Archive for ‘Dissertation’

The question of methods

By js, 30 July, 2010, No Comment


Logging in today’s work.

Collectivism vs. Individualism Online

By js, 16 January, 2010, No Comment

Response to:

DIGITAL MAOISM: The Hazards of the New Online Collectivism [5.30.06]
By Jaron Lanier

I have been struggling with the benefits and the dangers/constraints of the internet.

I know several people whom I respect immensely who are very weary of the internet. They put forth the same arguments which I have heard before regarding safety, worth and authenticity of ideas, and surveillance. These concerns are legitimate and many scholars are debating these issues.

What concerns me is that we may not be taking advantage of its strengths because we are so guarded by its dangers. There has to be balance between the two. Lanier takes up the discussion of this balance between the power and danger of the collective and the individual. He argues for both collectivism and individualism.

Lanier argues that the strength of the internet is the people behind it. The danger, he argues, comes in elevating the technology above the human, that is, elevating the internet and giving it power which it ultimately does not have and behind which individuals (especially those doing despicable things) can hide.

Plan of Action

By js, 28 January, 2009, No Comment

As I think about all the books that I still have to read to prepare for qualifying exams, I realize that I have to be disciplined about the work that I do.

I have been very involved in my job recently, teaching and administering my dept., that it is difficult to find much time to read. If I have two hours to read daily, I consider myself lucky. Two hours daily though won’t get me very far in one semester. I have to be able to dedicate more hours than that.

One of my friends has a daughter in grad school and she said she tried to study for a minimum of eight hours a day. What a luxury!

When I was in Lubbock one of the graduate students said that she read for several hours in the morning and then she took notes in the afternoon. That seems to me to be a pretty good plan.

This means that I have to add at least two more hours. The difficult part is leaving work early. I didn’t leave the office until a little after 8 pm. Late nights at the office are going to have to change. I have to try to get the studying done before the kids come home from school. Once they are here it is difficult to shut myself off and not spend time with them. What is worse is that I can’t work too late. The tiredness just gets to me and I don’t absorb much of what I read.

This means that the best time to process information is in the morning and the afternoon can be devoted to notetaking. That is going to be my plan for the next several weeks and I have to see if that works out for me.

I also have to think about the books that I need to read now. I have been concentrating on the cultural theory for a while, so I’m going to turn to the methodology books especially now that I have had contact with two of my participants and they have agreed to an interview.

Exams Planning

By js, 27 January, 2009, No Comment

A friend asked me about the planning that I am doing for the qualifying exams. Every program has specific requirements and expectations about how the path set up toward the exams will help the candidate.

Texas Tech TCR program is specific. We have the following stages:

  • dissertation preproposal
  • reading list
  • discuss exam questions
  • take exams
  • dissertation proposal
  • submit dissertation
  • defend.

The first two, I think, must be worked on recursively although many students have said that they add things to their reading lists after they submit them.

Even though the preproposal has that “pre,” which gives it the sense that it is more informal, the experiences others have had show that the preproposal is a solid idea of what you will do although it needs to be phrased as if you don’t know the outcome yet. Most of us don’t do quantitative research so we don’t send up hypothesis, etc., but I think we do need to have an idea of what we will find through our research. Although, of course, that idea probably will change/shift as we work.

The preproposal, generally 10 pages long, provides the questions we will focus on, the rationale for that research, a discussion of relevant research, and a discussion of our proposed methods. This preproposal needs to be approved by the committee chair. Once it has his/her approval it goes on to the other two committee members.

After the preproposal is approved, the reading list is submitted and approved. The reading list and the preproposal give the committee members the direction for the questions they will write. We know we probably will get a topic question, a tech comm/rhetoric question, and a methods question. My committee chair has said that he will ask me for suggestions for questions. The committee uses the reading list, the proposal, and the suggestions to draft the reading list. We have four days for the qualifying exams. Our committee responds with the outcome and a meeting is held during which the date for the proposal submission is set. The student becomes a candidate after she has passed the qualifying exams.

The structure which the program has set seems logical to me, but what I have had issues with is writing the dissertation preproposal. I have spent much of the last semester doing background reading to help me understand cultural theory and chicano scholarship. It seems to me that I can’t have a good grasp of how I will provide a rationale for my project unless I do so.

I can provide a rationale by only turning to mainstream rhetorical texts and digitial rhetoric theory. But because of the focus of my subject, Chicana bloggers, I think it is important to understand cultural theory especially as it relates to Chicanos. This, of course, may be too large of an undertaking since it can take several solid years in the field before I feel confident of my understanding.

Not much of the cultural studies scholarship or the Chicana studies scholarship will probably end up in the preproposal, but I do think I need a solid understanding to solidly understand the direction I am going. One of my PhD colleagues said that she felt after she took exams that she did too much reading in preparation and instead should have concentrated on those texts which she had already read and which she knew were going to be central to her work. I’m beginning to feel the same thing.

Preproposal Attempt #2

By js, 26 January, 2009, No Comment

My goal is to finish the preproposal by the end of February but I still think that it may be too soon. I want to be able to finish some of the background reading that I think will inform my discussion of the subject. Perhaps taking the quals in early summer is not a good idea.

