Life Online

Whenever I start leaving comments on my students’ blogs, it takes much longer than I planned because I start searching for links to share with them.

Recently they were assigned the following under the heading of “AGENCY, AUTHORITY & TRUST”:

• Qualman, E. 2009. Chapter 2 in Socialnomics.
• Paine Schofield, C. B., & Joinson, A. N. (2008). Privacy, trust, and disclosure online. In A. Barak (Ed.), Psychological aspects of cyberspace: Theory, research, applications (pp. 13-31). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
• Albrechtslund, A. (2008) “Online Social Networking as Participatory Surveillance” in First Monday. Available Online:

• Zittrain, J. “Meeting the Risks of Generativity: Privacy 2.0” in The Future of the Internet & How to Stop It. Available Online:
• Caplan, S. (2005) Social Skill Account of Problematic Internet Use. Journal of Communication 721-730. 55(4)

Their responses to these readings have been great, thoughtful, and engaging, and they made me think of these two videos also on the topic of social networking and digital footprints, one more lighthearted than the other:

I leave you with those for tonight because I’ve got 10 more students’ blogs to read, but wanted to post before I forgot!


when it rains…

Final post for the night, I promise!

This one should have been the first because it discusses and then lists all the things that have been keeping me distracted from blogging, but oh well…

Now that I’m past midterm, I have to say that this semester is flying by! October was a blur of grading 40+ freshman papers every week. Yes, I said EVERY WEEK. Silly me thought that repeating the same reader response/research reaction to various chapters in New New Media would be a good idea. I probably should have spaced the first 3 of 4 essays [750-words each] out better, but I was pleased to see the majority of students improve from essay to essay.

What pleased me most were their group presentations and collaboratively written papers. While I think a few students would prefer not to work in groups [I was one of these students as an undergrad], 9/10 of these papers were very well written, fully researched, and properly formatted in APA.

That’s another thing. I’ve switched to using APA style this semester, which has me scrambling to various online resources to double-check everything. Most helpful has been this UW-Madison site and the PDF Documenting Sources in APA Style: 2010 Update

The reasons I switched from MLA to APA are simple: the Learning Community I’m teaching in is linked with an ICT course that already uses APA and the graduate school at UW-Stout requires all Master’s theses to be formatted in APA. Soon we will be ordering all graduate faculty and incoming graduate students hard copies of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th edition, but until then, the online resources will do.

Keep in mind that all of what I just listed about grading was only related to my 2 face-to-face courses. Total, I’m teaching 5 this semester…

My online 101 students also wrote individually-authored researched responses and group papers on New New Media, but that class has dwindled to 13 active participants.

My ENGL-495/directed study student is brilliant–see his blog here. I’ve had the best time creating a reading list for him and seeing his understanding of research methods [particularly for internet-based projects] evolve. You can see from his posts what those readings are, but I’ve got to give shout outs to these two new books: Markham and Baym’s Internet Inquiry: Conversations About Method(2009) and Hargittai’s Research Confidential: Solutions to Problems Most Social Scientists Pretend They Never Have (2009).

I’ve already written about the graduate course this evening, and I do have ideas about incorporating their technology literacy narratives into a journal article to answer this call, but here’s a laundry list of other things that have kept me busy:

  • submitting a proposal to for an NEH Summer Stipend {fingers crossed!}
  • flying to NOLA for a 40-hour stay to rejoice in Matthew and Mandy’s wedding
  • attending A Low Key Gathering at the wacky House on the Rock to celebrate 10 years of American Gods
  • attending the e-Citizenship institute in Detroit & ending up on an editorial board for a new ADP initiative e-journal
  • proposing a “Conversation Starter” presentation to Computers and Writing 2011
  • drafting a proposal for this Oxford Internet Institute Symposium on the Dynamics of the Internet and Society with my fav Irishman Daithí Mac Síthigh
  • convincing fellow Tech Comm faculty to road trip to De Pere, WI in June to attend THATCampLAC {Yes, we know we’re not a liberal arts school, but given this meeting’s location and our recent addition of a DH concentration, I think it’s a great opportunity to learn from others who “must build stronger off-campus networks” as well as discuss technology and pedagogy}
  • considering an application to the Institute for the Digital Humanities @ University of Denver

    So yeah, I’ve been busy! And I haven’t even mentioned all the committee work…ugh

  • Nov

    something that always makes me smile

    Free books!


    Well, I did earn these.

    I was recently awarded a $100 Emerging Technology grant to explore my use of blogs in the graduate course, ENGL 745-Communication Strategies for Emerging Media. If you recall, I also earned one of these grants to explore using Twitter in ENGL 101-Freshman Composition, with the final report posted on this site under Twitter Research.

