Archive for ‘Musings’

Critique of Lanier

By js, 20 January, 2010, No Comment

Michael Agger writes a critique of Lanier.

His argues that though Lanier remains cautious, this caution is a result of “snobbery” and a romantic memory of when an elite controlled the web.

See full critique

The Geek Freaks: Why Jaron Lanier rants against what the Web has become.

Critiquing the critique of the web

By js, 20 January, 2010, No Comment

Can real time web bring real world change?

In this post, Saxberg analyzes social media as a way to provide a benefit to the individual who in turn helps to improve the collective (back to Lanier).

She mentions the needs which individuals have and how those are supported by social media.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs can also reflect the evolvement of the Internet, from focus on basic infrastructure and security to the services we use today that support our need for social belonging and esteem. This thesis indicates, that the future of web will move towards supporting our need for self-actualization.

Mac or PC?

By js, 25 January, 2009, No Comment
image from AppleInsider 1/24/09

image from AppleInsider 1/24/09

I remember this type of computer was the first computer I ever purchased.

I learned how to type on a typewriter that I had to push a lever to return. My dad bought me my first typewriter when I was in high school, an electric one. I used computers in a high school class in which we learned about PASCAL.

When I got to college and first used the Mac, I remember I was fascinated by the simplicity of use. The hardest part about using the Mac was walking 5 minutes to get to the nearest lab and hoping that all the computers were not taken. (I still have some of those old floppy disks that I used to save some of my college essays.)

For me, the sign of a wealthy freshman was one who came to school with a brand spanking new computer. I don’t think many of us knew exactly how important they were going to be for getting our papers done, so many who could afford them didn’t purchase them until well into the first semester.

When I became a sophomore, I used one of the college programs which helped students purchase computers on a payment plan and used my work-study money to pay it off. It took me about a year. I’m not sure how much I spent on it, but I remember loving the fact that I had the computer sitting on my desk. It didn’t help me get my papers done any earlier, but I only had to go to the lab to print a paper. After a few trips to find a printer, I splurged on a printer too.

After a year with the desktop, I realized that the lack of mobility was one of the setbacks. Of course, I was also seduced by the images of the college student doing homework sitting under the shade of a tree on cross-campus. That was when I bought my first notebook computer. It was a used and looked something like this. It was the first time I paid cash for a computer (I didn’t pay cash again until I bought my kids computers in 2008) and it was the first and only time that I trusted someone enough to take their word that the computer would work. The computer worked fine for the rest of my undergrad years and the perk was that I could hook it up and use any printer on-campus.

When I moved back to Texas and began teaching I did not find a Mac anywhere. All the computers on campus were Windows-based. Still I was used to my Mac so I splurged again and bought myself a computer I couldn’t afford.  Not long after I had finished parying for it, the connection between the screen and the keyboard on the Mac laptop split. The only tech in town wanted to charge me what I thought was an unreasonable amount. Since I didn’t use the computer very much, I chose not to fix it. Ultimately I came to use Windows exclusively.

As I’ve become more and more involved with designing web sites and as the iPhone beckons me, I wonder if I’m on the road to becoming a Mac user once again.

Universal vs. Particular

By js, 27 September, 2008, No Comment

Laclau and Mouffe both discuss the concept of the particular and the universal.

This is something that has had me worried for some time. We get that push from all directions especially in working on the dissertation and any research project. We either start from a question-problem which  may be universal or we eventually have to look at our results and how they can or will be generalized.

I know that I want to focus on the particular and I think we should in order to make our research manageable. But then in order to create “interest” for the results and conclusions which you have created you have to connect somehow to the universal.

Choosing what strategy to take has been a struggle. Because so little research has been done on my topic specifically and what has been done has been looking at it in a more “universal” way, then I have several paths that I can choose.

I can choose to compare (as Rich suggested) the blogs that I have chosen with what has already been written about blogs. This does not seem like a viable option for me; at least, it is not a choice which aligns with the philosophical-epistemological choices which I have already made. For example, I have chosen to use critical race theory as one of my theoretical constructs. One of the tenets of CRT is that we start our study by looking at people of color rather than looking at a theory that has been created without critically engaging what people of color may be doing and then applying that theory to my work. I think doing something like this would be completey irresponsible. First, I would be assuming that the theory (which more than likely is being pushed as being “universal”) would apply at least in part to my population. This makes sense at least initially since all people must have something in common and we can begin with the commonality and then transcend to the difference. I think this is the process that Jaime took in his dissertation. He was looking at/applying certain concepts but in the process of doing the research he realized that it did not apply and he had to move beyond what he had started with. So in this case we can say “see this theory does not apply to this particular situation-context-population”; this is also what Pablo Vila did in his study of border identity. He took the theories of Laclau and Mouffe and others and he realized that they only applied to a certain extent but then he had to create a new theory which would explain what he saw happening with identity construction in the border people he studied. So he goes from the universal to the particular and then creates a theory based on the particular and in constructing the theory he goes back to the universal.

In my case, I wonder if beginning with the universal will taint what I find and that it will blind me to other things which may be there. For example, when I started and I thought I wanted to look at Yossos theory of cultural capital, then all I was going to do was going to apply that theory to the blogs. That seems like a pretty simple study. I could hope that I will find something more going on that Yossos theory does not account for; perhaps find what Yosso laid out but also find other things. The problem that I ended up having with this theory was that it seems to me that those things which Yosso points out are not necessarily just applicable to people of color. In fact, in reading the Massey book, many of those elements of cultural capital are present in the structures which cause inequality. Instead the difference is who is part of what group; different groups seem to manage the negotiation of the capital in different ways; it is not that the forms of capital are necessarily different but the way in which and the ends to which the cultural capital are gained and put to use are different. According to Massey, the structures are set up to give one group of people an advantage.

