleanian exactly:

Often…trauma remains undisclosed because, though people would like to discuss it, they can’t or won’t because they fear punishment, embarrassment, or disapproval or because they can’t find an appropriate audience. So, many people actively stop themselves from telling their stories; they inhibit the need to tell their traumatic narratives.

But, to quote Loki’s most recent post, “that is one of the reasons why I blog.”

By directing my writing to an invisible, nonjudgmental audience, I have used this blog to cultivate a more emotional persona and, as a result, have embarked on a journey of healing. When I find an image of a now-destroyed familiar place or a news story that disturbs me to the point of again unleashing the sorrow of that week of national and man-made disaster, I know I can blog about it. Not only will I feel better as a result, others will recognize that I am not OK that New Orleans is nowhere close to being recovered, and that the world should not deny us its sympathy.


You're No One If You're Not On Twitter

I’ll be presenting a paper on teaching with Twitter at 4Cs next year, so, in order to get my “data,” this Monday I will present my students with their task of creating accounts on the popular microblogging site.

I was nervous over the summer when the Fail Whale kept rearing his power-blue head, but it seems like things have stabilized since then. As my previous post indicated, though, I am hesitant to require students to visit sites outside of the already confusing course management software, but because the writing shared on Twitter comes in spurts of 140 characters or less, I think it is a great opportunity to experiment and meet my students where they are in terms of technology use—relying heavily upon text messaging and social networking sites. Ideally, my rationale for this project [which will be their final exam] is that asking students to post to their own timeline will teach them valuable lessons in audience, linking, community, and active reading. At the end of the semester, they will have to rely and reflect upon their short posts in order to compose a technology literacy autobiography. Hopefully they will see from their timestamped posts that they’ve evolved as producers and consumers over the semester, that their life on the screen is not necessarily an alternative life but a space for growth.

Now to put that into directions that are easy to understand…perhaps this video will help? 😉