    Below are excerpts from my grant application:

    During the Fall 2010 semester I have required my graduate students (ENGL 745-Communication Strategies for Emerging Media) to maintain a blog as a reading journal. I had originally thought to have one course blog where we all contributed, but I realized there may be repeat entries on the assigned readings, so I opted for students to create individual blog spaces so they can share their responses and comment upon each other’s posts. The added value of writing in a public space such as a blog is that students need to consider an audience wider than their instructor and peers.

    Given that our Masters of Science program in Technical and Professional Communication is in its first year, my ultimate intent is for these graduate students to include posts about other courses they are taking this semester and/or continue to blog throughout their time in the program.

    As a blogger, Internet researcher, and teacher, my career is focused on engaging students and remaining relevant. With this said, I hope to draft a chapter-length paper that analyzes the reach of these graduate student bloggers’ public discourse and the evolution of their identities as young academics. Based on their end-of-the-semester reflections, I also plan to speculate my future pedagogical use of a blog space over a D2L-based discussion forum.

    Because I am also a faculty member in the newly revised undergraduate Technical Communication program, this project will greatly aid me when teaching courses devoted to digital humanities, not to mention enhance discussions about conducting research in virtual spaces.

    I look forward to sharing my research findings with those here at UW-Stout interested in digital storytelling, public writing, and social software; doing so will let me generate new connections both in my home Department of English and across campus.

    Here are the titles I ordered with the grant money:

  • Because Digital Writing Matters: Improving Student Writing in Online and Multimedia Environments
  • Bloggers on the Bus: How the Internet Changed Politics and the Press
  • Say Everything: How Blogging Began, What It’s Becoming, and Why It Matters
  • Digital Literacies: Concepts, Policies and Practices (New Literacies and Digital Epistemologies)
  • Digital Literacy for Technical Communication: 21st Century Theory and Practice

    Anyone have other titles to suggest for future reference?

  • Nov

    Ultimate Pet Shop Boys

    So not only do the Pet Shop Boys have a great new compilation out, with a fabulous single called “Together,” the video for it features everything I love: waltzing girls in petticoats, hip-hop dancing boys, folk-dancing moves in a club, and a rehearsal to performance motif!

    Not to mention a bench-sitting Chris and dog-on-leash standing Neil. SIGH…SWOON…SIGH



    As I mentioned in this post, ever since I started the 4/4 teaching load I’ve neglected my blog, offering only embedded video and a quick comment or two and rarely a “long thought.”

    This semester is different though because I’m finally requiring UW-Stout students to blog, specifically my graduate students and my 1 directed study student, so I’d like to be able to lead by example.

    In fact, I’ve been talking blogs with the 101 students too as we work through the chapters in New New Media, but they are only required to microblog via Twitter. This post isn’t really about that exercise, but in case anyone is curious, here are the guidelines I give them:

  • Whenever reading is assigned, students will be required to post at least 2 questions or comments about that text to their timeline. Shared at the beginning of each class period, we will
    reference these tweets as a means to generate discussion.

  • While not required, I encourage you to use this microblogging social network as an informal journal about technology, as a way to communicate with each other, and as a quick way to ask me questions when outside of class.
  • As your teacher, I will use the site to post announcements, extra credit opportunities, and share links relevant to our course focus on social media trends, so it is important that you check in on a daily basis.

    I have to say, I’ve been impressed with the questions/comments they post at the beginning of class as they often take us through the entire 55-minute class period. FYI only 1 student continues to tweet after class…but I digress.

    This post is about how all of this thinking about and requiring student blogs has pushed me to step back and return to Jill Walker’s definition and to also think more about what going public with reader responses means in terms of audience, format, and design.

    If you check out the ENGL-745 blogroll on the side you can see my students’ responses to readings such as “Looking from the Inside Out: Academic Blogging as New Literacy,” “The Social Media Release as a Corporate Communications Tool for Bloggers,” and “Learning with Weblogs: Enhancing Cognitive and Social Knowledge Construction.” Nearly every grad student was either hesitant or curious about blogs, and only 1 had maintained a blog already, so offering these readings early on about the use of blogs for educational and workplace purposes prompted them to reconsider the medium they had only stereotyped in the past. While there are still a few skeptics, one thing for certain is that they are all realizing how whitespace, images, link, and embedded video can add value to their responses.

    Actually, another thing I’ve realized in reading their responses is how many of these MS in Technical and Professional Communication students are also teachers, so I’m glad to have started this course with an emphasis on technological literacy. I’d assumed more would be tech writers in non-academic settings, which is unfamiliar territory to me, but this way we can all reflect upon our own teaching/writing/reading/researching with new technologies and then work our way into the “Work and Play in a User-Generated World” section.