As I was working on the preproposal, I found that I have alot of gaps in what I have to write. I know the sections that I want to include but some of the sections will require that I do more background reading so I can articulate those ideas better.

I will continue to write the preproposal and see how many holes I have to fill in. I’m hoping to have a completed draft finished by Friday.

Full steam ahead!

Making a new plan

By js, 23 January, 2009, 1 Comment

I’ve been hesitant about jumping in to this work until I know exactly where I’m going.

I don’t think that strategy is going to work for this project. I have to jump in and be confident that things will turn out well.

I’m currently working hard at reorganizing my responsibilities in order to focus the time that I need to prepare for the qualifying exams. I am not teaching more than I have to and I am deligating responsibilities to my assistant chairs.  I was still tempted to step down from being department chair. I hope I don’t have to still take that decision.

So far I’ve contacted one of my participants and have received an affirmative response from her. I am waiting on the second.

I have three very rough draft of the preproposal. The problem with what I have done so far is that each one is taking me in different directions. I am trying to find a way to merge the different interests that I have. I keep thinking that each is a different research project and that I will have to commit to one of the directions. Still part of me is convinced that all the questions are related and getting at something that I am not sure I have articulated yet.

If I keep writing, it is bound to crystallize.

Blog Awards Pt. 2

By js, 4 January, 2009, No Comment

After having found all those sites for blog awards and no site dedicated to awards for Hispanic/Latino/Chicano blogs, I’m wondering about the usefulness of these awards.

For most of the awards, bloggers can nominate themselves and then presumably send readers to the site to vote for their blog. At least one site, charges bloggers to nominate themselves. Some of the results that I saw did not have that many votes.  The blackweblogawards has judges as well as a popular vote.

What do bloggers get out of winning the award? Most of them get to put a badge on their site that says that they were nominated, a finalist or a winner. This probably builds some prestige with the audience.

But does winning a blog award make a difference to the readers or the blogger? How does winning an award change the experience or value of blogging?

The award tag in some form legitimizes the blog and gives it a stamp of approval, but isn’t that really done by the readers who visit the blog or receive the blog feeds and then come back to comment and interact with the blogger.

Much of what I have read about blogging puts the value of blogging on the interaction with the audience (see Blogging Becomes More Mobile by Steve Inskeep and Andy Carvin Many of the popular bloggers have experience already as writers, either by working for marketing companies (writing) or by being journalists (which means they were writing). Most of these bloggers have a very particular “voice” and a particular focus to their blog. Most are conversational and even intimate. Whether the blogger is writing about their own musings about life lessons ( or giving tips of how to use tech tools better (, all speak to the reader in an informal tone. Many remind me of the newspaper column genre.

The blog award may have value in several ways:

1. if the blog award is given by people who read blogs, then as “experts” they can pick out/select those that have value for them. If  a blog is popular, then by extension that means that the readers find the blog of value either because it is entertaining or enlightening or both.

2. the blog award badge signals to readers the value that others have found in the blog

3. the blog award sites direct readers to the blogs; therefore, the blog gains readership and thus popularity (that is assuming that the readers return)

Readers have value because

1. they interact with the blogger; and after all, isn’t the interaction what it’s all about?

2. they draw advertising revenue. Most of the blogs that I have seen have ads on them. Many have made initial attempts at putting ads as part of the blog but for others the ads are a big portion of the blog. Revenue, of course, is important because the blogger needs to pay for the space which runs the site and for the bandwith which is used especially if it gets many readers. Someone who doesn’t get very many readers can afford to pay for their own hosting but I can imagine that many bloggers who have popular sites would need to start brining in money to help pay for the site.

I wonder how many readers/visitors a site actually needs before the alloted bandwith given by the hosting company is used up?

The fact that award sites direct readers to the blogs is fascinating to me. There are so many different sites out there that someone who is new to blog reading may not necessarily know where to get started. If the blog award site appears as one of the top hits on a Google search then a novice blog reader may turn to the blog award site to get recommendations about where to begin reading. Also, the blog award legitimizes the content and design of the blog. So a novice reader may not have the necessary background to make their own evaluation of a site and will depend on the evaluation made by others.

I think eventually as the blog reader becomes more experienced s/he will not depend on the award site as much but will begin establishing their own criteria to make their own evaluations. In the end, the criteria will probably end up being:

1. does it entertain me?

2. do I learn something?

3. can I identify with the writer?

After all, isn’t that what all faithful readers look for?

Blog Awards

By js, 4 January, 2009, No Comment

I have been following alot of blogs recently. Most of them are tech blogs and the Chicana blogs that I identified earlier this year.

The more blogs I read, especially those blogs that discuss blogging, I am becoming much more interested in looking at how Chicanas and Chicanos are using blogs and if they are similar or different to the ways that blogs are being used by the majority of bloggers (read white and male).

There have been some studies that have looked at how male and female bloggers use the medium so I’m going to have to go back to those in the next few weeks.

