The Blogora: The Rhetoric Society of America


Amazon Kindle, Anyone?

Submitted by Jim Aune on November 19, 2007 - 10:32am

Is anyone planning on buying the new Amazon Kindle (eBook reader) that came out today? $399 seems a little pricy, but I might do it.


'YouTube for human rights'

Submitted by Jim Brown on November 12, 2007 - 2:56pm

Lawrence Lessig writes of a Web project launched by Peter Gabriel called The Hub:

Welcome to the Hub -- the world's first participatory media site for human rights. Through the Hub, individuals, organizations, networks and groups around the world are able to bring their human rights stories and campaigns to global attention and to mobilize action to protect and promote human rights.


Small Tech and Ethical Coordinates

Submitted by Jim Brown on November 7, 2007 - 11:18am

Katherine Hayles recently visited UT as part of the UT Humanities Institute Distinguished Lecturers Series. Some of us in the English and Rhetoric and Writing departments were also lucky enough to have an informal discussion with Dr. Hayles about some of her current work.


Yahoo: Moral pygmies

Submitted by Jim Brown on November 6, 2007 - 4:41pm

Yahoo executives took a bit of a tongue lashing from Congress today for their role in the jailing of a Chinese journalist:

"While technologically and financially you are giants, morally you are pygmies," House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos, D-Calif., said angrily after hearing from the two Yahoo executives.

I can't help but think that Yahoo is standing in as a scapegoat for the real problem which seems to


Rooting Against Dad?

Submitted by Jim Brown on August 6, 2007 - 7:47pm

Do you think Rudy Giuliani's daughter thought it was a big deal when she joined the "Barack Obama (One Million Strong for Barack)" group on Facebook? Well, it's become a big deal (see the New York Times coverage also.)

Interest in the family members of presidential candidates is certainly nothing new. But it seems significant that certain technologies mean that the press doesn't necessarily have to interview those family members to figure out where they stand.


objet petit i(phone)

Submitted by Jim Aune on June 30, 2007 - 9:34pm

OK, I did it. I stood in line at the ATT store in Bryan, Texas, and bought an 8 gig iphone last night. Yes, it's ATT (evil, evil, evil), and the phone is made in China (why don't earnest left-wing academics want to boycott China the way they do Israel), but I *had* to have it. Jim--technowhore. . . And, yes, I love it. . . .


Open Secrets

Submitted by Jim Brown on June 14, 2007 - 12:24pm

Julia R. Vallera, a grad student and instructor at Parsons the New School for Design has created a T-Shirt that features an encoded diary entry. The diary entry is in bar code format and can be decoded by certain cell phones.

The code presents “my private thoughts and writing, kind of exposed in a really public way, but contradictorily, being still private because its encoded,” Ms. Vallera said in an interview.

An interesting way to think about dissolving boundaries between public and private. Link via The Chronicle's Wired Campus Blog.


The Proliferation of Wikis

Submitted by Jim Brown on June 8, 2007 - 2:47pm

Wikis continue to sprout (for examples, see Conservapedia and Citizendium). Recently, I've been notified of No Subject, a wiki-based encyclopedia of psychoanalysis (thanks to Jillian for the link). This seems like a resource that would be extremely helpful to folks like me who need explanations of concepts like lack or Countertransference. Useful, that is, depending on who's writing it.

But back to wikis sprouting everywhere: The success of Wikipedia seems to have really circumscribed the idea of what a wiki is or what it could be useful for. Wikis don't have to be encyclopedias. They can be lots of things. However, it seems that we've really gotten stuck when it comes to thinking through what wikis can be. Why do we keep creating knowledge dumps/repositories?

This is not to say that all of these encyclopedias are a bad thing. In fact, all of these specialized wikis remind me of how prescient Lyotard's The Postmodern Condition (1979!) was:

“[Computer Technology] could become the ‘dream’ instrument for controlling and regulating the market system…governing exclusively by the performativity principle. In that case, it would inevitably involve the use of terror. But it could also aid groups discussing metaprescriptives by supplying them with the information they usually lack for making knowledgeable decisions. The line to follow for computerization to take the second of these two paths is, in principle, quite simple: give the public free access to the memory and data banks. Language games would then be games of perfect information at any given moment. But they would also be non-zero-sum games, and by virtue of that fact discussion would never risk fixating in a position of minimax equilibrium because it had exhausted its stakes. For the stakes would be knowledge (or information if you will), and the reserve of knowledge – language’s reserve of possible utterances – is inexhaustible. This sketches the outline of a politics that would respect both the desire for justice and the desire for the unknown” (67).


Homer: Digital and 3D

Submitted by Jim Brown on June 6, 2007 - 1:41pm

Wired has a story about a group of scholars creating a 3-D, digital version of the oldest Illiad manuscript. In addition to dovetailing nicely with Cynthia's post about Graffiti and "intersection of orality, literacy, image, and politics," this story provides an interesting case of collaboration across disciplines:

The idea is "to use our 3-D data to create a 'virtual book' showing the Venetus in its natural form, in a way that few scholars would ever be able to access," says Matt Field, a University of Kentucky researcher who scanned the pages. "It's not often that you see this kind of collaboration between the humanities and the technical fields."


A new way to do think aloud protocols

Submitted by Jim Brown on June 1, 2007 - 8:14am

The Chronicle of Higher Ed writes of a smart pen that could change the way certain composition scholars do think aloud protocols:

"The pen, which looks like an ordinary ballpoint, is embedded with a computer that photographs whatever is being written. The pen is also equipped with a microphone that records what is being spoken, so that people using the pen to take notes can later play back the recording and elaborate on their notes. In a docking station, the pen can transfer files to and from a PC. Jim Marggraff, inventor of the device, says he plans to market the pen for less than $200 to college students in the fall."