For example, if we think about navigational capital and social capital and apply those in the college environment, we can see how it works for the dominant group. Colleges are environments which need to be navigated in very specific ways, from the application process to the completion of graduation requirements. One doesnt inherently know how to navigate these structures; they are not set up in a way which is in any way “natural.” Instead, in order to be successful one needs something which helps one navigate it. Usually that something is really going to be a “someone”; this is when the social capital comes into play. We will know someone who will help us navigate. The way in which we learn to navigate those structures from the people can be from talking about it all your life if you have parents who went to college so that it becomes something that you “just know” how to do. If that hasnt been part of your conversation-life then you will be clueless when it comes to entering that structure. Then everything must be explained because from the outside there isnt necessarily any logic that can been in how this structure was created. For students of color who are primarily first generation students to attend college, then certain programs, if they are lucky, have been set in place to help them navigate. The main problem with many of these programs is that they only help with part of the structure rather than helping to traverse the entire structure from enrollment to graduation. All the knowledge that is “tacit” and natural for those who have the privilege of having generations who will contribute to their social and navigational capital is very difficult to make explicit especially when there are so many layers to the structure.

So I could decide to examine the blogs looking for these elements of cultural capital and how the blogs construct or negotiate those; but ultimately, I think that it would be more productive to go to the blogs to see what is there first. To go in with no preconceived ideas or theories to apply and see what I find there first.

Coming back to my decision of where to begin, the universal or particular–I am much more committed to starting from the particular, that is, starting from the blogs rather than the theory, to look to see what I find; then I can say that it applies to theory a, b, c or not which then means I will have to come up with something. I think the danger here, and one of the reasons why I am having a hard time taking the leap, is that I dont know what I will find–I  am not confident that I will find anything  which is worth finding (although this may just be my internal critic talking)–and if it does end up applying to theory a, b, c which I initially decided to ignore then what does that say about my epistemological and political choices.

I am also very reticent about saying that I want to look at what Chicana blogs tell us about Tech Comm. I have to come to terms with the fact that most of what I have seen about technology and people of color is all about how to “use” them/us; how to reach us in order to persuade us. I have written before about how I do not want my work to become part of the structure which helps to oppress. I have to think about how my teaching, administrating and my research may be doing this. Since my research agenda is just beginning then I have to keep this in mind as I design my work. The bad thing and what is very disconcerting is that much work that begins with good intentions ends up working in very different ways and for the detriment of one particular group.

Now am I going to be forced to think about Tech Comm first as I design my work or can I “get away” with only thinking about “rhetoric and technology”? I think I will resist this as much as I can and I will have to find my own way of dealing with/defining Tech Comm so that I am working against what I see as the oppressive tendencies of this field.

Media Literacy

By js, 15 September, 2008, 1 Comment

Lots to think about in this video/lecture


By js, 14 September, 2008, 1 Comment

Interesting post on identity:

When we speak about our identity I believe that we are referring to four different things: 1.) how we see ourselves as we relate to society around us, 2.) how we want others to see us, 3.) how others see us as we relate to society, and 4.) how we perceive others’ perceptions of who we are.

Teaching Chicano Literature

By js, 14 September, 2008, No Comment

The syllabus which Jaime sent me about his Chicano Lit. class really got me thinking about how other professors structure their Chicano lit courses.

Here are some Online Resources about Chicano Literature

Teaching Chicano Literature: An Historical Approach by Raymundo Paredes

Ph. D. Reading List Chicano/a Literature

Chicano Literature Syllabus

Rhetoric in rock art?

By js, 13 September, 2008, No Comment

“earliest rock art was linked with human survival” New York Times article

Race and Class Matters at an Elite College

By js, 12 September, 2008, No Comment

Interesting book by Elizabeth Arias…. adding it to the list

My study shows racial stereotypes to be prevalent on campus (e.g., blacks are less intelligent than whites, blacks have more athletic talent than whites, blacks are poor/whites are rich) but that the development of cross-race relationships and interactions inside and outside the classroom can make an important contribution in breaking down these stereotypes and changing students’ notions about race. The potential for learning from a racially diverse community, however, was not realized for many students.

Two other important findings about race pertain to whites’ misperception and lack of knowledge about blacks. Many whites tend to see black students to be self-segregating. When black friends eat together at tables in the dining hall, or hang out together in groups, whites take notice. Yet no one comments on the tables of whites eating together in the dining hall or on whites hanging out together on campus. The students showing the greatest degree of self-segregation are white. White students reported on average that two-thirds of their close friends were white, but only a third of black students’ close friends were black. In addition, many whites saw black students on campus as a homogeneous group, and were relatively unaware of the divides between black students: divides in social class; in the centrality of race to identity; in whether they are African American, Caribbean American, or African; in preferences for “black” forms of dress and music or “black” forms of speech; and in their experiences with racism in society. My study highlights the importance of these differences and how they are being negotiated between blacks.

CRT and Tech Comm

By js, 8 September, 2008, 1 Comment

Critical Race Theory and Technical Communication

this seems like a possible presentation for ATTW