I wanted to get a sense of what other people of color are doing with blogs. I used Google to search for African American Blogs (11,300,000 hits) and for Black blogs (38,000,000 hits).  Both searches have proved fruitful. One interesting blog was the blackweblog awards. I searched through the categories and through some of the blogs. Interesting. I found another research direction.

This lead me to try to find out where blog awards came from and I was surprised to find many blog award sites and some have specific awards for Latino blogs.

Best Latino, Caribbean, or South American Blog – The 2008 Weblog

Voto Latino Blog: Rosario is a WINNER at the Environmental Media ..

Blog Awards: Best Latino, Caribbean, or South American Blog

Eighth Annual Weblog Awards: The 2008 Bloggie

These are the blog award sites:

Canadian blog awards

Wine Blog awards

Blog Awards (blogger)

Oklahoma Blog awards has an entrance fee

Performancing Blog Awards

There have also been a couple of stories (that I have found so far) that discuss blog awards.

Blog awards: Like blogs, they’re diverse, global and freewheeling– a story on blog awards

BECOME FAMOUS: Top 10 Blog Awards —

Defining Chicana

By js, 4 January, 2009, No Comment

I got the following from JAM who teaches a class on Chicano Rhetorics.

Here’s a working definition of the term Chicana, which can also be applied for Chicanos.

For the purposes of our class, we’ll be relying on this definition.

In Learning from Experience: Minority Identities, Multicultural Struggles, Paula M. L. Moya states the following:

I want to consider now the possibility that my identity as a “Chicana” can grant me a knowledge about the world that is “truer” and more “objective” than an alternative identity I might claim as a “Mexican American,” a “Hispanic,” or an “American” (who happens to be of Mexican descent). When I refer to a Mexican American, I am referring to a person of Mexican heritage born and/or raised in the United States whose nationality is U.S. American. The term for me is descriptive, rather than political. The term Hispanic is generally used to refer to a person of Spanish, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Cuban, Chilean, Peruvian, and so on, heritage who may or may not have a Spanish surname, who may or may not speak Spanish, who can be of any racial extraction, and who resides in the United States. As it is currently deployed, the term is so general as to be virtually useless as a descriptive or analytical tool. Moreover, the term has been shunned by progressive intellectuals for its overt privileging of the “Spanish” part of what for many of the people it claims to describe is a racially and culturally mixed heritage. A Chicana, according to the usage of women who identify that way, is a politically aware woman of Mexican heritage who is at least partially descended from the indigenous people of Mesoamerica and who was born and/or raised in the United States. What distinguishes a Chicana from a Mexican American, a Hispanic, or an American of Mexican descent is not her ancestry or her cultural upbringing. Rather it is her political awareness; her recognition of her disadvantaged position in a hierarchically organized society arranged according to categories of class, race, gender, and sexuality; and her propensity to engage in a political struggle aimed at subverting and changing those structures. (41-2)

Why “Chicana” Bloggers?

By js, 23 October, 2008, 5 Comments

Like with any research project, I had a personal interest in finding these bloggers.

When I first started searching, I used the term Chicana or Chicano. This of course led me to many different places or to sites which were dead as I mentioned in a previous post. It also led me to commercial sites.

My interest in answering:

Where are the Chicanas in cyberspace? What are they doing?

was to find others like me. I am a Chicana in cyberspace  and I didn’t know anyone who could provide a connection to others like me.

Now, you may ask, why is that important? what does that have to do with Technical Communication?

As I finished by course work in the Spring and as I decided that I wanted to focus on issues dealing with people of color and cyberspace, I knew that I needed to find a community in and with which to work. I needed to find others who had similar interests and preoccupations. Everyone at Tech has been very supportive, but no one with whom I have been working has been specifically involved with this community. I knew that it fell on my shoulders to look for that community. I knew the community was not in Lubbock (at least not one that I had access to) and it is not in South Texas (not one with the same preoccupations and to which I had access). So I turned to cyberspace to find it. I knew that someone was other there. I just had to figure out a way to find them.

I knew I wanted to use the term “Chicana” because of what that term implies about self-definition and political awareness. I know that there is not guarantee that someone using it will be conscious of what the term implies if considered historically but I knew that there were more chances of finding someone who was conscious of its meaning more so than searching for Hispanic or even Latina. These are terms which are problematic because they do not come from within the community but are labels which come from the outside. Furthermore, they are labels which place everyone with a Spanish-speaking heritage under one category without making distinction for the many cultural and linguistic differences.

I became committed to using the term early on in my research. The idea of self-definition and individual agency was something that I was more interested in exploring.

Using the term “chicana” or “latina” on its own became very problematic. There was too much information, and not anything which seemed promising. Some used the term as a marketing tool to attract consumers. Commercial sites seemed to be taking these terms and exploiting their potential to attract an audience. The sites that I did find that were relevant were all “dead” sites which had not been updated in years.

I used the term “race” which was even more problematic since Google cannot distinguish what definition of race you want to use. I soon realized that it would be difficult to find what I was looking for by using only one word.

Using Becky Rickly’s suggestion I turned to blogs. I searched for “chicana blog” and focused on links which took me into the Chicana Blogosphere.