    I really hope these grad students continue to blog throughout their coursework because I know how beneficial it became to my research and how connected I became to other academic bloggers, but I can’t and won’t force anything. If they do continue, though, I hope they make their blog space their own.

    With that said, I’ll close this post by sharing some links, including one to a resource I never thought I’d take seriously, “8 things every blogger can learn by studying Perez Hilton.” If you take a look you’ll find that it’s actually decent advice! But if that’s not your thing, check out “13 blogging lessons learned from Stephen King’s On Writing” and “How blogging can change your life.”

  • Sep

    i can haz kitteh?

    All week I’ve had a list of stuff to blog about, primarily how I’ve been teaching with and talking about blogs to undergrad and grad students, but a grant application distracted me.

    And then I met this guy.

    Kitten to rock star, for scale. Kitten is 14oz. Rock star 16oz. on Twitpic

    In brief, my fabulous friend Fabulous Lorraine found this lil guy Friday morning while walking the dog. I “innocently” went over to have lunch and meet the dude, but long story short, brought him home.

    His name is Dexter; he’s 4-5 weeks old. The vet weighed him in at 14 oz. on Friday, but I think he’s put on a couple this weekend, heehee.

    I can guarantee many more pictures, but here are a few from Photobooth.

    mother & child. an unexpected addition to the household.  on Twitpic

    oh hai--i can use webcam to be famous on the internetz? first... on Twitpic


    tv on DVD

    A major benefit to being done with the dissertation is that I can pay more attention to pop culture. Otherwise stated, I don’t have to feel guilty for watching television.

    I’ve already mentioned my love of Don Draper and MadMen, but there are all sorts of shows that I’ve recently discovered. Thanks to DVDs and Netflix’s “Instant Queue” I have access to entire seasons at once. These shows include Burn Notice, Boston Legal, Veronica Mars, The Big Bang Theory, Criminal Minds, and True Blood. Thanks to the internets, I even won Season 3 DVDs of Burn Notice just by leaving a comment on this post. It was offline for awhile but I’m happy it’s back up because I want to use it as an example of “if you answer the assignment, you will be rewarded.”

    The most intense show I’ve started watching this year is Dexter. Again, thanks to Netflix we quickly went through Seasons 1-3. I remember reading all sorts of tweets about Season 4, but didn’t seek it out. Once I heard about its dramatic finale, I asked around and was pointed to a site, which shall remain nameless because I’m not sure it’s all together “kosher,” where hubby and I watched all 12 episodes over a 48-hour period. Yes, it’s that good and John Lithgow is that creepy!

    With that said, this will be the first season of Dexter where I’ll have to wait week-to-week for a new episode. That might have worked for me with True Blood this summer, but I’m not looking forward to it this time around!

    This trailer alone sends chills up my spine

    but this conversation with the writers makes me all the more impatient!


    speaking of dance videos…

    Why didn’t this kind of stuff happen when I lived in Boston?

    See here and here for additional examples of Sound of Music-related flash mobs.

    Even if Julie Andrews doesn’t know about this phenomenon, Mashable does!

    And, somehow, all of that reminds me of this from 2007,

    which Henry Jenkins eloquently discussed in his post, “Hustling 2.0: Soulja Boy and the Crank Dat Phenomenon.”

    Sigh…more to discuss with the freshmen when I get to the YouTube chapter!


    video driven evolution of skills

    I’ve been teaching for 1 week now, and much of my planning and reading for my ENG 101 class has been related to literacy, particularly “What it means to be literate” nowadays. Teaching on a laptop campus has its challenges, but the best part is projection in every classroom. That way, I can show videos and ask students to livetweet responses/comments/questions OR I can ask them to close their laptops and, even if for just a few minutes, focus on only 1 screen.

    I’ve used TED talks in the past, JZ’s, Mena Trott’s, and Rives’ contributions being my favs. This one by Chris Anderson, which references “The LXD: In the Internet age, dance evolves…” and which further reminds me of this “participatory media” post by Henry Jenkins, is a new favorite because it focuses on how video offers us new ways to share information, not to mention visually and perhaps physically learn from it:

    We don’t get into the YouTube chapter of our textbook New New Media for a couple weeks, but I’ll be interested in hearing how students seek, watch, produce, and incorporate video into their day to day lives, whether for learning or entertainment. I wonder how many will already be familiar with TED and/or other video sites like hulu or dailymotion.

    Do you have any video sites that you visit more frequently than YouTube?


    back to school; back to blogging

    In case you haven’t noticed, ever since I started my job at UW-Stout in 2008 I’ve hardly blogged. The dissertation [on blogs of all things] consumed me and even though I defended in March, formatted in April, skipped the Tampa graduation in May, and finally received the diploma in the mail in July, I took the summer off from anything over 140-characters.

    Doctah Day-Z!!!!!! on Twitpic

    Sure, I traveled to NYC, TX, and Italy, and could write volumes on those trips. I even taught a summer course and scored thousands of AP essay exams in June, but I just couldn’t bring myself back to reading blogs until a few weeks ago.

    Now, though, I have some fresh new research and publication ideas, which I will post on later this week, so beware: I’m totally throwing myself back in to blogging!

    It helps that every course I’m teaching this Fall has a technology emphasis:

    • ENGL 101 is using the textbook New New Media and while these students aren’t required to blog, we will be relying on Twitter [in class only] to generate questions and reactions of assigned readings. 1 section of the 3 is dedicated to a Learning Community called the Google Generation, and I’m excited to see how these students connect our reading and writing to that assigned in the Information and Communication Technologies course they go to immediately after mine.
    • ENGL 495 is a brand new 2-semester capstone course. I have 1 very diligent student, and this semester we’re focusing on research methods with the final project being a proposal and pilot study. I’m having him purchase Research Confidential and Internet Inquiry as well as read a bunch of PDFs that either discuss methodology or put mixed methods into practice.
    • ENGL 745 is a brand new graduate course in our brand new Master of Science in Technical and Professional Communication program. Students are reading Socialnomics as well as 40+ journal articles/book chapters [including some from Always On, The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It, and Convergence Culture], all with the goal of “interpreting the ways emerging media and digital technologies affect writing, rhetoric, literacy, and the discipline of technical and professional communication.” If anyone has any suggestions for more tech comm-y texts that I should include, please let me know!Aside from academic posts, I can tell you already that I’m also going to share my opinions on various TV shows since I’ve become quite the fangirl. Between watching stuff online, via Netflix, and now with cable at home, I’ve got quite the list of favorites. To close this post, I’ll share 2 swoontastic pics of my man, Don Draper. Please note, I don’t have a crush on Jon Hamm. It is only Don Draper that makes me weak in the knees.




    From LADY GAGA

    I have had the great fortune to see Lady Gaga’s Monster Ball twice now. Once last December in NOLA and then this week in St. Paul. [Thanks again @fablor!]

    Both times were amazing and I truly love her music, but despite her appeals to her fans AKA little monsters to be themselves and her donations to the ReGeneration fund, at both concerts she gave a speech that totally contradicts those beliefs:

    “…there is one thing I hate more than money and that’s the truth…I’d like a giant dose of bullshit any day.”

    What? After all her promotion of equality, being who you are and not feeling ashamed or insecure, why would bullshit be the choice? Wouldn’t authenticity trump that?

    I should put my scholarly researcher hat on and theorize/analyze this further, like they do at the FABULOUS Gaga Stigmata blog, but for now let me hear your thoughts on the matter.



    I’m going to experiment with colors and word layout settings, but here’s my first go at pasting my 150-page dissertation into Wordle

    Wordle: DaisyPignetti_WritingtoReNewOrleans

    And since my dissertation is on blogs, here the Wordle of what’s here at



    Twitter on paper

    Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

    BTW if you follow me on Twitter you know that I’m in the final push of formatting the dissertation according to grad school standards. As soon as I’m done I plan to compose thoughts longer than 140-characters and update this blog with details about my defense experience, feedback I received, and ideas for future projects.


    Google Map Time Machine

    Does anyone know when Google Maps updates its street views?

    It’s becoming common practice for those impacted by disaster to use Google Maps to either organize efforts or search for views of homes/neighborhoods, but I was surprised when tinkering around with Street View to see my now razed home still showing up.


    Some background:

    As I blogged in September 2005, the site allowed me to type in my address and find this information:

    My parents chose to move permanently to Mississippi instead of rebuild and when I went home over Christmas they saw the house had finally been demolished. Here’s a pic of my brother who visited NOLA in January:

    While I’m all about the Internet providing more accurate and authentic information than traditional media, I have to say that, especially during this time of finalizing the dissertation, it was comforting to see my home still there…


    this is the turnaround moment


    Thank you, Drew and Sean!

    And thank you, Cokie Roberts!

    NOLA’s future is bright and I couldn’t be happier! Just wish I didn’t have to wait til JazzFest to get down there to celebrate…

    Speaking of which, other than Twitter, which I can scroll through pretty quickly, I plan to be offline a lot for the next few weeks. There are dissertation deadlines to meet and with only about 20 pages left to write up, I’m not stopping now!